posted May 25th, 2012


Ah...Drag City comes alive again in the words of a fresh new newsletter! But even though life is beginning anew here, and even though life is long, and even though life is often too long for some of us (we’re looking at you Rolling Stones! And thank you Sonic Youth!), frankly, we don’t have time to waste on niceties, felicitations, another word here. So we won’t beat around the bush with fancy languages. Let’s try it this way: we want you to buy our new records. We want you to buy our old records. We want you to own every last Drag City catalog item, from books to DVDs to the inescapable t-shirt (it has no holes). We want to sell you POSTERS, for chrissakes! There are bands out there touring right now that need fucking people in the room tonight! And would it kill you to download the 5000 or so Drag City tracks currently available to you via whiTunes and shAmazon?

Sure, read this and laugh! But don’t just laugh about it – buy something about it.


We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel here, but did you know your life is totally toxic? Your head’s full of poison, your goals are hand-me-downs of cheap, tacky knock-offs and your souls are worn down at the (high) heels. It’s time to step into the sunlight and see what life on Earth has to offer, what has always been there for you if only your chakras were screwed on tight instead of screwed up loose! Awareness is available, dear friends, and it’s there for you whether you’re ready or not. It’s time for you to live in the world of people again. Forget red states and blue states – let’s start a green state and invite everyone in! If you can dig what we’re growing here, then you might just be ready for life with Father. You know – Father Yod, the once-and-forever enigma known as Yahowha? Even though his kundalini was ultimately released back in 1976, the message of Father Yod and his followers, the Source Family, has been alive ever since, growing in the hearts and minds of an increasing number of freaks, drop-ins, record collectors and – yes, that’s right! Yours truly, signed Drag City Records. Who else? We’ve been talking about Father and the Source Family for a few years now, and selling not just the old records but new ones too – and not just records, but pamphlets, booklets, books and even T-shirts (again, no holes) containing Father’s teachings and wisdom. Everything we’ve got is on the website, check it out. But now we’ve got something even more exciting, a double-album of music and teachings all rock and rolled into one hard-jamming compendium of vintage Source House performances circa ’73-’76, featuring Father, YoHoWha13 and the Source Family. The Thought Adjusters is overflowing with surging beats, wild-ass guitar solos, deep organ chords, and soul-choir-like group vocals backing up the one and only Father Yod as he preaches and teaches like everybody’s business! All six pieces are plucked from deep within Isis Aquarian’s archives and restored as best as is spiritually possible to bring the sounds and visions past the hiss of the ages to the new generations. In their width and breadth these newly unearthed tracks add greatly to Father’s legacy. The Thought Adjusters is available on massive, head-and-soul expanding double-LP format only – get spiritty wit’ it!


Dope Body, that is! What, you expect us to say “Dope for sale!?” What if THE MAN heard us say that? And really, thank God that dope is such a pariah in the war against drugs. Before it was ever slang for “skag,” ‘dope’ meant ‘dummy’ and, frankly that ain’t a desirable watchword either. Naw, give us bodies hand over fist any old time. As in, hundreds of fresh Dope Body LPs and CDs, yo! Try to keep up with us here, we’re selling records, remember? Yeah! The new Dope Body album is out and it’s called Natural History and like all good records, it takes the live sound of the band, which is formidable, and BLOWS IT THE FUCK UP! To the point where, when the record or CD or download plays, such a picture is painted, of such scale and intensity, that imagining it happening any other way is pointless. You get hooked on the album, strung out, fucked up, whacked. It’s like the time we did dope for a couple years (psst - THE MAN! THE MAN! – paranoid ed.), except this time it’s Dope Body, yo – and they’ll fuck you up live too – so much so that you can’t imagine the album any other way but with them in front of you, sweating and shirtless and yet rocking with a certain nonchalance. And so it goes. Life is a house of mirrors when you’re into Dope Body. But Natural History isn’t just a rock record of unbelievable potency – it’s a bit of ear candy, dun-grey rock candy, sweet, sticky, too much’ll make you sick, weaken your system, give you that old dope body. Is that how they got the name? Who knows. We don’t talk to this filth – we just put out their records. They never talk to us either – they just take our funny paper and put it in the bank. Right now, they’re gearing up to get out on the road, banking hard as they turn sweat-filled rooms into rooms full of new fans of theirs. But first, they gotta steal a van. That’s the way it goes for Dope Body. OUT NOW: Natural History, y’all – it’ll rock yuh like a mother, and few others.


