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While No One Was Looking: Toasting 20 Years of Bloodshot Records

Available as a limited edition double CD w/ 12-page booklet, limited edition gatefold TRIPLE LP, or digital

All LPs include digital download card for album MP3s and bonus artwork

38 artists, including Andrew Bird, Blitzen Trapper, Superchunk, Chuck Ragan, Nicki Bluhm, Ted Leo, Ben Kweller, Chris Shiflett (of Foo Fighters), Into It. Over It., Shakey Graves, and more covering songs from Bloodshot's 20-year history FULL TRACK-LISTING HERE


38 songs from the Bloodshot catalog reemerge covered by friends and heroes of ours in oft-head-craning styles from gritty punk to back porch folk, dark bedroom new wave to straight up honky tonk, and lush power pop to new emo.

Full Description

“Success on someone else's terms don't mean a fuckin’ thing…”

So shouted Jon Langford in "Over the Cliff" on Bloodshot's first album, 1994's For A Life of Sin.

It was true then, and it's even truer now.

With a heady brew of resilience, stalwart dedication, Cervantes-level delusion and mulish determination on behalf of music and artists we love, and luck—serendipity, even—Bloodshot Records has improbably survived 20 years in the venal snake pit that is the music industry.

As an indie label operating on the fringes, we try to keep our eyes forward and ignore and avoid the chaos, distractions, inanities, and indifference on the peripheries of the biz and bring to bear our ingrained, Chicago stacker-of-wheat work ethic. The pay is low, but at least the hours are long, and there's never been an expectation of longevity; there's always been some new hurdle to climb over or problem to solve. Still, after all this time, we wake up in the morning (or, er, sometimes afternoons) excited about new music we've heard, a new band we've seen, some minor victory in the battle to dent the world's ever-shortening and shallowing attention span.

At times, it feels like we're tossing bottles into a pond: some bob around; some drift into eddies or out of sight in the weeds; some splash the old guy fishing off his pier and yelling "hey you maniacs, you can't do that;" some get run down by drunken yahoos in their speedboat; some just sink.  And, sometimes, one hits the current just right and floats off to amazing, unexpected places. The secret to (or madness in) our longevity is our will to keep on tossing.

Now, 20 years later, we're looking around with a bit of stunned "How'd THAT happen?" look on our faces. And how to best mark this auspicious, multiple-of-10 occasion? Retrospectives aren't our style, neither are "Best Of" collections. So, we reached out to a few artists and floated the idea of covering songs from our ample catalog because we thought it would be cool to hear what might happen. The speed, sonic breadth, ingenuity, and diversity of responses took us all by surprise. We heard from old friends, new friends, friends we didn't know we had, and even a few heroes of ours (Holy shit! Mike Watt knows who we are?). Some told stories of being fans for years, hearing about us or our artists from working in record stores, their college radio stations or being on tour with them; some got turned on through friends or seeing them open for someone else, or from following the Mekons forever.

As different as all their stories are, the weird and winding paths that brought these artists to our drab little stretch of Chicago’s Northwest Side snake from all over the sonic spectrum. 38 songs from the Bloodshot catalog reemerge in oft-head-craning styles from gritty punk to back porch folk, dark bedroom new wave to straight up honky tonk, and lush power pop to new emo.

Thus, a half-cocked idea (not our first, trust us on that…nor likely our last…) blossomed into the triple LP/double CD thrill ride While No One Was Looking: Toasting 20 Years of Bloodshot Records.

Some picks are naturals and some surprising; some folks go deep catalog, and some pick the "hits." Some choose big names like Ryan AdamsJustin Townes Earle, or Neko Case, and some shine a novel light on loveable and grievously under-appreciated cult heroes like the Meat Purveyors and Devil in a Woodpile. Some offer faithful versions; some bring their own particular bent, and some completely re-imagine or dismantle the material and take them places it'd never occur to us that they could go.

What they all have in common is that somewhere, somehow, and in some way, something we had a hand in resonated with them. Turns out, you never really know how or where the ripples from those bottles we've been tossing will hit the shore. 

Digging the super cool artwork?  Then check of THESE LIMITED EDITION POSTERS

Short Description
BS20 While No One Was Looking Toasting 20 Years of Bloodshot Records
  • If While No One Was Looking was the only record in your collection, you’d still have a pretty good record collection.

