Glen’s Best/Worst of 2010: Record Labels

Congratulations to Matador Records for taking the cake in this one. The three Matador/True Panther albums that I noted below were securely in my Top 10 Albums of 2010 list. So, good job, Matador! Keep it up and here’s to 21 more years! Sub Pop and Fat Possum, two other large independent labels, put out some great records as well. On the smaller scale, Goner Records, based in Memphis, released a handful (probably even more) of quality records and I can only guess that 2011 will be another great year for that label and store. Burger Records, which has garnered national attention for its release of cassettes, is small as well, but their devotion to music and the bands that they put out is overwhelmingly large. As far as “better luck next year” labels go, we’ve got In The Red. In The Red has been a consistent favorite for me, but nothing that they put out this year really floored me. It was a bit of an off-year for Domino Records as well. Of course, that can go out without saying the year after releasing two stellar records, Merriweather Post Pavilion [Animal Collective] and Humbug [Arctic Monkeys]. EMI did pretty awful, but that’s expected too…it is a major label after all. Warner Brothers was a mixed bag; Devo’s LP was pretty good, but nothing else really tickled my fancy. I know a lot of people were feeling Dr. Dog and the Black Keys (especially) this year. 

Top 5!
1. Matador/True Panther Records – Notable Releases: Hippies [Harlem], Gay Singles [Hunx & His Punx], Memphis [Magic Kids]
2. Sub Pop – Notable Releases: Teen Dream [Beach House], I Will Be [Dum Dum Girls], Everything In Between [No Age]
3. Fat Possum Records – Notable Releases: King of the Beach [Wavves], Lisbon [Walkmen]
4. Goner Records – Notable Releases: First Blood [Nobunny], Melted [Ty Segall]
5. Burger RecordsNotable Releases: Cum Stain [Cum Stain], Shame, Shame [APACHE]

Worst!
1. EMI – Un-notable Releases: Of the Blue Colour of the Sky [OK GO], Sea of Cowards [Massive Attack]
2. Domino – Un-notable Releases: There Is Love In You [Four Tet], Hidden [These New Puritans]

Nobunny’s Raw Romance Coming To LP Courtesy Burger Records

Nobunny’s collection of old demos, alternative takes, and the like came out as Raw Romance in 2009 in cassette form. Flash forward to February 2011 and you will be able to buy that same collection of recordings, but in VINYL. Burger Records — one of KLYAM’s top record labels of the year (and in general)…more on this later — will be releasing it!

Band Rec: The Boy Toys

Another band on Burger Records that pretty much kicks ass. Check out the songs on their MySpace…they play a neat blend of scuzzy, lo-fi bubblegum rock and roll. It’s kind of like listening to Mark Sultan through a tin can. The song “One,” what a helluva track.

Link: http://www.myspace.com/theboytoysmusic

CD Review: Cum Stain [2010]

Band: Cum Stain
Release: 6/2010
Label: Burger Records

1. “Bachelor’s Life” – A+
2. “Broke My  Dick” – A
3. “No Hearts/Big Mean Maniac” – A-
4. “Just A Kid” – A+
5. “Vicdumb” – A-
6. “Slip It Off Slip It In” – A-
7. “Smoker” – B+
8. “I Want It Now” – A
9. SuckHer4U” – A
10. “Jack Shack” – A
11. “Cum Stain” – A+

