Staff Picks: April 23, 2020

Staff Picks: Daniel

This week my staff pick is not only a book, it’s a book that’s not even about punk! Yes, I spend virtually all of my time listening to and thinking about punk, but I try to squeeze in some time here and there for other pursuits. If I remember correctly, I heard the author Andrew Marantz on Marc Maron’s podcast and added Antisocial to the list of books I wanted to read. I’m not sure what prompted me to buy this rather than any of the dozens (maybe even hundreds?) of books on that list, but I’m glad I did.

Anti-Social chronicles the rise (and sort of fall) of the alt-right, a process that tech companies like Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit enabled through their utopian belief in the unequivocal good of a technologically connected world. I don’t pay much mind to online extremism, but part of what interested me about this book was that the alt-right is a subculture not unlike the one I spend so much time taking part in. While I’d like to think my subculture is more enlightened, a lot of the same stuff goes on, particularly since both subcultures are now mediated through the same technology. It’s frightening to see how malleable people are, and how quickly they can put aside their deeply held beliefs when their definitions of what is normal or acceptable shift.

Beyond the moral, political, and social lessons, Anti-Social is a great read, as Marantz focuses on a few key characters. Some of them are leaders in the movement, and some are followers, but taken together they provide a rich portrait. Further, Marantz is a dedicated enough journalist that he doesn’t portray these people as cartoon villains, but also discerning enough to say when something is fucked up. It’s so hard to find journalism that feels like truth these days, but Anti-Social feels like truth. Further, it helps me to understand how and why so much misinformation spreads, which is a useful thing to understand as some of these same people are using the same techniques to hijack the public discourse around COVID-19.

Staff Picks: Jeff

What’s up Sorry Staters?

So this week I’m (once again) going to talk about records that I’ve been constantly listening to rather than records that we actually have for sale at the store. Let me start by saying: I’ve been buying a lot of records lately! I don’t know if the isolation of quarantine has brought on boredom so extreme that I just feel a need to have something to look forward to, or if my record habit is satiating some deep-seated anxiety. Who knows?

A few of the records I’ve acquired recently are UK singles, which I always thought would be cool to have one day, but never went out of my way to track down. The main two records I wanna talk about I feel like have become real gems in my mind. Funnily enough, they’re both anarcho-punk records by bands with similar but opposite band names. I picked up a copy of In Defense of the Realm by Anti-System and man this thing is a ripper. Anti-System lyrically are a total peace punk band, but beyond a couple Flux-esque spoken word parts, I’ve always thought this EP is just a raging hardcore record. I think this record also just sounds perfect.

The other record I got is the Warfare EP by The System. Only 3 songs, and in general I feel like this a band people don’t bring up too often. Even in the scheme of anarcho-punk, I feel like The System are super underrated. I actually posted a short clip of me listening to this record on social media, and a lot of you out there seem to agree with me. The track that really stands out to me is “Their Corrupting Ways”. That haunting melodic guitar melody makes my skin crawl. It starts kind of quiet, but it’s so dynamic, because when the intensity kicks in during chorus I truly get goose bumps. Between that and reading the lyrics, which seem rather relevant, this record has been a borderline-obsessive listen over the last couple weeks.

Thanks for reading, hope y’all are all doing okay out there,

Staff Picks: Eric

Annihilated: Demo Cassette (Roach Leg) This is one of my favorite demos to come out as of late. Mean and scary hardcore punk from London. Featuring members of some of the greats like Arms Race and SHIT. More often than not when it comes to hardcore: less is more. And I think The Annihilated is a perfect example of that. I can hear some clear US hardcore influence a la Negative Approach and The Fix, but with a hair of UK82. Crank this shit LOUD!

Staff Picks: Dominic

Hey there Pop Pickers! Are you having fun with your records? Want more but need to be responsible with your stimulus check? We might have the answer for you here at Sorry State. We are going to continue to feature more of our Bargain Bin records and give you a chance to enjoy the rich pickings that normally our walk-in customers would get at the store. Watch for our flip videos and listings of titles on social media and here in the Newsletter. I am going to continue what we are calling Dom’s Digs and pull out ten titles each week that I think you might enjoy. Check last week’s newsletter for information on the first ten, some titles still available. Our Bargain Bin records are in very playable condition and for the most part in excellent shape but some may have worn covers or a couple of scuffs here and there and we will point out any major issues. Mostly though it’s a chance to score records for five bucks and under.

