The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve: Blackout, Blackout

The Brooklyn trio Blackout specializes in a particularly heavy form of metal. Additional adjectives applying to their self-titled 7-song long-playing debut: sludgy, dense, thick, doomy. Few will describe them as original, though that’s hardly the objective. Rather, the aim is the inspired exploration of an esteemed style, and to this end Blackout succeeds. It’s out now on RidingEasy Records.

Blackout’s new LP first came to my attention while checking messages on my laptop. In so doing, the thumbnail image of the cover glimpsed above was reduced to roughly the size of, well, a thumbnail, and my immediate reaction before reading any clarifying text was that the email in question was promoting a mid-‘70s-vintage reissue.

It’s likely I would’ve thought the same had I stumbled over the record as I perused the B bin at my local wax shack. For starters, it’s a flat fact that the utilization of band photographs as cover art is far less common than it used to be, and by extension Blackout’s B&W portraiture, and the abundant locks and facial hair it captures, are the focal point of an undeniably retro design motif.

It reinforces the differences in Blackout’s approach, though Sabbath-roots aside the group doesn’t sound like they escaped from the ‘70s. No, part of their distinctiveness comes down to an undisguised sense of humor, which certainly stands apart in a field known for a high ratio of solemnity. This comic facet is healthy but not obnoxious, for no yuk-meisters are they; once the amps are plugged in and the picks and sticks are in hand, Blackout is a decidedly serious proposition.

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 4/1/15

Ah, Record Store Day. “Universal call Record Store Day ‘the single best thing that has ever happened to the indie stores,’” whereas Drenge say Record Store Day has “turned into a swamp of bullshit.” And, “Vinyl Specialists Claim Record Store Day ‘Puts Too Much Strain’ on the Record Industry.” (What say you?)

The vinyl resurgence, Record stores are on the rise again in Chicago: “Whatever the reason for vinyl’s comeback, it doesn’t appear to be disappearing again anytime soon, especially in Chicago. Here are a few of our favorite record stores…”

Calgary to see launch of Beatnik Bus, city’s first mobile record store

Sheffield’s Rare & Racy: the independent music store Jarvis Cocker says it would be ‘a crime to destroy.’ “Despite a 20,000-strong petition, Sheffield City Council recently voted in favour of demolishing this much-loved shop. So what does that say for the future of the city’s so-called ‘independent quarter?'”

GWAR Announce Special Record Store Day Performance As RAWG: “Heavy metal band GWAR have announced a special performance for Record Store Day. Many will be converging on Mesa, Arizona on April 18th for National Record Store Day, and the festivities that accompany the big event.”

Memories of York’s first dedicated record shop, Sound Effect: “Once it was a landmark for York teenagers, now a bench in King’s Square reminds us of Sound Effect; York’s first dedicated record shop…”

“What came first, the music or the misery…” “It’s true, we deal in the business of selling manufactured black discs that are chock full of depression. For every great love song someone wants to rant about I can hit you back with a break-up song that’s a million times better. To be honest most record collectors should be in therapy but we’re most likely too depressed to bother…”

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TVD Chicago

TVD Live: Andrew Jackson Jihad, Chumped, Jeff Rosenstock, The Smith Street Band at the Metro, 3/27

PHOTOS: MICHAEL SOLOMON | Andrew Jackson Jihad came through Chicago’s Metro last Friday, March 27, and they brought a lineup stacked with passionate and lively punk acts. The Smith Street Band, Jeff Rosenstock, and Chumped each provided their own unique style, but there was a distinct common thread shared between all the bands that made for a fantastic overall show.

It had been a couple of years since I’d been to an authentic punk show. Growing up on Long Island, I spent much of my free time going to local punk/ska shows in church basements and neighborhood bars, and these shows taught me that the energy of a great punk show can be something special. When lyrics are shared rather than performed, and when there is a unifying spirit in the room which blurs the line between performer and audience. Friday’s show at the Metro brought back all of these feelings, and reminded me how extraordinary a punk show can be.

Chumped started things off and fit wonderfully as the opener. The female led 4-piece has a sound that lands somewhere between Alkaline Trio and The Get Up Kids, and their upbeat melodies had everyone bobbing their heads. Their catchy “Something About Lemons” contained a strong build-up and climax that landed particularly well with the audience.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD’s 9 weeks of vinyl giveaways, Week 7: Shakey Graves, And The War Came (Signed LP)

As we noted upon the launch of our first of 9 weeks of vinyl giveaways, it’s easy to forget that going on 8 years now when TVD was in its year one (as was Record Store Day) the vinyl medium wasn’t “back,” sales weren’t stellar, and indeed record stores were a fading lot. No, worse actually. Shops we’re closing at such a clip, their disappearance literally informed the launch of the site you’re reading at present.

And as we’ll repeat for 9 weeks—vinyl and record stores go hand in hand. Their shared intrinsic value is the cultural commodity and the bedrock of any local music scene. Don’t believe us though…hit up your locals and the marriage becomes crystal clear. 

