BORNE IN FLAMES
Well….it’s just you and the royal We in here. Everyone else’s out – shopping? Now how is that possible? Every time you crack open a news-hub, there’s some piece about how nobody buys anything from shops anymore. Well, they don’t until someone throws them a party, anyway. So – “customers?” are bundling up to go somewhere they can get real value – you know, of the buy-one-get-one-free variety. Cookies with your purchase. And punch! Spiked, to boot. Hmm, punches and spiked boots? A bit passive-agressive, ain't it? That’s retail at its finest – selling desperation by the pound. Of course, they’ve got a thumb on the scale the whole time, the thieves! Meanwhile, here we sit, with an offer you can’t believe: music, at a standard rate, where you get what you pay for. That’s right – you paid for an experience that only lasts a lifetime! Just imagine, that copy of The Immoralist you bought last week will one day be a very old record. And it might just be sitting in your attic on the day you die. You hadn’t listened to it in years, but you didn’t need to! When you thought of the record, it summoned up the strains of…what was that one again? “Nothing good can live if nuth-ing DIES.” Funny how that line kept coming up in different ways over the years. How looking at the cover transported you to a time and place like, magic. So weird. And now something good might live again – if there was someone with a turntable out there…there’s always a kid who wants to know how it used to be. And all the old records still have plenty of….WHATEVER that was left in them. And now that you’re dead, they just slip right through your fingers….
The time of the love is now. Time to play some records!
PUMPKIN IT UP
Let’s see….what’s left in our old hallow’s eve sac? Why, EVERYTHING! It was a good old month in the life of Drag City, October 2014 was. Damn heavy with releases, which we like, because we like records and there were six of ‘em: three new, three vintage. Fuck me, there was even a book! LPs, CDs, a book and a 7” – but really, big deal! Who cares? Why count? Why anything? OF COURSE there’ve been dates where we had all that and a cassette too, maybe even a DVD. And sometimes it’s been just a t-shirt. So all things being equal, we’re glad to be receiving and giving out the ear-candies, no matter what or how many! So ‘nuff said? Oh wait, what about naming the records? DURR. That’s right kids, too much sugar makes you stupid. Happy and stupid. ANYway – ‘member that Immoralist record from your future deathbed we were referencing? How’d we know that anyway? It’s probably because Elisa Ambrogio has a way with words and tunes that tends to bore into your organs (the ones that respond to music anyway). Who knew it would be so when she was raging and foaming, covered in sweat and blood and with an unstrung guitar hanging around her neck? But time passes and people change, and The Immoralist is a testament to that, with Elisa’s sweet teenage pop music dwelling under the bridge where the shadows are long and the future’s uncertain and the end is always near. Guitars will bite at you and feedback stabs, but under it, there’s the throbbing pulse of something that feels like love and you might one day CALL love, too. All this in ten songs – and one of them doesn’t even have words! But by that point in the album, you might not need ‘em. What a great record! Also in October was Dope Body’s Lifer LP. It’s been almost a couple years since Natural History, and as you can infer from the titles, the former implies theory and the latter, visceral realities. You gotta think about these things! Dope Body made the album thinking that anything supererogatory had to go (or words to that effect). So some of the digi-fuck FX to which Zach Utz’s guitar is generally subjected is dialed down a bit on Lifer - but fear not, fuck-lovers! - it's still informing the rhythmic shifts that fire the Dope Body boiling process. Zach’s a mild dude, but he burns on the guitar, digi-fuck or NO digi-fuck. And there’s nothing gonna stop David Jacober’s kit-battering; the kid’s a monster! Precision and power. If they were all there was backing Andrew Laumann’s insanediary presence at the mic, that’d be enough – but sometimes they’ve got bassist John Jones bringing them into pure power-trio focus. There’s a lot of fine-art undercurrents running through the veins of Dope Body, but those merely act as the frame for the brew-and-stomp that is their forte, which is fortunate, since they’ve got a knack for choruses that upend the stomp at the perfect intersection between anthemic and anarchic. It’s a good thing stadiums full of people haven’t gotten onto this, otherwise we might be in for waves of pure, misdirected ecsta-violence! Instead, Dope Body are working the clubs down south, looking for a way to get out west at some point and getting ready for some European dates in the New Year. What a Lifer!
