...AND NONE SHALL SURVIVE
Why the long face, o assembled? This much-awaited (blursh!) newsletter's just setting off, and already we got a problem? Hmm. Must be the dire header. You don't like the idea of scorched earth, with everyone and their baby deader than hell...and to be honest, we don't entirely cherish the image ourselves. Let's instead try to hear it more as a turn of phrase spoken from an ultimately happy place. A psyched place, even! Yes, Drag City is psyched, because in this fall of 2013, we are slowly, but completely, rising above over all others, and none shall survive our astonishing ascent. See? A better vibe already! But seriously, it's plain to see from any angle: we've got the BEST new records, BEST reissues, and sometimes even just the BEST t-shirts (like the Ty Sleeper tees (yes! In green, but also in black and white colored shirts!), did you see these? Or the classic Joanna Newsom "Centaur" tees now in grand redux? Geez, even in the new and new-used souvenir wearables department, we're simply MURDERING IT - and it feels so good!)! So YES. Fuck everybody and everything else - they're simply hapless bodies filling the seats of the auditorium as we perform our tricks. Their asses can't resist our seats! And with Ty Segall up one sleeve, Bill Callahan up the other and CAVE, Mike Donovan, Magik Markers and Mick Turner coming out the hat PLUS from behind your ear, a string of multicolored reissue-kerchiefs including Venom P. Stinger, Carol Kleyn, Sun Araw, Frederick Michael St. Jude, David Novick, Royal Trux, Eiko Ishibashi and The Howling Hex set to wipe up through Xmass, the schedule is rife with rare, precious and beautiful acts of wizardry. Plus Aquariana! The Yellow River Boys! Hollywood Dream Trip! And guess what? MORE. That's the way it goes here at the best little record house in Texas - and EVERYWHERE ELSE you will find Drag City, for that freakin' matter.
So okay, we’re riding waves of the purest awesome – is that why we haven’t buzzed you with a newsletting in mini-forever? God, no! We wouldn’t miss a chance to brag. It turns out we had a logistical problem – and surely it won’t surprise you to know that it’s probably EVERYBODY’S ELSE'S FAULT BUT OURS….
BEFORE THE FALL
For fuck’s sake, it’s an amazing year etc, but what’s happened to the calendar?! How else can it be when Drag City drops an absolutely world-stopping record like Purling Hiss’ Water On Mars in March, a mere seven months prior to today, and now, it seems like so much a part of history rather than still a part of the present reality of which it still is? Or what of Andy and His Grandmother, the mind-mangling work of reality-comedy from the deep-closet, late-70s shoeboxes of Andy Kaufman? THAT was July, and as Job is our witness, it seems so long ago - like some other year of life than this one (and in the groove of course, it was – but let’s not get into the whole time-travel thing for ONCE, okay kids?). Maybe the problem ain’t with the good ol’ Roman calendar – maybe the problem is with us, and more specifically, the schedule that we call our own calendar (problem in quotes! - glass-half-full ed.). Month after month, it’s PACKED with the tightness – and then, when each of these records establishes its own reality so completely, it’s like the clock starts all over again, every time. Case in check-outable point: on August 20th, we floated not only the absolutely-essential Venom P. Stinger early catalog reissues, vintage Aussie art-punk of the rawest strain, but also Ty Segall’s latest/greatest, Sleeper. These records are like EVERYTHING when you hear them. They fill the room, redefine time and love as we know ‘em. You think new thoughts, then old thoughts come up to the surface like they’re new again. But then another few weeks later, September 17th, to be precise, leaving no further time to reflect mo' deeply on these life-filling discs, BOOM, Bill Callahan’s Dream River came breaking the dam and heading your way. Plus a teaser of magesty to come – Mag(ik Markers)esty, that is, via silver-sweet sides of the “Ice Skater” 7”! And the completion of the Carol Kleyn-to-date trilogy in the form of original LP jacket-bound LP represses of Return of the Silkie. Plus new and reissued dark magic from the Sun Ark! Too MUCH! Too many directions! All of them so incredibly COMPLETE. So what happens next, after September - chill out? Let all this be absorbed? Oh, fuck you. Naw man naw - instead, dig October: Mike Donovan redirecting his Sic songwriting gifts into an entirely different (yet equally fascinatingly compellingly singingly GREAT) territory with Wot! CAVE rave on with a sweet-n-spiky reimaging of their intently grooving interplay with an all-instrumental epic trip on Threace! Frederick Michael St. Jude expands the vintage music bubble (if it hasn’t broke yet, that is - the egg-timer is ready to blow!) with his outsider soft-soul-pop 1977 LP, Here Am I! And if that’s not enough pies to sink your fickle-fingers into, we’ve got Magik Markers and Mick Turner and some OTHER SERIOUS schnitz coming in another minute next month! Oh. Just so much, we can’t even sit on the sofa of our own release schedule cause of how OVERSTUFFED it is. It’s the kind of season when there’s a major new Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy record out and we don’t even have anything to do with it! It’s been since ’99 that we’ve seen this kind of record-releasing weather, neighbors! This is a devastating Fall is what this is! Not fatal, but this fall is bound to change the way you walk - for the better, don’t worry, all for the better.
