Tag Archives: Bruce Brodeen

T.G.I.F. – Ten For IPO!

From the ashes of the Poptopia festival in the late 90s came International Pop Overthrow, a multi-night multi-band powerpop showcase named in honor of the Material Issue album. David Bash has brought that festival into a global limelight on the years since, from coast-to-coast in America and in the hallowed halls of The Cavern in Liverpool England. And every year there is a multi-disc souvenir featuring many of the bands who take the stage, a tradition that Not Lame Recordings was (ahem) instrumental in perpetuating.

David is still out there bashing, and while Not Lame is no more, Bruce Brodeen is still involved with the CDs. The latest – Volume 14is now on sale at the Pop Geek Heaven site that Bruce now manages.

So this week’s TGIF is Ten For IPO – ten artists who can be found on this latest version of pop nirvana. Get your powerpop on!

(01) – Dave Rave, “Ann Marie

(02) – Lannie Flowers, “Looking For You

(03) – The Dirty Royals, “CIA

(04) – Bastards of Melody, “Dead Soldiers

(05) – The Dahlmanns, “I Love You Baby But I Hate Your Friends

(06) – Longplayer, “I Won’t Let You Down

(07) – Jeremy Morris, “Hurry Up And Wait

(08) – The Pondhawks, “Midnight Howl

(09) – All Day Sucker, “The Picture That Took Me

(10) – Cosmo Topper, “For The Time Being

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Power Pop Prime

Not long ago I wrote about the sad demise of Not Lame Recordings, as well as the new ventures that Bruce Brodeen was pursuing next. He’s already launched the pop community Rock and Roll Tribe and the countdown is current for Pop Geek Heaven.

Bruce has also been busy writing and editing a series of books about powerpop, one for each of the years that Not Lame was open. I’d tell you at length what that’s all about, but why not hear it from the man himself?

Video: Power Pop Prime

Bruce is right; copies of Shake Some Action are rarely found. It’s not on Amazon, nor Borders, nor Barnes & Noble, nor eBay nor other auction outlets I searched. So while I hope these limited editions wind up in the arms of fans, not investors, no reason a wise powerpop fan can’t be both.

The book goes on sale very soonsign up here!

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R.I.P. Not Lame Recordings

The mark of quality

This is a very sad day for music lovers everywhere.

After more than fifteen years of bringing the best pop music bands from around the globe to the doorstep of pop music lovers, Bruce Brodeen has announced that he will close the doors, both real and virtual, at Not Lame Recordings. Both a label and a distributor, Not Lame was synonymous with powerpop music and its related archetypes, and the shop for any serious powerpop fan.

Video: Bruce’s closing message

I was first turned on to Not Lame by Gail McGear of The Poptarts who I knew from my Syracuse days. She was over the moon about discovering a company that seemed to have been designed just for her, featuring a treasure trove of powerpop bands both familiar and obscure. I quickly found that she was not exaggerating one bit, and like her, I told others that shared the same passion for music. What made it special was that the guy who ran it was as big of a pop geek as I was. His enthusiastic blurbs about the various bands communicated that same joy that their music did. The phrase extremely highly recommended became a permanent part of the lexicon.

I first met Bruce in person over a decade ago during a business trip to Colorado. We had a casual online relationship from emailing back and forth a few times, and getting together for a beer turned into a lengthy conversation about music and an invitation to tour Not Lame headquarters (translation – hanging out at his house for a little bit). If the wall to wall stacks of CDs didn’t tip you off, his energy and enthusiasm made it clear that here was a man who found the perfect situation. And for a long time, despite the hard work it was never work to Bruce – I knew he felt blessed to be in the position he was in.

From that day forward, Bruce and I were simpatico.

What started out as a simple paper catalogue morphed into a magazine-sized brochure and eventually a fully functional website with bios, sound clips and recommendations. I would have to type all night to list the bands I discovered through Bruce’s company, and I have had several musicians tell me over the years that the exposure they got from distributing through Not Lame not only made them more money but helped build a fanbase that enabled them to continue to tour and record. Not Lame released brand new music on its own label but also issued lost archives from classic regional bands and coordinated the cream of the powerpop stable for brilliant tribute albums. Their box sets were first-rate productions that rivalled the output from the major labels. Not Lame, although small in size, was a player.

Read about Not Lame’s history.

But as anyone who has a pulse knows, the music industry all but collapsed over the past decade, impacting small businesses even harder than the big conglomerates. Over the years there were many times where others would have pulled the plug and walked away. Piracy through high-speed disc copying and illegal downloads became both commonplace and easy to do. Tough economic times kept money in wallets – if there was any money to keep – and events that would bring attention to these bands scaled down. Competition arose, of course, and the ability for bands to host and facilitate their own transactions through social media and technological advances caused many to not see a need for a vendor in the relationship. All of these things led to dwindling sales and less frequent purchases. (I know this firsthand, as my own orders trickled to once, maybe twice, each year.)

But Bruce felt a loyalty to both his customers and the bands that were counting on him. A good businessman, Bruce is also a true die-hard fan of the music, and that emotional investment probably kept him in the game a lot longer than had he been a CEO reading a balance sheet with antipathy. So he made adjustments, moving away from expensive and risky label projects and focusing on distribution and community cultivation. But even through his best efforts, there just wasn’t enough of a consistent, dependable market to maintain the business, let alone grow it.

