7” Split The Dead Records/Laura K Balke- Usonian Records
buy it here: http://usonian.bandcamp.com/
Laura K Balke sent along what seems to be the first release of a Brooklyn/Indianapolis co-run label. It’s great to see a label starting up with a silk screened cover hand made total DIY 7” which I can only assume is a limited edition. Equally as cool is the fact that both The Dead Records and Laura K Balke have contributed their b-sides digitally via a download code. Laura K Balke’s contributions are the clear stand outs. The track “I Can Only Run” is an infectious mid-tempo moody track. Balke’s voice is warm and her lyrics are heart on the sleeve goodness. The fuzzy guitars and bells give the track great atmosphere and a bit of a 90s glow. Hopefully a full-length will follow with the same artistic DIY silk screened aesthetic.
Buy it here http://lightintheattic.net/releases/883-el-sonido-de-la-carretera-central
The New release from Masstropicas is now available for purchase in the light in the attic shop. judging by the cover alone this record will be some serious heat and once you dig the needle into the grooves Teo Laura Amao does not disappoint for one second. The pressing is limited to 500 copies and features 12 tracks spanning from 1973-1985 blending hard rock and soul with the cumbia sounds of lima, peru. These tracks have never before been available outside of peru. Masstropicas is an incredible record label unearthing amazing sounds by little known groups outside of their native areas. I highly RECOMMEND checking this out.
Record Store Day puts a spotlight on many large labels throwing around some money to do very limited pressings of of hot artists pressuring the collector to rush out and stand in lines all day to hopefully grab a copy before they all end up on ebay. The truth is though that many labels are doing amazing limited pressings of records on a day to day basis on a shoestring budget for artists they truly believe in. Sadly these labels don’t get the attention they deserve. Melvin Dillon of Soul Step Records has released three excellent records by Scattered Trees, Big Tree and Matt Duncan. The sound of Soul Step is a perfect blend of indie pop with R&B and blue eyed soul. Melvin took some time out to talk about his label past present and future and his love of vinyl.Why start a label?The long and short of it was that when I was an artist - I could never afford to get my music out there on vinyl. I would have loved the chance - but the costs to press something even as small as a 7” just proved to costly. I wanted to provide a service for artists get their music out on vinyl without having to take on any cost. That is what makes Soul Step Records different and mutually beneficial. I am much happier directing from afar than attempting to be in the spotlight.When and how did it start?The idea sprung in my head in the summer of 2011. I was mid-shower and the idea came pouring into my brain. I jumped right out mid-shampoo and wrote everything down. I finished the shower and the rest is history!What labels inspire you?Third Man Records for sure. The innovation and creativity that comes from them is incredible. I’m always thinking of ways to innovate - but Third Man is in a league all their own. Numero Group in Chicago gets props for the level of detail laid into each release. It’s almost like musical archeology. Plus the music is top notch. Those are probably who I look for when it comes to inspiration.
LOTS of digging. I am constantly searching and sourcing online for someone new. I also get TONS of submissions (Which I love) and sourcing locally. I think that it is one of the most important and fun aspects of the work we do - is the work we put into finding this new great artist and introducing them to a whole new audience.What is the goal and purpose of your label?To do a couple of things. First is to push the vinyl medium forward - with innovation and education. I want to be able to reach new audiences and keep the momentum of the vinyl resurgence alive. I also want to ensure that I can help artists along in their dreams by making vinyl a possible reality for them - in a way where they put no money into it and can make plenty of money at the same time. There is nothing like it.How do you find new artists?
Why vinyl?I think that it is the way music should be listened to. I think that your readers are well versed on the sound quality advantages of vinyl - so I won’t speak to that so much as the permanency of it all. Digital files can be deleted in a second. Gone. CD’s have and continue to be flimsy and disposable. Vinyl is heavy. Vinyl is big. Owning a record on vinyl means that you have a connection to the music buried in the grooves. There is an emotional and romantic aspect to owning and playing vinyl. You have to hold it just right, treat it well, care to it - it’s a more active experience. Now for our artists - we want their fans to experience their music THAT way. That’s where Soul Step Records comes in.How important is packaging to you?Incredibly so. That is one of the biggest parts of the vinyl experience - it’s what you are holding and reading during the listening experience. I feel as though we are continuing to make our layout and designs better. It is tough for smaller labels, as packaging can be the most expensive part of the vinyl process. I’ve seen some really great stuff - but one of my favorite designs is from Karate Body Records did a “Matchbook” cover for a Pokey LeFarge 7” It’s super cool. I love when the innovation doesn’t just stop with the record itself - but moves onto the packaging.What are your future plans?
We are looking to find and release SSR-004 in the Fall, and announce some new additions to our business. We want to not only just release new records - but find some reissues and some archival work. We don’t want to be one dimensional with our plans.Do you collect vinyl?Religiously. It all started with hearing Bob Dylan’s “Blonde on Blonde” on vinyl and just began to swell from there. I had never heard such rich and warm sound before and just like that, I had the bug. I love the active listening you need as well. Nothing makes me happier when I have someone over to my home and I get to share some of my favorites in my collection. Or going to to someones place and looking at their collection.How big is your collection?Whew. 6000+ easy. And truthfully the majority of that is Soul and R&B. I cannot get enough. Just when I think that I have bought all that is out there - I uncover a entire new area I’ve been unaware of. My collection is all I have in terms of worldly possessions. Any day that I get free from work I can easily be found digging in one of the local indie record stores, flea markets, yard sales or anywhere else I can track down the black wax.What are some of your go to records over the years?Now THIS is a tough question. It’s like asking parents who the favorite child is…..I’ll have to say these would be the top. Beach Boys - “Pet Sounds”, Sam Cooke - ”Live At The Harlem Square Club”, Tom Waits - “Heart Of Saturday Night” I could honestly name 20 more - but then that would make me think of another 20, and that 20 would make me think of another 20 - and I’m sure you get the point!
