The Drag City Newsletter, November 17, 2010

posted November 17th, 2010


Nay, nay! It’s the end of the sales year as we know it. It’s the end of most of what we called 2010. It’s the end of the day. End of the week. End of that time of the month. Everything is always ending! And in the ending comes new beginning.

If it sounds like we’ve been reading too many of those Source books we’re now selling, so what if we are? We’re on the path for wisdom, and you can never have too much – well, at least not until you start killing tens of thousands of people based on what you think you know. And we’re not there – yet…


No, we’re just a simple group of animals here trying to make it! On the good ship Drag City, we’ve got artists and desk-sops and mouthpieces all sounding out in a hundred different directions into a thousand different microphones, all of which is just a real elemental way of working in the world today. There’s nothing wrong with it. Outrageous, now that’s another thing. A needle in the haystack, sticking in your arse, yeah. That’s what these people are trying to do – no, not stick it in your bum! Geez, you misunderstand us so easily. The goal is to provoke, to entertain, to –

Ah shit, you don’t need to hear this again! It’s 2010! This is Drag City Records! Enuff zaid!


But zeriously, if we haven’t provoked or entertained you in this past year, better check in with the corner coroner – ‘cause you have got to be dead. From reissues of Royal Trux classix from the ‘90s (the pariahs of their day) to triple-album Joanna Newsom rekkids (how dare she! A dose of Imodium would set that girl right. And by girl we mean you, dire reader) to Neil Hamburger at Madison Swear Garden to Bill Callahan, author, to Trash Humpers, true cinema, we’ve had a year that didn’t lack for blood-boiling motifs, you know? Frankly, I think everyone’s wives and husbands and parents and children are all relieved that we’re ending it all (the year, not our lives! Come on, people!) with a nice set of pop music records from Faun Fables, Stereolab and Bachelorette rather than rocking the good ship Drag City any more than it’s already been rocked.

Yeah, new releases! Let’s talk about them…


First up in the out now category is Not Music, an album of new music from the hiatused Stereolab, who were kind enough to prepare enough material to get them through at least a couple years of their hiatus. Between this and the new Laetitia Sadier solo album, we’ve got a typically generous and diverse outpouring of tracks from the groop that was, but all of it in effortlessly retooled 2010 style. Which is to say, a fresh helping of sweet ‘n’ sour Kraut in the mix of Not Music – but not the surging guitar-strum of their early days; instead, it’s a synthy funk grind that showcases Stereolab with a few less bells and whistles than we latter day listeners are used to. It’s a cool blend of hot, catchy grooves and the iced melodies of Laetitia on top. Plus, remixes of tracks by Atlas Sound and Emperor Machine – like we said, its 2010, gang! And there’s no going back, even if we wanted to.

That said, we can go back and reissue things, can’t we? Especially if they’re the kinds of reissues that involve presenting music to people that they probably never heard before and might not have even had the chance to hear before. We’ve been doing lots of that this year, and the first two Bachelorette records represent the last two times we’ll be doing that this year. Still, what a way to go! Both ”The End of Things” and Isolation Loops were released in the past five years, both of them combine classic British-Empire pop songs (Annabel “Bachelorette” Alpers hails from New Zealand) with charmingly out-of-time-and-space dancefloor trimmings (disco, anyone?) but always presented in a carefully hand-spun kind of way that brings computers back to the dirt from which they were originally made (bet you didn’t know that!). These are great records, as good as (if not even better?!) than Bachelorette’s My Electric Family release on yours truly, the mothership, early last year. And guess what, o fickle-and-easily-offended buying republic? We’re experimenting with the abhorrent current trend of “album with download” on these two releases – so if they don’t sell twice as much as My Electric Family, we’ll continue to have your album with download right here, you get me?

Back in the world of rolling forward to meet the dawn, Faun Fables are back in action with their first album since – what? 2006! There was an EP released during this time…and two infant daughters as well. But now that they’re back, they’re back – Dawn and Nils are Fauning it up all around the country with both their little girls and a nanny in tow, and you can bet that at the end of each night they’re all on stage, even the eight-month-old one, singing their hearts out just like they used to in old Europe, before the advent of the electric light and all that! This is the way Faun Fables roll, and their new album Light Of A Vaster Dark pays tribute to the simple pleasures that families experienced since those days, gathered around the hearth and the fire and the dinner, living together in the only world they knew, the one that they’d made for themselves. Richly arranged in the Faun Fables tradition, Light Of A Vaster Dark features an extended family of musicians who weave new silver threads among the strings of gold that we hear ringing out every time the FF tour wagon rolls into town.

New releases, awesome and colorful – the ‘lab record all the way down to the brightly colored vinyl! Don’t miss ‘em, X-mas list ‘em. These nots are for you.


Just because we’ve got new releases here in November doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten the releases that are just a few weeks or months older than them. Naw, we love all our little ones. Children! Come forward. On the Drag City reissue tip this year, we started as we always do, with Royal Trux: untitled in January and Cats and Dogs in August. It’s gone well – we’re all out of untitled in any kind of format, so if you see them floating around out there in the realitysphere, pick ‘em the damn hell up. And having Cats and Dogs back is such a blast. What a great album. Reaching outside the halls of Drag City, we used the hands of Galactic Zoo Disks to lead us to Michael Yonkers’ lost work of outsider-garage folk, Lovely Gold, as well as Spur Of the Moments by Spur (you were expecting The Moments?). Stretching a bit further with Yoga Records, we brought Jeff Eubank’s last-rays-of-the-70s A Street Called Straight back to the racks, and followed with Matthew Young’s dulcimer-with-beats opus, Traveller’s Advisory and the Dwarr psych-metal messterpiece, Animals. Back on Drag City-firma, we reissued The Endtables amazing self-titled EP, with bonus tracks for you lucky CD purchases. And then the Bachelorette recs! It was a good year for the reissues.

