I'd like to take to a minute to reflect on the label. We quietly hit our 100th release last fall and we didn't really celebrate or talk about how much that milestone means to us.
This whole thing started as a vehicle for our band, empire! empire! (i was a lonely estate) and quickly grew into something much bigger than that as we met and played with so many talented bands we felt were not getting enough attention. It was very much an organic growth.
We started the label in 2006 and had our first official release in early 2007. We worked hard at it and pumped out incredible release after incredible until sometime in late 2015/early 2016, where we decided to take a small step back and slow down our release schedule.
Last year after some time off, we realized how special this thing was and how lucky we have been to work with such amazing artists and musicians. To that end, we started kicking things back into gear with releases from amazing bands from Overo, Singing Lungs, Mountains for Clouds, and Thank You, I’m Sorry.
Our 100th release was Anna Flyaway, an old band Cathy and I (and other friends) had recorded 15 years ago(!) and finally got mixed and mastered and gave a proper release. It wasn't so much a book-end, but another beginning- a rebirth.
To that end, I have decided to make a feature called Recount Your Lucky Stars where I go through our entire catalog in chronological order every day and post what the release was, album artwork, links to listen, and a tidbit about it. We will be starting tomorrow, so keep your peepers peepin' for that. Keep the name of the feature in mind too, because there is another project we are going to working on later this year with the same name. MAYBE WE WILL REVEAL WHAT IT IS AT THE END OF THE WRITTEN FEATURES.
Anyway, we really wanted to thank you for sticking with us all these years. To all our our bands and fans, we couldn't have done it without you. The future is bright and we are working on a new batch of releases that are going to blow you away. We can't wait to keep going, but we're also excited to talk about where we have been.
Hang in there, stay at home if you can ❤️
CYLS 001: empire! empire! (i was a lonely estate) "Year of the Rabbit"
Release date: 2/19/2008
Co-release with strictly no capital letters
Pressing Info: 50 Black Hand-Numbered Test Pressings
This was my band, my name is Keith. I run this label. My wife Cathy was also in this band and helps run the label too. This was our first "official" release (unofficial goes to Empire! Empire!'s "When the Sea Became a Giant"). It was originally going to be a split with Look Mexico, but things got complicated and we decided to just release a 7" ourselves with help of Andy form sncl. Since we already had half price for the release, we figured we might as well put it out on a "label" (I am making air quotes with my hands).
These songs were actually recorded at the same time as "What It Takes to Move Forward" and were originally going to have "Rally" and "The Next Step" but a song was too long for what we could fit on a side at the plant we got them cut. Those two songs featured our original drummer, Matt Brim, who had parted ways with us by then. The thought was keep the two songs he recorded together.
"Year of the Rabbit" was an older song (2002) from an early version of a band called Anna Flyaway (the name was later used again for a different band that became our 100th release) and the B-side was written specifically for this 7".
The A-side featured Joe Sak on drums, who was also in the first version of Anna Flyaway. He also drummed on "What Safe Means" and played a lot of shows as a fill-in drummer. He introduced me to Catan and board gaming later became a major hobby for me.
These songs were recorded in my parents' house. The drums were done whenever they left. I cleared out the living room and did as much as I could before they came home and they were none-the-wiser.
The record wasn't going to be done in time for our release show, so the pressing plant (Musicol Recording Studios) pressed 50 test pressings for us so we could get them in time. We hand-numbered all of them with many different color markers. Every copy came with a burned CD-R of the songs and a few other songs that we had planned for our next releases. One band called Brave Captain was never released. It was the first CYLS Sampler. I don't think we sold a single record at the show.
It was mixed by Alex Rose of Minus the Bear at the Piano Studio and mastered by Rick Fisher at RF/CDI in Seattle, WA.
CYLS 002: Driving On City Sidewalks "Where Angels Crowd to Listen"
Release date: 8/26/2008
Co-release with Red Plane Records
Pressing Info: 200 CDs (Out of Print)
Driving on City Sidewalks was our first non-Empire! release, which meant we were officially a label and not just using the label as a shell name for only our records.
Driving on City Sidewalks was a project fronted by our good friend and multi-instrumentalist, Barry Mielke. Darryl Silvestri also appeared on this release.
We met Barry through a classified ad in 2007 (MySpace, maybe even?) when our drummer quit (we were in a band called empire! empire! (i was a lonely estate) at the time) and we were looking for a new one. Barry was an incredible drummer, but the biggest issue is that he lived in Canada and we lived in Michigan. Sarnia's finest, folks!
At the album release for Empire! Empire!'s "When the Sea Became a Giant" (1 of 2 shows actually- some of the saddest shows you could have ever have been to, lol) in Milford, Michigan (no, you probably haven't heard of it), he surprised us by showing up to the show. He was the only person to buy our CD that day. It was the only highlight of that day, as it was our-then current bassist's 2 shows and the show he had booked (this was his hometown) ended up being a open-mic night and NOT a release show. It was a show that we released our album at, haha.
Anyway, we became friends and as Barry continued to write, he sent us demos and we quickly asked him if we could release his EP. Happy, he agreed.
"Where Angels Crowd to Listen" is actually a fancy CD-R. We got it pressed through TuneCore when they very briefly did manufacturing.
DoCS appears later on one of the CYLS 4-way splits, but their discography is honestly too small. Bug Barry about it and maybe he will send you a bunch of unreleased stuff 😉.
CYLS 003: I Am the Branch "Drink Tea EP"
Release date: 9/16/2008
Pressing Info: 200 CDs (Out of Print)
I Am the Branch started out as the solo project of Robbie Pieschke. We met via Myspace messages in either late 2006 or early 2007. After that, our bands started playing a bunch of local shows together.
At that time, Robbie was playing out as an acoustic singer/songwriter. We bonded over a love of Owen, American Football, Mineral, and Anathallo. This was an era where it was extremely rare to find anyone else into that type of thing and most of the shows we played with were grindcore and buttrock bands. Meeting Robbie was a breath of fresh air, and he was really talented to boot.
CYLS was very new at the time, and I don't think we really knew where we were going to take it. I was in the middle of recording empire! empire! (i was a lonely estate)'s "What It Takes to Move Forward" and had also recorded our previous releases, so I offered to record Robbie. It was probably a mistake, I only barely knew what I was doing, haha. I think part of the charm I felt we could offer as a label at the time was that we could record the album AND put it out. After "What It Takes..." I pretty much retired from recording anything outside of vocals or demos. This one, like all the stuff I ended up recording, was recorded at my parents' house in Fenton in between my mom's tutoring sessions.
I also offered up my services as a musician, and that was a very interesting and fun and experience. I played drums on this, as well as a song back-up vocals and bass on a song. I remember Robbie telling me he really liked the drumming in hip-hop and it really challenged me to stretch the way I wrote.
It was mixed by my pal Marc Jacob Hudson who runs Rancho Recordo in my old hometown of Fenton, Michigan. Marc recorded my band's album in high school, but has done a lot more things of note since then like Saves The Day, Taking Back Sunday, and Against Me!. He's in a band with Laura Jane Grace called Laura Jane Grace & the Devouring Mothers now, but I still think he talks about that Said the Girl recording, lol. Iconic.
