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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The TVD Storefront

TVD’s Press Play

Press Play is our Monday recap of the new—and FREE—tracks received last week, provided here to inform your next trip to your local indie record store. Click, preview, download, purchase.

Merry Ellen Kirk – Lovers & Liars
Hayden Calnin – White Night
Hezekiah Jones – The Dark Heart’s Out
McClain Sullivan – Happy Anniversary
Two Thirds Goat – Young Man
Postcards From Jeff – Modern Language
Pelicans And Their Allies – Just Like July
Jaeger Wells – What It Feels Like
Oryx & Crake – The World Will Take Care Of Me
Ghosts In Pocket – Barberton

TVD SINGLE OF THE WEEK:
Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats – Melody Lane

Nick Pes – California
Moa Holmsten – Tougher Than The Rest
Warning Light – Learn To Curve
Blonde Summer – Blazed
Youth Man – Pigs
Major Lazer ft. MØ – Lean On (TRIBE SOCIETY REFIX)
Frank Trumbauer – Crazy Quilt (Jive Me Rework)
The Jones Family Singers – I Am
Adir L.C. – New City
Patrick Baker – Gone (Berger & Shaqiri Remix)

4 more FREE TRACKS on side B!

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 8/31/15

Waxwork Announces ‘Evil Dead 2′ Vinyl: Needs Your Help For Design, “We’re letting YOU, the fans, design the LP release! This is certainly unchartered territory for any record label, but we feel that this film and score is a beloved horror gem, and only the hardest of the hardcore EVIL DEAD 2 fans can come up with the BEST possible LP package.”

Big Birmingham record fair is set to hit right note: For 15 years, the renowned, record-breaking Big Birmingham Record Fair was held at the NIA but this year it has moved to a new venue, Cocks Moors Leisure Centre, Kings Heath.

Critic airs tales of music industry sexism: Jessica Hopper put out a call for female colleagues to tell their stories, which ranged from enduring misogynistic comments to sexual assault, “Brown makes a point of exclusively using vinyl records for her sets. ‘I wanted to find a way to communicate that yes, these are my records, and they might be heavy but I’m the one carrying them, I’m the one doing the work and I’m calling the shots,’ Brown said in an e-mail.”

Canary Wharf’s music lovers can spin Britpop vinyl at W Hotel: “After a busy afternoon of meetings in the West End you can set the music playing at W Hotel Leicester Square. The venue has launched its Britpop vinyl record room service in collaboration with DJ Lauren Laverne to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the iconic chart battle between Oasis and Blur.”

Urban Grinders opens in downtown Greensboro: “The shop offers baked goods, including vegan and gluten-free, from bakeries like Walflour and New Garden Bagels. The shop also retails vinyl toys and vinyl records.

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TVD Los Angeles

TVD’s The Idelic Hour with Jon Sidel

Greetings from Music City, USA!

This, my rock ‘n’ roll journey, found me on the move and in front of many bands. Yeah man, “sky high” on bands! Last weekend’s FYF (Fuck Yeah) rolled into a short trip to Nashville and another great night of bands. Houndmouth, Cold War Kids, J Roddy Walston & The Business on a summer night in the south sounded like a cool idea for about 20,000 of us.

This will be my first of two trips to Nashville over the next month. With age I’ve learned to really appreciate “the south” and all that it brings to mind; hospitality, good food, and guitars. The emergence of a cool rock scene coming out of the south is imminent and Nashville will certainly be the hub. A few cats from LA and many former New Yorkers have relocated for a comfortable lifestyle and a town that is drenched in sound.

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TVD New Orleans

TVD Recommends: Ed Volker’s Jolly House at Chickie Wah Wah, 8/29

There’s a lot going on Saturday night including the Krewe of OAK’s Midsummer Mardi Gras parade, so the fine folks at Chickie Wah Wah have pushed back their usual schedule. Phil DeGruy and Emily Robinson open the show at 9 PM.

Dubbed “Where Were You When the Lights Went Out,” this incarnation of Jolly House will present “Deep Fishhead Blues” on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Keyboardist and singer/ songwriter Ed Volker, aka Zeke Fishhead, gathers two of his longtime musical partners, bassist Reggie Scanlan and percussionist Michael Skinkus, to perform with former James Brown bandleader and Scanlan’s partner in the New Orleans Suspects, saxophonist Jeff Watkins.

Guitarist Phil DeGruy and vocalist Emily Robertson will open the show with “Gone With the Wind Chimes, “ their Katrinaversary musical satire. Phil said expect to see his giant set of chimes, tuned to the key of G flat.

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TVD UK

Adam Cleaver,
The TVD First Date

“Vinyl was always mythical for me. My parents were those types that allowed their vinyl to float up to the attic to make way for CDs. That’s not to say they didn’t appreciate the records anymore. Perhaps at a time they may have been purists but their records didn’t stand the test of time, tucked away in storage with a myriad of other memories.”

