TVD UK

UK Artist of the Week: Stark

Stark are a powerful three-piece from Brighton who have spent the last three years honing their musicianship and releasing their own music. They are bringing alternative blues/rock into the 21st century with a sound so explosive you may just fall off your chair.

Their latest single “Tunnel Vision” is about modern life and how, sometimes, the freedom that we take for granted can be an illusion. The simple yet effective video for “Tunnel Vision” is filmed in the studio where they recorded the track, giving us a chance to see the trio mastering their instrumentation while having a bit of a laugh at the same time. Some lovely visual shots thrown in there as well.

Although Stark are heavily influenced by early blues artists such as Robert Johnson and Blind Lemon Jefferson, they also admire the energy of bands like Rage Against The Machine and the progressive sound of Tool and Porcupine Tree. This eclectic mix is what makes their sound so distinctive.

Tunnel Vision will be out on March 2nd 2015 via Rusty Shed Records.

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TVD UK

Shell Zenner Presents

Greater Manchester’s most in the know radio host Shell Zenner broadcasts the best new music every week on the UK’s Amazing Radio and Bolton FM. You can also catch Shell’s broadcast here at TVD every Thursday.

“My ROTW is from a Leeds based band that I’ve been in love with for quite some time, Menace Beach! It’s called Ratworld and I haven’t been able to get my hands on the vinyl yet as it sold out?! The new pressing is said to be green on Nestor’s say so, so I’m looking forward to getting my hands on it, but in the meantime, three tracks on tonight’s show to rock your socks off!

This weeks #Shellshock is from a band releasing on the cool ass Beyond Beyond Is Beyond record label. They’re called Worthless and they’re from South Florida and describe their sound as a melancholy doomsday trip…perfect for winding down to bedtime then?! EEK.”
SZ

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
David Sylvian,
Brilliant Trees

When UK new wavers Japan broke up in 1982, the members predictably splintered off into various directions, and the highest profiles belonged to Mick Karn and David Sylvian. Over the decades the latter has amassed a solo and collaborative discography of unlikely reach and impressiveness; however, giving a fresh listen to ‘84’s Brilliant Trees makes abundantly clear Sylvian’s career trajectory isn’t as surprising as it might initially seem.

Upon consideration, very few musicians who made their name in the pop sphere have aged as well as David Sylvian. Of course, this is mainly due to his choice after Japan’s dissolution (they briefly reunited for one self-titled ’91 album under the name Rain Tree Crow) to gradually leave the milieu that fostered his initial reputation. The subsequent journey led him into the outlying territories of experimentation and the avant-garde, though this shouldn’t give the false impression that Sylvian’s post-Japan oeuvre is devoid of pop elements.

As a youngster of the ‘80s, I knew little of Japan, my discovery of Sylvian supplied by his ’87 collaboration with Ryuichi Sakamoto, Secrets of the Beehive. The introduction was made through the frequent play and promotion of said disc by my hometown Mom & Pop record mart, an enterprise also involved in the sale of high end stereo equipment.

To my teen mind any system comprised of separate components was high end, and at the time Secrets of the Beehive basically eluded me, as did much “deep-listening” material attached to ambient, new age, minimalism, art-pop etc. Reengaging with Sylvian as a mature adult provided, if not an epiphany than another instance aiding the realization that artistic assessments work in tandem with personal growth, therefore flouting finality.

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 3/5/15

“Why Audiophiles are paying $1,000 for this man’s vinyl: …Although there are currently 117 testimonials posted on the Better Records website, the success of this bold enterprise hinges on 20 to 30 “preferred customers” who spend as much as $100,000 a year on hot stampers.

“Nobody expected Miley Cyrus or Justin Bieber to record their music on vinyl. That move, though, is part of a whopping revival for vinyl. Sales, according to the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA), more than doubled last financial year – up 127 per cent.”

