THANK HEAVEN for little independents. When Regis Philbin asked Joe Mallon what he planned to do with his winnings from Who Wants to Be a Millionaire last fall, Mallon said he and his wife wanted to start a record label. And damned if they didn't take the $125,000 he won on that show and found a li'l East Bay indie called 125 Records. Saturday sees the label's first two offerings unveiled in a release party at the Starry Plough. The first is Garden Abstract, the debut of Berkeley's Belle da Gama, Bradley Skaught's Elvis Costello-lilting project featuring members of Call and Response and Luminar, as well as guest appearances by Scott Miller of the Loud Family, Dose One of Anticon, Yuji Oniki, and oddball pop genius Anton Barbeau. The second is Barbeau's own The Golden Boot: Antology 2, a collection of gems that for one reason or another didn't wind up on his other albums. Combining a keen ear for Brit popcraft with the best excesses of shaggy-dog surreal songwriterdom, the Sacramento sensation's southward visit is reason enough to hit the Plough, if someone doing something useful for a change isn't.
DUNNO HOW USEFUL it is, but I've decided to do something else myself. Worlds to conquer and all that. It's a strange thing, leaving the Express after seven years--but, well, times change, and so does the paper. I'm looking forward to seeing what the Express becomes (from a healthy distance) as much as I look forward to the next wave of East Bay clubs. (There is going to be a next wave, right? Any day now... ) In the meantime, thanks for listening. Thanks especially to the bands and the bookers, the impresarios and the indies, the punks and the pains in the ass. Thank you for the music, and don't take any shit from the NIMBYs and naysayers. Fuck the system, man.
A few recommendations before I go: Oaklanders Sleepytime Gorilla Museum and auslanders Uz Jsme Doma making beautiful and baffling art-rock with Victim's Family at the Bottom of the Hill on Saturday; the hypnotic moaning mantras of Dawn "the Faun" McCarthy at Faun Fables' CD release party, July 7 at the Plough; the Stork Club's Xmas in July party on July 28, with the Smarties, the Fitsners, Run for Cover Lovers, and seven other bands keeping Christmas with you all through the year; and the four days of difficult music ("Beyond the Pale") at the Great American Music Hall in August (17-19), featuring Neurosis, M. Gira, Zeni Geva, Amber Asylum, Oxbow, Shellac, :Zoviet*France:, KK Null, Thrones, Tarantel, et al. That'll keep you out of trouble for a while.
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