TVD Chicago

TVD Live Shots: Lotus at the Riviera Theatre, 4/12

With 15 years of material under their belt including numerous studio albums and countless live bootlegs, Lotus has made it difficult to predict what to expect at their shows.

There are, however, a few staples that continue to attract sell-out crowds both nationally and internationally: their light show is always spectacular; their musicianship is always on display in an egoless, free jazz sort of way; and despite their jam band roots, they’re usually the best dressed/most well groomed dudes in the building. Such was the case on Saturday at their second of two sold out shows at Chicago’s Riviera Theatre.

Throughout the years, Lotus’ sound has evolved from their early focus on “jamtronica” (jam and electronic influences) to their current incorporation of multiple genres and textures (rock, funk, and hip hop to name a few). One thing is for sure: it’s all about the music for them. They experiment, they explore, and challenge themselves in the most organic, fundamental ways and it pays off, especially live. They are jam band royalty for a reason, after all.

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The TVD Storefront

Needle Drop: Horse Thief, “Little Dust”

Texas-born, Oklahoma-based Horse Thief plays a panoramic blend of rootsy, folk rock that evokes the wide-open spaces of America’s Midwest. “Little Dust,” the latest single from their forthcoming Bella Union debut Fear In Bliss allows the band to exercise the demons brought about by the lead singers’ bouts with anxiety and depression.

The track has a looseness to it which allows for the gloomy depictions of drug abuse and chasing the dragon to feel as breezy as a desert wind. Gorgeous guitar lines soaked in golden cello tremolo sneak along with the pounding drums and aching vocals while the lyrics detail the narrators’ devilish hallucinations.

The use of atmospheric instrumentation and the emotive presence of the vocals makes Horse Thief stand out amongst the throngs of freak-folk rockers attempting a similar sound. Producer Thom Monahan (Devendra Banhart, Vetiver) helped the band fuse their renowned stage performance with the studio quality he is known for. That is not to say the recordings aren’t wonderfully rough around the edges. “Little Dust” proves in the first few minutes that there’s nothing streamlined about truly feeling alive, and point of fact, the rawer the better.

Fear In Bliss favorably positions the band as a love child of Flaming Lips and The Beachwood Sparks and should appeal to fans of both. That is to say, if you like your freakiness to go down nice and smooth, this one’s for you.

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TVD Washington, DC

TVD Live: The Kid Congo Powers Hour at Comet Ping Pong, 4/14

How unlucky am I? I was walking down the street the other day when a black cat crossed my path. The black cat said, “Shit! Bad luck!”

Now Kid Congo Powers, on the other hand, is a lucky guy. He’s spent virtually his entire life at the Epicenter of Cool, from his teen years as a Glam Kid dancing to “All the Young Dudes” at Rodney Bingenheimer’s storied English Disco to co-founding The Gun Club with Jeffrey Lee Pierce to playing with the likes of The Cramps and The Bad Seeds. That’s quite the curriculum vitae, and a much-abbreviated version at that, so I suppose in Powers’ case its talent, not luck, at work.

The stories Powers—whose current gig is as front man of Kid Congo and The Pink Monkey Birds—could tell! He could write a book! Here’s one about sepulchral Hollywood Sleaze King Kim Fowley. Seems Fowley showed up at a party where Kid and company were tripping. Nobody at the party liked Fowley—they considered him a stabbing pain in the cock at the best of times—so they all grabbed kitchen knives and waved them out the door, uttering mock-homicidal Manson Family type threats. Fowley decided he’d be safer going elsewhere.

Since relocating to Washington, D.C., Powers has engaged in all manner of extracurricular activities, because he’s a seemingly tireless character and bops around in his hip 50’s biker’s cap and cool ‘stache that’s every bit as tireless as he is. I’ve never met a more energized mustache. Anyway, when Powers isn’t touring or recording in Harveyville, Kansas he’s DJing here and there and everywhere, but I’m not the dancing type so my favorite fun Powers’ side activity is the occasional Kid Congo Powers Hour, wherein le Kid de la Congo leads a supergroup of stellar musicians in a set of skanky-great garage obscurities, sixties scunge-rock classics, and Gun Club and Cramps tunes.

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The TVD Storefront

Life is strange: The Casket Girls join us
at DC’s Som Records

PHOTOS: RICHIE DOWNS Ever feel out of the loop? (I know, us too.) Yes, it seems there’s something going down at record stores tomorrow, April 19, but nobody tells us a damn thing. It’s weird. But I tell you what, we hate crowds. And lines.

Know who hates crowds too? Savannah, GA’s The Casket Girls, that’s who. The lovely women of spooky shadows with an eerily catchy soundtrack to match made their way through Washington, DC recently, and with a chill in the air and ice on the stilettos, wound their way down the stairs of DC’s Som Records to join us for a hang. And a record rummage.

“My sister and I grew up in a large, dusty clutter of hallways and staircases. Playground and prison just the same, we didn’t leave the grounds much. When you live in the middle of nowhere, nowhere is your destination and your return.”

“We seemed to evade any vague adult supervision that might have made faint gestures towards securing some sense of order in our lives, and were left thoroughly content wandering about the self-made tunnels and bridges of our mind’s eye. Hoping to connect with the other worldly—in search of something more.

We were scared of the attic. We were told it was dangerous, and never to lower the ladder. Though for years we abided, we knew that one day the bravery would rise in our chests, tiny hearts pounding, breath controlled, my sister shushing me with only her glance: the ladder would be lowered. And as we believed in destiny from a very young age, we felt we had no choice in matters, we were only following our hearts up the seemingly loudest steps we had ever walked in our lives, as our aunt made tea in the kitchen below.

