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Vertigo 26
Photograph: Dewi Nurjuwita

The best places for music lovers in Singapore

Where music lovers can indulge in a musical experience beyond shopping

Cam Khalid
Written by
Cam Khalid
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Itching for a sonic experience beyond the bedroom? What better way to appreciate the art of music at some of the city's best music stores and bars. Take some time to peruse the crates for that elusive record, sample a limited-edition Les Paul, or discover your new favourite band from the speakers. Go beyond shopping with tasty bites, innovative cocktails or specialty coffee at the in-store cafés and bars. Meet like-minded people who have their fingers on the pulse for fresh sounds when music events return to these venues.

RECOMMENDED: The best record stores in Singapore and the best bars in Singapore to go to based on your music taste

Swee Lee
  • Shopping
  • Musical instruments
  • Buona Vista

An audio aficionado’s paradise, Swee Lee’s colossal Star Vista flagship store boasts a diverse range of musical instruments, accessories, DJ equipment, amps, pedals, microphones and more. Browse through aisles of keyboards and pianos, drums and percussions, guitars and basses from brands like Fender, Gibson, Gretsch, and Marshall. Gift a music maven with kitschy novelties, books, and vinyl that are available too. After, take a break at the in-store cafe, Swee Lee Social Club where you can refuel with a cup of Java from PPP, a refreshing beer from Lion Brewery, and tasty pastries from Mother Dough.

  • Shopping
  • Music and entertainment
  • Marine Parade

Choice Cuts Goods + Coffee moonlights as a great spot for a fix of vinyl and coffee. The crate-digging haven is well stocked with enough urban gold on its shelves ranging from funk and soul to hip-hop and global sounds. For a perk-me-up, order a cuppa made with specialty coffee blends from Latin America, and craft beers from around the world. And if you're feeling peckish, grab a bagel sarnie, and crowd-fave, self-baked tiramisu, for the road. Prior to the circuit breaker, the store hosted live DJ sets and in-store listening parties at its old digs, which was just a stone’s throw away from its new home.

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  • Bars and pubs
  • City Hall

There's a new vinyl bar in town, and it's hidden in the basement of Mint Museum of Toys (where Mr Punch used to be). Vertigo 26 has the makings of a safe sanctuary for audiophiles. It was co-founded by music and movie veterans Eric Chan and Simon Chia. Throughout the day, the space functions as a record store where in-house listening is allowed. Sift through rows of vinyl and cassettes spanning various genres and over five decades – be it Björk, Talking Heads, Billie Eilish, Amy Winehouse, Linkin Park or Bloc Party.

From 5pm, Vertigo 26 transforms into a bar with a mean cocktail selection and a menu curated by Kyle Henderson (previously from Lolla and Summerlong). The bar is helmed by Cedric Seth, who was previously a cocktail mixologist at the Horse's Mouth. Cocktails are all $22, with names such as Bad Moon Rising (Monkey Shoulder, cinnamon maple and bitters) and A View To Kill (Reyka vodka, melon, cranberries, grapefruit, soda). A beer drinker? There are craft beers on tap starting from $17. For a little snack, order up the Bar Bites Platter featuring Kombu cucumber, spiced mixed nuts, marinated olives, tamarind popcorn chicken, nori fries, crisps and salmon dip. 

  • 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 to thumb through. 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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  • Bars and pubs
  • Members' clubs
  • Tanglin

Jazz up your evening with a tipple or two and some good ol' tunes at Dempsey's live music enclave. Surrounded by lush greenery, the picturesque cocktail bar and listening lounge ropes guests in with shelves of scotch and whiskeys from all around the world, as well as wine vintages, on top of the occasional ingenious concoctions. Since its reopening, it has introduced a new cocktail menu called The Trouble Clef. It features nine music-inspired including Oblivion on Himalayan, which has a citrus, salty and sweet candy-like breath freshener made with Smokelab Vodka, citrus medley and lemon essence served with a delicious meringue.

  • Shopping
  • Music and entertainment
  • City Hall

An audiophile's paradise, the Analog Vault is a cave of vinyls, 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, including jazz, electronic, modern and experimental classical, world music, hip-hop, R&B and soul. Don't be surprised to find a local band's LP hidden amongst the many international titles.

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Lithe House
  • Music
  • Rochor

Home to Singapore’s independent record label Lithe Records, this intimate music emporium also carries an eccentric streak of titles that include those by local bands under its label – it’s a good start to get acquainted with local music. Keep an eye out for live in-store performances (when possible) where customers can get up close and personal with some of the city’s up-and-coming acts. Beyond music discovery and shopping, Lithe House also comes with a studio complete with instruments as well as recording and rehearsal services for those seeking to squeeze a jamming session.

The Adelphi
  • Shopping
  • City Hall

Embark on a sonic adventure at the AV-dominated mall that houses high-end, hi-fi equipment including speakers and turntables to specifics like phono preamps and digital-to-analogue converters. When it comes to records, the stores here are dedicated to the heavier end of the spectrum. Serious collectors will appreciate the range of second-hand gems, rarities and limited editions of everything from 60’s jazz and 70’s pop to 80’s heavy metal found at Memory Lane, while being impressed with the extensive catalogue of jazz and classical music records as well as affordable turntables from Rega and Audio Technica at Simply Music.

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