The Numero Group is no stranger to loss. Having built a record label around the back-when accomplishments of retirement-age artists, death is an inevitability. Having spent the better part of three years trying to distill the Minneapolis Sound from a smattering of demoes and local releases, we had a molecular understanding of Prince’s role in empowering the musicians of the Twin Cities, shaping pop music in the process. First the Chicago Reader called for some first impressions, then Billboard. Meanwhile, at our Brooklyn pop-up store, Purple Snow evaporated from the bins, then the Lewis Conection LP, then the 94 East 45. All over the country, people were trying to process the passing of this superlative human. Writing these articles was cathartic, as was enabling people new glimpses into Prince’s early career. We were happy to help in any way we could.
Things will get better, but they’ll never be the same. Our deepest condolences go out to all of our Purple Snow players who were lucky enough to witness first-hand the greatness of Prince Rogers Nelson. Our sympathy to his devoted fans, who had to say goodbye to an icon who still had a few decades of greatness left in him. If any of these words or any of these releases can help you gain temporary relief or long-term closure on this tragic loss, then we’ve done our job.
When we arrived at work this morning (still nursing an #RSD2016 hangover), we were inundated with on-line orders for our Record Store Day exclusives, Blonde Redhead Peel Sessions 7″ and Los Alamos Grind! The rate at which these desirable titles are being gobbled up is far exceeding our expectations, so we can’t be certain how much longer these exceptional records will be available. You are on the rumble strips. Procrastinate at your own peril.
With this blog post, we make a solemn oath to reserve some of both titles for our Greenpoint pop-up shop (Thursday-Sunday of this week). But this doesn’t mean you can stroll in on Sunday and buy one for yourself and one for a friend. This blog post is intended to inspire; this blog post is intended to motivate. If you desire either of these titles (or both), there is currently no one holding you back but yourself.
Filed under: Record Store Day
On Saturday April 16th at 2pm, Chicago rap progenitors Stony Island will perform live at Logan Square’s Comfort Station, capping a twenty year hiatus. Scheduled to coincide with the Numero Group’s annual Record Store Day pop-up shop, Stony Island will exhume selections from their Golden Era songbook, the entirety of will be available for purchase via limited-edition, Krylon-colored cassettes, available exclusively at this event. For perspective, Stony Island lived the life that Common (then Common Sense) rapped about on record—train-riding, graffiti-writing, backpack-totting trips to bum rush WHPK mix shows. While Common gave the rap world a taste of Chicago, Stony Island inundated listeners with local folklore, name dropping El stops, record shops, and active officers on the city’s graffiti task force. For a guided tour of Stony Island, swipe your Metra card on the link below:
The Complete Works of Stony Island (cassette): Limited to 250 (50 each in red, blue, gray, yellow, purple), available ONLY at our Record Store Day pop-up (Facebook Event Page )
Filed under: Uncategorized
A week ago, we returned from an incredible tour of Japan, where we met many amazing people, ate much great food, and visited many fine record shops. For those of you in attendance, DOMO ARIGATO. For those who couldn’t make it, here’s some highlights.
Friday March 18th – Wah Wah, The Room, Shibuya (Tokyo)
The Room, like most venues we played at, is underground (literally and figuratively). If you weren’t looking for the Room, you wouldn’t find the Room. But this is not uncommon in Japan. Some of the best record stores we visited and restaurants we dined at were several floors above street level, with little more than a small placard to indicate what await. And like most venues we played at, the Room was the perfect size. Compact, cozy, but not crowded.
Saturday March 19th ONDO – Hiroshima
ONDO is a great little organic restaurant with a robust sound system and lively nightlife after hours. Entering through a laundromat, ONDO had the comfortable feel of your favorite neighborhood bar. A wall full of LPs, booths full of co-eds, and a bar full of trouble.
I should introduce to you Daisuke Kuroda (left), who organized our tour. Daisuke is a fantastic DJ, a respected collector, and quite literally the sweetest dude ever. Daisuke does not like to fly, and has only left Japan once for a rare-soul weekender in Germany. It was a privilege not only to meet Daisuke, but get to observe his technical proficiency, incredible selection, and stunning collection. Oh the bottle? That’s Lento; Shoju. Drink it in a high-ball glass with club soda and lemon. What do they eat in Hiroshima after guzzling a few bottles of this? This (Okonomiyaki):
Sunday March 20th Keith Flack – Fukuoka
We DJ’d in this freaky nightclub for the 6th anniversary of a party called Black Water Gold, which is a sensational cloister of English words. We shared the bill with Philadelphia disc jockey Skeme Richards, who, despite never smiling in photos, is a super nice guy! He’s been traveling to Japan to DJ once a year since 2008, which is a fantastic idea—we would like to do this also. Fukuoka is the birthplace of ramen, and also futuristic police stations and mad scientist lairs like the ones below.
Monday, March 21st West Harlem – Kyoto
We’d heard many globetrotters say that Kyoto was their favorite city in Japan, and so we were eager to see what the hype was about. Kyoto is very walkable, easy to navigate, has an abundance of temples and shrines to marvel at, and a laid back vibe that reminds us of… Vancouver, maybe? While enjoying some fresh air outside of the venue, I heard Don Cornelius’s voice declare, “Out of Durham, North Carolina, the Modulations. I traced the source to a neighboring bar called “Soul Bar – I Gotcha.”
