The TVD Storefront

Happy Labor Day Weekend!

We’re taking long weekend and will return on Tuesday, 9/2. 

While we’re away, why not fire up our free Record Store Locator app and visit one of your local indie record shops? Perhaps there’s an interview, review, or feature you might have missed? Catch up and we’ll see you back here on Tuesday.

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TVD San Francisco

TVD Live: Little Dragon at the Fox Theater, 8/22

Little Dragon Live at the Fox Theater Oakland-8-2

Gothenburg-based underground superstars Little Dragon might be the most difficult band to describe in words. I just read three different reviews of their brilliant new record on three elite hipster blogs, and after referencing the urban dictionary several times, none of them made any sense. It drives me crazy when a critic reviews a record and tries so damn hard that they end up confusing the hell out of the reader who just wants to know whether or not they should check out the band.

So, before I turn into the very critic that I am critiquing above, let me tell you how great Little Dragon is live. They deliver the entire package here folks—it’s not just a show but more of an experience. The music falls somewhere between Massive Attack, Portishead, and Motown’s Greatest Hits, while the performance is sort of like Pink Floyd hosting a rave in outer space with a charismatic MC leading the charge in the form of sultry, Swedish-Japanese vocalist Yukimi Nagano.

Little Dragon Live at the Fox Theater Oakland-6

Nagano recently told Rolling Stone that during the recording process, she wandered around the band’s longtime hometown of Gothenberg in winter while listening to Janet Jackson. If that’s what it takes to make an epic record of this magnitude, then I would suggest that Ms. Jackson should make a comeback any day now. Maybe Thom Yorke and Chris Martin should take note as they could really use a unique angle on their new records.

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TVD New York City

TVD Live: Steve Gunn at Baby’s All Right, 8/22

PHOTOS: MAS HINO | We first heard of Steve Gunn when he opened for Kurt Vile at Bowery Ballroom, and we missed him. He could be seen playing on the side of the stage with Kurt Vile, but we really couldn’t hear him. We made the assumption that if you are playing guitar with Kurt Vile, then chances are you are probably pretty good at guitar.

Later that month we were record shopping at Academy Records, when it was on N 6th, and up on the wall with the staff picks was Time Off and it said, “Recommended if you like Gene Clark’s No Other.” And we do, very much so, and although it doesn’t have the volume of overdubs and sounds more like when Jimmy Page breaks out the acoustic, they were right on the money that us Gene fans would dig this record.

Sadly, his show last Friday at Baby’s All Right was the second time we have not been able to see Steve Gunn together. Last summer Alex was on tour when he played 285 Kent. It was right after an awesome Tiny Desk Concert performance and the release of Time Off, so we were certain it would be packed, sold-out even, but to my surprise there were 15 people in the room.

Gunn was absolutely amazing and everyone there was stunned in disbelief that so few people seemed aware of it. He was truly on another level that night, peaking in fact, and I’m so glad I was there. His show Friday was great as well, and he delivered all the goods—cyclical and melodic guitar riffs, mellow and sultry vocals, thoughtful somewhat vague lyrics that sink into my bones, songs that slowly build into epic jams that you find yourself lost in, and this time, a packed room. There was even a touch of myth in the murmurs, dudes attempting to explain Gunn’s past to their ladies.

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TVD New York City

TVD Live: Jacco Gardner at Baby’s All Right, 8/16

I first heard Jacco Gardner in Oxford, Mississippi in the midst of a tour of the southern United States in 2013. I was checking out R.E.M. bootlegs, of which there was a vast selection, at a store called The End of All Music. On the store stereo was the record Cabinet of Curiosities by Jacco Gardner. They only had the one copy, and after some negotiation, Matt (one of my partners in rock) managed to score it.

We proceeded to drive all over America, and quite often this record was our soundtrack. Through rain, snow, desert heat, darkest night, and blurriest morning, Jacco always delivered.

In November of 2013, the men and I found ourselves in Manchester, England with a day off. We decided to go out and explore. Manchester is one of the classic music towns in the world, full of history and interesting people. We decided we should check out the place we were going to play the next night and seek refreshment. Once there, and successfully refreshed, we realized that Jacco was playing across the street that night. Great news indeed.

