posted October 12th, 2012

By now, you know what your weekend is looking like - but what do you know about what lies beyond? Consult with us here at your very own musical almanac to tell you which way the wind blows come November. It blows like this:


Next up on the reissue/vintage music roll-call: Galactic Zoo Disk presents an LP of mostly previously unheard recordings (unless...wait, does the internet count?) from Tony, Caro and John! You hard yet? Listen, if you can't dig the reissue scene, then you may be out of place here in our re-fab 21st Century, boyee! Face it, the classic era of the rock and the soul and the folk and the blues and all the rest is OVER. Now, we're faced with whatever disintegrating ruins we can hide in if the vibe of those vibrant old days of music-making is what we desire. That doesn't mean that there isn't good music being made today. Nay, great music, even! AMAZING music, and the DC roster for this year and everything that we've just talked about for the past week and above all, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy is proof that the future of music is bright, no matter how tense the present is. However, if you spend any time in record stores, you must surely see that the ore pits of the past are being dug deeper and stripped quicker and harder all the time! It's a dirty business, but someone has to do it; there's hunger for these rarely-heard sounds of the past, not just from pure nostalgia-ists, but also people who enjoy living today, just with the sounds of yesterday in their ear, buds! Fortunately, we are in touch with a few innovators in the field - Galactic Zoo Disk and Yoga Records are two of our acquaintances who regularly bring vintage sounds that still have zing, pop and pow all these years later.

So yeah - Tony Caro and John. Their lone album All On the First Day has been blowing up the brains of the private press crew for the past decade and more. What can we say? People love their folk music hybrids. In the 90s, if some old record had "Sally Free and Easy" on it, you had to have it! While Tony Caro and John weren't quite that pure of a traddy folk outfit, they have that angle. There's an early Incredible String Band-quality to the singing, but the they were firmly folk-rocky with sweet sexy guitar leads (that burned as often as they twinkled) and odd electronic keyboard touches, all of it captured in a primitive, home-recorded process that allow the trippy elements to shine though in uncompromising sheets of mono sound. Blue Clouds projects slides mostly from the years following All On the First Day's "release" (they made 100 copies and spray-painted jackets and sold them at shows): recordings of a more accomplished quality but retaining their wide-eyed essence. The song "Forever and Ever" has an straight-up pop-rock appeal! Plus, there's an outtake from All On the First Day, and a 1974 live rendition of "There Are No Greater Heroes," but Blue Clouds charts the road beyond for Tony Caro and John - and provides a second, distinctive listen from the fantastic three!

And Mad Music is definitely like, mad! Like most of the records brought to us by Yoga Records, the music of Mad Music Inc has a distinctly outsider quality to it, as if made by folks who couldn't or wouldn't fit in to the world as it was, so they didn't! At the same time, these albums from such varied types as Dwarr, Jeff Eubank, Social Climbers, Matthew Young and yeah, Woo are all examples of places and times that while gone, have left traces in the new generations - all of whom will be thrilled to experience a straight taste of those odd DNA strands that exist within them. Wait, what are we talking about here? Music baby - Mad Music Inc. And that's just about all we have to say on the topic - because the story of Mad Music Inc is that there isn't a story. Ah, thank god - I was gonna go blind if I had to read one more set of liner notes telling me why this record that no one ever heard actually changed the world (note to self: idea for a sci-fi story?)! All there is to say is that the record showed up in racks around the Boston area in 1977, elaborately packaged with random inserts and no other information. The music revolves around a nicely-reverbed piano, but over the course of the title-less first side, sounds come and go, briefly making their play: guitar, harp, flutes, gong, wah-wah, cymbals, sitar, wordless female vocals and tabla, massed vocals and a saxophone and kick drum, finally giving way to a transcendent moment of pure synthetic/progressive art-disco. Side two comes down easy from these heights - primarily spent in a shimmery solo piano wilderness with a bit of flute etc coming in for a bit), the open space of which is dreamy. The artists who made this and purpose for releasing remain unknown. And really, should that ever matter (of course! - discography-scouring ed.)? Get Mad - Mad Music, that is.


