TVD Los Angeles

The Best of The Idelic Hour with Jon Sidel

ORIGINALLY BROADCAST ON 6/6/14
Greetings from New York City!

Today finds me back in my hometown of New York City. It always seems to take a couple of days to acclimate to “The Big Apple.”

People have been saying the city isn’t the same since the Gap opened on St. Marks Place in 1988. Post “gentrification,” I think the greatest change has been walking the streets armed with a state of the art PDS. Many of the buildings remain the same but, wow, my mind is spinning.

It’s nice to feel New York on a Spring Day. It’s less harsh around town since my recent visits. I had a fun dinner with my dad. First I’ve seen the “mad man” since he turned 80. To be honest the last year has been pretty tough and I’ve been very worried. Dad’s response to the severe climate was uncool. It was great to see Kenny smile and talk about horse racing again.

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TVD Washington, DC

TVD Live: Darkest Hour at Empire, 10/20

PHOTOS: RICHIE DOWNS | For almost twenty years, Virginia’s Darkest Hour have been hammering away at the metal scene, carving a niche with their distinct class of melodic death metal. 2014 has brought a new, critically acclaimed album, a new rhythm section, and high-powered live shows, including a run on this year’s Mayhem Fest. Monday night at Empire in Springfield, VA, both the band and the fans were treated to one hell of a homecoming. 

With seven bands on the bill, things got off to an early start. I missed some of the local support and Black Crown Initiate while interviewing Darkest Hour guitarist Mike Schleibaum (look for that interview next week). I came back in with enough time to grab a good spot for Kansas’ Origin. The four-piece unleashed an assault of balls-out, intense technical death metal. Vocalist Jason Keyser’s wailing, guttural vocals were otherworldly, and drummer John Longstreth’s blast beats drove the band at warp speed.

A small pit opened up on the floor as they went into “All Things Dead.” Bassist Mike Flores and guitarist Paul Ryan seemed to be in a finger war, seemingly trying to outmatch each other in a technical duel. The crowd was a bit meager due to the early hour, despite being four bands into the set at this point. As Keyser was introducing “The Aftermath,” he hadn’t even finished saying the name of the song, and the band blasted in with a roar akin to a tractor-trailer crash. Hair windmills and headbangs ruled the moment, and Keyser commanded the crowd to start the next song with a silent wall of death, beginning the music as the two sides of the split crowd collided.

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TVD New Orleans

TVD Recommends: Steelism at the Louisiana Music Factory, 10/25

Though I haven’t had a chance to check out these guys playing live yet, they are getting rave reviews including being listed in Rolling Stone Country’s “10 New Artists You Need to Know.” They play an in-store set at 2 PM.

NPR’s Ann Powers said, “The Nashville instrumental group Steelism stands out for its ability to blend vintage styles—steel-guitar jazz, surf rock, the cool vibe of 1960s movie soundtracks—in ways that don’t feel dated.”

Their new video “Marfa Lights,” a track from their Single Lock Records’ debut 615 to Fame, was inspired by vintage educational shorts and the British BBC comedy show “Look Around You.” The video was filmed in Nashville and directed by Nashville filmmaker/musician Stewart Copeland. You can also check out a live vid here.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Vinyl Giveaway: Jillette Johnson, “Cameron” 7″

“…Electric Fetus in Minneapolis swiftly and sweetly took my vinyl v card. I got so many records, I needed help carrying them out of the store. I got everything from Bowie to Elton John, Emmylou Harris to Radiohead, Sinatra to Al Green.

It didn’t take long before I’d sneak away from venus before each show to pour through used vinyl stacks for any trace of Billie Holiday, which I’ve come to find is no easy feat.

What I love about vinyl and the culture that surrounds it is, beyond the fact that music just sounds better under a needle, real records help give an album the respect it deserves. You listen from start to finish. You take care of the physical product because it’s fragile and valuable, and it’s worth being kind to.

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The TVD Storefront

Needle Drop: Cool Ghouls, “What a Dream
I Had”

Cool Ghouls’ “What a Dream I Had” sounds like The Beatles’ “Ticket to Ride”—a bit drugged and dragged through a mosh pit.

The San Francisco based psych rockers new album, A Swirling Fire Burning Through The Rhye, attempts to revitalize the city’s once prolific Haight-Ashbury sound with a little garage grit thrown in to contemporize things. Their sweet harmonies and luxurious grooves make for a pretty stimulating record and a fine follow-up to 2012’s limited cassette release, Allright.

If “What A Dream” wets your appetite for the Ghouls’ brand of amped up nostalgic rock, head over to their Bandcamp page and pre-order the full album.

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The TVD Storefront

Bad Cop,
The TVD First Date

“For most of my life, vinyl records seemed as old and foreign as typewriters and telegrams.”

