posted August 2nd, 2013


Whoa! Time is moving ON. Two weeks ago, Drag City dropped the best batch of new releases July (2013) will ever see: Andy Kaufman, Bitchin Bajas, White Fence, Scraper and Paula, a virtual all-night party of entertainments that'll take you up and down and through tomorrow and into the next day...Do we do this out of generosity? Sure! But we're only human. We also do it out of greed. We're only human! And humans have built machines that dispense toys, treats, and information, all in exchange for something in return. This is savagery! We've built proprietarial hunger into mechanical structures as a form of mirroring our own worst needs. Now those machines have us on drip-feed! Without those machines, how would we live? You may think that we're aping tired old T3 tropes, but check it out - we're talking about the music business here! Without the machines, how do we hear the music? It's been over a century since the people of earth got their music exclusively from live experience - and we can't go back there. Not yet - the apes aren't ready! So in the meantime, Drag City utilizes the business model we have perfected (but , never satisfied, continue to tweat!) - people we admire give us music 'n things, we have it manufactured into products, you obtain them from us, and everybody's happy - or as happy as we can be as humans. And machines don't have to rise up for another day. Let us all praise the fellowship of the holy fallout.


So...been a little while since you heard from us, but that's okay - we've been dealing with the hot-n-heavy of Drag City, that sweet-and-sweaty bottom line known as SALES (and yes, the occasional return). There's this document'ry film called "A Band Called Death" out right now that's been pleasing audiences with its real-life story of struggle, oblivion and acceptance, and a pleased audience is one hungry for more - so we've been selling the living SHIT out of Death for the past couple months, and it's just about a full-time job. Fortunately, the multi-tasker in us is awake and well, since July had a full-slate of new releases from three of our many labels, including the one called Drag City! First off came Andy and His Grandmother, the comedy dream-album-that-almost-never-was, finally ready to unleash on the world after thirty years of tapes sitting in a box (in a nice, cool, dark place, don't worry) and then several years more of exacting production and post-production work. What's the record like? It's funny in a weird way, what do you expect? It's Andy Kaufman doing things he never did anywhere else, and what's cool about it is that his MO on these tapes is entirely recognizable as his "thing," without ever verging into routines that ended up in the work that he released during his life. All seventeen tracks are unique improvisations that are entirely dependent on the tape recorder, and Kaufman's a way of using it to create on the fly. What we're saying is, this is classic Andy Kaufman stuff that's never been heard before, occupying a distinct place in his performography. Furthermore, as its appearance is the LAST thing anybody expected, it makes the entertainment all the more Kaufmanesque, and if that's not something you want, then please stop reading this, UNSUBSCRIBE (to oxygen) and stop being our friend. Don't worry, you won't be blazing any trails there, either. So where were we? Oh right, July! After an hour-ish of raw Kaufman tapes from '77-'79, you know what you need, right? Course you don't! That's what you have the good oracle Drag City fer. What do we see in your life after Andy and His Grandmother? Bitchin Bajas, fer sher.

Their new album Bitchitronics is 44 minutes and a few seconds of sound without words, which sounds nice to you poor tired newsreaders huh? Well TOUGH! We got lots more words to force-feed you. But some of them will be about instrumental music, so split the difference? Anyway, Bitchitronics explores the possibilities of the Eno-designed Frippertronics system of the mid-to-late-70s, whereby signal goes through a couple of tape decks in a live looping system to play with and play over etc. It's the kind of thing that you can do by the stomping a button on a box the size of a pack of cigarettes (and only slightly more expensive) these days, but where's the fun in that? Where the magnetic recording tape? Where's the outmoded signal paths and their quaint ways of shaping sound? They're all on the Bitchin Bajas records. These guys love performing the Heimlich and a healthy round of CPR on old synths, tape machines, rhythm boxes, signal processors and whatever else has been recently declared 'vintage'. Man, when these guys get hold of a Fairlight, look out! It's gonna be Bitchin Goes to Hollywood time. Until then, the soothing, new age-cum-ambient sounds of Bitchitronics are out there, to stop the world and let you get off the endless verbal la-la-la merry-go-die that us modern-worlders are all too used to. On phonograph LP and cassette - what'd we tell you about Bitchin Bajas and old formats? Can reel-to-real tapes be far behind? Where have you gone, Joe 8-Track? Answers to these questions and more at all Bitchin Bajas gigs (and for Chicagoans and mere midwesterners, that's a Bajunch), coming up soon!


