“Without music, life would be a mistake” – Around LA – Amoeba, Hollywood

Around this time last year, I met one of my husband’s high school buddies for the first time.  He mentioned that if I liked music, I should check out Amoeba.  Not to be confused with a shape altering cell or organism, Amoeba is a large independent music chain that sells both new and used CDs and Records (LPs).  Amoeba opened in 1990 in Berkeley and later expanded into San Francisco and Hollywood, which is the store I’m focusing on.

My parents have an eclectic taste in music and my siblings and I were weaned on a variety of different genres.  We were exposed to the likes of The Kinks, Joni Mitchell, Kraftwerk and Earth Wind and Fire to name a few.  My dad would spend what felt like hours in HMV on Oxford Circus and I would amuse myself with my brother by listening to music, fawning over the boy band posters and doing laps of the four floors.  I had a feeling that I would like Amoeba and it would take me back.

Before going into detail about the inside of the store, It’s worth mentioning the exterior of the building and the route to get there.  Amoeba is located at 6400 Sunset Boulevard and to get to the store, you follow a trail of Hollywood stars as you weave in and out of the many tourists and street peddlers.  You can’t miss the store with its iconic ringed tower on the roof.  Parking in Hollywood can be a bit of a nightmare.  Thankfully, visitor parking is provided and predictably the parking staff are lovely.

As soon as you walk in, you’re hit by the walls covered in posters, the shelves chocka block with different music and the aisles crowded with LA’s most eccentric.  The closest thing I’ve experienced to this would be parts of Camden Town, which is always rife with colours, smells and people.

There are two floors and a dedicated Jazz room.  One of my favourite things to do at Amoeba is to use the listening pods, just like when I did when I was waiting for my dad. When I was growing up, you could listen to the five or six CDs already loaded into the machine but at Amoeba you can wander the aisles, pick up records that catch your eye and scan the barcode of any CD you want to listen to. You are discovering music in a retro, impulsive visceral way – something that Spotify, Pandora and the like just can’t match.

Amoeba has earned the reputation as one of California’s best music stores and, when I look at their selection, I can see why.  The store has a mass cult following and I’ve seen people on the street wearing Amoeba tops and hoodies.  Aside from browsing through the music, DVDS and all the band tees, Amoeba also has a photo booth.  If you’ve seen the walls at Rough Trade on Brick Lane in London, you’ll know that English folk like a good photo booth.  Unfortunately, the lighting is terrible.  If you fancy a giggle, I’ve included some terrible pictures of my sister and I in the booth at the bottom of this post.

Whether you’re a bona fide audiophile or a tourist in LA, Amoeba is definitely worth a visit.  My dad is planning a trip to California next year and I can’t wait to make him wait for me for three hours.

Exterior Amoeba Picture:  LA Independent

Photography:  Dissident Dreamer

Quote: “Without music, life would be a mistake”  Friedrich Nietzsche

Cardigan:  The “Janey” ¾ sleeve cardigan sleeve by LA Relaxed, a sustainable, ethically responsible LA based company.  My cardi and all their other garments are made in the US.

I told you it was bad…

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  1. Wow. That takes me back. I remember in the 1970 & 1980 going to the mall looking for records and cassette tapes. Looking through bins at LPs seeing all the great artwork on the albums. I really miss those days. LPs are coming back in mass. But not for me.

    1. That sounds fun! My brother and I had so many cassette tapes. We had a bunch of those read along books where you played a cassette and read the book at the same time. The artwork on Vinyl albums is definitely something that is missing nowadays. My dad has so many albums I would like to frame. It’s great that they’re coming back.

  2. That’s a super cool spot!
    I can’t wait to fly to LA and visit it, thank you for this!
    I love music and this really is the spot for me!

  3. I totally drove past this music store the last time I was in LA and my cousin was mentioning that it was famous and really cool inside. I’ve never been very good at finding good music (other than what’s playing on the radio) but my hubby always has the coolest music. I rely on him to discover and show my new artists and bands. It’s so awesome that you parents had a heavy music influence on you. My parents don’t even listen to anything in the car during car rides! SO bizarre =P

    xoxo Rina Samantha

    1. Aw I’m pleased you saw the outside at least as it’s pretty cool! Hopefully you will be in LA again and you can go inside if your cousin is based out here. My hubby is great at finding music too. Pretty much all the men in my life are. My my brother has also heavily influenced me over the years. That’s funny that your parents don’t listen to music to when driving but perhaps it makes them better drivers. When I passed my test in the UK I didn’t listen to music for a while for fear it would distract me. I hope to see you in LA again soon 🙂 xx

    1. Ahaha – thank you, it’s the blue head phones ;p I didn’t realise you live so close to here! Next time I’m there I’ll check if you’re free to join 🙂 Thank you, I love the vibes too, it’s a good way to spend your afternoon during all this rain! xx

    1. Right? It is! Aw me too! It’s fun to get lost on purpose sometimes. Thank you, I’m so pleased you liked the photos.

      All is good over here. I hope everything is well for you too 🙂 xxx

  4. I love music stores! when I was growing up my grandmother used to have a music store in Colombia. I used to go there every afternoon after school to listen to records and sing along, my favorite part of the day. These store looks so cool that by your description I felt in love with it. Can’t wait to visit when i go to LA. Thanks for sharing, beautiful! :)))

    1. Oh wow that must have been so fun! My Grandpa had an antique store but a music store is something else! I can see why that would be the favourite part of your day 🙂 You are more than welcome! I hope when you’re in LA you have time to visit and it takes you back to those afternoons after school 🙂 xxx

  5. Cute outfit and great pictures Jess! Parking/driving around Hollywood in general IS the worst! I try to steer clear of it but the entrance to Runyon is right in the general area of Amoeba. Next time I hike it I’ll definitely give you a shout but I might have to take an Uber and meet you at the trailhead to avoid the headache haha!

    1. Aw thank you! I find parking anywhere a bit of a nightmare to be honest. I get so embarrassed trying to parallel park on the side of the road when cars are trying to get by. That sounds great about hiking, however we end up getting there, I am sure it will be fun 🙂 xx

    1. Thank you! We asked permission to take pictures in there and they didn’t seem to mind at all. Yes, most things happen online for me these days too but it’s still nice to go to music stores, and try on clothes in a fitting room for a change. I hope your brother visits you soon 🙂 xx

    1. Thank you Pop. Many eons in record and antique stores combined I think. There are worse ways to spend ones time…

      Thank you for the link, that last paragraph made me laugh:

      “It makes a change from all the people visiting London who always come in just to buy The Clash London Calling on vinyl, which personally we think is a bit moronic,” said Forbes. “And people have always wanted to buy Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon on vinyl, which is also a bit depressing. People will still be buying fucking Dark Side of the Moon on vinyl when we’ve all been dead a hundred years.”

      Love you, J