Announcing Fall 2017 Store-Wide Savings

You read it correctly – we’re offering store-wide savings on all titles and apparel for all three SSR catalogs! Treat yourself after dealing with family for Thanksgiving or get your holiday shopping done early. The sale runs through November 30th, so act fast before the savings are gone! Use promo code “SSR17” at checkout to receive 25% off all items*.

(Please note: Items available for pre-order will *NOT* be applicable for the 25% savings as these items are already marked down for the pre-order period)

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Austin Chronicle Review of Crack Pipes’ Beauty School

The Crack Pipes

Beauty School (Sonic Surgery)

Texas Platters

When a band known for garage rock makes its Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the results usually don’t live up to either its ambitions or its prior achievements. That’s not the case for the Crack Pipes’ Beauty School. Originally released in 2005, the third LP from the Austin quartet revels in its music nerd membership raiding their substantial record collections for inspiration beyond Sixties garage psych sampler Nuggets or blues-punk archivists Fat Possum Records. Not satisfied to simply regurgitate the signature hard-rocking sound of the latter institution, the Crack Pipes instead showcase a wide but logical diversity, expanding on its foundation with successful excursions into soul, country, and psychedelia. Given the variety of approaches documented here, the band bolsters a sonic palette beyond its guitar/bass/drums/harmonica core. Horns, guest vocals, prominent keyboards, and even, on the instrumental reprise of the title track, strings and autoharp all throw in. Despite setting off in so many directions, the album doesn’t feel like a various artists compilation. The avant-garde electronics of “East Side Injections” contrast with the James Brown funk of “Make Out Party,” yet both tracks feel cut from the same Cracked cloth. The album’s heart resides in “Q&A,” a flowering mini-epic that begins with soulful spoken social commentary before erupting into a frenzied blaze of rock & roll. Revived as a double LP set with improved artwork and a careful remaster that makes the music really sing on vinyl, this definitive edition of Beauty School is the Crack Pipes’ masterpiece.

****

Glacially Musical Review of Knife in the Water Reissue

Vinyl Review: “Plays One Sound And Others” by Knife In The Water

Plays One Sound And Others

One thing I saw in a how to PR manual was to let the recipients of your message know how many albums your band has released so that they can get an idea of how far you’ve come.

Imagine, if in 1991, you picked up a copy of Metalllica and then started moving backwards, but instead of going in reverse order, you picked up their debut, Kill ‘Em All.

Most listeners might be a bit hard pressed to see how this was the same band. From that point, Metallica veered off into some very different directions.

It’s often left out how those changes started though. The band that recorded that oft-lauded debut wasn’t the same band that wrote that album. In fact, it wasn’t even until their third album that the band in the photos and the grooves wrote and recorded the entire album.

Knife In The Water

Now, that’s not to say that those gentlemen just made it on the works of the new folks in the band. All of them continued to grow and develop as musicians.

But thinking of them recording those two albums, or any of the following.

That’s what separates the adults from the children. Only AC/DC can continue to write the same album over and over while still being huge.

This is an odd review. Not only are we talking about Knife In The Water for a second time, but this is a vinyl re-issue of their debut album. So, in the course of a couple months, we’re listening to their most current work and their first works.

It’s a common refrain that bands typically make their best album first, because it’s the album they’ve had their whole lives to write, but in this guy’s humble opinion, that’s for the lazy. It is possible to continue  making great music your whole career if you’re willing to put in the work, see Metallica.

For the record, the Metallica comparison is only apt in terms of the sounds of the music. Reproduction is not miles ahead of Plays One Sound And Others. It’s just different.

There are certainly some markers that these are the same people, but whereas the first album we reviewed of theirs was some alt-pop bordering on synth, this album is more of an Americana release. It’s safe to say that they grew and changed into another animal entirely.

It’s hard to say which one is better than the other. They are both brilliant records full of slow, methodical ballads. Music is rarely described as methodical, but in this case it fits like a glove.

Knife In The Water can never be described as playing too many notes. If anything, they might be leaving a couple out here and there. This sort of mindset gives every single note a greater significance. Instead of giant chords, we get slow arpeggios. Instead of powerful vocal runs, we get subdued emotional pieces.

Moving back to the first point, this album even sounds like it was written by two different bands, or a band in transition. The first side features swirling Hammond Organs and the second side is a very minimalist piece of music.

