Toni Martin Discos: A Music Lovers Delight

A true chocolate connoisseur will look for a specific brand instead of opting for a regular chocolate  bar; a clothing snob might find a designer boutique instead of strolling into El Corte Ingles, and a furniture aficionado will likely avoid getting their house furniture at IKEA. So when it comes to being a fan of music, it’s best that you stroll on in to  Toni Martin Discos than a large chain record store. For music lovers, critics, snobs and especially collectors Toni Martin is a haven of meticulously organized and fantastically well chosen records.

Around since 1976, it’s a store that will likely have the new Rhianna album but is unlikely to receive customers that will buy it. Rather, it´s the kind of place where you come to find a huge variety of records and artists that mainstream record stores may only have in small numbers. Stands organized by genres, bursting with discography’s from just about anybody. It´s as if an old music expert  decided to have a big yard sale of both vinyl and compact discs.

Suffice to say, in case you´ve not assumed it already, the store is particularly rich in blues, jazz and classic rock. These form the main bulk of Toni Martin, but don’t be dismayed— there is also a notable presence of pop, funk, flamenco, classical, ethnic music, Latin, metal and the like. If you are looking for something very current and mainstream, or along the lines of rap and reggaeton, you may find more variety and even lower prices at a music chain shop.

The main jewel and reason to visit; however, is the box and collector´s sets: complete, rare and beautiful enough to make you drool. We´re not talking about your typical ¨best of,” but sets whose packaging is almost as valuable as the records: ¨No Thanks: 1970´s Punk Rebellion¨ box set, the fifteen album Jack Bruce anthology, the complete Chuck Berry recordings, the Neil Young archives 1963-1972 are just a few examples. One notable item is the Jack Kerouac audio collection: five discs of all of his recorded poetry readings including commentaries by William Burroughs and Allen Ginsburg, and two booklets including pictures, biographies and copies of original writing drafts.

Accompanying the music is a large selection of magazines, ranging from popular to downright obscure like publications dedicated only to jazz or metal or to music entrepreneurship. The movie selection doesn´t stray far behind with many music DVD´s to choose from, some that are documentaries but most of which are concert films. There is also a small but well picked selection of standard movies, most of which are divided as musicals, war films, classics and new releases.

If you are trying to satisfy your musical urges, expand your knowledge, or just want to find a record that doesn’t seem to be anywhere else then Toni Martin is your best bet.

Toni Martin Discos
Calle Martin de los Heros 18
Metro: Plaza España/Noviciado
91 542 50 20 / 91 541 88 75
Hours: Monday through Saturday 7:30 a.m. –  14:00 p.m.  and 17:00 p.m. – 20:00 p.m.

By Daniel Sznajderman

Original Eye Candy: The o2 Store Madrid

o2 has enough merchandise to accessorize any room in your home: stylish salt and pepper holders and fashionable toasters for your kitchen; cool comfy pillows, psychedelic lamps and a shiny vintage turntable for the living room; funky calculators, magnets, and a red phone out of Dr. Strangelove for your desk (have to look professional of course).  More than aiming to be professional or elegant though, o2 shoots straight for the hip, trendy and plain cool. The surprising part is that instead of coming off as laughable or excessive it pretty much achieves its goal: the store is worth a stroll just to look at the ingenious models and great designs of everyday items that are on display.

Located a few meters away from the Puerta del Sol, the two floor store is bigger than it looks from the outside, and every pocket of space is filled with some product or other. The first section is dedicated almost solely to body accessories comprised of beads, jewels, stones, crystals, almost all beautiful intense colors. The back of the store is filled with household items, some that can be quite useful and others that are just decorative. One sure thing is that the hefty prices aren’t there only because of product quality, but also because the product’s design transforms it into total eye candy.Vintage cameras from the sixties (the Lubitel Universal 166 +), insane pens and key chains, laptop skins fashioned to look like an old world atlas, alarm clocks that belong in a Looney Tunes episode, plus—and brace yourself for the kitchen—all kinds of glassware, shiny martini drink shakers, animal shaped cutlery, coffee cups with wings, and cheese graters that look like part of a fashionable lady’s dress. Upstairs the show continues with thin round wall clocks—one themed to the image of a bulldog, another of Marilyn Monroe, one that looks like a flat planet earth—hippie style clothing,  colorful candles, school bags shaped like matchboxes and the huge battery shaped cylinder to dispose batteries in, duh.

