Houston's Top 10 Record Stores 2014

Categories: Only In Houston

Man Alive! via Flickr
What record stores in other cities look like...
It's true, Rocks Off brought you a very similar list of Houston's best record stores almost a year ago. But times change, people come and go, and information falls out of date. Mostly, there are probably tens of thousands of new Houstonians now who weren't here in February 2013, and might like to know where they can go buy some music already.

We're happy to report that none of the places on our 2013 list has shut down (that we've heard of, certainly), but wanted to be a little more scientific this time around. So we polled ye olde Rocks Off round table for their choices of the Bayou City's best places to buy music, and tallied up the scores. The results may surprise you, or they may not. Either way, we'll probably do this again next year too.

These two chain stores (or former chain, in Soundwaves' case) serve as the demarcation line between serious record geeks and our favorite oxymoron, "casual music fans." But value judgements aside, neither should be dismissed out of hand by record shoppers just because a large part of the inventory is devoted to other stuff. For the record, that's one of the biggest selections of surf and skate gear in town at Soundwaves, and all manner of non-digital content (books, LPs. CDs. DVDs, magazines) at one of the area's five Half Price locations.

But the bottom line is the bottom line: both places are inexpensive, both will buy the music you don't want anymore (within reason), and they're both apt to contain hidden treasures that might be quickly snapped up at more "serious" music stores. Stop by sometime.

Soundwaves: 3509 Montrose, 713-520-9283, soundwaves.com
Half Price Books: Five Houston-area locations, halfpricebooks.com

Music Town is a little store in northwest Houston that's been around since 1979. It might not be the most famous store in Houston, but it has a long legacy and is filled with memories for those who grew up shopping there. Among mine are going there to buy new records from my favorite bands, or just stopping in to check out what they had in stock.

This is a place that stocks anything and sells things at good prices just for the love of music. You can find old Metallica bootlegs, the latest box sets, obscure country or the latest Lady Gaga CD there. Whatever you want, owner James May keeps it stocked, and will go out of his way to order it for you if he doesn't have it. It's a tiny store compared to a place like Cactus Music, but has a heart and soul you don't find in many places anymore.

17034 Stuebner Airline Rd., 281-251-2924

Part of the charm of going to record stores in favor of ordering music online is dealing with the characters that occupy them. In the case of Allrecords, that character is Fred Allred. For more than 20 years, Allred has helped music lovers in his always packed store in Highland Village, after a move from its original location in the River Oaks Shopping Center.

Allred is friendly and about as knowledgable as one human gets about a variety of music, particularly jazz and classical. His choices are always impeccable and his advice spot on. Going to Allrecords not only gives you access to some outstanding music, but to one of the most underrated music aficionados in Houston.

3211 Edloe, 713-524-4900, Facebook page

List continues on the next page.

Location Info


Black Dog Records

4900 Bissonnet St., Bellaire, TX

Category: General

Sound Exchange

1846 Richmond Ave., Houston, TX

Category: Music

Vinal Edge

239 W. 19th St., Houston, TX

Category: General

Heights Vinyl

3122 White Oak Drive, Houston, TX

Category: General

Sig's Lagoon

3622 Main St., Houston, TX

Category: General

Cactus Music

2110 Portsmouth St., Houston, TX

Category: Music

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Rocks Off - THANKS for continuing to bring attention to the Record Stores in Houston. Much Appreciated my friend.

-Craig from Heights Vinyl

Optimo Ram
Optimo Ram

aww yeah my dad store #8 Allrecords baby!!!


My hat is off to my fellow record store peeps and to Cactus for deservedly topping our fun heap. All of Houston's record shops do certain things well, and each has a unique flavor that will appeal to different folk. This is probably why I have always thought the "Numbered list" thing is lame. I DO recognize that mags and blogs LOVE to do these as they get people involved and thus viewing ads, which in turn sells ads. I celebrate ALL my fellow record shops!! -cheers, CHuck Roast, owner Vinal Edge Records.


Also worth mentioning...anybody looking to buy a turntable would do well to visit Sound Exchange and chat with the owner. I bought mine used from them ten years ago and take it back there every few years for a little maintenance. Their used tables are better than any of the ones they sell new at Cactus. (At least, I assume they still sell them, I haven't been in there in quite a long time.)

Nate McKee
Nate McKee

I love the list but I hate how Vinal Edge Records somehow isn't first (or at least 2nd)


Cactus rules!

My 2nd runner-up and dark horse is the new Black Dog. I hated the old location and wrote it off long ago as a place that bilked baby boomers who thought Rolling Stones records were rare. The new location is clean and efficient, and surprisingly moderately priced.

To my knowledge Houston still needs a place that embraces customers looking to up their fidelity game. Sure, Urban Outfitters has records, but they want you to destroy them on some atrocious Crosley players. A few places sell turntable accessories, but they're all pretty sub-par. IMO it's semi-pointless to offer up the vinyl medium without also being a resource for the things that really make it shine. So record stores, go ahead and stock a few $100+ cartridges and some entry level vintage speakers, cleaning tools and services. We'll save up for them the same way we saved up for those Judy's records and imports. I promise!

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