The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Gary Clark Jr., “Gary Clark Jr. Presents Hotwire Unlimited Raw Cuts Vol. 1″

Gary Clark Jr. isn’t a musician—he’s a force of nature. His uncanny mix of rock, the blues, soul, country, and even hip hop will blow the top of your head off, and that’s when he’s hardly trying. The Austin, Texas guitarist has won comparisons to the best of them, and he deserves them—his live version of “Catfish Blues” will have you thinking Hendrix, but he’s blunter and less flashy. He’s more muscle than finesse, although he’s capable of the latter when it’s required. And if distortion is your thing, as it is mine, well, you’re not going to find better.

How great is Clark? Well, Austin’s mayor declared May 3, 2001 Gary Clark Jr. Day. Clark, a prodigy, was all of 17 at the time. He’s won numerous awards, played alongside dozens of superstars including the Rolling Stones, and gigged at the White House, which should have burned that evil structure down but inexplicably didn’t. You can also hear his music on various television programs. Even the late Idi Amin digs him, and went on the record as saying, “He’s so good, I wouldn’t even eat him.”

I love his more out there guitar work, which is why I’m such a fan of the awkwardly titled 12” limited vinyl EP, “Gary Clark Jr. Presents Hotwire Unlimited Raw Cuts Vol. 1.” Just three songs, but all of them extended jams guaranteed to sanctify the electric guitar freak in you. Recorded live, they demonstrate Clark at him unbridled best, letting his freak flag fly and cutting loose just for the funk of it. The “A” side, which was recorded live at Charlottesville, Virginia, smushes Jimi Hendrix’s “Third Stone from the Sun” with Little Johnny Taylor’s 1964 tune “If You Love Me Like You Say.” The “B” side features an extended version of Clark’s own “Bright Lights,” which has been featured in a number of film and TV programs, recorded live in London. His fellow musicians included Eric Zapata on guitar, Johnny Bradley on bass, and Johnny Radelat on drums.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Vinyl Giveaway:
Mew, + –

When Danish indie-rockers Mew released their long-awaited sixth album at the end of April many fans were unsure of what to expect. Although a return from a six-year hiatus can be difficult, with their progressive new album and a well-received set at SXSW, Mew has proven they’re back with a vengeance. 

+- (as in “plus minus”), released on April 28, 2015 in North America, features the band’s original line up—Jonas Bjerre (vocals), Bo Madsen (guitar), Johan Wohlert (bass), and Silas Utke Graae Jorgensen (drums). With this new release, Mew continues its penchant for enigmatic album titles. Their previous outing in 2009, No More Stories Are Told Today, I’m Sorry They Washed Away//No More Stories, The World is Grey, I’m Tired, Let’s Wash Away, reveled in ambition.

The new music on ” +- ” soars. It’s alive, it’s vibrant and spacious. Its skewed pop sensibilities coupled with an ever-expansive musical backdrop denotes the extremities of Mew’s creative DNA, showing once more a band treading its own unique path. The album was recorded in Copenhagen, produced by Grammy-nominated Michael Beinhorn (Hole, Soundgarden, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Violent Femmes) and Mew with mixing duties undertaken by Rich Costey. “+- ” also features an appearance from Bloc Party guitarist Russell Lissack on “My Complications,” a song he co-wrote that came to fruition having met Mew on a U.S. tour some years ago.

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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. You can also catch Shell’s broadcast here now every Wednesday at TVD.

“Yet another Manchester tipster this week! Charlotte from Hooting & Howling magazine website hits us with a fresh sound from a local band.

I played a new track from the Deltasonic Records label last week—The Vryll Society are the last band that Alan Wills signed. Hidden Charms are also a new signing to the Deltasonic roster and they’ve been working with Shel Talmy (famed for his work with The Kinks) on their new recordings and they chat to me about them on this week’s show!

Ben Khan also joins me on the bandstand this week!

Whilst the south is musically rich this weekend with the Great Escape in Brighton, the north follows suit next week with Liverpool Sound City festival in its new Dock-based location! So for good measure, I’ll be playing some of the new artists performing at this year’s festival on the show!” —SZ

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Roger O’Donnell and Julia Kent, Love and Other Tragedies

Though his résumé holds assorted accomplishments, Roger O’Donnell is best known as keyboardist for The Cure. Along with a series of solo albums, Julia Kent is a cellist noted for her contribution to Antony and the Johnsons. Love and Other Tragedies depicts their deepening creative partnership; beautiful but never syrupy and emotionally resonant without succumbing to the overwrought, aficionados of top-flight instrumentalism should take note, particularly partisans of chamber classical. It’s available digitally May 29th and on vinyl June 26th via 99X/10.

