Interview: Marc Sallis (Blank City Records)

Interview: Marc Sallis (Blank City Records)

Los Angeles label Blank City Records was formed this year by Marc Sallis, former bassist for the Duke Spirit, and Brandon Burkart, of The Saint James Society. The label specializes in releasing music to flexis made from vintage medical x-rays, à la Russian roentgenizdat bootlegs from the ’50s and ’60s. The Blank City x-ray flexis are playable on standard record players, with the label focusing primarily on developing and releasing music from L.A. artists. The label’s first release was The Saint James Society’s Covered In Blood EP, which sold out in less than 24 hours.


Interview with Creep Records’ Will Angelos at Modern Vinyl

creep-records-logo-copy With a myriad of options for vinyl subscriptions, there’s no end to who can curate new listening experiences for you. Still, there’s nothing quite like the hand-picked, personal touch that comes with a recommendation from a local record shop. One such record shop is combining those two worlds. Philadelphia’s Creep Records, along with a physical store in the Northern Liberties section of the city, has been a record label for over 20 years, releasing albums by the likes of Plow United and more. Here, each subscriber has legit record store employees making picks for them each month. We reached out to Creep’s manager, Will Angelos, via e-mail and asked him some questions about this new spin on an old idea. Read the full interview at Modern Vinyl. Published 1/17/17

Interview with Rusted Wave’s Jake Lamme at Modern Vinyl

Rusted Wave — those who released the amazing Wet Hot American Summer soundtrack — recently launched a Kickstarter for a vinyl release of Anthony Marinelli and Brian Banks’s score to the 1988 western, Young Guns. Despite the star power of the film, which starred the likes of Emilio Estevez, Kiefer Sutherland, Charlie Sheen, Lou Diamond Phillips, and Dermot Mulroney, the score’s never been released in any format. It’s rather amazing to think about, especially as the 1990 sequel saw not only the release of Alan Silvestri’s score, but an attendant 11-track album by Jon Bon Jovi, titled Blaze of Glory, which was a collection of songs “inspired” by the film.
Read the full interview and preview at Modern Vinyl. Published 9/14/16

Q&A with Water Tower Music’s Peter Axelrad at Starburst Magazine

After a lengthy hiatus, fans of film and television scores now have a second volume in the very excellent Music of DC Comics series released by Water Tower Music. Encompassing everything from the very recent, with Junkie-XL and Hans Zimmer's work on Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, and the very nearly antique Columbia Pictures serial Batman and Robin from 1949, there's something which will appeal to DC Comics fans the world over. As the press release states, this is ‘a collection for DC Comics fans, created by a DC Comics fan.’ Executive album producer Peter Axelrad produced both this album and The Music of DC Comics: 75th Anniversary Collection, released in 2009. He was kind enough to answer some questions about the two compilations and their varied musical selections.
Read the Q&A with Peter Axelrad at Starburst Magazine. Published 8/1/16

Q&A with Vinyl Me, Please’s Cam Schaefer at Modern Vinyl

Record subscription service Vinyl Me, Please is at this point, a phenomenon. Billed as “the best damn record club,” it’s managed to make #mailday fun again, a monthly record paired with cocktail recipe, custom artwork and more. Hell, even the release announcements are anticipated and marked days for collectors. I’ll admit: I was skeptical, at first. Why not just walk down to your local shop, hand them $25, and ask for something they think is good? Well, some of us aren’t lucky enough to have that shop, and some of us just like getting stuff in the mail. All of that said, how the hell do they pick this stuff out? What makes this “the best damn record club”? We called up the company’s head of label relations, Cam Schaefer, and proceeded to ask him exactly that, just 10 minutes after he got home from a camping trip in the Colorado mountains.
Read the complete Q&A at Modern Vinyl. Published 7/25/16

Lawrence Field Day Fest 5 feature at the Pitch

[caption id="attachment_18836" align="aligncenter" width="540"]Music_ShadowRabbits.57850c177944f Shadow Rabbits[/caption]
In its original incarnation, Lawrence Field Day Fest featured the sort of games played during elementary school field days. Those games have gone by the wayside in favor of three days of the best local music the area has to offer. Past years have focused on indie and rock acts, but the fifth edition has the fest branching out with more bands and artists than ever before. In addition to the fest spotlighting Girls Rock Lawrence, there will be three different local labels showcasing their acts. The Pitch spoke with the folks behind the Record Machine, High Dive Records and Datura to find out what they have to offer attendees this year.
Read the complete feature on Field Day Fest 5 at the Pitch. Published 7/12/16

