I am a “Loser”, and proud of it.
I had the famous Sub Pop Loser t-shirt back in high school, back when Sub Pop was all the rage and putting out singles by one amazing band after another. In many ways Sub Pop provided the soundtrack to part of my high school and early college life, and while my musical tastes stagnated when the label reached out into other genres, I always had an affinity for it. So when I heard Sub Pop re-opened it’s famous Mega Mart retail store for roughly a month and a half this summer to coincide with the label’s 25th anniversary, Holly and I know we had to make the trip down to Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood to pay homage… and probably buy some records.
The store is in a cool old building… of course, pretty much everything in Georgetown fits that bill, part of a very old industrial neighborhood that was a dump for a long time, but in recent years has attracted a lot of artists, bikers, hipsters, and a bunch or great restaurants, bars, and diners. The retail space is relatively sparse, with one section for vinyl and CDs, plus tons of great shirts and other label and band swag. They also have lots of old album covers and memorabilia on display and, perhaps most cool of al, a vinyl listening lounge (shown) where you can hang out and put some tunes on the turntable. The guy working there today was great – super friendly, chatting everyone up, and totally engaged. The prices were also really good – I picked up Sub Pop 1000, records by The Thermals and Pissed Jeans, two t-shirts (including a new Loser shirt), and a new turntable mat for about $90. No complaints.
So what about Sub Pop 1000? Well, the label has put out a number of comps over the years, most notably Sub Pop 100, a used copy of which I actually saw at Easy Street Records earlier in the day with a $175 price tag on it. I wasn’t even savvy enough to buy it when it was new and available, and I doubt I’ll spend that kind of money on it today. But a new release… that’s a different story. Sub Pop 1000 was original released on Record Store Day 2013, but my first attempt to get my hands on a copy failed when I couldn’t find it at Easy Street or Silver Platters. So I went to eBay and ordered one from a seller in Florida, which the USPS promptly destroyed in transit (thanks guys – don’t mind that “Fragile – Do Not Bend” on the box). Strike two. But the Mega Mart had it, and for only $20, so I was finally able to get a copy of the marbled blue vinyl on my turntable to see what it was all about.
I didn’t recognize any of the 10 bands, so it was a total shot in the dark. The album opens with a seven minute song called “Kidult” by His Electro Blue Voice, an Italian psych punk trio worth seeking out. And that’s followed immediately by sort of an ambient techno song by Chanca Via Circuito, proving that once again the kids from Sub Pop want to mix it up as much as possible. The other standout on side A was the grindcore band Iron Lung who hit it harsh and fast on “A Victory for Polio”.
Side B was a bit more tame overall, with a sort of garage rock influenced song by Soldiers of Fortune to open, followed by some shoegaze-ish stuff from Peaking Lights. Ed Schrader’s Music Beat punks it back up a bit with “Radio Eyes”, then it slows down a bit with some techno by My Disco and closes out with the slow, dark “Doomed” by Starred, just a couple of voices and a guitar. Pretty much every song on the album is a different genre, which is great.
One quick shot out in general to Sub Pop as well – they always include a download card with their vinyl. Which is freaking awesome. I can rip a CD to iTunes no problem, but it’s a lot more work to do it with vinyl, so the free downloads are much appreciated. And, I’ll be honest here – I’m more likely to drop $20-25 on a new release if it includes a download card than if it doesn’t. I’m just sayin’.
Overall I’m pleased with Sub Pop 1000, which has a nice mix of bands and styles and gave me exposure to ten new bands, at least one or two of which (His Electro Blue Voice and Starred) I’m interested in looking into further. Keep it up Sub Pop. You Losers.