I just looked up a flyer on the IATB MySpace page (yes, that's the era we were in) and saw the release show was 9/18/2008 with another CYLS album, Sirdidymous. MySpace is like a treasure trove of dead bands from the 2000s, lol/
Robbie also had a friend who was a comedian open up one of the shows we played together at the Crumbs cafe in Saginaw, and that friend is now a famous actor. His name is Paul Walter Hauser, and he's very talented. They are both from Saginaw.
Robbie is also an incredibly gifted writer, so if you are so inclined, check out his works at https://robertpieschke.weebly.com/. He and the IATB bassist Tyler also have a new musical project in the works called Cairparavel,so keep your eyes out for that.
CYLS 004: Boris Smile "Beartooth EP"
Release date: 11/18/2008
Pressing Info: 300 CDs (Out of Print)
In 2006, right after Cathy and I got married, we moved out to Long Beach, California so I could take an internship for a record label called The Militia Group. It was my first (and only!) time living outside of Michigan, so we really didn't know what to expect.
It's a very long story, but the trip got delayed because on our wedding day, Cathy got into a car crash when she was T-boned on the way back from eating lunch with her best friend at the time. Thankfully, she was ok and escaped with minor cuts and bruises and we ended up getting married that day just the same. I wrote a song about it called 'Ribbon' for the final empire! empire! (i was a lonely estate), and Free Ben Sears made into a graphic novel!
Anyway, all of the sudden, we didn't have a car so we couldn't go to California. My grandfather passed earlier around that time and had left his car to my dad, so my parents' really stepped up and gave us that car so we could still go. I wrote a song referencing that car and the trip too, lol. Thanks Mom and Dad!
The point is, when we finally did end up getting to California much later than planned, all the good job intern jobs had already been given out. They had hired too many interns that summer and all I pretty much did was add friends on MySpace for some of the bands roster and mixed the first Empire! EP. Shout out to The Jealous Sound, The Appleseed Cast, Copeland, and Denison Witmer!
Let me preface my internship with this- everyone at Militia was really nice and were good people, but It was honestly a pretty miserable time and the only real good thing that came out of it was meeting A. Wesley Chung.
Wes was also an intern at Militia, helping the PR side out. We met and bonded instantly. Cathy and I even went over to his parents' house and played Euchre (his mom was from Michigan).
He had an amazing band called Boris Smile and we went and saw them and they were very good. When we decided on actually running a record label, we really didn't know what we were doing, but we did know that we wanted to put out anything that Wes would let us put out.
This is the first of 3 Boris Smile releases, and we also put out a record from another project of his called The Great Albatross.
Boris Smile was Wesley's band, but it was more like a collective where members would sort of come and go, mostly featuring the same core group. If you look at their Wikipedia page, there is pretty impressive list of musicians on there.
I'll get into this more with the other releases, but Wes is absolutely one of my favorite singer/songwriters and everything he touches is gold. He's got a new project under his name that I already linked to, and you have to check it out. Pure gold.
Here, listen for yourself: https://fortherabbits.net/…/album-premiere-a-wesley-chung-…/
CYLS 005: Sirdidymous "Mount Your Noble Steed"
Release date: 12/2/2008
Pressing Info: 300 CDs (Out of Print)
Apple Music: https://buff.ly/2RdYStZ
CYLS website info: https://buff.ly/3dYvMbJ
When we first started a record label, we had a short list of bands we wanted to work with, and most of them were local. That's not entirely surprising- I think a lot of labels start that way. When Cathy and I started CYLS, one of our best friends from our hometown, Conor, had also decided to start a record label called Better Off Records. We decided to join forces and he was the third member of CYLS. He was there for a lot of the early stuff and was a big part of the label until somewhere in the mid-teens of our releases. In his time with us, he was responsible for a lot of important parts, including mail order, our first website, the layout for empire! empire! (i was a lonely estate)'s "What It Takes to Move Forward", Benton Falls "Fighting Starlight" and more. He was also keeping a lot of things going while we were out on tour.
He has since parted ways with the label, but we really miss him and we know he's doing cool things in other fields now.
Conor's little brother Adam was the drummer in a band called Ferndale, also from Fenton. They were really good and it was a pretty natural move for us to work with them. They had already released an EP (it's still up on their MySpace: https://myspace.com/ferndaleband/music/songs but I can't get it stream 😔) and I actually started recording their next release with them, much the same way I did with Empire! and I Am the Branch. They look like such babies in these MySpace photos, haha.
They broke up before we could finish recording though, but by that time we had become good friends with them. Empire! was looking for a bassist and we asked their guitarist DJ to play bass for us. DJ had started a new band by then called Sirdidymous (https://myspace.com/sirdidymous). They were really into bands like The Fall of Troy and CHON. DJs voice felt like he had hints of Bayside.
The Sirdidymous lifespan was typical of a high school band. Some members went to college or moved away and the band split because of it. I've been listening back to all our older releases each day (and I've heard back that some other people are doing the same, which is so amazing), and it strikes me just how talented they were at such a young age.
DJ is still making music in a band called A band called goods.
DJ and our friend Ryan (another ex-empire! member and current collaborator with me for a project called The Ghost and the Lion) once started an instrumental band called Gallop (https://myspace.com/gallopband/). We wrote an EP we never got around to finishing, but I think I do still have the files on an old laptop ala Anna Flyaway, haha.
It's still funny to have to go digging through MySpace to find some of this information. RIP MySpace, you reanimated garbage heap. You were a great one.
CYLS 006: The Reptilian "We Have Become"
Release date: 1/13/2009
Pressing Info: 150 Black/150 Blue
Note: This was originally a digital only CYLS release of a self-released CD-R by the band. It was later repackaged with the Boys' Life EP and released as a cassette tape, but retained the same release number as the digital only release.
Buy the cassette: https://buff.ly/3bZLQZh
Apple Music: https://buff.ly/2x0g1AK
We actually met The Reptilian in Indiana, although both empire! empire! (i was a lonely estate) and The Reptilian are from Michigan. We played a house show together some in 2008. I think it was in Hammond. We were both on tour and I didn't expect to see another band from Michigan on tour, much less one I had never heard of.
If I remember correctly, The Reptilian played in the basement, but we played upstairs in the kitchen. They had these really cool green lights they used to bring around and it really enhanced the whole set. I felt like I was an extra from the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. You know, the one that was really dark that came out in the early 90s, not the 2014/2016 Michael Bay masterpieces, respectively.
I can't remember why, we relocated, but I want to say it was a lighting problem or the basement ceiling was really low. The kitchen was really dark too, so we opened the door of the microwave so we could see a little.
After the show, we decided to get something to eat so we all went to Steak 'n Shake to talk and hang out. We became friends fast and decided to agree to work with each pretty quickly after that. I remember pitching the label to bands at that point, but not really quite knowing exactly how to make it work except we wanted to put their music out.