I’m a bit loath to call it, or liken it to pop, but there aren’t any other markers that come to mind. It’s certainly not rock, metal, rap, or country, but there are some country conventions here and there.

On a day when I’m feeling a bit hungover, this was the perfect record to listen to. Mellow and morose. It’s making it a bit harder to say goodbye to my family for the trip I have to take next week.

Release: Out Now
Genre: Americana
Label: Sonic Surgery Records (Super Secret Records subsidiary)
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Crack Pipes Interviewed in Glide Magazine

AUSTIN LEGENDS THE CRACK PIPES REISSUE PUNK-BLUES CLASSIC ‘BEAUTY SCHOOL’ (ALBUM PREMIERE/INTERVIEW)

In 2005 Austin, Texas was a vastly different place than it is today. Though the hipster thing was in full swing, the city was still mostly a college town whose coolness wasn’t widely known. You could still find slackers and hippies hanging out in laid back dive bars, and cheap rent still existed, meaning musicians could get by without a day job. Out of this environment came The Crack Pipes.

With their volatile mix of blues, soul, garage rock, psych and punk, The Crack Pipes were a quintessentially Austin band – the kind best enjoyed in a sweaty bar after one too many Lone Star beers. They were also the kind of band that didn’t nurse lofty ambitions to become a huge national act, content to get local gigs and enjoy the good times that came from playing rock and roll. To my knowledge, the band never actually broke up but eventually played fewer gigs and stopped making albums as the band members moved on to other projects or got day jobs.

The crowning achievement of The Crack Pipes was their 2005 album Beauty School, which finds the band in peak form as they unleash a collection of 13 raucous tracks brimming with funk, soul, and bluesy punk. Compared to the band’s previous album, Beauty School was perhaps their most fully realized and polished, no small feat for a band that had always flown fast and loose. At times the album is heavy, fast, and beautifully unhinged as vocalist Ray Colgan howls his ass off over snappy brass tracks and wild guitar. The songs feature themes of hardship, injustice, beauty, love and optimism, all of which feel just as relevant – for better or worse – today.

Now, twelve years later, Beauty School is being reissued on vinyl through Austin label Super Secret Records, and we’re excited to offer up an exclusive early listen ahead of the September 29th release date. Though Austin is a far cry today from 2005 with its homogenous glass condos and tech bros, Beauty School sounds stronger than ever and captures a moment in time that was truly special.

Listen to the album and read our chat with Ray Colgan of The Crack Pipes…

What made you feel like it was time to reissue this album and that the album was worthy?

We had always wanted our records to be on vinyl, but when we were originally releasing them CD’s were king. A few years back I had looked into releasing them ourselves, but it was just beyond our budget. So, this came about when John Wesley Coleman was putting out records on Super Secret Records and Richard had mentioned he was starting a sister-label called Sonic Surgery Records that was going to do reissues of albums that had only been on CD and put them out on vinyl, and Wes said, “Man, you got to put out The Crack Pipes”. And Richard brought it up to me one night and I said that sounds great, and then when I had to choose which one of our three full length albums, it seemed it should be Beauty School for two reasons. One was that I thought it was our best album, and two, it was the one that years after it came out people would say to me that they had just been listening to it. That happened a lot, so I felt that there would be some people out there looking to hear it as a real vinyl record.

Do you remember what the inspiration for the title was. Is there a story behind it?

When we started writing songs for this record, we didn’t have a lot of material that had already been worked out and played live, almost every song was written right before we went into the studio, and it got pretty frantic in the weeks leading up to our booked studio time. I had been keeping a list of song titles, often I would start with just a title and fill it out later. Beauty School was on that list, because I had a hat that said beauty school on it, and when it came time to write some words for it I thought I don’t actually want to write about real beauty schools. This was in 2004 and we were in two wars and still recovering from 9/11 and the economy was in bad shape and the news was just really bumming me out. I found myself wanting to write something hopeful instead of just pointing out all the horror and death and destruction, because that stuff is always going on and you can drown in despair if you’re not careful. So, the idea came to me, that while you don’t want to turn a blind eye to that stuff, maybe it would be positive thing if one could teach themselves or be taught to look for the beauty in the world so they can find a reason to get out of bed. And that sounded to me like a gospel song, so we kind of tried our hand at that with [the title track]..

