The TVD Storefront

Brant Bjork:
The TVD Interview

If someone told you to make a list of the best drummers in stoner rock, it’s a guarantee that Brant Bjork would be at the top. As the drummer of stoner pioneers Kyuss, Brant helped bring the sounds of the hot Palm desert to the world. Post-Kyuss, Brant would go on to play for Fu Manchu and release some surprisingly prolific solo albums.

After a stint with the mostly-reunited Kyuss which morphed into Vista Chino and released an album, Peace in 2013, Brant is back in a big way. With a new band, the Low Desert Punks behind him, Brant has a brilliant new album on the way. Black Flower Power is a heavy, grooving chunk of rock—a step away from the soulful, funky jams of his previous solo albums.

We talked to Brant as he was preparing to depart for a European tour to support the new album, talking a bit of vinyl, and even a bit of Kyuss.

Hi Brant! How are things going?

Things are going well. We’re just getting ready to leave for Europe tomorrow.

Leaving for the European tour?

Yeah, we’ve got like five weeks over in Europe, so we’re all geared up, ready, and excited.

Are there any U.S. tour plans after that?

We don’t have any U.S. dates planned as of now, but we’ve been talking about it. We definitely are going to pursue some U.S. dates, probably sometime next year.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Premiere:
Wild Arrows, “Ariel”

“Ariel” by Wild Arrows is the kind of huge and soaring rock you just don’t hear too much of these days.

How the band managed to obtain such a monstrous sound without a bass guitar is beyond me. It was one of the many things lost in the twelve-hour tide of Hurricane Sandy which also destroyed the band’s studio and their entire full length debut. Faced with the immediate problem of having no instruments, money to record, or even a place to play, band practices became discussions of how they wanted the songs to sound and what the ideas of the songs were—rather than simply developing riffs, rhythms, melodies and chords.

Based on the organ tinged sound of “Ariel,” I think these band discussions might have centered on the swirling psychedelic influences of the ’60s that have since been filtered into the millennium via Oasis and Brian Jonestown Massacre. Wild Arrows makes a convincing bid for the same sonic territory in their own authentic style with Drummer Shiori Takenoshita, a native of Japan, providing a stunning rhythm track and guitarist and singer Mike Law piercing the mix with his reverb rich vocal.

Though the lyrics often sound like some forlorn plea to the heavens, there is a pervasive uplifting quality to the track that takes hold of the emotions—the palpable feeling of two people making some long-awaited music.

Wild Arrows Facebook | Twitter | Bandcamp

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Various Artists,
5 Years of Bedroom
Suck Records

Down Aussie way there’s a record label, and its name is Bedroom Suck. Small but diligent, the imprint has been in operation now for half a decade; to celebrate, a 2LP compilation has appeared sporting a plain but aptly descriptive title. Collecting rare and exclusive tracks from a wide spectrum of acts, 5 Years of Bedroom Suck Records is available worldwide this week through the label’s fruitful partnership with Fire Records of the United Kingdom.

Whenever an independent label withstands the frictions and complications (the arguments, eccentricities, mishaps, disappointments, etc.) that will inevitably arise upon conspiring to add an indeterminate number of releases to an already huge and ceaselessly accumulating mountain of sound, the endeavor deserves a tip of the cap.

In this case “independent label” refers to the grassroots kind; those started by one, two or a handful of individuals and run, at least initially, out of apartments, dorms, garages, or yes indeed, even bedrooms. As these ventures manage more than mere survival, prospering far beyond expectations and immediate geography (though it’s difficult to think of a substantial independent success story that didn’t begin with a predominant or partial regional emphasis), upon attainment of a milestone a little festive commemoration is surely appropriate.

Bedroom Suck began in March of 2009 when Joe Alexander and Sam McCabe whipped-off a few cassette copies of their band’s demo and handed it out at an event that according to Alexander “might have been a fashion show.” That was BSR001; between it and BSR050 Bedroom Suck has taken the lead in documenting a reliably interesting Australian musical movement and in a manner fostering occasional comparisons to the Flying Nun label of neighboring New Zealand.

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TVD Chicago

TVD Live: Ani DiFranco at the Old Town School of Folk Music, 10/15

The Old Town School of Folk Music is a community staple and has been for over 55 years and counting. It’s an educational center, a performance space, and an all-around Chicago music fixture. It is also the city’s center for all things folk. It’s what the Green Mill is to jazz. It’s what Lounge Ax was and the Metro is to rock. It’s what the Empty Bottle and Schubas are to indie. It’s a sacred, special place to see a concert and it was especially so last Wednesday when Ani DiFranco took the stage for an intimate show, the proceeds of which benefited the school.

