By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
December and January don't really exist. Not in the music industry, anyway. There, the year is 10 months long, beginning--in Hallmark terms--just before Valentine's Day, and ending around Thanksgiving. Why don't December and January count, you ask? Let us 'splain: People don't buy new albums during those two months. Oh sure, tons of CDs are bought around the holidays, and almost all of them are new in one way or another, but they are almost exclusively by a) bands that were popular during the rest of the year (in 2000, for example, that would mean--sigh--Limp Bizkit and 'N Sync, and a handful of other bottom-feeders) or b) bands that used to be popular, via reissues and boxed sets and the like. In January, the same rules apply, except then, people are buying them with gift certificates/cards instead of cash. You can't really sell new albums and new bands during this time, because the listeners who might actually be interested are stuck buying gifts for other people, and everyone else doesn't wanna take a chance that their son/brother/husband would rather have that Papa Roach disc instead.
The good side: February is always a good month to be a music fan. And February 2001 is no exception, especially around the Dallas-Denton-Fort Worth area. For example: Newness Ends, the stellar debut by The New Year, the new project from the brothers Kadane, hits stores on February 20, courtesy of Chicago's Touch and Go Records. (If it makes it easier for you, just think of it as the fourth Bedhead album; they do.) Also in February--on the 27th, to be exact--Peter Schmidt (who plays guitar with The New Year) will put out the long-awaited and as-yet-untitled second album by his band Legendary Crystal Chandelier, a disc that you'd need a well-stocked toolbox and a free Saturday afternoon to pry out of our car stereo. The LCC album will be released by Quality Park Records, which tentatively plans to issue a seven-inch single by [DARYL] ("Axonometric" b/w "Reconstruction") and a split CDEP featuring Centro-matic and The Promise Ring offshoot Vermont (Vermont + Centro-matic = Opportunity) on February 27 as well. Expect at least one of those dates to change; three simultaneous releases by an indie label is tough to manage, no matter how hard Quality Park owner/only employee Matt Barnhart tries.
The hits don't stop there; Red Animal War will release its first full-length, Breaking in an Angel, on Deep Elm Records at the end of the month, and the pAper chAse's Control-Alt-Delete-U EP should be ready to go on Divot Records around the same time. And Robert Jenkins' new label, Summer Break Records, is scheduled to put out a compilation with unreleased songs by The Old 97's, Todd Deatherage (and a duet between Deatherage and the 97's' newly bicoastal frontman Rhett Miller), The Deathray Davies, Chomsky, Pleasant Grove, and others sometime in February. Speaking of The Old 97's, the band's label, Elektra Records, has posted on its Web site (www.elektra.com) a full-length RealAudio preview of "King of All the World," the first single off the group's forthcoming disc Satellite Rides, which will be on shelves March 20. And somewhere in the middle of all these release dates (March 6--mark your calendars), The Toadies--yes, them--will put out Album No. 2, Hell Below, Stars Above. You won't have to wait until then to get a taste; "Motivational," the first single from the disc, should be turning up at a radio station near you later this month. Better start saving your money now...
Every so often, we get an e-mail from someone wondering where they can get their hands on a copy of Sha Sha--the long-lost Radish album--and for a while, we were convinced that the only one we'd ever see was the CD-R copy that magically appeared at the Dallas Observer offices a couple of years ago. Not any more: Radish singer-guitarist Ben Kweller is selling copies of Sha Sha, along with three other solo albums (Freak Out, It's...Ben Kweller; Melange; and Bromeo, respectively) and a pair of old Radish albums (Dizzy and Hello), through his Web site, www.benkweller.com, for 12 bucks a pop. No word on when (or if) Kweller, currently living in Brooklyn, plans to put out another album on Island Def Jam, but since he has access to a CD burner, a backlog of songs, and the world's biggest record label (uh, the Internet), we guess it doesn't really matter. Good on ya, Ben...
In the rush to turn in his annual year-in-local-music column (which appeared on December 21), it seems that Fort Worth Star-Telegram writer Malcolm Mayhew got, well, a bit carried away. Here, maybe you can spot the problem we're talking about: "With their first disc for Dallas indie Idol Records, Return of the Drunk Ventriloquist, Deathray Davies caught fire with the college crowd. The disc has sold close to 100,000 copies and has been floating around the upper regions of College Music Journal charts--the bible of college radio--since its release earlier this year." OK, let's see: Return of the Drunk Ventriloquist was indeed released on Idol Records; no worries there. And yes, the disc has been high on the College Music Journal charts since its release. Wait, there it is, that whole "sold close to 100,000 copies" thing. Um, try closer to 10,000 copies, champ. Guess we know what we're getting him for X-mas next year: a phone and Idol boss Erv Karwelis' number...