But we too have been overwhelmed with the resounding popular and prevalent headlines as to vinyl’s big resurgence, yet they also arrive in tandem with far less rosy headlines such as “Starbucks to Open in Former Bleecker Street Records Space”—and worse, some very bad ideas when one advocates for record shops have, of late, become internet fodder. (Seriously, vinyl subscription clubs are the Carson Daly of record collecting.)

As such, picking up with an old TVD favorite, we’ve lined up 9 (count ‘em, 9) weeks of vinyl giveaways as we count down to Record Store Day 2015 to redouble our efforts to underscore the viability and the inherent need for your local brick and mortar record shops to remain the vibrant community touchstone that they intrinsically are. And while we kinda hate hanging out by the mailbox waiting for a record to show up (unless you’ve ordered it from a mom and pop or directly from a label!) we’re shipping out records for 9 weeks straight as sweet reminders that record stores are literally where it’s at.

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TVD New York City

TVD Live: Blackberry Smoke and The Temperance Movement at Webster Hall, 3/28

In the year 2015, it sometimes seems difficult to locate real and true rock and roll that’s new and isn’t just a regurgitation of rock and roll from the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s. This difficulty can be accounted for by any number of elements—auto tuning, the decreasing influence of record companies in the world of musical artistry, and MTV.

A while back Portlandia put forth a brilliant take on what had happened to MTV by placing a pre-teen girl in its leadership position as explanation of its ideological demise. The difficulty in question is just that however, a difficulty—not an impossibility. This past Saturday night at Webster Hall in New York City serves as exhibits A through infinity to attest to this latter fact.

Blackberry Smoke, having released four studio albums since its start in 2000, is most often described as a “southern rock” band, which it is—but this categorization seeks to minimize the band when it should be maximized and subsequently lauded. Blackberry Smoke is a straight-up rock and roll group. The band’s sound is derived from lead singer and guitarist’s Charlie Starr’s spot-on command of each song performed, along with support from fellow guitarist Paul Jackson, bassist Richard Turner, keyboard player Brandon Still, and drummer Brit Turner.

Holding All the Roses is the group’s latest release, and a number of tracks were showcased at the Webster Hall gig, including “Let Me Help You (Find the Door),” “Rock and Roll Again,” and “Living in the Song.” A terrifyingly gorgeous rendition of the group’s emotionally melodic work-of-art-track, “The Whippoorwill” would have stolen the show—if surprise guest Robert Randolph hadn’t stepped out to contribute to “Ain’t Got the Blues.”

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The TVD Storefront

The TVD First Date

“Ahh, sweet vinyl memories. I was very, very young, about four, when I started messing around with LPs. I remember the feel of the covers, spending hours just gazing in awe. Since I became a music nerd as a youngster, I can say besides remembering the feel and the smell of those first vinyl, even say I remember the TASTE of vinyl!”

“Both my parents were cool when it came to music. They were into buying records, going to concerts, and talking music. There was constantly music in our home including vinyl and cassettes with bands that were releasing great stuff around that time (this is late ’70s and early ’80s). Notably London Calling by The Clash, Time by ELO, and Dire Straits (Private Investigations) were some of my most vivid first memories. Hearing these albums still hits me hard and all kinds of flashbacks take me back through time. However, the pivotal albums for me around that time came to be Pink Floyd’s Animals and The Wall.

The Wall and Animals not a fit for a child? Emotionally murderous dramatic music and concepts about the deepest and most hard-hitting subjects, made a daycare nanny that was having me around this time very worried and nervous. I remember my parents and the nanny having discussions about whether I was being harmed by listening to ‘adult’ music.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve: Houndstooth,
No News from Home

Houndstooth’s membership hails from numerous points on the North American map, this geographical breadth mirroring musical range that helped to strengthen their 2013 debut. Formed in Portland, OR as a five piece in 2010, in the interim they’ve shed a member, but their follow-up record maintains the diversity of inspiration; indie elements blend with Americana, Classic-rock and psychedelic flourishes as Katie Bernstein’s lead vocals enhance the tunes’ worthiness. No News from Home is out this week on LP/CD/digital via No Quarter.

Houndstooth’s influences are broad but complementary, their music striving for cohesion from inside the melodic rock realm. The sound they make is refreshing and not a bit unusual; at times, in indie terms, Houndstooth can even be described as classicist. To begin, they rely heavily upon strength of material, with each of the band’s full-lengths springing from the songwriting fount of Bernstein and lead guitarist John Gnorski (both originally from Austin).

Graeme Gibson (who moved to Oregon from Canada) plays the drums and produces, and newest edition Cari Palazzolo (also from Austin) rounds out the lineup on bass. Since the group’s inception a pair of contributors have departed the scenario (and on good terms; Courtney Sheedy and Mike Yun, both Detroit to Portland transplants, are listed on Houndstooth’s website as “past pals”), but these changes in personnel haven’t discernibly effected the togetherness of their attack.

