THE DECADE STARTS HERE
August Drag City, 2014 – no, not the month! We’re speaking in the awesome sense of the word! It’s been a grand 25th year in a row to put out records – majestic, even! The new music from New Bums, Dead Rider, Black Bananas, Ambarchi/O’Malley/Dunn, Neil Michael Hagerty & The Howling Hex, White Fence, Neil Hamburger and now, Bitchin Bajas and Ty Segall, they all qualify in our mind for Records of the Year – but you know what? Fuck it – Records of the Decade! It’s impossible to hear Dead Riders’ Chills On Glass and NOT think that here is an explosive and incredible example of music made in the two-thousand-and-teens. What will the people of the twenty-one-hundred-and-teens think (they will be dead - global warming fearmonger ed.)? But even if 2014 were the last year in a decade that started ten years ago or the first year in one that won’t finish until 2024, Black Bananas’ Electric Brick Wall would be just as insane and great as it is anyway! So rip the calendar off your damn wall and burn it too! What matters is what your ears are hearing TODAY - and if they’re not hearing at least one of the fantabulous newbies from the Drag City mines, then you might just rip your ears off and burn them too. You’re doing them a great disservice!
SEE YOU NOW, MANIPULATOR
Shit - if you don’t burn your ears off soon, Ty Segall might just do it for you! For the past week, he’s been burning it down via NPR’s First Listen stream – well, generating as much heat as you can get via a stream, anyway. They’re pretty weak as far as sound waves go – but the muscle of Manipulator comes through loud and (surprisingly) clear, no matter what undeveloped technology you’re currently using! Anyway, it’s just about time to put away such childish things – the REAL Manipulator has arrived, on double-wide 2xLP, CD and yeah, cassette! Maybe you’ve heard it, maybe you haven’t – but there’s certainly gotta be a lotta spilled pixels about it in the coming week (plus a little ink, 20th century boys and girls!). Lotta talk about what it is and how it is and how it’s different from things that came before and where it may be leading…but don’t you believe a word of it! Manipulator asks you to NOTICE the powers that be, and then, who knows, decide for yourself?! - and do what you can to fight it! The only thing you should really believe is that Manipulator’s a post-space-age daydream-cum-moral parable in seventeen parts, each of which is easily detachable from the whole for enjoying on the little 45 spinner in your head! Concept won’t weigh down the rocking and rolling in the circular grooves, so don’t worry about that. Ty’s pocket rock-symphonies are, as always, fully portable while working together for the whole at the same time. Dude makes albums that are as perfectly put together as the songs that make them! Manipulator is his most extended statement yet – not merely in the manner of ‘long’; that’s just numbers and that’s undeniable - but also in the songs, the sounds, the singing – the whole conception. Ty’s way out in space, and Manipulator is a potent rock and roll look at life back here on the planet below.
OUR BAJA MOMENT
You’re a record fan. So are we. We both love listening to things that dance around in our ears. Some of us desert island dicks have developed our inner-ear to recall those sounds when they’re not around – but even on the island we always seem to be on, we’re up to our cochlea in fresh, new sounds! As the label that is Drag City, we get to have extra fun with the sounds – programming them to a certain extent by scheduling their mother albums to come out into the world on a given date. Putting one record with another gives us intense glee, even when the recipients of those records are two distinct demographics that don’t come together on even the most democratic Venn diagrams! See, we have a music fan Übermensch construct in our minds; the type of listener, for instance, who will buyTy Segall and Bitchin Bajas at the same time – and go home with two ultimate paths to the neocortex, made of entirely different elements but providing the same basic effect! HahahahahahHAAA! It’s SO simple, don’t you see? Just put Manipulator out with Bitchin Bajas and then sit back and watch the culture change. It may take months, may take YEARS – but WE’RE engineering it.
That wasn’t exactly what we were thinking when we first listened to Bitchin Bajas – we were actually thinking about how to make it shorter. Not because we wanted to, you understand! The band had asked us to consider cutting the double-album they turned in down to a single. Strange request, right? Well, YOU try being in Bitchin Bajas! Every time you get together to practice, play a show or make a record, you might end up playing for four hours on one note, or trying to make antique keyboards emit sound again, or getting lost in some other obscure form of arcana. Once you’ve set your mind to do THAT kind of shit, real life decisions become a WHOLE other thing. So yeah, we’ll help out and cut time off a finished record, if we’re asked to – but it won’t be this one! No, Bitchin Bajas had turned in 75 minutes of trance/drone/bliss GOLD. Didn’t matter what they tried – eastern tonalities, humming organs, synth programs, field recordings, post-production electro-acoustic edits – it all fit together into a double album that will truly take your breath away before blowing it back into you (don't go there! - one-track mind ed.). Starting with the side-long “Tilang,” then moving through a series of shorter pieces on sides two and three before closing with three more epics on the second disc, Bitchin Bajas moves in a manner that soothingly recalls (to those of us locked in front of our stereophonic devices) the power and beauty of nature – from light to dark, hot to cold, dry to wet, all that! This is such a sweet pleasure to drop on you – and even more so as a label that KNEW we were also gonna drop another total-pleasure double album on the same date with Ty Segall’s Manipulator. Two ways to stimulate the cortex, remember? And so, our precious Frankensteinian offspring, ye Drag City consumer – rise from the lab table and buy them both! Oh, and with what’s left of your mind, ears and wallet, don’t forget to get the Wand Ganglion Reef LP and Noël AkchotéGesualdo: Madrigals for Five Guitars CD!