“The mere term “vinyl record” conjured up the dank mustiness of my grandparents’ basement, where they stored a few records and eight tracks amongst a hoard of 1900s furniture and knick knacks. When I got my first jobs in high school, vinyl didn’t even cross my mind. I bought CDs like they were going out of style. Thank God that they eventually did…

The first vinyl record I ever bought was a seven-inch record by Navies–a DC post punk band that blew my mind for a crowd of about a dozen people in Ventura, CA. I was in 9th grade, I bought the vinyl because they were out of CDs, and a couple of years went by before I even played the record for the first time at a friend’s house. He showed me why the 45 rpm seven-inch sounded like dinosaurs when I played it at the wrong speed.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve: The Velvet Underground,
White Light/White Heat

Have you ever driven over what you thought was a speed bump, only to discover later it was your grandmother? I know, I know, so have I. Well, don’t beat yourself up about it. It’s partly her fault for falling face down in the street like that, and then failing (those old hips shatter like china!) to get back up. And the rest of the blame lies with the fact that you weren’t paying attention, but instead singing “too busy sucking on a ding dong” along with Loud Reed on “Sister Ray,” the centerpiece of the Velvet Underground’s magnum dopus, 1968’s White Light/White Heat.

Like many people I know and despise, I’ve gone through phases with the Velvet Underground. Their 1967 debut will be my favorite for a while, then I’ll switch allegiance to White Light/White Heat, and then I’ll go turncoat and spend a year or so listening only to Loaded. But I have given the matter a lot of thought, and have decided that White Light/White Heat is VU’s best LP, because it alone gets to the point, the point being that life is an absurd and awful place, and the only real and valid goal of art is to communicate said absurdity and awfulness in as absurd and awful a manner as possible.

Lou Reed was a Janus-faced fellow, an Apollonian and a Dionysian by turns, and as capable of producing songs of formalist beauty (“Pale Blue Eyes”) as he was of creating songs of seemingly chaotic ugliness (“I Heard Her Call My Name”). Me, I’ve decided (having spent the past year in an anteroom of Hell) I prefer the ugliness and chaos, and all of the nihilistic accoutrements that come with them. And on White Light/White Heat Reed was definitely in chaos mode.

As for vocalist/multi-instrumentalist John Cale, who would leave the Velvets after White Light/White Heat, he preferred the chaos to the beauty for aesthetic reasons having to do with his avant-garde predilections. Meanwhile, guitarist Sterling Morrison and drummer Maureen Tucker were simply along for the ride. That said, they weren’t unwilling participants in the creation of the masterpiece of malignity and malice that is White Light/White Heat. Morrison summed up the band’s collective gestalt at the time by saying, “We may have been dragging each other off a cliff, but we were all definitely going in the same direction. In the White Light/White Heat era, our lives were chaos. That’s what’s reflected in the record.”

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TVD Washington, DC

TVD Live Shots: Bombay Bicycle Club at the 9:30 Club, 10/19

London’s Bombay Bicycle Club played an electrifying set to a sold-out crowd at the 9:30 Club last Sunday night. Touring in support of 2014’s So Long, See you Tomorrow, the set was a solid mix of older and new material that easily had the Club kids enraptured, including “How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep,” “Eyes Off You,” a fervent “Home By Now,” and a cover of Robyn’s “With Every Heartbeat.”

We sent ace photographer Richie Downs to the 9:30 to catch the first 3 songs in the set. (No flash, please.) —Ed.

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TVD New Orleans

Combat vet William A. Thompson, IV’s sound composition debuts as part of Prospect 3+

Followers of local media are beginning to see coverage about the various art projects which are part of Prospect 3+—New Orleans’ international art biennial. However, most of it has focused on visual art and experimental installations. Music fans need to check out DD214—the latest effort from the musician known around town as WATIV.

DD214 is a sound composition that makes use of audio samples recorded by William A Thompson, IV while on a one-year military tour of duty in Baghdad during 2004. These audio samples range from various field, or “found sound,” to interviews with other combat veterans after deployment. The chief goal of this project is the creation of a body of musical works that express the thoughts, conditions, and inner lives of combat veterans from all wars.

In the composition, WATIV makes use of audio speech samples he collected and recorded. These speech samples are analyzed according to inherent pitch, rhythm, and implied harmony. The composition’s results vary accordingly. This “found sound” process of composition was first employed by WATIV in his 2005 release, Baghdad Music Journal. To read an NPR “All Things Considered” piece about Baghdad Music Journal, click here.

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TVD Washington, DC

TVD Recommends:
The Goddamn Gallows
at Revolution, 10/27

There are moments in the life of a concertgoer when you go to a show and the band has gotten prettied up in their rock clothes, strut and strike poses on the stage, and maybe even sing a love song or two. The Goddamn Gallows are not that band.

On Monday, October 27th at Revolution in Centreville, VA, the Gallows are kicking off the Halloween week by bringing their bizarrely unique strain of music to the DC area. Call them gutterbilly, call them gypsy punk, call them what you will, the fact remains that there is absolutely no one out there like them.

Their live shows are raucous, at times feeling more like you are watching a musical episode of Looney Tunes rather than a live performance. Singer/guitarist Mikey Classic is the eye of the hurricane, sometimes leading the charge, other times, practically being swept up in the chaos surrounding him.

The primary purveyor of that chaos would be accordion player and percussionist TV’s Avery. His comical interactions with bassist Fishgutzzz bring to mind Bugs Bunny taunting Yosemite Sam, and you never know what will happen between Avery and banjoist Joe Perrezze. Rounded out by drummer Baby Genius, the band is a cast of unique characters but ones that mesh well together, and always put on a fierce, unpredictable show.

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