Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Tree Records Post-Marked Stamps Singles

Here is the file for download: Tree Records Post-Marked Stamps Series
I sequenced the CD in the order of the singles as they were released:
1. Ida - Post Prom Disorder
2. The Deadwood Divine - And Where Did I Leave Off
3. Cerberus Shoal - A Lighthouse In Athens Part 1
4. Still Life - Looks Like Tomorrow
5. Ethel Meserve - Belated Blues
6. Giants Chair - Lost Dauphin
7. Braid - Forever Got Shorter
8. The Get Up Kids - I'm A Loner Dottie, A Rebel
9. Healah - Fallen Away
10. Aspera Ad Astra - Black In The Eye
11. Jen Wood - Sheltering Arms (For The Birds That Are Unborn)
12. Tim Kinsella - A Picture Postcard
13. Very Secretary - Nagarkot
14. Compound Red - Building
15. Sweep The Leg Johnny - Walking Home On The Emergency Bed
16. A Minor Forest - Inter Continental Stalker (And So Does The Wolf Whistle)
17. Hal al Shedad - Solitaire
18. Rainer Maria - Pincushion

The hal al Shedad did a split 7" with Rainer Maria for the end of the Post-Marked Stamps singles series on Tree Records, and it turned out to also be the last official release by the band. We contributed "Solitare", which was probably my favorite late-era song of ours, using Ed's Roland Juno synthesizer and guitar simultaneously for a thick, distorted effect (he did this live as well). This wrecked havoc on the single, and our song came out as an over-driven mess. Here is the song taken directly from the record to see what I mean. I read in the liner notes of the CD that timelines were sometimes so tight Ken would give the order to press the singles to United without ever listening to a test pressing. This is unfortunate, as so much love and effort was put into the packaging, but the music started to suffer in the process. Luckily, this CD came out with the song properly mastered, so the song was somewhat redeemed. We pretty much gave away our copies of the 7", or just taking a dollar or so based on the packaging, which was really the selling point of the release.

We were invited to play a festival at the Fireside in Chicago for the series, but Ben had a nasty case of testicular torsion and had to have an operation, so no singing for a little while. I went up there myself and got to see the show we otherwise would have played. Aspera Ad Astra was one of my favorite bands from the series, contributing an excellent song, but when I saw them live they were completely different. They were like a Yardbirds-style blues band instead of the spacey post-rock I was anticipating. I also got their first album and it sounded a bit like Radiohead. I guess they were eclectic in their styles. I also saw American Football, which was not in the series but a good band nonetheless, and hung out a bit with the 90 Day Men guys in the bar, back when we knew each other and would play shows together.

Here are the liner notes from the CD, which has a very good narrative on how the singles were conceptualized and released. It was a very nicely put together project, and we were glad to contribute. Of course these singles are very difficult to find, and I am not sure of the current state of Tree Records, but I wanted to keep the history of this series alive a little longer. Thanks.

Here is also the artwork, etc. from the Hal al Shedad/Rainer Maria split:

The back of this card read "You've come a long way up this mountain to be here with us, the least we can do is invite you in for tea."

Sticker on the back of the single


  1. I never knew Ben had the same nut troubles I did...

    Tree Records is dead, but Ken Shipley is one of the co-owners of the Numero Group, and awesome reissue label that specializes in old soul and funk 45s and compilations:

    Numero Group site

  2. reading this entry bring back a lot of memories from my teenage years. i have a few of the 7", some with the envelopes still unopened.

    i drove ten hours to see the postmarked stamps shows at the fireside bowl in april of 1999. i was really looking forward to see the hal al shedad for the first time, such a letdown that the band wasn't there. for 10 years i had been wondering why they never made the jounrey, thanks to your entry i finally found out.

    i'm not sure if anything the postmarked stamps will or can ever happen again. what a special time.

  3. Thanks for the comment! I'm sorry about hal not playing the fireside that time, we actually only played two or three more shows after that before breaking up. We were kind of good at letting people down back then. I do agree that those Tree Records 7"s were amazing in concept and execution, although I wish our 7" was mastered better. I sent in a few 7"s to these guys in brooklyn who are doing a book on innovative 7" packaging, so I wonder if they are going to include the Tree 7"s. It would be pretty cool to see them all packaged and displayed in a formal printed setting. Thanks again, and sorry about the show. If you send me an email, I can send out some old performances on DVD.

  4. thanks for writing about this, it was a really interesting read! such a great series of records.

  5. When I first heard "Solitaire" I was blown away. I was lukewarm on the band for years before that. It was everything I wanted from an "emo" band -- lyrically rich, explosive, progressive and epic in approach.
    When we played with you in DC, I think that Rainer Maria was playing in town as well (with Lungfish perhaps?) and shortly thereafter came the split 7". That also became my favorite RM song, but I didn't pay attention to anything beyond that, so maybe I missed out.
    Great great song on many levels. Thank you!

  6. Hey lordedge, thanks! I always thought Solitaire was the beginning of a new chapter for us, but instead it was the end. You should check out my other post where I included recordings of our last two shows. We wrote an entirely new set of material that would have been our third album. By the way, what band were you in that we played with in DC? I remember playing with black dice, but the others are escaping me. That Lungfish show that night was incredible as well.

  7. Wow, how did I end up here *again*? I posted previously on the 86 entry, and here I am!

    Aspera Ad Astra were *all over* the place, it's true. I've got huge chunks of their stuff--but, indeed, they were also on a compilation called "Sounds of Psychedelphia."

    And eventually turned into some kinda of electronica (I'd lost track, and they'd lost "ad astra").

    Dug all the stuff, though. "Peace" was excellent, in particular, though I imagine that's the album you felt sounded like Radiohead?

    1. Hey RC - Yes, I have the "Peace" album, which had that quality that I mentioned sounding like Radiohead or of that time, but then I saw them in Chicago, and they were like some kind of blues rock band, just a completely different band, but still good in their own way. Aren't there a few bands out there called Aspera? It gets confusing for me after the gay nineties.

  8. Yes, I missed you guys at the Fireside show. We drove from western PA. Never knew why you canceled, I think someone said there was a car accident or someone in the band had an anuerism. Anyway, glad to finally find out what happened. American Football played a great set. I think i still might have video of the show somewhere.

  9. I saw you at the Twelve Hour Turn house in Jacksonville. After the show, me and three others hammered out the ideas for what was to become Wayward Council in Gainesville, FL.. Great songs and live shows. thank you.