The last batch of singles from Windian Records’ founder, Travis Jackson

windian singles Getting a big package of singles in the mail is always exciting, especially when you're not expecting them. It's bittersweet to open the box and realize that these are the last singles overseen by the late Windian Records' head honcho, Travis Jackson. Jackson died unexpectedly earlier this year when hit by car as he worked on a road construction crew. Looking at the note, which was right on top of the stack of singles when I opened the package, I basically burst into tears. Now, I don't claim to have known Jackson very well, but he'd been helpful with providing some promo stuff for review and play on the podcast, and every interaction I had with him was kind and excited and full of life. It's strange to think that a man who I never met in person would be missed so much, but Jackson's verve for music and excitement for what he was doing with Windian was infectious, and you wanted him to succeed. Eric Brady will continue the label on, and the music looks to be coming strong. cover - mrs magicianOut of this stack of singles, there's not a one that didn't grab me in one way or another. Top of the list has to be Mrs Magician's "Friday Night" b/w "Crosses" single. It was part of the second Windian Single Series, and it's a masterful piece of reverb-drenched surfy power pop. It sounds like summer. Comparisons to the likes of Dum Dum Girls and New Pornographers are inevitable. However, who cares? Because both of those bands are wonderful. I want to put "Friday Night" on a mix CD in my truck and drive around listening to it while drinking lemonade at 2 o'clock in the morning. The flip, "Crosses," ups the surf angle, and jangles its way through three minutes of the catchiest anti-established religion cut you've ever heard. "Crosses" twangs and harmonizes everywhere you'd want a song to do so, and works in girl-group (by way of dudes) "sha-la," "woo-hoo," and every other onomatopoeic vocal affectation in the book. [embed][/embed] cover - the ettes cryWhile not reinventing their sound with every new release, the Ettes manage to tweak it just enough to sound fresh and interesting. The last thing I'd heard from them was the gothic country of "Teeth," and it was a full switch from their second album, Look At Life Again Soon, which featured the frantic stomper "Crown of Age." I just never know what to expect from the trio, other than it'll be fucking good. The a-side cut's a little more loose and hazy than we've heard from the Ettes before, and it's fucking great. "Girl I'll Never Be" is darker and more ominous than the a-side, with the bass distorted to the point of almost breaking. It pulses, while the guitar cuts right through in counterpoint. The Ettes spin it around in a whirl of declination, going down into a dark hole of contradictory shouts. [embed][/embed] cover - ar-kaicsThe Ar-Kaics are previewing their forthcoming Windian LP (although neither of these tracks on on it), with these two primitive bangers. Snotty vocals, simple pounding drums, and basic churned-out guitars suddenly give way on "Why Should I?" to a surprisingly catchy chorus, replete with an equally-catchy guitar line. "Slave to Her Lies" is a little less poppy, sounding like a dark mirror image of the Turtles' "Happy Together." It's almost as if the relationship in the Turtles song has long since gone sour, for reasons of infidelity and distrust. It stomps along, nearly dirge-like, punctuated by shouted "SLAVE!"s, for its entirety. Dark, dirty, dirgy, and damned good. [embed][/embed] cover - killer beesThis bit of Dictators worship from D.C.'s Killer Bees, Buzz'n the Town, has a lot in common with most punk songs about television. Be it "TV Party" or "Television Addict," the songs have a glee about them, even as they denigrate that about which they sing. The kick drum hits with a flat thud, pegging out the meters, and lending a strange metronomic effect to an otherwise propulsive cut. The guitars rip along, and you know this was a pogo cut in its day. [embed][/embed] The flip's very much in the same vein, chooglin' along like an amped-up southern r&b act, but manages to throw in some nice stop-and-start "I like it! I love it!" breaks, as well as a solid guitar solo for the bridge. Wish the ending "rock & roll hangover" bits could've been more harmony or more shouted, rather than some half-assed middle ground, though. cover - penetrators shopping bagIs there a bad Penetrators recording? I mean, I know they all sound like crap -- seriously, for all of the Mummies' claims, the Penetrators are the real kings of budget rock -- but the band's songs always manage to have something about them. "Shopping Bag" is nasal, and the attempt at a guitar solo is almost laughable, but damned if this tinny piece of schlock isn't going to worm its way into your head almost immediately. [embed][/embed] "Everybody Needs Lovin'" might've been recorded in a closet by mentally deranged individuals, but it's still danceable in its own weird way. The guitar solo succeeds more on this side, but Syracuse's finest fascinate in spite of possible displays of technical proficiency. It's mainly due to a spoken word intro and outro that makes no sense, but sounds cool, like an avant-garde take on the Blues Brothers' version of "Someone to Love." All of the singles are available for purchase from the Windian Records store.

