Monday, June 6, 2016

Red Daughters' Dealer LP and the Value of an Appropriate Medium

Toning and stoning

First, the important things. Red Daughters' album Dealer is coming out on big fat 180 gram vinyl via Piñata Records on June 10 in Minneapolis, and June 24 worldwide. There will be a release party on June 10th at the James Ballentine VFW in Uptown. Please come, and/or buy the album!

Listen to the album and buy it here:

The details for the release party are as follows:

Friday June 10
Uptown VFW (2916 Lyndale Ave S)
with Black Market Brass and Ruben
9 PM / 21+ / $8

Now, we'll discuss the fact that we are re-issuing an album that came out in late 2014.

Let me first say that Piñata Records loves Red Daughters, and loves Dealer. This album fits perfectly into our discography as something that sounds like it could have existed decades ago, but feels fresh and contemporary. Red Daughters clearly have classic rock influences (The Band, Allman Brothers, Neil Young), but blend them into something that's not derivative. This isn't flowery hippy rock; their lyrics are mean and unapologetic. They balance the lyrics with their most delicate arrangements, moving from lounge-act crooning to swirling organ/guitar crescendos. There are no interminable jams or wasted solos. This is compressed psychedelic Americana rock.

Most of Red Daughters grew up together in the northern Minneapolis suburb of Coon Rapids. They played in various bands throughout their teens and eventually put together Red Daughters, securing the services of Aaron "Hix" Lee on keyboards to finish their sound. They have a rootsy rock sound distinguished by their impeccably harmonized vocal parts, reminiscent of CSNY. Drummer Mark Hanson handles most of the lead vocals, and occasional turns from bassist Tony Beres and Hix, with the rest of the band singing backup. They self-released two very good albums and toured the US a few times, taking a "spirit journey" out west to smoke drugs, sit on rocks, and write the songs that would make up their next album.

Via Facebook. Way out West.
In summer of 2014, Red Daughters completed mastering Dealer. It took them over two years and thousands of dollars to complete (as outlined in this City Pages article by Kristoffer Tigue). Their goal was to get a relatively large indie label to put it out for them, and then become rock stars, etc, etc. I'm not sure about the details of this, and they haven't really been able to tell a complete story, but they say New West Records expressed interest in Dealer at about this time. Then someone forgot to respond to an e-mail, or return a phone call, or book a show in Nashville or something. The connection between band and label dissolved.

Soon after, they asked Piñata Records if we'd be interested in putting out the album on vinyl. We were coming off our busiest stretch to date, and had 5 releases in 5 months. It was not a good time for us to commit to another project, as much as we loved Red Daughters and their new album. Having worked on Dealer for such a long time, and thinking they were so close to having it out, they opted to just self-release it on CD so they could move on.

Photo by Anthony Georgis
So here we are, re-releasing Dealer on vinyl nearly two years after it came out on CD. The band felt like the album, which they poured so much effort and debt into making, never made as much of an impact as they wanted. Part of that, they felt, was that it was released on CD. Red Daughters ooze the early 1970s. There's something that feels counter-intuitive when hearing their music from a CD player (or a computer. Just listen to that Bandcamp thing up there, and tell me the music wouldn't somehow feel better coming off a turntable). They felt like a big, substantial, 180 gram long-player stood as a more meaningful artifact than a CD, and would better represent the music.

There is truth to this. I need not link to the hundreds of articles published discussing the massive drop in CD sales while vinyl sales keep going up. Those weirdo music fans who still crave a physical object are increasingly more interested in owning shelves of LPs than CD cases. And these are often the same people who pay for a Spotify account and stream music at work and on the bus (Shit, I'm doing that right now). In Piñata's experience, vinyl outsells CDs by a large margin. It's often tempting to skip the 4-6 month waiting period to complete a vinyl order and just do CDs quickly for a much lower price and a bigger profit margin, but then they don't sell. Every time we've made a CD, we've wished we'd just done vinyl.

We're pleased as hell to have helped Dealer find its way onto its appropriate medium, and proud to have our logo on the back of the jacket. Objectively, I can't say it sounds better on vinyl. But it sure as shit feels better. I hope to see you at the release party.

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