Once I got inside, I discovered the owner and proprietor, alone, watching Soul Train re-runs. I spot a few boxes of 45s behind the counter and come to find out this fellow is one of the OG soul collectors in Japan. Go figure.
Mata ne, Kyoto.
Friday, March 25th Deep Enough Annex – Club Cactus, Tokyo
We come to find out that Daisuke had organized this event as a collector’s summit, featuring some of Japan’s most particular collectors. There is a term in Japan, “Otaku,” which refers to people who harbor obsessive interests and this was essentially an Otaku Invitational. People danced, and cheered, but they also observed, exhibiting intense interest and immense respect for each impossibly obscure record being played by each skilled selector. Once a record had finished spinning, folks would gather by the turntable to take a photo of the label for further research. Surely you saw this on our Instagram?
Saturday, March 26th Soul Renaissance – Soul Blood, Kobe
I’m going to have to give it up to Kobe for the most disastrous and chaotic record kiosks.
Soul Blood was kind of this magical little cantina on the 3rd floor of an office building, above a 7-11. Where else do the elevator doors open to reveal Daisuke Kuroda playing “You’re A Melody” by Aged In Harmony?
The next day, as we lugged our raggedy bones to the airport, we were overcome with emotion as a handful of new friends magically appeared at the airport to bid us farewell. Who does that? The warm and genuine citizens of Japan, that’s who.
We could never thank everyone, but we’ll start by sending a HUGE Kon’nichiwa to our hosts Seiji Shimizu, Takehira “Shimanzel” Shima, Masahiko Ono, Mr. Narukawa, and naturally, Daisuke Kuroda. A BIG Kon’banwa to our new friends Naoki Ienaga, Yusuke Ogawa, Genki Arai, Ryuhei “The Man” Teshirogi, Satoshi Moriwaki, Erika Kosaka, Makoto “Makatron” Nagatomo, Matt Jungblut, Skeme Richards, Yukari Baba, Takanori Hirano, Yoshihiko Imaru, and Ruminz. Otsukaresama to Yuki Doheny for sharing with us some of her and husband Ned’s favorite tourist attractions, and to Asaf Siegel for teaching us the word “Osusume” (“recommendation”) which indeed took us far at food spots. Finally, a MAJOR Domo Arigato to EVERYONE who came to the shows, pitched in, and showed love for the things we do here in Chicago. See you NEXT SPRING you crazy kids! If you see THIS MAN, buy him a drink (see below)!
During January’s National Association of Music Merchants show (NAMM, if you’re nasty), the Roland corporation presented Purple Snow pillars Jimmy “Jam” Harris and Terry Lewis with a lifetime achievement award. For the occasion of their acceptance speech, the production duo lugged their very first Roland acquisitions down to Anaheim—Terry, his TR-808 drum machine, and Jimmy, his SH-1000 synthesizer. While the 808 became a ubiquitous tool for producers across genres, music history has been less kind to the SH-1000. In fact, the monophonic device may be best known for appearing on the cover of Mind & Matter’s previously unreleased masterpiece 1514 Oliver Avenue (Basement)(citation needed).
As a token of their appreciation, Roland offered to refurbish the antique machinery, requiring a global scavenger hunt for parts. Now the SH-1000 is fully functional, giving Mind & Matter one less excuse not to do a reunion show. And who better to host than First Avenue, who previously hosted Mind & Matter for this taping of Steamroller? Pay close attention to a bandanna’d Jimmy Jam, who can be seen jumping across the stage with this beastly keyboard slung around his neck.
Filed under: Jeff Cowell
Since the re-release of Lucky Strikes & Liquid Gold last January, it’s rare that a week passes without some form of correspondence (usually type-written) from our favorite Upper Peninsula purveyor of Cosmic American Music. Originally issued in an edition of 200, Lucky Strikes & Liquid Gold has finally found a fan base exceeding its initial pressing run. With a diverse blend of ace arrangements and introspective songwriting, there is no apt comparison for this record. The soaring pedal steel and loner rock-bottom lyricism on “Not Down This Low” made it a clear choice and early forerunner for Cosmic American Music.
Filed under: Uncategorized
Some of the records we’re taking to Japan are not part of our normal repertoire. Some of the records we’re taking to Japan have never left the house. We have to come to respect and identify with Otaku culture, and so we want to bring our very, very best the the nation’s discotheques. However, we also feel an obligation to test drive these odd, obscure, only-known-copy 45s on a functional sound system in front of semi-functional human beings. So where do we go? Where else but the Owl, where our impulsive nature, request intolerance, and irregular sleep schedules make us regulars on both sides of the booth. So join us Monday, March 14th from 8pm until Midnight, where we attempt a test run of all the danceable/demented stuff that we hope will be, as they say, “Big in Japan.”
The Owl + 2521 North Milwaukee + Chicago + Steps from the Logan Square Blue Line Stop
Should you find it easier to just catch one of our Japan dates, we’ll see you there!