TVD Washington, DC

TVD Live Shots: Train and Andy Grammer at Merriweather Post Pavilion, 8/20

San Francisco rock outfit, Train brought their crisp, progressive tones to Merriweather Post Pavilion on Saturday night along with an energetic performance from opening act Andy Grammer.

Train’s commercial success dates back to the ’90s with the hit single “Meet Virginia” from their 1998 debut album. The band’s second release scored two Grammy Award wins for the single “Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me)” in 2002, and Train’s third studio album, My Private Nation was certified platinum with the release of the hit “Calling All Angels” in 2003. Judging by the droves of fans that lined the grounds at Merriweather on Saturday, it’s clear that this band still touches the hearts of many who flock to see them.

While the band’s lineup has changed over the years, their core remains intact with band mates Jimmy Stafford and lead singer Patrick Monahan conducting this train. The current lineup includes Jerry Becker, Luis Maldonaldo, Hector Maldonado, Drew Shoals, and Nikita Houston and Sakai Smith on backing vocals. Live, Train’s sound is clean and refreshing and they are completely in their element on stage.

When Andy Grammer walked into the spotlight to get the night started he brought an overdose of charisma and charm that was matched by the sheer talent of his backing band. Grammer, a multi-instrumentalist, played the piano, trumpet, guitar, showcased his dancing abilities, and set the evening off with proverbial panache.

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The TVD Storefront

Spinning: The Style Council, “The Paris Match” (feat. Tracey Thorn)

Look, it’s hard to tell people how you feel, what’s going on, the tides pushing and pulling.

Time was when a mixtape was that bridge, or the spin of a well-intentioned record eliciting its own waltz about a candlelit room with the object of one’s adoration.

It’s an emotional world, it is. Thus TVD HQ’s recurring fuel for your fires and mixtapes. Reading between the lines—encouraged.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve: Cannonball Adderley, Somethin’ Else

Blue Note Records is celebrating 75 years of existence by giving numerous key titles from their incomparable catalog high-quality vinyl reissues, and it’s fitting that we begin our tribute to the label’s longevity with a look at one of their very finest releases, the great alto saxophonist Julian Cannonball Adderley’s 1958 masterwork Somethin’ Else.

The LPs of Blue Note’s classic-era are aptly described as an embarrassment of riches. Along with loads of amazing music, there is of course the surrounding context, and engaging with the fruits of the imprint’s labors offers a truly enlightening historical narrative. Naturally, it’s only part of jazz’s larger story, but it’s also a highly valuable component since Blue Note is an example where respect for the music trumped pure capitalistic desire.

That respect extended to the amount of studio time given to the musicians, but it also concerned other vital aspects of record production, beginning with the use of engineer Rudy Van Gelder and ending with the company’s justly celebrated graphic design. Blue Note didn’t have the market cornered on either the Van Gelder touch or the manufacturing of handsome album jackets, for it really was a fantastic era in terms of both fidelity and sharply conceived presentation, but throughout the salad days of Modern Jazz (and for a good while afterward) the label was at the forefront.

Somethin’ Else is one of many excellent Van Gelder jobs, but some may evaluate its sleeve as solid but not spectacular. Please allow me to disagree. While I don’t think it’s one of the very greatest of Blue Note covers, it is nicely pared down to only essential information and is a fine model of strong but subtle construction; obviously the large black space, but also the contrast with the white lettering, and then the font, bold type that possesses just a hint of distinctiveness. Add the further contrasting element of color, with green for the leader and blue for his band.

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TVD New Orleans

The Bad Plus’ It’s Hard in stores Friday, 8/26

The famed piano, bass, and drums jazz trio return to their roots with a new album featuring amazing cover versions of songs make famous by an incredibly diverse group of musicians and bands. The album is available in stores as well at all leading digital retailers on August 26, 2016.

I have been a fan of the Bad Plus since their early days as a band. A recent album The Bad Plus Joshua Redman was in steady rotation for months. But I first became intrigued with the group because of their inventive rearrangements of songs like Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb,” and Blondie’s “Heart of Glass.”

After several years recording original music, the band is back to doing covers. They have created what is bound to be an enduring album with songs by Prince, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Peter Gabriel, TV On The Radio, Kraftwerk, and Ornette Coleman among others.

