The Drag City Newsletter, January 26, 2010

posted January 26th, 2010


Did somebody say something about a new decade? Nah! We were in a new decade already – the first goddam decade of the new millennium! And we’re still there. There won’t be any moving on until we say so – no matter what the calendar tells us. So what if the calendar and the clock on the wall say we’re lost in time! Fuck it people – obviously you haven’t heard our theory? We’re in a interim period between decades here that happens regularly. Look at recent history – the sixties didn’t really end until about ‘72, (no matter what they say about Altamont). And the end of the seventies really lasted through ‘81, at least. And the early 90s…that was actually still the late 80s. It wasn’t at least until Cobain fucked off (and good riddance) that another era began (but not an era of decreased celebrity narcissism, unfortunately). This last decade didn’t get started until after 9/11! So there you go…that’s why it’s better to take things one year at a time. Don’t talk to us about decades, motherfucker! Does anybody really know what time it is, anyway?


OK, so it’s a new year, we can at least agree on that much. As such, it’s time for some ways to change – way and means and shit. People, we’ve been a slave to you for the past twenty years. All we’ve ever asked is that you throw a little bread on the table in return for the continued presence of a little cultural outpost called Drag City. Now then, we’re seeing less bread in the exchange these days…okay. Clearly, things have got to change for reasons that are beyond us, and frankly, you too. The question remains, is payback really that much of a bitch? We’re asking, and it’s the least you can do to ask as well – ask your lover, your neighbor, your classmate, your congressman, and so forth. Keep the fire of debate alive! And keep music in your budget – not least because we’ve got some kick-ass music the impact of which will be felt not only throughout the year, but into the future of all our servitude, regardless of who’s serving who.

A-fuckin’-men! And women too – all y’all!


New year, new resolutions, new weather patterns – and something else. Something subtle is in the air. Another batch of new records have insinuated themselves into this world of ours. As is often the case with Drag City new releases, they tend to cause a bit of uncertainty, triggering the vertigo, freaking your equilibrium. But that’s okay – what is rock and roll there for, to rock you to sleep? No, that’s what the meds are for! Our musical anti-manifestos are there like sand in your joints, itching, causing pearls to grow within you, talking backwards like Beelzebub in your dreams and making you sing. The three new releases and one reissue truckin’ your way in this January 2010 are no exception to this all-essential non-rule (there are no rules, that’s the one rule – don’t forget to remember that).


First! Scout Niblett. In her time, the girl’s been mistaken for a witch, a vaudeville queen and a grunge rocker – but all are apparitions, reflections of themselves that people see within her. Sure, these things and more are a part of her and a part of us – and ultimately she is who she is as we are who we are. It’s all a process of forming, and that’s why we love records and why we love Scout. Every record is a bit further into her psyche and the way she’s living – a trip for both of us to take! But a musical one for us, as she’s set her psyche into haunting melody and rhyme. And furthermore, on The Calcination of Scout Niblett, there’s exorcism in the air – a concerted effort to burn out the ghosts and monsters in order to be the best Emma “Scout” Niblett that she can be. From the songwriting on up to the ultra-spare sound design, there’s a singularity and focus that is awesome to behold. On top of the clutch of fantastic songs, Scout’s singing and playing with new power, recorded with clarity, depth and a wicked back-slap at Electrical Audio. The Calcination of Scout Niblett is sweet and hot – can you take it?


Also evolving at an alarming rate are our friends Major Stars. Their new album, the jauntily-titled Return to Form (take that, haters!) hits at the body repeatedly, slamming away with a lack of abandon and a new sense of protocol. Major Stars are known for being psychedelic rock journeymen (and Journey-lovin’ women), but of late, their rock’s psych roots seem to be dyed platinum white, with a trucker’s cap shoved on top of the whole mess. It’s jukebox-ready hard-rock with a hallucinogenic edge, sure – or perhaps it’s just the impact of their triple guitar git-down, causing your head to throb with concussive force? Don’t worry, long-time Star-children – these guys still jam, but they’ve got short numbers too, and wailing, roadhouse vocals sailing over the punch-ups. A terrific variety, but a return to form? Pffft! What form? These guys have been in plasma state forever! Whatever form it takes, that’s what it is. And Major Stars are presently shining on in white dwarf style – compacted, but with a violent gleam.


Also among ye in this cold month of January are The Red Krayola, united once again with their partners in perfect crime, Art & Language. The project this time – Five American Portraits. These American portraits were submitted to Mayo Thompson’s attention by Art & Language, along with a bit of helpful language that pointed the way to his musical realization of the same five portraits. With a new-and-different configuration of The Red Krayola on board, Five American Portraits was recorded in London for the first time since the halcyon days of Kangaroo?. This meant that The RaincoatsGina Birch was available to sing and play bass, both of which she does with abandon throughout Five American Portraits. Her duets with Mayo are hair-raising. Meanwhile, Mayo navigates the faces of his subjects with all the grace and depth that his elegant, gravel-marked voice can summon – which is a lot, yo. The Red Krayola have been on a tear these past five years, just topping themselves with really wild record after really wild record. We’re loving it – and Five American Portraits brings them to a place they’ve never been in over thirty years of record making. That’s something.


