Monday, March 1, 2010

TVD's Record Store Day 2010 Label Showcase | Sarathan Records

Record labels. Depending on your point of view, they’re either a hopelessly archaic method of music dissemination in this era of bedroom wizardry, or they’re stalwarts who've adapted to ten million new paradigms and have found a reinvented model for success. Well, some have anyway.

The successful ones have done so in a manner that’s almost gang-like in the sense that the smartest ones have chosen their niche and have run with it. They’ve gathered a family of like minds and set about recording and distributing the bands they love and know. Some of my favorite DC labels, Windian Records, Underwater Peoples, and of course Dischord, are all fine examples of this notion.

For the month of March, The Vinyl District’s going to visit with four labels, one a week, who are not just surviving but flourishing in a wholly different era under very new and different constructs. But the bottom line is the same—they’re promoting and producing and getting the music out there and putting physical product on the shelves of record stores into the bargain.

So, under the banner of Record Store Day 2010, we’ve chosen four diverse labels—new, classic, reinvented—to visit with and wouldn’t you know it, they all have an affinity for the aforementioned record stores and vinyl and the thing that brings you to this blog in general...a love of music. We'll also have tons of free music and giveaways from each one to keep you coming back for more.

First up for the month and this week, indie upstarts, Sarathan Records.

Hi! We're Sarathan Records and we're excited and honored to be kicking off The Vinyl District's March label spotlights.

Although we're waving to you from our little bird's nest in Seattle, WA, the artists you will enjoy from Sarathan Records this week are from all over our hemisphere. In honor of the upcoming Record Store Day, you'll hear how they've all been inspired, changed and even created because of Record Stores! We like to say that Sarathan Records is sweet, its artists eclectic, its music infectious. Hope this week you find something here you love!

It’s the smell that really gets me off. I can walk in any record store and take one breath of the air within to know what kind of record store I’m about to get into. All that cardboard causing a flurry of dust to push past my nasal hairs and into the depths of my mind. The one record in the back, hiding, whispering to my senses to find it.

I get side tracked however, and start pushing my brain to think of the record that I must have. I knew what record it was 5 minutes before walking in, but with every step closer to the doors that record gets pushed aside by all the records I could have. All of them, so close together with equal wanting to be on my turntable, pleasuring my ears. It’s a sex that I can’t live without. The slow pulse of the built up dust on the needle crackling in the grooves of Swell Maps' “Jane from Occupied Europe” or Suicide's “Suicide”, lulling me into a trance that induces chemical reactions in my brain far greater than any drug.

I begin my journey into the depths of a land that has no soundtrack. It is silence, a meditation. I close my eyes and allow my nose to lead to a starting point. I ramble through zigzagging from Blues to Rock to Jazz then back again to Rock to World then back once more to Rock. What was that damn record called! Shit! I knew it before. I could see the cover in my head, a fish eye lens with the young band standing in what seems to be the frame of a building. English gents I believe, I can’t remember, I’m screwed. I decide to forget about it and see what treasures have arrived in the used section.

Thumbing through the J's I find that Tommy James and The Shondells have been marked 20% off. Done. It’s mine… forever. It wasn’t the record I had in mind, but it was the record that came to mind. I push over a few more and find an out of place Captain Beefheart “Safe As Milk”. Hahahaha! There it is, the record, my record, calling for me. I smealt it upon arrival. It was expecting me, and it moved itself to where it knew I would find it. In the one place it didn’t belong. The J's.

The record store is my pusher man, and one that I will always allow to bleed me, and my wallet. Fix me up, sedate me, that’s where I want to be anyway. Sedated, with a punk named Judy.
Aaron Schroeder

Thunder Buffalo - Boy (Mp3)

TVD's Bubblegum | St. Vincent at the 9:30 (2/24)

Bubblegum is the musical taste of Amanda Pittman. It encompasses all things catchy, that is, the stuff that sticks. Whether it's happy, sad, melodramatic, especially melodramatic, and has a catchy tune, it will be featured here.

Wednesday night, St. Vincent stopped at the 9:30 Club as part of her latest U.S. tour. Opening for her were Swedish experimental pop group Wildbirds and Peacedrums. The duo is vocalist Mariam Wallentin and instrumentalist Andreas Werlin. Werlin creates the cohesive sound that could be called a melody while Wallentin warbles and scats into the mic. Their sound is heavily influenced by jazz, and Werlin’s range is that of a swing-time lounge singer. Most of their sound is created with drums and samples. Their drum solos and duets were intimate and engaging, and seemed welcomed by the audience. As pop is moving into big, overproduced sets, they manage to keep it minimal and still entertaining, if not impossible to understand.

St. Vincent took the stage right on time, 9:30 pm. Front-woman, Annie Clark, was petite and commanding on stage in a tight burgundy mini-dress with sleeves that could have encased her whole body. They opened with ‘The Strangers’ to a very patient and focused audience. As she sang “save me from what I want” she began to go into her familiar trance.

Before breaking into a well anticipated ‘Actor’ she thanked the crowd and later expressed, “I love being in D.C. The last time I was here I went to the Walter Reed Museum…” she paused and asked the lighting engineer to not turn the lights on the crowd as it makes her nervous, but she was kidding, sort of, “…don’t go to it, it’s gross, or do, if you like that. It’s gnarly.” Someone behind me whispered that her voice was soothing. It is, and welcoming. She had a way of making each person feel as though she was speaking directly to them.

She broke into one of her signature solos – always surprising, as she doesn’t look like the person most people would associate with playing the guitar as well as she does, a man. More surprising is how well she combines the hard-edged rock of the seventies with her soft femininity without alienating those with different expectations.

For a second time during her set she filled the room with friendly banter. 'The tour started in British Columbia, it’s great for brunch. We did something this tour that we’ve never had to do on tour before. We had to cancel our Columbus, Ohio show. I don’t know if I can legally talk about this. They didn’t have a PA system…' She went on to explain that the “venue” didn’t really have a dressing room, but they did have a bondage chair, chains, a riding crop, and pictures of women in, umm…unusual positions covering their walls. She followed with a solo cover of Jackson Browne's 'These Days’ – to which she momentarily forgot the lyrics, but managed with a wry smile before continuing.

During ‘Black Rainbow’ she seemed to be keeping a secret, and those singing along were in on it. The lighting became more psychedelic and continued throughout crowd-favorite ‘Marrow.’ She ended the set with a voracious ‘The Party’ and a humble thanks to Wildbirds and Peacedrums and the audience, only to appear a few minutes later with an encore of ‘Your Lips are Red’ a surprise choice for closing the evening.

Afterward, she signed merchandise on the balcony to a few dozen eager fans. Just as she appeared on stage, she was sweet and humble, and completely real.