City Slang records is celebrating their 20th anniversary in style this year with a series of special shows, this Autumn, in Berlin. Acts due to play include Lambchop, Calexico, Yo La Tengo, Tortoise, The Notwist, Broken Social Scene, Alexi Murdoch and Get Well Soon. There will also be Special Edition Re-issues to get your hands on.
According to the City Slany website: Lambchop will play their classic album ‘Is a Woman’ in its entirety, Calexico will perform their seminal ‘Feast of Wire’ album as well as a City Slang-centric sets from Yo La Tengo and Tortoise, not forgetting unmistakable turns from The Notwist playing ‘Neon Golden’ and Broken Social Scene. Beautifully packaged reissues will also be available in November/December. These include limited edition deluxe versions of Calexico’s ‘Hot Rail’ and ‘Feast of Wire’, Lambchop’s ‘Nixon’ and ‘Is a Woman’ and The Notwist’s ‘Neon Golden’. Lastly, Lambchop will reissue a stonking 8 CD plus 2 DVD box set of tour only material which is strictly limited to one thousand copies.
City Slang History:
The label was prompted towards its inception by the wonderful Flaming Lips asking Christof Ellinghaus to help them find a European label in late 1989. Christof commented that all the labels around at the time “were shit” and that he would start one especially for them. They trusted him and so City Slang was born. This was 1990, when Sonic Youth and Yo La Tengo were all still young collegiate upstarts. In fact, Yo La Tengo were so young they jumped the gun and got an album out on the newly established City Slang even before the Flaming Lips could say ‘In A Priest Driven Ambulance with Silver Sunshine Stares’. Yo La’s was called ‘Fakebook’ and was their first in many Dylanesque Judah moments as it saw them exchange the feedback walls of noise for semi acoustic folk songs. Fakebook is now considered a classic by many. Over to Mister Ellinghaus to break down the years in a punchy condensed version.
In 1991 we not only hooked up with Hole and had the pleasure to start working with one Courtney Love, we also found out about Superchunk and Unsane. By 1992 all things Hole had become a part of a massive global grunge soap opera that fed many a media machine. After Nirvana and the death of Kurt Cobain, nothing would ever be the same again; the industry had started to snap up anybody and everybody who had long hair, whether he could play music or not. What was previously considered alternative music became an absurd farce and/or a radio format. Enter Tortoise and their live-saving first album ‘Tortoise’. People from the same scene, some of them with that major label experience well behind them, had the urge, the need to create something new and challenging. They were the light at the end of the tunnel, while the rest of the world was listening to Stone Temple Pilots. Thank you Tortoise!
Lambchop showed up next with a record that sported dog’s testicles as the main ingredient of the sleeve art and songs called Soaky In The Pooper. How could we not fall for this?
In the meantime Built To Spill were laying down some absurdly amazing music in the most humble of ways. The second half of the Nineties was a great mix, indie rock and electronic music started to flirt with one another and we’d like to think we had a bit of a hand in there. Who did the very first 12“ series of remixes for a “band”? Yep, that was us, with Tortoise. Then again, they started so-called post rock didn’t they? Then followed Schneider TM and To Rococo Rot, the first two German acts on the label.
Calexico turned up in 98 and charmed us with Mexican trumpets. In 2000 both Lambchop and Calexico released their breakthrough albums that went on to sell in their hundreds of thousands. In 2002 The Notwist delivered a record called ‘Neon Golden’ that stands as one of the greatest records ever made.
We were there when Broken Social Scene released their unforgettable ‘You Forgot It In People’. Unfortunately they did not release it on City Slang but on a major label instead, but after the band toured without a release or any label support they turned to us for their second self titled album, happily. Canada came around in full swing.
And now we have bands like Caribou, Port O’Brien, Cortney Tidwell, Junip, Menomena, and the incredible HEALTH. We were there when the Echoplex vomited them out and maybe they are the greatest band in the world right now. Who knows. Who can say these things. But looking back at the last 20 years, all we can say is that we have had huge amounts of fun doing our work, and how many people can claim that?