Permanent Records: Powered by Demand for "Shit That You Can't Find Anywhere Else"
Britt and Amanda Brown (above) of Eagle Rock's psychedelic record label Not Not Fun spun Dadawah and Indeep records they bought "for fifty cents" at Poo-Bah in Pasadena. "Nothing too crazy," said Amanda of her set Saturday during Permanent Records' opening. "It's daytime, and the walls are yellow."
After five successful years in Chicago, Lance Barresi and Liz Tooley just opened their second Permanent Records franchise in Eagle Rock. Powered by the consumer demand for "the shit that you can't find anywhere else," as Barresi says, the two decided to move to Los Angeles after visiting the neighborhood.
"We were thinking about San Diego or Austin, but we just loved Eagle Rock," Barresi says. "It had everything except a record store. And Pizza Man's across the street -- where else can you get a whole mini pizza from for four dollars? What is this, 1991?"
The inventory at Permanent Records is comprised of vinyl -- out of print or limited releases, as well as new releases and reissues -- a solid block of inexpensive new and used CDs, and cassette tapes from microlabels. While record stores around the country shut their doors, Barresi has figured out how to make his store thrive. "We do what we like about other record stores," says Barresi, "but with all the friendliness of a Midwestern bed and breakfast."
At the opening day party, Barresi and Tooley were greeted by a constant stream of old friends and curious record collectors. The mood was celebratory. While Tooley popped a bottle of champagne to Grace Jones' "Love is the Drug," partygoers sampled hors d'ouerves from neighborhood bakeries and ice cold Budweisers. Many of the attendees were from Chicago, or the owners' home state of Missouri.
Like Origami Vinyl in Echo Park and Vacation Vinyl in Silver Lake, Permanent specializes in limited new releases on micro-labels -- "the stuff that flies off the shelf in a week" -- and rare used releases that are hard to find at bigger record stores. The prices might be off-putting to some -- $30 for the Gun Club's seminal Miami LP, or $50 for a double LP in mint condition by English post-punk outfit The Cigarettes -- but the store is stocked with cheaper reissues and new releases for more casual collectors.
"A lot of record store clerks have this bad attitude, where a customer needs to walk through their doors half a dozen times to be treated like a human being," Barresi says over a slice. "That sure didn't help them during the decline of CD sales."
After years of downloading music, Pomona College junior Amaru Tejeda recently began collecting records. Tejada got a turntable from his friend Erin Coleman -- pictured here with The Nation of Ulysses' Plays Pretty For Baby -- and he's armed with reissues of West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band Part One and My Bloody Valentine's Loveless, and the newest record from Brooklyn's folk rockers Woods.
For now, Barresi considers the Los Angeles location a satellite of the Chicago store. The stores will share some inventory -- reissues and new releases, more common used LPs, and the two dozen records and cassettes released under the Permanent Records label -- but Permanent's excellent webstore will cull mostly from its Chicago inventory.
Before their set, Orange County's Cosmonauts dug through Permanent's formidable collection of Jesus and Mary Chain records. Like Amoeba and Origami, Permanent is also a label, and their twenty-fourth release was a vinyl issue of Cosmonauts' 2010 self-titled cassette. "I get lost when I go to Amoeba," says guitarist Alex Ahmadi (on right). "Sometimes you don't want a grocery store -- you want a 7-11."
Undoubtedly inspired by the instrumental multi-tasking found on Chandeliers' Dirty Moves, Ben Harmon of Silver Lake chows down on a slice from Pizza Man and takes care of important text messages. Permanent has listening stations for both vinyl records and cassettes.
One of Barresi's favorite L.A. bands, the "really heavy" Francis Harold and the Holograms, finished up the party. "We asked to release them a few years ago, but they stuck with their label" -- Going Underground in Bakersfield -- "which I really respect." Emerging from the sludge of descending guitar chords and decaying cymbal rides, their canine-masked lead singer went back down and writhed on the floor near the world music LPs.
Stay updated on future in-stores and new additions to inventory at http://permanentrecordsla.com. Visit Permanent Records Los Angeles at 1583 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock.