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Where to buy vinyl records in Riga

The resurgence of analogue audio formats is as defining of the last decade as vintage clothing or even urban gardening experiencing a revival. But is it just a trend driven by a bunch of cool kids trying to keep up with the latest fads? Or are more and more people seeking something 'real' outside the digital matrix, so to speak? Be that as it may, with many artists still refusing to publish their material on the top streaming platforms like Spotify or Tidal, the only way to get your hands on their music will be to visit a vinyl shop and browse through the crates for a unique souvenir from Riga. And luckily for you - Riga has plenty of places to visit if you're into the analogue formats; it seems like here it never went out of style in the first place.

In this blog post we will highlight our favourite spots for buying CDs, vinyl or even cassetes, each with a different selection and vibe. Besides the shops listed here one could check out second-hands dealing in old furniture, charity shops and flea markets to come across some true hidden gems, just be prepared to dig deep. For far more curated collections read below.

Upe - Vāgnera iela 5, Old Riga

Old Riga veteran store 'Upe' has been in the business for over two decades, dealing in musical instruments as well as records. This small shop couldn't wish for a better location—it's situated on Richard Wagner Street, just a stone's throw away from where the Leipzig-born German opera composer worked in the early 1830s.

Although one of the smallest music record stores in Riga, the selection is truly impressive and versatile, ranging from Latvian jazz and folk to American R&B, Italian pop, and more. In addition to selling a variety of lesser-known albums (such as those by the Latvian avant-garde pop band Dzeltenie Pastnieki), they also carry perennial sellers like Pink Floyd or Peter Gabriel.

If none of the brand new records appeal to you, check the three boxes of used vinyl brought in by a local enthusiast, there you'll find classical works by all the greats, as well as upbeat Soviet-era Latvian pop composed by Raimonds Pauls—arguably the most well-known pop composer from the Baltics, who has also participated in some of our best jazz recordings.

Down Street - Stabu iela 2, Central Riga

Those who dare to venture outside of the microscopic Old Riga will be rewarded. This relatively new music store is located in an unassuming 1960s Khrushchev-era silicate brick blockhouse basement and offers Latvian craft beer, as well as the opportunity to listen to some of the records before purchasing them. And besides all the great music Down Street offers English language music journals and books that you probably won't find anywhere else in Riga.

As for what kind of music you can expect: jazz, hip-hop, and electronic music seem to be the dominant styles, but one will come across a very wide range of genres, making walking out empty-handed a near-impossible task and while the store hasn't shied away from selling absolute classics like the "Rumours" LP by Fleetwood Mac and other all-time-great records(why and how would they?), you'll soon discover that the curators truly know music beyond your TOP10 lists.

Find experimental electronica by Sign Libra — one of Latvia's more original musical exports besides other great Latvian artists that you've maybe never heard of. Find early 2000s Atlanta hip-hop. Find Dave Burbeck and Miles Davis. Find used vinyl containing some true house and techno bangers that used to belong to a local DJ. One can find a lot here, so feel free to consult their friendly staff.

Vinylla - Brīvības iela 98

One of the largest used vinyl stores in Riga is jam-packed with vintage amplifiers, radios, and turntables, as well as new souvenirs, trinkets, and merchandise, showcasing what true hoarding looks like (though it's still just the tip of the iceberg). While they also sell new records (don't miss the Latvian new arrivals section!), the focus is on pre-loved, or pre-listened, vinyl.

At the very entrance, you'll come across discounted records by a myriad of obscure, mostly European artists, but you can also dig out a 1960s American surf-rock gem that will become the best 5 EUR you've spent that day. Digging through the 'unwanted' stuff can often be a fruitless activity, but the gems you do find make it worthwhile.

At the back of the shop is where you'll find a large section dedicated to classical music (as usual, it's very affordable and reliable), along with an impressive collection of Latvian music, ranging from young rockers from the capital city - Rīgas Modes, to the early works of local pop-rock grands (and still the most famous Latvian band abroad and domestically) Prāta Vētra (Brainstorm), more great Latvian jazz and plenty of Soviet-era pop, rock and everything in-between. With "Soviet-funk" being sampled more and more by western producers it's just a matter of time until some of these used LPs from 1970s become very coveted, pricey collector's items.

In the most popular section, time seems to stop - it is huge and if you're "just browsing" it will take a minute, but exactly here you will find the likes of Dire Straits, The Rolling Stones, and other names that need no introduction. Great news about purchasing a used vinyl here - they wash all the used records and give you brand new sleeves.

Nostalgija - Matisa iela 38

Not only this shop on two levels has one of the more impressive vinyl collections in Riga, they sureley have the largest choice of used hi-fi: from Japanese amplifiers, to German radios to Latvian speakers. Anyone into vintage sound equipment should plan a visit as it feels like a museum-shop, after all it's over four decades of hoarding squeezed in one medium sized store. While you won't find too much hip-hop or r'n'b, this joint has a lot of rock and pop music that you won't find elsewhere, making buying vinyl records in Riga a fun re-discovery of long forgotten works by the Aztec Camera or Cock Robin, to name a few.

This isn't a full list of all the places in town that sell vinyl, so if you run a record store in Riga and would like to be included - reach out to us now!

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