It’s never been easier to get into the highly addictive and wildly satisfying hobby of collecting vinyl. Gone are the days of elaborate audio set-ups with a seemingly endless array of wires criss-crossing behind your living room entertainment console; you can now purchase a turntable with a built-in pre-amp and powered bookshelf speakers and be good to go. (Of course, you can still go full audiophile if you want—it’ll just be more expensive, and a bit more of a hassle to set up.)
Once you’ve got your gear dialed in, Denver has myriad options for buying new and used vinyl—and for selling records, should you, for example, get tired of that circa 1980 Christopher Cross LP. We did the heavy lift of scouting the local analog musical landscape and selected six record stores we love within the Denver city limits. Happy listening!
Angelo’s CDs & More (Broadway location)
Angelo’s South Broadway location smells a little like college—a mix of cannabis and incense. Of course, those two things pair nicely with tunes, and Angelo’s, located between the Brutal Poodle bar and a Purple Haze dispensary, has plenty of featured vinyl releases on its first floor. The main event, however, is downstairs, where you can peruse a bountiful selection of new and used LPs. With a wide variety of genres—jazz, country, hip-hop, rock, R&B—you’re virtually guaranteed to walk away with something rousing. But if you can’t find that holy grail vinyl you’re questing for—we found Nirvana’s Nevermind a week before the 30th anniversary of that seminal 1991 masterwork—try again in a week, as Angelo’s constantly updates its inventory.
We drank at Bowman’s several times before realizing you could actually buy records there. Nothing beats browsing for obscure punk LPs while sipping on a cold longneck or well-crafted cocktail. This is a place where you’ll want to get a little buzz, ask the bartender what’s playing on the hi-fi, and then do a little shopping. Don’t miss the $1 used offerings if you’re looking for something new on the cheap—because what’s better than returning from a night out with some new-to-you vinyl to spin?
Mutiny is more bookstore and cafe, less actual record store. But it makes up for that by offering browsers an eclectic mix of books, graphic novels, zines, and a small collection of new and used LPs. Come here with time to explore—you might not find exactly what you’re looking for, but between the cappuccinos, the pulp novels, and the trove of Glen Campbell records, you’re sure to find something that will make you tap your toe to the beat.
Perhaps it’s not surprising that Recollect Records, which sits just a few blocks from the Denver Art and the Clyfford Still museums, has the minimalist feel of an art gallery. Here, though, the art is of the audible kind, and the joy is in the search for something that will surprise and delight you. Rather than being organized by individual artists, the vinyl at Recollect is sorted by genre and alphabetically arranged, so the feeling one gets while rifling through crates is akin to being on a treasure hunt. On a recent trip, after perusing for the better part of half an hour, we stumbled upon a gently used copy of Stevie Wonder’s 1976 masterpiece Songs in the Key of Life.
The undisputed heavyweight champion of vinyl sellers in the Mile High City, Twist & Shout is also a vast repository of CDs, T-shirts and hats, books, toys, and other music-related ephemera. Located next to the Tattered Cover Book Store on East Colfax Avenue, the 33-year-old superstore demands ample time for your visit. Why? Because you will no doubt fall down any number of rabbit holes as you thumb through its extensive collection of new and used LPs, from obscure jazz and dance LPs to the latest from Billie Eilish to hard-to-find boxed sets. Recent trips netted us used copies of Handel’s Water Music and Music for the Royal Fireworks (combined $12) and a sealed, limited edition of the Pixie’s Trompe Le Monde on green vinyl. Bonus: Twist & Shout has all sorts of record-related necessities, including plastic sleeves, vinyl cleaner, storage boxes, and hardware like preamps and turntables.
If Twist & Shout epitomizes Congress Park, Wax Trax is all Capitol Hill. This funky Denver record shop has been around since 1975 and to this day has maintained its no-frills vibe, in the best possible way. Step into Wax Trax and you will not be surprised to learn that the store specialized in English New Wave and punk LPs back in the ’70s. Although its inventory isn’t as extensive as Twist & Shout’s, the breadth of offerings extends far beyond the Clash and the Sex Pistols. With new LPs, vinyl accessories, and off-color merch (“Check Out Our Record Racks” T-shirts; use your imagination), Wax Track has a little bit of everything for just about everyone.