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TVD Los Angeles

TVD Recommends Alexandra & The Starlight Band at the Record Parlour, 4/19

Alexandra & The Starlight Band will be playing a private party this Saturday, 4/19 to celebrate Record Store Day at the Record Parlour in Hollywood, CA from 1-5pm!

Come sip on some free drinks (including a specialty Starlight Band glitter cocktail), grab a free bite to eat and groove out to the rock ‘n’ roll soul of the Starlight Band.

The Starlight Band will also be giving away 3 copies of their rare, SOLD OUT collectable rainbow glitter 7″s and art prints of the limited edition show poster by Australian artist Nicholas Potts (pictured above) throughout the day!

Strict RSVP required, but check out the official media invite below the jump to get the inside details, just for Vinyl District readers! Happy Record Store Day!

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve: Humble Pie & Nazareth, Winning Combinations

What manner of musical monster is this? Two bands—on the same LP? Lunacy! Stark raving madness! Why, it reminds of the bootleg 99-cent LPs I used to see in the cutout bins of Woolworths as a teen. You’d be transfixed by a title like Jimi Hendrix Meets Brian Auger, but if you were foolish enough to buy it you soon discovered that Hendrix was MIA and the LP included nothing but dismal D-grade outtakes by Auger. And come to the reluctant conclusion that if the two did actually meet, it was at a party at Mama Cass Elliott’s flat in Mayfair.

Overwhelmed by nostalgia, I had to check this one out. And I’ll be damned if it isn’t indeed a winning combination, the reasons being twofold: (1) Humble Pie and Nazareth aren’t so terribly far apart, sound-wise, that the combo is ridiculous, and (2) while I half-expected the LP to contain losers and obscurities, it turns out that—and I don’t mean this to sound cold—both bands each recorded maybe five great songs, and they’re all on this LP. So it’s like getting two greatest hits packages in one!

I know that Humble Pie fanatics (total number: 17) and Nazareth nuts (total number: 17) alike will keen at my saying each band only put out five great songs. And it’s true; I’m exaggerating. But Winning Combination is as good a radical distillation of ‘Umble Pie and Nazareth’s best as you’re likely to find, and each group’s bona fide greatest hits packages contain more than a few songs that I would never, in my wildest imaginings, want to actually hear.

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TVD Washington, DC

TVD Ticket Giveaway: M3 Rock Festival at Merriweather Post Pavilion, 4/25-26

It’s almost that time of year again when music festivals roll into town, bringing bands and music lovers of all genres together for a day or weekend full of music, booze, and possible leg cramping.

These fun-filled weekends come in a variety of sizes and genres. The nationwide Vans Warped Tour is basically a traveling concert, hitting up numerous cities in a span of 50+ days. On the west coast, there’s indie, grunge-rock Coachella and SXSW. On the east coast, there’s the CMJ Music Festival for up-and-coming artists, and the hard-rock and metal M3 Rock Festival.

This year, the M3 Rock Festival celebrates its sixth year of bringing metalheads together for one big hurrah at the Merriweather Post Pavilion. Though tickets went on sale last month, if you still haven’t gotten yours, have no worries! We’re giving away two-day lawn passes each month leading up to the festival.

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TVD Washington, DC

TVD Recommends Jowe Head at CD Cellar, 4/17

Calling all fans of classic U.K. post-punk and John Peel-approved, left-of-center pop!

One of our favorite DC-based monthly dj nights, We Fought the Big One, is presenting a special live show tonight at CD Cellar in Arlington with legendary U.K. post-punk iconoclast Jowe Head from Swell Maps/TV Personalities!

Early incarnations of Swell Maps, which centered around brothers Nikki Sudden (guitar/vocals) and Epic Soundtracks (drums/piano), existed as early as 1972 (!!!) with Jowe Head joining the band just before the U.K. punk revolution took hold.

The band’s skewed and unabashedly chaotic approach to garage-punk resulted in two classic albums and a string of incendiary singles that were a big influence on Sonic Youth, Nirvana, Dinosaur Jr., Big Black, and the Jesus and Mary Chain.

Even Blur were fans. Damon Albarn has never been shy about professing his love of Swell Maps. Is it just coincidence that “Song 2,” aka the “Woo-hoo!” song, sounds A LOT like the Jowe Head-penned Swell Maps number “Harmony in Your Bathroom”?

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TVD New Orleans

Up close and personal: Mardi Gras Indians parade at West Fest

This past Sunday was one of the last chances to see the Mardi Gras Indians in all their finery until next year. Sure, some tribes will appear at the Jazz Fest, but this was up close and personal with plenty of opportunities for close interactions.

Photographer Steve Moran and I were at the beginning and end of the parade around the Algiers neighborhood. The West Bank Steppers led the parade followed by about twenty tribes.

The event is hosted by the Mohawk Hunters, and the West Bank-based tribe was out in force with over 30 masked Indians. Spy Boy Dow of the Mohawk Hunters is pictured below with one of the many children masking with the tribe.

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TVD UK

UK Vinyl Video: FUCK ART, LET’S DANCE!, “We’re Manicals!”

FUCK ART, LET’S DANCE! are a Hamburg based band making music that will get you dancing! “We’re Manicals!” is taken from their forthcoming debut album Atlas, which is out on German label Audiolith, April 28th 2014.

In the video, three members of the band enter a darkened church. Front man Nico stands in front of the cross, while a young, robed boy dispenses mysterious pills.

The congregation begins to experience strange side-effects and they turn on the band. It seems they’ve morphed into some sort of sacrilegious zombies! But how does it end? Well, you’ll just have to watch to find out!

It’s good to see a band taking some time over their videos and “We’re Manicals!” also happens to be ones of the strongest tracks from the album. FUCK ART, LET’S DANCE! are proof that some of the most exciting bands are emerging from Germany right now—take heed!

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