UK Artist of the Week: Denim Snakes

There isn’t enough balls out rock out there anymore. Sure, there are the old classics like AC/DC, whoever’s calling themselves Guns ‘n’ Roses these days, and a lot of coiffed teens talking about their feelings in high-pitched whines, but the days of the unapologetic, fist pumping rock ballad a-la Mötley Crüe are long gone. (And it’s probably for the best, if we’re honest. There is such a thing as TOO much cocaine.)

Denim Snakes, a four piece from Wales, snuck up on us with their forthcoming single “Stronger,” as it starts off as a standard heartbreak song, but then that chorus—wow. The overdrive kicks in, the drums get huge, and then suddenly there’s a metal-harmony of man-hurt pouring out the speakers that will have you pumping your fist in the air to grab for the stars, only to pull them back to Earth. Save the haircuts, these guys are classic hair metal all over.

Their rock credentials even more evident in “Many A Truth Sung In Jest,” the free track they’re giving away to promote the new single, with choppy no-frills power chords, classic guitar wailing, and a driving chorus and lead vocal that would see Vince Neil rocking out in approval.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Low Down (OST)

Accounts of struggling, self-injurious musicians are peppered throughout the history of jazz, and pianist Joe Albany’s story is all too familiar. It’s a narrative of great artistic promise compromised by a long bout with heroin addiction, and last year his daughter Amy-Jo’s memoir Low Down: Junk, Jazz, and Other Fairy Tales from Childhood was adapted into a movie. Naturally, it has a soundtrack; composed of entries from jazz heavyweights, original music by Ohad Talmor, and numerous examples essaying Albany’s considerable talent, Low Down is available on LP/CD August 7 via Light in the Attic.

In terms of the 24 frames-per-second treatment, jazz is a rare subject better suited to straight documentary than creative adaptation. A large reason resides in the essence of performance, but other issues relate to such factors as idolization, misapprehension, specious didacticism, and superficiality; to varying extents all jazz movies (all movies period) reflect the point of view of their makers, but historical fiction and biopics too often shoulder baggage altering, weakening, distorting, or perhaps worse of all, reducing jazz’s voluminous nature to an easily digestible proposition.

I’ve yet to watch Low Down, the recent Jeff Preiss-directed biopic of Joe Albany as filtered through the remembrances of his daughter, and so these 15 selections serve as an advertisement for the film. I’m happy to report success in this function, the set offering a solid introduction to Albany and his milieu while placing a sampling of the man’s work back in the new release racks after a lengthy absence.

Joe Albany’s career began in earnest upon joining the orchestra of composer-arranger and multi-instrumentalist Benny Carter. As told to Carole Langer in her highly useful 1980 documentary portrait Joe Albany… a Jazz Life, he also worked with Big Joe Turner and Georgie Auld, though his legendary status largely derives from his relationship with saxophonist Charlie Parker.

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 8/4/15

David Byrne: Record companies siphoning money from streaming websites instead of paying royalties: “A report into ‘Transparency and Money Flows in the Music Industry’, published last month by the Berklee Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship, supports Byrne’s contention.

Twin Peaks and Fire Walk With Me soundtrack reissues are almost ready: ““We’re happy to say Twin Peaks & Fire Walk With Me lacquers were cut last week and are currently winging their way to the plant to be turned into test pressings,” reads the update, adding that the audio was transferred from the original tapes and then mastered for vinyl.

Cassette Revolution: Why 1980s Tape Tech Is Still Making Noise in Our Digital World: “…it’s baffling that millennial music lovers are embracing the cassette tape, as new indie cassette labels are popping up all over the country.”

86-Year Old Forced To Part With Lifelong Collection Of Vinyl Records: “If you were saddened by last week’s news of a son selling off his father’s estate of over 250,000 records, this story about octogenarian Ian Murray is bound to tug at your heartstrings.”

Antique Phonograph Show and Banquet returns to Buena Park, CA: “The Antique Phonograph Society is hosting its annual show and banquet August 8 and 9 in Buena Park. All types of antique phonographs, gramophones, 78 rpm and cylinder shaped records, plus antique music boxes, radios and microphones will be offered at 70+ vendor tables.”

