When I explore a new country or city I always take some time to visit the local music store. Even if I don’t end up buying anything I feel happy when I see a music store with all the posters on the wall, find my favourite bands’ albums and discover some new music. I always look out for zines, badges, tshirts and any other old crap I’d like to clutter up my house with.
In Reykjavik I visited some music stores and I noted down a few observations about them:
Smekkleysa (Bad Taste)
If you are a fan of The Sugarcubes, this is a cool place to go because it’s the place where they were conceived, located in Laugavegur 35, 101 Reykjavik. It was an amazing experience to be there and if I had a time machine I would like to go back on the 90s and see a young rebelleous Björk with her band chilling out. You can easily find this store because it painted bright green with an orange sign. Inside you can discover music from Icelandic local artists as well as international bands like Faust the krautrock band from Germany. This place is a treasure island filled with cutting edge international releases as well as old buried treasure.
This music store is also a legendary indie label in Iceland which has also been known as a meeting place for Icelandic musicians since it opened in 1998. The guy behind the counter said that Sigur Rós like to hang out here. For me this music store is a really nice place to stop by, located in Skolavörðustìgur 15 and it’s not far from Hallgrímskirkja the famous spaceship shaped church and next to this store there is a really nice noodle bar called Noodle Station- always packed and highly recommended! On the first floor you can find a huge collection of classic and jazz music and at first glance I thought that it wasn’t really my cup of tea until I descended into their basement. Down there I found Icelandic indie music compilations with beautiful hand drawn CD covers. I found myself lying in the couch listening to all kinds of random music on their red walkman. When I was looking around I fell in lust with an epic colourful CD cover which turned out to be an album of Ojba Rasta. I wondered what sort of sound it would be and I only had one clue…Rasta right? It might be a reggae band and of course it was. I read a review about Ojba Rasta and it said that Ojbarasta is Icelandic slang means something like “Ewwwww, gross.” Luckily, this music is the opposite of repulsive. Anyway, Iceland is famous for vibrant folk, pop traditions and alternative rock. I had never heard of Icelandic reggae and it convinced me that the jollyness of reggae music is not only to be enjoyed by the beach in a bikini but you can enjoy it when the skies are grey, gloomy and there’s snow everywhere. And besides the music you also can find book collections, one of them is Catch a Fire.
This shop is a complete mess. Piles of random vinyls, CDs and cassettes were everywhere. They not only sell music but also DVDs and PC games. It is located in Laugavegur 64, not far from Smekkleysa and it’s on the main shopping road in Reykjavik. When I was there I wasn’t sure how to approach the chaos. Really you need to be patient or lucky to find some good shit. They even have a back room where you can find more metal records. Amongst the jenga towers of records stacked wonkily I felt lost like Alice in recordland. Anyway you can find some metal band like Sadus or Norwegian gothic bands like Tristania. Bare in mind, you need a lot of time before you finally realised that this music store is awesome.