The TVD Record Store Club

Graded on a Curve:
New in Stores, May 2017

Part two of the TVD Record Store Club’s look at the new and reissued wax presently in stores for May, 2017. Part one can be found here.

NEW RELEASE PICKS: Grandpa’s Ghost, The Carnage Queen (Transduction) Pocahontas, IL’s Grandpa’s Ghost have been active since the ’90s, garnering beaucoup accolades and a too-small following, which is to be expected when roots and experimentation intersect. Impossible to imagine without the precedent of Neil Young in and outside of Crazy Horse, but boy howdy do they transcend that template on this 2LP (+ bonus digital set Country of Piss). “I Am a Specimen” is a highlight of raucous out-rock leading into “Come Here, Come Here,” which hits like a midwestern Lungfish crossed with Peter Jefferies. A

Jason Rigby, One (Fresh Sound) Inside-outside trios are a personal favorite, and this disc, which features Rigby on tenor and soprano sax with Cameron Brown on bass and Gerald Cleaver on drums, maintains a consistently high standard. Evenly split between strong Rigby originals and a diversity of borrowed material, the decision to tackle “You Are Too Beautiful” was inspired by Coltrane and Rollins; Rigby’s playing combines elements of both but isn’t the slightest bit derivative. His soprano is a pleasure, and so’s his going it alone on “Embraceable You.” Brown and Cleaver reinforce their heavyweight reps. A-

REISSUE PICKS: OST, Blue Velvet (Varèse Sarabande) David Lynch’s ’86 cult behemoth is eminently quotable (“yes, that’s a human ear, alright.” “I’LL FUCK ANYTHING THAT MOVES!”), so I’m guessing there was temptation to pull a Tarantino and expand the reissue with dialogue snippets. If so, then kudos for resisting the urge, as Angelo Badalamenti’s classically orchestral score deserves to be front and center. The sound effects suite is also cool, as is “Honky Tonk Part 1,” “Love Letters,” Julee Cruise singing “Mysteries of Love,” and of course, the candy-colored clown they call the sandman. A

Swans, The Great Annihilator + Drainland (Young God) By ’94 Swans were solidly back on sure footing, but upon Annihilator’s initial release, I can distinctly recall being struck by its power, cohesiveness, and maturity. Michael Gira has recently professed displeasure with the original mix, but I was never so bummed; nonetheless, this remastering from the original tapes does strike the ear as fuller, and folks lacking this set on vinyl (which is most people, I’m guessing) can scoop it up now with Gira’s signature and get a bonus download of the man’s rather nifty ’95 solo joint Drainland. ‘tis a good ‘un! A- / A-

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 5/25/17

What Retailers Can Learn From the Music Industry’s Meltdown: Labels scrambled to compete via technology they seemed to barely understand. “There were a lot of experiments with formats to try to come up with different things,” said Chris Brown, the CFO for the Maine-based, 12-store Bull Moose record store chain. “We had a summit meeting with BMG,” he recalled of the music conglomerate. “The company’s president held up what looked like a memory stick. He said, ‘People like MP3s, so we’re going to sell them MP3s on this memory stick here.’ It was maybe a one-inch square. They saw that as replacing the cassette. I never heard about it again after that meeting.”

Jerry’s Records owner retiring, but store will remain open: First the good news: As the sign outside the Squirrel Hill store says, Jerry’s Ain’t Closin’. The bad news is that after more than 40 years in the record business, beloved owner Jerry Weber is stepping away from the vinyl store that brought him international fame. Citing the need for another round of knee surgery, Mr. Weber has sold Jerry’s Records to employee Chris Grauzer for an undisclosed price, and his last day at Jerry’s will be July 31. “I sold him the store, the store name, the phone number. He’s going to be the face of Jerry’s Records,” Mr. Weber says.

