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You are cordially invited to an in-store performance by the Lux String Quartet here at Hymie’s Records this Sunday evening at 6pm!

Readers of this blog and visitors to the record shop will quickly recognize how much we enjoy classical music, and it is something we have always wished were more accessible to listeners. Here in the Twin Cities we are blessed with two world-class organizations, but unfortunately tickets to their performances can be prohibitively expensive (we ourselves only have tickets for one evening this season). It also seems like classical music is isolated from other genres, so that we don’t think of it as something one can casually enjoy anymore. Heck, it it used over on the Lake Street train station to deter loitering!

We’re excited to welcome the Lux String Quartet to the shop after seeing a performance at St. Paul’s Underground Music Cafe. They are a very talented group with a wide repertoire, and we are absolutely thrilled when they were amenable to the idea of performing in a new setting.


For Sunday’s performance they’ve chosen a program which will include works by Dmitri Shostakovich, Antonin Dvorak, Beethoven and contemporary Chinese composer Tan Dun. They explained that they are “trying to mix up classical standards with [modern] things.”

shostakovich quartetsShostakovich is certainly somewhere in between the world of classical standards and modern things. His last two string quartets were debuted in the 1970s. His Quartet no 14 in F sharp Major was the last of his “quartet of quartets,” each of which had been dedicated to a member of the Beethoven Quartet, a prominent Russian group who had debuted nearly all of Shostakovich’s works for the form. This one is dedicated to cellist Sergei Shirinsky. It is, therefore, led by the cello, and is (perhaps in deference to Shirinsky, a friend of the composer for nearly fifty years) the lightest and most welcoming of Shostakovich’s late quartets.

Here is Shostakovich’s String Quartet no 14 in F-sharp Major, performed by the Taneyev Quartet. This is a 1974 Melodiya recording reissued in the United States by Columbia Records. Melodiya was the state-owned record label in the Soviet Union, which dominated the market there until the Perestroika era (the label has been privately operated since 1989). They have an enormous catalog which includes all varietys of music, but is especially notable for its classical recordings. Fans of Russian records may recall we had a large collection of Melodiya albums in last winter, many of which we would have been unable to identify if it were not for the help of our friend Johnny, from the awesome power pop trio Mystery Date, who kindly translated the titles for us. In that collection were several of Shostakovich’s quartets. Too bad we did not make a recording of one of those while they were here!

We have invited the Lux String Quartet to chose their own program for Sunday evening, so we can’t say if this is the work by Shostakovich they have chosen. It’s just a favorite of ours. We are very excited to hear what they will chose to perform by the other composers, and should mention they added, “There may be some Mendelssohn in there, too.” MPR’s classical station recently posted this recording of violist Benjamin Davis talking about the group’s goals, and a great recording of them performing the first movement of Mendelssohn’s Quartet no 2.

The Lux String Quartet will perform works by Shostakovich, Dvorak, Beethoven and Tan Dun here at Hymie’s Records on Sunday, October 11th at 6pm.

When I run in the morning I usually go from our neighborhood over to the Mississippi River and then, if my knees are cooperating, along it for a while. This morning I could hear the crowds gathering and the inspirational music — the Twin Cities Marathon runners will pass up the far side of the river (which is a beautiful stretch of trail for a run), coming their closest to our neighborhood between miles 17 and 18.

I don’t really like wearing headphones, but sometimes I do carry an Ipod when I run. My playlist for these mornings is mostly old punk rock records: Bad Brains, Minor Threat, Flipper, and so forth. Probably not what most people would call inspirational. It’s certainly not “Eye of the Tiger.”

red medicineWe’re pretty happy to hear the City of St. Paul has negotiated with the planned protest to protect the runners. We know that folks are not allowed to question the appropriateness of these protests anymore, but the issues raised seem to have very little to do with the marathon. And while the shoes are shockingly expensive, we really can’t think of an activity more inspiring and inclusive than long distance running. I for one am truly impressed by every single one of today’s runners.

“Long Distance Runner” by Fugazi

This song probably wouldn’t make the cut for the running playlist on my Ipod (it’s too slow) but it does close out one of my favorite albums. Red Medicine is the record where Fugazi shifted towards a more experimental formula which, sadly, came to an end when the band decided to “take a hiatus” which has now lasted thirteen years.

