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So You've Decided to Go Vinyl Record Shopping

January 27, 2015, 4:12pm
Photo via Montreal Gazzette/Ashley Joseph.

Despite the vinyl record industry's continued success, the process of actually buying LPs from independent record stores can, for the newly initiated, be a daunting task. If the thought of going to a store that isn't Urban Outfitters doesn't deter you, the prospect of being judged by a bespectacled store attendant surely will. Then, there's the fear that the store you were hoping to find Dance Mania presses at will only stock obscure Scottish techno. For the introverted, such worries slaughter all desire to leave one's bed. (One's sweet, soft bed where nights start at 6pm and nothing can harm us.)

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Aggregator websites do little to alleviate this problem. What the fuck does Edward from Yelp know? How could we possibly trust his opinion?

We were discussing our early fears of vinyl shopping when we decided to compile our cumulative knowledge into one informative article. Leaving no stone unturned (except for Sasketchewan and those colder provinces), we came up with a list of great Canadian record stores that continuously please.

Atom Heart - Montreal, QC

For the modern collector and selector alike, Atom Heart carries a wide range of current releases with a heavy focus on underground house and techno. Freshly rotated International labels like Amsterdam's Dekmantel, London's Diagonal, and Berlin's PAN sit along side Canadian favourites like Edmonton's Normal's Welcome, Dan Snaith's Jiaolong and Montreal's own Forbidden Planet. These records are typically inaccessible (unless purchasing online), making Atom Heart essential to the city's vinyl scene. Located on the border of Montreal's Latin Quarter and the Plateau, its a quick stroll from eating at Schwartz's, visiting Old Port, or the city's metro.

Atom Heart on Website

Audiopile - Vancouver, BC

Photo via Jesse Cahill.

If you are on that Classic Rock, Avant Garde, or tape collection tip, Audiopile has the best of each. Steely Dan reissues are far from lacking, and many classic 60s and 70s hits are in reserve. With local imprints Mood Hut and 1080p Collection on the rise, Audiopile does their part to support. Carrying each record or tape until they're sold out, the shop may even have a few advance copies due to their connections, keep and eye out!

Audiopile on Facebook // Website

Beat Street Records - Vancouver, BC

Photo via Bigheadtaco.

Beat Street is incredibly underrated and overlooked. An overwhelming selection of used R&B, hip-hop, soul, disco and house, paired with six listening stations, means setting aside enough time is your only issue. The shop's greatness lies within the dollar bins. Hidden below each clearly genre mapped record trough, crates of gold await. Buying records doesn't need to be expensive, but you have to work for it!

Beat Street Records on Website

Cosmos Records - Toronto, ON

Photo via Cosmos Records.

Some record shops suffer from a lazy staff, or an owner who has lost ambition. Cosmos defies such notions, with tight knit curation and constant rotation of stock as a result of an owner who gives all of the shits. Soul, vintage rock, hip-hop and disco are the shop's forte.

Cosmos Records on Twitter // Website

Death of Vinyl - Montreal, QC

Photo via Facebook/Death of Vinyl.

Walking into Death of Vinyl for the first time feels like entering your grandpa's man cave. Vintage furniture and a 70s vibe make the digging process all the more fun and comfortable. It remains one of the only locations to find well groomed used dance records and an ample amount of listening stations. If you are on the hunt for classic catalogues from the likes of Trax Records, Nervous Records, Strictly Rhythm, or King Street this is the spot. The large anonymous racks in the back end of the shop are filled with unsifted gems, if you have time, take a peak!

Death of Vinyl on Facebook // Website

Grasshopper - Toronto, ON

Photo via Facebook/Grasshopper Records.

A spot for the avid collector. Patience is key in a shop that is constantly picked through, and Grasshopper offers good deals and deep cuts galore.  They also give you the option of ordering wax from overseas if you are not satisfied with their stock.

Grasshopper on Facebook // Website

Melodiya Records - Calgary, AB

Photo via Nocturne Records.

A solid record shop is a necessity to a scene on the rise. Great deals on turntables, hi-fi audio equipment and an impeccable electronic section make Melodiya the standout retailer in Calgary.

Melodiya Records on Website

Obsolete Records - Halifax, NS

With Halifax's indie scene booming, Obsolete's focus on new releases and quality listening is a necessity. Techno and house dj's need not attend, but collectors of the latest in soul, indie and hip-hop will be at home.

Obsolete Records on Twitter

Phonopolis - Montreal, QC

Photo via Montreal Gazzette/Ashley Joseph.

Situated in the northern tip of Montreal's Mile End, Phonopolis acts a hub for the community's many musicians. Specializing in avant garde, jazz, soul and indie, the shop is accessible to all tastes. Unfortunately, stock in dance records is fairly slim, though a tightly curated section is set aside for long play electronic music. Physical forms of Arca, Aphex Twin, Actress, and Dean Blunt can be found within the mix of lesser known local acts, making Phonopolis a one-stop-shop for contemporary collectors. There is no competitor in the Mile End area that boasts a comparable selection.

Phonopolis on Facebook // Twitter // Website

Red Cat - Vancouver, BC

Photo via Facebook/Red Cat Records.

I'm always surprised when shops noticeably neglect their city's own output, so walking into Red Cat's local independent section is always reassuring. Fresh 12-inches from local labels are all in store, Hybridity, Mood Hut, More Than Human, ASL Singles Club, and tapes from 1080p Collection. Strong curation in the dance music section is not to be missed. Stocking the best from L.I.E.S., Russian Torrent Versions, The Bunker, The Trilogy Tapes, and so on. Such titles aren't carried anywhere else in the city.

Red Cat Records on Facebook // Website

Rotate This - Toronto, ON

Photo via Flickr/Gian.

If you are looking for an easy-going search for new releases and mainstream classics, Rotate This is consistent with both. Electronic deep cuts won't be present on your hunt here, but finding the latest in Pitchfork Best New Music will be of no issue.

Rotate This on Facebook // Website

Winnipeg Record & Tape Co. - Winnipeg, MN

Photo via Winnipeg Free Press.

A smorgasboard of original pressings and factory sealed content sets this shop apart from any other on this list. Jazz, soul, funk and disco is what you will come here for, and the prices will not scare you away. A musical oasis in the Canola seed capital of Canada.

Winnipeg Record & Tape Co. on Facebook // Website

Tony Stathos is on Twitter

Ziad Ramley is also on Twitter