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Knick Knack News

An Open Letter from Joe Johnson, Knick Knack Records:

This is a re-post of a contest that we ran in January of 2012.  There were no winners.  Only losers.


On a cold Friday in January, I watched The Foghorns belt out their tunes to an exuberant, sold out crowd at Comet Tavern, and I had a small revelation. The first band I ever released on Knick Knack Records did something great. Truly great. And I had a part in it: I released one of the best albums of 2011. 

And I’ve watched the band play their material to full houses throughout Seattle throughout 2011, including the Tractor Tavern, High Dive, Comet, Blue Moon, an amazing Christmas show at Hattie’s Hat, and the Noise for the Needy Festival. The Foghorns have nailed every show-- they’re always authentic, powerful, and emotionally stunning.

As 2012 rolls in, my label will release our second record, this one from Seattle’s legendary psychedelic delta blues band GravelRoad. Before we do, I’d like to give one shout out to our first band, and to myself for choosing them. The Foghorns are among the best live bands in Seattle. And their first album with us, To the Stars on the Wings of a Pig, is the best damn album of 2011-- by any band. No other band had the intelligence, the emotional resonance, or the fearless sonic approach that, to me, hearkens a contemporary take on the great albums of Neil Young and the Rolling Stones.

So for 2012, I’d like to offer everyone reading a challenge. I guarantee you the album I released in 2011 is the best you’ll hear from that year. Go to my site, and you can have the digital download for free. Simply enter coupon code BESTOF2011 at the checkout after you’ve added the album download to your shopping cart. If you like it, think about buying it. If you don’t, name me a better album. I’ll listen to it. If there is anything in the same category as The Foghorns’ last album, I’ll give you $40 in free store credit. No strings attached. (Because there is a possibility that I missed some great music in 2011, I’m ready to give away two $40 credits. But there are rules, which are below.)

Hey, by the way, on February 4th, The Foghorns play Columbia City Theater with James Apollo and Virgin of the Birds. 


The Foghorns’ To The Stars on the Wings of a Pig is a Great Damn Album Contest Rules
E-mail entries to

1. Album submitted must be rock, blues, country, folk, or some mix. We will judge on four categories: originality, lyrical integrity, overall theme, and ability to hold interest over multiple listenings. 
2. Limit two submissions per household. 
3. If there are some great albums that are actually better than our first release, we will send the $40 credit to the person who submits that album name FIRST. We have the money to do this for only two albums.
4. We will announce if there are any winners. 
5. Knick Knack will respond to submissions. Therefore, responses may take a while. 
6. Presenting an argument as to how each submission is better in some way than The Foghorns album would be a strategically advantageous way to go with this contest. BUT, we reserve the right to reproduce and post your submissions, and possibly argue against them in an antagonistic manner. 
7. We aren’t joking about this. If there’s a better album, we’ll gladly pay you the money for turning us onto it. We’re really friggin into music. 
8. Contest entries must be received by February 29, 2012

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Goodbye Waltz, Hello Blasphemous Chorus: Seattle’s alt country songsters discover retro rock and roll

  To The Stars On The Wings of A Pig was released in the fall of 2011 by Knick Knack Records, on blue vinyl, cd, and digital


Please Don't Leave
More Than Jesus
Wedding Bells


 Goodbye Waltz, Hello Blasphemous Chorus: Seattle’s alt country songsters discover retro rock and roll


In 2009, The Foghorns waltzed their way onto the Seattle scene with what sounded like a spectacular meltdown of woozy short stories set to jangly guitar. The band, who somehow made it to Seattle via Wisconsin, Brooklyn and Iceland, set sweet melodies behind the lines “Give me two more minutes before the truth... ah honey please put down the 80 proof.”

Blending genres like a high school kid blends drinks, Paul Constant of The Stranger described them as “definitely the best country band in Seattle that can also whip up a catchy synthesizer riff at a moment's notice.”

Where does a peripatetic tribe of misfits go from there? Surprisingly, away from country music.

Yes, The Foghorns, who cut out a niche doing literary country songs about the bittersweet moments in romance have moved on. Kind of.

Their new album, To the Stars..., begins as an almost continuation of A Diamond as Big as the Motel Six. “Please don’t you leave me now,” follows exactly from the above-quoted tune 80 Proof. And then comes the French. And a choir.

Suddenly the band is telling us naughty jokes. “Little girls, oh how they do protest, they roll their eyes and pray you see their little blessings” a choir sings, while an accordion drones.

The band compares an erection to the rising of Jesus Christ. Not just in a passing verse, but as a refrain: “Jesus died, and came back alive, and so has my tired dingaling.”

This is not country music. And these are not short stories. The Foghorns have dropped their storytelling for choruses and refrains. Gone are the waltzes, in favor of driving beats and overdriven electric guitars.

The result is a dynamic, utterly unique, strangely vintage sounding bar album. It sounds like something Neil Young or Bruce Springsteen might have done when they were young and amused.

For fans of The Foghorns, there is enough of the old style to pull you along, and there is the one bittersweet closer that encapsulates the A Diamond sound, Northern Lights. For those who thought of The Foghorns as a curiosity, or as holding down the country fort in Seattle, To the Stars on the Wings of a Pig is a very welcome contribution. A rock album that can hold its own with the best from around the country and from the last four decades.

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