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Last Updated 01/07/13

Brooklyn Vegan, and sister site BV Chicago, announce Speck Mountain's upcoming "dark pop" album Badwater and tour dates.

SoundCloud for Speck Mountain "Slow So Long" exceeds 10,000 plays! Listen!

Under the Radar premieres VHS-inspired video for Speck Mountain "Slow So Long"

Speck Mountain to play NYC with She Keeps Bees & Sharon Van Etten at Cameo Gallery on Sat, Dec 15.

MTV Hive premieres Speck Mountain track "Slow So Long"
MTV Hive touches on"gloom-pop track"Slow So Long's "gauzy atmospherics, moody guitars, and tender vocals." Stream the debut track from upcoming Speck Mountain album Badwater (January 22) here.

CTR Bands are really freakin' busy this week!
Tonight, HF in some sort of mine shaft in madrid new mexico (engine house theater), tomorrow antietam at hank's saloon, sunday wee hairy beasties twice at hideout, monday speck mountain at township!

Wee Hairy Beasties perform at "Scary Night" at the Hideout 10/28 4pm Kids Show 8pm Adults
Jon Langford and Marin Billheimer present Story Night Chapter 4: Scary Night. 4PM Kids Show includes loads of creepy tales, performances by Wee Hairy Beasties and The National Theater of The Hideout. Loads of prizes and much more! 8pm Adult Show – let'sl simply replace "creepy tales" with "raunchy creepy tales" and leave it at that for now. Sunday, 10/28

"My Other Guitar Is a Paintbrush": Exhibition of art by musicians in NY
Tara Key (Antietam) is featured in this exhibition alongside Lee Ranaldo (Sonic Youth), Tara Jane O'Neil (Retsin, Rodan), Goergia Hubley (Yo La Tengo), Rachel Blumberg (The Decemberists), Grasshopper (Mercury Rev), Brian Dewan (inner artwork from Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea), and Sue Garner. Opening: October 13 7-9pm. One Mile Gallery, 475 Abeel Street, Kingston, NY.

Magnet Magazine :: Old Man & The Bird Music Vid

Rennie Sparks (Handsome Family) on WBEZ Morning Shift w. Tony Sarabia
"Insects have the most romatic mating rituals of all...no man is willing to go as far as a spider." Listen to Rennie's interview and performance on Chicago's NPR station WBEZ towards the end of "Morning Shift" recording.

CTR Artists: Handsome Family & Megan Reilly come to Chicago!
Fri, Sept 14 | Handsome Family | Mayne Stage | w/ Jon Langford
Sun, Sept 16 | Megan Reilly | City Winery Chicago| w/ Joan Osborne
Mon, Sept 17 | Megan Reilly | City Winery Chicago | w/ Joan Osborne
Tue, Sept 18 | Megan Reilly | Frequency | Madison, WI

Paste Magazine features Rennie Sparks (Handsome Family) in their segment "24 Musicians Share Their Paintings"
Rennie Sparks speaks about her painting process alongside other musicians/painters including Mindy Smith, Julianna Hatfield, Robyn Hitchcock, Joseph Arthur, and Ani DiFranco.

Buzzine Music is in love with Handsome Family live shows
"The quality of their music feels eternal when you're listening to it, and would be no surprise if their songs persisted at the dim edges of the dreaming world for a very long time. Knowing these things makes having seen them play – live and in-person – seem like a rare treasure indeed." - Buzzine Music

No Depression interviews Megan Reilly
"I'd just booked studio time before I finished writing the record...It's stressful because you're juggling a lot [as a mother] but it got me out of just being depressed and looking out the window and waiting for something to inspire me to write. I don't have time to do that anymore."

Megan Reilly on the radio this week
Tuesday, 8/21 WBEZ Afternoon Shift with Steve Edwards
Tuesday, 8/21 WXRT Eclectic Company with Jon Langford
Thursday, 8/23 WXRT New Music Thursdays

Hear Megan Reilly on SiriusXM's "From the Living Room to The Loft" this week!

Tune in on SiriusXM Channel 30 to check it out at these times:
Sun 8/5 at 7pm EST and repeat:
Tue 8/7 at 12 noon
Sun 8/12 at 7pm
Tue 8/14 at 12 noon

More info here: http://www.livingroomny.com/xm-radio

IFC Premiers Megan Reilly's "Old Man and the Bird" video w/John Wesley Harding!
"Watercolors come to life in Megan Reilly's gorgeous little ditty about a songbird who can't be caged."

