Saturday, March 28, 2009

Record Labels: Secretly Canadian

Songs: Ohia: Captain Badass


An eleventh-hour submission from Star Maker Machine reader Alex, who writes:

I probably would never have thought twice about the role of record labels as curatorial gate keepers if it weren't for Secretly Canadian, which was started by some guys I knew in college: Chris and Ben Swanson. That was back in 1996 or 97. I've been amazed by how much they've put out and the corners where I've found their music. It's incredible that they've gone from basement shows in Bloomington, Indiana to Antony and the Johnson CDs at Barnes and Nobles.

Secretly Canadian tends towards the delicately weird and unpolished; as a sample, I've included an early favorite from Songs: Ohia, a Jason Molina side project which was one of the first bands to record on the label.

Record Labels: Red House Records

Greg Brown: The Poet Game [purchase]

Eliza Gilkyson: Hard Times in Babylon [purchase]

Like so many of our favorites, acoustic roots label Red House was started by a musician looking to release his own records outside the mainstream corporate model. The move was a such a success, in fact, that after two albums in 1981 and 1982, Greg Brown soon had no time to make both the music and the records, so Red House briefly went dormant after its second release.

In many stories, that would be all she wrote. But happily, in 1983, Brown met Bob Feldman, who took over the label, and soon amassed a stable of singer-songwriters from the upper midwest -- Spider John Koerner, John Gorka, and Peter Outrushko among them -- before growing to encompass a more national set of artists of a particularly poetic, usually raw, and generally intimate roots/folk bent, from Eliza Gilkyson, Rosalie Sorrels, and Lucy Kaplansky to Guy Davis and Ramblin' Jack Elliot.

Feldman passed in 2006, but the label which he nurtured lives on. In fact, Danny Schmidt, the newest addition to the Red House Records stable, is playing at my house tomorrow, just two weeks after the release of Instead the Forest Rose to Sing.

Record Labels: Teenbeat

Unrest: Make Out Club


Tuscadero: The Teenbeat Song

[Purchase at Teenbeat store]

Andrew Beaujon: Dots Per Square Inch


I've been out of the country for most of the week and I can't say I am someone who follows whole record labels much anyway, but I felt I had to post about Teenbeat Records while the theme was still running because one of my best friends adores everything and anything Teenbeat. If there was such a position as Teenbeat ambassador, he'd be it. He sent me a mix way back when that included a number of songs by Teenbeat artists and to this day it's one of the best/favorite mixes I have ever received.

And because I couldn't have said it as well myself, my friend quickly jotted a description of Teenbeat's music and history and e-mailed it to me tonight:

Teenbeat was started by Mark Robinson (Unrest, Flin Flon, Grenadine, Air Miami) and friends Andrew Beaujon (Scaley Andrew, Eggs), and Phil Krauth (Unrest) when they were high school students in Arlington, Virginia, a suburb of Washington DC. Teenbeat shows off its Factory Records influence by carrying on the tradition of "discography as biography". Not only do releases get catalog numbers, but things such as Teenbeat headquarters, station wagons, posters, interns and freak accident hospital bills do as well. The labels also share a similar design aesthetic, with Robinson responsible for almost all of the label graphic design.

With a sound that could generally be described as 'indie pop', Teenbeat has been a stalwart of the DC music scene for 24 years, and has released records from bands such as Unrest, Tuscadero, Versus, +/-, Eggs, Flin Flon, and the Rondelles. Other label fixtures show off it's strong D.C. ties with local stalwarts such as Butch Willis, the Screamer, and Jonny Cohen (whose existence on the label seems mostly to amuse Mark Robinson). Mark isn't looking to get rich, he just wants to release records he likes.
I've never followed through with any of the acts more than a few songs worth that my friend has shared with me, but the one band that was the exception is Tuscadero, whom I loved right away and had to have their albums. The above track was featured on a Teenbeat sampler from 1997. And the above Andrew Beaujon track demonstrates the pseudo-comical nature of the music of Teenbeat sometimes takes on, and is made entirely worthwhile for the lyric about the popsicle alone.

They definitely are a very unique, quirky, and fun kind of label, which makes sense that my friend would feel such a kinship with it since he's all of those things himself.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Record Labels: Blue Note

Blue Note Records
is one of the preeminent labels in jazz history, known mainly for its hard bop, a style which combines bebop with elements of soul and R&B. Blue Note recording artists include Lee Morgan, Jimmy Smith, Art Blakey, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Herbie Hancock, Eric Dolphy, Dexter Gordon, Horace Silver, and Donald Byrd.

