Circuit Sweet Interview, Feature, Reviews

Rad Releases 20 – Dowd Records

December 21, 2020

Rad Releases 20 – Dowd Records

It’s that time once again, as the countdown to the end of 2020 rapidly approaches and we quickly want to move away from this year- we take a personal look back on familiar names, labels, promoters, and musicians’ best releases of the past 12 months. In what has been a challenging year for all, the one constant has been how artists and their labels have adapted and produced some of the best records of our time and it’s those releases that have the audience has depended on to get them through the year.

This year the Rad Releases special celebrates 10 years, to mark the decade-long feature we let our favorites take over the site to tell us the records that have kept them going throughout this trying year. Telling us how they’ve adapted, if they’ve returned to a loved record and what we can look forward to from them next year.

We discovered Dowd Records in 2019 and this label has to be one of our favourite discoveries, we are in awe of this hardworking label and urge our readers to take in how special they are as a platform. Throughout this year and despite the difficulties Dowd and their artists have faced, the label has continued to push, promote, and keep their community connected with an abundance of new music, in fact at the height of our lockdown we couldn’t keep up with the number of releases, new artists and collaborations they were dealing with. Community is key for this label and they understand the importance of their artists and the artists’ fans. Dowd Records is a collective of musicians, artists, designers, skateboarders and music fans and we know they deserve all of your attention.  We hand over the site to Jason of Dowd Records to find out more about the label’s year in music…

Top Releases

Soft Kill – Dead Kids R.I.P. City

This album is just amazing. Also my best discovery of the year. A lot of people are mentioning album of the year when they talk about this record and I don’t disagree at all. Favorite track: Inverness

Foliage – Self Titled LP

Foliage has been much loved on the janglepop and bedroom pop scene for years but the self titled album he just put out is so deeply personal and with such creative songwriting and instrumentation, it really stands out as a next level effort. Favorite track: Tomorrow

Casual Fog – In Still Delight

There is so much thought and care put into every note of every song on this album and you can feel it. Every song is cinematic and is expertly put together with layers of sound. You can listen again and again and hear something new every time.

Gusty – Time Ran Out single

For me, the combination of creative forces on the two tracks from this single could not be any better. Gusty has an awesome voice and vocal delivery and Jon Sortland’s production and creative direction are so great. They come together to make something with a super cool vibe and is really unique. Favorite track: Unmade Bed

Nation Of Language – Introduction, Presence

I guess I have been on a bit of a minimal synth / new wave kick and Nation of Language do this perfectly. Every song is tonally soothing and I can put it on repeat (or just keep playing the same side of the record… usually side B!) for hours. Favorite track: Friend Machine

Solos – Self Titled EP

I was blown away when I first heard the tracks on this EP. The demo approach to these tracks lets Spencer Siem’s and Aaron Ross’s creativity, songwriting and playing shine with all of the artists’ trademarks exposed by minimal production. The vinyl run came out so amazing too! Favorite track: Unsolved Mysteries

The best show you have played this year / gig attended (if you had the opportunity at the start of the year)

I was lucky to see the Beautiful Dudes play a show early in the year in this church turned music venue in the small town of Grass Valley, Ca. The Dudes had been writing new material for their upcoming Nite Songs EP and were playing the new songs live for the first time. It was awesome!

Shirtless, smoke-machining, flipping into the drum set awesome. The Dudes are so great live. Favorite track: Nite, Nite

Has there been any record that’s got you through this year?

Zig-Zags – They’ll Never Take Us Alive.

I feel like I have needed more energy this year than normal (ever?!) and the energy of this record is so contagious. This album just rips and is my go-to to get for getting going – especially for things like skateboarding! Favorite track: Fallout

How have you adapted with releasing/recording/promoting during this year?

We did a couple of things.

We did several live streaming and video performance events with more to come before the end of the year. I love these! They are so fun to watch and text/chat with the other attendees. We had series of performance videos from the artists on the Nevada City Film Festival collaboration record we did this year. Great performances from artists like Farrow and The Peach Leaves, Beautiful Dudes, The Fit, Tiera May, Shapes Freely, Mt. Whateverest, Cherry Rats, and Park Street Riot.

We also stayed committed to making vinyl and gear even if we weren’t sure if it would sell due to lack of shows and limited brick and mortar store hours. But instead of just larger traditional vinyl and gear runs we also focused on unique items that would be really special to fans. The Beautiful Dudes vinyl run is a great example of this – their Nite Songs 12” vinyl record comes in a screen printed, handmade selvedge denim cover complete with a pocket on the back and Dowd jeans tag on the pocket. It is beautiful!

