The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
The Animals,
The Animals

In addition to The Beatles and Stones, the British Invasion produced numerous other noteworthy groups, and one of the most successful was The Animals. A serious-minded bunch led by that brawny-throated student of American blues and early rock ‘n’ roll Eric Burdon, they persist in the modern memory mainly for their hit singles. But on the subject of albums, they also had a few very good ones, though differing US and UK editions have frustrated collectors on both sides of the Atlantic for years. Of the two versions of their 1964 debut The Animals, the Brit issue may not be the best, but it does give a deep glimpse into what this no-nonsense, solidly rocking band was initially all about.

Eric Burdon seems like the kind of cat who’d rather keel over dead than quit singing. Nearly fifty years after his first album came out he’s still out there doing it on stages, and like the R&B legends that provided him with his formative inspiration, his continued activity comes without a whole lot of pomp and circumstance.

Because he played an enjoyably quirky role in the landslide of ‘60s psychedelic rock by fronting a later incarnation of The Animals and proceeded from that to get his fingers nice and funky on a pair of albums in collaboration with the California groove merchants War, Burdon’s profile has easily transcended the outfit that began in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1962, when he joined up with a group then called The Alan Price Rhythm and Blues Combo.

In addition to Burdon and organist/keyboardist Price, the other members were Hilton Valentine on guitar, John Steel on drums, and Bryan “Chas” Chandler on bass. Rechristened as The Animals and following the advice of Yardbirds’ manager Giorgio Gomelsky, who obviously saw something in the band’s early stage act that was comparable to the act under his supervision, they moved to London and quickly hit the big time.

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TVD UK

The Single Girl: IndianRedLopez /
CS Buchan split 7″

IndianRedLopez have created a track that’s ambitious, experimental, and eminently listenable. It’s easy to get lost in “Any Given City” as you never quite know where the track’s going to take you, and it’s all the stronger for it.

Electro, indie, alternative, and shoegaze influences in the mould of Mew at their best come to the fore as IndianRedLopez create a song that should be a template for their sound going forward.

CS Buchan is the founder of Fit Like Records which has released the double A-side single. His daughter Katie (aka Best Girl Athlete) features on both tracks and, at just 16 years old, it is clear that her voice is far more mature than her tender years.

On first listen this is standard folk fare but, delve deeper and you have a beautifully crafted song that melds indie, folk, and traditional Celtic music to create a wonderfully listenable track that, in a strange way, compliments IRL’s more eclectic offering very nicely.

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TVD New Orleans

Satchmo Summerfest 2014 Friday Picks

satchmo

The 14th annual festival celebrating the life and music of New Orleans’ most famous son, Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong, kicks off Friday morning with a second line parade at 10:30 AM from Jackson Square to the Old U.S. Mint. Performances and discussions take place all weekend long. Here are my picks for the first day.

Since Chevron has come on as a major sponsor (TVD is a media sponsor), the fest has been able to book bands previously outside the budget. Topping the list this year is the first ever appearance by the Dirty Dozen Brass Band.

They hit at 6:30 PM on the Chevron Red Beans and Ricely stage on the Barracks Street side of the historic building. The ever-effervescent personality James “Satchmo of the Ghetto” Andrews follows at 8 PM.

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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 right here at TVD, each and every Thursday.

“On this week’s show my ROTW is Luck by Tom Vek. Pushing boundaries as always, I’ll be playing three bountiful numbers from the album.

I’ll also have my #shellshock to share with you! If you haven’t heard the first taste of GOAT’s second record Commune then this is your chance. There will be the usual accompaniment of new and emerging music as I spin some of the best new Alt releases. Love music? Don’t miss it.” —SZ

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
The Moody Blues,
Go Now–The Moody Blues #1

Though the music they produced was only fitfully successful, the Denny Laine-fronted incarnation of The Moody Blues deserves to be remembered for more than a momentary chart fling topped by a gem of a single. In ’65 they released an album at home and another in the US under distinct titles, both holding a dozen tracks and with a third of each LP also unique. The better of the two, Go Now–The Moody Blues #1, was issued in the States by London Records.

Heavy on covers and by extension lacking in gestures toward originality, the ’64-’66-era Moody Blues are unlikely to be many people’s (I’ll stop short of saying anybody’s) most beloved component in the British Invasion. In fact, talk of the group today reliably focuses on the post-Denny Laine/Clint Warwick lineup that saw new members John Lodge and Justin Hayward helping to transmogrify the Moodies into one of the leading if artistically lesser examples of Symphonic Rock. I won’t sully the Prog genre with an inapt association since there was hardly anything progressive about The Moody Blues Mk 2.

Instead, they exemplified the Middlebrow impulse, though that’s ultimately a separate discussion. This piece concerns a band that came together when the leader of Denny Laine and the Diplomats joined up with a bunch of nameless Birmingham hopefuls, their main desire hitting it big or even just making a good living; they briefly played as the M & B 5, the initials an attempt at landing sponsorship from two local beer brewers (last names Mitchell and Butler). And similar to many of their contemporaries, The Moody Blues’ method at least initially was the borrowing and alteration of Rhythm and Blues.

And they did storm the charts with “Go Now,” in the process overtaking in popularity the terrific Leiber and Stoller-produced original by Bessie Banks, though the idea of the cover destroying the source’s commercial hopes is basically a myth. Banks’ tune was released by the Tiger label in January of ’64 while The Moody Blues’ version didn’t emerge until the following November, eventually peaking at #10 in the US in February of ’65 (it took top Brit honors a month earlier).