It was a really big deal that we could get them on iTunes (now Apple Music) at the time. It's funny how easy that is now, but things change and sometimes pretty quickly. Imagine impressing a band now with that as part of your pitch.
At the time, The Reptilian were a 4-piece band with 2 guitarists, a bassist, and a drummer. John and Russ both played guitar and it felt like they were in this beautiful and dangerous duel to one-up each other, but it was still so complimentary. I had never seen or heard anything like that before, it was controlled chaos.
This particular EP was actually already self-released by the band on handmade CD-Rs. I still have mine, does anyone else this? It used to always bug me that there was a release in our catalog that didn't have physical, so much later when "Boys' Life" was sold out on CD, we decided to compile the two EPs and release it on cassette. We still have that, if anyone wants to grab one. When this came out on cassette, there now remains only one release we issued only digitally. Can anybody guess what that was?
CYLS 007: Joie De Vivre "Summer Months"
Release date: 3/3/2009, Reissue: 5/15/2012
Pressing Info: (Out of Print) 300 CDs
Vinyl Pressing- (Out of Print)
First Pressing:150 Black/350 White
Second Pressing:182 Baby Blue/382 Silver
Apple Music: https://buff.ly/3bWPwLh
CYLS website info: https://buff.ly/3dXRnkR
At last, we come to a band that is still active... sort of, lol. What are they up to, a few shows a year now? I kid, but I am honestly happy that they are still a band. Everyone bug them to finish that mythical LP they are working on. It's the new "Emo Chinese Democracy".
This record, along with the next two releases (Annabel and The Reptilian) were the launch of our label really taking off. These bands are some of the core bands that really have been there since the start, and we put out almost every record all of those bands did. We all toured with each other many, many times. We've played many games of baseball/softball/wiffle (whiffle?) ball together. At least 10 of them have filled in for Empire at shows or tours. These bands feel like family. Fun fact: all three of these records were released ON THE SAME DAY. Not really sure why we thought that was a good idea, lol.
If you've been reading along with this series, you might have a good guess on how we met Joie. Drum roll please.... you got it- MySpace! When were booking an early tour back in the day for empire! empire! (i was a lonely estate), someone (Chris or Steve, I think) had messaged us that they could get a show in their hometown of Rockford, Illinois if we needed it. Cathy listened to them and told me I really should listen to them. At that point, this is pre-emo revival, or at least before anybody knew that there was going to be an emo revival. It's no secret that Mineral is one my all-time favorite bands, and Joie sounded like a modern Mineral to me. I swooned immediately.
I was working as a circulation clerk at a library when I first listened to them I remember I took a break to check out their MySpace page and before I was even finished listening to their EP, I wrote them a message asking them if they would be interested in signing with us. Chris called back super fast, we talked and they agreed. Then I clocked back in, haha. All signings should take 15 minutes or less.
We did a weekender not long after that and while we didn't play a show with them, we met up at their practice space to meet in person and hang out. We actually played mini-sets for each other, haha. I love that. It felt like no one else was playing the same style we were playing and we had finally found kindred spirits.
In 2012, we remastered this album, Marcus from Pet Symmetry gave it some new art, and we put it out on vinyl. Everything we put out by Joie is currently out of print, but you can still find all of their stuff on the usual digital places.
Even if they only do one show a year, I hope Joie De Vivre never breaks up (again, lol).
CYLS 008: Annabel "Each and Everyone"
Release date: 3/3/2009
Pressing Info: 1000 CDs
Apple Music: https://buff.ly/3e6oyCH
CYLS website info: https://buff.ly/2xcqGIo
This one is a first. We actually did NOT meet Annabel through MySpace. Wild, right? When we started CYLS, we had hired our friend Will Miller as our publicist. He ran a website called Sound as Language where he talked about good underground music, then started a PR company called Bear Trap PR with his friend Chuck. Those two later started a record label called Tiny Engines and even put out Annabel records. I won a contest for a vinyl pressing of The Appleseed Cast's "End of the Ring Wars" from Goodcore Records through Sound as Language. Don't tell anyone, but I already owned a copy of the record, and I think maybe I still have two? I still love that record- guys if you ever do a tour playing that album, sign me up. I've seen Appleseed Cast play a million times and never heard a live song from the era.
Will used to pitch us bands that he thought would fit with our roster back then, and Annabel was one of them. I loved them right away and they were geographically close (Ohio!), so empire! empire! (i was a lonely estate) and Annabel set up a show together on tour so we could meet and talk about putting their record.
The first time we played with them, we played at a place called the Rathskeller at Kent State University and the venue told us they would mail us a check for playing. They never did, despite several emails. They still owe us a hundred bucks or so- pay up, Rathskeller, so I can blow it on board games guilt-free. I tagged Kent State, so I can only imagine the shame of this whole incident will spur them to do the right thing.
Ben and Andy lived together in college and Ben used to work at a movie theater, so they had all of these movie promos and standees. Staying at their place was always a treat. I can't remember what movie it was for, but they had this giant movie poster that they drew over and it haunted my dreams while simultaneously being really funny. I'm sure they still have pictures of it, and I'll try and get them to post pictures of it. It was some fantasy movie, I want to say.
Each and Everyone holds the distinction of being the first full length we ever released. They always used to close with "Parade Rest" at every show, and it was always such a good way to end a set. All their fans would shout along with the band. It was quite a sight!
I mentioned it in the last write-up I did with Joie De Vivre that members of a bunch of CYLS band would fill-in for Empire! on tours, so I am going to start including that in every post.
Members of Annabel that filled in for Empire: 3*#
*Gooey is now their bassist and was an actual member of Empire!, as well as filling in several times on bass before they joined.
# Both Ben and Andy have pulled double-duty- Ben has played guitar and bass and Andy as played drums and bass.
To that end, I am actually in a new band called Parting with Ben AND Gooey, and we have an entire EP that we recorded last summer and just needs vocals from me and Ben. I could be writing those, but instead I chose to write this, lol.
CYLS 009: The Reptilian "Boys' Life"
Release date: 3/3/2009
Pressing Info: 500 CDs (Out of Print)
Cassette: 150 Black/150 Blue
CYLS Store: https://buff.ly/2Rt5Uvg
Apple Music: https://buff.ly/2yFFGyT
This was the final release of our whirlwind of three records in a day (alongside Joie De Vivre's "Summer Months" and Annabel's "Each and Everyone"). We gave this the highest release number to give it some distance from their EP ("We Have Become, CYLS 006), despite the fact they came out a few months apart.
In March of 2009, our band empire! empire! (i was a lonely estate) and The Reptilian were going to go on tour together to promote this EP, but they were forced to cancel. Dan broke his collarbone crowd surfing at a tour kickoff with Men As Trees when their friend (and later bandmate) Brok dropped Dan on his noggin and arm during the set of a band called H.O.M.E.S. Side note- H.O.M.E.S featured Kyle Thornhill, who was Empire!'s bassist for a brief time in the early days. HOW COME YOU DON'T KNOW THAT, WIKIPEDIA?!