New releases? Got ‘em. There was Five American Portraits from The Red Krayola with Art & Language, proving once again the untamed beauty of the Krayola’s ongoing freakout. Plus another blast of triple-guitar colossus from Major Stars, called Return to Form, with tongue firmly in cheek – your cheek, by the way. There was Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy & The Cairo Gang, bringing the lights down low and the harmonies to the rooftops on The Wonder Show of the World. Baby Dee also came on soft and gentle with A Book of Songs For Anne Marie. And on the other side of the harp was Joanna Newsom with her album-of-the-year candidate Have One On Me – but which year? It could win in so many of them…We debuted working with Scout Niblett with her black-velvet self-portrait, The Calcination of Scout Niblett, as well as Elisa Randazzo, with her album of classic Califorlornicatin’ folk-rock Bruises and Butterflies - featuring the legendary Bridget St. John! Also new to us are the kid rockers that kan, CAVE, whose ”Pure Moods” 12”EP is a bursting of assorted energies. And we dig it. Oh, and Rangda, they count! Sure, it’s Ben Chasny crossed with Sir Richard Bishop and Chris Corsano, all of whom have appeared on DC wax in the past – but False Flag was an all-new entanglement of their powers, and the tour was fun too.

Also in the worked-with-them-before-but category is Laetitia Sadier – we’ve done Stereolab comps and a Monade record, but they weren’t like The Trip, which is a new-phase album from Laetitia. Also, we’ve done Alasdair Roberts’ new originals albums and we’ve done Alasdair Roberts’ traditionals albums – but we’ve never done a traditionals album by Alasdair Roberts & Friends! Too Long In This Condition was just that, and a bright and powerful dose of mainstream folk it was at that. Whether or not the folk mainstream of 1877 is a commercial force to be reckoned with today is another matter – but not to us, since this is the latest in a series of Alasdair Roberts records that tops all previous work. Truly.

There were a couple of 7” records from Monotonix, a bit of which will preview quite nicely for you the hard-wired intensity of their forthcoming album – ”Never Died Before” and ”Fun Fun Fun,” on sale at all Montonix shows near you.

We had a book – Bill Callahan’s Letters to Emma Bowlcut, still being delivered to bookstores that matter as we presently speak. We had a DVD – Harmony Korine’s Trash Humpers [­– that is not fit for family rentals but is available for sale and rent through these brave people around the country.

And a print! Matteah Baim and Rose Lazar sketched their way into the gallery of our heart with this – and we’re still trying to find a way to get it to you lovely art people, wherever you are.

There were two new releases from Yaala Yaala, two new releases from Streamline and one from Blue Chopsticks too. Everyone pitched in this year.

This was the January-November romance that was Drag City, 2010. If you haven’t checked it out already, what can we say? You are one stubborn SOB.


We tried! We pretended that the Northern Lights didn’t exist. We held forth that our Brooklynese Lights were the only ones shining. We pushed their sweet, sparkly album Rites as a one-of-a-kind musical entertainment – and in that, we weren’t wrong! But Sophia, Linnea and Alana wanted a name they could call their own – and so for the next release, due sometime next year, it is out with Lights and in with Cliffie Swan. This is a name we can safely swear will belong to the girls and only the girls from now until time’s sweet and salty end. They’re gonna be debuting their new name to their Brooklyn brethren in early December, don’t miss it! It’s the beginning of a new age. And what of the album Rites? Will it be restickered as a work of Cliffie Swan? That, it seems to us, would be a lie. And we’re not gonna be a part of it! Lights are dead, but long live Rites, by Lights. Yessir, you can buy it right here, while you wait for the dazzling new album from Cliffie Swan, coming your way in a typical avalanche of goodies from Drag City in the year to come!


Aw HELL no it ain’t over! Not when we’ve got CAVE splattering literally all over the British countryside (as well as Spain and Holland) on their Euro-tour That Never Ends (which ends on December 6th, at ATMFP)! Not when Tim and Eric and Neil Hamburger and Ted and Alice keep burning a path of pure comedy across these United States. Not when Bert Jansch rises up with renewed strength to play still more dates with Pegi Young in the colonial states in December. Not with Monotonix in Chile, not to mention back in the USA! No, Bonny Billy & The Cairo Gang aren’t done and neither are we! We won’t see the sun set over Europe until Alasdair Roberts, Baby Dee, Scout Niblett and White Magic do! In fact, we’re not done until the last dying notes of CAVE echo off into the new year at the Hideout here in the Chi come December 31st! And then, there’ll only be one thing left to do. A little thing we like to call two-thousand and mother-freakin’-eleven.

YEAR ‘11

We’ve got a lot more to say about the year to come, it’s true – but if we start talking to you NOW about what’s happening THEN, it’s totally gonna ruin new year’s eve for you. So check it out: we’ll come back in mid-December, around the time we preview January tracks, and tell you more about the new musical albums from Sic Alps and Monotonix, and the fresh vault-divings from Death, all of which will hit LP (and CD) racks in January. Plus there’ll be a 7” single from Cliffie Swan guitarist Sophia Knapp (remember?). And we’ll also talk vaguely about the men of February too – lots of throat-clutching deliciousness to be had in that as well. So check back in with us in December – this year ain’t over yet!

Rian Murphy

Drag City Inc.

November 2010