Nat Geo - Lady of Leitrim Video Premiere

Nat Geo calls the music video for "Lady of Leitrim," a slow-burning Celtic lament illuminated by Reilly's incandescent voice." The track was written about Megan's own great-aunt who "emigrated to the US from Ireland but, overcome by life here, ultimately took her own life by drowning herself in the East River." The video was shot in Iceland by Pete Sillen. Watch the video and read the segment HERE!

NPR - World Cafe July 10, 2012
NPR's World Cafe with host David Dye will broadcast its session with Megan Reilly on Tuesday, July 10th! World Cafe can be heard on over 200 stations nationwide. Find your local station and the broadcast time HERE. This is good to know regardless! .... or worldwide, you can connect to the WXPN Philadelphia stream on Tuesday 7/10 between 2pm and 4pm EST HERE.

NPR - World Café
Megan Reilly joins host David Dye for a segment on World Café! The piece doesn't air until July 10th, but NPR is letting us hear a preview with live versions of "Lady of Leitrim" and "Throw It Out"...Thanks World Café!

NPR - Cabinet of Wonders
Episode 5 of "Cabinet of Wonders" aired this week on NPR and is available to stream online – with performances by Megan Reilly, AC Newman (New Pornographers), Will Sheff (Okkervil River), John Wesley Harding, Eugene Mirman, & more! It's quite the entertaining listen! Taped live at City Winery NYC.

Keep up to date with Megan Reilly's unfolding press story on her Storify page.

Ooh! Nice press keeps a rollin' in for Megan Reilly's The Well
Richly-rendered and emotionally riveting, this Well is a deep 'un. 8/10 ~ Fred Mills, Blurt
Megan Reilly soothes...a perfect example of the singer/songwriter's well-crafted music. Her voice is gentle, coated in a faint sadnes. ~ MP3 at 3PM, Magnet
A voice that's beautifully ethereal & unexpectedly strong...a touch of Emmylou Harris's angelic purity too, & when she turns on the jets at the end of "Little Angel," the graceful, shimmering surface of her voice doesn't so much as crack. ~ Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader
And we have even more cool things coming soon! Keep an eye out or better yet, sign up for our mailing list or Facebook page to keep up to date.

Stream Megan Reilly's The Well in its entirety at youtube!

Megan Reily "Throw It Out" directed by Antoine Wagner

Interview Magazine catches up with Megan Reilly
"Megan Reilly's voice and spirit are immediately captivating. She brings warmth to even the darkest of topics—a few of which are covered on her new album, The Well. From breakups to death, the material can be maudlin, but Reilly is a skilled songstress: she beautifies what she touches."

Megan Reilly "Throw It Out" Video is Spinner's "Video of the Day!"
"When director Antoine Wagner came to me with the idea of emulating the late French comedian, Fernandel, and having me and my husband wear matching suits I thought it was the perfect visual to a heartbreaking song. It's not taking itself too seriously but also perfectly identifies the two characters I'm singing about. One trying to change the other, the other trying to break free."

Handsome Family kickoff their UK tour dates today (5/16)! Read this interview with Outline Online. A word of advice from HF "London dates are sold out! Tickets to other UK shows are filling up fast. Get yr tickets HERE"

Megan Reilly featured in Memphis Flyer!
Chris Davis penned this wonderful, thoughtful, lengthy interview with Megan about almost everything, including having to face her worst fear, an "incredible happiness problem." We're so thankful that she did and came out the other side with music to tell about it. Read it here.

Megan Reilly is American Songwriter's "Writer of the Week"
Don't miss the interview with Megan discussing Thin Lizzy, Ireland, and her songwriting on The Well!!

Louisville-Transplants Antietam bring Kentucky Derby spirit to Maxwell's
Jim Testa at the Jersey Journal gives a loving show preview of Antietam's May 5th Derby Day concert and festivities at Maxwell's in Hoboken, NJ. Gives some great history of the band and some words from Tara Key.

Video Still
Baeble Music Premiers New Megan Reilly Video for "To Seal My Love"

"Shot in a snow-covered garden around Reilly's hometown in Tennessee, the video for 'To Seal My Love' has that intentional look of old home footage that lends the tender intimacy of the song another layer of naked vulnerability. Directed by Elizabeth Bergeland, the video for 'To Seal My Love' is gorgeous." Check it out!!

