Friday, October 20, 2006

Time Warp: Ed Gein's Car

Many thanks to the Record Robot blog for finding this. I remember seeing them play several matinee shows back in the mid 80's. A good reminder that not all "hardcore" sounded like Agnostic Front back then. I wish someone had the full album available for download, becuase I don't think it ever made it to CD.

download a track or two here.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Time Warp: Bullet LaVolta

I've decided to start going through my old collection and pulling out stuff that I really love but haven't listened to in a while. One of the standouts is Bullet LaVolta, a band that brilliantly merged the ferocity of older boston hardcore with the sensibilities of sonic youth influenced indie rock.

Check out Bullet LaVolta on MySpace.

Indie? What Is Indie?

A few weeks ago, my co-workers and I had a rather interesting (read as heated) discussion regarding the word "indie" and what it means. Is it a status, style or genre of music? A subset of rock? Does it stand on it's own? Now CNN is jumping on the bandwagon with their recent article, If it's cool, creative and different, it's indie.

Given my soon-to-be greying punk rock roots, my stance is that indie first means independent. Not distributed through one of the majors, and not owned in total or in part by them. In a sense, totally entrepreneurial: where failure means not eating, paying your rent, having your significant other berate you, and possibly having to relocate to your mom's basement.

Here's the litmus test: If you call out to your assistant to pick you up a latte after they call to schedule your car service to the show, YOU AREN'T INDIE. You're a spoiled rich brat, who thinks that Death Cab is a miracle simply because the other sheep are bleating to the same drummer.

When used to describe a sound, I draw my definition from the Sebadoh single "Gimmie Indie Rock" recorded way back in 1991.

Just Give Me Indie Rock!

Started back in �83
Started seeing things a differently
And hardcore wasn�t doin� it for me no more
Started smoking pot
Thought things sounded better slow
Much slower, heavier
Black magic melody to sink this poseur�s soul

VU Stooges undeniably cool
Took a lesson from that drone rock school
Manipulate musicians hack righteous drool
Getting loose with the Pussy Galore
Cracking jokes like a Thurston Moore
Peddle hopping like a Dinosaur, J...

Rock and Roll genius, ride the middle of the road
Milk that sound, blow your load
Shoot it further than you ever said it go
Four stars in the Rolling Stone

Oooh sludge rock,
That�s hard as harsh
Just gimme indie rock!
It�s gone big
Come on indie rock
Just give me indie rock

Taking inspiration from Husker Du
It�s a new generation
Of electric white boy blues
Come on indie rock
It's gone big
Come on indie rock
Just give me indie rock

Breaking down the barriers
Like Sonic Youth
They got what they wanted
Maybe i can get what i want too
Come on indie rock
It's gone big
Come on indie rock
Just give me indie rock

Time to knock
The hard rock on it�s side
Time to knock
The shit right up a storm
Turn to amaze
With the indie sludge

I blame the Brits, particularly NME for allowing the bastardization of the indie moniker during the mid 90's.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Sunday Evening Rant: Banks

When I purchased my shiny new Apple laptop a year or so ago, I did it through their credit line at MBNA. I didn't pay it off during the allotted "free" time, so I got banged with interest payments. (That was my own doing so I can't complain about it.)

However, in order to keep up with the payments, I put it on auto-pay. Tonight I looked at my account, and found out that I overpaid about $1000, because although the thing was closed, they still kept taking my money. I called them and am getting a check back in a few days.

But that isn't the point. These motherf*#kers CHARGE THE LIVING SH!T out of people in interest, and if payment's a nanosecond late, they send the party to collections, or have some a##hole call at 8 in the morning. Am I getting interest on the grand they held for over a month? Nope. Can I awaken the chairman of MBNA at 6am to ask where my money is? No. I also believe it should be illegal for them to take money against an account that is paid off.

I'm not sure I have a point in this, as I'm just ranting. But one thing's for sure... the personal tip, MBNA will never ever see one thin dime from me, ever again. On a different level, with the multinational banks and the wealthy gaining more and more control, we only have more of this screwing of the middle and lower classes to look forward to. Sadly, most will never notice the fleecing because they're too busy fighting the Pyrrhic "culture war" against gay rights or the teaching of evolution.

Ahhhh. That makes me feel better.