The scene of the crime occurred in their basement, which was the location of a DIY spot they ran called 902 Davis. The Reptilian gave some thought to playing the show anyway, but Jon ended up taking Dan to the ER instead. The trip ended up netting them an x-ray, a sling, and some Vicodin- and only cost them ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS. Anyone who tells you our healthcare system isn't broke haven't had to actually use it or are lying through their teeth. My details on this event was a bit hazy because I wasn't there, so I asked the band and they gave me some more info. Thanks, guys!
I think everyone was pretty wild back then, because they still went on tour with Men As Trees. The played three song sets and their friend Sam read haiku's in-between songs. Here is one for your reading pleasure:
Eyes are fireballs
Only to be compared to
Friendship and Friendship
I saw them play while Dan was still one-armed drumming AND THEY STILL SOUNDED AMAZING.
Members of The Reptilian that filled in for Empire: 2
Dan pulled double-duty- he played drums and bass. Jon played that power bass, baby! This was easily the heaviest we ever sounded. Here is a video that proves it, in case you needed it:
Total CYLS fill-in count in posts: 5
CYLS 010: Cstvt "Summer Fences"
Release date: 6/9/2009
Pressing Info: 1000 CDs (Out of Print)
Apple Music: https://buff.ly/39YK9d7
CYLS Release Info: https://buff.ly/2VmMSb1
It's kind of a funny story how we ended up signing Castevet (ok, it's CSTVT, but we'll get to that later). Nick from Castevet was in an amazing instrumental called Oceans (not surprisingly, there are a lot of bands called that, so here is the one I am talking about: https://myspace.com/broceans). They had an album they had finished, and CYLS was interested in putting it out. We talked about it via email, but in the end they put it out on a label called Copper Lung.
Somewhere in the process of me trying to woo him, empire! empire! (i was a lonely estate) went on a weekender with The Reptilian, and we played in Chicago at a house show venue called The Bad Decision Inn. The Reptilian were friends with Nick and he came out to show so we could meet and hang out.
The show was wild. This was one of the first times I can remember people crowd surfing to our music. Heck, they even picked me up mid-Year of the Rabbit and I played most of the song in a strangers arms. Empire, by the way, was not a "crowd-surfer" band. We were a mid-tempo snore, lol.
It was a typical DIY show as far as payment- a donation/pass-the-hat around deal. I remember after the show, some dude came back in the house and was frantically looking for the literal hat because he had (mistakenly?) thrown in his entire stash of whatever he had and he was freaking out. Funny stuff.
Nick and I got to talking and he said that although Oceans was going to be putting out a record with another label, he had a side-project that would fit in much better with our label, and that was Castevet!
Castevet really combined beautiful instrumentals with Hot Water Music-type vocals, and man was it good. Every show I saw them at, they were a powerhouse. I mean that in a literal way- the band were so loud in places that they had no right to be so loud in, lol. Welcome to DIY- none of us knew how to turn down.
We played their album release in a basement in Chicago and brought their CDs to them too. The next day we both played this amazing DIY festival called This Is Ours Fest. It was the second one in a warehouse in rural Illinois. It was really a veritable-who's-who of the Midwest DIY scene at the time. We played alongside Castevet, The Reptilian, Grown Ups, comadre, Trainwreck, Noumenon, Antilles and so many more. I wish I had a flyer/line-up. I just spent like a half an hour trying to find out more information on this. Does anybody have this?
Here is a video from that very set: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kv3NzW0VxSo. You can see our drummer and bassist in the front row.
As far as the name change, there was another Castevet- a black metal band, and a guy in the band had a dad who was a lawyer or something and they sent a cease-and-desist letter over. Dropping the vowels kept the name the same and it was en vogue at the time, so that's what they went with. This was not the only cease-and-desist letter a band of ours has gotten.
Let's close with this- we have heard your top request about this record, and we are known to be pretty good listeners from time to time.
CYLS 011: Perfect Future "Perfect Future"
Release date: 6/30/2009
Pressing Info: 1100 CDs*
Co-release with strictly no capital letters.
CYLS Store: https://buff.ly/2y3WRtM
Apple Music: https://buff.ly/2V1YHVe
We met Brendan from Perfect Future on empire! empire! (i was a lonely estate)'s very first tour. Back then he was in a band called Houston We Have a Problem based out of Pittsburgh, PA. Although we had played our first show at a house show, we weren't really connected to any larger DIY punk scene at that time and it was a pretty big culture shock if it isn't something you are used to.
The show was at a house called The Lilypad where the members of the band had been living and had been legally been evicted, but were still squatting there. The eviction notice was still on the door and the power was going to be shut off later that month. There is this interaction that I will always remember about this show- we got there hours before the show and one of our band members was standing near a blanket on the floor in the living room and someone cautioned them not step in it because someone had peed in it. Then the drummer of Houston noticed a cat had pooped on/near his drum kit and was upset and a woman who was also there scolded him like it wasn't a big deal and picked it up with her bare hands and tossed it out the window. THAT ISN'T NORMAL. That show actually got way crazier, but I can't spent the entire write-up just on this one show.
Also playing that night was a band called Who Calls So Loud, who had members from an impressive pedigree of older hardcore bands like Funeral Diner, Portraits of the Past, and more. I was mostly only into the more melodic side of the mid-90s emo bands, like knapsack, Mineral, Death Cab for Cutie, Penfold, The Get Up Kids, Jimmy Eat World, etc., so it was cool to be exposed to this side too.
Brendan and I kept touch. When he started Perfect Future a year or so later, he sent us some songs and we asked if we could put the record. At that time, Brendan was living in Frostburg, Maryland and also ran a house show venue called The Warren. A lot of great bands played in that very tiny college town, and it was a staple on most CYLS east coast tours.
In those days, whenever a band had a new release, we would tour out to wherever they were to deliver the albums and play the release show. There is actual footage of the show we played on YouTube.
Here is the Perfect Future set:
Here is the Empire! Empire! set:
Two more quick facts:
*1) The CDs weren't going to be ready in time for the show, so the plant ran 100 of those fancy CD-Rs so we could have them for the show. They came with the booklet packaged wrong and the opposite side of the book was showing instead of the cover.
2) This album was eighth animal-related artwork theme out of 11, and one of six that had a deer or deer-related animal. Super random- pretty sure that ratio no longer holds up.
Members of Perfect Future that filled in for Empire: 3
Total CYLS fill-in count: 8
CYLS 012: empire! empire! (i was a lonely estate) "What It Takes to Move Forward"
Release date: 9/29/09
Format: 2x12" Vinyl/CD/Digital/Cassette (Out of Print)
200 Smokey Clear
First Press: 1000
Second Press: 1000
500 Marble Gray
500 Marble Pink
400 180-Gram Black
400 Ultra Clear with Gray Splatter (Disc A/B), Ultra Clear with Pink Splatter (Disc C/D)
200 Tour Press with Hand-numbered Limited Edition Screen Printed Jacket (100 of each of the 2nd Press variants)
600 Half in Half: Easter Yellow/electric Blue with Double Mint Splatter
600 A/B: Sea Blue/Bone A Side/B Side C/D: Blood Red/Bone A Side/B side
- First vinyl pressing was a co-release with strictly no capital letters
- Second pressing CD and vinyl discography number differs from other variants. The release number is CYLS 012R, where "R" stands for reissue.