Comments: Just when I thought I heard the ‘last of the libertines’ so to speak, I hear this. Cum Stain. Whether the composers of Cum Stain realized it or not, they boldly described bachelor life from start to finish. Literally. When push comes to shove, the narrator is just another “cum stain on your rug.” This man is a heavy drinker, a heavy smoker, and a passionate lover. Except, he doesn’t actually love you or want to. Well, he wants to, but he figures that’s just a waste of time. He just wants to do it and get it over with. On “Bachelor’s Life” we learn a little bit about the dude. Every hour he “masturbates” and “just sits around and watch cartoons.” On a more positive note, he stocks whiskey and rum. “Broke My Dick” is pretty self-explanatory, but the narrator offers an alternative like none other: “slap you in the face while it’s limp.” Might as well do something, right? In a proto-hardcore punk, let me tell you what’s up kind of way, the narrator reiterates on “No Hearts/Big Mean Maniac” that he has no heart and that he is a maniac. The guy is straight nuts. Fuck, he even invented his own fetish: throwing manure in the faces of grade school children. So, just a quick recap. The dude is in his 20s, but he’s purely “just a kid.” He exemplifies that word, but puts an added spin on in it. I’m not really sure what he’s going for on “Vicdumb.” It seems like he is necessarily stating the obvious. Anything anyone does to you makes you a mere vicdumb. Perhaps the “dumb” instead of “tum” allows him to get away with whatever he wants. You’re the dumb-ass, not me for screwing you and then leaving. Vicdumb. “Slip It Off/Slip It In” is probably the maniac’s fantasies after a long day at the beach. Oh yeah, and everything you learned about smoking is all a bunch of shit. Smoking is for winners and the more the better. Another thing: impulse control? This guy has none and doesn’t care. If you can’t give him what he wants (as he says on the apropos “I Want It Now”), then he’ll go find it. Peace! It seems as if maybe there was a possibility for a relationship at one time (“SuckHer4U”), but he just couldn’t commit to anything more than casual. “Jack Shack” tells of a ride down to a “Gentleman’s Spa” where no (sleazy truck driver) knows your name. I must say, this is one of the best stories I’ve ever heard. The lyrics aren’t genius or intricate in any regard, but the narrative comes across very clearly. The music is incredibly lo-fi garage pop (similar to Nobunny circa Love Visions). It makes you think, too. Is this your average single guy with a job or an unemployed psychopath who has never had any women in his life?

Grade: A- (93)

“The Underground Is Rewinding To Revive The Cassette”

Awesome article in today’s Boston Globe. Mentions include Burger Records, the king of tapes, great local band Girlfriends, Black Lips, and the background of the screen you are looking at…Nobunny!

“…The story is the same for Burger Records, a music shop and tape label based in Fullerton, Calif., that just released the new MMOSS tape. It tends to do runs of 250 with handmade artwork, though high-selling tapes have earned repeat pressings. The lo-fi rock ’n’ roll Nobunny’s “Raw Romance’’ tops the discography at 1,000 copies to date, but that hasn’t stopped it from becoming a collectible already.

“One of those has sold for $40 on eBay,’’ says label head Sean Bohrman.

Bohrman got into releasing tapes just for kicks when he saw a friend’s band do it a few years ago. “We made CDs of two of our albums,’’ he says. “We still have hundreds and hundreds of copies of them. But we sell tons of tapes, so go figure.’’

Word has spread, and bigger labels are starting to complement wide releases with small runs of cassettes. Indie giants Sub Pop and Vice Records have started working with Bohrman to coordinate tape releases of bands like the Black Lips, Happy Birthday, and Jaill. The reason isn’t just to boost sales. Having a tape, especially one with homemade artwork, can reconnect with fans and ever-more-influential bloggers.”

Read the entire article: http://www.boston.com/ae/music/articles/2010/07/23/the_underground_is_rewinding_to_revive_the_cassette/?page=1

CD Review: Raw Pie [2010]

Band: Personal and the Pizzas
Release: 3/2010
Label: Burger Records [CASSETTE]/ 1234GO! [VINYL]

1. “I Don’t Wanna Be No Personal Pizza” – B
2. “I Don’t Feel So Happy Now No More” – B+
3. “I Can Read” – B+
4. “I Ain’t Takin’ You Out” – A-
5. “Brass Knuckles” – B+
6. “Nobody Makes My Girl Cry But Me” – B
7. “Knuckles #2” – B+
8. “Pizza Army” – B
9. “Tearjerker” – B+
10. “Never Find Me” – B
11. “7.99 For Love” – B-
12. “Pepperoni Eyes” – B
13. “Don’t You Go In That Ground” – A-
14. “Toss That Pie” – C+

