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A local release we have been anticipating all summer is Nightosaur’s third album, Set Fire to the Mountain. You’ll be able to hear the whole thing — and take home a copy for yourself — on Friday night, but until then all you’ll get to hear is this single, “Devourer,” which they have posted online. It is but a heralding, a brief forewarning of all that is to follow, the smoke before the eruption of the mountain, a tremor to hint of the bursting of the Earth below.

It is so because we know. Hymie’s has been given foreknowledge of the coming of the new Nightosaur in the form of a disc of the master before it was sent to press. We have heard all that is to be unleashed, and we can attest that it is good. Very good. The title track is our favorite thing the band has recorded, a driving epic we cannot wait to add to the archives of our collection. And Set Fire to the Mountain is, by the way, their first release on an LP, although one of the new songs (“Skeleton Key”) was on Learning Curve Records’ Held Hostage Vol. 2 which came out this spring — it the main reason we brought home a copy of that collection.

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Nightosaur sounds a little different on Set Fire to the Mountain, having shifted from a ‘twin axe attack’ to a trio, but they didn’t drop their flair for dynamic, dramatic arrangements. The album opens with “Old Man Grandfather Tree,” a sludgy, steady burner that’s good enough to recall vintage Sabbath. Drummer Brad Schwab adds otherworldly percussion in just the right proportion to his pulsating fills, while the new dual attack lineup, bass and guitar by Andy Webber and John Henry, play off one another with harmonic intensity. Any fears the band would sound smaller are put down like a lame horse in the first six minutes.

Last year Numero Group released a compilation in its Wayfaring Strangers series, Darkscorch Canticles, which featured obscure occult-themed Sabbath-sounding seventies metal singles. We can’t possibly recommend this collection enough — it really reinvigorated our enthusiasm for everything from Iommi to Iron Maiden, and reminded us there really isn’t enough music like it anymore. What we love about Nightosaur is that they fill that hole in our hearts and in our record collection. They ace the familiar form in songs like “Old Gods” and “Bow Down to the Destroyer” while also pressing their range in “(The Shocking Tale of) Wilson Pinafore” and pretty much everything about the album’s epic title track.

All this isn’t to say the new Nightosaur sounds like a ‘throwback’ act — not that it would be such a bad thing if they stopped there, as we’re a little fatigued with retro-soul records and would love to hear a revival of some fresh blasts from the past. “Wilson Pinatore” and “Old Gods” are brightly-recorded and thrashy, a successful more modern turn not entirely removed from the big M’s of the 80s, Metallica and Megadeath. And “Skeleton Key” (which you can listen to here by the way) is awesomely Iron Maiden-y even though Nightosaur no longer has that signature dual lead ‘twin axe attack’ sound.

We agreed not to post anything but the single until after the release show, but we’ll probably post another song from this album next week. In the past we’ve called Nightosaur the funnest band in the Twin Cities. The musicianship on Set Fire to the Mountain far surpasses anything they’ve previously recorded, but they’re still, especially in their vocals, not taking their music to the heights of seriousness which started making metal no fun. Schwab sounds especially awesome throughout, and the bands interplay on “Bow Down to the Destroyer” and “Set Fire to the Mountain” is both intuitive and rockin’. The disc we were given this summer had a handwritten message, “some of the titles may be shortened,” so we may have been listening to an extended version of the album all this time (doing the math it seems likely all seven tracks will fit over two sides of an LP without pushing the limits of good sound quality).

We’re told the jackets for Set Fire to the Mountain were custom screen printed, but haven’t seen one yet — either way we are very excited for this album. You can bet it will be playing in the shop a lot this fall.

Nightosaur’s record release show for Set Fire to the Mountain will be at the 331 Club this Friday, September 26th at 10pm. Free, 21+. Also performing will be Gay Witch Abortion and Bongonya. We have also scheduled an all-ages in-store appearance, but it’s not ’til November so you better get your butt up to Northeast on Friday to hear these guys.

This Saturday we’re hosting an all-ages record release show for the Persian Leaps. , whose second EP was launched last Friday at the 331 Club. Drive Drive Delay is tighter and catchier than their previous disc, and just jangly enough to recall 70s power pop as surely as 90s indie rock. The band recorded at Neil Weir’s awesome Old Blackberry Way studio, and sound substantially more confident on the five new tracks, especially the hook-heavy “Pretty Boy” and the downright addictive “Truth=Consequences.”

