STANDING IN THE REIGN
The water is rising! June-going-on-July in DragCityTown, U.S.A., and our first six figurative (but also hauntingly literal) torrents of releases for the 2013 are all around you - like love, but in tangible, turntable-ready form. Which for us has always been a preferable form for love to take. Stacks so much more neatly, and don't melt nearly so easy! So with levels rising on Drag City musical, cinematic, literary and occasionally just accoutrement output - level both quantitative and qualitative, naturally - we find ourselves in the midst of a year that just keeps whipping it on ya! And with Curtis Harrington, Royal Trux and The Source Family among the latest additions to the catalog, there's no sign of slowing - just further extension of the edges of perception. Having your mind blown a few times a month isn't too much to ask, is it?
THE SOURCE IS THE MESSAGE
...or "Yod is the Word," if you prefer! The latest revelation on cult activities in these United States is the view to a kinder, gentler hippie family - LA's Source Family! Sure, they did drugs! Yeah, they got sexy out of wedlock! And guess what? It was the 1970s and gender relations weren't entirely out of the woods yet - they aren't today either! There was definitely some weirdness in the whole thing of a hundred-plus people living in apparent adoration of one charismatic figurehead. But they never armed themselves up or bombed anyone and they lived for art and good health, which counters the weirdness pretty nicely! This is the story (Cliff's Notes-style - TLDR ed.) being told by The Source Family documentary, which has been lighting up art-house theatres and other freak-friendly screens around the country over the last month-ish. Last month, we supplied those who wanted more with a fantastic collection of music from the film, made available as The Source Family Original Soundtrack on LP and CD (and digital download-zzzzzzzzzzzz). This month - the DVD! The movie on DVD! And nothing more than you could see in the theater! Because that wouldn't be cool! All tiresome moral hang-ups aside, The Source Family out there now (way out there (never gets old, does it? - embittered ed.)) and in the firmament of popularly-exploited 1970s real-life entertainment ready for your at-home cult-movie marathons, but with fewer bodies and lots more ENLIGHTENMENT. Ahhh!
HOLLYWOOD FREAK SCENE
...wait a minute, didn't we just finish talking about the Hollywood freakscene? The Source and that? Well, that's the thing about Hollywood - you can pick any decade over the past century and there's some serious freakery going on - sometimes under cover of the night and the palms, sometimes behind closed doors. The freak-scene described in Curtis Harrington's memoir, Nice Guys Don't Work In Hollywood, is the outsider-filmmaker period of the post-war, when guys like Curtis and Kenneth Anger were making their short films and getting them screened everywhere they could scare up an invite! Gay men weren't really supposed to broadcast their gayness in movies, but the shorts of guys like Harrington communicated all the pride and despair possible in that time. Meanwhile, in the name of self-promotion and the hope of further work, shoulders were rubbed on an international level and Curtis' story takes to New York and across Europe before returning to LA for another assault on the Studios, where he finally infiltrated in the mid-50s. This lead to a couple of decades of sporadic filmmaking, turning out creepy cult classics like Night Tide (1961), Games (1967), What's the Matter With Helen? (1971) and The Killing Kind (1973) before changing times and circumstances necessitated a scaling down of his ambition to small-screen productions. Curtis made some more horror films for television and then directed episodes of now-classic horrors like "Charlie's Angels" and "Dynasty." It was a living, and it brings the Harrington story to a sobering finale, as he looks back over the Hollywood filmmaking set-up dating back to the 1920s and finds, at the turn of the new century, that it is aesthetically wanting. There's room in Nice Guys Don't Work In Hollywood for plenty of tasty gossip and many names are dropped in the process, making the memoir of Curtis Harrington a fabulous and fascinating read from one of the business' lesser-known names.
TWO'S A CROWD, THREE'S AN EP
Yes, the 90s! It might have been the final era with a recognizable musical drift - but whatever we may agree those tides were, the duo known as Royal Trux was always swimming hard against them, creating a music that was resolutely its own thing, even when Neil and Jennifer kleptomanically picked sound-pockets all around them to fortify their rock and roll. We've been bringing the Trux catalog back for the past few years, from the beginning all over again, and this July, it's time for the "3-Song EP" to rejoin its brethren on the shelf. Back in 1998, this followed Accelerator into the marketplace just a few months later - but with typical Royal Trux perversity, an entirely different sound. Heavy-rolling where Accelerator sparkled with static, this was a side-trip between records that managed to not sound like their next album either (with one jammy exception). Royal Trux, however, were capable of rocking like this live, which makes it an interesting look at the band - well, mini-look. Even though "The United States vs One 1974 Cadillac El Dorado Sedan" is a seven-plus minute epic, there still are only three songs on this EP, just like the title promised (one of the few instances of things actually being what they seemed in Trux-ton). So while it isn't quite the length of a live show, "3-Song EP" is a driving example of Royal Trux ethos in their last couple years of existence. So celebrate, and pick up the 12"EP and/or CDEP - in stores now! Well, stores that know what the fuck they're doing, anyway.
