Maybe you’re familiar with Gay Talese’s famous non-interview interview with Frank Sinatra, in which the inventive wordsmith ingeniously worked around the fact that Ol’ Blue Eyes refused to participate in his Esquire profile. “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold” is a masterpiece of New Journalism, serving as a pre-cursor to the irreverent and inventive brand of news writing perfected by Hunter S. Thompson. Mind you, I lay no claim to any form of literary or journalistic excellence, but this will be my own attempt at something similar: A non-review review of A Giant Dog’s sophomore platter, “Bone,” from Tic Tac Totally Records.
The album’s official street date was February 15th, but the record has yet to find its way to my turntable, for reasons we’ll address later. For now, these are the facts as we know them: A Giant Dog is a phenomenal band from Austin, TX, dishing out a heady melding of punk and pop that features the ferocious and seductive vocals of Sabrina and the skilled musicianship of no less than three members of OBN III’s. “Fight,” the band’s debut platter, is an excellent record, bursting with raw energy, smart lyrics and a clean, streamlined onslaught that skillfully skirts the line between new wave and punk. The new LP boasts surreal pink cover art, comes on sturdy 180 gram wax and features 13 songs with tempting titles like “Lady Slut,” “Virgin Girl,” “Civil Whore” and “Teasin’ Ass Bitch” (sounds like rock ‘n’ roll to me!). I look forward to hearing it, if I’m lucky enough to ever receive my copy.
Tic Tac Totally is arguably one of the most important and influential labels of the past decade. It boasts stellar releases from the likes of Digital Leather, Lenguas Largas, Wax Museums and OBN III’s, which to my mind is the best damn punk band in America (ignore the critics who refer to them as ‘pub rock’ or ‘bar rock,’ which is a belittling and bogus estimation of a monumentally creative, socially incendiary and hard-rockin’ act). The one thing Tic Tac Totally has never been able to get right, however, is delivering its goods into the eager hands of its customers in a timely manner – a circumstance that is the genesis of this non-review review of “Bone.”
Time and again, I’ve gritted my teeth and PayPal’d my hard-earned cash to the label, knowing that what is about to ensue is weeks of wondering when my order will arrive. The straw that broke the camel’s back was the recent self-titled OBN III’s album, which I had pre-ordered, a move that might net you a colored vinyl version or a cool extra from other labels. Not so with Tic Tac Totally.
Two weeks elapsed from the release date and my mail slot remained empty, forcing me to resort to Delinquent Shipper Tactic No. 1: The polite email laying potential blame at the Post Office’s feet (diplomatically employed so as not to bruise the shipper’s ego and cause even greater delay). It goes something along the lines of this: “Hey, just checkin in to see if my record’s shipped. My postal delivery has been kinda spotty in the past, so I tend to be paranoid…” etc., etc.
Tactic No. 1 sounds better than “Could you get up off your ass and go to the post office?” and it usually guilts the shipper into action. I did indeed receive a response: The album most likely went out earlier in the week; my copy would be coming soon. Another week and a half crept by. A second email query went unanswered. The album finally arrived that weekend, nearly a month late.
After that I resolved to never order directly from Tic Tac Totally again; distributors only going forward, even if a consequence was having to pay California sales tax. I chose San Francisco’s excellent Midheaven. But as with many of the best laid schemes of mice and men, my plan went awry. I failed to account for just how deeply Tic Tac Totally’s nonchalance is ingrained. Midheaven informed me a couple of weeks ago that they still hadn’t received their shipment from the label, but that as soon as it arrived I’d be getting my order.
Whether the cause is pathological laziness or extreme disorganization, the end result is almost unbearable frustration. I’m not alone in my feelings, either. A quick glance at Tic Tac Totally’s Facebook page reveals a stream of disgruntled customers asking where their records are or pleading for refunds. Some of them claim to have been waiting more than a year. It really makes you appreciate labels/distros like Goner Records, Florida’s Dying and Green Noise, which take the sacred exchange of money for goods seriously.
Twenty-three days have elapsed since I paid for my copy of “Bone.” The clock ticks on, and my anticipation to hear the album grows exponentially. Later today I’ll check my Midheaven account to see if the order has changed from ‘Paid’ to ‘Shipped,’ but I don’t really hold out much hope.