I managed to fit in some record shopping when we spent a couple of days in London last weekend.

As it was within 10 minutes walk of our hotel, first stop was Rough Trade East. (And, no, its proximity wasn’t a factor in our hotel choice. Well, not a big factor!)

But honestly I struggle with RTE thanks to its bizarre categorisation of albums. Things seemed to be filed either by sub-genre or, erm, continent. This leaves the conundrum of where you would find an Australian indie pop/shoegaze/dream pop record. In the indie pop/shoegaze/dream section? Or in the Oz/NZ section?

Consequently you probably need to spend a couple of hours in the shop to truly satisfy yourself that you’ve looked everywhere. Unfortunately that’s at least an hour than I can usually manage, hence the frustration.

Stockwise, there seems to be a focus on older stuff and it was nice to be reminded of some names I long forgotten about. In the end my one purchase was the new Daughter LP.

Having missed it on my last trip to London I was determined to get into Sister Ray this time around. When I find it I’m surprised that it appears to be on the opposite side of Berwick Street from the one  I was expecting. I have aclear memory of the shop on the west side although the current shop seems very similar to another store that was in the vicinity last time I was there (which is probably pushing 20 years ago).

Anyhow, much of Sister Ray seems stocked in alphabetical order but with new releases and back catalogue split in different sections. This time I focused on the new releases (but would like to spend some time at some point in the future going through all the racks) and ended with a haul of three – the new (Das) Poltergeist album, the Public Service Broadcasting album and the second LP from Goldheart Assembly.


Beyond the ‘big two’ I managed to stick my head into Reckless Records (just along from Sister Ray) but didn’t really manage even a cursory look. I then managed to walk past both Beat Music and Phonica but unfortunately didn’t have time to go in.

I was curious as to what sort of profile Scottish independent acts might have in the capital but the answer would seem to be not much. Finding these in RTE might be a little tricky but interestingly nestling in amongst the (Domino) King Creosote albums, I did find one Kid Canaveral LP – but it was ‘Wildlife’ rather than ‘Dancer’. But the unexpected discovery was that Three Blind Wolves were one of RTE’s album’s of the month.

‘Dancer’ was also a notable absentee from the new releases section in Sister Ray. But other than Biffy, Frabbit and Mogwai, there weren’t many new Scottish releases at all.

Perhaps surprisingly, in neither shop were Chemikal releases on obvious display (although it’s far from impossible that I just overlooked them) but I’m pretty certain that there was no display relating to the very recent SAY Award.

One cute note to finish. On the Tube back to the hotel, there was a young couple sitting opposite me and the spoils from their shopping trip were clearly visible on their knees. For her, a 12” single or album shaped bag from Sister Ray, for him the same but from Beat Music. It’s certainly been many years since you could realistically have expected to see that sort of thing on the Tube.