Chuck Ragan and The White Buffalo team up to help push you over the midweek hump.
Years and years ago, you would find Chuck Ragan traveling around the country with his band, Hot Water Music. The Gainesville, FL band made a name for themselves with their relentless touring and anthemic songs. Across the country on its other coast, you’d find Jake Smith—an Oregon born, Southern Californian raised in the influential West Coast punk scene. Fast forward to 2014 and the two are now touring together. Tonight they come to South Street for a show at the TLA.
While they have not lost their punk roots, both Chuck Ragan and Jake Smith have ventured past it. For almost a decade now, when Ragan is not singing and playing guitar in Hot Water Music, he’s crafting his own songs as a singer-songwriter. Focusing more on storytelling has allowed Ragan to reveal his emotions within a different creative outlet. His strong sense of traditional Americana has shaped his solo material into honest, straightforward tunes.
Everybody has her favorite one-hit wonder. Mine is Paul Mauriat and His Orchestra’s “Song Sung Blue.” I cried, no kidding, every single time I heard it as a child. But let’s take it one step further. What about a band that appears from out of nowhere, records only one great 45, and then disappears forever into the mists of obscurity? Such bands are much cooler yet. They make one mysterious visionary statement, and then vanish. Such bands are the D.B. Coopers of rock, leaving us to wonder who they were and where they came from, and where they went. And most of all, what other great tunes might they have had up their sleeves?
At least we don’t have to wonder, as in Cooper’s case, if their chute never opened or they hit a tree or drowned in the Columbia River. But it’s just as agonizing. Is one song all they had in them? Or did they have more, but hit rock’s equivalent of a tree, and break up soon after recording their tantalizing 45?
A while back I wrote an article on The Barons, a D.C. band who in 1966 recorded but one single, “Time and Time Again” b/w the sublime “Now You’re Mine.” The B-side is a classic slice of garage rock, and if The Barons aren’t as obscure as plenty of other one 45 wonders it’s for the simple reason that only several copies of their 45 are known to exist. Each is worth a small fortune—so be on the lookout—thanks in part to the lead guitarist’s mom, who tossed out 100 copies because she grew tired of them taking up needed space in her house.
Friday night, April 25, is the album release party for the new collection from Rotary Downs, Traces, at Gasa Gasa. It has been described as, “a stunning collection of psychedelic art pop,” by NPR and “perfectly New Orleanian” by Filter magazine.
The band actually premiered the first song, “Flowers in Bloom” accompanied by an interesting look at the band members’ vinyl muses right here at TVD three weeks ago.
Inspired by traveling abroad and experiencing the thrill and the isolation of spinning through worlds far from home, Traces journeys down the similar experimental rabbit hole as the band’s previous work, but is musically tighter and sharper than ever before. The tone of the record has a darker element than past records but has an overall warm, unfocused quality of distance—an almost romantic alienation.
“The first record I can remember getting as a Christmas present was Kiss, Double Platinum. It was a slick double record with a silver cover. Pretty freaking cool. I think I wore it out between the ages 8-10.”
“My Mother had a small but unbelievably influential record collection which I discovered in the basement as a kid and promptly brought to my room. The Beatles’ White Album, Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits Volume 1, Bob Marley’s Rastaman Vibrations, Donovan’s Greatest Hits, Dr. John’s Right Place. These are a few that really impacted my life and still do.
I think listening to the White Album and Dylan’s Greatest Hits as a young teen really subconsciously brainwashed me into writing songs. Listening to those records gave me expression. Then connecting with Donovan, Dr. John, and Bob Marley gave me vocal craft and style. But it was the joyful trippy sound of the Beatles and the presence and words of Bob Dylan that changed my life…and that’s why I’m here.”
Those of us requiring a dose of daily weirdness will always reserve a special place in our twisted little hearts for San Francisco via Shreveport, Louisiana outfit the Residents. Lifelong oddballs dressed up like tuxedoed eyeballs, this marvelously bent bunch has been an active concern since way back when the FBI took their orders from the jowls of Nixon; decades later their stuff still hangs way out there on the edge. Require proof? Well, get thee to a copy of Superior Viaduct’s outstanding 2LP extension of the 1983 compilation Residue of the Residents and prepare to be enveloped with beaucoup unusualness.
While I do love them like a mother, over their long existence the Residents have released so much music that attempting to think about its entirety can at times deliver a substantial burden upon the consciousness. To elaborate, the handy website Discogs gathers up 78 separate items under the heading of Albums, with that tally excluding 39 that are designated as Compilations. There’s also 41 entries listed as Singles & EPs.
