“Happy” to say Return to Last Chance Saloon by Happy Refugees is out today! Ordering information, samples, photos, PR copy and other goodies can be found here. Figured I’d take this chance to promote their upcoming visit to NYC and give a little background about the release.
To celebrate this long-awaited (by a few) release, Happy Refugees reunited and are coming to NY for a couple of shows.
Friday December 9th they will be playing at the Knitting Factory Brooklyn, where they were graciously invited by Crystal Stilts who are celebrating the release of their new EP. Crystal Stilts count among the aforementioned “few” who had been lucky enough to be exposed to Happy Refugees during these years where their records were rare collectibles. The affinity makes sense. They will be joined by McDonalds, the band. More information can be found at the Knit and at the Facebook event page.
Then, Saturday the 10th, first they will appear on Terre T’s Cherry Blossom Clinic on WFMU.
Later that evening, they will be headlining a show at Cake Shop, where they will be joined by one of my favorite young bands (obviously most of my favorite bands are old), Regal Degal, and their friends Suspensors. More info at yet another Facebook event page.
But if they were so obscure, just how did Acute Records discover Happy Refugees? Good question! Many many years ago, there was a time when the internet did exist and it was possible to quickly reach strangers in far off lands, but there was a shortage of what’s called “bandwith”, so while you could electronically talk to people, it was not yet quite possible to simply send music and other media quickly over the wires. I don’t remember how I came into contact with the record dealer Steve in the Netherlands, (rec.music.marketplace.vinyl?) but I did. Now back in those days, record dealers would make mix tapes on cassettes of things they thought you might like to buy. Steve made me such a mix and it contained the classic Hamburger Boy by Happy Refugees. Steve had been in touch with the band, so a few years later when I finally decided it was time to try to reissue it, he got me in touch with them. And only 5 or 6 years later we have Return to Last Chance Saloon! Steve meanwhile is still spreading the news at his blog Low Down Kds and selling the goods here. Thanks Steve.
As we roll out this release, it’s been really interesting to hear people’s response. This is definitely one of those “I can’t believe I’ve never heard this before”, “where has this been hiding”, “you’ve changed my life” kind of releases. This isn’t post-punk-era barrel-scraping. This is a fully formed awesome record without a bum song. The references that people dig up have been interesting. Lots of comparison to the likes of The Fall, Marc Riley, Nightingales and Mekons, all favorites. DIY favorites like Swell Maps, Homosexuals, Desperate Bicycles. The early Flying Nun/New Zealand scene. Velvets and Stooges, Reed and Cale and Iggy solo. OK, I needed to get that lame name-dropping referencing out of the way. Taken on their own, Happy Refugees are a great rock band and Return to Last Chance Saloon is a great, shambolic, emotional and catchy rock album. Check it out, meet them on Facebook and come see them in NY.