TVD Los Angeles

TVD’s The Idelic Hour with Jon Sidel

Greetings from Laurel Canyon!

Arms never get on top / You heed that notion and you’ll drop / I will not be one of the watchers / I will not disappear / Time gets to me and I / Wonder how to simplify / You know you should be blushin’ / To a hue of Robitussin / Flow / Men are scum, I won’t deny / May you be shitfaced the day you die / And be successful in all your lies / In the winter time (in the winter time) / When you get down to it / You wanted to / Do you think you got the nerve? / It doesn’t take much nerve / Just kiss yourself metaphorically / And open the door and piss if you need to

I’ve always joked that bloggers have the Devine Right to make best of lists. For my second to final show of the year, I spin my best of—and declare an “Idelic Hit” of the year.

Although it’s often both a group and a song, I define these “IH’s” more of an “act of rock ‘n’ roll cool” than a best of. For 2018, I’m giving it to Steven Malkmus. It’s not that “Middle America” is just a great and timely song, but it’s the kind of song that has “lines” for the ages. In a year of catch and phone screens, thank god we still have a master of the songwriting who is still writing and singing brilliant words. I mean read ’em.

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TVD Chicago

TVD Live: Thom Yorke and Oliver Coates at the Chicago Theatre, 12/4

Pulling from his Suspiria film score, his two solo albums (The Eraser and Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes), as well as his Atoms for Peace side project, Thom Yorke delivered a simply spellbinding performance at The Chicago Theatre on Tuesday evening.

Joining Yorke on the road is longtime Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich and audiovisual composer Tarik Barri, and oh what a three-piece they make. It’s a one-of-a-kind sensory experience that only a brilliant talent like Yorke could curate.

London cellist and producer Oliver Coates opened the show with a cerebral, avant-garde set.

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TVD UK

TVD Live Shots: Starsailor at the
O2 Shepherd’s Bush
Empire, 11/29

There are few albums in the world that are flawless from start to finish, and Silence is Easy is one of them.

Starsailor beat the sophomore slump and delivered a stunning album that should have made them one of the biggest bands on the planet. Instead they just never seemed to break out of the European market the way that their peers, and much less talented, Coldplay did. And that still doesn’t sit well with the fans. It resonated again and again with every conversation I had with the capacity crowd at Shepherd’s Bush Empire last week. Why are they not one of the biggest bands across the globe? No one seems to have an answer, and this night that didn’t matter—this night was all about the eleven songs that make up the juggernaut that is Silence is Easy. And did I mention that they had a string section with them?

As I was living in the States around the time of the album’s release, I never got to see them perform on that tour. I was fortunate enough to see them touring on the debut record, but this one is on a whole other level. “Fidelity,” “Some of Us,” “Telling Them,” “White Dove,” these are songs that represent the best songwriting of that decade.

Add to this the crazy story of Phil Spector sitting in the producer’s chair, the signature wall of sound interlaced and influencing the entire record. The album contains some of the last productions by Spector before his murder conviction and imprisonment in 2009 (“Silence Is Easy” and “White Dove”). While only the two cuts with Spector’s production are listed, I would imagine there are outtakes sitting around somewhere that would make for a fantastic deluxe edition. I tweeted this to the band along with a few other fans as well, and the question seems to have gone unnoticed.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Radar: Joe Bataan, Afrofilipino opaque yellow vinyl in stores 2/1

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Joe Bataan’s career offers a true All-American success story.

Born on November 15, 1942 to African-American and Filipino parents in Spanish Harlem, Bataan briefly led a street gang and spent time in a correctional facility on a stolen car charge before emerging in the mid ‘60s to author his own unique blend of boogaloo, doo wop, and soul. Bataan’s sound caught the ears of Fania Records, who signed him for a string of eight successful albums before Bataan left to co-found the Salsoul label—he also came up with the name, a combination of salsa and soul—where he recorded three albums, of which this 1975 record was the first.

