Whilst doing my degree at Aston, Birmingham, I've come to love my local record stores and being an avid record collector I've never had the opportunity to have a 'local' record store because Leicester is crying out for a really good record store. In the centre of Birmingham there's three main record stores: Swordfish, Ignite and Diskery. For me, what a record store has to entail is a vibe where you forget about everything else that's going on the world and instead it's just you and the crates you're digging through, writing mini reviews in your mind for every album you recognise as you finger through troves of records. Another thing that is incredibly important in your local record store is the people, if the staff and fellow crate diggers aren't friendly it really impacts the experience you will remember next time. For me, personally, the allure of record collecting is that when you put a record on you're forced to listen to it. You have to sit there and soak up the whole album because it's too much effort to cherry pick only the songs you like. Not to mention that with a decent set up you can really feel the warmth of the sound and the deeper bass. Anyway, here's all of the record stores in Birmingham and my experiences with them...
Swordfish has been in Birmingham since the 70's, surviving the death of vinyl and still going strong through the resurgence. They did have to relocate at some point to further out the town centre but not so far that it's not worth walking to. Once you walk down the alley towards the shop, immediately you'll realise that this is a classic record store, and that feeling continues as you walk into Swordfish. Immediately you are met with rows of classic, pre owned vinyl like Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Fleetwood Mac and so much more. Surprisingly they actually have a decent stock of Hip Hop albums, which I'm a big fan of. But towards the till you'll soon see that they have a ton of new vinyl ready for your perusal, not to mention they participate in Record Store Day every year, which is basically Christmas for us vinyl heads. Something that Swordfish have perfected is that special record store atmosphere that makes record collecting so special, with dimmed lighting and classic rock constantly on the stereo you'll have a great time digging through all their records on offer. Also, they have a record label which has the band The Mothers Earth Experiment signed to it which is classic prog rock and I'm sure you'll love them!
Notable purchases: Run The Jewels - Run The Jewels 2, The Beach Boys - Golden Greats, The Vaccines - English Graffiti
Ignite has only been around for 10 years or so, and yet to start a record store when vinyl had been long dead is so ambitious but it's worked out so well for Rich, the owner that you can't help but applaud him. My favourite thing about Ignite is that he does his utmost to get as many rare records and indie exclusives as he possibly can, whilst still maintaining such an excellent level of stock. If you're looking for David Live original pressing or something like that then this isn't the place because he doesn't sell used records but that only means that he can amplify the quality of the new stock he has. If you've never been here on Record Store Day then I'd definitely recommend paying a visit one of these years because he stocks literally EVERYTHING. Not to mention, there is always a friendly face and service with a smile, I've had some great conversations in here about music and vinyl in general. If you're looking for more indie music, with a great selection of metal, punk, rock and more. Would definitely recommend giving this place a visit!
Notable Purchases: Haim - My Song #5, Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp a Butterfly, The Smiths - The Queen is Dead
The Diskery is one of the oldest record stores in Britain, it's located quite the way out from the city centre (Opposite the O2 Academy), this is a classic record store in so many ways. There are racks and racks and racks of used vinyl in this place, to the point where if you wanted to actually look through all of it then it would definitely take you days and days. There's a small selection of new records, as in one little box near the till, so their priority is very obvious in this store. Another positive of this is that if you're looking for an old record, you're probably going to find it in this place, from U2 to ELO to Miles Davis there's everything for you to look through in here. As far as I know they still participate in Record Store Day, but the RSD competition in Birmingham is obviously very strong. If you get chance to go to The Diskery then I recommend looking through all of the 7 inches, because they have very fair prices and there is racks and racks of them in the place.
Notable Purchases: ELO - Sweet Talking Woman (7"), Band Aid - Do They Know Its Christmas (7")