26 of your favorite movie soundtracks to be reissued on vinyl: Including music from E.T., Jaws, Clueless, The Godfather, and many other classic films

“Aberdeen shop to host Record Store Day: …something the city hasn’t seen in nearly three years

“Audiophiles gathering for Alabama Record Collectors Association show this weekend: Vinyl lovers from around the state will descend on Bessemer this weekend for the Alabama Record Collectors Association’s 34th annual record and CD show.”

“Acoustic Sounds, a Salina company that produces a million vinyl records a year, has purchased rare 13 record presses held in storage in a Chicago warehouse for 20 years. The vinyl records business is hot, and Acoustic Sounds’ record pressing unit, Quality Record Pressings, just went to a third shift and is still looking at a backlog of three to four months.”

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TVD Washington, DC

TVD Live Shots: Echosmith and The Colourist at the 9:30 Club, 2/26

Performing for a sold out and particularly young audience, Echosmith, the four sibling indie pop act from Los Angeles, stopped by DC’s 9:30 Club last Thursday night on a tour marking some of their biggest headlining shows to date. 

Signed to Warner Brothers Records back in 2012, Echosmith released their debut album, Talking Dreams in October of 2013. They received notoriety for their hit song, “Cool Kids” which rose to #13 on the Billboard Hot 100. In 2104 their song “Surround You” was featured in the film Endless Love and the band was named MTV’s Artist to Watch for 2104. They toured the entire length of the Vans Warped Tour in 2014 as well.

On the road with The Colourist through March, Echosmith will have stops in most major cities in the northern US before they tour Europe from April until June, and judging by the audience response on Thursday evening, these kids—Graham, Sydney, Noah, and Jamie Sierota—are indeed alright.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
The Pretenders,
Learning to Crawl

“To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness,” quipped Oscar Wilde, and if the same can be said of rock bands, the Pretenders are careless indeed. The English-American rock band that was founded in 1978 in Hereford, England brought us such classics as “Brass in Pocket” and “Talk of the Town” before losing two original members, bassist Pete Farndon, whom Hynde fired for drug abuse in June 1982 (and who died from drug-related causes in 1983), and lead guitarist James Honeyman Scott, who died two days after Farndon’ firing, also due to drug-related causes.

The original line-up had recorded two celebrated LPs and one excellent EP, and anybody but tough-as-nails vocalist/rhythm guitarist and guiding force Chrissie Hynde might have taken the deaths of two integral band members as bad juju, and put the Pretenders (who took their name from the Platter’s “The Great Pretender”) to bed before somebody else kicked the bucket.

Instead Hynde, the band’ chief songwriter, regrouped. She kept on Martin Chambers as drummer, and recruited Robbie McIntosh on guitar and Malcolm Foster on bass to play on LP #3, but only after recording several tracks (“Back on the Cain Gang” an “My City Was Gone”) with guitarist Billy Bremner and bassists Tony Butler, while bassist and Paul Carrack of Squeeze played on “Thin Line Between Love and Hate.” And as it turned out the two-year hiatus proved only that Hynde had been right to keep the Pretenders alive, because the resulting album, 1984’s Learning to Crawl, is a tour de force; perhaps not as sensational as the band’ debut, but a Wunderkind nonetheless.

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The TVD Storefront

Needle Drop: U.S. Royalty with Phil Ade’, “Nothing To Lose”

D.C. rock ‘n’ rollers U.S. Royalty collaborate with rapper Phil Ade’ for hard hitting, gospel tinged blues.

The band rediscovered the single while searching through old demos to include in the vinyl release of its first album, Mirrors, which dropped this past January. More than just an homage to the creative spirit of collaboration, “Nothing To Lose” also serves as a prequel to new U.S. Royalty material on the horizon.

Written and recorded at the now defunct Gold Leaf Studios during a blizzard in 2009, “Nothing To Lose” originated from a jam session between D.C. band U.S. Royalty and rapper Phil Ade’. Unsure of where to begin, the band went ahead and recorded a beat and vocal hook, while Ade’ scribbled out 16 lines of verse in the first 20 minutes.

