The record shop bucket list.
All this year we’ve been on a hunt of the most influential, hospitable and downright essential record shops in the world. A sort of “1000 places to visit before you die” for record collectors, we’ve scoured the globe from New Delhi to Cape Town, São Paulo to Singapore to bring you a new shop every week to add to your bucket list.
Rather than rank them, these are simply the first fifty shops we’ve featured so far, each of which offers something personal and unique to the worldwide vinyl community. And we’ve barely scratched the surface. With our travels resuming in the new year, we thought it would be a nice moment to see the first 50 come together in one place.
Got tips for where we should go next? Let us know in the comments below.
Hard Wax, Berlin
Location: Paul-Lincke-Ufer 44A, 10999 Berlin, Germany
Go for: Electronic dance music
What’s the story? The cherry on top of a big year for Berlin, Hard Wax was founded in 1989 by Basic Channel duo Mark Ernestus and Moritz Von Oswald and quickly established itself at the nexus of the Berlin-Detroit axis. Located in an old factory building behind the canal in Kreuzberg, DJs of all stripes can be found on both sides of the austere metal counter, DJ Hell, Modeselektor and Marcel Dettmann all honing their trade as employees over the last two decades. Meticulously curated, like most of the city’s infamous dance music outposts, a reputation for suffering no fools has only enhanced Hard Wax’s appeal. Long-time customer Keith Fullerton Whitman calls it “the warmest, most inclusive record shop on earth”, so who are we to argue?
Rough Trade West, London
Location: 130 Talbot Road, W11 1JA, London, UK
Go for: Indie music history
What’s the story? Inspired by the communal vibe of the City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco, Geoff Travis opened Rough Trade in 1978 with a £4,000 loan from his father. He installed a reggae sound system and gave his bohemian employees equal pay and equal say.
Within six months, punk broke out, manifesting itself in flurries of 7”s that spread across the iconic shop wall like wildfire. Members of The Raincoats and Swell Maps worked behind the counter and almost overnight Rough Trade was at the epicentre of DIY and punk culture in London. By the end of ’78 Rough Trade encompassed not just a shop, but also a record label and an embryonic distribution company.
By the ’80s Travis was increasingly being diverted away from the record shop. When the business went through a financial rough patch in 1982, he sold the shop to employees Nigel House, Jude Crighton and Pete Donne. They paid £7,000 for stock and relocated to 130 Talbot Road where Rough Trade stands today.
Building on its punk rock roots, the shop has expanded to represent every facet of indie music, from dance 12″s to IDM long players and sci-fi soundtracks. With a diverse customer base stretching from local eccentrics to visiting celebs, Rough Trade West remains the vibrant cultural hub that Travis envisaged nearly 40 years ago.
Read a comprehensive history of record shops in Notting Hill here.
Dusty Groove, Chicago
Location: Dusty Groove Chicago Record Store & Warehouse, 1120 N Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL, 60622 USA
Go for: Rare and high-quality second hand records from across the spectrum.
What’s the story? It’s not often you see a record shop make the jump from online store to bricks and mortar, let alone make it this emphatically. Born after a massive crate digging trip ended in a snowstorm in the mountains of Pennsylvania, Rick Wojcik and JP Schauer established Dusty Groove as a part-time online record shop in 1996 at a time when dial-up modems were all the rage.
Success quickly followed, and the jump from part-time to full time dealership saw the pair upgrade operations rapidly, from running monthly sidewalk sales from the bedsit of a former prostitute to owning a store space with its own shop front. By the turn of the millennium Dusty Groove was pretty much a bonafide real-life record shop, catering to a global cognoscenti of rare funk, soul, disco, jazz, Latin and African music aficionados.
Widely celebrated, both online and on the ground, Dusty Groove is now going stronger than ever, reshuffling things last year to make space for another 50% more vinyl and CDs. One of the finest shops of its kind, Dusty Groove has been responsible for soundtracking more parties in the USA than pretty much anyone else, and now also run a reissue label that has revived records by Jorge Ben, Gal Costa and Dorothy Ashby among others.
Can’t wait to get their in person? Check them out online here.
New Gramophone House, New Delhi
Location: Shop No. 9, Opposite Moti Cinema, Main Road, Chandni Chowk Road, New Delhi, Delhi 110006, India
Go for: Indian classical, film music, folk and devotional records
What’s the story? It might be the last shop standing record shop in Delhi, but New Gramophone Records was actually established in, what’s now, Pakistan’s Lahore, in 1930.
Following the 1947 Partition of India, the shop relocated to its current spot, atop a shoe shop, in the bustling, hyperactive Chandni Chowk district. Run by Anuj Rajpal, son of original founder Ramesh Rajpal, the shop has become something an institution with both locals and travelling collectors.
With stacks upon stacks of Desi records to get through, it’s not always easy knowing where to begin. Tom D. Morgan, whose photographs are featured above, describes his overwhelming first visit:
“With a recording by Lata Mangeshkar on my phone, I played it to the shop assistant and so began my foray into the depths of New Gramophone House’s collection. From religious recordings in Urdu, to Bollywood B Movie soundtracks via snake charmer recordings, this was unlike any record shop experience I’ve experienced. Beautiful record artwork, stacks of 7 inches, tens of gramophones and an ambivalent manager Anuj Rajpal, reminiscent of Jack Black in High Fidelity, made the experience one that will not be soon forgotten.”
Special thanks to Tom D. Morgan for the brilliant photography and research.
Superfly Records, Paris
Location: 53 Rue Notre Dame de Nazareth, 75003 Paris, France
Go for: Curated and rare second hand soul, jazz, Brazilian, African and Latin records.
What’s the story? Paris is full of great small record shops with singular, authentic visions, and Superfly is no different. Relatively new on the scene, it launched in 2009 with a view to selling vintage and collectable records from around the world, reflecting the city’s bustling diversity with a curated selection of originals and reissues.
Active diggers themselves, individual needs are catered for when possible, resulting in a top notch reputation among the international vinyl community. Closer to home, Superfly’s Manu Boubli describes the changing demographic in the shop, which has gone from middle-aged blokes to kids of all social backgrounds, both male and female.
The store is now also the HQ for an active reissue label, bringing to life a wide variety of rare, private press or out of print records from Nigerian funk to Japanese jazz. Not the only shop to visit in the city by a long stretch but certainly one of the most exciting. Paris, we’ll be back.
Photos by Parisian collector and DJ Paloma Colombe aka Double Dove.
Disk Union Shibuya, Tokyo
Location: Antena21 Bldg. BF, 2F, 3F, 4F, 5F 30-7 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0042
Go for: More used vinyl than you can possibly fathom.
What’s the story? Established in 1967, Disk Union today is a sprawling network of vinyl shops spanning Shinjuku, Ochanomizu, Shibuya and since 2015, Osaka city.
Don’t let the size of the flagship Shinjuku branch fool you though; it’s the Shibuya outlet that’ll blow your mind. There’s an astonishing number, somewhere in the hundreds of thousands, of new and used records from right across the genre-spectrum, conveniently filed by floor.
The first two floors cover used vinyl of every stripe, so the perfect place to head if you’re an omnivorous beast. Up a flight of steps and you’re in dance and hip hop heaven. Keeping going up for punk, hardcore and heavy metal and various derivatives. Meanwhile downstairs in the basement is where you’ll find the sort of rare groove, soul and jazz that Discogs wantlists are made of.
With tonnes of rare Japanese pressings knocking around, don’t be surprised if you leave with an overdrawn bank balance and an overstepped flight allowance.