Roger O’Donnell’s reputation might rest upon his role in a true juggernaut of Alt-Goth, but he’s been on the scene since ’76, his first paying gig backing up the God of Hellfire himself Arthur Brown. Subsequently, he became a touring member of Thompson Twins, The Psychedelic Furs, and Berlin; a more ‘80s-drenched trifecta is frankly difficult to imagine. O’Donnell’s initial involvement with The Cure was also in the performance capacity; he joined in ’87 for the Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me road trip and stuck around for the recording of ‘89’s Disintegration and a whole lot more.

Vancouver BC-born and NYC-based Julia Kent may not brandish as high a profile as O’Donnell, but past collaborations distinguish her as a veteran; before lending her cello to Antony and the Johnsons’ 2005 Mercury Prize-winning I Am a Bird Now and it’s ’09 follow-up The Crying Light, she was a charter member of dark-hued cello-driven rock act Rasputina, her talents figuring in their two ‘90s efforts for Columbia.

Over the past decade O’Donnell and Kent have largely been busy with solo work. He’s released a string of discs first through Great Society and then 99X/10, the imprint he founded with longtime partner and collaborator Erin Lang; they include ’06’s Moog-focused The Truth in Me and ‘10’s Piano Formations. Issuing her solo debut Delay in ’07 on Shayo, Kent has completed three albums since, most recently ‘13’s Character on The Leaf Label.

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 5/27/15

Record Store Day and independent retailers go weekly with “Vinyl Tuesday”: “…It’s unclear how this will help physical sales, but it seems like exactly the type of “vinyl hype” that could be destroying the record.”

Plastic fantastic: the Detroit teenager with his own vinyl record label: Jarrett Koral, 17, maybe the youngest entrepeneur in America capitalising on the increasing popularity of vinyl records

Dust off the boombox, cassettes are having a comeback: They’re cheaper, more portable and have a nostalgic appeal for bands, buyers, Vinyl records still rule old-school music formats

Columbus Ohio’s Strange Loop Records—in Legos.

Langley Records’ fate delayed by late Royal Mail submission: “The future of an independent vinyl store remains in the balance as borough council plans to discuss plans to redevelop the site have been delayed due to a late submission by applicant Royal Mail…”

“David Bowie’s 1999 album Hours… was released in the height of the CD era, meaning that it never got a proper vinyl pressing. Now, it’s finally going to be released on wax thanks to Music on Vinyl, which will be issuing the album on June 15…”

The business behind South Africa’s new love affair with vinyl records: “South Africa is beginning a new love affair with vinyl records, after they were discontinued in the early 1990s in favor of CDs, and more recently for electronic MP3 downloads. Vinyl record stores are opening in most major cities…”

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TVD San Francisco

TVD Live Shots:
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds at the Warfield, 5/18

“Put your fucking phone away and live in the moment,” says Noel Gallagher to a fan in the front row who seemed to be bootlegging the entire show at the Warfield last week.

Gallagher is a rare breed of singer-songwriter. Having represented the better half of Oasis for more than a decade, he continues to deliver and build upon his legacy with his solo project The High Flying Birds. How important is this man to rock ‘n’ roll? Beatles’ producer George Martin described Gallagher as the “finest songwriter of his generation” and he recently won NME’s prestigious God Like Genius Award.

Noel Gallagher Photographed by Jason Miller-4-2

Gallagher has nothing left to prove in terms of his contributions to rock ‘n’ roll. So it’s enough to make a music fan ill reading some of the reviews for his latest record Chasing Yesterday. It’s difficult enough for a well written album review to shine through in a world taken over by peer-to-peer recommendations and user-generated reviews. It’s even worse when it’s written by a snarky over-opinionated critic who’s struggling to stay relevant. (By the way, the record has 74 five-star reviews on Amazon—and Pitchfork gave it a 5.9 which loosely translates to mediocre; not good, but not awful).

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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.

“This week, Garden State Sound gets a little more in step with its proposed mission: to highlight and showcase music that the unwashed masses have not yet heard of. In that spirit, do enjoy: River City Extension, Hello Tokyo, The Battery Electric, In Our Glory, Ju-taun, and Nathalie Pires who—if all goes well—will be joining us next week.

Also riding the airwaves this week: Robert Randolph, Melody Gardot, and Blondie. C’mon, let’s get the music machine running and talk about how frustrating it is to run out of propane right before a BBQ!” —EZT

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve: Pete Townshend and Ronnie Lane, Rough Mix

Ronnie Lane is a hardly a household name, but he is one of my all-time favorite rockers. Whether with the Small Faces, the large Faces, or his own band Slim Chance, Lane’s lovely and wistful voice was always a pleasure, whether he was singing sublime ballads like The Faces’ “Debris” or “Oh La La” or knocking off a hard rocker like the hilarious Faces tune “You’re So Rude.” The world didn’t know what it lost when Lane died at 51 after suffering for 21 years from multiple sclerosis. But I can tell you what it lost; a soulful and sweet soul whose bass work and vocals had an integral impact on not just one, but two great rock’n’roll bands.

