Saturday, December 30, 2006

2006 In Review

In looking back at the kind of 2006 that Camera Obscura had, like 2005 it seemed very much a case of one step forward and two steps back. Or maybe only one step back, I'm not really sure. Like 2005, the label only released four new titles, and I'm hoping we're at the bottom of some kind of parabola there. In any case lots of good stuff happened, and bad as well.

On the up side, we continue to get offered great projects, to the extent that a fair bit of discipline is required not to just got out and borrow a shitload of money to get them done. Much of that hasn't come through in the schedule yet, but it will in 2007. I was stunned to be offered a Tanakh release, and that will be out early in the new year. It's their first release not to be on Alien8, and showcases the might songwriting and vocal chops of Tanakh member Michele Poulos. I was also blown away to be offered the debut full-lengther by Saint Joan to release, and it's a cracker. I'm also pretty excited to be releasing United Bible Studies' follow up to "The Shore That Fears the Sea", one of the best releases of 2006 IMHO. The Carnival compilation keeps expanding, and will get done when the funds are there - a grant will probably be needed. Also on the good side, I finally got some Shopping Cart e-commerce happening on the web site, and it's a lot easier for folks to order our stuff now. Lots of Lucky Bishops and Black Sun Ensemble CDs got ordered that way, and it was good to see that plenty of punters picked up back-catalog as well. Should have done it several years ago, really. Lot's of good (mainly web) reviews this year, too, including on Pitchfork and in Harp, which shouldn't be as big a deal as it seems to be, but there you are.

On the down side, the AUS-US exchange rate is killing cash-flow in death-of-a-thousand-cuts fashion. We just get less and less back for stuff sold in US$, which is a lot of our sales %-wise. The distributor world shifted on its axis with Caroline being bought out, and pretty much getting out of the indie game. It remains to be seen if others can fill the breach. But we're lucky to have CTD, Midheaven, Clear Spot and others, who care about the music, are pretty honorable in their dealings and always seem to rise above in the end. Piracy is probably killing our sales to some extent, as is our absence from iTunes, which may have to change next year, much as I don't want to sell stuff that way. I'll try it with the Tanakh release and see how it goes. Fewer and fewer print journals review our stuff, and there are no resources to change that. As discussed on this list earlier in the year, some magazines have adopted a bunker mentality against the volume of music out there, and it's hard to crack. There is so much stuff coming out of the CD-R underground now that these traditional forums for review are being left behind anyway. This is the first year in a long time that I've trouble compiling a top 10 list because of too much stuff, rather than not enough. I now have a baker's dozen for the year, which seems to change from day-to-day:

Agitated Radio Pilot "Your Turn To Go It Alone" (Rusted Rail 2x3" CD-R)
Anton Barbeau "In the Vilage of the Apple Sun" (Four-Way)
Nick Castro and the Young Elders "Come Into Our House" (SAAH)
Comets on Fire "Avatar" (Sub Pop)
Current 93 "Black Ships Ate the Sky"(Durtro)
Elf Power "Back to the Web" (Rykodisc)
Espers "II" (Drag City)
Fern Knight "Music For Witches and Alchemists" (VHF)
Flying Canyon - s/t (Soft Abuse)
Handsome Family "Last Days of wonder" (Carrot Top)
Meg Baird/Helena Espvall/Sharron Kraus "Leaves From Off the Tree" (Bo' Weavil)
Tanakh "Ardent Fevers" (Alien 8)
United Bible Studies "Shore That Fears the Sea" (Deserted Village)

So as to 2007, the scrawled back-of-the-beer coaster Camera obscura schedule looks something like this:

CAM078CD Tanakh "Saunders Hollow" (Feb 07, mail order from early Jan)
CAM079CD Saint Joan "The Wrecker's Lantern" (April 07)
CAM080CD United Bible Studies (May/Jun 07)
CAM081CD Christian Kiefer and Jeff Pitcher "For All the Dead Sailors" (Jun/Jul 07)

Carnival Compilation (2 or 3 CD set) maybe around mid-year.

Releases hoped for later in 2007, a new Alphane Moon CD, a new Fell CD, and Sharron Kraus and Gillian Chadwick as "Rusalnaia", we'll see what comes in and what funds are available.

Anyway, I wish everyone all the best for 2007, and may bad wars end, bad governments fall, and Peace, Love and Understanding reign, hippie-style.



At 2:41 AM, Anonymous magicsteven said...

You're doing the new UBS LP? That is great news, I look forward to it immensely. Also I am in agreement on several of your 2006 picks, especially the Agitated Radio Pilot release. Happy New Year!

At 3:57 AM, Blogger Camera Obscura Records said...

Thanks Steven. We aim to please! Hopefully the UBS release will be the beginning of a long relationship with those Deserted Village folks


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