You’ll hear a little disco and funk mixed in with the salsa and soul on this release, whose “East Coast Side” and “West Coast Side” were recorded on opposite sides of the country. But no matter where Bataan laid down the tracks, he made sure to get the best musicians—playing on Afrofilipino is a veritable Who’s Who of session cats including Richard Tee, John Faddis, Cornell Dupree, Randy Brecker, and David Sanborn.

For the first-ever vinyl reissue of this classic Latin R&B album, we’ve given it a brand-new remastering (by Mike Milchner at SonicVision), and pressed up 1,000 copies in opaque yellow vinyl.

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The TVD Storefront

Needle Drop: The Camino Side Project, (s/t)

The enchanting new release from multi-instrumentalist Paul Farran aka The Camino Side Project has us feeling bitten by the travel bug.

The product of an extensive world journey, of movement & music is an intoxicating blend of jangling folk, blues, prog rock, Leonard Cohen-esque Zen wisdom, and lovely world instrumentation. Farran’s exquisite collaborations conjure moody, evocative soundscapes, while his deeply inquisitive lyrics prod at the deeper questions life poses, especially when you’re on a life changing trip across the earth with your wife and children.

The LP is a transformative exploration of life and family, documenting his clan’s travels across 4 continents, 11 countries and 14 studios over 18 months. It is imbued with a deep love of companionship and music that spans the four corners of the earth—a deeply personal artistic statement that manages to reflect all the contrast and beauty one would expect from such an extensive, ambitious an often-arduous journey.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Sonic Youth,
Bad Moon Rising

The most shameful moment of my sad existence was not the night I came out of a drunken blackout to discover I’d just challenged an NFL-sized brute from my hometown to a fight, then had to literally beg him to not beat me to a pulp. Nor was it the time I ruined Christmas for my then wife by drinking too much sake, accidentally dropping half a gram of perfectly good powdered cocaine into a wet sink, and knocking over the Christmas tree before unceremoniously passing out.

No–and I still blush with horror to think of it–it was the time I ran into Thurston Moore in a Philadelphia record store, and noticing he was flipping through the John Coltrane albums sidled up next to him like an awe-struck schoolgirl and PRETENDED to know nothing about John Coltrane… just so he would talk to me! And this despite the fact that–get this–I wasn’t even a fan!

That was a personal low indeed, and–just to make things worse–I have often taken out my shame over this deplorable personal episode on poor Thurston and his band. After all, it wasn’t his fault I decided to be such a craven suck-up. He was just trying to be helpful.

With that out of the way, please allow me to say this: I still don’t like Sonic Youth very much. Sure I loved 1988’s epic and sonically streamlined Daydream Nation, but it was a stylistic outlier for the band, so to illustrate my aversion let us turn to an earlier (but also much-lauded) LP, 1985’s Bad Moon Rising.

At first glance, Bad Moon Rising has a lot going for it. Groovy scarecrow with blazing pumpkin head on cover, check. Groovy song titles portending cartoon chaos, anomie, and doom, check. Positively groovy Charles Manson tribute featuring the one and only Lydia Lunch, check! I mean, how can you go wrong?

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 12/7/18

King’s Cross, UK | Independent Label Market: Returning to Canopy Market, King’s Cross on for the weekend on December 15th & 16th for their Christmas market in London, Independent Label Market will be supported by AIM – the Association of Independent Music. The labels are bringing with them their extensive back catalogues plus a selection of amazing market exclusives, rarities, signed goods and exclusive test pressings. Among them, One Little Indian will bring very rare coloured Bjork albums on 12”, Dirty Hit will have the brand new album by The 1975, Ninja Tune will bring latest releases by Peggy Gou and Little Dragon and Brainfeeder will have their brand new 10th anniversary compilation box with unreleased songs from the likes of Flying Lotus, Thundercat and BADBAD-NOTGOOD.

