Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Narco States' Psychedelic Opus: Wicked Sun

Narco States Wicked Sun Release Party
Friday December 5th, 9 PM
Triple Rock Social Club
with L'Assassins, Violent Shifters, Filthy Cheaters
$6 / 18+
Sponsored by Pabst

First of all: this record sounds so good. It sounds exactly like a "heavy freak" psych-rock band should, in my opinion. I love that Aaron has a realllly long organ solo. The drums sound muddy and bloody, but you can hear everything. Nick's bass propels the music more than accompanies. I love that Mike's lyrics are sometimes goofy to counteract the surrounding dust storms of drugged-out noise ("He wore the sweater that you gave me last year/ I wouldn't wear it cuz it was too square"). From the opening count-in to Nate's crushing guitar solo 3 minutes into "Wicked Sun", I love this record. Buy it, and see these guys play.

photo by Katie McGuire at Piñata Hit Parade

There's a story I love to tell about Narco States and how they came to be aligned with Piñata Records. In August of 2012, after I sent the masters for Southside Desire's Songs to Love and Die To to United Record Pressing, I started a Facebook page for Piñata Records, in an effort to make it look legitimate. The whole point of starting a record label, and designing a logo, was to try and trick critics and radio people into looking twice at the album. Within a day of making the Facebook page, we received a message from our old friend Mike MacBlane-Meyer. Would we be interested in putting our logo on the back of his new band's 7" EP? We could get another record in our catalog, further legitimizing our "label", and we'd get the opportunity to try to promote another release, getting our name out there as well as providing support to a band we liked. We said yes, and just like that, we had an actual record label.

Some assorted things about this album:

  • Wicked Sun was recorded in basements (I can't remember whose, but I think either Justin's or Aaron's). 
  • The first song "Lost in Time" also ends their first EP as a live version of a then-new song at the Hexagon bar on September 29, 2012 (Southside Desire shared this bill. It was a fun night).
  • The pressing plant sent lots of bad test pressings and kinda jerked the band around on this one. In the end, they told them that the records may not arrive until 2015, so we all started planning for a winter release party. Then suddenly, they were shipped in October. Thus the long delay between the record coming out and the release party.
The release party for this album is like this...

Narco States Wicked Sun Release Party
Friday December 5th, 9 PM
Triple Rock Social Club
with L'Assassins, Violent Shifters, Filthy Cheaters
$6 / 18+
Sponsored by Pabst

Saturday, October 25, 2014

SEX RAYS Down South Juking Tour Blog Vol. 1

Written by Sex Rays' Joe Hastings. Listen to, and please buy,  their new 7" on Piñata Records.


October 15th, 2014

It all started with CHUCK BERRY, we grabbed the tour bus drove 12 hours straight down to St. Louis, Missouri to see the godfather of rock'n roll. We hung out in the alleyway of Blueberry Hill where he plays a monthly residency and has been for years. I spoke to him a number of times that evening and while shaking his hand, he looked me straight in the eyes and smiled at me as if he recognized me from the time we did an interview together for the St.Louis Post Dispatch in 1998. I'm certain he doesn't remember! He is totally cordial, awesome, and is playing every show and song with the same earnestness verve that any human could do three days before their 88th birthday!  

Here's the hand that shook the hand of the godfather of rock n' roll- Chuck Berry!!!

After the show we hit the streets of St. Louis and 12 hours later walked into Vintage Vinyl on Delmar and hooked up with G-Biz who is stage managing the rest of the tour-

Now as we leave St.Louis we hit the arch 
and immediately drive to party on Beale Street a few days before our show at the Buccaneer Lounge in Memphis, Tennessee!!!

While walking these lovely ladies started talking to Hastings, grabbed his hair, pulled out a comb,  and started giving him a sweet makeover on the streets of Memphis! 

His hair was solid 70's after that awesome interaction-

While in Memphis we hit Sun Studios once again love that vibe! 

Here's the actual microphone that Elvis used to record, "That's Alright, Mama"!

The more Rock 'n Roll the better! "Rocket 88" as told by the tour guide Marla, is attributed to being the first actual rock and roll song! Ike Turner was on that track-

Here's some interesting bathroom wall graffiti in Memphis-

We decided to go to Holly Springs about an hour outside of Memphis to go see "Graceland too".  Only to find that the owner had shot a guy who tried to rob him three days ago and then died himself yesterday apparently of a heart attack!

