Record stores can undoubtedly be considered one of the foremost examples of diminishing, yet nostalgia-driven shops where music lovers of all sorts can flock to not only buy music, but to have a good time as well. While the concept of a record store flourishing would have made sense a few decades ago, nevertheless the culture of record stores seems to have reemerged, especially among the millennial hipster crowd.
The Yellow Sparrow looks at some cool record stores from all around the world which are keeping the charm of records and raw, pure music production alive yet today in the age of digital music streaming and online releases.
1. Aquarius Records, San Francisco, USA
Image courtesy: Flickr
Founded in 1970, Aquarius is the oldest independent record store in San Francisco; it is thus one of the longest running independent record stores in the United States. Aquarius Records specialises in many genres such as indie rock, punk, metal (black, doom, sludge and all things in between), reggae, sixties psych, seventies proto-metal, international music, experimental electronic music, hip hop, field recordings, found sounds, country and bluegrass and avant-garde music of all types. The aesthetic beauty of the record store, accompanied by the pretty lighting and their wide variety of music genres that they incorporate within their store makes it to be one of the most acclaimed and sought after record stores among the music-loving crowd of San Francisco.
Update: Aquarius Records closed down recently much to the dismay of record lovers in San Francisco.
2. Exiles Records, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Image courtesy: Argentina Independent
Exiles Records specialises in all things indie while still accurately representing Argentina’s impressive musical history. This extremely well stocked record store in Buenos Aires boasts of a wide collection of music spanning various genres, thus making it a fairly well known place for music lovers to flock. Coupled with zany artwork and a visitor friendly space to look for records, the store truly might be one of the best on the continent as far as diversity of music and records are concerned.
3. Rough Trade Records, London, UK
Image source: fairtilizer
Rough Trade Records is a legendary independent record label and a benchmark and inspiration to many artistes in the field. Rough Trade Records was also the site of the punk explosion in London right from the beginning, and went on to release a back catalogue the more or less defined the genre of independent music in itself. Their back catalogue releases included era defining releases by various independent acts, including The Strokes and The Smiths. As is mentioned in the record store’s website, the label grew out of the Rough Trade Record Shop which opened in February 1976 in Ladbroke Grove, which was inspired by the City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco, where visitors were encouraged to hang out in the store as much as buy books.
The record label, with its store in West Ladbroke Grove, still releases albums from accomplished artistes such as Sufjan Stevens, Warpaint, The Libertines, Arcade Fire, The Decemberists, and Alabama Shakes to name a few. The store retains its vintage feel and, with its rich history of famous acts and its store filled with memorabilia, it makes it a must-visit for the indie music enthusiast.
4. Pet Sounds, Stockholm, Sweden
Image source: landmeedchen
Pet Sounds is one of the foremost and flourishing stores located in Stockholm. It is also a hub for independent music and has been listed as one of the best places to find independent as well as a wide range of records spanning various genres. During the evenings, this store also doubles up as a bar, thus adding to the overall social as well as inviting experience of discovering music and shopping for records. With it’s decor consisting of various posters and prints related to the independent music genre, its environment doubling as a place to hang out and stay while enjoying one’s music, Pet Sounds records emerges as one of the most intriguing and cool record stores in Sweden, as well as gaining repute throughout the world.
5. Rebel Rebel, New York
Image source: TimeOut
This record store, located on Bleecker Street in New York City, seems to look like a generic cramped record store at first glance. Described by one customer as “a vinyl hunter’s wet dream”, Rebel Rebel records consists of a fairly cramped space that’s filled to the brim with piles after piles of records. Keeping in tune with it’s Bowie-esque name, it’s also home to a whole range of glam, punk and assorted historical U.K. youth trends; however, myriad genres can be found within the store if looked for hard enough. Located in the West Village of the city, the store, while being the worst nightmare for a claustrophobic, nevertheless is a gem for music lovers wishing to get an immensely rich collection of records and music for your turntable.
Update: Rebel Rebel closed its doors permanently after 28 years, leaving New Yorkers with an itch for vintage sounds that no one else can scratch.
6. Flake Records, Osaka, Japan
Image source: flickr
Flake Records located in Osaka, Japan boasts of the widest variety of independent music. It is one of the most dynamic as well as a hub for record collectors from all over the world. The store is especially representative of that, and boasts of a myriad of limited and rare imports in its store. Japan being the leading country when it comes to records, Flake Records represents one of the pioneer stores where vinyl collectors can successfully find tons of unique and rare records by their favourite artist, or discover their new favourite artist while browsing this rare and diverse collection of music.
It is said that music tastes evolve not only with time but with what you discover as well. Record stores, carrying forward their legacy of records within a space where one can easily breeze through and discover new music promises to continue this community and creative genius based music sharing. In the era of digitally shared music and of fans constantly stocking to platforms such as SoundCloud, Spotify, etc. to fuel their musical sensibility, record stores represent the bygone yet extremely relevant ways of assuring that this community based, record shopping retains its raw quality, which cannot be revived in the digitally smooth music that’s available in the present era. For the sake of nostalgia, play on!