Bent Crayon has long had the reputation as being the source for electronic and experimental records in Cleveland. No other store in town has bins dedicated to such micro-genres as bass and noise. Unfortunately, at their old location at 116th and Detroit, actually finding those records inside the store was a chore. Every bin was packed and then ten more records were added to each bin. On top of those bins were stacks of records. On top of those stacks were more stacks. Browsing through the store required moving multiple stacks and removing records from the tightly packed bins and repeating this act over and over again as you moved from bin to bin.
Now, having recently relocated inside the W 78th St studios, near the intersection of Lake and Detroit, would be shoppers have a new challenge — Finding the store. For when you enter the lobby, Bent Crayon isn’t listed on the directory and there are no signs with the store’s name. There are, however, signs like the one below, of a three-headed, giraffe and eagle hybrid creature. That’s Bent Crayon’s logo. You want to follow that logo up the stairs to the second floor.
And down the hallway…
And make a turn…
Down this other hallway…
Where you find yourself in this big open space.
And finally, we’re at the new Bent Crayon, the cleaner, brighter, and friendlier Bent Crayon with an open floor and no more stacks of records sitting atop stacks of records.
Was the trip worth it?
Well, the answer to that question depends on what you’re looking for. There are titles at Bent Crayon that you won’t find anywhere else in town. Plus, the store also stocks many of the more popular indie rock releases. Sure, they won’t have ten copies of the latest buzz band to get a best new music review on Pitchfork, but they will have a copy or two, and a copy of maybe 15 or 20 other releases from that week.
Personally, I don’t find the new location to be that big of a detriment. All record stores are destination stores as people don’t just walk in off the street because they feel like buying a record any more. Casual music fans have their iTunes and Bent Crayon is for the serious fan.
Plus, this new location adds to the mystique — The store that specializes in hard to find records is, itself, hard to find. The space hearkens back to a day before Google and before Wikipedia when knowledge wasn’t so easy to come by. You had to make the effort to track down the right zines to learn about the right bands and you had to then find a store who stocked those records by those bands.
Now, let’s say you found yourself here, in Bent Crayon, and don’t know where to start? Ask the clerk, just like you would have done in the old days. The man is a personal internet of music knowledge. Tell him you dig Emeralds and you can walk out with five new records with a similar vibe.
Address: 1305 W 80th St #216, Cleveland, OH 44102 (Map)
Selection: Experimental, electronic, noise, and popular indie rock LPs and 45s. Bent Crayon only sells new records.
Price: $13 – $20 for most LPs.
Sample Finds: James Blackshaw – Glass Bead Game; Six Parts Seven – Casually Smashed to Pieces; Sleater-Kinney – The Woods.