TVD Washington, DC

TVD Live: Alejandro Escovedo, Sammy Brue
at The Birchmere, 6/24

PHOTO: TODD V. WOLFSON | Alejandro Escovedo brings a lot of talented approaches into one rock figure. His show at The Birchmere in Alexandria Saturday had aspects of both his hard rocking post punk career and also his quieter acoustic material. In both, he was backed by a talented three-piece, who wailed when the electricity was full and sat with him when he grabbed the acoustic.

Bringing a variety of influences into his music, from rock, to Texas songwriter traditions, to country, punk, and Tejano, Escovedo seems to have been super-energized since a life-threatening health scare 14 years that also sidelined his music for more than a year.

With the proverbial new lease, he seems at 66 unleashed on stage, and appears as youthful as the other new additions to his band, bassist Aaron McClellan and guitarist Nick Diaz, who added soaring solos in a number of songs. Longtime associate Scott Laningham continues on drums. Too bad it’s not the all-star backing band he had last spring when touring his latest album Burn Something, which featured Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey on guitars and co-writing.

But Escobedo’s plenty able to do these things without them, so he started with rockers he recorded from the last few albums, “Can’t Make Me Run,” “Dear Head on the Wall,” and “Shave Cat” before pulling up a chair and considering some of his oldest songs dating back to “Five Hearts Breaking,” which came alongside a long monologue about the old country musician who inspired it. It was from his first solo album, Gravity, now marking its 25th anniversary.

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The TVD Storefront

Emily West, The TVD First Date and Video Premiere, “Don’t Ever Go To Paris When You’re Lonely”

“After hearing Patsy Cline’s voice as a young girl I was forever changed. I thought to myself, ‘This is what heartbreak sounds like and this is what a real woman sounds like.’ I couldn’t wait to be a grown-up so that I could understand what she was feeling of whatever it was she was singing about: Pain. It was earthy, honest, painful, and I started to mimic her. I’d practice singing in the bathtub with my Barbies and in the bathroom cleaner. Patsy’s my teacher.”

“I was obsessed with Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty growing up and to this day, I am still fully effected by all those dramatic orchestrations. The strings, the fairy choirs, the colors, the romance. When Sleeping Beauty is walking in the woods and singing “I Wonder” and then Prince Philip comes in… at the age of 8, I remember thinking it was hot. Another favorite Disney moment is when Cinderella, AKA Llenn Woods sings “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” and “So This Is Love.” It’s so hopeful and peaceful. Llenn Woods is a gangster.

The Annie soundtrack pretty much raised me. The songs are burnt in my brain and I start crying anytime the big orchestra part booms in on “It’s a Hard Knock Life” and then when Annie sings “Maybe”… I just can’t take it.

I’m a real sucker for light and dark. Annie and Patsy taught me how to sing honestly. They were my “Girl Scout Kit” on how to be a real singer.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Lou Reed,
Live: Take No Prisoners

It was the best of Lou; it was the worst of Lou. I’m talking, of course, about Lou Reed’s infamous 1978 “comedy” album, Live: Take No Prisoners, which was recorded over a 4-day period at the Bottom Line in New York City. On it Mr. Velvet Underground adlibs all over some of his best-known songs, launching into long, meandering, and only occasionally humorous digressions that destroy said songs in the process. You will like this album if you believe Lou Reed is the second coming of Lenny Bruce. Me, I rate him more along the lines of Lenny and Squiggy.

But here’s the good news. Despite Reed’s best efforts to hobble his own material by free-associating right over it, Live: Take No Prisoners occasionally reaches sublime heights, thanks to some ballsy and unique arrangements that actually—at least at times—improve on the studio originals. Unlike Bob Dylan—whose radical rearrangements of his classics tend to give me the shudders—Reed has the ability to treat his own songs with arch irreverence and get away with it. Sometimes at least.

I could belabor the point I make in the first paragraph, but I’ll try not to. Suffice it to say that the almost 17 minutes of “Walk on the Wild Side” are truly insufferable. He chit chats for a while, then goes into a long spiel about how he came to write the song. He then interrupts said long spiel with a rant about how much he loathes the Village Voice’s Robert Christgau and rock critics in general before returning to his original spiel, having also taken a brief conversational detour to give a shout out to Bruce Springsteen who is in the audience. “Sweet Jane” receives similar treatment—Lou yaks his way through it, looking for yuks with his Barbra Streisand imitation and his observation that people from Wyoming are short (guess you had to be there). Meanwhile the band vamps behind him, vainly hoping—along with, I would guess, the audience—that he’ll just shut up and play the damn song. I know that’s what I’d have been hoping.