Josh Berwanger, “Oh Bis!” 7-inch

cover - berwanger too much rockKids! Kidskidskidskids! Guess what? Josh Berwanger put out a new single! And it's part of the too Much Rock single series! And it has a cover of the Jags' "Back of My Hand" on the b-side! I literally responded to the initial news of this with a linked article on Facebook and something along the lines of "THE FUCKING JAGS?!?!" But, really, everybody: I'm a huge fan of Josh berwanger as a musician and just a guy to chat with in general, and this might be my favorite thing he's thus far done. "Oh Bis!" has been part of Bernwager's live sets for a while now, and the fact that he uses the word "bozos" has always endeared the song to me. I also really like the fact that the song flips the usual pop song narrative, working in a certain element of self-awareness, wherein Berwanger's singing about how "he could never love you like he does," rather than railing about how he could do so much better. It's a clever bit of mirroring, and the lyrics give lie to the postivity of the music. [embed][/embed] The flipside, a cover of the Jags' "Back of My Hand," is pretty much perfect. The addition of Heidi Gluck on backing vocals is always a welcome addition -- her work on Berwanger's album, Strange Stains, resulted in some of that record's highlights. The cover's pretty straightforward, but fits in nicely with the band's previous cuts. The single's out tomorrow, and can be found at Lawrence's Love Garden Sounds, as well as Kansas City's Mills Record Comapny, who will play host to a release show for the single on Thursday, June 5. If you're not able to get to either shop, you can buy it from Josh Berwanger's online store (which, in the interest of full disclosure, is my day job). You've your choice of black vinyl (a pressing of 416) or random color (a pressing of 109, which includes blue, turquoise, purple, and red, amongst others). Additionally, the Jay Shaw artwork lends a bit of continuity to the look of Berwanger's releases. Nice job on the reto picture sleeve. This sucker looks straight out of 1981.

Sid Sowder on his label, Too Much Rock

too much rock logoWith his new label, Too Much Rock, Kansas City's Sid Sowder might have the most revelatory approach to releasing music you've ever heard: “I used to run a label for years where I worked very hard and lost a lot of money. Now I'm just pressing the 7-inchess and giving them to the band. I lose the same amount of money and I get to say F-U to the 'industry' part of the record industry.” That first label, Urinine Records – which put out records from the Capsules and Namelessnumberheadman, among others – closed up shop nearly a decade ago, but Sowder's not been absent from the record release parties of local artists. In the years between Urinine's end and the inception of Too Much Rock, he's anonymously funded various local releases (he demurs to reveal which ones), but decided to come out of the shadows for this singles series. The protocol behind Too Much Rock and the attendant singles series is simple, says Sowder. “I press 500 limited-edition records and just give them to the band. I pay for all printing, licensing, manufacturing, etc. The band can do with them what they will.” The bands are providing the recording, but in terms of what they're getting, it seems likely that many won't balk at the necessity. And, as Sowder points out, “typically, home recording has gotten so good, most bands are able to put together a very professional product very cheaply.” All of the singles will be 2-song, big-hole, 45 RPM records – “true singles,” in his words, where the band picks the A-side, and Sowder picks the B-side, which will always be a cover song. Sowder's choice of covers are determined pretty clearly. “Could be because they remind of of the original band, could be because I think they'd do a great arrangement of the track.” cover - schwervon landlockedThe bands, by the way, are always local, with the first release having come from Kansas City's Shwervon! in November, with their original “Landlocked” being the first song they wrote after moving to Kansas City. With two releases already on-deck for spring, you'd think Sowder would be eager to tease who's next, but quite the contrary. “I never announce the artist until I have the records in hand,” he says – quite a change from labels which take pre-orders for albums that haven't been recorded yet. While one might assume that Sowder's goal with Too Much Rock is to get back at the music industry that made it difficult to compete in the days of Urinine, that's not really the case. “Hopefully, Too Much Rock gets a bit of press out of it, and that extends the site's reach. But there are no ads on TMR (and never will be), so this isn't making money for me in any way – directly or indirectly. I want to give the bands control. This is more of a gift to them to help them succeed than it is a real project for me.” Head on over to the Too Much Rock singles series page to take a listen to Schwervon!'s "Landlocked."