But where did it begin? Yeah – it was August….we can hardly remember now….
IN THE INDIAN SUMMERTIME
Rare is the day when Ty Segall’s expanding catalog doesn’t launch another couple of hundred young mind-ships into the head-waters of “dude, let’s start a band” (followed in short order with “dude, where’s my guitar?”)! A listen to any one of the records in his catalog will hip you as to WHY right off – he makes rock sound fun and easy and exotic and powerful all at once, with but a single swing of his axe. Of course, it’s harder than it looks, and the intangibles are many, but Ty’s got that rare ability to unplug his head from conscious thought and journey through the info his senses have compiled – raw sensations cut from songs heard and riffs and thoughts and moments of life, all of which he reconfigures in his new music with a rush of breath that is alive, right now! On stage, it manifests in an act of collective energy as Ty and the band elevate the tunes with a jolt of high-tempo danceability that would shake the dead, and seems to kill the living at the same time, leaving their bodies to do the funky headless chicken, sometimes rolling atop the other bodies in the crowd. On the records, there’s a different energy, created by layering multiple tracks of Ty, playing all of it – and here, the cumulative joy of playing the whole thing track by track is what raises the roof over the sounds and songs in their otherwise trapped-in-amber recorded versions. Take for instance, Sleeper, Ty’s August-released album that shocked everyone not simply for being the only release bearing the Segall brand circa 2013, but also for being largely comprised of acoustic material. After all the heights of electrici-Ty, how would this lite-rock be able to rock and shock us in the same way? Would haters hate and doubters pout? NO WAY! With but a listen, it wasn’t hard to tell that this music was making it. As we explained above, Sleeper rocks us if even and only one part at a time, since each part is delivered with amazed joy and awesome conviction. Check “Crazy” – just a boy and his guitar, yawn on paper, but in practice, the intensity in the atmosphere is instantly thick, with instrument and vocal digging in hard on the lonely tale, backing vocals hitting tartly and a bit Chinese in their intonation, reverb lining the silver clouds of sound, everything stitching together with liveness, newness, rightness – even just a guitar and a vocal (and a few tracks) making the room dance. This is the way of Sleeper, where the less there is, the more there is for you to absorb. Listen, sure – but be prepared to use more than your ears to take this music in. After the mega-wallop of Twins, Sleeper journeys to the center of the cerebrum, where the soul and the mind and the nerve endings are all getting sorted out. Sleeper takes you there, where spirits are spinning their way into information, innocent and wild. This acoustic-y album doesn’t chill anything out, it’s hotter than ever - which is good, because around these parts, we had a cold summer 2013 – and just when we thought it was over, Sleeper has brought a warm autumn’s nap. Two months on, it’s only getting hotter. Ty and his Sleeper Band will be bringing their acoustical rock over the water to the UK and select Euro-cities. And all over the world, more boats are leaving from the shore – this time, filled with the hollow-bodied warriors of tomorrow…
HOW DEEP IS THE "OH SHIT!"
