The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
The Pretenders,
Learning to Crawl

A couple of days ago, I found myself doing something I haven’t done (no exaggeration) in years: dancing. I dervished about the apartment all by myself, like a lunatic, with the cat looking on from the safety of the bed, wide-eyed with eminent peril. I could tell the poor puss was thinking, “What the devil is he doing?” So I cried, “Listening to The Pretenders, you hairy little fool! And dancing!”

I would not call The Pretenders a great band, per se. A very, very good band, sure. Chrissie Hynde is an excellent songwriter, and has one of the most distinctive voices in rock. Unfortunately, like Badfinger, The Pretenders are just as famous for their tragically high mortality rate as they are for their music. During the 2-year hiatus between 1981’s Pretenders II and 1983’s Learning to Crawl, Hynde saw two band mates, guitarist James Honeyman-Scott and bassist Pete Farndon, die drug-related deaths. Technically Farndon was no longer a Pretender—Hynde fired him shortly before he died—but still. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde on the subject of orphans, to lose one band member is bad luck—to lose two, sheer carelessness.

Hynde, an Akron, Ohio native, formed The Pretenders in 1978 in London, England, where she was working as a journo for NME and at SEX, the legendary fashion boutique of Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood. She received a record contract on the strength of a demo recorded with a three-piece band including Phil Taylor of Motörhead, then hired a permanent group including Honeyman-Scott, Farndon, and drummer Martin Chambers. The Pretenders’ first two albums included several hits; unfortunately, while the band was making its bones musically, it members were dropping like flies. By 1983’s Learning to Crawl 50 percent of the original group was dead, leaving just Hynde (lead vocals, rhythm guitar, and harmonica) and Chambers. But rather than throwing in the towel, Hynde hired Robbie McIntosh on lead guitar and backing vocals and Malcolm Foster on bass and backing vocals.

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 8/28/15

New Record Store in Fairlawn Set to Open in September: “I’ve been bringing vinyl in since the first of July,” he says. “It’s been so much fun to order records. This is all about the vinyl culture. The CD market is done. Everything has gone digital. When you buy a record now, they throw the CD in it for free. With almost every Black Keys album that you get on vinyl, the CD just comes with it. There’s something about opening up the vinyl album and reading the lyrics and liner notes and seeing who played on the album. It provides an education about the music. Having an art background, I love the artwork.”

Vinyl lives: Scotti’s Record Shop, Summit, NJ: “Any business that stays open for over fifty years safely earns the status of being an institution. Any record store that stays in business for this long earns the status of hero. Nestled between Summit Ski & Sport and the Bow Tie Beacon Cinema along the store-lined Springfield Ave in Summit, New Jersey, Scotti’s Record Shop is exactly what comes to mind when you think about a neighborhood record shop.

Pink Floyd pig in Suffolk pop memorabilia auction: Iconic inflatable stage props – including Pink Floyd’s famous pig “Algie” – are to be sold at auction. Halesworth-based Air Artists is selling 30 years’ of its work, used by the likes of the Rolling Stones and ACDC. The star lot is Algie, which famously halted flights over Heathrow after breaking loose from its moorings over Battersea Power Station in 1976.

Kraftwerk set to release a “3D album” later this year: “Kraftwerk are to translate their visual shows into a “3D album”, set to be released in late autumn on Blu-ray. Speaking to Rolling Stone, sole original member Ralf Hütter said: “We translated our performances to 3D, and in surround sound, kind of like 3D sound.”

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The TVD Storefront

Passport To Stockholm,
The TVD First Date

“My first record shop experience was on my 8th birthday. My godmother used to give me double my age in cash each year—that year I was cash rich with £16 in my pocket and I knew exactly how I was going to spend it.”

“Earlier in the week I had heard an American band on Capital FM (then London’s biggest station)—that band was called the Goo Goo Dolls and the song in question was of course their seminal hit “Iris.” I remember being struck by the acoustic guitars and the vocal. I needed to have this song in my life.

So off I went with my mum to my local HMV (a chain of record shops here in the UK with an iconic logo of a dog sitting next to a gramophone—His Master’s Voice—sadly HMVs cease to exist now). Without really knowing what I was doing I just said to the nearest shop assistant that I was looking for the Goo Goo Dolls. “Singles or albums?” “I have £16?—albums.”

