Downtown Reykjavík has some great independent record stores, all of which sell LPs by Icelandic artists that you might not find elsewhere. So if—or more likely, when—you fall head over heels for some Icelandic band during Airwaves, here are the places where you might be able to track down their music. Smekkleysa, 12 Tónar and Mengi also run indie labels releasing many of the best up ‘n’ coming artists in the country. Starting out at the Kólaportið flea market, and working your way up to Lucky Records on Rauðarárstígur, here are the best places to go crate-digging in downtown Reykjavík.
Only open on weekends, this cavernous space is a bric-a-brac haven, selling everything from cheap electronics to antique books and army surplus clothing. There are a couple of dedicated second-hand record stalls, and you’ll stumble over boxes of used vinyl tucked away amongst the lamps, furniture, ornaments and ephemera.
This classic Reykjavík record shop has been located at Skólavörðustígur 15 since 1998. The friendly and knowledgeable staff are happy to recommend Icelandic bands you might like based on your listening habits. After compiling your listening list, you’ll be given some headphones, a spot on the sofa, and a cup of coffee, so you can shop and relax at the same time.
Reykjavík Record Shop
The homely Reykjavík Record Shop is tucked away in a small unit on Klapparstígur, just off the main Laugavegur strip. They have a small but well-curated selection of vinyl, from both Icelandic and international artists, and there are some classics thrown in for good measure.
This artist-run arts and music space is a staple of the local experimental music scene, hosting interesting exhibits by day and experimental performances by night. It’s definitely worth popping in to check out the records and art objects they have on sale by local artists—and from their own indie label—in their gallery and shop.
This vegan café-bar is a great lunch stop, and always has the crackle of vinyl in the air as the staff and customers pick LPs to play from their sprawling, eccentric record collection. The café also runs the Bónus Plötur micro-label releasing short-runs of 7” records—pick one up if you’re seeking a true rarity.
Smekkleysa (“Bad Taste” in English) is a record label and creative collective that grew from Reykjavík’s punk scene in the 1980s—in fact, several Sugarcubes are still on the board. Today, Smekkleysa also runs a bright green record store at Laugavegur 35 with a fine selection of CDs and vinyl.
When it comes to sheer quantity of records on offer, Lucky Records wins hands down. It’s easy to lose an hour to crate-digging here, whether you’re after specific rarities, dusty second-hand LPs, or the latest Icelandic and international releases. They also host free concerts occasionally, so keep an eye out out for those.
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