(BTW, if you don't agree with me don't waste your energy posting a comment. Not only could I give a rats ass, it won't be approved, and nobody will see it. I'm not interested in dialog with Republicans, Evangelical Christians, or idiots of any other sort.)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

So It Appears That Piracy Is A Business Model

Newsflash: It is better to embrace technology than spend your war chest fighting it!

Yes! According to arstechnica, Disney ABC has finally gotten wind that maybe trying to sue the pants off of people and turning all that sharing into money might not be a bad thing.

"So we understand piracy now as a business model," said Sweeney in a recent analyst call. "It exists to serve a need in the marketplace specifically for consumers who want TV content on demand and it competes for consumers the same way we do, through high-quality, price and availability and we don't like the model. But we realize it's effective enough to make piracy a key competitor going forward. And we've created a strategy to address this threat with attractive, easy to use ways to for viewers to get the content they want from us legally; in other words, keeping honest people honest."

With Universal and WMG making deals with GoogleTube, are they actually gonna bumble their way into getting it right?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Great Digtal Reissue Label: Anthology Recordings

Anthology Recordings is cool. Great website, good stuff. I'd say this is the first quality digital imprint I've seen so far. I just downloaded the elusive Moondog release (featuring Quicksand, Gorilla Biscuits, and Rival Schools' own Walter Schreifels) . Good luck to all involved!

From their about page:

About Anthology Recordings: beyond the mainstream, beyond boundaries.

Anthology Recordings is the world’s first ever all digital reissue label, its goal to provide an online outlet for rare and out-of-print music of all eras, genres and cultures.

In the Fall of 2005, as the demand for digital music was mounting exponentially, Anthology Recordings founder Keith Abrahamsson (an A&R executive with New York City-based indie label Kemado Records) was struck by the conspicuous absence of obscure, but influential music titles on most high volume online retailers – an injustice to both these artists and their prospective fans, which he grew determined to address.

Beyond the mainstream and beyond all boundaries; the Anthology Recordings team pledges to continually seek out music’s underrated, forgotten, or overlooked, and help make the digital music landscape richer, more complete, and definitely more eclectic with every release.

Reaction To The Tower Liquidation

There's been quite a buzz surrounding the demise of Tower from around the web. One of the most telling items comes from a response to Lefsetz' take on the subject from Redeye Distribution's John McGlasson:
I wouldn't care at all if they didn't owe our dist. (Redeye) a shitload of money, a screwing that you can be sure will be passed onto us, though Tower bought a bunch of one of our new releases (10/03, John Blakeley/Ron Nagle's Tan Mantis) for cash, something that surprised me, even in bankruptcy, it seems Tower thought if they could make it thru the holidays they could pull out of it. Big retail and the big labels have made it hard on indies forever, and distributors still try to get indies to play the big label game with the stores who charge hundreds or thousands for decent store placement, knowing we can only sell at best a handful of cds per store. So in this transitional period, we have no choice but to play along with the distributor and big retail, though we all know we're just going through the motions, waiting for it's death. Big retail is our biggest liability right now as a label, but we'll win.

Everyone's starting to see what I've been blathering on about for the last year. Big marketing costs from retail making it almost impossible for indies to succeed. What's going to happen is that the indies will change to a digital model, possibly monetize their relationships with artists by taking over booking and merchandising, and leave the CD business to the dinosaurs.

Welcome aboard.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Lefsetz Agrees With Me

A few months ago, I posted about how the label business as a stand alone entity is pretty much going the way of the dinosaur. What will take it's place is a management/ label hybrid that will produce content, supply funding, guidance and faciliate connections for the artist.

Lefsetz also seems to be on board with this idea, as a recent post of his screams it loud and clear.

You can’t survive the present economic conditions unless you participate in ALL revenue streams of the act. Since the disc/legal file business is de minimis. But the majors can’t get a piece of these streams. Because it’s these monies the acts are living on. The label builds you, you profit on ticket receipts and merchandise sales. And since the label can’t get a piece of this ancillary revenue, they trumpet acts that work on their paradigm. In other words, two-dimensional caricatures that can be sold via image all over the media. They want something with INCESSANT impressions. They want to beat the public over the head to purchase the equivalent of hula hoops. Because to take the time to develop an act slowly, that has real fans… Well, the Grateful Dead never sold that many records. And how many albums did Fleetwood Mac make before they hit on a winning formula? The majors don’t want to invest in musicmakers who march to the beat of their own drummer, they just want a pretty face, who’ll do what they say, who will sing the songs written by the hacks and produced by the usual suspects.

