Numero Group: By The Numbers

Chris Brokaw (Codeine) Tonight at the Burlington (Chicago)
September 23, 2014, 11:56 am
Filed under: Codeine | Tags: , ,


We got a pretty cool email today, the details of which we thought we’d share with you. Chris Brokaw of Codeine will be joining Doug McCombs and friend-of-the-label Tom Lazzara for some “full-on rock music” at the Burlington (3425 W. Fullerton). Most of us are also Karate fans anxious to see what EXIT/VERSE is all about; the merchandise table sounds like it will be stacked as well. The show starts at 9pm and there is a $7 suggested donation.

From Chris:

While I sometimes record full-on rock music, with a band, I don’t often do that live, but i am tomorrow, TUESDAY SEPT 23, at the Burlington. The band is me on electric guitar and vocals, Doug McCombs on bass, and Tony Lazzara on drums. It’s gonna be sick! — Also appearing is very special guests EXIT/VERSE, the new rock trio fronted by Geoff Farina. Geoff and I have a new acoustic duo lp coming out next year, but tomorrow night is THE ROCK. I’d love to see you all there, and please bring all your friends! I’ll have lots of recent stuff for sale including my last copies of the Ryley Walker/Chris Brokaw lp on American Tapes and the “Wages of Fear” cassette.



How did a Winner t-shirt end up in a novelty rap video? We explain the connection between Numero and @KAPTNofficial
March 29, 2013, 12:38 pm
Filed under: Codeine, Methodology | Tags: , ,

This morning, Interscope Island recording artist Kaptn released a video for his single “Juice.” If you’ve got five minutes, a hankering for watching a girl with a tongue ring getting “juiced,” and want to play a game of “Where’s Miley Cyruss?,” press play:

Somewhere around the one minute mark, look out for a kid wearing a “Winner” t-shirt—the bonus item we made available to those who pre-ordered the deluxe version of Codeine: When I See The Sun, which wholesale jacks Sub Pop’s infamous “Loser” t-shirt design .

Screen Shot 2013-03-29 at 10.41.21 AM

Screen Shot 2013-03-29 at 10.38.07 AMThat young buck in the sharp black tee is none other than Daniel “Mario” Ross, who has been camped out in Rob Sevier’s office the last year facilitating, and creating, the chaos that is the Numero office. How is Danny in this absurd video shot in the Hollywood Hills? His brother is none other than model-turned-novelty rapper Kaptn. You could not find two brothers who look any less alike, but Danny assures us that they are indeed related.

We have arrived.

Codeine: What About The Lonely
January 7, 2013, 10:19 am
Filed under: Codeine, Newsworthy, Record Store Day


Following in the snow tracks of When I See The Sun, our massive, near-complete Codeine overview, comes What About The Lonely, an eight song LP recorded at the group’s live zenith. Captured direct from the mixing board at a stop on Codeine’s November 1993 swing through the Midwest opening for Mazzy Star,  the album finds the trio of Stephen Immerwahr, John Engle, and Doug Scharin running through their hits at Chicago’s notorious Lounge Ax for a crowd of chatty 120 Minutes fans. Gastr Del Sol’s David Grubbs joins for two songs on guitar, slinking on and off the two foot stage with little fanfare, but leaving an indelible mark on the performance.

Constructed for Record Store Day 2013, What About The Lonely will be issued as a one-time pressing of 2000 150 gram LPs.

Numero: The Year In Review

While the rest of the world polls minor celebrities and hipster-douchebag record label owners, we quietly sent out an email last week to our staff asking them to rank their top ten Numero releases for 2012. The surprising results are as follows:


10. Circuit Rider: S/T

Close your eyes and Imagine The Doors backing The Prophet Omega. Now open them upon a picture of Thorn Oehrig, the mind and voice behind Circuit Rider. The first thing that may pop to mind is “student council president.” He’s white, well-groomed and lacks the requisite thousand yard stare of a paranoid outlaw on the lam. And yet the music contained here is so defiled that you can imagine that if he did hold the power seat in high school, it brought forth his inner cult leader, biker gang honcho, and 19th Century sharecropper. Power driven by powerlessness; John Brown. Oerig’s vision is like civil war re-enactment applied to the sixties underground, sounding more like a field recording from the remnants of an Appalachian slave clan moved to the cheap side of Laurel Canyon than a perilously corralled Paul Rothchild production of drunken film students holed up in Morrison Hotel. Thoughout it all, it’s obvious that the guy isn’t kidding. He has been transformed. Beware. It’s contagious.—Tom Lunt


