The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve: Throwing Muses, Purgatory/Paradise

In October 2013 Throwing Muses released their ninth album and first in ten years on CD in tandem with a book of photos, artwork, lyrics, and short essays by leader Kristin Hersh. An atypical yet smart combination, and in a swell turn of events the Athens, GA label Happy Happy Birthday To Me is issuing Purgatory/Paradise in a 2LP edition of 500 copies. Intrigued parties who missed it should not dally to investigate, for it finds the three-piece of Hersh, drummer Dave Narcizo, and bassist Bernard Georges in skilled, vibrant form.

Another encroaching year’s end foretells many things, and a certainty is a surge of Best Lists. I enjoy reading them almost as much as writing them, as I’ve done a few times here at TVD. What’s important is to not take them too seriously, in part because nobody, not even rapscallions and dandies living lives of utter leisure, can absorb everything released across the span of a dozen calendar pages, and most assuredly not by the 31st of December.

For instance, I’ve just recently become acquainted, roughly 12 months after its emergence, with Throwing Muses’ outstanding Purgatory/Paradise. Now, I could chalk up the delay to the music’s unusual connection to the publishing industry described above, but that wouldn’t be accurate. I’ll simply confess to not keeping up with the singer-guitarist-bandleader’s activity post-University back in ‘95. As stated, one cannot hear it all. Bluntly, I’m very pleased to have belatedly caught up with this record.

Last year’s dual release is frankly a savvy idea, one I’m surprised hasn’t been employed with more frequency. And I do look forward to examining Purgatory/Paradise’s accompanying tome, for clearly the text will provide scores of insights into a rather unique collection; however, this review is specifically concerned with those 32 tracks. Not to worry, for their uniqueness stands up easily on its own.

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TVD New York City

TVD Live: Residual Kid at Baby’s All Right, 10/25

Rock ‘n’ roll is not dead and will never die.

Meet Residual Kid from Austin, 14 and 16-year-old brothers Max and Ben Redman holding down the rhythm section, and 16-year-old front man Deven Ivy.

We were walking the dog Saturday morning past Baby’s All Right and Alex popped in to check the vibe for the big Brooklyn Vegan CMJ day party and on stage there were 3 kids jamming.

At first glance he thought they must be the children of one of the sponsors having fun, and we were told a great band was playing at noon, so we took the dog home and came back.

To our pleasant surprise, these kids were the band, a perfect 3 piece, power-pop, grunge garage band. A good, old-fashioned shred-fest performed with the ease and grace of the most seasoned of road dogs complete with a collection of solid songs, especially the last one, ripe with breakdowns and vocal hooks. We have no idea how the 3 got so good so young, but we are psyched for what’s to come for them.

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TVD San Francisco

TVD Live Shots: Placebo at The Masonic, 10/23

Placebo band Photographed by Jason Miller-1-2

There are a few bands on this planet that are so unique you can identify their sound almost immediately. One of those bands is certainly Placebo. Formed in London in 1994 by singer-guitarist Brian Molko and guitarist-bassist Stefan Olsdal, they have released seven studio albums, all of which have reached the top 20 in the United Kingdom, and have sold around 11 million records worldwide.

Placebo released their latest album Loud Like Love last year and are currently touring the US for the first time in seven years. These guys do exactly what legendary artists do—they evolve their sound while staying true to the formula that their fans have grown to love. Frontman Brian Molko is a perfect example of an iconic eclectic rock star in every sense. His thought-provoking lyrics are genius and his ability to effortlessly combine elements of post-punk, glam, and electronica seamlessly layering them one on top of another creates incredible songs.

