Southeast Of Saturn Michigan Shoegaze / Dream Pop / Space Rock LP. My take.

Posted by Alan Kovan on November 21, 2020 (0 Comments)

So this record was released yesterday 11-20-2020. Southeast Of Saturn- A Michigan Shoegaze / Dream Pop / Space Rock compilation. 

In a year that has been scary, exhausting, psychologically intense and just downright shitty this LP has been a beacon of light in the darkness. 

Many kind words have been written about Play It Again which closed nearly 25 years ago. It is very humbling to read the impact the store had on many of it's customers. Many who were inspired to start their own bands and create their own art.

This is the press release for Southeast Of Saturn:

It makes sense that Detroit had a buzzy, thriving space-rock scene in the ‘90s. What American city’s denizens had a more urgent need to disengage and think outside the grim, post-industrial rustbelt realities? With space-rock (and its close sonic cousin shoegaze) being at once expansive and introspective, it naturally appealed to the young, intelligent artists who gravitated toward its vertiginous orbit. 

The music of Southeast Of Saturn did not arise organically from metro Detroit’s fertile soil. Locally, garage-rock, goth-rock, neo-hippie groups, and the usual preponderance of adequate bar bands dominated the landscape. Thirsty Forest Animals guitarist Andrew Peters summarizes the prevalent attitude among the Motor City’s space-rock contingent: “I don’t think we really noticed the local Detroit scene earlier on. We were more into the bands you would see in the NME / Melody Maker, zines, and records - mostly from the UK - on the walls at Play It Again”. If anything was a major factor locally, it was Play It Again, the independent record store in the suburbs of Detroit that nurtured the scene with its amazing curation of imports and killer used records picked up on owner Alan Kovan’s British record buying trips.

Penned “Detroit Space-Rock”, the scene centered around Burnt Hair Records, Burnt Hair CEO Larry Hoffman’s Life According To Larry radio show, Zoot’s Coffeehouse and bands, such as Windy & Carl, Asha Vida, Füxa, Auburn Lull, and Majesty Crush. It was a modern movement of a more traditional “space-rock” sound, influenced less by The Stooges and MC5 and more by Spacemen 3, Loop, My Bloody Valentine and krautrock bands like Can and Neu!. Even the best-known artists on Southeast Of Saturn - Windy & Carl, Majesty Crush, Füxa - never achieved mainstream success, but within the rock underground, they inspired a cultish devotion that burns to this day.

If you missed their evanescent output  the  first time around, this compilation will get you up to speed over its 19 mind-altering tracks. 

This could not have been done without the fantastic music freaks that worked at the shop. All of them contributed. But I do need to single out Michael Segal. Michael scoured the NME, Melody Maker, The Catalogue, Select and as many fanzines as he could get his hands on to make the impact the store had. This is not to slight any of the others who graced the counter at Play It Again but Michael belongs in the Hall Of Fame of record store employees if it existed. He could have his own exhibit of hype stickers and artwork.

Armed with knowledge from employees and wants lists from customers this made my close to 25 buying/selling/trading trips to the UK much easier. What none of you realize is those trips were harder work than just opening the door to the shop everyday. Lugging loads of records on a plane (back when you could) and then lugging them around London in and out of tube stations, and then back on the return flight was physically exhausting but ultimately so satisfying. Having shops to trade with over there was key. Mainly Vinyl Experience in Hanway Street. It was because of them we were able to get as many great UK Indie records as we wound up getting. 

Then there are the customers. None of this would have or could have happened without all of you. You had to have an open mind to not only walk into the shop but to cross that invisible barrier that exists in a lot of indie record shops between customers and staff. You know, the one where a customer walks in and thinks the employees are know it all assholes. Kind of like Jack Black in High Fidelity but less cartoonish. I always tried to avoid that. 

Working in a record shop was a fantastic job. It was our job to find new bands to turn you on to. I am glad so many of you loved to hang out. Like a clubhouse sort of. Or like a corner bar without the alcohol. Only drawback was the pay.

It was always important to me to be inclusive of everyone. Running a shop like Play It Again you know people who walk through that door are looking for music that defines them. That sets them apart. Especially many of those at such a fragile and impressionable age. Just like a lot of the punks that hung out at Noir Leather. Same thing. 

On a personal note it really is gratifying to read the kind words that have been written by Dave Segal and Andrew Peters. As you get older and life goes by faster everyday it is nice to know we made a positive impact on peoples lives along the way. It continues to this day based on how many Play It Again customers I am still in contact with.

I just wanted you all to know this and give you all a giant virtual hug.

Thank you: Michael Segal, Dave Segal, Andrew Peters, Rich Hansen, Dave Buick, Roe Peterhans, Third Man Records and really to everyone who helped Play It Again be what it was for so many years.

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