"Graceland Too" is a place where you could show up after the bar is closed. It's open 24 hours a day and you get a personal tour from the owner (now deceased) Paul McLeod. He is self described as Elvis Pressley's number one fan. Throughout the years he has collected many many things all related to Elvis. He brings you on a guided tour of his home which looks like a small version of Graceland-so awesome and crazy- here's a link to the YouTube tour-

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Released! The Sex Rays "Midnight Caller"

I've been using the term "roadhouse R n' B" to describe the new Sex Rays single "Midnight Caller". That's not entirely accurate, because only in my imagination, and maybe in a good movie, would a song this incredible be played in an actual out-of-the-way rural highway bar. "Midnight Caller" is a perfectly composed, performed, and produced garage-rock dynamo that would make Peewee Herman dance on top of the bar when it hits the jukebox.

The Sex Rays have been in our circle since their inception, with Trevor, Gloria and myself having shared a practice space with bassist Joe Holland for years. He and guitarist Joe Hastings, upon their departure from the Fuck Knights, started a one-time Link Wray cover band with drummer Ben Crunk for a tribute night at Lee's Liquor Lounge in 2010. They opted to remain a band, gradually filling their repertoire with original songs. Their name is an amalgamation of their two primary influences: the punk ferocity of Sex Pistols and the rumbling blues rock of Link Wray (though I lobbied unsuccessfully for them to just be called Motorcycle). They frequently perform 3 sets a night, like a good old-school bar-band, but their originals are their best and most spirited songs.

"Midnight Caller" and its B-side "Where's the Tambourine?" (not to be confused with a certain other Piñata release) were both recorded in basement analog studios in South Minneapolis. The A-side was tracked at Mike Wisti's Albatross, the B-side at Eliot Gordon's Disgraceland. The songs, which would be perfectly great tracks as minimal productions that simply capture their live spirit, sparkle with subtle flourishes on these takes. Tambourine, organ and tape effects boost them into A-plus territory: rock n' roll students exceeding expectations.

This record comes out today, October 14, 2014 on 7" record, and all the online retailers you can think of. Ask for it at your favorite record shop, or get it from our online store.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Grolar Bears - Midnight Stew 7"

We're really excited about our most recent seven inch release from the symphonic funk collective Grolar Bears: Midnight Stew. Grolar Bears are a unique entity in the garage and soul obsessed Twin Cities music community. Their live band fluctuates between 9 and 19 pieces, including a full horn section, multiple vocalists and four percussionists. Bandleader and bassist Jonathan Kramer creates rough sketches of the songs, sends them to musicians to work out parts, and then brings his portable studio to record their contributions. The different parts of "Midnight Stew" alone were recorded in such diverse locales as bedrooms, a church, practice spaces, an auditorium, and in some cases, an actual studio. 

Musically, Kramer puts a laser focus on getting just the right orchestration of the many instrumental parts that go into each song. Grolar Bears' previous release was a sweeping instrumental soundtrack to a fictitious 70's exploitation film. On Midnight Stew, vocals take center stage, but never get in the way of the piano line,  the congas, or the saxophone riffs. It all works together in a way that pays homage to the great 70's productions of David Axelrod and Quincy Jones. The B-Side features an instrumental mix that allows the listener to really appreciate the musical performances captured.

Midnight Stew is now available directly via our Bandcamp store, at Hymie's Vintage Records, and on September 30 will be available worldwide in stores and on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, etc. via Darla Records Distribution.  

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

We have worldwide distribution via Darla Records!

A quick, but big one. Our future releases will be distributed worldwide exclusively by Darla Records out of southern California. We're very pleased by this news, and by the potential for increasing the number of ears exposed to the beautiful sounds made by the great bands we have the pleasure to work with.

Narco States' soon-to-be-released debut LP Wicked Sun is our first album with Darla, and it's currently available for wholesale preorders. Narco States are the first non-Southside Desire band Piñata worked with, and it's very fitting that their album is the first to receive larger-scale distribution. Stream their single "Lost in Time" here.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Piñata Records Field Day! August 16 at The Nomad in Minneapolis!

We're having a huge year! Along with the releases of Black Diet's Find Your Tambourine and Mystery Date's "You And Your Sister" single, we have five more records coming before the year's end. They are...
PIN-007: Narco States. Wicked Sun. 12" vinyl LP (September 2014) 

PIN-008: Grolar Bears. Midnight Stew. 7" vinyl (August 16, 2014

PIN-009: Sex Rays. Midnight Caller b/w Where's the Tambourine. 7" vinyl (Fall 2014) 

PIN-010: Southside Desire. Southside Desire. 12" vinyl LP (Fall 2014)

PIN-011: Mystery Date. New Noir. 12" vinyl LP (Fall 2014) 

...and the long lost PIN-005 Mr Hide Hide and Seek CD! 

