The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve: Abelardo Barroso,
Cha Cha Cha

The name Abelardo Barroso sits at the very beginning of the Cuban record industry. 78 rpm discs captured him, and a sheer talent for performance insured his fame. By the mid-‘50s Barroso’s renown had withered, but through a convergence of circumstances he returned to the limelight. Cha Cha Cha is World Circuit’s terrific compilation spotlighting the vocalist’s fruitful involvement with Orquesta Sensación, the noteworthy band directed by Rolando Valdés.

The songs Sexteto Habanero cut in 1925 under the auspices of RCA Victor are considered square one for recorded Cuban music. Abelardo Barroso’s singing on those tracks made him a star, or more accurately, helped to make him one; along with the RCA sides a spate of 16 numbers Barroso sang in New York for Brunswick as a member of Sexteto Bolona establish his ability for the ages.

Born in 1905, Barroso was of a time where the stage was still the thing. In fact, his ‘30s prestige at the forefront of the danzonette period, its large-bands replacing the fervor for the guitar-based son ensembles a la Sexteto Habanero and Bolona, is barely preserved on record; only a solitary ’39 78 by the Orchestra Maravilla del Siglo.

This is mainly due to the Depression; enter hard times and exit RCA, Columbia, and Brunswick. By the ’50s though, Cuban records were being waxed through independent homegrown companies like Panart and Jesús Gorís’ Puchito, the latter an aspect of what Cha Cha Cha’s substantial liners describe as “a perfect storm.” The other factors were Rolando Valdés’ tip-top band Orquesta Sensación, the group’s arranger/flutist Juan Pablo Miranda, and of course Abelardo Barroso.

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TVD Nashville

Glyn Johns:
The TVD Interview

Glyn Johns’ career as an engineer and producer has been so successful that it almost seems like a Hollywood script. To tick off his list of collaborators is to name many of the most influential artists of the rock era: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, The Who, The Small Faces/Faces, The Kinks, Eric Clapton, Neil Young, Paul McCartney, The Eagles and legions more.

While there is an element of right place, right time in his story, his simple yet extraordinary gift of capturing the authentic, organic sound of musicians playing together in a studio is remarkable. When “Good Times Bad Times,” “Satisfaction” or “You Really Got Me” explodes out of your speakers, it’s because Glyn Johns had the good sense and skill to get it down on tape correctly.

While on a book tour to promote his new memoir, Sound Man, we had the opportunity to speak with Glyn in Nashville recently to discuss just a fraction of his work. Smartly dressed and full of energy, he sat down at the interview table, ready to get on with it.

We spent decades as a culture working on better and better music reproduction fidelity, only to throw it all away for the convenience of having 5,000 songs in our pocket. What has the shift to MP3 done for the listening experience?

Oh, it’s dreadful! Not only is the sound bad, nobody listens to complete albums anymore. They just pick and choose tracks. Attention spans are minimal. The worst thing about digital recording is that bands don’t record all in the same room anymore. Songs are built track by track. When the guitarist, for example, is putting down his performance, he is reacting to the tracks already recorded. The problem is, the musicians already recorded can’t react to him! When everyone is playing together, there is a back and forth, a give and take that happens almost subconsciously. My fear is that this method of recording is becoming a lost art.

Of course, some artists are very successful recording this way (digitally), obviously. I don’t necessarily like their music, but our parents didn’t like our music, either.

Do you still listen to records?

Yes! There is nothing like that experience. Back when I first started buying records, there was the excitement of rushing home to listen to it, or going over to a mate’s house who had a better system and listening to it there. Much of what I listen to these days is digital, as it is sent to me in file form, demos and whatnot. But I try to listen to these files in the best way possible.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve: Jackson Browne,
The Pretender

Jackson Browne is the thinking man’s Eagles. Or perhaps he’s merely the pretentious man’s Eagles. Because while the Eagles were singing about the Hotel California, Browne was playing existential philosopher, and questioning whether we’re not all pretenders playing roles, and thereby slowly laying waste to our souls. But Browne is less the philosopher than he thinks he is, and is deep solely by LA standards, which is to say he’s rock’s equivalent of the Los Angeles River, and has spent his career as a singer-songwriter plumbing life’s epistemological shallows.

