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There is plenty of reading available on record stores, but much of that reading is in the form of short store reviews.  In this series, Keith Foster (co-host of The Vinyl Exam podcast and visitor of hundreds of stores across the country) visits LA vinyl spots, soaks in the vibe and goes a bit more in-depth. Photos by Kwasi boyd-bouldin.

Mono Records is an easy place to miss, even when you’re looking for it. Situated on an unassuming block of Glendale Blvd (right after the 2 ends, if you’re going South) in between a few ‘sometimes-open’ / abandoned storefronts, odds are if you know that route you’ve zoomed by it at least at 50 miles per hour countless times (and likely far faster than that, given the traffic the day I visited). A large white sign reading ‘RECORDS’ sits over the brick building entrance which somehow speaks to the seriousness of the store in a way.  This shop is not in an area rich with coffee shops and other stores and it’s not the kind of place you happen upon to browse for records.  You come here because you know where it is and you know what you want. It’s an all business kind of place.

The records are worth the journey. I mentioned in a previous article that the store in discussion was a good place to find interesting records in the $20-$50 range.  While this store’s ‘wall records’ showcase plenty of gems that are $20 and up, for me the strength of the spot is its records in the $7 to $14 ‘I-didn’t-know-this-record-even-existed-or-haven’t-seen-it-in-a-while’ zone.  I equate records in a way to memorizing all the word combinations in scrabble – two-letter words (good dollar records) aren’t that plentiful, you can wrap your brain around them quickly.  There are exponentially more three-letter words ($3 to $6) to memorize, and it would take you a near-lifetime to memorize all the four-letter words out there. The $7 to $14 records are the four-letter words; there are so many good ones you could limit yourself to only that price range and end up with an amazing collection.  While digging through the new arrivals I caught myself muttering a few four-letter words myself in amazement - “**** (that’s a REALLY good record)” – and that was just the new arrival bins! Other sections yield a similar haul of interesting (and rather inexpensive) vinyl of all genres for the listening.  The store keeps it simple; Funk/Soul, Punk, Jazz, Classic Rock and some Soundtracks but that’s about it on genre dividers – all genres get filed under their larger category (metal under rock etc).

It’s not a huge store - you can patiently dig and audition anything you might want in a couple hours, but the quality of the records is high and there is no filler (I don’t remember seeing a dollar bin).  I didn’t ask the owner this question, but it’s rather obvious from the bins that he isn’t particularly interested in records you can find other places. Sure there’s plenty of stuff that’s familiar, but you can tell the incoming records are selected carefully.

Mono is an entirely (or if not entirely, 99% at least) used record store. The bins stay churning and plenty of people know about the spot – during my hour there I saw plenty of customers and multiple people asking about / selling records to Mono.  I ended up getting a proto-metal LP by Juggernaut, ‘Can you Feel it’ by SOUL and two issues of a jazz/funk compilation I didn’t even know existed but are nonetheless great.  Other profiles have mentioned good punk records so I’ll take their word for it, but my big takeaway is Mono’s soul and jazz sections are excellent and bound to send you home with a great stack of records.

Mono Records is at 1805 Glendale Blvd, Los Angeles CA 90026, or online at http://www.monorecordsla.com

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