Given the history of the Old Town School, and given the history of folk, it’s no surprise that there’s an unspoken demand for respect during a live performance. The audiences at the Old Town School always seem to know this. They’re not there for the scene; they’re not there to socialize and throw back beers; they’re there—very clearly and whole-heartedly—for the music. So in other words, it’s basically the perfect location to see Ani DiFranco, who is arguably the modern queen of folk music and whose small stature nonetheless commands attention. She is a force. Everyone in the room knew even before the show started that something noteworthy was about to go down. And it did.

It all started with Jenny Scheinman. How the hell have I not heard of her before? Where have I been? Aside from being an accomplished solo musician, she’s also collaborated with the likes of Lou Reed, Aretha Franklin, and Nels Cline, to name a few. And while her musical range spans multiple genres, last Wednesday Scheinman was pure folk. “It wouldn’t be a folk show if you didn’t bring out a weird instrument and play a murder ballad,” she joked at one point while strapping her bouzouki on. During her 45-minute set, the audience learned that she was a genuine storyteller (“Thank you for listening to that little novel”) and a masterful violinist. For her final songs, Scheinman borrowed a couple of members of DiFranco’s band to help fill out her sound and by the time she left stage the crowd was audibly impressed.

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TVD San Francisco

TVD Live: Anberlin at the Regency Ballroom, 10/11

Earlier this year it was announced that Anberlin would be disbanding after recording their seventh and final studio album and embarking upon one final tour. Somehow I completely missed this band during their heyday, but I’m glad that I got to see them live before they call it quits. The show last week at the Regency Ballroom was beyond capacity and seemed to be a fitting way to close out an impressive 12 year run with 7 albums selling more than 400,000 records along the way.

These guys should have been on my radar though, as guitarist Christian McAlhaney was previously in the Columbia Records band Acceptance and released the brilliant but terribly under-celebrated masterpiece Phantoms back in 2005. Acceptance was another one of those bands that was “supposed to be a breakout,” but the major label system destroyed any chance of that happening, so I am thrilled to see McAlhaney found a home with Anberlin. After this final tour I would expect him to eventually do something equally as brilliant.

Even though I didn’t recognize many of the songs that night, the fans were going absolutely crazy over these guys. This band has some incredibly dedicated fans and the entire crowd was hanging on every last note as Anberlin played their swan song for the Bay Area.

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TVD Asbury Park

TVD’s Garden State Sound with Evan Toth

All jokes aside, New Jersey is a pretty great place. While it has a lot of offer as a state, it also has a rich musical history that many people remain unaware of. Everyone knows about Springsteen and Sinatra, but there’s more out there too, including a diverse current music scene.

Tune in to Garden State Sound with Evan Toth to explore music with connections to New Jersey. You will hear in-depth interviews with some of Jersey’s best music makers and have the opportunity win tickets to some of the best concerts in the state.

Garden State Sound is hosted by longtime NJ radio personality and musician Evan Toth on WFDU.FM.

“New York City is what comes to mind when people think of Paul Simon: Central Park, West Village bookstores, or poetry readings in bohemian downtown flats. The songwriter was, however, born in Newark, NJ, so he’s one of us, whether he likes it, or not.

This week, we celebrate the birthday of Paul Simon and think about what his life was like before his parents moved the family across the river to Kew Gardens where Paul was introduced to such NYC characters as the Queen of Corona. Tune in to hear an hours worth of material from one of the greatest—and occasionally extremely controversial—songwriters in American history.” —EZT

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The TVD Storefront

Arrica Rose,
The TVD First Date

“One of the first records I considered mine was a Frank Sinatra 45 of “New York New York.” At age 5, I stole it from my parents and wore it out on my Fisher Price record player. I’d belt out my duet with Frank and even had a special red velvet dress I wore for these “performances.”

“Records were always playing on my family’s record player as well: Dusty Springfield, Billie Holiday, Simon and Garfunkel, and a promotional copy of Madonna’s Like a Virgin on white vinyl that my parents’ friend, who worked at Motown Records, gave them.

At 13, my record collection began to expand dramatically. I discovered punk rock and all its post-punk / post-hardcore related genres, independent labels, and mail ordering records. For my 14th birthday my parents gave me an all-in-one stereo with a record player on top that lived in my bedroom.

It began with compilations from K records, TeenBeat, and Kill Rock Stars, and spiraled into a collection of music from bands like Unwound, Tortoise, Superchunk, Sonic Youth, Cap’n Jazz, Low, Palace Brothers, Come, and many more. My parents also noticed my growing obsession with vinyl and gave me records from their collection that they considered essentials like Elvis Presley, Fleetwood Mac, Julie London, Edith Piaf, Bruce Springsteen, and Dolly Parton.

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The TVD Storefront

Max Cavalera:
The TVD Interview

In 1985, thrash metal was in its prime. With bands like Metallica, Slayer, and Anthrax from the U.S., and Venom, Sodom, and more out of Europe, the metal world had no idea what was about to take off out of South America. Sepultura, led by brothers Max and Igor Cavalera, blazed a new path in the metal world, incorporating elements of their tribal roots with brutal riffs.

