Simply put, when I was a kid in high school Train in Vain was the best band in the world, at least in the limited world in Southeast Texas that me and my buddies inhabited. Their shows were legendary, their recordings fiery and reminiscent of bands I had loved since 4th grade, and they lived in my hometown. When some of the members randomly came to a talent show our band was playing at and they came up to talk to us afterwards, that was a true highlight of childhood.
This month, we are proud to reissue the first two Train in Vain records, Psycho Railroad and The Johnny Pain Letters, for our Circuit Breaker Record Club subscribers. Our A-side, from the former, is one of our personal favorites here at CBR HQ (see our cover on the Diamond Fields of Meade), “8 Miles Out of Town.” Inspired by a true (and quite ugly) story from that neck of the woods we used to call home, this track captures TNV at its glorious, anthemic best. “Empty,” from the band’s sophomore release, is our B-side, though I’d argue it bests most bands A-sides in terms of minor-chord melodic sensibility (don’t discount the wah wah solo either!)
Even though Train in Vain is no more, they live on here at Circuit Breaker Records. May our run be extended one day as well!
Maybe you thought we had something to say about Pluto. Or the unfortunate Virgin Galactic mishap. But this month we’ve got space travel on the brain mostly because of the newest reissue being made available to our loyal Circuit Breaker Record Club supporters: Hallelujah Boy’s sophomore record, Demonstration.
A concept record about an astronaut who finds himself stranded in space, Demonstration finds HB ripping right out of the gate with the propulsive single, “Round Trip,” our A-side for this month’s single. For a B-side, we’ve chosen a quieter number, “Sent Away,” featuring some of the finest 80s Casio keyboard sounds HB ever put on record. Make sure you stick around past the minute or so intro!
While you may normally think of spring as the season where life begins again anew, perhaps any season will do. Summer is here, and for many that means SCHOOL’S OUT FOREVER or something like that. It also means that Circuit Breaker Record Club members (like you?) are in for a real treat as we’ve just reissued the very first Hallelujah Boy record, first released in 1998. 18 years ago saw the beginning of this long-standing recording project, in a dimly-lit basement in Charlottesville, Virginia, and this self-titled record exhibits the usual exuberance of debut records as well as the influence of HB’s lo-fi heroes such as Chris Knox and Bob Pollard.
To celebrate this reissue, we have a few tunes here from the record. Speaking of Mr. Pollard, “Eyes vs. Smiles,” this month’s A-side, is pretty much a tribute to him and the alien lanes/bee 1000 records playing constantly in the car at that time. B-side “Hearts Deciding” is a Casio keyboard-driven, drony love song, its sweetness tempered only slightly by the deficiencies in recording quality
Also, thinking about the beginning of this project has inspired Hallelujah Boy to begin recording and releasing some new music! While plans are already underway for a joint Witchcatcher/Hallelujah Boy record later this year, to kick off the summer Hallelujah Boy will also be heading into his new home studio to record a series of newly-written singles. Stay tuned for more info on these and other new recordings set for release later this year!
May has come and gone (ok, it’s going..). We hope everyone in the US enjoyed National Burger Month and that our friends in the UK are enjoying National Pet Month. Weird to celebrate both simultaneously wethinks, especially for people who keep cows for pets. There’s no such domestication or husbandry here at CBR HQ. Instead we’re featuring two songs from our favorite Infinite Transmissions Projectrecord, the wonderful “Second Hand Rubbish“. Released simultaneously with “Deflate the Stars” in 2005, this record finds the record_by_mail_and_somtimes_in_person crew at the height of their collective powers.
On the A Side, we’ve got “I’m Gone” a tune that introduces the theme of “sales”, short for “yard sales”. Capturing the exuberance of a caffeine-fueled morning spent combing the neighborhood for other people’s trash that one might treasure, the lead track from the albums appropriately asks “how can you say that the joke’s on you”. The song sets the tone for the record with reverb drenched pianos, dirty guitars and of course the trusty drum machine.
Pared with “I’m Gone” is this month’s B Side, “The Wrong Track”. The album closer, this bookend tune celebrates the art of making mistakes. A slow build of a tune with a trash heap of tracks, the careful listener will enjoy picking out the layered lines and lyrical interplay.
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Man, April gets a bad rap. Most often, the month is remembered as a rainmaker or tagged for it’s tax day by our Estadounidense peeps or as Terribly Sexy Eliot says, “April is the cruellest month” (sic). Even Samuel Clemens couldn’t resist a dig when he said, “The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year.” We couldn’t disagree any more. That’s why we’re going to throw down the gauntlet for a very special April’s Fools day show next year. Mark your calendars!
In the meantime, we’ve had a great April. Circuit Breaker Records has held not one but two California summits (sort of). The last of which surrounds our great friend Denton’s (Fast Friends/Gifthorse) nuptials to Leigh Ann, the best thing that ever happened to him. Salud!
And after all this time in California, it only feels right to feature two songs from Infinite Transmissions ProjectDeflate the Stars. Recorded simultaneously with Second Hand Rubbish, this album explores the cult of celebrity. The album takes aim at teenage millionaires, and Songs About California. Musically, the additions of Frank Dubec (Vevlo Eel), Greg Landry (Train in Vain) and Kimberly Hellweg find the collective exploring an increased use of live drums and increased layering of instrumentation. You can still find searing guitar leads (see Automatic Freedom Fighter), trumpet (see Not About You) and cleverly delivered lyrics (see all). From the opening crash of a wave on Don’t Count Me Out (that is a wave crashing, right?) to the final jet wash on “Drive Away“, you will find an album chock full of sonic subtlety. Easter egg hunters saddle up, this album rewards the close listener. We hope you hold on!
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