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TVD UK

UK Video: The Jaguar Club, “Hard Cider”

NYC has always been known for its cutting edge music scene with some of indie’s most daring and avant-garde hailing from the Big Apple. The Jaguar Club write understated, gloom-gaze indie that’s Future Islands meets The Cure.

The video for their latest release, “Hard Cider” is a track taken from their EP “Close” which was released earlier this year. The video features claymation and various other forms of animation, all in black and white, interspersed by beautiful imagery of a sunlit forest.

The EP is out now but we can’t wait to hear some new tracks soon. As the Autumn season eases in, The Jaguar Club are fast becoming our new autumnal favourites.

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TVD New Orleans

TVD Recommends: Cuban legends Los Van Van at the House of
Blues tonight, 8/27

This gig tonight at the House of Blues may be flying under the radar amid all the Katrina 10-year anniversary hype, but for fans of Cuban dance music or international music of any genre, I highly recommend checking out this legendary group. They are on their first U.S. tour since the two countries have begun normalizing relations.

Arguably one the most important bands to form in Cuba since the Castro revolution, Los Van Van was formed in 1969 by bassist Juan Formell. Formell passed away last year at 71, but the group, which has gone through many personnel changes over the years, forged on. Fans says, “the train keeps a rollin’” referring both to the continuation of the group and their highly syncopated dance music.

Like many international acts formed in the late 1960s including many members of Brazil’s Tropicália generation, Los Van Van sought to reach the youth movement by tapping into the burgeoning sounds of rock music. This hybrid style is called timba and has grown to include other elements as well including funk and R&B.

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TVD UK

A Badge of Friendship,
The Podcast

It’s a very special Thursday indeed this week as those three kooks at A Badge Of Friendship have hit their 20th episode! Pay no attention to the URL and its lies—there was a double bill a few weeks back.

To celebrate not getting kicked off the air, the gang racked their brains, and the brains of this week’s guests, to create a “How To – Music Industry” special. So, if you want to know how to take your first steps in the music biz, this is as good a place as any to start.

Imparting wisdom on the listeners this week are James Brown from Pulled Apart By Horses, Gigwise editor and full-time legend Andrew Trendell, and Olive Grove Records’ founder Lloyd Meredith. Idlewild’s Rod Jones also sends in some tips and tricks about making the most of life in a band, as well as Torche’s Andrew Elstner.

Music heard live on the show cannot be heard on this podcast but check out the tracks featured on this week’s show below:

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
4 x Liquid Liquid

In 1980s New York City Liquid Liquid hung at the crossroads of Downtown and No Wave but are more retrospectively notable for unwittingly laying the musical bedrock for an early rap hit and helping to pave the way for both the paradigm of post-rock and the new millennium’s indie-dance agenda. Superior Viaduct’s reissues of the group’s three EPs are hot off the griddle, as is an LP devoted to relevant prior acts Liquid Idiot and Idiot Orchestra. Folks needing all four can acquire them in a special-priced bundle exclusively from the label. Those looking to dabble can buy separately and in stores.

Featuring drummer Scott Hartley, bassist Richard McGuire, vocalist Salvatore Principato, and marimba specialist Dennis Young, Liquid Liquid announced their presence in 1981 with two EPs issued on 99 Records, a home to significant if initially neglected indigenous happenings of the period; Glenn Branca, Bush Tetras, Y Pants, and ESG were all documented on the influential venture of Ed Bahlman.

But not so fast; before Liquid Liquid’s formation the members were part of two related bands, the older of the two being Liquid Idiot. They formed circa the late ‘70s down New Jersey way at Rutgers University and migrated to Gotham to play gigs. The flyers for these events would encourage the audience to bring their own instruments and join right in, and at one of these hootenannies Dennis Young showed up, playing marimba from the floor.

Liquid Idiot recorded a 7-inch in McGuire’s living room while still in New Brunswick; offering loose, thoroughly non-pro art-inclined DIY totaling 15 minutes, its nine tracks spring from a framework of guitar and rhythm as clarinet, saxophone, and a cheap organ intermittently enter the fray. Favoring abstraction and repetition over melodious concerns, Liquid Idiot’s beginner’s stabs at free jazz/Trout Mask-era Magic Band/general avant-gardism are likeable if far from mind-blowing. Occasionally, the thrust’s comparable to the Los Angles Free Music Society.

