Updating the Big Eight

Austin's Torch-Bearing Indies

by Andy Langer

Last March, in order to impress the influx of SXSW visi-
tors with tales of our town's burgeoning music biz infrastructure, the Chronicle profiled eight local labels we called the scene's "torch bearers." Luckily, not only are all eight labels still in business but they all also say they're planning to finish 1995 and head into January with more releases than they anticipated only six months ago. Here's a late-season round-up and look ahead into 1996.

TRANCE SYNDICATE: Butthole Surfer King Coffey created Trance five years ago to bring the world a Crust release, and by now the folks here at the Chronicle and those at Rolling Stone have told you the rest of the story. Trance is celebrating the anniversary with the aptly titled Cinco Años, a 20-track CD with 17 bands that clocks in at 74 minutes of history. For six bucks, it appears to be a bargain what with a roster that includes Bedhead, Ed Hall, Sixteen Deluxe, The Cherubs, Pain Teens, and the Buttholes themselves. This month also brings the release of a full-length Starfish record, recorded at Pedernales by Bob Mould. Trance ends its year in October with the Pain Teens Beast Of Dreams LP/CD, a Furry Things 7-inch, and a Cherubs/Fuck Emos split single. Next year, Trance is planning to release both a Bedhead EP and sophomore full-length release, and debuts from the Furry Things and Windsor for the Derby.

WATERMELON: This summer, Watermelon released new efforts from Monte Warden and singer-songwriter Eric Taylor, as well as the critically acclaimed two-part Don Walser archive series, and now finds itself supporting the road efforts of the label's six acts touring this fall. And as if the road wasn't consuming enough, Watermelon is expecting their American release of European pop star Julian Dawson's BMG Europe recording to offer the label new opportunities and challenges in breaking into more conventional radio and retail outlets. And like Trance, Watermelon is celebrating an anniversary (their sixth) with a compilation, the 21-track Sampler Volume 1. Rounding out the year, Watermelon hopes to release a new Walter Salas-Humara record, his first for Watermelon, and the new-country compilation Austin Country Nights. And with a handshake deal with the Derailers, Watermelon says they hope to deliver that record and a new Webb Wilder early in 1996.

ARISTA TEXAS: Arista's Austin division has only one release left for the year, the debut of Joel Nava - a country/Tejano artists whose record will appropriately enough feature five tracks in English and five in Spanish. Following the shipment of Nava singles to both country and Tejano radio, the label will begin gearing up for next year's follow-up to La Diferenzia's briskly selling debut and the first release from San Antonio/Nashville hotshot Rick Orozco.

DEJADISC: After five releases in 1994, Dejadisc will have released 10 new albums before '95 is through. This summer saw the releases of Michael Elwood and Beth Galiger's Rolling Valentine as well as the long-overdue re-issue of 1979's seminal Live at Raul's compilation. Next month, they'll follow-up with the new Wannabes record, Popsucker, and Wayne "The Train" Hancock's much-anticipated Thunderstorms and Neon Signs. And before Dejadisc gets to the new Michael Hall release in January, the start of a year they say ought to bring on at least another eight to 10 records, a pair of re-issues will surface to close out the year: Sarah Elizabeth Campbell's A Little Tenderness and Ray Wylie Hubbard's Last Train of Thought.

SECTOR 2: Fresh from a distribution switch from RED to KOCH International, September finds Sector 2 releasing the Beat Farmers' Manifold and Dash Rip Rock's first record for the label, Get You Some of Me. Fear is also making its Sector 2 debut with Have Another Beer With Fear on Oct. 17, a release on both CD and classic vinyl. A November re-issue of Peglegasus' Bacon, Lettuce and Tornado will set the table for the band's new record, So Much for King Tut - the label's first release next year. Also expected next year: new records by El Flaco, Mumbleskinny, and Splatter, who may be changing their name back to Elvis Hitler.

UNCLEAN: After the recent release of Stretford's Crossing the Line, Unclean's Roger Morgan says he'll be keeping busy with new 7-inch releases from Big Drag and the Drop Outs as well as two more 7-inchers that will advance new records from N.O.T.A and the Sons of Hercules due out early next year. In addition, Unclean's is currently readying release of a compilation that features 15 bands for $5, and will collect many of the label's singles and a few album tracks from artists like Blind Willie's Johnson, the Cherubs, and the Inhalants. Turning towards video promotion, Morgan says Unclean also hopes 1996 will see new videos from Dumptruck, the Sons of Hercules, and Stretford.

RISE: Craig Koon's Rise Records seems to have the 7-inch market cornered with new singles from the New Bomb Turks, the Inhalants, and Henry Bison as well as debut singles from the Furry Things and the Memphis Goons. Just out is Miss Universe's new LP and CD, to be followed by Dallas band Greenella's debut.

ANTONES, DOS, AND DMZ: On the Antones blues side, the label is already looking towards next year's releases for Teddy Morgan (March), Sue Foley (produced by Stephen Bruton and expected in May), Lavelle White (summer), and Steve James (summer). Also in the works for next year is a 20th anniversary salute to Antone's nightclub, a possible box set that will be produced under the direction of Derek O'Brien and will likely feature live recordings from the club's long, illustrious history. And while dos plans to continue working the new Stephen Bruton and Christine Albert records well into next year, DMZ will release their second Dangerous Toys effort in October, The R*tist 4*merly Known as Dangerous Toys. DMZ also says that their highest priority next year will be releasing and promoting Illusination, the much-delayed follow-up to the Billy White Trio's Sistershootingstar EP. n

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