TVD Washington, DC

TVD Live Shots: Echosmith and The Colourist at the 9:30 Club, 2/26

Performing for a sold out and particularly young audience, Echosmith, the four sibling indie pop act from Los Angeles, stopped by DC’s 9:30 Club last Thursday night on a tour marking some of their biggest headlining shows to date. 

Signed to Warner Brothers Records back in 2012, Echosmith released their debut album, Talking Dreams in October of 2013. They received notoriety for their hit song, “Cool Kids” which rose to #13 on the Billboard Hot 100. In 2104 their song “Surround You” was featured in the film Endless Love and the band was named MTV’s Artist to Watch for 2104. They toured the entire length of the Vans Warped Tour in 2014 as well.

On the road with The Colourist through March, Echosmith will have stops in most major cities in the northern US before they tour Europe from April until June, and judging by the audience response on Thursday evening, these kids—Graham, Sydney, Noah, and Jamie Sierota—are indeed alright.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
The Pretenders,
Learning to Crawl

“To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness,” quipped Oscar Wilde, and if the same can be said of rock bands, the Pretenders are careless indeed. The English-American rock band that was founded in 1978 in Hereford, England brought us such classics as “Brass in Pocket” and “Talk of the Town” before losing two original members, bassist Pete Farndon, whom Hynde fired for drug abuse in June 1982 (and who died from drug-related causes in 1983), and lead guitarist James Honeyman Scott, who died two days after Farndon’ firing, also due to drug-related causes.

The original line-up had recorded two celebrated LPs and one excellent EP, and anybody but tough-as-nails vocalist/rhythm guitarist and guiding force Chrissie Hynde might have taken the deaths of two integral band members as bad juju, and put the Pretenders (who took their name from the Platter’s “The Great Pretender”) to bed before somebody else kicked the bucket.

Instead Hynde, the band’ chief songwriter, regrouped. She kept on Martin Chambers as drummer, and recruited Robbie McIntosh on guitar and Malcolm Foster on bass to play on LP #3, but only after recording several tracks (“Back on the Cain Gang” an “My City Was Gone”) with guitarist Billy Bremner and bassists Tony Butler, while bassist and Paul Carrack of Squeeze played on “Thin Line Between Love and Hate.” And as it turned out the two-year hiatus proved only that Hynde had been right to keep the Pretenders alive, because the resulting album, 1984’s Learning to Crawl, is a tour de force; perhaps not as sensational as the band’ debut, but a Wunderkind nonetheless.

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The TVD Storefront

Needle Drop: U.S. Royalty with Phil Ade’, “Nothing To Lose”

D.C. rock ‘n’ rollers U.S. Royalty collaborate with rapper Phil Ade’ for hard hitting, gospel tinged blues.

The band rediscovered the single while searching through old demos to include in the vinyl release of its first album, Mirrors, which dropped this past January. More than just an homage to the creative spirit of collaboration, “Nothing To Lose” also serves as a prequel to new U.S. Royalty material on the horizon.

Written and recorded at the now defunct Gold Leaf Studios during a blizzard in 2009, “Nothing To Lose” originated from a jam session between D.C. band U.S. Royalty and rapper Phil Ade’. Unsure of where to begin, the band went ahead and recorded a beat and vocal hook, while Ade’ scribbled out 16 lines of verse in the first 20 minutes.

The final song is a retro-tinged ode to old school rhythm and blues which includes production finesse by Los Angeles-based producer Alex Goose, a frequent collaborator with U.S. Royalty.

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The TVD Storefront

The Young Wild,
The TVD First Date

“My first experience with vinyl was at my Grand dad’s house during a family get together of some sort. He had played drums in a Scottish marching band as a youth and had developed an unhealthy love for the bagpipes.”

“When he played his vinyl recordings for me it was some time in the early ’90s so his state of the art sound system involved speakers that were taller than me and he would max them out, blaring the pipes for all the world to hear. Not quite my thing, but it was cool to hear the antiquated sound at such a gut busting volume.