FRIENDS IN (REALLY) HIGH PLACES
Yes: in addition to our own records, we manufacture and distribute other labels. But you know this! You have probably also guessed that these labels fill a need in our lives – to take us further out than even we ourselves are prepared to go! That’s what Blue Chopsticks, Sea Note, Palace, GOD?, Streamline, Sun Ark, Galactic Zoo Disk and Yoga do for us (Moikai, Dexter’s Cigar and Yaala Yaala used to do it too - where-have-all-the-good-times-gone ed.). These labels are run by people we like and trust to blow us away with their unusual choices. And that’s where we get Wand from – Ty Segall’s GOD? label, who have gifted us with Jack Name, Running, Trin Tran, Scraper, David Novick and ZATH. Just from working with Ty, we know that he likes things that are loud, aggressive, lyrical and ABOVE ALL, mind-blowing! All these things are a part of Wand, whose debut album is called Ganglion Reef, and whose reach is seemingly unlimited. They want to reach through the land, the sea and the air - and they do - but they do it all as a part of their songs, which are dripping with psychedelic vibes. As they should be – these guys are from sunny So-Cal, where every day is a rippling hallucination of subverted nature, as they live their lives in a place where no human life should exist! This leads to great, reality-bending conceptions, many of which are fully in evidence throughout Ganglion Reef. Fans of Ty, White Fence, David Novick, Jack Name – apply! Another recording artist of ours with a label is David Grubbs – and we know him from WAY on back, in the days before Gastr del Sol even! It is true, we are ancient. David’s Blue Chopsticks label represents for his aesthetic with a variety of avant, modern-classical, concrete, art-rock and new composition material that features legends like Luc Ferrari and Derek Bailey as well as modern-day masters like Mats Gustafsson, Noël Akchoté and Grubbs himself. The new Blue Chopsticks CD is a project of Noël Akchoté’s – adapting some of the later madrigal works of Renaissance composer Carlo Gesualdo in a five-guitar arrangement. In this setting, Akchoté, Grubbs, Adam Levy, Doug Wramble and Julien Desprez play these 500 year-old pieces in a way that their composer might never have imagined! That is to say, on electric guitars. Don’t worry, they don’t like, grunge it up or anything – but to the ears of someone not steeped in the classical music of that time (us, and probably you?), these pieces come off with a nicely folkish air. It makes for very satisfying and relaxing listening, which is funny, because at the time, they were very harmonically advanced and played with polyphony in a way that few others did. See kids – you’d never get that from a download. Liner notes, that’s what (um, Wikipedia much? — fuck-you-old-man ed.)! So these two records from our freaky friends help fill out our August date in a fashion that’ll keep your ears guessing the whole time. Respect!
BEST NEW MUSIC!
Right – we told you that it doesn’t matter what year it is, what decade it is, what Ty it is, we’ve got a schedule that’s gonna make you glad you’re one of those things that has ears. They don’t ALL, you know? September just goes to prove it with three new albums-PLUS of new music from three couldn’t-be-more-different artists we’re proud to call DRAG CITY artists – woooo! Ladies first (what is this, 1957? Let the trans kids go first! – gender-aware ed.): Laetitia Sadier goes full-steam ahead with her third and latest, entitled Something Shines. Since way back in the ‘90s, Laetitia has been aligned with space-age pop music that takes a hard-yet-hopeful look at the systems by which people rise and fall. In her solo career, she has stripped her sound to the bone (The Trip) and repopulated it for the people in the days to come (Silencio). Something Shines is Laetitia’s most lush solo set yet, filled with her smooth melodies and loads of keys to allow for all matters of arrangement to be fully addressed. Those of you who’ve soaked up the summer breeze of “Then, I Will Love You Again,” which was advance-dropped to the world back in July, know exactly of where we speak. Laetitia’s in the world again, and loving it! With reservations, of course.Also in love with life is Purling Hiss. The new album Weirdon has a handful of the most uptempo songs ever produced by Mike Polizze. Of course, it wouldn't be Purling Hiss if they weren’t something weirdly unexpected - as in, the most WEIRDLY uptempo Hiss songs ever! It is the nature of this weird type of weird that you can’t really explain the nature of it – and so, the songs on Weirdon (yes) (no joke) are elusively odd, simultaneously building upon and moving away from the solid-rock sounds of Water On Mars. What we can say is that their former album was written for a band to play, whereas these new songs were constructed by Mike in more of his bedroom-wizard guise. That does NOT mean that this is in any way Hissteria 2. No, Mike is still in pure-pop-for-wow, people mode - and in