TVD Washington, DC

TVD Live: Zepparella and the Queens of Noise at Jammin Java, 7/23

Plant. Page. Jones. Bonham. Four names at the very top of hard rock royalty. A number of touring acts are striving to keep the spirit of Led Zeppelin alive, but none as unique and electrifying as Zepparella. Four immensely talented women playing their asses off and paying homage to Zeppelin… How can you go wrong?

Very honestly, it’s easy to go wrong. Bring up Led Zeppelin to most rock fans, and you aren’t just talking about any old band. This is “The Hammer of the Gods” we’re talking about here. The bar for doing the legendary band and their catalog justice is pretty high—and Zepparella cleared the bar with room to spare.

As the crowd trickled into Jammin’ Java, the vibe was much more relaxed than a typical night out at a club. At the small, yet nice, venue with decent food and a heck of a coffee bar, the slightly older crowd was in good spirits, as were the few kids in tow.

Warming up the crowd this evening were the Queens of Noise, a Runaways tribute band out of the DC area. Five young women with five seemingly distinct personalities paid homage to the girl band of the ’70s. With a dirty blonde mop that hid her face from view, guitarist Nicole Morris had the look of a surfer fresh off the California beach and deftly handled Joan and Lita’s licks.

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TVD Chicago

TVD Live: Pitchfork Music Festival 2014, Saturday, 7/19

Saturday of the Pitchfork Music Festival 2014 was another day of great acts. I tried a lot of new things, including a separate entrance with a way shorter line (hint: there’s a general admission entrance right next to the VIP entrance) and a salted caramel hot chocolate creme puff. Booyah.

My day started with Pusha T, who despite coming on stage pretty late, was a strong start for me. The set was short but so fun and pretty energetic. Then it was off to see Tune-Yards…

Tune-Yards tends to get a lot of flack from critics for being too quirky and frankly, all over the place. When it comes to Tune-Yards’ sound, I find it difficult to really pinpoint a genre—every song sounds different, yet they are all a mix of African drum beats, jazz, a lot of looping noises and vocals, a ukulele, and colorful, sometimes grotesque lyrics. The music videos are also just as colorful. Saturday’s set was full of brightly patterned costumes and neon face paint. (It’s fun to wear face paint!) They way the whole show came together had my friends saying to each other, “this is the best set we’ve seen so far!”

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The TVD Storefront

Meghann Wright,
The TVD First Date
and Debut, “Left My Heart in Brooklyn”

“My love affair with vinyl began somewhere around the age of 5 or 6. In the ‘80s, my parents had a diverse record collection and a state of the art (at the time) sound system. For them, listening to recorded music was serious business. I remember learning to use all of the components: the receiver and the equalizer, how to clean the records, how to set the needle so it would start right at the beginning of a song.”

“I remember even when they got a CD player, I was always more fascinated by the vinyl. Maybe it was because the covers were so big, like I was holding a painting in my little hands. I remember staring at Madonna’s midriff on Like A Prayer, The cool lighting and composition on Bowie’s Let’s Dance, the psychedelic illustration on Sir Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. I would pour over the lyrics inside as I listened until I had memorized them so I could sing along. That’s how I learned to sing.

During high school, I was very active so portable music was necessary. I never fully broke up with vinyl, I would dub records and CDs onto tapes and make mixes for my friends. I was getting more into the independent underground music of the time, ska and punk from Asian Man and Victory Records, Indie and Hardcore from Revelation and Polyvinyl Records, and stuff like that. Maybe it was cheaper or easier for those bands and labels to put out CDs because that’s what I was usually able to find. It was very rare that I found a vinyl record during the mid-‘90s by one of my (at the time) favorite bands like Braid or Boysetsfire. That could also be because I was in Hawaii.

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TVD New Orleans

Quincy Mumford and the Reason Why invite local musicians to join super jam

Tomorrow night, July 25th, The Den at the Howlin’ Wolf will host New Jersey based reggae group Quincy Mumford and the Reason Why. On the road in support of their fifth studio album It’s Only Change, we caught up with the band to find out why they are especially excited to stop in New Orleans and why they are inviting local musicians to jam.