To celebrate and preview these upcoming releases, we will be hosting our second showcase of 2014, with sets from all 5 bands releasing music before the year's end. 

Radio K, Pabst, and Piñata Records present:

Piñata Records Field Day!
Saturday August 16
3 PM- 9 PM
Outdoors at the Nomad World Pub (Minneapolis)

featuring live music from:
The Sex Rays!
Grolar Bears (7" Release Party!)
Southside Desire!
Narco States!
Mystery Date!

In the slightly different and more personal spirit of Piñata Records, this event will slightly different and more personal. Field Day will be held Saturday, August 16th outside of the Nomad World Pub. It will be a free and all ages event. There will be food, both gourmet and not so gourmet, games for kids of all ages, prizes, beers, and more fun stuff to be determined soon.

Field Day will also be the release party for Grolar Bears' "Midnight Stew" seven inch. More on that soon, but here's the video. Dig Kramer's wicked bass-face!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Mystery Date Mission Log: Third Missive

Editor's note: entering the Indiana Dunes, Johnny's hidden camera was 
confiscated by men dressed as members of the Department of the Interior. 
I have been forced to use stock photos that roughly approximate the events.

Rain fell as we wove the van through the decaying streets of Detroit;
every third house was abandoned. A burned-out city in the literal
sense, there was evidence of arson everywhere. We made our way to the
rendezvous point, the back room of a small bar in Corktown, where
smoking regulations apparently held no sway. I lit a cigarette and
took a seat across the table from her, examining the chess board which
sat between us. She took a long drag of her cigarette and silently
opened the game with a pawn Her lips naturally rested in a slight
part, revealing a bit of her teeth and giving the impression that she
was just about to speak, just a moment away from revealing something
profound, yet she didn’t utter a single word to me throughout the
course of the game. I countered and we began the game. I am no chess
master but I play passably well and I started the game strong. About
twenty minutes in I asked her; “Where is the code translation?” 

She glanced at me and then back to the board, moving her bishop into my
territory. I was a bit puzzled by her lack of response but continued
the game so as not to arouse suspicion. Still it began to bother me, I
asked again; “we came here for the code, where is it?” 

I slid the envelope with the payment out of my pocket and onto the table. 
She glanced at it, readjusted her rook and looked at me, expectantly. In
my agitation I made a few rash moves and found myself in checkmate. In
a rush to end the game I conceded and pushed my king over. “Alright,
enough games” I whispered harshly “Where is the codebreaker?” 

She smiled and looked at the king. On the bottom side I could see a small
latch to what could only be a hidden compartment. Brilliant. She
grabbed the envelope and left before I knew what had happened.
With the code translation we were able to secure the coordinates to
PJs Lager House, a fine establishment of Detroit’s Corktown. We played
with The Fake Surfers whom I knew to be legitimate through my
encounters with them in Minneapolis, they did not disappoint. Tent and
Nurse also played, it was a good show. The bartender also happened to
be in the Terrible Twos. I’ve got a few of their records and hadn’t
even realized I had missed them when they came through Minneapolis in
January, I must remember to stay vigilant! 

End Transmission

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Introducing the Piñata Study Abroad Program! Croque Macadam!

In the spirit of international cooperation, we recently traded some of our catalog with the really cool French label Croque Macadam for some of theirs! If you've enjoyed our releases, you're bound to like these, too. Their catalog is an exquisite mix of garage/psychedelic/slop/soul. We love it, and I'm happy to introduce the three titles we're receiving in exchange for an assortment of Narco States, Southside Desire, Black Diet and Mystery Date records.

How to buy them:

UPDATE on 6/7/14: Go to this page with Payment buttons: Study Abroad Program
  • Each record is $8 apiece, or $20 for all three, while they last. 
  • Send us an e-mail at indicating which records you'd like, and if you'd like to have them shipped to you or would like to pick them up locally. We'll respond to let you know if the titles are still in stock, and then you can send a payment via PayPal. If you hate PayPal, I'm sure we can figure something else out.
  • We only have 4 copies of each release, so act fast if you want them!
  • Shipping only to US ($4) and Canada ($12). Further than that, and you're just as well off ordering directly from Croque Macadam's store.
Here's what we got!