Also in July, Drag City put out some records by some of the other guys - that amorphous, ever-expansive group of labels that we P&D for (though sometimes it feels like M&F). Long time leaders know of whom we speak: Blue Chopsticks, Sea Note, Palace Records and Streamline are among the old-timers still churning it out - but then there's the young bloods - in this case, GOD? and Ethereal Sequence. And these guys have their own agenda. GOD?'s already shown a propensity for vintage robot-punk (circa 2000s), and now they've opened their umbrella a little farther to share with us fresh sounds of the west coast. To wit, a killer reish of White Fence's first (and only self-titled) LP. Self-titled LPs are meant to show us the essence of the band, the starting point, the core. And indeed, White Fence does. Such is the nature of the band that they've just billowed and billowed since the halcyon days of aught-10, and their three albums since then find them miles away (to go before they sleep? in the sky? with diamonds?), but what rang true (way) back then rings like jangle-pop of the sweetest vintage today. And etched into vinyl, it threatens to beat all comers with power in it's spindly limbs. Mm. So fine. If not a #1 Record for it's generation, maybe a Radio City? Or how's about An Apple a Day for our times? Fuck dat, fuck dat - White Fence belong to today. They look good in yesterday's clothes, but that's not really their scene. Meanwhile, GOD?'s got plans for San Fran's Scraper, and they start with a 7"EP of thudding punk concrete. We mean this mostly like the substance they skate on and not the concepte Francais - but speaking in purely meatheaded terms, there is something abstract about Scraper, the way they pair their "what's-a-bass/what's-in-tune?" musical aesthetic with way-out lyrics that belie humble punk origins. Yes - the mutilated head of art-punk yawns open, and out pours Scraper. Where better to pour than into the Bay Area, where such bands are a mere apertif before a dinner of speed and sneering! So Scraper have had their hard knocks. And they dig it.

Then there's Ethereal Sequence - remember them? Last month we talked about how there was this label called Ethereal Sequence in the early 80s and it put out one record...well, dig out the June newsletter and see what it says if you want to know the whole story! The Paula album, Relaxed Fit, has been pulled from the 'net and placed into vinyl after a run of turning people on online. It sounds even better on LP, which is weird, because what could be better than the internet? LPs didn't change the world the way the WWW did. But what do we know? We're 24 years into this and Drag City hasn't gone public yet! Don't even know what it means - but it sounds like talking to people, and that sounds like a problem. We prefer the eerie silence (between sides) down here in our airlocked, waterproofed Ivory Bunker. Let the records do the talking. Man, they always do.


Geez, what a weird year, right? No new Ty Segall album in the late winter, no new Ty Segall album in the spring, no new Ty Segall album in the early summer. No new Ty Segall album in the mid-summer either! Did old dude decide to become a professional surfer and just LIKE rock and roll for a change of pace? Naw! Come on! He made a new album and we're getting it out as soon as we can, which at this point means the late summer/early-near autumn that is the secret cash cow of so many record releases these days. In-between times are the best times for some records it seems. What do we care? Anytime is a good time for a new Ty Segall record, especially after Twins and even more so when it's Sleeper! Now, we're rock critics at heart - but 70s-style versions, which means, yes, we're assholes, but we actually think about the music and say something meaningful if you put us on the list! Anyway, it also means that we're constantly trying to put things into perspective - and while Sleeper may draw comparisons to Goodbye Bread for its embrace of intro-spection, we see it as more of an extension of Twins, which also had some deep reflections (in fact, all of it was deep reflections, just off the glittering, sword-like exterior of fully firing rocket engines). And while Sleeper isn't Twins 2 (which would be 4, by our math), it shares pockets with the former album, even as it slides through the holes in those pockets to move ever onward in the music outreach that is the music of Ty Segall. Ty has managed to evolve his love of riffs 'n' rhythm into an astonishing number of directions over the past five years, and Sleeper embodies its own space - a space in fact, that no longer exists as it did when the album was recorded and mixed in Ty's SF apartment right before he bugged out for LA. It was important to capture the vibes of that place and time before it didn't exist anymore, and Sleeper will show you why. The musical impulses run the gamut, from mod dance-floor raves through hippie-ish utopian fantasies and super-dark, cosmic serial-killer black hole moments - but all of these waves will reach you in a form you haven't quite heard before yet, as the high-flying Ty Segall reaches a place in the sky he hasn't been yet. **Sleeper is another great trip from Ty**, ready for you to embark upon in LP, CD, DL, and CS (of course!) on August 20th.