09. Shirley Ann Lee: Songs Of Light

Back in the spring of 2006, Ken Shipley, Rob Sevier and I holed up in a downtown Chicago studio and transferred a myriad of tapes from Ecorse, Michigan’s Revival Records label. At the time it was the biggest excavation that Numero had ever encountered. After listening to over 150 tapes and thousands of songs that year, we produced a remarkable compilation and created a new series with Local Customs: Downriver Revival.  By far the star of this release was Shirley Ann Lee, the gospel singer from Toledo, Ohio.  There were more tapes in the Revival cache of Shirley Ann Lee than any other artist that Felton Williams recorded at his home studio…and for good reason. Her voice is like none other that I have ever heard before. At times she sounds like a constant contradiction: raw and poetic, bitter and sweet, sinful and sacred.  After years of listening to hundreds of tracks by her, we were proud to present Shirley Ann Lee: Songs of Light in 2012 (the 3rd album in our Numerophon series).  It is comprised of 16 exceptional tracks that are both experimental, evocative, and forthright in their own special ways.—Michael Slaboch


08. Buttons: From Champaign To Chicago

Part A: On Facebook, re: Julian Leal’s “Get Away,” my brother Neal wrote: “Our mission is to make everybody like this song, if it’s the last thing we do.”

Part B: “Get Away” isn’t even my go-to track on this. It’s still Tom Orsi’s “Where Are You Now,” as power pop as that may not be.

Part C: Pro Packaging Personalization: Take your 2LP gatefold and put it in a plastic LP sleeve. Then select your favorite of the Buttons 7×7 artist promo slicks and put it in the front within the smaller plastic sleeve they all came in (I’m currently using The Names, for example). Next, position your slicks sleeve at bottom left, inside your Buttons LP sleeve, so that it decorates a corner of the Buttons front cover, partially obscuring Ken’s shirt-and-vest getup (but not the yellow Illinois lapel button) and allowing you, the obsessed owner, to tell the world which Buttons track is currently owning every synapse of your power pop neural network. —Judson Picco


07. Codeine: When I See The Sun

When the idea of taking a run at the ’90s first came up, the Numero office found itself at something of an ideological crossroads. Discussions about “catalog purity” gave way to arguments about our label’s scope, mission, and vision. Terms like “post-songwriting” were thrown out and thoughts of yet another label were pondered. Eventually we realized Numero was more like software, something that could be applied to anything with positive results. We’ve made DVDs, covered salsa, and soon will make our first foray into hard rock. If we couldn’t handle a sleepy early-’90s group from Manhattan, how could we expect to ever really chase our personal muses?

I’ll be the first to admit that Codeine was a passion project for me. I’d loved the band since high school, sneaking out to see them in Petaluma, California, on their last tour. Their three record arc remains a shining example of what happens when a band quits while they’re ahead. The idea of reissuing their smallish catalog came to me upon discovering that our one-time sales maven JR Robinson had made a record with former Codeine drummer Chris Brokaw. A few months later, Chris was sitting in my office. A few weeks later I was on the phone with Jon and Stephen. Then Sub Pop. A personal journey was completed in a matter of weeks, as I went from fan to piece of a complex puzzle. I was no longer just a proud owner of a Loser t-shirt, I was in the process of turning the Sub Pop logo on its head.

The unique packaging concept began with a question from Rob Sevier: Why can’t bonus CDs slide out of a little pocket in the same fashion an LP does? Henry Owings took that question, and, with the help of Jeff Kleinsmith’s original art, reinvented Codeine’s classic trilogy of records for a new generation. Judson Picco and myself spent weeks drafting and redrafting the liner notes, pulling on every thread until we were satisfied we’d told all the story there was to tell. Jeff Lipton grabbed victory from the jaws of DAT failure, rescuing a great many crunchy tracks over the process of remastering the 6LP/3CD set. The result feels like a Numero record, but has a distinct out of house flavor. Not quite a “Group” effort, but a Herculean one nonetheless.—Ken Shipley


06. Love Apple: S/T

Love Apple may be this year’s best kept secret. A single LP in Kraft paper jacket this dinghy is easily lost behind the armada of flagship releases this year.  Don’t let its modesty fool you, the Ragland produced, Boddie recorded sketches of three Cleveland sisters over a lone guitar and drums has seen heavy play in our headquarters this year.  With unique melodies that sway from elegant to eerie and sparse instrumentation this is the record MPC junkies dream of. Seriously, how has this not been sampled yet?—Nate Meiners


