Riff Raff

For the Record Ryan and Rebecca Coseboom are both 25, and already they're starting to dread the aging process. When the local electronic-pop husband-and-wife team, which records and performs as Halou, finished its debut album last August, contracts were signed, national distribution was confirmed, college radio was given a heads-up, and a late-fall release date was set for We Only Love You. But on Jan. 14, at the 111 Minna Street Gallery, where the brilliant graffiti-meets-Rauschenberg works of Oakland artist Doze Green were gracing the walls, Halou finished its set, and Rebecca Coseboom was forced to point patrons to the CD table at the back of the room, telling them that We Only Love You was available only at shows.

The situation is an object lesson not only of the fast-changing world of so-called modern "electronica," but also of old-fashioned record-label machinations. Last year, Halou signed to Washington, D.C.-based indie-pop label Bedazzled; an excerpt of the duo's "I'll Carry You" appeared on Loop: The Cut and Paste Groove Collection and generated a modest buzz in college radio. Mikael Eldridge, who compiled Loop, offered to produce We Only Love You for free. The result is a modest beauty: Filled with wafting, Eno-esque soundscapes, melodic drum 'n' bass thrubs, and Rebecca's ethereal vocals, the album soothes as much as it clatters. Bedazzled set a September release date, but two weeks before, the album's planned distributor, Cargo, went bankrupt. All of which means that, while the record technically exists, anybody who shops at a major chain store won't know it.

"Now we're screwed," says Rebecca. In the world of electronic-pop music, where tastes can turn on a hipster's fit of pique, the delay is painful. "The album's getting old," she sighs. "It's electronic -- the music moves so fast."

"Halou were the first electronica, quote-unquote, band we signed," says Rob Wyatt, owner of Bedazzled. That fact creates its own problems in the world of album distribution; since larger distributors tend to pick up an independent label's catalog only if the bands sound similar, Halou's the odd band out. "Distributors aren't sure what to do with it," says Wyatt. The label's currently looking for either a large national distributor, such as Valley or ADA, or an electronic-focused company; in the meantime, Wyatt's appealing to smaller companies to at least get the record in independent shops. "There's a lot of good music out there that isn't getting a fair listen," says Wyatt. "Distributors are consolidating, squeezing out smaller labels; it's hard for a small label to get larger distribution at this point. It's a headache."

Eldridge himself, who also plays drums with Halou, is looking into the possibility of having it released through Ubiquity, where he works as a sales and marketing manager. In the meantime, the two sure-fire methods of getting hold of We Only Love You are at upcoming Halou shows and through Bedazzled directly: P.O. Box 39195, Washington, D.C. 20016, or www.bedazzled.com. (Mark Athitakis)

Out-Sourced For most of its 10-plus years of existence, The Source magazine has been unofficially known as a hip-hop Bible. Even while the monthly glossy's detractors may cringe at the thought, reading The Source remains a ritual for pop-rap fans and underground heads alike. Although the periodical was formerly praised for giving readers pure hip hop from an inside-the-culture perspective, much current talk about the mag involves its lack of underground or independent rap coverage and an often myopic New York state of mind.

That's why we nearly swallowed our gum when reading through the February 1999 issue. Found adjacent to the lyrics for heavyweight superstar Big Pun's "Dream Shatterer" (questionably named "Dopest Rhyme of the Year") was a new award for 1998's best independent releases. One of the top five mentioned was Bay Area baritone Rasco, for his stellar debut Time Waits for No Man (Stones Throw). When asked about the unlikely recognition, Rasco admits he was taken by surprise. "I was just flipping through the magazine, and I was shocked. I was totally shocked. They didn't even run a review [of the record]."

The awards (also given to Oakland's Hieroglyphics for 3rd Eye Vision) were decided by a committee of Source staffers including newly appointed music editor Smokey D. Fontaine, who states that Rasco's inclusion was unanimously approved.

In addition to opening a West Coast office in August 1998 that keeps them "on top of the game," Fontaine believes the magazine adequately spotlights indie releases through columns like "Unsigned Hype" and "Independent's Day." "The Source highlights independent albums," he says. "Some people have underestimated that. ... A word to people putting out independent albums -- hit off The Source."

Rasco is delighted with the critical praise and says he respects the magazine's opinion. But he echoes the thoughts of many when he admits, "I used to respect it a lot more." (Craig Smith)

Critic's Corner Will Hermes is packing his bags -- and his sizable record collection -- once again. After moving to the Bay Area from Minneapolis a year-and-a-half ago, the music journalist whose globetrotting critical sensibilities have appeared in GQ, Rolling Stone, Spin, Entertainment Weekly, and these pages is leaving for New York City to take the reins as Spin's reviews editor. He begins on Feb. 1. (M.A.)

Oops Craig Smith's piece on Bomb Records' David Paul last week mistakenly stated that Peanut Butter Wolf is a rapper. He's a DJ and producer. We apologize for the error. (M.A.)

Send Bay Area music news, band stories, or petty gripes to mathitakis@sfweekly.com, or send it to Riff Raff, c/o SF Weekly.

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