Montréal spins you round at these vinyl stores
Put simply, Montréal’s music scene is unrivalled, its indie stars like Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Arcade Fire and Grimes capturing the world stage. And that local love of music brings with it a collectors paradise of record shops, each stuffed to the brim with stacks of wax to suit any taste. Here’s 10 of the best – de rigueur spots to visit for any music aficionado.
L’Oblique - 4333 Rivard Street
Tucked away on Rivard Street lined with charming apartments, L’Oblique has represented the particular tastes of its founder Luc Bérard, showcasing Montréal bands – a rack of releases by the legendary Constellation Records takes pride of place at the centre of the shop floor – and offering vintage stereo equipment and repairs since 1987. The carefully-curated selection always offers up a long sought-for surprise, so it’s well worth digging through the racks.
Sound Central - 4486 Coloniale Avenue
A veritable history of DIY punk, metal and indie rock lines the shelves of this local stalwart, with selections available on vinyl, CD and cassette. The small café provides caffeine recharges to keep fingers flipping, and the selection of fanzines and books is always worth a look.
Aux 33 Tours - 1373 Mont-Royal Avenue East
A collector’s paradise, typically first with the latest weekly releases and limited editions on release day. The well-stocked used selection turns over quickly, and is consistently full of low-priced surprises and their website even includes a counter of how many used records have made their way through their bins – as of writing, nearly 70,000 have been counted there in the past 365 days. Their annual warehouse sales (check website for details and location) are lined-up around the block, with untold thousands of records at unbeatable low prices and happy collectors carting armloads of finds back home to their turntables.
Sonorama - 260 Bernard Avenue West
With a carefully-picked selection of classics on offer, Sonorama’s shelves are the perfect place to fill the holes in your collection. From special edition re-presses to hard to find originals (the shop’s Discogs page is worth a look at some of the rarer pieces in-stock), there’s always sweet finds to be had.
Phonopolis - 207 Bernard Avenue West
Founded by members of the early 2000s band Shapes and Sizes, Phonopolis is the definition of a neighbourhood record shop (and its prime location just down the street from Sonorama makes the Mile End a definite hotspot for vinyl lovers). And given its history under the guiding hand of local musicians – more of which you can read about in Never Apart’s series on Montréal record shop histories – it’s no surprise to spot local up-and-comers browsing the racks. The shop’s video series The Phonopolist sees acts like Cœur de Pirate, SUUNS and Yamantaka // Sonic Titan bigging up their favourite records off the walls, and the staff picks chalkboard should always be trusted for its esoteric lists of records you need in your life now.
Death of Vinyl - 6442 Saint-Laurent Boulevard
The new arrivals bins at this Saint-Laurent mainstay are consistently surprising, and the occasional lists of records on hand published on their website show off pleasant discoveries and old favourites from German synth soundtracks to jazz classics. Pop and hip-hop fans will love the wall of 12” singles, priced dirt cheap and full of big hits and undiscovered gems.
Cheap Thrills - 2044 Metcalfe Street
Established in 1971, Cheap Thrills is Montréal’s oldest running record shop and their online mail order catalogue offers over 10,000 titles. It’s easy to lose an afternoon browsing the crates of new and used records and books – what the shop lacks in size, it makes up for in selection. The staff behind the counter are also some of the city’s friendliest and most knowledgeable.
Atom Heart - 364 Sherbrooke Street East
The best record shops are those where those working there are just as excited about music as the customers, and Atom Heart’s Soundcloud page shows off a love of music both old and new. Focusing on electronic music and indie rock, Atom Heart’s physical location and mail order operations have been bringing music to Montrealers and beyond for nearly two decades – 2019 marks their 20th anniversary.
Paul’s Boutique - 112 Mont-Royal Avenue East
A brightly-painted yellow and green house on the eastern end of Mont-Royal Avenue, Paul’s Boutique takes its name from the Beastie Boys album of the same name, and like that record’s dizzying mix of samples and sound collage, the wealth of choice records here is worth dedicating some time to. Check the shop’s live in-store videos for some great performances.
180g - 5866 de Lorimier Avenue
The new kid on the block, recently taking residence in a new location on De Lorimier Avenue, 180g’s tagline “Come for the coffee… stay for the records,” sums up what they do so well. Combining a hip minimalist, well-stocked café with a great selection of electronic, hip-hop, classic and new indie vinyl creates a perfect union of two of Montréal’s favourite activities – coffee and records.
Mark Hamilton, blogger, Queer MTL community manager
Male, mid-to-late 30s, tall and bearded. Likes romantic walks on Mont Royal, long-distance cycling, beard oil products and antique travel guides. Has a bad habit of falling in love with men in vintage photographs who are certainly long dead. If he could be anything, he’d live his life as a professional flâneur. Until then, he spends his time writing, making music, and wandering.
To see the list of our regular contributors, click here.