The World's Best Record Shops

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  • The world’s best record shops #131: TUTL Plátufelagið, Faroe Islands

    By | November 10, 2018

    One of the world’s most remote record shops.

    Every week, we pick out one must-visit spot from a different city around the world with photos and a little bit of history. Think of it as a kind of 1000 places to see before you die for record shops.

    From the heat of Nairobi last week, to the northern reaches of Europe, our search for the world’s best record shops makes its first visit to Faroe Islands, and the local institution that is TUTL Records.


    TUTL Plátufelagi

    Website

    Location: Reynagøta 12, FO-100 Tórshavn, Faroe Islands

    Go for: Faroese folk, Nordic heavy metal and local music from the edge of Earth

    What’s the story? Based in the harsh northern climate of the Faroe Islands, TUTL Plátufelagið has long been a source of local musical pride. Founded in 1977 by composer Kristian Blak, TUTL – which translates as ‘whisper’ in Faroese – is a label and record shop that places the sound of Faroese pop on a pedestal.

    Neo-Pagan, Faroese folk, gospel and the uniquely Scandinavian sound of heavy metal all take pride of place on TUTL’s racks, which push a range of sometimes overlooked local music. Throughout the summer months, TUTL hosts gigs almost daily across the island in some of the most unique locations you’re likely to find: caves accessible only by boat, Nordic houses in the Faroese capital Tórshavn, or traditional churches on distant islands.

  • The world’s best record shops #130: Melodica Music Stores, Nairobi

    By | November 3, 2018

    Inside the Kenyan institution.

    Every week, we pick out one must-visit spot from a different city around the world with photos and a little bit of history. Think of it as a kind of 1000 places to see before you die for record shops.

    For almost fifty years, Melodica has been a cornerstone of the Kenyan music scene, growing from a record shop into one of the most prolific labels and publishers in East Africa.


    Melodica Music Stores

    Website

    Location: Ground floor, Elimu Co-operative House, Tom Mboya St, Nairobi, Kenya

    Go for: East and central African music from the 1950s – 90s.

    What’s the story? You’ll be hard pressed to find a person as enthusiastic for what they do as Abdul Karim of Nairobi’s Melodica Record store. Inheriting the shop from his father, Daudia Pravinlal, who opened his first music shop in 1952 in what Karim calls “a small, one horse town in Kenya”, Melodica was later established in 1971. Now it’s a cornerstone for east and central African music, encompassing a publisher, a record shop and multiple record labels.

    “Imagine a perfect sunshine day in Nairobi,” says Karim, painting a picture of life at Melodica. “Day in and day out, it’s a beautiful day. The first customer comes early in the morning. He has a tune, a song in his memory, he’s come so far and he hums a tune and any tune from our region we find it and provide. It is always a pleasure to serve our folks.”

    From its birth in 1971, Melodica was the leading producer of vinyl in the region, until the pressing companies were phased out around the late-’80s. Still, in that time Melodica released some absolute gems: Bana Ngenge, Kakuta, Orch. Conga International and many more.

    On any given day eager collectors rifle through the racks to find rarities that can only be discovered within the walls of Melodica. Found within the bustle of Nairobi’s Tom Mboya Street in the centre of the city, Melodica boast an Aladdin’s cave of records from the 1950s to 1990s. “It was real, it had soul,” says Karim of those 40 years of African music. “It had a message. It was universal. It was humane.”

    The kind folks at Melodica have put together a playlist of their favourites and hidden gems, a mix of Luo blues from Kenyan’s Western highlands, Taraab from the Indian ocean coast, and a fast-paced style called Cavacha from the Congo. Dive in here.

  • The world’s best record shops #129: All-City Records, Dublin

    By | October 27, 2018

    A welcoming HQ for hip-hop, electronic and experimental.

    Every week, we pick out one must-visit spot from a different city around the world with photos and a little bit of history. Think of it as a kind of 1000 places to see before you die for record shops.

    Our first visit to Dublin takes us to All-City Records – the refreshingly friendly shop and label of the same name. Specialising in hip-hop, DJing, graffiti, and underground dance music, with a regular schedule of in-stores and gigs that foster a sense of community around it, you won’t find any record snobs waiting here.

    All-City Records, Dublin

    Website

    Location: 4 Crow St, Temple Bar, Dublin 2, D02 AF84

    Go for: Hip-hop, house and graffiti at one of Dublin’s oldest record stores.

    What’s the story?

    Dublin’s All-City Records specialises in two of hip-hop’s five integral elements: DJing and graffiti. Opened in 2001, All-City is one of Dublin’s heritage hubs for underground street culture that resonates beyond club walls and dingy basements. “The shop is a meeting point for record enthusiasts, graffiti and street artists, promoters and DJs,” says Olan, who manages All-City’s day to day with staff members Daire and Lee Kelly.” “We try and organise as many events as we can, from in-stores to gigs. We recognise record shops can be intimidating places so we try and make it as open as possible. Mostly we just open the doors.”

