January 17, 2015

Early Tooth & Nail Records, the death of the iPod (& the birth of the FiiO?), and still burning CDs

Many things inspired this post:

1. I finally got my No New Kinda Story BluRay last week, which is a documentary on the first few years of Tooth and Nail Records. That inspired me to figure out the chronological/numerical order for all of the label's releases of the first few years. I created an iTunes playlist, and ended up stopping with TND1051, which for me was the turning point to the label's mediocrity (although they continue to put out great albums today, but it is less than 10% of their overall output). I own(ed) and love(d) 45 or so of the first 50 Tooth and Nail releases, but only 20 or so of the second 50.

Page from a 1994 Tooth and Nail Records Catalog


2. My iPod has been finicky. It is a 2008 80gb iPod Classic, but I love it. I would prefer to buy an 160gb Classic to replace it, but now that they have been discontinued by Apple they are insanely expensive. I recently began researching other MP3 players for the first time in over a decade, and discovered the best new option is apparently the FiiO, and when my iPod does die, I'll probably buy a an X1 with a 128gb SD card. (If you are reading this and own a FiiO--any model--I would love for you to comment about your experience with the  MP3 player.)

3. I read an article on Pitchfork a few days ago, Life After Death (Of Your iPod). I doubt many of you will click that link, so here are some important excerpts from the story written by Hazel Cills (but could have very easily been written by me, as I feel the same way on almost all aspects):

"My iPod is dying, a slow and painful digital death, having begun to fritz and refuse to sync early into this New Year. The device was condemned to death in September, when Apple quietly killed off the iPod Classic... What’s concerning about the discontinuation of the iPod Classic is that Apple is making a concerted effort to move into streaming services which signals a future without mp3 holding devices...

"I don’t use Spotify though I do use Soundcloud and Bandcamp (until I buy the actual album.) Downloading music to a device is how I’ve come to primarily own music. Whether it’s a file on my computer desktop or a 7'' in my bag, I like owning the music. I like burning files to mix CDs... 

"I like having my entire library in my pocket and not having to worry about roaming data charges or hooking my phone up to WiFi to hear my favorite songs... There is still a huge market for large mp3 players, with people snatching up new and old Classic models already for double the price online... Also, I think the Classic is a more distraction-free listening experience—I’m more likely to get through a full album on one."

There is more to that article than what I have quoted, but the main theme is what I feel so strongly about: I want ALL my music on my iPod (or maybe a FiiO in the future) and I want it ALL to be music I have intentionally purchased. I only stream music to preview it, and I use Soundcloud, Bandcamp, and Amazon to do that. After I like a few tracks well enough I hear through those methods, I will then commit and buy the album to support the artist (ideally through the artist or label website, but often from Amazon). I will not continue to stream it; I hate Spotify more than Taylor Swift does.

Another reason I like to own all my music, and have the actual MP3 files on my hard drive, is because I still burn CD's. I LOVE making mix CDs (and I still really miss making mix tapes). My ideal way to listen to music in a car is on my iPod with a direct connection to my car stereo. My car stereo for the last few years had an iPod-specific connection (even better than a traditional line-in aux port). But I moved across the Atlantic, and my new car has a cassette player and a 6-disc CD changer. Most of the time (almost daily) I listen to my iPod through a cassette-adapter. (Side note: I bought a cassette-adapter for my Sony Discman CD player in 1994, and it worked for 20 years! I only had to buy a replacement a couple months ago).

I also like to keep my six-disc changer loaded for when I don't have my iPod in the car, or charged. And when I travel and drive other people's cars, they usually only have CD players, so I like to bring some CD mixes along. And the last school I worked at I made mix CDs for the senior class every year as a graduation present.

Now, back to Tooth and Nail Records. I have been listening to nothing but music from this label from the years 1993-1996 in the new year (Except for Bandit!). Lots of things have me thinking about that era and that label; from the documentary, to the Old School Tooth and Nail Facebook group, and new podcasts from Bill Power and Mark Salomon. Watching the documentary is one way to learn about the history of Tooth and Nail, but a completely different way is to listen to 5+ hours worth of conversation between Power and Salomon. Anyway, I am not going to get into it here, but that record label literally changed my life.

Page from a 1994 Tooth and Nail Records Catalog


What is the next step? Make a mix. Part of me wanted to see how many of the early releases I had from the label. I had over 40 of the first 50 releases in my iTunes database, and it didn't take me long to fill in the gaps. Goal number one was just to figure out what the first 50 releases were, in chronological order. Tooth and Nail numbered their releases simply enough, that if you can find the number (one the spine of the CD, or on Wikipedia), that is one way of putting it all together. But all these albums weren't actually released in that order. But if you try to sort by release date, that doesn't work either, because so many of the release dates you find in online research are wrong. Starting with TND1001, which was definitively released in Nov. 1993, yet everything online says mid-1994 (I had even heard it before then).

