TVD Chicago

TVD Live Shots: Angel Olsen at the Riviera Theatre, 12/9

Angel Olsen and her excellent band cruised through Chicago last Saturday to play to a sold-out Riviera Theatre.

Her performances, which have always been wonderful, continue to beautiful, fun, and memorable. It was a nice little holiday homecoming for the former Chicagoan, who’s released one solid album after another since her 2012 debut. Her tour continues to DC and her current home of Asheville before heading to Australia and Europe for several dates.

She’s more than worth the price of admission, so grab a ticket!

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Radar: The Babadook OST deluxe vinyl reissue in stores now from Waxwork

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Waxwork Records is thrilled to present the soundtrack to the 2014 Australian psychological horror film, The Babadook.

Directed by Jennifer Kent, The Babadook focuses on a troubled widow, Amelia, who is is raising her six year old son, Samuel, after the death of her husband from an automobile accident. After a series of strange events, Amelia and Samuel unexpectedly receive a mysterious pop-up-storybook: Mister Babadook. The book describes a hideous, tall, pale faced monster in a top hat and coat that tortures his victims after they become aware of his existence. The narrative and film engulf the viewer in themes of personal loss, grief, despair, and ultimately, recovery.

The soundtrack by Jed Kurzel (Alien: Covenant) is whimsically dark, brooding, and at times, a terrifying listening experience. Kurzel blends electronic instruments and synthesizers with unorthodox instruments and pulsating, drowning vocal soundscapes.

The film received worldwide critical acclaim. The Exorcist director, William Friedkin, publicly announced, “I’ve never seen a more terrifying film than The Babadook. It will scare the hell out of you as it did me.” Waxwork Records worked extensively with composer Jed Kurzel and the creators of The Babadook to present an incredible physical soundtrack release on deluxe vinyl.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Radar: Stax Singles Vol. 4: Rarities & The Best of the Rest 6-CD box set in stores 2/9

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Craft Recordings, the Catalog Division of Concord Music, is pleased to announce the release of Stax Singles, Vol. 4: Rarities & The Best Of The Rest, a 6-CD box set that delves deep into the Stax Records archives, and explores the label’s efforts to diversify their output.

This new addition to the critically acclaimed series of Stax singles boxes offers a more profound study of the Memphis label’s catalog, including long-forgotten B-sides and rarities, and focusing not just on soul tunes – for which the label was most famous – but also offering a cross-section of rock, pop, blues, gospel, and country recordings from 1960-1975. Available February 9th, the collection will also include an 80-page booklet, offering four new in-depth essays by music journalist Lee Hildebrand, writer and producer Alec Palao, box set co-producer Bill Belmont and Rob Bowman, author of Soulsville U.S.A.: The Story Of Stax Records, and producer of Vol. 4’s discs 1-3.

Featuring recordings from the catalogs of both Craft and Rhino Entertainment – the Catalog Division of Warner Music – who jointly control Stax’s iconic masters, this comprehensive box set is the perfect companion piece to Vols. 1-3; the first of which, The Complete Stax/Volt Singles 1959-1968, was released by Atlantic Records in 1991 and reissued by Rhino in 2016. Volumes 2 and 3, originally released by Stax in 1993 and 1994 respectively, and reissued by Concord in 2015, offered soul singles spanning 1968-1975, collectively.

In his introduction, co-producer Bill Belmont discusses the concept behind Vol. 4: “Over the years, within the collector-fan circuit, and in reissues and collections of vintage Stax material worldwide, some ‘B’ sides have attained a status comparable to the promoted work.” Adds Rob Bowman, in his essay regarding the soul portion of the box, “[Stax’s B-sides] are, by and large, better than most companies’ A-sides.” Continues Belmont, “Stax’s ‘other side’…has never been presented on its own – thus here, the ‘other’ [imprints] are all gathered under the Stax umbrella; part of the all-encompassing rubric ‘where everything is everything.'”

