TVD Chicago

TVD Live Shots:
Billy Joel at Wrigley Field, 8/27

Billy Joel is a fan of Chicago. “We love playing here,” he said a couple of songs into his set at Wrigley Field last Thursday. And indeed he does, having played Wrigley three times in the last six years. And it’s no wonder: Chicago loves Billy. The feelings are mutual.

As a child of the ’80s, I grew up listening to a lot of Billy Joel. He is certainly a big part of the musical fabric of my youth. But it wasn’t until Thursday night that I remembered just how much. Nearly every song conjured up some sort of long-lost memory—not just for me, but seemingly for the thousands of audience members in Wrigley’s historic stands. The fact that Billy hasn’t released a new album in over 20 years almost reinforced the nostalgia of the evening.

The mood of the evening was jovial with Billy leading the way. He provided good stage banter, with jokes and stories in between a songs. More than once he gave the audience setlist choices, having them cheer for which of two songs they’d rather hear him play. But most impressive to me was his voice. He can really still sing his ass off.

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The TVD Storefront

Jain, The TVD First Date

“I grew up between the south of France, Dubai, Pointe Noire—a little town in Congo, and Abu Dhabi. 

“There were not many record shops around there, so the first time I went to buy vinyl was in Paris when I was 18. Today I’m 23 and I’ve got more than a hundred. I’m trying to make up for all the lost time, because I really fell in love with the warm and organic sound of the vinyl.

I often go to a record shop in Paris called Superfly Records specializing in R&B/Soul music. I really love to hang out there, searching for new sounds, new vibes, it’s so inspiring.

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UK Artist of the Week: The Jaguar Club

This week, in another break with tradition, we’ve got another US band gracing the UK Artist Of The Week (because that’s where they’re making waves at the moment, and give us a break—you’re not our real dad).

The Jaguar Club are New York band who have headed across the atlantic to unveil two stunning videos. The first one they teased the UK with is the fast paced and euphoric “Stringer,” which is a love letter to ’80s new wave, complete with reverb soaked live instruments mixed with stabbing synths and New Order-esque vocals from founding member and frontman William Popadic.

Their next video for “Hard Cider” is a lot more laid back and captures a beautiful sadness in both the music and visuals. There are a number of animation styles used, including claymation and rotoscoping, and the tenderness of the track is really brought home as you witness a lovers’ first embrace in the midst of nature, or an elderly couple dealing with illness and loss followed by a viking funeral. Words don’t really do it justice—let’s just say we were left with a lump in our throat towards the end.

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Brendan Dalton,
The TVD First Date

“I’m at that age now where I don’t want to go out clubbing and have shout to friends over the top of whatever current top 20 the DJ is playing. I don’t want to listen to a playlist on the way to work or a mix CD whilst I catch up on my emails. Music has become a sacred ritual. I want to sit down, I want to relax, and I want to enjoy an album the way the artist intended; from start to finish with the focus solely on it. And it’s all because of vinyl.”

“More and more often I find myself getting home from work and settling down for the evening with a drink in hand and a shiny slab of wax on my turntable. I don’t even bother to turn the TV on. I just listen. And it’s such an amazing sensation.

You really do pay more attention to music when you’re listening on vinyl, there’s just something about it. I don’t know if it’s because I’m listening for the point where I have to flip the disc or subconsciously I feel obliged to because I spent that little bit extra on an album you could have easily spent less on for a download or CD, but I love it.

I love the precision and care I take when flipping that disc between “True Affection” and “The Night Josh Tillman Came to Our Apt.” I love putting down the needle and hearing that quiet hiss before the opening track of the score to Paranorman. I love the subtle cracks and pops on the emotional break on Ryan Adams’ “Come Pick Me Up.” Hell, I love the way the gloriously oversized artwork starts to look after that second rum and coke.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
John Hulburt, Opus III

In 1972 the late guitarist John Hulburt, then based in Chicago, self-released his sole album. Decades later a copy was plucked from a Windy City record bin by Ryley Walker, the contents so impressing Hulburt’s fellow string slinger that he partnered with Tompkins Square’s Josh Rosenthal to produce its reissue. Featuring 20 tracks of nimble fingerpicking and a demeanor suggesting Berkeley or Greenwich Village in the heart of the 1960s, Opus III is available now on LP/CD/digital.