    — PopShifter
  • A great introduction to an important roots label for newcomers and a welcome reward for long-time listeners.

    — New Noise Magazine
  • It’s clear that all of the contributing musicians did this as a labor of love, something obvious from the honesty and quality of the performances. 

    — American Songwriter Magazine
  • Whether you're an old Bloodshot fan, or a new one, this is one behemoth of an album you're going to want to pick up.

    — Gaper's Block
  • While No One Was Looking confirms plenty of folks heard fascinating things in the music Bloodshot has brought to the marketplace, it's a great listen that's full of fine surprises and passionate music. 4 out of 5 rating

  • This compilation has something for every fan, and with any luck, Bloodshot has another 20 years to look forward. 4 out of 5 rating

    — Alternative Press
  • In the end, it’s jubilation mainlined, chewy nuggets bursting with flavor and foment. Each track deserves mention... shows why Bloodshot, two decades in, remains so compelling. 9.3 out of 10 rating

    — Paste

Track List

Disc 1

  1. Blitzen Trapper - “To Be Young (Is to Be Sad, Is to be High)” (Ryan Adams)
  2. Chris Shiflett & The Dead Peasants - “Look the Other Way” (Justin Townes Earle) 
  3. Samantha Crain - “Cold Forgiver” (Ha Ha Tonka)
  4. Chuck Prophet - “Dirt” (Andre Williams)
  5. Hiss Golden Messenger - “Where I Fell” (Robbie Fulks)
  6. Dave Davison (of Maps & Atlases) - “Things I Didn’t Say” (Bobby Bare, Jr.)
  7. Ted Leo - “Dragging My Own Tombstone” (Waco Brothers)
  8. Into It. Over It. - “Deep Red Bells” (Neko Case)
  9. Split Single - “My Backyard” (Nora O’Connor)
  10. Limbeck - “Sound of Running” (Old 97’s)
  11. Tim Kasher - “Aspidistra” (The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir) 
  12. Shakey Graves - “Happy Birthday Julie” (Wayne Hancock)
  13. Ivan & Alyosha - “My Winding Wheel” (Ryan Adams)
  14. Chuck Ragan - “Survivor Blues” (Cory Branan)
  15. The Minus 5 - “Cherokee Grove” (Mark Pickerel)
  16. Carolyn Mark - “Last to Know” (Alejandro Escovedo)
  17. Daniel Romano - “Strange Birds” (Jon Langford & The Sadies)
  18. Charlie Parr - “Manifold” (Devil in a Woodpile)
  19. The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band - “St. Nick on the Fourth in a Fervor” (Ha Ha Tonka)
  20. Possessed By Paul James - “I Came Around” (Murder By Death)

Disc 2 

  1. Andrew Bird and Nora O’Connor - “I’ll Trade You Money for Wine” (Robbie Fulks)
  2. Ben Kweller - “2:00 AM” (The Meat Purveyors)
  3. Frank Turner - “The Corner” (Cory Branan)
  4. Superchunk - “Come Pick Me Up” (Ryan Adams)
  5. KOJI - “East Jefferson” (Ben Weaver)
  6. The Great Crusades - “Fake Out Jesus (Live)" (The Blacks)
  7. Mike Watt & The Missingmen - “Up to My Neck In This” (Jon Langford & The Sadies)
  8. Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers - “Oh My Sweet Carolina” (Ryan Adams)
  9. Jerry David DeCicca - “Broken Bottle” (Alejandro Escovedo)
  10. The Handsome Family - “1000 Dollar Car” (The Bottle Rockets)
  11. Warm Soda - “All Grown Up” (Gore Gore Girls)
  12. James Leg (of Black Diamond Heavies) - “Is That You in the Blue?” (Dex Romweber Duo)
  13. Two Gallants - “Truck Driver” (Scott H. Biram)
  14. Diarrhea Planet - “Dry Land” (Waco Brothers)
  15. Kevin “Shinyribs” Russell - “All the Time” (Lydia Loveless)
  16. The North Carolina Music Love Army (featuring Caitlin Cary, Chip Robinson, and Kenny Roby) - “Stick to the Plan” (Graham Parker)
  17. William Elliott Whitmore - “I Wish I Was the Moon” (Neko Case)
  18. Samuel Fogarino (of Interpol) - “Liked It a Lot” (Charlie Pickett)


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