New Arrivals

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We’ve already posted that we’re excited for the next release in our catalog, a 45 with two new songs by Tree Party, but tonight’s show at the Cedar Cultural Center will also celebrate the release of even more new music. The Brass Messengers, have treated us to a long-overdue new album.

We listened to it last night while we were working on assembling the Tree Party singles, and one of them had just the right assessment of the Messengers’ new album: “This is such happy music!” The eleven new songs (plus a “Dancehall Remix”!) are filled with such joyous energy Thigmonasty has already become our cure for the rainy day blues…and there have been a few of those kinda days around here lately.

brass messengers thigmonasty

The first half of the disc is recorded live in Creation Studios with an enthusiastic audience, which is essential to the celebratory nature of the Messengers’ music. The group evolved out of the brass bands that played the Heart of the Beast‘s May Day parade, which is one of the biggest celebrations in the Twin Cities. Their two earlier discs present their interest in brass music from around the world, including Eastern Europe, Africa and Latin America, and Thigmonasty has really successfully blended this with the dozen members’ other experiences in different bands around town.

 

While they often play covers ranging from cajun classics to Black Sabbath, Thigmonasty is entirely originals by the duodecet.* Trombonist J.B. McLain, who also performs around town as a solo guitarist, contributes several original songs which have more of a street band, New Orleans feeling. These are definitely the sort of songs which gets you moving, and which have that energy which vibrates within you when you see a performance by the Messengers. Tony Randazzo, the band’s tubist and also the album producer, offers songs with more of the Eastern European feel, highlighted by inventive, suspensful arrangements (especially the brief tune “Leo Nursha”). Another song in this vein is a re-recording of the title song from Paul Fonfara’s 7 Secrets of Snow, which we featured here. One last tune is by composer Andy McCormick (of Dreamland Face), and pays tribute to the ruler of Wisconsin’s mythical colony of dwarves. Or so we assume.

The second half, recorded without an audience features some of these more intricate arrangements, but there is still a lot of energy behind them, especially in Randazzo’s “Leo Nursha.” And as we mentioned, there’s a remix at the end of the album. It’s a surprisingly sweet conclusion, and works very well.

We think this is one of the best local albums of the year so far, but the best way to appreciate the Brass Messengers is surrounded by other celebrants smiling and dancing. We’re looking forward to doing just that tonight.

*Had to look that one up!

The Brass Messengers and Tree Party have a joint release show for their new music at the Cedar Cultural Center tonight. Details on the Cedar’s website here

Its interesting to visit seasonal records during their down-time. We don’t necessarily mean pulling out all the Christmas albums in August, although we do have a customer who tells us she does that every summer. Instead, we think of music with a strong seasonal connotation, which becomes an entirely different experience out of that context. For instance, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 1 in G Minor, which is commonly called “Winter Dreams,” has a very different feel this time of year. Then again, we find ourselves listening to a lot more Tchaikovsky in the winter altogether.

iced over

Tree Party’s most recent disc, Iced Over, now has a couple winters under its belt and we still enjoy the disc as much as we did the first time around. The album of songs centered around Minnesota legends isn’t entirely as wintery as the cover implies, but it is one which seems to get set aside when summer sets in.

We’ve been thinking the same is likely true for the summery-est of songs, too, and we’ve been working on a playlist of songs to re-visit in December when we’re trudging to the shop in snow drifts taller than Irene.

Between now and then, we’re very excited to be participating in Tree Party’s next release, a 45 on our in-house label of two new songs. The sleeves are distinguished by prints from the negatives member Joey Ford found in his father’s photography, and each copy of the single includes a postcard you can send to a friend to share the music. That’s right, each copy comes with two download codes: one for you and one for a friend!

The new single will be released a week from tomorrow with a show at the Cedar Cultural Center. Also performing are the Brass Messengers, who have a new album out as well. Details can be found on the Cedar’s website here. We’re not streaming the songs from the single yet, but here’s a peek at what the singles look like. This is the first of two new 45s with picture sleeves we’ll have out this year from Hymies Records!

tree party single

Physical copies of Radiohead’s new album, A Moon Shaped Pool, are in stores throughout the country today. The album was first made available online last month and quickly became a new fan favorite. The band has provided live streaming events since its debut, including an entertaining description by artist Stanley Donwood on how to paint the album cover.

We’ll have copies of the new album here at your friendly neighborhood record shop, but not until the UPS truck arrives, so don’t rush in!

We knew a guy who went to college in Appleton, Wisconsin, and had a chance to visit there a few times. There’s really no short route from the Twin Cities to Appleton, but at the time (nearly twenty years ago) there were a couple good record stores there which made for a nice reward. Also there were some good diners along the way.

duskWe really like this single by Dusk, a country-rock band from Appleton. The A-side is a straight ahead rocker fit for the neighborhood bar, and the B-side a little more in the direction of Gram Parson’s “cosmic American music.” Both songs are filtered through the Uncle Tupelo school of country-rock for your pleasure.

