dont buy from Music Direct. i have had nothing but issues with those guys when ordering vinyl. Either the record was too warped to play or they shipped the wrong one etc. etc. Customer service wasnt that great either. I am currently waiting to exchange my last purchase with them. i have been waiting over a month to receieve a word from them and nothing. I called them and the said it was being processed, i asked if the could atleast ship it 3 day since i have been waiting so long. their reply was no, it will be ground when they are done "processing" the order. I will never buy from them again.
I have had good luck shopping with Geff at Dandylion Records http://www.dandylionrecords.com/
Be sure to subscribe to the newsletter, as you can find some interesting and reasonably priced import CD's. Mostly CD's rather than vinyl. I have never been disappointed with the many orders I have placed with Geff...a great guy to do business with!
-Squidco has a whopper inventory of unusual brainfry, stuff no postage, good descriptions, real informative site.
-Wayside Music also has a huge inventory of interesting discs, generally has some blurb that describes each recording. Home of the excellent Cunieform label. Can't say enough good things about what Steve Feigenbaum has done over the last 30 years.
-Amoeba is the obvious answer for a brick and mortar on the left coast.
What's that place in Hollywood? It's even in Mayor of Sunset Strip, isn't it? Was it Arons? I used to live in Philadelphia and heard about the Princeton Record Exchange - and there were a few good stores there out on the mainline even, and people would still go when they went up there. (especially for bootlegs). Great label, that Cuneiform.
There are some very cool independent releases here:
I was at Princeton Record Exchange maybe a month ago, and while I agree with Sbank that it, and most used record stores, aren't as good as they used to be, it's still pretty fabulous. Great prices and selection, and even the inexpensive stuff is in good to great shape. Highly recommended if you're in the area. Princeton is a fun little college town too.
Like I said, personally, I prefer Mod Lang in El Cerrito here in East Bay NoCal - which has great imports - it's run by an old 100club goer and Brit music scene guy, and although everyone in there seems to have an attitude, I always find that actually they're kind of ok if you start talking to them. And they're in behind a rhinoplasty place which just adds gobs of fun to the equation when they're blastiing something. Don't get me wrong, Amoeba's great, but they *are* a big record store, and they don't seem to know which import is which generally; they just kind of go with the strategy: buy some of this, buy a little of that... UK, German, Japanese, Danish (a new one) bah! it's all import, isn't it? Plus that, Mod Lang always gives me good leads on new bands when I talk to the counterpeople. For jazz or whatever I always go over to Grooveyard in Claremont, or Jupiter on college which does used and has everything from Germs to 78's. In San Francisco, Amoeba can't be beat, but Streetlight always has the best underground stuff. Amoeba just doesn't seem to "get it" when people walk in with a hundred pressings to sell of their bands debut, which they put together themselves.