The Jakarta Post
Alluring: With its warm sound and tactile experience, vinyl is making a comeback in major cities across the archipelago. (Shutterstock/File)
Until a few years ago, the term "record store" was an anachronism. The last time people heard about vinyl records was probably in the mid-1980s and since then, music stores sold mostly cassette tapes and, until recently, CDs (compact discs). In the last five years, however, Jakarta and other major cities in the country have caught the vinyl bug.
Just like their peers elsewhere in the world who have tired of MP3s and streaming services, self-respecting music fans are choosing the warm sound of vinyl and the tactile experience that comes from thumbing through the collections on offer at the record stores that have been cropping up in Jakarta and other major cities. It is almost impossible to keep track of all the record stores that exist today, but here are some of the most talked-about establishments that we know of.
1. Lian Record
In operation since the early 1970s, this could be the oldest record shop in the capital and has caught the attention of Facebook, which features the shop in its free internet ads and Icelandic band Sigur Ros, whose members snapped a photo with shop owner Lian Nasution when the band had a stopover during their 2013 tour. In 2015, CNN included Lian Record as one of the 10 best shopping destinations for travelers, in the same category with New York’s Other Music and Chicago’s Dusty Groove.
Tucked in a corner on Jl. Surabaya in Menteng, Central Jakarta, Lian Record offers an impressive selection of old Indonesian records, whose prices have skyrocketed in the past few years. Lian, however, doesn't resort to price gouging, instead offering the best bargains – even for the rarest 1970s pressing of Rhoma Irama's 'Begadang.'
Old guard: Owner of Lian Store, Lian Nasutian plays an old Indonesian record for customers inside his roadside music shop on Jl. Surabaya, Menteng, Central Jakarta. (The Jakarta Post/Dhoni Setiawan)
2. Laidbackblues Store
The longest running establishment at the once-hip Santa Market in South Jakarta, Laidblackblues – a word play on the Lebak Bulus neighborhood where store owner Samson Pho resides – is also the best among its peers. The store has some of the best selection of used records covering jazz, funk and soul, which are mostly imported from Japan and so guarantees top-notch pressing. Samson himself is a well-known figure on the DJ scene, and with his vast knowledge of music, he could be your best guide to finding some of the quirkiest, most obscure records in the bin.
Dust and groove: The interior of Laidbackblues Store in Santa Market, South Jakarta, a record store known for its good quality second-hand record. (laidbackblues Store/Courtesy of laidbackblues Store)
3. Piringan Hitam Record (PHR) Store
Nestled among shops selling mountaineering gear and shooting sports paraphernalia, PHR seems out of place inside the Senayan Trade Center (STC). Yet, PHR is the most accessible store for office workers nearby who need a quick vinyl fix while waiting for their lunches. This establishment's biggest draw is its wide selection of new American indie and classic rock records at very affordable prices. It also helps that the store's clerks are some of the most knowledgable music geeks around, who can spend 15 minutes arguing about which 1950s mono pressing Miles Davis fans should get.
Piringan Hitam Recordstore has sold all-things related to vinyl for two years, starting from used records, sealed records and turntables. It sells mostly records of Western artists, but we also found The Tielman Brothers. (JP/Devina Heriyanto)
4. KeepKeep Music
Just from its location, this record store has no business on this list, but this brand-new establishment has quickly proven itself as the trendiest shopping destination in Bandung, West Java. The trio of friends who run this store infused their business with love by crafting a savvy public relations campaign that could rival established names like London's Rough Trade or Chicago's Reckless Records. The store has a very active Instagram account that might make you drool over their latest vinyl imports. KeepKeep has also found an ingenious way to quickly insert itself into the scene by holding in-store vinyl exhibitions involving local artists. It's a must-visit spot when you're in Bandung, if you don't mind the slightly above-average price for its inventory.
Thumbing through: Music fans snap a photo of vinyl records displayed for customers at Bandung's newest record store KeepKeep Music. (KeepKeep/Courtesy of KeepKeep Music )
5. Musik Plus
One of the last remaining “mainstream” music stores in Jakarta, Musik Plus in recent years attempted to extend its shelf life by adding vinyl records to its inventory. The experiment has been somewhat a success with music fans, mostly grizzled, middle-aged progressive fans, coming to the store’s location on the ground flour of the Sarinah building in Central Jakarta during the weekend, looking for the latest pressing of Yes’ ‘Tales from Topographic Ocean’.
Best of both worldsr: Sub Store's flagship shop at Santa Market offers well-curated vinyl records both from the local music scene and Western artists. (Sub Store/Courtesy of Sub Store)
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