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.


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,

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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The Single Girl,
Dante, “Wake”

Dante return with their free single “Wake” taken from their debut album—the critically acclaimed full length of the same name. The track sums up Dante in 3 indie-folk minutes (or so) as the band show their credentials as one of the standout Celtic folk bands hailing from Scotland right now.

There are moments that make you want to let your hair down break into a ceilidh and dance the night away. These moments are though, smattered with indie influences that remind us of Scottish stalwarts like Idlewild and Teenage Fanclub. There really is a lot going on here as harmonies enrich the music further taking it to almost angelic levels at times.

Having received praise from the music press both at home and throughout the UK, Dante are intent on maintaining their momentum with the release of “Wake” and a number of festival dates and a local Scottish tour.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
The Chills,
“Molten Gold” b/w
“Pink Frost”

The Chills, nearly 35 years after coming together in Dunedin New Zealand and fronted as always by Martin Phillipps, are releasing a new vinyl single. “Molten Gold” b/w “Pink Frost,” out now through Fire Records, provides vibrant testimony to the heights of Phillipps’ pure pop vision, its two songs refreshingly unburdened by the stature of his past achievements.

I must confess to feeling just a twinge of envy in regard to the numerous guitar pop fans that have yet to make the acquaintance of the estimable Martin Phillipps. It’s not necessarily that the first occasion is the sweetest, but rather that the initial moment of discovery is distinct, the inaugural taste easy to recollect decades later.

Where was I the first time I heard The Chills? Unspectacularly, in the stereo room of a shared abode, though I did give my freshly acquired copy of “The Lost EP” at least a dozen spins on that day alone, primarily because the songs were so damned good, but also due to my persistent doubts over a batch of simple guitar pop being, well, so damned good.

New Zealand’s breakout indie label had their hands in a diverse range of early offerings, but alongside The Clean, The Verlaines, and Tall Dwarfs, The Chills are a cornerstone act in what’s described today as the Flying Nun Sound; with due respect to more famous countrymen the Brothers Finn (of Split Enz, Crowded House, etc), Martin Phillipps can be accurately (if of course arguably) lauded as the great Kiwi pop auteur, mainly due to assured breadth of artistry.

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TVD Washington, DC

TVD Live Shots: Phish
at Merriweather Post Pavilion, 7/26

We have a long history of naming bands after animals. To name a few, we have The Monkees, The Arctic Monkeys, The Turtles, Whitesnake, The Eagles, Grizzly Bear, and Flock of Seagulls. There’s Dr. Dog, Temple of the Dog, Snoop Dog, Three Dog Night, and Blue Oyster Cult. We adore acts like The Stray Cats, Kitten, Ratt, The Eagles of Death Metal, Counting Crows, The Black Crowes, and Animal Collective. There’s even Mastadon, and the Unicorns—extinct and/or fantasy creatures. And then there’s Phish.

No one saw it coming when Phish hit the scene in the mid 1980s cleverly morphing the spelling of Fish to Phish, and in doing so, ingraining their brand permanently into musical culture. The band is actually named after their drummer Jon Fishman, but that’s a whole other story.

If you don’t already know about Phish, they are one of the most prolific and celebrated jam bands in today’s music scene and Saturday night marked night one of their two-day stay at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, MD. Phish is known for playing to a very lively, very large and enthusiastic crowds on every stop of their tours. Saturday evening in Maryland? No different.

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The TVD Storefront

Festival Fast Talk: Daltn

We continue our Bonnaroo coverage of Festival Fast Talks we did at the Red Bull Music Academy‘s Basscamp. The Basscamp was a Red Bull mini-school pulling 20 producers from the region, offering them studio time in rooms packed with gear and talks with Mannie Fresh and Thundercat, and encourging them to create and collaborate in their cooldown time from the festival.

Producers involved covered all types of varying electronic sound. One that I was able to talk to quickly was daltn, a house producer whose sound is developed from equal handfuls of thick grooves and relaxing vibes. He creates slow-build atmospheric heavy house tunes that are full of rich synth work and optimistic chord progressions that revolve around tightly locked grooves.

How did you start making music?

I initially started playing guitar in bands, and then I played the drums for a bit. I eventually gravitated towards DJing and producing music with drum machines and synthesizers.

How I started DJing is a funny story, actually; I used to have band practice in my old house in Miami that was empty since it got foreclosed. We were a rock band with a cellist that wanted to sound like Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Around then I started to delve deeper into dance music, and I decided to sell some gear and buy a handful of records and some turntables. I set them up in the space and started throwing parties after our practices, and I was having so much fun that eventually I dove in and sold all my guitar gear and bought records and a copy of Logic.

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The TVD Storefront

Needle Drop: Allah-Las, “No Werewolf”

Retro revivalists Allah-Las have just released the video for “No Werewolf,” a striking cover of The Frantics’ classic. Steeped in West Coast garage rock and roll, Latin percussion and electric folk, Allah-Las add a little wanderlust to the classic rock nugget while indulging their love for 1960s rock.

The video was entirely produced in Russia by the sculptor artist Mikhail Sadovnikov who was inspired to recreate a “dance on the circle” out of wet clay on his potter’s wheel. It’s a surprisingly mesmerizing addition to the fuzzed out audio of “No Werewolf” which adds an appropriate edge to the artsy-fartsy nature of the video.

Allah-Las’ second album, Worship The Sun is out September 16th on Innovative Leisure, the LA-based label which is quickly becoming known for its noisy throwback roster. In fact, one of their 2014 breakthrough artists, Nick Waterhouse acted as in house producer on Worship The Sun.

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