Black Plastic Records

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Not my picture! I found it through a Google Image search.

Black Plastic might be my favorite record store.

About two years ago, even before I had a chance to visit, I was in Columbus for an anime convention. My friends Dan and Holly (the same Holly from Plaid Room) decided to finally check it out, and I got a message about them having a first pressing of Jawbreaker’s 24 Hour Revenge Therapy. Now, that album was my absolute favorite album in the world at the time (I even have a Jawbreaker tattoo on my arm); I immediately called the store and had them put it on hold, and I promptly called my mom to pick it up. So, it was decided well before I even had the chance to go to Black Plastic that it would be my favorite record store.

STOCK: 5/5

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Also found this picture through a Google Image search!

If my story about Black Plastic isn’t evidence enough, their stock is incredible.

Black Plastic doesn’t carry CDs, so their stock is predominantly vinyl-based. Though, they small selection of cassettes and a rack of shirts, which are super fun to look through. One that sticks in my mind was this great yellow (I think?) shirt that just said “vegetarian” with a bunch of animals on it. I almost bought it, but I spent the money on more records instead.

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Also from Google Images!

They have an insane collection of 7″s that you can spend hours flipping through. Somehow they’ve managed to obtain copies of random Pavement and Superchunk 7″s that I had only dreamed of actually seeing before finding them there.

Actually, their hip hop section is really one of the only things I found to be lacking; the selection was still good, but it didn’t seem very expansive. Though it’s not necessarily a bad thing, because as far as indie/punk/etc. goes, Black Plastic by far has you covered. I found plenty of releases from No Idea Records, a label I had only seen records from in-store when I was visiting Florida a few years back.

STAFF: 5/5

You’ll probably recognize the staff at Black Plastic from outside of the shop. They’re all super involved in Cincinnati’s music scene. The owner (whose name is escaping me) runs sound around the city, Bridgette (who recently moved to New York) fronts the band Tweens, and Andrew plays in the local riot-grrrl-meets-shoegaze band SMUT.

Everyone at Black Plastic is super nice and great to talk to. They’re all the best! Plus the music they play and their suggestions are always spot on. I can’t wait to go to the new location and meet the staff there as well!

AREA: 5/5

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Also a Google Images search result!

What better place to be located than right down the street from another record store? No, seriously. It might seem like a poor decision to open up a record store blocks from Shake It, but it’s perfect. People who are in Northside for Shake It will undoubtedly check out Black Plastic and vice versa. I know that if I buy one record, I end up buying like at least 3, so I’ll always hit up both stores.

Just like Shake It, there are so many cool places around Black Plastic. I mean, it’s the same area! So, of course it gets a 5/5.

OVERALL SCORE: 5/5 EVERY STORE IN CINCINNATI RULES YEAH!!!!!!!!!

Plaid Room Records

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Not my image! I found this with a Google Images search.

Plaid Room Records is the newest record store I’ve been to (I haven’t had a chance to visit the second Black Plastic location yet). It’s located right in the heart of Loveland, OH, home of the great Loveland Bike Trail.

My friend Holly and I took a trip to the store a few months ago after putting it off for far too long, and we immediately began to kick ourselves for not visiting it sooner. I initially noticed that the interior is so bright and colorful and just super welcoming, and it only got better from there.

One of the coolest parts about Plaid Room is that they also put out soul/funk music through the label Colemine Records. Bands perform live in the record store, and the staff records the performances, which are eventually put on wax. It’s beautiful. The layout of the store is beautiful, the equipment is beautiful, Plaid Room rules.

Now, onto the specifics!

STOCK: 5/5

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Photo borrowed from Yelp!

Much like Shake It, Plaid Room carries every genre imaginable (and, again, more, hehe). Each time I’ve gone visited Plaid Room, I’ve found something way too cool and obscure to pass up – though I’m always limited monetarily, which is a constant problem. 😦

Plaid Room has a great mailing list system where they’ll email/call you if anything happens to come in from an artist that you’re looking for. So when I went in, I went ahead and gave them my email address to email me when any Otis Redding vinyl happened to show up. Sure enough, I received an email about used Otis records probably a week later. This is a feature I’ve always wanted to see in a record store because it gives everyone a fair chance of finding what they’re looking for, should they take the time to sign up for the list (which takes about two seconds).

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Also borrowed from Yelp!

In the store itself, Plaid Room has a seemingly infinite number of records to flip through. I’m not sure I’ve gone through every shelf, partially for fear of spending way too much money. Whether it’s because they’re newer and wanted to start out with an incredibly strong collection or because the staff are truly that knowledgable (or resourceful) about music, Plaid Room has a perfect selection.

Their hip-hop section is to die for, and Holly and I both had to put so many records back from the section that we can never find anywhere else.

Not only does Plaid Room have an incredible selection, their prices are wonderful. They never overcharge for any record, and their used vinyl is very fairly priced. Other stores seem to get away with pricing some things higher (sometimes ridiculously so), knowing that they’ll sell for any price, but Plaid Room doesn’t fall victim to this whatsoever.

STAFF: 5/5

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Pic taken from Google Images!

The staff at Plaid Room make the store, really. The owners are also the employees, and it’s easy to tell that they absolutely love what they do. The best part is that it’s so clear that they’re the best of friends; they’re always joking around, both with the customers and with one another. It makes the store so welcoming, and it makes you want to spend as long as you can browsing around.

