Sydney has a decent experimental record store

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A couple of nights ago I went to the launch of Title. Title is a new music store that has opened in (499) Crown St near the corner of Devonshire St in Surry Hills.

Set up by the people behind Fuse Distribution, it stocks only good music. I was amazed and heartened to see such a fantastic selection of sounds from many genres – experimental, avant-garde, jazz, world and smatterings of well-picked indie and electronica – at super low prices. Most CDs were $25 – a far cry from other ‘import’s stores whose stock rarely dips below $35.

For a long time I’ve wanted Sydney to have the wealth of record store-depth that Melbourne has had. Whilst I grew up going to Red Eye, Metropolis (RIP) and Waterfront (RIP) in the 80s, then the specialist dance stores in the 90s, Sydney has only had a few lacklustre attempts at doing what I’d now happily call ‘adult’s music properly – Folkways in Paddington, Birdland in the city – and both of these didn’t really cater for the leftfield well at all. All of this ‘lack’ meant everyone like me deserted the physical retail world for online shopping and importing directly from overseas.

Title is what I’d term a ‘post-bust’s record store.

It has a great hand picked selection of labels, magazines, arthouse films, and is also a really nicely designed store. It has the feel of an indie record store, staff that care and aren’t just some automaton who couldn’t get a job in fashion retail, and a sophistication in stock selections that an elderly person like myself is comfortable with.

It is also a place where I don’t feel like I am twice the age of everyone else in the store!

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About Author

Seb Chan founded Cyclic Defrost Magazine in 1998 with Dale Harrison. He handed over the reins at the end of 2010 but still contributes the occasional article and review.

11 Comments

  1. Yup, this place is great and I live right across the road so have lil’ excursions for treasure hunts! It really is unique and exciting to browse.

  2. Awesome. I’ve been dying small deaths every time I go to Sydney record shops and end up spending my money on old favourites because there are so few interesting new things. Having said that, I finally got around to buying Global Communication’s ambient classic the other night. In any case, I’m not saying there’s not good new music, it’s just that the record shop situation has got so bland.
    I’ll visit Title tonight.

    BTW someone passed me a flyer at the Diplo gig for a baile funk/reggae/grime shop that was also set to open in that general vicinity – foolishly I cast it aside with a drunken flourish – can anyone tell me more?

  3. This store looks awesome, and I can’t wait to see it for real on my next visit to Sydney.

    I have to ask though — should I take from your post that you aren’t keen on stores like Sound&Fury, Gifted, and Paint It Black? Ok, I’ll grant that Gifted caters for a predominantly indie/post-punk taste. Paint It Black… I don’t know well enough to comment on. Sound&Fury impressed me, though, with its broad stock and good, spacious layout – plus staff that knew what they were talking about. I guess perhaps your gripe, if you have one with them, is that they don’t stock a broad selection of leftfield electronica, or perhaps old-school experimental composers? Is it that their slant is too much toward noise-rock?

    I’m not sticking up for anyone in particular, but I’m just curious to get this clarification, if I may!

  4. hey jon

    it was more about Title having a nice selection of stuff plus being really cleanly laid out plus the arthouse dvds and sound collector mags etc all add to the slightly high brow vibe. They have a good modern classical and jazz section.

    i generally feel old (because i am!) at other stores – there are some great other stores in sydney – but price-wise and specialist selection-wise Title really kills it.

  5. Went back up there at lunch with some colleagues today and picked up The Monks’ Black Monk Time, which I spotted in the flat I was staying in in Berlin last year. What a great 60s proto-punk record, made by US servicemen stationed in Frankfurt! I first heard about The Monks through The Fall (Black Monk Theme which was on Extricate) in 1990 and then their great ‘I Hate You’ a little later . . . . http://www.the-monks.com/

    And also the CD version of the latest Biosphere album Dropsonde on Touch. I’d heard this before – lovely ambient electronics using jazz samples – much lighter than Jan Jelinek and Andrew Pekler in mood, but quite similar too.

    With the 20% discount . . . total damage = $42!

  6. there is a great new store down the Enmore sort of end of king st. called Bravery Repetition and noise (yes, they really like the brian jonestown massacre). they’ve just opened and they have some real cool stuff in there, more of a rock influence i guess, but well worth a look, and they’re happy to have a chat offer recommendations etc.

  7. Bravery Repetition and Noise has just been opened by an old mate of mine, and yes they are open to any suggestions on things to stock, so get down there and check it out. I haven’t had a chance yet, but it sounds promising – we need all the specialist stores we can get here in sydney!

  8. 12k – not sure if anyone is doing local distribution of 12k in Australia meaning that stores would be taking a non-returnable risk on importing themselves.

    If anyone would stock it you’d be looking in Sydney at Title or Red Eye. Otherwise just go to Boomkat.com or buy direct from 12k (which at the current exchange rate is probably going to be your cheapest option).

  9. Yep thats what I usually do. Just be nice to have product here.

    Any online electronica stores here in Aus you know of in the mold of Boomkat?