Opus III is John Hulburt’s lone full-length (there is no Opus I or II), but it wasn’t the extent of his studio experience; roughly five years earlier he was a part of Chicago garage act The Knaves. Managing a pair of singles in ’67 for the Dunwich label, their complete recordings were recently compiled by Sundazed on the 10-inch “Leave Me Alone!”

Unlike their Chi-town garage cohorts The Shadows of Knight (who also recorded for Dunwich), The New Colony Six and The Cryan’ Shames, The Knaves lacked any national chart action and apparently weren’t even particularly popular locally. This shouldn’t insinuate a lack of quality; described by Knave’s member Gene Lubin in Opus III’s notes as “punk/rock,” The Knaves could distill the Stones and Pretty Things with adequate flair but were actually quite adept at crafting surprisingly durable folk-rock ditties with ample and smartly rendered harmonies.

Lubin relates that Hulburt was brought into the Knaves’ fold to sing and shake a tambourine. Within a year he was adding guitar to the band’s 45s, and by 1972 it was his primary instrument; issued on Hulburt’s own Clarence imprint, Opus III was an early engineering credit for Barry Mraz (Styx, Ohio Players, David Johansen, Fotomaker etc).

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 9/1/15

Danzig To Release ‘Devil’s Angels’ Single Next Week, “The first single from “Skeletons” will be “Devil’s Angels”, which was originaly the theme song for the late ’60s biker film of the same title. The track will be released on September 4 on seven-inch vinyl, strictly limited to 500 units. The B-side of the single will be a vocal-and-keyboard version of “Satan”, from the 1969 biker flick “Satan’s Sadists”.

The Genre vs. Alphabet Debate: “Do you start by putting everything from one genre together, or do you just alphabetize everything? There are pros and cons to both options…”

Tesco aims to cash in on vinyl records boom by stocking Iron Maiden’s new triple LP: “Tesco is hoping to cash in on the nostalgia for vinyl records by stocking Iron Maiden’s new limited edition triple LP, Book Of Souls. The album, the first studio offering from the British rockers in five years, will be on sale in 55 of the largest Tesco Extra stores, priced at £24.”

Ladbroke Groove! The complete story of record shop culture in Notting Hill: The birthplace of Rough Trade, Honest Jon’s, Virgin Records and Rock On, amongst others, we take an extended look at the evolution of record shop culture in west London’s most vibrant community.

For the record: Vinyl fans spin on, “At 20 years old, Jeremy Murray does not seem to be the typical vinyl record collector. In the midst of times where records, cassette, tapes and compact discs seem to be far removed from the mind of iPod and digital music listeners, he and others still make the time to find the once-popular treasures.”

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TVD New York City

TVD Live: AC/DC at MetLife Stadium, 8/26

PHOTOS: DAVE BARNHOUSER | In the world of rock music today, there are a scant few bands still touring who can be categorized as “living legends.” The Stones. The Boss. McCartney. Yet even with the legendary history behind those great artists, none today have the sheer power—dare I say the “high voltage rock and roll”—of the mighty AC/DC. After four decades of the purest, no-frills heavy rock on the planet, the band is still at it and as heavy as ever.

On this stop at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, the faces had changed a bit, but the rock stayed the same. Former drummer (Razor’s Edge-era) Chris Slade has rejoined the fold, stepping behind the kit for longtime drummer Phil Rudd, who is under house arrest due to some, well, legal issues.

The other change in the lineup, and the most disappointing one, would be the absence of founding member and band leader Malcolm Young. Retired due to debilitating health issues, the band kept it in the family, recruiting nephew Stevie Young to fill the void at stage right on rhythm guitar.

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TVD Asbury Park

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.

“I don’t attend church much anymore, but listening to records at Michael Fremer’s home is—for me—about as close as it gets. That’s really not hyperbole: if you believe that music is one of the highest representations of holiness on Earth, then listening to pure analog on a major hi-fi system is nothing short of a moving, religious experience. Again, Michael has graciously allowed me to cull through his library, pull out some Jersey-based albums, hear them on his system, and make digital copies of those recordings for you to hear.