Don't let us mislead you - despite the malaise of It's a fun time to be in the music industry - you can go to parties and tell people what you do and have them remark with amazement, You still sell records? You mean - and here, they trace a twelve-inch circle in the air. And then you say, Oh yeah - in fact, vinyl is back! We sell more vinyl LPs than we've have in years. We've always sold it, but the numbers are WAY up from where they were ten years ago. And the people are amazed and say, What's next, 8-track tapes? And then you smile and say, well actually...cassettes are back! Then they tell you they have a tape player in the car. And by the time, you're done with all that, you can leave this fucking lame party and go back to the office and try to get some more stores. But really, it is remarkable. While pulling orders the other day, your correspondent was dazed and amused at how many different singles were going into the outgoing boxes. Our first couple releases were 7" records - but by the time the turn of the century came around, singles releases were kind of thin on the ground! Between 2000 and 2008, we put out five 7" singles! Boy, were we out of touch with our roots. There's no time to feel bad in 2012 though - too many singles to deal with! We've put eight of them out there so far this year: Sic Alps' "Vedley" and the Tronics covers EP "Pangea Globe", Bonnie 'Prince' Billy's "The B-Sides for Time to Be Clear," the Mickey Newbury/Bill Callahan split single "Heaven Help the Child," Six Organs of Admittance "Parsons' Blues," Ty Segall's "The Hill," Neil Hamburger & Margaret Cho singing "I Drink" and the Woo/Nite Jewel split. Woo indeed! Plus we've got four more coming up here in quick succession before Thanksgiving - a spray of classic rockers and sweet young things, split singles, collaborations and stark solo statements. Check it out!

Let's see - what's better than one Billy? You got it - and you will get it - and it'll be good - two Billies. As in Bonnie 'Prince' and...what's up! Billy F. Gibbons. Yessir, the master of Texas funk, the self-same ax-man of ZZ Top (what's up!) is occupying the other side of the slab from Bonnie 'Prince' Billy for this once-in-a-life, pinch-me kind of record. They're both covering that band Fleetwood Mac? They did this for an album that came out a couple of months ago. But it's a long record, and so we got to thinking, what about an edited version? Jokin'! It was an offer we couldn't refuse, you know? Having Bonny Billy and Matt Sweeney, the dudes of Superwolf themselves, emoting the classic strains of "Storms" on a little 45rpm record was just too much to resist. And then having Billy F. Gibbons and Matt Sweeney on the flip covering the burly licks of "Oh Well" in a serious DOWN-tempoed version, well...what's up!

The two Billies are coming your way (no, not that Fleetwood Mac song!) the first week of November - the 6th, to be precise, along with the aforementioned Mad Music Inc. and Tony Caro and John releases. Plus another pair of equally distinctive singles. First, we've got some good news - there's a new Scout Niblett record a-brewin'! It's cooking slow and hot and probably kind of evil and full of grace...we're not quite sure really, we need to check our horoscope. And Scout's. But while we wait, we've got an brooding advance taste as well as an unlikely pairing AND a way-out take on an 80s classic, both included on the "No More Nasty Scrubs," 7" single. Yes, you've read the clues right! On this 7", Scout does TLC on one side and Janet Jackson on the other. If you think it's a head-scratcher, you haven't been paying attention. Plus, don't do that - you need all the hair you can get up there, and rubbing it off ain't gonna help anything. So yeah, Scout signed up for a Janet Jackson tribute record and really did it up on her version of "Nasty," just really channeled something. We've got it on our single here too, which is kind of incredible. Then there's "No Scrubs," which is much more in the spirit of the album-to-be (we think!): a darkly-poised take on the original that sounds like it came from a long night of the soul. We'll have that and then some more copies of Scout's "It's Time My Beloved" from way back before The Calcination of Scout Niblett came out. We're excited to have new music from our Emma! This first taste goes down on November 6th. So eat something first, will you?

Rounding out the 45 trio is a split single with the unstoppable Sic Alps on one side. What more can these guys do? Four singles in the past year, plus one of the best albums of the year with their self-titled release of that month. And everything just keeps getting BETTER! There must be something in the water out by where they are. We call it drugs - and apparently, they're working. So the excitement of this split doesn't end with these guys and their hot new song "New Trawgs III" (take that, Putrifiers II!). On the flip is the one and only Zarjaz, whose recorded work started back in the late 70s with his underground post-punk band, Tronics! Once again, what?!? We're like, besides ourselves with glee. Zarjaz's band of late is Freakapuss and they're making records that appear on the internet and CD, but this is their first trip to vinyl - and what a trip it is. "Here Today, Here Tomorrow" is a jam without relent, as Zarjaz rolls out a tripped-out litany of day-to-day diary entries that sound like Bob Dylan's Millionth Nitemare over a guitar-and-conga riff that doesn't quit either. Super-hot and exciting to hear Mr. Zarjaz ripping it this way thirty-years and some down the line.

And to celebrate the third Sic Alps-related single of this year, we've got more stock on all the other Sic Alps singles: "Breadhead!" "Battery Townsley!" "Vedley!" "Pangea Globe!"

You know, that isn't it on the singles front - we've got a holiday record coming from Dawn McCarthy & Bonnie 'Prince' Billy that hits in mid-November with the new AZITA album. And then there's the new Alasdair Roberts record in January and another 7" from - but wait, we need something to talk about on November 6th. The bottom line this time around is that it's a genuine fact that the singles rule.

Honestly, if you can't attain the ultimate heights with just one little rock and roll record, you might be reading the wrong newsletter here. NOW we tell you!

See you in a month - or it's my ass.

Rian Murphy Drag City Inc.