Sure, Ty's in an ethereal state on Sleeper, but we're hedging our bets for August 20th - if you want some gut-sluggin' primal punk n roll, but you've already downloaded the new Running, and besides, you want something with a little more....SOMETHING, you're not sure...maybe that faint whiff of vintage is what you're looking for. And you know Drag City loves to bring the vintage, and if you don't know how to breakdance to acoustic music, we've got some solid punk classics to stack next to your Sleeper LP from Australia's late, great Venom P. Stinger. These guys formed in the Melbourne scene that had witnessed the rising of The Birthday Party, one of the world's great post-punk bands (we have this on good authority). After those boys defected, Melbourne was changed forever and even clueless housewives were turned into sluts for art-punk. It was like, it went from the 50s to Repo Man overnight. Anyway, there were bands on every street corner, all of them awesome, and all out for blood. Street-gangs really - you had to be tough to make it in Melbourne. If you could make it there, they might not kick you out of Philly...So, players from bands like Sick Things and People With Chairs Up their Noses (NERDS!) got together to form Venom P. Stinger. The late Dugald McKenzie was the frontman, and do we have to say RIP to tell you that he meant business? His specialty topics were, 1) how degraded his life was and 2) the existential, losing nature of life, all of which was conveyed with visceral disappointment and rage, shouted in alternately guttural and hoarse (putting the 'horse' back in, feel me?) phrases, only occasionally approaching anything musical (and then flatting the note). GREAT stuff for a punk group back in circa '87, still works good today if you've got the right band. Fortunately, he had his Sick Things cohort Mick Turner on guitar, and then as now, Mick favored off-textures, wanting something different out of his application. Then as now, he got it, and his hot punk-guitar playing was smeared with streaks of grime and smoke, adding an earthy touch to the experience that was completed with the Venom P. Stinger preferred cover art: Anna White's poetically inky floral still lives. From People With Chairs Up Their Noses, along with anybody else in town smart enough to hire him, Jim White was able to bring great strength to the Venom P. battery. Like Mick, Jim's choices behind the kit were unconventional and colorful, again expanding the punk palate without ever straying from the brutal effect that Venom P. Stinger was formed to exact. Alan Secher-Jensen rounded it out, so to speak, with perfectly descending bass-lines providing the spine to the extrapolations of his group-mates. Soooo...they made some records and then broke up over 20 years ago, the end? Mm, sort of - Dugald was too wild to hold down so they went on with a different lead singer, but it wasn't the same and meanwhile Mick and Jim formed Dirty Three with Warren Ellis and ten years or so went by. Then there was a Venom P. Stinger reunion in NYC a few years ago. We might have had this ready to do then, but even with Dugald gone, Venom P. things are just as chaotic as they were when everyone was young and stupid (or was it high?). So, years later, we are reissuing the great early Venom P. Stinger records - the albums Meet My Friend Venom and What's Yours Is Mine, the 7" single "Walking About" and the last-dregs EP "Waiting Room."

Or if you've been waiting for a CD version of all this, welcome back Rip! Your copy of the 1986-1991 2xCD is right here, waiting for you as if it were still the 90s. It has all the original artwork and lyrics but no notes, because we want to duplicate the experience, right? Like you were there. No retrospect, dig? To that end, the LPs too are duplicates of the now-distant originals, with lyric inserts and NO DOWNLOAD code, because that hadn't even been heard of back then! And around some parts, it still ain't, you hear what I mean? In any case, Venom P. Stinger are back in print, FINALLY on CD and your mind should prepare to be scraped clean of whatever CRAP is making it so fucking dull. Venom P. Stinger will do that for you, after all these years.


