The Drag City Newsletter, August 24 2010

posted August 24th, 2010


Great day in the morning! It seems as if an entire era has passed since we last visited upon one and all news of recent happenstance within the confederacy of Drag City. Lest these words send the fastidious among you searching vainly through his in-box for proof of our last missive, allow me to assure you that it was only sixty days previous that we most recently delivered our latest news-digest in gazette form. And yet, the passage of two months’ time in this modern age is tantamount to the slumber of Irving’s infamous anti-hero, the slothful Van Winkle of yore. Have we too missed the revolution? Where lies the profit in rhythmic sound-making these days? Are the sounds of those from darkest Appalachia still of great interest to the populace? It would appear that we have missed the passage of the most recent steam-ship...speaking in strictly cultural terms, of course. Now comes the reckoning – but first, an over-due explanation to those of you who have missed us.


It was in the waning moments of a sweltering July that we looked up from our roll-topped, blottered vistas as one, a shattering realization infusing the air around us with a violence akin to the electrical fury of a thunder-storm. The seventh release date of Drag City’s 2010 almanac had passed quietly; reimpressions of phonographic curios and obscurities dating back some twenty-five and thirty-nine years (Matthew Young’s Traveller’s Advisory and Spur’s Spur Of the Moments, to name them respectively) as well as an epistolary novel (and a debut in the manner of long-form composition) entitled Letters to Emma Bowlcut from the popular-song composer Bill Callahan. These items were now threading their way into the public consciousness across this great Union – and yet, something had escaped our wherewithal and was now permanently lost to the vapors of history: a newsletter marking the date of these summertime issuances! It was enough to send curses echoing through our offices – but fortunately, more informed perspectives won the day.

Upon further reflection, we examined our output over the bisection of the annum thus far. A good many words have thus far been expended on Drag City’s behalf – many thousands, were the true number to be revealed. Perhaps it was fortuitous that we had circumvented our monthly elucidation, however unwitting the genesis of this shameful action. Though there was no desire on the part of your ever-toiling correspondent to be perceived as a gold-bricker, it was viewed in retrospection that perhaps our captive public would be best-served with a month’s respite – a vacation, if you will, while still within the season devoted to such pastimes. And what a vacation this would promise – an absolute lack of the slightest imperative, instead of the commonplace sabbatorial struggles with yardarm, firearm and carriagable pup-tent, all of which are borne and employed in the vain hopes of a pleasant respite from the daily tediums of existence while instead replacing the infernal details of the former with a new set of nearly identical frustrations. To speak comparatively, a month without a Drag City Gazette would indeed be as a spell of recreation within one’s own apperception! Imagine, if you will, the invigorating benefit of such an emigration.

Thus enlightened, we proceeded forward in silence, confident that a pause would indeed be refreshing for a populace that we perceived to be literally inundated with thoughts, words, and yes, the sound of music as well. Perhaps our absence might additionly inspire the public pulse to slight increase upon our return. A gambit to be sure – though just as clearly, the spirit of the times requires all those incorporated in the service of the entertainment of nations to engage in such unusual pursuits. This then, explains how our inaction represents a hitherto unknown approach to the advertisement of commerce, and one that we expect will have an impact upon the hive of the inter-net at some point in the unclear mists of the future. In the morning of this new century, we seek to innovate so that all may benefit – but Drag City first, if you please.


Welcome then, to a new articulation of the Drag City News-letter. Though it is still hotter than hell’s hinges around our sub-terranean head-quarters, we have toiled extensively with no regard for our well-being in order that we might bring our readers all the latest news that is fit to illuminate from your monitor-screen - and as we trust you will understand, with no regard for the eye-strain that you may bring upon yourself while peering through spectacles as word upon word upon paragraph burst forth from our digital ink-well. There can be no stopping of the press once it has commenced, so be forewarned: Drag City news is coming!

As you might expect, the Drag City event-register is hardly lacking in notable issuances; live visualizations, musical occurrences and other concepts that have yet to receive proper assignation are spread with great opulance over what days remain in this calendar year. Further, we have already identified several developing projects that will bear fruit in the early days and weeks of the new year’s infancy. We have no wish to put the cart before the horse – such follies will not be in the best interests of either our business or the fickle curiosities of the masses. Therefore, we have prepared a set of missives regarding releases for the harvest season that will allow the discerning customer a cornucopia of perspectives. Why, the horn of Amaltheia itself could not promise greater riches than does Drag City – though we say so in hushed tones, lest we inspire the furies of Zeus and his thuggish gang! We humbly entreat you to read on, that some of our offering may catch your fascination. We shall commence our discourse with a recapitulative word or two upon the topic of the releases that have just come into circulation as of August 24th.


