Vic Chesnutt 1964 – 2009

Our Christmas day was darkened by the passing of Mr. Vic Chesnutt, a very special person who brought much light into the world with his creative energy and unique and beautiful perspective on life.  We were privileged to work with him for a few short years and we know the world is a less wonderful place without him.

There are some lovely words from friends of Vic on the Constellation web site.  You may also wish to read the announcement in the NY Times, or visit the tribute and donations page set up by Vic’s close friend Kristen Hersh.

New Web Shop RSS feed with latest releases

RSS feed iconI’ve finished writing a new RSS feed for our web shop, which is now featured on the front page of the Southern Records site. You can use it to stay up-to-date on the latest releases in our web shop using Firefox, Google Reader, or whatever RSS reader you prefer.

I’ve used the feed to update the Southern Records homepage with the latest releases from the shop.

Here’s a link to the feed:

Tartufi scores the #1 Overlooked Album Of The Year accolade

Tartufi = Love
Tartufi = Love

Okay so that’s us being a bit cheeky.  Actually the good folk at Drowned In Sound call it the “Lost 9 of 09″ and they’ve awarded the number one spot to our dear, lovely Tartufi for their epic Nests Of Waves And Wire album.  Tartufi are just about the best thing to happen to us this year.  Genuinely lovely, warm, hard-working people who have an incredible musical gift.  The kind of band you’d cut your right arm off for and know that you’d never regret it.  To celebrate the DiS piece and so that everyone can bathe in the warm glow of splendid noise that is Nests Of Waves And Wire, we’re practically giving the CD away all this week in our web shop.  Only £5 – and you get a free instant mp3 download of the album to go with it.  (Well, instant if you use Paypal.  Might take a couple of hours if we have to process your credit card.)  And we’ll send you a free tour poster as well.

And what, prey tell, are the dynamic duo of Tartufi up to at this moment in time?  Well, they had a tough Autumn – their European tour was aborted due to no fault whatsoever of the band, and this in turn made their US tour go bust (it was supposed to bookend the European trip).  But, did they cry?  Did they wail?  Did they gnash their teeth?  YES.  THEY DID ALL OF THOSE THINGS.  And then they started writing their next album.  As we speak – this very minute – they are sequestered in the studio with the wizard that is known to you humanoids as Tim Green and the co-engineer  known only as “Chopper” and they are recording an EP.  Not just any EP, mind – it’s just one song.  And it’s 100 minutes long.  Okay, maybe it’s only 30 minutes long.  But it’s looooooong, got it?  Said EP to be released on (drum roll) Southern Records (fanfare) in April.   On vinyl and download only.  Which is pretty cool, don’t you think?

But why would we want to release a one-long-ass-song vinyl-only EP in April? That’s insane, right?  Well, not if you know that TARTUFI ARE GOING TO BE TOURING IN M*****F*****G MAY!  Sorry for shouting.  And for asterisk-swearing.  Sorry, Santa.  But yes, it’s true.  Tartufi now have an actual serious booking agent working a real (note – not imaginary) tour of Europe, in May.  Everybody say hell yeah!  Yes yes yes.  We’ll be keeping you posted, don’t worry.  And after the tour in May you can expect a whole spanking brand-new album in the Autumnal months.  2010 is like, the Official Year Of Tartufi.  Get ready.

And while you dream your little dreams of next year, take a minute to remember all the sweet words that the lovely smart people said about Tartufi in 2009.  We love them all.  The people that is.