Springfield, VA | Digital Music Is King. So Why Did A Vinyl Record-Pressing Plant Just Open In Virginia? Last year, digital music hit a milestone. For the first time ever, it accounted for more than half of global music sales. Music streaming revenues rose more than 40 percent, while sales of physical recordings continued to sink. Yet a company in Northern Virginia has just started pressing vinyl records. Tucked away in an industrial park in Alexandria, Furnace Record Pressing is the country’s newest record manufacturing facility — and a seemingly batty business idea, if you haven’t paid attention to deeper trends in the music industry lately. Despite the overall downturn in physical recordings like CDs, vinyl sales have been on the rise for a decade now, as younger people have begun to discover the richer sound and collectable nature of old-fashioned records. But as the vinyl frenzy caught on, soaring demand quickly created a problem, says Furnace’s owner, Eric Astor.

Chicago, IL | A portrait of Chicago institution Out Of The Past Records: Almost 50 years in the business. Couple Charlie and Marie Henderson have been selling records in Garfield Park since 1969. A West Side Chicago mainstay, the original Madison Street storefront burned down during riots following the assassination of Martin Luther King. Now at 4407 W. Madison, the shop is a one-stop adventure for eager collectors ready to get dirty and dig. A cross-eyed cat named Shadow roams the store, and you’ll be sure to see some dusty groovers meandering through the stacks alongside you. Records here are ‘strictly old-school’, reasonably priced and gently used. As Marie Henderson says, “you’re guaranteed to find a lot of everything and a lot of nothing, it just depends what you’re looking for.”

Penticton, BC | Sleepovers for Life preserves new B.C. music in vinyl: A Kelowna man is reviving the art of record making. Boutique vinyl cutter, Steve Gibson began his career in Germany a year ago with a 20-hour training day followed by another all-nighter. He had been eyeing up German engineer Souri Automaten’s record cutter, which cuts a vinyl record in real time from digital copies, for quite some time. The only way to buy the equipment is to fly to Germany to be trained by Automaten himself. Then, only once training is completed to Automaten’s satisfaction, can equipment be purchased. Once Gibson returned home he started Sleepovers for Life, his own small-batch, record-cutting company that took off without any advertising. Gibson’s business has been growing solely by word of mouth. In one year he has cut hundreds of records. “Record people are generally collectors. Limited runs mean a huge amount to certain people, myself included. It’s that first pressing, this colour or that colour. The small batches are really fun for a certain group of people,” said Gibson.

The Ultimate Buyer’s Guide to Getting Into Vinyl Records: We’re in the age of digital music — a period in the history of recorded music where any song and any artist is accessible on our mobile phones at anytime. While digital music makes it easier than ever to consume music, formats like vinyl records have not gone away. In fact, in 2017 14% of all physical music was sold on vinyl LP records — and there’s a reason for it. Unlike digital music, there is a physicality to vinyl records, a slowness to it, that requires a listener to browse a stack, pull out a record and slip it onto a turntable. And while digital music may be easier to consume, there is a certain pleasure in hearing music played on a turntable. Audiophiles will tell you that the sound is warmer on records than digital files or CD (this author believes there is some truth to that), and that due to the nature of having to lift a needle on and off a platter, it forces one to listen through a complete album (or at least one side) rather than flipping through tracks with a swipe of your finger.

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TVD Los Angeles

TVD Live Shots:
Save Ferris, Mest, The Untouchables, and Hoist the Colors at House of Blues Anaheim, 12/1

Save Ferris is considered by many to be one of the most important ska bands of our generation. Fronted by the uber-talented Monique Powell, this band fuses traditional ska beats with an edgy punk rock attitude that has withstood the test of time and continues to sell out shows all over the country. Their performance on Saturday night in Anaheim was no exception as superfans lined up early for their chance to rush the barricade and get up close and personal with one of Orange County’s finest.

After incredible opening sets by Mest, The Untouchables, and Hoist the Colors (all who could have individually headlined shows of their own), Save Ferris took the stage and opened with an amazing cover of The Waitresses 1981 smash, “Christmas Wrapping.” This holiday classic was just what the doctor ordered to get the anxious crowd off their feet and skanking to the beat—officially kicking off the holiday season in typical Save Ferris style. For those in attendance, this show was already was shaping up to be an instant classic.