The final song is a retro-tinged ode to old school rhythm and blues which includes production finesse by Los Angeles-based producer Alex Goose, a frequent collaborator with U.S. Royalty.

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The TVD Storefront

The Young Wild,
The TVD First Date

“My first experience with vinyl was at my Grand dad’s house during a family get together of some sort. He had played drums in a Scottish marching band as a youth and had developed an unhealthy love for the bagpipes.”

“When he played his vinyl recordings for me it was some time in the early ’90s so his state of the art sound system involved speakers that were taller than me and he would max them out, blaring the pipes for all the world to hear. Not quite my thing, but it was cool to hear the antiquated sound at such a gut busting volume.

Out of all the vinyl that I have been introduced in my life the one that really sticks out is The Allman Brothers’ Live At The Fillmore. My pops always had it playing in the house and I fell in love with it. The whole album is a good listen but “Whipping Post” is the gem in my opinion. It’s 20 some odd minutes of pure drive and soul. And that rhythm section, damn, that rhythm section…

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Au.Ra,
Jane’s Lament

Lobes pleasured by the sounds resonating from the closely aligned camps of dream pop and shoegaze might want to investigate Jane’s Lament, the debut album by Au.Ra. While breaking new ground isn’t a priority and the peaks and valleys of quality are very much in evidence, the Sydney Australia duo’s solid execution could easily satisfy fans of the intersecting genres, and the fleeting strands of inspiration bode well for the future. It’s out this week on LP/CD/digital via the Felte label of Los Angeles, CA.

Tim Jenkins and Tom Crandles are responsible for Au.Ra, though the pair do employ some helping hands, mostly in the engineering and mixing departments. Both are guitarists, Jenkins having previously served in the Sydney band Parades as Crandles works under the moniker Colours (he also played bass in Ghostwood).

In 2013 Au.Ra issued a 7-inch on LebensStrasse Records, its two songs included on Jane’s Lament, though I’m uncertain if they are the same versions. The LP was produced by Jenkins and Crandles with the assistance of engineer and fellow Aussie Simon Todkill; the majority of the mix was by Nigel Yang of HTRK (two cuts were helmed by Aaron Cupples of Civil Civic).

In accord with the shoegaze paradigm, Au.Ra are specialists in guitar expansiveness, and many of the album’s tracks feature said instrumentation poised atop sampled drum loops. But filling out their sound are numbers of a more melodic nature that cultivate the dream pop side of the story. It’s a tale occasionally peppered with tasteful techno-synth attributes; nobody’s going to accuse them of raiding the bunkers of originality, but neither are they predictable, utilizing enough elements to bring range to the familiarity.

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 3/4/15

“This guy just bought 13 more record presses to keep up with vinyl demand: By now, you may have heard about the vinyl record’s resurgence, but have you thought about what this new hunger for records means for vinyl manufacturers and distributors?”

Boogie Nights Soundtrack Coming to Vinyl: An O Brother, Where Art Thou picture disc is on tap next.”

“5 Vicious Vinyl Shops in the Violet Crown: There’s a vinyl revolution going on out there and Austin is neck deep in it.”

“This Photoshop trick shows you how damaged used vinyl is: Here’s an image taken from an eBay listing for a Beatles record. Looks good, right? Use Photoshop to adjust the levels, though, and the record looks quite different.”

“In a joint partnership with cassette label Gnar Tapes, the new Burger Records in Cypress Park is the label’s first retail space in L.A. For Gnar Tapes — which began in Portland in 2008 — the new venture makes them a major force in Northeast L.A.’s growing garage rock syndicate (which includes Lolipop Records in Echo Park).”

“White Stripes Prep ‘Get Behind Me Satan’ for First Vinyl Release: Tenth anniversary commemorative pressing arrives on Record Store Day next month”

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