In search of vinyl treasure Hi-Fi Choice heads off to Sweden’s second-largest city and original home of Volvo to explore a smörgåsbord of record stores
Move over Stockholm: when it comes to coolness, Gothenburg has all boxes ticked. Sweden’s laidback second city is a cultural oasis, so it’s little surprise that there are plenty of compelling reasons for vinyl tourists to head over and dig Göteborg’s bulging crates.
This beautiful, compact city is easy to navigate by bus, tram or as a pedestrian. Don’t worry about the language barrier, either: just like the inhabitants of relaxed Scandinavian neighbour Copenhagen (see HFC 417), Göteborgare are friendly people capable of largely flawless English.
HFC’s archaeologist of the city’s vinyl treasures is Don Brosnan (pictured), bass player with London-based band The Real Tuesday Weld, purveyors of jazzy, Serge Gainsbourg-influenced electronica. The group’s live shows in unusual, characterful venues – such as London’s Transport Museum and Tate Modern – are enhanced by quirky, bespoke short films – some of which are created by Don through his Drowning Cowboy Films imprint (drowningcowboyfilms.com).
The group have toured extensively and Don – a vinyl collector since a punk-obsessed teen growing up in Tucson, Arizona – has taken each port of call on a tour itinerary as an opportunity to scope out the best record shops in town. He’s a frequent visitor to Gothenburg and has tailored his knowledge to suit a day-tripper, keeping today’s guided tour within and around the Masthugget district, with all shops within touching distance. “The great thing about Gothenburg is that all of the record stores are within walking distance of one another and there are also a few watering holes along the way to keep our strength up. Prices are generally on the lower side, too.”
Our touchdown at Goteborg Landvetter Airport, southeast of the city centre, is followed by a short bus ride to the central train terminal where we store bags in a secure locker before setting out on a day of record shopping, taking in Haga, the beautiful old part of town. Kronor is burning holes in our pockets, the clock is ticking, so let the crate-digging begin... Gothenburg: tack för musiken! SB
Our guide’s favourite record shop, located near Gothenburg’s iron market in the Masthugget district is our first crate to dig. Compact but comprehensively stocked with second-hand vinyl, excellence is key to Linné Skivbörs’ continued success. The guys behind the counter are super friendly and extremely helpful; the stock, predominantly acquired from meticulous vinyl enthusiasts selling off their collections, is in prime condition; and prices paid for near-mint-condition collectables are generous.
“There’s a split of jazz, soul, rock, with a good focus on psych and indie here,” Don observes. Experimental music lovers and Flying Nun collectors are especially well served: for example, there’s a copy of Straightjacket Fits’ Hail for 159SEK (approximately £14.50) – the only copy on Discogs is going for €35 plus postage.
By a collection of framed vintage posters from Gothenburg shows from the past, a VG-condition LP of Bridget Bardot’s Show demands closer attention. But the opposite wall has our guide reaching into his pocket, as there’s a top copy of cult modern psych act Fumaça Preta’s first record on Soundway. It has a yellow Post-it note attached. “Loosely translated, it says: ‘You are a very cool person for purchasing this record’,” says Don. HFC almost believes him.
Andra Långgatan 20, 413 28 Göteborg
+46 73 372 68 32
For the quintessential old-school record buying experience, a visit to Skivhandel is essential – just be prepared to lose an afternoon in this warren of audio. As Don puts it: “There are definitely treasures hidden if you have the time to trawl through and the exchange rate is right”.
One of Gothenburg’s largest second-hand record shops, every surface is stacked with racks and brightly coloured crates for vinyl and CDs. Meticulously catalogued by genre and sub-genre for an easily navigated browsing experience, even relatively obscure bands have their own dedicated sections – our guide is even able to point out a divider for his previous band, Super J Lounge. Don takes inspiration from the nineties for his vinyl purchase – a dusty copy of The Church’s Gold Afternoon Fix album. Framed posters of The Beatles, Stones and Hendrix peer down over the afternoon browsers, adding to the time capsule experience.
The Dansette in the shop’s logo provides a big clue to Skivhandel’s other major draw. In an alcove under an arch of picture discs, there’s a choice of used record players from brands such as Pioneer, Yamaha, Technics, Philps, Dual and Thorens. According to its suitably retro-look website, there’s also a parts replacement and sourcing service.