Browne’s fate will always be intertwined with that of the Eagles; he wrote one song and co-wrote another (“Take It Easy”) on the Eagles debut, and they were all urban cowboys in denim at a time when LA was basically a dude ranch for cocaine-fueled country-rockers, most of whom spent inordinate amounts of time sipping tequila sunrises in David Geffen’s hot tub. But Browne never wrote a song as good as the Eagles’ “Life in the Fast Lane,” probably because debauchery was never his area of expertise. His muse was Henry David Thoreau, whose line about most men leading lives of quiet desperation became Browne’s abiding theme. Browne was intrigued by the quotidian banal and the spirit-squandering fate of the Everyman, and nowhere did he explore these themes as extensively as he did on 1976’s The Pretender.

Browne began his music career as a member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and then went on to write songs for everyone from Nico—with whom he was romantically linked—to Gregg Allman, Linda Ronstadt, Joan Baez, and The Byrds before finally striking out on his own with his 1972 debut, Jackson Browne. The Pretender was Browne’s fourth LP and was released after Browne’s first wife committed suicide, which no doubt helps account for the album’s somber tone. And it featured the contributions of dozens of musicians, some of them horrible people (David Crosby, Don Henley, Graham Nash) and many of them studio pros. His regular band (David Lindley, etc.) was also on hand, as were the likes of Lowell George, Bonnie Raitt, and Roy Bittan.

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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.

Nutronic – Steps Descend
Wasted Wine – The Post Office
Little Arrow – Medicine Moon
Del Sur – Melted Down
M!NT – Out The Vault (Reprise) Feat. PWEST
Night Panther – Desire
THE BLACK RYDER – Santaria
Nina Simone – Black Is The Color (Of My True Love’s Hair) (ISTILLFEELIT Remix)
Wet Paint – Gold Lights
Colleen Green – Pay Attention

TVD SINGLE OF THE WEEK:
Nicole Atkins – Red Ropes (Live)

Gwyneth Moreland – Pine Box Sailor
Ayler Young – Caught Up
Purple Crush, Raja & Josh Peace – Shock and Awe (Tittsworth Remix)
LORDE – Yellow Flicker Beat (Antennae Rework)
Sporting Life – Tsunami
Willy Joy & Buku – Punani
Daktyl – Stay (feat. Dive Deep)
Dan London – Bob Fosse Dreams of Napoleon in Leather
Nite Fields – You I Never Knew
Gene Clark – I Saw A Dream Come True

8 more FREE TRACKS on side B!

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TVD Los Angeles

TVD’s The Idelic Hour with Jon Sidel

Greetings from Laurel Canyon!

It’s been a long year and finally a cool, Fall breeze has reached our warm canyon—our little sliver of the polar vortex. Thanksgiving week is upon us. This week’s Hollywood farmer’s market will likely feel like a nightclub. Funny, I bet I’ll run into some former ’80s clubbers on the prowl for yams.

Back when I was in a band I tried to write a song about “cooking.” Years down the road, it’s no surprise that the general public finds cooking food sexy. The sounds of a sharp knives and classic rock in a kitchen, the smell of fresh organic veggies and herbs…bliss…

Personally, I prefer cooking breakfast. Has anyone seen the Jon Favreau film Chef? There’s a scene where Favreau cooks for his son. It’s breakfast to perfection and it’s so well filmed. Man, I totally related to cooking a perfect breakfast.

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TVD Washington, DC

TVD Recommends: Fellow Creatures, Baby Bry Bry, and Gully Waters at DC9, 11/22

With the demise of local band Ugly Purple Sweater, former members Will McKindley-Ward and Sam McCormally knew they wanted to start a new project together. They knew that they wanted the new band to feel like a departure from their previous work, and shortly after the final UPS show, they got to work on a new batch of songs.

Tomorrow, November 22, their experimental work in their new band, the self-described “swampy indie rock band” Fellow Creatures, will be showcased at DC9, along with supporting bands Baby Bry Bry and Gully Waters.

I had the chance to ask Sam McCormally a couple questions about the new band, the show, and Fellow Creatures’ first single, “Allies.”

How is the music you’re making with Fellow Creatures unique?

I bought a toy piano that a young mom was selling on Craigslist and stuck a pickup on it. You can hear the toy piano solo in the middle of “Shuka Shuka,” a demo that we released on Bandcamp last month. Will took pieces of Duke Ellington songs, sped them up so that they were unrecognizable, and then learned to play them on guitar.