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TVD New Orleans

Trombone Shorty’s  “Tunes for Toys,” a toy drive and concert, is scheduled for the George and Joyce Wein Jazz and Heritage Center, 12/21

Though TVD may be on holiday break for the next two weeks, the music keeps on coming. Next Thursday, the Trombone Shorty Foundation, the Gia Maione Prima Foundation, and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation present the annual “Tunes for Toys.” This free concert begins at 7 PM at the George and Joyce Wein Jazz and Heritage Center. Everyone is encouraged to bring a new toy in exchange for admission.

“Tunes for Toys” will feature music from New Breed Brass Band with special guest Trombone Shorty and students from the Trombone Shorty Academy. “This toy drive is very special to my heart,” says Foundation founder Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews. “We love being able to showcase our Academy students’ hard work, and also give back to children in the Tremé community where I was born and raised.”

The New Breed Brass Band includes members of the latest generation of musicians to emerge from the Tremé neighborhood. Snare drummer Jenard Andrews leads the band. Andrews is the son of Tremé legend James “Satchmo of the Ghetto” Andrews. Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews is his uncle.

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The TVD Record Store Club

Graded on a Curve:
The Best of 2017’s New Releases, Part One

Diversity of tradition, experimentation, instrumental vigor, and protest help shape our best new releases of 2017. Here’s the first half.

Find them all for purchase from our friends at Discogs at the links below, or at your local mom and pop, indie record shops via The Vinyl District Record Store Locator app—free for your iPhone here, free for your Android here.

10. Saz’sio, At Least Wave Your Handkerchief at Me (The Joys and Sorrows of Southern Albanian Song) (Glitterbeat) + Shilpa Ray, Door Girl (Northern Spy) One of the sweet byproducts of music fandom is getting introduced to various new styles, often from far-reaching regions of the globe. Such is the case with the debut album from Saz’sio. While the group’s sounds are new to my ears, for the residents of their home country, the recording’s vitality is part of a long, rich tradition.

At Least Wave Your Handkerchief at Me is a doorway into the Albanian musical form Saze, which the notes for the album describe as one of the world’s least recorded folk styles. Dynamically executed both vocally and instrumentally, the emotional range is as wide as the title’s parenthetical suggests. Produced by Joe Boyd and recorded by Jerry Boys, folks attuned to Balkan and Turkish folk and even klezmer should waste no time getting to know this one.

Even without knowledge of her previous work, making Shilpa Ray’s acquaintance brings an immediate sense of the familiar, as she oozes a distinct swagger that’s simultaneously old-school and up to date. Indeed, her fourth full-length (there have been two fronting Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers, and now two under her own name), Door Girl is a record chronicling life in NYC, and as the selections unwind Ray’s confidence is palpable.

Throughout, she makes good choices, particularly the doo-wopish elements established right off the bat in “New York Minute Prayer” and later the assured pop-rock of “Rockaway Blues,” but she also takes chances; attempts at rap-rock usually stink up the joint, but she pulls it off with “Revelations of a Stamp Monkey” (the song and album title reference her time working the door at Lower East Side bar Pianos). Ray occasionally recalls Debbie Harry and Patti Smith, but on “EMT Police and the Fire Department” she belts out a wall-pinning punk rager and references Allen Ginsburg to boot. Brilliant.

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 12/14/17

Treehouse Records enters final weeks: Treehouse Records still has plenty of albums to sell ahead of the Dec. 31 closing. Staff members continue to clear out the basement where the owner stashed new vinyl and used records he didn’t have time to price. “People assume that everything has been picked through. It hasn’t,” said owner Mark Trehus. Trehus said his decision to retire is due to many factors, and the biggest is that he sees better things on the other side. Business has been fine, but it’s time to move on, he said. “This has been an absolute dream job, but it allowed me to continue kind of being an adolescent most of my life,” said Trehus, who recently married. “Now I’m facing adulthood at 60 and loving it.”