Rockers International, Kingston
Location: 135 Orange St, Kingston, Jamaica
Go for: Reggae music! Ska, rocksteady, lovers rock, dub, dancehall and more.
What’s the story? Orange Street was the birthplace of reggae. From Sir Coxsone Dodd to Bob Marley, practically every Jamaican artist had a base on the strip. Dennis Brown and Prince Buster were even born there.
Locals used to call it ‘Beat Street’, but now after decades of quiet, Orange Street is ‘Ghost Street’. Its studios, shops and vinyl wagons have all but vanished. Rockers International and Randy’s are the last remaining vinyl shops in downtown Kingston and quite possibly the whole of Jamaica.
The story of Rockers starts with one Augustus Pablo. After falling ill and dropping out of school in the late ’60s, Pablo began holding neighbourhood dances with his brother to earn a small income. The sound system became known as ‘Rockers’ and from there Pablo ventured into recording. Although he was famed for introducing the melodica into roots reggae, he was just as prolific in the studio, launching his own label and record shop in the ’70s to showcase the work of others.
“Music is our biggest export,” says Mitchie Williams who manages the shop today. “More than banana, yam, sugar, more than even sports. Reggae music is the greatest thing that Jamaica has ever created.” Rockers International survives on exporting records to reggae lovers around the world.
Williams, who tries to strike a balance between keeping the shop current whilst also enshrining its history, is currently refurbishing the building. He hopes Rockers won’t fade away like the other stores and studios that once lined Orange Street.
If you’re in Jamaica, a visit to Rockers (and Randy’s) is a must.
Photography: Alexander Richter for Seven Clash
Wally’s Groove World, Antwerp
Location: Lange Nieuwstraat 126, 2000 Antwerp, Belgium
Go for: Dance music from Belgian new wave to Detroit techno, with a sideline in soundtracks and the avant garde
What’s the story? Founded by Koenie van Immerseel back in 1997, Wally’s Groove World has held things down for DJs in the low countries for almost two decades now. A one man band of sorts, he’s grown the shop into a serious player on the club scene, on a par with Phonica Records in London and Amsterdam’s Rush Hour, with whom he co-curated a released a compilation of ’80s Belgian wave back in 2011.
On the shop floor, Wally’s deals in new and second hand records from across the electronic dance music spectrum, covering the European scene as well as house, techno and acid from Detroit and Chicago, combining classic and new school under one technicolour wall display. Being located close to one of the biggest ports in the world obviously has its benefits.
Counting The Idjut Boys, Juan Atkins, Lindstrøm and Richie Hawtin as customers will give you a good sense of the level Wally’s operates at. That said, it’s not restricted to the DJ cognoscenti, with new wave and experimental collectors like Finders Keepers’ Andy Votel also spotted rummaging the racks.
Open five days a week from 11.00-18.30 (avoid Tuesdays and Sundays), Wally’s also operate a top online store and Discogs page, through which you’ll also be able to get hold of releases on the store’s in-house label that seeks to champion lesser heard Belgian producers.
Wax Museum Records, Melbourne
Location: Shop 2, Campbell Arcade (Flinders Street Subway), Melbourne, Australia
Go for: Beatsy vibes; lots of hip-hop, dusty jazz, funk, soul as well as ‘must have’ Melbourne-made exclusives
What’s the story? Quite literally an underground gem, Wax Museum is nestled away in the subway tunnel leading to Melbourne’s central train station.
The shop opened its doors in February 2006 with the aim of serving Australia’s most vibrant city with an equally vibrant supply of records. Founded by accomplished local DJs Aux One and Mixa, the store has since become both a quirky but essential fixture of the city’s music scene, not to mention a bit of an institution worldwide.
Good chunks of the store are dedicated to hip-hop, both foreign and local, as well as soul, funk, jazz, beats and electronic styles. Paired with a generous lashing of the weird (think Anime soundtracks, ambient experiments and sound art) and you’ve got a shop stock worth writing home about.
The Wax Museum label has also been making moves, including early gold from Inkswel, local output by Dyl Thomas, Aoi and Splendour – right through to recent contributions by Plutonic Lab, Guilty Simpson and Count Bass D.
Location: Cl. 36 #40-17, Barranquilla, Atlántico, Colombia
Go for: Latin dust
What’s the story? Don’t let its unassuming exterior fool you, Discolombia is truly a cave. Through the main room is a warehouse space, split across two floors and accessible only via special request. Be warned, it’s dark and dirty in there (mice and rats dirty) but a treasure chest no less. If you’re prepared to filter through decaying bits, original pressings of salsa, palenque and champeta await.
The store is located in Barranquilla, which used to be called the Golden Gate of Colombia because it served as the gateway into the country. Once the biggest port in Colombia, Barranquilla acted as a melting pot of cultures, goods and also records. Influxes of international LPs would land on to its shores, washing in with the city’s own distinct traditions.
At one point Barranquilla could count forty-odd record shops on its bustling streets but today Discolombia is the only store that solely deals in records, the last place to find this unique mix of records. The shop is also home to the classic Colombian label Felito Records.
Waterloo Records, Austin
Location: 600A N Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78703, United States
Go for: In-stores, Texan psychedelia (and just about everything else)
What’s the story? From 13th Floor Elevators and Red Krayola to Johnny “Guitar” Watson, Khruangbin and Explosions In the Sky to Shit & Shine, Texas has a fine history of producing psychedelic (with a small p) music of the highest calibre, pushing and stretching genre boundaries from the Great Plains to the Gulf Of Mexico. Nye on equidistant between the State’s two sprawling metropolis’ Dallas and Houston, Austin has, musically speaking, outgrown its noisy neighbours to nurture an enviable local and international scene.
Playing a significant role in this evolution since it opened in 1982 is Waterloo Records, a record shop and vinyl hub that has itself expanded from a 1,200 sq ft space to the spacious 6,400 sq ft the main store enjoys today. Proud of its heritage, the store still gives prominent space to Texan musicians, although the remit is now broad and international, carrying new and second hand music across formats, DVDs, magazines, turntables, merchandise and tickets. It’s a one-stop indie record shop in the most traditional sense of the word.
Frequently listed in the same bracket as Amoeba in LA, Waterloo also hosts frequent in stores the year round, and with a star-studded cast of past performers (Nirvana, MBV, Animal Collective and St. Vincent to name a few) Waterloo has become so much more than just a record shop.
Phonica Records, London
Location: 51 Poland St, Soho, London W1F 7LZ
Go for: The best new dance music, from house and techno to disco and edits
What’s the story? When Phonica Records opened in 2003, it entered an environment of decline. Record shops in Soho were closing, vinyl sales were at an all time low and Dido’s Life For Rent was the year’s best selling album. How times have changed.
Aside from being an independent record shop that counts a who’s who of international DJs as regulars (Four Tet, Floating Points, Caribou, Dixon to name a few), Phonica has been instrumental in bringing a new type of record shop to the fore. Where shops previously limited themselves to specific genres, manager Simon Rigg encourages a “broad church” approach to dance music, offering everything from rare soul 7″s to library soundtracks to big room house and techno 12″s.
And where other “one-stop-shops” can lack the breadth of knowledge to match the variety on offer, Phonica’s prowess lies behind the counter, in its staff and the grand wall of vinyl that looms over them.
Hosting regular in-stores, legendary Record Store Day parties and live streams, it has cemented a reputation at the heart of London’s international club scene and now also boasts an overseas outpost at The Store in Berlin.
