The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
The Gun Club,
The Las Vegas Story

I had a gun once. And if you have a gun, you might as well hold up a liquor store. So I went to the liquor store, panty hose over my head, and pointed the gun at the clerk. Turned out he was an old high school friend who recognized me immediately, panty hose notwithstanding. I lowered the gun and said, “Well, shit,” and pulled the panty hose off my head. “Way to go, fucktooth,” he said, “you just performed a cameo for the security cameras. Just go. I’ll fuck them up somehow.” Then he said, “I can give you a bottle and a pack of cigarettes. Like tequila?” I said, “Man, this is ridiculous.” He said, “You’re disappearing ink. I never saw you. Take the tequila. It’s some expensive shit. And I recommend heartily that you find another way of getting paid, because you’re too nice a guy for this business.” By this time there was a customer standing behind me. I didn’t even know he was there. I turned to him and said, “I’m sorry for the hold-up, no pun intended,” and bolted. And heard him say behind me, “It takes all kinds of idiots to make a world.”

None of that is true, but it reminds me of The Gun Club, whose 1981 debut LP blew my mind. “Sex Beat,” “She’s Like Heroin to Me, and “For the Love of Ivy” opened up new possibilities in post-punk; for one The Gun Club was heavy on the blues, and the songs were dark, dark as Robert Johnson dark. No 57-second tantrums directed at that bitch Ronald Reagan for The Gun Club; they played a deviant hybrid of punk, rockabilly, country, and blues, and lyrically were mining an ancient vein of a haunted America, where spirits and ghosts wandered the highways and lightless trains rode the trestles at night, along with one Jack on fire. I listened to that album for six months straight, then I discovered the Minutemen and the Meat Puppets, and The Gun Club just sorta slipped off my radar.

It was my loss, because front man Jeffrey Lee Pierce came on like a man possessed by some curse spirit from South of the Border, like he had voodoo in his blood and sex in his guitar, and it surprised virtually no one when he died at age 37 as a result of alcohol and drug abuse. He founded The Gun Club in the happening Hollywood scene in 1979, with a line-up that included Brian Tristan (aka Kid Congo Powers) on lead guitar, Don Snowden on bass, and Brad Dunning on guitar. Originally called The Creeping Ritual, they changed their name to The Gun Club at the suggestion of Circle Jerk Keith Morris. But the band had a high turnover quotient, and everyone but Pierce was history before The Gun Club recorded its debut, including Powers, who skedaddled to the Cramps and was replaced by Ward Dotson. As for Snowden and Dunning, they were replaced by two former members of the Bags, Rob Ritter and Terry Graham, respectively.

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 3/6/15

“Third Man Records’ Rolling Record Store is gassing it from Nashville to Shreveport with an inventory of hot tunes on vinyl and merchandise for sale. Day Old Blues Records will host the traveling record store from 3 to 7 p.m. March 16 at its store at 437 Kings Highway in Shreveport.

“Jack White Was the Mystery High Bidder on Elvis Presley’s First-Ever Record: When the first vinyl record Elvis Presley ever cut (featuring covers of the 1930s ballads “My Happiness” and “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin”) hit the auction block, the 1953 wax was expected to net about a $100,000. In January 2015 it was announced that an unknown Internet bidder won the single with a staggering $300,000 bid. Turns out, that was White.”

Retro records will be plentiful at Kelso/Longview Record Show: …On Saturday, hundreds of record collectors will gather for the third annual Kelso/Longview Record Show. Corey Strite, one of the show’s organizers, expects 20,000 records to fill up boxes at the Kelso Eagles lodge. Some of those newfangled CDs will be available, too, but the event will focus on vinyl and other retro formats like 8-track cassettes.”

“Tegan and Sara Live at Zia Records: We love Record Store Day and have put together a really cool piece of vinyl for it this year! Over the years we have done a bunch of in stores at Zia Record Exchange, and in September of 2013, we recorded our live performance at the Thunderbird location, in Phoenix, AZ. We have been holding onto it for something special, and this is it!”

“The Vinyl Resurgence, What It Means For Audiophiles: If you are the kind of person who thinks of listening to music as an experience rather than an activity, you might be one of those people buying records.”

