Tuesday, August 30, 2016


Parlour Tricks - Broken Hearts/Bones (June 23, 2015)

Like that little black dress or tweedy sports jacket you spot in your favorite thrift store, Parlour Tricks' luscious blend of three-part vocal harmonies and songs of romantic tumult will strike you as both vintage and timeless.
Lead singer and songwriter Lily Cato, bassist and synth player Brian Kesley, drummer Terry Moore, and guitarist Angelo Spagnolo met in college and first played together on a whim when Cato decided to try her hand at songwriting. A few months later Cato asked Morgane Hollowell and Darah "DeeDee" Golub (also friends from college)  to join when she realized that nearly every song she'd written was  begging for three female voices.With influences as disparate as the Andrews Sisters and Vampire Weekend, and a stage show that incorporates matching clothing and synchronized dance moves,  making sure that everyone is having a blast both onstage and off is paramount to all six members.  Seeing as how The Village Voice named them 2014’s Best Pop Band in New York City, it seems like a mission accomplished.

Lily Cato:

I first met (Bar/None's) Mark (Lipsitz) in early December, 2014. He had reached out to the band after seeing some live videos on YouTube, and Brian and I agreed to meet him at a diner in the East Village. The meeting went well (clearly), but that's not actually what made the afternoon memorable.  Upon introducing ourselves, Mark pulled out a book called A Pickpocket's Tale by Timothy Gilfoyle. He said he'd done some research on the band and knew that my writing was often inspired by non-fiction books like this, so he thought he'd bring one and hoped I'd like it and hoped I didn't already have it; maybe it would provide me with some new ideas.  I was instantly taken aback by how different this behavior was from what we'd been used to in the music industry. Mark was just about as different as humanly possible from the "suits" we were accustomed to meeting, who would take us out to a fancy meal and maybe had heard a few songs of ours but had no idea who we actually were, nor did they seem to care. Mark, unlike anyone we'd met with, had apparently done a lot of homework and brought me a gift based on what he'd learned. I was impressed and touched by the gesture. Anyone who knows me knows that I like nothing more than a good book, especially that kind of book. We sat and talked for a few hours, and within the next two months we were signed to Bar/None with our debut album set to be released 5 months later.  I got to know Mark and Glenn much better over those next few months, of course. But that first impression set the tone for our relationship. It allowed me to immediately understand that Bar/None is the rare label that enjoys taking time to get to know their artists. They relish the opportunity to find music that excites them, and it makes them happy to discover what makes those artists tick. In an extremely and increasingly jaded and cynical industry, their approach has been a breath of fresh air. 

Oh and the book was awesome, too. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


Richard Barone - Glow (September 10, 2010)

No Bar/None artist shares as much history with owner Glenn Morrow as Richard Barone.  They were roommates when both first arrived in Hoboken in the late 70’s, and played together in “a,” which became the first band to play at Maxwell’s under its then-new owner, Steve Fallon.  Shortly thereafter, Glenn formed the Individuals and Richard went on to make Hoboken history as the lead singer of the Bongos;  it wouldn’t  be until 2010 that these old friends would team up again.

Richard Barone:  I was always envious of the fact that Glenn went on to start a label. I’ve always loved the idea of being in control of a label like that, and he does have one of the best curated labels around. That’s why they’ve been around for 30 years, because he’s so careful of what he puts out.  Most of the Glow album was produced by Tony Visconti; he and I had been writing the songs together, everything but the T-Rex cover were written by the two of us, and right in the middle of that, I ran into Glenn at the (Geri Fallo) Hoboken Christmas show at Maxwell’s. That night, Glenn said, why don’t we do an album? And I said, well, you know, I’m right in the middle of making this album with Tony Visconti, so why don’t we do that?  Once Glenn was involved, he really helped pick the songs and sequence the songs in the way that a traditional A&R person would have done in the heyday of the music industry, something that’s no longer with us. It was really nice to work with someone who knew, understood, and cared.   I sent him tracks, one by one, and he picked which ones made the album. There were songs that he didn’t want on the album, and I was okay with that.  He helped make it a better album."

Richard is currently preparing for the release of "Sorrows & Promises: Greenwich Village In The Sixties," a crowdfunded collection of songs written by folk artists including John Sebastian, Buddy Holly, Paul Simon, Janis Ian, and Fred Neill.  You can order the new album here.