In their own words: “Fads come and go but we still always sell good dance music, that’s basically it.”
Råkk & Rålls, Oslo, Norway
Location: Akersgata 39, 0158 Oslo, Norway
Go for: Everything second hand, from Norse metal & Nordic disco
What’s the story? Råkk & Rålls may not be much to look at from the outside, but don’t let that put you off. This Oslo store is a mecca for second hand vinyl, and a mythical vortex where time and space takes on new meaning.
Like the wardrobe to Narnia, the unassuming shop front opens out into three floors of records and assorted ephemera, a hoarder’s paradise and the last place you should go if you’re into sleek and minimal Scandinavian design.
But then again, that’s not why we’re here. Having built something of a folkloric reputation for its immense basement of vinyl, Råkk & Rålls isn’t the kind of shop you can just pop into, and you can expect most sensible visits to soak up the best part of your afternoon, with the most dedicated of diggers reaping the greatest benefits.
The selection of second hand records is as broad as you’d expect, from Norse metal to cosmic disco as well as mountains of retro merch and vintage gear to keep you busy. Not bad for a shop that looks like a budget CD shack from the outside.
A little logistical note, rumour has it that Råkk & Rålls will be moving to an even more central spot later this year so keep an eye out if you happen to be visiting.
Groove Merchant, San Francisco
Location: 687 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117, United States
Go for: High-grade rare groove.
What’s the story? Opened by Ubiquity Records boss Michael McFadin back in 1990, Groove Merchant was originally part of Rooky Ricardo’s legendary Haight Street record store. The shop has cycled through owners and locations and today is back on Haight, right across the road from Ricardo’s.
Now owned by Chris Veltri, the neighbourhood institution – whose name is a nod to the ’70s jazz and R&B label – is undoubtedly Fog City’s premier collector’s shop. Come here for jaw-dropping jazz originals, Latin-galore, folk-funk, heavy hip-hop and boogie gems. No digging required!
The shop might look tiny next to Haight-Ashbury’s imposing Amoeba Records, but every inch of its cosy 700-square-footage has been put to good use. With a dedicated listening deck and friendly, clued-up staff, don’t expect to leave this place empty handed.
Go behind the counter with Groove Merchant, as they pick 5 super-rare funk and soul records in our video here.
Dub Store Record Mart, Tokyo
Location: 7 -13-5 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku, Tokyo 160-0023, Japan
Go for: The finest reggae and dub outside of Kingston.
What’s the story: Founded by Naoki Ienaga, Dub Store began life as a mail order business back in 1993 shipping rare reggae 45s to a small but dedicated community of Japanese dub heads.
By the time he opened a physical space in 1997, Dub Store had already established itself as a world leader in Jamaican music, as one of the only outlets in Japan importing wax direct from Kingston, with a particular ear for the two decades between 1960 and 1982.
Named after the legendary Studio One catalogue, Dub Store has been so embedded in the Jamaican music industry that the slow collapse of the island’s pressing plants reverberated in Tokyo, forcing the store to set up its own label to reissue and repress the records it would otherwise have sourced directly.
With over 400 titles under its belt, the label now distributes to shops around the world, and has in some ways become the de facto home from home for Jamaican music. 30% of their custom now comes from abroad.
Back in Tokyo, the bricks and mortar establishment services a vibrant local reggae scene of Japanese producers, DJs, first timers and hardcore collectors alike with new and second hand releases as well as an unparalleled collection of rare reggae and dub 45s you’re not going to find anywhere else.
Red Light Records, Amsterdam
Location: Oudekerksplein 26, 1012 GZ Amsterdam, Netherlands
Go for: Euro boogie, New Age, Japanese synth-pop, Bollywood and other oddball treasures.
What’s the story: Forget the magic truffles, the brothels and the blue cheese; this is the best thing in the ‘hood.
In recent years the government has tried to reclaim Amsterdam’s red-light district, also the oldest part of town, by encouraging local businesses to open up in former brothel properties. After Orpheo De Jong setup the radio station in a red light window, diggers Tako Reyenga and Abel Nagengast turned a vacant spot in the same building into Red Light Records.
Expertly curated with jaw-dropping originals, the shop stock is smaller but way better than your average. The focus is certainly on second hand but you’ll also find a small selection of new releases, mostly from friends of the shop – so expect items on Music From Memory, Growing Bin and that guard of reissue label.
You’ll need to ring the buzzer for access. Make sure you pop-in to Vintage Voudou next door and why not stick around for a live radio show.
Atom Heart, Montreal
Location: 364 Rue Sherbrooke E, Montréal, QC H2X 1E6, Canada
Go for: Good music of all stripes.
What’s the story: Atom Heart was started in 1999 by Raymond Trudel and Francis Gosselin who had met years earlier whilst working in a bookstore. The pair had struggled to find certain records and CDs they wanted locally so decided to fill the gap with their own brick-and-mortar.
At the time there was a dynamic music scene in Montreal, bolstered by the rise of post-rock and a boom in electronic music. Despite all that, the pair say, local Montreal stores were very genre-specific.
Their main goal for Atom Heart was – and still is – to stock a carefully hand-picked selection of titles from a wide-variety of genres, as well as offer local labels an outlet. The shop also provides a personalized special-order service for items that they may not have in stock so you can get almost anything here.
Can Records, Copenhagen
Location: Tullinsgade 5, 1618 Copenhagen V, Denmark
Go for: A bespoke offering of alternative dance and hard-to-find records.
What’s the story? And Can Records is very much a destination. Independently run by Martin Aalykke Kristiansen and his wife, the shop has built a reputation as the go to for dealers and DJs passing through the Danish capital. And don’t just take our word for it, over in LA latter day DJ and collector Elijah Wood swears by Can’s selection.
Located just off the main street in Frederiksberg, amongst cafés and bigger record shops, Can Records is typically understated; there are few signs of vinyl life until you reach the second room where the montage of records on the wall points the way to the crates below.
But anyone looking to spend a day elbow deep in dusty crates will be disappointed. Can Records is expertly curated by Martin based on his buyers’ personal tastes, keeping his stock to a bare minimum. All killer, then.
What you can expect is the finest selection of early electronic, ambient, new wave, disco, rare groove and world records for the head and the feet. Just let Martin take you there.
Amoeba Music, Los Angeles
Location: 6400 Sunset Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90028
Go for: An overwhelming shopping experience
What’s the story? Opened in 2001, Amoeba Music Hollywood is a hangar-sized emporium with an utterly awe-inspiring catalogue of music that makes Tower Records look positively quaint.
Quite possibly the largest entertainment store in the whole of US, the shop occupies an entire city block on Sunset Blvd. In motorists terms, there’s a back parking lot, an underground parking garage and street parking, and even then parking can be tough.
The shop stocks millions of titles on vinyl, CD, tapes, 8-track and DVD, new and used, obscure and essential, and the stockpile is constantly evolving as customers trade in old collections. Spread across two ludicrously large floors, must-visit areas include the Jazz room, the Out of Print section, the Punk aisle and sections dedicated to pop culture ephemera.
The Amoeba Music chain was originally established in 1990 with a branch in Berkley. Seven years later Amoeba crossed the Bay to open its San Francisco location, in a converted bowling alley at the eastern edge of Golden Gate Park. These shops are also well worth a visit next time you’re in Berkley or San Fran.
Mabu Vinyl, Cape Town
Location: 2 Rheede St, Gardens, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa
Go for: A slice of movie history
What’s the story? Mabu Vinyl was established in 2001 by Jacques Vosloo, who now co-owns it with Stephen Segerman.