From art-punk to "Ark Procession," we arrive at the arch under which Al Cisneros of OM invokes his gratitude and practices his vibrational proseletyzations. It's been a busy year for OM since last July's Advaitic Songs (what, it hasn't been forever?) rearranged the topography for everyone - lots of tour dates and a couple of truly evolutionary dub version 12" records - but with nothing gOMing on until November's End of An Era ATP show (they got our memo!), Al's head is exploding with creativity. Thus, the eternal tunes "Ark Procession" and "Jericho" have been drawn from the air and time immemorial and engrooved for our envibement. Ears permanently reshaped by advaitic and its versions will discern a more psychedelike flow to the processional that was apparent on the dub 12"s. Sure, there's bass and reprocessed rhythm alongside a fresh middle-eastern keyboard melody, but it unfolds in a stony stasis ridden with masked hi-hats that, while not exactly meditative (for that would engage in the practice of death, YHW forbid!), unfolds more cerebrally than your average ragga floor-buster. One way or another, Al Cisneros is bringing us good news with this two-sided 10" 45rpm record of (always) DEEP praise and vibration in celebration of the life God has given us here on the l'il cinder, plant Earth.


It's been too long since the world wasn't hungering, raw and sore from their time in the wilderness without a Bill Callahan record. You've seen it too haven't you? The passing of questionable legislations, the overturning of governments? Sexes and races growing farther apart? A bad run of summer blockbusters (exceptin' Fast 6 of course - that series just gets better and better)? It's because of Bill, by God! Or rather, a distinct lack of Bill. The soothing sounds of Callahan, as he accepts with cowboy-zen grace the sacred and profane moments in his life and measures them against those he sees in others - his special presence has transpired to be a force for good in our world. And even though Bill's not on the New York Times Bestseller List or Richest Entertainers of the Year or anything like that, it's pretty clear that the yearning and discerning ears of those who do take his seamless sonic constructions in are influencing their host-bodies to be more patient and understanding people. Which means less porta-potties turned over, not to mention less undemocratically-elected governments turned over as well (take that, US Black Ops! May Egypt be your last coup.).

What we need in this world now is Bill, sweet Bill- and while we'd never be foolish enough to suggest that all you need is Bill (cause variety is the spice that makes the world go round and round), we do dare to predict that the September 17th release of Dream River will mark a turning point. Not just in 2013, or even in whatever era this is now (let's see...First Century AR (After Rock) or OL (On Line)? We're open to suggestions). We're talking flat-out HISTORY here - the NATURE of TIME, folks. It's gonna change. You may not see it on September 18th. You may not feel the ripple by New Year's Day, 2014. But life on earth as we know it will be shaped and changed by Dream River. Get into your Google-Earth People Culture App and check it out. Oh wait, you can't - it's not invented yet. But Dream River is, and it's flowing your way. Super-Calla-Fraga-YEAH, man!


But wait, you who hunger without relent for Bill Callahan and his forthcoming audial waterway, Dream River! We will have something for you before September 17th! In fact, it's like, just around the corner! You can have it August 20th! Or even sooner if you frequent one of Drag City's fabled 'direct stores' with their distinctive 'brick-and-mortar' exteriors and 'preferred-customer early access' to our 'new releases'. Oh, 20th Century! You are so DEAD. Yep - but even if you don't ride the wormhole back to the way records use to be sold, the facts of the hear and now are unshakeable all the same: Bill Callahan's Dream River can be previewed via the grooves of a 12" single called "Expanding Dub" b/w "Highs In the Mid-40s Dub."

Before you start to scratching your head plumb raw, here's what's between the lines: this 12" single contains two dub versions of songs from the record that will allow you aquatic access to the music, with lyrics lost in the waves, hearing distorted by the dreaded "dub swimmer's ear" and your state generally altered by your time in the water. Still, the songs waft through, in improbable and strangely suitable dub-form, and it's all you can do to not wish for a whole album's worth of the same. And Santa or Cupid or someone like them will see what they can do about THAT. But in the meantime - extend your reach and expand your range with Bill Callahan's "Expanding Dub," come August 20th - until the Boards of Canada suppressed memory/subcutaneous implant leak, this is the most out-of-box preview going! Old-school, that is.