As great as the music was, Blue Note is perhaps equally lauded for its contribution to the graphic arts. Cover artist Reid Miles developed a distinctive style that used black and white photographs with limited color palettes to great effect. There simply aren't any cooler album covers. See more here and here. Now enjoy some music. I know jazz isn't the usual fare around here, but this stuff is pretty good. Give it a listen.

Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers: Moanin' [purchase]

John Coltrane: Lazy Bird [purchase]

Jimmy Smith: Back At The Chicken Shack [purchase]

For one more great Blue Note track, head over to my main blog.

Record Labels: World Music Edition

The world is full of great musicians and the amazing music they make. But when was the last time you heard a hit song that wasn’t in English? So, much of this wonderful music is unknown to most people. Those who have found music from non-English-speaking parts of the world often feel a compulsion to share that music with others. They start world music labels.

Real World Records

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan: Mustt Mustt


Peter Gabriel left Genesis to pursue other interests. And one of those was world music. Gabriel helped to found WOMAD, (World of Music Arts and Dance), in 1980. WOMAD was created to bring the cultures of other peoples to England, in hopes of fostering cultural exchange. As Gabriel and his cohorts thought about how to accomplish this, they came up with the idea of a music and arts festival. The WOMAD festival was a losing proposition at first. Gabriel even joined a Genesis reunion tour in 1982 to recoup the loss of his own money that he had put into the project. But WOMAD continued, and grew to the point that it is now a staple on the UK festival calendar.

By 1989, Gabriel wanted to take the next step. And that was the creation of Real World Records, to make readily available the music of the artists from the WOMAD festival. Real World artists come from all over the world. The idea of cultural exchange is reflected in the fact that many of these artists fuse styles from different parts of the world in their recordings for Real World. And nowadays, many of them make their albums at Real World Studios when they are in town for the festival.

Luaka Bop

Tom Ze: Augusta, Angelica e Consolacao


While David Byrne was still in Talking Heads, he collected music from Brazil. Most people would think of samba, but Byrne went beyond that, and found that Brazil had a wealth of fascinating regional musical styles. As he shared this music with friends, in the form of compilations he had made, he felt the need to share this music more widely. Thus, although Byrne didn’t realize it yet, Luaka Bop was born. People were actually interested, and Byrne wanted to share more of his musical discoveries. A record label was clearly the way to do this. And Luaka Bop is still David Byrne sharing his musical discoveries. The music comes from Latin America, with occasional forays to other parts of the world, and Byrne never makes the obvious choices.

Putumayo World Music

Rokia Traore: Sabali


Dan Storper founded the Putumayo clothing company in 1975. Soon their was a chain of stores to sell the clothing. And the store mangers would play the local radio stations, or the same canned music that was available to other retailers at the time. But Storper felt that his clothing line was unique, and the sounds in the stores should be too. You can guess where this is going: out into the world. Storber was already dealing with merchants from around the world for the clothing, so it wasn’t that much of a leap to get the music. And soon enough, what began as the making of compilations for in-store play turned into a record label. And the clothing stores turned into outlets to sell the music as well. Putumayo World Music started in 1993. Soon enough, Storber realized that other merchants who dealt in goods from other countries could also sell this music in their stores. And a whole new model of how to sell records was born.

To this day, Putumayo releases are still compilations. They may be surveys of the music of a particular region, or career retrospectives of single artists, but they are always repackagings of pre-existing, although not always easy to find, music. And, for world music, Putumayo song choices tend to be easy on the ear; they are often criticized for omitting an artist’s more challenging work. But that is not Putumayo’s purpose. They are popularisers. And the albums are always lovingly packaged with ample information for further exploration. And the album covers are always done by artist Nichola Heindl, giving Putumayo a distinctive look.


So, let me offer a final word of advice: if you harbor a love of unusual music, beware, or you too may soon have a record label.