September, and as we said above, it was too soon! We weren’t ready to ride on - but time doth march, with or without us - and by the end of the month, we were supposed to have forded Bill Callahan’s Dream River, bringing all the rest of y'all with us. Whoa! We had no idea it was so deep and wide. Sorry Calla-world! While the rest of you Bill collectors make for the shore, here’s a thought or two for you to pense upon. So often we hear it said anymore: god DAMN that country rock! It's for 'tards, 'tis 'tought! Indeed, it’s regularly opined that modern Nashville is rubbish. Hmph, ye snobs - get your pinky fingers out your upturned noses! You're got your cultural telescope all turned around backwards, and clearly have forgot that country music is, after all, music for country people. In point of fact, the starkness of the auld honkytonk hardwood floor that you so proclaim the real deal as compared to the vacuous glitz of these sad latter days was just as stuntedly tacky in its day as is the post-Journey hair country that dominates the charts in the now! It stands to reason too - how else are you gonna reach a nation of millions that you can't hold back from being as bad n' ruinous as they wanna be? The same as was true then is true today - a sound calculated and manufactured to be of proven appeal to the LCD/GCM (maths, what!). Fortunately, Drag City don't really have to worry about any of this. We're not on the hunt for either brand: neither the tedious neo-trad/alt boys 'n girls nor their polar bane, the steroid-poofed contempo-country freaks currently topping charts and packing backwater arenas around this great nation of ours! This isn't to say that once in awhile one of our singers don't get called out for being some kind of countryish performer - naw, for that would be an omission. It's a vast world of people singing tradition-derived music for people - but these non-Nashville cats of ours boot-scoot to their own tune, and make a sound that a world full of Swifts, Keiths, Flatts (by the way, which one's Rascal?), Paisleys, and Underwoods will never be able or willing to make! Case in point, twenty years of Bonnie 'Prince' Billy records and we're still surprised by what the boy brings up from his self for engrooving. It don't belong to no tradition - no, that's not right - it belongs to the traditions in exactly the way it wants to, damn the world that requires a perfect match! And then there's that other Bill in the Drag City stable - we were just talking about him a second back! After a long run as Smog, he finally came out and admitted that he identifies as Bill Callahan. Six-plus years into the transition (and lord knows how many hormone treatments) and we’ve found a new admiration for the world, the way people everywhere have accepted Bill as Bill - so much so that today, new Bill Callahan music reaches (and touches) more people than ever before! And why shouldn't it? Pick any moment from his last three records - Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle, Apocalypse and the just-dropped, mint-fresh Dream River, and you will find a voice of and for the people ringing your solar plexus (and other spots in your chest), reaching deep within itself to intone of things large and small over a morphic tableau, doing it's musical best to flow like the clouds and the river and to make as much or as little sense as the subconscious. So songs are as inscrutable and as instructive as life! Amidst the intensity of this achievement, Bill always manages to reel off a crowd-pleasing tune like Eagle's "Too Many Birds," Apocalypse's "Drover," or one of the new ones...could it be "Javelin Unlanding"? Or maybe "Ride My Arrow"? Some of us think it's gonna be "Small Plane"...but it's early days for Dream River yet, and in order for listeners not to get the bends, a careful ascent from the depths is required. So only time will tell - but what a time. Dream River is a liver, another life or set of lives you can live inside of your own. And if that ain't country, then his name ain't Bill Callahan.
