The Drag City Newsletter, September 21, 2010

posted September 21st, 2010


That cool breeze coming through the window – can it be? Is the fat vicious bitch of a summer finally out of our life? Hey, as much love as we got for the season of the emancipation, nowadays our inner suit tells us that we’d all be better off with every mother’s son at their desk and ready to do something with their lives once more. Like for instance promote and sell the Drag City catalog as if there’s no tomorrow! Because in case you haven’t seen The Obama Deception, tomorrow might get canceled due to yesterday getting in the way!

That’s right, we drank the punch and have plucked some “truth blossoms” from the “shite garden.” We’re scared, but it’s a good kind of scared, and now we can stop beating ourselves up for it – it was the bankers all along. It always has been. So if Drag City has one bit of advice for you before the time-lock on the Ivory Bunker engages, it’s this: BUY GOLD! Er, Drag City Gold, that is.... I mean, Drag City “Gold” Records.... What’s that, you don’t ask? Drag City has “Gold” records? We do have a few. Different from that corrupt RIAA system (what? You haven’t seen “The Billboard Deception”? For shame!), for a record to be certified “Gold” by Drag City, it must be awesome. So awesome, in fact, that it has been chosen to come out on Drag City! As far as we know, this is the only true measure of Gold Record Status in the music industry. And we have almost 500 of them – the longest streak in the entire history of music! An incredible achievement, we know – and now that you know, you can feel better the next time you see urine pooling at your feet when you open a new Bill Callahan record. That’s not incontinence or a burgeoning drinking problem – that’s AWE, motherfackers!


Oh, we sold records. And people paid money for them. Might seem charming to some. Made some come even. Pretty fun summertime records to sell, too. One of the summeriest of them was the Jeff Eubank A Street Called Straight LP reissue back in May. It sort of foretold our lost summer to come – but it was also laced with the kinds of cool breezes we’re experiencing now, which is why we’re reflecting on it, I guess. If this sounds like just what your poor clammy flesh needs right now, you can’t get it from us! We sold out. Does that make your flesh-eating collector’s-scum antenna rise up out of your putrid fucking head? We’ve given you something else to hunger for, and all we had to do was “let” it go out of print. Happens every time. Until we get a few returns from Canada. Keep checking the Drag City website, eh!

It was a real good summer for reissues – in addition to the mid-May Eubank LP, we joined hands with a few of our favorite collaborators to unearth some goodies from days gone by – before politely letting go, gently washing our hands and pulling a sweet (chest)nut out of our own sac(k) last month.

It all began again in June, with Hamper McBee’s The Good Old-Fashioned Way LP/CD, which all the guys down at Twos and Fews suggested might stand handsomely next to the Nimrod Workman and Ouled Bambara releases that they have so far curated for all of us. The Good Old-Fashioned Way is some killer field-recorded accapella shit from the ‘70s, performances well-lubricated with what appears to be home-brewed moonshine. It’s only a partial reissue of a Hamper McBee release on Rounder released from back then, but the Drag City/Twos and Fews release has more cussing. “Classic” Twos and Fews! And that’s just the way we like it. This was one of like two recordings released by the pride of Monteagle County and it’s not one you want to miss. That Hamper was one good old boy!

Our journey through the past darkly continued in July when the darke paisley overlords at Galactic Zoo Disks came a-calling with a bunch of tracks they’d corralled off a band called Spur! They were homemade space cowboys from southern Illinois, of all places, where they scratched out an existence on the fringes of the Midwestern psychedelic rock scene circa ‘66 to ‘72. Somewhere in there, they made an album called Spur Of the Moment, but Plastic and the GZD boys felt that it would be even more fun for this release to include songs from all across their career, thus making a new-and-not-entirely-reissued record, released on vinyl-only as if it were 1966-1972 all over again. Spur Of the Moments (note the ‘s’) is great garage country-psych with a bunch of sweet tunes and a big Byrds-based jam for good measure.

Also in July was Matthew Young’s Traveler’s Advisory. This is a straight reissue, and a good one to boot, but in an entirely different way than Spur and almost everything else the world has ever offered on vinyl LP – for Traveler’s Advisory is mid-’80s album of hammered dulcimer folk-rock from an electronic experimentalist who brought a few beats of the day to bear on the traddy sounds. It’s sort of like if Windham Hill had gotten really freaky instead of really boring, with “Kyrie Eleison,” and “Carmina Burana” alongside Michael Hurley’s classic “Werewolf” and gently Eno-esque treatment of the traditional “Dummy Line.” A folky orchestra of dulcimer, banjo, casio drums, tape effects and vocals – how could it not not succeed? Well, here today it has all the resonance of the many lost classics we’ve staked our reputation on time and again. Take a chance now – or you’ll be buying it off some scumbag for top-drawer dollars in another few years. Unless Canada saves the day again!