Comments: Wait a second while I figure out a brief survey.
DO YOU LIKE THE STOOGES? A LITTLE
DO YOU LIKE THE RAMONES? YEAH
DO YOU LIKE WEIRD AL? YEAH

So I’m supposed to like these guys. These greasy pepperoni pisans sound like textbook novelties. This is a live record of sorts recorded with, presumably, a tape recorder in an empty bar. It’s nice to know they can read. Their songwriting style resembles that of the late Bobby Ubangi and the present day Nobunny circa Raw Romance (see “I Ain’t” for reference). They obviously take cues from The Ramones, but who in the Burger in-crowd doesn’t? Personal and crew don’t really mobilize me all that much. Like, ya know, I’m not blown or anything. You have to possess a sense of humor and a degree of patience in conforming your ears to this piece of vinyl. If you aren’t paying much attention while listening or if you are like me and trying to hear this album while reading about Howard Zinn, you might mistake the first half of “Don’t You” as a mockery of mentally challenged individuals. It clicked, though! They’re talking about Jay Jay. “Reatard, Reatard, such a little Reatard, you’re dead, what did you do?”

Grade: B (85)

CD Review: Radical Sabbatical [2010]

Band: APACHE
Release: 6/2010
Label: Burger Records

1. “Bad Kids” – A-
2. “Heaven Can Wait” – A-
3. “Finger Banger” – A
4. “Pint Size Punker” – A
5. “Bloody Knuckles” – B+
6. “Outside” – A
7. “Jam Pusher” – A-
8. “Beat Myself” – B
9. “Faster Louder” – B
10. “Hospital Bed” – A
11. “OMC” – A
12. “Boomtown Gems” – A
13. “Kitty” – B+

Comments: “Bad Kids” is not quite “Bad Kids,” but it rock and rolls. Most of these song rock and roll. This is a punk record through and through if you couldn’t already tell from the titles. You’d think they were talking about you Chris on “Pint Size Punker,” but nah, she’s only 17. SHE. Anyway, the music itself is catchier than most punk records I’ve listened to this year. APACHE likes heavy doses of sensible freestyle guitaring, especially on “Outside,” the most memorable jam on this disc. The fast fast fast (FASTER. LOUDER) ones aren’t as fun as the more rhythmic power-poppers, but that’s just my preference. As far as 2010 lowbrow independent record label releases go, this LP definitely has to be near the top of that lit.

Grade: A- (91)

Classic CD Review: Raw Romance

Band: Nobunny
Release: 2009
Label: Burger Records

1. “Your Mouth” – B-
2. “Oh Cody” – B
3. “Mask’s On” – A-
4. “Monster Kiss” – B
5. “Apple Tree” – B+
6. “Hippy Witch” – B
7. “I Am A Girlfriend” – B+
8. “It’ll All Come Back” – B
9. “Tonight You Belong” – B-
10. “Mess Me Up” – A
11. “The Gutter” – A-
12. “Vicious Circle” – B+

Comments: Nobunny loves you! This piece of music was released on cassette, which is just about as outdated as Nobunny. Unlike Love Visions, Raw Romance is chalk full of slow and modest twee pop. You won’t have much luck finding something as energetic as “Chuck Berry Holiday” on this cassette. If you just want to chill in your chair and intake psilocybin mushrooms or the like then go for this thing. If you want to go up, down, north, south, east, or west then you’ll definitely prefer Love Visions. The sound quality on Raw exceeds Love, which is something I certainly didn’t expect. It’s funny hearing an extremely lo-fi demo version of “I Am A Girlfriend,” my favorite Nobunny song this side of “Chuck.” The demo of “Mess Me Up” is mad good. Funny Johnny Cash impersonation on “The Gutter.”

Grade: B (86)