On the vintage score, October was a whole other kind of winner! Our Galactic Zoo Disc buddy, Plastic Crimewave himself, suggested a third trip to the dimension of The George-Edwards Group, whose home-recorded ennui-rock of the 70s and 80s has found an audience here in the infinite present. Chapter III brings more of their crunchy post-38:38 power-pop, all of it smeared with the sweet sadness of Ed Balian’s vocals. Not to be outdone by the Plastic one, we reached into our own reissue bag of tricks and pulled out Royal Trux final masterwork, the choogle-boogie-tastic Pound For Pound. Who knows what might have happened if they had continued on from there? We’re no experts on alternative time-streams (I beg to differ! – Alternate-Universe Rian Murphy, Ed.), but we suspect that the world of that continuum might be mostly the same, but subtly different. That’s generally what happens when truly great albums are released. If we’re lucky, they create tiny cracks in the status quo, but life goes on. And Royal Trux had been smashing their craft against the shores of indifference for a decade already – so Neil and Jennifer went on to different bands – because after rock and roll, what else is there? We hope they never find out. Still with us but also existing like a fly in amber are CAVE, whose Release release sums up five years or so of singles and compilation releases made before and during the growth spurt that took them from “Pure Moods” through Neverendless and into Threace. Lots of wild energy in this compilation record, most of which only appeared on 7” before. Release is raw and rocked-up in a way that Threace wasn't (where the production focus was on streamlined instrumental groove and tightly edited fusion jams) and revels in freaky hipster-ghetto technology fixations, like mixing some tracks to VHS, with all the weird resonances such moves add to the music. But in addition to everything else, Release has a single classic CAVE vocal performance – rough and ready! Fans of “On the Rise,” get in the queue. CAVE just finished a European tour where if we know them, they left it all on the stage. Hopefully, they get it all sent back over to them and pick up where they left off – this Release isn’t gonna hold CAVE fans long! This means us, CAVE!
Also of a certain vintage are the various and sundry libretti to Bill Callahan’s opera-of-the-mind/heart that he’s edged out in little album-sized packets for the past twenty years of Smog and Bill Callahan records. Lotta classics in there, and most (but not all! Sob! – never-really-satisfied ed.) of them are represented in I Drive a Valence, which is essentially Bill’s “Illustrated Lyrics.” Instead of hiring expensive modern artists, Bill did the illustrations himself, employing an ink-wash technique that will give those of you who have pored over his sketchbooks an entirely new and unique style to masturbate to – power at last, forever! While quantities last.
October also found us revisiting the recent past by releasing a single from Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy’s September album release, Singer’s Grave a Sea of Tongues. “Quail and Dumplings” came with a non-LP song called “Pull Your Eyes Out, Molly” on the other side. We won’t say too much about it since we sold out of all them damn records before we were done shipping them (except in digital form on iTunes and dragcity.com, where they will live “forever!” – still-trying-to-make-a-buck(-yeah-just-one)-in-the-21st-century ed.)! Let us just assert that it’s great to have Bonny making singles, even and especially when the a-side is from an album – remember “The Mountain,” way back in the day? Ol’ boy has a way with pitting one song against its other that makes for awesome singles – a talent he uses all too rarely these days. But just because you may have slept on that little record doesn’t mean you have to keep sleeping! Read on – and remember, this isn’t a dream!