It’s been said that the title track is based on a concept of teaching yourself beauty in a world filled with ugliness. Do you think that concept is even more important given our current social climate?

Like I said earlier, at any given time on the planet and back through the history of mankind, something horrible is happening to someone, somewhere…conversely, there are also always beautiful things happening; love, romance, children being born, kids laughing, good music, good books, films, art, people helping other people, good conversations…so much good going on. There are people who live lives never touched by tragedy or heartache (not me), but sometimes these things aren’t in balance, or a certain greater chaos erupts. Those are the times I believe you need to know how to keep your hopes up, keep moving towards a better world, you need the light the most in the dark. So, I don’t think it’s more important now, but after this last election I think there are many, many people that need some optimism, need some hope, need to know that there’s a chance that things can get better, so don’t give up and don’t forget the good times.

Given how much time has passed, do you still have the same reaction listening to this album now as you did when you made it?

It’s different, kind of, from song to song. Some of them have a real personal meaning to me (and they mean something else for each other member in the band, I’m sure), but others I might have forgotten exactly what i was thinking when we first wrote it. So, now instead of going oh, this is the song about that one thing, I might now just appreciate a cool part one of the guys is playing. One thing that hasn’t changed was that when we set out to make Beauty School I wanted it to be an album I could listen from beginning to end and not regret a single thing on it, and that hasn’t changed, for me it’s our most fully realized record.

Who were some of the acts that were inspiring you at the time when you made this album?

I can only speak for myself (Ray Colgan), but here’s a quick list of ones i can remember: Taj Mahal, The Animals, James Brown, John Lee Hooker, Oblivians, Freddy Fender, Roky Erikson, Joe Cocker, Johnnie Taylor, Biz Markie, Les McCann, Bill Withers, Jimi Hendrix, Ike & Tina Turner, The Make Up, Small Faces, The Who, Spaceman 3, The Stanley Brothers, The Golden Boys, and many more I’m sure.

Do you recall who did the bulk of the writing for this album?

We have a kind of weird way of writing, I usually come with the words and a basic structure and then get with one of the real musicians in the band. For a long time it had started to become mainly me and Billy Steve, the guitarist, and then we’d make a rough demo to take that to the whole band and then fill out the song until we thought, that’s pretty good, let’s play it live. But, for Beauty School I know we wanted to do something grander than our last two records, something more evolved, and I felt that one of the best ways to do that was to mix up the song writing process, so more of these songs were written with different members of the band…which also led us to racing against the clock to get these things done before we went into the studio, and some were still pretty raw when we laid down the basic tracks, like maybe we only practiced that version once before recording it.

Were the songs inspired by your experiences in Austin?

Yeah, the love and broken heart songs came from love and broken hearts in Austin, but some songs do maybe have more to do with the time I spent on Red River and other Slacker elements of the city. “Reflections In A Bad Light” is about someone who has partied a little too hard and is confronted in different mirrors by a reflection he doesn’t want to see. On a lighter note, “Guerrilla Haircuts” was inspired by a stylist friend of mine that gave haircuts to people at parties or at bars or all kinds of weird places, and she called those guerrilla haircuts, and I was like, that’s a term that has to get out into the lexicon!

I purchased this album at Waterloo Records when it came out and still have the CD today. I distinctly remember feeling like it was a true embodiment of the Austin music scene and lifestyle. A lot has changed since then in Austin. Do you think a band like The Crack Pipes could come around now in Austin and still resonate with the same audiences?

I’m going to say yes, because even though this city has changed so much, and our scene has changed so much, I know there are still bands out there that are up and coming out of little slacker scenes that love to rock the house party and there’s beer whipping around and people are dancing and laughing and somebody is going to break a window or the cops are going to come and shut it down. These bands love sweaty, high energy rock and roll, and then one day they’re going to write a pretty love song and stick that into their set and then they’re going to keep doing weird things and never make any money, but they’ll have done it for as long as they can and they’ll be the next link in the chain of underground, freaknik garage noise that never goes away.

Going off of the last question. Do you feel the same way about Austin as you did when this album came out considering all of the changes that have happened since then?