New Record Store/Bar Opening in the Hudson Valley Next Month: A record store and craft beer taproom called The Vinyl Room will be taking over a vacant Hudson Valley storefront next month. Owner John Kihlmire says the business will combine both of his passions; vintage vinyl records and craft beer and wine. The record store will be open all day, welcoming music fans and collectors to come by and flip through records. While there, customers can also relax at the bar and grab a drink while enjoying some music. Everything played at the taproom will be off of vinyl records, and that policy will also go for any DJs who come to play for the late night crowds. Live music will eventually also be incorporated into the mix.

For the love of vinyl: Natalie plays CDs in her car, uses an iPod when she’s out and about, then puts a record on when she gets home. It’s her hierarchy of convenience and perceived authenticity – running from downloads to expensive vinyl – and from what is being heard at the shop counter, this is how increasing numbers of us are engaging with music. So, with fingers crossed, I’m going to suggest Natalie’s approach as the future, even if that’s more in hope than in any great faith in the youth of the day after tomorrow. The alternative – gulp – is that vinyl, the vestigial nipple of music formats, is well into its final comeback, and it has had more than its fair share already.

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The TVD Storefront

Lindsey Luff,
The TVD First Date

“Music has and always will be an escape for me. Even when I’m singing or writing about the hard things, it still allows me to let go.”

“Growing up I would listen to whatever my mom had on the turntable. Music was the one ‘normal’ thing in our home and both she and I clung to the joy that listening brought us (even though I was too young to know it). Singing to each other Four Jacks and A Jill’s “I Looked Back,” dancing around the kitchen listening to Sgt. Pepper’s, or playing the most rad game of peek a boo to Tommy James and the Shondells “I Think We’re Alone Now.”

Those were the brief moments of escape from an otherwise chaotic life. I used to play, ad nauseam, my 45 of the Mickey Mouse Club theme song (with great pride I might add) on my vintage orange and white Fisher Price record player that my mom got me at a yard sale. Also in my collection, at the ripe ole age of 3 or 4, was a 45 of Peter Paul and Mary’s “Puff the Magic Dragon” and Burl Ives’ “Big Rock Candy Mountain.”

As I got older and the market moved away from vinyl, I followed suit (not that I had much of a choice) on to cassettes and CDs. The first CD I purchased was NSYNC’s “No Strings Attached.” Yes, I had a poster of the band on the ceiling above my bed because that was a thing, but also because I shared a room with my mom and my two brothers and that was my space. When I was younger I never really cared what medium I used to listen to music. As long as I could access it, all was right with the world.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Radar: Raiders Of The Lost Ark score to be reissued on 180-gram vinyl, in stores 6/2

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Concord Music Group is pleased to announce the vinyl release of John Williams’ classic Oscar-nominated score for the legendary Indiana Jones film, Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Due out June 2nd, the two-LP album will be available on 180-gram vinyl pressed at RTI (Record Technology Incorporated), and housed in a two-pocket gatefold jacket featuring original stills and artwork from the film. The audio, which features a wealth of cues not previously available on the original soundtrack LP, was cut by renowned engineer Bernie Grundman, who mastered the score for its initial release in 1981.

Composed by John Williams, and nominated for both an Academy Award and GRAMMY Award, Raiders of the Lost Ark was the only score in Stephen Spielberg’s beloved series performed by the renowned London Symphony Orchestra — which also recorded the inimitable and now ubiquitous score for Star Wars. The soundtrack is most notable for its inclusion of the iconic and instantly recognizable “Raiders March,” which came to symbolize Indiana Jones, as played by Harrison Ford, and was later used in the scores for all subsequent films. This version of the album follows the track list of the 2008 expanded edition, previously only available on CD, and offers over 30-minutes of extended cues not on the original LP.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve: Blondie,
Parallel Lines

A bit of history: When Blondie signed on with Australian producer Mike Chapman (of Chapman and Nicky Chinn glam rock fame) to record their 1978 breakthrough LP Parallel Lines, little did they know what they were in for. Deborah Harry, Chris Stein, and the rest of the band had a rather punk attitude towards the studio, and everything else for that matter; as Chapman noted later, “They were really, really juvenile in their approach to life—a classic New York underground rock band—and they didn’t give a fuck about anything. They just wanted to have fun and they didn’t want to work too hard getting it.”

