Friday on My Mind: Sub Pop Turns 25!

It’s time again for Friday on My Mind, our weekly blog post where we look at videos centered around one common theme. This is a collaborative effort between KEXP and King 5 News.

As you’ve probably already heard, 2013 marks the 25th Anniversary of Seattle’s Sub Pop Records, and we’ve been celebrating the occasion all week. If you are a KEXP listener and music consumer, more than likely you have at least one Sub Pop album in your collection. Founded by Bruce Pavitt and Jonathan Poneman in 1986, Sub Pop is a music staple. In 1988, the Soundgarden EP Screaming Life was released allowing Pavitt and Poneman to quit their jobs and open a small office in the Seattle Terminal Sales Building. This was considered the official beginning of Sub Pop Records. As well during 1988, the Sub Pop Singles Club launched, a subscription service that allowed subscribers to receive 7″ records from independent artists in the mail. This club made Sub Pop a recognizable force in the record label industry. It put music from Seattle on the map like Motown did for Detroit. Pavitt departed the label in 1995 to focus more time on his personal life and family. While the label has had its ups and downs over the years, it continues to grow and evolve. In 2002, they released their first comedy album, Shut Up You F’ing Baby by David Cross, which was nominated for a Best Comedy Album Grammy. Eventually in 2008, folk comedy duo Flight of the Conchords won the Grammy for Best Comedy Album for The Distant Future. In 2006 Sub Pop went green by purchasing renewable energy credits equal to the company’s energy use.

The label celebrated its 20th anniversary with a re-release of Mudhoney’s Superfuzz Bigmuff, a new edition of the Sub Pop Singles Club, and an outdoor Music Festival out at Marymoor Park. This year for their 25th, they are throwing what they’ve dubbed a Sub Pop Silver Jubilee out in the Georgetown neighborhood here in Seattle. The Jubilee is all ages, it’s free, there are 3 stages, they’ll get started at 12:30. The lineup will include, Mudhoney, J. Mascis, Shearwater If you missed it, yesterday was historic. For the first time ever, we broadcast live from the top of the Space Needle!

And now here are a few of the most popular videos from Sub Pop’s extensive catalog…

Nirvana – In Bloom

Our first video pick is from none other than Nirvana. The song “In Bloom” was released as a single almost an entire year after the initial release of Nevermind. Initially, a video for “In Bloom” was made by a film student in 1990 before Nirvana made it big, but another was made and is the one that we’ve all grown familiar with. The video is basically three videos in one. The common thread is that the band performing on an Ed Sullivan type variety show. In one of the video shots, the band is playing while dressed in wearing suits. In another, the wear dresses, and in yet another. The entire vid is filmed in black and white.

The Postal Service – The District Sleeps Alone Tonight

Our next video is “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight” from The Postal Service’s 2003 one and only album “Give Up”. The Postal Service’s ability to combine acoustic instrumentation along with digital music making, proved successful, and the album went on to sell nearly 1 million copies and became Sub Pop’s second best selling album.

The Shins – Phantom Limb

From their 2007 album, Wincing the Night Away, “Phantom Limb” is our next song and video choice.The official video for The Shins’ “Phantom Limb” depicts stories of Joan of Arc, the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire and the Donner Party, all played by children as well as by The Shins’ themselves. In 2007 The Shins became the first Sub Pop band to perform on NBC-TV’s Saturday Night Live, where they performed “Phantom Limb” and “New Slang”.

Honorable Mentions:

Band of Horses – The Funeral

Our first honorable mention is “The Funeral” by Band of Horses from the 2006 album, Everything All the Time. The main character of this video has a dog that has passed away. The man drowns his sorrows in booze and then proceeds to drive drunk, which apparently leads to him ending head-on into a delivery truck.

Iron & Wine – Naked As We Came

“Naked As We Came” is from Iron and Wine’s 2004 release, Our Endless Numbered Days.

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