So now it is time to move on. Not Lame will close, but Bruce will channel his passion and business smarts into a new project. He’s already helped lauch the Rock and Roll Tribe, and you can click here to sign up for information about Pop Geek Heaven, and get ready to start that brand new journey in 2011. And as long as Bruce is involved, I know it will be a worthwhile adventure.

I’m all in.

Still time to place some final Not Lame orders

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Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad

 

Prediction-wise, that is. But not happy about it. 

I had a bad feeling that America was going to reject Laurie Kilmartin and James Adomian after last week’s set, and unfortunately those were the first two severed. When Jonathan Thymius and Maronzio Vance came out (what is it with finishing the eliminations with a duo?) I felt sure I was three-for-three even though if I were voting I would have sent Vance packing along with Rachel Feinstein and Felipe Esparza

But somehow, despite a strange and awkward set, Thymius survived. Did America really want to punish Vance for blowing his punch line last week? Because I don’t get how they can dig deep enough to enjoy Thymius’ surreal act yet not see the charm in Adomian’s equally obtuse direction. And god knows what will happen next week, because Thymius had an even stranger set with a really weak close…although he did slip a teabagging reference past the censors. 

Teabagging the toilet water?

I do not understand the fascination with Rachel Feinstein as a stand-up comic. She’s very attractive and leggy and is comfortable on stage and does great voices…but there are no jokes! I agree with some bloggers who suggest a career in voice-over work; she could be a versatile player in the animated world as long as someone else is writing the material. All she did last night was another extended ethnic rant

Myq Kaplan continued to riff strong material (although familiar to anyone who has his album) and once again he tagged a prior comic’s set to good results. And Tommy Johnagin continues to kill, peppering punch lines and adding that little bit extra, like pointing out his sweat stain and mocking the judges. I thought Mike DeStefano was more miss than hit this time around, although the “does it clean shame” line was solid. 

Roy Wood Jr. continues to be consistently good – never great – but always enough to get a few laughs. And while I’m not a Felipe Esparza fan, this was probably his best set; the crowd loves him. I’m starting to believe that it’s going to come down to the ethnic comic and the comic who can’t avoid ethnic schtick. That would be sad, but we are talking about a show that crowned Dat Phan as the funniest comedian. 

The best parts of the show continue to be Craig Robinson’s one-liners coming in or out of commercials. The judges are back, but why? They don’t criticize anyone – everyone is great and their sets are solid? It’s insulting to watch. I enjoy Greg Giraldo’s quips and Andy Kindler is reason enough to watch the show. And I’ve seen Natasha Leggero be funny, but it’s yet to happen on this program. But the bigger issue is that America is voting and they aren’t judging anything anymore – so why the pretense? 

Not certain how many go home next week but I predict the next two voted home are Thymius and Kaplan. Sadly, America will get what it deserves

— 

"Sitting in the back of a car..."

R.I.P. bass player Andy Hummel, leaving only drummer Jody Stephens with us from the late great Big Star (no, I don’t count Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow). I don’t really have to make any special effort to pull a Big Star album out of the racks as they’ve been in rotation for…oh, almost forty years

Hummel had been battling cancer for the last two years. My friend (and Not Lame honcho) Bruce Brodeen posted that he had seen Andy at SXSW in March, where despite his illness he flew in from halfway across the world to participate in the tribute. Bruce said his playing was “a blessing“, and I guess if you’re going to strap in for a last gig that would not be a bad one to go out on. 

Blurt and EW announcements.

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Blast From The Past – The World’s Best Power Pop

“The oasis of pop for many an Internet surfer, the Not Lame Recording Company is a clearing house for power pop bands of all shapes and sizes – reissued classics and the best new hopefuls from around the world. Label head Bruce Brodeen is a pop fan first and foremost, and his passion for the genre has helped his business grow from a dream into a necessary conduit for many of the lesser known bands to connect with their potential audience.”

I wrote those words thirteen years ago when reviewing Not Lame’s first sampler for Consumable Online. It’s out of print now – a used copy is going for a hefty price on Amazon. Check out this list of artists (in bold); many were just breaking through in 1997 and have become favorites of the genre:

Plastic Moon Rain (Moptops) / Exit To Stay (DT’S) / It’s A Shame (This Perfect Day) / Just Another Day (Twenty Cent Crush) / Love You Like A King (Walter Clevenger) / Brenda Revisited (Martin Luther Lennon) / Colours (The Rooks) / Easy On The Eye (Kenny Howes) / Waking From A Dream (Micah Gilbert) / Miss July (Brad Jones) / What Goes Around (Barely Pink) / Go (Willie Wisely) / Yes Yes Hey Hey (Wunderband) / Today Will Be Yesterday (Big Hello) / Waterfall (Heavy Into Jeff) / Almost Something There (The Beatifics) / Wave To Ride (The Living Daylights) / Throw Me Down (Cool Blue Halo) / Try Not To Care (DGS Younger) / Nervous Man (Stellaluna) / So Low (Dead Flowers) / Take Me Or Leave Me (Time Bomb Symphony).

My money was on Stellaluna, a North Carolina band that got some help from Jamie Hoover of The Spongetones. They didn’t become a household name, but popularity has never had anything to do with quality. Read my full review of the Not Lame sampler here.

Bruce and Not Lame are still going strong; besides being a primary distributor for pop and rock bands, his label continues to release first-rate albums on their own imprint. Beyond their own artist roster, their tribute albums and box set anthologies are labors of love that have quickly become collectors items. Visit them here.

Bruce is Very Highly Recommended

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