    Boasting their own record label since 2003, All-City have grown into one of the most influential labels on these shores, releasing records from Onra, Folamour, Knxwledge, XXXY and Machinedrum. But given Dublin’s far-reaching underground influences, however, All-City is all things for all people. Detroit feel good classics on 12″s, acid trax, funk-laden cuts from Rhythm Section and Selvagem and a healthy selection of material that fuels wide-eyed 2am memories across the city every weekend.

  • The world’s best record shops #128: Eastern Bloc, Manchester

    By | October 20, 2018

    A dance music institution that’s been mad for vinyl since the mid-’80s.

    Every week, we pick out one must-visit spot from a different city around the world with photos and a little bit of history. Think of it as a kind of 1000 places to see before you die for record shops.

    Having visited ten of Manchester’s best record haunts for our city guide earlier this year, we return to a shop that’s been an essential visit for over 33 years – Eastern Bloc.

    Eastern Bloc, Manchester

    Website

    Location: 5a Stevenson Square, Manchester M1 1DN

    Go for: Techno, funk, dub, DnB, surprise in-stores and early morning coffee to fuel your digging.

    What’s the story?

    Mancunians don’t need any encouragement to speak about their music heritage, but the city that brought us A Guy Called Gerald and New Order wouldn’t be the same without Eastern Bloc. Opened in 1985 by John Berry & Martin Price of 808 State, owned by Berry solely today, Eastern Bloc “was opened as a means to provide the people of Manchester with the new and exciting dance music emerging at the time,” says Eastern Bloc’s vinyl encyclopaedia Tom Houghton.

    Now, Eastern Bloc is part record store, part coffee shop and bar, and all-round Mancunian institution. Tough stuff from Tessela, dubbed out electronica, DnB, funk, soul and experimental fare are Eastern Bloc’s cornerstones. But pop in on any given weekend, and you’ll find the store’s all knowing clerks Jim Bane, Ben Marsden AKA Means&3rd, Kerrie or Tom (who runs Manchester’s Microdosing night and NTS show) propping up the counter or gearing up for one of their many weekend events.

    “Every weekend we host in-stores for local club nights, labels or guest DJs, always with a strong focus on supporting local talent,” says Tom, somewhat modestly given their featured DJs over the years. Carl Craig, Daniel Avery, Kyle Hall, Hunee, Objekt and Antal have all dropped in for a free session, so if you’re spending a weekend in the north then make sure you do the same.

    Photos by Emily Blackburn.

  • The world’s best record shops #127: Misbits, Bucharest

    By | October 13, 2018

    An intimate and friendly haven for experimental electronic music in Romania’s capital.

    Every week, we pick out one must-visit spot from a different city around the world with photos and a little bit of history. Think of it as a kind of 1000 places to see before you die for record shops.

    Though it is both the cultural and economic HQ of Romania, Bucharest isn’t well known for its vinyl offerings. Here to change that is Misbits in Bucharest, whose owner Ioana Parlog started the shop by asking a seemingly simple question: “Why not having a place for friends where they could listen and enjoy some good records like we did some time ago in my old room?”

    Misbits, Bucharest

    Website

    Location: Str. Fainari, 43A, Bucharest, Romania

    Go for: Electronic music and obscure secondhand fare recommended by the person browsing next to you

    What’s the story?

    Misbits is the only one of its kind in the city of Bucharest – a record store, label and a hub for experimental music in Eastern Europe. Opened by DJ and collector Ioana Parlog in 2013, now helped by label co-founder Cosmin Dumitru and longtime friend Dragos Ilici, Misbits is a one of a kind in Bucharest, offering a space for electronic music that are relatively rare in the city. “The store brings that friendly vibe similar to visiting your local groceries shop,” says Parlog. “Here, you can spend countless hours in the shop talking to some stranger about some obscure labels you just dug out of the second hand crates.”

    Misbits’ bread and butter is electronic music of the 4/4 variety, fuelling a humble yet growing Bucharest underground, but dig deeper and you’ll find second-hand electro cuts from the late-’80s alongside soundscaping ambient – making Misbits a must visit.

    Photos by Cladiu Claus.

  • The world’s best record shops #126: AKT Records, Budapest

    By | October 6, 2018

    A diverse, electronic gem for anyone Hungary for vinyl.

    Every week, we pick out one must-visit spot from a different city around the world with photos and a little bit of history. Think of it as a kind of 1000 places to see before you die for record shops.

    Though it is the EU’s 10th largest city in terms of population, Budapest might not be the best known for its record shops or electronic scene. Helping to change that sentiment is AKT Records, where you can snap up unique techno and house alongside fresh garms.

