Why Cassette Store Day Exists

Categories: Up On Sun

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In spring of last year, Stephen Rose shot an email to Jen Long and Matt Flag about an idea he had. Each of the three headed independent labels that release cassette tapes: Rose had SEXBEAT, Long ran Kissability and had a hand in Transgressive Records alongside Rose, and Flag oversaw Suplex Cassettes. Meeting his colleagues at a pub in Central London, Rose fleshed out his pitch: He wanted to create Cassette Store Day, a special date for music shops to promote cassette culture -- an idea playing on Record Store Day, the annual "holiday" established six years prior.

The trio began hammering out the logistics by throwing around questions: How could it be pulled off? Would it be a reflection of Record Store Day? Should they set up events for stores in London, or tell everyone around the world? How much time would they personally have to work on this? But at the idea's very core were bigger issues that needed to be resolved. "If I step back," recalls Flag, 33, "the first questions [were] probably, 'Is this a dumb idea? Is this even worth doing? Is this best left as one of those funny ideas you had in the pub on a Friday night or is it something that we should actually do?'"

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CSN Songs Have a "Scary" Relevancy Today, Graham Nash Says

Categories: Up On Sun

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Eleanor Stills
Neil Young had other plans the day of the shoot.

Numerous significant events occurred in 1974: President Richard Nixon imposed the 55 mile per hour speed limit. The Six Million Dollar Man debuted on TV. The Symbionese Liberation Army kidnapped Patty Hearst, and Hank Aaron passed Babe Ruth as the all-time home run hitter. It also marked the first (and possibly best) of many Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young reunion tours.

And, to hear Graham Nash tell it, it was quite a tour.

"There was some great music played on that tour, and I wanted to show everyone what that was," he says during a current stop in North Carolina. Nash and C, S, and Y are highlighting the tour on a recently released box set containing 40 songs handpicked from those 30 concerts. Yet, because the final show was substandard, the original idea of quickly issuing a live album "got put on the back burner" for 40 years.

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Why You'll Have to Visit Arcosanti to Hear The Album Leaf

Categories: Up On Sun

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Jimmy LaVelle of The Album Leaf

By definition, an "album leaf" is a musical piece written in dedication to a friend or admirer to be inserted in their album or autograph book. Whether it was intentional or not, Jimmy LaVelle of The Album Leaf has inserted his own leaves into his latest project.

The Album Leaf started in 1998 when LaVelle experimented with electronic organs, synthesizers, and software controllers to produce rhythmic ambient music. His most popular album, In a Safe Place, launched him into the electronic music world.

Currently, LaVelle and his band of collaborators are working in the studio to produce their fifth studio album, due out next year. But until then, LaVelle teamed up with Michael Raines to produce a documentary about The Album Leaf's tour through China and Japan, called Beyond There.

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Slim Cessna's Auto Club's Music Filled with Sin and Sacramental Moonshine

Categories: Up On Sun

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Gary Isaacs
Slim Cessna's Auto Club

For as long as the folk songs of hillbillies and Appalachian wailers have been called "country songs," the genre has been the province of those tip-toeing between grace and damnation -- Hank Williams, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, the Louvin Brothers, and others for whom the pursuit of holiness often took a backseat to the pleasures of sin. For more than two decades, Slim Cessna's Auto Club has played country songs but expanded outward as well, incorporating elements of punk, rockabilly, gospel, and rocksteady, all the while evoking Christian dread, employing fire-and-brimstone wit, and singing bloody murder ballads.

In that time, the band has developed a reputation as a tremendous live act, and it's well deserved. Led by two frontmen, band namesake Slim Cessna and the wild-eyed Jay Munly, the group's shows feel like violent, apocalyptic hootenannies or gothic church services where the preachers have dipped into sacramental moonshine. (Yeah, that's not a thing, but watching Slim Cessna's Auto Club do what it does, you can imagine it is.)

