Category: Not Not Fun

Permanent Records brings a little bit of the Windy City to Eagle Rock

Liz and lance copy 
When Record Store Day rolls around next April, there will be a new player in town. Permanent Records, which has been a staple of Chicago’s Ukrainian Village neighborhood since 2006, has gone west, as all young record stores should do. Although the Windy City branch remains open for business, owners Lance Barresi and Liz Tooley have relocated to Eagle Rock, where their satellite Permanent Records Los Angeles will stage its grand opening this Saturday.

The music-loving pair, who met at a show for Kansas indie band the Anniversary in 2001, held down record store jobs in Columbia, Mo., before heeding the call of self-employment. In an age of declining music sales and cheap downloads, opening an independent brick-and-mortar shop was a risky proposition, but Barresi and Tooley were running on enthusiasm and vision rather than spreadsheets and market research.

“We didn’t really approach it in a very businesslike manner,” said Barresi, taking a beer break from bin-building and record pricing at the pub a block away from his new shop. “More like, ‘We’re young and we have the energy for this right now, so we’re going to try it.’ And actually we were surprised at how well it went. We worked our butts off to carve a niche out for ourselves. We realized that as long as we picked stuff that we liked personally, even if other people weren’t sure what it was, or if it wasn’t being touted by the blogosphere or music magazines, it didn’t really seem to make a difference, as long as we could tell people what it was about.”

Relying on word of mouth and returning customers rather than advertising, they grew their business to the point where they could stop working seven days a week, hire employees, begin their own label (which boasts 27 releases to date) and launch a successful mail-order branch. By then Chicago’s winters had taken their toll, and they began casting a wandering eye at more temperate climes. A recent visit to Los Angeles led to an Eagle Rock excursion. “We went to go to dinner at Fatty’s but it was closed,” said Barresi. “So we took a little walk up the block and we stumbled across the store.”

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Twelve L.A. indie labels you should know: a primer


A consensus seems to be growing that Los Angeles is in the midst of a renaissance for independent music. In a recent Sunday feature, we set out to discover just how it is that while the major labels continue to suffer layoffs and severe sales losses, this city’s scrappy, savvy, taste-driven indie imprints have, in fact, been thriving. As a corollary to that, we’ve spoken to and profiled 12 of L.A.’s most active young labels, from artist-owned black metal powerhouse Southern Lord to chart-climbing indie rock outlet Danger Bird to progressive hip-hop imprint Anticon. Here’s hoping they’ll all end up in a GZA song some day.

Sargent House (Echo Park)
Longtime talent manager Cathy Pellow started Sargent House in 2006 with one artist: Seal Beach prog-punk band Rx Bandits, who were ready to call it quits after selling around 150,000 records through MCA/Geffen and, according to Pellow, "never seeing a penny." Today, her stable comprises "a middle class of awesome musicians," also proggily inclined, able to live off their earnings. She also manages a sister label co-run by the Mars Volta’s Omar Rodriguez Lopez.

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In L.A., cassette culture is in fast-forward

Home_taping_is_killing_music In Sunday's Calendar, I trawled through the corners of Los Angeles' music scene that's still actively recording and releasing albums on glorious...tape. From the garage-rock scrim of Fullerton's Burger Records to the blissy psychedelia of Eagle Rock's Not Not Fun; to Frosty and matthewdavid's all-cassette DJ night at Hyperion Tavern and a grateful but skeptical Pasadena manufacturer, it's a boomlet on the genre margins that nonetheless is giving an old, reviled medium some new cache and a way for fringe bands to make a permanent document of difficult sounds.

As Amanda Brown of Not Not Fun put it -- "Some friends of ours said they were starting a new project that sounded like outsider dinner jazz called Low Light Situations, and we were like 'Great! Why not put this out on tape?'." Read the whole thing here.

-- August Brown



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