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CU student Shad Murib looks through used CDs for sale at Albums on the Hill last year.
Zak Wood
CU student Shad Murib looks through used CDs for sale at Albums on the Hill last year.

You may be able download every tune on the planet, but there’s still nothing as satisfying as checking out an actual vinyl sleeve or CD booklet while listening to your favorite artists.

There are only a handful of real record and CD stores left in Boulder, but the ones that are still standing have become havens for music fans.

Vinyl reborn

Vinyl records continue to make a comeback, with 2.8 million sold in 2009 — up more than 40 percent from 2008, and the highest number sold since SoundScan began tracking sales in the early ’90s.

Here are the top 10 best-selling vinyl records of 2009, according to SoundScan:

1. The Beatles, Abbey Road — 34,800

2. Michael Jackson, Thriller — 29,800

3. Animal Collective, Merriweather Post Pavilion — 14,000

4. Wilco, Wilco (The Album) — 13,200

5. Fleet Foxes, Fleet Foxes — 12,700

6. Pearl Jam, Backspacer — 12,500

7. Grizzly Bear, Veckatimest — 11,600

8. Guns N’ Roses, Appetite for Destruction — 11,500

9. Dave Matthews Band, Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King — 11,500

10. Radiohead, In Rainbows — 11,400

These are the places where you can spend time looking for records by your favorite artists, discovering new ones, discussing music with the stores’ knowledgeable employees — and maybe hearing some live tunes.

This is the real deal.

If you’re a real music lover, than this is your must-have guide to where to buy real records in Boulder:

Albums on the Hill

Where: 1128 13th St., Boulder

Hours: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday, noon-6 p.m. Sunday

Phone: 303-447-0159


Albums on the Hill is your one-shop stop for vinyl, CDs, concert tickets and music merchandise.

The underground store across the street from the Fox Theatre is a haven for music fans who want to buy new releases, search for classic records and discover those hidden gems.

Andy Schneidkraut is Albums’ owner, and he’s always on hand to offer information about the artists and suggest his favorite picks.

This guy is the human encyclopedia of musical knowledge.

“We’ve been on the music scene for close to 35 years, but we’re not a museum,” Schneidkraut said. “We’re a retail store with a wide selection of used and new records. If you don’t see it, we’ll track it down if possible.

“We also have a close relationship with many artists and we’ve had Dave Matthews, The Melvins and Jack Johnson play here. We also support local music and up-and-coming artists.”

You never know who’ll show up for an in-store at Albums on the Hill.

Bart’s Music Shack

Where: 236 Pearl St., Boulder

Hours: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday

Phone: 303-444-1760

Web: Search “Bart’s Music Shack” on Facebook

Locals were heartbroken when Bart’s CD Cellar closed its doors earlier this year, but former owner Bart Stinchcomb recently reopened at a new location at 236 Pearl St. — and renamed the store Bart’s Music Shack.

The store is downsized quite a bit, but Bart’s Music Shack still maintains its indie vibe.

“We’re selling pretty much anything we can get our hands on,” Stinchcomb said. “We’re selling jazz, blues, rock and alternative stuff. Currently, we’re mostly selling used stuff, but if it’s something new, we can special order it.

“We still have tons of vinyl. There’s something for everybody here and we put out new stuff everyday.”

Stinchcomb says Bart’s is a great place for students to visit and learn about musical artists.

“The students think this place is pretty cool,” Stinchcomb said. “People have a blast here, because we have the time to talk about the music. And we might have in-stores here in the future.”

Absolute Vinyl

Where: 4474 North Broadway

Hours: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. daily

Phone: 303-955-1519

Web: Search “Absolute Vinyl” on Facebook

Absolute Vinyl and Little Horse Books recently celebrated its 6-month birthday, so the vintage record store is ready for a new semester of music fans to visit its North Boulder location.

As the name suggests, the store specializes in vinyl records, as well as used books. That’s a good thing with the growing vinyl revival.

“This is the kind of store that anyone would be happy in,” owner Doug Gaddy said. “We have lots of records under $3 and carry every genre of music. We cover every market, whether it’s obscure or common.

“Records here are definitely in a student’s price range. People find out about us by word-of-mouth and by the vinyl shows I have on Radio 1190.”

Gaddy hopes to make Absolute Vinyl a community gathering place, and he’s planning to host live music on a regular basis.

“This is a place where people can meet people and a place where music happens,” Gaddy said. “People should come here for the community experience.”

More music

If that’s not enough to satisfy your music-buying jones, Boulder’s got a number of other retail outlets that also serve up music on the side. You can buy and sell records at the Beat Book Store, 1717 Pearl St., and pick up new CDs at Target, 2800 Pearl St., Borders Books and Music, 1790 29th St., and Barnes and Noble, 2915 Pearl St.

Plus, if you’re willing to hit the road, Denver’s still got a pair of sizable independent record stores: the cavernous Twist & Shout, 2508 E. Colfax Ave., and legendary indie outlet Wax Trax, 638 E. 13th Ave.

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