Placebo band Photographed by Jason Miller-1

With the release of Loud Like Love, Placebo have crafted an absolute masterpiece from start to finish. Every song on this album stands on its own. Brian Molko is one of those rare singers with such a unique voice that he needs no harmonies or special effects to enhance, only a massive sonic landscape as a foundation. And the live show is the perfect showcase for such brilliance.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Patti Smith,
Twelve

“Would it be a Patti Smith album without bullshit?” asked Robert Christgau following the release of one of her many albums. And he likes her. Me, I’ve mainly disliked her for years. Her 1975 debut is undeniably brilliant, but only to the extent that you can mentally filter out her “poetry,” because exactly 62 percent of the verse in Horses is pure horseshit. Her next three albums had their share of great songs as well, but only reinforced Smith’s delusional image of herself as the second coming of the famed French poète maudit Arthur Rimbaud, as well as the Official poet-prophet of boho NYC. I say delusional because even the most cursory reading of her lyric sheets reveals she’s neither a good poet nor a visionary. At her best she’s a poetaster and a second-rate Jim Morrison.

What irks me even more about Smith is she has somehow managed to convince ostensibly intelligent people (including the French Ministry of Culture, which named her a Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in July 2005) that she’s a sort of shamanistic priestess, when in fact, as John Strausbaugh notes rather cruelly but accurately in his 2001 book Rock Til You Drop, she is “one of the least talented posers in rock… Jim Carroll with breasts, Lydia Lunch with anorexia, the Madonna of punk rock: everything bad and pretentious about the union of punk and poetry in one self-conscious package.” She was only a punk poet priestess to the extent that she lacked a sense of humor (priestesses take everything, especially themselves, far too seriously to laugh), which even pseudo-acolyte Bobby Christgau conceded when he wrote she “always took herself too seriously” and “Good thing she’s a little nuts, because funny’s beyond or beneath her.”

In short, Smith put one brilliant album and three more-than-decent ones while being utterly humorless, totally pretentious, and the worst rock poet (because she takes herself more seriously) since Bernie Taupin. Except Taupin would never unleash a line as bad as “Wisdom was a teapot/Pouring from above” on a defenseless world, or for that matter the fecal mysticism of “The transformation of waste is perhaps the oldest pre-occupation of man/Man being the chosen alloy/He must be reconnected via shit, at all cost.” I don’t quite know what she’s getting at with that mini-lecture, but if it’s really true that shit must be transformed, I humbly suggest we start with her poetry.

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TVD New Orleans

TVD Recommends: Jorge Luis Pacheco Trio at the Prime Example, 10/30

The Cuban jazz piano player returns to New Orleans for two sets at the intimate Broad Street club on Thursday night.

Pacheco has been making waves in the Havana jazz scene and is considered one of the leading lights of the next generation of jazz artists from the music-obsessed island nation. His trio features New York-based Ivan Llanes Montejo on drums and percussion and Carlos Mena on bass.

Jorge Luis combines his classical training with his passion for jazz and playful touches of popular Cuban and American music. With his parents being prominent opera and choir directors, it’s only fitting that Jorge Luis will sing a few songs as part of this performance.

Don’t miss this rare opportunity to experience first hand one of the best performers of contemporary Cuban music. Showtimes are 8 and 10 PM.

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The TVD Storefront

Needle Drop: Rachel Goodrich & The Grrrls, “MonstA Mash”

We have a special Halloween Needle Drop for you all starring Rachel Goodrich & The Grrrls in their campy video send up, “MonstA Mash.”

Filmed for genuine VHS glory and boasting an array of janky props and gags, this music video is a must see for any home-made-movie horror fan. Rachel and The Grrrls have to battle vampires, mummies, and Frankenstein and do so without smudging their make up or frazzling their teased hair. In the end, it seems the only logical solution is to pick up their instruments and entertain their demented guests with punchy power chords and doo-wop harmonies. Well played, ladies… well played.

“MonstA Mash” is from Rachel’s newest EP, “Baby, Now We’re Even” which digs deep into the fuzzy influences of the British Invasion, catching some ’70s pop punk veneer on the way back to 2014. The ladies definitely have a solid and identifiable retro sound which adds serious points to this already kitschy video.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Philip Johnson,
Youth in Mourning

As the bleakness of the ‘70s begat the stagnation of the ‘80s, Philip Johnson was one of numerous figures populating the often fascinating DIY underbelly that fermented in the UK. Issuing over two dozen tapes during the period, he managed a solitary LP, 1982’s Youth in Mourning. Originally released without fanfare by the Namedrop label, the album has been retrieved and given unexpected but welcome reissue by San Francisco’s Superior Viaduct.

