A Brief Message About Touch & Go Records

February 18, 2009

I awoke this morning to a scrumptious egg and cheese sandwich from a local eatery. It wasn’t the best breakfast combo I’ve ever had, but it was still satisfying. This place, in Echo Park, they use natural eggs (awesome!) but microwave them instead of frying them (not awesome!). They also mix in salt, pepper, and a dash of milk to help fluff the eggs (awesome!) but continue by mixing in an entire sugar packet (not awesome!). I’m not sure where that tradition comes from, but if anybody out there knows, feel free to let me know a) who started it? and b) what its intended purpose?

At home, while eating my sandwich, Ian sent me an IM about Touch & Go Records. According to an article in Time Out NY, they’re killing off their distribution branch, and they’re going to put a momentary hold on issuing new releases. I guess their plan is to focus on reissuing their back catalog, a process that began recently with reissues of Killdozer and Brainiac records. I for one am not surprised by this news. I wouldn’t say I’m happy that the label is failing, but they’ve certainly fallen out of my good graces in recent years. The bands they have been pushing lately are, in my opinion, horrible. CocoRosie, Supersystem, !!!, Pinback, Ted Leo, TV On The Radio…I take pleasure in listening to none of those artists. In fact I’ll even go so far as to say I loathe CocoRosie and !!!. Other than the Shellac record that came out in 2007, the last new Touch & Go release that I purchased was Nina Nastasia’s Run To Ruin in 2003. I received Dirty Three’s Cinder, Silkworm’s It’ll Be Cool, and The New Year’s The End Is Near when I was writing for ‘zines and school papers in college, so those don’t count. Shit, I haven’t even purchased The New Year’s most recent album yet.

That said, it does pain me slightly to see a label I so admired for so long struggle financially. Then again, part of me wonders if their desire to become a “major indie” label like Matador or Sub Pop was what led to their ruin, and if so, well…karma is a bitch. Naturally, any hint of sadness or remorse I might ordinarily feel upon hearing bad news about a favored record label has been completely shattered in the wake of that whole “take our music off your blog or we’ll sue you” incident, which occurred in July of 2008. You know, the day I lost my faith in the music business? Again?

I guess what I’m saying is, I’m really conflicted about this news! Should I say, “Good for them! They deserve it, the sell-out bastards!” Or should say, “Oh my God this is horrible!” as I cry-plus-masturbate all over my Man Or Astro-Man? records? Decisions…decisions…somewhere in this world, people are making decisions. Not me though, I’m 25 and I work in retail!

In conclusion (is how I’ll begin this paragraph if you don’t mind), if it takes a few years for me to see another Shellac record, oh well — I’ve already waited seven years once! I just hope that this reformation/reorganization process reminds the folks at Touch & Go that what brought them all the notoriety and acclaim they’ve received through the years from little guys like myself, was their scary-strict adherence to the DIY or “original indie” ethic. In the early ’80s when they were putting out 7″s by the Necros or Blight or whomever, I’m sure Corey Rusk didn’t dream of managing a powerful and renowned label, the kind whom, upon learning that a small-potatos blogger like myself was offering a super-limited, self-released Calexico live album for download would have its PUBLIC RELATIONS DEPARTMENT respond with bared teeth and a war cry of “We will crush you for stealing our intellectual property even though our very existence is indebted to underground ‘zines and cassette tapes that our friends dubbed for us!”

Whatever. I guess I just can’t find a way to care about this news story.

If they fail as a label and never release another new record, at least we’ll always have the self-titled For Carnation record, one of the ten best records of the aughts! One of my 50 favorite records of all time! I think that’s the last record I heard that was so amazing it made me want to play music for the rest of my life.


  1. |

    You’re five years younger than me/I/myself/whatever? Why didn’t you ever say so?…would have bought you a lolly pop.
    How the hell does one pronounce !!!, by the way.

  2. anon

    “Chik Chik Chik” is the most common pronunciation for !!!, although the name may be pronounced as any repetitive sound in triplicate, e.g. “Pow Pow Pow” or ” Gak Gak Gak” or “Sac Sac Sac.”

  3. |

    Awww, I love !!! and Ted Leo. The rest I could go without.

  4. |

    Hah– when I heard the news about Touch and Go, I had the same reaction, and thought of you immediately.

  5. mmw

    I’m old enough that I remember T&G for new Big Black and Jesus Lizard releases, so what I have to say is probably irrelevant, but the real problem is the distribution, which a lot of good labels availed themselves of to get started.

    I guess the internets is the distributor now, so it doesn’t matter — for us — but on the other hand I can understand why you make them nervous/litigious.

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