Monday, August 15, 2016


Of Montreal - Cherry Peel (July 15, 1997)
Of Montreal - The Gay Parade (February 16, 1999)
Of Montreal - Horse & Elephant Eatery (April 25, 2000)

When Kevin Barnes moved to Athens, Georgia in 1996, he fell in with the Elephant 6 Collective (Elf Power, Olivia Tremor Control, Neutral Milk Hotel) and recruited Derek Almstead and Bryan Poole to flesh out the project he called Of Montreal (reportedly named after a failed romance with a woman "of Montreal.")  At first, the band wrote at home, recorded at home, and had their friends come over and play on their tapes.  When Bar/None released the group's first album Cherry Peel in 1997, Barnes wrote, "Of Montreal gives me the ability to live a more romantic life. Through my songs I add beauty and mystery and happiness and love and new landscapes and sadness and laughter to a life that's not very interesting by itself. My life is elevated to a better place through my songs. It's the same sort of thing that happens to me when I listen to someone else's music that I love or when I read Franz Kafka's stories or when looking at my brother's and Tim Roots drawings. They both contributed art to the package for my album (Cherry Peel.) Just knowing that there is a secret world inside those people too, entering that world, being inside those worlds is when I'm most happy."   

The Gay Parade followed in 1999 and in 2000, Bar/None released Horse & Elephant Eatery (No Elephants Allowed,) a compilation of bonus tracks and B sides.


CHERRY PEELINGBar/None's interns unearthed these images, believed to be alternate or unused artwork for Cherry Peel Also included is some correspondence from Kevin Barnes about the artwork.

Monday, August 8, 2016


Our last photo contest seems to have stumped everybody since we didn't receive any winning entries, but this one should be easier.  Send your answers to barnone30th@gmail.com and win a vinyl album from the Bar/None catalog!

1.) This shadowy figure is Bar/None founder Tom Prendergast hard at work at Hoboken's favorite record store in the Eighties and Nineties.  What was it called?

2.) Owner Glenn Morrow might have been the front man, but The Individuals weren't on Bar/None until the label reissued their discography in 2009.  The album was entitled Fields but what was their 10" EP called?

3.) Yo La Tengo had more bassists than Spinal Tap had drummers until they found James McNew.  Can you name the bass player in this photo from Hoboken's River City Festival, taken just before the band recorded Fakebook?  (Clue: The answer is on this blog somewhere!)

4.) The Bongos were one of the most important bands from the Hoboken music scene that spawned Bar/None, but singer/guitarist Richard Barone wouldn't actually be on the label until 2010.  What was the title of Richard's Bar/None debut? 

5.)  Bar/None has released two live sets by the late Alex Chilton, including Electricity By Candlelight in October, 2013.  In what legendary New York City nightspot was the album recorded?

Remember, send your answers to barnone30th@gmail.com and the first person with all five correct responses will win a Bar/None vinyl album from the catalog!


Bobby Olivier of NJ.com named Bar/None owner Glenn Morrow one of the "25 most influential people in New Jersey music" this week, a list that includes Bruce Springsteen, Bobby Bandeira, Vintage Vinyl owner Rob Roth, Don Giovanni Records' Joe Steinhardt, and WFMU's Brian Turner. You can see the complete list here:


Tuesday, August 2, 2016


The Paranoid Style - Rolling Disclosure (July 15, 2016)

The Paranoid Style is a special committee convened in 2012 in order to address our country's many pressing problems. The name references Dick Hofstadter's infamous essay on American politics, originally inspired by the rise of Barry Goldwater but certainly no less cogent in the era of Donald Trump. Former D.C. lobbyists and sometime rock critics  Elizabeth Nelson and Timothy Bracy (formerly of The Mendoza Line) are the primary members, joined by a cabal of like-minded musicians and conspiracy theorists.  Several self-released cassettes and digital EP's set the stage for the band's debut full-length, Rolling Disclosure, described by Spin as "doomsday anthems primed for a sock hop: Elvis Costello & the Attractions dance party, not Rage Against The Machine bullhorn."  

Elizabeth Nelson:
Last month, my band The Paranoid Style put out its first full-length long-playing record, Rolling Disclosure, on the Bar/None label. It's been a thrill ride from the gate and Glenn and Mark and Elainey have been absolutely wonderful to work with. They've never doubted my vision, my deep dependence on mood-altering substances notwithstanding. But this came as no surprise to me since Bar/None has always been my label, going on some 25 years now.

Elizabeth with her copy of TMBG's "She Was A Hotel Detective"

My relationship to Bar/None began when I was 14 years old. My parents had made the decision to send me to a performing arts summer camp with all of the other misunderstood geniuses on Long Island. A boy at camp, one of my few friends, we'll call him "Robert Camp"* often wore a They Might Be Giants t-shirt.** One day, I asked him what TMBG record I should get and he told me I should buy Lincoln.  

I have a vague (or very specific, depending on the time of day) memory of buying two cassettes at once, Lincoln and They Might Be Giants*** with my dubiously acquired disposable income. I walked home and played Lincoln on my father's hi-fi, which I emphatically was not even allowed to look at, much less fuck with. Where were my parents that day, you ask? What does it matter, it was the 80s. It was a simpler time, when we trusted our doctors and being a latchkey kid was endured with the quiet stoicism that would soon bring us grunge.

