Asheville is known for it’s dreamy landscapes, dedication to activism and sustainability and its music. Sometimes, while walking downtown, I can feel a rhythm just beneath the street, and I feel an urge to discover music. The locally owned record stores hold a lot of this musical energy, acting as hubs for artistic congregation and hosting live events by underground artists. Many Asheville locals are record collectors, and peeking into this world made me want to be one too. Christina and I explored four local spots housing worlds and decades of music within their walls and dedicated to sonic romance and exploration.
The garage door of Static Age is half-open and a group of employees who seemed like best friends assure us that its OK to come in. Inside, the atmosphere holds a warm glow from the sunset leaking in, and records are displayed in every inch of the building. In the back is an intimate space where local artists congregate on late nights for DJ sets and themed parties. The store focuses on Motown and features late artists from Miles Davis to Patsy Cline. The modern selection on the left wall features local goddess Angel Olsen, twin band Tegan and Sara, Emmylou Harris, and, immediately next to them, iconic Madonna and Harry Belafonte offerings. The bottom bins house $1-$3 LPs and singles, where I’m sure there are quite a few gems, from the looks of the entire selection.
90 N. Lexington Ave., open Monday-Saturday, 11-6 p.m., and Sunday, noon-6 p.m.
The Voltage Records ambience is like no other. Big windows covered in colored posters filter a soft, breezy light throughout the entire space. High ceilings give us a lot of room to breathe, to listen and to share shopping silence. The selection is rock-focused, with soul and funk gems residing in the back along with the t-shirt collection. But the first few rows of record bins are filled with alternative tunes, $2 LPs and $1 hip-hop releases, the majority of which are from the early years of the genre. Just inside, there’s a table for news, events and business cards which I appreciated, and there is a nice stool area by the window to sit down and enjoy the ambience.
415-B Haywood Road, open Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m-6 p.m., and Sunday, noon-7 p.m.
Harvest Records has a picturesque window that looks onto the heart of Haywood Road, but the store itself might seem mysterious to a first-time visitor. Christina and I are pleasantly surprised with the spacious layout and colorful, descriptive signs everywhere, aiding the music selection process. The CD selection presents old and new favorites, with everything from Solange’s brand new A Seat at the Table to Wilco and Childish Gambino’s newest. The $2 LP section is has unique offerings of new and old titles, and the rock wall in the second room features box sets from both Fela Kuti and Elliott Smith. The genre represented by the most records at Harvest is definitely jazz-funk, but there’s a lot offered here. Talk about range! I love seeing the couch area in a space like this, giving the overall environment a cozy vibe.
600 Haywood Road, times vary each day
Haywood Comics is the newest business on this list, and the name doesn’t mention records, but its selection is awesome and definitely comparable to the other local businesses we visited. The store offers a variety of comics, plushies, toys, t-shirts, collectable cards and games, but the records stand out. They’re in the middle bay, surrounded by colors and eye candy. The brand-new records range from $4 to $30, and offerings include the must-have Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West, Smashing Pumpkins and Cage The Elephant releases. Throwbacks on the opposite side of the aisle include Queen, The Roots, Tracy Chapman and Earth Wind & Fire. This little spot is definitely a counter-culture hub that shouldn’t be overlooked.