We live in the present and every day is a new one – but lurking in the record shelves of the closets of our condos of perception (which yes, of course, have doors that need cleansing) is the past - not so much coming back to haunt as to HELP us. For every time we drop the needle on one of yesterday’s whines, we’re hearing not simply something from yesteryear – we’re hearing Day One all over again, the start of something that’s going to echo through time, within and without us. That’s inspiring, and the better the music is, the more inspiring crate-digging the past can be. And that’s why the story and song of someone like Carol Kleyn is worth our time and yours. This woman was one of the young people of the late 1960s who were revolutionized by the times and transformed into one of the love generation in the process. But rather than march in protest and chuck Molotov Cocktails at Establishment pigs, Carol’s radical choice was to quit college and abdicate from society at large, making her living from her music, which she played on the street and at festivals up and down the west coast all throughout the 70s, often in the company of her friend and partner (and GENIUS underground music legend) Bobby Brown. This all sounds semi-reasonable to us to us in the repose of retrospect, but bear in mind, Carol Kleyn played the harp! Sure, it was smaller than a concert harp, but still…when’s the last time you encountered one of those being played for change down in the subway? And Carol was after more than change, she was playing for cash too! We’ve been following her tracks for the past couple years, reissuing 1976’s Love Has Made Me Stronger and 1980’s Takin’ the Time, both beautiful song collections that Carol recorded, released and sold herself, a remarkably self-sufficient way of being! Now we've reached the third and final album she made (until the next one!), the new LP pressing wearing the exact same jackets she printed up in 1983 (and the CD booklet and traycard forming a print version that will one day achieve a similar antiquity! – pince-nez historical ed). The Return of the Silkie brings to a close the traveling years of Carol Kleyn. She found herself in the Pacific Northwest, desirous of a place to call home and raise her family. While serene songs of warmth and contentment are not an unknown commodity on Carol’s first two albums, there’s something more complete about the performances on The Return of the Silkie, which perhaps not coincidentally contains the most topical songs Carol ever wrote. Singing about the delicate needs of nature, and the planet, Carol found the most fulfilling outlet for her voice – so fulfilling that she hasn’t felt the need to make and manufacture another record in the three decades since the release of The Return of the Silkie. The status of the planet has only grown more precarious since then, and the numbers of those who share’s Carol’s eco-friendly status are now much higher. So perhaps it’s time for the return of Carol Kleyn to the world’s stages? Only time will tell – in the meanwise, grab a signed copy of The Return of the Silkie (all LPs in the pressing have been signed for this release) and join Carol on her flights of fancy – and reality.
ARK! THE SUN ARAWS ANEW
Also new in September and straight out of Sun Ark, drawn from their dark recesses and now exposed to the light, came two releases that will tease your brain into new shapes. One’s vintage and a classic, we think - and the other's a new release that Ark-heads are sure to appreciate. Remember On Patrol? Well, it was all the way back in 2010 - you might not have the kind of recall to get that together…if we put it in, we’re sure you’ll begin to feel familiar sensations and favorite old heart-beats as the sounds spin out around you. On Patrol was the sound of the early Sun Araw style, reaching farther and farther out – not quite all the way to Ancient Romans, but just about! But also it’s own thing as well. It’s been out of print for too long, which it to say almost a couple years, maybe? Dunno, but now its back in all it’s double-LP glory, thick-sleeved and fat-spined and deeply misty and glowing in the dark. Whotta album! On the other side of the spectrum is The Celebrate Music Synthesizer Group – aka, the Sun Araw road band, featuring Butchy Fuego, M. Geddes Gengras, Tony Lowe and Cameron Stallones, all belly-up to the console and playing a variety of synths in the venerated gallery/studio at The Worm in Rotterdam. Rather than evoke the bewitched production sounds of a Sun Araw album, the CMSG let the synths be the stars, and the tones are mixed and matched in the dry and airless space from which they emanated. Average-sized constructions and jams alike celebrate both music and the penetrating synth tones that make such sympathetic power when patched into human souls. Sun Ark plucks from the far side of the known cosmos and delivers once again!