Given the way things are, I can't compete in the CD marketplace. It's chock full of people spending massive dollars to potentially have a "hit" which maybe clears the red out of all the books. Where I can compete is the same place that I did back in the 80's, in the true underground- where the barrier to entry isn't a $3 per unit co-op at Best Buy.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Never Buy Another Hard Drive

For most indie labels, data storage and backup is (or should be) a huge issue. With multiple kinds of digital data being the basis for almost the entire business, having a viable backup and archive strategy should really be a serious priority.

I remember as far back as the early 90's, backing up all of my documents and artwork onto big, clunky Syquest disks and having stacks of floppy disks sitting around my office. This media would perpetually fail, so I had to have multiple backups. When CD Drives arrived in the later 90's, I transferred all of that data over to little shiny discs and kept them in a closet in the event of a meltdown. Recently I've kept multiple redundant hard drives and backed up religiously.

That's all over.

Thanks to Amazon S3 and a great little shareware utility called Jungledisk, I can store all of my label documents (art files, documents, music files, data archive) in a completely secure off site environment that can be accessed from anywhere.

How easy? To quote Jungledisk's page:
  1. Download and install Jungle Disk.
    It's available for Windows, Mac, and Linux and only takes a few seconds to install.
  2. Sign up for Amazon S3™ storage
    You can use your existing account! It's free to sign up and you'll only pay for the storage you use.
  3. Configure Jungle Disk with your Amazon Access Key
    It will automatically prompt you the first time you run it.
  4. Connect to your Jungle Disk
    For Windows users, just use the Start Menu shortcut provided. Connecting is easy for Mac and Linux users too.
  5. Start using your Jungle Disk like a local hard drive!
    You can copy files to it using Explorer (or Finder on Mac). When you copy a file to your Jungle Disk it is encrypted and uploaded in the background to the servers.
For more information about how and why to switch, check out this article by Jeremy Sawodny.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Screw CD's

The first record I ever put out in 1989 was a hardcore compilation entitled NYHC:Where The Wild Things Are. At the time, it really was something special for me. From what people tell me, for a great many it documented the pinnacle of the second wave of New York Hardcore.

That record remains my favorite release, not because of the relative success it had when it came out. Not even because of the bands that it documented. It was the people, who surrounded it and the fond memories it brings back. One of those people is Jim Gibson. He (and his label Noiseville) were co-founders of Blackout! He remains a close friend, and in addition to still doing his label, he runs an amazing store called Cold Spring Music Company, in upstate NY.

A little while ago, Jim approached me about doing a vinyl reissue of the compilation. Nothing too crazy, just a thousand or so, on colored wax that would surely sell to collectors. As the record wasn't around for a while, I decided that we should do it. Certainly more of a fun thing, as nobody was going to be able to pay their bills with it.

For a while, I've been pondering if I should do a CD reissue of this. Maybe with a DVD or some cool bonus. The Photoshop files have been sitting idle on my hard drive since 2001. But today's CD marketplace is so utterly underwhelming, I decided to take a different path.

In addition to the vinyl version of the release, Where The Wild Things Are will be released digitally via iTunes, eMusic, Downloadpunk, Audiolunchbox, in conjunction with the vinyl release. The record will also be streamed for free in it's entirety, on demand, at Haystack.

I'm hoping that this vinyl/ digital only release will be the start of something new. I'm only going to be advertising it on blogs and on the web, staying away from high priced retail co-ops and print ads in faux punk glossies. It should be an interesting experiment and this release seems to be the one to try it with.

Love to know anyone's feedback on this.

Monday, October 02, 2006


Payola has now officially entered the blogosphere. Techcrunch reports on a new service called PayPerPost:
The service is a marketplace for advertisers to pay bloggers to write about products for a fee. Commenters to our original post wee polarized into those violently for and those againt the product. The key area of controversy is the fact that advertisers can mandate that posts be positive on the product, and disclosure of payment is optional for the blogger.

If you want to pay people to write about stuff... I guess that's fine. But to not disclose it -or- require positive reviews in exchange for money is pretty reprehensible. (You listening, Armstrong Williams?)