Thursday, February 20, 2014

Piñata Hit Parade occurred, and it was fun!

All photos by Katie McGuire

The 331 Club hosted the first ever Piñata Records Hit Parade on Saturday. We gave away CD samplers and donut holes, and we all had a lot of fun.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Belle Album, and other reasons it's going to be okay.

Hi, boys and girls! Let's take a trip in our imaginations! Here's a story I'm sure you're all familiar with:

After three months of winter, you're driving to work (yet again) in your heatless car. It's not far, but you drive fast because the temperature is negative 16 (again) that day. Every red light is an eternity. You try not to think about your toes that hurt, despite multiple sock and boot combo. This day is different though. Why? Because, you found a copy of The Belle Album by Al Green (that you forgot you had) in your laptop, and the car stereo is happy to play it without skipping (which is unusual for your car stereo). You decide that, from this day until the first day of spring (or, the end of time, whichever comes first), there will be no other music in your car. Only this album on repeat. Over and over again. You take comfort in other people's belief in a higher power, and imagine a time in the future when it's not too cold out to believe in things. You decide that, even if (as some say), Al Green's voice does sometimes sound as if you're slowly letting the air out of a balloon, it's the most beautiful balloon you've ever seen. Like the kind that says something like 'congratulations' or has dollar symbols all over it as if you've just won a big prize (such as a new car).
Then something on the dash starts blinking and beeping (the car knows when you think about getting a new car).
But, no worries, you just turn The Belle Album up louder and continue to shake your fist at the guy that just cut you off (who you'd honk at (if the horn worked)) and you tell yourself that this way is more fun anyway. 


Basically, it's just a really good album and you should consider checking it out if you haven't already. I can't think of those other reasons why it's going to be okay right now but I'm sure we each have our own. If you don't, you can use mine. We'll get through this, guys.


Saturday, February 8, 2014

Mystery Date "You and Your Sister" 7" Pre-Orders now available!

Oh gosh, oh gosh! Mystery Date's new single "You and Your Sister" b/w "Lightspeed Romance / The One That You Really Want" is now available for pre-order!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Black Diet at First Ave’s Best New Bands Showcase: A Shameless Account of Adoration

 By Giggles, the Smoking Monkey

 Disclaimer: This is a highly biased, cheeky account of our experience at one of our favorite annual events, which for the first time featured a Pinata Records artist: the lovely and talented Black Diet. We were ecstatic. Although I tried a little, I did not give all of the artists equal attention, and I make no apologies. Also, I’m not a real journalist. I’m just a smoking monkey with a laptop.

 About our history with this event: We go to this every year, not just the years that our best friends play. It’s a tradition. And why? As someone who is completely surrounded by musicians, the elusive/fake/much sought after gratification of “Success” comes up every so often, mostly with a large dose of sarcasm. People make music and create bands for a handful of reasons, and it seems like a good idea to put “getting noticed” low on the list. This city feels like it has more musicians than audience members, and if you get too caught up in the swirling hopes that hard work will be repaid in Main Room shows, you are headed straight to the bitter musician’s corner; It’s best to keep it an enduring yet somewhat distant wish. But once a year, a handful of excited folks, who often have never been on that big stage, get to live it up and feel for a moment that it has paid off, if only for one night. They gather everything they have to offer, and nervously, seriously, rock out. And it’s adorable.

About the night: It was becoming quite the chilly evening as I hustled out of work and rushed to get downtown. With a wind-chill of as low as 35 below predicted to strike near midnight, I was curious about how many freezing drunk girls with poorly chosen outfits we’d see at the night’s departure. I had considered joining their ranks with my favorite tight-stretchy-booty dress, but the common sense that rears its head intermittently in my decision making said “Wear some real clothes.” Pffff. Fine.

 Southwire..And so I got there and had just barely missed the first band of the night, Southwire. This was something of a bummer to me, because I like to give the first group as much attention as possible, given that they usually get the short end of the audience-attention stick. So I failed, but I CAN say their name a few times and hope that you will look into them and do your own investigation in lieu of mine. Southwire. Southwire. They hail from Duluth. They’re on Chaperone Records. Look ‘em up.

