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