Also in September - oh-oh, what we want to know is, are you Kleyn'd? Carol Kleyn'd that is. Carol's a lovely vision from the land that was the hippie nation of North America circa the mid-70s, and this is year three of our reissue campaign bringing the sweet sounds of her harp-and-vocals music that graced so many west-coast street corners and ren-faires back in the day via the albums Love Has Made Me Stonger and Takin' the Time. This time, Carol's third (and to date, last - but don't forget, time changes everything, and nothing is last for very long) album, Return of the Silkie, is being propegated, with a new pressing of the LP occupying unused copies of jackets originally printed in 1983 and CDs pressed and printed like NEVER BEFORE (as with the first two Carol Kleyn albums). Previously, Carol had stepped away from the harp and towards the piano for a couple tunes on each record, even playing with a band for a couple moments of Takin' the Time, but for Return of the Silkie, she was on her sweet own, just vocals and harp conveying her earnest, eco-friendly and brotherhood-of-man messages. Note it's not "Revenge" of the Silkie. Like the Star Wars franchise in a galaxy far, far away, Carol was on the good side of the Force. She's signing copies of the LP jackets for Return of the Silkie to send a message of love and thanks to you personally. So if you do nothing else in 2013, save the earth by buying Return of the Silkie- and everything else on Drag City of course.


Jesus, fuck this 2013 shit! Too complicated, too many rabbit holes and worm holes and other fucking holes - and none of them adding up to a whole anything! Even 2007, as diffuse it seemed at the time, was an exercise in deep focus compared to today. Case in efil4zaggin point: Magic Markers. When Boss came out in 2007, it commanded the axis of vibe/buzz/media, making all with eyes and ears out aware that SOMETHING WAS HAPPENING. Then again in 2009, when Balf Quarry hit, the same thing. Chalk it up to a steady stream of wild art/house/squat/gallery shows and an equally munched-up bunch of CD-R releases, splits and other Magik. Now, if you don't feed the monster, what happens? For (suddenly) ol' Magik Markers, 2011 and 2012 happens. Zip, kids. Nothing. Wow. Without the constant pissing into our insatiable (and clearly deviant) culture-maw, we lose the thread. We wonder, is the band broke up? Then we don't even wonder anymore. This is today, gang. But word, folks - the Magik never went away; the Markers have been busily inscribing their marks. It's whut the old jazzmen called 'woodshedding' - getting back to the drawing board in order to elevate to another level of artistry when heard from again. That's what happened when Charlie Parker went down to the crossroads and sold his tenor to Mr. Scratch in exchange for an evil little alto and a big bag o' dope. He came back a new kind of genius. And everyone was like, Where'd this dude come from? The woodshed, boys. So therefore, if thinking about a band is what makes a full-time band, then you sold Magik Markers short, you dick. They've been thinking MM thoughts non-stop, marking down the logo in notebook after notebook, playing the wailing sounds late at night, when no-one would hear them - on bridges, even! And that you've been edified, say halloo to Magik Markers circa 2013, with first a tour single (for get this - a tour!) in September. We call it "Ice Skater" because - well, they told us to. Then in November, just when your dumb ass is ready to quit on the year (shit, kind of like we were doing at the top of this item...DO OVERS!), Surrender To the Fantasy! The album! The digital download! The way of life! A new kind of Magik, coming your way, so don't spend it all on drugs. Then all you'll be left with is a purloined copy of Surrender To the Fantasy, and while that seems oddly right, at the same time, all this woodshedding don't come cheap. Or perhaps it only comes cheap. In any case, when the time comes, pay for the Fantasy! It's not (EVER) too much to ask.

SOMETHING IN THE POT THIS FALL in, you better have something GOOD in the pot you're smoking this fall - because Sun Ark are coming out with two releases that are made for altered perspectives, not to mention really good weed! The first is some classic Sun Araw that's been out of print for far too long (a minute?), the double-LP On Patrol. This record has hosted many a party around these parts and seems to be a favorite in the early part of the Sun Araw discography. It's so hard to tell, because Sun Araw fans are always talking in sentences that don't seem to add up in English, but whatever. They look happy. And putting On Patrol next to the justly celebrated Ancient Romans and the criminally underevaluated (and under-dug!) The Inner Treaty on the shelves here will be a pure pleasure. At the same time that we journey through the Sun Ark past, we'll also be beaming the sounds of the Sun Ark future/present over four sides of vinyl via the CMSG release Celebrate Music Synthesizer Group. This is the sound of Cameron Stallones, Butchy Fuego, M. Geddes Gengras, and Tony Lowe loose in the renowned synthesizer archive at WORM in Rotterdam. Classic suitcase modules like the ARP 2500, Serge Modular and Korg MS-20 among a half-dozen other generators were deployed in a heady-four-way improvisation, and the cuts range from inner to outer space, rending the sythetics in all their spaced glory with an eye towards the rhythms of the soul. September 17th, the Sun Ark opens wide! Cover your eyes, elevate your mind.