In any event, from the opening of Lincoln's first track, "Ana Ng," I was not only hooked, but after just three minutes I realized I had just heard my favorite song of all time****. And the hits just kept coming from there. "Cowtown." "Lie Still Little Bottle." "Purple Toupee." And this was just the first half of side A! I tore into the self-titled record immediately after I finished listening to Lincoln and soon heard the magnificent sentiment, "No one in the world ever gets what they want and that is beautiful. Everybody dies frustrated and sad, and that is beautiful." Worlds opened that day, sitting in my chair at the dining room table. Never before had I heard such radical and subversive things said, set to such a catchy melody.

A poster from 1994.  Note special guest "Brian Dwan"

One of the life-transforming things about They Might Be Giants is that they enticed me to start to pull on all of the threads they dropped in their songs. "The Day" sparked my interest in Phil Ochs and Marvin Gaye.  "I Hope That I Get Old Before I Die" brought me to the Who. A line in "Twisting"***** introduced me to the dB's and the Young Fresh Fellows.****** I wanted to hear the releases from the Ordinares and Brian Dewan, occasional collaborators who got credits on their liner notes. I saw NRBQ open for TMBG at a concert in Central Park and was blown away. I called Dial-A-Song almost daily*******. I wrote the Johns a fan letter (and got back some fantastic swag in return). And I sent a letter to the P.O. Box for Bar/None records because I wanted to get my hands on every possible TMBG whatever I could.

Everything was pretty much mail order back then, which was fine with me, I didn't like talking to anyone (I still don't) and I liked getting packages (I still do). I definitely ordered some stuff from Bar/None of the They Might Be Giants variety, but I also decided to branch out and buy their Time For A Change sampler, as well as some of their other releases from little known acts like Yo La Tengo (who I believe still remain obscure, but whatever). For the first time I realized that a label could be a vital cultural outpost, and the likelihood was that I was probably going to dig most things coming out of the Bar/None label. So even after TMBG left for the majors, I still wanted to hang with Bar/None.

This is an autographed photo Elizabeth received from John L and John F from TMBG after she sent a fan letter to them. There were guitar picks and stickers in the package as well.

When I started writing pop songs, They Might Be Giants had tremendous influence over my craft. Growing up, I was a little bit of a piano prodigy, but rock and roll (at least as it was presented to me through the popular culture at that time, and mostly by my metal head older brother) seemed to largely be the province of dudes playing guitars and wearing leather pants. The only real piano playing rock and roller I knew about was Billy Joel, and I'll leave it at that. So when I saw that John Linell's primary instrument was an accordion, and I heard the band using keyboards on their songs, I realized that there was plenty of space in the cultural conversation for keyboard-based instruments in rock. I also wanted to be in a band like TMBG, that wasn't afraid to say things that were maybe a little upsetting, but that didn't sacrifice the tempo and the hooks, and most importantly the jokes, in order to do so. I also learned the importance of keeping things elegant – I still haven't figured out how Flansburgh and Linell manage to accomplish so much over the course of a two-minute track, but I always work towards that goal. I listen to TMBG at least once a week just to remind myself what great songs sound like. They Might Be Giants are my heroes and I probably owe them some kind of royalty payment for everything I've stolen from them.********

So when we had a finished record this year and we were deciding what label we wanted to work with, I kind of always knew we should put it out on Bar/None. Being as next-level a music nerd as I am, I think a lot about the glorious runs of labels like Verve, Sire and Stax. Being on Bar/None on their 30th anniversary meant being a part of a tradition that includes Freedy Johnston, the Epic Soundtracks, the dB's, Yo La Tengo, and my favorite band of all time.

*No, not because I abide the Larry David school of nomenclature, that's literally the dude's name.

**The one with the cartoon Johns that said "BROOKYLYN'S AMBASSADORS OF LOVE" on the back.

***Both released on the Bar/None label.

****I have argued elsewhere that "Ana Ng" is objectively TMBG's best song, which it is. My friend Chuck Cleaver from the band Wussy and I have an ongoing argument about this – he maintains that their best song is "They'll Need A Crane," which is also on Lincoln. This is obviously a very stupid thing to argue about, because "They'll Need A Crane" is most assuredly a masterpiece, but it's not objectively the best song. If you see Chuck, please tell him he is incorrect.

*****From Flood, which was not released on the Bar/None label, but still a wonderful record.

******This is not to brag, but I have actually had the fortunate luck to work with Will Rigby from the dB's on our previous EP (not released on the Bar/None label) and with Scott McCaughey from the Young Fresh Fellows on our latest record (Rolling Disclosure, out now on the Bar/None label).

*******Free if you call from work!

********Please contact Glenn Morrow at Bar/None records for any and all delinquent remuneration.