...America’s Funny-man” Neil Hamburger, to speak more precisely! The comedian of some repute has returned to the public with a phonograph release that captures Mr. Hamburger performing his classic routines before a massive assembly whose familiarity with his work is ambiguous. The collaboration of these two forces inaugurates moments of such poignance that only a true jester could mine for their comic potential. Failing in this enterprise, Mr. Hamburger seeks retribution from those in attendance who would seek to undermine his dignity - a risk-filled undertaking that could very well be categorized as entertainment. We encourage those who do not mind their comedic amusements fouled with a stream of profanities to investigate the sonic results on Hot February Night, currently available for the first time on phonograph LP (it was previously offered in digital-disc format) in the vinyl-rack at your local phonograph retailer.


The adventures of the pre-millennial rock and roll band known infamously as Royal Trux are still an unknown commodity to the majority of the world’s millions who represent musical fan-dom. To our mind, this unfortunate state of affairs represents a curious phenomenon whereby a musical youth-group wields great influence over other sonic youths whose popularity exceeds the former, but whose inspiration is patently derived from that group whose efforts are rewarded with unfathomable enigma. It’s an often-related tale of show business that only informs our understanding of Lincoln’s assertion regarding the hood-winking of the general populace (would that he have fooled just one additional member!). In an effort to bring revelation to the rock and roll partisan everywhere that he may be found, we are re-issuing the classic music-works of Royal Trux so that the young of this subsequent era may find their bellwether musics quite relevant and even entertaining to the extant that we ourselves do, from time to time. The fourth compendium of Royal Trux music, entitled with uniquivocal austerity Cats and Dogs, is now available again on the nostalgic format of compact-disc as well as in the abiding format of L-P, a vinyl edition newly minted for this occasion, sure to please grand-dads and paper-boys alike. Indeed, the youthful of all countenances may hear within this album the sound of enternity - a note that rings for all at a point of crucial passage through existance. To commemorate the rebirth of this music, we have contracted a clothier to replicate the under-shirt that Royal Trux offered to audiences during their hey-day as a wearable souvenir of their musical appeal. The shirt is presented as it was originally, a pure black cloth emblazoned with a silver emblem bearing the troupe’s name. In this fashion, one may experience Royal Trux as if anew, a mood we believe one should be desirous to revisit. Abandon your perceptions - let us rock and roll as though it will one day be 1994 again!


We now stand on the precipice of the unknown. Before us lies a quantity as yet unascertained: the days ahead that have yet to pass and that therefore cannot be evaluated. Those of us in the phonograph record industry live with such uncertainly every day, as we prepare entertainments for the society of the future with only a faint intuition as to how they will be received in order to guide us to that distant point. Despite the public’s ever-growing taste for complimentary musical amusements, we move forward much as we have ever, with a calendar in one hand and an abacus in the other, weighing cost versus time and charting the results of this equation in the hopes of an obtaining an accurate forecast. In this fashion, we derive a release-date for all of our phonographic products (as well as our other ventures in the market-place of print publishing and the digital video-disc) to retailers whose very life-blood is enriched by the profits made selling our products, among many worthy others. Upon repetition, this process may create a consensus that will, in essence, “predict the future,” utilising profits and educated guess-work to gain a vision of the weeks and months to come. To forthcoming generations, this will seem as quaint as the horse-less carriage – and to these readers of the future, we must insist that this was the fashion of the time.

To make an extensive story-telling concise, a potentially arcane form of business-sense allows us to now make an accounting of new musical releases we intend to issue in the months of September, October and November of this fine year. Behold...


While the above headline may imply unknown vulgarities to many in our society, regular readers of Drag City’s news-items know that this inter-title alludes to an infamous moving picture – a “talkie” as they have recently come to be known – that we have taken great pains to promote and distribute around the United States throughout this year. The visions of Mr. Harmony Korine have been projected in a multitude of cities and regions of the country, drawing to the nickelodeon cinema fans whose curiosities about the fad of “Trash-Humping” have been rewarded with a memorable viewing experience – but an experience that can only be recalled in memory. This is an extremely dissatisfying state of affairs. Suppose that a cinema enthusiast in attendance of a screening of Trash Humpers has the misfortune to pass into slumber, or otherwise lose consciousness? Regardless of whatever god-forsaken auto-sensualist adventure may have provoked this inadvertent amnesia, the compromise of this unfortunate person’s movie-going experience is simply put, unconscionable. We suggest therefore that one consider this option: the purchase of a digital video-disc (D-V-D, in abbreviated form) that can be played on multiple occasions in the opulence of one’s “home theatre.” Any problems with one’s memory can be instantly addressed with another playing of the video-disc. Further, one need not remember anything, as the content of such potential memories can be found only a single arm’s-length away. We believe many fans of Trash Humpers will appreciate the benefit of viewing and therefore experiencing this singular filmic work without having to personally store the information within their person. Thus, we will offer this fine D-V-D release, with additional features relating to Trash Humpers included, on the 21st of September of this year.