There’s absolutely no sense that you’re intruding or that you aren’t as knowledgable as the staff. I bought Deafheaven’s album Sunbather from there and the staff and I talked about it, as they hadn’t listened to it yet. That’s one of the best feelings: getting someone to listen to an album you love, and then seeing what they think. It doesn’t matter if they love it or hate it; the discussion is always great.

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Pic taken from Twitter!

The first time I went to Plaid Room, the staff joked around about being able to listen to all of the albums on Youtube, and they jokingly decided on just selling cards with links on them instead of records, and it’s that kind of instant familiarity/confidence that makes them so wonderful. They’re always very kind and helpful and I look forward to seeing them each visit.

AREA: 5/5

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Taken from Yelp!

So, Plaid Room gets an instant 5/5 for being so close to the Loveland Bike Trail. As someone who loves riding bikes as much as possible, having a record store right next to one of the best bike trails is just too good to be true. But it’s super true, and it’s super cool.

For me, it’s a trip to get out to Loveland, as it’s not a quick bus ride away or anything, how getting to Northside is. But the area is also a perfect choice for that reason; there aren’t many options in Loveland as far as record shopping goes, and it makes it much more exciting to go there (at least for me). It’s excellent that the option’s there should anyone be in Loveland for the bike trail/visiting family/the many food options there.

The area is also just beautiful; the scenery and everything is great. And the bike trail.

OVERALL SCORE: 5/5!!!!!!!!! PLAID ROOM RULES!!!!!!!!!!

 

Shake It Records

Here it is! (I found this image through a Google search, so I didn't take the picture).

Here it is! (I found this image through a Google search, so I didn’t take the picture).

Here’s the first review! Woohoo! I’m super excited about this one. Shake It Records is the first record store I visited as a music-obsessing teen. I found out about it by searching the Internet for a non-Internet based store where I could fill my musical void; most places I could go to either didn’t have whatever weird sub-genre I was obsessed with or were far too expensive – so expensive that even someone who hadn’t been to a real record store at that point could see right through the prices. Shake It Records also made me fall in love with vinyl; I was only listening to music through CDs/the Internet for the most part, but when I walked down those magical stairs to the basement, I fell in love. With that said, here we go!

STOCK: 5/5

Shake It carries every genre imaginable and more. They manage to not only keep up with the latest popular releases, but they also display new releases that might not be as well known, but that are most likely well worth listening to.

YES!

YES!

Their Alt/Punk section is particularly wonderful. Most of my personal collection most likely comes from that very section. It is always being restocked and filled with new items, and one can find anything from the genre’s beginnings to the current favorites.

YES AGAIN!

YES AGAIN!

Not only does Shake It have an excellent Alt/Punk section, they also have a beautiful Hip-Hop/Electronic section. A lot of stores fall flat in these genres; somehow Shake It has managed to avoid that and stock everyone. They show a clear understanding of each genre; and if they don’t know about a genre, it seems that they do their research because each section is filled with albums.

There’s a hip-hop artist named P.O.S. that I’m always looking for music from – usually to no avail – but I found his album We Don’t Even Live Here at Shake It. It’s still one of my favorite finds amongst those shelves.

STAFF: 5/5

This picture was also found through a Google search, so I didn't take it. Two of the many wonderful staff members at Shake It.

This picture was also found through a Google search, so I didn’t take it. Two of the many wonderful staff members at Shake It.

I have yet to have an even slightly bad experience with the staff at Shake It. They are always endlessly helpful in a customer’s search for a specific record, and they’re always way nice and willing to talk to everyone. They are also running around the store constantly, seemingly never stopping even to breathe. The staff are really the heart of Shake It; sure, their selection is to die for, but the staff keep me coming back (though I’d totally keep going even if the staff weren’t as incredible as they are; let’s be honest).

One time I had to decide between buying a Mountain Goats or a Pavement record on a particular visit, and a super helpful staff member helped me decide which to go with (I’ve since bought both, of course, hehe).

AREA: 5/5

Also not my picture! Thank you to the three people whose pictures I've used!

Also not my picture! Thank you to the three people whose pictures I’ve used!

Northside is an amazing district. They have a wonderful selection of stores/restaurants to visit, and more places are always opening up. If you don’t get your vinyl fill at Shake It, Black Plastic is right down the street. There’s a Taco Bell across the street for those who’ve spent too much money on records and forgot to leave some food money, and there’s Melt for those who want the most delicious food in the world. Or you could get both and be super super super happy (and really full)! The best part: most of the restaurants are vegetarian/vegan friendly, so it’s pretty much the ultimate district. Also, so many shows take place in Northside, so if you see a wall of flyers, make sure to take one and attend a show and have the best time!

OVERALL SCORE: 5/5 YEAH!!!!!!!!!

About This Blog!

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My ever-growing record collection.

This blog will be a place where I will review different record stores around Cincinnati! Woohoo!

I’m a huge record nerd, so I’m always looking for new places to frequent.

Aside from obviously talking about my experience at the store, I’ll rate different aspects with a _/5 rating system. Here’s what it will look like:

Stock /5

Price /5

Staff /5

Area (as in, is it in the middle of nowhere/are there other neat things to do in the area) /5

I definitely welcome any comments about experiences at the stores, and I’d love to talk about records with any readers!

Thanks for reading, and I hope this will be as fun to read as it is to write!

Billy