TVD Washington, DC

TVD Live: Flamin’ Grooves at the Rock
and Roll Hotel, 11/23

It’s one of those things that make you believe in Robert Johnson-meets-the-Devil stories.

After being a fine revivalist rock band in San Francisco for a few years, a slightly altered version of the Flamin’ Groovies, 40 years ago this month, went into the studio and in a time of rock excess and soft rock slop; a time more than a decade removed since the first notes of the British Invasion, emerged with a startlingly out of time and yet timeless collection of yearning power pop—a kind of mix of early Beatles exuberance and intricate Byrds jangle not quite replicated before or since.

“Shake Some Action” was the best proto-British rock to come out of San Francisco since the Beau Brummels for sure, and something that would last even longer. Nothing they did since then could match it. And they almost didn’t have to try, since they already served up the masterpiece.

After breaking up once and for all in 1992, it’s a miracle the Flamin’ Groovies are back together touring after 20 years, covering their own classic LP along with other highlights of other rock ‘n’ roll they’ve loved over the years.

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The TVD First Date

“I think having the ‘vinyl’ talk is a must to any early relationship, so why not get it over with on the very first date?”

“Vinyl for me is a timeless sentiment and a practical must. My dad lived in a remote part of North Wales as a young lad, and I’ll never forget the excitement he described to me as he was holding his very first (ordered in from England in a brown paper bag) Sex Pistols record when it first came out.

When I have that special time to myself, I’ll find a Simon and Garfunkel album, or a Joni Mitchell album and stick it on, staring at the wall of sound like I would a TV. Listening to a vinyl is an event in itself, a luxury, something to commit yourself to.

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TVD New Orleans

TVD Recommends: Nigel Hall record release show at Tipitina’s, 12/2

Kick off the last month of 2015 in fine style with a mid-week set at Tipitina’s. Nigel Hall has been blowing up since moving to New Orleans two years ago. He seems to pop up everywhere, with everyone, but tonight he gets the full spotlight as he celebrates the release of his first solo record, Ladies and Gentlemen… Nigel Hall.

Hall plays keyboards and sings like an old soul. He famously has said that he doesn’t listen to any music made since the early 1980s even though he was born in 1981. Some of his touch points include the Isley Brothers, Latimore, and the Crusaders, especially the keyboard work of George Duke.

His New Orleans band features some serious young talent including drummer Jamison Ross, bassist Eric Vogel, and guitarist Andrew Block. The ringers in the group, besides the leader, are trumpeter Eric “Benny” Bloom who is also a recent transplant to New Orleans, saxophonist Khris Royal, and guitarist “Big D” Perkins of Jon Cleary and the Absolute Monster Gentlemen.

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UK Artist of the Week: Mairearad Green

Multi-instrumentalist Mairearad Green’s latest solo album, Summer Isles is in stores on February 26th 2016 via Buie Records and is absolutely seamless, and quite frankly, utterly stunning. 

Having grown up in the Scottish Highlands, the Summer Isles are extremely important to Mairearad. Consequently, in 2014 she spent a number of weeks researching stories from the area—pouring through publications and poetry to help create the beauty that is her forthcoming release. Most recently, Mairearad has teased listeners with the release new single, “Tanera Talisman.” This song is exquisitely written, using only piano led vocals throughout to capture the simple beauty that is Mairearad’s vision.

Green is a woman of many talents and on the album she plays piano, accordian, bag pipes, and vocals. She is also joined by a range of guest musicians including legendary singer/ songwriter King Creosote, Hector McInnes (vocals), Ross Saunders (bassist), Scott MacKay (drums), Jo Nicolson (Clarinet), Pat McGarvey (banjo), Mike Vass (fiddle), and Annie Grace, Jeana Leslie, and Hamish Napier (backing vocals)—quite the line up!

Summer Isles is out on February 26th 2016 via Buie Records.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Try the Pie, Rest

Bean Kaloni Tupou is perhaps best known for singing and playing in the San Jose, CA four-piece Sourpatch, but as Try the Pie she additionally offers solo artistry of considerable acumen and growing prominence. Her most recent work in this mode emerged this past April, but those wishing to explore Try the Pie’s beginnings are graced with good luck for the venture’s earliest recordings have been given a fresh vinyl pressing courtesy of the Happy Happy Birthday To Me label. Featuring 13 of Tupou’s songs delivered up close and very personal through guitar and voice, Rest is available now.

