|Analog Underground - 504 Broadway, Providence, RI|
I missed this when it came out, but there was a nice story in the Providence Phoenix about Analog Underground, a relatively new record store on Broadway in Providence, RI.
I've met owner Dave Lifrieri a few times over the years, and he seems like a genuinely nice guy. And it's great to see that that a younger person with some vision can still establish a new business that is built primarily around selling vinyl records in the year 2011. Dave has been particularly savvy in utilizing Facebook to communicate with his customers, and using the world of digital media to create a feeling of community.
Dave is also smart, in my opinion, to focus not only on selling the records themselves, but also helping his customers to set up relatively high quality vinyl playback systems. Too many record stores miss out on the opportunity to educate their customers about the pleasures of high-quality vinyl playback. Instead of just having a few cheap ION USB turntables collecting dust in a corner of the store, Dave has set up a serious "listening den" in the back of the his store, and is both knowledgeable and outgoing enough to educate those who want to know what all the fuss over vinyl records is about.
Too often you have "music guys" on the one hand, and "gear heads" on the other. Often the music guys are only too happy to play their music on crummy equipment, and don't seem to care a bit about sound quality (more power to 'em). On the other hand the gear heads who tend to run hi-fi shops often seem happy to play immaculately recorded, but musically sterile, "demo" recordings over and over to demonstrate their equipment's remarkable imaging abilities. (I apologize for these gross generalizations, but I think you know what I mean here.) Dave seems like a good balance between the two. There is no doubt he is a serious music lover for whom music will always come first, but he also has a good understanding of how the right equipment can enhance the listening experience.
Analog Underground is a small shop, but the selection is well-chosen. You'll find lots of 70s and 80s Punk and New Wave vinyl for reasonable prices (last time I was there I picked up a copy of the Buzzcocks' Parts 1-3 EP, and was really tempted by several original 10" copies of The Clash's Black Market Clash), as well as a great selection of reasonably priced jazz records, and smattering of new releases and reissues. There is also a small selection of used CDs, although as the name of the shop implies, the focus is very much on vinyl.
I'm very grateful to live in an area that has a healthy selection of record stores, and it is nice to see a new store establish itself.
Update: Analog Underground is participating in Record Store Day. They will have some of the RSD exclusives, plus their $3 LPs (already a bargain) will be marked down to $1. They will also have live in store performances from Village of Spaces, Mona Nash and others starting at 3:00 PM.