05. Eccentric Soul: A Red Black Green Production

In 2011, the world caught just a glimpse of D.C.’s  Robert “Jose” Williams and his studio wizardry when we released Father’s Children: Who’s Gonna Save The World. That album represented but a few tapes amongst a treasure trove of D.C. soul, including released and unreleased works by the Summits,  Skip Mahoaney & The Casuals, Promise, Dyson’s Faces, and the Exceptions. Dithering down the 30-odd tapes was no easy task, as originally this was slated to be a a four, possibly five, CD set with full albums by Dyson’s Faces, the Exceptions, Skip Mahoaney, and Father’s Children, with another disc of extras (including this femme falsetto gem). This unprecedented access to the source material gives RBG (as it’s lovingly referred to around the office) a polish and sheen not found on many other Eccentric Soul compilations. If you’re a sucker for low rider ballads, we encourage you to put your rub-off tear drop tattoo on, roll down the windows, and cruise.—Zach Myers


04. Lou Ragland: I Travel Alone

As Numero’s web specialist, I see lots of things float by our digital domain. I’m privileged (and sometimes horrified) to hear snippets of works-in-progress where I’m completely unaware of what the work actually is. That’s how I originally came across Lou Ragland. I was listening to a random swath of songs when I noticed several stand-out tracks which seemed to be related, but I wasn’t sure. These songs were tied together semi-stylistically, but what grabbed me was the warmth and depth that pervaded each and every track. When Lou Ragland: I Travel Alone landed on my desk at Numero’s New Jersey office, all was clear. I clearly need to get the fuck out of New Jersey.—Jonathan Land


03. Alfonso Lovo: La Gigantona

Had La Gigantona surfaced during my college years, it would be fossilized into the bedrock of my musical identity today. Between gravity bong hits of Lee Perry and keg stands of Herbie Hancock, Alfonso Lovo would have provided the perfect crossfade between my intensifying interests in jazz and Caribbean psychedelia.Then I would be able to reminisce with random classmates over the holidays—modern lawyers, bankers, sales reps—and they’d say, “Dude, remember how we used to listen to Alfonso Lovo ALL THE TIME?! We were obsessed with that record! I play it for my wife now and she hates it!”—Jon Kirby


02. WTNG 89.9: Solid Bronze

For those select fans still holding to the misguided notion that Numero Group is a “soul music” reissue label, 2012 must have been quite sobering.  Sure, there have been multitudes of non-soul or gospel titles on the label over the past ten years…Pisces, Lonestar Lowlands, and our two volumes of power pop via the Buttons series, but nothing could have prepared anyone for what we came up with for Record Store Day. Inspired by radio station compilations released throughout the ’70s and ’80s, the idea was to compile a sampler for our own (quasi fictitious) WTNG station; a literal “who’s that?” of a silky smooth style we lovingly refer to as “easy glide.”  After hundreds of hours of listening to potential inclusions, the eleven tracks that finally made the cut still found themselves on repeat play around the Numero office. This is the sort of record I never knew that I NEEDED in my life until it existed. I need more.—Dustin Drase


01. Eccentric Soul Omnibus

One box to rule them all. We thought many things about last year’s #1 set, the Boddie Recording Company. We thought we’d never spend longer on a project (wrong, some of this research started even before there was a Numero to release it). We thought we’d never see such a shipping nightmare in person (extraordinarily wrong, note the multiple injuries in the shipping department). And furthermore, we thought that any such project that would top last year’s #1 would surely blow its release date (on that point we were correct.) We present the 045 Eccentric Soul: Omnibus… 45 singles, 90 songs, 45,000 words of liner notes, 96,000 tears, 3 bottles of Adderall,  one nervous breakdown, all packaged lavishly in a handy classic 45 case. Now we’re really wondering how to top ourselves.—Rob Sevier

Codeine: It’s Back So Play It
November 30, 2012, 2:24 pm
Filed under: Codeine

When our intern Julia isn’t logging hours at Numero, she can be found at WHPK, University of Chicago’s radio station. What else can be found there, you ask? An original copy of Codeine’s Barely Real, tucked away in the station’s record library, complete with DJ review stickers that include one dated April 24th, 1993. After spotting the blue spine sticking out in the shelves, she snapped some photos and sent them over. See detail of review stickers below.


