on touch and go


July 10, 1997–the day I became an indie rocker?

Yesterday when I wanted to buy the Dark was the Night compilation, the big decision was weather to buy it on emusic or walk down the street to Aquarius and pick it up. (I ended up buying the CD version.)

It wasn’t always like this. There were times before the mp3 (or before we knew about it); times in suburban bubbles, far from well-stocked record stores; times when discovering music meant recommendations from friends and scouring obscure catalogs; times when I listened to one or two new albums a month rather than dozens of bands and albums and each new band had to count.

The news this week (that was later revised to be a little less severe) that Touch and Go/ Quarterstick (wikipedia) was cutting its distribution, jobs and, it seems, new signings for now (rather than forever, as initially reported) hit me really hard. I felt my heart drop.

This isn’t just some label. Touch and Go is, for me, perhaps the most important record label in my development as a music fan, only equaled by Merge. Among the first indie albums I got was Touch and Go’s Lounge Ax Relocation and Defense Fund compilation; the receipt’s above. It introduced me to bands that I later grew up on like the Archers of Loaf, Superchunk, Seam, and Rachel’s and it had great tracks by Sebadoh, Coctails and others. Seam and Rachel’s records were among my most listened to in my teen years. I’ll tell people I grew up on Chicago indie rock, but what I mean is these and other Touch and Go bands. These were bands I listened to in good times and bad, that I put on mixtapes for girls and that I emoted to friends about while they were shaping my ideas of music.

They’re bands I still go back to now both for nostalgia and for the music. Today, they’re still signing bands that I still listen to and respect: Ted Leo, the New Year, and Pinback among them.

Seam – Berlitz (mp3) (buy)

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Rachel’s – Those Pearls… (mp3) (buy)

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On a local note, two local bands Sholi and Mi Ami recently signed to the Quarterstick half of the record label. One can hope they’re not effected adversely by the change.



5 Responses to “on touch and go”

  1. Anonymous says:

    you’ve held on to the receipt for 10+ years?

  2. adrian says:

    Well, it does say “Keep this slip for reference”…

    Actually, I found it a couple years ago while cleaning out some drawers at my parents house before they moved. I scanned it at that time.

  3. To be fair, Touch and Go shut down their distribution arm, not the label itself. The effect is probably more adverse on those other labels that were using the distro service than it will be on Touch and Go itself.

  4. adrian says:

    HAD, yeah, that’s true, though it does seem they’re not going to sign anyone new for a while and it seems to be a fundamental shift in the label.

    It’s probably only going to be adverse to the smallest of those labels. Do you thing Merge is going to have a problem getting distribution from some place like ADA or SCJag? I doubt it.

    But regardless, this wasn’t as much about the current news as it was about what that news made me think about regarding this label.

  5. [...] Near the beginning of this odd obsession, I was interested in musical saws. This was before In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, before Laura Gibson toured with a saw player. The sort of people that played musical saws–at least the ones I could find–were mostly people who attempted to play classical music or popular songs on them. Then a friend told me about a band called the Coctails, so I ordered one of their albums. [...]

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