Fast forward to 2014. The Cavalera brothers have long departed their former band, and are making waves with their latest project, Cavalera Conspiracy. Max, seemingly allergic to resting on his laurels, has been working nonstop, releasing Savages in 2013 with Soulfly, and the critically acclaimed self-titled album from Killer Be Killed, a meeting of the minds between Max, Greg Pusciato (Dillinger Escape Plan), Troy Sanders (Mastodon), and Dave Elitch (The Mars Volta).

Cavalera Conspiracy is gearing up to release their third album, Pandemonium, on November 4th. We had an opportunity to talk to Max about the new album, family, Brazil, vinyl, and more.

Tell us a bit about the new Cavalera Conspiracy album, Pandemonium. What were some of your inspirations during the writing of this album?

We tried to go for a real brutal vibe. Get the brothers playing metal again, but in at a raw level, faster than ever. We tried to make a real fast record—most of the songs are fast. Very influenced by lots of grindcore.

Really? That’s a slightly different direction for you.

Yeah, that’s what we went for. That’s the idea for the album, and Igor liked it, but I told him that the songs were not gonna be like grindcore songs, because some of those are only like forty seconds. You don’t want to do that, and we wanted to keep the format of the Cavalera songs around three minutes, but we kept the fast aggression, the spirit of grindcore. It was based on that, and I think it was really cool, man. We had a lot of fun, and the three of us, me, Igor and Mark [Rizzo] recorded, and we had Nate [Newton] from Converge playing bass on top of it. That was the perfect setup for this record, having Nate on the bass. He was so killer.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Lynyrd Skynyrd,
Second Helping

When people—and by people I mean people who can’t believe a person of reasonable intelligence could possibly like the rednecks in Lynyrd Skynyrd—ask me why I love the band, I always tell them the same thing. I tell them that Lynyrd Skynyrd was the best Southern rock band ever, Fight Club, a future meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous that was never held, and rock’s greatest tragedy all rolled into one. Of course it doesn’t convince them for all kinds of reasons, including Skynyrd’s prominent display of the Confederate battle flag, its contentious celebration of the state of Alabama and mock feud with Neil Young, “Free Bird”—you name it. Some people just love hating Lynyrd Skynyrd, and I wish I knew why.

I get the “Free Bird” bit—it’s long and goes on for a really long time and its been played to death on the radio—but as for the rest of it, I say phooey. I don’t believe—Stars and Bars and pro-Alabama song notwithstanding—that Lynyrd Skynyrd had a racist bone in its body, and people consistently fail to hear female back-up singers Clydie King, Merry Clayton, and Sherlie Matthews singing “Boo boo boo” after Ronnie Van Zant sings “In Birmingham they love the guv’nor” in “Sweet Home Alabama,” perhaps because they simply cannot conceive of a bunch of ignorant rednecks like Lynyrd Skynyrd possessing a sense of irony.

But I always thought Ronnie Van Zant was one highly intelligent guy, albeit rough around the edges and when intoxicated prone to punching people in the face and on occasion even attempting to push them out of airplanes in mid-flight. But I always found Ronnie’s foibles amusing, endearing even, and the fact is that when he wasn’t knocking Skynyrd keyboardist Billy Powell’s teeth out—twice—he was writing great and nuanced songs in the vein of Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings, only set to a rock beat. And still he couldn’t win; the same people (Yankee hipsters all) who think loving Merle and Waylon proves their open-mindedness still despise Skynyrd. As Robert Christgau noted when MCA released the compilation Gold and Platinum in 1979, “It’s not fair, really–everybody who was dumb enough to dismiss them as another pack of redneck boogie freaks now gets to catch up.” But most of ‘em failed to catch up even then, and what is to be said about such adamant close-mindedness except their loss?

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The TVD Storefront

TVD’s Press Play

Press Play is our Monday morning recap of the new tracks received last week—provided here to inform your vinyl purchasing power. Click, preview, download, purchase.

Death Rattle – Weak Joints
Young Tongue – Heavy Metal Thunder
DoublePlusGood – Never The Same (Purse Candy Remix)
Kaki King – Close to Me (The Cure cover)
Daddy Lion – Evermore
Asem – Slow Motion
Tattoo Money – Coco Curious
Little Arrow – Medicine Moon
Stonefox – Heart
Jo Mango – Evermore (The Cormorant Remix)

TVD SINGLE OF THE WEEK:
The Rebel Light – Strangers

LemuelG – Life Cap
We Are The Willows – Picture
Figure – House On Haunted Hill Featuring CasOne
LUXLEY – Spirit (feat. Nora Patterson of Royal Teeth)
Bad Cop – Shotgun
We Are Z – Knucklehead
Mont Oliver – 19
Memphis Dawls – Skin Like A Cage
L A Y L A – Weightless ( Dimond Saints ) Remix
Mosaics – Submit

17 more FREE TRACKS on side B!

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