Hey, d’ja ever desire purity? I know it’s the 21st century and everything means everything else, all chocolate up in everybody else’s peanut butter, but there’s a still something about simplicity that’s pretty amazing. And yes, we are starting the CAVE Threace pitch out talking about the simple approach. Funny that - because the thing about CAVE is that they bring a lot of ingredients to the table when they put their “simple” recipe together. These ingredients glitter in the mix and the appeal of their vocal-less sound will resonate with fans of punk, fusion, funk, exotica, world beat, classic rock, avant-garde and yes, even kraut-rock, which people talk way too much about when they talk about CAVE. It’s funny to talk at all about CAVE actually, since they don’t really talk themselves, and the music speaks for itself, and it leaps out from where they are and forces movement from the listener – whether they’re clobbering you in a sweaty live environ or knocking your ears-hairs back with careful studio-craft on their recordings – once the CAVE sounds start, it just got physical. Plop the needle down on Threace – or push the cassette into the slot – or put the disc into the discwasher, whatever makes you happy, you can have it that way – but what you hear is engaging for both ears and the shit in between, and it has a swing and a groove that is young and old alike. That’s the simple part, that all the elements mixed together and balanced out are pushed forward in an ultimately singular and straightforward fashion. What's more, CAVE haven’t met the change they couldn’t hang onto for at least a dozen bars longer than yer more callow players of the world, and for that, we call them Xtra-fun! Threace is a sumptuous dance-jam for your in-head listening, but you don’t need to stop there; CAVE are playing EVERYWHERE on tour right now (even New Zealand!) , and seeing them just might turn things around for you. Now that they have two guitars AND a keyboard player (or two keys and a guitar-board player), they’re closer to doing everything that should ought to be done in your basement, loftspace, or whatever club that you like to go to that they're appearing at. And they sound great on water too – check the vid images soon to be posted on the Drag City site! Threace is one of the fantastic records of 2013 – even after like, five months of listening, our ears and whatever they’re attached to are loving it. Get your friends down to the CAVE show, and go in Threace. Out now, and for the good of the earth’s people, forever!
GET IN THE DONOVAN
Also out in October right alongside CAVE Threace, Drag City take pleasure in introducing to you a new songwriting artist, while at the same time hedging our bets because the singing artist in question is not wholly new, but part of a previously established band that we love too. It’s Mike Donovan of Sic Alps of course with his debut solo album, Wot. You know, Mike probably wrote a couple hundred songs for Sic Alps all through the aughts. Even though that was a lot, the dynamic that made them so irresistible was the pull between brevity – production and arrangement were kept deceptively spartan (but actually slaved over for a minute, ha!) and the songs were often short – and a generous supply of tunes, changes and melodies that just hit home, while a tide of short but hooked-up songs blew by. Thrillsville! From 2004 to earlier this year, there was a seemingly bottomless supply of Sic Alps tunes for Sic Alps records – but that supply just ran out. Happily, it’s not because Mike broke his brain. But his records are gonna be his own from now on – or at least until the Alps reunion (Wot!). How long did it take those old fucks Guided By Voices to come back to the brand? This one might take A LITTLE longer than that, but in the meantime, Mike Donovan’s made a great debut album called Wot that relocates his sound on beyond outlaw country-rock, with a ramshackle outfit backing him that gives the tunes a great balance of inside and outside, with loads of space around the vocal, a string of would-be hits, a bit too much reverb at times, rattling bongos, a blast of flugelhorn, and tons a great guitar interplay between Mike and co-stringman, Eric Park. If it’s folk-rock, it harks back to the mellowed-out-but-itchy sounds of the later Youngbloods, previous SF alums, and many other of their sub-ilk. And with plenty of bittersweet tunes measuring the distance between former companions and talk of bands and the like, Mike hits notes on the scale from Crooked Rain to “Early Morning Rain.” All these things and more (like the instrumental tracks on the album, which are amazing), will have you saying Wot when recalling the year in music. Hit it!
