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Bristol’s Hidden Gems: Record Shops

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From Massive Attack to Beth Rowley, Portishead to The Wurzels, Bristol has produced an impressive array of musical talent. Scratch beneath the surface, and you’ll also find a bustling record shop scene stocking an array of used and new vinyl – there's so much choice it'll have your head in a spin...

Hidden music gems in the heart of Bristol

Specialist Subject Records

If DIY Indie Rock is your thing then Specialist Subject Records is the place for you. Open all week long and delighting in seeking out hidden gems of its own, the shop is a trustworthy source of music advice, as they also run their own independent record label. With a delectable array of records to flick through, it’s well worth a visit. Plus, at a mere stone’s throw from Castle Park, it’s a handy gem, as well as a hidden one.

Image Credit: Specialist Subject Records via Facebook

Specialist Subject Records is at First Floor, Exchange, 72-73 Old Market Street, BS2 0EJ.

Rough Trade

The king of record shops opened a local branch just last year right in the centre of town. Founded in 1976, Rough Trade has long established itself as a mecca for celebrating music and music culture. Joining esteemed company amongst their London, Nottingham and New York stores, the vast new Bristol branch is a welcome addition to the local landscape. Complete with a café and bar, the store also features Rough Trade’s signature blend of regular live performances, signings and launch events, so make sure to check out their packed calendar to find out more. There is also great news for fans of Rise Records - which sadly closed down last year - as many of the same staff are now working at Rough Trade, keeping the blend of expertise and musical know-how alive in Bristol.

Image Credit: Rough Trade Bristol via Facebook

Rough Trade Bristol is at 3 New Bridewell, Nelson Street, BS1 2QD.

Idle Hands

Idle Hands is a stalwart of Bristol’s music scene. Set a stone’s throw from buzzing Stokes Croft, this distinctive record shop has established a glowing reputation for its dance and electronic offerings since opening in 2011. Now catering for a wider array of genres, and with a particular nose for Bristol releases, it’s a great stop off for many a music fix. Plus its light, airy feel sets it apart from the caves these shops often reside in. With its dedication to vinyl, this is one for purists and enthusiasts from all over.

Image Credit: Idle Hands via Facebook

Idle Hands is at 32a City Road, St Paul’s, BS2 8TP.

Payback Records

More of a stall than a full-blown shop, this cosy little joint is tucked away in St Nick’s Market. Run singlehandedly by Paul Craine, Payback Records specialise in reggae, and all kinds of Jamaican sounds, so if you fancy anything from Prince Buster to Busy Signal, Payback is the place. It’s a good stop for some delightful albums across soul, jazz, hip hop and rock, and being en route to pretty much everywhere makes for the perfect spontaneous stop-off.

Image Credit: Payback Records via Facebook

Payback Records is in the South Arcade of St Nicholas’ Market, BS1 1LA.

Friendly Records

Finally, check out this lesser known but thoroughly worthwhile vendor down on Bedminster’s vibrant North Street. As Bristol’s street art-centre, this is the place to be. Specialising in new and used vinyl, Friendly Records strides boldly across any genre divides, instead seeking out exciting sounds from throughout the musical spectrum. They have lots of their stock available online, so do have a thorough browse, although it’s always worth popping in for the best - and friendliest - experience.

Image Credit: Friendly Records via Facebook

Friendly Records is at 59-61 North St, BS3 1ES.