CYLS Store: https://buff.ly/2RziQ2F
Apple Music: https://buff.ly/39Zn8Xu
empire! empire! (i was a lonely estate) is my band, and this album took for what seems forever to finish, so I have a lot to say about this album. For all of these features, I've been listening to each album as I write them and I can't honestly remember the last time I've listened to this album. So it feels a bit strange to write this.
I started writing this in 2006. The songs used on "Year of the Rabbit" were recorded during the same recording sessions to give you an idea of long it took. Empire was my still kind of my solo project, so most of this album was written by me. If we're talking about all the tracks on the reissue, Cathy played guitar on 4 tracks and sang backup on a song, a couple different drummers played on a few tracks (4 and a half songs in total), and our old bassist DJ played bass on a track and sang backup vocals on two tracks. Matt from Look Mexico did guest vocals on "An Idea...". I wrote the rest of it and recorded all of it.
The recording process was a nightmare and I wouldn't suggest it to anyone. If I had to do it all over again, I think I would have gone to an actual studio, but I was broke and this option also allowed me the luxury of taking as much time as I wanted. Sometimes too much time is a bad thing. Actually, I think it's almost always a bad thing.
I had recently graduated college and was living at home at my parents' house then. My mom worked from home as a tutor for students who had difficulty reading and obviously I couldn't record while her students were there. I remember a few instances running up to sessions where I was trying to finish guitar takes and her students would show up and I would have to stop.
For "When the Sea Became a Giant", I had recorded all the drums in the basement, but there were so many incidental background noises that it picked up (furnace, running water, general basement noises) and I didn't want that to come through on this recording. My parents' were ok with me recording at their house, but didn't want me to do the drums outside of the basement for fear of me ruining the carpet or scuffing up the walls, etc. Honestly not an unfounded fear, the walls in house near the basement had some chips taken out from loading equipment in and out before.
I did a couple things to get around that. My friend's mom Jeff let me use his mom's house when she was on vacation. Jeff had filled on bass for a while during that period and we've been friends since high school. I think that worked for a couple songs.
For the rest of the songs, I waited until my parents' would leave and I would haul all of my drums upstairs to the living room after clearing it out, record as much as I safely could without them knowing, and then rearrange the room again all before they got home. I don't know if they ever found out, but we never really talked about it, haha. It took a long time to record this way.
I wasn't terrible at recording, but I was very utilitarian. I didn't know how to punch in, so the take had to be right or I had to redo the whole thing.
I recorded it all on a laptop, which at the time did not really have the processing power to really handle it. I was using a PreSonus Audio Electronics Firepod to track everything, which allowed me to have up to 8 channels. I used them all for the drums, but it was far too much for my laptop to handle. It would often lag, so even if it was a good take, I wouldn't be able to salvage it.
To get around this process, I recorded the drums in sections, so I would record all the drums for a verse or chorus, etc. and then hit the cymbals to ring over the next part. Then I would record the next section. This process worked, but keep taking over the limited amount of hard drive space my computer had. I bet if you listen hard at the end of sections you could hear me shifting in my drum stool and the clicking of the space bar to stop the recording.
I am notoriously slow at writing lyrics/vocals, so the music was completed far before the time actually got around to writing lyrics.
The entire thing was mixed, mastered, and all set to go by the early summer of that year, but we had just added a new bassist at the time and he was out of state for a few more months, so we opted to wait for him to move back home so he could in the band picture/liner notes. He did exactly one tour with us before quitting. We're still friends, but it's funny to think that both he and our drummer at the time had nothing to do with the actual recording and are featured in the recording and that we waited for months for that very reason. That was my doing, I wanted them to feel included. The reissue is just a picture of me and Cathy though.
Year of the Rabbit was originally mixed by Alex Rose from Minus the Bear, and he was slated to mix this too, but they got busy with their own band and he passed off the work to Chris Common of These Arms Are Snakes. Chris also mastered it
Chris did an incredible job- he cleaned up a lot of my messes and made it sound like one cohesive piece. I remember him flatly telling me that this would never sound like something more than a demo though, haha. I don't know that I fully agree with him on that, but it certainly could have been recorded better. But it was our first full length, so when a band has a low-quality first recording, you say that it has charm. So, this album is full of charm, lol.
I have a problem with bonus and rare tracks. It's why Empire had over 50 songs and only two full lengths. Funnily enough, the only version to not have bonus tracks was the original CD version. This was the standard at the time, and vinyl was much more uncommon. So the vinyl had a bonus track, the cassette had a different one, and so did the Japanese import. They all shared the bonus track, "It was Your Heart that Saved You". That's why there are 15 tracks.
Some quick fun things:
- At the end of "It's a Plague" there are two drum tracks a la Lucky Denver Mint by Jimmy Eat World.
- There is no bass on "It was Your Heart that Saved You". This was an oversight and I just forgot to write one and didn't realize it until it was too late.
- The first section where the drums are on "How to Make Love Stay" were added later. Our drummer at the time, Ryan Stailey, wrote that part and started doing it live, and we loved it so much that we had him add it in the recording and added a bass part to accompany it. I think it really beefed up the track. It was originally just going to have drums and bass for the build up at the end.
- My friend Joe Sak played drums on What Safe Means, and he accidentally cut out early. He was supposed to end with the bass, but we decided we liked it and kept it
- We did a five-year anniversary tour for this where we played the album in full in album order. I even brought my trumpet and we transposed the banjo to guitar for "With Your Greatest Fears...".
- Speaking of that song, that was originally going to be a bonus track for the Japanese release. I was visiting my best friend Andrew from Mountains for Clouds, and he had one in his apartment. I had never played banjo before, but it isn't that dissimilar to guitar. I came up with that, and he recorded me playing it. We decided to keep it on the actual album because it helped break it up.
- We had a special album jacket printed for the tour, designed by Alex Brown. Alex is so talented and this cover is still so cool to me.
- It was the first time at least three of those songs were ever played live.
- The art is mostly all from pictures I took in high school when I thought I was a photographer, lol. The ceramic angels on the cover were made by my mom and the doll house on the back cover was made by my dad for my sisters'.
- I took most of the pictures on the inside cover, Other photo credits go to Rich Ayers (an old bassist), Jon Steinhoff (our on-and-off again drummer), Conor Cary (co-label owner at the time), and Cathy.
- The cassette tape album cover is a picture of our cat. Abby. The bonus song on it (Archival Footage) is about her passing away as she was passing away
- The Stiff Slack version had art by Edgar McHerly.