As far as costs go here’s an idea of the price range: Cups, glassware and cutlery costs between 4.25 and 6.75 euros, while other accessories of the sort go much higher: salt and pepper shakers can reach up to 40 euros, an ice tray is 25 euros, cooking utensils go at around 35 euros. The cool phones and clocks easily top 100 euros. Heck, there’s even ambiance CD’s tuned to relaxing jazz, soothing Zen, erotic Elvis Presley (for real), but for 14.95 each better look for these in any normal music store.

A lunatic rampage of unnecessary accessorizing? You can make a strong case for that, but how unnecessary it has to be is up to you. If you’re not looking for something for yourself then even better—it is the perfect store to find an original and good quality gift.

Calle del Carmen, 8
91 532 46 83

By Daniel Sznajderman

Shop Madrid: Caribbean Skate, Surf, Snow and Sport

The name Caribbean will most likely sound familiar to skateboarders that live and roll in Madrid. It is, after all, the oldest skating store in the city that specializes in American style sliding sports: skateboards, long boards, surfboards, snowboards, wakeboards and other forms of extreme sport that can get you hurt. Skating and surf have become increasingly popular since the stores beginnings in 1975 and with it have come numerous other skate shops, but Caribbean has kept up a good name and a wide range of evolving products (it isn’t known for its low prices though). While other skate shops may only be well outfitted with skateboarding equipment, this store sells harder to find objects like long and wake boards—along with, of course, hoards of related paraphernalia including clothing, shoes, books, hacky sacks, stickers, style accessories and the like.

Especially important when it comes to buying sports equipment or their spare parts is to have knowledgeable advice from the store, and in this department Caribbean has no problem. It is still run by its original owners, who have seen the evolution of skating and its derivatives as well as experienced the ups and downs of the business in Spain. Jose Antonio Muñoz, a part owner who is usually at the front of the store, can lecture you in skating history: the surf inspired birth of the homemade long board in California in the sixties, the skate explosion of the seventies and its subsequent downfall in the early eighties, the coming of new school skating in the mid-nineties (and with it Tony Hawk and a lot of videogames) and now, the newborn popularity of commercial long boarding. If Caribbean could be the first to sell long boards in the seventies and could survive the skating business depression of the early eighties, Muñoz says, he’s sure the store will keep its place along Columela Street for a long time.

There are over fifty different brands in store that work with different types of skating: long skate, slalom skating, downhill, street, free style and old school. The different board brands to choose from are many: Powell Peralta, Zoo York, Gravity, Loaded, Lush, Powell, Surf One, Sector 9, Katin, Pukas, RRP, Z–flex, among others. They are accompanied by spare accessories—specially a large selection of wheels—from Bones, Cadillac, Kryptonics, Carver, Bennett, Randal, Bear and more. As for shoes, caps, backpacks, hardware and other accessories there are many to choose from: Ezequiel, Vans, Spitfire, Oakley, Volcom, Independent, Globe and more. They also deliver to any national and international address.

The store also involves itself with events that fall in its specialty. They organize unofficial skating reunions in the Parque del Oeste every Sunday from 11 a.m. until about 14:30 p.m., and they were one of the sponsors of last May’s first Skating Slalom Race of Madrid.

For a detailed list of their products and prices visit the Caribbean website at here.

Calle Columela, 5
91 576 11 17

By Daniel Sznajderman

Visit the Mercado de San Miguel

If you have been in Madrid for longer than 3 days chances are you’ve visited the Mercado de San Miguel. If you haven’t been there yet, time to scold your so called Madrid-experienced friends and make your way to the Plaza de San Miguel to enjoy the many flavors, colors and smells of this historic market.  Inside it is well kept and filled with the first class foods, from the most traditional of Spain—smoked pork, olives, paella—to spectacular sushi to fresh fruits and vegetables. A lot of the food may be for your eyes only though: the market is anything but cheap. Hours are 10:00 a.m. to 22:00 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays and 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

By Daniel Sznajderman

Young Designers Fair in Madrid


In the heart of Lavapies from Thursday, December 3rd, to Sunday, December 6th, is the young designers fair at  La Boca del Lobo cultural space. Here, the newest designers on the scene showcase their fresh and unique styles of accessories, clothes, shoes, and more. For more information go here.