The record shops of Shoreditch have been a regular haunt for me during my time in East London, with three of my favorites all within a five minute walk from the Overground station. I’m tempted to be selfish and say nothing about them – but really I should share the delights of these premises with my fellow children of the (vinyl) revolution.

Flashback Records

Flashback’s charm lies in its seemingly endless supply of rarities and first pressings of obscure LPs (including a censored version of the MC5 classic Kick Out The Jams). I’ve been able to pick up a couple of Be Your Own PET (Who are they? EXACTLY) seven inch singles – impossibly rare anywhere else. But if you are looking for modern classics such as AM (Arctic Monkeys), Happy People (Peace) and Art Angels (Grimes) you may be sadly disappointed. On the other hand, if you’re wanting something from the guitar revolution of the early to mid naughties or earlier, chances are you’re in luck. The shop has vast amounts of second hand records although sometimes finding them can be difficult when they are sorted into subsections before being given the A-Z treatment. When it comes to pricing, Flashback’s singles are the cheapest in town, although the small proportion of new vinyl seems dear in comparison to its competitors. Prices of second hand albums vary considerably, but there are definitely a few bargains to be had, especially in the sale section in the basement.

Price: 4/5       Chances of finding a gem: 4/5               Style: 3/5

Sister Ray

If these record shops were the three bears to my Goldilocks, this shop would be Baby Bear, with its selection of records being just right. The rather small shop just over the road from one of Shoreditch’s many food markets, has a perfect mix of new and old records. Both second hand and new are mixed in together with the records sorted in the classic A-Z way (much better than the sometimes confusing systems of Flashback and Rough Trade). This makes the shop very easy to navigate as the sections for each of your favourite artists are there waiting for you to explore. Despite its small size Sister Ray still has a large number of records on offer; unlike the other two, vinyl records are all that’s on offer (the sister’s larger brother in Soho also stocks CDs – worth a look if you’re in central). The only let down is the small number of singles, with only a handful from each period. Pricewise the shop is very reasonable for new releases, often selling them for a couple of pounds less than the rest of Shoreditch. Again, as with Flashback prices for second hand records vary,  but there’s only a few that seem steeper than they should be. Despite its lack of floor space the shop still manages to hold many instore performances throughout the year, moving them to the nearby Ace Hotel if the performer in question likes to push the volume to 11.

Price: 4/5           Chances of finding a gem: 4/5             Style: 3/5

Rough Trade

This one probably needs no introduction: 5,000 square feet of records, making it one of the biggest independent (although its independence has been questioned) record stores in the world. This is no place for second hand, with all the records being brand spanking new. Rough Trade is great for finding the latest releases from upcoming bands (with records from the likes of The Big Moon, Dream Wife and Rough Trade’s very own Goat Girl all likely to be waiting for you), to the point that you could see a band play a Shoreditch pub one day and then see their record in the shop the next. Once again as with Flashback (Rough Trade isn’t quite as bad at sorting) finding certain records can sometimes be a chore with everything split into nationality, the main divide being between American/Canadian and British. This seems simple enough, but it can be difficult if the band features more than one nationality or even half and half (where would I find Anglo-American duo, The Kills?). Despite being the flagship store of one of the country’s most famous Indie labels, sometimes Rough Trade can be a bit mainstream in the albums that it stocks from larger bands and artists (No Metal Machine Music in sight). Some of the records do come at a premium; there are very few albums available for less than 18 quid, and most singles are priced at just under a tenner. The store also has a cafe and hosts a great deal of (usually amazing) instore gigs on its very own stage, meaning that overall the place functions as a hang out as wll as a shop.

Price: 2/5          Chances of finding a gem: 3/5              Style: 4/5