Aside from the awesome stock of vinyl, CDs, DVDs, cassettes and comic books, the main thing you need to know about Mabu is that it’s basically a movie artefact. A visit here is a bit like going to the Harry Potter Studios or doing a film location tour except without the gimmicks and loads of annoying tourists for company.
The shop proudly wears its association with acclaimed doc Searching for Sugar Man, which tells the story of Sixto Rodriguez – once touted as the new Dylan – who disappeared into obscurity after his ’70s album bombed. Ironically, without ever knowing it, he became the voice of a generation in apartheid South Africa; more famous than Elvis and more influential than the Rolling Stones.
When Mabu co-owner Stephen “Sugar” Segerman heard that Rodriguez might be dead, he set off on a mind-boggling hunt for the ‘lost’ musician to discover what had become of him and, if alive, to bring him to South Africa for a surprise victory lap.
[Spoiler Alert!] “There were all sorts of rumours so I decided to find out, eventually discovering he was actually very much alive,” says Stephen. “It was a total shock. And Rodriguez was just as shocked to find out how popular he was here.”
If you haven’t already, watch the documentary or better yet, drop by Mabu for a chat with Stephen and the gang.
Rubadub Records, Glasgow
Location: 35 Howard St, Glasgow, Lanarkshire G1 4BA
Go for: An underground 12″ and audio gear
What’s the story? Established in August 1992, Rubadub has always been an important hub for Glasgow’s forward-thinking underground scene. What started as a straight-up dance music shop quickly expanded into an electronic music mecca, stocking recording equipment, DJ gear and all the latest in music tech. The store also now runs a blossoming distribution company, supplying vinyl to shops around the world.
Perhaps Rubadub’s finest asset is its staff: friendly and knowledgeable music lovers that always go out on a limb to help you select your first midi controller, audio interface, the best in studio monitors, analogue synthesisers or, of course, that club-ready twelve inch you didn’t even know existed.
The stock spans techno, house, dubstep, disco, hip-hop, reggae, soul, jazz and everything in between but without doubt the Rubadub expertise remains rooted in new and underground sounds from Glasgow to Chicago.
As they say: “Whether you’re a vinyl lover, digital DJ, bedroom producer, singer-songwriter, drummer or run a professional studio, Rubadub welcomes and caters for all.”
Tropicália Discos, Rio de Janeiro
Location: Praça Olavo Bilac, 28 – Sala 207 – Centro, Rio de Janeiro – RJ, 20041-010, Brazil
Go for: MPB of all stripes
What’s the story? Tucked away on the second floor of a nondescript building in the bustling heart of Rio’s downtown Centro district is a 30sq metre vinyl goldmine. Over the last twelve years, Márcio Rocha and Bruno Alonso have built a reputation as the go-to for Brazilian music in the city, recommended and frequented by Cariocas and visitors alike for its uncompromising selection of Música Popular Brasileira – the catch-all term for the country’s diverse samba, soul, disco, jazz and rock and pop scene.
With new arrivals at the counter and a floor-to-ceiling of MPB down one wall (A-Z male & female artists, catalogued, as across the country, by first names), there’s more than enough to occupy the casual buyer, while Márcio, whose English is brilliant, is always on hand to pull out rarities for more demanding collectors. Expect everything from classic Caetano, Gil and Gal to obscure Pernambucan psych, sought-after samba, soundtracks and Quarteto Em Cy.
Counting national stars like Ed Motta and Marcelo D2 as customers, as well as pointing curious international DJs like Gilles Peterson in the right direction when they’re in town, Tropicália also carries a fine line in jazz, US funk and soul and Western rock, first editions of which you can pick up for a song compared with prices back home.
And if you’re not already booking your flight, check out the superb YouTube channel the shop runs with over 500, often obscure, Brazilian tracks. They do ship internationally, after all.
Location: 105 Northdown Rd, Margate CT9 2QY, England, UK
Go for: Cult soundtracks, art and toys.
What’s the story? Located in the increasingly hip seaside town of Margate, Transmission finally opened its doors at the start of 2016. Launched by Death Waltz Recording Co. founder Spencer Hickman and artist Kimberley Holladay, the soundtrack specialist shop also doubles as a gallery and toy store.
Come here for an expert selection of used and new vinyl, collectibles, original artwork and prints. The vinyl stock is an extension of what the duo have been retailing online for some time now, so expect a large selection from Mondo, One Way Static, Waxworks and their own label, and an entire section dedicated to rare Japanese imports.
Setup by Spencer Hickman, previously a Rough Trade employee, Death Waltz has only been around since 2011, but it’s swiftly become one of the world’s most renowned sources of horror soundtracks, releasing gloriously deluxe reissues of John Carpenter (Assault on Precinct 13, Halloween), Fabio Frizzi (Zombie Flesh Eaters), Justin Greaves (The Devil’s Business) and more.
For its soundtrack expertise and unbridled obsession with gothic horror, Transmission is shaping up to be an essential stop on the world circuit.
Public Possession, Munich
Location: Klenzestraße 16, 80469 München, Germany
Go for: Specialist dance 12″s
What’s the story? A hub for all of long-time friends Marvin and Valentino’s creative endeavours, Public Possession is more than just a record shop. With an aesthetic that would make most design studios look kitsch, the hyper-cool Munich outpost the nerve centre of a label that, with the likes of Bell Towers on board, is honing a post-punk, post-boogie sound that’s sent tremors through the European underground.
The record shop itself is a thing of beauty, housing a highly curated selection in minimal surroundings, defined by a “Bavaria tropical” combination of pine and palm. Following something of a manifesto, the label and store go hand in hand in communicating Marvin and Valentino’s various creative endeavours, where the main vehicle is a 12″ record.
And on the shop floor you can expect such 12″s from international labels like Optimo and Future Times (who you’re bound to find on the shop’s rotary mixer at its regular in-stores) alongside the local artists, all hand-picked with and eye for what fits rather than what will sell. Based in a city that has a relatively small market for underground dance music, and an even smaller stock of DJs, building an international reputation has elevated Public Possession into one of the most conceptually interesting stores around.
“For us Public Possession is not just the label and the shop,” Valentino told Resident Advisor. “It’s more like a total of things that are fun to do and to design… We want to build a whole PP world.”
Real Groovy, Aukland
Location: 369 Queen St, Auckland, 1010, New Zealand
Go for: The wow factor
What’s the story? Founded in 1981 by Chris Hart (the current owner) and Chris Priestly, Real Groovy is Auckland’s oldest and biggest second hand record store. In fact – putting L.A.’s enormous Amoeba Music to one side – not many shops worldwide compare in size.
Real Groovy has weathered a chequered past, moving location multiple times and just about managing to survive the 2008 recession – when lots of store worldwide closed – to revitalise itself as vinyl-orientated fun palace.
Apparently past customers have been as varied as Kurt Cobain and Stephen Fry. The shop says that it has “the classic Kiwi relaxed attitude towards fame, where we leave people alone to enjoy their time and not pester them for autographs or photos.” Celebrity or not, bus loads of visitors pile into the store on a daily basis for this completely record store experience. Don’t be surprised if you see people posing for photos under the neon sign.
The warehouse-like operation covers an enormous vinyl and CD collection, pop-culture ephemera, DVDs, tees, books graphic novels, quirky homeware, figurines and even their own brand of soda pop. Humorous and upbeat staff help keep the vibe super friendly.
A feast for the eyes as well as the ears, it’s hard to imagine Auckland without Real Groovy.