Chapman the perfectionist called Blondie “hopelessly horrible” and explained his attitude towards the sessions in frankly dictatorial terms: “I basically went in there like Adolf Hitler and said, ‘You are going to make a great record, and that means you are going to start playing better.’” And they did. The result was a landmark record that everybody should own but you know what? I really kind of miss the hopelessly horrible band that gave us Parallel Lines’ predecessor, Plastic Letters.

Sure, Plastic Letters lacks the gloss of Parallel Lines’ disco-inflected “Heart of Glass” and a song quite as catchy as “Hanging on the Telephone,” but it possesses the same gritty and off-kilter NYC charm as the first recordings by the Dictators and the Ramones. Spies, strange happenings in the Bermuda Triangle, and cheating at poker by means of telepathy—Plastic Letters may be an imperfect recording, but boring it ain’t.

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TVD Washington, DC

Play Something Good with John Foster

The Vinyl District’s Play Something Good is a weekly radio show broadcast from Washington, DC.

Featuring a mix of songs from today to the 00s/90s/80s/70s/60s and giving you liberal doses of indie, psych, dub, post punk, americana, shoegaze, and a few genres we haven’t even thought up clever names for just yet. The only rule is that the music has to be good. Pretty simple.

Hosted by John Foster, world-renowned designer and author (and occasional record label A+R man), don’t be surprised to hear quick excursions and interviews on album packaging, food, books, and general nonsense about the music industry, as he gets you from Jamie xx to Liquid Liquid and from Courtney Barnett to The Replacements. The only thing you can be sure of is that he will never ever play Mac DeMarco. Never. Ever.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Man Forever,
Play What They Want

John Colpitts, aka Kid Millions, first emerged on the scene back in the 1990s as a member of Oneida, but more recently he’s been steppin’ out as the leader of Man Forever. His project’s latest features guest contributions from Mary Lattimore, Yo La Tengo, Laurie Anderson, and others, these additions enlarging the music’s already sizeable template without sacrificing the constant rhythmic thread in Colpitts’ work. The result is a major statement, and one as approachably expansive as its jacket photo is suave. Play What They Want is out now on LP, CD and digital via Thrill Jockey.

The solo career, at least in pop-rock terms, usually represents a sustained iris-in on a performer theretofore largely considered as a member of a group. Other musicians frequently assist in these intensified spotlights, but the scenarios generally work best when the artists with their name on the sleeve don’t get lost in a shuffle of personalities. Or to put it another way; “all-star” situations rarely deliver on the promise they portend.

As part of Oneida, John Colpitts comes from a rock background, though said outfit helps to shape his evolving experimental reality, and up to this point Man Forever has connected not as a move into the “solo” sphere but rather as one chapter in a book documenting seemingly constant activity; alongside Oneida and Man Forever, Colpitts’ most prominent gigs have been People of the North (with his Oneida bandmate Bobby Matador) and the Fox Millions Duo (with Greg Fox of Guardian Alien).

Collaboration is clearly key to the guy’s artistic thrust, but partially through a prestigious credits list, this new album initially connects as something of a departure from what’s came before. Specifically, Play What They Want registers as an undisguised attempt to reach a wider audience, and yet the contents remain true to the title; the set is concise, the experimentalism is accessible, but nothing is diluted.

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 5/24/17

At this Maryland vinyl fest, the wax will never wane: The Arbutus Record & CD Show happens monthly in the volunteer fire department hall in Arbutus, Md. On the third Sunday of the month — usually; this month’s show is the fourth Sunday, May 28 — dozens of dealers haul in LPs, singles, box sets, CDs, posters and other music-related ephemera. (Visit arbutusrecordshow.net for info.) Some of the records are new pressings — examples of the vinyl resurgence we’ve all heard about — but the vast majority are old. Once, someone wanted them. Then someone didn’t — their owners outgrew Rush or the Monkees; they converted their records to MP3s; they died — and now these dealers hope someone wants them again.