Summer deep, and we're all looking for distractions. If you've managed to master all your games (seriously, Bush Whacker?) and you're tired of all your mp3s, why not sling your hooks into the club scene? Drag City's bands are criss-crossing the globe leaving a lattice of steam-trails. SO MANY SHOWS! We got Bonnie 'Prince' Billy and Bitchin Bajas and Black Bananas and CAVE and Mike Donovan and Neil Hamburger and Ty Segall, which we count on the the truly twisted among you to term summertime fun with your frighteningly toothless grins, and you do, so thanks! There's some highly anticipated concerts on the horizon, like Bonnie 'Prince' Billy's PacNW shows - after spending most of the year in the collaborative confines of Dawn McCarthy & Bonnie "Prince' Billy, singing Everly Brothers songs and selections from The Letting Go, Bon'll be the mood to let it go for sureNaturally, the ones Americans are most excited about are the shows by expatriate Brit, Scout Niblett. Scout's acclaimed It's Up To Emma album bowed in May and ever since then, US kids have been asking about when Scout's gonna play! They figure, if they can't get a tan indoors, they can at least get burned by Scout in the flesh. From Seattle to New York, and that includes Texas, youse kids will have your chance! Scout's red-freakin' hot after a super tour of Europe and she's looking forward to lots more shows. Since we got 'em. P.G. Six are on a few of the shows and Dope Body on a bunch of others - a real Drag City love (not sex) fest!


Never ends dept: Yes, we've got Ty Segall and Bill Callahan coming up on our next two release dates, but do you think it just somehow ENDS after that? Fortunately, artists who feel otherwise are working with us to ensure a future beyond the future that we're showing you. And so briefly, in October, we're well chuffed knowing that we've got new LP/CD/CS releases from CAVE (Threace) and Mike Donovan (Wot), as well as a reissue of the legendary Frederick Michael St. Jude LP Here Am I. Off the Drag City menu, we'll be offering David Novick's debut album on GOD?, previously available in the ether, but being tethered to vinyl just for the occasion. By the time Hallowmas rolls around, all souls are gonna be enlightened by this future music. So please don't fuck up and take a miss on October, would you? All months is born equal, friends.


Like the song sez, all you need is bass. Since Advaitic Songs last year, it's all we want, too - and dang if we're not getting bass in spades here in 2013! Back in March, Purling Hiss and Ensemble Pearl both weighed in a bit heavy with superior amounts of low-end, and then in April, Rich Ristagno's What Would It Be Like To Be Rich reissue redefined low-fi vintage bass sounds from the 1970s. April came about and Scout Niblett, while not always featuring bass in her arrangements, certainly brought the heavy to the parade with It's Up To Emma. Then the Royal Trux "3-Song EP" showed us how much bass could do back in 1998 with David Pajo's yeoman-like turn in step with Jon Theodore on the classic opus, "The United States vs One 1974 Cadillac El Dorado Sedan." Meanwhile, thanks to OM, we can't seems to break free of dance-tastic dub versions and 45 RPM 12" records...and now Callahan's getting involved? We've got bass written all over our face! On top of the dicks drawn there, that is. We always fall asleep first at the party...

There's bottom more coming up too, with Bill Callahan in September and CAVE in October - thick, rolling bass sounds from those MFs. Plus, Magik Markers bring low-end back into the fold for November's enchantingly ominous Surrender to the Fantasy LP, that's something to look forward to for more than bottom. And - early warning - The Howling Hex's debut, the classic angle-rock workout All-Night Fox is coming to LP in December. Butt-bumps and elbow-thrusts 'til new years, y'all! It is and is gonna be, bangin'. Enjoy it while it lasts - we'll be back to no-fi again before long. Cycles of the moon aren't just there for you to schedule your sacrifice, you pagans! We've got timetables too.

And before this moon crashes into the next one, we're gonna close. Do everything, or it'll do you -

Rian Murphy

August 2013

Drag City Inc.