Jesus, not another phase! Ah, don’t worry, this one’s simple. As we said above, the next phase for Drag City is getting back to some serious business. As always, it’s not just up to us – and so we ask you to join us in being serious, for at least once in your life. Are you up to it? Here’s what we have planned, the first of which is already unrolling before the eyes and ears of the nations…


September is rung in with a declaration of independence from Laetitia Sadier. The longtime Stereolab singer has been officially on hiatus with the rest of Stereolab since 2008 (which won’t prevent them or us from releasing a new album later this year, but that’s a tale for a later moment). Turns out that in 2008, she also broke up the band she’d assembled called Monade. It’s that moment in life when a singer’s got to be her own woman – and thus, Laetitia is finally Laetitia in the record bin alphabet, where her debut solo album The Trip will be located under ‘T’ (in American – and ‘L’ in Europe – pfff!) come September 21st. In addition to having the fresh qualities that all debuts tend to have, The Trip has also the weight of being written and recorded in the wake of a family tragedy. “Personal” is not an adjective often attached to the music of the Stereolab Family – but the stripped-down arrangements and the subtle undertones in the lyrics have created a hitherto unsampled vibration on The Trip – and one that we know will grow and evolve and time keeps on slipping into the future. Welcome, Laetitia!


It’s often been said that the way to a man’s (by which we mean “person’s”) ears is through his eyes. This is certainly true for any assassin worth his salt, but we rekkid execs like to live by that old adage as well. To which end we’ve aligned ourselves with Harmony Korine and his lovingly loathsome new film Trash Humpers. All summer long, we ushered that flick in and out of anywhere that thought they wanted to screen the damn thing! The result was really awesome viewing in some of America’s most unlikely theatres. Now though, times being what they are, it’s time for Trash Humpers to come home – indeed, to any hovel you call your home! Yes, the DVD version is ready to be owned by you. It comes bearing gifts in the form of extras for all those viewers who have “been there” and “done that” but still hunger for more drippy fat from the underbelly of American culture. And it’s not just deleted scenes, either! No, Harmony has tacked on two additional featurettes that provide further insight into the trashy world of these so-called “humpers.” Plus a 24-page TH “fanzine,” if you are a fan of such things! So slither up from the underground, make the purchase at your DVD shop of choice and beat it on back to that hot flat-screen under the bridge. Trash Humpers is bound to be this season’s laugh-til-you-cry-til-you-kill-again hit among the homeless and all their ruddy friends!


Yeah, Larry Jon’s gone. He passed off this Earth back in June. We miss him, and having his great old Monument records and the self-titled Drag City LP is great. Sometimes it’s not enough - but what helps is this loving new split single that features Bonny “Prince” Billy and The Black Swans, each taking a side to sing a song of Larry Jon Wilson. This is a special record, put together by The Black Swans’ Jerry DeCicca, who knew and loved Larry Jon and recorded the album we put out last year. We’ve sold some to stores and we’ve got some more to sell to the rest of you all around the world, who’ve known and loved. Put your dimes together to hear Bonnie “Prince” Billy and The Black Swans Sing Larry Jon Wilson.”


…on the wall, people – on the wall. Rose Lazar and Matteah Baim have brought us a wild new vision suitable for hanging in teenage and post-teenage bedrooms around the planet. Lazar and Baim might be artists, but they also might be pubescent boys or adult women or God save us, cynical cigar-chomping knob-twisters from Madison Avenue. We don’t know and we don’t care. There’s something off about the whole thing that pleases us and makes us call this “poster art for the people.” We don’t know where to sell it. We don’t know who will buy it. But we will sell this poster and it will be bought too. October 19th will be the date that Drag City enters a new era – the era of a poster that doesn’t promote anything but itself. How will promote it remains a mystery – with a CD? There’s so many things we don’t know. But we do know that we will have a wild new poster for sale.