Out of all the vinyl that I have been introduced in my life the one that really sticks out is The Allman Brothers’ Live At The Fillmore. My pops always had it playing in the house and I fell in love with it. The whole album is a good listen but “Whipping Post” is the gem in my opinion. It’s 20 some odd minutes of pure drive and soul. And that rhythm section, damn, that rhythm section…

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Jane’s Lament

Lobes pleasured by the sounds resonating from the closely aligned camps of dream pop and shoegaze might want to investigate Jane’s Lament, the debut album by Au.Ra. While breaking new ground isn’t a priority and the peaks and valleys of quality are very much in evidence, the Sydney Australia duo’s solid execution could easily satisfy fans of the intersecting genres, and the fleeting strands of inspiration bode well for the future. It’s out this week on LP/CD/digital via the Felte label of Los Angeles, CA.

Tim Jenkins and Tom Crandles are responsible for Au.Ra, though the pair do employ some helping hands, mostly in the engineering and mixing departments. Both are guitarists, Jenkins having previously served in the Sydney band Parades as Crandles works under the moniker Colours (he also played bass in Ghostwood).

In 2013 Au.Ra issued a 7-inch on LebensStrasse Records, its two songs included on Jane’s Lament, though I’m uncertain if they are the same versions. The LP was produced by Jenkins and Crandles with the assistance of engineer and fellow Aussie Simon Todkill; the majority of the mix was by Nigel Yang of HTRK (two cuts were helmed by Aaron Cupples of Civil Civic).

In accord with the shoegaze paradigm, Au.Ra are specialists in guitar expansiveness, and many of the album’s tracks feature said instrumentation poised atop sampled drum loops. But filling out their sound are numbers of a more melodic nature that cultivate the dream pop side of the story. It’s a tale occasionally peppered with tasteful techno-synth attributes; nobody’s going to accuse them of raiding the bunkers of originality, but neither are they predictable, utilizing enough elements to bring range to the familiarity.

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 3/4/15

“This guy just bought 13 more record presses to keep up with vinyl demand: By now, you may have heard about the vinyl record’s resurgence, but have you thought about what this new hunger for records means for vinyl manufacturers and distributors?”

Boogie Nights Soundtrack Coming to Vinyl: An O Brother, Where Art Thou picture disc is on tap next.”

“5 Vicious Vinyl Shops in the Violet Crown: There’s a vinyl revolution going on out there and Austin is neck deep in it.”

“This Photoshop trick shows you how damaged used vinyl is: Here’s an image taken from an eBay listing for a Beatles record. Looks good, right? Use Photoshop to adjust the levels, though, and the record looks quite different.”

“In a joint partnership with cassette label Gnar Tapes, the new Burger Records in Cypress Park is the label’s first retail space in L.A. For Gnar Tapes — which began in Portland in 2008 — the new venture makes them a major force in Northeast L.A.’s growing garage rock syndicate (which includes Lolipop Records in Echo Park).”

“White Stripes Prep ‘Get Behind Me Satan’ for First Vinyl Release: Tenth anniversary commemorative pressing arrives on Record Store Day next month”

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TVD Washington, DC

TVD Live Shots: Honeyblood and
2:54 at DC9, 2/28

PHOTOS: RICHIE DOWNS | For anyone missing the ’90s, specifically the days of Riot Grrrls owning the stage, Honeyblood is what has been missing from your playlist.

Their particular brand of tart pop vibrates with fuzzy guitars and mellow vocals. This Scottish duo brought their assaulting feminist pop anthems to DC9 this past Saturday.

I was first turned on to them after hearing “Super Rat” and was hooked. Where their contemporaries turn love songs into a melodramatic whine-fests, Honeyblood takes that world and spits in its face. Their nonchalance is beguiling and captivating, they aren’t here for your entertainment, but their music is.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD’s 9 weeks of vinyl giveaways, Week 3: Fleetwood Mac, Then Play On

As we noted upon the launch of our first of 9 weeks of vinyl giveaways, it’s easy to forget that going on 8 years now when TVD was in its year one (as was Record Store Day) the vinyl medium wasn’t “back,” sales weren’t stellar, and indeed record stores were a fading lot. No, worse actually. Shops we’re closing at such a clip, their disappearance literally informed the launch of the site you’re reading at present.

