Hearsay: Wednesday, November 05, 2008
From Blog to Record Label

Daily newspaper critics used to be tastemakers in the music industry. Not anymore, of course. Haven’t been for a long-ass time. I mean, why would any reader bother pausing to hear what some daily critic has to say about some national band when much more in-depth critical musings from Rolling Stone and SPIN are just a mouse click away? No, daily music critics – especially the ones that still focus on national bands – have been rendered utterly useless. (Daily-paper film critics who focus on nationwide releases seem to be immune to similar obsolescence, probably because film critics, though more are getting let go every day, are allowed to write at length about their subjects and can fully develop their voices – and earn fans and detractors – whereas music critics are limited to about 100 words tops. No one really cares if their positions are not-so-gently eliminated.) The new tastemakers in music are bloggers, as evidenced right here by the folks at We Shot J.R. The three-year-old blog has a minuscule audience compared to the Star-T’s or DMN’s. But instead of that being a disadvantage it’s an integral aspect of the site, forming a hyper-intense and loyal readership, which in turn allows the writers to really parse the minutiae of minutiae-laden local and national bands. No dumbing down here. At We Shot J.R., there’s an implicit understanding between writers and readers. We all know as much as one another: a lot. The average post generates about 20 or 30 comments. After three years of challenging and entertaining local proactive music fans, the blog is expanding into The Biz. We Shot J.R. Records is a boutique label that will release limited-edition vinyl records mainly by local artists, starting with songs by Denton’s Fight Bite, Darktown Strutters, Orange Coax, and Girlfren. “Of course,” reads a message posted on the web site, www.weshotjr.com, “we will not be offering ‘reviews’ of the records we release.” The WSJ folks decided to start the label several months ago. “I’m not sure why, really,” said WSJ spearhead Stoned Ranger. “It’s probably not the best time to be starting a record label, in all honesty, but … we believe there are some very good bands playing in the area right now, and we wanted to provide some of those bands with an outlet to release their music and possibly gain some deserved national attention in the process.” Records will be distributed online and at shows. “We are hoping to get some of the records in retail shops sometime soon,” SR said. Releasing only vinyl, he said, is a response to “healthy demand, we think” and because “all of us love the way vinyl sounds, and we realized there are a lot of people out there like us.” A business-breaking-into party is set for Friday at Time Bandits Vintage in Denton (108 W Oak St, Ste 102, 940-808-1908). Slated to perform are all of the bands mentioned above except Girlfren, plus Secret Bangs and Animal Forces. The Fight Bite record, “Swiss Ex-Lover,” also will be available for sale. Admission is free – and so is the beer (’til it runs out). The music starts at 9 p.m.

Contact HearSay at hearsay@fwweekly.com.

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