HEY ST. JUDE
You know, classic rock really kind of sucks. Sure, there’s all those great songs with their memorable choruses and guitar solos, but the people! How can we, in good conscience, support them? If you’re recoiling in horror from the think-piece here, think again! Better yet, think of the ol’ music industry of yore as the one percenters of their time. Rooting for the stars of 1977 – yer Eagles and Fleetwood Mac, Boston and the Steve Miller Band, to name but a handful, was at the time, akin to rooting for the New York Yankees. Sure, it’s easy to back a winner, but at the same time – boooring! What about the people like us? The weirdos and the misfits? Yeah, they were good too, but they eventually put out records on recognizable, higher-class labels like Slash and Rhino. No, I’m sorry - if you’re really gonna wave that flag for 1977 and the odd contrasts that being on the street offered back then back then, then you’re gonna have to check out Frederick Michael St. Jude and his one and only album, Here Am I. Freddy was a fellow who wasn’t too different from Bowie or Reed (that’s Lou Reed; he was definitely hot enough back then to merit a Bowie or Iggy-like one-name appellation) or Cat Stevens – but mainly in that Freddy’s career went back into the scuffling days, endless club shows and obscurity of the early and mid-60s. Unlike Ziggy, Cat and Lou (super-group missed opportunity! -- Earth-2 Rock Historian ed.) however, FM St. Jude didn’t score hits in the 1970s – but that’s because the bands he fronted in Pennsylvania, Boston and Florida didn’t want to risk recording original songs! Back in ’69, Freddy did have a regional hit of some kind with a Terry Reid number, so he clearly had what it took – and once he was making choices for himself, he wrote up the numbers that eventually came out on Here Am I and went looking for believers. In mid-70s Fort Lauderdale Florida, that meant SRS International Studios and their imprint, Soul Deep Records. Soul Deep was about taking chances and looking for hits with local artists – which included the Joe E album Love Got In My Way, which was voted 2008 reissue of the year by many people (in our office). The FM St. Jude sound was one that combined the brassy hubris of showbizzy presentation with the vulnerability and hurt of the singer-songwriter decade, waxed further with classic touches of southern studio production, circa then. Of course, Freddy St. Jude was pretty far outside the mainstream, and despite the line of talk inside the Soul Deep offices, so were his producers. The occasional non-sequitur in the shaping of Here Am I actually adds to the magnetic appeal of the album, with a track like “Love You Anyway,” hinting at a rhythmic conceit probably outside the influence or understanding of any of the particulars. Forty years later it sounds grand – but when bad finances forced SRS founders to shutter the operation and literally fly by night, Frederick Michael St. Jude’s dreams of stardom took a hit. In the years following appeared on Miami Vice, and released one other record: a 7” single teasing the release of a full-scale rock opera about the invasion of earth in our nuclear future. But before we arrive at our inevitable destruction, take the opportunity to have a listen to this strangely enervating, shockingly relaxing voice from the past. Frederick Michael St. Jude is here – and Here Am I is a wonder from the private press hinterlands of the 1970s. Hitting streets on October 15th, Here Am I am here now!
THE VOICE OF GOD?
Also in the mix of October new releases is the self-titled debut of San Francisco Water Cooler and Sun Sneeze recording artist David Novick. Brought from the wild westworld we call the internet and realized for vinyl by our associates at GOD? Records, David is a free-flowing young man whose songs sound best being played in nature – probably because they were recorded in nature. So hook up your speakers to some 500 watt power amps, open up the windows and go out on the lake in your boat any night when the moon is new in order to give David’s self-titled LP the listen it needs. Even on the coldest of winter nights, Novick will burn like a campfire, bringing warmth into whatever house-boat you call your own. And then when the winter is over, GOD?’ll be bringing the SECOND David Novick record to your heads and minds once the early spring breeze begins to blow. Thanks GOD?!
Finally! The past is behind us, and the present too – now we can talk at you for a bit on future holdings. But not too distant future; November 19th’s just around the corner, and the December date’s not that far after it. All the better for the super-freaks, they won’t break out in a rash or rub somebody with their scary rash while waiting for the new shit to hit. It’s coming, Mr. and Mrs. Jones – keep your hands in your pockets! November-time is about new releases first and foremost: Magik Markers Surrender to the Fantasy and Mick Turner’s Don’t Tell the Driver, plus Royal Trux’s Veterans of Disorder reissued and Eiko Ishibashi’s 2012 release Imitation of Life getting its first proper release in the US.