Together with her contribution to the San Jose-based Think and Die Thinking Collective, Bean Tupou’s credits include Crabapple, Salt Flat, and Plume, but thus far her highest profile undertaking has been Sourpatch, a sadly defunct outfit (their Bandcamp refers to them in the past tense, anyway) having specialized in a dead-solid expansion of a particular wrinkle of the early ‘90s indie aesthetic.

Specifically, think of the Slumberland and SpinArt enterprises. Diversity and focus worked in Sourpatch’s favor, the group actually offering a broader sound than some of their influences but not so wide-ranging that 2010’s Crushin’ and ‘12’s Stagger & Fade (both released by Happy Happy Birthday To Me) connect like samplers of a bygone era.

Sourpatch also wielded a punkish energy at times somewhat reminiscent of certain chapters in the tale of K Records. By extension they were occasionally described as twee punk, though to these ears this observation continues to seem a little off-target; Sourpatch weren’t childlike, instead proffering guitar pop of a cosmopolitan but still fairly snarly bent.

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 12/1/15

Inside the grand opening of Jack White’s Third Man Records store in Detroit: The Detroit store opened its doors just in time for Black Friday on Nov. 27 and, according to the Detroit News, was greeted by hundreds of shoppers lined up around the block despite the rain.

As vinyl sales soar, new shops join Vintage Vinyl and Record Exchange: There’s good news for local vinyl record stores. Vinyl sales are up 50 percent this past year as we enter the peak shopping season. A number of music store owners say the increase results from a new generation discovering that vinyl offers a widely different audio experience than streaming services.

Rhino and beyond, vinyl makes comeback: “There was a deficit of young people buying music a decade ago; they were getting it all for free online,” he said. “It seems like there’s been a call from the generation to follow the last one to a certain degree. They believe having music and connecting with the artist is an important thing. It seems like the pendulum swings one way and then another.

At long last, Leesburg gets its own vinyl shop: “People have been coming in and saying that they’ve been waiting for a record store,” said Longendyke. “I don’t think there’s been a record store here ever. There was a CD store in the late ‘90s, but that was it.”

Scrape Records, Vancouver’s metal record store, on sale: After 18 years, Vancouver’s only all-metal record store may close next month. But for the right price it could be yours. The owner, who goes by simply J.J., says he wants to do something new with his life, but doesn’t want Vancouver to become less metal when he leaves the store behind. So, he wants someone to buy it who will keep the store’s vision alive.

New shop in Sheffield aids rise of vinyl records: Vinyl has been making a comeback recently and it’s only set to get more popular, thanks to the recent opening of Bear Tree Records in Orchard Square. The shop, owned by Joe Blanchard, is focused on selling both new and second-hand vinyl records, with some cassette tapes buried in the back. It also houses a huge range of genres, with the expected jazz, classic rock and reggae, but also more niche genres such as death metal, psychedelia, and techno.

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Needle Drop: The Van T’s, “Laguna Babe” EP

Honeyblood, Hinds, Menace Beach—over the last few years there have been a number of excellent post-punk, female-led bands to emerge onto the alternative music scene, and with their new EP “Laguna Babe,” The Van T’s are making a strong case to join them.

Led by twins Hannah and Chloe Van Thompson, these Glaswegian rockers combine dual vocals with simple but catchy reverbed guitar lines and frantic drums to produce tunes which come with all the energy you might expect—yet with some equally impressive songcraft.

Title track “Laguna Babe” (which has also been released as a single), lures you with its slow grungy intro before dropping into the double-time verse and a classic surf-rock lead guitar line. “Growler” on the other hand brings to mind strong comparisons to bands like the Pixies with its harmonically distorted guitars and heavy ride cymbal drum beat.

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TVD Asbury Park

The Best of Garden State Sound with Evan Toth

All jokes aside, New Jersey is a pretty great place. While it has a lot to offer as a state, it also has a rich musical history of which many people remain unaware. Everyone knows Sinatra and The Boss, but there’s much more.