Drag City is walking into the bookworld again, so if your librarian lover is snoozing next to you as you read this, wake her the fuck up! We got something for her to read. But chances are it’s she who is reading and you who are snoozing. And chances are she isn’t reading this. So wake up, demographic! Wipe the sleep out of your eyes and lend them to us! We got something for you to read too. It’s called The Lowbrow Reader Reader, and if the name is familiar, it’s likely because you’ve encountered a little ‘zine of almost the same name at some point over your stumblings through the past decade. Founded in 2001 by Jay Ruttenberg, The Lowbrow Reader intended to cover secret and alternative histories of the cultural elite and illiterate alike. Issues were cobbled together with a variety of guest-writers from a variety of walks of life, and the general tone of their essays was one of bemusement. So: variety-culture-no values. This is what they call comedy! And over the course of six or seven issues, we forget, the role-call of contributors has included Shelly Berman, Lee Hazlewood, Gilver Rogin, Neil Michael Hagerty, Margeaux Rawson – funny people all and each with more than one idea to contribute. They wrote and wrote and the mimeographed sheets were rolled out and sold in short order. Well, they were short runs. Anyway, now that era has come to an end, goodbye to zines and things – but why not gather the best of the best and slap it together for the highbrows to get a load of? Judging from the ecstatic cries from the New York Times and Entertainment Weekly among others, now is the right time for your middle-of-the-aisle reader to get Lowbrow.

The Lowbrow Reader Reader is available from us at the Drag City website right here today.


Can you believe it’s almost June? Us too. It’s rarely said, but time isn’t actually passing fast; it’s passing at exactly the rate we expected. Not too fast, not too slow. Now before you call us freakin’ Snow White (Little Red Riding Hood – fables of the ed.) – I mean Goldilocks, whoops! (ditto – little red faced ed.) – even though we’re totally chill with the way time is passing, it doesn’t mean we’re not late as well! We’ve got a slate of releases set for June and July that are gonna heat these allegedly hot months up to an inestimable degree – and these releases aren’t even all in-house yet! But what the hell, we’re pre-selling June anyway. The stuff’ll be here soon – and then it’ll be mellow. Until then, the usual combination of ADD, sleep-deprivation and ego trips has the DC ivory bunker rolling over in its grave-like undisclosed underground location. We’re trying to learn to live in our minds in an orderly and efficient manner – but what we can do? We’re still just animals, here trying to make it. That being the case, June looks fucking miraculous, given that a bunch of animals put it together.


Well look who showed up to the party. Hey everybody – meet Blues Control! These guys – well, this guy and girl - are one of our favorite bands making music these days. They’ve blown our minds out of our heads in different directions since 2007 or so, and every time we think we have a handle on what they’re trying to do, they put out another album with a whole different vibe. Is it space-noise? Collage? New World Beat? Contempo-kitch? Hi-fi Lo-fi? Sub-jam band? Answer: none the fuck of the above – but suffice to say, over the course of their four albums, Blues Control have covered an awesome amount of territory in their search for music as they know it. Wait, did we just say four albums? Yeah, we did – because we’re talking about the one you don’t have yet. And it might just be the best one yet too. Recorded in pastoral climes, away from the bearded masses (and their secret same-sex lovers), Valley Tangents reflects a subtle loosening of the spirit, an allowance in of space, space in which to create unfettered from all influence. In other words, to be their own influences. The palette of guitar and keys and percussion is flavored with real drums and the air is filled with the scent of fresh-chopped wood. If this is what a campfire sounds like, we need to burn one too! Coming in June, it’s Valley Tangents from Blues Control, on LP, CD and cassette tape.