Our friend Ben Weaver has just returned from a bicycle trip around the largest freshwater lake in the world. He’s got a show at the Cedar Cultural Center tomorrow to celebrate the trip, and perform songs along with his opening act, Twin.

Ben’s last album was, of course, the first release on our li’l record label here at Hymie’s. We have several releases in the works right now, including the debut album by Whiskey Jeff and the Beer Back Band which we featured on Monday. We are also putting the final touches on a Live at Hymie’s compilation which will include a DVD of videos shot here in the shop and co-produced by our friends from Pabst Twin Cities.

Here is Ben Weaver performing “Ramblin’ Bones” from I Would Rather Be a Buffalo here at Hymie’s last winter. You can find more details about his show at the Cedar tomorrow night from the link above, and from his official website here.

The folks at Piñata Records never fail to inspire us. This has been a quiet year for the Twin Cities’ best record label, who released a staggering series of successful singles and LPs last year. Their two full length albums this year have been awesome: Black Diet‘s return showed more depth, range and complexity than their debut (our review is here), and way back in chilly January the label released New Noir by Mystery Date, which is the most strangely compelling mixture of power pop, new wave and good old fashioned punk rock we’ve heard in years. We are weirdly addicted to both albums, as we have been to everything this retro-fueled, forward-looking label has released.

a2449712753_16And now, after telling us they would never release another 7-inch single, they’ve outdone themselves by snaring another band which fits smartly into their distinctive roster. The rockabilly reared, punk perfected quartet L’Assassins have established a passionate following over the past couple years, but their recordings have been sparsely split over singles and EPs. Each has earned rave reviews, and the band is sure to find even more fans the more people hear them. We think this new single, “Fire of Love,” is their best yet.

The band is a perfect fit for Piñata Records, who have consistently found local bands with a strong retro base and fresh ideas. L’Assassins longest release, the Lovin’ on the Run EP put out by Big Action Records in 2013 (here), pulls together all the variety of vintage and contemporary influences they’ve cited in interviews: rockabilly like Wanda Jackson and Buddy Holly, killer psychobilly like the Cramps and Minneapolis’ own current music culture, in which the band is revered as a live favorite.

It’s hard to separate the band’s sultry aesthetic from their music, given the relationship between the “pin up girl” look and rockabilly’s historic role as an outsider music. In one interview, guitarist Monet Wong points to Thee Headcoats as an influence, “keeping music alive from the previous generation, [while] adding your own twist and of course doing originals too,” before acknowledging “there’s not a lot of female examples to point to.” Women were an anomaly in much of the rock and roll influencing bands like L’Assassins, more likely to objects of affection or anger than the ones offering the expression.

L’Assassins are sure to build a bigger following with rockabilly and punk rock fans as quickly as with young women who want to be inspired by more bands like Thee Headcoats. One thing we’re especially excited for is the video for “Fire of Love” to be released soon. There’s a preview on Youtube, which has hints of Tickle Torture creepiness, but also classic L’Assassins sexiness. If their epic video for “Backstreet Bomp” directed by Tyler Jensen is any indication, “Fire of Love” is probably going to be the best video of the year.

It’s disappointing, though not surprising, when reviews of the band focus more the women’s appearance than their performance: for instance, in a review for Razorcake, the always classy Rev Norb describes L’Assassins as “hot girls with nice hair and guns” long before he mentions their music. It’s pretty clear the quartet welcomes the attention if it gets their music a fair listen, and they’re actually backing up the oft-mentioned attitude with even meaner music. Seriously, listen Lovin’ on the Run, and don’t Monet Wong’s sweet guitar riffs in “Be My Dog” or our favorite track, the inventive, invective “Creep.” L’Assassins are so good the band would easily clobber the competition in a blind listening test.

They certainly impressed the Suburbs’ Chan Poling, who wrote “Fire of Love” with L’Assassins in mind. He and new bandmate Steve Price (who had joined the Suburbs for 2013’s surprise album Si Sauvage) produced the session for the new Piñata single, and Poling sat in on L’Assassin’s blazing original b-side, “Liar,” which might be our favorite song by the band to date. We absolutely love the addition of the organ, which calls to mind their new labelmates, Narco States, as well as a history of sweet keyboards on Minnesota garage rock records. Lead singer Tea Simpson never sounded better than on these two new tracks, and the guitar riffs and solos are explosive. Both new tracks are so well-produced they burst out of the speakers here at Hymie’s, and we’re glad nobody complains when we play the stereo entirely too loud.

