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We’ve got a soft spot for K102, but its starting to seem like most pop country songs are beginning to sound the same these days. Sometimes we feel like Bob (you know, from Bob’s Country Bunker) saying, “This ain’t no Hank Williams song.”

Turns out the overwhelming homogeneity to pop country music isn’t in ours or anyone else’s imagination. This hilarious video by Sir Mashalot puts six recent pop country hits together in a surprisingly seamless sequence.

Sir Mashalot is Nashville resident and aspiring producer Gregory Todd, and we think his video (which has been seen nearly five million times) is a labor of love more than a satire. Nashville has a long history of protectionism over what’s regarded as genuine country music, a genre which seems to be looking at its own extinction every couple decades.

We imagine one could produce a similar mashup of crossover hits from the 70s by outsiders like Canadian Anne Murray and Australian Olivia Newton-John who had #1 hits on the country charts. If you’re wondering just how resentful country artists were at the time, watch this bizarre moment from the 1974 CMA Music Awards, in which a doped-up Charlie Rich sets fire to the card reading the name of his successor as Entertainer of the Year, John Denver.


Country music returned to its roots for a while, with a traditional streak which dominated the charts and heartland airwaves in the eighties: artists like John Anderson and Emmylou Harris covered standards by stars of the Grand Ole Opry, and Ricky Skaggs revived bluegrass over the course of a dozen #1 hits. And then there’s the whole alt-country scene, with bands like Uncle Tupelo approaching traditional music from a post-punk background.

The best thing which ever happened to pop music was the FCC’s deregulation of radio under the Reagan administration, and the rapid proliferation of rural stations revived pop country, which had been kept alive by artists the likes of Alabama and Eddie Rabbitt throughout the 80s. Pop country is darn easy to listen to, especially when all the songs sound the same: by the time the six artists whose songs were used in Sir Mashalot’s video were born, most music on the country station was well on the way to becoming more or less indistinguishable from the music on the top 40 and adult contemporary stations again.

Black Market Brass performing here at Hymie’s on a cold night last winter. This is the latest in our series of videos co-produced with Pabst Blue Ribbon. Dan Huiting directed, Lauren Josephine edited, and Brian Herb of Mother of All Music mixed the sound.

This band’s great single on Secret Stash Records is one of those local records that’s so good you can do “the Beta Band trick” with it. They’re a great live act, too — their next show is at the Coup D’etat Block Party on Saturday June 13th.

We’re awful proud to have been chosen in CNN’s list of “ten of America’s beloved record stores” last week, but we’ve got bigger things on our mind when we look at the headlines each morning. And we sure wish CNN did too.

For starters, the Baltimore riot. And for good measure recent events from North Charleston, Ferguson, and Tulsa, where after restrained suspect Eric Courtney Harris was shot ‘by accident’ and said he couldn’t breath, the last words he heard on this Earth were “fuck your breath” — its harrowing footage to watch, especially considering the savage choking death of Eric Garner in Staten Island last summer for the crime of selling loose cigarettes.

The Daily Show‘s criticism of CNN’s coverage has been both hilarious and alarmingly on point.  Not only did the twenty-four hour news network offer hours of fawning coverage of the White House Correspondents’ Dinner instead of covering the Baltimore riots, but anchor Wolf Blitzer seemed to have completely forgotten the past two months in his absurd denial of the riot’s precedence.

The media has offered a tragically narrow view of the Baltimore riots, completely ignoring the crowds who showed up to help repair damages during the aftermath. CNN’s own coverage sure seems like its set to promote the same stereotypes the media pushed after the 1989 LA riots. Meanwhile, the “Black Lives Matter” movement has misdirected is passion to punish unrelated people. Whether their protest at the Mall of America last year ‘raised awareness’ is negligible, but whether it cost thousands of workers much of a much-need Saturday’s income is certain. There appears to be no leadership on this issue which public officials address with trepidation. There are enormous systemic problems and no one has the courage to acknowledge them.

The fact that the US Justice Department doesn’t track police shootings of civilians at as alarming as any other fact unearthed by recent events. A recent Washington State University study suggests police actually shoot white suspects with less hesitation, but the cruelty of police killings of black suspects is nothing short of a national disgrace — especially considering footage of officers not providing CPR or other care in South Carolina, Oklahoma and elsewhere. What have we become?

Unfortunately, the Justice Department largely has no interest in the subject, since local police usually handle inquiries into claims of an officer’s use of force, and the officer is rarely disciplined. Look at a recent case right here in St. Paul, in which Chris Lollie was followed and harassed by police while waiting for his children outside their pre-school in a skyway seating area:

His ‘crime’? Refusing to provide identification, even though there was no probable cause he’d committed a crime and therefore no cause for officers to ask for his identification, let alone follow him for several blocks. He was undeniably harassed for his race and innocent of any crime (it was a public area where First National Bank had previously encouraged everyone to “enjoy a seat”) — the video is especially upsetting to us because it happened so close to home.

the messageWhat discipline did the officers who harassed and assaulted Chris Lollie recieve? None. Even though all charges against Lollie were dropped (you cannot ‘trespass’ on public property), they were exonerated by the Police Civilian Internal Affairs Commission in a decision announced last November.