Lane was a frequent collaborator with the likes of Pete Townshend, Steve Marriott, and Ronnie Wood (the two of them recorded the soundtrack to the 1972 Canadian film Mahoney’s Last Stand, and it’s a tremendous series of rave-ups despite its almost total lack of vocals). He recorded four LPs between 1970 and 1977 with Townshend, but three of them are hard-to-find tributes to their spiritual mentor Meher Baba, who lent his name to the great “Baba O’Riley.” Their fourth collaboration was Rough Mix, which was released in 1977 and featured an all-star cast that included Eric Clapton, John Entwistle, Ian Stewart, Charlie Watts, King Crimson’s Boz Burrell, the ubiquitous John “Rabbit Bundrick, and Medicine Head’s Peter Hope Evans. Why, even Townshend’s father-in-law, the noted British TV and movie soundtrack composer Edwin Astley, makes an appearance. Sly Stone is right; this one’s a family affair.

Lane and Townshend eschew rock for the most part, opting instead to mine the folk-rock vein, and it works. Lane wanted to collaborate on songs with Townshend but Townshend declined, and this collection of songs by two separate songwriters has a disparate feel, which is another way of saying it’s stylistically all over the map. But what holds it together is the passion both men pour into the songs, which stray from pure folk ballads to a pair of rave-ups to a handful of songs that defy easy definition, but show that both men showed up at the sessions—this despite the fact that Lane had just discovered he was ill—at the top of their game. No throwaways, in other words, or songs they didn’t think were good enough for their primary bands—they came to record great music, not just fuck around and jam.

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TVD New Orleans

Lyrics Born gets funky on Real People

“New Orleans is the first and last real music town in America. You can go out every night of the week, or even multiple times a day, and hear truly good music that is also local music.” That was one of the many reasons Bay area rapper Lyrics Born decided that he wanted to make an album steeped heavily in New Orleans music.

One of the latest artists to find inspiration in the sounds and sites of the Crescent City, his new album Real People, recorded locally at Galactic Studios, taps into the funky sound you hear bumping from cars and clubs all around town. “I was really inspired by the whole vibe here and I wanted to make a record that had that earthy, soulful feel,” he explained.

Ben Ellman and Robert Mercurio of Galactic produced the album and a myriad of New Orleans hard hitters make cameos in a way that is a bit reminiscent of a Lundi Gras Galactic show. “Ellman and Mercurio introduced me to this tight group of musicians they hang out with and from there it just kind of snowballed. I’ve got David Shaw (The Revivalists), Trombone Shorty, Corey Henry (Galactic), Ivan Neville (Dumpstaphunk), and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band on the record,” he said.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
The Mothmen,
Pay Attention!

The UK post-punk impulse was a sizeable one, its prolificacy ranging from cornerstone acts to DIY obscurities. Landing somewhere in the middle is The Mothmen, their 1981 LP Pay Attention! holding the distinction of being the second entry in the discography of Adrian Sherwood’s On-U Sound label. Upon release it failed to find an audience and for years has basically been a footnote to a handful of larger success stories. In a classy move On-U Sound is giving the record a welcome vinyl reissue with bonus tracks on the download; it’s available May 29th.

In the realms of reissuedom can be found a steady stream of uninspiring and occasionally downright dubious choices, but when underappreciated, totally scarce and frequently pricey items are granted new life the endeavor is largely vindicated. Of course, proper credit should be given to the individuals with the good taste and foresight to have documented said recordings in the first place; in the case of Pay Attention! that someone is Adrian Sherwood.

A key architect in late-20th century music, Sherwood’s early productivity is nicely detailed on Sherwood at the Controls, Volume 1: 1979-1984 as recently compiled by On-U Sound, the long-extant label initially conceived by the artist to catalog his work as a producer. Amongst the names corralled by the 2LP are Maximum Joy, The Fall, The Slits, Shriekback, Mark Stewart and the Mafia, Annie Anxiety, Prince Far I, and African Head Charge.

A major aspect in Sherwood’s method was collaboration, often with musicians of Jamaican descent, and a main ingredient in his sonic recipe was the boundary pushing echo-sponginess of prime dub. The inaugural On-U Sound release (On-U LP 01) is the self-titled 1981 debut from The New Age Steppers; produced by Sherwood and featuring contributions from Bruce Smith and Mark Stewart of The Pop Group, Viv Albertine and Ari-Up of The Slits, Vicky Aspinall of The Raincoats, Vivien Goldman, and Steve Beresford, it fits exceedingly well into On-U Sound’s MO.

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