Letters, we get letters…twenty and more years into this, we’ve left a glistening trail through the garden, a litter of records some of which are in print and some of which are not. But the letters, they remind us to get those Royal Trux records back into circulation. And of course we’re gonna! The Royal Trux got us started way back when and showed us how it was done over the course of their nine records from ‘88 to ‘00. Last year, we brought back the rattling sounds from the dawn of the Royal Trux era, their self-titled LP/CD and the Last Double Album, Twin Infinitives. This year, it’s onto their untitled third album. Back on vinyl for the first time since the mid-90s, untitled has also been outfitted with gatefold imagery that only appeared in the CD at the time (cause that was the future, right?). Now it’s splayed out in 12”x12” x 12”x12” – glorious! And that’s just the jacket. The music is back-to-the-roots independent rock n roll circa 1992, putting the ‘rust’ back in rustic – and adding a freaking k onto the end! Vivid, disturbing and masterful, untitled is a look at the future of the early 90s – nearly twenty years on! Get back – and go forward – with Royal Trux, once again.


Not only do we have these four records squirting their way through your world’s bloodstream, but today, we’re also offering you the opportunity to queue up for the next in line – which is a funny way to think of Ms. Joanna Newsom, but there it is! If you cast yourself forward one month into the future, you’ll find out that her great big new album is already out! To ensure that you’re not just finding out about Have One On Me, but instead finding either a 3xLP or 3xCD package (or both!) on your doorstep, order here and now.

We’re also offering the latest Drag City/Galactic Zoo Disks release, the vinyl-only Michael Yonkers LP, Lovely Gold. Slated for release back in 1975, this never made it to the pressing plant. Continuing on in the pre-Jandek-ian home recorded blooze of Grimwood, Lovely Gold also toys with a few distinctly medieval conceits. Loner folk private-press anyone? Point and click.


A coconut, you perv. And make sure it’s a young coconut (OK, now I’m the perv)! You are supposed to be drinking this shit, go for it whenever possible, and have a mirror handy -- to watch your own mind be blown. There’s something dirty in that sentence we haven’t tapped into yet, because, like a young coconut, much of the joy is in tapping it’s ass yourbadself:

Dunno if you know, but coconut water (when administered orally!!!) stops all kinds of adverse drug reactions; it’s germ free (until you drink it!) (pyrogen free: a substance that causes fever, especially a substance introduced into somebody’s bloodstream) and as such naturally balanced with electrolytic substances like sodium, potassium, magnesium etc. this property makes it a good substitute for saline-glucose: a solution of common salt sodium chloride and distilled water, especially one having the same concentration as body fluids; you alkies and junkies out there can keep the party going, as it regularly aids in flushing the liver, since it contains lauric acid (a crystalline fatty acid. Source: coconut, laurel oils) which gives it anti-microbial properties and makes it suitable for treatment of some liver ailments like hepatitis; during the Pacific part of WWII, both sides in the conflict regularly used coconut water - siphoned directly from the nut - to give emergency plasma transfusions to wounded soldiers. Can you believe this shit! The list literally goes on and off and on...

There are plenty of commercial juice-boxes available to you, and those are fine in a pinch, but always go for the real thing, as that boxes stuff is Pasteurized and dead to you. For the full benefits, the water must be sucked directly from the nut. Never be lonely again!


I don’t know if I made it clear above, but Scout Niblett is either kind of crazy or gonna be sometime soon for at least a little while. In general, it’s hard to say why, but specifically, it’s because she’s decided to record the title track of her awesome new album The Calcination of Scout Niblett a hundred more times and sell each version to interested parties in the world outside her head. Chances are, there’s gonna be some changes as the versions pile up. Sooner or later, the girl’ll have to put some spit on the ball in order to make it spin some other way. Meanwhile, each purchaser will get a unique one-of-a-kind performance that they can…oh, you know, put on the internet and share with every other unique individual out there, right? That’s what we do, isn’t it? Well, don’t we?!?

We’ll start selling these one-of-a-kind items next week, probably. Look out below!


Yesssss! It’s been awhile since we’ve heard from JJ and her gang of rock n rockers that she dubs RTX. It was back in October of aught-eight that their most recent long-player, JJ Got Live RaTX (no, it’s not a live album) was released, and probably not long after that that the van broke down for the last time and the last shows outside of LA were played. Whether or not you know it, the Rad Times Xpress rolls on, and a new album is not that far oft in the future. Sooner than global warming anyway, and much hotter! In the meantime, Jennifer’s been releasing a fresh brew here and there, such as the split 12” she did a couple months back with Primal Scream on the ventral side. We had a few of those to sell…too few, as it turns out, for our faithful mailorder horde. Now there’s another side of RTX for you all to dig – and this time, it’s an all-RTX package. What we’re talkin’ ‘bout is a little 7” called ”Vampyre Love.” Yes, that Vampyre Love – a cover of the immortal Pentagram song, recorded live at Hollywood’s own Safari Sam’s. This slab of tailor-made rockk is matched with an etching on the far side of JJ as the vampire you love to hate to love! Once scorned, she’s twice scorching! Thanks to Outlaw Recordings, we have a few of these to sell to you. The pressing is something like 200 numbered copies, but only a fraction of those are available on our mailorder joint. Send $8 to You Know Who at You Know Where (yes, Drag City) and we’ll make one of these outrageous items yours.


Magik Markers! Lights! Baby Dee! OM! Gary Higgins! Major Stars! Monotonix! Bill Callahan! Sir Richard Bishop! Meg Baird! Neil Hamburger! Grubbs and Howe! Scout Niblett! Joanna Newsom! Whether they’re out there for a rare date or two or beating down a familiar trail to your town, does it really matter? These people have devoted their lives to entertaining you – now’s your turn to get devotional and give your life to letting them entertain you. Coming up in the next month or two, we’ve got at least a couple hundred chances from here to Japan – check our new-and-improved tour page, sort by artist or locale, and find out for yourself where you can share a small piece of the road that never really ends with some of the best artists this day has ever seen.

What more could we ask of you, or you of us, of them of you?

Well, yeah - buy the records!

Carry on,

Rian Murphy
Drag City Inc, January 2010