The Drag City Newsletter! December 2016

posted December 5th, 2016



Don’t LOOK at the future, just DEAL WITH IT! That’s how about half of us (and not necessarily the better half) are feeling these days, and sure, we’re still making plans and pre-morteming the potential pitfalls and summoning that former feeling called ‘hope’ - but you gotta admit: if you’re alive today (and you’re reading this! – socio-demographically aware ed.), you’re taking a certain amount on faith. Stone-cold, ice-cold faith. And the rest you’re not looking at. But look at it looking at it this way: no matter what, you won’t have to look at it long! Time has a way of getting behind us somehow. The days go by, they become weeks. The suggestions of last season harden into possibilities that become realities. Some of them are clearly better than others, but regardless, appointed days inevitably arrive. And then it’s tomorrow. Then we’re working on another future day. Being a record label means maintaining a catalog of numbers that stretch back to some ever-distant start date. That’s history. We keep up with those numbers and push them forward. But the other side of it is assembling new numbers. Until the day that the realtors and their repossession agents come to haul our shit out of here because it’s not of use or interest to the fiscal system representing the desire of the kids any longer, we’re still stirring it around over here, doing what we can to make way for the world that’s coming. We’re counting on you to do the same, please! 


Yes, tomorrow! If every month were a day, then December’s tomorrow would be January, which traditionally signals the start of another year (except in China – enjoying-the-ominous-resonance-of-that-innocuous-statement-in-today’s-current-“we’re-fucked”-climate ed.) of excitement, tumult, drama, bullshit – and great music from all comers at Drag City Records! Always – as we promised above, until eviction and death by exposure in the streets brings it to a halt. This year, young and daily growing Ty Segall helps us ring it in and kick it off again. Do you know why you likemost about Ty? Is it because he rocks? Well, cool – kind of simplistic, but you do you. For us, it’s that he makes great records and that he hasn’t yet made a record yet that he won’t make differently the next time around. January 2017’s Ty Segall LP/CD/CS/DL stands out from 2016’s Emotional Mugger,  2014’s Manipulator, 2013’s Sleeper, 2012’s Twins, 2011’s Goodbye Bread, 2010’s Melted, 2009’s Lemons and 2008’s Ty Segall and doesn’t really repeat any of them as an album experience. Sure, there’s aspects that may remind us of certain things we loved, but they’re all presented in the name of the new, the oncoming, the tomorrow – this is the day that Ty Segall is facing always. Take for instance the already previewed “Orange Color Queen” – it’s an acoustic number, like a lot of the songs on Sleeper but has more of a Manipulator sheen to it and doesn’t really sound like either of them. And what a song! Such a love song. There aren’t many like that in the catalog of young Master Segall. Plus, after the filth, funny and near-operatic funk ‘n’ rot of Emotional Mugger, this is something super-different. The only thing that’s the same about anything is that this record, just like his first one, is called Ty Segall. Maybe once every decade you can do that – like, once the cells in your body are all new again. So definitively, the human after whom this forthcoming album is named is a changed man. Now that doesn’t mean he’s not rocking with guitars. It doesn’t mean you won’t hear two guitar solos for the price of one whenever the break comes. It doesn’t mean he’s still not fighting the Man everywhere he encounters him – but the colors, flavors and length of the jams assembled here are all fucking new! And the next one will be too. That’s why we love Ty.


2016 passed pretty well for you, didn’t it? You just sat around in your little bubble, eating bon-bons. But did you include any Cate Le Bons in your daily intake, you debauched sons and daughters of beechos? Chances are, you’re in the increasingly smaller percentage of the population that a) didn’t; and b) doesn’t know someone who did – because if you knew somebody who was onto Crab Day after it came out last spring, you’d be all about it too! Cate’s music is a highly refined brand of pop soda that fizzes HOT in your mouth-field. People dig the burn of ginger on their tastebuds nowadays, but Cate’s hot stuff is a variety that you MUST try. Fortunately, January 27th will be another chance for you (though if you want, you can go back and get Crab Day or Cate’s previous three records, all of which are just SO fun and delightful and great as music) with the release of "Rock Pool", a four-song 12”EP that runs at a sprint, never gives up and is a winner. And even though it’s by a woman….well, red America, we think you’re ready. The title track’s making the rounds, it displays all the virtues and charms that we expect (but never see coming) in Cate’s music. Sprightly, ringing, oblique, catchy – all these words (and remember, they’re just words, folks) and MORE make for (four) songs meant to rule the airwaves (in Lilliput, USA!). So for those of you who are already righteously aboard – good news! For the rest, another chance! “Rock Pool” is waiting for you to dive in.