Our November 18th date is the last of the year for Drag City. So by definition, that makes it the ultimate date of 2014....and 'ulitmate' is 'heavy,' so....heaviness! There are other, non-semantic reasons to call it that, wait and see if they apply to your own heavy-judgment way of living and giving (and taking!). So yeah, we’ve got some fun stuff for November – but before you forget that you were aching with Pavlovian ardor for a Bonnie “Prince” single that you’ll NEVER hear if you don’t own it already (or buy it now digitally, just one click away! Thanks internet!), we’ve got a SECOND 7” with a second cut from Singer’s Grave a Sea of Tongues and a second non-LP b-side that works together with the A-side to take you even farther into Bonnyworld than you thought you’d gone as the last ringing notes of SGASOT faded away! “New Black Rich (Tusks)” is a new composition on an album of revisited compositions – pretty significant, we’d say – but even more important, it’s a revisitation too! A specific era is being returned to, if only to turn a wire just a twist to the right in order to return to the present and see what it has wrought to live with one small element of the past the past moved one inch away from where we always thought it would be. As we suspected, the present is AWESOME. World still sucks, but we’re much happier. Especially when we flip over and find “Black as Grace” waiting for us there, sucking air in and rippling it out like some amoral succubus. This is Bonnie in the wild area, and we dare you to just give in and double-bounce your gonads (or she-nuts) in the darkness as you dance your silent, yet deeply-interpretive dance to the music. It can be done, and you can be the one to do it! Bonnie says so – and we agree! As long as supplies last anyway.
WHAT’S BEHIND DOOR NUMBER TWO? CAR AND FREEZER!
New music in November? Yeah, why not? Well, just a little, anyway. From faraway (and apparently not entirely radiation-poisoned) Japan, Eiko Ishibashi is back with her new album, Car and Freezer. We twigged to her music a little later in the game, but this is the second of her five albums to be released on Your Humble Mothership. Eiko plies a format of sleek pop music, informed by jazz chops and drawing on some of the most talented players in the Japanese scene – but for this record, she wanted to draw on her improvisational side by bringing the songs to her band without really knowing how she imagined them arranged. The result is an insanity that makes The Boredoms sound like Sinatra! Joking, Car and Freezer actually came together in a fashion not terribly removed from the sound of the previous Imitation of Life – but with a chunkier undercarriage, somehow. Just a bit earthier in a pleasantly abstract way. In keeping with a different approach, Eiko recorded the songs in Japanese and English, doing the translations herself – so for our version, we plucked a few tunes from each tongue, to provide a unique LP experience for those who purchase the Drag City edition of Car and Freezer. We think you’ll enjoy it! And however you say that in Japanese.
SAVAGE PATCH KIDS
But hey – isn’t the whole idea of these bullshit Record Store Days about celebrating our rich past by reissuing it, this time on piss-monkey-yellow vinyl? And so, we’re devoting a goodly amount of our November shelf to gently used releases. Cue the hippies! Folks, over the past five years, we’ve talked a lot about The Source Family – even going so far as to promote and nationally distribute a documentary film about them. During this time, we’ve been granted access by Isis Herself to their tape archive (all of it preserved on space-saving cassette tapes! And all normal bias, curse the luck!), from which we’ve drawn the Songs From the Source, Magnificence In the Memory, The Thought Adjusters and Aquariana releases. But nothing says historical significance like a straight-up reissue – and so, here you go, two records that the Source Family originally manufactured and distributed back in ’73-’74! Credited to Father Yod and The Spirit of ’76, Kohoutek is an invocation of the spiritual power of the comet that blazed through our skies in late ’73. Though the visuals and the hoped-for revolution-inducing catastrophe of impact weren’t what was hoped for, you can hear Father and his musicians vibrating sympathetically with that ancient cosmos-spanning sky-rock in flight. In point of fact, Father transmogrified into Yahowa during this period, so all’s well that ends well. Comet what you will! With the band also rechristened as YaHoWa 13, a series of heavy releases followed, including Penetration, To The Principles For the Children and I’m Gonna Take You Home (The Lovers), all of which featured Yahowa singing and playing in musical meld with his house band. The album Savage Sons of Ya Ho Wa featured the group without Father contributing (but still in the driver’s seat – check the cover!) and with Electron singing lead – and it’s a grunting hard-rock record, circa the hermetic southern California cult-scene ’74, anyway. There’s definitely some shared qualities with the legendary sounds of Merrell Fankhauser and Mu, but you knew that already! So dig it – these reissues have really sweet tip-on sleeves and all original inserts, plus new reflections which makes them almost exactly as good as being there AND being here, at the same time! We’re joking again. No record in the world could possibly duplicate the weirdness either part of that, really It’d be like having actual film from the time of Christ! Oh, wait – if we want to see that, there IS Greaser’s Palace. Anyway, these records look and sound weird and wild and great, go get ‘em.
