Neptune Music Co.
It was already way past dark and I could hardly make it out, but it was the first thing that really caught my eye upon arriving in Seattle for the Definitive Audio Music Matters event (report to come). Could it be possible that there was a record store right across the street from my hotel? I had seen the black and white signRecords, CDs, and Tapesbut still, I couldn’t be sure. That sign could have announced a place that once was, a place once filled with treasures, long forgotten or dearly missed.
I decided to check it out as soon as I could. When I did, I was very happily surprised by what I discovered. Neptune Music wasn’t merely real: It was unbelievable.
At 4344 Brooklyn Avenue NE, in one corner of the old Neptune Theater’s sprawling basement, David Sandlund is up to his neck in stuff: vinyl, CDs, cassettes, DVDs, VHS tapes, books, posters, assorted memorabilia. The place is surprisingly pristine. Everything, whether stacked five feet high or tucked into a short space somewhere on the floor, has been carefully labeled, categorized, alphabetized.
Walk in with a specific title in mind, and, if Sandlund has it, you’ll have no trouble finding it. Walk in with no particular goal, and you’ll soon be overcome by wonderful possibilities: jazz, blues, classical, rock of all genres and eras, experimental, noise, punk, pop, vocals, exotica from around the worldit’s all here. Sandlund’s Neptune Music Co. is heaven on earth for the collector, a wild playground for the music enthusiast, an absolute treasure chest of sights and sounds. If you’re like me and you keep a list of our country’s odd, must-visit places, you’ll add a spot for Neptune Music.
I’d need several days and a U-Haul truck to successfully satisfy the urges I feel while inside the shop. David Sandlund has been here for six and a half years. Originally from the Washington, DC area, he moved to the west coast and eventually became a buyer for Amoeba Records. That experience led him to this. When I walk in, he’s busy repairing damaged LP sleeves, hands sticky with tape and glue, partially hidden by several tall stacks of CDs. He spent two months moving in, years getting things organized.
“Those first couple of years were pretty tough,” he says, in between LP sleeves and jewel cases, “but things are going well now.”
The theater upstairs brings in some traffica large placard announces a show for Sharon Van Etten, among othersand Sandlund says a light rail station is being built nearby. If all continues to go well, such changes will allow more people to experience the small shop’s enormous pleasures. I’m already looking forward to my next visit. Perhaps I’ll bring some friends and a U-Haul truck.