For those of us who’ve indulged in the September-released 7” “Ice Skater,” the promise of a new Magik Markers album is a fantasy indeed! It’s been over four years since Balf Quarry, but the thing is, Magik Markers are still on a streak where each record is better than the last, starting with Boss, which was really a new beginning for the group, one where they actually had songs rather than just ants in their pants, and they had to dance all over your face. FAAAAAACEE! . Two albums along in that evolution, Surrender to the Fantasy offers a smorgasbord of White Album-like proportions, mixing and matching production styles and songwriting approaches to come up with a colorful and varied set of new Magik Markers tunes that will shock old hands and new alike with just the kind of joy buzzer that provokes the “MM-MM good!” response that the Markers treasure.
Don't know if you noticed, but part of the Fantasy for Magik Markers punt-heads is gonna be grabbing one of the special Welcome to the Fantasy USB drive editions. The contents include MP3 and WAV files of the album, as well as bonus mixes, videos, lyrics, screen savers, and the trailer for the album - all of which are housed in a genuine imitation SOLID GOLD thumb drive marked in Fantasytastic hott pink with the mark of the Markers. We got a truckload of these to sell - a child's toy truckload, which can hold about 50 of 'em - so don't sleep on making one of these your very goddam own! It's all part of the Fantasy.
You think it’s been a long time since Magik Markers put out a record. Dig Mick Turner! Six years and change denote the time since Blue Trees – and while it’s true that there was a new Dirty Three album between then and now, that came out just this year, so….the good news is that Mick’s been keeping busy making paintings (and selling them!) , surfing and raising children (his own, we believe). Time flies when you’re doing good shit, you know. Anyway, the thing about Blue Trees was that it felt a bit like a compilation album of different (really great) things – and that’s definitely not the case with Don’t Tell the Driver. It’s really great too of course – yes, this is still the Drag City Newsletter you’re reading. I know, we can’t believe it either. This is what happens when you don’t write one for a couple months. It just goes on forever, and even at the end, we're still toeing the company line! Anyway, the thing that distinguishes Don’t Tell the Driver is it’s ambition as a rock opera. That’s what ties it all together, all of Mick's shake-shudder-and-shuffle guitar textures and slowly pulsing rhythms. PLUS, for the first time ever, Mick’s got singers singing lyrics of words in a few of the new songs. And they’re awesome! The concept itself is a sort of “Is That All There Is”/”Can You See the Real Me”/”A Day In the Life” kind of thing – very nebulous and it’s best not to scratch too hard at it, but it sure makes for a great extended set of tunes. Extended is right – Don’t Tell the Driver is also the first Mick Turner LP to stretch out across two platters, but it does so without ever overstaying it’s welcome, and can you say the same for Quadrophenia? You cannot. So cheers, Mick, nice one.
Matching the two newbies for November 19th are two reissues, just to keep the playing field good and even Veterans of Disorder is a familiar name to Drag City acolytes, as it was voted one of the ten greatest records we ever released, all of which are by Royal Trux. That's the last time we use a ballot box for one of these surveys! They're just too damn easy to overstuff. Veterans is the penultimate Trux album, the only one really in which a grab-bag production technique was used. This is because of the momentum and confidence they had at the time, and sure enough, Veterans of Disorder in all it's shattered glory is one of the great Royal Trux records. A name less familiar to you all is Eiko Ishibashi, but once you slide the needle into the skin of the Imitation of Life LP, your ears will be caressed with the clearly classic sounds of a Jim O’Rourke production behind Eiko's pristine song constructions. This record was made and released in 2012 in Japan, where Eiko enjoys a certain amount of celebrity for her solo records and film scores and side-player roles with a number of diverse, but equally challenging artists. For fans of Laetitia Sadier and Juana Molina, if you haven’t hear Eiko’s music, you’re gonna enjoy Imitation of Life.