The show was glorious and intimate. It was sold out, but it could only hold 30 people at most. I remember being really struck by the back wall projections. I had forgotten how effective a vibey projection can be. How it can actually change the meaning of a song, and if not change it, then subliminally nudge your mind to listen with a different viewpoint. After the concert we met and chatted with Jacco and the rest of the group and generally made merry. I got the record for myself this time and counted down the days till we got home for Thanksgiving.

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TVD New York City

TVD Kickstarts: CBGB Punk Photos by Godlis, 1976-1979: The Book

I’ve known David Godlis’ photographs longer than I’ve known him. If you’ve read any number of books or New York Times articles about CBGB and related subjects, chances are you know his work as well. I finally befriended him 6 or 7 years ago during one of my frequent periods of unemployment. He needed some help scanning proofsheets, and I was able and willing. Listening to a mix of Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, and Howard Stern broadcasts, we got to know each other pretty well.

The one surprising thing I found out was that he had never had a book published. “I’m working on something…” “I’m talking to some publishers…” “I may do a Kickstarter campaign…” These were the various things he said keeping things somewhat close to the vest. Well, he’s finally launched his Kickstarter campaign, and the response has been astounding. He met his initial goal of $30,000 within five days! Of course, if you’re interested in a limited edition copy of the man’s timeless work, you should still donate.

Godlis was generous enough to spend a few minutes talking about the CBGB days with us.

What did you shoot prior to discovering CBGB, and how did you discover the club?

Prior to arriving in New York City in 1976, I was a “street photographer,” trying to shoot like Diane Arbus, Robert Frank, Garry Winogrand, and Lee Friedlander all rolled into one.

When I moved here from Boston and found some work, I began looking for a club or bar to hang out in that had music or a good jukebox. I guess all paths were leading to CBGB’s after I spied an issue of Punk magazine and saw the back of the Village Voice with those adverts for bands with odd interesting names – Blondie, Television, Ramones, Suicide. I had also seen a photo in Boston of Patti Smith and Bob Dylan in the summer of 1975. So, down to the Bowery I went and the rest is history.

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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.

“It’s that time again! I’ve a ROTW from Gulp, regular listener Rhys will be happy! This week’s #shellshock from Superfood—it’s a gas…I swear!

Wednesdays 10-12pm on Bolton FM on 96.5fm, online at www.boltonfm.com or via our free iphone / android app too!” —SZ

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Herman’s Hermits,
Their Greatest Hits

Amongst the insults lobbed at Herman’s Hermits over the decades: fabricated, shallow, calculatedly commercial, utterly safe, disposable. At home they scored hits and in the US became one of the most popular imports of the mid-‘60s, though for many they are simply a Brit Invasion phenomenon connecting the Frankie Avalon/Fabian ‘50s scene and the eventual rise of bubblegum. Any folks curious as to what the fuss was all about might want to look into ABKCO’s LP reissue of Their Greatest Hits.

Herman’s Hermits can be considered the UK equivalent of and predecessor to The Monkees, though they had to fight longer for a redemption that is still in progress, as many persist in evaluating them as eternal inhabitants of Squaresville, damned to never ascend phoenix-like from the circumstances thrust upon them by their era.

The ever-growing legion of Pop scientists will chalk this up to plain Rockism, but it’s a little more complex than that. Prior to getting captured in the viselike clutches of Mickey Most, Herman’s Hermits were a highly amiable small-time gigging Manchester-based band, one initially shouldering the rather unimaginative moniker of the Heartbeats; it was subsequent to Peter Noone’s arrival that a name change, reportedly inspired by managers Harvey Lisberg and Charlie Silverman, occurred.

Herman’s Hermits is a sly appellation; unlike the Heartbeats, it stuck in the memory, and it straddled the lingering and soon to resurface pop idol angle while acknowledging if not fully succumbing to the post-Beatles vogue for leaderless units. Once in league with Most the only member of the act to unfailingly appear on their studio efforts was the gent some mistakenly thought was Herman; the front-man, or in the parlance of a certain UK group called the High Numbers, The Face.

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TVD UK

UK Artist of the Week: Alburn

PETER LARSSON FOR TVD | Scottish alt-rockers Alburn have started to make a name for themselves on the bustling Scottish music scene with some fine live performances and impressive support slots. Songs such as the title track from their sophomore EP, “Mouthful Of Glass” really showcase an abrasive, in your face sound and endearing rawness reminiscent of the US underground of the late ’90s early noughties.

