Whether it's the unique scratching sound of the needle or the grainy, smoky quality of the music, vinyl records have yet to become a thing of the past. Although there have been a lot of vinyl store closings recently, this city's inhabitants are quite fond of nostalgia and will definitely not let records disappear completely - here's a list of our favorite Montreal vinyl stores and why they should be your favorites as well.
Where: 364 Sherbrooke E.
Why: Since 1999, Atom Heart has been the go-to store for music lovers of this fine city. Their website states that they have a large selection of independent rock and electronic music and, while that is the case, virtually every genre is represented. Atom Heart is focused on great prices and good service - the staff is knowledgeable, not just when it comes to vinyls and CDs, but with regards to the local music scene as well. Need a ticket for a show? Head straight to Atom Heart, where you're sure to find it, and at an exceptionally great price.
Where: 2044 Metcalfe (2nd Floor)
Why: Established in 1971, Cheap Thrills has held on to their title as one of the city's best vinyl stores for the past 43 years. This tiny store packs a large punch with a comprehensive collection of used and new records and CDs. Their impressive inventory and helpful staff cements their place in the heart of our community. Their online catalog offers over 10,000 CDs and vinyl records; they ship domestically and internationally. Did we mention they were on our list of Montreal's best independent bookstores?
Death of Vinyl
Where: 6307 St. Laurent
Why: Coined "a digger's paradise" on their website, Death of Vinyl is a real treasure trove. With over 50,000 records, you can almost literally get lost in this store. All genres are represented here, though many loyal customers are enamored with the fact that they almost always find unique and random records that they would never find at other stores. Death of Vinyl is not only a vinyl store - its an all-in-one kind of place; from an amazing repair shop to a cafe to an art gallery. You can easily spend a wonderful afternoon here and even that will seem like not enough time.
Where: 207 Bernard O.
Why: Phonopolis is just one of those all-around good vibe type of stores. The location is amazing - literally right next to Drawn & Quarterly! - and the selection is very well-priced and varied. At Phonopolis, you'll find a great collection of international, jazz, folk, soul and blues records but don't worry - all genres are represented. However, the more outside of the mainstream, the better! They're also big on supporting the local scene and emerging artists, which, as we all know, is very important to us Montrealers. The city's upcoming shows are always advertised here (and on their website) and they also host their own in-store shows, so be on the lookout!
Where: 260 Bernard O.
Why: From the same people that brought us Montreal's legendary record store, Primitive Records, Sonorama boasts thousands of second-hand vinyl records in pretty much any genre you can think of, but with a slight leaning towards soul, funk, jazz and disco. This store also features a large collection of our beloved, 90's-era cassette tapes which, we were told, are incredibly popular with the local crowd. Time to break out that old walkman? Used and new turntables can also be bought at Sonorama, while their website offers visitors the option to place custom orders.
Aux 33 Tours
Where: 1373 Mont-Royal E.
Why: Aux 33 Tours is Montreal's largest record store and holds an impressive collection ranging through any and all genres. Of particular interest is their import collection, especially their Japanese pressings which are a rarity in most Montreal stores. Aux 33 Tours offers great pricing, as determined by a staff of researchers who ensure that everything is fair and accurate, according to the current market. The store also includes a smaller room dedicated to 45s, the only one of its kind in Montreal, and a technician is on-hand for amplifier and turntable repairs.
Where: 3770 St. Denis
Why: Beatnick Records has a record collection that really covers any and every genre you can think of - from hip hop to rock to Franco pop to soundtracks! Most importantly, Beatnick Records is known for their very fair prices, often lower than what you'd expect to pay. Check out their website - it has a full catalogue, which you can search through by genre, artist or label. The staff at this store is not only very knowledgeable and friendly, but will also do their best to help you find that once-in-a-lifetime record that you've been looking for.
Where: 4486 Coloniale
Why: Sound Central is a store that just yells "rock and roll". The whole style of the space is pretty cool, from the music to the random paraphernalia to an awesome coffee shop. Sound Central has a large collection of punk and metal, in vinyl records, CDs, cassettes - you name it. They also have a cool, comprehensive collection of books, fanzines and old school magazines. Basically, when you hear the words "underground record store", you're picturing Sound Central in your mind.
Where: 3255 St. Jacques
Why: BBAM! Gallery is not your typical record store, only because it is so much more than that. Everything you can think of can be found at BBAM! Gallery - vinyl records, books, CDs, house decor, clothing, art, posters, and more. Although its record selection is impressive, with a wide range including, but not limited to, blues, rock, spoken word, country and local francophone albums, it has been transformed into more than just a store. BBAM! Gallery hosts shows (often free!) and art exhibitions, but can also be a great spot to stop for a coffee, soak in Montreal's art scene and unwind.
Where: 4333 Rivard
Why: Having been around since 1987, L'Oblique has become the go-to record store for everything underground - you won't find mainstream, top 40 here. You'll find a lot of local, independent music, as L'Oblique stays true to their own roots. Whether you're looking for the album of an unknown band whose show you caught the other night, or tickets to that very same band's next show, this is the place you should come to first to ask around. Competitive pricing, a great selection and a real understanding of the local music scene ensures L'Oblique's place in the heart of Montrealers.