TVD Washington, DC

TVD Live: Camera Obscura at the 9:30
Club, 7/18

PHOTOS: NICK NEMPHOS | On Friday night, veteran act Camera Obscura brought their dreamy indie pop to an adoring crowd at the 9:30 Club. It was a show with few surprises and a couple of standout songs, but one that fulfilled the longing of fans to bask in lead singer Tracyanne Campbell’s beautiful, distinctive voice and to sing along to the band’s familiar love songs.

If you’re a fan of indie pop, or beachy, breezy pop with a little soul, or catchy pop songs with a strong brass section, or any combination of the above, you’re going to enjoy a Camera Obscura show. It doesn’t hurt that all Camera Obscura songs sound exactly like Camera Obscura. While each record might lean on electronics or add an orchestral arrangement or stronger beats, the underlying vibe backed by Campbell’s incredible voice remains constant.

For other bands, that could be their downfall. But with Camera Obscura, it is exactly what has kept fans around after five studio albums spanning more than a dozen years—and it’s why the 9:30 Club was packed on Friday.

The crowd leaned older than many 9:30 Club shows. And just three songs into the set, when the Glasgow-based band dove into “Let’s Get Out of This Country,” the title track of their 2006 breakthrough album, the cheering and singing made it clear that the audience was made up of longtime fans.

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The TVD Storefront

Festival Fast Talk:
BoomBaptist

If you caught our previous Festival Fast Talk, you saw that we spent time at the Red Bull Music Academy at Bonnaroo. The facility was a spot that Red Bull set up, bringing 20+ producers together, granting them time in fully stocked studios, having Mannie Fresh and Thundercat lecture them, and encouraging them to write music.

Though the entire crowd of producers were all great, one producer who definitely resonated inside the pack was BoomBaptist. Just as his moniker implies, he religiously studies the art of boom bap, making offerings to its church in the guise of hip hop beats and heavy grooves. BoomBaptist makes hard hitting and soulful beats over chops of kitwork and carefully queued samples. Be careful, his tracks might just give you whiplash if you’re not paying attention to how hard you’re nodding along when the snare follows the kick and it hits so hard its difficult not to just be like “damn.”

How did you start making music?

My mother instilled a love for music in me as a child. She was a very talented pianist, extremely focused, and dedicated to her craft. She put me through piano lessons early on in life, around six years old, I believe. But as far back as I could remember, I was drawn to the medium. Supposedly I would play the glockenspiel for hours and rock to the rhythm of washing machines as I sat on top of them.

Several years later, when I was exposed to East-coast rap on the radio in Miami, I obsessively studied all the production greats of that era—early ’90s—Premier, Dilla, Pete Rock, Diamond D, etc., etc. I realized that what drew me to those records was the production. At the time, a couple of friends and I had invested in our first turntables/mixer. The package was called the Gemini Starter Kit and was the budget option for people wanting to get their feet wet with DJing. Around the same time, I started dabbling with other styles, playing in a couple of jazz groups (percussion/woodwinds), a Latin group, etc. But ultimately, I had a real love for hip-hop and its production. About a year later, I discovered a free online program named Fruity Loops that was a very elementary option, and that sparked what became BoomBaptist.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Vinyl Giveaway: Fozzy, Do You Wanna Start a War? Signed by Chris Jericho!

From yesterday interview with Fozzy’s Chris Jerico:

What can we expect from the new Fozzy album, Do You Wanna Start a War?

The only rule we had with this record is that we had no rules. We didn’t want to make a record that was like anything that we had ever done before. We wanted to take our sound to the next level. You know, a lot of bands can kind of fall into a trap of doing the same record over and over again, and that’s fine. We love bands like Iron Maiden, Metallica, we love Avenged Sevenfold but we also love Queen and Pink Floyd, Zeppelin and the Beatles, bands that would make a different record every time. There was really no rules or chains as to what kind of songs they would do.

I mean, if you look at a Queen record, there would be a metal song, a rock song, a pop song, a dance song, a rockabilly song, a ballad. It was all good, because it was Queen. That’s what we wanted to do, just make a really diverse record with good songs. I think that’s the difference. There’s some songs that are more danceable songs, you could hear them at a dance club. There’s songs that you could hear at a strip club, there’s songs you could hear at an R&B club, but they are all good, they are all heavy and they’re all Fozzy, and that’s what we wanted to do.

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The TVD Storefront

Identical Homes,
The TVD First Date
and Vinyl Giveaway

“That bead of sweat. Do you remember? What part of the body was it? I don’t think anyone knows. But Hall and Oates H20 is definitely the first album cover in my parents collection that caught my eye.”