Their EP, “Mouthful Of Glass” is out now via Spilt Lies Records and the band has been compared to the likes of Texas Is The Reason and The Appleseed Cast which, in our book, is no bad thing!

Alburn exhibit an ability to write technically impressive songs but with the added bonus of addictive hooks and memorable choruses which mark the band out as ones to watch in the future. We will certainly be looking forward to a full length offering from them in the not to distant future.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Premiere:
Harris Hawk,
“Make the Fonz Bleed”

“I was in the 4th grade. I lived in Littleton, CO. I worshipped Janet, Whitney, and Mariah. They were the very beginning of my musical awareness and I have great respect for their talents. That was the summer my aunt came to town.”

“She lived in LA, but hailed originally from Seattle like the rest of my mom’s family. She saw Nirvana play in small clubs. She gave me the album that served as the catalyst that brought me into the world where the music was raw, emotional, and tough. Where the guitars expressed as much as the vocals. Where there was no discernable pretense, nothing was polished. I was the weird kid and I had found my home.

It was 1993. I listened to Nevermind countless times on my little bedside table alarm clock/tape deck. It would be almost a decade before I seriously started exploring my own musical voice. When Kurt Cobain died, my aunt wouldn’t leave the house. My grandparents laid flowers on his driveway. And my young self struggled to make the connection between the artist I admired and the person in enough pain to kill himself. I still do. And, every once in a while, I stop to think about how deeply rooted my musical expression is in my own pain. And then I stop and go about my day.”
Anne Warnock, vocals, guitar

“I remember finding my dad’s old records in middle school and being blown away by the sound compared to my CDs.”

“I remember Dark Side of the Moon being a completely new album and scaring the shit out of me. Records made it fun to shop for music as well. Finding Petitioning the Empty Sky and blasting that is another wonderful memory. Nothing beats the warmth you hear on vinyl. How’s that?”
Mike Sullivan, bass

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Eric Clapton,
No Reason to Cry

Over the course of my writing “career,” I’ve practically made a cottage industry of disparaging Eric Clapton. I’ve called his supergroup Cream overrated, eviscerated him for making inexcusably racist remarks in the mid-seventies, and let it be known that I’m revolted by just about every song he’s written in the past several decades, especially those twin pillars of pure treacle, “Tears in Heaven” and “My Father’s Eyes.” I’ve condemned him for turning his own best song, “Layla,” into a sluggish travesty, and called him chinless, feckless, gormless, a tool, one of the most overrated guitarists in rock history, and the owner of a voice less suited for rock’n’roll than for working behind the customer service desk at your local IKEA. Oh, and let’s not forget Slowbland.

So why write a review of a guy I have virtually zero respect for, aside from his brilliant work with Blind Faith and Derek and the Dominos, and a small handful of great songs scattered across approximately 150 LPs? Because I actually enjoy 1976’s No Reason to Cry, that’s why. Or at least I used to, when I was a mere sprite, and I’m curious to discover why. It’s hardly one of Clapton’s more beloved albums, and while you can actually find human beings who think highly of 1974’s 461 Ocean Boulevard, which included that pair of embarrassments “I Shot the Sheriff” and “Willie and the Hand Jive,” I’ve never run into a single sentient being with ears that worked who had so much as a single good thing to say about No Reason to Cry.

Like its 1975 predecessor, There’s One in Every Crowd, No Reason to Cry contains no reggae-lite hits or beloved cult favorites, and as far as most people are concerned is simply another one of the many LPs that marked Clapton’s largely lost decade, the seventies, which saw him beat heroin addiction by becoming a hardcore drunk, and was marked by constant geographical cures to Miami, Jamaica, and finally (in the case of No Reason to Cry), Shangri-la, The Band’s former bordello turned recording studio in depraved Los Angeles, home of the evil Eagles.

During the 1970s plastic and cocaine-infested LA was where bands came to lose the thread; small wonder that David Bowie, who recorded the brilliant Station to Station there but in the process lost his shit thanks to a diet of peppers and milk (seriously) supplemented by limo-length lines of high-grade cocaine, later remarked, “The fucking place should be wiped off the face of the earth.” It was also the place where Robbie Robertson, who was also doing a fair amount of blow at the time, received a rude wake-up call in the form of a morning walk along the beach during which he encountered a fully dressed and unconscious Keith Moon, being tossed to and fro by the surf.

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