Fans of Drag City history may recollect of our long and satisfying relationship with the neo-con-futurist/socialist musical aggregation known as Stereolab. In fact, it was in the sun-filled autumn of our sixth year in this damnable business that we released Refried Ectoplasm, a collection of compendiary 7” single releases that had accumulated in the years previous. A second compilation of similarly compressed music entitled Aluminum Tunes was released several years subsequent. In between these retrospective works, we were flattered to release a phonograph LP version of the new Stereolab album of the day, entitled Dots and Loops. This however, did not end our association, as we have continued to work with the off-shoot organization Imitation Electric Piano and close relations High Llamas and Monade. Monade, if you will recall, was the name assigned by Laetitia Sadier to her non-Stereolab singing-and-playing project that eventually became a group of the same name under her direction during the mid-term of this very decade that is now coming to a conclusion. This state of things is now passed - for in 2008, Stereolab was put on hiatus and Monade was disbanded – all of which is rather dispiriting news to fans of their enjoyable electronically-generated music. To these fans, and to the world beyond, we are pleasured to announce that Drag City are a party to Laetita’s solo debut, assuming the position and responsibilites of world-wide distributor to the album entitled The Trip. This record-release is set to be issued on phonograph LP, compact disc and via down-load on that same September date that we will be issuing Trash Humpers.

Join us then, as the leaves fall from their tree-hosts signaling the turning of another season that will bring all of us closer to the grave. Life is finite, and we must make the most of it while we can, by absorbing that which the world around us has to offer. This is our century, and it needs us. Join hands with it, and make a fair exchange with your local retailer for the entertainment relevant to this very day.


Wait-person, I appeal to you to bring me a container of the largest possible circumference! The meal I have just consumed was deceptively rich, and I have over-indulged in all manner of my most favorite sweet and savory courses! Now comes the repeating, and I pray not to distract my fellow dining-folk with the wretched splashings that will undoubtedly soon result!

Is this not a fictionalized positing of some familiarity to many of those reading? Alas, the purging of that which has brought us so much pleasure is a common-place occurrence in today’s civil society. The bright lining to this cloud of abomination (dare we say abdomination?) might be perceived as such: with space cleared within one’s intestinal passage-ways, the formerly distressed party has made allowances for another feast of delights to soon follow. Within our industry of choice, we can only condone such a process; by our very professional code, this circumstance requests and requires the consumers of the musical marketplace to line up again, for more music in a variety of flavors perhaps previously not experienced – or a second helping of one’s own ear-tongue’s favorite taste sensations.

To those of you who faithfully binge-and-purge on Drag City Records every month, we promise you a selection in October and November that will be perceived as favorably coming up as it does going down. This digestive exploit begins with an album called Animals by a band mysteriously known only as Dwarr. Fittingly, this record is a regurgitation of sorts – a previously released private-press title that we are throwing up to the market-place as an example of onerous-metallic music made in the independent realm under the cold and forbidding reign of deceased president Ronald Reagan. Additionally planned for release in October is a new title on the stalwart Blue Chopsticks label, a compilation of sound and concept entitled Onrushing Cloud by the musical trio of Andrea Belfi, David Grubbs and Stefano Pillia. This issuance is a watershed event for Blue Chopsticks as it is the first release in their decade-plus history that is scheduled for phonograph LP. All previous titles were released on compact disc (as was the style of the time). There will also be a wall-hanging offered for release on this date drawn by the team of Rose Lazar and Matteah Baim, sure to enliven even the most unkempt parlour in the poorest of family homes - should there be enough loose specie to ensure purchase, that is!

Further into the future beyond these formidable releases lie the titles of November. On the date of November 16th, we are offering to all interested parties new music from the traveling people known the world ‘round as Faun Fables, with their long-awaited new album entitled Light of a Vaster Dark. Also on this day is an album of music paradoxically entitled Not Music. Amusingly, this album is from a band who is at present, not a band! The band in question, should there be any doubt, are those whose names we have already checked earlier in this correspondence, the groop called Stereolab. This record is a collection of additional recorded tracks amassed during the group’s final sessions before their recent self-declared hiatus period. Finally, November 21st will additionally mark the date where Drag City reissues the initial two Bachelorette albums that preceeded last year’s unjustly under-celebrated release My Electric Family. These two marvelous works of song, melody and machine will for be pressed for the very first time on phonographic vinyl. This will allow Bachelorette fans the opportunity to hear their favorite songs in an up-to-date analog format, which may seem to some as if time were shifting backwards but is in reality an evidence of forward movement. Time still has a few tricks up its sleeve, and we’re convinced we haven’t heard the last of it!

This accounts for much of, though not the entirety of, the news that Drag City has to offer to consumers, music fans and inter-net denziens of the world. Until we meet again, we offer our best to you as we do always and will do again…

In future days,

Mr. Rian T. Murphy

Drag City Incorporated

August of this Year