The resurgence in the popularity of vinyl records has been a massive boon to many, but the truth is that people never stopped obsessively digging through crates for their next platter of musical goodness. Record stores have always been there for the audiophiles and analogue enthusiasts, but now the market is widening and vinyl is no longer such a niche interest. Annually, Record Store Day (this year April 16) brings in huge crowds to nab exclusive and rare releases, some of them on picture discs or coloured vinyl. Here are five amazing Sydney record stores where you'll find fantastic records any day of the week.
Radio Free Alice, Darlinghurst
Radio Free Alice is a small shop tucked away on the south end of Darlinghurst Road, not far up from Oxford Street. Because of its size, the selection isn't enormous, but there are plenty of records, both new and used, to flip through. Alongside hard-to-find (often import) films on DVD and a small selection of books, the records are organised by genre, lovingly cradled in and on re-purposed household furniture. The latest releases in indie, rock, electronica, dub, reggae, jazz and soundtracks sit alongside old favourites and nigh-forgotten gems. You'll also notice that the prices are quite reasonable when compared to other record stores of this size. The quiet, rather meticulous atmosphere of Radio Free Alice makes for an unhurried, very relaxing record buying experience.
Radio Free Alice, 134a Darlinghurst Road, Darlinghurst
The Record Crate, Glebe
If second-hand records are what you're after, then Glebe's The Record Crate is where you should head. Bonus points if you're also looking for a meal (including burgers and pizza) or a beverage. The Record Crate is a record shop cum cafe cum bar cum live music venue - that's right, you can even see bands perform here. The record selection is enormous, lining one entire wall of the shop, organised by decade and by genre. There are many gems to be found by digging through the crates and for great prices too. The condition of the records varies from near-mint to falling apart at the seams, but what's important is the music. Even classic records from artists like Bruce Springsteen, Peter Gabriel, Jackson Browne, Madonna, Prince and other legends come through here on a regular basis, so whenever you come in you're likely to find something great.
The Record Crate, 34 Glebe Point Road, Glebe
The Record Store, Darlinghurst
Simplicity is the game of the aptly-titled The Record Store, which can be found on the corner of Crown Street and Goulburn Street in Darlinghurst. The friendly and enthusiastic staff always seem to be having some kind of fun get together, and their energy is infectious. The store specialises in electronic music, featuring diverse genres like house, techno, drum 'n' bass, dubstep, juke/footwork and more, but also features well-stocked indie, rock, funk and jazz sections. One of the main draws of The Record Store is their range of audio equipment, including turntables and important replacement parts in case of a broken needle emergency. If asked to sum up The Record Store in one word, I would say "cool."
Record Store, 255 Crown Street, Darlinghurst
Red Eye Records, CBD
Red Eye Records can be a little overwhelming, so you should set aside a few hours just to flip through every record for that amazing find. Walk down the stairs (opposite the QVB on York Street) into the basement level shop, and the enormous plethora of new and used records spreads as far as the eye can see. Every genre, every style, every kind of record is represented here - you'll find punk rock icon Patti Smith sitting alongside a bizarrely huge array of 12-inch Britney Spears picture disc singles. Red Eye caters to casual vinyl fans as well as collectors, and they make it work. The helpful, friendly and knowledgeable staff are extremely welcoming, to boot.
Red Eye Records, 143 York Street, Sydney
Repressed Records, Newtown
Repressed Records is like the punk kid of this list, but this wayward punk is secretly an overachiever. With a selection dedicated to the best in Australian music, especially indie labels like Chapter and Bedroom Suck, Repressed should be your first stop for punk, industrial, garage and other DIY genres. Featured alongside them though is a healthy helping of indie rock, classic rock, jazz, blues, hip-hop and other genres, both new and second-hand. There is also a small corner of books for the more studious vinyl addicts, and all the t-shirts you could ever want for your gig-going attire. You can find Repressed on the quieter end of Newtown, just a short walk from Newtown Station. You won't leave empty-handed.
Repressed Records, 413 King Street, Newtown