“We’ve never been to New Orleans before,” said Quincy, the front man and primary songwriter for the Reason Why, “and we all love New Orleans music so much. The Neville Brothers, the Meters, Jon Cleary, these are all major influences on me. I grew up listening to New Orleans funk and I think the super jam portion of our set will be incredibly special here if we can get the local musical community on board.”

He continued, “We really enjoy playing with other musicians and there are so many great players in New Orleans. We dig brass bands, so we’re hoping we can get some horn players on board. It’s a musical community we would love to get familiar with.”

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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 right here at TVD, each and every Thursday.

“On this week’s show my ROTW is Everything’s A Thread by John Steel Singers, a lovely vintage psych number of an album out on Full Time Hobby Recs. As usual I’ll be spinning three tracks!

I’ll also have my #shellshock to share with you! If you haven’t heard from Antlers, it’s called ‘Hotel’ and is perfect in every way, even down to the fact that I’m spending the best part of the next fortnight plus in said establishments! Bring on the HOLIDAY!” —SZ

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
The Flesh Eaters,
A Minute to Pray,
A Second to Die

Any shelf dedicated to classic California punk requires representation by the Flesh Eaters of Chris Desjardins, aka Chris D. Never a bad record has he made under that moniker, but the finest of them remains the talent-drenched and enduringly brilliant 1981 LP A Minute to Pray, a Second to Die. It’s just been given a welcome reissue by Superior Viaduct of San Francisco.

I first learned of Chris D.’s work in the latter portion of the 1980s, my discovery largely aided by the diligent underground music press of the era, in particular the scribbling of Byron Coley. While numerous zines featured reviews of both the Flesh Eaters and Chris D.’s band of the period The Divine Horsemen, it was really Coley that helped to put Desjardins’ art in proper context.

In fact, Coley’s such a determined champion of the man’s work that his new liners for this reissue aren’t an extra so much as a prerequisite. And the insight was found in more than just reviews, articles, and prior sleeve notes, as Coley and Forced Exposure publisher/writer Jimmy Johnson conducted an extensive interview with Desjardins for issue #12 of their reliably hefty “quarterly” mag. The duo also provided space in the back for “Chris D.’s Video Guide,” an enjoyable and extremely enlightening tour of the guy’s VHS collection.

I’d already sized Desjardins up as a major part of the USA’s roots punk brigade, his output landing in the same rough region as The Cramps, X, The Blasters, The Plugz, and The Gun Club, but the conversation in FE presented him as an uncommonly astute member of the punk community (especially when compared with the average Flipside chat).

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TVD Chicago

TVD Live: Pitchfork Music Festival 2014, Friday, 7/18

PHOTOS: BRIGID GALLAGHERThis year’s Pitchfork Music Festival was full of great music, superb people-watching, and an all-around relaxed vibe. The shows I attended were pretty varied and on Friday, I caught the tail end of Factory Floor, then chilled out to Sharon Van Etten, and ended the night banging my head (sort of) to Beck. Saturday and Sunday were way busier and more crowded (those two days sold out) and there was a lot of litter on the ground by Sunday evening but for the most part, I thought it was a pretty good run.

All weekend, scheduled set times were strictly abided by. This was probably because of Chicago’s strict outdoor event curfew laws and shows that started late weren’t even an issue. Pusha T came on thirty minutes late and I heard fans say for a while afterwards that his was the best show they saw all weekend. Lines for beer and food varied depending on the time of day so if my friends and I saw a short line for any sustenance whatsoever, we seized those opportunities. Do I even need to mention cell phone service? Well, I have experienced much worse, but having a legitimate meeting spot was definitely helpful the whole weekend.

Union Park is also just really easy to navigate. There were three stages—Red and Green in the main park, and the Blue stage, which is on the opposite side towards Ashland Avenue and is nestled among the trees. Usually the more intimate and atmospheric-sounding acts play at the Blue stage, and the Red and Green stages alternate sets and maintain the headliners. This is very navigable setup which made it easy to catch as much music as I wanted throughout the day while also being able to see and eat and drink when I wanted.

