Category Archives: Updates

Beat The Indie Drum – 2004-2011

About six months back I had a gut feeling that I would be drafting my concession speech for this music blogging website thing and, well, here I am. Lately it feels like I’m beating a dead horse instead of an indie drum, if you will. It’s not for lack of exceptional new music – there will never be a dearth of that – but it’s more about the pressures a blogger can put on oneself to constantly provide content that amounts to satisfying their (in this case, dying) readership. The blogging hierarchy and standards have changed the past few years for better or worse (who can really say?) but I can’t say that posting a pic or video with a few words beneath it constitutes much of what I set out to do originally. Granted, my inability to make BTID so much more is almost wholly predicated on the fact that there simply isn’t enough time in a day to accomplish everything I’d like to achieve. Recent promotions at my job and responsibilities associated with that have also led to less attention being paid to this website.

Another reason for my decision – I’ve been feverishly plowing through new releases, moving from one album to the next with little to no absorption of what the artist is trying to say or relay to its listener. In simpler terms, I’m not ‘experiencing’ music in any non-superficial way. When I was a pimple-ridden teenage just beginning to realize there was a whole uncovered world of music out there to digest I absorbed myself in the art of discovering new music via zines like The Big Takeover, CMJ or Melody Maker right on down to lesser-knowns Skyscraper, Shredding Paper and Jersey Beat. College radio was constantly in my earholes. I stayed up late on school nights to watch new episodes and reruns of 120 Minutes. When I bought an album that I loved it wouldn’t leave rotation for months! I would collect every bootleg from every single band I loved. The Internet hasn’t necessarily ruined all of these habits, it just made it incredibly easier to break away from them. Due to the endless supply of music I no longer make time to listen to records I’ve come to love over the years. I recently took one look at my best of lists from 2005 and 2009 and noticed I hadn’t listened to a ridiculous 90%+ of those albums since I declared them ‘essential’. Simon Reynolds touched upon this in his most recent (excellent) book Retromania, noting that this trend is now widespread and it will only get worse from the experiencing music POV. My goals are to not only revisit personal favorites but dig deep into the archives for classic albums and pioneering artists I chose to ignore over the years for whatever reason. I want, nay, need to spend more time cozying up to my record collection and less time downloading and tagging and sorting albums I will likely never hear. I want to narrow my blog reading down to a select group of established blogs who do bring much more to the table than most.

Those of you following along will know that I’ve recently started a record label (back to the Big School, y’all) and part of my decision to lay BTID to rest involves putting a great deal more effort into this label and promoting the artists I have committed to support. I’ve been wanting to start a record label since those pimply years mentioned above and I’m finally in a position (financially, mentally and knowledgeably) to not only start a label but help make it a successful adventure. This isn’t the end of my blogging days (for sure) – I will continue to post about musical musings, ephemera and random jazz over on my Tumblr. Mixtapes will still be assembled/curated but moreso on an irregular basis than anything else and possibly a little more on the themed side. I also expect to become a little more involved in other activities regarding music but consistent day-in-day-out blogging will not be one of them.

Lastly, I’d like to thank those of you who have stopped by over the years, offered support and helped spread the word. Many thanks to Stephen and friends for all the mix artwork, to Jon for the logo re-design, Mark & Elodie for contributing content, Eric for convincing me to fire this site up for the second time a few years ago, to the THOUSANDS of bands/artists who’ve inspired me to spend so much of my time dedicated to music and everything associated with it and to anyone else who has lent a hand or made suggestions over the 7-year course of BTID. Hopefully I’ve been able to introduce you to new music you might not have heard otherwise. The website will remain live as there is a ton of reference and resources for anyone who happens to stumble on the site. Years of reviews, Monday mixes, the BTID netlabel releases and like, OMG, have you noticed there are almost 90 mixtapes shared on the site! That’s enough music to occupy you for 3 weeks straight. So, go follow me on the Tumblr (or any of these here places) and please help support and spread the word about Big School Records – I’m gonna need you.

