Internet Tunes

Household Ink Records

By Brett Leigh Dicks

Two things strike you when you first explore Household Ink Records’ recent venture into the world of streaming Internet-based radio. The first is the eclectic nature of this dynamic homegrown label, and the second is the sheer depth of its remarkable catalogue. For nearly 20 years, Household Ink has been a musical haven for some of Santa Barbara’s most free-feeling and imaginative musicians, recording and releasing everything from the plaintive elegance of Nate Birkey to the bristling avant-pop of Flapping, Flapping. Oblivious to trends, the label’s course has been charted by substance. To celebrate Household Ink’s 20th anniversary, Household head (and master critic) Joe Woodard has taken its impressive catalogue to the digital airwaves.

“I’ve been trying to think of ways to expand the label’s admittedly humble reach,” explained Woodard. “And the idea of streaming was one that has been nagging at me for a while. Actually, the label-specific streaming radio station was a no-brainer, especially once I realized that we have a pretty sizable catalogue now of about 25 titles — plus some CDs that are loosely connected to us, like honorary kinfolk. To my ears, it all hangs together. It’s hard to say what other ears will hear, but the mix seems to me to be reminiscent of old school, freeform FM radio, when there was a whole lot more blurring of lines between genres.”

Household Ink draws from a diverse musical armory that doesn’t just explore musical borders — it crashes through them. First Shelly Rudolph makes a refined offering of rhythm and blues, and then Ellen Turner and Dudley give us tumultuous art folk until the sublime pop sensibility of Glen Phillips finally rains down upon us. The label might paint from a colorful musical palette, but its impasto approach provides an enchanting alternative to formulaic mainstream radio music programming. In an age where demographics and marketing strategies all too often determine content, it’s refreshing to hear something that is fueled by a real sense of community. And that is certainly something worth celebrating. See

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