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Nothing cracks the three minute mark on Drive Drive Delay until the richly satisfying closer “Permission,” which has all the rock and roll grandeur of the Buzzcocks’ longer jams and stretches out over nearly five minutes without losing its energetic drive. While the band definitely leans towards the classic lo-fi style of Guided by Voices, Weir gives them just enough shine to balance the sludgy riffs and the jingle-jangle.

The Persian Leaps join the legion of local bands taking good old fashioned rock & roll out of the garage for a spin this year — look for Mystery Date to release a full length LP later this fall, and check out ’14 singles by Lutheran Heat and Juvie if you’re uncertain. We welcome the energy these bands are bringing to clubs around town, and the invigorating records they’re making — Drive Drive Delay is an excellent disc of well-crafted, catchy rock and roll.

You may wonder what record the folks from Hymie’s are looking for since there are hundreds of thousands of albums packed into this place — well, until this week one album was the second record by the Upper Mississippi Jazz Band, a traditional group that recorded here in the 60s. We posted a bit about their outstanding clarinet player, Dick Ramberg, last year when we were sad to learn he had passed away, but we didn’t have a copy of both albums the group made. It’s one of those records that falls into the category of ‘difficult to find but not particularly valuable,’ and we’re glad to have one on our shelves.

Minneapolis has always been a hotbed for traditional jazz, even though we’re on the opposite end of the Mississippi from New Orleans — We have a couple favorite bands in town that are playing and recording New Orleans style jazz, and both have regular gigs you should really check out if you love ‘the good stuff.’ The Southside Aces perform the second Thursday each month at the fabulous Eagles Club ballroom, and they even raffle off records from our shop. Patty and the Buttons is the other band, and they appear at the Aster Cafe for a Sunday brunch (11-2pm). They’ve also just finished recording a new album of classic tunes and originals called Mercury Blues.

Patty has produced a parody of the crowd-funding crazy which may or may not be a serious attempt to raise money to press the album. We really can’t tell. They’re calling it “$hitstarter” and we’ll let Patty himself explain it:

pattyYou are probably eager to hear XXX, the disc of vintage smut recorded by the band as an incentive. Check it out on their bandcamp page here. You can also find copies of their new disc here at Hymie’s, wrapped in a brown paper bag.

Musicians in the 20s and 30s produces a surprising variety of explicit songs — many were recorded by famous performers, such as Ukelele Ike (ie Cliff Edwards, the voice of Jiminy Cricket) whose “Give it to Mary with Love” we posted here this summer.

One of the interesting things to come out of the 60s folk revival, from a record collector’s point of view, is the large number of compilation album collecting vintage 78s that begin to pop up during the following decade. The movement began with Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music in 1952 — the six-LP Folkways series exploring the breadth of America’s forgotten or dismissed traditional music. We have previously listened to tracks from the legendary compilation here. Many of its songs became standards or were reinterpreted by the folks singers who followed, including famous figures like Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Doc Watson and Dave Van Ronk.

In 1961 Columbia Records compiled sixteen sides by Robert Johnson onto a single LP, King of the Delta Blues Singers. The collection is considered one of the most influential blues albums of all time, helping to shape both the Chicago electric blues sound and the British blues boom. The record also established the modest commercial potential of archival releases, which the label tentatively explored the following year with an album of recordings by Leroy Carr with Scrapper Blackwell, Blues Before Sunrise. By the seventies they had issued an extensive compendium of Bessie Smith split over five double-LP sets, and other labels were following the example. RCA, by this time the owner of the Bluebird catalog, issued collections of music ranging from the Monroe Brothers to the collected Benny Goodman (split over at least seven volumes) — while never big business, archival collections of obscure 78s became a record shop staple in the seventies.

In fact, some of it was very small business. The archetypal archival label was Yazoo, which was run out of New York City apartment by a Harry Smith-like character named Nick Perls. The Yazoo collections are again in print on LP — you may have noticed some of them here in the shop, if only because several include vibrant covers by cartoonist (and 78 enthusiast) R. Crumb. Perls was known for his ability to get the cleanest recording of a vintage record, and his label’s catalog collected such essential recordings as Mississippi John Hurt’s 1928 recordings for Okeh and Blind Willie Johnson’s “Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground,” a song that was chosen by the Voyager Project to be included in the “golden record” which has been cast out into interstellar space like a message in a bottle.

