[Updated Nov 30] CDs, a relic of a not-so-distant past may be experiencing a dearth here, but thankfully, there is still the resurgence of the dusty old vinyl. To indulge in some audio archaeology, strike out for these stores.
Denny Pue started this shop more than a decade ago, when his own collection got too big to keep at home. These days he sells high-quality vintage vinyl, including albums by ’30’s Shanghai songstress Yao Lee and iconic ’40’s Chinese singer and actress, Zhou Xuan. Sadly, most of the store’s original ’60’s albums from Singapore bands like The Quests are out of stock. A golden assortment of bebop records, both original and re-issue, is supplemented by a choice selection of 1980s Canto-pop albums, most in pristine condition.
Since opening eleven years ago, Ong Chai Koon’s monumental shop has already achieved legendary status among collectors and rival sellers. With an estimated 70,000 albums, and a warehouse sized floor space, the selection is vast and offers probably the largest collection of Singapore pop 33rpm records on the island. It’s best to call ahead and make sure the store will be open when you want to visit, especially on weekdays: the affable Mr. Ong has a day job.
For the past eleven years, brothers Richard and Cheong Wan have sold everything from used vinyl to import CDs. Keep your eyes peeled for vinyl re-issues of seldom seen jazz classics. The many boxes of 45rpm Singapore-pop albums crammed in a corner is one of the largest caches in town. They also offer a record cleaning service for old albums: at $2.50 per record, plus new sleeves and inserts—a bargain!
Hear Records (Burlington Square & Chinatown)
It’s a tiny, tightly packed space in unassuming Burlington Square, but we are quite impressed by the range of records here—from oldens but goodens, The Verve, The Jesus and Mary Chain and The Velvet Underground, to current indie acts like Viet Cong, Beirut and Liars. Even sassy pop songstress Meghan Trainor (of this year’s All About That Bass
) is on the list, for high fidelity purists who abhore music streaming with a vengence. While digging, you’re likely to find some pretty fun world music from Africa and India, too. They’ve expanded with a second store in Chinatown providing the same huge variety as the one in Burlington Square, with the exception that their used titles have been organized alphabetically and according to sections for jazz, blues, compilations and even Japanese artistes. There are regular stock updates on both their Facebook pages (here
), so be sure to keep tabs if you don’t want to miss out on rare gems.
No hipster central is complete without a vinyl record store, which is why we are not too surprised to find one in Tiong Bahru. Here, you can wear your radio-friendly music tastes loud and proud, as the store stocks crowd-pleasing chart-toppers like Mariah Carey, Joss Stone and Calvin Harris. We are also pretty stoked to find names like Yo La Tengo, Ben Folds Five, The White Stripes and Sonic Youth—all essential additions to any indie music lover’s collection. Those with hardened ear drums will rejoice knowing that there is hard rock on wax, like Slash, for sale too. The owner, Tremon, is sweet and friendly and will gladly play any record you’re curious about. He has recently started bringing in older used records and all the jazz essentials, too.
The store at the Esplanade Mall sells vinyl records, books and magazines curated by partners Vinylicious Records, The Arkhivist and Magpie Magazines, but the highlight has to be their collection of new, pre-loved and rare records with genres ranging from rock, jazz, classical and world, such as The Hunter by American singer-songwriter Jennifer Warnes, a limited-edition red vinyl release of gangsta-jazz moaner Lana Del Rey’s Honeymoon and avant-garde wunderkind Bjork (we spied Post, Homogenic and Biophilia). Expect to pay between $25 to $800 for these babies.