Independent record stores may be going the way of the dinosaurs, but Manchester’s indie record scene is alive and well. Here are five of our favorite Manchester record spots. Did your favorite make the list?
Eastern Bloc Records, 5a Stevenson Square, Northern Quarter
Previously owned by Martin Price of 808 State, Eastern Bloc has been filling Manchester’s electronic music needs since 1985, making it the longest-running shop of its kind in the city centre. The shop has quite a cool history. Back in the 80s it helped launch bands such as the Inspiral Carpets and hosted notables like the Stone Roses and Happy Mondays. E Bloc was really responsible for breaking much of the new dance music at the time and was involved in the early careers of A Guy Called Gerald and K Klass. This is not the place for vintage used records. E Bloc specializes in cutting edge vinyl with all the house, breaks, techno, dubstep, and drum & bass you could possibly want. The current location also functions as a cafe offering hand-roasted coffee, food, and free wi-fi.
Empire Exchange – 1 Newton Street, City Centre
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. If your ideal shopping experience is rummaging through piles and crates of music, magazines, and bric-a-brac, then Empire Records is for you! They have a vast array of CDs, vinyl, and DVDs, including a rare record selection that will whet your appetite for all things Manchester. But that’s not all. Here you can rifle through stacks of books, comics, and magazines. Empire’s crates stuffed full of old NMEs and Melody Makers might be a Britpop fan’s dream come true. You never know what antiques and collectibles you’ll find in the rest of the rambling room. Clothes, jewelery, football memorabilia, old paper ephemera. You name it, they might have it.
Piccadilly Records – 55 Oldham Street, Northern Quarter
Deep in the heart of Manchester’s record shopping mecca, the Northern Quarter, you will find this Manchester institution. Piccadilly has been the finest purveyor of indie records for the good people of Manchester since 1978, and its current owners have been at the helm for over twenty years. The current location is spacious and is a great spot for vinyl junkies. Low-tech meets high-tech, as the racks of platters make way for CD listening stations and computers hooked up to browse new releases. Every great genre is represented here: folk, psych, garage, punk, as well as your more esoteric house, electro, and dubstep. And all the labels you would expect to find in any upstanding indie shop can be found in abundance, including Cargo, Cherry Red, Domino, and Rough Trade, amongst many others. The staff are noted for their friendliness; they’re very approachable and full of enthusiasm for the music they carry.
Clampdown Records – 9-11 Paton Street
Clampdown is another hidden gem in the Manchester record scene. It’s located close to the Northern Quarter, the major hub for music collectors. Their impressive vinyl collection covers the usual rock, pop, new wave, and soul that you would expect, plus the sort of thriving Madchester and Factory section that you would hope to find in Manchester record shops. They also have a great array of rarities and collectibles, posters, and signed memorabilia to ogle over. Clampdown’s inventory is completely accessible online, so sofa shoppers can visit their favorite record store without leaving home!
Vinyl Revival – 5 Hilton Street, Northern Quarter
Vinyl Revival is the place you head to when you are looking for your hometown heroes. They sell a mixture of new and used records, CDs, and DVDs. But the real draw to Vinyl Revival is its emphasis on Manchester’s rich music scene. Over half the stock is dedicated to local bands from the 1960s to today. Factory Records fans will find lots to drool over here. The store even has original Factory posters on display — sadly, not for sale. But, souvenir-hunters can take away reproduction posters, t-shirts, and more from their favorite Manchester bands (New Order, Stone Roses, and the Smiths are all represented here), as well as the legendary Hacienda, the location of which was about a mile from this store.
Did we miss your favorite? Vinyl Exchange? Record Shack?