The great press for Megan's new album continues to roll in. WXRT ("Soft yet powerful"), AV Club ("The kind of pipes and grit that belie her singer-songwriter trappings"), KUT ("Outstanding voice"), Philadelphia Inquirer ("Hauntingly evocative, elementally lovely songs"), Philadelphia Daily News ("Matching her haunted, tremulous voice to darkly poetic, dramatic songs of the country-rock persuasion, Megan Reilly casts an enchanting spell. There's some sonic kinship to Lucinda Williams and Emmylou Harris, though Reilly seems more forceful and spirit-shaking.")!!, Hear! Hear! Music ("Artists to Watch" A "stunning voice" & "powerful" songs).

Throw It Out cover
TODAY download Megan Reilly's track "Throw It Out" on Other Music and iTunes!

Win a free CD of Megan Reilly's "The Well"! Just enter and give us your info and second born child.

NPR MUSIC debut's Megan Reilly's "heartrending," Antoine Wagner directed video for "Throw It Out"! Go check it out!

Time Out New York previews Megan's upcoming show at NYC's Rodeo Bar thusly: Memphis transplant Megan Reilly puts a melancholy twist on country-pop. Her best songs stand out as uniquely dark ruminations, alluring and forbidding at the same time, and tonight she'll be playing from forthcoming album "The Well" (due Apr 24).

Guitar World featured an interview with Megan Reilly about her upcoming album The Well (April 24). The article also includes exclusive video of Megan & band playing "Sew the Threads Into Your Heart" inside a guitar shop! Check out the interview HERE

Speck Mountain & Megan Reilly have new shows. Speck Mountain has been playing monthly Chicago shows since January giving the city a taste of their new tracks and new sound! Here are some great shots from last night's show at the Hideout! Don't miss them Wednesday, April 4th at Empty Bottle w/ Keep Shelly In Athens.

Megan Reilly has a slew of upcoming dates in support of her new LP The Well out April 24.
Fri Apr 20 Tin Angel Philadelphia, PA w/ John Wesley Harding
Sat Apr 28 City Winery NYC CABINET OF WONDERS w/ A.C. Newman (New Pornographers), Will Sheff (Okkervil River), Eugene Mirman, Rick Moody. More TBA. TICKETS HERE.
Sat May 12 Two Stick Oxford, MS

KUT Austin (NPR) bestows their coveted "Song of the Day" upon Megan Reilly for her enchanting song "Sew the Threads into Your Heart." We think it's one of the best from "The Well," her amazing new album out April 24. We're psyched to let you hear it now and can't wait to share the rest of her special album with you. In the meantime, dig the new song and check out the beautiful photo of lovely Megan by the amazing Jason Creps.

AOL/Spinner debuts new video of Megan Reilly singing a duet of a song on her forthcoming album, "The Well," with her pal Wesley Stace (John Wesley Harding). It was captured on Megan's front porch and could scarcely be any more touching. Wes says he wrote the song and immediately thought of Megan. We're so glad he did! Thanks, Wes!

Megan Reilly's new album, "The Well," is scheduled for an April 24 release. After a 5 year wait, Megan Reilly returns with her captivating new album, "The Well", which holds a creative leap born of great, unexpected personal transformation. Megan's countrified Memphis roots & subsequent NYC escape still underpin her music, music which resounds with her "delightful combination of vulnerability & Southern grace" (Dallas Observer). But "The Well" holds a treasure chest of surprises. Megan's country-tinged coo & warble can still turn on a dime to a hair-raising growl. For the 1st time, her musical tone & lyrical focus at times portray an urgent sense of hope wrought by love. With her band of aces, Steven Goulding (MEKONS), James Mastro & Tony Maimone (PERE UBU), & even a duet with JOHN WESLEY HARDING, Megan Reilly has made her finest statement to date. "Jaw-dropping."-Maxim. Get ready.

The Onion/AV Club premiered the track "Sew The Threads Into Your Heart" off of "The Well" yesterday, 1/25! Please take a listen and hear what they have to say!

Best quote from Megan's show on 1/25 at Piano's in NYC- "Your sound is like if Emmylou Harris played with Television"

Hey, look! CTR bands playing spring shows! Woo!
Megan Reilly
Sat Mar 3 Maxwell's Hoboken, NJ w/ Amy Rigby & Wreckless Eric. Early set: 7:30pm
Tue Mar 6 Living Room NYC 9pm
Thu Mar 22 Red Room at Cafe 939 Boston, MA w/ Mia Friedman and Mary Lorson
Sat Apr 28 City Winery NYC CABINET OF WONDERS W/ A.C. Newman (New Pornographers), Will Sheff (Okkervil River), John Wesley Harding, Eugene Mirman, Rick Moody. More TBA. TICKETS HERE. WILL SELL OUT FAST.

