posted July 25th, 2016


New dawn breaks over Drag City YET AGAIN; dewy with heavy humidity, the Ivory Bunker™ is alit, as it has been for coming on 10,000 days now. Our place in the world is (semi-)secure, even if (and, y'know - when) it all ends. Like the unthinking capitalist whores we were raised to be, we've made a business of manufacturing, selling and promoting the work of musical artists we admire for oh-so-many decades now (two, actually! - glass-half-unbroken-ed.), while seeking alternate streams of distribution designed specifically for people like us (and sometimes, streams for people like "them" too). We make enough to make more, and whatever we make today is earmarked for future production, for as long as such product is needed (ie, profitable). We've changed NO world in the process; we've merely ridden on tides that are continually reshaping the world already, and done so with the great pleasure that comes of being a fan of the effort. Just as sure as we believe this, we also suspect that what we are up to won't happen forever. We're holding down a spot for a moment, and in time, the variables of this spot will pass to someone else, for them to modify and design according to their own particular fancy. Might it be YOU? If so, you better get your SHIT ASS FUCK together - we may be changing NO world by just subscribing to the (badly broken!) capitalist system that we were given, but STILL, it takes some kind of fortitude to run a stable such as ours, with all the wild-eyed stallions stamping and rearing within it. But we can't accept any other way; man is always trying to get free, and if that creates phases of instability (i.e. GREAT records), we can hang on through the tumult. Can you?


The plan? No plan. What sense does that make? No sense. We're of the mind that, while there may be math involved that we can measure (and when there is, we try), a musical experience is more likely to be a living, breathing thing, a process of building up and letting go, a breakthrough that happens (if we're lucky) so that the listener feels it down deep. No empirical facts required - what's meant by the music reaches into correspondent parts of the audience, each of whom have their own reality inside them. In this fashion, the music, no matter what specifically it conveys from the hand and mouth of its maker, has the potential to be the ALBUM OF THE YEAR in someone's heart and mind out there somewhere! Thus, back in January, we hit the sweet spot with not one but THREE albums: Ty Segall's Emotional Mugger, High Llamas' Here Come the Rattling Trees and Bonnie 'Prince' Billy's Pond Scum. So what do you do when you get it in one? Go again! That's what we did in February, with Rangda's The Heretic's Bargain and again again in March with Bitchin Bajas and Bonnie 'Prince' Billy's Epic Jammers and Fortunate Little Ditties (frankly, a dark horse alb that's collecting souls as it goes!). But shit, once you've dropped five ALBUMS OF THE YEAR and it's not even April and you haven't even released the new Cate Le Bon album yet, what the fuck you gonna do now? Crab Day arrived SO GOOD then, along with Neil Michael Hagerty & The Howling Hex's mighty Denver (in both LP and cassette-only "Approved for Indica" mix!). May's AOTY entry was Olivia Wyatt + Bitchin Bajas' film score Sailing a Sinking Sea (which also qualifies for DVDOTY, FYMFI). And that's to say nothing of the pristine FSA LP reissues (Further, Chorus, New Lands and Mirror), the superb post-punk/80s vintage music release from The Red Krayola with Art & Language (Baby and Child Care) and the late 70s Lightstorm compilation (Creation). All these records carry the power to change hearts, minds and lives! Now it's July, and we've got another contender for top title in Faun Fables' Born of the Sun. Our award-hefting arm is growing weak...what can possibly be next? You can be sure it'll be another - ALBUM OF THE YEAR!


Meanwhile, the river of life keeps on rolling, with or without our ole' steamboat rolling up on top of it. Last year, we had fellows who'd opted off the ride a long time ago come back on board - but while Jim O'Rourke and Flying Saucer Attack had been out of the mix for up to fifteen freakin' years, 'tis only been five years betwixt the last Faun Fables album and the one that hit streets (cobblestone ones, and footpaths, and other roads less traveled) on July 22nd. So that's great, right? Well, sort of. I mean, it's always awesome when there's new music from Faun Fables. But these days, five years is somehow LONGER than the definitive span of fifteen; similarly, three months pass like twenty years in our fabulous, furry new world! This is the fault of the internet, of course, for speeding up time and ultimately finishing the work that television commercials started on attention spans way back in the 1960s. But this is actually a plus for Faun Fables, who have been on the vanguard of the 'unplug' movement since way back in the 90s, by which we mean the nineteen-90s, okay? If you DID think Dawn 'The Faun' McCarthy was from the 1890s, it wouldn't be the WILDEST assumption - she definitely gives off more of a warm glow of oil and tallow as opposed to say, LEDs and fluorescents! As the title of their last album put it, Light of a Vaster Dark, y'all. Face it, for generations of youngsters (and the oldsters they become), yesterday makes more sense than today, and to the most gifted of them, they're able to use that inspiration as a spark to communicate to us; if not the dogma of their fixation, then at least as a supportive frame for great new music. That's where Faun Fables comes from. The retro-folk of the 70s is transposed forward again to make music that actually ends up belonging more to today than anywhere else - a genuine expression to the modern world of people desiring a more primitive outback in which to ply their trade. And that trade be not so much an antebellum style as a corseted-rock-cum-folk style crossed with old-world musics to make a bejeweled modern gypsy statement rife with hallucinatory passages and deeply felt traditional yearnings. Truly a cornucopia of earthy sounds and celestial imaginings, Born of the Sun is a power-laden reimagining of the Faun Fables sound. They're out there, you know - touring among us right now, bringing the album to your ears in the old way. Rebirth yourself today!


