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 sign—Records, CDs, and Tapes—but 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 world—it’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 traffic—a large placard announces a show for Sharon Van Etten, among others—and 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.

stereo slim's picture

I would have got stuck in there, missing each and every appointment ...

Stephen Mejias's picture

I was extremely conflicted.

RPL's picture

If you have time try to check out Easy Street Records as well, an excellent new record store with a focus on alternative and indie rock.

Summerisle's picture

Glad you stocked up on records and coffee in Seattle. Always a good choice. Neptune is always worth a look and he does have amazing stuff. David, the owner is always down to talk records and I'm never able to walk away with all that I want there. It is a great hidden gem of a store. 

Florence's picture

...another advertising article about a music store.How much money to have your attention please?

John Atkinson's picture

Florence wrote:
How much money to have your attention please?

Good grief, Florence. How cynical _are_ you? Finding this store was a bonus of Stephen's and my trip to Seattle. You don't share Stephen's passion for used and affordable vinyl, don't visit this store, okay.

Good grief.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

gshman's picture

I must admit I haven't been to Neptune yet. You need to check out Jive Time in Seattle as well. Great selection of vinyl and not bad for CD, at great prices. Plus the annex across the street is great for cheapskates like me where you can pick up a ton of stuff for $3 or less.

Ariel Bitran's picture

got myself a few LPs there quite recently...