Calvin Johnson and Karl Blau
Calvin Johnson has never made a hit single, and unless "down" suddenly becomes "up," "wrong" changes to "right" and "injustice" and "justice" swap meanings, he never will -- despite the slew of music he's created by himself or as part of Beat Happening, Dub Narcotic Sound System or the Halo Benders. Nevertheless, Johnson's put his mark on America's independent music scene by dint of K Records, which he founded. The label served as a temporary home for acts such as Beck, Modest Mouse, Built to Spill, Kimya Dawson and the late Elliott Smith, and while Nirvana signed elsewhere, Kurt Cobain was enough of a fan to have tattooed its logo on his arm. Moreover, K's river of talent continues to flow, if Karl Blau is any indication. Beneath Waves, Blau's solo debut for the imprint, includes "Into the Nada," an oddly catchy offering with a brass section that suggests a Salvation Army band on a bender. "Nada" will never be a hit, either -- but as Johnson knows, there are other ways to have an impact.
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