Permanent Records LA
5116 York Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90042, United States of America
Go here to find out about the pledge.
The Chicago-based record purveyors and nomenclature geniuses behind Permanent Records flung open the doors of their Los Angeles branch in June of 2011. Before setting foot on the premises, the rumors of their amicable operation had reached my ears and I was terribly excited to get to know co-owners Lance and Liz. The store’s grand opening party featured guest DJs Britt and Manda Brown, owners of the DIY-superhero label Not Not Fun, and they kicked off the summer with dance and cosmic disco jams, nostalgic and futuristic. It’s in that way Permanent strikes me: how the future feels like it could be to young music lovers circa 1995. To enter the world of Permanent is to feel excitement for our culture as a generation, and to feel gratitude that people like Lance and Liz are paying such close attention to it. I visited Permanent for the first time in early summer and witnessed first-hand the reason behind the rumors: the warmth of Chicago hospitality enriches the space. The interior is painted bright, grassy green, with yellow handrails running the length of the entry ramp. Skeletons on skateboards wear t-shirts displayed for sale over the cash register, reminding patrons: “LIFE IS SHORT…BUY MORE RECORDS.” Displays position browsers in a communal space in the middle of the store, where each has equal access to the undoubtedly charming person behind the counter. Wall records are tagged to encourage shoppers to ask the counter about the records, and almost every new release in the bins boasts a record review written by a member of their team. Every employee is allotted their own “Picks” section at the end of the Rock bins, with their names in proud bold writing. It’s these details, these earnest commitments to knowing their product and their customers, that cultivate conversation and community within the shop. They sell their own tapes alongside those from local labels they enjoy, and are key sources for each of the most recent releases on labels like Mississippi, Underwater Peoples, Hippos in Tanks, and the like. It comes across as true commitment to form without pretense, and reliably so. This past Saturday, as L.A. denizens trickled back into town after their Thanksgivings with family, Lance and Liz took to the turntables at Footsie’s, a local bar with a recently reinvigorated sound system and a reputation for excellent music taste. Lance had pockets full of $5-off coupons for the store in honor of the retail-centric weekend, and after getting my mitts on one, I decided Sunday would be an excellent day to make my way to “P-Rex” again. Summer-like temperatures graced us as I parked effortlessly (bless you, Eagle Rock) and headed up the ramp, coming face to face with their door sign: “Come in, we’re HIGH.” Liz was behind the counter, swapping stories with another enchanted shopper about records they’d both been looking for, and I dove right into the reggae section. I have to say, the store is certainly rock–or variants thereof–centric. While there were certainly solid and interesting selections in their reggae section, its breadth was modest. The world section was similar, but I’ll admit I got distracted shortly thereafter by their unbelievable rock section. I started alphabetically backwards, somewhere between Zola Jesus and Z.Z. Top. Moving through the bins, I felt like I was flipping the pages of a music zine, an honest-to-god review zine with care in each page. I physically swooned upon finding their copy of a boy-band era Scott Walker record. His height (6’1), weight (165 lbs), and living situation (with some guy) were described in the bio on the back. It was something I never dreamed I would hold, sitting alongside The Weakerthans. After cherishing it for a moment, I headed up front to dork out about it with Liz. Such is the effect of 1960′s Scott Walker on the ladies to this day, I suppose, but she laughed as hard as I did, and then we got down to business. I’d been regretting not buying that copy of Pam Am Stories, the new record by Rangers, when I saw it at Poo-Bah’s on my last outing. I was enthralled by the MP3 version I’d gotten, and needed to hear it “for real.” Liz was on top of it: she headed to the back to grab a copy that seemed as though it was waiting to be summoned. I had come to the right place. It was certainly difficult to choose between vintage Scott and Rangers, but I stuck to the game plan and put The Walker Brothers on hold until payday. Pan Am Stories and its brilliant collage album art fascinated me: an airplane ascending against a honey sunset in a colorful, nostalgic extravaganza of National Geographic stills sheathed the record. Excitingly, the music evokes the sensual peace of the album art as well. From the beginning of side A to the end of side D, both discs of this record are solid. The tracks feel familiar and inviting, as though they soundtrack memories, all while standing on their own right when taken one by one. “Zeke’s Dream,” the 13 minute wild ride on the A side, becomes my first favorite, and is soon supplanted by each track that followed. I wish I could thank Rangers for this record–it has truly brightened an otherwise windy winter. I can’t speak highly enough of this one, and I am stoked to have picked it up at Permanent. Check out one of their endless stream of awesome in-stores and introduce yourself to Lance and Liz. They’re doing really great things for music in their store, and we’re lucky to have access to it!. - Christina Gubala (Dum Dum Zine)
We're at York Blvd and Ave 51 in Highland Park.