We're big fans of White Fence around the Bunker here - and not just because we like psychedelic pop tunes, melodies you can sing and forward-looking, yet historically-minded album production! No, they make good-looking records too. But before we knew any of that, they put out a good-looking record called simply White Fence, all yellow, with scrawls and high-contrast imagery and a full spoony of their seedy tunes, twisted and turned like plastic under high heat. Guh-roovay, some said - and they weren't wrong. And now, thanks to God? (who also saved Trin Tran from a web-fate worse than death by putting a bunch of his best CD-R trax out on a record called Dark Radar last year), you're gonna be getting that record on LP once again, with all the bells and whistles it originally had, except now it's all pink instead of yellow! Those guys make great records, and God? are happy to rub shoulders with a possible candidate for Best White Fence - though all ears are in the eye of the beholden, ain't they? ALSO on God? in July is a non-reissue, and a solid seven inches of contempo-punk from SF surf-scene kids Scraper. YES, they're punx, which means they had a cassette on Wizard Mountain a minute ago, and there may be a song or too shared between the tape and the six songs on this 7"EP, but they're punched deep into the vinyl in a fashion that will communicate to you the lurching, thudding reality of this gang. The enclosed lyric sheet will then edify you to the psiked-out state of mind behind and above the clangor, placing the emotings of Scraper within the SF minimal-post-sike punker ouvre of such far-out characters as Flipper and the Urinals, but in their own way and their own day! Both titles drop July 16th, at which point we expect children around the nation to pick them up and be changed permanently, warped forever, all praise to God?!
WHY LET SLEEPING DOGS JULY?
Up in the bean-counting department, where sand passes through the hourglass like the days of our lives (and we have every grain tallied!), when we look forward to July - that is, when we're not looking forward to months like August, September, October, November and maybe even December (not to mention January...but that's a whole other story we don't even want to get into right now) - when we look forward into that swiftly approaching mid-point of the year, we see a set of releases that cause us to tingle with the joy known as anticipation! And yet...we're not entirely convinced that the world outside our legendary (in its own mind) Ivory Bunker is gonna agree with our chart-and-belt-busting enthusements. So why don't we run it down for you, dear reader you, and see what you think? It goes a little something like this -
ANDY IN THIRTY YEARS
Man, now that it's getting so late in the history of the planet and therefore the history of human life on it, you might think the animal called man to get wise. It ain't so: people don't think big picture, we're just not evolved that way. Well, not all of us anyway. There's always been guys who pointed the way to the next level and ascended as far as they could before they could be taken down. We're not talking about phonies like Steve Jobs, either. We mean real cultural firebrands like Lenny Bruce, Einstein and John Lennon. And Andy Kaufman too. Especially Andy Kaufman, because his whole approach in the 1970s set a tone for the kind of forward-leaning comedy that was mostly ignored when Chris Elliot's Get a Life aired in the early 90s and again when Arrested Development drew mediocre ratings a few years back. Today, these directions in humor keep South Park and Family Guy churning out new episodes to a reasonably sized-audience and packs moviehouses when something like Borat comes around. Today, there's an industry for it. And fortunately, there's about to be an Andy Kaufman album for the first time ever, to show people just how hardcore and possibly insane Kaufman was, trying to get people to laugh with this shit back between 1971 and 1984. In the last few years of the 70s, he was seldom without a micro-cassette recorder, taking down hours and hours of so-called "everyday life." Of course, as soon as Andy Kaufman started participating in seemingly humdrum events, his very presence starts unraveling the circumstances. This is where the comedy comes in - or anti-comedy, as his detractors might have it. Detecting laughs in awkward moments and pure stupidity, Kaufman assumed whatever guise it took to make those moments explicit - or he would just be himself, it's hard to tell who he actually was. In any case, these recordings, preserved for 30 years by Lynne Margulies, then carefully combed through and arranged and produced by Vernon Chatman, are a fresh chapter in the saga beyond the grave of Andy Kaufman. Whether or not there will be another one, Andy and His Grandmother is sure to bring joy to those who have waited patiently (and somewhat insanely) for the past thirty years, as well as kids who weren't born then, but know a truly fucked put-on when they hear one, and love it! Out on July 16th, Andy and His Grandmother is a riot - of what, you better decide for yourself.
