Tuesday, September 13, 2016


Burnside Project -Networks Circuits Streams Harmonies (January 21, 2003)
Burnside Project - The Finest Example Is You (October 15, 2005)
Burnside Project - Syntax And Semantics (September 9, 2016)

Richard Jankovich's self-released, self-titled Burnside Project album announced the arrival of this New York City-based electro-pop outift in 2000, and Bar/None followed up with the release of Networks Circuits Streams Harmonies (with the band now expanded to include Gerald Hammill) in 2003. Spin raved that the band's "desperate, skittering tracks" constituted "dance music for people who approach the dance floor with great trepidation;" Seattle's KEXP spun the album on heavy rotation; and the single "Cue The Pulse To Begin" became the theme song for the television's edgy "Queer As Folk" and a Top 10 radio hit in Japan.   The future looked bright, but then, somehow, everything fell apart. The group's follow up album, Syntax And Semantics, fell into a black hole, never to be heard until Bar/None released it as a free digital download in September, 2016.   Burnside Project did regroup for a third album, The Finest Example Is You, which Bar/None released in 2008  ("Its surging synth-based arrangements fall somewhere between the pop-friendly sound of the Postal Service and the brooding atmosphere of the Faint." - CD Universe.)  But the group's moment had passed.

Download Syntax And Semantics here

Read Burnside Project's interview on PopMatters.com here

Gerald Hammill: 
From very early on, Bar/None Records has always held a special place in my heart, the New Jersey-based label being the gateway for me into the independent music world. In 1986, the same year that Bar/None put out its first handful of releases, a teenaged me began digging deeper into left-of-the-dial sounds. Sure, I’d already been buying records by crossover punk and new wave artists like the Clash, the Cure, and the Psychedelic Furs for a few years. Yet the first time I heard They Might Be Giants’ quirky, catchy “Don’t Let’s Start” played on my hometown’s beloved community radio station (Tampa Bay’s WMNF), my musical trajectory shifted. Unlike commercial rock, there was this indescribable intimacy, and that same feeling extended beyond the band. I remember taking the album home from the record store and staring at the Bar/None logo on the back cover while I listened – there was just something no-frills yet wonderfully homegrown looking about it that drew me in. I began picking up LPs and CDs by the likes of Glass Eye, Freedy Johnston, and Yo La Tengo just by the simple merit of seeing that Bar/None imprint. The door had been opened to a whole new universe of eclectic sounds, and soon I was exploring releases on other indie labels as well – from Homestead to Touch and Go, to 4AD to Creation Records.

Fast forward to 1992 when good friend Julian Koster (future Music Tapes and Neutral Milk Hotel member) shared the exciting news that Bar/None was going to release his debut Chocolate USA album – a record in which I had contributed guitar on a few tracks when he was recording it in Florida. The label indeed was the perfect fit for Julian’s wide-eyed surrealist pop, and I was personally thrilled to have my name (listed here as Gerry “Fengers” Hammill) in the credits of an actual Bar/None release. A year later, Julian would introduce me to label owner Glenn Morrow at a Freedy Johnston showcase at Austin’s SXSW music festival, and I remember thinking at the time that I had just met independent music’s equivalent of Ahmet Ertegun.

Having played in bands since I was a teenager, I finally picked up from Florida and moved to NYC in 2000 with the hopes of being a part of a bigger music scene. I blew through most of my meager savings pretty quickly on shows, but made many great friendships and experiences. Joy Zipper’s Tabitha and Vinny were two such people and coincidentally, their album had just come out on Bar/None. The same would be said for the Mendoza Line. It was also during this time that I became close friends with Richard Jankovich (a former Bar/None intern and longtime fan of the label as well), who would invite me over to his Hoboken recording studio to collaborate with him on Burnside Project’s soon-to-be-named The Networks, the Circuits, the Streams, the Harmonies. The demos would catch the ear of none other than Glenn Morrow; it’s funny how the universe works sometimes.

With the studio just blocks away from the Bar/None office, Glenn would come by after work from time to time to check on the album’s progress, offer us creative advice, and even lay down a guitar track or two. That said, on one such visit, and this is a few years after The Networks (during sessions for Syntax and Semantics), he stopped by while we were discussing a song’s vocal take. Glenn felt the melody was too sleepy and in trying to demonstrate a more passionate direction, caught us all of guard by letting out a guttural wail that you just couldn’t imagine coming out of his lungs. It sounded like the Cure’s Robert Smith, if possessed by a demon. Band member Paul Searing’s swig of beer ended up splashed across his keyboard and I think Richard almost fell out of his chair. We’ve always jokingly referred to this as the only bad advice Glenn ever gave us, and we love him dearly for it.

Aside from our just-released “lost album," Syntax and Semantics, Burnside Project has been inactive for 10 years now, but we all still keep in touch with Glenn. His friendship and influence continues to be invaluable. It goes without saying that it’s been such an honor to be a part of Bar/None’s amazing family of artists and staff, and the label remains as wonderfully eclectic and yes, intimate as ever. Happy 30th, Bar/None, and thank you, Glenn!

-Gerald Hammill (Burnside Project)

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