BART Records began one fateful day in January 2009. I walked into Bibles for Missions (Red Deer, Alberta’s greatest thrift store) and like I usually do, I went straight for the electronics section hoping maybe to score a Commodore or some other old system. Instead I found the greatest thing I could hope to find: a Telex cassette-dubber. I bought that thing so fast.
Only when I brought it home did I realize I wasn't sure what I even planned to use it for. I had recently returned from teaching in Korea and so I didn’t have any bands on the go, and I didn’t have a back-log of unreleased material. But I really wanted to get involved in music once again. All my friends seemed to have really cool bands, and didn’t seem to know what to do with their recordings. And thus, taking the moniker from an Adventures in Odyssey episode, BART Records was born.
The idea for BART is to focus on the most exciting stuff happening in Canada (namely western, but there’s been quite a bit from across the country). I know most labels tend to have bands from all over the world, but like Dischord or something like that, I think it’s important to document what is happening in your town, in your scene.
I truly believe that my friends make some of the best music in the world, so it’s not like I have to step too far out of my backyard to hear something amazing. I suppose I’m most passionate about loud post-hardcore-styled stuff, but BART has managed to get out a really diverse sounding batch of tapes: the skram of Gift Eaters, or the dreamy indie rock of Friendo or even the video game music of GreyScreen. I never really even thought BART would get this far. I only really intended to do a couple releases, but somehow it’s been going amazingly; pals are still making incredible sounds and I’m still compelled to keep going.
As far as the whole “cassette culture” thing goes, it’s all just a joke. It has nothing to do with nostalgia, nothing to do with aesthetics. Tapes are just the way I could get stuff out there with regards to my means. It simply is, straight-up, the most functional and inexpensive format, with superior sound quality (for reals!), incredibly quick turn over, and the ability to do low-production runs. Not to mention, a tape is relatively impossible to destroy. I value DIY ethics very strongly, and I personally fold every cover, dub every tape, stuff every envelope. Every single thing released on BART has been lovingly assembled with love and care. I don’t know how I'd it any other way.
Crazy stuff’s happening in the future. This summer there’s a BART Records showcase for Sled Island, this huge incredible festival taking place all over Calgary and bringing some of the best and raddest stuff around. New releases from Book of Caverns, Gyre, Spire and Spindle (both with members of Gift Eaters) and Fuck the Tundra (all from Edmonton) are in the works. BART will also delve into the world of vinyl (under the moniker Revolution Winter), pressing Calgary’s Stalwart Sons LP Burn Daylights Like Torches.
Here are some jams:
01 Draft Dodgers, “Prometheus’ Son”
This was off the first BART release, and I never intended for it to go beyond this. Draft Dodgers was a band I started with Glenn (formerly of Corta Vita) and Dan (who’s now killing it in Sharp Ends). We knew we were going to be around for a short time, and somehow we were able to get a tape off before it ended. It sounds kind of rough now, but I’m still super proud of the songs.
02 Bayonets!!!, “Last Spike”
I knew all the members of this band from their previous bands, The Wolfnote and Mark Birtles Project, but how those bands amalgamated into this, I’ll never know. Minute long post-punk fragments that are weird and hilarious.
03 Gobble Gobble, “Woodpact”
Gobble Gobble is CJ from Gift Eaters’ bizarre solo-project, delivering these pop songs hidden under a mess of fuzz and dance beats. I didn’t get it at first, and still don’t know if I do. The band is going to be touring like crazy this summer, make sure to look them up, ‘cause likely they’ll be in your town sometime soon… to assault you with neon.
04 Taxes, “The Suburbs are Killing Us”
This band had dudes from the WPP who blew my mind years before, and I heard they were finally making loud music again. And fronted by a vocalist who references the gamut of 20th century song-lyrics as if it were his own private lyric book. But then supposedly the full length they recorded wasn’t even going to get released. We couldn’t let that happen.
05 Friendo, “Liner”
This Calgary band (that features a member of Women) has been killin’ it in the press thanks to hook-ups in hip online periodicals. Dreamy, Beat Happening-like indie rock tunes, if the vocals were ripped from shoe-gaze. They’re also touring extensively this summer, be sure to hit it.
06 GreyScreen, “Noise of the Bruit”
Since I wasn’t playing in a band for a while, I needed a music outlet, and somehow Gameboys filled that bill. To me, chip-tune should sound like it came from an actual video game, and really should steer way clear of techno. I released this tape after about a year of writing songs on Gameboys, and it features nearly an hour of music. Getting re-pressed soon.
07 Grown-Ups, “Not an Adult”
I’ve had the luxury to have gained the friendship of this awesome Calgary band. Angry, yet up-beat punk jams that almost verge on old-school hardcore, but is way too light-hearted for that. And it has some of the most hilarious lyrics ever set to tape.
08 North of America, “Hate the Player”
This was a dream for me. North of America had been my favorite band for as long as I can remember. I managed to acquire a bunch of tracks that hadn’t gotten a proper release (or any release). I asked if they’d be down with putting it out, and amazingly they were down. It’s amazing how even their throw-aways best every other band in the world.
09 Japanese Beaver are Canadian, “Ammunition”
This is the only band I’ve released that I didn’t know personally. Pals in Gift Eaters ended up playing a bunch of show with them on tour, and turned me on to them. JBAC recorded this record that was only going to get released on the internet, so we had to fix that. Basically if Shotmaker were only big dudes who only owned basses, and lived in the middle of nowhere, it might sound like this.
10 Gift Eaters, “Sarai”
I still think this band never got their due. Without hyperbole, they were the best band in Alberta for the longest time, and I swear, in the future people will look back on this band and kick themselves for not being down with it. Super noisy and emotional and sincere, and a total mess. I am still moved by this band.
11 Black Magic Pyramid, “Party Invite to Samsara”
When I first heard this band, I didn’t like it all. It sounded too dark and the vocals too black metal for me. But when I saw them play at Ghost Throats, it was a revelation. This tape really is a grower. The vocals screech and the rhythm pounds, but the hidden epic guitar lines buried under it all, such rewards! Greatest thing ever to come from Saskatoon? Probably.
Download the comp in one handy zip file here.