So then, for the month of July, the darkly psychedelic electro-acoustic love-light of Faun Fables. But what to accompany these complex yet elemental vibrations into the public eye? Actually, the Drag City deck is STACKED with appropriate companions - but since Plastic Crimewave finished the new ish of the Galactic Zoo Dossier, what REALLY might be more perfect? Since the GZD (as we sometimes call it when we want to save time that we then waste by explaining what we are doing by abbreviating it) is all about the preservation and promotion of the superiority of former cultures that remain present and influential in our otherwise thoroughly-changed landscape today, which if you think about it is right on a similar line as the folks in Faun Fables, with tantalizingly different results! And hey, speaking of the Galactic Zoo Dossier, it's high time (hyuk) there was a new issue - nearly five years since last heard from, almost the same scenario as Faun Fables! The difference is, Steve "Plastic Crimewave" Krakow is also a curating-crazy DJ, columnist, musician and label-head whose GZD Disk imprint has issued vintage material from Sandy Bull, Tony Caro and John, The George-Edwards Group, Michael Yonkers and Midnight in the time elapsed since the last ‘Zoo Dossier. This has kept Galactic Zoo's consciousness alive (along with available copies of the past two issues! - step-right-up ed.) right up until the crucial moment of NOW. Worth the wait is GZD #10, organized by your addled editor as "The Interview Issue" as well as a "20th Anniversary Special"! With over 150 pages of hand-written and drawn ravings of pure, uncut fandom from not only Mr. Crimewave, but also esteemed contributors George Hansen, Gareth Goddard, Frankie Delmane, Robert Jaz, Tom Szidon, Dawn Aquarius and a handful of others, GZD10 is packed with psyched-out oddments from The Wonderful World of Comics as well as advertisements, articles and other ephemera from the silver age of rock and roll (60s and 70s, yo!). And didn't we mention interviews? Oh yeah - spoken with are living legends Arthur Brown, Edgar Broughton, Shirley Collins, Richard Pinhas, Max Ochs, Michael Chapman, and MANY others! PLUS pieces on Biker Movie Soundtrax! The Insect Trust! Circus Maximus! Space Rock! And of course, Unicorns! All of it penned, xeroxed, photographed, cut and pasted in grand zine fashion! Forgive us if you've heard this one before, but: Galactic Zoo Dossier - they're not the best at what they do, they're the ONLY ONES at what they do!


And then....nothing! The gentle breezes blowing the extreme heat of late summer through your shuttered windows will bring no bounty from Drag City Records, not in 2016. There's no why, strictly speaking. We blew our wad? Sure, tell your friends. A Spotify-Wikileaks cabal? Yeah, that's it. Or maybe we decided that it was high time to clean under the desk and behind the stereo and paint the walls around the bunker while we're at it? Ehhh, could be! Perhaps we might have skimmed a thing or two off the previous months' dates so that one of those seventeen releases could represent August? Whoops. But don't worry - Drag City people are still making music in August, they're just not appearing on albums being RELEASED in August. Can you deal with the weirdness? If yes, then before your eyes and ears, DC artists will make it happen! Faun Fables continue on their path down the American road! Scout Niblett takes a trip to Germany! Cate Le Bon will be keeping it festive at Visions and Green Man while Alasdair Roberts takes his trio to Sea Change Fest and Folk Festival On the Dock, all events located in traitorous southern UK! Meanwhile, back in carefree America (HA), Sir Richard Bishop, Ty Segall, and the Cairo Gang will be pickin' and grinnin' at Pickathon! Plus, Ty rocks FYF later in the month! Plus, Bill Callahan plays at the TED Talk convention in KC! Why, even Peacers and Blues Control will be playing a (lone, solitary) gig each in August! Oh, the bounty. So shet yer yap and enjoy the show - we'll be back with a vengeance in September. Is there any other way to be back?