Location: 1st Floor, 985-11, Bangbae-dong, Seocho-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Go for: Hip-hop and its roots
What’s the story? Rm360 is the pride and joy of DJ Soulscape, a tireless crate digger and a mainstay of Seoul’s rapidly evolving scene.
Established in 2011, the store stocks a diverse collection of second hand vinyl spanning jazz, soul, funk and ’80s hip-hop. There’s also a section dedicated to Korean music and a selection of new records, mostly hip-hop and modern funk. As well as vinyl, you’ll also find magazines like Sneeze and Wax Poetics as well as prints, clothes, hats, bags and skateboard decks.
“Record stores in Seoul had no information on what to buy for hip-hop DJs,” says Soulscape. “There was no record store really dedicated to vinyl diggers either. We want to give tips to young diggers and open them up to a range of music tastes.”
The shop is currently run by DJ Soulscape, DJ Jeyon, and Maalib – who are all members of 360 Sounds, a collective of artists and tastemakers based in Seoul. 360 Sounds sets veer from hip-hop to electro, from afrobeat and bossa to Korean pop, with jazz, funk and boogie on the way. Spend an hour in the shop and their eclectic approach is sure to rub off.
Location: 32 Rue Saint-Sébastien, 75011 Paris, France
Go for: Original pressings from psych to disco.
What’s the story? As much as we love the Amoebas, Rough Trades and Disk Unions of this world, the essence of the independent record shop lies very much in its personality as defined by the people who work there.
Betino’s in Paris is a proper neighbourhood store – the kind of place where everyone knows your name – and an established specialist in all thinks funk, soul, disco, house and Latin. Come on, what’s not to love about a place that even has a dedicated Patrick Adams section?
A stickler for original pressings, it’s a selection which reflects the area’s diverse communities, close to the boisterous Oberkampf district. As Betino likes to say: “Here, it’s like our home – where we eat, where we drink, where we meet people”.
Around since 1999, it preserves an atmosphere that has cast DJs, collectors and passers by under its spell and a great example of a store that doesn’t need gimmicks to rank among the world’s best.
Side One, Warsaw
Location: Chmielna 21, 00-001 Warszawa, Poland
Go for: Community vibes and a 12″
What’s the story? No trip to Warsaw is complete without a rummage at our favourite Polish rare cuts institute.
Located in a small backyard in central Warsaw and run by Wojtek Żdanuk aka DJ WWW, Side One has been supplying Poland’s DJs with new and used material for over a decade now.
Like all the best record stores, it’s also an important meeting point: the musical town centre where artists, promoters and collectors come together to exchange ideas and collaborate. As Groh of U Know Me Records put it, “Side One turns out to be a witness of all the evolutions and revolutions in all the labels I’m running.”
Last year, the store celebrated its 10th birthday with Side One Ten – a survey of Poland’s cutting-edge electronic scene, released on spin-off label S1 Warsaw and crowd-funded by the local community.
Princeton Record Exchange, Princeton
Location: 20 S Tulane St, Princeton, NJ 08542, United States
Go for: A rabbit hole of records
What’s the story? Barry Weisfeld is the original owner of PREX (as it’s often lovingly called). Weisfeld had spent five years, starting in 1975, sleeping in his van and selling records on street corners, college campuses, fleamarkets or wherever he could find a space.
Tiring of road life, he decided to settle on a location, opening the first incarnation of PREX at 20 Nassau St, Princeton. The store was soon overwhelmed by growing stock and growing customers, so in ’85 moved to its present location at 20 S Tulane St, a massive 400m2 space.
Customers, both local and international, come for the rabbit hole experience; a seemingly never-ending, continually updating archive of quality, well-priced records. PREX is thought to have the largest selection on the East Coast, with close 150,000 music titles and over 10,000 DVDs. If you’ve ever been to an Amoeba, you’ll know what you’re getting in to.
An essential stop on the great American record store circuit, here’s the final word from LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy:
“I grew up in basically a small farm town [in southern New Jersey] and if it wasn’t for the Princeton Record Exchange, I might as well have grown up in the armpit of the world…The Record Exchange saved my life.”
Snickars Records, Stockholm
Location: Hökens gata 11, 116 46 Stockholm, Sweden
Go for: Dance music of all stripes, from disco to tech house.
What’s the story: While discovering records can be exciting, sometimes even just finding the shop is reward enough. Not immediately obvious, Snickars is hidden behind and beneath a small art gallery, a cranky doorway leading to a dimly lit staircase that opens out into a huge basement space sure to get your pulse racing.
With over twenty years experience selling records in Stockholm, Mika Snickars’ subterranean supermarket is something of a dance music institution, stocking a huge range of second hand vinyl and select 12″s from local and international producers.
If funk and soul if your thing, Snickars have a whole area dedicated to 7″s, where you can get your fingers dirty rooting through box after box of vinyl. Unlike other more curated spots, Snickars rewards those who dig the deepest, so make sure you come with time and patience to spare.
The rest of the shop is dominated by aisles of 12″s and albums from breakbeat to dub techno, the slightly tatty, chaotic vibe adding to the sense of intrigue.
There’s also a sofa corner for hanging out or taking a breather when things are quiet and occasional in-stores when Mika and the gang aren’t out at festivals or record fairs.
Needless to say, among the thousands and thousands of records here you’re bound to come away with something special. Ask nicely and you might even get to see the backroom.
Tracks, Rio de Janeiro
Location: Pça Santos Dumont 140 Baixo Gavea, 22470060 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Go for: MPB, of course.
What’s the story? While Rio may not have the same reputation for record shops that Sao Paulo does (keep an eye out in the next few weeks for that), the spiritual home of samba does offer a huge variety of options.
And while digging in the city is now harder than ever, there are still enough dusty second hand spots to get your kicks. Tracks, however is not one of them. At the other end of the record store spectrum, it’s as much a bookshop and cultural hub, with the arts, literature and cinema also catered for.
Tucked away upstairs however you’ll find a vinyl corner that will set your heart a fluttering, with a curated selection of classic Brazilian MPB along side cheaper crates and a fair few 7″s. While the selection is modest, there’s more than enough here for those still discovering the scene.
The said, it’s also a fine spot to pick up cheap original pressings of US funk, soul, jazz and everything in between. While demand for Brazilian records in Rio has sent prices soaring, Tracks is as good a spot as any to grab a bargain on records you’d pay a chunk for back home.
Oye Records, Berlin
Location: Oderberger Str. 4, 10435 Berlin (pictured) & Friedelstraße 49, 12047 Berlin, Germany
Go for: The full dance music spectrum
What’s the story? Run by Delfonic, Berlin’s hardest working DJ, and disco head Tinko, Oye began life nestled in the basement of a house in the heart of Prenzlauerberg has since spread its wing to Kreuzkölln where an outpost flies the flag south of the river.
In recent years, the store has become central to the city’s new analogue house scene; something of a community centre for upstart producers like Max Graef and Glenn Astro with a hand in burgeoning label Money $ex that’s making waves all the way to Japan.
The first port for imports from the US and UK underground, and a desirable line in local exclusives from the likes of Eddie C and Disco Halal’s Moscoman, Oye stocks ‘dance music’ in the broadest possible sense, from jazz and afro, to house, techno, and a fine selection of hip hop and beats. For those new to the shop, their excellent selection of reissues is also worth a dig.
In-stores that regularly spill out onto the street keep friends and visitors close, and mark Oye as one of the city’s most active record shops, a place to meet and discover new music like every proper record shop should be.