For Mr. Fremer—Senior Contributing Editor of Stereophile magazine and Editor of Analog Planet—vinyl is not just a recent fad. He’s loved and championed records for decades and has a true passion in discovering the ones which sound the best and make the little hairs on your arms stand up. Hear him tell you all about it this week. We’ll also talk Sinatra, Bill Evans, Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Les Paul, The Isley Brothers, George Clinton, and more.” —EZT

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The TVD Storefront

ZZ Ward,
The TVD Interview

It’s not easy to describe what ZZ Ward does, and thank goodness for that. When her first single, “Put the Gun Down,” became a critically acclaimed sensation in 2012, Ward’s relentless talent and drive was turned up to eleven. Just like that, her sonic finger painting with blues and soul and hip-hop and rock was everywhere, and so was ZZ Ward.

It’s been three years of touring and writing and touring some more for Ward. After much perfecting and polishing with the help of S1 (the Grammy-winning producer who’s worked with Kanye West, Eminem, Beyonce, and Madonna), she’s completed a highly anticipated EP, Love and War, which is out now. (The full-length album, This Means War, is due September 18.)

Perhaps the best thing about Love and War’s signature single, “Love 3X,” is that it is not what you might expect from an artist who is routinely compared to both Tina Turner and Etta James; ZZ Ward is all about creative turns. The summery pop of “Love 3X” retains all of ZZ Ward’s unmistakable swagger and soul, and is insanely catchy at the same time. It’s not fair to call it a balancing act, really, because ZZ Ward makes it all look so easy.

And so ZZ Ward continues to deliver a genuine alternative to music-by-committee and to fly in the face of critical expectations. When we chatted with her, she was about to embark on her Love and War Tour. She talked about her inspirations, on being a perfectionist, and what it’s like caring about every single bit of a project (including vinyl).

I see your dog Muddy in a lot of pictures with you. It must be great to have her with you on tour to kind of help you chill.

Yes! I take her everywhere. We’re ready to get on the tour bus for two months! She loves it; she spends more time on the tour bus than she has at home, so she’s used to it.

I’ve read and watched quite a few interviews with you, and I don’t think anybody has described you, as an artist, the same way twice. It changes from “blues and R&B singer” to “new rock chanteuse” to any number of categories. Does that bother or inspire you?

[Laughs] I don’t know… I mean, especially when people ask me what genre of music I am, it’s always really tricky because I think being a songwriter and a producer and a creator, it’s like… I’m not really thinking about categories I want to stay in when I’m working on music. I’m just thinking about what things make me feel like. So it’s always really a tricky question when people ask you, “So, what genre of music does your music fall into?” It’s like, wow, you really have to put a label on it? But that’s how it is. I’ve learned to give it my best shot and say it’s kind of a mixture between blues and hip-hop.

But I feel like, especially if something’s new, you have to compare it to something else if you’re telling your friend about it. “Have you checked out so-and-so? They sound a little bit like this.” And that always gives somebody a good idea of what they’re getting into. I’ve noticed that that just kind of exists, you know, when you’re an artist.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Led Zeppelin,
In Through the Out Door

Now listen here: Once upon a time there was a band called Led Zeppelin, and they laid down more barbaric heavy metal riffs than anybody, ever. They came from the land of ice and snow, and produced a Hun-like din, and if you heard them approaching your castle walls the wisest move was to flee via the back door. Guitarist Jimmy Page seemed to possess an inexhaustible repertoire of battering ram riffs designed to smash through castle gates, and what he couldn’t turn to splinters John Bonham, his catapult-fisted drummer, could. There was nobody quite like them when it came to the employment of brute and unremitting force, and there never will be.

But in case you haven’t noticed there are no Huns rampaging across the countryside raping and repining, haven’t been for centuries. Because nothing lasts forever, and so it went for Led Zeppelin, who officially disbanded in December 1980, several months after Bonham died from asphyxiation of vomit following a day of supernatural drinking (four quadruple vodkas—and that was just breakfast!).

Led Zeppelin’s first six LPs are unimpeachably great; the debate over quality arises only in relation to their final three albums, one of which (1982’s Coda) was a collection of unreleased odds and sods from sessions that took place years before. Me, I’m primarily interested in their final studio LP, 1979’s In Through the Out Door. Critical reaction was at first lukewarm at best. Over the years, however, there has been a reappraisal, with many a critic eating his words. So which is it? Led Zeppelin at their best, or worst? Or somewhere in that vast middle ground, where the bustle in the hedgerow is just the spring clean of the May Queen?

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