For the next few hours, the 2000+ fans who packed the Anaheim House of Blues were captivated by Save Ferris and their holiday infused setlist—standards that included hits “Goodbye,” “Mistaken,” and “Your Friend” off 1999’s Modified. The night ended with a brilliant encore including two fan favorites, “She Has a Girlfriend Now” and a cover of Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ smash, “Come on Eileen.” What an incredible way to wrap up an amazing set and a perfect way to kick off the 2018 Holiday Season here in Southern California.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Radar: Beetlejuice, 30th anniversary OST in stores 12/7

VIA PRESS RELEASEWaxwork Records is proud to present the 30th Anniversary release of Beetlejuice Original Motion Picture Soundtrack by Danny Elfman.

Released in 1988, Beetlejuice is a horror comedy directed by Tim Burton starring Michael Keaton, Winona Ryder, Geena Davis, and Alec Baldwin. The plot revolves around a recently deceased young couple who become ghosts haunting their former home. Upon meeting a mischievous ghost named Beetlejuice that claims he can rid the couple of their home’s new inhabitants, a series of hysterical and spooky events occur that take the audience through afterlife limbos, orchestrated dances, and the meeting of lovable ghouls. The film has gone on to become a comedy classic.

The soundtrack by composer Danny Elfman and featuring two tracks by Harry Belafonte is instantly recognizable. Waxwork Records is excited to present the complete soundtrack, remastered, and pressed to 180 gram colored vinyl with deluxe packaging for the 30th Anniversary of the film.

Beetlejuice 30th Anniversary Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Features The Complete Soundtrack Re-Mastered, 180 Gram “Beetlejuice Swirl” Colored Vinyl or 180 gram, Half Black and White Vinyl, Artwork By Justin Erickson of Phantom City Creative, An Art Print, and Deluxe Packaging.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve: Françoise Hardy,
The Disques Vogue Collection

French vocalist Françoise Hardy openly disdains being described as an icon, though of course her modesty plays a large role in why she continues to be revered by so many. Naturally, the most important component in her enduring reputation is the music; a superb singer and true artist from within the oft-unrelenting 1960s pop machine, her records have aged exceptionally well, retaining the allure of their era as they lack period gaffes. Hardy’s first five French language albums, all originally issued by Disques Vogue from ’62-’66, comprise a highly worthy run of productivity; they’re available now on LP and CD singly or as a bundle through Light in the Attic.

Françoise Hardy is a cornerstone of the ’60s Euro-pop phenomenon known as yé-yé. Akin to rock, girl groups, svelte male crooners, and the majority of the era’s teen-oriented sounds in general, yé-yé was widely considered to be of an ephemeral nature, and by extension was basically dominated by the collusion of producers and labels. The singers, amongst them France Gall, Sylvie Vartan, Clothilde, and Chantal Kelly, were the crucial ingredient in a very calculated recipe.

Hardy differed from the norm by writing a significant amount of her own stuff, all but two songs on her debut in fact, and as a result she evaded the sometimes embarrassing subject matter thrust upon other yé-yé girls. Furthermore, she was regularly photographed with guitar in hand, though it’s unclear to what extent she actually played on these recordings. To borrow a phrase relating to Studio-era Hollywood, Hardy transcended the “genius of the system” method of pop manufacture, instead excelling at a subdued auteur-driven approach.