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The TVD Storefront

Jonas Martin, The TVD First Date and Premiere, The Color Scheme

“My dad loved technology and was always interested in the newest thing. I remember being the only weirdo on my block with a computer when I was a kid. Just amber dots on the screen but there were still cool games on it.”

“I remember that he got us a LaserDisc player when that was a thing for about one day. When it came to music, we had cassettes, CDs, and eventually he had a library of about two terabytes on his PC. So, I actually don’t remember ever listening to vinyl when I was growing up but they were there, in the house. Shelves and shelves covering all sides of his office. Some of them framed on the wall above his desk. Some just stored in the garage alongside a pile of old turntables. At least 6-800 albums that he refused to get rid of even if he wasn’t utilizing their unique richness of sound. For years I wondered, “What’s the deal with these gigantic discs? Why keep them?”

One day after I had left the nest, my girlfriend came home with a turntable and some vinyl she picked up at a thrift store and I started to understand the appeal. This big beautiful jacket with so much more to engage you. The tender sonics of the linear sound recording coming out of the speakers. Even the limitations of the thing were interesting to me, especially when I began to design my own vinyl records years later. But that’s a different story. Anyway, I went to my dad and asked him to give me all that vinyl I knew he wasn’t even listening to. “Nope, sorry.” “Pleeease…” “Ok, maybe you can have a couple.” This went on for years.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve: New in Stores, August 2016

Part two of the TVD Record Store Club’s look at the new or reissued wax presently in stores for August, 2016. Part one is here.

NEW RELEASE PICK: Ariana Delawari, Entelechy I & II (She King) The long-awaited second release from this socially engaged Afghan American multimedia artist (musician, film director, actress, photographer) offers an electronically based album in collaboration with Butchy Fuego and an accompanying disc of the same songs performed in tandem with tabla player Salar Nader. Impressive: Entelechy I’s rich warmth and lack of gimmickry, the non-quaint immediacy of its counterpart, the high standard of songwriting throughout, and the sturdy beauty of Delawari’s voice, particularly on Entelechy II. A

REISSUE PICK: Anthony Braxton, Three Compositions of New Jazz (Delmark) He debuted nine months prior on pianist Muhal Richard Abrams’ Levels and Degrees of Light (also for Delmark), but this ’68 LP was multi-instrumentalist Braxton’s first as “leader,” though that post-bop notion doesn’t really apply here; the thrill is in soaking up his unique vision from an early vantage point as Abrams, violinist Leroy Jenkins, and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith complete the group and everybody plays numerous instruments along the way. Braxton’s next one For Alto is an absolute beast, but this is still amazing. A

Aktion, Groove the Funk (PMG) The opening title track landed on the first volume of Wake Up You, the Now Again label’s superb pair of Nigerian rock retrospectives released earlier this summer, and this reissue of a ’75 LP originally on Clover Sound makes abundantly clear that Uchenna Ikonne didn’t just cherry pick the finest moment. The name on the sleeve provides an accurate description of Aktion’s modus operandi, but in their favor the contents aren’t overly slick and neither are they instrumental showoffs, instead maintaining a consistent ambiance with fuzz guitar and keyboard. B+

Atmosphere, Fishing Blues (Rhymesayers) Eight albums strong, the latest from rapper Slug and DJ-producer Ant is a whopping dose of cerebral but polished hip-hop, in fact a bit too polished; other than recurring explicitness the ride is quite accessible, and at nearly 70 minutes (and spread across six sides of vinyl) more than a little too long. However, the excessive length stops short of inflicting fatal damage; there are enough ideas, though many are derived from a string of guest appearances (DOOM, Kool Keith, Aesop Rock etc.), to keep this one afloat. B-

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 8/25/16

Adrian Grenier’s bar and record store The Vnyl House of Cocktail to open next month: Actor Adrian Grenier’s upcoming 1970s-inspired East Village bar and record store, The Vnyl House of Cocktail (100 Third Ave.), will open on Sept. 9, a source confirms. “I’m helping to curate the records at the store as well as some of the music playlists, and also bringing in some bands through Wreckroom [Records], my music incubator,” Grenier told the Daily News earlier this month. He says live bands, like Brooklyn-based rock group, The Skins, will perform at the venue at least once a month.