The single was released by Minneapolis’ own Forward Records. We’re hoping this suggests the band might be invited to play a show here in town this summer. We’d love to hear a whole set.

 

 

Roaratorio Records remains one of our favorite labels based in Minnesota. One of their recent releases was a 7-inch with two songs by The Cleveland Wrecking Crew, a Quicksilver-ish Bay Area band from the 60s who never released any recordings.

And the label’s most recent release is the next in a series of un-issued recordings by Sun Ra and his Arkestra. It is the third such collection they have released, and the first which is a double LP. Owing to the ongoing interest in Sun Ra’s music, the other two are already out of print.

Sun Ra Intergalactic Thing

The tracks on The Intergalactic Thing are taken from rehearsal recordings at the House of Ra, the Philadelphia residence of Sun Ra and many members of his Arkestra. This collection contains much more information about the recordings than the previous two Roaratorio releases, including recording dates and personnel. All tracks are from the early winter of 1969, presumably the same era as Atlantis and My Brother the Wind.

We have several copies in stock, but anticipate that this release will also quickly fall out of print. We have been really enjoying it, although we suppose the astro-infinity music of Sun Ra isn’t for everyone. We really liked this track, “In Over and Under,” which reminded us of other clavinet classics in his catalog, like “Love in Outer Space.”

We’re pretty excited to be releasing the second album by Corpse Reviver next week. The folk trio has long been one of our favorites in town — we love them so much we hired them to play our 10th anniversary party a couple years ago, and promised them we’d release their second album on vinyl.

If you have never heard them before, you may still be familiar with some of their songs. That’s because Corpse Reviver’s repertoire is drawn from the Anthology of American Folk Music, the enormously influential compilation first released in 1952 by Folkways Records. Harry Smith collected traditional music on 78s and with the six-album series revived music which was largely being swept into the dustbin.

Adam

Adam modeling the new Lp

When Corpse Reviver released the first volume of their interpretation of the anthology (titled I’ll be Rested When the Roll is Called), we posted the original songs (here). On that disc, and on their new Lp, they’ve chosen songs which have been widely performed over the years, but its especially interesting to go back and hear those original 78 transfers from Harry Smith’s collection. Some are songs which had a long life before they were recorded in the late 20s or early 30s, and others have taken on new significance as songs associated with the mid-century folk boom or the more recent alt-country revival.

The new album opens with Adam Kiesling’s familiar fretless banjo and a confident take on “I Wish I Were a Mole in the Ground,” a song first recorded in 1928 by Bascom Lunsford. The song has been widely recorded by folk musicians, notably here in Minnesota by Charlie Parr about ten years ago, but Corpse Reviver turn the song’s perceived resignation on its ear. The same is true for “The Butcher’s Boy,” the second Buell Kazee ballad they have recorded with Jillian Rae singing. Mikkel Beckmen adds a funeral march rhythm to her reading of with his djembe, making this suicide ballad dark and dramatic.

In all, we count at least a half dozen deaths in the songs on Dry Bones. Corpse Reviver’s compartmentalization of the Anthology songs is as idiosyncratic as were the choices made by Harry Smith himself, but its clear they’ve chosen this second volume to collect some of the darker sides of the so-called “old weird America.” The result is an album much weightier than the first volume, but also a great collection of stories.

The original twelve songs, all found on Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music, are collected below. Corpse Reviver will be performing these and other favorites at the album release show next week. It’s possible opening performer Spider John Koerner will bring out one of them old numbers as well.

Corpse Reviver will be releasing their second album, Dry Bones, next Wednesday night at the Cedar Cultural Center (details here). Minnesota folk legend Spider John Koerner will perform an opening set, and local choir Mpls imPulse will perform with the trio during their set.

The latest release from the endlessly fascinating Roaratorio Recordsis a 7″ single featuring two songs by the Cleveland Wrecking Company.

cleveland wrecking company

Like Crystal Syphon, who are featured on two archival LPs from the label, this single presents unreleased material from the late 60s Bay Area scene. The band’s bassist Jim Moscoso wrote great liner notes summing up the band’s history, which are both fun and interesting. The story of an agent losing the band’s advance in a marijuana smuggling scene is makes for a fun read, but its also a cautionary tale.

Also inside is a picture of the band performing at the Atascadero Hospital for the Criminally Insane.

The recordings they eventually made are presumed lost. What we have here is a studio track and a live recording from a band that opened for a pretty impressive list: The Dead, CCR, Big Mama Thornton, Sons of Champlin, Lightnin’ Hopkins.

Just another reason Roaratorio is one of our favorite Minnesota record labels.

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