Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Rough Trade East is open!


London might have been spared the crazy weather that has brought chaos to other bits of the country at the moment, but it was still a pretty miserable grey wet day that saw the opening of the highly anticipated new Rough Trade East shop in the Truman Brewery, just off Brick Lane. I braved the rain to see what lay in store.

My first impression was that it was just huge. After years of going down to the pokey basement at Neal’s Yard, this place is cavernous by comparison. It’s got a bit of a warehousey feel – all painted white walls and high ceiling. But the essential ingredients are all there – the records and CDs of course. Or at least they will be once they’re all out of the boxes that have presumably been moved across from the old Covent Garden shop.

That’s because though it’s open, it’s not quite there yet. There are handwritten notices saying that the ‘snug area’ (I think that’s a sort of lounge-on-sofas wi-fi section) will be open on Thursday. There were men up ladders outside polishing the sign, and there was just a general air of incompleteness.

But I’m not complaining. I’m very excited by what I saw. The priorities are right. The first thing that confronts you after you pass through the café in the entrance is the racks of 7 inch vinyl. There’s a whole row of decks on the long counter where you can listen to your potential purchases. There’s plenty of room to browse, or even just sit around. And the stage at the back promises a good few decent instores. Although I’ll always have fond nostalgia for the cramped and sweaty shows in the Neal’s Yard basement, the set-up in the new shop looks like it will be the real deal. Add to that the late opening times (10pm during the week!) and it’s a recipe for greatness!


I’m not the only one hoping this. There’s a lot riding on this new shop. It seems that some of the hopes of the beleaguered music retailing industry are pinned on this venture. It’s certainly been in the mainstream media spotlight lately, with several articles in the broadsheets and even a spot on the Today Programme last week. Just as people are seemingly deserting the high street music shops, Rough Trade is trying to bring them back in, and maybe even reach ‘new markets’. Not sure what that will look like. Hopefully not the strange sight that I saw yesterday of Corrine Bailey Rae CDs on the counter. They sure looked odd sitting next to the No Age album. Maybe some of the new customers will include the likes of the middle aged couple with distinctly tourist clothing and bearing British Museum bags who I saw sitting in the café area. But most likely it will be the sort of indie kids, hipsters and others who hang around the Brick Lane area. Expect it to be pretty packed on Sundays.

For related mp3s, I thought I’d go with stuff from Rough Trade Shops compilations. For anyone who doesn’t know, each year they compile a double CD of tunes that have been a hit in the shops or popular with the staff in the previous year. They also put out genre-specific double CD comps, covering Rock & Roll, Country, Singer Songwriters and Post Punk. Shockingly I only have two of these in my collection – the Electronic one and the Indiepop one. Here are some choice cuts from these.

From Rough Trade Shops Indiepop 1

Download: My Bloody Valentine – Paint a Rainbow
Download: Talulah Gosh – Talulah Gosh

From Rough Trade Shops Electronic 01

Download: The Normal – Warm Leatherette
Download: CAN - I Want More

Buy some of these comps here.

Sorry for the dodgy cameraphone pics. I’ll be back later in the week to get more (and hopefully better) pictures, check out progress and hopefully find that elusive Magic Arm 10 inch.

6 comments:

lism. said...

I'm not a Londoner, but I spent my birthday weekend in the city with friends, just across from the site of the new Rough Trade shop (make sure you visit Cafe 1001 next time you visit, especially if it's sunny! Lovely food, great atmosphere and hella cheap!). Gutted I missed its opening by a couple of months, but I'm determined to check back next time I'm in the city.

Matthew said...

I really, really, really hope someone can make a focussed, (relatively) small record shop work in the long run. I'd hate to think that the internet and HMV could kill them completely. Go Rough Trade!

Matthew said...

Oh and I can't help but notice Vampire Weekend at the front there, on the left. Buy it, people, it's three songs of pop genius!

The Daily Growl said...

Two actually - one less track than the CD which came out last week. I'd probably still rather have the 7 inch though, if only I knew it was coming out a week later. Oh well. Still, you're right. It is great. Post coming up...

Mr Rossy said...

I'm going there on Sunday and am strangely excited about it !!
Nice one
R

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