Tuesday, January 21, 2014

New Stargrazer Single!


The Atavists, originally recorded last year for GTG Recordings' "It's Fine" compilation, reappears in a shiny new sonic coat here.  Lovingly mastered by Nathan Allen at Last Drop Mastering in San Francisco, CA, The Atavists is available as a free/pay-what-you-will download for your aural enjoyment.

Monday, December 9, 2013

A Stocking Stuffer from ITAV!

Comprised of irreverent and/or skewed "Christmas" songs recorded over the last 5 years for various installments of the Bermuda Snohawk holiday music compilations put out annually by GTG Records and Bermuda Mohawk Productions, The Christmas Past E.P. collects Stargrazer's entries into the holiday music genre.

(A genre Stargrazer helmsman Peter Richards -- me! -- has variously described as "bloodless," "insipid," and "craven."  So, yeah, not a big fan of most commercial Christmas songs.  Though I will take a moment to say that The Pogues' "Fairytale Of New York" is the best one ever!)

From earnest psych-folk to Santaphobia to a dissection of mechanical recording rights to a (possibly ill-advised) foray into roots reggae, this 4-song grab-bag is a blend of home recording shenanigans and more professional studio environments with actual engineers and more sophisticated arrangements.  Musical in-jokes and questionable tastefulness abound.

Here is a FREE DOWNLOAD of the Christmas Past E.P. for all your holiday music hatin' needs.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

It's Here! 3-Way Singles Club Volume 21!

Click on the pic to get the goods! FREE DOWNLOAD today!

Hello once again, and thank you for joining us for this 21st edition of ITAV's long-running 3-Way Singles Club! We try to have lots of firsts, so here are a few: first and foremost, Vol. 21 represents the first project -- ever -- in ITAV's catalog to have originated entirely outside of the Great Lakes State!

Secondly, we are quite pleased to release the debut single from '78 Camaro, the latest project of Phil Avalos, whose guitars and songwriting have graced many past projects like The Quiet Lanes (who appeared on our first ever release, the out-of-print First Hand Accounts compilation), Sometimes Seven, and Jet Lag Superstar (who graced Vol. 5 of the 3WSC). '78 Camaro continues a long thread of "classic" indie rock in Avalos' musical career, that hackneyed term referring to the joyful DIY years of labels like Merge and Touch And Go, whose inspiration can be directly credited for what ITAV tries to do.

We're also pretty excited to showcase Drum Kit, a band fronted by former Michigander Aaron Nemec (whose former nomme de plume "Animal" also had a track on First Hand Accounts). Here, Drum Kit delivers the clattering bedroom rock of "When All Your Weed Is Gone," a song whose detail is belied by a lo-fi approach. It's so good to travel full circle with musicians like Aaron and Phil, to check in on what they're doing currently and to fill your ear-holes with their distinctive brands of din.

Phil, in fact, introduced us to The Lost Ambitions, who make their first appearance on an ITAV release here -- the third and final first represented by Vol. 21 -- and we couldn't be more pleased to make their acquaintance and deliver the fabulous "Little Lies" directly to you.

Thank you so much for listening, and stay tuned to here for upcoming news and our next moves! Don't hesitate to share links to these songs, music is for hearing!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

October 2nd Release Date for 3-Way Singles Club Volume 21!

This is a public service announcement to let you know: 3-Way Singles Club Volume 21 will be released on Tuesday, October 2!  Featuring an all-Hoosier cast, Vol. 21 marks the first time that an ITAV release hasn't had at least one Michigan artist on it (although we claim Drum Kit's Aaron Nemec as a Michigander... so there!)

Brand new glorious tracks from The Lost Ambitions, Drum Kit, and '78 Camaro!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

3-Way Singles Club Vol. 20 Released Today!

One of three 3-artist singles vying for release this summer, Volume 20 gathers together some of my oldest musical friends in one place!

[ click the pic to be transported directly there ]

Sam Corbin, whose song "Election Day" exhorts us to civic duty even while it underscores the corruptions and negligence that can frustrate us into complacency, also had the closing track on It Takes A Village's first-ever release, the 20-song CD-only compilation "First Hand Accounts, Theories, And Their Repercussions," which was released in 2006 (ltd. ed. of 1,000, sold out, sorry!).  Since then he's gigged and played consistently, dived deeper into Americana with his fantastic "Michigan Waltz" album, and gotten married.  I met Sam through my friend Daryl Dizon, who brought him by so I could do a little layout help on his first album and we've worked together periodically ever since.  Once again, he provides the musical punctuation mark with some elegant fingerpicking and a message that stays true.

By the way, TODAY August 6 IS AN ELECTION DAY, local stuff (the important stuff!) -- go vote!