CYLS-CVC 001: Benton Falls "Fighting Starlight"
Release date: 10/27//09
Format: 2x12" Vinyl (Out of Print)
250 Transparent Red
Limited license from Deep Elm
In high school, I had a 90s emo band IN THE NINETIES! WHAT?! That makes me old, lol. I was really young at the tail end of the original emo movement. But when I found it, it was instantly my favorite genre, and as you can plainly see, I made it into my life. It wasn't as easy to find out about underground music then. It's a convoluted story of how I ended up liking this style of music, but here is the abbreviated version.
My brother, his then-girl friend (now wife), my girlfriend (now wife), and my best friend (original bassist of empire! empire! (i was a lonely estate), still one of my best friends) all went to see Fuel in concert (the radio-rock band, not the hardcore band with the same name). This was during the time they were breaking out with "Shimmer", it was probably 1998 and I would have been 16 at the time. "Shimmer" still rules, btw.
Samiam opened up for them, and my brother and I really enjoyed the show, so we each bought a CD of their most recent album there, "You are Freaking Me Out". I found out that their guitarist, Sergie Loobkoff was also in a band called knapsack and THAT album was what brought me into everything. I got into Mineral, Death Cab for Cutie, Jimmy Eat World, etc, from there.
I was just learning guitar at the time, and I started trying to play music like that. I started a band called Said the Girl. We started playing around town and in nearby Flint at a wonderful venue called the Flint Local 432. It still exists today! Empire! played our last show ever there! Please support it!
There were a few locals bands also doing that same style at that time that were amazing, chiefly Kid Brother Collective and Dead By Sunday. Members of Dead By Sunday even started a band with members of Benton Falls later!
The Local had a lot of different styles of music that they hosted and they tried to match appropriate genres for each show. That's how it came to be that my band played a show at the local with Kid Brother Collective, an amazing band called Counterfit and Benton Falls. This was probably in 2001, I want to say?
Benton Falls was incredible, and I think everyone in my band bought a CD that night. The show is still on of most favorite bills I've been a part of.
When we started a label, we tried to think of some amazing albums that never made it to vinyl and decided this one would be our first in the line of what would be many. We even decided to give the series a new release designation- the Classic Vinyl Collection- or CVC. This was CYLS-CVC 001. We later scrapped that designation, so this one is the only one with such a unique catalog number.
One year for my birthday, Cathy bought me all the Emo Diaries from Deep Elm and I kept up with for a while as they came out. The one that featured Benton Falls included a song called "Tell Him" that became one of my favorites. It's also how I found out about Penfold, Pop Unknown, and a lot of other great bands.
Since this release was licensed from Deep Elm and they had also released the Emo Diaries, we were able to include it on the vinyl, along with another unreleased track, "Occupied For Now". This record is now out of print, but you can find their music in all the usual places.
CONTEST DETAILS: Each day, you have TWO ways to win!
1) If you have the release of the day, take a selfie with it and reply to this post with a picture in your comments.
2) You can recreate the album cover of the album of the day. You can draw it, use Photoshop, MS Paint, whatever! Just get creative! You don't have to be a pro to win, we just want everyone to have some fun. Leave it as a comment under the daily post.
YOU HAVE EXACTLY ONE WEEK FOR EACH ALBUM. That is to say, you can enter for this album for up to an entire week before we hold our drawing for the winner. That means you have 7 days! Good luck!
The only version of this we released was the vinyl, but we will still accept CDs as part of the selfie portion of the contest! ❤️
CYLS 013- Moving Mountains "Pneuma"
Release date: 05/25/10
Format: 2x12" Vinyl (Out of Print)
500 Translucent Blue
500 Translucent Green
Limited license from Deep Elm Records.
My band, empire! empire! (i was a lonely estate) played a show with Moving Mountains on one of their tour dates in Michigan at a place called The Factory on July 8th, 2009 in Rochester, MI. I used to have a perfect show history on MySpace, but one day they just wiped it from every band on the entire site. I was able to recover some of it via flyers, the Wayback Machine, etc., but there are definitely a bunch of shows we played that are missing from the list. It made me very sad to lose that.
In those days, there really weren't many bands doing the whole mid-90s emo throwback sound, and this band sounded to me like a modern The Appleseed Cast. I love The Appleseed Cast and Moving Mountains were really good in their own right. They were also nice when we met at the show so this one was probably too easy of a sell to me.
This was the second of two releases we licensed from Deep Elm. The label owner actually approached us about it since we were handling the Benton Falls "Fighting Starlight" release too. I don't know if you know much about pressing vinyl, but it is very expensive. We were a new label and eager to put out a lot of releases, but in retrospect adding this one was probably not a great idea. Not because it isn't an amazing album (it really is!), but at that point we were in the process of pressing not one, not two, but THREE double LPs. This meant we were paying for 5000 actual records on less than a shoestring budget (Empire!'s "What It Takes to Move Forward" was the third one). We also did full color gate-fold art for both this and the Empire! one, which just added to the costs.
Running a record label is mostly all upfront costs, so you need the capital long before you are going to recover any of it and hopefully make enough to keep going and put out new releases after that. I was in grad school at the time, and every semester I took out the max amount in student loans so I would have capital for the record label. This is not an advisable strategy, although it is better than just plopping it on a credit card in terms of interest.
Running a record label is probably not the most financially sound idea anyway and in those days especially, I had a shoot-first-apologize-later/future-Keith-can-figure-it-out later that finally caught up to us around 2014 when I took a break from the label being my main thing and I rejoined the workforce as a librarian.
I don't regret doing this release even still. In addition to it being good, it also opened up our label to another audience and helped us get more distribution throughout the world.
Our good friends at Topshelf Records reissued this in 2015 when the rights revered back to the band.
Co-release with strictly no capital letters
Our earliest partner-in-crime was Andy Malcolm, who runs a record label called strictly no capital letters. In fact, our very first release was a co-release with him.
At this point in our label, we were already starting to cultivate a home for that "throwback feel" of emo. I remember describing it at that as time as "the next logical sound of emo" if that whole 2000s mall emo hadn't happened.
I can't remember how we found out about Football, etc. or even if they found us, but I was a fan of a band Lindsay and Mercy were in before that called Tin Kitchen when they were living in New Jersey. Tin Kitchen's other member was also in Hop Along.
I think we commented on each other's MySpace pages or messaged each other, then I let Andy know that there was a band that existed now that reminded me of Rainer Maria. We all talked and decided to do a split together.. An interesting bit of trivia I uncovered while searing for emails from that time period that I totally forgot about is that we originally weren't going to release this and had tried to pass it onto a new label started by our friends who ran a media company called Look Again Media.
We had taken on too many projects too quickly and this was another big cost and our then-label partner Conor was rightfully worried about how we were going to pay for it. The other label fell through though, so it was in danger of not being released unless we stepped up. So onto the credit card it went, lol.
Around that time, we found a really good special for 1000 mixed vinyl records from United Record Pressing, a vinyl pressing plant in Tennessee. It was for basically their leftover vinyl that was otherwise going to go to waste. The colors you got were all different because they cobbled all the random leftover bits together- you know, like a hot dog. Most of them were brownish swirls, lol. It still looked beautiful.
