By , 2010年 6月 25日

When you pass through the beaded curtain and into Rockland’s (摇篮) single room, it’s like stepping into the subterranean hideout you wished you had when you were 15 and all your friends made you listen to Coldplay. Tucked away on Nanguanfang Hutong, just out of sight of Houhai’s bustling center, the tiny record shop may not be literally underground, but with its dim lighting and stacks of old 60’s LP’s, it certainly exudes a cozy, basement-like quality. Add to this a wall plastered in posters and stickers, 60’s rock flowing from the speakers, and a shaggy black dog asleep in the corner, and you’ve got a bon a fide clubhouse.

…Would have, in any case, if that pesky owner weren’t sitting watching you from the corner. Nonetheless, Rockland has more than its decor to recommend it – volume, for one. The small space is filled to capacity with new and used cd’s, books, movies, and LP’s. Like all the best basements, Rockland is a crapshoot of finds – filled with treasures, junk, and everything in between.

At least half of Rockland’s stock (the left-hand wall) is dedicated to Western music, most of it hippie-era rock/folk, and a mix of good and bad 90’s alt-rock (including – yes – Coldplay). In the latter category, there’s plenty to get horrified, amused, and nostalgic over – from the Gorillaz to the Ernies to R.E.M. It gets even juicier further down the wall with all of our favorite 90s (and some 00’s) pop sirens, and a small selection of somewhat embarrassing pop-punk.

The music is arranged according to loosely applicable genre labels sharpied along the shelves, but generally speaking the organization is pretty 随便. As with any second-hand record shop, of course, the great fun of Rockland is rummaging around looking for a find. And there’s plenty of good stuff here for anyone wiling to dig around. Nonetheless, the disorganization can prove frustrating when you’re on the hunt for something specific. To wit: when I asked owner/proprietor Xiao Zhan where the noise music was, he stared straight ahead for a beat before gesturing vaguely to one of the shelves. “This one?” I asked, moving down the wall. He waved his hand on. “This one?”

“It’s a little random,” he said as I faced down Dean Martin and Fleetwood Mac getting cozy next to Chuck Berry. Yeah, no kidding.

Predictably, Rockland’s Chinese section provides a somewhat richer and more lucid browsing experience. Though the library is too small to be comprehensive on an album-by-album basis, Rockland boasts a solid selection of pop, rock, folk, and indie from the mainland, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. Xiao Zhan has assembled an admirable assortment of Chinese heavyhitters, ranging from founding fathers like Cui Jian to seminal 90s punk bands to Hong Kong folk-pop, along with a nice collection of current indie. If you can’t find what you’re looking for or need a recommendation, I suggest chatting up Xiao Zhan who, despite his somewhat catatonic demeanor, is actually pretty helpful.

The real gem here, though, is Rockland’s self-released (i.e. burned) albums, which are wrapped up in brown cardboard sleeves and stacked unobtrusively in the back left corner. These boast not only the most interesting selection, but the best bang for your buck. Here you can find more obscure Chinese and Western indie bands, live albums, compilations, and lots and lots of Lou Reed. A lot of these come as a two-album set, meaning you can’t buy either album individually, but at fifteen kuai a pop, this is hardly anything to complain about. Besides, it’s a hell of a lot more fun than pirating from home.

Address: 2 Nanguanfang Hutong, Xicheng District / 西城区 南官房胡同2号

How to get there: From Yinding Bridge, head south into some more residential-looking hutongs. Pass Yingdingqiao Hutong and make a right onto Nanguanfang at Café de Sofa. Pass some pubs and it’s on the corner at the dead end, right before Hutong Pizza.

Phone: 6657-1926‎

SHARE / 分享SHARE / 分享: