Wake up, it's tomorrow! And since tomorrow never knows and tomorrow never dies either, WTF y'all? Like you, we're psyched about the prospects of the unknown day ahead. Children of the world; every day is our day! There's something for all of us there that we didn't see coming (and for some of us, it's a spot at the bottom of a ten-car pileup – yeesh, is that your taint or mine?!) or something that we knew was coming but didn't know how it would feel until we felt it. This is July in the life of Drag City, over and over again and different again too for the 25th year in a row! Join us on the flight forward into the heart of the summer - featuring heavy mists, an unseasonable chill, distant flashes of lightning, and ominous rumbles giving way to soaring temperatures, high sun and thick air (at last!). If we don't live it to the hilt, who will? Victory? Secretly Canadian? Not likely. They don't have the soundtrack that just wasn't not made for these half-melted times like we do. Read the fuck on, yo!
And outside the Ivory Bunker, it's America, circa 2014 (because who ever really knows what time it is?): irreconcilably different from 20th century USA, the only country and century that so many of us have ever known! Yet, this new version is clearly modded off familiar elements and recycled parts, working smoothly amidst the detritus left behind as our society moves on to the exciting promise of tomorrow. Yes, make way for tomorrow! Why should it be any other way? When has it been before? If nostalgia for the horse-and-buggy had carried the day five-score-and-six years ago in the face of Ford's Model T revolution, we wouldn't be driving down the highway today at 85 miles per hour, getting to our destinations faster than ever before! If some latter-day Einstein hadn't figured out how to float an unmanned kill-bot at a reasonable altitude, we just might be sending more young men into harm's way to KILL! KILL! KILL! But they'd still be the poorest of the young men - or the dumbest of the rich ones anyway.So yeah, to balance the unhappy sound of the inevitable bringdown that is TODAY, we need tomorrow! And to appreciate the space that we're trying to occupy, we need White Fence. They line our boundaries, making neighbors better and grass (yes, both kinds. – jaded sigh-of-obviousness ed.) better too! The White Fence is an American symbol smacking traddy as well, reaching back to the Tom Sawyer days of Midwestern border-state reconstruction, and reappearing again in the past mid-century as a constant of mainstream suburban lifestyle. White Fence IS America - but like the country whose very history hangs around its neck, White Fence is NOW, with the past ever so flickering behind. And besides the present, nothing more.
LIFE IS WHITE (FENCE)
For the Recently Found Innocent is out now, among you now, wild in the country, living in the future with the rest of us. And that's as it was always meant to be - for the fractured lyrical expression and time-traveling fusion of several different pop worlds is like nothing so much as the aughts and teens (yes, both kinds. – ibid. ed.) and onward as we are coming to know them. White Fence however, have little use for the world as it is - central to their conception is a punkish rejection of the tools of the man: the media, the political sphere, mass production, and the marketplace itself – yet all is threaded through a meticulous production that works as both mission statement and tossed-off posing. When wedded to Tim Presley's literate-yet-amok guitar techniques, is sound is that of pure rock and roll - or perhaps pure pop-n-roll, as the combination of styles bangs along with a sharp edge and mucho calor while bursting with melody and the classic signifiers of streamlined pop production - harmony vocals, tambourines, washes of keyboard. And songs with changes! Over their four previous albums, White Fence consistently impressed with not only their unique pop pedigree but also an ability to get dizzily lost in stands of surreal introspection and post-digital aural impressionism. The apex of their recorded-at-home approach was last year's Cyclops Reap, which paired perfect songcrafting with 4-track cutup style to ear-boggling effect. Refusing to come down from their high, White Fence are fully in stride but break into a brand new bag on For the Recently Found Innocent, rife with hit songs, but produced this time without the fractured fairytale lens. It's not so much a step up as out, into the light and air of a less-dubbed situation - or one where the dubs have greater linearity. This is due at least in part to the presence in the booth of Ty Segall, whose recording techniques are applied here to make the individuality and essence of White Fence shine in their new environ. The playing of Presley and his drummer Nick Murray is especially notable, as they play with a primitive mutuality of purpose, but an equally shared sense of refinement. Also of note are Presley's leads, and guitar tones overall: rich, questing, full of ref(v)erence, but faced forward, playing the songs today - because, as ever, it's mainly about the songs. With almost every tune, Presley reaches deeper into his material than he seems to have previously, coming up with more classically skewed obscurity and anti-couplets, while couching them all in a deeper resonant space. Thus, a song like "Sandra (When the Earth Dies)" is something all-new from the White Fence world, as is "Like That," but increased vocal presence and proportion throughout the record give the second side a contemporary epic vibration, as Presley sighs, "I'm running too fast to listen why/In fear of wasting time" then turns around and vituperatively spits the lyrics of "Raven On White Cadillac" and "Paranoid Bait" to close out an extraordinary new pop experience. For the Recently Found Innocent is for everyone, we reckon - open your ears to the NEW! White Fence are bringing it.
Backwards through the looking glass we go! Back in 2010, we got Young - but today, we're even Young-er than we were before! It's because of those freaks at Yoga Records - when they told us they wanted to reissue the Matthew Young records, we were like, fine, cool, let's go - Recurring Dreams it is. That was his first record, from 1981, and all good things start at the beginning, right? But no - they wanted to start with Traveller's Advisory, which came out five years later! Now, we don't have TOO much against 1986 (it only kinda sucked), and we like Traveller's Advisory too, but Matthew's amateur-ambient keyboard style seemed to be best first heard in its raw and unaccompanied initial state! At least initially - but again, Yoga said NO - they wanted his synth-n-songs approach to be heard first - then we could draw in the folkies with songs like "The Dummy Line" as well as the vintage EMS aficionados. So, we did it their way, starting the reissuing of Matthew Young with his second album. Now, four years later, we're travelling back to five years earlier in his discography and thirty-three years ago in literal time too! Whew! Doc, we couldn't possibly be messing with the space-time continuum more than Matthew Young did to begin with, when he started logging recordings of his keyboard constructions. And sure, in retrospect, titles like "The Forest of Lilacs" DO sound like post-hippy-dippy (read: NEW-AGE) fluff- but this is no Wyndham Hill liteness going on here. These private press issues straddle the ages in the best way possible, bringing air from the past to youngsters who are struggling to draw a breath from the current constipated drafts! The innocence and purity of Matthew Young's approach is a refreshing change from the output of today's super-computer literate synesthetes, And going backwards is a delightful way to experience his forward-looking sounds! Well, played Yoga - well played.
It's been over twenty years since "America's Funnyman," Neil Hamburger first appeared on the cultural radar (as a blip on the very edge of the screen!). Since then, he's worked his way into the country's diseased heart as a prank phone-caller, maker of standup comedy albums, blue comedian, religious comic, opening act for alternative rock groups, late-night television comic, Fox network commentator, cohort of Tenacious D, internationally known entertainer, country-and-western singer and, as of just a few weeks ago, star of his own film (due out God knows when)! Basically, it's been a long, strange trip for Neil Hamburger, going down the road feeling bad, and that trip appears to be only just beginning! With perfect timing, Drag City is ready to meet the "hype" with an album of all-new comedy! All-new music! And yeah, the same old Hamburger. The record is called First of Dismay (God knows why) and it is the first Neil Hamburger record that we've released simultaneously on phonograph LP AND cassette! Neil wanted it to come out on 8-track, but that's just because the player in his car still works (God knows how). Neil doesn't know what the kids want. And clearly, neither do we - or we wouldn't be putting out another album by "movie star" Neil Hamburger! Anyway, if you haven't seen the video for "Endless Roll," it debuted on Adult Swim last week and is now available for "the world" to see. Uhhhhgghhhh... That song, and several others are featured on First of Dismay, alongside of some of Neil's "peerless" nightclub routines! Hear Neil as you've never heard him - on cassette! Or get an LP copy to hear one of comedy's funniest (and most severely depressed) comedians in action! First of Dismay is out now.
Pssst! Don’t tell our 90s self – but lately all we do is sell out! Actually, if we could have told our 90s self that a pressing of 1000 1-sided 12” records would be sold out the door before the release date, that (smelly) young whip-snapper would have thanked us profusely – for taking all those Vocokesh records off his hands! Oh weren’t those the days. And while we still do have a few of those Vocokesh “Still Standing In the Same Garden” 12”EP (and they’re still AWESOME!), what we’re really talking about is the international sensation known as Pusswhip Banggang. A limited edition of their southern-rock hit “Jambalaya” was pressed up for their first-ever “Swamp Rock” tour of the deep south last month and we took a few extra copies to sell to stores on our now-legendary “Record Store Day” for the month of July (the revelations were many, but basically, it boiled down to, dig how EVERY DAY can be a record store day!). And now they’re GONE – so end of story right? Sure, but…since the story is really how we’re getting ALL the stuff out into the shops with satisfying regularity, there’s more! Also last month, we dealt out a whole damn pressing of the Howling Hex’s 10” extendo-single “Fool’s Watch,” and now you can't have it anymore (unless you listen to your music on your phone or computer! – late-20th-century-savvy ed.)! Unlucky you, those two songs do fucked-up and affirming things to your psyche in the name of musical entertainment! But whatever, you know best right? We've also been in and out of print on Ty Segall's "Feel" 7" but it's back for the third time around this time - thanks to both sides of it being so freakin' RAD! Radness would also seem to be the cause of the hard time we're having keeping Electric Brick Wall in print on both LP and CD (cassettes are still available!). It's TOO MUCH - not the pressings obviously - they're too little! But the LOVE, that's an awesome excess to possess!
It's been about a month since Black Bananas' Electric Brick Wall hit, but it feels like the whole universe has changed and that the unknown elements they introduced into our atmosphere have been with us for so much longer than that! Perhaps it's because Electric Brick Wall is such an irrepressible collection of summer jamz! Maybe that's why it's been climbing radio charts without relent for the past six weeks! But then, we anticipate facing sheets of cold and ice with the blaze of this music inside of us! No, there's something more eternal about Electric Brick Wall than simple climate change - call us deniers, if you must! No, because Black Bananas have mixed the juice of several decades’ worth of rock, splashing groove, blues, metal and electronic vibes together into a potion that cannot be resisted regardless of the time of day, or year, or century! It has to be reacted to - and while some brains are not capable of firing that many neurons at once, those whose electrical activity permits are stimulated beyond measure! That may be what's going on here - we're chemically altered by Electric Brick Wall, and the change may be permanent. Even if it isn't (YET), the remixes on the way and live shows booked in major capitals like London, Paris, Berlin, Barcelona, Amsterdam, NYC (and others!) are going to continue to assault Earth's senses. And what better way to experience Jennifer and the band than in their full, feathered visual splendor? Other than the videos or the album, none better!
IN THE NAME OF GOD?
This summer, GOD?'s been rocking singles going steady, first in June with the ZATH 7' "Black Goat Razor"/"Pain Reaper," and then in July with Running's 7"EP "Frizzled." GOD? had no choice - there's SO much rock and so LITTLE time! Running the gamut from the full-metal racket of ZATH to the gleefully art-smeared punk rockets of Running, GOD? has spoken to us loud and clear and provided the kind of short-play thrills that can drive a summer. There's still a month left, give it a try! But make room for a whole lot more - on August 22nd, GOD? returns to the promised land of the long-player, where Jack Name and David Novick have roamed so fruitfully this year already. This time, the chosen ones are Wand, who operate on the same coast as Jack and David, and bring a sun-fried sensation to their tripped-over pop songs on a debut LP entitled Ganglion Reef. Wand's musical thoughts and feelings and actions are conducted through a surreally malformed nerve cluster that makes their music sound and feel simultaneously soft and hard, light and heavy. It's a mystic trip, with fun and fear taking equal parts. Next month, set sail for Ganglion Reef! GOD? says.
The world is full of happenings, and the 8th month is an Au-some time to lift up your life, whether it's back to s-c-h-o-o-l or back to the pool (the employment pool! Let's get working again, America!). Lots of folks are taking the hammer by the hand and putting the fix on their errant ways while the sun shines bright and hot - but can little ol' Drag City help it if we want to cream on the cherry on top of your revitalization? It's not our fault - we just pick up the phone (yeah, we still do that) and hear about one or five of our artists' brilliant plans, and then we pin 'em on the calendar and release date comes and....woot! There it is. Your best month of the year just got bettered. And really, we’re not just talking about Manipulator either – the new Ty Segall, while an incredibly successful shot at the COMPLETE rock n roll album, filled with roaring rock, psychedelic psunk and an almost bipolar soulfulness, is in fact, only a part of the picture. On the exact other end of the spectrum is the self-titled Bitchin Bajasalbum, a masterpiece of floating ambience and single notes, pitch-shifting on into infinity, with beats only implied by the ripple of air and never by anything more forceful. Where Ty has shifted the colors every three to four minutes with a new song, and packed the 55 minutes of his album with seventeen of his BEST, Bitchin Bajas stretch out eight songs into the 76 minutes spread out over the four sides of their album - yeah, both the Manipulator and Bitchin Bajas records are double LP excursions to the heart of their respective matters! And both come on the cassette format as well - though here the Bajas release requires additional comment - you see, the finished record seemed almost TOO eventful when listened to straight through (and admittedly, it's an intense listen), so the band did some reediting and mixing to achieve a Relaxation Version of the album. This version makes up the second cassette in the CS package ONLY! “WHAT?” is right! Both Ty Segall and Bitchin Bajas are locked and loaded, going farther than they've gone before, and no matter what your pleasure is, either one will take you beyond the beyond.
Also on the August date are two titles from Drag City distributed labels that will fit nicely into your mind after Ty and the Bajas are done DESTROYING it. First, there's GOD?'s Wand album, Ganglion Reef that we mentioned above and is still amazing two paragraphs later. Then on Blue Chopsticks, guitar improviser Noël Akchoté is back (after two previous Blue Chopsticks appearances) with a departure: Gesualdo: Madrigals for Five Guitars. Akchoté has been immersed in the work of the late Renaissance composer Carlo Gesualdo for several years now; here, he presents works selected from Gesualdo's Fifth Book of Madrigals scored for five electric guitars. The distinctive approaches of the five players (Julien Desprez, David Grubbs, Adam Levy, Doug Wamble and of course, Akchoté himself) are ingeniously and coherently united on this recording, a unique release in a catalog filled with them!
So you see, our-gust might just be higher than your-gust. Hitch a ride and find out for your own damn self!
PRIDE COMES BEFORE OUR FALL
Humility - what a jive rap that is! Tell you what - YOU say that you do what you do and that you hope something good comes of it, and that if that happens, it's a blessing. Good luck with your karma and heaven and the rest of that - in the meantime, in the hear and now, we're fucking psyched about the AMAZING run of releases we've had and fully expect to win Label Of The Year once we finish off the run with the albums we've got rolling out in September and October! Sure, we're standing on the shoulders of the bands whose work makes us so AWESOME - but let's face it, they're all under one awesome umbrella - and that's OUR umbrella. So ipso facto, Drag City's greatness, dig? This fall, it will be sealed (but not like in The Cask of Amontillado - no, incredibilis requisat will be OUR watchword) with the self-titled debut of Dan'l Boone, featuring seasoned fractitioners of sound Nate Young (Wolf Eyes), Alex Moskos (Drainolith), Charles Ballas (Forement) and Neil Hagerty (duh)! The solo debut of Magik Markers' Elisa Ambrogio, filled with songs to dance and listen to, The Immoralist! Something Shines, the third and latest statement of beauty and responsibility from Laetitia Sadier! CAVE's Release, a singles compilation with repeated hits (to the body)! Dope Body's Lifer, an all-new set of songs that travel into the ID of their deeply physical psyche! A third trip further along the archive path of the George-Edwards Group, titled, wait for it, Chapter III! The final Royal Trux album reissued (but not the final Royal Trux reissue)! Speaking of archives, more from the spiritual and temporal depths of Father Yod and The Source Family! And guess what? Because you love surprises, more surprises! Well, at least one BIG surprise, seriously. And a handful of smaller, but equally delightful ones too! Because we know so many unbelievable people with ideas that can be fully realized despite being unbelievable! And we're unbelievable because we know these people. And you're unbelievable because you know us and are reading this.
Gather, unbelievers! Drag City Records are for you - and non-believers and believers too. Basically anybody who has anything to do with belief (including not believing) can get in on it. And with Ty Segall and Bitchin Bajas on the next wave, we expect you to high-five and hang ten with us!
See you in August - we'll be the ones sitting on top of the world.
Drag City Inc.