Portland, Oregon’s Ten Dollar Recording Company has always been something of a family affair, for sure. With a close-knit roster of artists generating work often co-recorded by a crackerjack house band (consisting of label founders and multi-instrumentalists Mo Douglas and Mariya May) at an intimate home studio, TDRCO has created an insular and unique thing that is one-of-a-kind. Over the last several years, under the direction of Douglas and May and along with a growing cohort of like-minded musical hepcats and psychonauts, the label has tuned into its own center of gravity, promoting a steady stream of up-and-coming artists along with May and Douglas’ many projects of their own, and cranking out a consistently diverse catalog of releases.
And just in time for 2018, TDRCO celebrates their one hundredth catalog entry with recent single “TDRCO-100” performed by the newest group to the label’s roster: The Hot Breath, consisting of Douglas and May with TDRCO collaborator and jazz maven Peter QB on sax, flute, and organ. Put together, the trio coagulate a formidable slice of forward-facing funk, and “TDRCO-100” crackles with a retro flair reminiscent of gold-standard 60’s/70’s R’n’B, rocking out over a steady backbeat punctuated by QB’s sure-footed sax and flute maneuvering and hemmed up nicely with May’s sultry vocals. In true-to-form genre splicing, the track even manages to fall into its own dub remix at the end, further highlighting TDRCO’s bent toward experimentation and authenticity above all else.
Further, to complete the homage to 100 releases of TDRCO goodness, individual lyrical lines for “TDRCO-100” were contributed via a number of additional writing partners in The Hot Breath, all of them long time TDRCO artists themselves - Thomas Mudrick, Prince Joely, Chance Wiesner, Ryan Massad, and Reed Burnam, along with added content and arrangement from May and Douglas (full disclosure - the author of this here overview is amongst the participants). As such, we get lines like “A hundred records and mad street cred, a hundred hearts that beat blood red”, or “a hundred dogs chasing cats, wearing crowns and holding bats...”, as well as some lines that are easter egg references to past albums on the label’s back-catalog - how’s that for a rabbit hole, already?
At the end of it all, “TDRCO-100” is a strong, stand-alone track which is as diverse and inclusive as Ten Dollar Recording Company itself: lyrically strung together by various artists using the simple verbal prompt of “100”, sung over a track played by the label’s in-house band, expertly produced by production wiz Douglas, and created to reflexively celebrate the label and the artists on it while still standing as completely approachable by those not in on the story. There’s more, but you gotta get in there for yourself and check it out.
Now that the label is squarely in triple digit territory in the release department, there is no excuse not to be aware of these good folk and the jams they are kicking out on the daily. “A hundred sighs in one hot breath” - celebration-worthy indeed. Here’s to a hundred more. (Reed Burnam)