“My first experience of vinyl was when I was about 12 or 13. Some sort of spring clean granted me access to the loft storage and I found myself rummaging through two big leather cases full of 12” LPs. My parents mostly listened to pop music so there was plenty of Michael Jackson, Hall and Oates, and Elton John. I remember being drawn to a Blondie album. It was Parallel Lines. The monochrome stripes seemed to be grabbing my attention (to this day I’m still drawn to monochrome artwork).

I ran my fingers along the grooves of the record, trying to sense where the sound came from. It speaks volumes that my first contact with vinyl wasn’t aural but physical. A huge part of the appeal is how calming it can be to interact with it.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
The Pretenders,
Learning to Crawl

A couple of days ago, I found myself doing something I haven’t done (no exaggeration) in years: dancing. I dervished about the apartment all by myself, like a lunatic, with the cat looking on from the safety of the bed, wide-eyed with eminent peril. I could tell the poor puss was thinking, “What the devil is he doing?” So I cried, “Listening to The Pretenders, you hairy little fool! And dancing!”

I would not call The Pretenders a great band, per se. A very, very good band, sure. Chrissie Hynde is an excellent songwriter, and has one of the most distinctive voices in rock. Unfortunately, like Badfinger, The Pretenders are just as famous for their tragically high mortality rate as they are for their music. During the 2-year hiatus between 1981’s Pretenders II and 1983’s Learning to Crawl, Hynde saw two band mates, guitarist James Honeyman-Scott and bassist Pete Farndon, die drug-related deaths. Technically Farndon was no longer a Pretender—Hynde fired him shortly before he died—but still. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde on the subject of orphans, to lose one band member is bad luck—to lose two, sheer carelessness.

Hynde, an Akron, Ohio native, formed The Pretenders in 1978 in London, England, where she was working as a journo for NME and at SEX, the legendary fashion boutique of Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood. She received a record contract on the strength of a demo recorded with a three-piece band including Phil Taylor of Motörhead, then hired a permanent group including Honeyman-Scott, Farndon, and drummer Martin Chambers. The Pretenders’ first two albums included several hits; unfortunately, while the band was making its bones musically, it members were dropping like flies. By 1983’s Learning to Crawl 50 percent of the original group was dead, leaving just Hynde (lead vocals, rhythm guitar, and harmonica) and Chambers. But rather than throwing in the towel, Hynde hired Robbie McIntosh on lead guitar and backing vocals and Malcolm Foster on bass and backing vocals.

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 8/28/15

New Record Store in Fairlawn Set to Open in September: “I’ve been bringing vinyl in since the first of July,” he says. “It’s been so much fun to order records. This is all about the vinyl culture. The CD market is done. Everything has gone digital. When you buy a record now, they throw the CD in it for free. With almost every Black Keys album that you get on vinyl, the CD just comes with it. There’s something about opening up the vinyl album and reading the lyrics and liner notes and seeing who played on the album. It provides an education about the music. Having an art background, I love the artwork.”

Vinyl lives: Scotti’s Record Shop, Summit, NJ: “Any business that stays open for over fifty years safely earns the status of being an institution. Any record store that stays in business for this long earns the status of hero. Nestled between Summit Ski & Sport and the Bow Tie Beacon Cinema along the store-lined Springfield Ave in Summit, New Jersey, Scotti’s Record Shop is exactly what comes to mind when you think about a neighborhood record shop.

Pink Floyd pig in Suffolk pop memorabilia auction: Iconic inflatable stage props – including Pink Floyd’s famous pig “Algie” – are to be sold at auction. Halesworth-based Air Artists is selling 30 years’ of its work, used by the likes of the Rolling Stones and ACDC. The star lot is Algie, which famously halted flights over Heathrow after breaking loose from its moorings over Battersea Power Station in 1976.

Kraftwerk set to release a “3D album” later this year: “Kraftwerk are to translate their visual shows into a “3D album”, set to be released in late autumn on Blu-ray. Speaking to Rolling Stone, sole original member Ralf Hütter said: “We translated our performances to 3D, and in surround sound, kind of like 3D sound.”

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The TVD Storefront

Passport To Stockholm,
The TVD First Date

“My first record shop experience was on my 8th birthday. My godmother used to give me double my age in cash each year—that year I was cash rich with £16 in my pocket and I knew exactly how I was going to spend it.”

“Earlier in the week I had heard an American band on Capital FM (then London’s biggest station)—that band was called the Goo Goo Dolls and the song in question was of course their seminal hit “Iris.” I remember being struck by the acoustic guitars and the vocal. I needed to have this song in my life.

So off I went with my mum to my local HMV (a chain of record shops here in the UK with an iconic logo of a dog sitting next to a gramophone—His Master’s Voice—sadly HMVs cease to exist now). Without really knowing what I was doing I just said to the nearest shop assistant that I was looking for the Goo Goo Dolls. “Singles or albums?” “I have £16?—albums.”

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