Don’t get me wrong, I like beaches, I love museums, I adore local restaurants and I’ll frequent many a bar, but for me a holiday isn’t a holiday without a visit to a record store. I’ve sought country music in California and afrobeat in Australia; disco in Devon and ragas in Rajasthan – you can learn a lot about a place from its music. And wherever you may be, go shopping this weekend and you might come home with something extra special as Record Store Day celebrates its 10th anniversary with a host of special events and one-off releases. Here are some of my favourites…
Sounds of the Universe, London
Over two tightly packed floors, Soho’s Sounds of the Universe gives a pretty comprehensive musical world tour: new releases, hot-property 12-inches, captivating compilations and choice cuts from the Caribbean and across Africa upstairs; old rock, psychedelia, Brazilian and Nigerian rarities in the vinyl-packed basement. Staff are friendly, there are listening posts aplenty, and it’s all but impossible to leave empty handed. A sonic holiday.
Lighthouse Records, Tokyo
With more than a dash of design-store decor and some clever use of space, Lighthouse Records is something of a Shibuya sanctuary – depending on what’s blasting out of the soundsystem, of course. This artfully arranged shop has been run by Yasuhara Morihiro since 2008 and specialises in DJ-friendly house, techno, disco, funk and more, mostly on vinyl. Expect some curios, too: after a recent trip there, a Mr & Mrs Smith colleague told me how she impulsively ‘bought a record with three Japanese men in a bathtub on the cover’ only to return to a broken record player and, thus, an audio mystery.
Just beyond where Milan’s navigli meet (and round the corner from sophisticated stay, The Yard Milano) is a narrow shopfront, home to one of Europe’s most vibrant record shops. This self-styled ‘laboratory, meeting place and crossroads of passion’ has no moody, hipper-than-thou pretensions, just an exuberant energy for all forms of music. Gallery-white walls are lined with attention-grabbing CDs and LPs of every conceivable dancey variety, staff play records with gleeful abandon (which is how I discovered the best Cher cover you’re ever likely to hear) and local designerwear is stocked with vintage threads at the back of the store. Look out for DJ royalty when you’re browsing, too: Danny Krivit, Todd Terje, James Murphy and DJ Harvey have all been spotted on shopping sprees here.
Jacaranda Records, Liverpool
The Jacaranda Club once hosted a band called the Beatles – you might’ve heard of them. Now it’s back as one of hip-again Liverpool’s best hangouts: part record shop, part bar, part live music venue. Grab a beer and browse the small but well-curated selection of new and second-hand vinyl before repairing with your spoils to a specially built booth where tables come with their own decks and headphones. There’s even one of the few remaining walk-in voice-o-graph recording booths, should you fancy cutting your own hit single after a tequila or two…
Red Eye Records, Sydney
Opposite Sydney’s towering Romanesque Revival market building, the QVB, is the revered Red Eye Records: the largest indie emporium in all of Australia. Red Eye’s aisles are wide, well-stocked and pleasingly varied, and it has a particular nous for sourcing on-the-up Aussie bands, stars of the alternative scene and otherwise-hard-to-find vinyl releases. They do a nice line in crowd-pulling in-store performances, as well. Doors open at 8am this Saturday, so risk red eyes of your own, get in the queue and you could be one of the first people on earth to take home a Record Store Day exclusive release.
Rough Trade NYC, New York
From its inauspicious beginnings in a West London side street, Rough Trade has spread its wings and applied its winning retail DNA to stores in East London, Nottingham and, most recently, New York. This Williamsburg warehouse became the Big Apple’s biggest record store when it opened in 2013 and, since the closure of the much-loved Other Music last year, it’s quickly become its best. As well as an ever-brilliant blend of old and new music that spans every genre you can think of (and many you never will), Rough Trade NYC is home to a Brompton bike café, a bookshop, and its own gig venue: Bowery Presents.
Tropicália Discos, Rio de Janeiro
A few blocks back from the waterfront in Rio’s lively Centro district, in an unremarkable building, you’ll find a sign marked ‘loja de discos’. Follow it to the second floor and you’ll emerge into a heaving library of samba, soul, Tropicália, bossa and beats (Música Popular Brasileira, or MPB, is the local umbrella term). If you prefer your souvenirs spinnable, this is the place to stock up; be it your first foray into Brazil’s bulging back catalogue or a quest for obscure 1960s Bahian girl-groups, the staff will make sure you’re not disappointed.
Amoeba Music, San Francisco
An obvious choice, perhaps, but ignoring the world’s biggest independent record store would just be silly. Though the Berkeley branch came first, this vast one-time bowling alley east of Golden Gate Park has become one of San Francisco’s must-see sights and hosts all manner of in-store happenings. In keeping with its Haight-Ashbury zip code, it pays particular attention to music’s more experimental edges, though most things – from bluegrass to bass music – are stocked across its 2,200 square metre site. In fact, if you can’t find something in Amoeba, it probably doesn’t exist…
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