Meet John Damroth of Planet Records in Harvard Square: At 27 years of age, after a short career in advertising I decided to be my own boss and open a record store in 1983. I managed to cobble together a business plan and get a loan to start Planet Records. Located in Kenmore Square in a renovated parlor floor apartment I did the remodeling with my brother and in November Planet Records opened its doors. We were an immediate success and I paid back my loan at the end of the first year. Our success was due to a large selection, high standards and efficient organization. We carried all types of music and over the years went from LPs to cassettes to CDs. There were some lean years for vinyl but I always believed in the medium and its value.

Stacks and Stacks of Vinyl: Tower Records in 1971: Some amazing footage has surfaced from the Sunset Boulevard store of the once powerful Tower Records chain —“Tower on Sunset” as it was known to all in the Los Angeles area, over the years the site of many huge in-store album release events, strategically situated near many record label West Coast offices. As the clip starts, the needle drops on Sly and the Family Stone’s “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin).” The camera follows an employee carrying cardboard boxes on the sales floor, and we pass stacks and stacks of pristine vinyl, in that unique way that Tower sold music, with the top box open sitting atop more of the same title below.

Gramovox puts a new spin on enjoying vinyl: The phonograph — that is the record player — turns 140 this year, and while vinyl is on the return, the record player has hardly changed dramatically. That is until you set eyes on what Gramovox has made. A little different from your mum’s record player, or even the one you keep next to the Sonos so you can send the warm sound of crackling vinyl playing your favourite tunes throughout your home (this is actually us), Gramovox is taking the record player and giving it a different spin. Specifically, it’s making it go upright compared to flat on a platter, essentially creating a record player designed to be seen and heard, rather than the latter.

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TVD Washington, DC

TVD Live Shots: Budweiser InfieldFest at Pimlico Raceway, 5/20

Last Saturday, the 142nd running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Raceway in Baltimore hosted the Budweiser InfieldFest which featured a variety of musical offerings ranging from electro-house to pop-punk—with a big dose of country-cool.

Headlining the performances for the day were country star Sam Hunt, Grammy award winner Anton Zaslavski, aka ZEDD, Maryland natives Good Charlotte and LoCash, and opening up the festivities was the Canadian country duo High Valley.

Despite the wet weather holding off through the day’s events, the rain from the night before left a muddy infield and track, as has become a tradition for the past few years. Weather aside, the crowds came in droves to bet on the horses, drink, eat some from local digs, and get their fill of live music.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Radar: Sia’s Some People Have Real Problems in stores on vinyl for first time, 5/26

VIA PRESS RELEASE | For the first time ever, fans of the international icon, 5X Grammy Award nominee, and multi-platinum selling artist/ songwriter/ hitmaker Sia will be able to purchase her fourth studio album, Some People Have Real Problems on vinyl, come May 26th. This double-LP release, housed in a two-pocket gatefold jacket with printed inner sleeves, is available to preorder now.

After starting her career as a background singer and guest vocalist for the group Zero 7, the enigmatic impresario directed her efforts toward her solo career while simultaneously writing behind the scenes for fellow pop stars Britney Spears, Beyoncé, Celine Dion, and Rihanna for whom she wrote the 2012 smash hit “Diamonds.” Her 2014 record 1000 Forms of Fear debuted #1 on the Billboard 200, spawning the smash-hit single, “Chandelier.” Shunning the spotlight, she has since become known for wearing a wig that hides her face and chooses to live in the spotlight as anonymously as possible, which proves a difficult task given her string of recent successes.

Sia’s fourth studio album, Some People Have Real Problems features the singles “Day Too Soon,” “The Girl You Lost To Cocaine,” “Soon We’ll Be Found,” and the hit “Buttons.” When asked by Rolling Stone in a 2008 interview about the inspiration for the album title, Sia offered that “During the recording people would come in and complain about traffic, and I’d say, ‘Some people have real problems.’ Like, they’re waiting for a lung or they don’t have a mum.”

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