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New Dragonforce Record Features Johnny Cash Cover, Guitar Solos Recorded on a Yacht

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Dragonforce website
Dragonforce in action

Dragonforce is a gateway drug to heavy metal for video game nerds. No, really -- I've seen it happen.

In the British band's 15-year span, they've been able to develop a sound that truly stands a part from any other band within the genres they're constantly rotated between. It's as if some festival organizer is scratching their head somewhere, saying "Well, they fit in with speed and power metal... but they've also got that hard rock ballad sound down... the fast-as-hell guitar arrangements are on par with technical death metal... and, uh, they also sound like the soundtrack to a retro video game. What's that called again; 'Nintendo metal'?"

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Blessed Be This Heavy Metal Union in the Valley of the Sun

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Stellar photography/Rudy Reilly Facebook
Rudy and Lori

When I saw this viral video the other week of the "most metal first dance at a wedding," I couldn't help but feel a little warm and fuzzy. The goth couple created a playlist that included song snippets from Grave Digger, Pantera, Devil Drive, Cannibal Corpse, Lamb of God and Rammstein.

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Kim Shattuck on How Getting Fired by the Pixies Named Her Album

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Kim Shattuck
The Muffs

The Muffs (Kim Shattuck, Ronnie Barnett and Roy McDonald) have been writing and performing spirited, clever and fierce pop-punk tunes since they formed in the very early 1990s. Their first full-length release in 10 years, Whoop Dee Doo, hit the streets this week and both fans and critics are eating it up like candy, rightfully so. The 12-song recording is loaded with exciting, dynamic and catchy songs delivered with all the punch and spunk these longtime rockers have made us expect. Kim Shattuck, the band's lead vocalist and guitarist, was in the garage rock band The Pandoras, prior to The Muffs, and most recently did some time with the Pixies. Shattuck, whose voice can whip from snarl to sweet before you can blink an eye, got chatty with us about all that and more.

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DevilDriver's Dez Fafara: "The Earth Knows How to Purge Itself of Brush and People"

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Dean Karr
DevilDriver wants to drive you to the brink.

"We play more shows a year than any band out there right now, unless you have a residency in Vegas." --Dez Fafara, vocalist of DevilDriver.

Upon reading that, there are probably a dozen bands most people would list off the top of their heads -- and probably none would be heavy metal acts.

But as we all know, metal is a genre where most bands have to work twice as hard to get recognition, which includes touring. And nowadays, DevilDriver has been carrying that reputation on their shoulders.

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Steve Miller Disses U.S. Audiences: "They Want to Party and Take Pictures for Facebook"

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Maria Vassett

On May 18, classic rockers the Steve Miller Band, Journey, and Tower of Power will join forces for a summer tour. Last week, Miller, along with Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain -- both original Journey members -- participated in a lengthy conference call to talk about all kinds of stuff, from their respective histories to what they've been up to lately and what attendees can expect from the shows.

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Chicago Power Pop Trio The Safes Provide Anthemic Ass-Shakers

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Andrew Ballantyne
The Safes

Chips off the block, The Safes -- three brothers from Chicago -- credit their dad, a working musician and record collector for laying down a rich musical foundation that inspired them to naturally progress from siblings into a power pop trio. Their new release, Record Heat, is loaded with muscle-y, driving guitar riffs and catchy vocal melodies. Tracks like "Change the Game" are anthemic ass-shakers whose tambourine-tinged stomp easily make you reach for the repeat button. The boys promise some rollicking, rock 'n' roll fun when the hit Scottsdale's Rogue Bar on May 16, with local openers The Rebel Set. We caught up with guitarist/singer Patrick O'Malley between shows.

Up on the Sun: So, it's three brothers O'Malley that make up this trio. Who does what?

Patrick O'Malley: For our live show, Frankie and I have vocal and guitar duties and Michael is on the drums and some vocals, too. Frankie and I will do bass work in the studio but we have a touring bassist for these live shows.

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