All the ingredients were in place for first LP Ride Out the Dark; its stronger moments include the Crazy Horse-tinged “Canary Island,” the crisp Americana of “Wheels on Fire,” the fibrous indie pop of “Strangers,” and the Bernstein showcase “New Illusion.” Additionally, “Francis” could’ve been an entry on a ‘90s Too Pure label sampler, sly Krautrock influence being one of Houndstooth’s aces in the hole, while “Don’t I Know You” tickles the ear like Mazzy Star circa She Hangs Brightly.

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 3/31/15

The popularity of vinyl records plays on in Winnipeg: Vinyl lovers flipped through records Sunday to find everything from rock to soul, jazz and more at Rockin’ Richard’s Record and CD sale.

“While focusing on the rise and demise of Tower Records, the fallen retail giant that once billed its flagship location as ‘The Largest Record-Tape Store in the Known World,’ actor-turned-documentarian Colin Hanks also offers glances at the bigger picture of 21st-century recording industry upheavals in ‘All Things Must Pass.’

Star Tribune music critic Jon Bream parts with his 25,000-piece record collection: “Known around the office as “Bream’s record vault,” the collection has been moved around the Star Tribune’s sprawling headquarters a few times but has been housed for the longest stretch in a dingy, dusty room in the furthest back corner of the building’s basement, where the steel tracks that once guided giant rolls of newspaper toward the printing press still zigzag across the floor.”

Record shop celebrates its 10th anniversary: “Sole proprietor Stuart Smith established Seismic Records in 2005 supplying vinyl and CDs to an expanding customer base in the UK and worldwide.”

“Practical solutions for record storage are few and far between. Vinyl lovers were up in arms when IKEA announced it was discontinuing its Expedit range last year, and though it replaced it with the almost identical Kallax, there’s still a lack of options if you don’t want to battle your local branch on a Saturday afternoon.”

“Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker is presenting 20 Golden Greats,’ an art exhibition at Red Bull Space Paris accompanied by an instrumental soundtrack. The exhibition is composed of vinyl records designed by Cocker, bearing the names of fictional songs credited to labels like RCA Victor and Belter.”

Elton John pays record store surprise visit: “What would you say if Elton John walked into your record store? Sunny Rosen, the mom in the mom-and-pop Wax Trax Records store at 2909 S. Decatur Blvd., put her hand to her mouth in amazement and said, ‘This is so much better than seeing you from the last row in Carnegie Hall in 1971.’”

Death Waltz Records to Open New Vinyl Soundtrack Store in the UK: “…known producing fresh vinyl copies of soundtracks old and new, has announced that they’re opening an actual brick ‘n mortar store in the UK that will be called Transmission Records.”

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TVD Asbury Park

Garden State Sound
with Evan Toth

All jokes aside, New Jersey is a pretty great place. While it has a lot to offer as a state, it also has a rich musical history of which many people remain unaware. Everyone knows Sinatra and The Boss, but there’s much more.

Tune in to Garden State Sound with Evan Toth to explore the diverse music with connections to New Jersey. You’ll 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.

“This week, we continue to prepare for the Cape May Singer Songwriter Conference, but also stretch out a little. There is a nice set between two Jersey boys: Tony Bennett and Bill Evans, and a wacky American standard. Much more, of course.

It’s another week of music in the Garden State! Tune in!” —EZT

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TVD Los Angeles

The Silent Comedy refinds Faults with
April in-store series

TVD LA recently chatted with The Silent Comedy’s Joshua Zimmerman to discuss the reissue of their debut album Common Faults, which is being pressed to vinyl for the very first time. 2015 also marks the 5th anniversary of the release, so to celebrate they’ve remixed the album and will be taking the vinyl on the road playing shows in select record stores throughout California.

The vinyl is available for pre-order now and the album will also be released digitally on April 14th.

You call Common Faults a transitional album that brought the band into their current sound. Can you elaborate on that? What was it in the writing and recording of this record that made you guys change the sonic direction of the band? Was the change intentional when going into this project or did it happen organically?

The process of transition in the band’s sound happened naturally over the course of making Common Faults. We started to experiment with how to capture a more energetic sound, and focused less on the acoustic songs that had made up our fledging recordings before that. Many of these songs developed from the live show, so these recording sessions were the first time we were analyzing parts, and realizing that the band would benefit for a more organized writing process. It took a while for these lessons to be fully assimilated, but you can see the product of lessons learned from making Common Faults in our new recordings.

Can you tell our readers the production process of this reissue and what you did to change the sound of the album?

One of the regrets we had about Common Faults was that we didn’t have sufficient time or resources to mix the album. We had so little money that my brother Jeremiah and I ended up mixing it ourselves in a very short amount of time. There are years of experience that a professional mixer brings to the process that we simply didn’t have.

For the reissue, we turned the raw tracks over to the extremely talented and accomplished Brian Malouf, who mixed our last couple of projects. Brian took the tracks and gave them a richness that hadn’t been present before. The original version of Common Faults was a little flat, and the remixed songs have a depth and clarity that brings them closer to our original vision.

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