FORGET mass-produced pop and over-synthesised chart tunes, Sunderland’s only independent record shop is awash with classic tracks and vintage vinyls.
For the past 18 years, Hot Rats Records has been keeping those with an ear for a good tune fuelled with the latest local releases and timeless must-haves for any discerning record collection.
Now, its owners have teamed up with the organisers of annual Record Store Day, which takes place tomorrow, to encourage more people through its doors.
At the helm of Hot Rats, in Stockton Road, are Marty Yule and Barry Leake.
Marty, a former musician in The Toy Dolls, and Martin Stephenson and the Daintees, said: “At the time I opened the shop it was something to do in between tours, but it grew from something small in one little room to a shop.”
Over the years, Hot Rats has had various bases around the city centre, but its ethos for providing Wearside with an eclectic mixture of music from jazz, blues and punk to rock, metal and indie has remained the same.
Marty scours house sales and adverts for record collections to keep the store stocked, and over the years has branched into CDs and music merchandise.
“It’s really satisfying coming across rare vinyls,” he said. “Especially 1960s pressings in good condition.
“Vinyls really are things of beauty. I don’t mind CDs, but you don’t get the artwork that you get with vinyls.
“People have the misconception that CDs and download music is a better sound, but music on an MP3 player is compressed.
“Listening to vinyl on a good hi-fi can blow you away. It’s closer to how the music would sound in a studio.
“Vinyl takes people back to the time when they first listened to the music. It’s very romantic in that sense.”
To celebrate Record Store Day, the Hot Rats will be selling exclusive one-off singles by The Futureheads and Field Music. A guest local band will also perform an acoustic set in store tomorrow.
Marty, who also sells gig and festival tickets, says now is a great time for Sunderland sounds.
“I think it’s great that you can go to pubs and bars at the minute and hear some great bands.
“That just didn’t happen 10 to 15 years ago.
But venues like Independent and the Split Festival do an amazing job for the city.
“All the F-bands are doing well too – The Futureheads, Frankie & the Heartstrings and Field Music.”