The Visual Side of the Vinyl Shop, “Queen City Records: Record Stores of Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky” captures the essence of local indie record stores via photography and interviews: Growing up on Grand Vista Avenue in Pleasant Ridge, Mike Spitz would often visit Everybody’s Records, a neighborhood and city institution for lovers of recorded music since 1978…Spitz, age 50, has been living in Los Angeles since 2000, so remembering the favorite record stores of his Cincinnati youth — he also has kind words for ones that have not survived, such as Norwood’s Record Theater and the Wizard and Ozarka outposts near University of Cincinnati — may seem purely an exercise in nostalgia. But it isn’t. He’s turned it into a new book, Queen City Records: Record Stores of Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky.

Discogs Surpasses 37 Million Record Releases Available Internationally Through Marketplace, 27.5 Million Vinyl Records Account For Nearly 75% Of Listings: Discogs, the World’s most extensive user-built database of music, announces a monumental landmark today as it exceeds 27.5M vinyl recordings and over 37M physical music items in total listed for sale in the Global online Marketplace. In retrospect, Discogs celebrated its 15th Anniversary in November 2015 with nearly 10M releases. Over the following 24-months, the Discogs Marketplace has grown more than 370% culminating in a record-setting 130,000 orders over the first week of December 2017, another landmark cementing the Discogs Marketplace as the essential music marketplace of the World.

Pro-Ject Essential III Review: Solid Performance From A Value Turntable: It’s time for an upgrade, but maybe not the stage where a $2,000 audiophile turntable is in the cards. Some vinyl junkies hit up garage sales and vintage stereo equipment dealers in search of a used turntable. Even if you luck out and find something affordable, it’s likely to need service, including a replacement belt and cartridge. Why bother, when the Pro-Ject Essential III is there as a $299 value option? This is an award-winning turntable from an Austrian company that’s developed a rabid following among audiophiles. Pro-Ject sent me one to try out and it quickly proved why it’s such a popular choice.

Recalling a misguided youth spinning vinyl: With the revival of vinyl records in the market place, plus having been a radio announcer during my somewhat misguided youth, let’s harken back for a moment to the early 1960s and the control room of KCLA-AM — 1400 on your radio dial — 1000 watts strong broadcasting from Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and spin a few memories. While disc jockeys were the trendsetters of early radio, working in a more tranquil atmosphere we preferred to call ourselves announcers. Either way, it didn’t matter. We were all spinning vinyl.

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TVD Washington, DC

TVD Live: David Rawlings at the Lincoln Theatre, 12/6

PHOTOS: RICHIE DOWNS | David Rawlings and his band takes to the empty stage as they would if they were around during the end of the Industrial Revolution 150 years ago or more. At the Lincoln Theatre in Washington last Wednesday, with two guys in big hats and two women in long cotton dresses, they rather resembled a rural string band that could have assembled on anybody’s porch a century ago or more, picking out music, interlocking rhythms, and singing harmonies about many of the same kinds of concerns. Americana indeed.

Rawlings may first have come to notice as the backing guitarist for his partner Gillian Welch, who, happily, is also part of the his band. But here, the smiling, good-natured Rawlings is front and center. His voice is OK at best; his songs often simple constructions. What jumps out, and what brings the audience, are his guitar solos.

He had a few guitars on hand, but mostly used one mighty mahogany 1935 Epiphone Olympic, with a sprucewood arched top. It seemed a tiny instrument – less than 14 inches wide — for all he brought out of it. With a tone midway between the high, bright sound of a mandolin and the deeper tones of a more conventional guitar, he flatpicks his way into a superhighway of inventive melody with one turn inspiring the next, faster and faster, but never losing its soul or appeal.