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TVD San Francisco

TVD Live: Mötley Crüe and Alice Cooper at the Shoreline, 7/23

Alice Cooper Performing Live at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View (1 of 13)

Last week I saw one of my favorite bands on the planet perform on their final tour. I’ve seen Mötley Crüe 6 or 7 times over the years and I could easily see them play many more times. It’s been a good run for the bad boys of rock having sold over 80 million records, sold out countless tours across the globe, and spawned more than 2,500 Mötley Crüe branded items available in over 30 countries.

They’ve built a heavy metal empire and along the way set the bar very high for what defines the best and the worst elements of being a rock star. But, you have to respect these guys for knowing when to call it a day. Leaving the fans with a lasting memory while they are arguably at their finest, this show was everything I had hoped it would be and more—a mind-blowing mix of fire, explosions, and musicianship set to a stellar choice of cuts from the band’s extensive catalog.

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In between it all, Nikki Sixx would get intimate with the crowd and talk about the band’s formation and the early days. I wouldn’t be surprised if his eyeliner might have smudged with a few tears because he was starting to get emotional.

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TVD Washington, DC

TVD Ticket and Vinyl Giveaway: The Deadmen at the 9:30 Club, 8/9

The Deadmen are bringing Americana rock to the nation’s capital and are definitely a band to look out for this year. Despite their morbid name, The Deadmen are alive and kicking in the DC music scene and are here to stay.

The band is composed of three talented singer-songwriter-guitarists—Josh Read, Justin Jones, and Justin Hoben— and bassist John Hutchins. They each bring new elements to the style and writing of their music. Although they formed The Deadmen recently, they have been performing individually for more than a decade.

We interviewed Justin Jones last year to discuss his “I Can Feel It Tour 2013″ and the upsurge in the popularity of rock ‘n’ roll. Jones puts a lot of value into creating quality rock, and it shows.  He told us, “We played a show in Indianapolis a while ago and someone came up to me afterwards and said, ‘I just wanted to thank you for playing fucking rock and roll—no xylophones and whistles and melodicas and shit.’ And I love all that stuff, but you know what I’m talking about. I never really paid particular attention to the newest trending thing. When stuff gets a little too derivative, it just starts to sound like watered-down whatever it’s trying to rip off. To me, it’s just never as good as the real thing.’ 

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TVD Los Angeles

Needle Drop: The Bixby Knolls, “Tomorrow Never Comes” EP

“Tomorrow Never Comes” is the latest offering from Los Angeles based quartet, The Bixby Knolls. The four song EP was recorded and mixed at Station House Studios in Echo Park, CA between December 2013 and January 2014. Although their debut album, Near & Undear was a collection of songs written over a 5 year period while the band’s line-up took form, “Tomorrow Never Comes” was written mostly within a year and captures a mood and sound in a compressed period of time.

“Although we feel the tunes still express the raw melodies and energy as the first album, there’s a more sinister overtone to these four tracks,” says singer and guitarist for the group, Curt Barlage.

“Juvenile Heart Crime,” the opening track, was originally written for a side project of Barlage’s–with the original demo being more of an electronic style recording. Those electronic elements were taken into consideration whilst recorded by The Knolls–with the sequenced synth sounds replaced by acoustic instruments and live-playing to give it more of an organic and dynamic feeling.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Van Halen,
1984

A couple of years ago the apartment my ex-wife and I lived in suffered a mouse infestation. We tried regular traps and glue traps, but they seemed terribly cruel, so we finally bought some catch-and-release traps. We lived on the third floor, and I got tired of carrying the traps down to the alley to release them. So I thought, why not release them on the balcony, where they’d be free to scamper along the rooftops to safety? So I tried it, but instead of escaping via the rooftops my frightened test mouse shot out of his little prison like a furry little bullet, promptly sailed off the edge of our balcony, and fell screaming (I may have imagined the screaming) to the concrete parking space below.

I’m not sure why—or actually I am—why that mouse never fails to remind me of Van Halen’s great “Jump.” I might as well have been singing, “Jump! Go ahead and jump!” as he plummeted earthwards. But anyway, the point I want to make is not that mice should look before they leap, although they should, but that I love Van Halen’s “Jump”—loved it even during those years when virtually all I listened to were SST bands, and admitting to liking a Van Halen song (at least amongst my crowd) was not so far from confessing to like that Seals and Crofts song about the summer breeze blowing through the jasmine in your mind.

I should add that my love for “Jump” did not extend to Van Halen itself. I had in fact never so much as listened to a Van Halen LP in its entirety, much less owned one. Honestly? I thought they were a band of morons. They dressed like Jose Feliciano was their haberdasher, and it was my considered opinion that Eddie Van Halen was a shameless showboater with his tapping (a technique he didn’t invent); single pickup, single volume knob guitar; and volume swells, or “violining.” Then there was the perpetually mugging David Lee Roth, whom I considered the world’s oldest class clown. (I’ve come to love him over the years for the same reason.) As for bassist Michael Anthony, well, bassist Michael Anthony was just short. Too short. Like midget short. Then there was the drummer, Eddie’s brother, whose name slips my mind (Alex? Alek like Lee Harvey Oswald’s USSR name?) but it hardly matters because who pays attention to the drummer except other drummers anyway?

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TVD New Orleans

TVD Recommends: The Gallery at Southport Music Hall, 7/31

Tomorrow night, Jefferson Parish venue Southport Music Hall will host indie rockers The Gallery and a special local opening act. 

Since arriving in 2008, The Gallery have made a name for themselves in the alternative country-rock scene. They even caught the attention of Rolling Stone magazine, which featured the group as contenders for the fan driven “Choose the Cover” edition in 2011.

The group gravitates towards classic song structures and they sound a bit like Tom Petty with a modern LA vibe, although they hail from a small town in western Massachusetts.

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