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We’ve been expanding our selection of new machine for a while, but until this week its involved adding turntables. Now we also have new tape decks from Marantz. You’ll find them with the turntables on the black shelves in the back room here. They’re the same sort of double-deck machines which many of us fondly recall using to make mixtapes. We’re thrilled to have found reliable new decks from a familiar brand.

Tapes are never going to be our specialty here at Hymies, as they’re outnumbered by the albums about 10,000 to one, but we’re often adding to the shelves. More and more this includes new tapes from local artists. Here are a few which caught our ears.

We bought the last few copies of the Blaha tape just before the band left for a short European tour. They’ve since returned, and Mike Blaha has performed in his familiar role as baritone guitarist for the Blind Shake at our annual block party (worth checking out), and that band is now back across the pond. The Blaha tape, 499-456, is available digitally on bandcamp (here). The sound is more lo-fi than the Neil Weir-engineered Blaha LP, The Art of Not, but it suits the songs. Recently a customer heard us listening to Blaha in the shop and said one song sounded like Yo La Tengo, while the next sounded like Guided by Voices. Pretty good company to be placed into and well-deserved.

Monica LaPlante’s new tape, Noir, is also available digitally as well (her bandcamp page is here). We were fans of her 2013 ten-inch record, Jour, for its fusing of power pop with the darker side of new wave and this tape pick that right up and goes further. LaPlante has a busy month in May and we recommend you check out one of her shows, including Art-a-Whirl gigs on the 19th and 20th, the Fathom Lane album release at the Turf Club on the 26th, and the Memory Lanes Block Party on the 28th!

The next tape we picked from the new ones this morning is Pact, a new EP of jangly pop punk by Pretty Still. As with the others its available digitally on bandcamp (here). The band is pretty new and the cassette could fairly be called a demo tape rather than an album, but we’re looking forward to hearing more from this band who have performed here at Hymies in other settings.

This last tape, a set of two, is also available digitally (through, you guessed it, bandcamp here) and we didn’t record a track so you’ll have to take a listen through that link. Its a substantial anthology of songs from Russell Hoke, who is prolific but hardly interested in profits. To quote from the Fusetron Sound website, Hoke didn’t have a plan when he recorded his first album. He just wanted to be able to play one on his own turntable. So “he pressed up 100 of the now long gone Cosmic Outlaw and then, with no real plan in place for distributing it, he simply started donating them to charity shops and second hand shops in the area Johnny Appleseed style.” Mankato’s Round Bale Recordings, associated with the Free Form Freakout podcast, created this double-tape anthology of recordings from Hoke’s obscure records from the 80s and 90s from albums including that impossible-to-hunt-down Cosmic Outlaw. The music ranges from John Wesley Harding to Daniel Johnston, with stops along the way which suggest Moondog or in wittier moments John Prine. It’s one of the most interesting things on cassette we have seen come through the shop in a long while.

We can’t thank you enough for coming to the block party and making it such an incredible event.  Irene is so tired!

Several years ago we put together a whole post of alternate takes of famous tune from the likes of John Coltrane, Bruce Springsteen and Tom Waits. At the time we must not have added this double LP to our collection, or we would have included one of its numerous Chuck Berry alternates.

Here’s an early take of “Johnny B. Goode” recorded December 30th, 1957.


A while back we put together a goofy post of lesser-known dance crazes, and today we have another to add to the list: “The Bend”!

We first found it on this 45 by former I Dream of Jeanie star Barbara Eden, but the song was earlier a huge European hit for a group comically named Dave Dee, Doozy, Beaky, Mitch and Tich.

Their recording of “Bend It!” topped the German single chart. The song incorporated the bouzouki sound popularized by Zorba the Greek by using an amplified mandolin. It received little airplay in the United States because the lyrics were considered suggestive, so the band re-recorded it with different lyrics.

Barbara Eden made a few records in the sixties which are campy collector’s items today. Her version of “Bend It!” came with a picture sleeve that had instructions for “The Bend” on the back, so now you can dance along at home!


We’re saying farwell to the year of the monkey by sweeping all the bad luck out the door. While we can do little to make the world a better place by being a neighborhood record shop, we’re honored for the opportunity to continue doing our little part of it all.

And as a welcome to the year of the rooster, here is a timely song about a rooster and a courageous border-crosser who carries him. It is sung by the great cowboy poet Tom Russell.

Thanks for reading and we wish you a happy new year!


icarusThis recording of Gene Gutchë’s experimental composition Icarus was recorded by the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra in 1977.

We chose to post it today in recognition of Indigenous People’s Day, which was (here in Minneapolis) formerly recognized as Columbus Day until August of 2014. This change is slowly being made all around the United States, and as we have posted every October for more than half a decade, it is long overdue.

However, Gutchë’s music celebrates Christopher Columbus, who is alternately recognized as the New World’s first slave trader and genocidal murderer. His remarks on the composition (below) reveal the often absurd inaccuracies indelibly left by the way we have taught history for generations. The phenomenon is entertainingly studied in an early chapter of James Loewen’s classic study of American history textbooks, Lies My Teacher Told Me.

Setting aside his naive view of Columbus, Gutchë’s remarks express an optimism which offers an impetus to praise this country, rather than suggest it is in need of repair. Gutchë was an immigrant, having come to the United States in 1925 at the age of eighteen and settled permanently here in the Twin Cities mid-life.

This year, more than previous Octobers, we are best to remember that America remains as great as ever, in part because we have welcomed immigrants like Gutchë.

In the album’s notes, composer Gene Gutchë describes the work, and here is an excerpt:

Essentially, Columbus, a seafaring adventurer, measures his wits against the sea and comes to grips with rebellious men. Against these obstacles is the promise of a vast new continent. In context with its title the music is austere and assumes a raw physical power. Power can mean many things to different peoples. Wealth is a power. Position can direct our lives. Ideologies have destroyed civilizations. Today we need the strength Columbus implanted into our world.

It is the strength Washington/Lincoln/Kennedy possessed. A deliberate aim to set all me free. By this mean we become powerful.

I don’t know about you but I love this country. Tolerate everything. Dismiss the doubt. Accept. Overlook. Break many cups. In compassion is joy.

One of these days our earth shall be likened to the moon. When that happens another Icarus will rise and take us to a new star.


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