Pre orders are up now for Lee Noble’s new LP “Ruiner” The release date is set for April 30th.
This is the follow up to Noble’s masterpiece “Horrorism” one of my personal favorite albums of 2011 and one that has gotten many late night spins on my turntable. Be sure to snag this one up before it sells out.
The Warmth- Tourniquet
buy it here: http://thewarmth.com/
Carl Saff who many know as a master of the mastering game and Paul Foreman have been working as the duo The Warmth since 2006. Their newest work to date is the self-released “Tourniquet” on clear vinyl held in a heavy plastic bag with an insert that features some striking artwork that may be a bit misleading. One might think a rootsy folk vibe from the excellent nature shot when in fact The Warmth mixes electronics, synths and lots of studio wizardry to craft an excellent lp that lives in the land of Radiohead, The Postal Service and even a bit of the Flaming Lips more tame moments. Their is a good mix of subdued mellow atmospherics like “We Sold Lightning” with more upbeat tracks like “While the Compound Kicks in” that is driven by a skittering drum machine beat that devolves into a strange synth ending. “Move Quickly” seems to be the track the band has their sights on as the single and it is certainly a stand out track with all of the puzzle pieces of vocals and music fitting together just right with tons of studio polish and craft. The Warmth have managed to create a record that actual has a vibe that is warm and analog sounding rather than a sterile synth pop album which so many bands trying to bite on Radiohead’s style end up succumbing to. “Tourniquet” sounds modern and timely and in the end has its own unique sound that breathes life into an electronic world. Honestly their isn’t a bad song in the bunch it’s solid from stem to stern and worth checking out and is sure to soothe the ache during those long breaks between Radiohead albums.
Animal City- See You in the Funny Pages (Sophomore Lounge)
buy it here: http://sophomoreloungerecords.com/seeyouinthefunnypages.html
Animal City are back with their sophomore release aptly on Sophomore Lounge limited to 300 copies on black vinyl. Armed with some stock keyboard beats mixed in with jangling rock anthems, quirky song structures and lyrics that side on the darkly humorous side Animal City have crafted a unique lp. “See You in the Funny Pages” is lyrically dense and will take several spins to take in all the twists and turns in the storytelling, luckily the entire backside of the lp jacket is taken up by the lyrics so you can sing along with your favorite jam. If songs about skateboarding and drugs or crushing on the maid of honor are your thing you will be hard pressed to find a band doing it better than Animal City.
Melodia-Saudades (Own Records)
buy it here: http://ownrecords.bandcamp.com/album/saudades
Brazilian Fredrico Durand and Japanese musician Tomoyoshi Date met on tour in Europe and have come together to form Melodia. The result of this new musical partnership is a stunningly gorgeous Lp ”Saudades” limited to 300 black vinyl on Own Records. The lengthiest track on the lp “The Rise of Early Morning” is just shy of ten minutes. As I sat and listened to the track with a cup of coffee the music and field recordings perfectly evoked the peaceful tranquility of an early Saturday morning. Ambient electronic music is well worn territory and everyone with some guitar pedals or a laptop has jumped into the game. What sets Melodia apart is their expert blending of acoustic instruments with the prepared sounds. The plucking of strings and the well placed bells create a seemingly avant classical nature to the music stirring up Steve Reich like melodies for brief moments but avoiding lengthy repetition. Instead the five pieces on “Saudades” unfold with subtle graceful music box like melodies. “Saudades” is a Portuguese word with no direct English translation, but it represents a deep emotional state of longing or nostalgia. This record is not a happy or a sad record but instead it is one of introspection and contemplation. The music gives you space to think and absorb and long for days gone by. If you enjoy instrumental music of any variety this is a must have.
La Luz 7” on Water Wing Records
buy it here : http://waterwingrecords.com/htmls/laLuz.html
Water Wing Records sent over their new 7” for the fantastic all girl group La Luz that will be coming out soon on black vinyl. “Call me in the day” and “Easy Baby” are the two tracks on the single that originally come from La Luz’s fall of 2012 5 track “Damp Face” EP. La Luz take the amped up adrenaline of surf music and hit the brakes crafting a very chill vibe on the genre yet still keeping the copious amounts of reverb springing and organs droning. A heavy dose of nostalgia for the girl groups of the doo-wop era are flowing through the veins of these two hazy tracks with background oohs and ahhs a plenty. It’s an excellent single that is a perfect introduction to spring.
Catching up with Troy of Medical Records
buy new releases here: http://medical-records.org/index.html
Medical Records has just dropped two incredible lps Gina X Performance’s “Nice Mover” limited to 1000 on an incredible looking bone colored 180g vinyl and Mathematiques Modernes “Les Visiteurs Du Soir” limited to 1000 on Grey 180g vinyl. Word is that stock on Gina X is already very low and selling fast and is with all Medical Records these are limited and tend to sell out in a few months or faster. Both lps are essential additions to any analog synth lovers collection. To shake things up I decided to ask Troy a few questions on Medical Records and his new releases.