In the succinct background information provided by Superior Viaduct regarding their fresh pressing of Youth in Mourning, Philip Johnson is described as a component in Great Britain’s “cassette culture,” an impulse that gets regularly tagged as UK DIY. The origins of this scenario can be traced to the hugely influential shambolic punk act The Desperate Bicycles, the back of their ’77 debut 45’s picture sleeve containing the mantra so many have embraced since: “It was easy, it was cheap—go and do it.”

The increasing ease of cassette reproduction that eventually came to be associated with DIY was also an integral aspect of the fledgling Industrial scene, with Throbbing Gristle one of the earliest adapters of the format. Indeed, DIY and Industrial have much in common, and that crossroads is where the work of Philip Johnson resides.

Along with a ton of self-made tapes, Johnson started the Namedrop label in ’81. That enterprise completed four records: Exist, a 10-inch by Doof, the project of Johnson and a gentleman named Paul Platypus, Straight Out the Fridge, a 10-inch by Twelve Cubic Feet (also featuring Platypus), “The Machinist” 7-inch by Cold War, and Johnson’s LP.

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TVD Los Angeles

TVD Ticket Giveaway: Noche de Agave, An intimate night with Lissie at the Paramount, Saturday, 11/1

Los Angeles has an incredibly diverse culture and the city has warmly embraced some of its more prominent traditions, one of our favorites being “Dia De Los Muertos,” or the Day of the Dead.

The Mexican tradition focuses on the gathering of family and friends to pray for, remember, and celebrate the lives of the deceased. One of downtown Los Angeles’ historical theatres, the newly renovated Paramount in the heart of the Boyle Heights Community will be celebrating Dia de Los Muertos with their Noche de Agave, event on Saturday, November 1st.

The event will feature revered holiday traditions with face painting, flower crowns, and traditional Mexican food. The night also features live music from headliner and stunner Lissie, George Stanford, and KCRW DJ Dan Wilcox holding down the ones and twos. The event is all ages as well.

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The TVD Storefront

Celeste,
The TVD First Date

“What I love about vinyl is it ties me to a listening experience where I’m home and still.”

“I’m one of those on-the-go Americans, and listening to vinyl in my den or bedroom is grounding—I stop hustling or meeting with people and just basically hang with a record. That hang and the physicality of records ties them to the place and time where I bought them and listened to them most. I moved from Alabama to Austin in 2008, bought Amy Winehouse Back to Black at Waterloo Records, and probably listened to it 50 times in my bedroom over my first couple months there. When I listen to that record now, living in New York, it takes me back to my little house in Austin, when I was new to a city, didn’t know people with future unclear.

For me, a vinyl collection is about great 12” full-lengths from top to bottom—true pieces of music, not singles. I love the A side – B side aspect of how it breaks up a piece like intermission between two movements. I have some records where I’m particularly attached to one side. Rolling Stone’s Tattoo You, for example, I’m all about that drippy B side. I play it on repeat and don’t usually listen to side A.

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TVD Washington, DC

TVD Ticket Giveaway: The Presets at the 9:30 Club, 11/2

Sydney-based duo The Presets are known for putting on spectacular live shows. This fall, the electronic pair will be bringing a brand new show to the U.S. as a part of this year’s Check Yo Ponytail tour.

The Presets, composed of Julian Hamilton and Kim Moyes, formed in 2003. Between the two of them, the pair’s musical resume includes performances at Coachella and SXSW, as well as opening for Daft Punk. The pair has also been awarded several ARIA awards for their singles and albums. Since the release of their album Pacifica in 2012, The Presets have put out two singles, “Goodbye Future” and “No Fun” this year.

In addition to writing and producing their own music, Hamilton and Moyes have worked on songs for other artists, including Lenny Kravitz.

The Australian duo will be among the artists featured on this year’s Check Yo Ponytail Tour, hosted by IHEARTCOMIX. Begun in 2006, Check Yo Ponytail (CYP) is “an open-genre, multimedia-driven events series” that “has premiered some of today’s top performers with a few tried and true legacy acts in between,” according to CYP’s official site.

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