Joshua Davis, whose solo career has blossomed alongside a longstanding engagement as the guitarist/singer of Lansing-based Steppin' In It, has released three albums worth of original material, including his latest "A Miracle Of Birds," which was written in Palestine during a long visit while he immersed himself in music and the challenges of helping forge peace in the region.  I have many memories with Josh, but here are a two of them:  1) The night of my graduation from college, I threw a party at my house and invited Steppin' In It to come play. They had a paying gig somewhere, so they let me know it was an outside chance.  The party wound down as it got dark outside and I assumed that their gig had run late or they were too tired to come... but I was wrong! About midnight the band set up in my side yard, with founding fiddle player Jonathan Price still along with them.  Bassist Dominic John (currently in Jack White's band) steadied his upright on a tree-ringed slice of wood.  Due to the late hour and the mixed nature of my neighborhood, they played the quietest set I've ever seen them play, mellow and magic.  2) It came time for my wife and I to move, somewhat suddenly and unexpectedly, from our apartment. We were not really financially prepared for it, and had lots of artwork and other stuff to deal with, so the Toyota we shared was not going to be adequate for all that we had to move. I called some friends, but with fuel prices rising and rising, it seemed no one owned trucks anymore! So I put out a general call for help, and Josh responded right away -- yes, we could borrow Steppin' In It's tour van, a big Econoline.  So we carefully moved all our stuff with the van AND with Josh's vintage left-handed guitars in hardshell cases still inside it, all for the price of a tank of gas.  Now Steppin' In It harmonica player/multi-instrumentalist Andy Wilson lives directly across the street from me, and I get to see that van pretty often.  Always makes me smile.

Generosity, friendship, and trust characterizes everyone represented on this Volume of the series.  I first met Carmen Paradise of The Marvins through some mutual friends, and later frequented her hair salon on Michigan Avenue.  It was great to see her and Peter Marvin (from a band called With Special Guest that practiced next to my friend Tom's house) fall in love and get married, become instructors at The School Of Rock in Detroit, and begin making music together as The Marvins.  Just this past month they pulled up their roots in Michigan and moved to Oregon, selling their house here and closing on a new one there the same day. I wish them tons of luck and happiness in their new home; but boy are we going to miss them back here.

I hope you enjoy the sounds of old friends making finely-crafted acoustic music as much as I do.  Please feel free to share these songs on your blog or social network, I think they make the ideal companions on soft summer nights!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

New 3-Way Singles In The Works!

I've just finished the artwork for an unprecedented all-Indiana 3-Way Single, featuring The Lost Ambitions, '78 Camaro, and Drum Kit.  Expect indie rock in heroic doses!

We have a few singles in production right now, each vying for which will be released first: will it be the one described above (and by the way that "river" shape started life as a photo of a lightning bolt!), or will it be the contemporary americana and folk of Sam Corbin, The Marvins, and Joshua Davis?  Then again, could it be the ear-scarring dirges of American Gothic, BerT, and So Long Naota?

It remains to be seen. Drink plenty of water and get some fresh air so you'll be in tip-top shape when the next release drops.  And thank you for joining us for this musical hike.

Regardless of who gets out of the gate first, we've got some great songs lined up and are putting the finishing touches and final polish on a great collection of summer music that spans the gulf between endearing duo folk and paint-melting noise rock. Its a unique honor to curate such an open-minded (and open-ended) series, and I look forward to unveiling each installment as it comes to fruition.  This is an artist-driven project and nothing is more satisfying than hearing the results of creativity unfettered by the usual music biz bullshit.

Of course, I take special pleasure in doing the artwork (minus some occasional great guest artists like John Praw).  In my cluttered office garret in leafy Lansing, Michigan, I collage, I color, and I daydream of you out there beyond the electrons, stumbling across a song or an artist and finding in it a new best friend.  Music is a lifelong romance.

-- Peter

Friday, June 7, 2013

New GTG Records Compilation to drop on June 11!

Featuring 14 previously unreleased songs, GTG's 2013 state-of-the-label compilation will be released digitally on Tuesday!  From San Pedro, CA pop-punk band Black Sparrow Press to Trenton, NJ's Honah Lee and Not The Bees to mid-Michigan favorites like Narc Out The Reds, The Hat Madder, Frank And Earnest, The Hunky Newcomers, Cat Midway, The Plurals, middleman, CrookedSound, and... Molly Rhythm (where are you from, Molly?), "It's Fine" also sports a layout by yours truly (retired from graphic design though I may be) featuring a lush and expressionistic photograph of the lovely... floor at the GTG House??  

That's right, the GTG practice/performance pad has a paint-spattered and scuffed floor that should be carefully removed and hung on the walls of the MOMA.  Jackson Pollock would blush. Willem de Kooning would quit!  OK, enough hyperbole about the inspirational and truly uplifting paint-encrusted worn linoleum at the fabled GTG headquarters compound, where so many bands have crafted their live sets, recorded profane Christmas songs, played gigs, stopped talking in mid-sentence, and eventually passed out.

You can invite yourself to the digital party via GTG's Facebook event or you can stay tuned here and we will be sure to link it up for you!

[ Editorial update 06/11/2013: here's the link!
http://gtgrecords.bandcamp.com/album/its-fine ]

...Oh, and that new Stargrazer track is on there too!