Giallo Disco’s label heads talk horror, their influences, and upcoming plans

logo - giallo disco The scads of reissue labels which have appeared over the last few years all seem to have their focus -- Death Waltz has a John Carpenter / Fabio Frizzi thing going on, focusing on grimy, creepy things; One Way Static is tackling Wes Craven's exploitation years; and Waxwork appears to have the '80s splatter genre tied up. Giallo Disco might be the only label putting out music that fits that soundtrack niche, yet it differs in one notable aspect -- these albums aren't soundtracking anything other than a great dance party. Situated out of Berlin and Vienna, and respectively ran by Anton Maiof and Gianni Vercetti Balopitas (aka Vercetti Technicolor), Giallo Disco rocks your socks with creepy, yet totally danceable tracks that hearken back to late '70s and early '80s analog synth soundtracks. There's heaps of Moroder here, but everything is still unique. Maiof and Balopitas were both kind enough to answer questions via e-mail about the label and its future plans. It seems like almost all the labels which have sprung up in the last couple years are focused on putting out soundtracks. You're doing a different take on that. What was the inspiration? Anton Maiof: So for me the story goes like this: There used to be this sub label of Kompakt called Fright, who were a little more EBM focussed (that's Electronic Body Music, kids) but were into the whole horror aesthetic, worshiping at the altar of the holy trilogy of Goblin, Frizzi and Carpenter and most importantly putting stuff out on vinyl. In fact they put out my first ever 12". Mysteriously, they put out just three releases before closing their doors. You had Minimal Rome, Crème Org, Bunker and others but they put out other kinds of music than just 'Horror' Themed. So essentially if no one else was going to do a dedicated horror 12" label, I guess we figured we'd have to do it. Vercetti Technicolor: I was into Fulci/Frizzi combinations and generally Zombie movies more than Giallo stuff to be honest but I always liked Giallo scores. There are many similarities between them, especially when composers used electronic instruments. AM: Basically I've got a higher tolerance level for very bad movies it seems. VT: It's not because we think it's the hot thing at the moment but we thought there is no label dedicated to Horror, soundtrack or not. This is the reason we started Giallo Disco. It's definitely not an 80s thing only and I never like when people tag this particular genre like that these days. The machines used might be old ... but the music is timeless. [embed][/embed] Was it just a desire to put out your own material? AM: We both had problems with labels, requesting stuff and then rejecting it sometimes with very bad communication. It was first and intention to have a platform to release some music that we thought was great and that we had been sitting on for some reason and also to curate and collect as much of this sound as possible. Since starting the label we've realised we're not alone ... and never were. How did the two of you come together to start this label? VT: I met Anton in Athens back in 2010 when we shared the decks at a really nice party. His words "You walk like a Cop" marked me ever since. Who designed the very simple, yet very effective logo, and what was its inception? VT: Eric Adrian Lee, a friend of ours from America designed our logo. We wanted something iconic from the Giallo genre so choosing the razor blade was the perfect thing. Thus far, everything that's been released on the label has been your work. Are there any plans in the works for other artists, or is it just too soon to tell? AM: Yes, definitely, in fact the next five releases will be producers other than ourselves. cover - vercetti technicolor bay of bloodAll three releases thus far seem to have an influence from which they take off: Goblin with the first release, the Black Gloves EP. I'm guessing John Carpenter for Stockholm Synthdrone and Frizzi for Bay of Blood? AM: I'd actually never thought of it like that. Stockholm Synthdrone was loosely stolen from a friend's Facebook status update. Also "Darkroom" is lyrically about siding with your killer, plus it's funny. Also if you're going to do a first release on a horror inspired label, it would clearly be called Black Gloves. For the record, the Bay Of Blood EP has nothing to do with the movie Bay Of Blood. Gianni is from a Greek Island. VT: I chose a part from the Anthropophagus movie poster as the sound of my Bay Of Blood EP is more zombie oriented plus it shows a bit of sea so you instantly have the "Bay" from the title. The title refers only to an image rather than the Mario Bava film. Where will the label go next -- something more symphonic? AM: We have a ton of great artists set up for release, most of which have never had a 12" out before or haven't for almost a decade. I'm going to keep appearing on the genre film festival circuit as those are ace and like an extended family now. Soon we'll be doing semi-regular parties in Madrid and Vienna. Sound wise, that is up to our artists. More information about Giallo Disco Records can be found at their Facebook and Bandcamp pages.