What's this generation coming to? That's what's always asked when dissecting the forward motion of youth movements around the world in whatever passes for "today" - and of course, this implies that the course is somehow wayward too - but for us, the more PRESSING question is, WHAT generation? Ours, theirs or some other kind of one? And furthermore, what, beyond a shared age range, are their distinguishing factors, hair-styles, trouser cuts, in-jokes, shoes? If we can't tell from what we see with our own eyes, how will we know its them? Do they even WANT us to know what they're coming to? Do we want them to know what WE'RE coming to? To understand these generational chasms, we know better than to think that we can go undercover (for who can hide from the ravages of time, whether it be too much or too little?), but at the very least, we can plan to be in the right place at the right time - or, in the case of Pitchfork 2016, the place where it happened. And so, we positioned ourselves there to see and hear "what's happening" "today." And what we heard is that, sure, there's some good out there, a lot of reasons to listen to music and a lot of reasons to try and entertain (and therefore, SELL) in an interesting and different way - if for no other reason than to avoid doing things in the same DULL way next year at this and other festive occasions! Y'know, like maybe to draw more interested bodies and minds to the scene? We could use more of them, not to mention interestING people too. Thus to make the festival more festive for our new age. People, the 20th century is over - when will we discover the 21st? Everyone: please try harder. Thank you - signed, Drag City.


As promised not too long ago ago, Drag City relaunches in September with ALL-new, ALL-killer items of ALL kinds! be precise, music-wise, they're mostly rock-based, but with notable strains of experimentation here and there. And one fully-avant drones-n-more-type release. Speaking formatically, they're mostly on LP, but a couple titles come also on CS and one on CD too, even (what's this generation coming to?)! So, OK - to be a bit more precise, all-killer items of SEVERAL kinds, depending on what criteria you apply. Jesus, people - can't we just we paint you a picture? Too much detail screws the pitch! Basically, we've got several albums of music to change your life by, and not one of them at all like any other. But pardon us if they all preach REVOLUTION (in your head) - that's just what our chosen people are always thinking about, even if and when the country isn't poised on the brink of several kinds of disaster! Take Tim Presley of White Fence, for example. Tim's spent the previous five years or so riding the brand for White Fence with singular pop tunes, closet-composed, (mostly) home-recorded and stuffed to bursting with lyrical allusion and sonic illusion alike. As often happens, this series of albums has evolved a song-craft that has elevated its ability to impact with each new album - a rambling body of truly breathtaking playing and writing and pop poetry in the service of a wasted yet scathingly-attentive rock and roll vision that, even as it rummages through the drawers of the past in search of little trinkets to hock, says NOW. So that's White Fence. But who is Tim Presley if not that? Well, in the early aughts, our lad starred (as Timmy Stardust) in The Nerve Agents, whose several albums of total hardcore onslaught is a world apart from White Fence. Even the psychedelic sounds of Darker My Love (his subsequent outfit), are something else entirely from his current bent! Plus, there's his collaborations with Ty Segall and his Drinks duo with Cate Le Bon. All of these efforts excitingly show another side of Tim Presley. That's why you needn't be shocked to be so shocked to hear the sound of The WiNK! Or take the mysterious collective known as Chivalrous Amoekons. Their album Fanatic Voyage is some of the most powerful rock (in its classic form) that we've heard in many years - and not a note of it original! From the label distributed by the label that brought you "For the Mekons, et al" (Sea Note and Drag City, respectively - wheat-from-chaff-separating ed.), Fanatic Voyage is an album of all Mekons covers, and an incredibly fine one at that. If you're wondering why now is the time for warmed-over musings from an 80s-90s art-socialist collective, you're really not getting what's happening now, are you? WHEN ELSE will songs like these make sense? A night of music perfect for singing to the stars as the ship goes down, Fanatic Voyage is also staffed with an all-star band doing the singing and playing and, as said above, is as righteous a traditional rock album as we've heard in years. They still DO make them like this. Also in September, we've got another distributed label offering - this one from those crazed ones at Sun Ark Records. Their latest discovery is a cat named Rob Magill, and HIS latest discovery is an album called The Owl and the Pussycat. Straight out of Ojai, CA (relatively speaking), Rob's a reed-playing musical adventurer who has released a full-on plethora of albums (count 'em - 50!) through his own Weird Cry label, collaborating along the way with Low's Walker Delbo, Black Spirituals' Marshall Trammell, the Sun Araw Band and Eugene Chadbourne, among many others. Here, Rob's immersion in tonal centers and drones is executed via woodwinds, strings, guitars, keyboards, percussion and drums, while contrasting with wigged-out spoken word sections. A wild workout for your ears and whatever they're still attached to, The Owl and The Pussycat comes complete with praise, but no blame, accorded to 160 luminaries from all walks of artistic achievement, taking its place next to them with audaciousness and austerity, a modern minimal masterwork.

All of this coming to you in September - and with more in the works! Drag City's not going anywhere but forward. We want you to come! And cum! But we're not gonna suck to get you to do it. Manual release, baby!

The choice is yours -

Rian Murphy

Drag City Inc.

July 2016