TVD Los Angeles

TVD’s The Idelic Hour with Jon Sidel

Greetings from Laurel Canyon!

Well the old world may be dead / Our parents can’t understand / But I still love my parents / And I still love the old world / Oh, I had a New York girlfriend / And she couldn’t understand how I could / Still love my parents and still love the old world / So I told her: / I want to keep my place in the old world / Keep my place in the arcane / Cause I still love my parents and I still love the old world

Well, the truth is I still love my parents. In fact I hope my kid will always love me too—and occasionally return a text.

This weekend Goldenvoice and LA native Sean Carlson host the annual FYF Festival. I’ve always been proud of the fact that Sean, the FYF festival creator, was once a short-lived intern for me at V2 Records. The truth is Sean didn’t do the greatest job—the kid was going places too fast to work at a record label.

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TVD Washington, DC

TVD Live: The Zombies at the Birchmere, 7/17

Half a century ago this summer, The Zombies were in Abbey Road studio working on an album that would both break up the band and bring them back together decades later. Fifty years later, they were winding up another US tour whose center point was a group of songs from that album that only grew in stature over the years, Odessey and Oracle.

In a show at The Birchmere in Alexandria Monday, the songs soared as lovely chamber pop concoctions—“Care of Cell 44,” “A Rose for Emily,” and “This Will Be Our Year,” leading into their biggest hit, “Time of the Season.” Oddly, it was that last one that didn’t seem well executed—the handclap, drumbeat, breath that was the basis of its precise backbeat seemed shaky (perhaps because they left the handclap to the audience), the keyboard solo by Rod Argent want a little long and wandered a little far afield, the big choral singalong a bit wanting (again because of the audience).

Overall, the group known for its bad timing (they broke up before “Time of the Season” became a hit and wouldn’t reform to tour or otherwise capitalize on it) sounded extraordinarily great. That’s because the vocals of lead singer Colin Blunstone, operatic and high ranging, seemed untouched by the passing years, perhaps because he’d been resting it so long. Argent’s voice wasn’t bad either, though he hid it most of the night, even on songs from his project following the Zombies, also called Argent.

There was more British rock royalty in this small unit: bassist Jim Rodford, who had co-founded Argent, went on to play with the Kinks from 1978 until the band stopped touring in 1996. He also spent time in versions of the Animals and the Swinging Blue Jeans. He’s 76; Argent and Blunstone are 72. The two younger members of the band, drummer (and son) Steve Rodford and guitarist Tom Toomey—both seemed to have white hair in sympathy with their elder bandleaders.

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TVD Chicago

TVD Live: Pitchfork Music Festival, 7/16

3:13 PM: It’s Sunday, so everyone seems a little sluggish but local fellas Ne-Hi are bringing lots of energy to the Green Stage, effectively waking up the crowd. House legend and Chicagoan Derrick Carter is doing the same over at the Blue Stage. It’s a very Chicago day at Pitchfork, as many members of today’s lineup call the Windy City home. I’m excited because the talent has been boiling over here for quite some time and these acts deserve more exposure.

3:45 PM: There is so much talent flowing out of Top Dawg Entertainment and Isaiah Rashad is no exception. He’s got skills and something to say—a powerful combination.

4:06 PM: Speaking of Chicagoans, Joey Purp (backed by—you guessed it—more Chicagoans, Peter CottonTale and DJ Knox Fortune) has the crowd bouncing for his entire set. Aside from confetti, beach balls, and super soakers, he surprises the crowd with Vic Mensa and Towkio. (Yeah, they’re Chicago boys too.) Chicago is in the mutha f**kin’ house!

4:48 PM: I haven’t seen Hamilton Leithauser since he was with The Walkmen and I am digging his new sound. The sun is out and people are chillin’, enjoying the last day of the fest (and weekend).

5:02 PM: Word is circulating that the Avalanches have to cancel their appearance later today because of a family emergency. Tough news. They’re in our thoughts.

5:25 PM: Tech issues are holding up Ride’s set. We’re at a 10 minute delay right now and the crowd is getting restless. “Figure it out!” someone yells and one of the technicians is not pleased. “Shit happens!” he yells back.

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TVD New Orleans

Stanton Moore’s With You in Mind: The Songs of Allen Toussaint in stores today, performance tonight, 7/21

Galactic drummer Stanton Moore has held down a regular Tuesday night jazz gig with bassist James Singleton and pianist David Torkanowsky at Snug Harbor for several years now. When it came time to record their second album, the unexpected death of New Orleans legend Allen Toussaint put a kink in their plans. The intended album of original music was put on hold and the group went into the studio to record a tribute to the great pianist, composer, bandleader, and producer.

