Monday, July 21, 2008

An epitaph for Record Express

Submitted by Karen Swartz.

Guerilla Filmmaker, Brendan Toller, unleashed
“I NEED THAT RECORD! THE DEATH (OR POSSIBLE SURVIVAL) OF THE INDEPENDENT RECORD STORE,” a documentary film examining why over 3000 independent record stores have closed across the U.S. in the past decade. This film prominently features Record Express of Middletown which closed its doors permanently in June of 2006. Also featured were Trash American Style of Waterbury which also recently closed, as well as an impressive ensemble from Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth to activist/author Noam Chomsky of MIT and many many more musicians and independent record stores across the U.S. of A!

The film had its Connecticut premier to a packed house on July 13th at the Wallingford American Legion Hall The premier was sponsored by Red Scroll Records of Wallingford, a newly opened independent record store which proves out to be the potential happy ending of the film. Malcolm Tent formerly of Trash American Style opened with an all-aggressive-acoustic rock set which resonated with the crowd as much as the film itself, which garnered a long standing ovation.

The film will be making the festival circuit later this summer. Check the websites for future showings or to see the trailers.

1 comment:

Bill said...

Hmmmm. I want to give the documentary a big loud "yes!," but I also think it does some rather predictable finger pointing while letting some of the true offenders get away and dodging some of the tougher questions regarding the current state of media.

Anyone who cares to think deeply about it will likely agree with the producers' sentiments regarding the music industry's focus on profit over talent. However, Frank Zappa was railing against that in 1967 and one could argue that some of the U.S.'s best and most challenging pop music was produced throughout the 70s and even into the 80s and early 90s. In fact, there are great things still happening.

So, why did our local store close? BECAUSE WE DIDN'T GO BUY THINGS THERE. Face it, we've all ordered from Amazon, fallen prey to the Borders' coupons or logged on to Limewire a few times. Not to mention here at Wesleyan when you're on the main server you can access the Itunes of everyone else on the server and there are about 50 different programs you can use to snatch all that music...

However, at least in cities, small record stores aren't dead. In fact, in Boston and NYC at least they seem to be winning the struggle while the huge stores--Tower, Virgin, HMV--all go under. I still drop way more money than I should on used CDs and Vinyl everytime I go to each of these places. The record stores I visit have niche markets cornered. They've realized that they'll never beat WalMart's price on the newest Sh*thead's album so if you come in looking for it they'll probably tell you to head in that direction. Instead, the stores that work fill their inventory with those things that you can't get at Walmart or Bestbuy and therefore they appeal to collectors and officianados who actually happen to be the only people left willing to pay money for music anyway. These stores also take advantage of the online market to sell their most valuable collectors' items and reap a bigger profit for them.

I'd love to see our film makers look a little deeper here. What else did Dr. Chomsky say? They imply that the capitalist system ran over record stores, but if that's true why is the music industry itself on the verge of collapse from freeloading listeners? Chomsky must have said something about that! Are they proposing a Marxist reading and suggesting that the industry has cultivated such bad taste that we're all just Zombies being spoon fed? What about bands like Radiohead who have chosen to release their music for free?!?! Where do they fit in? Finally, how about a little introspection: where do our producers get their music?
-Bill Carbone