Taking a Tour of VNYL, the Massive Four-Floor Club for Professionals to Live the 1970s Dream: The grand opening of a massive, four-floor venue called VNYL is coming in early September to the East Village, and it will greet us with a record shop, coffee shop and several different types of nightclubs and bar settings… Construction is underway inside and outside the building at 100 Third Avenue between 12th and 13th streets. In a matter of weeks, the exterior of the building will appear entirely black and lined to emulate the aesthetic of a vinyl record, said the bar’s owner, James Morrissey, an Irish nightlife vet and owner of The Late Late bar on East Houston.

Vinyl 101: Everything you need to know before investing in a record collection: The music landscape is always changing. We’ve gone from analogue to digital and from super compressed MP3s to lossless FLAC in the span of 20 years. But in that transition, we started to lose what made music so special: soul. Loving vinyl isn’t about perfectly crystal-clear sound quality or the ability to take songs with you to the gym, it’s about a mindful listening experience. It’s about choosing which music you want to listen to, manually putting on a record and indulging in sound.

Lawson HMV to open record store in Shinjuku as needle points to vinyl revival: Lawson HMV Entertainment Inc. will open a record store in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward to tap the growing popularity of retro music technology, sources say. Aside from collectors, vinyl is becoming popular with younger generations of music fans at a time when compact disc sales are falling as more people flock to the internet to listen. Lawson HMV, a subsidiary of convenience store chain Lawson Inc., is betting the store will prove a hit.

Neil Young to reissue classic 1970s albums on vinyl: Neil Young will reissue remastered versions of four of his albums from the 1970s on vinyl on September 6. 1973’s Time Fades Away, 1974’s On The Beach, and 1975’s Tonight’s The Night and Zuma have long been out of print and will be reissued separately for the first time after being previously released as a limited edition box set for Record Store Day in November, 2014. Pitchfork reports that Time Fades Away has been an exclusive on Young’s Pono streaming service.

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TVD Chicago

TVD Live Shots: Wilco and Twin Peaks at Millennium Park, 8/21

Mother Nature ordered up the most perfect Sunday night that we’ve seen all summer. Perhaps she knew what was going down at Millennium Park.

“We’re home,” Jeff Tweedy confirmed to the crowd as Wilco took the stage to play their first show in their hometown since 2014. Also home? Openers and up-and-comers Twin Peaks (a band, I might add, who is not to be missed live).

This celebration of Chicago bands lasted 3.5 hours. “Play all night,” a fan next to me thought aloud—a sentiment that I, and many others, shared with him. It was a perfect night and a perfect setting to sink into the music and appreciate all that Chicago has to offer. Wilco, we love you baby.

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The TVD Storefront

Spinning: Faces, “Devotion”

Look, it’s hard to tell people how you feel, what’s going on, the tides pushing and pulling.

Time was when a mixtape was that bridge, or the spin of a well-intentioned record eliciting its own waltz about a candlelit room with the object of one’s adoration.

It’s an emotional world, it is. Thus TVD HQ’s recurring fuel for your fires and mixtapes. Reading between the lines—encouraged.

Posted in The TVD Storefront | Leave a comment

The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Ron Wood,
Gimme Some Neck

If your idea of heaven would be a cross between the Rolling Stones and the Faces, then Ronnie Wood’s your man. He’s done stints in both bands after all, and while I infinitely prefer his work with the Faces (he kinda disappeared into the Stones machine, in my opinion) you can hear echoes of both bands in his 1979 solo LP Gimme Some Neck, which boasts a mix as dirty as Rod Stewart’s mind and lots of Wood’s jet engine of a guitar, the one to be heard on the immortal “Stay With Me.”

The only problem is Wood’s vocals; at best he sounds like a Dylan imitator, at worst his voice is as thin as cheap toilet paper. He’s at his best when he’s joined by the LP’s backing vocalists, who include some bloke named Mick Jagger, some other bugger named Keith Richards, and the legendary Jerry Williams, aka Swamp Dogg. Other notables on the LP include Mick Fleetwood, Dave Mason, Charlie Watts, Bobby Keys, and former Faces’ band mate Ian McLagan, whose keyboards give such songs “We All Get Old” an indisputable Faces feel.

But as I said previously, it’s the gritty mix, reminiscent of the Faces’ best music and the Stones’ Exile on Main Street, that makes this LP special. No polish here, thank you very much. Instead the best songs almost sound like demos, albeit good ones. Wood has his limitations both as a vocalist and a songwriter, but he sure knows his rock’n’roll, which means he’s well aware that it’s best left unvarnished, like a coat of primer on an old muscle car.

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