Speck Mountain
Thu Mar 8 The Hideout Chicago, IL w/ Saint Motel 9pm $8

The Handsome Family
Wed May 16 The Brudenell LEEDS
Thurs May 17 St Andrews in the Square GLASGOW
Sat May 19 Sprint & Airbrake BELFAST
Mon May 21 The Fleece BRISTOL
Wed May 23 Leaf LIVERPOOL
Thu May 24 Chorlton Arts Festival @ St Clements MANCHESTER
Fri May 25 The Bullingdon Arms OXFORD
Sat May 26 Norfolk and Norwich Festival (Tickets Soon)
Sun May 27 The 100 Club LONDON

Ticket links up on the Handsome Family website

Antietam release their 8th studio album entitled Tenth Life! Now available on CD and digital download.

Did you hear The Bitter Tears on NPR? If not, take a listen to to the interview online as they talk about dumpster diving for instruments, the beginning of the band, and their contribution to this weekend's Chicago International Movies and Music Festival, CIMMfest.

"It's more about not censoring yourself, in almost an extreme way, like opening up the faucets and letting everything out." - Alan Scalpone of The Bitter Tears

Make sure the see the members of The Bitter Tears perform live at the CIMMFest this Saturday 4/17 at 10:30PM, at the Wicker Park Arts Center, 2215 W North Ave. The performance will take place in accordinance with Brent Green's "Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then."

The Handsome Family is on Tour! The dynamic duo is wraping up on the West Coast before they head to Europe, UK, and Canada this Spring/Summer! For details on the performances, visit the Shows tab.

The Handsome Family's song "Bowling Alley" was featured on NPR's Car Talk Monday (11/29) morning.

Check out Tara Key of Antietam on Studio 360 where she pays homage to the great Jimi Hendrix with her rendition of "Star Spangled Banner." Follow the links to view her music video, hear her radio interview/piece and listen a fantastic cover of the song!


With summer rapidly approaching, Carrot Top has plenty of excuses to celebrate!

We are excited to announce that we will start off the season on Saturday May 29th with the grand opening of saki — West Logan Square's first record store! Our sister company, Carrot Top Distribution, has created the space to not only sell vinyl and CDs but to also showcase local musicians and fine artists. Please come visit us during the grand opening as we are joined by these fine guests: 

Saturday, May 29th
12:00 Chicago Independent Radio Project DJ
1:00 DJ Todd Novak (HoZac Records)
2:00 White Mystery
3:00 DJ Ken Vandermark
4:00 Poison Arrows
5:00 DJ Plastic Crimewave Steve Krakow
6:00 Love Of Everything
7:00 DJ Caitlin Lavin (Carrot Top Distribution)

Sunday, May 30th
12:00 Chicago Independent Radio Project DJ
1:00 DJ Barry Phipps (The Coctails)
2:00 Daniel Knox
3:00 DJ Special Guest
4:00 DJ Rian Murphy (Drag City)
5:00 Jim Becker
6:00 DJ Joel Leoschke (Kranky)
7:00 DJ Patrick Monaghan (Carrot Top Records)

Tuesday, June 1st
6:00 Hollows
7:00 Sadhu Sadhu

Saturday, June 5th
6:00 Astronomer

Sunday, June 6th
4:00 Jon Langford

The Carrot Toppers Hit The Road!


Thursday, June 3 | Cake Shop | New York City, NY | 8PM w/ The Scene Is Now & more

The Bitter Tears

Wednesday, May 12 | Havenkwatier | Deventer, NL
Thursday, May 13 | L'Escalier | Llege, BE
Friday, May 14 | L'Emile Vache | Metz, FR
Monday, May 17 | BoschBar | Zurich, CH
Wednesday, May 19 | Centro Cultural Antiguo Matadero | Huesca, ES
Thursday, May 20 | El Ralo | Salamanca, ES
Friday, May 21 | La Faena | Madrid, ES
Sunday, May 23 | Casal De Roquetes | Barcelona, ES
Monday, May 25 | L'Apocalypso | Pau, FR
Wednesday, May 26 | Le Spoutnik | Nantes, FR
Thursday, May 27 | Bush Hall | London, GB
Friday, May 28 | The Labour Club | Northhampton, GB
Saturday, May 29 | Cameleon | Nottingham, GB
Sunday, May 31 | The Cardigan Arms | Leeds, US
Saturday, June 12 | Metronome Festival | Chicago, IL
Friday, July 9 | Quencher's | Chicago, IL
Saturday, July 10 | The Project Lodge | Madison, WI
Sunday, July 11 | Circle A Cafe | Milwaukee, WI

