Sunday, August 28, 2011
Friends of Sound Records in Austin
"Good thing Austin is a relatively low-crime city," I thought aloud as I wandered down a back alley off South Congress past full trash dumpsters baking in the 112 degree heat. Following Bob Clarke on foot to his new Austin record haunt, I turned to his wife Stacy and explained, "It's violent crime that's low--people say 'I would shoot you, but it's too friggin' hot. Better watch for my ass in October!'"
Yes, Friends of Sound is tucked away. When I came to the front door, I halfway expected one of those little sliding doors where someone asks for the secret password. But once you're inside, it's a small yet well-packed used record store with some truly nice finds.
I grabbed a handful of LPs including Nashville Skyline, a sealed De La Soul EP and a copy of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' You're Gonna Get It! (I always remembered it as the one Tom Petty album I really liked back in the '70s). Bob and Stacy didn't buy anything because as Bob put it, "I loaded up last time." The prices were fair, and I noticed that nearly every LP I inspected looked clean and relatively scratch-free, unlike most used record stores you'd find in a back alley. Either the guys at Friends of Sound have very high standards when it comes to buying vinyl, or they run every record through a Nitty Gritty or a VPI--or both.
When I got home, all three records played beautifully (other than the fact that the Petty wasn't as good as I remembered). While there are certainly a lot of places to buy vinyl in Austin, Friends of Sound seems like a much cooler place to browse through the racks since it's so, well...hidden. You won't be constantly bumping elbows with fellow vinylphiles like you do over at Waterloo.
Friends of Sound is located at 1704 South Congress, Austin TX. As I said, it's in the back. You can also buy, sell and trade on their website.