Vinyl is becoming easier and easier to come by these days, which is good news and bad news for music enthusiasts in big cities. Yes, this means that there are more record crates to pick through but at the same time it means more people are picking through said crates. Here are some of Montreal’s better vinyl hotspots — spots known for deals, ease of access (or lack thereof), and variety.
Toting used vinyl, cassettes and CDs, Cheap Thrills is a one-stop destination for all your music ingestion needs, and is located conveniently downtown. While the store itself is quite small, you have terrific chances of walking out of here a happy customer. Their stock consists of jazz, avant garde and blues, and they truly have something for everyone. Don’t believe the hype? Browse their impressive online catalog to see exactly what all’s on offer. 2044 Metcalfe, 514-844-8988.
An independent record store located in the Mile End, Phonopolis is the result of a local indie rock star Nathan Gage opening his own shop. Whether you’re looking for something experimental or classic, Phonopolis has you covered, with a staff always looking to assist newcomers or talk music with vinyl lovers. Our favourite part about this store is that they carry tickets for Blue Skies Turn Black shows because, while records are the best way to enjoy music at home, sometimes it’s just better to see the band live. 207 Bernard Avenue West, 514-270-4442.
Looking for a way to bring yourself back to your youth? Sonik stocks mostly punk- and garage-rock from the 1960s and ’70s, which will make you seriously consider installing a record player in your ’68 Camaro. But maybe punk isn’t your cup of tea; maybe you sold off the Z28? Sonik also has a wide variety of contemporary francophone and local music to satisfy your diversity. 4050 Berri St, 514-288-2113.
Hidden in the city’s north end, down a back alley and up a fire escape, Backroom is arrived at via a path that should be thought of as a kind of treasure hunt — the prize being one of the best record collections in Montreal and at unbeatable prices. Warren Hill, owner and himself a vinyl guru, has all the knowledge of an audiophile with none of the pretense. The charm of the small record store is amplified by his humility; let us confirm that Hill’s taste is second-to-none. Get on their mailing list for regular updates of new stock, or if you’re the crate-digging type, we suggest just stopping in if you’re in the neighbourhood. 5912 St. Urbain St., backroomrecordsAThotmailDOTcom.
Not to be confused with Depanneur Le Pickup, Le Pick-Up is located dead centre in the Plateau, making it a perfect spot to drop in at after getting Sunday brunch on the Main. The store only sells used vinyl and books — mostly stocking classics, but also carrying some obscure Canadian/Quebecois records. On top of everything else, they have the best $1 bins in the city. If you’re on a budget or looking to expand your collection fast, this is the place to go. 169 Pine Avenue East, 514-849-9484.
Image courtesy of Thomas Weidenhaupt.