When Radio K put out its latest (and probably greatest) "Stuck on AM" compilation this spring in a cassette-only physical format, Steve Rosborough took it as another sign his little record label is making an impact on the Twin Cities music scene.
"I like to think I was responsible for that at least in a small way," said Rosborough, whose M.O. for the past two years has been issuing cassettes by some of the more psychedelic and experimental local bands of note. Yes, the same kind of plastic cassettes you could buy at Montgomery Wards in 1984, the kind that warped if you left them in your parents' Dodge Omni.
The label's way-indie tape operation -- I'd say "too indie" -- has served Rosborough well for two years, but Moon Glyph is thankfully no longer a cassette-only operation. More and more, the label is issuing its wild grab bag of music on vinyl, including the latest haze-pop album by flagship band Velvet Davenport and a new 7-inch by Buffalo Moon. Rosborough also put out the well-received local freakout compilation "Regolith, Vol. 1" last fall as both a vinyl and a download, featuring the aforementioned bands, plus Daughters of the Sun, Vampire Hands, the Blind Shake and Skoal Kodiak (highly recommended).
Moon Glyph is no longer a strictly Minnesota operation, either. A new cassette by Steve Moore of the Pittsburgh band Zombi is the label's fastest-selling product to date (meaning he got 40 orders in the first two days). There are also efforts in the works by acts from Australia, Paris and even Wisconsin (a Madison band called Dead Luke).
Next month, Rosborough will take his bedroom-music empire to the hub of bedroom-music empires: the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago, where he will have a merch stand. To add to the momentum, he is hosting a label showcase Saturday at the 7th Street Entry featuring five of his roster's regulars.
"Considering the relative esoteric value of what I'm doing, I've been pleasantly surprised by how stable it has been," said Rosborough, 25, a native of Peoria, Ill., who also works at the Electric Fetus. He sells his tapes there as well as other local shops including Yeti and Treehouse, plus he does a lot of business via www.MoonGlyph.com.
While cassettes are more cultish and harder to sell than other music formats, Rosborough said they're a lot easier to turn a profit on. Manufacturing 500 tapes costs about $650, he said, while 500 copies of a vinyl release is usually more than $2,500. Thus, most of Moon Glyph's cassettes sell for a mere $5. Said Rosborough, "Everyone here prefers vinyl because of the audio quality, but cassettes are nice for up-and-coming bands just getting started, or for more established bands to do something more experimental."
Saturday's lineup features a good cross-section of those experimenters: There's the hypnotic electronic trio Food Pyramid, a band I think every local music fan should experience at least once; Velvet Davenport, which leans toward druggy '60s sounds but also has surprisingly poppy and catchy songs; Buffalo Moon and its fun, campy acid-lounge sound; newcomers Larry Wish & His Guys, whom Rosborough described as "a little Residents-esque, with a lot of very off-kilter piano playing," plus ambient tape-looper Camden.
"I think all the acts I work with are connected by a similar aesthetic, but I don't know what it is or how I would describe it," he said.
Really, that's the connection: Being hard to describe. Kudos to Moon Glyph for at least making their music easier to find.Random mix
Those dastardly garage-rockers the F--- Knights are a week into their monthlong Tuesday residency at the Turf Club. Next week's gig (free, 10 p.m.) marks the release of "Puke Review," a new six-song EP that -- maybe another sign of Moon Glyph's influence -- is available on cassette. ...
Before their big slot at the Uptown Pride Party on June 24, the scene's prettiest-voiced mohawked singer, Angie Oase, and her harmonica-equipped band Pennyroyal are issuing their full-length debut "Sad Face/Glad Face" with a release party Friday at the 331 Club with the Rank Strangers (9 p.m., free). The 11-song set charmingly captures her Neko Case-like crooning over a collage of styles, including rollicking Americana and powerful, moody punk -- part Patsy Cline and part Patti Smith. ... Cloud Cult is coming back from its illness-imposed hiatus with an ambitious local show June 29 at Orchestra Hall. Yeah, that Orchestra Hall. ...
The music-centric Sound Unseen film series is heading up to Duluth this weekend for a mini-fest that includes the Replacements fan flick plus documentaries on Willie Nelson and Morphine; the latter also screens Wednesday at the Trylon in Minneapolis. Details at SoundUnseen.com. ... Walker Art Center's Movies & Music series this summer in Loring Park will have a "voyeurism"-themed movie lineup, kicking off Aug. 1 with Hitchcock's "Rear Window" and music by Haley Bonar. Also performing are No Bird Sing (Aug. 8), Buffalo Moon (Aug. 15) and Dark Dark Dark (Aug. 22), which will perform its own score to Fritz Lang's silent "Spies." ...
Summer's longest and probably best outdoor concert series, the Thursday night Music in Mears shows in St. Paul's Lowertown, kicked off this past week and continues with Hookers & Blow and Matthew Inkala next Thursday (6-9 p.m., free). Look for the Twilight Hours, Heiruspecs, We Became Actors, Joe Ryan & the Inks, the Tex Pistols as well as Dark Dark Dark and Bonar through late August. Lowertown is much more navigable than it was during last summer's light-rail construction. ... University Avenue, on the other hand, is a total mess, and parking nearby is challenging. Keep that in mind if you're headed to the Turf Club or Big V's -- but do still head there. No doubt it's going to be a rough summer for them.
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