Record Labels: Twin/Tone

"Massive success would have been a dream come true, but a person's dreams are so different at 30 than they are at 20. Maybe my dreams did come true and I didn't notice ... or maybe they weren't such great dreams to begin with." --Paul Westerberg

Minneapolis-St. Paul was an amazing place for underground rock 'n' roll in the 1980s and Twin/Tone Records was there to capture nearly all of it. Co-founded in 1977 by Paul Stark and longtime Replacements fix-it-man, Peter Jesperson, Twin/Tone all but documented the Minneapolis scene. The label peaked in the mid-'80s when The Mats went semi-large nationally and Soul Asylum followed closely behind. Sure, there were important bands not on Twin/Tone, Hüsker Dü most famously. But, no other label had so many essential Twin Cities acts: The Suburbs, Babes In Toyland, Poster Children, and today's three representatives, The Replacements, Soul Asylum, and The Jayhawks.

Twin/Tone went into hibernation in the mid-'90s, about the time the initial wave of indie-to-major signings ran its course. The label failed, not because of a lack of quality product, but due to simple economics. Said Stark, "Unless you were on one of the two coasts and had connections to major label distribution, there was nothing you could do. You need to go out to lunch and spend face time with people that are going to influence, whether it be press or radio or distribution, stuff like that. I just never really cared to play that game. I was more interested in developing groups."

Replacements - Take Me Down To The Hospital [purchase]

The kings of the drunk tank. From their 2nd album (and 3rd release), Hootenanny (1983), this is probably my favorite Mats song and a sleeper in their Twin/Tone catalog. Great dynamic, the song constantly threatens to fly apart, but never quite does. Chris Mars (drums) and Tommy Stinson (bass) lock into a tight, almost '50s kinda groove, Paul Westerberg (guitar/vocals) howls to perfection, and Bob Stinson (alien guitar spillage) plays lead like a madman falling down stairs. God bless Bob, perennial member of the All-Underrated Team.

Soul Asylum - Closer To The Stars [purchase]

Given Dave Pirner's later dalliance with Winona Ryder, this song has taken on an ironic cast. Nevertheless, this track from While You Were Out (1986) is one of Soul Asylum's best performances and remains in the setlist for a reason. Great vocal by Pirner (in his absolute prime), the band rocks, but it's original drummer Grant Young who steals the show. The production isn't all that good, but you can hear Young carry the band through a few different sections. Live, this would've been face-melting.

Jayhawks - Martin's Song [purchase]

The Jayhawks actually hit their stride after leaving Twin/Tone. I think Hollywood Town Hall (1992) and Tomorrow The Green Grass (1995), released on Def American, are equally brilliant statements and on the short list of best albums of all-time. But, Blue Earth (1989), from which "Martin's Song" comes, certainly has its moments. It's a great country-rocker, Mark Olson's vocals eerily echoing Gram Parsons. Meanwhile, Gary Louris' harmony vocals ride on top as his deft string bending pays homage to Clarence White. The drums kind of fall apart at the end, but hey, these were basically gussied-up demos. No one ever accused Twin/Tone of overdressing for the party.

Record Labels: Signature Sounds

Peter Mulvey: The Fly


Kris Delmhorst: Galuppi Baldessare


Eilen Jewell: Heartache Boulevard


Signature Sounds has only been around since 1995. But in fourteen years, they have managed to corner the market on the New England acoustic music scene. A Signature Sounds artist or band usually features literate lyrics and interesting instrumental arrangements. The high quality of their roster makes it all but impossible to select a track to represent the label.

The first Signature Sounds act to come to my attention was Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer. I have not presented any of there songs here , because Susan has done recently, here, here and here. .

Peter Mulvey has become another favorite artist of mine, and had to be included. Kris Delmhorst’s album Strange Conversation was a fascinating project; Delmhorst created songs from texts by Lord Byron, Rumi, and Walt Whitman, to name a few, and her musical settings were every bit as inspired as the source texts. And Eilen Jewell was a fairly recent signing, who maintains the standards of quality that Signature Sounds has so carefully cultivated.

So those were my choices. I could have left all of them out, and gone with Crooked Still, Rani Arbo, Jeffrey Foucalt, Mark Ereli... You see my difficulty. I have come to rely on Signature Sounds to release music I love: they haven’t failed me yet.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Record Labels: Sugar Hill Records

Tony Rice: Church Street Blues

The Lonesome River Band: When You Go Walking


Bluegrass label Sugar Hill Records (not to be confused with rap label Sugar Hill Records) was formed at the tail end of the seventies; in their long tenure as perhaps the most significant label producing 'grass almost exclusively (and its subgenres and hybrids, including folk-grass, jamgrass, and countrygrass), they've supported a huge cadre of artists, from Doc, Dolly, Townes and Willie to Tim O'Brien, Jerry Douglas, Guy Clark, and bands Hot Rize, The Seldom Scene, Nickel Creek and the Bad Livers.