Applause greeted nearly every solo and the rest of the band rose to join his musicality. Guitarist Willie Watson, formerly of the Old Crow Medicine Show actually has a better voice (but is self-effacingly ineffective on bongos the one time he tried). Fiddler Brittany Haas of Boston bluegrass band Crooked Still who is often heard on Prairie Home Companion, often sounds, like Rawlings, as if she’s playing more than one instrument, the approach is so full and musical. Welch, of course, keeps the rhythm locked down on acoustic guitar and bolsters the harmonies throughout. And a couple of times, thankfully, was featured on some of her own songs, from “Wayside/Back in Time” to “Look at Miss Ohio.”

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Radar: Alvin Lee
& Co., Live At The Academy Of Music 1975 in stores now

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Unearthed live music from the late, great English singer and guitarist Alvin Lee has finally been mastered and released: Alvin Lee & Co. Live At The Academy Of Music, New York 1975 is out now on Rainman Records. Famously known for his band Ten Years After’s galvanizing performance of “I’m Going Home” at Woodstock, Alvin Lee left that band in 1973 to pursue his own artistic vision and quickly found success as a solo artist.

Now, for the first time, a January 18, 1975 show recorded at New York City’s Academy Of Music (which would later become the Palladium) has been mastered and properly released. The show was recorded on a (then) state-of-the-art 16-track, but only a few songs were ever heard, via the “King Biscuit Flower Hour.” In 2012, Lee discovered the masters in his personal archives and set out to transfer and professionally mix the concert. Lee passed away in 2013 before the music could be released, but his wife Evi carefully oversaw this project (released October 27).

The result is a collection of jazzy, funky, and mellow performances; 13 selected tracks played by a world-class band made up of talented musicians at their peak with Alvin leading expertly through tasteful guitar work and outstanding vocals. The band included Ian Wallace – drums and Mel Collins – sax & flute (both ex-King Crimson), two former members of Stone The Crows (Ronnie Leahy – keyboards, and Steve Thomson – bass), as well as Brother James – percussion, and backing vocalists Donnie Perkins and Juanita Franklin.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Sonic Youth,
Confusion Is Sex

Let me just begin this review by saying this about this album: It annoys my cat. He likes to hang out on my desk, but whenever I put this album on he flees the room. And that should tell you something. Painkiller, Pig Destroyer, Killdozer—he can stomach them all. Hell, he has even sat steadfast through the horrorshow that is Foreigner.

But Confusion Is SexSonic Youth’s 1983 LP debut—unsettles him. Hell, it unsettles me. And I can only imagine it unsettles everybody, including the legendary NYC art noise poseurs who produced it. Which makes me wonder, what’s the point?

Art for art’s sake would be the short answer. Because this is certainly not art for pleasure’s sake or anybody else’s. I know a lot of pain junkies who listen to all manner of free-form atonal jazz skronk, but I do not know a single person who likes this album for the simple reason that Sonic Youth does not want anyone to like this album. It’s a classic example of taking a good thing too far.

Sonic Youth make a few concessions to such things as actual songs, but not many. And even on the songs that don’t grate, the vocals do. Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore have one thing in common—they cannot sing. And I do not mean they cannot sing in the traditional “Look at me, I’m Frank Sinatra” sense. What I mean to say is they appear to have an aversion to singing. At least on Confusion Is Sex, they seem to be going out of their way to flunk an audition.

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TVD Washington, DC

Play Something Good with John Foster

The Vinyl District’s Play Something Good is a weekly radio show broadcast from Washington, DC.

Featuring a mix of songs from today to the 00s/90s/80s/70s/60s and giving you liberal doses of indie, psych, dub, post punk, americana, shoegaze, and a few genres we haven’t even thought up clever names for just yet. The only rule is that the music has to be good. Pretty simple.

Hosted by John Foster, world-renowned designer and author (and occasional record label A+R man), don’t be surprised to hear quick excursions and interviews on album packaging, food, books, and general nonsense about the music industry, as he gets you from Jamie xx to Liquid Liquid and from Courtney Barnett to The Replacements. The only thing you can be sure of is that he will never ever play Mac DeMarco. Never. Ever.

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