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TVD Washington, DC

TVD Live: Brandon Flowers at Echostage, 7/29

PHOTOS: TOREY MUNDKOWSKY | On Wednesday night, one of the more high-energy rock concerts currently touring came through DC. Brandon Flowers belted out a fun, hour and a half set at Echostage that had the crowd buzzing well after the show ended.

Brandon Flowers achieved notoriety as the lead singer and keyboardist for the Las Vegas rock band The Killers, whose success began with their debut album which reached triple platinum status and has continued in the decade since. The band made it clear that Flowers’s first solo album, Flamingo in 2010, was a project in addition to The Killers, not a departure.

While Flamingo was a successful release, Flowers really found his footing as a solo artist with his second album released earlier this year, The Desired Effect. The credits feature Bruce Hornsby, Tony Levin, and other notable musicians who add a dimension that was lacking from the first album. Over half of the songs on the LP are potential singles, and he showcased many of them during his set.

Flowers displayed his Vegas roots as he hopped on stage and donned a shimmering gold suit jacket, bowed to his audience, and ripped into the first track from The Desired Effect, “Dreams Come True.” Flowers’ accompaniment, which included two backup singers, a small brass section, along with the standard guitar-bass-keyboard-drum set up, was shrouded in smoke and shadows, allowing Brandon’s high energy showmanship to run the night.

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TVD San Francisco

TVD Live Shots:
John Mellencamp at the Paramount Theatre, 7/25

John Mellencamp Shot by Jason Miller

I think that John Mellencamp might be the coolest guy on the planet. He’s the personification of the most interesting man in the world. He’s got the stories, the songs, the women, the style, and an entourage of brilliant musicians and producers to back it all up. He’s the very definition of Americana and often cited as the only roots rocker who matters to his generation and pretty much my lifetime.

Touring in support of his latest record Plain Spoken, Mellencamp treated a sold out Paramount Theater to a stellar performance of both his classic and new songs. I loved the fact that Mellencamp only peppered in the “hits” during the first half of the set so that he could focus on the newer material right out of the gate.

John Mellencamp Shot by Jason Miller-6

Opening up with “Lawless Times” and then straight into “Troubled Man,” both cuts from the brilliant new record, was the perfect way to set the stage and the mood for the evening. Here’s a guy who continues to evolve as a songwriter while not forgetting to celebrate his past. Later on in the set would be another track from the album, my absolute favorite, “The Isolation of Mister.” If you don’t have this record yet, it’s the best thing he’s done in the past ten years in my opinion. I would have been OK with him simply playing the new record in its entirety.

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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.

“No, you weren’t thinking about listening to a barber shop quartet today, but here you are getting ready to push “play!” You’ll be glad you did, too. Group harmony—and barber shop quartets—aren’t always music that people search out, but once they get hooked and entranced in their tight, mystical, alluring and meditative sound, it’s an almost religious experience. It’s performing music the way that music was first performed, by utilizing the one musical instrument that we are all born with: the human voice. Talk about analog!

A cappella music isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when folks think about music from New Jersey, but that’s the point. You never know what you’ll be listening to when you listen to music from the Garden State. So, join us and listen to the vocal group that shares the namesake of this very show: Garden State Sound on ‘Garden State Sound.'” —EZT

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The TVD Storefront

KaiL Baxley,
The TVD First Date

“Vinyl to me is like caviar, the Taj Mahal of the musical experience. A fully formed love affair, beautiful and elegant. It’s the full sensory experience.”

“I suppose my first memories of vinyl records are from visiting my aunt and uncle when I was very young. They had an old wooden milk crate full of the classics. I was in love with Diana Ross’s voice from the second I heard it at 3 or 4 years old and all those old Motown tunes were the soundtrack of my early childhood.

The thing that sticks out the most to me from that period was the covers of the albums in relation to the music. You got this huge picture of a person and that was who was coming out of the speakers. It really leaves a lasting impression on a young mind when it’s presented like that. I remember rocking a bandana everywhere I went when I was a little guy just because Willie Nelson had one on in his album cover and Willie was my main man when I was a toddler.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
The Black Angels, Passover

Vietnam: a war fought against ghosts, amidst the phantom voices in the mist rising above the rice paddies, involving ambushes sudden and lethal followed by air strikes that lit up the jungle like a carnival ground gone mad. No rhyme, reason, or rationale, a conflict fought by children who neither knew nor cared about the hows and whys, an endless scrimmage against wizards and demons waged by means of counter-magic and amulets, a string of human ears worn around the neck.