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Big School Records – In Session

 

If you follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr you may have heard (via big announcements) that I’ve decided to fire up my own record label. If not, the logo over to the right might have given it away. I chose not to properly scatter the confetti until I had the first physical release in my hands. Last Friday, 251 precious slabs of wax arrived at my work with the unmistakable Pirates Press logo stamped on each box…so here I am.

There’s no greater feeling than being able to support and promote artists/musicians who I’ve either enjoyed for many years or have just made acquaintances with through various outlets. Maintaining BTID.com has been a treat in of itself but, nowadays, words only seem to go so far in a music blogging world over-saturated with voices/opinions/plagiarism. I wanted to use a different outlet to get myself involved with musicians and promoting artists I love via the record label is definitely the next logical step for me as an enthusiast. I expect to ride this feeling out as far as you, the listener, allows.

The first release is the latest full-length from Scranton, PA’s Kid Icarus, whom I’ve been following for many years as they’ve progressed from Eric Schlittler’s outlet for lo-fi experimental musings on up to their current-day 4-member lineup. American Ghosts is being released on a limited run of 250 LP’s on white vinyl with reverse-board jacket – $15 in the US and $20 world postage-paid. Today is the official release date for the LP so orders will ship immediately. Head over to the web store to grab a copy. For those who prefer digital downloads to vinyl, you can purchase the album from their Bandcamp page and iTunes (coming soon).

I’d like to thank everyone who, not only strung together the necessary ingredients for this release, but for all parties involved with nurturing my habits and obsessions since early childhood on up to my ‘grey years’. This includes friends, family, readers of BTID, my Soulseek posse, countless numbers of bloggers who’ve inspired me to keep giving everything I have back to the music community.

It definitely doesn’t end here – in the coming months you can expect new releases from Shy Mirrors (LP), The Gifted Children (7″), Deirdre & Conor/Kitchen Table, Illinois (digital) and Graham Repulski (7″).

Kid Icarus – Bicycle Spokes

Shy Mirrors – I’m Not Around

The Gifted Children – Please Freeze Me

Deirdre & Conor/Kitchen Table, Illinois – Love In Philadelphia

Graham Repulski – Mongrel Pie

Follow BSR on Twitter and Facebook and spread the good word!

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Filed under Updates, Vinyl Love

Psychic Teens

Philadelphia-based Psychic Teens have debuted their digital 7″ single, and while the trio is probably too old to get carded, I definitely want to poke around in their brains after hearing “Yung.” I mean, what on earth possessed them to emulate a Nirvana b-side, but then scrub out the pop and wash it with sounds of the original shoegazer scene? And then half-way through, they turn it into a noise punk blast that hearkens back to the AmRep days when bands would use a vacuum cleaner as an instrument. The track continues to exponentially rumble until it consumes all light and life and maybe even scares itself into ending. I can’t comprehend how they determined this would be a good idea, and yet, it’s really fucking awesome. “Cbbk” is a bit more straightforward, in that the abrasive blast is front and center, and rather than leapfrogging to a few different genres, just rocks all the way through. On both tracks the vocals have nice effects, though they’re mixed a tad low and fairly unintelligible. You only catch words here and there, but I’m almost certain the music IS the message, so I’ve got no qualms with being unable to decipher the lyrics. You can download the goods for free here, but please note you’ve already been warned/encouraged! – Mark H.