The release show for “Fire of Love” is this Friday at Lee’s Liquor Lounge. Also performing will be Chicago’s Krank Dandys and Black Widows. The always awesome Travis Ramin will be spinning garage records in between sets. Details, on the facebook, here.

Addendum: The Video!!!

It was posted on Youtube this morning, between the time we posted our excitement over the single and the time we returned from a business meeting (yes, even record stores have business meetings — they’re just more fun than the ones we had in our old jobs). This is the 10th (!) video of L’Assassins written and directed by Tyler Jensen and producer Sasha Landskov, and it lives up to all our expectations! They all have a short film — Kill Kill Kill! Bang Bang Bang! — which will be featured in the Minnesota Underground Film Festival next month.

Morticia released a 7″ single (“Zombie Love” b/w “You Scare Me to Death”) and an LP (Mortal Fear) in 1987. Their last album, 13 Nightmares, was released five years later, and earned a Minnesota Music Award for Best Metal Album. All three albums they released before disbanding in 1994 were on local label Channel 83 Records. In 2005 an Italian label collected highlights from all three on a disc, Exhumed, which was popular enough with metal fans to quickly fall out of print.

Their act was described at the time as an updated Alice Cooper with darker shades of the Damned and Sisters of Mercy, and they were the first goth metal band from the Twin Cities to establish a following. Morticia stopped playing in 1994 with a final show at First Avenue, but reunited in April 2012 to take part in the 25th anniversary celebration of KFAI’s The Root of All Evil program at the Triple Rock.

morticia singleFounding member Matt Batchelor performs these days with Black Rainbow, a Dio tribute band, and also an original band (still said to do a killer “Billion Dollar Babies”), Vicious Violet.

He also happens to live here in the best neighborhood in Minneapolis. When he came across a handful of copies of those original “Zombie Love” singles, he brought then into the shop — and our enthusiasm for the songs forged a friendship, and now we’re fortunate enough to host Morticia’s first show in years.

We have loved Halloween celebrations of all kinds for ages — Dave joined our friends Liberty and Izzy on KFAI’s Pop Shop with a ghastly playlist way back in 2011, and several years later we put together a similar playlist for a show with Jack Klatt and the Cat Swingers. Last year’s Hymie’s Halloween mix was a hit, and we’ll have updated copies (as soon as we can find those pumpkin-stamped sleeves in the office!) for this year’s event.

Here’s the A side of that single that made us fall in undead love with this band.

Morticia will reunite for a special Halloween show here at Hymie’s at 5pm. Ghouls and ghosts aren’t just welcome, they’re expected…

Sandra Colvin Roy was struck by a bus near Lake Nokomis this week and critically injured. As a member of the Minneapolis City Council, she was very kind to this little neighborhood record shop, pressing to name record store day 2010 “Hymie’s Records Day” in the City of Minneapolis because it was our first anniversary of the move from the original shop. In addition, she was — along with several other council members, especially our own Cam Gordon, always helpful in the exhausting process of navigating the bureaucracy of running a business in this otherwise awesome city.

We didn’t always agree with her (mostly when it came to football stadiums), but when do you always agree with anyone? We were sad when she retired. She had a long career caring for her corner of Minneapolis, which happened to border on East Lake Street. We weren’t even in her ward when she offered us her support after relocating our business.

And she loved her neighborhood, which is where she was when she was in an accident and struck by a bus this week. The Star Tribune reports she responded after surgery, but is still in serious condition. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sandra and her family.



Your friendly neighborhood record shop will be open 1-6pm today.

Everyone here at Hymie’s hopes you have a happy Labor Day! Even though Americans work more hours than nearly every other nation on Earth, we have celebrated the first Monday of September each year by resting for a hundred and thirty years.

If you have the opportunity to go out for breakfast, lunch or dinner today, please remember that people in the service industry don’t get a day off for Labor Day and tip them accordingly. We recommend one of the many awesome restaurants here on East Lake Street!

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