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Music: The 10 best independent UK music outlets

Dan Poole,Anne Giacomantonio
Monday 17 September 2007 16:23

CDs aren't yet seen as ancient relics but things could be heading that way. The success of downloadable music has seen a definite shift in the way people listen to music. Not only that, but many who do buy CDs tend to do so online rather than the high street.

However, there are still plenty of people who would rather visit a music shop. In fact, there has even been a vinyl revival recently, with bands such as the White Stripes and Arctic Monkeys releasing records in the seven-inch single format. As a result, independent record stores are undergoing a bit of a renaissance, which is great news if you're after good, cheap music. So, to celebrate the fact, we've compiled a list of 10 of the best independent outlets in the UK...

1. Spillers Records, Cardiff

According to their website they're the oldest music shop in the world - they've been around since 1894. It was one Henry Spiller who first opened the shop, and having moved from its original position in the Queen's Arcade it now lives on The Hayes.

2. Action Records, Preston

Three shops in one here: a specialist dance shop, a warehouse and a main shop covering everything else. "In every new batch of students there always seems to be a few that are actually into the music," says Gordon Gibson, manager of Action Records. "We actually carry a lot of seven-inches. They seem to be in it for the artwork - that's the main attraction nowadays."

3. Rounder Records, Brighton

"Both CD and vinyl are really strong at the moment," says Joel Dawes, a buyer at Rounder Records. "Everyone buys vinyl, especially in Brighton as there are so many DJs." Like many independent shops, Rounder also provides for live music fans, selling tickets for most venues in Brighton.

4. Rough Trade East, London

Proving that there's still a market out there, Rough Trade East (pictured left) is the most recently opened and largest record shop in the UK. In-store performances are a regular occurrence, as well as a gallery for music-inspired art. Rough Trade has another London store too: Rough Trade West in Notting Hill.

5. Vinyl Exchange, Manchester

There are two Vinyl Exchanges, one on Bridge Street and one on Oldham Street. And it's well worth visiting, says supervisor Rae Donaldson: " Vinyl is undergoing a revival. The market for CDs is unbelievably unpredictable though, except students are as apt as they ever were to buy things that they read about in NME."

6. Selectadisc, Nottingham

Again, two separate shops - both on Market Street - with one for vinyl and another for CDs. In the basement of the CD shop you can pick up second-hand albums, which is great for adding to your back catalogue. Seven-inch discs for 99p are also up for grabs.

7. Jumbo Records, Leeds

"In the past four or five years there has been an explosion of interest in seven-inch singles again," says Adam Gillson a buyer at Jumbo Records. "There are certain areas of music that don't sell as well in the summer months - things like drum and bass - and one of the key reasons is the student population."

8. Monorail, Glasgow

This is housed in a vegan restaurant, and hosts gigs and album launches. "When we opened, we wanted to have a really strong relationship with local music," says co-owner Stephen McRobbie. "We are very close to many of the exciting new groups coming out, like The Royal We and the Nineteen-Nineties."

9. Rooted Records, Bristol

A dance-based store that specialises in dubstep, grime, drum & bass, jungle, funk and reggae reissues; vinyl is the order of the day, though you can pick up a few CDs too. You can also buy tickets for gigs and club nights.

10. Seismic records, Leamington Spa

Owner Stuart Smith has spotted some trends lately: "Although the university is situated out of town, most of the students have digs in Leamington so there is a fairly broad section of the university that come in. I have been noticing that lots of them are into the electro, new rave thing."


No Age

Weirdo Rippers (Fatcat)

Weirdo Rippers is the debut, full-length release from this super-talented two piece. Harnessing an explosive dynamic tension, No Age's music switches from punk-rock squalls to melodic flashes of colour or, conversely, a pop song might spontaneously cut through the noise. Highly recommended.

Voice of the Seven Woods

Voice of the Seven Woods (Twisted Nerve)

This is the work of Rick Tomlinson and follows a flurry of limited material he has released over the past two years. "The Fire in my Head" is the stand-out track, while the album is a blend of progressive folk, baroque jazz rock and eastern psychedelia. Please listen to this album - it's a must!

Dizzee Rascal

Maths and English (XL)

Dizzee has stayed true to his roots with old school grime beats but also brings in surprise musical elements - Much to our delight, he features Lily Allen and the Arctic Monkeys. This has got to be the best hip-hop record to come out of the UK.

Albums were picked by staff at Rough Trade East. Turn to page 50 for a chance to win copies, plus gig tickets for the whole of November!

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