Again I’m going to say yes, because at the time I thought Austin had got too big too fast and it was too expensive and it was getting Dallas-fied, and now I know it’s too big and too expensive and it looks a lot more like Dallas, but I loved the city then and I still love the city now and I especially love the weirdos and lifers that populate my side of town.

Are the members of the band currently working on any projects? I read that you are working on a new Crack Pipes album. Will it be in a similar vein to Beauty School?

Me and Mike Corwin aren’t doing anything else musically, but Billy Steve is in Churchwood and around Christmas he plays in The Blitzens, keyboard player Coby Cardosa is actually one of the best drummers in town and he plays drums with The Damn Times and Attic Ted. Nick Moulos has been in a lot of different acts like Attack Formation and Total Sound Group Direct Action Committee, but currently his other band is mainly BossEye who are great – go get their debut album and treat yourself.

We are working on a new album, almost all of the songs have been written and some even played live for years now, we’re going into the studio with Chico Jones in December for a projected release in the fall of 2018. It’s going to be shorter than Beauty School and it’ll be its own thing, I can tell you there’s a lot more references to wild animals, Greek mythology, and the moon on the new one…

You can score The Crack Pipes’ Beauty School on vinyl HERE

Out Now: Crack Pipes’ Beauty School and More Eaze’s bodiezNc0de

The Crack Pipes Beauty School

Available on vinyl for the first time ever is the seminal third album from Austin’s own The Crack Pipes – Beauty School! Originally released on CD in 2005 through Emperor Jones, the album has been beautifully remastered for vinyl by original audio master engineer Jerry Tubb and given a fresh album cover. Order your copy today at the Sonic Surgery Webstore!

More Eaze bodiezNc0de

Also out today is the newest offering from experimental/electronic composer, More Eaze – bodiezNc0de! A combination of pop-oriented songwriting, process/generative compositional techniques, and careful production, bodiezNc0de melds personal lyrics to the wider musical background that creative force Marcus Rubio hails from. Available on both CD and cassette. Order your copy today at the Self Sabotage Webstore!

Austin Chronicle Premieres Q&A From The Crack Pipes

The Crack Pipes’ Beautiful Protest

Track premiere from the ATX blues punks’ vinyl reissue

Riding a uniquely punkified take on blues and soul, the Crack Pipes ruled Austin’s garage rock scene at the turn of the millennium. Given the nature of the music, vinyl seems like a natural medium, but none of the band’s four albums came out on wax. Sonic Surgery, the reissue arm of local imprint Super Secret, stepped up to do the honors for 2005’s Beauty School.

Ray Colgan leads the Crack Pipes

Beautifully packaged as a double album, complete with new and improved artwork, Beauty Schoolremains the locals’ most ambitious and varied LP.

“I think we all believe that bands slowly evolve – that it’s good to push and get out of your comfort zone,” says bandleader Ray Colgan about the Crack Pipes’ progression from raw garage rock to the album’s more expansive palette. “We wanted to do an eclectic record but have it flow, not just be all over the place. We didn’t want to do a bunch of garage rock songs.”

At the center of Beauty School sits “Q&A,” spotlighting a semi-political intro and ensuing rave-up blasting the whole tune into orbit. Colgan reveals its debt to the socially-conscious soul music of the Vietnam era.

“The ‘rap’ part is inspired by two different songs that I really like,” explains the singer and harmonica player. “‘Comment’ [1970] by Les McCann and ‘I Can’t Write Left Handed’ [1973] by Bill Withers. In late 2004, when we recorded Beauty School, it was the Bush administration, the Iraq war. At the time we were dropping bombs on Afghanistan, and I found it weird that we’re blowing up these innocent populations and somehow that’s gonna make them want American-style democracy. It’s an homage to those kind of R&B and social commentary songs.”

The second half turns to a louder, more aggressive source: Jimi Hendrix.

“Especially the Isle of Wight concert,” says Colgan. “He’s just going nuts. That’s what I asked of Billy Steve [Korpi, guitar]. I think there’s three guitar tracks.

“So the first part I consider the question: What do we think we’re accomplishing doing all this stuff? Rather than making sure people have enough food and clothing, we’re using violence to try to free them? The answer is the crazy blow-out part.

“What’s so scary is that here we are 12 years later, and it’s still completely relevant.”

The Crack Pipes play a release show for the vinyl reissue of Beauty School this Friday at the Grackle – free, 21-and-up.