Okay, off we go, in no particular order;

  1. The Steve Miller Band: Sailor. A nice 70s issue copy of their 1968 record. Like Bob Seger, the hits didn’t come until later but there is a lot to like about his and Steve Miller’s early work. It might be a little patchy but there are some interesting tunes spread across their albums and I recommend you pick up cheap copies like this and investigate.
  2. Jimmy McGriff: I’ve Got A Woman. Primo Mod Organ Jazz on the great Sue label. This copy has a little wear but those old pressings sound great even with little hiss and crackle.
  3. Smokey Robinson & The Miracles: Time Out. Late 60s LP with at least four hits including Doggone Right and Baby, Baby Don’t Cry. Also has a version of Wichita Lineman which makes it worth having in my book.
  4. Various Artists: Motown Chartbusters Vol. 4. A no brainer this. You get a dozen prime era Motown hits for the cost of a cup of coffee. Collect them all.
  5. Grover Washington, Jr.: Soul Box. Kudu Records were a CTI Records label and put out a lot of cool soul jazz records in the 70s. This one from ’73 and recorded by Rudy Van Gelder is pretty funky and groovy with a side long cover of Marvin Gaye’s Trouble Man.
  6. Freddie Hubbard: Echoes Of Blue. This is a 70s combo of two earlier Hubbard albums, Backlash and High Blues Pressure and is a great way to get some key cuts from those records. Nice soulful jazz with a Latin flavor on some tracks. Minty vinyl on this copy.
  7. Booker T. & The M.G.’s: Booker T. Set. Great Stax soul and funk with some interesting covers of then current pop tunes mixed in. Cool silver cover always catches the eye.
  8. Robert Cray: Strong Persuader. I have a higher tolerance for Blues than my colleagues here at Sorry State but I kind of always liked the first few Robert Cray records. It’s pop blues but there are some good tunes and he does have chops.
  9. The Ventures: Best Of. This is an 80s, budget double LP with no bells and whistles other than being in great shape and containing 27 of their most popular and awesome surf instrumentals. Too many hits to list.
  10. Lou Reed: Coney Island Baby. Mid 70s Lou and a personal favorite of mine. This one has a cool laid back vibe for the most part and is a real grower. I highly recommend it. Not that Lou Reed needs any one to tell him how cool he is but I did pass on my admiration for this particular album to him personally when I was lucky enough to stand next to him at a show in New York some time ago.

Alright, there you have it. Ten very worthy records that you can scoop cheaply. Contact us directly to reserve titles and/or to add to an existing order.

Before I go there were a couple of tunes and records that I wanted to mention.

Firstly, someone needs to buy the Jeremy Steig: Fusion double LP on Groove Merchant that we have listed on our webstore currently. It’s a steal at $9 even with a little light wear. Such a cool record of slightly psychedelic and funky flute led jazz. The Beastie Boys famously sampled him for Sure Shot.

Lastly a tune that I have been playing on repeat recently, The Heptones: Let’s Try from their Studio One LP Sweet Talking. It’s a great uplifting political song for the young generation. Here’s a link to the extended version.

Nice up the dance.

Note: Dom's Digs are pulled from Sorry State's online bargain bin, which you can access here. Everything is still for sale unless it's been crossed out!

Staff Picks: Ava

Psuchagōgoi: Under A Green Light

Psuchagōgoi is hands down the most unique project I've come across as of late. This solo project is made by Kryptorgeist of the United Kingdom and this is the third full album. This particular album has been my go-to listen for the last few weeks, especially while hiking in this spring weather. The atmosphere created with the constant acoustic guitar playing, wind blowing through trees and leaves, many different types of birds, occasional quiet piano and vocals consistently gives me chills. Each listen to me is always very relaxing and entrancing, the melancholic ambiance this album possesses is always captivating yet somber. "An ambient acoustic portal to the forest from dawn until dusk. Recorded 2019 - 2020" (Psuchagōgoi Bandcamp Page). Released March 17, 2020.

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