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The Vinyl Exam: Freakbeat Records

[dropcap size=big]F[/dropcap]reakbeat sits on a relatively placid stretch of Ventura Boulevard, flanked by local businesses, restaurants and the like. The view from outside is nice but doesn't hint at the eclectic selection of records and diversity of vinyl inside. A lot of times record stores create ambitious statements on their own website or write things unreflective of the store’s personality, but (I’m paraphrasing) Freakbeat’s own line sums it up well - “We may not have what you’re looking for but we’ve got something you need”. My initial lap around the store to get a vibe created a very good one for sure – great records (especially in the jazz section) stared back at me from the wall and bin displays, a nice sign I was in for a treat.

After a few minutes in the store, Kwasi (the photographer) mentioned how much he liked the store as well, saying “you can tell it’s been here and the character is organic”.  In the current era of countless new record stores trying to create a vibe and ethos – many of them nice, successful shops – you still can’t substitute the organic feel he mentions.  It’s been here, it will be here and quality records flow in and out with ease; in fact in confirming some information just now I saw a few records in a tweet from the store that I wish I could drive out and get right this second; alas the tweet is from a few days ago.

The jazz selection here is great – varied, rich and stuffed with great used records of all price points.  The soul section is also excellent – not full of heavy hitters but instead packed with less common records that keep the synapses firing when rifling through the bins.  Speaking of bins, they are packed *perfectly* - not too loose and more importantly, not too tight.  A personal pet peeve is shops that cram as many records as they can in the bins, making digging unnecessarily annoying so the goldilocks effect of having the bins ‘just right’ means a lot to me.  In a weird way that speaks to the overall point – this store understands all the nuances that record buyers enjoy and gets every single one of them perfect.  They have multiple listening turntables and endeavor to make the record shopping experience hassle-free, only holding conversations when you want to.  If you want to, you’re in for a treat as the people who work there are gregarious and interesting; they'll find stuff you’ll be interested in.

It’s not just records either, the used CD section is strong and in particular I found their Christmas music (I went there prior to the holiday itself) to be quite varied and full of things I’d never seen prior. So far I’ve mentioned the sections that interest me the most but they’re all good and hold true to the same vibe of solid records at reasonable price points. No matter what you’re looking for, you’re going to walk away with something you’ll enjoy.

Freakbeat Records
13616 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

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