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Visiting the best record stores in Montreal

by Étienne Lajoie September 29, 2015
Visiting the best record stores in Montreal

The city is full of vinyl treasures for you to find and here’s where to start looking

Earlier this year, Rolling Stone called Montreal “the new hotbed for music worldwide.” The only way to confirm this claim was to visit the places where enthusiasts breathe and discuss music—record stores. These are a few of the best.

 

AUX 33 TOURS: 1373 Mont-Royal Ave. East (Plateau Mont-Royal)

Photo by Étienne Lajoie.

Photo by Étienne Lajoie.

At Aux 33 Tours—French for LPs—you’ll find the prices a little high, but the store’s richness in musical genres will overcome your fear of becoming bankrupt. The store is illuminated by two large ceiling lights that perfectly warm the black room, making your hunt even more enjoyable. New arrivals stand on a black shelf in front of the cash, next to the entrance. While every other store I visited had only one employee, often the owner himself, Aux 33 Tours has a couple of clerks who can help you find your favourite LP. Records are usefully categorized, with indie music on its own, and likewise for metal and rock. It is simply an incredible store.

 

 

 

CHEAP THRILLS: 2044 Metcalfe St. (Downtown)

Photo by Étienne Lajoie.

Photo by Étienne Lajoie.

The tilted staircase that leads to the store, and the different shades of aged white and pink paint surrounding it, are a testament to this record store’s early establishment. Opened in 1971, this music cave is as close as it gets to an old house’s attic. Cheap Thrills’ interior walls are hidden behind a six-foot-high shelf stockpiled with books from every field of study imaginable. The number of vinyls is astonishing, especially considering the space the owner has. As much as there are Pink Floyd and Beatles records, you’ll also find the latest Mac Demarco and Lana del Rey. Don’t get overwhelmed by the quantity, this place is a gem.

 

 

 

 

PHONOPOLIS: 207 Bernard St. West (Mile End)

Photo by Étienne Lajoie.

Photo by Étienne Lajoie.

The Mile End deservingly earned the reputation of being one of the hippest neighbourhood in the world by The Huffington Post earlier this year. The borough has a strong influence on the Montreal indie music industry, with artists such as Arcade Fire emerging from it, as well as two record stores next to each other on one of its busiest streets, Bernard Avenue. One of them is Phonopolis. An array of vinyl fills the large boxes, taking most of the room’s space, along with others hanging on the monochrome walls. The music genres are diversified, from Simon and Garfunkel to recordings from singers and lute players who lived in the Levant, an ancient Middle Eastern region which comprises Palestine, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. The CD collection isn’t as complete and some prized albums are hard to find. Since it’s in Montreal’s indie music hub and affiliated with POP Montreal, you can purchase tickets for upcoming shows.

 

LE PICK UP: 169 des Pins Ave. East (Plateau Mont-Royal)

Photo by Étienne Lajoie.

Photo by Étienne Lajoie.

Situated between de Bullion street and Hôtel de ville avenue, Le Pick-Up’s chest is filled with vinyls released by francophone artists from the ‘60s to the ‘80s, a feature that singled out the store from the others. The retailer’s’ selection of disks is deeply related to their respective neighborhood. As a matter of fact, Le Pick-up and Cheap Thrills are at the antipodes: Le Pick-up is located in a historically francophone neighbourhood while Cheap Thrills is in an anglophone area.. Between Dutronc’s and Delpech’s best jams, you’ll also find quite a lot of comic books at this buy-and-sell shop. Lastly, the hangout is very well cared for, so you’ll be able to shuffle through LPs, 45 rpms and CDs in a heartbeat.

 

 

 

L’ÉCHANGE: 713 du Mont-Royal Ave. East (Plateau Mont-Royal)

Photo by Étienne Lajoie.

Photo by Étienne Lajoie.

L’Échange is a pleasant place situated just a few metres away from Mont-Royal metro station. It is labeled as a buy-and-sell bookstore, hence the name “L’Échange,” but their collection of compact disks and vinyl is nothing to overlook. Although you will not find rare albums like those from some underground synth-pop mixer, classics of the industry are there for the taking. There are two areas: one located just as you make your way in, where vinyl and CDs can be found, as well as a small space in the back where you can trade away your relics, and another area to the left where books are stored. L’Échange is an escape from the buzzing metropolis.

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