But that’s January – what are you supposed to drop the dosh on today? Kee-ryus, dincha read the newsletter last month? No? Too long? No? Well, what then? Go ahead, articulate it, bitch-boy! We can wait all night….we can’t? Okay, so what’s going on now is that we’ve just had one of our BEST dates of the year in terms of quality AND quantity! Four new releases, all of which we’ll tell you a little about – starting with Papa M. An instrumental journaler with an eclectic eye, Papa M brings the strength of strings to his craft – he’s a top-notch picker, but he’s not out to make new John Fahey records like so many young men today! No, he’s gonna mix electric and acoustic, the blues and Tuareg, dance-beats and metal, one man band style….and all of it gonna sound so much better than the mutant freakshow implied by this description! Because Papa M is none other than David Pajo, guitarist of Slint, and contributor (and polisher) to many others’ music, with a resume of really classic, austere recordings (and sure, some shit – but NEVER under his own name!) a fucking mile long. If you’re young, his earliest recordings might be just a year or two older than you, and it’s true, he hasn’t recorded as Papa M for SO LONG – it was actually 2001 when we he made his previous album, “Whatever, Mortal” . Chances are, you might know the name more for the headlines he made last year when he announced his own suicide online. If you didn’t get past the headline, it’s OK – he survived, this is not a posthumous album. The problem – and solution, come to think of it – with sending your suicide note out on Instagram or whatever is that people will get hip to it very quick. So they were able to get to him before he grew cold at the end of the rope. He had a new lease of life – but then he crashed his motorbike into a car that was plowing into him and got broke up bad. Highway Songs as we now call it was halfway done by then – so once David got up and running (on crutches), he finished the record. Lo and behold, when it was all together, it was a Papa M record! Since we’ve always loved Papa M records, and Aerial M records too, we’re psyched. You will be too – David may be almost crippled (a temporary thing), but musically he hasn’t lost a step! Highway Songs has the classic Papa M feel with a new twist –the more pronounced strain of hard rock (which was previously a pretty powerful undercurrent) among his potpourri of sounds. Like the great Live From a Shark Cage, Highway Songs flows seamlessly (unlike it’s maker – ouch!), providing a variety of looks through the glass darkly and directly into the light at the end of the tunnel, on 180gm LP, CD, DL, and – yes, cassette! Play Highway Songs on the highway of your own damn life, starting today.


Standing before you is a man who you can’t quite identify. It’s possible he doesn't look like anyone – or perhaps he’s projecting an image that you’re finding hard to process. The fact is, Cory Hanson is almost an alias for him at this point – he’s worked hard to spearhead the music known as Wand for the past couple years. Between August 2014 and September 2015, Cory and the fine-ass young men known as Wand released three - count ‘em, three! – albums of densely-populated psychedelic rock music in a thoroughly modern mode, with twists and flares of pop, punk and progressive (though don’t tell them we said any of this since they don’t like labels on their music). So now it’s been over a year – and not only haven’t we Wand fans not gotten another three records, we haven’t gotten even one! Sure, there’s been reasons. We’re not going into reasons. That’s stupid. Music is music – just because writing took place this way or that and the same with recording, that doesn’t make a difference. Mainly, we’re gonna hear the music. And that’s good for Cory, since he’s just made a record under his own name and not Wand’s. The Unborn Capitalist From Limbo came out last month, when Wand was touring in Europe. Cory just played his first live show as Cory Hanson last night in LA. Man, it was awesome! The flavor of the album is acoustic, with strings and rhythm. Compared to the squiggly activity of Wand, The Unborn Capitalist From Limbo is super-straightforward, but made highly individual by the string arrangements of Heather Lockie, which are alternately tight, smart, smooth, soulful and enervating, and the surreal existentialism of Cory’s lyrics, which communicate a “what-happened-to-my-world” vibe worthy of the great Sister Lovers! Also, fans of the stricken sounds of Robin’s Reign need apply, they won’t be disappointed. Just a passel of great tunes, fun to sing along with (since you say things you would never say in real life), and tastefully subversive on the ears. Sweet! Cory’s got some west coast dates coming up in February and more, we hope, elsewhere – the twisted logic of The Unborn Capitalist From Limbo is a thing the world needs MORE of. On LP, CD, CS and DL, FYMFI.