Apparently, this rare find must have been taken from the station by many an enthusiastic DJ, as the cover has been scuffed up and has been graffitied with the handwritten note: “CODEINE IT’S BACK SO PLAY IT.” With the success of our Codeine set (NUM 201), including its recent weekly appearance in the top-5 on the WHPK charts spanning multiple generations of collegiate listening, we couldn’t agree more.


Julia Dratel’s Sould and New show can be heard every Wednesday from 5-6PM CST.

Numero and MTV: What does it all mean?
November 1, 2012, 8:53 am
Filed under: Alfonso Lovo, Buttons, Codeine | Tags: , , , , , ,

Yesterday morning, MTV’s Hive sub-brand did a nice featurette on our little label. Rest assured it was totally out of the blue. While we don’t expect to be moving into Dial MTV‘s top 20 countdown, we have a few suggestions from the video-era if they ever get really daring.

New York’s Colors go bananas in someone’s yard and in some kind of artist loft. That painting in the background? Just an original Basquiat.

A legit MTV play, this was the third of Shoes’ four (!) videos from Present Tense.

For some reason this Speedies track was overlooked for Numero 004, but we did sell it digitally on our site for a while.

While Loose Lips’ “Kyle” is the “hit” off their lone EP, Hung Up On Pop, the track is missing from this 1981 cable access concert from Triton College. The actual Kyle isn’t missing. She’s the girl in the black and white dress dancing on stage.

From Alfonso Lovo’s follow up to La Gigantona. Whatever you do, don’t fax this guy.

Despite being made at the height of 120 Minutes, there’s no fucking way they were playing this arty shit.

We are open to hosting a classic videos night on M2 or wherever they’re broadcasting images set to music these days, just have your make up artist call our make up artist.

While you’re still reading, pick up this great book about the early days of MTV co-authored by longtime Numero supporter Rob Tannenbaum.

Codeine Speaks Part II: The Village Voice Edition
June 29, 2012, 11:56 am
Filed under: Codeine

“We told them, ‘You could put out the record as it is. Or not.’ And they said, ‘OK.'”—Stephen Immerwahr

FRom a deep Q&A with Codeine and the Village Voice. Read more. 

A message from Codeine
June 27, 2012, 7:02 am
Filed under: Codeine

Almost 22 years ago, Steve walked into our practice room on Avenue A with an armful of newly received Glitterhouse FSLPs and three cigars. About 10 minutes ago I arrived outside our practice space with a sealed Numero Group box which we have just opened. Steve brought the cigars.

Their US tour begins Friday evening in Brooklyn, and as Steve has said before, the likelihood of any kind of victory lap is nil. Dates:

06/29 – Brooklyn, NY @ Bell House
06/30 – Brighton, MA @ Brighton Music Hall
07/01 – Chicago, IL @ Lincoln Hall
07/09 – Seattle, WA @ Triple Door
07/10 – Seattle, WA @ Triple Door
07/11 – Portland, OR @ Doug Fir
07/12 – San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall
07/13 – Los Angeles, CA @ Echoplex
07/15 – New York, NY @ Le Poisson Rouge

Individual Codeine Albums Available Now Via Our Web Store

It’s been a productive day around here at Numero HQ as we moved more and more Codeine box sets out our door, while ruining the suspension of Mark’s (our mail-man and one-time Chicago House DJ) mail truck. Packing the van to the brim, we’ve been keeping up with our on-going effort toward reducing the agency’s unsustainable deficit by continuing to churn out ridiculously large box-set’s for your loyal eyes and ears.

In addition to that, we also received a shipment today of the individual deluxe edition’s of the group’s LPs that are loaded to the brim with bonus unreleased material, 16 page booklet and CD. They are available now via our web-store, here.

Lastly, the young-guns over here at the office have been busy purging themselves of their own personal trading card collections of yesteryear. While Zach’s basketball commons have been slowly funneling world-wide for the past few months, intern Danny “Mario” Ross came through today with two three-ring binders full of DC and Marvel Comics trading cards. Watch your current orders because you may find yourself a Dr. Doom or Night-Crawler hologram intertwined between some Numero goodness.

Codeine pre-orders: Shipping now
June 18, 2012, 3:39 pm
Filed under: Codeine, Methodology

This morning a tractor trailer full of Codeine arrived at our office. It ‘s all hands on deck as we get out over 700 pre-ordered copies to folks across the globe.

Gandalf watches the mountain of individual pre-orders grow. This is about 1/7th of the total.

Custom Numero boxes… where have you been all our life?

Mario packing 7″s, boxes, Numero stickers, and… Zach’s basketball commons.

Interns Jorge and Julia annihilating our custom tape supply.