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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: William C. Beeley,
Gallivantin’ and
Passing Dream

Tompkins Square continues to rescue neglected independent releases from the cruel clutches of obscurity. The latest: William C. Beeley’s Gallivantin’, which came out in a self-financed edition of 200 in 1971, and its follow-up Passing Dream, cut as Will Beeley for the Malaco label in ‘79. The first is full-bodied solo folk, the second a serving of uncut country verve, and the reemergence of both comes attached with the good news of new Beeley material to be issued by Tompkins Square in 2018. Sage advice is to get hip to the guy’s stuff right now; Gallivantin’ and Passing Dream are available on vinyl June 30.

Historically, it’s been far more common for talent to be underappreciated or outright ignored than to be met with the deserved level of success. Gallivantin’ is the prime example of this circumstance; it’s a private press, but it’s not loner, outsider, or offbeat in any way. In fact, opening with a sharp cover of Dylan’s “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” and closing with an astute ten-minute merger of two songs by Buffy Sainte-Marie, “Little Wheel Spin and Spin/Co’dine,” the disc has a very strong connection to the folky spirit of the time.

Tackling Bob was, if not a prerequisite, then extremely common during the era, but it’s Beeley’s take on Sainte-Marie that really drives home Gallivantin’ as an in-tune byproduct of the folk scene. Most importantly, the high quality of his interpretations extends to the record’s eight originals, which unwind without a letdown; “Gallivanter” and “Summer Colored Skin” are loaded with imagery without going overboard, and “Walk” offers a blend of Leonard Cohen and the Greenwich Village that’s the highpoint of the first side. It’s followed by the scaled-back relationship ditty “And then I’ll Be Gone.”

Concision is another constant element, as seven songs, none breaking the three-minute mark, comprise side one. The brevity only serves to reinforce the album’s function as a demo of sorts for bigger labels; one listen to Gallivantin’ is all it takes to understand the interest of Elektra and Capitol, and it was through a promotion rep with A&M that Beeley hooked up with Malaco.

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 6/28/17

New record store PALMA39 opens in Madrid: Spain’s capital city has a new record store, PALMA39. Located in the central district of Malasaña, the shop will stock both new and second-hand dance music records. A host of Spanish house and techno labels are being stocked, such as Memories On Wax, Antimatter, Freebeat, Prayers For The Long Life and Eleve. PALMA39 is a venture formed by two previously existing record stores in Madrid, Is The Place and Recycled Music Centre, which are both now closed. The store will also be regularly streaming DJ sets and host its own radio show. It’s already open to the public but an official opening is taking place on Saturday, July 15th.

Nottingham classical record shop closes after 30 years: Classical CD, based on Goose Gate, Hockley, opened in 1987 and is the city’s last classical CD shop. But it will close next month and Richard Gibson, founder of the shop, said it can’t cope with customers downloading music online. Richard, 74, added: “The collecting people of my generation want the actual product but the younger generation just don’t have the same attitude. “Also classical music is very much for people over a certain age. If I go to a concert hall I feel young compared to the average age of the audience.”

Other Music Documentary film launches official Kickstarter with premiums from Belle & Sebastian, Animal Collective, The Breeders, Vampire Weekend, Dirty Projectors, Magnetic Fields & more! Today the film’s directors, Puloma Basu and Rob Hatch-Miller have launched an official Kickstarter project to help fund and complete the film. Check out a trailer video and a full list of Kickstarter rewards here, including items from the store, Belle & Sebastian, The Breeders, Animal Collective, Vampire Weekend, The Magnetic Fields, Neon Indian, Dirty Projectors, Mercury Rev, Steve Keene, The Clean and more!

Sonic Mania soundtrack coming to vinyl, The hedgehog with some class, vinyly: Sega and the record label that focuses on releasing video game soundtracks on vinyl Data Discs are teaming up to release a Sonic Mania soundtrack to play on your record player. The two-disc album features quite the lovely inner sleeve with Sonic, Tails and Knuckles frolicking around the Green Hill Zone, a number of the tracks from the upcoming game, as well as a download code that’ll allow you to listen to the album on one of your more modern devices, too. Pre-orders start in the middle of July for all editions of the LP which include a regular black one, and a translucent blue variant.