“The Coronas to play Record Store Day launch party: The Irish rockers will headline the official launch of the annual event, where XFM’s John Kennedy will announce the official release list for Record Store Day 2015.”

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The TVD Storefront

The Actions,
The TVD First Date

“My father has an infinite collection of classical music on vinyl records, so I’d say that vinyl has always been very familiar.”

“I’ve always preferred listening to vinyl records instead of CDs when possible because of that magic, warm and dirty sound. In our music career we had the chance to release some of our music on vinyl and the first time I received my copies from record label I thought, “Man, this is serious stuff!”

Now that even Mp3 seems to be dying in slow agony, vinyl is still there in order to demonstrate that if you truly love music you must listen to it on a proper record, that’s what I think. And that’s why I just bought myself a new Numark TT. First record I put on? Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland.“—Mo

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TVD New Orleans

Jazz in the Park releases seventh season lineup

The series of concerts in Armstrong Park begins on April 16, 2015 with a flash from the past. The iconic 1990s New Orleans reggae band, the Revealers, will be the first band to appear on the stage under the awning of the still-shuttered Municipal Auditorium.

It’s hard to believe the degree to which the park has recovered from damage that occurred almost ten years ago. Yet the auditorium is still in shambles. Credit the People United for Armstrong Park for preserving despite the wreck in its midst.

And preserve they have while raising the profile of the concert series with numerous bands pushing the envelope of the term “jazz.”

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UK Artist of the Week: Stark

Stark are a powerful three-piece from Brighton who have spent the last three years honing their musicianship and releasing their own music. They are bringing alternative blues/rock into the 21st century with a sound so explosive you may just fall off your chair.

Their latest single “Tunnel Vision” is about modern life and how, sometimes, the freedom that we take for granted can be an illusion. The simple yet effective video for “Tunnel Vision” is filmed in the studio where they recorded the track, giving us a chance to see the trio mastering their instrumentation while having a bit of a laugh at the same time. Some lovely visual shots thrown in there as well.

Although Stark are heavily influenced by early blues artists such as Robert Johnson and Blind Lemon Jefferson, they also admire the energy of bands like Rage Against The Machine and the progressive sound of Tool and Porcupine Tree. This eclectic mix is what makes their sound so distinctive.

Tunnel Vision will be out on March 2nd 2015 via Rusty Shed Records.

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Shell Zenner Presents

Greater Manchester’s most in the know radio host Shell Zenner broadcasts the best new music every week on the UK’s Amazing Radio and Bolton FM. You can also catch Shell’s broadcast here at TVD every Thursday.

“My ROTW is from a Leeds based band that I’ve been in love with for quite some time, Menace Beach! It’s called Ratworld and I haven’t been able to get my hands on the vinyl yet as it sold out?! The new pressing is said to be green on Nestor’s say so, so I’m looking forward to getting my hands on it, but in the meantime, three tracks on tonight’s show to rock your socks off!

This weeks #Shellshock is from a band releasing on the cool ass Beyond Beyond Is Beyond record label. They’re called Worthless and they’re from South Florida and describe their sound as a melancholy doomsday trip…perfect for winding down to bedtime then?! EEK.”

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
David Sylvian,
Brilliant Trees

When UK new wavers Japan broke up in 1982, the members predictably splintered off into various directions, and the highest profiles belonged to Mick Karn and David Sylvian. Over the decades the latter has amassed a solo and collaborative discography of unlikely reach and impressiveness; however, giving a fresh listen to ‘84’s Brilliant Trees makes abundantly clear Sylvian’s career trajectory isn’t as surprising as it might initially seem.

Upon consideration, very few musicians who made their name in the pop sphere have aged as well as David Sylvian. Of course, this is mainly due to his choice after Japan’s dissolution (they briefly reunited for one self-titled ’91 album under the name Rain Tree Crow) to gradually leave the milieu that fostered his initial reputation. The subsequent journey led him into the outlying territories of experimentation and the avant-garde, though this shouldn’t give the false impression that Sylvian’s post-Japan oeuvre is devoid of pop elements.

As a youngster of the ‘80s, I knew little of Japan, my discovery of Sylvian supplied by his ’87 collaboration with Ryuichi Sakamoto, Secrets of the Beehive. The introduction was made through the frequent play and promotion of said disc by my hometown Mom & Pop record mart, an enterprise also involved in the sale of high end stereo equipment.

