Saturday, June 25, 2011

KA-CHUNK!! Records - Annapolis, Maryland

Exterior of KA-CHUNK!! Records, 78 Maryland Ave. Annapolis, MD

I grew up near Annapolis, MD and still visit often as both my parents and brother still live in the area. But for the past 10 years or so I've been quite distressed that my ancestral home has not had anything resembling a real record store. I hate to think about the youth of Annapolis having nothing to do but pursue such wholesome pastimes as sailing and lacrosse. I'm happy to report there is now an establishment where you can buy records from Billy Childish, Mudhoney, Big Black and many other corrupting influences: KA-CHUNK!! Records in downtown Annapolis.

I stopped by their location at 78 Maryland Ave. (a spot I remember from long ago as home to Timmy's Restaurant), but unfortunately Monday is the only day of the week KA-CHUNK!! is closed. Not a problem. Owner Matt Mona was inside and after he spotting me peeking through the window he invited me in to explore.

The focus of KA-CHUNK!! is very much on vinyl. Matt stocks tons of new indie and reissue vinyl, more in fact than I can recall seeing at any other retail location. Matt is very knowledgeable about music (he knows for instance that Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge is Mudhoney's best album), and the store has something of a curated feel. I don't recall seeing a larger selection of Billy Childish records anywhere, and as it turns out Matt is a fan. The records are remarkably well organized with dividers for nearly every artist in stock. There are a few well selected CDs as well, but vinyl is king at KA-CHUNK!!

Interior of KA-CHUNK!! Records

The selection of used records is a little light, although I did spot a copy of Pentangle's Sweet Child in a stack of records on the floor (I already own it, but if you don't go grab it!). Matt tells me he is looking to acquire more used records, but is having trouble finding high quality collections in the area for sale, so if you're in the Annapolis area and are looking to unload your collection of Hated, Moss Icon, Spastic Rats, Minor Threat, Trouble Funk and Crippled Pilgrims records, talk to Matt before dumping them at Goodwill.

I picked up a copy of the Baltimore duo Beach House's eponymous debut on vinyl (I wanted to keep things local) as well as the limited edition Mudhoney live album Live Mud that I somehow missed out on when Sub Pop was selling it through their webstore back in 2007 (I was surprised the download code for MP3s was still active, thanks Sub Pop). I was tempted by a number of other records including the latest reissue of Miles Davis' Kind of Blue, a reissue of the Clash's first UK LP, and several Billy Childish albums (including a couple Milkshakes reissues). I also spotted several copies of the Flaming Lips' LP box set that was released for Record Store Day, along with a few other Record Store Day exclusives. If you are looking for the latest indie vinyl like the new Fleet Foxes album, chances are very high KA-CHUNK!! will have it in stock at a reasonable price. In addition to vinyl records, Matt also sells reasonably-priced audiophile turntables from Pro-Ject, which are a great, fun and easy way to discover what the magic of vinyl records is all about. In addition, the back of the store features a beautiful collection of reasonably priced concert screen prints.

If you told me in 1992 (when I last lived in Annapolis) that in the year 2011 I would be able to shop at a record store in downtown Annapolis that focused almost exclusively on vinyl records I would have told you to put down the crack pipe. Stories about the "vinyl revival" have become so commonplace it is easy to forget just how unlikely the format's survival seemed not too long ago. It's really great to see a new generation of record stores emerging that are run by people like Matt with both a passion for music and vinyl records. It's locations like KA-CHUNK!! where the real story of the "vinyl revival" is being written. I recommend checking it out for yourself.

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