    AKT Records, Budapest

    Website

    
Location: Ó utca 35. 1066 Budapest, Hungary

    
Go for: 4/4 rhythms, left-field electronic music and cultural insight of Budapest’s dance community

    What’s the story?

    “If you want to understand the culture of music in a foreign city, you should first visit the record stores,” says Istvan Kantor, owner of Budapest’s AKT Records. If that were true, AKT would represent a humble but bustling city, a diverse hidden gem that’s perhaps overlooked.

    Born from the ashes of the old Afrofilia record store around 2005, AKT Records has become a place “where old and young artists and fans can meet up and learn from each other.” Part clothing store and part record shop run alongside the local music heads Po:ti and Prpc, AKT’s speciality is dance music of a 4/4 disposition and “harder to understand” experimental cuts, as Kantor boasts. 

  • The world’s best record shops #125: Smallville Records, Hamburg

    By | September 29, 2018

    “Hamburg has a lot of great record stores within a relatively small area, so the city is a great place to dig for records.”

    Every week, we pick out one must-visit spot from a different city around the world with photos and a little bit of history. Think of it as a kind of 1000 places to see before you die for record shops.

    Germany has a wealth of great record shops, and Smallville is up there with the best of them. With a label and residency at the city’s Golden Pudel club, you’ll struggle to find a safer pair of hands for house and techno in the Hamburg.


    Smallville Records

    Website

    Location: Neuer Kamp 32, 20357 Hamburg, Germany

    Go for: House, techno, and record buying advice from some of the best in the game.

    What’s the story?

    You’ll be hard pressed to find a more welcoming shopfront in all of Germany than Smallville Records. “Hamburg has a lot of great record stores within a relatively small area, so the city is a great place to dig for records,” says Julius Steinhoff who opened the store in May 2005 alongside Peter Kersten and Stella Plazonja.

    Now, with the help of Just Von Ahlefeld, who took over duties from Kersten and Plazonja, Smallville Records fuels an ever-growing community of techno heads and those searching for alternative club records. And as a record label, Smallville has released club tracks from Move D, Moomin and Arnaldo and have helped cement Hamburg as Germany’s alternative techno capital.

    Smallville Records also hosts a residency at Hamburg’s famed Golden Pudel, the famed club where Helena Hauff made her name. So if you’re looking for advice from a clubbing institution then look no further than Smallville.

  • The world’s best record shops #124: Biit Me, Tallinn

    By | September 22, 2018

    Tallinn loud, sayin’ something.

    Every week, we pick out one must-visit spot from a different city around the world with photos and a little bit of history. Think of it as a kind of 1000 places to see before you die for record shops.

    For our first visit to the Estonian capital, we join Nestor and his faithful pug Konstantin for a rummage through racks of local delights.


    Biit Me

    Website

    Location: Viru 3-5, 10140 Tallinn, Estonia

    Go for: Local obscurities, Estonian labels and an open-minded selection

    What’s the story? Estonia may be small, but there’s no shortage of international interest in this Baltic enclave – whether in the late Uku Kuut – the North European Wally Badarou if you will – who was making sun-drenched electronica until his sad passing in 2017, or the Biit Me, the capital Tallinn’s musical hub.

    Born in 2008 as a “mail-order-blog-street-hustle business,” as Madis Nestor describes it (he founded the store alongside Konstantin, his forever faithful pug), over the years the store has grown from a stall outside Nestor’s girlfriend’s house into a beacon for obscure vinyl gems found in Tallinn’s Old Town. “My business had to move out of the apartment so I could stay in it,” says Nestor.

    “Our not so hidden secret has always been local music,” says Nestor, proudly. “People may already probably know names like Frotee, Porridge Bullet, Maria Minerva and Uku Kuut, to name a few, but as time passes, our customers are more and more keen to very different sounds.” This openness to unknown-to-you records has made Biit Me into a local favourite, a place to have a beer and unwind.

  • The world’s best record shops #123: Music Research Library, Providence

    By | September 15, 2018

    One of the largest library music collections on the East Coast.

    Every week, we pick out one must-visit spot from a different city around the world with photos and a little bit of history. Think of it as a kind of 1000 places to see before you die for record shops.

    The next stop on our hunt for the world’s best record shops takes us to Rhode Island, and a store that gives new meaning to the term ‘music library’.


    Music Research Library

    Website

    Location: 62 Dike St, Providence, RI 02909, USA

    Go for: Golden age library music, secret soundtracks and experimental jazz

    What’s the story? Providence, Rhode Island is one of America’s oldest cities. It’s a place steeped in history – a trait Providence shares with one of its finest and most unique record stores, Music Research Library. According to co-founder Vasyl Kochura, MRL was inspired by “the harder to find, hole-in-the-wall shops” of Lisbon, Berlin and Barcelona. The shop is a treasure trove of jazz rarities, dollar bin funk, hip-hop, prog, psych and ambient.