“It was leaned up against their dark wood record cabinet that housed their wood grain Rotel player. Vinyl was on its way out, and my brother and I were on a steady diet of Dead Milkmen, early Chili Peppers, and Iron Maiden tapes. Anything remotely related to adult contemporary would spark a protest. Blasting Christopher Cross’s “Sailing” was how they got us out of the house on the weekends.

But even my bleached hair and vision street wear attitude couldn’t shake a song like “Maneater” on vinyl. That heavily delayed sax solo through the bridge? It’s undeniable. I’m not saying the album was without its faults. The song, “Italian Girls” features this line: “I eat, I eat, I eat so much pasta basta, I’m so full and yet so lonely.” Regardless, that record would stay with me through the rebellious years, foreshadowing the musical direction I would eventually head in.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve: Gramercy Arms,
The Seasons of Love

Since the dissolution of ‘90s indie pop-rockers The Dambuilders, singer-instrumentalist-writer Dave Derby has focused upon a variety of projects, one being Gramercy Arms, a New York City-based outfit whose self-titled ’08 debut established a revolving member, indie all-star affair. Roughly six years has elapsed, and now Derby has coordinated a follow-up. The Seasons of Love features unfussy professionalism and a slightly broadened scope; while not a consciousness-altering record, it does go down smoothly enough, and fans of pop-rock song-craft should take note.

Though they released seven full-lengths across a near decade of existence, Boston via Honolulu’s The Dambuilders received their highest profile as a four-piece in the mid-‘90s. Part of the era’s indie deluge, the first three LPs came out through German imprint Cuacha! NYC’s SpinART issued the Tough Guy Problem 10-inch/CD EP in ’94 shortly prior to the group’s emergence on the roster of EastWest Records.

That Atlantic-subsidiary funded The Dambuilders’ best work, ‘94’s Encendedor and the next year’s Ruby Red. As was the case with many of their indie-to-major contemporaries, the band’s last statement, ‘97’s transitional Against the Stars, was a disappointment. Subsequent to breaking up in ‘98, guitarist Eric Masunaga went into film, opening a studio specializing in post-production, drummer Kevin March continued beating the skins, most prominently in one of Guided by Voices numerous lineups, and violinist/vocalist Joan Wasser embarked solo under the name Joan as Police Woman.

Bassist/lead singer Derby has kept himself quite occupied as well, initiating the side-project Brilliantine, hooking up with Lloyd Cole in the cult Brit’s post-Commotions ensemble the Negatives and completing two solo albums, ‘03’s solid Even Further Behind and ‘07’s borderline excellent Dave Derby and the Norfolk Downs. He commenced Gramercy Arms not long thereafter.

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TVD Washington, DC

TVD Live: Queens of the Stone Age, St. Vincent, and Brody Dalle at Merriweather Post, 7/17

PHOTOS: RICHIE DOWNS | Just before Queens of the Stone Age took the stage at Merriweather Post Pavilion on Thursday, it occurred to me that I had last seen Josh Homme on this stage in 1995 with Kyuss, opening for White Zombie. Almost 20 years have passed, and Josh has now led the Queens to new heights with a number one album—and this night cemented in stone that they are at the top of their game.

After fighting my way through the Ragnarök of DC area traffic, I arrived at Merriweather just a few minutes before Brody Dalle took the stage. It was a bit early—still light out, and a fairly sparse crowd at this point, but those who were there early embraced the entertainment. Brody has a new band and a new album, and sounded tighter than ever. Venturing further into alt-rock and away from the frenetic punk sound of her past in the Distillers, she showed a maturity in her music while bringing the rock. Mixing songs from her latest album, Diploid Love, with a few from her past, Brody and her band were the perfect way to start the night.

In between bands, I mentioned to a friend that I had never heard St. Vincent before. Her response was, “She’s kind of like a female Prince.” Hmm, ok. I can get with that. Annie Clark and her band, aka St. Vincent, took the stage, and my friends’ description wasn’t too far off the mark. Funky, groovy, and moving into the second song she still showed the influence of the Purple One.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Premiere & Vinyl Giveaway: LA Font, “Teen Bazooka”

“A lot of people say that vinyl sounds warmer or just better, but I think that’s an overstatement. A lot of new vinyl is not pressed well and it sounds tinny and squashed—but grab a Rolling Stones album from the ’70s out of a bin at the thrift store for $.50 and you will be knocked backwards by the sonic depth and detail.”

“I like vinyl for a lot of reasons—rich sound, having a cool keepsake thing, vinyl records often appreciate in monetary value because of their scarceness, and I tend to like indie labels and indie artists and often they’re the biggest purveyors of vinyl. Plus I need coasters like anyone else. But you don’t like vinyl in a vacuum—you like vinyl because you like the artists on vinyl.

