At first glance, the story of Tandem Shop Records seems calculably ill-fated. Birthed in 2008 by college sophomores studying different stuff at different schools in different states, Tandem Shop Records was, like any DIY venture, destined to fail. That’s why, five years later, label co-founders Sam McAllister and Megan Frestedt have solely themselves to thank for the label’s veritable roster and consistently solid releases. That isn’t to call it rocket science. For how rarely it happens, running an indie label is simple: You do it because you care. Tandem Shop succeeds, then, because they care – about the music they release, the bands playing it, and the fans consuming it. McAllister and Frestedt are fans themselves, if not music nerds. They want you to hear these records, dammit! And they’ll press them until you do.
Have you listened to their mix tape? Have you? What did you think? Want another copy? A quick run through Tandem Shop’s SoundCloud reveals the founding duo’s collectively sharp ear for talent (see: The Oarsman‘s tranquil whistler, “Porch Light,” or Marko Casso‘s bedroom-rocker, “Rio Bravo”). From inaugural signee Mr. Bear‘s lo-fi debut These Machines to The Oarsman’s upcoming LP Writing House (out 9/24), Tandem Shop has forged on for the simplest (and seemingly rarest) reason in the biz – not for glamour, not for status, and certainly not to pay the rent, but to sow the music they wish to reap. You can catch the entire family at Lincoln Hall this Thursday: Many Places, Project Film, The Oarsman, Marko Casso, Steve Mulcahy, and fresh off a flight from Los Angeles, foundational Tandem-Shopper Jack Bishop (Mr. Bear). (Thursday@Lincoln Hall.)
— Matt Pollock