Also in July comes the latest from the very simultaneously fast-and-slow moving Bitchin' Bajas. They work their keys and ring modulators and mix-boards and such, and static sounds come out, causing dream-states and drools to come forth from our lips. As fans of the band, we've collected each of their records thus far released - and then it hit us. The best way to be guaranteed a copy was to commission a new record. Why hadn't we ever thought of this before (we did: we called it Drag City - historically accurate ed.)?!? Fortunately, the sounds are the only thing slow about Bitchin' Bajas - with four albums in the past couple years and an EP just behind 'em, they were ready to be asked, and responded with Bitchitronics. This LP continues their investigation into obsolete technologies and the processes with which synthetic sound has been made since time immemorial (the last century! - what'd I tell you ed.). This is part of what makes the Bajas so bitchin' - they want to take a spin on old, out-of-style bikes to see what kind of wheelies they can pop on 'em. This time: an outing with what was once called the Frippertronics system, a hook-up of two reel-to-reel tape decks and a delay box, set up by Brian Eno to make the jams more happening in the early 70s. Bob Fripp used it intermittently over the next decade - but since the 80sish, we haven't really heard this ole system utilized too much. And now everyone can do this shit with a click of their mouse or whatever! But there's something about doing it with tapes that brings a fragile, almost human element back into it. And so is born Bitchitronics™ and the Bitchitronics album. Some of it'll take you back to the wild days when Krautrock was young - and then some of it'll bring you right back to the present, with the techniques applied to locate fresher coordinates. Baja fresh, you might say. Yeah, that just happened, bitches! Out on July 16th on LP and cassette only, Bitchitronics.
...dead awesome, that is! You know those relaxed fit jeans? Kinda dad-y, aren't they? Well the debut album from Paula, Relaxed Fit is the living opposite of that vibe! It's some very home-fi skinny jeans soul-pop and it's coming to you courtesy of the very mysterious Ethereal Sequence label, who are connected to the rather ethereal Yoga Records cabal in some way. Part of the mystery is that Ethereal Sequence's previous release hails from 1982, a little record called Evil, by a demonic-looking little fellow named Konrad. Getting in between the grooves, Konrad was much jollier than his album cover indicated, with a plethora of post-disco lite keyboard jams in a variety of styles. And mysteriously, Paula's working in a similar field, but THIRTY YEARS LATER is all! Hm. Makes you think. It appears that the idea behind this label is to put good new music out there ONLY when it sounds like these records do, which is a revolutionary thought that we never had before! Of course, we never had a record like Relaxed Fit by Paula either, so go figure. Fans of Montreal's Tops may be interested in checking this out, as will fans of the low-fi soul stuff that Paw Tracks have fed us pieces of over the years. Paula! Relaxed Fit! Ethereal Sequence! It all hits down on July 16th.
Okay. That's the pitch. That's July for you. Can you see why we're excited? But can you also tell that it could go both ways? But can't you also see this shit just EXPLODING?!? Be serious with me. Be honest - are these dark horses of July Drag City derby winners? You've got the word, but the only vote that counts is the one you make with your feet. Walk on down to the record store and tell us how you feel about July. But before you do, would you drop us a line? The suspense is killing us, and we can't wait until we're dead to find out what happens. Life's too short!
Speaking of can't wait and no rest for the wicked, the weary or the awesome - coming in August is the all-new, all-rad new album from Ty Segall, Sleeper. This is the next record after Twins, in case you lost the thread during all these months of silence since then (all ten of them!), and it takes the sound-realm of Ty Segall to some heretofore unheard places. Like all Ty records, the aim is to bend your head - and if the foreslopes around the bunka are any indicator, Sleeper's mission has been accomplished already! Tumbling into the public consciousness at the same time as Sleeper (August 20th, yo!) is a set of records that, as reissues, are actually going to RE-tumble into the public's minds-ear - and even if we hadn't been working on it forever, we'd still be saying "It's about god-damn time!" OF COURSE we're talking about the Venom P. Stinger reissues. Nowadays everybody wanna talk about Aussie Punk like they're got something to say, but when they move their lips, nothing about Venom P. Stinger comes out! That's about to change. We're bringing back their savage onslaught as captured on their first two albums. My Friend Venom and What's Yours Is Mine as well as the 12"EP "Waiting Room" and the truly burning 7", "Walking About." These guys had their aesthetics together - any group with two-thirds of Dirty Three just waiting to happen were bound to have a sense of framing - but no power is ever sacrificed, even when unusual-for-punk textures are being achieved behind the kit or in the guitar amp. The ravings of Dugald MacKenzie tail it down emphatically - these were unique and exceptional punks, and their finest flower-adorned album jackets will get their due once again. Plus, the digitally-oriented of yer will be please to see the 2xCD collection of the above: 1986-1991, representing the first time this era of Venom P. Stinger has ever entered the too-clean digital realm. Dirt fans, don't worry! It loses nothing. So: Ty Segall and Venom P. Stinger, coming your way in late August. We're excited to be releasing these musics - but if you've been reading this thing the way you're meant to, you know we've got some serious business to take care of in July first.
And something in June for that matter as well - we call it, TCB. And that's every day, MFs! We'll see you next time - with more! There's simply no other way.
Drag City Inc.