Les Spadassins EP (7" vinyl, 4 songs, released August 2012): This sounds like if Animal House was directed by Jean-Luc Godard. It's got that "Double Shot of My Baby's Love" organ and sweats ribaldry, but comes off as something a 60's Parisian gangster would select in a cafe jukebox.

Baston "Alamo" b/w "Falkland" (7" vinyl, 2 songs, released March 2014): Baston reminds me of Mick Jagger sneering over spacious Echo and The Bunnymen music recorded through a thick fog of delay and reverb. Honk if you like Nuggets box-sets and '80s new wave!

French Kissing: "Wild Woman" b/w "Love is For" (7" vinyl, 2 songs, released January 2012): Ticking like Television Personalities and bopping like Bob B. Soxx with the above mentioned hazy production. Sexual anxiety applied to a loud/louder song structure with great cymbal sustain.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Mystery Date Mission Log: Second Missive

Tollbooth near Belvidere Oasis

Mystery Date's attempt to spread their message of peace hits a snag. Here's Johnny:

We had been waiting in the corral for what seemed like hours, surely
it must have been at least a few hours. Sweat rolled off my forehead
and the back of my neck in the early June heat as the guards marched
by with their german shepards and assault rifles. We travelled in
disguise, just a few miners from up north coming into the Chicago area
for a few days to gamble at an off track betting parlour, our gear,
the tools of our trade, hidden underneath a tarp system in the back of
the van. The fake beard was itchy and made everything feel twice as
hot, but it helped me resemble the man in the false documents we had
procured for the mission. I took a long sip from the water jug, the
day was hot but the tension and climate of fear made a man feel cold
inside, there is so much we must put aside in order to achieve this
common set of goals we revere. Finally we made it to the checkpoint
gate, the homeland security officer in charge strolled up to the van,
shoulders rolled back into a stance of haughty arrogance.

“Your papers…”

Grady was driving.
“Sure dude, just a minute…”

“Hurry up!”

“Yes, ok, here they are.”

He looked through our documents thoroughly; I noticed him mouthing the
words as he read them with just the subtlest movement of the lips, his
brows furrowed in deep concentration. All of a sudden his countenance
changed, he cocked his head to an angle and slowly pulled back his
lips over his yellowed teeth, contorting his face into a sardonic smile.

“State your business, now.”

“We’ve come to bet on the horses, there’s a great little off track
betting place just down the way…”

“On a Sunday?” He retorted sharply and suddenly.

“We were paid Friday...”

“Yet you did not arrive Friday night nor Saturday morning, did you?”

“Well, we…”

He suddenly banged the side of the van with his baton, his posture
suddenly erect as if he had been struck by lightning. “Don’t shit in my mouth 
and call it a Sunday!! I know you types and there’s something you’re not telling me!!”

He suddenly relaxed and began examining the van, grinning through his
mouth and his dead, dead eyes. “And what have you got in the back… gents…”

He spat the last word out disdainfully, savoring every syllable.
We exchanged subtle and nervous glances when the peace of the day was
broken by a dog’s barking. Several cars back the officers were pulling
a man out of his car, based on the barking I’d wager he was a
smuggler, perhaps. The homeland security officer looked upon us and
then to him, back and forth, back and forth. They were pulling him
from the car, he was pleading, pleading, crying, his face alternating
between rage and desperation. They were pulling his limbs apart,
separating him limb from limb, taking shots with their billyclubs,
shouting and questioning, breaking the tension and unleashing the
flood of fear and hatred which buzzed throughout the atmosphere. It’s
obvious that we were outmanned and underequipped to help him, it’s no
question that there was nothing that we could do yet the first thing I
felt was one million tiny pangs of guilt surrounding my heart and my
cerebral cortex for not being able to come to his aid.
The officer looked at us and to the disturbance once again and
deliberated for a moment. He then waved us on angrily.
“Get the fuck out of here!”

He turned his attention to the smuggler and we passed unmolested. It
was in that moment that I loved the smuggler, someone who unluckily
and unintentionally saved us, he had saved us just the same. The
hands of fate had snatched us back from the brink and he was the one
who was going down this time, a hero with no conception of his valiant
deed, is it our choices that determine our value or the impact we
make? We made haste to leave the area, I leaned out the window and
listened to a lark singing on a nearby telephone pole, it was
beautiful, the world truly is what we make of it despite our
subjective ideas of what makes the best or worst of times.

Then we got to Chicago and had pizza and played cards against humanity
with Joe and Gretchen!! 

