This feature is taken from our End of Summer season.

While the rest of the industry worries about MP3s kicking the chair from under the high street chain and streaming services looming over the shoulder of digital downloads, vinyl is enjoying a revival. Why? Your humble independent record shop. The indies only account for around 3% of all record sales in the UK, but are responsible for over 50% of all vinyl sales. That's right, more than half of you prefer to buy your records from a real shop, from a real person who knows what they're talking about.

With this in mind The 405 is talking a walk around some of London's best known independent record shops - and a few hidden gems to boot - to dig in the bins, breathe in the air and see why we all love our independent record shop.

​Watford is a town that has something of an identity crisis. While it's technically in Hertfordshire it has not one but three train stations that find themselves on the Transport for London network (Watford on the Met Line, Watford High Street and Watford Junction are on the London Overground). The 'top of town' is largely a charmless identikit strip of chain bars, chain shops and, of an evening, Top Man-adorned lads looking to neck pints and pull birds. In a nutshell: it's a medium-sized English town. You know the type.

However, if you scratch the surface and know where to look there's a side to Watford that is more akin to London's more artistically-leaning neighbourhoods than its homogenised medium-sized-English-town exterior may appear.

Very much part of this cultural underground is The LP Café (173 The Parade, High Street, Watford, WD17 1NJ), Watford's very own independent record shop and purveyors of fine fine coffee. Our Parri caught up with owner Paul over a long black (double shot as standard).

The LP Café

Let's set the scene. What's on the turntable right now?

Built To Spill​ ​- ​Ultimate Alternative Wavers. As a teenage Nirvana fan I grew up enamoured with US alternative rock but never heard of these until just before Record Store Day, when I was recommended them twice in a week. Now it gets sneaked on whenever possible.

Why did you decide to open a record shop?

It​'​s all about Watford. ​The likes of Sikth, Gallows,​ ​The Staves​, Younghusband​ and Lower Than Atlantis​ ​were all incubated in Watford but they really only represent the tip of the iceberg ​ -​ as average as it is in my lifetime, it's always been a hotbed for musical activity. ​If you've been to Watford or lived in a distinctly average town without a record shop you'll know how much we needed one.

When did you open?

November ​2013​.

What else happens here other than records?

Coffee!​ ​Good coffee enhances the listening experience and good tunes enhance the coffee.​ ​We also host various ​a​rts events.

What sorts of people do you get in your shop?

We're in quite a secluded part of town so people have to make an effort to get to us. Perhaps I'm romanticising, but I think the kind of people ​who​ go out of there way to visit our shop are inspiring, creative and entrepreneurial types looking for inspiration themselves.

Do you specialise in anything (Secondhand, new releases, genre etc.)?

Alongside a small range we specialise in local interest or local produced stuff,​ such as releases from local label Venn Records or material by bands that rehearse and record at nearby Titan Studios.

Our range is predominantly indie, rock and alternative, but we have a few choice pop, soul and jazz records too. We try to stock things that work well with a coffee.​ ​New pieces are usually things that customers have requested or recommended or staff picks.

With music buying now dominated by MP3, why do you think that vinyl is still so popular, especially when compared to other dead or dying formats like cassette, MiniDisc?

I think people love vinyl for the same reasons they've always loved vinyl: ​t​he artwork looks better large and they sound great. ​I often check out new music online, but personally I find digital downloads or streams difficult to enjoy without distraction.​ ​If I find something I like online my first thought is "I'd love to hear this properly" and before I know it I'm back to checking social media, writing emails, reading news or whatever. I'm never in the right frame of mind to enjoy music on the computer or on the phone. ​I wouldn't eat my dinner in bed so why would I listen to music on my computer?

Do you remember the first record you sold?

Not exactly, we offered free coffee on day one so it was a complete daze. I do remember struggling to let go of a copy of Devo ​-​ ​Freedom of Choice. ​I really enjoy introducing people to great records now​,​ but it took me a while to handle letting go! ​God knows how people who work in animal rescue homes cope!

Do you remember the first record you bought?

I can't remember my first vinyl but I remember saving pocket money to buy a compilation from Our Price called Keep on Dancing. ​I wanted to own the first track 'Boom Shake the Room' by The Fresh Prince and Jazzy Jeff. ​It cost £14.99! I didn't realise it could be bought as a single.​ ​There were some other real good tracks on it though.

What's your most prized vinyl in your collection?

We have a few rare bits, but the standout is pristine copy of Jimi Hendrix ​-​ ​Electric, one of the rarest records over made! We're selling it on behalf of a charity, so any serious collectors after it please get in touch.

Find out more about The LP Café over at their Official Website, Twitter and Instagram.

The LP Café
The LP Café
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The LP Café
The LP Café