The Electric Fetus, Minneapolis
Location: 2000 4th Ave. S, Minneapolis, MN 55404 / 12 E Superior St., Duluth, MN 55802
Go for: A little piece of Twin Cities history
What’s the story? Simultaneously voted “worst name for a business” and “best place to shop in America” in its 48 year history, Electric Fetus has seen it all. Founded in Mineapolis’ very own Haight-Ashbury the same year that Hendrix released Electric Ladyland, the shop’s early incarnation was one of ritual liberation.
From leaving the shop vacant but for a note that customers please leave money for their purchases by the till, to the infamous Streakers’ Sale, where the naked could shop for free, Electric Fetus embraced the spirit of the ’60s and gathered a dedicated cult following as a result.
Located in its current spot since the ’70s and now with another outpost in Duluth, The Electric Fetus is an old-school record shop in the most wholesome sense of the word – there to put its customers onto new and second hand music from across genres, while also paying a debt to local acts through ticket sales, vibrant in-store gigs and all the merch you could hope to get your hands on.
And why not? At the Minneapolis HQ, the space is large and the shelves well-stocked, with an estimated 50,000 records to choose from, six of which Prince popped in to cop on his final record shopping spree just days before his death earlier this year. A weighty recommendation indeed.
Discos Paradiso, Barcelona
Location: Carrer de Ferlandina, 39, 08001 Barcelona, Spain
Go for: A laboratory of electronics
What’s the story? Co-owner Gerad Condemines used to work at local store La Ruta Natural whilst fellow native Catalan Arnau Farrés would sell flea market finds on Discogs. Their joint obsession with rarities sent them hunting for vinyl all over Europe. Eventually they decided to channel their efforts into a brick-and-mortar, opening Discos Paradiso in the Raval neighbourhood.
Since its inception in the Raval neighbourhood in April 2010, the store has become a focus point for Barcelona’s dance and experimental scene. Barcelona’s answer to Hardwax or Phonica, you won’t find steals, randomly-stacked LPs or bargain bin items here, but you will find all the very best and the latest in electronic music.
Set against a backdrop of exposed white brick, the store is bright, minimal and easy to navigate, and its kicking backroom sound-system regularly plays host to in-stores and lives shows. As Sónar put it a few years ago, “if an electronica scene exists in Barcelona, its epicenter is surely the vinyl record shop Discos Paradiso.”
Flur Discos, Lisbon
Location: Avenida Infante D. Henrique, Armazém B4 Cais da Pedra – Santa Apolónia, 1900 Lisboa, Portugal
Go for: A river-side adventure
What’s the story? Perfect for cooling down after a boozy day in the sun, Flur delightfully spills out on to the River Tagus waterfront. And it’s just a stones throw from Portugal’s premier nightclub Lux Fragil, if you fancy a post-digging shakedown.
The shop was founded in 2001 by Pedro Santos and José Moura, who exhaustively lists “pop, rock, noise, electronica, jazz, drone, experimental, krautrock, house, techno, disco, boogie, italo, hip hop, dub, reggae, funk, soul, library, dubstep, UK funky, country, film music, African and latin styles, ambient, improvised and others I’m sure I’m forgetting right now” among its relatively modest selection. Basically, you’ll find everything here.
Moura says the Lisbon scene is thriving and that the shop plays its role in representing the vast swathes of releases put out by local labels. The city’s electronic scene is particular exciting, with a generation of music makers, playing, sampling and reinterpreting old records from Portugal’s former colonies. Indeed Moura – alongside Márcio Matos, André Ferreira and Nelson Gomes – runs Principe Discos, a label dedicated to release “100% real contemporary dance music coming out of this city, its suburbs, projects and slums.”
Once you’ve ticked Flur off your digging itinerary, try these top Lisboa records shops and don’t forget to visit a flea market or two.
Euclid Records, New Orleans
Location: 3301 Chartres St, New Orleans, LA 70117
Go for: New Orleans jazz, rare vinyl and quality titles of all genres.
What’s the story? Euclid Records was founded in 1983 in the Central West End of St. Louis. Joe Schwab bought it from the ashes of Wuxtry Records that still exists as a store in Athens, GA. Schwab has owned it since then and they’re still kicking in St. Louis all these years later.
The sister store, Euclid NOLA, was opened in 2010 thanks to the persuasive initiative of James Weber (who Schwab knew from St. Louis) and Brian Bromberg. Schwab supplied the name, the stock and fixtures and Weber and Bloomberg supplied the vibe to create something that was new, yet seemed to be there forever.
As Schwab says: “In our 32 years in business, we’ve seen people’s need for record stores go up and down. It’s up to us to create an atmosphere of comfort and build a trust with the customer base, so they know the record we turn them on to don’t suck.” the philosophy at Euclid is simple: “You want it to feel like an old shoe, but you don;t want it to smell like an old shoe.”
The total area of the store located in the Bywater neighbourhood is developed on two levels with all kinds of genres (soul, jazz, easy listening, new age, world, rock, rap/hip-hop, reggae, gospel, country, bluegrass, folk, classic etc.
The selection is impressive and very well organized, the staff are friendly and the spot unique. An essential place to visit.
Honest Jon’s Records, London
Location: 278 Portobello Rd, London W10 5TE
Go for: Jazz, reggae, outernational, dance, blues, folk, soul & funk – and community vibes
What’s the story? Honest Jon’s has been serving west London’s most vibrant community, in more ways than one, since 1974. Sociology lecturer John Clare was researching gang membership in Paddington at the time, but he leapt at the opportunity to start trading jazz records when an old butcher’s became available on Golbourne Road.
“It never completely lost its identity as a butchers shop,” Clare says. Meat hooks adorned the back room, walls were ensanguined and Clare traded records over a giant solid marble slab. “For two years a young customer who drove a meat lorry called in twice a week and paid for his entire record collection with raw meat; mainly beef.”
In the ’80s the shop moved to its current Portobello home, where Clare also launched the Boplicity label with a mission to reissue jazz greats. As it expanded, it increasingly became an informal university for music lovers; the shop counts Roger Beaujolais, Neil Barnes of Leftfield, The Wire founder Anthony Wood, Gilles Peterson and James Lavelle within its alumni. As Clare explained to us, the shop also began to perform the role of de facto community asylum, when Margaret Thatcher’s policy of Community Care hit Britain in 1983.
In 1992, Clare passed the shop on to employees Mark Ainley and Alan Scholefield, who expanded the selection to encompass music from around the world. In creative partnership with Notting Hill local Damon Albarn, they also launched the Honest Jon’s label, which has released an incredibly diverse and adventurous range of music over the past fifteen years.
Notting Hill might today be a playground for bankers and gawking movie tourists, but Honest Jon’s remains a crucial bridge to the area’s counter-culture roots. From dub heads to stray locals, the cast rolling through Honest Jon’s never fails to entertain; rarely will you find a place with such a strong sense of community.
Casarão do Vinil, São Paulo
Location: Rua dos Trilhos 1212, São Paulo
Go for: Quite literally, a house of records
What’s the story? Have you heard the story about the Brazilian Bus Magnate, Zero Freitas, who has been buying millions of records in São Paulo? Well, the owner of Casarão do Vinil, Jorge, sold Zero Freitas about 750,000 LPs and about 50,000 7”s. Jorge has been buying large collections of records since the early 2000s and has been selling records in different locations throughout the Mooca neighbourhood.