For the Empire! side of the split, this was one of two songs that included the lineup of me, Cathy, DJ, and Jon. The same lineup also did the first CYLS Split Series with Annabel, Joie De Vivre, and The Reptilian. Our song was recorded with Marc Jacob Hudson in my hometown of Fenton, MI while his new studio was being built. Marc also recorded my high school band called Said the Girl. His studio is cool, if you are ever so included: Rancho Recordo.
The Football side featured Lindsay, Mercy, and their drummer at the time, Brandon.
The artwork was an existing piece by Priscilla Wilson that she then reworked and tailor-made for the release. She also designed a bunch of shirts for Empire! Empire!.
CYLS 015: Boris Smile "Rockets EP"
Release date: 3/16/2010
Pressing Info: 1000 CDs
CYLS Store: https://buff.ly/3cwimCx
Apple Music: https://buff.ly/2XKlg2r
This is the second Boris Smile release on CYLS. On "Rockets", you can really hear how the sound and recording quality are improving as the band evolved. The sound was expansive and had a feeling of openness to it. Since this EP was a concept piece about space, this really played to their strengths.
One thing I always thought was interesting was that Wes liked to revisit songs and make alternate versions of older works. You can find that here with the song "Adventures with Rockets (Revisited)", which originally appears on in their debut release "Chapter 1" in 2007.
The last song clocks in at 12 minutes and 20 seconds. The reason the track is so long is because we were still in the era of "hidden tracks" and there were two songs after the formal final song. Going along with the theme of revisiting songs, the band revisits "Apollo" as part of the last track- a song from earlier in the record. At first, we weren't sure how to handle that insofar as the digital medium, and decided to just include it all as one track, as it appears that way on the CD.
One thing I'd like to talk about that was super unfortunate for both us and Boris Smile was the fact that the Japanese sludge/doom band Boris had released an album in 2008 called "Smile". The odds of this has to be astronomically, infinitesimally small, but this is the timeline we are all on, so here we are. Boris and Boris Smile are pretty far apart in terms of the musical spectrum. I can't tell you how many times that I had to explain that Boris Smile was a band before Boris named their album that. It also made searing for reviews or anybody talking about them substantially harder.
I do think it would have been amazing for the two bands to have done a split where they cover each other's songs. How epic would that be?
CYLS 016: Joie De Vivre "The North End"
Release date: 5/11/2010
Format: 12"/CD/Digital (out of print)
Pressing Info: 1000 CDs
350 Halloween Orange
150 Piss Yellow
350 Milky Clear
Vinyl co-release with strictly no capital letters
2010 was a year things were starting to coalesce for CYLS . We were starting to put out a lot of records and gain some notoriety for what we were doing. Joie De Vivre was one of our flagship bands, and this was their first full length. If you have never seen Joie De Vivre play "Salt" live to a full house (maybe a literal house, lol), it's quite a sight. The audience will sing out the horn part and then the band comes crashing in.
A funny production error (only funny in hindsight,really) from the CD production plant caused the bottom part of the cover of the booklet to have a solid black rectangle that filled the entire white part and title of the album. I can't quite remember how many were printed this way, but I want to say around 100? Maybe that's not funny at all, lol.
My band empire! empire! (i was a lonely estate) and Joie went on a tour in the summer of 2010 to promote this album. We all went in one 12-passenger van, and it was a tight fit. Brandon filled in on bass for Empire. Cathy couldn't get work off for the entire tour, so Chris played guitar after the first three shows when Cathy went back home. We brought a trailer that Joie borrowed from one of their friend's dad's band. That band was Cheap Trick, lol. We treated it like it was our own baby, Cheap Trick!
Joie brought their friend along Matt Youngblood who was an aspiring filmmaker. Before tour, Matt and a few Joie members decided to make a mockumentary of the trip. I think they got a good 9 days in, but the rest was never finished. Think of it like your favorite show being canceled (hello Great News) before a satisfactory end. It's still worth watching and it's really funny.
I think we played a lot of shows with some of now classic midwest emo revival bands, so you might spot a lot of cool people from those bands if you look. Print up a bingo card and play along. The scene with Jon (our drummer) trying to back out of Algernon Cadwallader's amazing warehouse with a giant trailer in a giant van is really funny in particular. View the entire series, starting here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVVmTl9x2Aw.
TW: Violence, death. Do not keep reading if you have any sensitivities to these subjects.
Let's end this one on a downer though. We played a house show on 6/18 in Richmond, Virginia. We were really excited to get to this show because the host told us they were going to barbecue us all hamburgers and hot dogs, pop, chips- the whole nine yards. We got there very early, but everyone there had already ate all the food. There was a like one or two burgers left to split with the 9 people on tour.
It was a really shitty part of town, so we decided to just walk around, but there wasn't anything close so we did a lot of walking around and finding nothing and went back. I want to say we drove to an Arby's after that? We were pretty low on funds, so it was dollar menu time!
The host kept drinking the rest of the day, so by the time the show happened, they were pretty far gone. A lot of DIY shows have the pass-the-bucket around for donations/payment for the touring bands. As people starting arriving, the host did not collect money. They played a set where they complained about the acoustic guitar cutting their fingers and played a very long time. They continued to not collect money.
Joie set up and played and then it was Empire's turn. Jon starting clicking his sticks for us to come in and before we played a single note, we saw the flashing lights of a cop. Playing a lot of house shows, you tend not to want to play last. Not only because people leave early, but especially because a lot of shows get shut down by the police.
Naturally, that's what we thought was happening. The general protocol once you see those lights is everybody freezes- like that famous theater acting exercise. If the cops pound on the door, the host open the door a crack and talks to the cops. Sometimes they are cool and let us finish and just tell everyone to turn it down. Sometimes the show is over. It reminded me of that scene from Cant hardly wait with the band that you've been waiting to hear from all movie is finally about to play, and then the cops break up the party. This scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-TEhVmOMlIs
In this case, however, they did not come to the house we were playing. They had stopped at a house down the block. We all waited to see if the cops were going to leave, and eventually someone scouted the scene and it turned out someone was murdered. The show stopping is actually on footage in the mockmentary series from that day.
There are these larger-than-life moments that happen every now and again, and it's obvious that this was one of those. If you allow me to preach for a second: violence doesn't solve problems. It only makes things worse and someone lost their life because of that. There is always a better way to handle things and once a life is lost, it is lost forever.
Ok, off my soapbox. For a lot of DIY bands, it is really common to stay the night at the house where the show took place, and that was the original offer. Given the way things turned out, we decided to just bail. It didn't feel safe, so we decided to leave. The host rushed outside and apologized for not collecting any money. They tried to give us something to the tune of $5 in change. We told them to keep it in less-than-nice-words and drove off.
Members of Joie De Vivre that filled in for Empire: 6
Over the years, Brandon played bass, Chris played guitar, Warren played guitar and sang (and was, at the end, an official member of Empire!), Stewart played drums, and Mark and Paul played trumpet.