It was a war carried to an invisible enemy in hot LZs and during night patrols, a war of slow attrition that finally broke America’s young men down, and led them to unleash their impotent rage against innocent women and children, leaving mutilated bodies piled and bloated in a ditch in a village called My Lai. It was the first war with its own drugs and soundtrack, and one day it just vanished, poof, like a magic trick where the man sawed in half really gets sawed in half, but somehow manages to make it home, with his bright burden of unspeakable memories, shadowed by his own cast of unshakable ghosts, bathed in the night sweats brought on by secrets never to be divulged.

I don’t know if I’d go so far as to call the Black Angels’ Passover a Vietnam War concept album, but it sure sounds like one to me. Listening to it, I can almost see the phantom shadows of Charlie hiding in the high grass, hear the mortar rounds, see the Huey gunships swooping in low over the rice paddies, 2.75 inch rockets obliterating everything—water buffalo, ancient farmers in pajama pants with wispy beards and primitive hoes—in sight. It’s a dark LP, phantasmagoric and psychedelic and dirge-like, and it evokes the feel of paranoia and dread—the prevailing emotional realities of Vietnam—as well as anything I’ve ever heard. It’s also beautiful, as beautiful as the deadly jungles the grunts patrolled so long ago, and it’s that beauty that keeps me coming back to Passover, like a guy who signs on for a second tour of duty without having the slightest notion why.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD’s Press Play

Press Play is our Monday recap of the new—and FREE—tracks received last week, provided here to inform your next trip to your local indie record store. Click, preview, download, purchase.

Rounds – Big Love
2econd Class Citizen – Roll On
Arum Rae – I Love Love
Jimi Charles Moody – Other Man
Padorr – One Last Love Song (So He Says)
We Came As Strangers – Eyedom
GLADES – Falling Away
Outblinker – Pink (Machines in Heaven MIX)
La Luz – Don’t Wanna Be Anywhere
Castro – Glass Hearts

The Hudson Branch – Pedal

Gold Class – Life As A Gun
Stolen Jars – Bright Red
Broke Royals – The Thick Of It
Minden – Saint
SG Lewis – No Less (Filip Flip)
Zapéd – After Prague
Gallant – Weight In Gold (Dimond Saints Remix)
Beca – Hit To The Head (Loveskills Remix)
Kevin Hunter – Wild Life
Dj Furyza – Cobrah! (Radio Mix)

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 8/3/15

Vinyl Tuesday gets its launch: “Vinyl Tuesday is an international initiative started by independent retailers to highlight and promote vinyl record releases every Tuesday. Furthermore, it’s a way to support and celebrate physical retail in this digital age where information on new vinyl releases can easily be overlooked or forgotten by the consumer.”

Martin Scorsese and Mick Jagger team up for record label drama, Set in 1970s New York, Vinyl will explore the drug-fuelled music business at the dawn of punk and disco, starring Olivia Wilde and Jagger’s son James

Paul McCartney Preps ‘Tug of War,’ ‘Pipes of Peace’ Reissues: “Along with the various multi-disc versions, both albums will be reissued as two-LP sets on 180-gram vinyl. The reissues of Tug of War and Pipes of Peace are available to pre-order now. They mark the latest installments in the ongoing Paul McCartney Archive Collection, which began with the re-release of McCartney and Wings’ 1973 LP, Band on the Run.”

Vinyl ruins, There may be some gold records to be found in Thrift Trader’s giveaways: As previously reported by the Reader, the mezzanine in the Hillcrest location of Thrift Trader collapsed early in the morning (around 4 a.m.) on June 22. The collapse was due to the weight of vinyl records and caused considerable damage to the building. The incident sent albums and other debris pouring onto the adjacent University Avenue sidewalk.

‘A Vinyl Affair’ – Wellington’s record fair – 29th August 2015 at San Fran! Fast becoming a fixture in the Wellington music lover’s calendar, ‘A Vinyl Affair – Wellington’s record fair’ is back again this month at San Fran on Cuba St.

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