We spent a lot of time doing vocal exercises. For a couple of months, we decided to make music that sounded like a re-imagined soundtrack to Where the Wild Things Are—but if it were set in a futuristic swamp—and while I don’t think that is actually what we sound like, it was a useful conceit for a while.

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The TVD Storefront

Needle Drop: Milo Greene, “Lie To Me”

Milo Greene’s forthcoming album Control promises to be a distinct tonal shift from the more folk-pop oriented sound of the their first album, to a more upbeat ’80s electro pop vibe.

The band’s music has always been rooted in a sort of wistful nostalgia with a bit of longing and melancholy stirred in. The only thing that has really changed is the time period the sound evokes.

It takes quite a bit of courage for any band, especially a somewhat newer band, to make such a change, but it is refreshing to see a willingness to follow their instincts and move into new exciting directions. If the latest single “Lie To Me” is any indication, fans have a lot to look forward to.

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TVD New Orleans

Five questions with Yegor Romantsov of Debauche

Ever since I first saw Debauche at the Mid City Bayou Boogaloo I have been amazed at the band’s ability to move a crowd and to generate a feeling of joyous abandon among the audience.

Initially, I thought it was an act, ha-ha a Russian mafia band, that’s a good one! But then I found out their leader, Yegor Romantsov is actually from Russia. Hoping to get some answers and more details about Debauche and their music, we sent over some questions.

You’ve been creating quite a sensation in New Orleans with your band Debauche ever since you started playing locally. What brought you to New Orleans and tell us a little bit about your background?

I was born in the Soviet Union, in what is now known as Ukraine. I lived for eight years in New York and came to NOLA in 2006. I worked in construction for a few years. In 2008, I started to play solo in a coffee shop. A few months later, I got a few musicians to play with me. They were mostly former members of the Zydepunks. Music and people brought me to NOLA. I like the city very much and Debauche would have never happened anywhere else but New Orleans. It works both ways, and it is a sensation that is only made possible by the people in New Orleans.

You lead what is quite possibly the only Russian mafia band in the United States. Are there similar bands in Russia or other countries in the former Soviet Union?

There are not that many bands that do what we do in the United States or even in the former Soviet Union countries. Russians freak out when they hear Debauche, because of the way we arrange and play these songs. We get compared with Gogol Bordello a lot, which I take as a compliment. And yes, we are the only Russian mafia band in the United States.

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TVD UK

Needle Drop: Miss Kenichi, “The Ghost”

Miss Kenichi is Katrin Hahner from Berlin. She’s about to release her third album, The Trail on Sinnbus—eleven tracks that explore nature, emotion, and delve deep into Katrin’s introspective side.

“The Ghost,” unlike her last single, “Who Are You” is a little more direct. Katrin stares directly into the camera, she commands your attention, and it’s another side to the artist that we haven’t yet seen. The music has more purpose here and as the melody drives on, we see a man running through a field. Katrin is obscured, we’re not sure if he sees her or not…is she “the ghost?”

It’s uncertain what message Katrin is sending, but that’s the charm—it’s almost better that we don’t know, and we just take this beautiful journey with her.

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TVD Washington, DC

TVD Recommends: Girls Rock! DC Benefit with Drop Electric, Cigarette, and Young Rapids at the Black Cat, 11/22

DC has a long history of collaboration between bands and community partners, enriching the city in the process. The Godfather of Go Go, Chuck Brown once said, “People are looking for a way to take action, to do something other than donate on the Turnpike on their way to work, which seems impersonal.”

Look no further than this Saturday night to take action! Three local bands, Drop Electric, Cigarette, and Young Rapids take on the Black Cat mainstage to raise money for Girls Rock! DC—an organization that exists to inspire and cultivate through music.

Girls Rock! DC aims to create a supportive, inclusive, and creative space for girls to develop their self-confidence, build community, stand up, and rock out! It was founded in October 2007 by an all-volunteer collective of DC metro area musicians, teachers, artists, and community organizers—based on the Girls Rock! mission across the nation.

Headliners, Drop Electric, have a history of being philanthropic in their personal lives. Ramtin Arablouei of Drop Electric tells TVD, “Over the last few years we’ve gotten to know a few people who have worked with Girls Rock! DC and totally believe in their mission. We really think there should be a space for young women to learn, write, and play music together. This must continue to be encouraged. Given the history of people discouraging young women from playing instruments we want to see the trend reversed. If we can even do something small to help we are eager to do it!”

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  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


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