Saturday, February 23, 2008

Still Nickle Plated but My Mind Obliterated from the Thai

Nonesuch Records has released a collection of songs featured on HBO's The Wire, including the Sharpshooters/Fourfifths track "Analyze." I mention this because The Wire may certifiably be the best show in the history of television, and because "Analyze" originally appeared on a record released by Conception, the label I used to own with the Sharpshooters (Mr. Supreme and Sureshot). We had no shortage of tension here and there and all went our separate ways—I moved to New York in the summer of 1999—but I want to congratulate those involved, and I wish everyone the very best. It's not a big deal to be on a compilation, but to me it's a big deal to be on The Wire compilation.

I remember being kind of annoyed that after we recorded that song, the acapella on m
y copy of OC's "Time's Up" 12" pretty much had a hole in front of the word "Analyze"—the part that got scratched for the hook. Now, I wouldn't give it up for...well, let's just say I'm glad to have the damaged copy.

It seems like a million years ago but I remember Sharpshooters were signed to Instinct/Shadow Records at the time, and the label didn't want to release vinyl. We had lunch with one of the label owners at the Five-Spot and worked it out so we could put the vinyl out on our label, Conception. Before the real record came out, we pressed up 200 white label copies to bring to San Francisco for the Gavin. We stayed at Beni B's apartment and Jake, Shane, Danny, Shelli and I all passed out copies at various parties. It was dope to be putting out our first record together and promoting it.

After that we signed to Sub Pop and put out a bunch more records, which I am thankful for, even though it turned out that they were in turmoil and not really in the position to distribute hip-hop records too well at that point. Everyone we worked with there was great, especially Kerri, Lisa, Bob the News Guy,
Megan, Jonathan, Eric—and Pat Riley and Kris Chen at ADA. The success we had was also largely due to the promotional efforts of Spyridon Nicon (proprietor of Spin's Barber Shop in Wallingford). I think we maybe put a few too many records out too quickly and could have benefited from retaining our own guerrilla tactics. Still, I look back now and think it was all good. It's all one big learning experience. (As a side note, it's great to see Sub Pop back on top again—it might be the best record label out there right now.)

Most of the Conception tracks have stood the test of time really well. Business-wise, I think each of us would probably have done some things differently, but I learned a ton from the experience, and I have immense respect for my old business partners and the strengths they brought to the table. I can say that every job I've done since then has been informed at least in part by my experience running a record label (yes, even working for Martha). It was an interesting time and I'm glad to have the records and knowledge to show for it.

Sharpshooters f/ Fourfifths Analyze MP3

Fourfifths Questions MP3

Unreleased/unmastered, produced by Jake One

The Wire soundtrack ...and All the Pieces Matter on Nonesuch Records

Friday, February 22, 2008

And the Message was Love

To be honest I can't remember where I found this record. I kind of pride myself on knowing where they all came from, but this one's origins are now totally unavailable to me. Probably a stoop sale or something. Anyway, it's a great old school 12" from the era when disco and hip-hop were sometimes one and the same. Swann does his bidding over a tight live band and there are lots of good echoes and stuff to remind you it's 1981 and we are all living in the future now.

TJ Swann & Company
Get Fly MP3

Thursday, February 21, 2008


If you haven't been there lately, go to and check the new layout, which launches this week. This was my last project with V for now; in the two years I designed and produced the site, the monthly unique users grew by over 2500%, to the point where they needed to bring their design and production in-house. I'm happy with the way it came out—there's a ton of information but I think it makes the site easier to navigate and shows a wider variety of stories on the homepage.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Listen Everybody

This is one of my better finds in the beautiful, underrated state of Idaho. The panhandle is not exactly a hotbed of soul and jazz records, but this record leads me to believe they have the religious hippie psyche market on lock.

From everything I've been able to find out, the members of The Last Call of Shiloh were part of the back-to-the-land movement of the '60s and '70s, which had hippies from California moving north in droves to farm organically and live in harmony with their adopted natural surroundings. A lot of the people who did this were Christians, and apparently some of them were pretty good at playing bass and hitting their drums real real hard. The band produced 250 copies of the record with this pencil-drawing cover. I have heard that another 250 with no cover were distributed by members of the band in later years.

When I came across it in the Moscow Goodwill there was something about the JC-emblazoned Fender amp on the back that said "buy me, I'm freaky." I shelled out my fifty cents and was not disappointed when I got back to Brooklyn and gave it a listen.

The Last Call of Shiloh Great Day of the Lord MP3

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Art, Home Accoutrements, Dead People's Furniture

Emily and I were out west briefly last October and had the chance to check out
the Anne Bonny (1355 Olive b/w Melrose & Bellevue). Emily got a really cool sweater with a horse on the back, and we also snapped up this artwork by proprietor Spencer Moody (better known as front man of the Murder City Devils, Dead Low Tide, and Triumph of Lethargy Skinned Alive to Death). They are going to hold it for us till we're in Seattle again this fall. I think it's interesting because it captures this icon of weird America but pulls it out of context in both place and material. It reminds me of Richard Prince's outlook that way, as does the Anne Bonny itself.

I highly recommend checking out the shop if you're ever in Seattle (or if you're always in Seattle). On the surface it's not much different than other antique/junk stores, but it sets itself apart with a particularly unique point of view, bolstered by an upstairs gallery showing a steady succession of up-and-coming Northwest artists. The line between curated junk and artwork is totally blurred, and to me that is the best way to look at either of those things.

Check out for more info.

Photos top and bottom courtesy the Anne B's flickr page

Monday, February 18, 2008

Pistol Grip

I found this on the ground walking through the Walt Whitman Projects in Fort Greene and thought it looked cool. Click to enlarge.

(Those projects are named for him because old Walt lived in this neighborhood for a long time, edited the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, and was instrumental in getting the city to set aside land for what would become Fort Greene Park.)

This Is The Way We Cool On Out

Figured it would make sense to set off the MP3 bloggery with the first record I found when we moved to New York from Seattle in 1999.

When Emily and I got here after road-tripping across the country in a rented Oldsmobile Alero, we had to wait two weeks for our movers to show up. All we had was our camping gear and grubby clothes, and a couple hundred bucks to last us till I could find a job (we moved so she could go to law school at Columbia, and there was no way she would be working on anything but that).

After a week we finally got a hold of the movers and they hadn't even left Seattle.
So we spent the time walking around the city, cleaning our dirty-ass Hell's Kitchen apartment, and going to air-conditioned $3 movies around the corner. (It was 103º when we got to the city and we had no air. Suddenly watching "Entrapment" twice seemed like a great idea.) A couple times we went out to Coney Island and sat on the boardwalk drinking $2 beers and eating clam strips. I got some job offers there, primarily in the field of construction and demolition, and seriously considered them.There used to be a tent city/makeshift flea market across Ocean Avenue, and we spent a lot of time continuing what we had done on the drive across the country—digging through old stuff looking for clothes, books, and records. It was a fun way to pass the time even though we were running out of money and feeling a little overwhelmed by the city. The first record I found was Afrika Bambaataa's Death Mix. Back then, it had always seemed like one of those unattainable NYC records, and here I had found it for a couple dollars, in perfect condition, at Coney Island.

It felt like a good sign.

DJ Afrika Bambaataa and Friends
Live! Death Mix

(Paul Winley Records)
Recorded live at James Monroe HS, Bronx, NY, 1983

Side 1 MP3

Side 2 MP3