Remember old Silver Jews? Man, they were a lot of fun for a record label. First they were a mystery band, then it was rumored they were Pavement. Then the word was that they weren’t, but they were one of the best bands ever to record on a boom box. Then they went from low to hi-fi and D.C. Berman stood revealed as a wordsmith par excellence, with tunes that set the mid-90s underground afire. Then they created the alt-country scene, but only out of a purity that couldn’t be expressed on indie-rock terms. They were one of the top-selling Drag City acts of the 90s – and they enviously did it without touring at all! Then they moved on, creating a spectacled form of stadium rock in their final phase, when they came to terms with their widespread fanbase and finally toured to play the closet anthems that the misfits of the world had been singing much to their string of girl-and-boyfriend’s dismay for years now. It’s been a wild ride, distinguished by the virtual disappearance of their early catalog. Once their hi-fi records started coming out, the low-fi records went OOP, much to the frustration of the fan base that probably already had nicely worn copies of both records, thank you very much. CD bootlegs circulated, putting cassette versions of those songs and many others into the still-fledgling (and not yet debunked) digital realm. But those boots were from vinyl, not from the original normal-bias C60 cassette tapes! For Early Times, we unearthed those original tapes from their pristine stored state at the bottom of a can of Prince Albert Tobacco – and we blew on them to get the dust and other crap off! Then they got mastered. The results – to our tired old blown out completely unreliable ears – are extraordinary. People forget how great the sounds of primitive technologies were, like microphones. The Silver Jews performances filtered through the boom-box quality circa 1992 deliver audio-verite visions of a few post-grad slacker types in their low-rent living room with their cheap guitars and amplifiers. A combination of actually writing and pure improvisation brings additional electricity to the sound, as Berman and Malkmus and Nastanovich throw their ideas recklessly into the ring, calling, answering and sometimes falling splat onto their faces, yet feeling no pain. Meanwhile, the tunes are a string of stellar indie-rockers, starting of course with “Canada” and ending with “Bar Scene From Star Wars,” with nothing more and nothing less in evidence. The artwork that adorned the original 7” and 12” is included and the whole damn thing is far more satisfying than we could have imagined – and we imagined it would be pretty damn satisfying! If you ever felt like you were being cheated by a retouched vision of Pavement, a representation of them as more than they actually were, Early Times is for you. Revisiting our world June 19th!


Can you believe its 2012 already? It seems like just yesterday, we were partying like it was 1985 (and it was), listening to our “Before the Dream Faded” LP and dreaming about all the records out there that weren’t ours but should be. It took a few (and twenty) years to figure out that one way to get those records was to try and reissue them ourselves! And we’ve been very lucky in recent years, since good old Plastic Crimewave himself has brought his discoveries our way, leading to incredible records like Spur Of the Moment, Ed Askew Imperfiction, J.T. IV, etc. That’s what Plastic Crimewave does and has been doing ever since he was old enough to draw! A fanboy par excellance, PC has shared his head-turning, brain-burning, I’m-tripping discoveries in the pages of the Galactic Zoo Dossier for what seems like a million years (but has actually only been about 45 minutes) now. While we dig the GZD for the leads it gives us deeper into the world of psychedelic music and art, the thing that truly sets it apart is the way it is almost entirely written and drawn by hand, thus making it a unique work of fandom. We drew him into our web in time to do the 5th issue which was bigger and better than all four issues that came before it, and came with a batch of Damaged Guitar God trading cards and a CD of musical rarities and never-had-beens where once cassettes had sufficed. Since then, it’s been up, up and away over the course of ten years and three additional issues (plus a Compendium collecting the first four issues). But zounds! It’s been three whole damn years since issue #8. It’s almost time for there to be another fanzine celebrating the ol’ GZD. But they’re not dead yet – behold, issue #9! Interviews with Arthur Brown, The Poppy Family and Rodigruez! Features on “prog freaks,” The Moody Blues, Jack "King" Kirby and Kak! Guest writing from zine gods like Byron Coley, Eric Colin, Ari Spivak and Scott Wilkinson! Another disc’s-worth of music! More Guitar Gods and more Astral Folk Maidens trading cards as well! In full color! All this and the acid penmanship of Plastic Crimewave too. Get Galactic Zoo Dossier #9 and get the latest handful of tips and trips from in-between the lines. In stores on June 19th!