The result, With You in Mind: the Songs of Allen Toussaint, is available today. The trio will play an in-store set at the Louisiana Music Factory this evening at 7 PM.

Years of playing together have honed the trio into an intuitive working unit. For the album, they took some liberties with Toussaint’s iconic time signatures, essentially re-working some of the songs. Toussaint was famous for re-arranging tunes and would certainly be impressed with the results.

Since Toussaint’s most famous work was for other singers, the group brought in some outside vocalists including Cyril Neville. The soulful singer puts his on stamp on the once-obscure song, “Here Come the Girls,” a track originally done by the one-and-only Ernie K-Doe, which has had a second life in recent years after appearing on a British advertisement.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Radar: Fluance’s RT80 and RT81 High Fidelity Turntables

Over the 10 years that we’ve been behind this vinyl endeavor, we’ve seen our fair share of turntables. From the lightweight plastic variations that one could kick down the length of a football field, to the mega high-end models you’d need to take out a second mortgage to afford, we’ve seen quite a number.

However, there’s been one recurring question we’ve received over the years from folks just getting into the vinyl thing to the old hands with years of experience—what’s your pick for a reasonably priced turntable that delivers higher end, quality fidelity? For a long time we didn’t quite have a solid position in regard to a price point paired with said turntable coming with a touch of elegance and superior stability and sound which would lend itself as a go-to recommendation—then these Fluance models came upon our radar.

Now, candidly, having felt a touch burned by the aforementioned plastic turntables more than once, we’ve become of the mind that seeing and hearing is believing, and to Fluance’s confidence in their product, they zipped one off to us in the mail that we’ve put to work in the office over the past few weeks—and we’re highly (and pleasantly) impressed.

Firstly, the turntable is gorgeous. Fluance shared with us their RT81 model and the natural walnut finish is a stunner. (Closer up, detail photos can be found here.) From the Audio Technica AT95E stylus to the Texas Instruments preamp and gold-plated RCA line outputs, the audio response is deep and warm and dynamic, and the ease of switching from 33 to 45RPM is a mere twist of a knob. All this and the set up and balancing of the tonearm was a snap.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Herbie Hancock,
Head Hunters

When it comes to Herbie Hancock’s jazz-fusion landmark, 1973’s Head Hunters, I’ll give the first word to my brother Jeffrey Little, the world’s premier jazzbo—“It’s a difficult assessment. I mean, on its own, abstracted out of context, this is a fine jazz/funk hybrid. It’s got “Chameleon” on it, for chrissakes. However, it’s difficult to listen to and not actively mind-juggle it with what preceded it. Forget what Miles Davis was doing; this ain’t that. That’s like comparing The Gap Band to P-Funk.”

“But,” he goes on, “measured against himself, and the three or four Mwandishi albums (including the badass Fat Albert Rotunda from 1969) that came before Head Hunters this is an obvious step, if not down, then a side-step across, and down. Mwandishi, Crossings, and Sextant, while not perfect, were among the highlights of the early fusion movement. This was a movement that proved to be a race to the bottom, where you could find the obscene tangle that was Spyro Gyra resting against the uber-talented gak that was Return to Forever. It’s unfair, but it’s hard for me to hear this without thinking that.”

I’m no jazz expert, but I know this: your love for Head Hunters, which is not only one of jazz’s all-time best sellers but is also considered one of jazz’s most innovative releases, is bound to be in direct correlation with your love for the genre, jazz-fusion it’s credited with creating. Me, I hate jazz-fusion. It led not only to Spyro Gyra but also to Grover Washington, Jr., Chuck Mangione, and Kenny G, and that is one dubious, if not flat-out evil, legacy indeed. Sure, it’s a mite funkier—and a bit more challenging, musically—than the artists it spawned, but the apples didn’t land that far from the tree.

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 7/21/17

Long time book and record store closing it’s doors in Santa Cruz: After a 48 year run, it is time for John Livingston to say goodbye to Logos Books and Records Store, a staple of downtown Santa Cruz. Livingston founded Logos Books and Records at the age of 22 on Pacific Avenue and over the years, he’s seen his fair share of ups and downs. But recently it’s just been too tough to make ends meet. “This economic environment is difficult to sell a business like this,” added Livingston. A business that buys and sells used books and records, ultimately becoming a hub for downtown Santa Cruz. But currently, Livingston added he’s seen how streaming books and music online has completely changed the industry.

