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Swee Lee, vinyl
Photograph: Swee Lee

The best record stores in Singapore

Expand your vinyl collection with box sets, limited editions and 7' singles from these record stores

Cam Khalid
Written by
Cam Khalid
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While catching a live music performance is great, indulging in a home listening party with specially curated playlists makes an ethereal experience – well, coming from us, anyway. If you prefer kicking it old school, trailing the detailed sounds of vinyl scratching against the needle of your turntable and those eargasmic sounds emitting from the speakers, it's about time you expand your record collection.

For exclusive titles, mark your calendar for Record Store Day (RSD). The special day is usually celebrated with RSD-exclusive records, limited-edition merchandise, and promotions on the third Saturday of April every year. But due to the pandemic, the annual music affair is split over two separate dates: June 12 and July 17.

In the meantime, check out these record stores and get browsing, dear crate-diggers.

RECOMMENDED: Local Vocal: fresh new music from Singapore this week and we explore the vinyl scene in Singapore

  • Shopping
  • Music and entertainment
  • Marine Parade

The brainchild of DJ collective Matteblacc, this music space is more than meets the eye. Besides offering stacks of records for music aficionados to browse through, the laidback store also invites customers to enjoy a cuppa specialty joe and craft beers as well as all-day breakfast bites such as smoked salmon bagel and smashed avocado toast – all while copping merch and accessories from your favourite artists, bands, and cult streetwear brands. If it's anything like it was pre-circuit breaker, you'll likely find impromptu vinyl jam sessions when restrictions have eased.

  • Shopping
  • Music and entertainment
  • City Hall

An audiophile's paradise, the Analog Vault is a cave of vinyl, turntables, and other music merchandise, as well as indie hardback and paperback titles for a good read. Similar to its online store, the Esplanade brick-and-mortar carries records in mono and stereo, as well as box sets, limited editions, and 7' singles by artists from a plethora of genres. But what sets this record store apart from others is its independent record label TAV Records, so don't be surprised to find LPs of local bands hidden amongst the many international titles.

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  • Shopping
  • Tiong Bahru

It’s smack in the middle of Tiong Bahru, so you know the kind of Hipster 101 albums this hole-in-the-wall stocks. Expect an impressive selection of contemporary pop records alongside lesser-known titles from every corner of the world. But if you're looking for the créme de la créme to add to your vinyl collection, store owner Tremon is the go-to guy – he'll recommend you something that'll suit your music palate regardless of genre.

  • Shopping
  • Music and entertainment
  • Rochor

A vast, curated selection of second-hand records line the walls of this tiny shop. Thanks to owner Nick Tan, most of the stuff here is decidedly cool – we dug up a 1996 reissue of A Tribe Called Quest’s The Low End Theory and a limited-edition release of Portishead’s Third, for example. And here’s a tip: sign up for Tan’s monthly newsletter for updates on the crates he hauls back from Japan, the UK and the US.

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  • Shopping
  • Music and entertainment
  • Rochor

Run by a husband-wife duo, Mosta Records LP stands out among other record stores in Singapore as the authorised dealer and distribution for Jack White's (of The White Stripes) Third Man Records, as well as other record labels including its own. But beyond the blues, the store also carries a plethora of other genres through new and pre-loved vinyl. And if you're in need of a new set-up, you'll be happy to know that it's also the authorised dealer of Audio Technica turntables and accessories.

  • Things to do
  • Geylang

This isn't your average record store – The Barbershop Music also doubles as a, well, barbershop as The Panic Room. Besides executing edgy hairdos for its creative and hipster clientele, it offers music lovers new and used wax singles and LPs, as well as 45rpm records. With the crew's impeccable taste in music, you can expect plenty of funk grooves, bluesy rock, and hip-hop beats. Need a new hairdo and record? Get the best of both worlds at The Barbershop Music.

 

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  • Music
  • Marine Parade

A stone's throw away from Choice Cuts Goods + Coffee's new sweet digs, Retrocrates is the ideal place for music-lovers to relax, unwind, and crate-dig in a leisurely manner for all genres of music, old and new. The independent record store offers a range of turntables as well as a large library of new and pre-loved vinyl records for sale. The second-floor shop house, complete with sofas, cushions, and rugs, allows for customers to get comfortable and immerse themselves in the music. 

  • Shopping
  • Musical instruments
  • Buona Vista

Besides boasting a wide range of musical instruments, accessories, and DJ gear from well-known brands such as Fender, Gibson, and Marshall, the massive Swee Lee also carries a range of turntables and records suited for budding audiophiles or seasoned needle-droppers. Look forward to shelves filled with records from top hits to deep cuts. There are also in-store stations for you to sample those records. If all those crate-digging got you feeling tired, refuel at the Swee Lee Social Club, a casual hangout space for music lovers to chat over coffee by Common Man Coffee Roasters and desserts. 

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  • Shopping
  • Music and entertainment
  • Toa Payoh

It’s a crate-digger’s wonderland – more than 10,000 vintage vinyl stack up at this out-of-the-way joint. Red Point is known among music geeks for its varied selection – you’ll find records from ’50s Chinese divas to the golden age of rock ’n’ roll to contemporary indie to bygone Singaporean hits. There’s no question here: if you own a player, you owe it to yourself to check out Red Point.

  • Shopping
  • Music and entertainment
  • City Hall

We can’t tell you how many times we’ve scoured Vinylicious, found a record, checked its rarity on Discogs, and held an internal debate on whether it’s wise to drop $100 on a first-press of Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine, The Smashing Pumpkins or other alt-rock legends. We even found a copy of the debut record by ’80s local new wave outfit Zircon Lounge. Although prices are on the high side, the catalogue here is legit. If you’ve got tighter purse strings, there’s a comprehensive collection of ’80s rock records and new indie releases here, too.

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  • Shopping
  • Music and entertainment
  • Kallang

If you think the vinyl resurgence is only for the hipsters, here’s a store that doesn’t give a damn – pardon our French – about Kamasi Washington's ascent to stardom. This is for metalheads only. Besides LP reissues of iconic albums from the likes of Bathory and Emperor, Ravage Records stocks CDs of underground acts and all sorts of black-clad merch.

  • Shopping
  • Music and entertainment
  • City Hall

First, a warning: it’s incredibly tough to look through the stacks upon stacks of vintage records in this hole-in-the-wall. It’s haphazard, claustrophobic, and albums aren’t sorted by any reasonable order here. But when you do find a diamond in the mess of rock, jazz, blues, and soul releases, they’re relatively less expensive than other stores. We picked out an (admittedly weathered) Aussie first-press of Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here for a mere $10 – can’t beat that.

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