Though the label lost its independent status when it was acquired by the Welk Group in 1998, and is now part of a conglomerate including mini-major pop label Vanguard, Sugar Hill has continued to attract the best and brightest of its genre; in 2006 and 2007, its artists won back-to-back Grammys in the traditional folk and country instrumental categories. Here's a pair of tunes from their 2006 retrospective box set, which revisits the first 25 years of the label's history through 81 well-selected tracks.

Record Labels: Apple Records

Badfinger: Come And Get It [purchase] (Apple 20)

Mary Hopkin: Those Were The Days [purchase] (Apple 2)

Most music fans know that Apple Records was the record company started by the extremely wealthy Beatles in 1968. The idea, at least as it was expressed publicly, was that Apple Records would be a different kind of company where it would be easier for deserving artists of all kinds to get funding.

To the band's accountants it was a tax dodge (which is understandable considering the fact that the highest tax bracket at the time took 19 of every 20 dollars earned by The Beatles). There's a good historical overview of the label at NPR Music: The Beatles' Apple Records: 40 Years Later.

While Apple Records discography (beyond The Beatles themselves) was a bit iffy, they did produce some pretty good material, including the two songs featured above and James Taylor's first record. Also, the green apple label with the split apple on the B-side is one of the coolest graphics on vinyl.

About the songs:

Come And Get It, written by Paul McCartney, has always been one of my favorite pop songs and Badfinger perform it admirably in Beatlesque fashion.


Those Were The Days, based on a Lithuanian folk song, was the first song released publicly on Apple Records and a huge international hit. It's always been a sentimental favorite of mine.

"Once upon a time there was a tavern..."

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Record Labels: Acoustic Disc

David Grisman Quintet: Chili Dawg


Enrique Coria: Milongo del Angel


David Grisman began his musical life playing bluegrass. He was in Old and In The Way with Jerry Garcia. And like Garcia, Grisman had more than just bluegrass in his head. He has never accepted the limits some people might place on what kinds of music you can play on a mandolin, instead ever seeking ways to expand the mandolin’s vocabulary, and seeking out other adventurous musicians to help him do it. By 1979, Grisman was playing a hybrid of bluegrass and jazz, with elements of gypsy music and folk thrown in as well. He called this music “Dawg music”, Dawg being a nickname Garcia had given him that stuck. All through the 1980s, Grisman continued to add in more ingredients to his musical stew, until he arrived at a sound that no record label, big or small, knew how to market.

So, in 1990, David Grisman founded Acoustic Disc. On his own label, there were no limits on the directions his music could take. Now he also had a place to release the music of musicians who inspired him, The first release on Acoustic Disc was by the David Grisman Quintet, and it included Chili Dawg. But from then until now, Acoustic Disc has released a fascinating array of music played on acoustic stringed instruments. Mandolin and guitar players from Latin America are here. So is Jewish music for two mandolins. There is an album of music for kids and others by Garcia and Grisman. The series of albums entitled Tone Poems includes music from Grisman and others that defies attempts at categorization. And Grisman manages to sell enough of all of this to keep the whole thing afloat.

The second tune that I have chosen is by Enrique Coria. Coria is a fine guitarist from Argentina, and a current member of the David Grisman Quintet.

Record Labels: Revenant Records

[sadly out of print, try eBay]

Revenant Records was the brainchild of the late great guitar experimentalist John Fahey. Its output was far from huge (only 17 releases in total), but it´s the quality that counts right? And Fahey and co set the standard pretty high. For example, they released the wonderful 4th volume of Harry Smith´s Anthology of American Folk Music, 2 exemplary compilations of old gospel and blues marvels called American Primitive, and definitive collections of both Charley Patton and Dock Boggs. And then there´s the amazing Charlie Feathers anthology Get With It, Essential Recordings 1954-69 of course. If wild rockabilly and hillbilly country are your thing, make sure to hunt this one down.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Record Labels: Sun Records

Elvis Presley: Blue Moon Of Kentucky (alternate take) [purchase]

Charlie Rich: Sittin' And Thinkin' [purchase]

Record companies and the people behind them have been hugely important in the development of popular music in the 20th century. While some important musical developments probably were inevitable (i.e., The Beatles), many others can be traced to as much to the people behind the records as to the people behind the microphones. Probably the best example of a man in the music business contributing to the sound of music is Sam Phillips, the founder of Sun Records of Memphis, Tennessee.