For the Casual Fog album release we made a special super limited edition ‘free drinks” t-shirt that would get the person wearing it free drinks at the next Casual Fog live show. We put the tee up for sale for only 15 minutes and it still became one of our best selling tees. I am going to go broke at the next Fog show! Ha!

Best discovery this year?

Soft Kill. Their release of the Dead Kids album was just so perfect. The songs and album are amazing but so are the vinyl pressings and gear they made around the release of the album. Leading up the release, I was checking their webstore every day to see what was new! And even after the release of Dead Kids they continue to launch awesome gear. I am definitely a huge fan and feel the most connected to what they are doing outside of Dowd releases.

Label Highlight of 2020

The Lurkville Skateboards collaboration we kicked off this year is such a highlight. I can’t say enough great things about the Lurkville crew. They are amazing and the collaboration between Lurkville and Dowd could not be a more perfect fit!

Skateboarding is huge part of the DNA of Dowd Records, with almost everyone involved on the label side being skaters and Genaro (of TLA) and myself both being professional skateboarders for a hot minute in the 90’s.

Lurkville Skateboards was dreamed up by long-time friends over a pair of turntables. Tyrone Taylor, Julian Vazquez and David Vazquez wanted to bring the energy and aesthetic of early rock n’ roll culture to the skateboard world. Like I mentioned – perfect fit. Lurkville is a global skateboard brand with pros Brendan Keaveny and Chris Larue on the team roster.

We launched the collaboration off with two skateboard decks – one board from The Cry and another deck from Beautiful Dudes. Each deck came with an exclusive flexi vinyl disc of a new song from the band and the top of each board has a QR code printed on it that you scan to go to an exclusive playlist of unreleased music from Dowd artists. We also had a series of skate events and shows planned to celebrate.

Everything came out incredible! The decks were awesome and sold out fast and the response to the new songs was great. But we aren’t able to do any of the shows or events yet so we are continuing the collaboration into next year and summer.

TLA has a deck coming out next along with new music, new skate video and some big surprises. I can’t wait for everyone to see what we are cooking up.

It was also a highlight to work with the awesome Blacks Beach Boys on their debut album release. The record is so energetic and stylish, I love it. And the reception to it was great. Top 100 on College radio charts and a great writeup in the legendary print zine The Big Takeover.

It really was a big highlight to get five amazing releases from the hyper-talented and creative Jon Sortland out into the world. We released some of my favorite music ever from Shasta, EV Kain, Gusty, TLA and Hot Summer – all this year and all projects with Sortland producing, playing, songwriting and providing creative direction. Four of those releases all had stunning videos that Sortland made as well. Working with talented and collaborative artists like Sortland is a real highlight for any lucky label!

As this is our 10th year of Rad Releases, we want to look back on your 10 years- has there been on standout moment/standout record of the past 10 years for you

The Cry – Beautiful Reasons.

Technically Beautiful Reasons came out in the early 90’s but only on a small run of cassettes and I only knew a few of their songs from the soundtracks of iconic skateboard videos like H-Street’s Hokus Pokus and The Life Video. It was in 2017 or so that I found Beautiful Reasons streaming and was able to hear the full album and without the skateboard video sounds over the songs! This really connected me back to my skateboard roots and was so inspirational.

This album reaches standout level for me because Dowd was able to release Beautiful Reasons on vinyl and the release came out amazing! Awesome mastering and pressing. Total classic!

I also get to work with The Cry regularly now and they are the best. The nicest, coolest and most understanding people to know and work with. We have put out a series of releases since Beautiful Reasons, including the Lurkville collab skate deck and a new single titled Understand that is out right now.

Artist/Band to watch for 2021

Tiera May – Tiera May released her debut song on the Nevada City Album in August and the response to her song was just awesome! And she recorded that song in a week! We are getting her connected with a great producer and working toward new releases next spring and summer. I seriously can not wait for everyone to hear this!

Label Plans for the New Year

We are so excited to do stuff in the real world! We are working with Lurkville Skateboards on a series of skate events and shows. We are starting to plan tours for several bands. We are working on an art installation project that will showcase the design and artists that work with Dowd. Some pop-up events will happen and we are so excited for all of it!

Thank you Jason and all at Dowd Records. We are also delighted to announce there will be a special Dowd Records x Circuit Sweet collaboration being announced on our channels following Rad Releases so keep an eye out for that!

https://dowdrecords.com/

https://www.facebook.com/dowdrecords

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