The Handsome Family

Sunday, May 23 | The Outpost Performance Space | Albuquerque, NM | 7:30 PM
Friday, June 11 | Cedar Cultural Center | Minneapolis, MN | 8 PM  
Saturday, June 12 | High Noon Saloon | Madison, WI | 9:30 PM
Sunday, June 13 | Old Town School of Folk Music | Chicago, IL | w/ The Thin Man 
Tuesday, June 15 | The Mercury Lounge | New York, NY | 9:45 PM 
Wednesday, June 16 | World Cafe Live Upstairs | Philadelphia, PA | 8 PM 
Friday, June 18 | IOTA Club & Cafe | Arlington, VA | 
Saturday, June 19 | Cat’s Cradle | Carrboro, NC | 9PM
Sunday, June 20 | Snug Harbor | Charlotte, NC | 9PM

See the Shows Page for more information!

Press Update for our Three New Releases!

The Handsome Family - Honey Moon

Honey Moon is sensual and celebratory.” —Oprah Magazine

“Yet another terrific chapter in a book that I hope these guys never finish...The songs on Honey Moon are just as gorgeously haunting as anything they have done previously.” —Tim Hinely, Blurt

“Brett and Rennie Sparks continue to put a brilliantly surreal twist on everyday subjects, using nature imagery to evoke the weird intensity of all-consuming passions.” —Spin Magazine

“There's a burnt beauty to Honey Moon – something akin to Mark Twain re-written by Edgar Allan Poe – that exerts a deliciously morbid pull on the imagination and the emotions. Satisfaction is guaranteed.”—Michael Quinn, BBC

“Melodies unfold with matter-of-fact grace.” —Greg Kot, Chicago Tribune

Honey Moon blends the baroque with spectral, old-time country atmospherics and shades of bluegrass and ragtime.”—Idio Magazine

“Brett’s baritone is so low it sounds like the earth rumbling, and it gives every tune an oracular presence that’s amply backed up by Rennie’s mystifying lyrics, which meld poetic impulses and everyday language with an effortless grace.”—J. Poet, Crawdaddy

Get a glimpse of Brett and Rennie’s view of Romanticism on 77 Square.

Speck Mountain - Some Sweet Relief

"4.5/5 Stars—Pulsating electric guitar riffs, creepy organ chords, and campfire-style backing harmonies round out each track, practically compelling the listener to lay back, turn out the lights, and stay awake until the last note fades. "—Venus Zine 

"At times haunting, at times warm and breezy, there is a dream-like ambiance that permeates the collection."—Glide Magazine

"...dreamy, impressionistic, and ambient. Like sunlight shining through a gauzy curtain, Balabanian's rich vocals are simultaneously hazy, distant and piercing."—NPR

“Behind her versatile and devastating voice, Balabanian and bandmate Karl Briedrick craft beautiful soundscapes that spread wide and deep." —Prefix Magazine

“Speck Mountain appeals to the surreal - one could imagine listening to this album in a wildly painted room filled with soft pillows and swirling, colorful lights. In a way, it’s an adequate replacement for drugs.”— FensePost

"Some Sweet Relief sounds somewhat timeless, a 40-minute offering of neo-psych gospel that's more polished, more promising, and altogether stronger than most of the band's contemporaries.” —Andrew Leahey, Allmusic

“Some Sweet Relief, is atmospheric, sexy, headphone hypnotica”— The OCMD

Listen to Speck Mountain on Breakthruradio.

The Bitter Tears - Jam Tarts In The Jakehouse

"...making Jam Tarts in the Jakehouse frighteningly difficult to pull from the stereo.” —PopMatters

"Paired with severely cryptic lyrics, brass and woodwind sounds emitted from old, partially worn-out instruments and a fishy concoction of melodious music, Jam Tarts in the Jakehouse, is a creatively convicting album." —Bryan Sanchez, Adequacy 

“Despite a dizzying array of instrumentation, what The Bitter Tears do so well, is keep it simple. The arrangements are pretty basic, which has to be applauded. They take these bare bones, and dress them with string sections, and parps of brass. More often than not they come up with something that at times borders on the magical.”—MusicOMH

"A band like none other, the Bitter Tears are theatrical and totally over the top—and consider that a good thing...the band is a twisted backwoods freak show whose music ranges from country to big band to the avant garde.” — Artvoice

"Striking a nice balance between stronger and softer sounds, “Jam Tarts in the Jakehouse” never really crosses the line into either, staying in the middle with a strong enough backbone to keep things steady and interesting."—Lowdown

"Chicago's The Bitter Tears are a truly extraordinary group of musicians that one must experience in the live concert setting to truly appreciate the in-your-face absurdity and pure drama that their rambling catchy dada cabaret has to offer."—A Thousand Ears