In the tradition of the original filmic auteurs, few recognized Hardy as a major talent during her emergence on the scene. She definitely sparked interest in fellow musicians however, including The Beatles, Mick Jagger, and Bob Dylan, the last so struck by her skills he dedicated the poem “Some Other Kinds of Songs” to her; it’s on the back of Another Side of Bob Dylan’s sleeve.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Montrose, Montrose

Nowadays the band Montrose is chiefly remembered as the rock boarding school one Sammy (“I can’t drive 55/With my thumbs stuck in my eyes”) Hagar attended before graduating to a disappointing, if not semi-disastrous, tenure as front man of the post-David Lee Roth Van Halen. How unfair. At their best, namely on their debut 1973 self-titled debut, Montrose rocked balls, kicked ass and took names, and established themselves as perhaps America’s best response to Led Zeppelin. As for Montrose itself, some consider it America’s first true heavy metal LP. Me, I’d go with Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, but that’s beside the point.

Montrose came out of California, where guitarist Ronnie Montrose—who played sessions for Van Morrison (amongst others) and did a stint in The Edgar Winter Group—decided to put his own band together. The finished product included Sammy Hagar on vocals, Bill Church on bass, and Denny Carmassi on drums. Ted Templeman, who played an instrumental role in getting the band signed to Warner Brothers, produced the LP. Unfortunately this turned out to be a mixed blessing as Warners, which made it a practice to push only one LP from each genre at a time, already had the Doobie Brothers (!!!) in the rock slot and Deep Purple in the hard rock slot. Without publicity push from Warners, Montrose got left out in the cold, and only managed to reach the 133 spot on the U.S. Billboard charts.

But you can’t keep a good album down, not forever anyway, and the Montrose LP has received increasing attention over the following years, thanks to its strong songwriting, Montrose’s great guitar work, and Hagar’s hard-hitting vocals. I’ve always found it exceptionally easy to poke fun at Hagar, but on Montrose he proves the joke is on me, by doing things with his vocal chords that are illegal in Mormon Utah. (No, I have no idea what that means either.) In any event, Montrose has received its just desserts, which is more than you can say about Warners’ beloved Doobie Brothers, who deserve to be tied to a large stone and dropped into some deep and very black water.

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The TVD Record Store Club

Graded on a Curve:
New in Stores,
December 2018

The TVD Record Store Club’s look at the new and reissued releases presently in stores for December, 2018.

NEW RELEASE PICKS: Scone Cash Players, “Scone Cold Christmas” (Flamingo Time – Mango Hill) Bluntly, holiday music is not my favorite music. But there are exceptions, like this 45 from the band of soul-jazz-funk organist Adam Scone. Rather than just diving into standards-based instrumental quickie mode, Scone enlists singer Lee Taylor and some vocal-group backing for “My First Divorced Christmas (Santa Claus Got a Divorce),” a tune that might read as jokey but unwinds as surprisingly heartfelt, with the groove keeping things from getting too weepy. On “They Say It’s Christmas Time (Christmas Time in Brooklyn),” it’s the warm, assured baritone voice of John Dokes that’s the highlight. Well, one of ‘em, as the band ascends an organ-driven Hot Buttered Soul-era Isaac Hayes-like mountain to a killer peak. A-

Say Sue Me, “Christmas, It’s Not a Biggie” (Damnably) I’m on board with the non-holiday themed stuff from this Korean indie-surfy pop-rock outfit, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t worried, as even in reliable hands Christmas music can curdle like milk in a failed fridge. Say Sue Me succeed because they don’t lay the theme on too thick. Instead, the guitar is big but congenial in the Dick Dale-tinged pop-punky title track. It and instrumental “Too Expensive Christmas Tree” brought the Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet to mind, and that’s a cool thing to consider, in December or any time of year, really. In “Out of Bed,” vocalist Sumi Choi reminds me of Hope Sandoval diving head first into a sweet sea of early ’60s gal-pop, and from there, all Say Sue Me needs to do is not foul things up. “After This Winter” doesn’t. A-