In Residential terms, I’ve found the easiest way to counteract any nagging discographical fatigue is to simply refocus upon the absolutely essential documents from inside that vast oeuvre. And I’m surely not alone in holding a deep affection for their early material; ‘74’s Meet the Residents, ‘76’s masterful The Third Reich ‘n’ Roll, ‘77’s Fingerprince, ‘78’s double kick of Duck Stab/Buster & Glen and Not Available, ‘79’s Eskimo, and ‘80’s amazing collection of 40 one-minute songs Commercial Album, the LP that served as this writer’s introduction to the group’s warped brilliance.
The Vinyl District is honored to have been chosen by the The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and National Zoo to participate in the Endangered Song Project.
“The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and National Zoo announced today (4/22), Earth Day, the launch of the Endangered Song Project, an analog-meets-digital awareness campaign that calls upon 400 participants to use their social media strength to spread the message that there are only 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild.
The National Zoo partnered with Atlantic Records’ indie rock band Portugal. The Man to distribute a previously unreleased song titled “Sumatran Tiger.” The song was lathe-cut onto 400 custom polycarbonate records designed to degrade after a certain amount of plays. With no other copies in existence, the 400 participants are tasked with digitizing and sharing the song through their social channels with the hashtag #EndangeredSong. “Breeding” the song socially will help save it from extinction, thus raising awareness about the critically endangered Sumatran tigers and need for conservation efforts.
Created in collaboration with pro-bono services from DDB New York, an Omnicom Group, the campaign will be supported through a dedicated website, www.endangeredsong.si.edu. The site also features a real-time update of all the social conversations surrounding the project, more about the initiative and how people can help perpetuate the song.
The list of the 400 participants involved in the Endangered Song Project includes a wide range of music artists, noted bloggers, wildlife conservationists and other social media influencers who were asked to share the song, spread the message and help ignite change.
Just when you thought another Record Store Day had come and gone and you’d need to wait another calendar year for a bunch of records high-flying into stores, along comes Semi Precious Weapons’ brand new LP, Aviation which is officially released today (4/22) but at a pressing of just 500 was offered as a 180gram, RSD2014 exclusive last weekend, bundled with a CD of the complete LP as well.
Well, actually…let us amend that a bit. 498 copies of Aviation made their way onto store shelves last weekend because our friends from LA in SPW set aside 2 copies for TVD to put in the hands of TWO of you. (And no line to wait in—imagine!)
“As a kid our entire basement was filled with nothing but a model train and probably 400 records. My dad had a jukebox upstairs that played nothing but 45s. When I was really young, I listened to a Tommy James and the Shondells record on repeat until I discovered my dad’s copy of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours—both albums still really inspire me.
We have a pretty awesome vinyl collection at our band house that includes everything from 60’s surf, noise records like Red Horse, Judy Garland Live From Carnegie Hall, and a ton of ’70s rock records that I stole from my dad.
Remember We Are Scientists? I do.
They take me back to those simpler days in the mid aughts. Before I had a nine-to-five job. Before I owned a house or car that worked consistently. Before I kind of became an adult.
These were the times when I would spend every Sunday night hanging out at the bar under the Grog Shop, drinking beers and dancing to indie rock like We Are Scientists.
I never thought there would come a day I would be writing about the “sound” of the mid 2000s, but here we are. When you put on one of We Are Scientists’ records, it takes you back to those simpler pre-recession times when indie rock was danceable and vaguely poppy.
Every once in a while I take a break from my favorite genre—metal—and go on a singer-songwriter kick. This one came after witnessing a slew of incredibly talented female vocalists hit all at once and who filled up my playlist very quickly. These are five stand-out artists that I have high hopes for in 2014.
I think this is the best of the best in the current new crop of records delivered so far in 2014 and I encourage you to check out each one of the amazing songs below. I’m not sure it’s going to get much better than this, my fellow music lovers. So let’s get started.
Nicole Atkins | So yes, it really doesn’t get any better than this. Nicole Atkins is by far the best female singer of the past decade.
Her voice is simply stunning. A mix of Billie Holiday and Fiona Apple with the power of Janis Joplin, no one can touch her, period. Her new album Slow Phaser is her best work yet and a clear front-runner for album of the year, even this early in 2014.
Jazz Fest doesn’t get started until Friday, but there still are ton of things to do in the days leading up to the fest. Consider heading out to City Park Thursday evening for this great event.
Threadhead Thursday has become an un-official Jazz Fest kick-off party. This is the fifth year the fine folks at the non-profit organization, which provides grant funds to musicians and writers (yours truly included), have thrown the party.
It takes place from 6 PM until 11 PM at the picturesque Botanical Gardens of City Park.