    Opened by Kochura and Zachary Warf, the racks at Music Research Library are a little deeper than most, as the store boasts one of the widest collections of library music on the East Coast. With hundreds of underrated gems lining the shelves, MRL is a sampler’s dream.

    “Theme songs, drama montage soundtracks, sounds for scientific and educational purposes, commercials – many of these records have never been fully appreciated for their musical value,” says Kochura. “That is both sad and kind of exciting.”

    Photos by: Brandon Leo

  • The world’s best record shops #122: Bikini Waxx, Berlin

    By | September 8, 2018

    Digging in the living room.

    Every week, we pick out one must-visit spot from a different city around the world with photos and a little bit of history. Think of it as a kind of 1000 places to see before you die for record shops.

    Such is the number of Berlin’s headline grabbing record shops, that its smaller spots can sometimes be overlooked. Not so for Bikini Waxx, which has been serving those in the know for 5 years, from humble begins in an inauspicious apartment in Kreuzberg to running its own fully-fledged store.


    Bikini Waxx Records

    Website

    Location: Manteuffelstrasse 48, Kreuzberg, Berlin 10999, Germany

    Go for: Dance music of every persuasion from across the globe

    What’s the story?

    Bikini Waxx Records is a dance music destination for all tastes, opened by Gerd Tammist in 2013 alongside longtime diggers Yannik Zander, Alexander Skancke, Kim Bruun and Moritz Lotzgeselle. Initially founded as an appointment-only spot in the living room and corridors of Tammist’s Berlin home, the store is curated with finesse, and while it’s been running for a number of years, it’s still one of Berlin’s best kept secrets.

    As well as the regulation techno and electro records ubiquitous in Berlin, expect new and second hand funk cuts from across the African continent and Mediterranean disco from the shores of Naples, lining up alongside Italo and balearic gems in the racks. And if ‘ambient and mind expanding soundscapes’ aren’t you poison then fret not, because everything from Brazilian Tropicália, to psych and wonky house makes Bikini Waxx Records an adventurous staple for all tastes.

  • The world’s best record shops #121: Neseblod Records, Oslo

    By | September 1, 2018

    “Welcome to Hell.”

    Every week, we pick out one must-visit spot from a different city around the world with photos and a little bit of history. Think of it as a kind of 1000 places to see before you die for record shops.

    Having dropped down into Råkk & Rålls last time we were in Oslo, we discovered that nowhere bleeds black metal quite like Neseblod – the Norwegian capital’s darkest record shop.


    Website

    Location: Schweigaards gate 56 (Helvete), 0656 Oslo, Norway

    Go for: Heavy metal, Norwegian rock and a history of the hard stuff

    What’s the story? “Welcome to Hell” greets you at Oslo’s Neseblod Records, one of Norway’s finest haunts for heavy metal, doom, rock, hardcore and all things gloriously noisy. Managed by the lifelong metal enthusiast Kenneth Neseblod, Neseblod is a one stop shop for the black stuff pressed on to the black stuff.

    Part record shop and part Norwegian black metal museum, Neseblod is a tribute to Norway’s finest musical export. Rare cuts from Marilyn Manson, Rammstein, Mayhem and Dark Throne fill the racks and a history of heavy metal, past to present, covers walls. For an insight into what’s made Norway the home of black metal, look no further.

  • The world’s best record shops #120: Rat Records, London

    By | August 18, 2018

    “We not only undercut the competition, we are better than them.”

    Every week, we pick out one must-visit spot from a different city around the world with photos and a little bit of history. Think of it as a kind of 1000 places to see before you die for record shops.

    Rat Records is one of London’s best loved shops – a haven for the local Camberwell community and a destination for those from further afield, who drop by for a chat, the reasonably priced stock, and the odd reggae rarity.


    Rat Records

    Website

    Location: 348 Camberwell New Rd, Camberwell, London, SE5 0BX

    Go for: Rare reggae and forgotten gems

    What’s the story?

    Rat Records is a no frills record shop. You won’t find polished counters, ostentatious box set compilations, or shop assistants sniffing at your selections. Instead, it offers rare reggae, funk, soul, Afro, prog and fuzz-drenched punk records that are meant to be played and enjoyed, not gather dust in racks or be sold on Discogs.

    A favourite haunt for crate diggers, especially on the weekends, you’ll have to visit Rat Records early to get your hands on the real prizes. “We have a queue every Saturday at 10.30AM without fail,” boasts Tom Fisher, a record dealer since 1989 and owner of the Camberwell store since 1999. “The reason is because we always have a fresh selection and our prices are very reasonable. We not only undercut the competition, we are better than them, and I like selling records, not looking at them.”

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