With the vast network of torrent sites, SoulSeek and more, why should a budget-conscious student invest in records?
The New Haven area music scene is one that's built on a thriving network of independent cultural producers, all of whom are united under a bootstrapping, DIY mentality -- one that extends beyond shows and into record stores. If you're looking to get involved with the local scene, start with not just going to shows, but buying records at those shows.
Safety Meeting Records (safetymeetingrecords.com) founder and “el jefe” Carlos Wells says he got into putting out records for that very reason, “When I was a kid, one of the reasons why I really liked going to shows was to buy records.” Now Wells puts out an average of five to six records every year. The most recent is Mick Barr's Coiled Malescence, the sleeves of which are letterpressed by New Haven's own Dexterity Press (dexteritypress.org). (Dexterity operates a Universal Vandercook II letterpress, dating from 1934.) The majority of Safety Meeting releases take the form of 12” LP's accompanied by CDs.
But some bands decide to start their own record labels. According to Rick Omonte of the Mountain Movers (formerly on Safety Meeting Records), “a few things kind of edged us to do our own records. Mostly feeling that we could do it ourselves and that we had complete control. For bands at our level, it kind of makes sense.” The Mountain Movers' label, Car Crash Avoiders (carcrashavoiders.tumblr.com), may eventually release related side projects, but for right now, it's focused on releasing records, tapes, and tote bags, solely by the Movers. One recent release is Apple Mountain, which tells the story of two lovers that are separated during an unexpected blizzard -- not just in song, but through an accompanying liner notes, illustrated with watercolors by band member Dan Greene.
Meanwhile, in between releases for Estrogen Highs, Iron Hand, Sudden Walks, and more, musician Stefan Christensen’s effacingly-named Never Heard of It Records (myspace.com/neverheardofitrecords) turned out Judge’s Cave, a box set of cassette tapes by New Haven-based artists, also with an accompanying zine.
Conceptual, narrative, and illustrated - three things that are tough to find when downloading singles from iTunes, or ripping them from your roomie’s laptop. You can find these records and more online, at shows, and in stores like Cutler’s (27 Broadway, New Haven, 203-777-6271, cutlers.com) and Redscroll Records (24 North Colony Road, Wallingford, 203-265-7013, redscrollrecords.com).
On the Record: Some Great Local Record Stores
Courtesy Safety Records