How Chicago’s Best Record-of-the-Month Clubs Stack Up
Three local membership services for casuals and diehards alike
If a jam-packed festival season is any indication, we live in a fine city for music.
Which may explain why Chicago is home to some of the country’s most interesting record clubs.
We’re talking wax. Long Play records. Y’know, analog music.
So ahead of Record Store Day — an annual event that has come to serve major music labels more than the indie shops who actually need support — we’re examining three local vinyl clubs for music lovers of all stripes and colors.
From a coffee-and-record subscription service to rare soul from the city’s premier indie label, these clubs will keep you spinning all year long.
Photo: Tom Harris
Purple Llama Coffee + Record Subscription
Purple Llama, the Wicker Park shop that combines coffee and records to the point of religious genuflection, understands that details are everything. And since making coffee and listening to records share the same rituals — slow down, relax, enjoy — it only makes sense that the team behind the cafe decided to launch their own curated coffee-and-music club.
Just recently launched on Kickstarter, Purple Llama’s bi-monthly club is for adventurous listeners: subscribers will be sent a box containing a rotating selection of the finest international roasters, and one record based on the beans or the coffee roaster’s country of origin. We’ve got word that the first box set will pair Berlin roaster The Barn with electric dance and Krautrock duo Klaus Johann Grobe. Be sure to tune to Purple Llama’s subscription page for updates.
Photo: Michael Abramson/Light on the South Side
Numero Group Subscription: The Original Formula
From documenting the pan-American funk of a Nicaraguan political descendent (Alfonso Lovo) to exploring our city’s own blues scene in the ‘70s (Light on the South Side), this Chicago reissue label knows no bounds. They’ve rescued countless rare funk and soul singles from Cleveland to Wichita (Eccentric Soul), gifting us all sorts of musical gems, including but not limited to the early recordings of a 16-year-old guitar prodigy named Prince Rogers Nelson. All the while, the label just recently launched its own print-only publication, Periodical Numerical.
The Numero Group Subscription: The Original Formula is the label’s way to get back to its roots. Priced at $150, it’s a simple subscription service that guarantees you the next six Numero Group’s LPs, with bonus items and extra goodies whenever available. Alternatively, fans of the label can sign up for Project Twelve, another club offering up unreleased vinyl LPs sourced from the label’s Eccentric Soul, Wayfaring Strangers and Private Mind Garden series. You can subscribe to one, two or all three of ‘em. We suggest the latter.
For those looking to discover new music, there’s Table-Turned, a service that flips curation on its head. Instead of just spitting out random records, the service allows subscribers to receive a new LP every month for a year based on their favorite genres.
Working with a slew of indie record labels — Equal Vision and Polyvinyl rank as the company’s newest partners — the goal here is not only to send the genre’s best, but also to expose subscribers to bands and albums they may have missed.