Popular legend has it that Sam Phillips was a man with a plan: Find a white singer with the "black" R&B sound to sell to the suburban kids. That's probably mostly true, but Phillips more modestly explains that he was only struggling to "tap resources that weren't being tapped." He found that resource in Elvis Presley. You know the rest of the story. Other notable Sun discoveries and recording artists included Howlin' Wolf, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, and Charlie Rich.

The first featured song is Elvis Presley's 1954 recording of Bill Monroe's 1945 bluegrass hit, Blue Moon Of Kentucky. After the song, Phillips can be heard in the background marvelling at the new sound they were creating: "Hell, that's different. That's a pop song now."

The second featured song (recorded by country crooner Charlie Rich long before Behind Closed Doors), isn't the most representative of the Sun Records sound, but it's a killer track (and you've all heard Folsom Prison Blues and Great Balls Of Fire enough times). So there you have it.

Record Labels: Righteous Babe Records

Ani DiFranco: Both Hands


Anais Mitchell: Your Fonder Heart


Folk music is not an acoustic guitar — that's not where the heart of it is. I use the word 'folk' in reference to punk music and rap music. It's an attitude, it's an awareness of one's heritage, and it's a community. It's subcorporate music that gives voice to different communities and their struggle against authority.

Ani's music has always spoken to me, both for her gorgeous poetics and for her fiercely feminist, pro-labor, anti-authority politics. Of course, the two are so intertwined, it's often startling to find such beauty in such anger -- that's part of the joy in her work. And given how powerful her urge to remain free and in control of her own destiny, it was no surprise to anyone to find Ani opting out of the major label game altogether, before even the typical token other-label release which so often characterizes artists who decide to take the production and promotion into their own hands.

I've spoken about Ani's subcorporate politics here before, in reference to her lyrics. But Ani's sense of her voice as a power for change extends far beyond her ability to reach an audience, and having one's own label makes one a powerful change agent. Since the establishment of Righteous Babe in 1990, Ani's label has taken on a life of its own, offering the same ownership and folk individuality to a variety of emerging artists, from indie whistlefolk darling Andrew Bird to folk/blues powerhouse Toshi Reagon, most recently releasing a double-CD set tribute to Utah Phillips, who Ani championed as a fellow organizer and folk maverick in his last decade, bringing his hobo poet's voice to a whole new generation.

For samples, I've included the very first song on Ani's very first record -- the one that started it all -- and a favorite 2008 cut from Vermont singer-songwriter Anais Mitchell, who left the previously-mentioned Waterbug Records to join her idol and influence at Righteous Babe, saying:

If you knew what Ani DiFranco meant to me as a young woman and a young songwriter … well, I was simultaneously elated and in total disbelief.

Record Labels: 2 Tone Records

The Specials: A Message to You, Rudy


The Selecter: On My Radio


The English Beat: Tears of a


!979- 1986. That was it. 2 Tone Records came and went that quickly. But their influence endures to this day.

By 1979, punk rock had risen in England, with a mission to shake up the established order. For some members of the punk scene, this meant challenging the assumption that black and white musicians should not work together. The Jamaican immigrants had brought their music with them, including Jamaican ska records from the 1960s. In Jamaica, ska would evolve into reggae, but in England, this music was blended with punk to create something new, two tone ska. A subscene of bands made up of white punks and Jamaican immigrants arose. These were the two-tone bands, and the scene centered around one of the first bands in the scene to gain recognition, The Specials. Jerry Dammers of The Specials created 2 Tone Records, to release music from the two-tone scene.

Dammers’ heart was in the right place, but he lacked business sense. 2 Tone artists had a clause in their contracts which allowed them to leave the label after the release of their first single. So 2 Tone would break these bands, only to see them leave for better offers. This happened with both Madness and the English Beat. Of course, The Specials stayed with 2 Tone, and The Selecter was loyal to the end. But that wasn’t enough to sustain 2 Tone as a business. By 1986, they had to close their doors.

