Tag Archives: Kill Rock Stars

New Sleater-Kinney video: Hurry On Home

Video: Sleater-Kinney – “Hurry On Home”

Sleater-Kinney - Hurry On Home (Official Lyric Video)

Directed by Miranda July. Single out now.

Normally lyric videos are pretty lame, but this one is great. It has a story!

And how about the song? It’s been almost six months since we found out Sleater-Kinney was back in the studio and being produced by St. Vincent, and “Hurry On Home” was the worth the wait. It’s everything you could have hoped for in a collaboration like that.

And that’s not the only development in S-K news. Filthy Friends, Corin Tucker’s supergroup with Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey, has a new video as well. “Break Me” is a jangle pop classic with Tucker’s super dry vocals right up front in the mix. It’s fascinating (for nerds like me) to compare the way different collaborators bring out different elements in the sound.

Sleater-Kinney: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

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New Kinski video: Guest Girl Vocalist

Video: Kinski – “Guest Girl Vocalist”

Kinski - Guest Girl Vocalist (Official Music Video)

Directed by Will Watts. From Accustomed To Your Face, out now on Kill Rock Stars.

Kinski has been around for twenty years making noisy, mostly instrumental art rock. Much of it sounds like the middle part of an early Black Sabbath song. This cheekily titled single features bassist Lucy Atkinson on the mic and takes care of business in under two minutes. Their guitar tones will still rip your face off, so beware.

Kinski: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Wimps video: Insomnia

Video: Wimps – “Insomnia”

Wimps - Insomnia (Official Music Video)

Directed by Stacy Peck. From Garbage People, out July 13 on Kill Rock Stars.

Seattle’s Wimps are a catchy three-piece punk band consisting of grownups. Their latest single explores the debilitating heartbreak of insomnia.

They told Tidal: “We used the latest brain-scan technology to process the actual thought-images that circle through our brains when we suffer bouts of insomnia. Then, we were able to re-create those images through the magic of film. Special thanks to the talented and photogenic dog actor, Roger, for his inspirational and sure to be award-winning performance!”

Personally, I rarely have a hard time falling asleep. I’m snoring as soon as my head hits the pillow, which drives my poor wife crazy. It’s because I have a clear conscience, at least that’s what my dad used to say, which drove my poor mom crazy as well.

Sometimes I wake up at like 3:30am, though. I used to get upset if I couldn’t fall back to sleep right away, worried that I’d be too tired to function the next day. But then I heard about the theory that sleeping for eight hours straight is a thoroughly modern invention. There’s a ton of historical evidence that people used to sleep for a few hours, wake up and do stuff for an hour or two, and then go back to sleep for a few more hours.

So now when I wake up in the middle of the night, if I don’t think I’ll be able to fall asleep quickly, I just go to the bathroom and read articles in the New Yorker about capitalism and democracy. A few paragraphs of that and I’m conked. Print edition, of course. I charge my phone in a different room overnight. Keeping your phone by your bed will fry your brain. And nobody needs that.

Especially not the Wimps.

Sleep tight, everybody!

Wimps: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Wimps video: Giant Brain

Video: Wimps – “Giant Brain”

Wimps - Giant Brain (Official Music Video)

Directed by Mary Stone-Francois. From Garbage People, out July 13 on Kill Rock Stars.

Like Elon Musk and Matt Sharp my first computer was a Commodore Vic 20. I never learned to do very much with that thing but it was a cool toy and it was fun to be a kid during the initial wave of home computing. Back then I couldn’t have imagined what kind of power we’d carry around in our pockets and take completely for granted today.

I remember reading Wired magazine around the turn of the century when they had the “Japanese Schoolgirl Watch” column that talked about how all the cool kids were using their mobile phones nonstop to listen to music, communicate with their friends via text messaging, shop online, etc. Oh how I laughed at those silly little girls! Wasting all their time staring at their stupid phones! And now look at me. Look at us all! What have we become?

Seattle’s Wimps know what’s going on. They’re building a giant brain.

Wimps: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Wimps video: Giant Brain

New Cindy Wilson video: Brother

Video: Cindy Wilson – “Brother”

Cindy Wilson - Brother (Official Music Video from Change)

From Change, out now on Kill Rock Stars.

Former B-52s singer who’s not Kate Pierson or the annoying dude releases a crowdfunded solo album on Kill Rock Stars. Whispery and psychedelic!

In the scenes with the red gauze Wilson reminds me of Nikki Newman from “The Young and Restless.”

Cindy Wilson: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Remastered, expanded edition of Elliott Smith’s Either/Or coming in March

Either/Or was the first Elliott Smith album I bought. Like a lot of people outside the Pacific Northwest my first exposure to Elliott Smith was the movie Good Will Hunting. Or maybe a pal put something on a mixtape. I can’t remember why but at the time I was opposed to buying soundtracks, so I picked up Either/Or essentially as a way to get my favorite song from the film: “Say Yes.”

I immediately became obsessed. Songs like “Ballad of Big Nothing” and “Rose Parade” had a melodic sensibility that appealed to the Beatles fanatic in me and the dark, clever lyrics were right up my Tom Waits-loving, low-life alley. The recording sounded like it was made by people who reeked of stale cigarette smoke and beer sweat. This was the 90s and bars couldn’t be divey enough for people like us. The dirtier and cheaper, the better. Elliott Smith sounded like a guy we might see in the corner booth at Teazer’s, sipping something in a rocks glass and nodding along and smirking when a not-too-terrible song got played on the jukebox. This is what I projected onto him anyway from listening to the album and looking at the cover photo.

