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Sonic Youth, Erase Errata Kick Off 'Buddy Series'

Sonic Youth and Erase Errata have joined forces for the debut of New York-based Narnack Records' "Buddy Series," a limited edition, bi-monthly, themed, split single of colored vinyl. The first seven-inch offering finds New York's Sonic Youth and San Francisco's Erase Errata (who played shows with Sonic Youth last year, and will be doing another with SY in August), each offering a song about everyone's favorite diva, Mariah Carey.

SR's Kim Gordon wrote and sings "Mariah Carey and the Arthur Doyle Hand Cream," which addresses Carey's high-profile "breakdown" of 2001; the song was recorded at the group's Echo Canyon Studio in New York City. Erase Errata, the self-described "edgy, not angry," all-woman Bay Area quartet, apply their "ready-set-go" approach to music crafting, as lead singer and trumpeter Jenny Hoysten describes it, to their rendition of Carey's "Glitter," the title track to the star's failed album and film of the same name.

Sonic Youth guitarist/singer Lee Ranaldo, in an email to Neumu, implied that the song and Erase Errata's cover are tributes to Carey. "I think for one thing the whole controversy about Mariah's being dropped by her label — and how clueless the music industry can be at times, just throwing money at problems and then cutting loose with huge losses — really made her a very sympathetic figure."

As for Erase Errata's interest, Ranaldo wrote. "I think perhaps the girls in EE heard we were doing this song and responded in a show of unity.

Over the years Sonic Youth have recorded material about or by other female pop stars. As Ciccone Youth (Madonna's full name is Madonna Louise Ciccone), the group made a number of recordings, including 1988's The Whitey Album."Tunic (Song for Karen)" on 1990's Goo is about Karen Carpenter. Ranaldo said he had no idea if other stars would be the subject of future SY songs. "Hard to say if there are more [coming], but we remain interested in pop culture and how certain representatives of it conduct their lives in the spotlight."

Ranaldo said that Sonic Youth are fans of Erase Errata. "We did a bunch of shows with them last year and really enjoyed their energy and proto-no-wave attitude," he wrote. "They really rock and represent from SF!"

The new series couples an established veteran band with an up-and-comer whom Narnack (founder Shahin Ewalt, Ryan Westerski and Camille Sciara) is excited about. Sonic Youth, label founder Shahin Ewalt's favorite East Coast band, was picked because "musically, they have been the biggest influence for me, Ryan, and Camille," Ewalt wrote in an email to Neumu.

The limited-edition Sonic Youth/Erase Errata single is a total of 4,500 seven-inch vinyls; 1,500 white with numbered discs, the remaining 3,000 black with numbered inserts. All feature colorful die-cast jacket artwork — a line drawing of Carey over blurry rainbow colors (Carey titled her 1999 album Rainbow) — by Milton Crane.

Narnack Records was started in May 2002. Ewalt invited his old high-school friend Westerski and his former Knitting Factory colleague Sciara to join him in NYC. The company chose to focus on developing "bands we like and we believe want to create some sort of community of musicians and artists," wrote Ewalt.

The next "Buddy Series" will pair San Francisco Bay Area bands Deerhoof (5RC) and K.I.T. (unsigned), the theme and release yet to be determined. Ewalt describes Deerhoof's sound as "somewhere between melodic and fucked," and K.I.T. as a group "perfect for smokers who want to dance, but can't sustain the epic guitar solos. One-minute wonders nailin' the G-Spot on impact." There is also a pairing of Young People and Friends Forever coming soon, the preliminary theme slated to be based on U2's "Where the Streets Have No Name."

Currently, the singles are available on the Web at the Narnack site, and in a limited quantity in some record stores.

Ewalt said future "Buddy Series" projects are in the works, but has deliberately not chosen to stick with any particular formula for producing them. "Narnack hasn't really confined itself to strict parameters or a rigid belief of what types of bands we want to work with," he wrote. "We are always talking to the bands about ideas and themes. We like funny things." — Nicole Cohen [Monday, July 21, 2003]

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