We’re bringing Stardew Valley to vinyl! Featuring Concerned Ape’s favourite tracks from each season in the game, the Stardew Valley record spans across two discs of beautiful tri-colored wax. We’re also delighted to have been able to work with one of our favourite artists, Kari Fry – who has created all of the original artwork for our release. Kari’s work perfectly encapsulates how we feel about Stardew Valley and we couldn’t have thought of a better fit. Our Stardew Valley LP is limited to 600 copies and comes sealed in a heavyweight gatefold jacket with the disks nestled safely in thick anti-static inner-sleeves.

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TVD Chicago

TVD Live Shots:
AIR at the Auditorium Theatre, 6/20

French duo AIR—Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoît Dunckel—have been treating ears to their atmospheric anthems since 1995. Their debut album, Moon Safari, lived in my car stereo for the better part of my college years. So needless to say, I was thrilled to finally see them live and in color for the first time ever—and on their first US tour in 7 years.

As expected, they did not disappoint. After almost every song the crowd gave AIR a standing ovation to the point where the ovations lingered long enough for the house lights to come up. Their set was a nice mix of the band’s discography with extra attention played to Moon Safari and 2004’s Talkie Walkie.

Their tour continues in July as they make their way around Europe for the remainder of the summer. I highly recommend. Merci, AIR.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Radar: Neil Young remastered Decade 3-LP set in stores now

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Neil Young will release his long out of print Decade anthology on June 23, on Reprise Records.

Originally released in 1977 on a triple vinyl set and compiled by Young, Tim Mulligan, and David Briggs, Decade has long been considered the definitive 35-song collection of material covering the years between 1966-1976—it features Neil Young solo and with Crazy Horse, Buffalo Springfield, CSNY, and the Stills-Young Band. Each of the tracks has been remastered with the original artwork and restored with inside photos by Joel Bernstein, Gary Burdan, Henry Diltz, and Tom Wilkes.

Recently, Decade was re-released to its original 3-LP vinyl configuration for Record Store Day 2017 in a limited pressing. It is now widely available once more on vinyl, as a two CD set, and digitally.

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The TVD Storefront

The TVD First Date

“As ’80s babies we get our music mostly in CD form. Every now and then someone would dig out an over used cassette tape or the lucky few would even stroll confidently onto the school bus with a shiny new mini disc player. Up until the late ’90s, our only engagement with vinyl was to dig out one of our mum’s Gloria Estefan records as we would try to make ‘that scratchy sound’ that PaRapa the Rapa used to make on the Playstation. This was quickly stopped by our parents after a few broken needles.”

“In honesty, vinyl had always seemed archaic and cumbersome. Why lug a piano around when you can get a Casio from the local department store for £30? It was only when the digital age really dawned that I began to understand the real magic of holding a 120g piece of decorated plastic. By 2005, music was becoming so accessible that it was overbearing. It’s like sitting down at a restaurant and being presented with a menu that has 3,000 different dishes.

It was with this new-found feeling that I journeyed into the loft to dig out my parent’s old record collection and accompanying record player. I was greeted by the shiny leather trousers of Phil Lynott on the front of Thin Lizzy’s Live & Dangerous as well as a flamboyant Prince Rogers Nelson astride a mean looking motorbike on the cover of Purple Rain. Before I’d even heard a single note of sweet analogue sound, I got it. A 1970s teal Dansette Monarch later and I’m officially a convert.

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UK Artist of the Week: Model Aeroplanes

Previously receiving airplay from BBC Radio 1’s Huw Stephens, Radio X’s John Kennedy, and BBC 6 Music’s Tom Robinson, Dundee band Model Aeroplanes are back with another slice of blissful indie-pop.

An instant earworm, “Lover” races with jangly melodies and uptempo beats, oozing sparkling, summery vibes. Reminiscent of French stars Phoenix, the track is an immensely infectious offering, exuding a shimmering euphoria.

With past support slots including Twin Atlantic and Editors, this is no doubt just the beginning for Model Aeroplanes who now, having shown themselves capable of creating such glistening indie-pop delights, are sure to propel to stardom in no time at all. So, find a garden, grab a beer in the sunshine, and be swept away by the dazzling, uplifting bliss of Model Aeroplanes.

“Lover,” the new single from Model Aeroplanes, is in stores now.

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