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86’d Records

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In my backwards brain I always give a bit more credibility to fan labels. There’s just something about them that emits sincerity and fun, and more often than not they’re a place to find a bunch of stuff that would normally fly under my radar. The two singles here from 86’d Records confirm my line of thinking. First on the turntable is a split from Dead Uncles and The Credentials. Both play the rough melodic punk that bands like Off With Their Heads and Banner Pilot have been chopping away at for a while now. Dead Uncles have some decent jam-action on the guitar, which sets them apart from most of the pack, hopefully they continue to develop in that direction. If they caterwauled as good as the play their instruments they’d be onto something! The Credentials side thumps and blasts and vomits up the epitome of the genre’s lyrics – “I’m so lost, I’m so alone, I’m so drunk. Pick up the phone cause I’m dying here wishing I could disappear like you did.” The song rocks, especially when they barrel to the end. This is music that one should hear, but not listen to (unless you want to get bummed out). Shaving cream companies are reporting record losses by the quarter, and this 7″ will not help their situation.

Go White Bronco supply the other single, and it couldn’t be farther away on the spectrum. “Life as a Monument” starts with soft but clear acoustic plucking, rolls into mid-tempo strumming, and then the singer slides in with a simple but earnest tune. However, it’s the subtle, even haunting backdrop (courtesy of some light french horn and echo-y “oooohs”) that draw me in. The song explodes in the middle, almost to acoustic punk levels, and then sighs back to where it started. The flip offers a shorter cut that’s just as charming, with some harmonies to boot. Nothing is new but everything sounds great. Indie punk is booming right now, and I’m cool with that, but it’s still nice once in a while to find those tiny labels and small releases that fill in the cracks with quality material.
– Mark H.

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Filed under Reviews, Updates

Miracle Drugs

Rally Records rarely steers me wrong, so when a new 7″ gets stuck under my nose I perk up and listen. Here we have a single from Miracle Drugs (in the “classic” 2-song format), which could probably stand on it’s own as a solid release, but I hope really it’s a tease and taste of more material to come. The band is fronted by Zac Damon, whose been around the punk rock block a few times with stints in Zoinks!, Screeching Weasel, and Squirtgun, among others. Both cuts are crunchy, rollicking power pop, the kind made by dudes with balls and booze. No skinny-tie nerds in sight. “I’ll Buy The Drinks” is the dance-by-the-jukebox hit, and while the tempo of “Oh Sookie-O” slows to a drunken stumble, it’s concise and catchy as well. Preview it here, get addicted, and then add another slab of wax to your shelf.

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Hop On Pop

I first came upon the music of Todd Leiter-Weintraub via his humble but promising solo disc, Lo-Fi Is Better Than No-Fi At All, and then again as the honcho of Hop On Pop, producing As Drawn By Ethan, Age 2 back in 2004. Todd and his rotating cast of popsters are back, and since I’ve let two previous solid releases go by without much of a peep, I figured I’d throw down an old school dissection for the latest, Chicken On A Bicycle. The earlier output stayed within a well-defined but nonetheless enjoyable border of Big Star and Guided By Voices, and there is some of that here too, but the album purposefully branches out on a much wider scale, held together only by Todd’s steady vocals and his melodic sensibilities rooted firmly into the ground.

The opening track “Here” is playful pop with odd harmonies and keyboards, not as immediate (nor cheesy) as some sequencer pop but there’s definitely potential. “Sheila Of The Worms” is a live number that sounds very fresh. It’s upbeat and catchy and has the crowd singing along despite being a debut performance (always a good sign). “Tortured Artist” and “Hey” are the GBV workouts – You’d think Bob Pollard with his 5,000 songs has found every possible way to create a unique pop/rock song, and yet Hop On Pop somehow manage to find a few more. We take a dark turn at “C’mon Angel” – very well written, and Johnny Cash’s American Recordings is good influence to have, but I’m not sure the conviction is there in the vocals. I love the high end bass on “I’m Pathetic” and the overall Camper Van Beethoven-esque sound of “Leo Goldberg’s 2-Step.” Not all experiments fair as well as others (I’d much prefer more solo acoustic nuggets like “Say You Will” over the semi-orchestral pop ballad “C’mon Let’s Go”). As enjoyable as the album is, it’s versatility works against me recommending it as an introduction to the band. Grab the earlier stuff if you want to dip your toes in, but feel free to dive over to Spade Kitty if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous.

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