Best of Detroit 2011
Photo: Marvin Shaouni
The Real Deals - Staff Picks
Our staff counters with our own favorite places to plunk own them bones
Published: April 27, 2011
Best New Reason to Join a Gym
Eastern Market Shed 2
Stumble upon Love's and you won't find a phone number, website or Facebook page. There's no fancy packaging, slogan or suave marketing guru vying for your hard-earned dollars either. All there is are small, custard pies, sold four at a time. And they're to-die-for. Perhaps the best kept secret (not for long) in Eastern Market, these silky and sweet pies blend classic Southern technique with French finesse. The Chess Pie and sweet potato custard pies transcend expectations. Taste it to believe it.
Best High-End Audio
David Michael Audio
4341 Delemere Court, Royal Oak; 866-961-4423
Get this out of the way first: DMA wins this award every year for good reason: There's no better place in southeastern Michigan to buy the world's best-sounding stereos. More, its shop owners, David Kasab and Jeffrey Block, are not audio snobs. They are, in fact, two rather amiable gents whose childhood music obsessions turned into an adult belief that everyone who cares about music should be able to hear it as it was intended to sound by its creators. The shop carries the world's most killer handmade brands from this country and the U.K., such as Harbeth Pass Labs, Esoteric, Bel Canto, Nordost and more. And whether you're in a high tax bracket or saddled with pocketbook problems, the DMA guys can work with most any budget to assemble a killer two-channel stereo that will see you rediscover your whole music collection. Sound matters and music is important, why devalue and short-change it?
Best Record Store on the West Side
22000 Michigan Ave, Dearborn; 313-561-1000
No, music on hardcopy is not dead. Nor will it die. Music on vinyl or disc is simply a paradigm that's shifting over to those who care about music enough to not want to trivialize it with sonic reducer MP3s and unsexy computer files on barely imaginable clouds. Some like to own. Some like to hold. Some like to collect. Some like records scattered around them as they lay around listening on the bedroom floor. At Dearborn Music you can count more than 50,000 titles in stock, including up-to-the-minute imports from Europe, Japan and elsewhere, and a whole room (with listening stations) for blues and jazz freaks. There's another area for classical heads, and a sunken room for Rock 'n' roll and R&B, and so on. DM's expanding vinyl section includes thousands of new (including 180-gram pressings) and used, and one can't skip DVDs, Blu-rays, pop culture trinkets and assorted ephemera. This well-run, organized shop has lasted more than 50 years in these parts.
Best Record Store on the East Side
Melodies and Memories
23013 S. Gratiot Ave., Eastpointe; 586-774-8480
OK, there ain't a store like this anywhere. It's also, strangely, one of the more overlooked ones in this part of the country. Don't get started on the Motown history here, it's so rich you'll sometimes even run into an old Motown artist — or his sister — shopping here. It's Eminem's favorite record store in Michigan, and he says so. You'll find the Midwest's largest selection of boxed sets. It's a digger's dream and you can peruse tens of thousands on LP, tens of thousands more on CD, cassette, 8-track and 78, from country, rock 'n' roll, jazz, blues, avant-garde, gospel and so on. It takes whole rooms to house the shop's selections — a couple even for its dance titles alone, another for its classic and pop rock, one for its jazz and R&B, one for its kraut rock, punk, techno and used, and another room for its blues and soundtracks. It often has three stereos going at once, playing different music in different rooms. The place is huge and doubles as a lovely altar to pop culture and music from every decade.
Best Strictly Used Record Store
327 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; 248-548-9888
Back when the Record Collector was located at Grand River and Lahser in Detroit, it was the only area record shop that'd carry albums by punk rock racists Skrewdriver. Why? Because they thought it humorous to see supremacists having to 1) cross Eight Mile into Detroit and 2) purchase it from the owner's sole employee, an African-American, who also thought it funny. That's the kind of place RC is — erected with a refreshing shortage of self-seriousness — and one of many reasons why we dig it. It's also beautifully ramshackle, it employs local indie band members, it isn't self-consciously hip; it just, well, is. It doesn't have to try. And its thousands and thousands of titles are wide and varied and all pre-owned, from punk rock underground to new age modern classical to Midwestern Disco funk to rare modal jazz to all the country, pop and rock 'n' roll shit you can swallow. Let's all lift a toast because this RC celebrates its 30-year anniversary this year.
Best Record Store for In-Store Performances and to Buy New Detroit Music
512 S. Washington Ave., Royal Oak; 248-545-5955; uhfmusic.com
In the last decade, Royal Oak hasn't had much to crow about cool-factor wise. It's become your basic open-air mall. In recent years, the opening of a vintage clothier, sushi lounge, contemporary lowbrow gallery, crêpe joint, beer corner store and vinyl art shop have helped to bring back some true funk to this bursting burb, but did little to make up for the closing of at least three record stores.
But all hail the opening of UHF records! In-store performances, tons of hip merch — posters, bumper stickers and nickel-size buttons — and bulging bins of vinyl, and lots of it local, has us frequenting this joint and upholding its fuck-the-odds philosophy.
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