Total CYLS fill-in count: 14
The only person I know who has more of a problem with splits is the one and only Evan Weiss. empire! empire! (i was a lonely estate) had a total of 12 splits (1 shared!). Evan puts us to shame with IIOI, clocking in at 13. There might be some he counts as splits that aren't on the Wikipedia page too (Wikipeida is missing two splits from Empire). That's easily another full length in those splits, and all good songs.
We were both raised in the same era, influenced by bands like Braid, Mineral, Jimmy Eat World, etc. Those bands also put out a lot of splits. It was the cool thing to do then, so of course we wanted to do it. CYLS did that in spades, lol. Unasked for financial advice for other record labels: you are better off burning your money, lol.
This is one of the 6 splits Into It. Over It. did for a project called 12 Towns. 12 Towns featured 12 songs about 12 different towns in america where our troubadour hero had 12 adventures. The flip-sides of these splits were Empire! Empire!, Bob Nanna & Lauren LoPiccolo, Everyone Everywhere, SUCH GOLD, Cstvt and Pswingset.
Which brings me to other side of this split- Pswingset! They were named after one of my favorite underrated Michigan bands, Rescue (seriously so good- listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Svqkz-Da4Wo). A few of them lived in a what feels like must be the longest running DIY/house venue of all time, It's A Kling Thing! House. Members of Annabel lived there too. Famous scene photographer Andrew Wells (Young Hearts Creative) too! It's still a venue, people still book shows there. It's like the Dread Pirate Wesley of DIY house venues.
Empire! played our first show of many there when they were booking it and we quickly bonded over their namesake and other bands. Pswingset took the more angular path of the mid-90s emo revival. They were one of the few, which is such a shame.
They later moved to Austin, Texas and went though a few member changes before releasing their only LP on Topshelf Records. Check that one out, it's great. Maybe they doomed themselves in naming their band after an underrated gem because that is the territory Pswingset firmly falls into as well.
CYLS 018: football, etc. "Football, Etc"
Release date: 8/2/2010
Format: 7"/Digital (out of print)
Pressing Info: 1000 Black Records
Co-release with strictly no capital letters and Keep It Together Records.
These two songs were originally going to be on the first length. The band was recording what would supposed to be "The Draft" when their drummer Brandon left the band. These two songs were already recorded and the band had a tour coming up with in the summer of 2010 with P.S. Eliot (featuring the Crutchfield sisters who would go on to form Waxahatchee and Swearin').
In order to have something for tour, Football, etc. decided to ask us if we could get these two songs out on a 7". We did this on the cheap- it was only available on black and the art was black and white with no insert. We split the release with our friends and at sncl and KIT and the band itself.
Spoiler alert: the band did not get the records for this tour. By the time everything got finished, we missed the narrow window, but we did end up getting another cool Football, etc. release out of it!
Recount Your Lucky Stars 021. PLEASE FOLLOW US ON OUR SOCIAL NETWORKS:
CYLS 019: Boyfriends "Boyfriends"
Release date: 1/18/2011
Pressing Info: 500 Translucent Green/500 Translucent Orange
Co-release with Slow Growth Records.
CYLS Store: https://buff.ly/2VOEbq6
Apple Music: https://buff.ly/2xWfu2Z
Boyfriends was a PA super-group with members of Snowing and 1994 with an exclamation point. They had the quintessential punk/emo band life cycle- a smattering of miscellaneous releases that totaled a bunch of great songs. 18 in total!
Fun fact: when they started out, they called themselves Barf Academy. They changed their name in the same year (2009) to Boyfriends. Boyfriends is a good band name, but there are a lot bands called that, so it makes for a hard time finding out more information. It's a shame, because this band was really good. This is another gem that didn't get enough love and I fear will never be fully appreciated.
What I remember most about this was the art issues we had. The pictures the band sent over were grainy but most of the text was nice and crisp. We thought that that was they were going for. I actually still like it, but I absolutely get where they were coming from. There were a few people helping out with the art, and I think it was a case of too many cooks in the kitchen and the quality control got lost. I didn't know all that much about graphic art at the time, so a check from me wouldn't have meant much anyway.
We did this as a co-release with another label called Slow Growth Records. Between the time we sent the art to the printer and the time it got back, the label underwent a name change. The original name was Ticklebutt Records, haha. They already had two releases under their old moniker, a boysandsex EP and an incredible compilation tape called 75:24 (named after the run-time of the release). The comp featured Algernon Cadwallader, Snowing, APE UP!, Hightide Hotel, Hop Along, 1994!, We Were Skeletons, and more. you can find more info on that release here: https://itsachugknocklife.blogspot.com/…/7524-compilation.h….
Slowgrowth decided to take the label more seriously, so when they changed the name and the band was kinda bummed about the low-resolution, everyone decided to make a new cover. The owner of Slowgrowth, Daniel, also ran or had connections with a print shop, so he screen-printed new jackets for the records. They were all hand-numbered, all the way up to 1000.
File this under a great band you missed- but it's never too late to appreciate a lost classic! Stop what you are doing and go listen to this!
CYLS 020: The Reptilian "Full Health"
Release date: 10/5/2010
Pressing Info (Out of Print):
350 Grimace Purple
When Reptilian parted ways with their bassist, they made an unusual move. They opted not to replace him, but rather they moved Jon, one of their guitarists, over to bass. I was honestly a little unsure of how it was going to work. The Reptilian I knew was steeped in duel tapping guitar parts and I wasn't sure that they could fill that space with just one guitar. My fears were assuaged when I heard "Full Health". Not only that, they somehow got more powerful. I guess it was addition by subtraction.
Full Health is full of bangers and just one song hits the 3 minute mark. The end of the Peyote Ugly quickly became a popular live song, with everyone in the crowd chanting along with the band, "I don't know where I'd rather be, than sitting on this porch with you 'til the summer goes away" while sweatily hugging the person next to them is some dank random basement. It still takes me back every time I hear it.
In the summer of the 2011, empire! empire! (i was a lonely estate) and The Reptilian went on tour together to the first CYLS/Topshelf Records Unofficial SXSW showcase. This was the tour where Jon played bass and Dan played drums for Empire!. So it was me, Cathy, Russ, Jon, and Dan in one van. Annabel and Joie De Vivre also toured down together via nearly the same route. We played a couple giant bills together.
The lineup for the first show is still pretty outrageous, I think. Here is who played: Defeater, Moving Mountains, The World is a Beautiful Place & I am No Longer Afraid to Die, Into It. Over It., Empire! Empire!, Grown Ups, Joie De Vivre, The Reptilian, football, etc., Annabel, Caravels, Pswingset, and The Clippers.
When I was a kid, I was really into reading fantasy books. One of the books I loved was called "Her Majesty's Wizard". Around the time of that tour, I had found out that the author, Christopher Stasheff had turned the book into a series and there were a bunch of books I didn't even know existed. I found the books and was reading them on tour, and every now and then they would ask me to read a passage out loud.
These books were like a guilty-pleasure read and filled with some pretty generic fantasy tropes. One of the antagonists in the series was a warlock named Gordorgrosso, which is a pretty silly name. So we started shouting out his name during breaks mid-song during both our sets and also just random times on tour, haha. Gordorgrosso!