Another release, another no-name outfit deserving all your attention! Or is it, another release, another highly prolific outfit ALSO deserving all your attention? Ding ding – it’s both! The Silence are the new band from Japan’s Masaki Batoh, whose former band, Ghost, ruled all the worlds of psych, and folk, and prog for nearly 20 years, protesting with great and musical ambition against anti-life starting out in the late 80s, throughout the 90s and much of the aughts. Ghost made many classic records of expansive rock music that will live forever. Now, however, Batoh is leading The Silence, who are named from that roar in your ears when you’ve attained peaceful meditation. Silent, they are not! Loud is more like what the quintet that Batoh has assembled is, but also prolific – Nine Suns, One Morning is their third album since March of 2015! They’re like the Wand of Japan! All three were recorded meticulously in analogue sound, each with its own vibe – the first record, more folky; the second, deeply jammed; this third one, a prog-pop masterpiece. Diverse elements are mixed together in The Silence’s sound, and the musical sense that they make is always a pure form of delight to the listener! The only problem is, as they are from Japan and are five-strong and everyone plays loads of different things, it’s not been possible for them to tour outside of their home country thus far. We hope to change that in the year to come – America needs their good energy, if only for a couple weeks – but in the meantime, if you like the psych, the folk, the prog, the rock, the spirit music, the transcendence, then take our word for it and buy Nine Suns, One Morning. Yeah, the vinyl’s expensive! It’s got a 7” included and there weren’t many pressed because few are deserving! So drop the (three) dimes on it and hear for yourself – the sound of your life, being changed by The Silence


Your head….is in your hands. Your hands….are in the air. Your ears….are in the Stars. No, the micro-doses aren’t beginning to kick in – this is just what happens when you listen to the Major Stars album, Motion Set. It’s the sound of six people knocking your ass around, an ultimate-fighting punch that’ll leave you foggy and senseless without the threat of enduring brain damage! Instead, you get enhanced perceptions as a result of the intense wave forms that close around your brain every time you drop the needle. As the sound of three guitars crush together on top of the splashing, churning rhythm section (bass and drums – what, these guys need a piano too?) and double-tracked vocals, the effect is that of exercise bands on our pallium, stretching, challenging, augmenting our awareness. This is no noodle factory - the point of Wayne Rogers’, Tom Leonard’s and Kate Biggar’s guitar solos and the slamming rock that lies beneath them is to clear space around us – so that we may see how much more space there is than originally thought!  Redefinition is the name of the game, and perception is the delivery system – why just look at the track titles! “Alert” – “Unlearn” – “Motion Set” – “For Today” – “Change Your Memory” – “I Believe You” – “Fade Out”. All alluding to temporal aspects of awareness that we use instead to determine an absolute reality around us! Major Stars are here to shatter that – and after they’ve done that in the first moments of Motion Set, then it’s all about great guitar music and the earthly powers of rock and roll. See, Major Stars love records – once you’ve got a copy of Motion Set in your hands and you can feel the abrading grain of the silkscreen beneath your fingers, once your eyes set upon the granular reproduction of the print on the back cover and classicistic perfection of the layout, then you will know how carefully this listening experience is prepared for you. No wonder it take years for theses Stars to align! Motion Set is available now, on LP only; only YOU actually want a download, you pussy.  


It's the end of the year! What more do you want? MORE stuff? More shows? We've done what we could with 2016 and it wasn't easy. Euuuuuuuchhhh (except for all the music). But December is bringing some events, scattered artists - PeacersThe SilenceMajor Stars and Faun Fables, spreading holiday cheers, just the way you like it. See the tour page, damn you! And remember, January is where it is REALLY happening - first with that rarest of birds, a Meg Baird US tour. It's ten shows long and guess what? We're not complaining  That's like, seven more shows than Meg played all last year, when her last album, the extraordinary Don't Weigh Down the Light was released! So fuck yeah. Also rating high on the fuck-yeah scale is the co-headlining US tour of Cate Le Bon and Tim Presley - two artists for the price of two! They'll be playing their respective catalogs and new albums, of which Tim's is the newer, but only by a couple months, and besides, Cate's got that new EP she'll be hawkin'. It's anyone's guess, actually, on who'll come out ahead with that much amazing on stage every night. We're guessing you, provided you show the fuck up. Toward the end of the month, then Ty shows up start promoting his new album, and that's where 2017 really gets it wings. 

You’ll find us there – or we’ll find you – in tomorrow!  


Rian Murphy

Drag City Inc.

December 2016

* the image of Dr. Strange at the top of this newsletter was created by Steve Ditko and Stan Lee and is the property of
Marvel Comics and whatever multinational corporation owns them. We claim no right to the image, we are just using it to 
help express the sense of an alien dimension that stretches out before us in the years to come.