We didn’t have wikipedia in those days so I had to gather clues by scouring the liner notes: “recorded at joanna’s house, my house, the shop, undercover inc., heatmiser house, and laundry rules.” The label was Kill Rock Stars, the home of Bikini Kill and Sleater-Kinney. This was all we had to go on, to make up narratives of our own.

Years later, I’d finally get a chance to see him in concert, but the show was a disaster and he was a mess. A year and a half later, he was dead.

Since then, there have been a number of posthumous releases. First there was From a Basement on the Hill, a collection of the stuff he was working on before he died. In 2007 there was New Moon, a compilation of 24 outtakes mostly recorded between 1994 and 1997. I interviewed archivist Larry Crane back then about putting together that release. A couple years later I interviewed Crane again about what he found in the archives since New Moon. He said there probably wasn’t enough unreleased stuff to release another album, but “There are a lot of interesting alternate and live versions of songs though. I could see doing ‘bonus disc’ versions of the proper albums as a possibility.”

Continue reading Remastered, expanded edition of Elliott Smith’s Either/Or coming in March

Elliott Smith – Between the Bars

MP3: Elliott Smith – “Between the Bars” from An Introduction to… Elliott Smith, out November 2 on KRS. Originally on Either/Or.

A new “best of” compilation is sure to disappoint longtime fans, excluding favorite songs, but this Elliott Smith collection looks like a pretty nice starting point for newbies, despite its obvious lightness on the Dreamworks era (XO, Figure 8).

I’m happy KRS was able to license “Waltz #2 (XO)” since it’s arguably his best song. But to use the early version of “Miss Misery” instead of the finished version from the Good Will Hunting soundtrack feels a little disrespectful. It was cool to include it on the collection of outtakes, New Moon, but Smith was such a perfectionist when it came to his songwriting that I can’t imagine he’d be pleased to see this clumsy, unfinished version canonized on a compilation like this.

Elliott Smith: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, wiki

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Elliott Smith Remastered

Roman CandleMP3: Elliott Smith – “Last Call” from the remastered reissue of Roman Candle, due April 6 on Kill Rock Stars.

I was a little leery of the idea of anybody “cleaning up” Elliott Smith‘s debut album, but listening to this song has quashed my fears. It sounds fucking awesome. I just did an A-B test with the MP3 on my iPhone, and the new one sounds much better. We shouldn’t be surprised. The album remastering was overseen by Larry Crane (with Roger Seibel at SAE), who worked with Smith from 1996 to 1999, co-produced “Miss Misery,” and researched, assembled and mixed New Moon in 2007.

When KRS first announced that Roman Candle would be receiving the remastering treatment, I shot Crane a quick email with my concerns.

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Elliott Smith’s Roman Candle Remastered

Roman CandleOn April 6, 2010, Kill Rock Stars is reissuing Elliott Smith‘s debut album, Roman Candle, originally released in 1994 on Cavity Search. The album has been remastered by Larry Crane, who shared a recording studio with Smith, produced “Miss Misery,” and mastered New Moon in 2007.

Larry explains, “The intention that I had was to make the album more listenable. I felt that a lot of the guitar “squeaks” were jarring and very loud, and that many of the hard consonants and “S” sounds were jarring and scratchy sounding. I felt by reducing these noises that the music would become more inviting and the sound would serve the songs better. When I went to Roger Seibel’s SAE Mastering, he proceeded to equalize the tracks a small amount and to make the volume slightly louder. We never tried to make this CD as loud as current, over-limited trends, but just to match the volume of the rest of Elliott’s KRS catalog in a graceful way. Please note that none of this album is “remixed” from the master tapes – it is still composed of the mixes Elliott created himself.”

KRS also got the rights to From a Basement on the Hill, originally released in 2004 on Anti-. Not sure how they wrangled that deal, but now all of Elliott Smith’s indie releases will be on one label. To celebrate all of this news, KRS is giving away a previously unreleased song recorded at Jackpot Studio in 1997.

MP3: Elliott Smith – “Cecilia/Amanda” (previously unreleased)

Via sweet adeline.

Elliott Smith: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, wiki

Indie Label Roundtable

Over on NPR’s Monitor Mix Blog, Carrie Brownstein rounds up a bunch of people who run indie labels and gets them to talk about how the role of the record label has changed over the past decade. It’s a fascinating conversation that touches on everything from iTunes to filesharing to artist development to vinyl to Pitchfork to licensing… Here’s my favorite part:

Chris Swanson (Jagjaguwar/Secretly Canadian): Are many of you guys having luck making money on singles? Or is it primarily an artist-development tool?
Maggie Vail (Kill Rock Stars): Singles for us are always about development.
Portia Sabin (Kill Rock Stars): A weird thing for us is that, no matter what song off an album we give away as a free MP3, that song is always the most-purchased song off that album.
Robb Nansel (Saddle Creek): Same here, Portia.
Gerard Cosloy (Matador): Same thing happens to us.
Darius Van Arman (Jagjaguwar/Secretly Canadian): We have the exact same experience.
Mac McCaughan (Merge): That’s “the single” to people.
Robb Nansel (Saddle Creek): So we should just all give away all of our albums!
Carrie Brownstein (NPR): Problem solved!
Maggie Vail (Kill Rock Stars): We do; we can’t help it.

The funny thing is that we’re noticed that same trend even on our small scale with Glorious Noise Records. The songs we give away for free are consistently the ones that sell the most via iTunes and emusic. (Well, that was true anyway until Riviera‘s “Golden Lies” was used in an episode of a show on A&E. Since July, we sold over 60 copies of that song via iTunes alone, which is about ten times more than any other song we’ve released.)

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