Fury Things…This song is stuck in my head: “Into The Surf”, a bon-a-fide pop tune that is simultaneously light with breathy, melodic chorus and heavy with wailing, emotional guitar and headbanging drum flooded enthusiasm. It gives me goosebumps. I will definitely be buying both of their albums.

 Black Diet…And so we come to the part of this story where I got all weepy and proud and, let’s face it, buzzed. We were there one year previous, watching John Mark Nelson and just aching to be noticed as musicians in the scene. I had just met Black Diet a few months earlier (as JT and the Sloppy Seconds) and we were tending the beginnings of an epic band/label bromance. A year into the future, and I’m standing with my fellow Pinata Records founders, peeking behind the screen partition and blowing kisses as we watch our favorite little band dance around and prepare themselves for the crowd, and what felt like the most important show they’d ever had. They spotted us, waved excitedly, and Jonathan poked his spiky head around the corner and looked out at all of the people there. Friends who had pushed to the front row yelled out, feeling the inevitable happy anxiety.

As the partition lifted, they touched into the beginning of Don’t Sleep Alone, a sparse, vocally powered deception that stretched further the wait and anticipation, with full delivery as they moved into Nothing To Say, arguably their most hair raising and attention grabbing song. It was during this that my personal waterworks started. Front man Jonathan Tolliver was visibly emotional and fiercely powerful in his delivery, in fact the entire group seemed at this moment already to be glowing with something much brighter than the fancy First Avenue light show. They then moved into Thrown Stones, a haunting, percussive croon smoothed with floating backups (Sean Schultz, Margaret Keller) and seductive trickles of electric piano (Also by Mr. Schultz). Next was a cleverly chosen cover of All My Friends by LCD Soundsystem. The few people who were not already moving in the crowd started to wake up and take notice at this point, as they absorbed the flawless continual build of the tune by BD. By the end, they were all moving, something that I almost never see at these showcases (MN crowds are resistant to dance), and certainly never this early in the night. Then they returned to their original catalog with Cry, a slow and anguished tune that shows off Tolliver’s impressive range and showmanship. Just before the pivotal high note, he removed himself from stage and sang to the audience at their level, giving hugs and high fives without missing a beat. The set closed with the raucous Slow It Down, which, of course, is their fastest song. I knew things had gotten crazy when I looked to my left and saw Schultz playing keys while standing and jumping up and down on his chair. This was the end of the set, and they had aced it. Their excitement was palpable, and as the last notes were struck, everyone was feeling changed. It was a good time to be alive.

BBGUN…Charming hipster Americana. Sentimental and rocky.

Allan Kingdom..I LOVED this. I got up close and danced like I HAD worn my booty dress. He is my new favorite local hip hop artist, no joke. Very unique, (he’s Canadian, that’s always the reason.) I usually walk away from these events with a new musical crush, and Allan Kingdom stole my heart with his dense, hop-scotch flow, lanky dancing, and high pitched space man singing.

 GRRRL PRTY…They certainly don’t feel like strangers to First Ave, but despite not seeming giddy for their first chance up there, they put a great show on, and the fans were definitely in tow.

 Frankie Teardrop…Started the set by mumbling out something like….”Fuck this city, this song's called Chicago..” Charming, how he doesn’t care if we like him! But he was good, I think that by that time, my attentions were being taken up by the need for a safe ride through the cold. He wore sunglasses and seemed a bit overly personified. The music is noisy, experimental, but not without its hooks and catches (maybe more of the latter were shown off at this particular show than in their recordings), and I like it.

All in all, this was once again a fantastic time, made even greater by the wee little drama and romance of our own Black Diet. We danced, drank, cried, poked fun, and now we’re all off to the next little touchable dream. I hope to see the likes of Southwire, Fury Things, BBGUN, Allan Kingdom, Grrrl Prty, and Mr. Frankie Teardrop again, and I hope you, gentle reader, will take a moment to check all of these groups out, as well. And until next time, keep your ears open and your eyes on the prize…

Pinata Records…the surprise is inside.