“This is art rock, pure and simple; Harmonious enough to catch you, dissonant to almost lose you, and endearing enough that you’ll come back to hear it again. The Bitter Tears will disturb your senses, and you’ll like it.”—Wildy's World

VDay Redux
Thought I'd take this chance to cross-post with our blog over at saki, which I really try not to do, but even I have only so many words and even fewer functioning brain cells. So here ya go:

You combine two 50º Chicago mid-February days with the arrival of our boys in blue pinstripes to Mesa for spring training in twelve and a half hours, and it's starting to feel like we might make it out of this long, dark winter of our discontent after all, to a time when all the clouds that low'r'd upon our house in the deep bosom of the ocean will be transformed into cool lake breezes, ice cold Shiner Bock, sizzling grills, and the sound of Pat + Ron narrating our summer afternoons. Ahh.

In the short term, we're giving you great new music that should warm you up inside and out. Three new songs, one from each of our next three new releases, and all of them love songs of a sort, though I'm still not quite sure what it is the Bitter Tears are trying to say here, or really anywhere (I'll have to get back to you on that). I don't really read the fine print, just the titles, so that's good enough for me. Would love to hear your interpretations of these three though, so fire away at the Comments section.

So what do you get for nothing?

CTR Valentine Announcement

The Bitter Tears The Love Letter
*A pretty acoustic number that builds to a huge climax thanks to some tasty horns and strings and superb dynamics. A sleeper pop hit that hasn't left my head for days.

Speck Mountain Angela
*A laid back dreamer with some groovy 70's keyboards, spaced out guitar and heavenly vocals that support the down-tempo groove rather than smother it. Says a lot without saying much at all. We've got a dance remix we're itching to release, but we'll save that for April or May.

The Handsome Family Darling, My Darling
*Insects have written billions of love songs. I have no idea how many love songs have been written about insects, but Honey Moon has two of them—one of them a first person crooner that lays bare the level of insect romantic commitment that humans will never begin to touch. They love unconditionally, even to their ultimate personal detriment, build the most intricate and solid structures made only from their immediate environment and secretions, generally play well with others of their own species, and make sure the kids are taken care of and get out of the house safely. Maybe we can learn a thing or two from 'em. This 3/4 time ballad full of wavering mellotrons and heavenly whistling certainly won't hurt. Bust out the headphones.

If you can't wait until Friday night, head over to our ReverbNation page where you can stream them all starting right now. Tell your friends. Tell your relatives. Tell your lover. Tell your ex.

Happy Valentine's Day.

Happy Valentine's Day from Carrot Top Records!


Head over to the main homepage of CarrotTopRecords.com for 24 hours starting at midnight on Friday night and grab three free songs, all about love in their own way. You'll get one song from each of our three new spring releases!

See you on Saturday!

Oh My! Honey, Where You Been So Long?
Busy in the kitchen, that's where. CTR kicks off the 2009 portion of it's busiest 12 months in existence with a trio of albums that make us smile every time we think of them, and in true CTR fashion, none of them sound remotely similar!

Check back shortly for word on a Valentine's Day Surprise for you and your honey, even if he's a cricket.

Sweet 16 Totals
And if you're wondering, our birthday benefit shows raised right around $12,000 for the Accelerated Cure Project for Multiple Sclerosis. Again, we thank everybody, everybody for their support, encouragement, donations, time, energy, and relentless good will. I still get goosebumps thinking about that weekend. Thanks to all for making it happen. How cool and likely not soon topped in CTR World.

Sweet 16 Press

Chicago Reader (Critic's Choice and Recommended)
Coctails, Antietam, KatJonBand, Bitter Tears
When: Fri., Sept. 26, 9 p.m.
Phone: 773-227-4433 or 866-468-3401
Price: $15
—There isn’t much new to say about Chicago’s beloved Coctails. Dressed in their trademark skinny suits, the quartet spent the late 80s and early 90s paying goofy, endearing tribute to every type of evening-out music, from jazz, exotica, and Rat Pack crooning to British Invasion pop. After the band’s 1995 farewell show at the Lounge Ax, John Upchurch, Barry Phipps, Mark Greenberg, and Archer Prewitt all went on to other things, but they’ve remained on call. Since their first reunion show in 2000—a joyous, generous, tightly executed set to bid the Lounge Ax adieu—they’ve been sporadically coming back together, as though at the flash of some indie Bat Signal, and each time they’ve created another were-you-there scene milestone. Today the Coctails headline the first night of Carrot Top Records’ Sweet 16 Party, one of the year’s best unsung festivals; former Chicagoans the Handsome Family headline tomorrow. Proceeds go to the Accelerated Cure Project, a multiple-sclerosis research organization. —Monica Kendrick