Longtime Rochester alternative music shop closing after 29 years: Alternative music fans are browsing the collection at Lakeshore Record Exchange on Park Avenue for the last time. The longtime Rochester alternative music store is closing next month after decades in business. Owner Andrew Chinnici says the European and American records and CDs he sells aren’t that hard to find anymore because most people buy their music online. “In a way, you could say that it’s good because more people listen to more music now than they ever have before.” he said. “It’s just the way in which they get it is different. And that’s the thing that sort of means that a place like this doesn’t really have a reason for being.”

Restaurant owner to open record store downtown in historic building: The owner of a popular Cincinnati restaurant is going into the music business, the Enquirer reports. Elias Leisring, owner of Eli’s BBQ, is preparing to open Herzog Music, a record store and music shop in the famed historic building where Hank Williams and other pioneering country, R&B and blues musicians recorded some of their earliest music. An opening event for the store at 811 Race St., across the street from the Phoenix reception venue, is planned July 22-23 “We’re going to have live music, bands and just a full weekend of celebrating Cincinnati’s music history,” said Andrew Aragon, who will be the store manager.

Soaring vinyl sales help put Golden Discs back in black: Record store chain Golden Discs is back in the black after the group posted a profit of €172,878 for financial year-end 2016, according to a statement from the group. Turnover for period-end December 2016 was €17.9m, driven in part by new store openings and a significant growth in sales of vinyl records. Store openings included one in Dundrum Town Centre and a pop-up store on Dublin’s Henry Street for the busy Christmas trading period. Sales of vinyl were up more than 100pc on the previous year, it said. “Vinyl sales are at a 25-year high and are continuing to grow,” said Golden Disc Group CEO Stephen Fitzgerald. “Its renaissance proves the desire to own music in the physical format remains strong,” he added.

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TVD Chicago

TVD Live: Pitchfork Music Festival, 7/15

2:55 PM: En route to Cherry Glazerr I catch some of Weyes Blood’s pretty set.

2:59 PM: I’m noticing lots of little fans in the crowd today. It’s family day at the fest, adding a whole new element of cute to Pitchfork.

3:17 PM: The Blue Stage is packed for Cherry Glazerr, and rightfully so. They are rocking hard and sounding even better than when they first caught my attention opening for Wavves and Best Coast in February ’16.

4:25 PM: Mitski began her set soft and controlled, allowing it to build into emotional catharsis. Puberty 2, her fourth album released last year is still getting a lot of play in my home, so it was a thrill to finally see her live.

5:05 PM: George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic are doing what they came to do: bring the funk. The Mothership has taken over the Green Stage—I feel like there are 20 people up there right now—and George is conducting the large crowd.

5:37 PM: George and Parliament play over their set time and The Feelies and their crowd are not feeling it. “It’s called courtesy,” Bill Million says before they dive into their set. I get their frustration, but they quickly kick off their set of music that’s lasted the test of time.

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Tommy Victor of Prong on their new Zero Days: “It’s the consummate Prong record.”

The first time I heard Prong was back in 1990 on Headbanger’s Ball. The song was called “Beg to Differ,” and it was pretty much the coolest thing I had heard since discovering thrash metal.

But this was different; it was a new type of thrash. It was hardcore, but also very melodic. I was hooked and instantly became a fan that would hang on every release that followed. Prong would continue to evolve by experimenting with industrial sounds before finding success through MTV and relentless touring, only to be eventually caught up in major label bullshit and drowned out by the unstoppable grunge moment.

Prong founding member Tommy Victor would carry the metal torch forward and continues to deliver new Prong music for over a decade. The power trio is on tour now in advance of the release of the band’s 13th studio album Zero Days, in stores on July 28th. I joined Tommy on his bus in the States to ask him about the new record and a few other burning questions I’ve had as a long time fan.

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The TVD Storefront

Mod Sun,
The TVD First Date

“The feeling music gives you can’t really be described. The sound of the music on the other hand can, and furthermore so can the feel. In my personal opinion, all music is good. The fact someone in this world took the time to create something is more than simply commendable.”

“This being said, not all music is timeless. Vinyl is where timeless music lives. The sound of the needle scratching and the mystical overtones that bleed out the speakers chills you down to the bone. Everyone should make it a goal to be sure their music sounds good on vinyl. Everything sounds better on vinyl.

I grew up on a farm with two really cool hippy parents—loud music was played from sun up to sun down. Every time I see a vinyl it brings me back to my childhood—to the summer days when I would dance around and nail every single Allman Brothers band solo, to the cold winter nights when I gazed into the speakers, hypnotized by every word Bob Dylan muttered, to the minutes in my life that became moments. Something timeless.

Later on, in high school we moved closer to the cities. I will unapologetically admit that I skipped as much school as I attended. Every day I would sneak out the backdoor around 10:30 AM, jump in my car, turn my music up loud, and head straight to Cheapo in uptown.

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