Slightly less "gently" used is the second collection of Ty Segall singles and such, titled in the great spirit of Jesus Christ, $ingle$ 2. They come in LP, CD and cassette formats and we suggest you stuff ‘em into stockings everywhere this Christmas! The kids’ll love it – $ingle$ 2 stands in stark opposition to the sleek rockitechture of Manipulator, recorded more in the ram-and-shackle style of Melted/Sleeper/Twins. Coarse ‘cause that’s the way you love it! Rough, like your freakin’ dance moves. My, how you DO bump and grind to Ty’s b-sides! The non-LP single trax from Goodbye Bread through to last year are all here, including the truly FUCKED “Spiders” 7”EP – as well as a couple compilation tracks to round it out. Very fun listening, sweet cover song picks and awesome to hear how all over the place Ty has really been in the past few years. Makes everything better - the new stuff, the old stuff, everything!
ARMISEN WIDE OPEN
Oh wait – there is one more new record on this date – another 7” in the style of some of those recent “Fred Armisen Presents Local Heroes” records of recent memory…and that’s because it’s the third-in-a-series “Fred Armisen Presents Local Heroes” split 7” single! And just in time for the big dia de festa! The reason we went all Brazilian on your ass for a split-second is because one side of this single is sung by the ultra-obscure-cept-in-their-home-villa duo Paulinho e Beatriz. Their “Voce Tem” is a breezily relaxing bit of bossa for your post-election frayed nerves. In fact, the other side of the single may be even MORE relaxing than that, being the work of LA’s own Joshua Rainhorn. Local piano-bar denizens will have a knowing smile on their faces when they hear “Wine & Cigarettes,” a straight-up work of lyrical GENIUS from the man with another dozen of these tunes right up his sleeve. Fortunately, they keep falling onto the keys! Fred’s proud to bring these acts to you, and the tunes that they came up with. Local Heroes are everywhere – you just gotta know how to look!
THE REBORN IDENTITY
And that’s gonna be it for 2014. We’re gonna “take it easy” in December – in that we’re not gonna put out records that month, hah! But that doesn’t mean there aren’t things to promote –
We’ve got all sorts of acts all across the planet in December. Ty Segall in Australia! Laetita Sadier back in the UK! Neil Hamburger, Bitchin Bajas, Purling Hiss and Blues Control in America! So there’ll be P L E N T Y to do, don’t you worry about us! Didn’t you hear? The sked for 2015’s already filling out nicely – and we’re DIGGING those of the Jan/Feb releases – new albums from Jessica Pratt, Alasdair Roberts, Six Organs of Admittance and Sir Richard Bishop! Each one has its own unique music – AMAZING! They don’t borrow any new stuff from each other! We’re simply in awe of their reckless individualities.
With all these and more in mind, how could you even NOT look forward to resetting the clock with us in another few weeks here?!? How! In the time between now and then, we’re not going into hibernating mode – look for some surprises from ol’ Drag City! And if you don’t find any – surprise! And if you do, well, joke’s on you, motherfucker….
You know the drill. Or do you? Keep your eyes fixed obsessively here. Nowhere else, hear?
Drag City Inc.