REISSUE/ARCHIVAL PICKS: Lee Morgan, Indeed! (Down at Dawn) Top-flight hard-bop trumpeter Morgan was 18 years old when he cut this session in 1956 for Blue Note, an achievement that’s undeniably impressive, though it’s also important to avoid overrating it. The whole is solid, with the young leader still clearly in thrall to Dizzy and Clifford Brown, but it’s not a jaw-dropper. So why the pick status? Well, numerous reasons, including Wilbur Ware on bass and Philly Joe Jones on drums, an always reliable pair, plus Horace Silver on piano, who sounds fine but doesn’t steal the show, as Morgan is clearly in command. This is not to infer that he’s hogging the spotlight, as the obscure alto man Clarence Sharpe gets plenty of solo room. As the album rolls, a decided post-Bird-Diz feel develops, and that’s nice. B+

Freddie Hubbard, The Artistry of Freddie Hubbard (Down at Dawn) Having hit the scene a little later, in some ways Hubbard temporarily stole some of Morgan’s thunder; by ’63, he’d delivered four LPs as leader for Blue Note, and followed them up with this, his first of two for Impulse! It’s a minor classic from a talent-loaded sextet featuring Hubbard’s Jazz Messengers’ cohort Curtis Fuller on trombone, Sun Ra Arkestra lynchpin John Gilmore on tenor, Tommy Flanagan on piano, Louis Hayes on drums, and Art Davis (who’d played with Hub on Olé Coltrane) on drums. While it’s not aptly described as a groundbreaking affair, the playing is assured all around, and the whole, opening with Duke’s “Caravan” and following with three originals and a nice version of “Summertime,” is ripe with ambition. A-

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 12/6/18

Cleveland, OH | Cleveland’s Music Saves quits the record store business: Music Saves, a Cleveland-based online record store, announced that it will be shutting down its vinyl record sales. “Music Saves is quitting the music business,” reads a statement on the store’s website, written by owner Melanie Hershberger. “The industry has changed in ways I could never have predicted 14 years ago. A lot of it feels really backwards. A lot of it has really worked against us. I feel like, as many other small businesses, small record stores are becoming less needed, as time goes on.” Originally, Music Saves operated out of a brick building just down the road from Cleveland music venue Beachland Ballroom. The store specialized in selling new releases on vinyl, and it earned local fame for its resident cats.

Glasgow, SCT | Glasgow record store to launch city’s newest radio station. With the capacity to run 24/7 and available worldwide, the aim for LP Radio is to have the station grounded in Glasgow but facing out to the rest of the world. A Glasgow record store is to launch the city’s new radio station from its base in the west end of the city. LP Records, on Park Road in the Kelvinbridge area, is launching LP Radio – a worldwide alternative online radio station. LP Radio will be centred around discovering and sharing new music alongside a focus on debate, patter, and community. Speaking to Glasgow Live, the man behind the station Lorenzo Pacitti said: “Plain and simply it’s a dream that I think I can make a reality, and much like the motivation to start a record shop I think it’s a dream that’s rooted in satiating a definite need and appetite here in Glasgow and beyond.”

Pittston, PA | Swap & Hops Pop-Up Record Fair to bring record, beer lovers together in Pittston: The overlap between beer nerds and record collectors is a significant one, at least if you believe what you read on the internet. And now, an event at a Pittston brewery this weekend seeks to combine the two hobbies. The first NEPA Swap & Hops Pop-Up Record Fair will be held at the Susquehanna Brewing Company at its main location, 635 S. Main St., Pittston. The event will run noon to 6 p.m. this Sunday, Dec. 9. The fair is being held in conjunction with the Gallery of Sound. According to a press release from the record store, approximately 5,000 items from the company’s inventory will be available at the fair before they’re sold in-store, giving serious collectors a unique opportunity to see items before anyone else. But Gallery of Sound won’t be the only ones there with records…

The Big Lebowski soundtrack released as limited 20th anniversary vinyl edition: That record really tied the room together. Mondo has announced that a 20th anniversary edition of The Big Lebowski soundtrack will be released on limited “white russian” coloured vinyl, this December. The Big Lebowski’s 15 song soundtrack features music by Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, Nina Simone and Moondog. Directed by the Coen Brothers, the cult movie stars Jeff Bridges as The Dude, who gets mistaken for a millionaire of the same name, known as The Big Lebowski. Its all-star cast is rounded out by John Goodman, Julian Moore, Steve Buscemi, Philip Seymour Hoffman and John Turturro as the fiesty, purple-velvet-jumpsuit-wearing, bowling pro Jesus Quintana. The 20th anniversary edition features new artwork by Paul Mann, available on coffee and cream coloured LP as well as a standard black variant.

