I n an era when the streets run red with the shredded balance sheets of defunct music retailers, Redscroll Records is alive and kicking in the heart of working-class Wallingford. Owned and operated by Josh Carlson and Rick Sinkiewicz, Redscroll is one of the only record stores left in the state. With an impeccable selection of new and used vinyl, CDs and even tapes, Josh and Rick are committed to keeping the music playing.
Walls are plastered with local show posters from past and present. Shelves are lined with independently published journals and books you probably won’t find in Barnes & Noble (Jacob McMurray’s Taking Punk to the Masses, for starters). Wooden display racks and plastic milk crates are loaded with classic and rare records, like Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys (classic) and Black Metal by Venom (rare).
Ears-deep in the local music scene, Redscroll Records has been a record label since before it opened its retail location on Wallingford’s main drag, helping put out records for fine local talent like the raw, Old Saybrook-originating hardcore act Stab You in the Head and Hartford-hailing, blast-beating metalcore band Wrench in the Works. While the label side of the business has slowed down a bit to focus more on merchandising the store, Redscroll did recently release a new album, City Silk, by self-described “elm city dead pop” duo Phemale, which rides goth-y, mantric sounds of gloom and doom to a surprisingly happy place. (I’m also told that a new EP by brutal punk d-beat band Iron Hand is on the way.)
Facilitating album releases is one way Redscroll supports the area’s scene. Promoting live music is another. Walk into the store on any given day and you’re bound to find counters covered with flyers advertising shows around the state. Looking to score tickets to a Manic Productions show with no online convenience fee? They’re for sale at the front register, where Josh and Rick are just as eager to hype up local DIYers as they are more established bands. In partnership with Liberty Tattoo in Berlin, there’s even a flash sheet filled with Redscroll-approved artwork that, if inked anywhere on your body, affords you a life-long discount to the record store.
Whatever your reason for walking in, you’ll find people bringing all walks of life into Redscroll. From crusty teenage punks trading mp3s for Minutemen EPs to baby boomers reliving their glory days, everyone’s in this local record store thing together.
Not that you have to get all sentimental about it, like 90s odes to music culture High Fidelity and Empire Records did. But those films did ultimately pick up on something honest about the brick-and-mortar record retail experience: anyone can be a member of the club.
While Bruce Springsteen isn’t likely to come to you, as he did for Rob (John Cusack) in Fidelity, during a melancholia-induced fever dream to give you love advice, if, like Lucas (Rory Cochrane) in Records, there’s still some shred of desire in you to “damn the man,” know that a small but influential anti-empire called Redscroll Records is head-bobbing along, just 20 minutes up the road from the heart of New Haven.
24 North Colony Rd, Wallingford (map)
Sun-Mon 12-6pm, Tues-Sat 12-8pm
Written and photographed by Courtney McCarroll.