Warsaw music tour

Record shops: two words that make a perfect pair. Always much more than spaces that sell music, record shops become spiritual Rough Guides in any town or city but especially when you go abroad. Map out a route of record shops and you’re already exploring. Track ’em down and your footwork orients you in your temporary new land: those stores become your compass, your inter-national grid, your urban ley lines.

But you need a start point so, remembering that one of his LA Weekly missives was about a trip to Warsaw, I checked the Henry Rollins LA archive and got the name of recommended shop #1. Add a DIY search online, grab a tip from some Warsaw insiders and lo, we have a short list. Time was nearly as short as the list so this summary is neither exhaustive nor extensive, but for the muso-fan Warsaw first-timer, it might just offer that all-too-crucial start.

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Find the Muzant sign and you find nothing. It’s all subterranea, see. You gotta descend, into a basement emporium of 2nd-hand CDs, records, videos and music-related gear. Do it. Good prices, high browse potential, spot on for back-catalogue gap fills across all genres. 

Q: Where is Muzant record shop?  A: Warecka 4/6

By far the coolest – and by that I mean, should I even be in here? – of the record shops today is Asfalt, a retail offshoot of the Asfalt hip-hop record label. Which probably explains why it feels too cool for neanderthalian guitar excess, but it’s an immaculate find. Step in off the street and you see a black-trim cafe bar with a nightclub vibe. Good coffee. Look up the stairs and there’s the store: small, clean, new and packed with vinyl. Not much in the way of rock, and even less much approaching METAL, but experimental-ish types get a look in, there’s a tonne of funk and jazz and, of course, a formidable array of hip hop, beats and electronica. 

Q: Where is Asfalt record shop?  A: Kredytowa 9

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The online forum gave the address as Tamka Street, but Vinyl Tamka has moved to Chmielna 20, dead near the city centre. The doorway is 7-inch plastered so you’re in no doubt that This Place Does Records, and inside you’ve got a vinyl-heavy selection. Plenty of rock, prog, pop, metal, jazz and beyond, and a stack of rarities and special editions showcased on the walls.

Q: Where is Vinyl Tamka record shop?  A: In the courtyard, Chmielna 20

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I mentioned Rollins at the start, and this shop is the reason – you can check HR’s write-up here. Narrow is the word: one aisle, left-to-right/front-to-back vinyl, two-way traffic on a single-track road. Loaded with flickability.

Q: Where is Hey Joe record shop?  A: Zlota 8

For the record (sorry), these are all worth finding and Hey Joe warrants a revisit by itself, but if there was one store calling me back that day, it was Asfalt – something to do with the label, the aesthetic and the sheer new-ness of it all. To go back and plunge into some unknown deep-cuts funk or gamble on a pristine cassette near the counter just kinda felt right. 

So, we did go back to Asfalt the next day. Saturday, 10am. 

It was shut. OK, no probs, come back two hours later. Still shut. EH??? Word was that the Asfalt bods had done a festival the night before and so hadn’t made it to the store yet…

I said I wasn’t cool enough, didn’t I?

Good coffee, though. Again.


A tad heavy, brothers


Record Store Day was the big news for April and the record shops are now getting back to normal, assuming they had a ticket to the RSD party in the first place. I put a few thoughts down meself in the last post but if you wanna chew on some no-messing wordage from someone with all the right credentials – music obsessive, full-time traveller, workaholic – check the fanatic, Henry Rollins, and his post last week for LA Weekly. Lean fat-free writing, as ever.

Best bit of new listening this month has been Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, a beast of a debut from a two-band Seattle veteran who’d not played music for five whole years until, one SoCal day driving on Interstate 805, the radio planets aligned and forced an epiphany somewhere around San Diego. The track? War Pigs. The epiphan-ee? Tad Doyle.

Now there’s a name to ponder, alongside a few others: Tad, Mudhoney, Soundgarden, Seattle. My confession is that aside from a split-cassette promo – Tad with Clutch, how good is that??? – from 1995, mes collection is shamefully Tad-less. Why? No good reason (well, student budget was probably the reason) so Inhaler, 8-Way Santa and the like are on that years-long list of stuff to look out for at CD fairs. Right now though, thanks to Terrorizer’s Feb interview, we’re here at the very start of Tad Doyle’s new era – and the future looks VERY solid.

Brothers of the Sonic Cloth turn out a primal, earthy blend of doom-rooted post metal, as you’ll know for sure when first track Lava comes hulking out the speakers like Megabeefus Neurosisus on a downhill run. Other tracks stretch out and hint at something bigger, more spiritual – check the quiet ritual summoned by The Immutable Path, or the Salvation-era Cult of Luna dynamics at play in Empires of Dust … no wonder Neurot Recordings were the Chosen Ones to cut the Brothers loose, for it is a mighty roar. Small band too – Tad guitar, wife Peggy bass, Dave French drums, that’s it. Keep track of all things BOTSC right here.

The last word in this Rewind is a word of honour for another three-piece:


And we are …???  Motorhead. Now added to the Glastonbury bill they will surely be greeted like the fckn heroes they are, so let’s hope that Lemmy’s strong enough to pull it off and bask in a sweaty all-conquering afterglow of motorheadoration. Illness meant the great man was a shadow with sideburns at Hyde Park’s BST last July, which was a bit difficult to watch, and he’s still looking gaunt if the pics in this month’s Metal Hammer are any indication. As he finishes the follow-up to 2013’s bristling Aftershock, he’s more aware than ever of his physical limitations so there’d be nothing more heroic and life-affirming than a Glastonbury shake-up by one of THE institutions in amplified rock and roll. COME ON LEM.

’til next time!