I mean, you obviously don’t get the best sound quality waiting in line for a vegan gyro and a beer, but you know where I’m going, right?

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TVD San Francisco

TVD Live: Filter, Helmet, and Local H at the Independent, 7/15

Filter Performing Live at The Independent San Francisco

“The Anti-Folk Revival Tour in Drop-D” stopped by San Francisco last week. Filter, Helmet, and Local H, three bands that need no introduction, combined their raucous brand of hard rock into one enormous sonic boom of an evening at the Independent.

Each of these bands have left their signature on the post-grunge scene of the mid-nineties and continue to leave their mark through touring and releasing new records. I never thought I would see these three artists sharing the same stage, but it happened, and it was a brilliant night of both old and new favorites jam-packed into a club that was accommodating, but way too small in regard to the enormous talent that would pummel the stage.

Filter Performing Live at The Independent San Francisco

Kicking off the night was Chicago duo Local H. Scott Lucas has kept this band going since 1987 and recently released new music in the form of The Another February EP. Back when I worked at Sony Music, I had spent some time with Scott during the promotional stage of the terribly underrated 12 Angry Months album. Lucas is an incredibly down-to-earth guy, and contradictory to his ferocious stage presence, a pretty fun guy to hang out with, but that’s another story.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve: Steely Dan,
Pretzel Logic

Steely Dan was Thee Consummate anti-garage band of the seventies. Steely Dan’s Walter Becker and Donald Fagen didn’t just polish their LPs; they buffed, burnished, lacquered, and airbrushed them until they were as perfect as Andy Gibbs’ coif. The Kings of Studio Sheen were perfect examples of what could be done if you were willing to spend 4,000 hours creating LPs as high gloss as a Lamborghini just off the assembly line. They produced the most waxed wax this side of insane perfectionist Tom Scholz of Boston, who has been known to spend a good decade spiffing up an LP before it meets his impossibly exacting standards.

Lots of people hate Steely Dan for this—I myself, a big Dan fan, want nothing to do with anything they released after 1976’s The Royal Scam, because they finally took the whole 50,000 coats of lacquer shtick a bit too far, while also moving towards a smooth jazz/pop fusion that left me cold—but I’ll stand by their earlier LPs to the end. Over the course of four years they released five albums that boasted great melodies, brilliant lyrics, and the best studio musicians money could buy, including guitarists Rick “All-American Boy” Derringer, Elliott “Total Fucking Genius” Randall, and Larry Carlton, which is why you’ll search in vain for a mediocre guitar solo on a Steely Dan record. They had impeccable tastes in ringers.

The Steely Dan story is familiar to most; Becker and Fagen met at ultra-liberal arts Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York (where I once spent a weekend so dissipated that when I left my pal Dan, a Bard student, was pissing blood), formed a band they named after a dildo from William Burroughs’ Naked Lunch, and in 1972 put out debut Can’t Buy a Thrill, which turned them into overnight sensations thanks to its songs “Do It Again” and “Reelin’ in the Years.” (I remember my eighth grade English teacher, a young and pretty flower child type, playing them for the class as examples of the “groovy new poetry” being “dug” by young people).

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The TVD Storefront

Needle Drop: Blood Cultures, “Indian Summer” b/w “Meavy Hetal”

Blood Cultures appeared earlier this year with the startlingly brilliant, melodic pop jam “Indian Summer.” Since then they have slowly released a few tracks including a new single which will be pressed as the B-side to “Indian Summer,” the bit-crushed, self-help ballad “Meavy Hetal.”

What is most refreshing about Blood Cultures is their ability to let their music speak for itself. Indeed, no one even knows who or what comprises or composes this glittery programmed pop. Is it the masked figure in the pictures? Probably not. This healthy serving of mystery is complimented by no website, no Facebook, no Twitter handle, and no personal information anywhere.

All that leaves us to talk about is how awesome the music is, which I suppose is the point. Everyone from Hilly Dilly to Turntable Kitchen has placed this mysterious figure in the pantheon of emerging 2014 talent, and with a million plays on Soundcloud within the past 6 months, I would say the general public is in agreement.

Check out the B-side here.

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