For some music lovers, there's no greater joy than dropping a needle in the spiraling grooves of a 12-inch record. If you're one of the ever-rarer vinyl heads, you'll want to visit the District's Som Records (1843 14th St. NW, 202-328-3345). Tucked underneath a hair salon on 14th Street NW, the new store is small but brimming with hard-to-find, mostly used LPs.
"You don't have to weed through any bad records," says owner Neal Becton, who co-owned Crooked Beat Records in Adams Morgan before opening Som last month. Named after the Portuguese word for "sound," the store has an inventory that includes rock, soul, jazz, hip-hop, Brazilian pop, reggae and even a handful of new releases. There's a dollar bin for bargain hunters (Score! Miles Davis's "A Tribute to Jack Johnson") and a section for collector types ready to spend more ($24.99 for Caetano Veloso's ridiculously rare "Araca Azul"? Take a deep breath and hand the nice man your credit card).
Even if you don't part with a penny, you might spot a rock star. Bands performing at the neighboring Black Cat have been seen browsing the store's selection between sound check and showtime. "I had one of the guys from Wolfmother in here the other day," Becton says.
Never heard of Wolfmother? Look in new releases, under "W."