1986…the year that Matthew Young broke…but also the year that another hero of Yoga Records made a defining statement. The lifelong search for a “higher high” and the proof for God’s existence was coming to a senses-shattering epiphany in the middle bedroom of a double-wide on the back lot of Columbia, South Carolina’s Big Country Mobile Home Park. Destiny was in the cards for one Duane Warr and Animals was the name of that destiny. Thirteen songs chronicled the whole tale, with nothing left behind. Man, if only this sort of thing happened at any of the last dozen Black Sabbath recording sessions! It might not have saved the band, but at least they’d be a few millions fatter. Instead, the Dwarr album called Animals is finally making its dark rounds, chronicling a cycle of rage, obsession and vengeance from long ago in the life a true believer. The uninitiated among you can hear the sludgy supernatural hard-rock sounds that only a man on the edge of his own favorite delusions could possibly dream of. How we managed to get it reduced down to vinyl and CD without being vaporized is still kind of confusing – but the chance of your soul’s liberation was too important to us. Time will tell if October 2010 holds the same kind of destiny for Drag City – and you – as April 1986 did for Dwarr.


Blue Chopsticks is back on the racks with it’s first-ever vinyl edition! The twenty-first release from the David Grubbs-curated label deserves grooves of its own to capture the “power-trio” sounds of Andrea Belfi (drums, percussion, electronics), Grubbs (electric guitar, piano, voice) and Stefano Pilia (electric guitar). Their first meeting lies somewhere between improvisation and electro-acoustic composition, forming a long-form piece divided in five songs. Group-think is alive throughout the Onrushing Cloud, which maintains a singular acoustic space, all the better to be played out on vinyl. File under ‘B’ for Belfi (or ‘A’ in Europe, grrrr) – but don’t forget Grubbs and Pilia. They’re all in it together.


Did you notice The Red Krayola digital single that was just exclusively posted on Drag City and nowhere else? Although both “sides” of the “platter” are previously released, we all felt that they should be freed from their respective album downloads in an effort to continue awareness about the oil spill down in the gulf – now that they’ve apparently plugged the hole, it doesn’t mean that the problem’s going away anytime soon! This happens over and over again in history. Take the Nazis – we beat ‘em down and then hired their best and brightest to work for good old Uncle Sam! Now they’re everywhere again. And there’s oil all over hundreds of miles of ocean floor. Somebody’s gotta clean it up! Well, whatever little change the “Greasy Street” b/w “Easy Street” single can raise will be pointed in the direction of a solution, believe you us. Plus the songs themselves have something to say and are danceable, which is often not the case for benefit material. Like “We Are the World.” Let’s be honest, that was just a bunch of bullshit-flavored candy-floss. And “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” was pretty fucking lame too. This is not the case with these songs, and they’re only $1.98. So give a little, would you? All of us here at HQ and The Red Krayola say God Bless You.


Fill in the blank with wherever you live, kid. That’s where we’re going. We’ve got Bachelorette, Laetitia Sadier, Joanna Newsom, CAVE, Alasdair Roberts and Scout Niblett over Europe between now and the holidays. We’ve got Bonny ‘Prince’ Billy & The Cairo Gang, Faun Fables, Death, Monotonix, Baby Dee, Sic Alps and Magik Markers spread out across America through the remainder of aught-ten. Hell, we’ve even got dates rarer than hen’s teeth (assuming that hens have teeth, that is. Oh, wait…) from The Howling Hex, King Kong and Masaki Batoh happening! And Joanna and Scout coming back to the U.S.S.A. for more freakin’ dates!

And if we don’t have an artist with a date there, then we’ve got a store there. And if we don’t have a store there, then you’re still in luck, because we’ve got a service that’ll deliver to your door as long as you know how to make an online order (and have a door). So as long as you’re not completely paralyzed (and with today’s technology, even if you are), we’re coming for you. This we pledge, this we plead. It’s our old-year’s resolution. But do you expect any less? We know, the answer is no. Damn, you’re good.


Face it, 2010 has to end somewhere – and we can’t end it on an ambiguously humorous poster, an obscure-yet-incredible 80s independent metal release and a first-ever Blue Chopsticks LP! No, there’s something implied in our October releases that demands a further modulation, a dimuendo and crescendo if you will – something to bring it all to a smashing close. To do this, we will release on November 16, 2010 the following: Faun Fables Light of a Vaster Dark LP/CD; Stereolab Not Music 2xLP/CD and two Bachelorette reissue vinyls – ”The End of Things” EP and Isolation Loops LP. We’re not gonna get into the particulars just yet…but knowing what we just told you about October, you can perhaps guess a few directions in themes – the weight of life and mortality, the serpentine elision of sound as it is expressed in the air (and the etch of that air into vinyl) and the sublime ascendance of the soul in witness to such uniquely everyday miracles.

But honestly, it’s not gonna be as gay as all that. Or rather, it’s gonna be the greatest gay release date ever!

More on this sweet stuff next month. If we haven’t been sued into the dark ages from whence we came. Honest, we were just kidding!

Rian Murphy

Drag City Inc.

September 21, 2010