Music streaming is fueling vinyl’s resurgence. They’re not competitors but complementary formats that deliver different benefits to fans. Streaming has been blamed for killing off the CD, but industry experts agree it’s helping bolster the growth and quality of another physical music format: vinyl. Since 2015, streaming income has eclipsed CD sales, and the likes of Apple Music and Spotify have become major players in the music industry. This year the Recording Industry Association of America reported that 75 percent of music revenue in the United States came from streaming services. In the past three years, vinyl sales in the US have steadily risen about $2 million annually. On paper, it doesn’t make sense. Why would anyone buy an album they can only listen to in one specific environment, when for half the price of a new record, they can put it and millions of others in their pocket and listen anywhere?

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TVD Washington, DC

TVD Live: Sweetheart
of the Rodeo
50th Anniversary Tour at Strathmore, 12/3

“One hundred years from this day,” Gram Parsons once wrote, “will the people still feel this way?” Alas, he wouldn’t live to find out. Twenty-two when he wrote it, he was dead at 26. But half a century since it was recorded for a game-changing Byrds album, maybe the people do feel different.

A flop when it was released, Sweetheart of the Rodeo gained stature as the first album-length country-rock statement, creating a string of music that flourishes as Americana, and justifying a tour marking its 50th year, which made its way to the Music Center at Strathmore in Bethesda in a ringing show Monday.

Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman were the only Byrds remaining to perform it. But that seemed to fit—they were the only two members left in the imploding band when they started the project. They were the ones who hired the country-rock savant Parsons, who in turn helped steer the band to its rhinestone-gilded new direction.

The Byrds had dabbled in classic country previously, from the bluegrass-sounding “Mr. Spaceman” to Hillman’s “Time Between.” But it was Parsons who pulled them further, with three of his own songs as well as the wide-ranging country sampling that rounded it out, recorded in Nashville with some of its finest musicians.

In doing so, after helping invent folk-rock by plugging in Dylan, the Byrds created an honest salute to the twang and rhinestone of classic country with neither condescension nor irony; a full embrace of American ideals unusual for long-haired rockers of the day, and possibly out of step entirely with 1968, the tumultuous year in which it was recorded.

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The TVD Storefront

Demand it on Vinyl: Matthew Sweet, Blue Sky on Mars / In Reverse in stores 1/18

VIA PRESS RELEASEThe remarkable Matthew Sweet, one of the great protagonists of Power Pop of the last quarter of a century, is celebrated by the release of a double CD set featuring two of his finest albums Blue Sky on Mars (1997) and In Reverse (1999).

Produced by Brendan O’Brien and Matthew Sweet, Blue Sky on Mars is a more synthesizer-dominated record than Sweet had cut in a while, but still scores highly on the tune-o-meter, with the likes of the Surf-flavoured “Come To California,” the melodic ballad “Until You Break,” and the chunky “Where Do You Get Love.” By contrast, In Reverse sees Sweet turn his focus on the kind of symphonic pop of Phil Spector, Pet Sounds-era Beach Boys, and The Beatles of Magical Mystery Tour. It was the recipient of much critical acclaim at the time of its release (May 2000), and is acknowledged as one of Sweet’s crowning achievements.

Since the release of In Reverse, Sweet has made three very successful collaborative albums with Susanna Hoffs of The Bangles, Under The Covers Vols 1—3, as well as releasing several well-received solo albums, including a new album for 2018, Tomorrow’s Daughter. Blue Sky on Mars / In Reverse by Matthew Sweet is a mid-price double CD set released on the Retro World reissue division of North London indie label, Floating World, on Friday, January 18th 2018.

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