Tune in to Garden State Sound with Evan Toth to explore the diverse music with connections to New Jersey. You’ll hear in-depth interviews with some of Jersey’s best music makers and have the opportunity win tickets to some of the best concerts in the state.

“How do you interpret a Beatle? How can you alter their lyrics and music into your own vision; give them a new sound, or feel? How can one do so in a way that won’t detract from the timeless originals, but yet be unique enough for people to want to hear? Those were some of the challenges facing Paterson, NJ’s John Pizzarelli when he decided to embark upon his latest project, “Midnight McCartney.”

But, it wasn’t really John’s idea, it was Paul’s. Having worked with Paul as a featured jazz guitarist on his 2012 standards release, Kisses on the Bottom the former Beatle was aware of Pizzarelli’s jazz chops and methods of interpretation. So, he sat right down and wrote him a little letter about interpreting his solo work in a jazz setting. When Macca makes a suggestion, you’d best follow suit.

Join us this week as we talk McCartney originals, recording with a legend, and how the miles that separate Paterson from Liverpool aren’t really all that much between musicians.” —EZT

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Video Premiere: Jemima Surrender, “Hammer and Peg”

“The video was made pretty organically (that means we didn’t have any ideas, hah!) but I knew I wanted the hammer and peg toy in it, although I normally don’t like literal videos.”

“The hammer and peg imagery is borrowed and twisted from the sweet little book Naive. Super by Erlend Loe. The main character uses it to find peace, ‘exquisite monotony,’ in the song though it’s more a metaphor for feeling beaten by the monotony of relationships and a constant need for validation.

That monotony is easy and safe, but empty at the same time. The song isn’t all doom and gloom though, it’s self-empowering, which is probably why the video is colourful with a lot of me in it! The cat decided she wanted to be in it so we didn’t really have a choice, otherwise she wees on our stuff.”
Millie Phipps

Bristol-based trio Jemima Surrender channels ’90s alt-rock in quirky video for “Hammer & Peg.”

We have the pleasure of premiering the video off the band’s debut, The Uninhabited World, which oozes casual charm and indie sensibility. The stark punk approach to their instrumentation enhances the subtle visual flow, while lead singer Millie Phipps’ cerebral lyricism comes to life when sung directly into the camera.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Billy Bragg & Wilco,
Mermaid Avenue

Of all the musical collaborations that come to mind, none is as both as lovely and as rambunctious as Mermaid Avenue, the album Billy Bragg and Wilco recorded of music they set to the lyrics of the greatest folkie of them all, Woody Guthrie. It never fails to move me, or do a silly dance as Jeff Tweedy sings in the great “Hoodoo Voodoo.” Kindred spirits, Bragg and Wilco achieve an amazing feat; they provide ingenious musical settings for songs that Guthrie, who’d written the lyrics, was too sick to write music for due to the physical impairments of Huntington’s Disease. It’s truly a masterpiece this one, and never fails to remind me of E.M. Cioran’s comment that “What is not heartrending is superfluous, at least in music.”

It was Nora Guthrie, Woody’s daughter, who offered the lyrics to radical folk singer Billy Bragg, who went to Wilco about recording an album. The sessions ended up being stormy; Wilco’s Jay Bennett felt that Bragg’s musical settings were too ornate, and there was a falling out. Bennett called Bragg about re-recording some of Bragg’s recordings, to which the Englishman replied, “”You make your record, and I’ll make mine, fucker.” But things were finally settled, and I’m of the opinion that Bennett overreacted; the songs sound all of a piece, like a latter-day Basement Tapes.

From the wild opener, “Walt Whitman’s Niece,” a raucous and harmonica-fueled tune featuring group vocals and a spoken section by Bragg about a run-in with a woman who claimed to be Walt Whitman’s niece to the sublimely beautiful “California Stars,” the album will make you dizzy with joy from the start. “California Stars” boasts an ethereal melody that will make you swoon, some lovely piano and guitar, and Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy on vocals. He wants to make lay his head on a bed of California stars, and violinist Eliza Carthy helps provide the beautiful sound that makes the song altogether irresistible. That and Jay Bennett’s piano, and lots of guitars. One of my favorite songs of all time, this one.

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