The Luna Music family of labels can boast three new releases this fall, including a B-side collection from power-pop heroes Guided by Voices and a teaser EP from former GBV member Tobin Sprout.
The third disc, however, is closest to the hearts of Todd Robinson, owner of the local music store mini-chain, and his partner in crime, Luna Manager Jason Pierce. Single Wish is a 13-song benefit compilation featuring Ron Sexsmith, Robert Pollard, the Candy Butchers, Kingsbury Manx, David Garza, Mark Kozelek of the Red House Painters and local talents the Impossible Shapes, Brando and the Birds of America, among other artists.
All proceeds support a scholarship fund established in memory of Robinson's mother, who died unexpectedly of a heart attack four years ago. The Martha Millard Robinson Scholarship Fund, set up through the Piqua Education Foundation in Robinson's hometown of Piqua, Ohio, provides assistance to underprivileged youth pursuing the arts.
The disc is a venture by Luna's not-for-profit arm, Caffeinated Robots, which until now has existed primarily as a Web site selling the work of independent artists. Single Wish is the first release Caffeinated Robots has assembled from the ground up for release on its own Sprite Recordings imprint.
"Talk about a labor of love," Robinson says. "It' one of the most satisfying things I"ve ever been involved with." He credits Pierce - his collaborator on many for-profit releases through their respective labels Recordhead and Mr. Whiggs - with pressing the idea of a Sprite compilation.
"There' certainly a glut of various-artists compilations, and that was probably my only trepidation in doing this," Robinson recalled. "I said, "I don"t really want to do this unless I feel like it's a strong selection of artists.""
One inspiration was gaining permission to use Sexsmith's "Wastin" Time," the song that first turned them on to his work and spawned a backstage/e-mail friendship with the acclaimed Canadian songwriter. The disc closes with a live solo piano version of the smell-the-roses ballad, whose refrain asks, "Where's the crime in wastin' time with you?"
For Robinson, the song evokes memories of his mother, an untrained but enthusiastic musician who sparked his own interest in music.
"Some of my earliest memories are of her playing the piano," he says. "I feel her presence all the time."
The artists, most of whom had some previous relationship with Robinson or Luna, were generous.
Kozelek dipped into unused tracks from a film project to offer a gorgeous fingerpicked instrumental, "78 Seconds in August." Garza offered four unreleased songs to choose from and told them to pick a title for the one they liked best, the gospel-funk-pop number "Hearts Beat Black."
Seattle psychedelic band the Green Pajamas provided the dreamy "Addiction." Pollard contributed a charming lo-fi doodle, "In the States (That I Go Through)." The Shapes, hailing from Bloomington, turned in an alternate take of their eerie "Dancing in Heaven."
Single Wish is available for $13.99 online and at Luna' Northside and downtown locations.
As for the other releases, The Pipe Dreams of Instant Prince Whippet, as the title suggests, is another round of tuneful lunacy from Pollard's Guided by Voices. The 10 songs are primarily B-sides and unreleased tracks from the sessions that produced the band' past two major-indie releases, Isolation Drills and Universal Truths and Cycles.
The disc is No. 24 in the Fading Captain Series, the catalog of solo and side projects that the ever-prolific Pollard releases through Luna. A limited run of 1,000 vinyl copies sold out almost instantly, Robinson says, but CDs remain.
With characteristically twisted titles ("Stronger Lizards," "Request Pharmaceuticals," "Dig Through My Window") Prince Whippet is standard Pollard fare ññ which is to say surreal, melodic and maddeningly catchy. Opening cut "Visit This Place" is one of the band' swelling prog-rock numbers, destined to become a concert staple. Sprout' seven-song release, Sentimental Stations, is intended to whet appetites for the scheduled February release of a full-length CD on Recordhead/Whiggs.
Far from coasting on his GBV laurels, Sprout shows here that he is comfortable with a range of styles, from the bouncy guitar-pop of the title track to an oddly touching piano ballad, "Dr. No. 8." His collaborators include former Breeders/GBV drummer Jim MacPherson.
The jackets for all three discs feature design and/or layout led by Pierce and credited to Luna's informal in-house graphics team, the Wigtea Collective. After some early talk of staggering the new releases throughout the year, Robinson and Pierce chose to drop all three in September.