Chicago Sun-Times Blog by Jim DeRogatis
—Carrot Top Records, one of Chicago's least-hyped but most consistently excellent independent labels, celebrates its Sweet 16 birthday this weekend with two shows to benefit the Accelerated Cure Project for Multiple Sclerosis at the Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia. Friday's lineup includes the Coctails, Antietam, the katjonband (with Jon Langford Katerina Ex of the Ex) and the Bitter Tears, while Saturday's features the Handsome Family, Megan Reilly, Speck Mountain and Lys Guillorn.

Daily Herald (KatJonBand + Sweet 16)
—As expected, a mature pulse of antiwar sentiment and relevant social concern courses throughout the diverse proceedings. Smart, sinewy, spiky and occasionally sonorous, "KatJonBand" is evidence that even while forging their own paths, sometimes punks should listen to their elders.-Jeff Pizek
KatJonBand performs with The Coctails, Antietam and The Bitter Tears as part of Carrot Top Records' Sweet 16 Party at 9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 26, at The Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia Ave., Chicago. $15; proceeds benefit the Accelerated Cure Project for Multiple Sclerosis. (773) 227-4433.

Time Out Chicago
—Low-key local indie label Carrot Top celebrates its 16th anniversary in style with a bevy of its favorite players. Idiosyncratic lounge act the Coctails reunite for a rare one-off, while indie mainstay Tara Key unleashes her inner guitar goddess with the revered trio Antietam. Longtime friends Jon Langford and Katherina Ex of—you guessed it—the Ex open as the KatJonBand following a set by the Bitter Tears. Profits from tonight's show will be donated to the Accelerated Cure Project for Multiple Sclerosis.

CTR S16 Nears with Presents for YOU!!

In order to raise a HUGE amount of money for the Accelerated Cure Project at Carrot Top Records' Sweet 16 Party this weekend at The Hideout, we have gathered an amazing, never-ending group of generous donations from our favorite people and places. Tickets to the bash are still available here.

Come celebrate with us and you can come home with one, or MORE of these fabulous prizes...

* Wine tasting for you and all your friends at Cellar Rat wine
* The Coctails - 12 inch action figure set courtesy of PRESSPOP Inc. in Japan
* 6 tickets and private opera box for Lucinda Williams @ Riviera 10/14 courtesy of Jam Productions
* 2 Signed Wilco posters
* A Thrill Jockey gift set of books, limited edition ELPEES and rare posters
* Gift certificates to: Vella, Uncle Dan's and Ruff Haus
* Tshirts from the infamous Chicago venue, Lounge Ax
* Summersweet garden consultation
* 10 tickets to Roller Derby bout at UIC on 10/25 thanks to WCR
* Beginning Pilates Package from Balance Health & Wellness
* Artwork and Dog Book from world famous illustratrix Emily Flake
* The Coctails gift set including: "Let's Enjoy..." 10" EP, Book of Images and tote bag
* A special gift package from Second City
* Bloodshot Records gift set including a signed Andre Williams poster, CDs, tshirts and a DVD
* Pairs of concert ticket for upcoming shows at Epiphany, The Hideout, Metro, Lake Shore Theater and Schuba's

Intrigued yet?! How can you NOT go?! Seriously.

Great alternate poster by Juan Pablo Langford.

Thank you to all of our generous sponsors for their contributions!
We hope to see you this weekend.

New Releases in the Pipeline

Continuing our busiest year ever, watch for a 7" and digital single from The Handsome Family, a double Halloween 7" from the Wee Scary Beasties (aka Wee Hairy Beasties), new full length studio albums from the newest roster call ups The Bitter Tears and Speck Mountain, and a vinyl reissue of the debut album from Anathallo "Floating World." Since the label unexpectedly tilted distinctly toward NYC over the last few years, we're very proud to be working with such amazing Chicagoans. Oh yeah, there's a new Handsome Family album coming in March 2009!

KatJonBand LPs and CDs Shipping This Week!
Thanks to some miracle from the pressing plant gods, the beautiful and beautiful sounding vinyl is actually here on time. It's two years in the making and worth the wait on all accounts. We'll start shipping distributors and mail order customers this week, so please get your orders in! In the meantime, check this video of their live set at the Touch and Go 25th Anniversary Party/Hideout Block Party in 2006.