Getting back to our original subject, Patty and the Buttons’ new collection of vintage smut, we turn to Stash Records, a seventies label which issued twenty-five fun LPs. Their first collection,  Pipe, Spoon, Pot and Jug, was filled with riotous drug songs like “Reefer Man” and “Don’t You Make Me High.” Their second release was Copulatin’ Blues, filled with the sort of smut the Buttons’ have recorded on their new disc, and it has been followed by a variety of similar records.

copulatin bluesHere’s a little sample of songs from Yazoo and Stash compilation albums:

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“New Rubbin’ on the Old Darn Thing” by Oscar’s Chicago Swingers (1936)

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“Please Warm My Weiner” by Bo Carter (1935)

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“Adam and Eve” by Tommy Bradley & James Cole (1930)

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“If You Don’t Give me What I Want” by Lil Johnson (1936)

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“Shave Em Dry” by Lucille Bogan (Bessie Jackson) (1935)

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“You Put It In, I Take It Out” by Papa Charlie Jackson (1934)

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“My Daddy Rocks Me (With a Steady Roll)” by Tampa Red’s Hokum Jazz Band (vocal by Frankie Jaxon) (1929)

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sixfamiliesMMjohncageOur friends Six Families are back with another mind-expanding program here at Hymie’s. First they’ll screen a documentary about composer John Cage, and then perform several pieces afterwards — all starting at 6pm tonight. The performances will be:

Composed Improvisation for Snare Drum is a 1989 piece combining elements of improvisation with aleatoric composition. The performer is given instructions to use chance operations to split an 8:00 time interval into three sections, each of which is similarly split into 1-8 “events”. It is determined, again by chance operations, how many “sonic occurrences” may be within each event, and then the performer is free to improvise within those parameters.

Aria was written in 1958 for a solo singer with any voice range.  The score is a combination of black lines with color, these differences represent 10 different styles the singer must assign to each combination.   The text uses sounds and words from Armenian, Russian, Italian, French, and English.  The notation represents time horizontally and pitch vertically.

Living Room Music is an informal piece written for a quartet to use any household objects or architectural elements as percussion instruments.  One of the movements is group reading of a Gertrude Stein poem.

Folks often ask us what record we wish we could find, and we never really have a good answer. So many come and go through the shop it’s rare we have time to think about it. What we usually tell them is that we don’t even know what our next favorite record will be — somebody may be finding it a box buried in a basement or high on a shelf in a garage this morning. Or maybe they’re making our new favorite record right now.

What what’s been burnin’ up the CD player in the shop this week is Midwest Paul Cook, a new album out this weekend. Paul Cook himself was kind enough to drop off a copy last week for us to spin in the shop, and it turns out his first album is just what we didn’t know we were looking for.

paul cookSurprisingly, Cook has been but once mentioned here, although his fingerprints are on two of our favorite releases this year: Gabe Barnett’s Old as the Stars (reviewed here) and the Poor Nobodys’ Ink no Ink (reviewed here). Both were recorded by Cook, né Flynn, at The Space in Northeast, and reflect a remarkable sensitivity to unique sonorities of traditional instruments. Each is a feast for the ears, a feat not often achieved by engineers attempting to present music best heard in live performance. Cook captures the same balance of warmth and spontaneity on his eponymous debut.

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You may have seen Midwest Paul Cook at the 331 Club, where he’s become something of a fixture this year, and where incidentally this disc will be released on Saturday night. In recent months he’s played with the Bookhouse Trio (two thirds of which appear on this disc), Mike Gunther, the Dumpy Jug Bumpers and Jack Klatt. In fact, twice this past week local blues/traditional musicians of note have heard Cook’s new disc here in the shop and asked if it were Klatt — a fair assumption when you consider Klatt’s Cat Swingers appears on the album.

Cook carves out his own sound on this disc, closer to Gunther’s driven, almost glossolalian Gospel than Klatt’s jaunty ragtime playing. Consider how the two approach “The Panic is On,” a song written early in the Great Depression by Hezekiah Jenkins. Klatt’s take is quick, affable and light — a counterpoint to his brooding “Ruckus on Wallstreet” from his first disc — while Cook takes a more old-timey approach, sounding to us like another favorite local artist, Corpse Reviver’s Adam Kiesling. “The Panic is On” is also one of a few tracks where Cook plays his resonator guitar to great effect.

