Signal Records opens in former Bric-A-Brac spot, bringing post-punk, industrial and more to Avondale

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AVONDALE — Bric-a-Brac Records moved to a new location last year, seeking more space after eight years at Diversey and Kedzie Avenues. But thanks to a record collector and founder of a local record label, the corner storefront is still a destination for vinyl.

Blake Karlson, founder of the Chicago Research Labelrecently opened Signal recordings in the former Bric-A-Brac spot at 3156 W. Diversey Ave., selling mostly used and hard-to-find LPs with a focus on post-punk, experimental, global and industrial music.

The grand opening of the store is scheduled for September 3 and 4 with DJ sets and refreshments.

Karlson is a longtime member of Chicago’s hardcore and punk scene who has spent years performing and attending shows while amassing a massive vinyl collection.

While selling LPs online as Animated Music, Karlson launched the Chicago Research label about three years ago highlight local post-punk, electronic and industrial music.

But with the pandemic challenges of touring and show bookings, Karlson has since decided to embark on a new project: running a record store.

Credit: Provided
Inside Signal Records at Diversey and Kedzie Avenues.

Signal Records contains about 20,000 vinyl records, many of which would be hard to find elsewhere, Karlson said.

In addition to more traditional sections like classic rock and soul music, the store has a ton of underground dance releases and global music imports, with a focus on West African, Brazilian and Japanese music, a Karlson said.

“I try to have a store where anyone who walks in the store can walk away with a cool record, whatever genre they like,” he said.

Unlike Bric-A-Brac Records, which was a bright and colorful store filled with toys and action figures, Signal Records has a more minimal style. Karlson hired a friend to give the place a fresh coat of paint and build some record shelves.

“The hardest part of opening a record store is definitely getting the inventory, which I already had, so the transition was smooth,” Karlson said.

Karlson said the response has been “excellent so far”, with friends and collectors stopping by, and he expects business to grow as news of the shop spreads.

Bric-A-Brac Records moved from the Diversey Avenue storefront to a store about a half mile west at 2843 N. Milwaukee Ave. Husband and wife owners Nick Mayor and Jen Lemasters have opened an adjoining horror-themed cafe called The Brewed.

Signal Records is open from noon to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, but the store will be open daily after the official opening.

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