Officially opened to the public in 2014, it’s a place where one can get lost in records for the entire day, even week, as each room in the house has a mix of Brazilian music and jazz/rock/soul from all over the world. Each section of the house is divided by price therefore you can sit in a room that only has records for $30BRL, $50BRL and so on.
Downstairs, there is a batch of about 20 boxes of 7”s which often has great records below market value and they frequently run sales where if you buy a certain amount of records, you also get to take home another record for free. Make sure you go outside to the back part of the house too, where there is an outdoor area that’s also full of records. Every single corner of the house has records, even the kitchen!
The overall vibe of the house is unique and friendly as the house is well decorated with various antiques and musical artefacts. There are about six dogs that live there and Jorge keeps a mix of staff who are knowledgeable about the music, as well as younger workers, to help create an overall well-rounded environment. Truly a unique experience to check out when you are in the city.
Afrosynth Records, Johannesburg
Location: 25 Albrecht Street, Maboneng/Jeppe, Johannesburg, South Africa
Go for: South African electronic music from the 1980s
What’s the story? It may be one of the newest players on the South African record shop scene in Johannesburg, but Afrosynth has been a crucial part of the country’s musical make-up for some years now.
Started by DJ, journalist and collector DJ Okapi, Afrosynth began life as a blog, shining a light on South Africa’s forgotten ’80s pop, funk and soul gems for local aficionados and eagle-eyed international diggers alike.
Then, earlier this year, Okapi decided to take things back to basics and open a bricks-and-mortar space in downtown Johannesburg’s Maboneng Precinct, right next door to the Museum of African Design (MOAD).
Here he specializes in selling that same strand of South African electronic music, with a particular ear for the kwaito and bubblegum scenes of the country’s vinyl heyday in the ’80s. As he says, Afrosynth is essentially the only store in the whole country speciliazing in African music.
Alongside the curated selection of originals you’ll struggle to find outside of the country, Afrosynth also stocks a good range of reissues, among which you can expect to find the likes of spiritual jazz grail Ndikho Xaba & the Natives, Mamman Sani’s eerie west African synth experiments and the utterly bonkers Syn_Ka.
With admirers emerging around the world, the subject of the first ever Boiler Room Collections in South Africa and as the recent curator of Boogie Breakdown, a new compilation of South African synth disco for US-based reissue label Cultures of Soul, there’s simply no excuse not to check out Afrosynth next time you’re in town.
Rush Hour, Amsterdam
Location: Spuistraat 116, 1012 VA Amsterdam, Netherlands
Go for: Dance, electronic, soul-jazz, global scenes
What’s the story? In 1996, Antal Heitlager and Christiaan Macdonald bought the entire basement at dance specialist shop, Coco Records. With the stock, the pair launched a mail-order company, exporting top-drawer house from their, err, student house.
A classic tale of zero to hero, Rush Hour has since ballooned into Amsterdam’s best-known record store, a lynchpin distribution company and a forward-backward-looking record label.
Earlier this year, Rush Hour moved to a new and larger shopfront just a few doors down from Spuistraat 98 to Spuistraat 116. “We wanted to move for a while, but it wasn’t easy to find something suitable,” said Antal at the time. “We even checked for buildings in the outskirts. To find such a beautiful space in the same street is quite unreal to us.”
The flawless and now expanded stock spans the spectrum but is especially alive with electronic 12”s and LPs as well funk, soul and jazz sounds, old and new, from across the globe. With regular BYOB in-stores and plenty of listening decks, it’s easy to get comfortable here. “Every city needs its own Rush Hour,” Young Marco has said. We’re inclined to agree.
Hear Records, Singapore
Location: 175B Bencoolen St, Singapore 189651
Go for: Classics and future classics
What’s the story? Founded by Nick Tan in 2013, Hear Records is a new kid on the block. Like the city’s vinyl scene, the shop is small but vibrant and full of personality.
From GZA’s Liquid Swords to Steve Reich’s Four Organs to the Old Boy OST, the stock includes over four thousand records with fresh shipments coming in from the States, Europe and the rest of Asia every month. Tan posts sleeves of his imports on Facebook and sends out email updates to regulars. He also encourages his customers to send his special orders and requests.
Billed as a ‘music lifestyle shop’, this is Singapore’s one-stop shop for classics, old and new, as well as turntables, electronics, accessories and vinyl display units. He says: “People don’t just come to the store to buy records. They meet other music fans as well and we all end up talking about music.”
Music Mania, Gent
Location: Sint-Pietersnieuwstraat 19, 9000 Gent, Belgium
Go for: The full spectrum from the ’60s to the present day
What’s the story? Opened way back in 1969, Music Mania is Belgium’s longest running record shop. But unlike other such institutions where dust has been allowed to settle on the racks, the team of heads and selectors running Music Mania today still keep things fresh.
One of those is Ziggy Devriendt aka DJ Nosedrip, whose ear for obscurities belies his modest years. The man behind online radio station and soon-to-be label STROOM.TV, it’s not surprising that Music Mania has retained such a central role in Europe’s young selector scene.
In the store you’ll find records from across the spectrum, from jazz, blues and folk, to disco, synth wave, cosmic, Afro-funk and practically every sub-genre in between.
Alongside this steady flow of second hand vinyl sourced from the US as much as Europe, Music Mania also keeps on top of contemporary dance music and the burgeoning reissue market.
What’s more, it’s the store that serial collectors 2manydjs / Soulwax call home. High praise indeed.
Piccadilly Records, Manchester
Location: 53 Oldham St, Manchester M1 1JR
Go for: New music and the freshest reissues
What’s the story: Founded in the same year as Factory Records, Piccadilly established itself amid one of the most fiercely creative periods in the UK’s, let alone Manchester’s, musical history.
An outlet for the burgeoning post-punk scene led by Joy Division, A Certain Ratio and OMD, the shop prospered throughout the ’80s before current co-owners Philippa Jarman, Darryl Mottershead, and Laura Kennedy took over and brought the shop to its current location in the buzzing Northern Quarter.
Still a bastion of alternative music from across the indie and dance music spectrum, Piccadilly stocks a vast range of new music and reissues, selected and pressed into your hands by the friendly, knowledgable staff. What’s more you’ll find a little sprinkling of that in our very own weekly new release lists.
Counting Tim Burgess, Jonny Marr and a host of other high-profile figures as its customers, Piccadilly has been described as “the gatekeeper of all musical genres beyond mainstream culture” and a “sonic psychiatric ward for the aurally obsessed.” Call the men in white coats, we’re sold.
The Thing, New York City
Location: 1001 Manhattan Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11222, USA
Contact: +1 718-349-8234
Go for: Everything and nothing
What’s the story: The Thing may be celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, but you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s been around three times as long.
Descend into the basement of this ramshackle thrift shop on Manhattan Avenue in Brooklyn and the records seems to rise up around you. As Inkswell put it in a recent feature for VF: “It’s as if someone carved a hole into a Brooklyn pavement, backed up a rubbish truck and then dumped an enormous vinyl load into the gaping abyss.”
Once-upon-a-time The Thing was a veritable goldmine of $1 holy grails, but while sought-after rarities are a little less bountiful now, the sheer volume of vinyl means you could still end up discovering any number of classics and hidden gems.
What’s more, this isn’t a dormant, gradually diminishing stockpile. Owner Larry Fischer acquires and restocks records on a weekly basis from estates, auctions and ex-DJ collections, although much are also offcuts from another superb neighbourhood shop A1 Records.
A second-hand digger’s day out like nowhere else, The Thing is a place to behold, get lost and come up smiling, covered in dust with an armful of bargain 12″s.