To my teen mind any system comprised of separate components was high end, and at the time Secrets of the Beehive basically eluded me, as did much “deep-listening” material attached to ambient, new age, minimalism, art-pop etc. Reengaging with Sylvian as a mature adult provided, if not an epiphany than another instance aiding the realization that artistic assessments work in tandem with personal growth, therefore flouting finality.

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 3/5/15

“Why Audiophiles are paying $1,000 for this man’s vinyl: …Although there are currently 117 testimonials posted on the Better Records website, the success of this bold enterprise hinges on 20 to 30 “preferred customers” who spend as much as $100,000 a year on hot stampers.

“Nobody expected Miley Cyrus or Justin Bieber to record their music on vinyl. That move, though, is part of a whopping revival for vinyl. Sales, according to the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA), more than doubled last financial year – up 127 per cent.”

26 of your favorite movie soundtracks to be reissued on vinyl: Including music from E.T., Jaws, Clueless, The Godfather, and many other classic films

“Aberdeen shop to host Record Store Day: …something the city hasn’t seen in nearly three years

“Audiophiles gathering for Alabama Record Collectors Association show this weekend: Vinyl lovers from around the state will descend on Bessemer this weekend for the Alabama Record Collectors Association’s 34th annual record and CD show.”

“Acoustic Sounds, a Salina company that produces a million vinyl records a year, has purchased rare 13 record presses held in storage in a Chicago warehouse for 20 years. The vinyl records business is hot, and Acoustic Sounds’ record pressing unit, Quality Record Pressings, just went to a third shift and is still looking at a backlog of three to four months.”

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TVD Washington, DC

TVD Live Shots: Echosmith and The Colourist at the 9:30 Club, 2/26

Performing for a sold out and particularly young audience, Echosmith, the four sibling indie pop act from Los Angeles, stopped by DC’s 9:30 Club last Thursday night on a tour marking some of their biggest headlining shows to date. 

Signed to Warner Brothers Records back in 2012, Echosmith released their debut album, Talking Dreams in October of 2013. They received notoriety for their hit song, “Cool Kids” which rose to #13 on the Billboard Hot 100. In 2104 their song “Surround You” was featured in the film Endless Love and the band was named MTV’s Artist to Watch for 2104. They toured the entire length of the Vans Warped Tour in 2014 as well.

On the road with The Colourist through March, Echosmith will have stops in most major cities in the northern US before they tour Europe from April until June, and judging by the audience response on Thursday evening, these kids—Graham, Sydney, Noah, and Jamie Sierota—are indeed alright.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
The Pretenders,
Learning to Crawl

“To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness,” quipped Oscar Wilde, and if the same can be said of rock bands, the Pretenders are careless indeed. The English-American rock band that was founded in 1978 in Hereford, England brought us such classics as “Brass in Pocket” and “Talk of the Town” before losing two original members, bassist Pete Farndon, whom Hynde fired for drug abuse in June 1982 (and who died from drug-related causes in 1983), and lead guitarist James Honeyman Scott, who died two days after Farndon’ firing, also due to drug-related causes.

The original line-up had recorded two celebrated LPs and one excellent EP, and anybody but tough-as-nails vocalist/rhythm guitarist and guiding force Chrissie Hynde might have taken the deaths of two integral band members as bad juju, and put the Pretenders (who took their name from the Platter’s “The Great Pretender”) to bed before somebody else kicked the bucket.

Instead Hynde, the band’ chief songwriter, regrouped. She kept on Martin Chambers as drummer, and recruited Robbie McIntosh on guitar and Malcolm Foster on bass to play on LP #3, but only after recording several tracks (“Back on the Cain Gang” an “My City Was Gone”) with guitarist Billy Bremner and bassists Tony Butler, while bassist and Paul Carrack of Squeeze played on “Thin Line Between Love and Hate.” And as it turned out the two-year hiatus proved only that Hynde had been right to keep the Pretenders alive, because the resulting album, 1984’s Learning to Crawl, is a tour de force; perhaps not as sensational as the band’ debut, but a Wunderkind nonetheless.

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