Since 1995, NYC’s Other Music record shop has had a big hand in defining the sound of the underground, helping to establish the careers (and career resurgences) of hundreds of artists, with a wide-ranging aesthetic that includes everything from indie pop to left-field electronica, folk, funk, psychedelia, dub, free jazz, post-punk, avant-classical, hip-hop and much more. For more than a decade and a half, through myriad changes in the “biz,” Other has stayed true to their one goal, connecting great unheard music with passionate music fans, and with their weekly new-release newsletter reaching more than thirty-five thousand subscribers, a mail-order website, and a busy East Village retail shop, they have become an icon and last bastion of indie retail. Last spring, in partnership with Fat Possum, Other launched their own label, Other Music Recording Co., to bring the same varied taste and enthusiasm that has always defined their retail store to this new venture.
In April of 2012, Other released its first single (OM-001) from their first signing, Ex Cops, whose debut 7-inch (“You Are a Lion, I Am a Lamb” b/w “The Millionaire”) highlighted the Brooklyn group’s hazy mix of influences, drawing on vintage British and New Zealand indie, Factory Records, power-pop, and a distinctly New York Velvets/Feelies jangle, all with their own sunbaked pop vision. Since then the onetime bedroom project of Brian Harding and Amalie Bruun has been fleshed out into a full band and just finished their debut full-length, with John Siket (Blonde Redhead, Yo La Tengo, Sonic Youth) sitting in the production chair. The resulting True Hallucinations (out January 22) is a mind-altering pop pill that maintains the intimate mood of the original group’s sound, but now presented in widescreen Technicolor.
Also out on Other: the debut solo album from Shintaro Sakamoto, the former frontman of the legendary Japanese psychedelic group Yura Yura Teikoku. Over the course of their 20 years together, that band rose from the storied Japanese psychedelic underground to huge mainstream success in their homeland (and cult status around the world), with a wholly original sound that defied definition. The group disbanded in 2010, and Sakamoto set off into uncharted waters on his new solo material, working mostly alone to create a stunning set of quiet, percussive songs that draw on ‘70s folk and AM radio pop from the U.S., U.K. and Japan, as well as folk forms from across continents and eras. How to Live with a Phantom, first released in late 2011 on Sakamoto’s own Zelone label in Japan, is an enigma and an instant classic that blew so many minds at the Other Music shop when a few imports trickled in, that we had no choice but to release it on OMRC.
Like Sakamoto, Nude Beach originally self-released II and consigned a handful of copies at Other Music’s record store. From the very first play on the shop stereo, the OM staff was hooked and a few months later, II would be re-released to a worldwide audience on Other. Though very much a part of the Brooklyn DIY scene, the band's connection is more in spirit than in sound; Nude Beach is as beer-soaked and raw as any group around, but they never could quite shake the classic sounds of Petty and Springsteen that sound-tracked their Long Island youth, and if you thumb through the band members' record collections you'll find battered vinyl from the Replacements, the Jam, Big Star and Elvis Costello sitting alongside the hardcore and indie LPs and 7"s that brought them together in the first place. It all comes through in their music -- scrappy, high-octane power-pop that's nothing less than infectious.
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