Andra Långgatan 33,
413 27 Göteborg
+46 31 775 01 40
As Gothenburg wax emporia go, this long-standing store undoubtedly has the coolest name – and evidently the best vinyl transportation device: “I love to buy something from here as their carrier bag – Dirty Records in black on bright yellow – is the best,” Don points out.
Based a short stroll from our previous port of call on a street of alternative shops, this is a joint venture with Café Santo Domingo, making it the perfect place to refuel with a damn-fine cup of organic and fair trade coffee and pastry before getting down to some vinyl bargain hunting. Dirty Records also hosts live music events every Friday at 6pm – the perfect way to shake off the working week.
In business for 30 years, Dirty Records is a mix of new and used stock, and rarities and low-priced bargain vinyl, as well as CDs and DVDs, but after scanning the category dividers it is not always apparent where the old and new start, or if they are actually separated. Undeterred by this minor obstacle and a scowl-prompting wall of Frank Zappa LPs, Don finds his sweet spot is in the dusty-in-a-good-way soundtracks section: a sealed copy of the 2015 reissue to David Lynch’s Eraserhead for 175SEK (approximately £16). His coveted eye-popping carrier bag comes at no extra cost, sealing the deal.
Andra Långgatan 4, 413 03 Göteborg +46 31 18 84 83
The flagship of the Bengans chain – “Think of it as Gothenburg’s HMV or Rough Trade East without the hipsters,” Don suggests – with stores in Stockholm and Linköping, is the place to hunt down that Record Store Day release that proved elusive in 2016, with many heavily discounted.
Some 40 years in business and counting, and heralded by Buzzfeed as one of “27 record stores to visit before you die”, its slick, user-friendly website is a testament to a business moving with the changing face of record shopping – a far cry from its seventies roots in used vinyl and punk limited editions.
The welcoming café by the store’s entrance is home to in-store concerts – the likes of R.E.M., David Bowie and local hero Jose Gonzalez have all performed here – as well as signings, launches and movie screenings. Inside, all musical genres are covered. CDs still dominate, but its new vinyl section is growing and there’s a small selection of pre-loved records, in a nod to its past.
The majority of new single LPs are around the £20+ mark and established behemoths such as Bowie, The Beatles and Led Zeppelin command the most display space – with large prices to match. A copy of Beak’s original soundtrack for Two People In a Hole for 210SEK (£19) makes it to the counter, but our guide declines the carrier bag…
414 63 Göteborg
+46 31 14 33 00
Located just off the main canal by the cathedral in central Gothenburg, set in a beautiful old courtyard and sharing space with a super-hip café, Music Lovers gets the vote for best location of any of Gothenburg’s record shops.
Opened in 2012, Music Lovers also boasts the most ambitious selection of any of our profiled stores. Small and compact, the space is rammed with a heavy stock of jazz, soul, prog and experimental LPs, 12ins and 45s, both new and used. It’s niche – and gloriously so. Musical adventurers: look no further.
Cool T-shirts and merchandise hang from the walls along with a selection of wallet-loosening vinyl rarities. Ultra-obscurities share rack space with mind-bending classics from the likes of Hawkwind and Groundhogs. Its position near the city’s cathedral is apt: Music Lovers is Gothenburg’s temple of psychedelia. Alternative rock music – from Link Wray to The Pogues to garage punk compilations – from across the decades also gets plenty of attention.
Exquisitely curated by co-owners Anders Björnsson and Gustaf Dicksson, the pair are as knowledgeable as they are approachable, so whether you’re a die-hard experimentalist or someone eager to expand their collection and musical horizons, this store is an excellent place to start. The commitment to mind-expanding music is admirable and their attention to detail is truly mesmerising – even the hand-painted street sign uses the Spacemen 3 logo font…
A thoroughly 21st century record shopping experience, updates of incoming stock appear regularly on Facebook, and a fair chunk of the catalogue can be browsed at Music Lovers’ Discogs shop. Tireless, the duo also run the record label Omlott (omlott.se), which focuses on free jazz and wild improvised music.
411 15 Göteborg, Sweden
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