Some of the strongest songs on Cook’s disc are foot-stompers in this vein, such as the steady and bluesy “Sweet Ain’t Sweet” and “You Call That A Buddy?” both of which highlights the wailing harp of Dain Girodat. Unlike Gabe Barnett’s Old as the Stars, on which Girodat plays (as Dain ‘Maynerd’ Arnold) the ensemble numbers are still fairly sparse. In its full form, Barnett’s band hardly fits on the 331 Club stage, while Cook limits arrangements to three or four pieces throughout his album. The songs don’t lack for energy or rhythm, though — bassist Josh Granowski is in fine form throughout, giving everything a steady drive. On a few tracks Patrick Harison sits in with his washboard, which sounds especially awesome on “You Call That a Buddy?”

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Cook takes a darker approach to his hard time songs than Barnett or Klatt, starting the album by stating, “I don’t understand the world I live in, and it don’t care much for me.” Although his accompaniment is largely locals we would think of as Americana or roots players, Cook’s songs are through and through the blues. In “You Call That a Buddy?” and others, he gives us a new telling of an old story. “Misery” is one of the disc’s biggest arrangements, making great use of brass, keys, and a driving bass to put a great new spin on some old blues.

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“Nothing I Do” is a great tune that really captures his steady, laid back style. “I can’t keep on living like this,” he sings in the album’s closer. “It’s all I know how to do.” It’s a farewell tune played in a light Piedmont style but delivered with the slow burn Cook has established over the previous nine tracks. Fiddler Tina Eld provides just the right atmosphere to “Walkin’ Shoes,” and he song is a great album closer leaving us wishing there were more to hear.

We’re guessing this is just a taste of what Midwest Paul Cook has prepared, and we’re looking forward to more mu

Midwest Paul Cook’s album release show for this disc is Saturday night at the 331 Club. The Dumpy Jug Bumpers and the Brass Messengers will also perform.

Hymie’s will be launching our own in-house record label on October 10th with two new releases and a big show at the Cedar Cultural Center. The first of these is by a friend probably familiar to most Hymie’s regulars, Ben Weaver, whose eighth LP I Would Rather Be A Buffalo will be the first full-length record on the new label. He has already performed a number of these songs here at Hymie’s three times over the past year, and released an alternate recording of one with Charlie Parr on a 7″ single in June. We posted the new LP version of “Ramblin’ Bones” here last month, and we will share more about Ben’s new album, including its custom letter-press printed jackets, in the coming weeks as we all work to put the finishing touches on the project.

Also performing at the Cedar on the 10th of October will be Brian Laidlaw and the Family Trade, who opened the outdoor stage of our block party these past two years, and have recorded two songs for the first 45rpm single in an ongoing series we’ve created to highlight the Twin Cities’ traditional and Americana scene. We are hoping to release a new single every six months, so it will only take us about ten years to get around to all our favorite locals.

This video by Ali Rogers presents one of the two new songs by the Family Trade, which Brian wrote while visiting his home state of California, in response to the changes drought have brought to the Sierra Nevada range. Some of the footage (the shots where the band looks chilly!) is from our Record Store Day block party in April.

Tickets for the October 10th release show for these two records are available at the Cedar, at the lovely yarn shop across Cedar Avenue (Depth of Field) and here at Hymie’s. This event is bringing together a diverse community of people, notably Rain Taxi’s Twin Cities Book Festival, who have been eager to help support the show, and have invited Ben and Brian, who are both releasing chapbooks of poetry this fall as well, to read at their October 11th event.

We are sure to share more with you about this new venture in the coming weeks — it is something we certainly couldn’t have approached without the support of loyal friends and customers all these years, who have helped us grow this space into more than simply a neighborhood record shop but a place where people connect with one another. A “crossroads of the universe,” as our friend John Marshall likes to say. We are fortunate that our paths have crossed with those of these musicians, and we are very excited to share what they have written with you.

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Happy Labor Day

We’ll be open today from 1-6pm, because working in a record store isn’t labor. Hope to see you.

incomparablesIn the meantime, please enjoy this rendition of “Carry on my Wayward Son” by the Leland Stanford Marching Band. It’s our favorite marching band record since someone loaned us the one where Quintron’s 9th Ward Marching Band did “Crazy Train.”

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