Darling Downs "From One to Another" Actually On Schedule
Not believing in the jinx, we're happy to announce that the Darling Downs new album is on schedule for its October 14 release date. CD packaging came out beautifully and our fingers are crossed for the LPs. While you wait, check out this cool video for the most rocking of the new songs, Circa '65.

Carrot Top Records Has Moved!!
The label moved into its fourth home on August 23 when we moved into our very own building that we'll continue to share with CTD, Ltd. and sakistore.net.
Please note our new address:
Carrot Top Records, Inc.
3716 W. Fullerton Ave.
Chicago, IL 60647

Final Lineups Set for CTR Sweet 16 Party
A Benefit for The Accelerated Cure Project for Multiple Sclerosis (contribute now!)

After many games of band Stratego, we finally have the lineups set for the big party at the end of September!

The Hideout, Chicago, IL

Friday Sept 26
The Coctails
KatJonBand (feat Jon Langford of The Mekons and Kat Ex of The Ex)
The Bitter Tears

Saturday Sept 27
The Handsome Family
Megan Reilly
Speck Mountain
Lys Guillorn

Tickets are $15.00 for each night and are available now!
Doors at 8:30.
Show time promptly at 9:00pm
Because The Hideout is so wonderfully intimate and because it is a benefit, there will be no guest list.

We have been inspired by SP20 and the kind gentlemen of Red Red Meat to donate any post-expense money we bring in at the door to the Accelerated Cure Project, who support cutting edge MS research and aren't screwing around while doing it.

How cool is all this? Only one of many reasons why we love working with all of them. And big thanks to Julia and Michelle for doing the organizational heavy lifting and Kate for working so diligently on the donations.

And we've already snagged our first bit of press at a Time Out Chicago blog.

Tara Key Video Interview in PopMatters
Ever wonder what it's like to hang out with a guitarless TK? Well, Robin Cook found out at SXSW in Austin back in March. Enjoy.

Carrot Top Records Sweet 16 Party
We don't have the order and dates yet, and we're still hoping to rope in another surprise or two to add to the fun, but after a lot of discussion we can now confirm the following:

Fri Sept 26 and Sat Sept 27 The Hideout Chicago featuring
The Handsome Family
The Coctails
Megan Reilly
KatJonBand (Jon Langford of The Mekons & Kat Ex of The Ex)
Speck Mountain
The Bitter Tears
Lys Guillorn

Logistics, price, exact running order of bands, along with several harebrained ideas are all being worked on. We'll post more details as soon as we get them both here and at The Hideout website. We can't wait!

Big, BIG ups to The Hideout for allowing us to invade for a whole weekend. Truly the most gracious club owners on the planet.

Dang that's a good weekend of music.

New Release Dates Set
KatJonBand's debut is now set for mid-September release and the North American issue of the amazing new album by The Darling Downs will now his our shores in October. Both will be issued on delicious vinyl!

Antietam Rocked Terrastock Louisville
Will get photos and thoughts posted on the sakistore blog as soon as I have 10 minutes to think.

Antietam's Brooklyn Library Show Photos
Antietam played THE BROOKLYN PUBLIC LIBRARY on Saturday. Was supposed to be outside on the steps but it rained. :-( Anyway, they had an easel with a sheet for each song using the Dewey Decimal System. Tara is a rare books librarian, so it was a natural. I guess it was a hit, with members of the audience going up to turn the page whenever the band forgot during the course of their 90 minute set. A couple of pics posted here. (Thanks Liz!)

Loads of New Releases on the Horizon
After taking the year off from new releases in 2007, 2008 is shaping up to be a record setting year with up to five more new albums to appear by the end of the year. New albums by The Darling Downs and KatJonBand are now in production! We'll post details here soon and get out Vol. II of the CTR Newsletter as well.

Antietam Record Release Party Scheduled

After a flurry of planning, details for the long anticipated record release party for Opus Mixtum have finally begun to take shape. The big show is set for Saturday February 16 at Brooklyn's Southpaw. There will be special guests aplenty. So far confirmed are the delightfully persistent and creative The Scene Is Now and a rare live appearance by Dump, the solo vehicle for James McNew of Yo La Tengo. More details as they become available.

Jon Langford and Kat Ex Finish Collaborative Album
A year and a half in the making, Jon Langford of The Mekons and Katherina Ex of The Ex have put the finishing touches on their first musical excursion. It's been described by Jon as "death techno" but that seems mearly a relative term to the rest of their work. It's a rhythm-driven propulsive machine of major proportions with the dose of political outrage from these musicians in this age. Release details and hopefully live sho info will be posted here when available.