that mode, he totally ups the ante. Packed with little hits and layered in purely Hiss guitars, Weirdon is. Also and finally on the date is Dan’l Boone, a transmission from the bent, tin-foil wrapped aerial of old, fucked America that some of us have been twisting for better (and worse) reception for so VERY fucking long. Described as, “if Twin Infinitives were a genreas opposed to being just a Trux 2xLP,” that’s exactly what Dan’l Boone is. It's like Smokey’s A Quiet Storm all over again! Coming straight out of Denver and delving into the subcutaneous layers of man and his planet, Dan’l Boone has raided several existing musical acts for its personnel, including Wolf Eyes (Nate Young), Drainolith (Alex Moscos), Formant (Charles Ballas) and The Howling Hex (Neil Hagerty). It wouldn’t really be a genre based on an album by Royal Trux without a former Trux member, which Hagerty doubles as under the circumstances. These guys were working on a Drainolith record together when all of a sudden, something else began to happen that everyone noticed and no one could ignore. That was Dan’l Boone! Their self-titled debut IS kind of like a Quiet Storm version of Twin Infinitives in some ways, but somehow it’s also less danceable. Don’t worry, there’s a bit of skree and squelch to it, and there’s a song called “Mindface,” so you can definitely get away with calling it “fucked up” (but not like the band called Fucked Up, whose music is not). Apparently, many charts were drawn up while “writing” this “record” – your job as a listener? Connect the dots, man!
So that’s September in a nutshell – but still missing a secret PLUS, heh-heh. All will be revealed, on or before SOON! Bitch.
JULY DOWN IN THE LIGHT
A little bit above here, we mentioned that White Fence had made one of the Records of the Decade, but we just let that sit for a minute. Just let it sink in on you a little bit – cause maybe you know it anyway, and it’s a great feeling to hear someone else confirm what you’re thinking, that this record is awesome too. Indeed, For the Recently Found Innocent is a great, great album, based simply on the merits of a rad bunch of songs that sound awesome on the ear and do even more than that when placed together in a certain order. Tim Presley is a young man who gets that dynamic and has proven it several times over, with For the Recently Found Innocent being simply the most recent example. It works song-by-song in a sequence, but when you divide out “Anger! Who Keeps You Under?” “Afraid of What It’s Worth,” or “Raven On White Cadillac,” you get a song with a whole thing that makes you move and sing all on it’s own. Or what about “Like That”? The lead single for the album made heads turn (and not just for another toke) before the rest of the record was out, and now that it is, “Like That” is still kicking ass in a new incarnation, as the soundtrack to a really HARSH (yet fun) video. After the release date on July 26th, White Fence guaranteed a great summer with their bubblejams alone – fourteen new songs that added up to their most together LP of great songs yet. If we want to wig, we’ll pull out the Family Perfume set. Sock hops call for the self-titled debut - but For the Recently Found Innocent is for ALL the ages, so step the fuck off!
Dude, it’s been a good year for the vintage releases too! Those Michael Yonkers releases, Michael Lee Yonkers and Borders of My Mind (with Jim Woehrle) were awesome. Death III is the best archival Death record since the first one! Woo’s When the Past Arrives collects tracks from four decades and together, they work like a fresh new album! Purling Hiss’s early-daze shake-bag, Dizzy Polizzy gave us a good reminder of where they came from on the eve of their latest where-they’re-going-to new album! The Red Krayola’s Singles and The Red Crayola’s Coconut Hotel reissued the reissues on vinyl for the first time in this century, bringing essential wildness from BFTAD (Before The Internet AD)! Speaking of insane, Royal Trux! “The Radio-Video EP” was one of their most enjoyable NUTS releases - and now it's BACK, and still nutsy after all these years. And amidst all the chaos of crazy sounds bouncing off each other, Matthew Young’s Recurring Dreams brings back the soothing sounds of Fender Rhodes and EMS synth keys combined, just the way they should have been back in 1981. We’re in the middle of a break from the multifarious sounds of yesteryears, but if you haven’t caught up with everything we’ve been bringing back, shift into high gear and cut us off at the past, before we resume preaching from the old-school textbook once again in October. We believe in yesterday!
THAT’S MISTER OCTOBER TO YOU!
Okay! Gotta run – Drag City’s boiling over and we gotta adjust the flame to make sure we don’t bruise the brew! But listen to these words with the 10th month in mind: The-Dope-Royal-CAVE-Immoralist-Chapter-George- Ambrogio-Edwards-Valence-Pound-Lifer-Body-The-Trux-I-Drive-Release-III-For-A-Pound. STOP.
THAT’s what’s happening, people!
Drag City Inc.