Idle Hands, Bristol
Location: 74 Stokes Croft, BS1 3QY
Go for: The best dance 12″s and electronic longer players
What’s the story: Chris Farrell, who in his young life has worked at Rooted, Replay, Imperial and more, bravely decided to stop the rot in Bristol and open a record shop of his own in February 2011.
Named after his Punch Drunk-affiliated label of the same name, Idle Hands is located on Stokes Croft, the creative centre of the city and close to the former Rooted premises.
Head here for a new 12” – from house and techno to dubstep, grime, reggae and everything in between – and a tinny. The vibe is less of a retail spot and a bit more like Chris’ living room, which it sort of is.
“There’s more to life than the internet”, says Chris.
Analog Kültür, Istanbul
Location: Şahkulu, Seraskerci Çk. No:11, 34421 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
Go for: Turkish and international classics
What’s the story: Located in European district Beyoğlu, down in a basement on one of the hippest streets in İstanbul, Analog Kültür can be a little bit tricky to find, but the treasure hunt is real.
Run by vinyl enthusiast and DJ Kaan Düzürat, the shop is intimate with superbly curated racks of Turkish and international second hand classics, rarities and original pressings. Kaan’s knowledge of Turkish delights is second to none.
The shop also trades in vintage hi-fi, audio equipment and instruments including turntables, tape decks, stereos and synthesizers.
A meeting place for the scene, local musicians are invited to use the space as a recording studio and the shop regularly hosts events and offers workshops. Drop by next time you’re in town.
Chico Records, Beirut
Location: Sadat-Sidani intersection, Beirut 0113 7432, Lebanon
Go for: Lebanese grooves of all persuasions.
What’s the story? Chico Records has been central to Lebanon’s vibrant and prolific music scene since it opened its doors in 1964. Founded by Diran’s father Khatchik Mardirian in 1964 as Pick Of The Pops, the shop was already deeply rooted in the country’s music industry. As a producer Khatchik co-founded the record label Zida with Ziad Rahbani, son of star vocalist Fairuz and member of the country’s most prevalent musical dynasty, from which Elias Rahbani’s ‘Liza Liza’ featured (somewhat controversially) in our rundown of the 100 best disco 12″s of all time.
A record shop that bares the scars of the country’s civil war, Pick Of The Pops became Chico Records in 1976 when a bomb went off near the shop, destroying the original sign. Khatchik stayed put though and it was only in 2004 that the shop moved to its current location in the university district by the American University of Beirut.
Now run by Khatchik’s sons Paul and Diran, Chico Records stocks a formidable collection of music from the ’60s and ’70s, whether Kraut, prog, psych, folk and hard rock or jazz, funk, soul and disco. Its collection of Arabic music is considered one of the finest in the world, preserving now rare Lebanese titles that were damaged or destroyed during the civil war. The service, like the condition of its records, is immaculate.
With over 1,400 of these records now listed on Discogs attracting buyers from as far away as Japan, Chico Records also offers a full in-store service including the sale and maintenance of classic turntables, an assortment of vinyl-related accessories, ultrasonic washing and, in due course, an electronic record flattener.
You can find out more about Chico Records in this interview with Diran, published on VF in 2014.
Red Eye Records, Sydney
Location: 143 York St, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
Go for: Volume
What’s the story? Established by Chris Pepperel in 1981, Red Eye Records is one of Australia’s oldest and certainly its largest record store.
Its racks are home to a diverse and well-selected array of new records and reissues, as well as books, magazines, posters and DVDs. In particular though, Red Eye prides itself on tracking down rare, out-of-print and unique Australian items for its customers.
Aside from records and CDs, “some memorable items we ordered in have been: an Eddie Munster life-size doll, tour buttons/posters to cancelled tours e.g. Rolling Stones Hanging Rock gig, instructional belly dancing videos, make-up, an Alien Abduction lamp, discontinued computer games for ’90s consoles, an actual Jive Bunny doll, every format (CD, LP, Cassette) and pressing of a certain album (the example I can think of Counting Crows’ August and Everything After (over 40 different versions) for one customer and a Ouija board,” Pepperel told Tone Deaf.
Whilst you can probably get the vinyl titles cheaper online, nothing quite beats the in-store experience with shop staff that know their trivia and old patron customers causing a right scene. That said, the shop’s online experience is seamless and their weekly mailing list is a great way to keep on top of new releases.
Stayed tuned for our upcoming guide on Sydney’s best record stores including Red Eye.
ZudRangMa Records, Bangkok
Location: 51 Sukhumvit Rd, Khwaeng Khlong Tan Nuea, Khet Watthana, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10110, Thailand
Go for: Luk Thung and Molam.
What’s the story? If you’ve got any Thai records in your collection chances are they’ve passed through ZudRangMa. The Bangkok affiliate of fantastic Anglo-Thai label Paradise Bangkok – who reissue the best in fuzzed out psychedelic Luk Thung and tour the world with their Molam International Band – ZudRangMa is as much an archive for Golden-era Thai pop as a record store.
Run by DJ Maft Sai, who oversees the shop, the Thai arm of Paradise Bangkok (with Chris Menist) and club and bar next door Studio Lam, the project has been instrumental in opening Thai ears to local music for the first time in decades. Formerly decried as “country music”, Molam and Luk Thung have also made a big impact abroad, sold through shops like Soul Jazz in the UK as “Thai funk”, housed in stitched cloth sleeves.
Since throwing his first Paradise Bangkok party in 2009, Maft Sai and the ZudRangMa empire has grown rapidly, of which the shop is undoubtedly the HQ. Stocking traditional Thai albums and 45s, it also brings a selection of African, Latin American and contemporary releases from like-minded labels around the world to the Thai capital, as well as shipping direct to customers concentrated in the Europe, Japan and the USA.
If you’re lucky enough to go in person however, you’ll be overwhelmed by the selection and the advice on hand, with a stop off at neighbouring Studio Lam a must for a glass of mekhong and a chance to here the latest Molam revivalists making waves in the city.
A-1 Record Shop, New York City
Location: 439 E 6th St, New York, NY 10009, USA
Go for: Dance floor groove, from jazz and disco to hip hop and house
What’s the story: Opened in 1996 by notorious record dealer Isaac Kosman and now under the management of “senior guy” Jay Delon, A-1 Records has seen the East Village (FKA Lower East Side) change around it over the last twenty years. Inside, mercifully, not much else has.
The formula at A-1 is remarkably simple (for those who know how): stock a well-curated range of second-hand records from across the dance music spectrum – jazz, funk, soul, hip hop, disco, and latterly a greater emphasis on house and techno – offer knowledgable tips and keep the prices reasonable.
A sensitivity to the changing landscape in New York City’s perpetual music scene has also helped. In the early days DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Havoc of Mobb Deep, Lord Finesse of D.I.T.C., and legendary New York DJ Tony Touch were regulars (many appear on the shops fading Polaroids) and would scour the crates for the breaks, riffs and samples that became the foundation of modern hip hop.
Now, the shop also caters to a growing crowd of house and disco DJs and collectors, aided in no small part by having had the likes of Ron Morelli of L.I.E.S., Eric Duncan, Thomas Bullock, Daniel Wang and even David Mancuso work behind the counter.
But as central as A-1 has become to the city’s more soulful record buying community, A-1 is no clique. Instead, the shop ensures that a broad selection of genres are given the same love and attention, to create a shop with both one of the broadest and deepest selections in the city, if not the world.