In case you haven’t noticed, all three of our June releases are listed as LP/CD/CS. That’s right, people are buying cassettes again. They’re playing them too. It’s weird, but who are we to prevent them from having their fun – and so along for the ride with Early Times and Valley Tangents tapes comes the belated release of Ty Segall & White Fence’s Hair on the little format that could (and did!). Experience a format as exotic as vinyl, but with only half the fidelity! And play them in the tape deck in your Camaro – because if you don’t have a Camaro with a tape deck, then what the fuck are you even doing reading this?


Don’t know about you, but we’re working this summer! Too many hot fuckin’ records to get out for us to go galavanting about on the beach somewhere (note to self: bring laptop to beach)! We’ve got new releases from OM and Laetitita Sadier in July and a new one from Six Organs of Admittance in August. And in the case of all three artists, they’ve managed to break through to a new phase in their sound that is dramatic, challenging, and ultimately satisfying. In the case of the OM album, Advaitic Songs, some of the deepest (and holiest) bass we’ve ever heard is to be found in the grooves, an actual room-shaking low end. As for Laetitia, she’s coming on with a set of quasi-political songs that bop and sway like a latter-day What’s Goin’ On – complete with string sections and choirs, no lie! Plus, there’s an EP coming from the always-busy Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, who is preparing for his upcoming tell-some book Will Oldham on Bonnie "Prince" Billy by recording a set of his favorite songs – his own songs – with his favorite band! His own band, that is. If you’ve seen the video for “I See A Darkness,” then you know what you’re in for – savvy versions of a few hits and a few deeper cuts from the BPB/Palace catalog. Plus! The reissue of Carol Kleyn’s second private press album from the late 70s Takin’ the Time, produced by inestimable and unknowable Bobby Brown. It’s a mellow bunch of mostly keyboard jams, though Carol’s signature harp gets some play as well. There’ll also be a couple singles, including a pair of rock and roll instrumentals from Six Organs of Admittance, including one called “Blues for Jack Parsons,” that’ll only be a prelude to the deep yet abiding rock and roll that he trots out in the company of the band formerly known as Comets On Fire on his August album release, Ascent. Then there’ll be a Ty Segall single in advance of….?


It’s been a weird feeling the past couple of years, knowing that Faun Fables aren’t out there, troubadouring their way through the world like it’s still the 18th century (but in a Winnebago) as only they can. It stands to reason though – Dawn the Faun and Nils the Frykdahl spawned two lovely daughters and it took a couple years to raise them up, get them toilet trained and teach them how to play the lute and the jew’s-harp so that the family can play together. Now that’s all done and they’re on the American highways and byways for most of September and October – but if you can’t wait until then to see a show, try Sophia Knapp on the west coast this June! Or Neil Hamburger on the east coast at the same time. Check out Papa M starting like, now, in the UK for the first time in we don’t even fucking know! Mairi Morrison & Alasdair Roberts are also out there in the lower kingdom, playing a few shows in support of their fine Urstan album before coming all the way home to the Isle of Lewis to play a show in front of Mairi’s whole family (which is the entire population of the Island, natch!). Other summer tours in the US of A (plus the odd date in Canada – very odd!) include Blues Control, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, Dope Body, Baby Dee and yep even 200 Years. How about that! They’re coming out their shell, folks! At the same time, Masaki Batoh brings his Brain Pulse sounds to Europe for a rare handful of shows while Dirty Three crank it back up with some festivals over the summer in advance of their wild return to America this fall. Gary Higgins has some shows way out east (like Easthampton MA) and the ever-ambitious Magik Markers play Brooklyn. Thee Joanna Newsom will perform an extremely rare collaborative concert with Thee Phillip Glass in SF next month -- Horton hears a "Whoda thunkit!" Some Laetitia Sadier dates are coming together in the UK and Europe and Ty Segall never one to let the paint dry on a tour poster, heads off to Europe to premiere a bunch of his incredible new songs. No, not those new ones – the new new ones!

Like we said at the top, we’re alive again – a number of live entities all working together to find the future. Where can it be? It’s like mercury in the folds of a greasy paper bag – no class.

See you next time, Ringo. Bye Harry!

Rian Murphy

Drag City Inc.