When I moved to Chicago last year I was surprised by the number of record stores in the city, and beyond that the number of stores that focus on particular types of music, especially when it comes to local talent. It's through these stores (and the dance places that host their artists) that I got to know Chicago house and disco. A visit to these stores is always an opportunity to unwind and relax, not to mention a great way to find out about cool shows in the city. Below is a roundup of my favorite shops in Chicago. This is by no means a comprehensive list of shops, just the ones that I've particularly liked, mostly for their selection, but also for their atmosphere and the people who work there and have patiently watched me spend hours listening to stacks of music.
Gramophone Records: North Side
Chicago and Detroit DJs, tons of techno and house, probably the best selection in Chicago. I left with a compilation from Chicago's Smart Bar and Floating Points. The guy working there was incredibly helpful and pulled dozens of albums for me to check out.
Reckless Records: Loop and Wicker Park
Wide range of genres, especially contemporary and recognizable stuff. I picked up El Vy and Grimes’s Art Angels (both have been obsessions throughout 2016). What's cool about the Loop location is the diversity of people who drop in: students from the nearby arts schools, business people on lunch breaks, foreign tourists -- the list goes on. I always like seeing which bins particular people gravitate towards.
606 Records: Pilsen
Sleek and modern store with a large collection of electronic (especially new releases), hip hop, and international rock. Left with the best of Serge Gainsbourg. 606 does a vinyl night at the Punch House across the street, which is definitely worth going to.
Hyde Park Records: Hyde Park
A Hyde Park institution known for its selection and in-store DJ shows. The store's signage has been around for awhile, and you're unlikely to find any brand new albums inside. And that's the best part. It's filled with soul, funk, jazz, blues, and a couple of bins of Chicago DJ mixes. I left with Tito Puente, Inner Life ("I'm Caught Up In A One Night Love Affair"), and the best of French Gregorian chants ($0.99, don't ask).
Dusty Groove: Wicker Park
This place is heaven for international artists. With entire racks devoted to different parts of the world, it's the place to go if you're looking for a wide range of music. It also has one the best selections of jazz music that I've ever seen. I limited myself to a couple Brazilian jazz albums (holiday presents for me) and then went back a couple days later to pick up holiday presents for other people.