We played at the Burlington with The Wet and The 
Jollys. The Jollys are garage with a quick tempo and the fucking rule, I consider them to
be the spiritual brethren of minneapolis’ own france camp though both
bands have their own elements which keep them unique, and, in the case
of The Jollys, I’m a sucker for a twelve string guitar. And then
there’s The Wet; they were even better than the last time I’d seen
them. This sounds odd but the best description I can think of is that
they sound like the Cramps except without a trace of
rocka/psychobilly, I’d also say they fit somewhere near the Gun Club
paradigm as well. 99% of the bands that attempt their style of music
get it wrong. The Wet are a rare and shining example of
American music at its best. You swine should do yourself a favor and
gobble up the beer-soaked pearls they cast before you.
Seriously, The Wet and The Jollys fucking rule. I was excited for this
show and they held up even better than my expectations.

Over and Out,

The Jollys

The Wet

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Mystery Date Mission Log: The First Missive

Mystery Date are on tour trying to sell this record. Johnny's keeping us abreast.
Once again my courageous compatriots and I have been called into the
fray in the name of Mystery Date, and this time we’re going farther
than we’ve ever been before.  So begins a journey of fast music,
burritos, booze and windbaggery. Friday night Grady and I travelled

to Agent Damien’s laboratory to receive our devices for the mission.
Unlike our rather ostentatious allies at MI6 we did not opt for something
conspicuous like an Aston martin for transportation.  In order to
maintain the utmost secrecy agent D provided us with a large Dodge van
with “Honk for J.Bieber” spray painted on the back. The work of a
covert agent is not always glamorous and agent Damien cleverly knew
that no one would suspect 3 flamboyantly-dressed dudes traveling in a
brightly spray-painted van. After the mishap with the heat seeking
missiles installed in the last Mystery Date division vehicle, Agent
Damien instead installed a secret built-in rice cooker to aid the
cause.  It was at this meeting that we had a chance to meet Piñata’s
newest agent, one mister Desmond Tank, a strikingly suave and
handsome young man in his twenties (days not years). I predict he’ll go
far in the service.

We set out at three PM to take advantage of the afternoon’s deep cloak
of anonymity. Traveling across the vast wastelands of Wisconsin we
heard no noise except what was the honking of an apparent goose that
none of us saw. We travelled swiftly, careful to avoid the Taco John's
in Black River Falls where I could be recognized and our mission
compromised. After many hours of briefing ourselves on David Bowie
through the van’s stereo system we felt prepared for what we knew we
must do.  Ten clicks into Madison we arrived safely at the rendezvous
point: Mickey’s Tavern, a filthy backstreet dive sympathetic to the
cause; so sympathetic in fact that they furnished us with as many tap
beers as we could drink for free.  Support is appreciated in any form
as not all were meant to serve on the front lines.  

After a few hours of recuperating from our journey we met our contact, Dirty 
Nigel, a black marketer providing safe sex toys to the repressed Madisonian
population and, by all accounts, a conscientious man in a frequently
unconscionable business. After partaking of the finest brews afforded
us in our unique position we listened to the manifesto of our fellow
Minneapolans Soap Scum. We spread our news of the movement as best we
could. I think it went over well but I really don’t pay that much
attention. After a swift and energetic set Dirty Nigel and the Strap-Ons 

took the stage, blasting through a lively set. After the show we
enjoyed burritos and I pontificated at length upon many interesting
subjects of such weight and importance that the mere act of
considering them tired my worthy comrades to the point of sleep!! 

It’s heartening to know that in a seemingly morally ambiguous and
meaningless world there are men like Dirty Nigel, who, despite the
illicit nature of the world in which they exist will open their homes
and sing the songs of freedom in the name of our common cause. We hope
for the opportunity to one day return the hospitality on our own soil.

Today we will have to pass through numerous check points in disguise
to the city of Chicago. I pray that the false travel papers and
identification we purchased will get us there safely.  If we succeed
we will be meeting with some old and dear comrades. Jenn of The Wet
who served by my side in the invasion of South By Southwest not once
but twice, as well as the occupation of the Hozac Blackout in '11 or
'12, the time that has passed has blunted my memory to the specifics
leaving only a lasting impression of true courage. Tom and Rebecca,
many times have executed operations under deepest cover since I first
met them when they brought the Infamous Tyler John Tyler to Saint
Paul’s Midway House itself.  And last but certainly not least, a man
whose name is spoken in reverent whispers wherever people still keep
faith in true liberty, Joe Power, a man with no little influence on
myself who performed with the Basement Disasters when I went on my
first set of missions as a young agent. The Authorities approach, we
will send contact if we arrive-

Over and Out,