Plus I need coasters like anyone else. But you don’t like vinyl in a vacuum—you like vinyl because you like the artists on vinyl.

Vinyl is temporary. Record stores are temporary. Musicians are temporary. Songs are forever.”

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The TVD Storefront

Candy Darling,
The TVD First Date

“I am no purist and as such have little respect for the drooling fetishists who pay a small fortune to own an original pressing of some obscure jazz fusion album. I’m not fussy about formats and spend much of my time listening to music online. However there is no denying that my listening habits have been retarded by the tsunami of free music available on the internet.”

“As a teenager I was keen (and perhaps pretentious) enough to force Frank Zappa, Charles Mingus, and Igor Stravinsky records down my throat until I fell in love with their cacophonous beauty. Now I make rapid fire decisions about the relative merits of a song before the first 30 seconds has played out, thoughtlessly clicking through an incessant glut of free music whilst the full beam of my attention is obliterated by a thousand digital distractions.

CDs were trash, far from the indestructible future of modern listening which they purported to be. They never survived our parties and lacked the aesthetic gravitas to be treated with care. I used to spit on them and rub them on my jeans in a vain attempt to get them to play before throwing them across the room in disgust.

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The TVD Storefront

Chris Jericho of Fozzy, The TVD Interview

Lionheart. Y2J. Moongoose McQueen. The Ayatollah of Rock and Rolla. Whatever name he’s gone by, the one thing that has remained a constant for Chris Jericho is entertainment.

First, he made a name for himself in the ECW, WCW, and WWE as one of the top wrestlers of his era. His musical passion saw the light in 1999 when Jericho joined guitarist Rich Ward in the cover band Fozzy Osbourne. Shortening their name to Fozzy in 2000, the band took off. Five albums and fourteen years later, Fozzy is preparing to release their sixth album, Do You Wanna Start a War this week. We had a chance to talk to Chris about the new album, Abba, doo-wop Slayer songs, vinyl, and much more.

You’ve been busy! Dates with Fozzy coming up, a new album coming out, and a big return to the WWE a week ago…

Yeah, it’s just par for the course for me, man. The WWE thing kinda just came about at the last minute because we were off the road with Fozzy for a couple of months. The timing just really worked out well. Always busy, man.

What’s your take on where the WWE is nowadays?

It’s great man. It a very reciprocal business. Characters come in, and take control, take charge. The WWE will never die, man. It continues to grow. As it grows, new people come in and freshen the scene up. It’s always a very exciting time.

Way back when Fozzy Osbourne was something you did for fun, doing covers, did you ever think it would morph into Fozzy and go as far as it has?

At the time, when we started, it was just a fun thing. It was a good way to get my feet wet in the music business. I had been a musician since I was twelve, but had never actually made a record or done tours. I think once we started doing our own thing and becoming an original band, especially when we made Fozzy the priority back in 2009, that’s when I would totally say, “Yes, I expected this,” because I wanted to be the biggest band in the world.

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Graded on a Curve:
Thin Lizzy,
Jailbreak

You wanna hear a miracle? I lived for almost five-and-a-half decades without ever hearing Jailbreak, or any other Thin Lizzy album for that matter. Here vocalist/bassist and chief songwriter Phil Lynott and his Irish compatriots put out a truly tremendous LP in America’s Bicentennial Year, not to mention a parcel of other great LPs, and what was I doing? Listening to Elton John and John Denver and England Dan and John Ford Coley, any band basically with a guy named John in it. If Debbie Gibson’s middle name been John, I would have listened to her too.

I would love to be able to say I simply wasn’t into hard rock back then, but I owned albums by Bad Company, UFO (UFO? Me? Inexplicable!), Robin Trower, and Foghat, so that’s sheer bunk. But there’s no point in crying over guilty milk, and it’s never too late to make up for past mistakes, that is unless you’re Lee Harvey Oswald or that chimpanzee (name: Travis) who ripped a woman’s face off in 2009, and I’m neither of those personages. So here I am making up for atoning for my inexplicable oversight, and listening to Jailbreak which mixes tremendous twin-guitar hard rockers with sweeter fair, all of which I love with the possible exception of “Cowboy Song”—in which Lynott, a black Irishman, plays rodeo cowpoke.

But I take that back. “Cowboy Song” may start slowly, but its guitar solos are tremendous and Lynott’s vocals are impassioned (especially when he sings, “It’s okay amigo/Just let me go/Riding in the rodeo”) and the jam at song’s end is a bono fido guitar marvel. Turns out I love the damn thing! Just as I love everything about the LP, except for its cover. Too sci-fi for my decidedly earthbound tastes.

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