DUSTING FOR 'PRINCE'
...or where's Bondo, if you prefer! The busiest man in (our corner of the vast multi-plex still included within thing thing called) showbiz has here in the 2013 hit you and us with a record of ruminations on the Everly Brothers (_What the Brothers Sang, in collaboration with Dawn McCarthy) and goodness, what else in forever (What the Brothers Sang_ in July of '12 and Wolfroy Goes to Town in October of '11 - discographically correct ed.)? His ways are mysterious - there's a strong rumor going around that he's got a new album, but you wouldn't know it from checking out our site, or almost any others, for that matter. Damn the internet anyway - but God save the 'Prince'! Expectations come and go, while Bonny does exactly what he wants, and we like him like that. Meanwhile, live dates are being subtly added to the tour routing that never ends; after a special album-spanning performance of Superwolf with Matt Sweeney rocked the Cropped Out festival last month, B'P'B shows are being strung through October and New England (a nice, cold match, we figure) and November-December in other Midwestern parts of these United States of Drag City. Looks for his tracks when you're cleaning up your own backyard - he may have already been there. Or don't EVEN test your luck - just put an ear to the Drag City rail and make sure you don't miss any visitations. For many are the paths for Bonnie 'Prince' Billy!
KICKING THE CATALOG
Speaking of Bonnie and Superwolf, we’ve got a new format on that old record, nearly ten years later. It’s, you guessed it, cassette! Order it now and you’ll be playing it in your crap-arse boombox by Thanksgiving. And it’ll sound really sweet. This is a record that’s been meant to hear on roadtrips for ages – and while of course you can hear it in hi-fi or even mid-fi if you use your pod or phone or whatever, thhttp://www.dragcity.com/admin/stories/798/edit#Link Texte cassette is the original travelling format, and it manages to add a faraway quality to the music, simply by dint of the inferior reproduction quality of 1/16th inch tape, so sweet! This is the start of something great on the Bonnie front, which continues with a cassette take on Lie Down in the Light and The Wonder Show Of the World. Order now, and lie back down in the wonder show of those fantasmic albums once again. Also back around, but not on cassette, is Cosmic Lightning, the J.T. IV LP & DVD on Galactic Zoo Disks/Drag City. We had a nice run on that back in 2009 and people have never stopped asking for a copy here and there – but the last straw was when we went on eBay and saw it going for big money! Like, 40 whole bucks! Jesus, is there anything you capitalist pigs won’t pervert in the open marketplace? No? Well then, here’s a second edition for you to start inflating! The new version is distinguished by a different cover image as well as a revised insert and an entirely new DVD with none of the old A/V material and in its place, a J.T-directed indie film called Cannibal Orgy, which combines horror, porn, and the no-values production typical of the sound of Cosmic Lightning into something just this side of watchable. So pick this LP up while you can, we know it won’t be around for very long.
Another vinyl item we’ve got now available to you goes back a bit further – in fact, it’s been since the late 90s that we’ve had a 12" copy to sell to anyone, including ourselves! But “Mirror Repair” has always been a favorite release of ours, and there’s precious little Gastr del Sol available on LP right now! So this EP’s back, and it joins Crookt Crackt or Fly and Camoufleur as the only Gastr vinyl records around at present. They’ll hopefully be joined by another pressing of Upgrade & Afterlife or The Serpentine Similar sometime soon. These ancient works by Grubbs and O’Rourke are still highly potent recordings and have been out of circulation for too long. If only we could be in the room when the woodwind chorus of “Eight Corners” kicks in – that shit is TOO fuckin’ funny! By which we mean, completely insane. By which we mean, awesome! Oh my god, Gastr del Sol were a hoot. People forget that. Who wants to get a million dollars together to book their reunion show? "Mirror Repair" in it's entirely! No encore. Fools, there's things in this world worth more than a million dollars. We're thinking of things like TWO millions dollars etc. GROANNN...Anyway, pick up some of this stuff in time for Thanksgiving or whatever holiday gets you off.
PLUS the new stuff. PLUS the super-secret record for you super-UNsecret punters! PLUS the December stuff! Aiyaiyai…and we’ll get started on the next evaluvin, world-defeatin' Drag City newsletter today.
Goodbye for now – and may the good problems be yours as well as ours,
Drag City Inc.