Homage to Catalonia.
There are many reasons to visit Barcelona, and if you find your way to the Catalan capital, you will be amongst the 10 million visitors that are welcomed each year. Furthermore, the myriad festivals mean there is rarely a dull weekend. Worthy of note is La Mercè, which sees stages set up all around town to host artists from across the musical spectrum, while Sónar and Primavera Sound rightly deserve their international reputation as essential dates for any progressive music fan.
Barcelona is one of the most densely populated cities in Europe. The upshot of this is that the majority of these stores are located in a single square kilometre, meaning you can comfortably complete a comprehensive circuit of record shops in a single day. However, you should make sure you take a handful of factors into account: traditional shop hours include a siesta break from 2pm to 5pm, and none open on a Sunday.
Outside of the established shops, the flea and antiques markets will also be of interest. The most regular of which is Els Encants, a modern covered structure that houses all sorts of informal stalls with a fresh selection of house clearances several times a week. Its unmistakable silhouette stands alongside the post-industrial Glories neighbourhood, and opens Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. The most dedicated diggers are there from 8am, when the hard bargaining goes down straight after the auction of plots.
Scroll down for a selection of our favourites and peruse the map for a more comprehensive list of the city’s record shops.
Wah Wah Records
Location: Carrer de la Riera Baixa 15, Barcelona, 08001
Go for: Funk, jazz, soundtracks, classic electronics and psychedelia of all styles.
What’s the story: In business since 1992, Wah Wah is the first port of call for many when visiting the Catalonian capital. Such enthusiasts include Jarvis Cocker, who paid homage to the shop on his BBC Radio 6 programme, and Elijah Wood, possibly the world’s most famous ambassador for Turkish psych singles. Even the elusive Aphex Twin has passed by.
The intimate space has changed little in its twenty five years on Carrer de la Riera Baixa, a pedestrianised lane that has traditionally been the hub of all things vintage in Barcelona. Electric blue and squeeze green walls are lined with rarities from krautrock, and garage psych to power pop, with a huge range of niche genres in between.
Owner Jordi Segura has an inventory of virtually everything in the shop, so you are unlikely to find any underpriced diamonds in the rough, but it does have more obscure records than most other stores on the peninsula. The shop isn’t equipped for anyone who wants to try before they buy, but Wah Wah will usually play an online version for you if you are in two minds.
Wah Wah also lay claim to a prolific catalogue of reissues, under the name of Wah Wah Records Supersonic Sounds. Forgotten LPs of experimental electronics, spiritual jazz and bizarre soundtracks are lovingly re-pressed for an international audience that includes Henry Rollins and Thurston Moore.
Location: Carrer de Ferlandina 39, Barcelona, 08001
Go for: New dancefloor releases, second-hand disco, house and techno, plus hard-to-find gems
What’s the story: Gerard López and Arnau Farrès opened Discos Paradiso in 2010, situated just off the lively Joaquin Costa thoroughfare in the Raval neighbourhood. While both had previous experience trading records, neither could have imagined that they were founding what would become an essential stop a few years later.
Racks packed with new arrivals greet you as you enter, with a shelf dedicated to promoted releases hovering above. Choice box-sets and oddities are kept behind the counter, many of which can be heard on the shop’s Klipsch hi-fi speakers and a Rane MP2016 rack mixer.
The second-hand collection at the back of the space has expanded to include dedicated sections of disco, various sub-genres of house and techno, breakbeat and jungle, sections dedicated to cult labels such as Rephlex and UR, plus niche interest new age, industrial and post-punk material. A good afternoon can be spent thumbing through the unclassified wax in the floor crates, priced from one euro.
It’s no surprise that a community of aficionados revolve around Discos Paradiso, and the crew of DJs who represent the store numbers in double figures. A “wall of fame” featuring Polaroids of the better known figures faces the counter, and showcases are often organised for DJs visiting the city.
The Discos Paradiso operation has recently expanded to include a reissues label: Urpa i musell. Re-releasing forgotten new age and experimental albums with a preference for artists from the Iberian peninsula, the records are immaculately remastered and packaged for a contemporary audience.
Discos Revólver & Revólver Records
Location: Carrer dels Tallers 11 & 13, Barcelona, 08001
Go for: Indie, electronica, synth pop, goth tracks and cold wave
What’s the story: The Revólver family occupies two premises on the famous alternative drag that goes by the name of Carrer Tallers, a street full of businesses dedicated to youth culture that branches off the northernmost end of Les Rambles, heading into El Raval. Jesus Moreno and Alfons Sureda set up the first of them, Discos Revólver in 1991 in response to the demand for indie and metal imports that were gaining popularity at the time. Revólver Records came a decade later opening a couple of doors down the road, and is dedicated to more varied styles and collectors items.
Imagine a record shop from a movie set: racks of wax and CDs, black t-shirts with menacing fonts, extravagantly packaged box-sets, kids coming by buying tickets for gigs. A tattooed owner with a glam-rock hairdo. Beyond the clichés, however, Discos Revólver has a great selection of well-priced records, covering an impressive range of styles, which are, for the most part, carefully categorised. Revólver Records has a similar charm – a more cavernous space with a seemingly poky second floor that’s particularly worthwhile fo new and used shoegaze, folk and new age records. The Kiss mural is awesome too.
Location: Carrer de les Sitges 9, Barcelona, 08001
Go for: Rude boy selection of punk, ska, reggae and Northern Soul
What’s the story: One of the first individuals to join the skinhead culture in the country, Roger Geli set up Daily Records back in 1994. Roger, who formed part of several oi! and ska bands, established the store on the basis of his strong personal passion for imported records and emerging local acts faithful to the DIY punk and Jamaican aesthetic. It continues to represent the the spiritual home of the mod, punk and rude boy movements in the city, which retain significant popular support.