This is the militarization of police we’ve allowed. Lollie was in the right: innocent of any crime and honestly passing time while waiting to pick up his kids at pre-school before being harassed, followed and tazed (this hurts a lot, by the way) not merely for his race but also the additional ‘crime’ of asserting his rights.

This is also the extent to which we pretend to not see communities within our country. For years we were told we’d win the “hearts and minds” of a country we occupied, while at the same time denying the own concern to our own citizens.

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“The Message” by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five



We’ve been producing videos on our stage in the shop for a few years with help from Pabst Twin Cities, and this most recent one is our favorite yet. Maximumrockandroll named Mystery Date’s New Noir as its record of the week back in March, and we couldn’t have agreed more. Their album is a exhilarating combination of power pop and punk rock, but the trio doesn’t take its craft too seriously. They’re one of the most fun live acts in town, and three really great guys as well.

“Lightspeed Romance” is from their first album, which is online here. The song was also on their first single for Piñata Records, which is sadly out of print.

The video was directed by Dan Huiting and edited by Lauren Josephine. Brian Herb mixed the sound. We just stayed out of everyone’s way.

The 1950 adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ story “Gerald McBoing-Boing” has been entered into the National Film Registry and preserved by the Library of Congress. Animators regard it with reverence as it is one of the first short films to successfully experiment with limited animation, which at the time was more of an aesthetic decision than one driven by financial considerations. Limited animation, which uses as few in-betweens or transitional cells as possible. This became the basis of inexpensively-produced “Saturday morning cartoons” like the ones these record shop owners grew up with (Fat Albert, The Smurfs, etc). Limited animation does not necessarily preclude quality, however, as Gerald McBoing-Boing demonstrated in 1950. At the time this short film was a distinct break from the realism of the Walt Disney features.

Having enjoyed this fun short film, you’re surely wondering why we posted it — it’s because the cartoon was inspired by a record!

gerald mcboinbboingGerald McLoy (ie Gerald McBoing-Boing) first appeared not in one of the good doctor’s forty-six delightful books, but on a record produced the year before by Capitol. Radio personality Harold Peary, known then to listeners as Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve from Fibber McGee and Molly, narrated the story.

The remarkably versatile bandleader Billy May provided the music (his humorous collaborations and swinging arrangements know no bounds: we have previously posted music he produced for comic Stan Freberg, here and here, and singer Peggy Lee, here).

The story was adapted for film by P.D. Eastman (author of Are You My Mother? and the epic Go, Dog, Go! among many other essential reads) and Bill Scott (who we know best as Bullwinkle J. Moose). This little 78rpm record is at the nexus of so much talent!

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The big music industry news from Los Angeles is that a jury has awarded the children of Marvin Gaye $7.4 million because last year’s hit “Blurred Lines” Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke contained significant elements of his 1977 song, which is ironically titled “Got to Give it Up.”

The song is one of our favorite Marvin Gaye jams — it was the side long studio track at the end of Live at the London Palladium, and one of those tunes you forget is in your collection. Maybe that’s what they were counting on when they borrowed it to create the beat which drives “Blurred Lines.”

According to Forbes, Gaye earned $3.5 million last year, making him one of the highest-paid dead celebrities, which makes sense considering he was not only one of the greatest soul singers of all time but also a prolific songwriter with extraordinary insight. Still, we assume his three children and three grandchildren would rather have him here today than another giant pile of money. The thirty-first anniversary of Gaye’s tragic murder is just about three weeks away.

Anyway, we’re also big fans of Pharrell’s album, Girl, though we could give or take that talentless paragon of Hollywood nepotism, Robin Thicke. Attorneys for the two have suggested the ruling will have a “chilling effect” on artists who wish to recreate an artist’s sound.

Here are both videos. What do you think? It seems to us the infringement on the original composition is far greater than in the recent Tom Petty/Sam Smith case, for instance. Will it have a chilling effect, or are there ways to create original music in familiar forms?

Here’s the latest video in our collaboration with Pabst Twin Cities, which features our friends Whiskey Jeff and the Beer Back Band performing “Good Morning Headache” from their upcoming LP.

Brian Herb of Mother of All Music mixed the sound. The video was filmed and edited by Dan Huiting and Lauren Josephine.

How much do we love this awesome band? So much that theirs is one of two LPs our shop will be releasing later this year!

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