It’s a crackly, less-than-perfect music format. But it’s dusted itself down and become the analogue answer to the soulless sounds of a digital world. In celebration of vinyl’s second coming…
Remember when CDs were going to be the shiny saviors of recorded music? Now, tell us honestly, how often do you open up those broken-up cases to give ‘The Best of REM’ or ‘ABBA Gold’ a spin? Hardly ever? Us neither. If we want music, all of it is always available – at the click of a streaming service. No skipping silver plastic required.
Meanwhile, something amazing has been happening to a medium we thought had been buried and gone forever.
Last year, sales of vinyl soared to a 25 year high – as music lovers return to the format that’s been around since Glenn Miller’s Chattanooga Choo-Choo first left the station.
Last year, vinyl sales in the US rose 26 per cent – across the globe they’re now responsible for a market worth in excess of a cool $1 billion. Thanks to deep catalogue releases by the likes of the Beatles, Bowie and, yes, Fleetwood Mac, as well as more recent reprints by Prince, Amy Winehouse and Radiohead, a whole new generation of music lovers are getting to experience the crackle and hum of their favorite new album in the world ever.
And with all that beautiful cover art being bigger than a matchbox again (hurrah!) it looks like we’re all very happy to be back in black.
So let’s go for a spin in some of the globe’s coolest record stores.
Veals & Geeks
You’re spoiled for great record stores in Brussels – but this is our favorite. They’ve seen the death of vinyl come and go, and come back around again: trading on this spot since 1976. Now they’re an emporium of rare and wonderful vinyl, meticulously catalogued by genre and by country. German disco? This way please. Scandi death metal, follow me sir… Prepare to lose a day, and gain a lot of solid gold gems.
Rue des Grands Carmes 8A, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
Another stalwart, keeping the flame burning for 40 years or so, Treehouse is a real joy. Mix-tapes, CDs and stacks and stacks of beautiful vinyl. Once a real champion of punk, now an Aladdin’s cave of the weird and the wonderful, the underground and the indie. Great place to discover new local music too.
2557 Lyndale Ave S., Minneapolis, USA
Immortalized in the Searching for Sugarman documentary film, this is a great introduction to African rhythms and the genres are as broad and all-encompassing as the continent itself. Hip hop, house, jazz, soul, funk, R&B – check. But add rock, pop, techno and dancehall too – and you’re still not even close to unearthing the full extent of this Gardens favorite, a nice addition to this upscale suburb of the city.
2 Rheede Street, Gardens, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa
Love vinyl? Then you’ll love Love Music. Glasgow’s another city not short of great second hand record stores – some specializing in dance, others willfully hard to categorize. This place though, it just loves music. Period. And if you time your trip right you might even get to catch a live gig by a local troubadour. And that’s the difference here – they’re as passionate about the unsigned local talent as they are about a new 180g pressing of The XX. Because vinyl always needs new blood.
34 Dundas St, Glasgow G1 2AQ, UK
An Ideal For Living
Stockholm’s love for music has given us some of the most life-affirming and joyous pop ever – Max Martin’s produced and written for most of today’s pop kings and queens. And the city’s amassed just as many brilliant record stores to go a-hunting for pop gems in, too. This is our favorite, in the cooler Södermalm district. If you’re dazzled by the first floor, wait until you make it to the basement. You may never see daylight again!
Södermannagatan 19, 116 40 Stockholm, Sweden