“A haunting record of mercurial, generically evasive songs, the hefty running times of which belie the fact they are neither self-consciously epic or ‘progressive’, nor look-at-me weird; calling this music ‘schizophrenic’ implies a wackiness that’s entirely absent. Indeed, Nests of Waves and Wire’s considerable sense of coherency comes both from its uniformly melancholic tone and the slow but purposeful pace with which the songs unfold. It doesn’t sound like Tartufi are making it up as they go along; more like they’re somehow uncovered a collection of very strange old spirituals and decided they might have a go covering them. In a folk-noise-metal-choral-ambient style.” - Drowned In Sound #1 Lost Album of 2009

“An expansive lattice of twinkling loops, math-rock crunch and none-more-giddy harmonies. Animal Collective fans in search of further post-psych rapture should bend an ear to these compulsive, crisply produced workouts.”Mojo 4 out of 5 stars

“This is huge. Imagine Animal Collective boxing their way out of rock’s paper bag without putting down their guitars first and you have it, crudely. The San-Franciscans charge from played-with-shards-of-broken-glass guitar to crescendos that manage somehow, to sound both jubilant and doomed.”NME

“Suffice to say, Nests Of Waves And Wire is more than the sum of its very varied parts. At times the sheer musical breadth and vastness of tracks…are almost overwhelming. As dramatic as the changing of the seasons NOWAW is a vital celebration of the power and immensity of sound and the human voice. Perfect springtime listening.”Wears The Trousers

“A dizzying construct of lunatic prettiness. It all flows together, like a fantastical alien river.”Rocksound 8 out of 10 stars

“With each twist on Nests Of Waves And Wire there is something new to obsess over, whether it’s complete u-turn in the previous drum pattern, an obtuse reverberation chamber that swallows the whole middle section…or a vocal hook that contradicts everything you thought you’d gathered from the first 20 minutes of the album. It becomes so utterly unpredictable…the purest and most essential thing about it.”Rock A Rolla

“Multi-layered hollering is mounted on crazy synths and disjointed loops and the beats are ever changing; the whole thing a savage maelstrom of sound.”Alternative Ulster 7 out of 10 stars

“Tartufi build intricate loops of organic alt rock and lay freak folk riffs over clattering campfire rhythms. The effect is rapturous, strident.”PLAN B

New Southern Records holding page up

Southern Label Logo Red Small

Most of our long-time friends will be hard-pressed to remember the last time anything significant changed on our website. I’d like to be able to say that because our site is so perfect, no changes have been necessary in the last ten years, but that just isn’t the case. There’s a grain of truth in it, though.

Our site was awesome in its day, and we were one of the first (maybe even the first) independent record labels and distribution companies to have a web shop, which ours was linked directly to our stock control, so customers had a real-time view of what was available to order. The complexity of the system, however, led to other problems, not the least of which was the expert knowledge required to maintain it. Not many people know that in the last 15 years or so, Southern Records had at least two, usually three, full-time IT staff (including John Loder himself) who maintained Southern’s–considering the resources available–rather impressive network across several locations in London and Chicago. We certainlyhad the expertise to manage our web site, but didn’t have a lot of timefor it. The focus of most of the IT work was on making sure the software we use to run our businesses was working well, and on keeping our network stable.

Because the web shop system was built around our, er, vintage accounting and stock control suite, it lacked a certain flexibility. Changes that by modern standards should be simple were very difficult to make. For example, changing the layout of the site’s front page required the skills of a programmer.  So for years it was necessary to employ someone whose sole job was to maintain the website, adding content and making improvements here and there, until about five years ago, he finally found enough time come up with a way for non-experts to publish news articles.

We really needed a Content Management System (CMS), but to put one in place would require a Herculean effort to get the thousands of pages of content in different formats and based on different standards across ten years of development of our old site into the CMS, in addition to the not-insignificant work needed to put all of this content into some sort of useful (and searchable) structure.

However, the time has come for us to make this happen. Over the next few months, we will be working on extracting all the useful content out of our old, moribund, site and importing it into a new system that will allow us to benefit from all the features that a modern system has as a matter of course. The old site is still there–it’s just the front page that’s been replaced for now.

We’ve already started work on the base system and have decided many of the features we will need, but we would love to hear your ideas as well–so please use the comment system on our blog to tell us what you think. The new site will be intended for people like you, after all.


The Southern Records Weblog