Nowadays, it’s hard to remember that it was once necessary to explain what ska was. About ten years after the fall of 2 Tone, there was a wave of American ska bands, which showed a heavy influence of two-tone ska. And now, there is every reason to believe that there will be more ska in the future. With a little digging on line, one can find new original ska in Italian or Japanese. And for all of that, we can thank Jerry Dammers and 2 Tone Records.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Record Labels: Waterbug Records

Andrew Calhoun: Meditation Song


Sam Pacetti: Augustine


I vividly recall the first time Andrew Calhoun came into my radar - I was presenting Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer in my house concert series in May 2001 and Dave, in front of god and everybody in my living room, said that Andrew Calhoun was his favorite singer-songwriter... high praise from someone who occupied a top spot in so many others' lists...

Fast forward a few years, when another friend was bringing Andrew in for a house concert in the South Florida county south of mine, and asked if I'd host him the previous evening - I threw aside my unwritten rule of needing to hear someone live before I booked them, thinking that Dave Carter's words were all the references I needed...

It was the start of a lovely friendship and, a bit later, I segued into becoming Andrew's booking agent for two years - I was a better friend than agent, and we've continued in each other's lives, with never-often-enough (my fault) e-mails and phone calls (his voicemails to me are often songs or spoken word poetry, always sincere and welcome)...

Throughout our connection, I tease (but it's true) that Andrew has become my musical E.F. Hutton - when he speaks of up-and-coming folk artists, I listen. He is able to do this because he has wisdom and experience across the genre (traditional, Scottish and African-American reinterpretations as well as his contemporary folk originals), having started up the Waterbug Records label seventeen years ago. From Wikipedia:

Waterbug Records is a small independent record label based in Glen Ellyn, Illinois specializing in singer-songwriters and traditional folk musicians who do original research. The label was founded as an artist cooperative label in 1992 by singer-songwriter Andrew Calhoun. Calhoun described the label in a column written for Sing Out! magazine: "Waterbug is largely an artists' co-op. All the artists own their recordings and publishing rights. Twenty artists contributed a song and part of the cost of manufacturing a label sampler, which each of us sell from the stage for $5. We are working cooperatively to help each other get heard."

It is a cooperative in the true sense of the word, but Andrew is the driving force, possessing a keen ear, a generous spirit and a fearless heart - artists with releases on Waterbug Records include a virtual Who's Who in the independent folk world: Geoff Bartley, Chuck Brodsky, Jonathan Byrd, Lui Collins, Kat Eggleston, Bob Franke, Annie Gallup, Louis Ledford, Kate MacLeod, Karen Mal, Kate McDonnell, Michael McNevin, Anaïs Mitchell, Sam Pacetti, William Pint & Felicia Dale, Rachel Ries, Danny Schmidt, Cosy Sheridan, Leslie Smith, Devon Sproule, Sons of the Never Wrong, Sloan Wainwright, among many...

I have driven myself crazy, not only on which song of Andrew's to showcase... but which other artist to feature - how to choose from all that talent?!?

Record Labels: Slash Records

Violent Femmes: Gone Daddy Gone [purchase]

X: White Girl [purchase]

Slash Records was one of the main labels of the Los Angeles punk movement. Starting with a Germs 7" single in 1978, Slash Records captured the sound of L.A. for eight years. In addition to The Germs, artists that got their start on Slash included X, Los Lobos, Violent Femmes & The BoDeans (both from Wisconsin), The Dream Syndicate, The Blasters, Green On Red, Gun Club, and The Misfits.

Record Labels: TAANG!

Mighty Mighty Bosstones: Where'd You Go


As a teenager growing up in and around Harvard Square, TAANG! Records was my local hardcore label, just around the corner. I hardly ever went in to the storefront, but it was their influence that filled the local dives with loud punk, hardcore, and ska back when bands and crowds were small, and such things were truly underground.

TAANG! put out the first Mighty Mighty Bosstones album, and vinyl from Mission of Burma, the Dropkick Murphys and the early Lemonheads, including the Luka 7" I wrote about a few weeks ago; they brought ska into the city, and supported seriously local hardcore bands like Gang Green and Slapshot, which I knew of through graffiti, ubiquitous flyers, and the occasional marquee listing even before I was old enough to make it into the clubs myself.

I'm sure there are plenty who would cite TAANG for nurturing the various innovators and genre-crashers who would go on to influence the transformation of pop in the nineties and beyond. For me, the important thing about TAANG! wasn't the music it spawned, it was the way the label's very presence both honored and perpetuated the Boston skatecore/skacore scene, the angry, violent sound that was the town of my youth. That it still exists, albeit predominantly as a thrashcore record shop on the other coast, is reassuring, somehow.