ALMOST ANY RECORD-SHOP EMPLOYEE WILL, AFTER ANY GIVEN CONVERSATION, LEAVE YOU WITH A LIST OF NEW BANDS TO CHECK OUT. A TRULY SINGULAR RECORD-SHOP EMPLOYEE WON’T MAKE YOU FEEL STUPID WHILE DOING IT.
Such is the gift of Lance Barresi, the owner and founder of Permanent Records, located in the heart of Echo Park, an adjacent neighbourhood sharing Frogtown’s indie-minded vibe and community of artists, musicians and other creative types.
Barresi, a Missouri native who opened Permanent Records in 2015 after expanding the store from Chicago, recently returned from a vinyl-buying trip in another part of town, and is eager to discuss the gems he picked up. Most of these finds will end up on the shelves at Permanent, which deals primarily in used vinyl and boasts a massive collection spanning eras and genres – with an emphasis on psych, garage, punk and rare jazz. This is in addition to audio gear, memorabilia, CDs and cassettes. Barresi keeps prices low to prevent an accumulation of vinyl, and says Permanent is known as one of the nicest and most generous buyers in town.
The shop – which has two additional locations in LA’s Highland Park neighbourhood – also boasts an eponymous label, now with 60 releases to its name. “From the get-go, it was pretty much about putting out records by our friends’ bands,” Barresi says. “We’ve expanded from that, and we ended up doing reissues along the way.” These releases come in addition to Brown Acid, a Barresi-curated compilation series featuring hard and psych rock from the 60s and 70s.
Each member of Permanent’s eight-person staff is an expert in a handful of genres, and decently educated about almost everything else. But snobbery is checked at the door, with the staff maintaining a welcoming, helpful vibe that attracts both serious record collectors and more casual music fans. “We’re friendly,” Barresi says, “which is something you can’t say about every record store.”
Permanent is situated on Sunset Boulevard, in the heart of Echo Park’s cultural hub. Fans heading to shows next door at The Echo often pop in to Permanent first, with the shop also hosting signings and in-store sets from both up-and-coming artists and myriad legends of punk and hardcore. Barresi remembers a cold night in LA when so many people were packed in the store to see The Melvins that the windows were sweating. He also laughs when recalling a “particularly rowdy” set from a then unknown Ty Segall.
Ultimately, he’s pleased his shops help guide people to such artists, helping foster both careers and fandom. Stop by and you’ll likely leave with your own list of recommendations.