So here you go, the first 51 Tooth and Nail Records releases in semi-chronological order. After I created the iTunes playlist, I noticed right away that is was close to the length of two 80-minute CDs. When selecting the songs, I intentionally picked a combination of my favorite and the shortest song on each album to get as many songs as possible. I replaced a few tracks to get the time right, and impressively it was possible to fit 51 songs on 2 CDs.

If someone wants a challenge, how about you create a 2 CD set for me of the next 50 or so Tooth and Nail releases?

Disc 1 (79:25)
TND1001 Wish For Eden "Ocean" Pet The Fish 1993
TND1002 Focused "Blinded" Bow 1993
TND1003 Starflyer 59 "2nd Space Song" Silver 1994
TND1004 The Crucified "A Guy In A Suit And The Pope" The Crucified 1989 (re-issued in 1994)
TND1005 PlankEye "Scared" Spill 1994
TND1006 Sometime Sunday "Crawl" Stone 1994
TND1007 Chatterbox "Epignosis" Despite 1994
TND1008 The Blamed "The Ballad of the Blamed" 21 1994
TND1009 The Crucified "Rebellion" Nailed/Take Up Your Cross 1986/1987 (re-issued in 1994)
TND1010 Blenderhead "Power Trip" Prime Candidate For Burnout 1994
TND1011 Unashamed "Blessed Redeemer" Silence 1994
TND1012 Mend "Token" Helpless Amongst Friends Vol. 1 1994
TND1013 Havalina Rail Co. "Ragtime" Havalina Rail Co. 1994
TND1014 MxPx "Want Ad" Pokinatcha 1994
TND1015 Starflyer 59 "She Was My Sweet Heart" She's The Queen EP 1994
TND1016 Luxury "Flaming Youth Flames On" Amazing And Thank You 1995
TND1017 Everdown "Degenerate" Sicken 1995
TND1018 Rose Blossom Punch "Sowing in the Sun" Artcore Vol. 1 1995
TND1019 The Blamed "Breeze" Frail 1995
TND1020 Joy Electric "The Girl From Rosewood Lane" Melody 1994
TND1021 Don't Know "Bad Cop, No Donut" Coodli P. Ramaswami Memorial Cheesecake EP 1995
TND1022 Strongarm "Stand Together" Atonement 1995
TND1023 PlankEye "Open House" The Spark 1995
TND1024 Focused "Red" The Hope That Lies Within 1995
TND1025 Mike Knott "Tattoo" Strip Cycle 1995

Disc 2 (79:23)
TND1026 Sometime Sunday "Blind" Drain 1995
TND1027 Rob Walker "Dream" Strobe 1996
TND1028 Bloodshed "Inside" Helpless Amongst Friends Vol. 2 1996
TND1029 Morella's Forest "Wonder Boy" Super Deluxe 1995
TND1030 Starflyer 59 "You're Mean" Gold 1995
TND1031 Blenderhead "Breaking Skin" Muchacho Vivo 1995
TND1032 MxPx "I'm The Bad Guy" Teenage Politics 1995
TND1033 Joe Christmas "Coupleskate" Upstairs, Overlooking 1995
TND1034 Starflyer 59 "Le Vainqueur" Le Vainqueur EP 1995
TND1035 Crux "New Morality" Failure to Yield 1995
TND1036 Bloodshed "Outside" Bloodshed EP 1995
TND1037 Danielson "Guilt Scout "A Prayer for Every Hour 1995
TND1038 Phantasmic (Tess Wiley) "Broken" Artcore Vol. 2 1996
TND1039 Morella's Forest "Art Of Love" Hang-Out EP 1995
TND1040 Upside Down Room "Milk Money" Upside Down Room EP 1995
TND1041 Overcome "Apathy" Blessed Are the Persecuted 1996
TND1042 Unashamed "Everlasting Father" Reflection 1996
TND1043 Joy Electric "Drum Machine Joy (The Woods are Haunted Mix)" Five Stars For Failure EP 1995
TND1044 MxPx "Drum Machine Joy" On The Cover EP 1995
TND1045 Everdown "Unleaded" Straining 1996
TND1046 Coolidge "Trapped" I'm You're Biggest Fan Vol. 1 1996
TND1047 Velour 100 "Flourish" Fall Sounds 1996
TND1048 Havalina Rail Co. "The Diamond In The Fish" The Diamond In The Fish 1996
TND1049 Roadside Monument "A Girl Named Actually" Beside This Brief Hexagonal 1996
TND1050 Stavesacre "Tranewreck" Friction 1996
TND1051 Driver Eight "Waiting For Godot" Watermelon 1996

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