And as we’ll repeat for 9 weeks—vinyl and record stores go hand in hand. Their shared intrinsic value is the cultural commodity and the bedrock of any local music scene. Don’t believe us though…hit up your locals and the marriage becomes crystal clear. 

But we too have been overwhelmed with the resounding popular and prevalent headlines as to vinyl’s big resurgence, yet they also arrive in tandem with far less rosy headlines such as “Starbucks to Open in Former Bleecker Street Records Space”—and worse, some very bad ideas when one advocates for record shops have, of late, become internet fodder. (Seriously, vinyl subscription clubs are the Carson Daly of record collecting.)

As such, picking up with an old TVD favorite, we’ve lined up 9 (count ‘em, 9) weeks of vinyl giveaways as we count down to Record Store Day 2015 to redouble our efforts to underscore the viability and the inherent need for your local brick and mortar record shops to remain the vibrant community touchstone that they intrinsically are. And while we kinda hate hanging out by the mailbox waiting for a record to show up (unless you’ve ordered it from a mom and pop or directly from a label!) we’re shipping out records for 9 weeks straight as sweet reminders that record stores are literally where it’s at.

For week 3 of 9, a look back at the Mac—before their chart attack.

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TVD Washington, DC

TVD Premiere:
Cruzie Beaux, Demo 1

Cruzie Beaux is the latest project from Kristina Reznikov, a DC musician who has been making music since childhood. Most recently she was the lead vocalist for Drop Electric and the short-lived Blanche Has Friends.

In Kristina’s new project, Cruzie Beaux is a party animal, writing songs for dirty dive bars and angry female protagonists. Cruzie tells us that she loves the dirty 1970s Joan Jett style guitar, with a steady (but modern) beat. Cruzie Beaux will be working with Tinderbox Music promoting her demo, which currently has Ingrid Michaelson and Imagine Dragons on their client list.

In Drop Electric, Kristina’s gritty vocals brought a new element to the band’s sound which was previously instrumental, and In Blanche has Friends, Kristina moved toward being somewhat less serious with a beautiful rawness stemming from the freedom to work as a solo musician. We asked Kristina how the transition has been from being in a band to working as a solo artist:

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TVD Nashville

Billy J. Kramer,
The TVD Interview

Billy J. Kramer seemingly came from nowhere (well, Bootle, Lancashire, England, to be precise) to climb the upper reaches of the UK and U.S. pop charts beginning in 1963. Hand-picked to join the NEMS Enterprises artist roster by The Beatles’ manager, Brian Epstein, Kramer was given Lennon/McCartney songs to record and was produced by George Martin. When his original backing musicians quit, professional Manchester combo The Dakotas were hired by Epstein to be Kramer’s band. He rode the wave of Beatlemania worldwide and had several top ten hits in multiple countries.

After the beat music boom crested in 1965, Kramer and The Dakotas parted ways. He launched a new career in cabaret and British television, maintaining a solo career there for the next two decades before relocating to the U.S. He has recently released a new CD, I Won The Fight, and is excited to be a part of the British Invasion 50th Anniversary Tour.

How did you get involved with the tour?

I was approached by the promoters, you know? I’ve been living here for a long time, doing gigs and different things, and when they came up with the idea for this tour, I said, “Yeah.” I’ve been very uplifted by the whole thing. I thought it would be good but it’s been better than I could ever imagine.

After the British Invasion tour ends, I’m going to the UK to do the Solid Silver Sixties 30th Anniversary Tour. It will be with Mike Pender of The Searchers, Chris Farlow, P.P. Arnold, and The Merseybeats. It will be thirty concerts in all and it will the first time I have toured there in eighteen years. I very excited about it.

You toured the U.S. prior to The Beatles’ arrival. Do you still see some of your original fans as you tour?

Yes, definitely. I have a connection with Beatlefest, which I have done on numerous occasions, and the fans always come out.

As you were growing up, what artists caught your attention early on?

Buddy Holly singing “That’ll Be the Day” hit me really hard the first time I heard it on Radio Luxembourg, which I used to listen to on Sunday nights. Also, the bass player in my first band had a brother who would bring records back from America. I remember he had the 78s of Elvis singing “Hound Dog” and “Don’t Be Cruel.” Both of those records blew me away! I started to collect records myself around that time.

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