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 8/27/15

Virginia pressing plant to open after discovering vinyl press “motherload”: “Virginia-based Furnace Manufacturing have been packaging records for nearly 20 years, but now they are ready to expand to pressing vinyl after acquiring 10 pressing machines. It will surely be a great boost to the already stretched vinyl industry and the story of how the company tracked them down is surprising.”

New record store will always be a home to Teds, mods, punks, and rockers: “A record store, which will celebrate its grand opening this weekend, aims to create a fashion archive which will date back to the start of the Second World War. Modus, in Belper, stocks books, vinyl and posters specialising in soul, R’n’b, reggae and more.”

Vinyl Vortex! Record Swap At Volcom HQ Recap: “Sunday August 23rd Volcom Entertainment held the “Vinyl Vortex” in our very own Volcom HQ skatepark! Many vendors showed up with tons of vinyl to sell and trade.”

Record store increases security in wake of thefts: “A Providence record store is making some changes after thieves made off with more than $1,000 worth of merchandise. The owners of What Cheer? say their entire collections of Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin vinyl albums were taken on two separate occasions.”

Classical Music: Princeton Record Exchange still thriving after 35 years, “For 35 years, Princeton Record Exchange has been a lodestone for music lovers. Its business model of buying lots and selling low has made for a rapid turnover of inventory and a pulse-quickening sense of adventure for treasure hunters of all stripes.”

Pittsburgh record store owner charged in running criminal enterprise that stole $2M from local retailers: “Investigators also executed a search warrant at Slipped Disc, the Pittsburgh used record store that Cicero owns. There they found approximately 1,500 suspected stolen items with a retail value of more than $44,000.”

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Premiere: Oh, Be Clever, “River”

Oh, Be Clever’s latest electro epic is a majestic song about overcoming (sometimes potentially self-made) adversity—and we’re pleased to debut it today along with its free download.

“This song is about seeking validation in all the wrong places,” said Brittney Shields, the band’s singer and lyricist. She expounds on this theme over a booming production orchestrated in tandem with the duo’s other member, Cory Scott Layton. A long outspoken advocate for mental health awareness, Shields is refreshingly open and honest about feelings of depression and anxiety. “When we wrote this I was very insecure. I’d do almost anything to get someone to like me. It’s about the feeling you get when you come to terms your flaws and let go of the baggage holding you back.”

While it was from this place that Shields began composing the words of “River,” she did not want to limit its import with a narrative arc, or worse, with an explicit declaration of meaning. She noted that the song starts from a premise, “River is about accepting your flaws and living happily with them.” The band, however, invites the listener to exercise her own interpretive prerogative. “There are a million different ways a person could interpret this song, and that’s kind of the way we want to keep it. Leave it up to your own life experience and the way you relate to it.”

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
David Bowie,
Diamond Dogs

So I was walking down the street in London one time and who do I run into but David Bowie. Give the man his privacy, I think, but in the end I can’t resist saying, “Mr. Bowie, I just want to tell you I’m a huge fan.” To which he replies, “I am a God. You are a repugnant toad and smell funny.” Then waving his hands about in the air for me to disappear, he says, “Shoo, shoo.”

Okay, so that never happened. But if it had happened I’d still be one of the biggest Bowie fans in the world. I rate him the greatest artist of the seventies, during which he didn’t put out a single less-than-great LP except 1974’s David Live. Name me another great musician about whom that can be said. Dylan? Don’t make me laugh. Lou Reed? Hardy har-har. The only band that even comes close is Steely Dan, and they’re not really in the same league and besides, they blew it in my opinion with 1977’s Aja, which they produced to death. Sure, critics had their doubts about 1979’s Lodger, the last of Bowie’s Berlin trio with Brian Eno, but over the years the album has been given a second look and deemed underrated.

Another album that was seriously underrated upon its release was 1974’s Diamond Dogs. Conceived initially as a theatrical production about George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, Bowie’s ambitions foundered when the author’s estate said no way, Jose. The concept album that evolved out of that idea is as sketchy as most concept albums, and you need know nothing about Bowie’s ideas about a future dystopia to enjoy the hell out of “Rebel Rebel” or “Rock ‘n’ Roll with Me.”

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