A couple of years after it opened, Daily Records began its own record label and releases limited runs of impeccably packaged revival albums and singles on a consistent basis. It regularly welcomes visitors from all over the world, who come in increasing numbers in search of wax by local acts such as The Excitements, Soweto and The Pepper Pots.
The store has now expanded its catalogue to include meticulously organised sections of boot boy anthems, plus everything from instrumental surf to ’60s garage and heavy metal. There are a number of first editions in stock for the serious collector, while vinyl basics such as card, paper and plastic sleeves can be found – as are branded Daily Records 7″ single adaptors for those jukebox 45s.
Location: Carrer de la Riera Baixa, 10, 08001
Go for: One of Barcelona’s oldest stores with a real jumble of classic vinyl
What’s the story: The store dates back to 1979, when Matias Ibañez turned his hobby into a vocation with the opening of Discos Edison’s on Carrer Riera Baixa in the Raval. He retired in 2013, and the English/Canadian Elisabeth Cross has been running the place ever since.
Inside lie records of virtually every style, roughly organised into genre in reasonable condition piled three stories high along the whole shop. There’s a particularly large number of 7″ singles in the old racks, in addition to VHS and cassettes for the retro fiends.
In 2016, Cross agreed to host the collection of the actor and one-time BBC Radio 1 DJ, Al Matthews, which includes a wealth of funk, soul, gospel, jazz, disco, folk and rock LPs and singles, in addition to rare demos, promos and test pressings from musicians
such as Fat Larry’s Band, Kool & The Gang, The Brothers Johnson and Matthews himself. Occasionally records from the collection are put up for sale; be sure to ask about it if you drop by.
Once every three months, the shop organises record auctions. Taking place in a bar, market, park, or the shop itself, these occasions allow the owner to share singles chosen from Edison’s collection with small groups. The songs are played in their entirety before bids are invited, which usually start at 50 cents. Check its social media channels for listings.
Location: Ronda Sant Pau 21, Galeries Olimpia Local 28, 08015
Go for: House, electro and techno in the parlour of one of Barcelona’s longest-serving DJs
What’s the story: Funk and Soul Records was the first record shop to open in the cloistral Galerias Olimpia in the Sant Antoni district. It closed in 2015, but paved the way for several other record sellers and music studios that have since been set up in its narrow corridors, including Rhythm Control, opened by Antony ‘DJ Bruce Lee’ Manejas in 2016.
A Barcelona stalwart, Manejas has been spinning since 1997, and can still be found playing at the city’s underground clubs like Moog, Apolo, Laut and Razzmatazz. After establishing a close relationship with Discos Paradiso, he decided to set up a store in a neighbouring area, whilst still making appearances with the Discos Paradiso crew at themed nights and festivals.
Rhythm Control opens weekday afternoons and all day Saturday, and offers personalised recommendations to anyone who finds their way to the cosy shop. Dealing almost exclusively in electronic four-to-the-floor vinyl, it has become a staple fixture for locals and visitors alike in search of new underground releases from Clone, LIES or Fett Distro. The neighbouring establishments of Vinilarium and What.if don’t offer such regular hours, but are well worth checking if you happen to catch them open.
Lee’s activity isn’t just limited to selling wax and filling dancefloors. He runs a techno label, End of Dayz, and has just started an eponymous imprint Rhythm Control Barcelona which promises to promote the productions of peers and contemporaries. He can often be found putting together MPC cuts and ‘Guarri’ edits of tracks discovered within the crates during quieter moments in the store.
Location: Carrer de Milans, 3, 08002
Go for: A select range of modern mutant house and techno
What’s the story: NUT represents the new face of dance music in the city. Two friends with plenty of experience behind the decks opened the store in a secluded square of the Gothic Quarter in 2016, and ever since it has become a fixture for new school DJs on the hunt for quality newly released vinyl that blurs the definitions of dancefloor genres. Lyonel Devos, of Peruvian and Belgian descent, and the Italian Tunello share the cosy corner with the shop’s resident canine Elson, and the owners are always on hand to share their latest arrivals with anyone who passes through.
Expect to find records which could range from the elegant disco of Environ to the sleek electro of Central Processing Unit via the timeless techno of Metroplex. A couple of crates are also installed for fans of second hand material. In store events are organised on a regular basis, and the NUT regulars hold down residencies at the Red 58 club, a recent addition to Barcelona’s club circuit.
Location: Carrer de la Riera Baixa, 10, 08001
Go for: A personalised guide to French house, lo-fi, minimal and dub techno
What’s the story: Jerome ‘Tvinyl’ Dessolier has been working in the music industry for over 30 years, and his most recent gig before moving over to Barca was a stint at German record giant, Deejay.de. He has built up an impressive portfolio of contacts, including several established DJs who continue to rely on him to filter out the latest dance releases for their use on the road.
In 2017, Dessolier decided to migrate south and ended up in Catalonia. Fuelled by a passion for sharing his knowledge of music, he reached an agreement with Elisabeth Cross from Discos Edison’s, who was happy to give up the interior space at the store on Carrer Reira Baixa. He has customised the space, the colourful racks and loud murals reflecting his exuberant personality. The counter is elegantly assembled, with a pair of Technics sunk into a wooden table operating through a Barcelona-made Taula 4 rotary mixer, which regulars make use of for sets several times a week.
Dessolier prides himself on a tailored approach to each customer, and has an impressive ability to dig out recommendations based on each visitor’s recent acquisitions. The material goes from soulful disco to Detroit techno, US garage to small European house distributors. There’s a fair bit of uncategorised wax at bargain bin prices to thumb through too. The shop is off the regular diggers’ circuit, but find your way here and you’ll have Dessolier’s portly English bulldog, Lola, for company.
Photos by Mia Margetic