TVD New York City

TVD Live Shots: Richard Ashcroft at Terminal 5, 3/27

Touring to support his latest solo release These People, Richard Ashcroft, former frontman of The Verve, performed at New York’s Terminal 5 on Monday evening and treated a packed house of dedicated fans to a night of music that spanned the prolific artist’s catalog—both old and new.

To say the New York stop on Ashcroft’s current tour was an excellent, flawless performance would be a dramatic understatement. Nearly every song in Ashcroft’s set on Monday had some degree of improvisation lending his live show a genuinely unique tone and experience as he led his backing band in a myriad of directions.

Ashcroft himself stated at the beginning of his set that watching some bands perform you’d do just as well watching a hologram, and given Monday’s performance, by comparison I’d have to agree. Ashcroft truly gave his New York fans a gift that will linger in memories for some time. I only hope he returns to play again.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Radar: Judee Sill’s classic self-titled debut and Heart Food 180gram reissues in stores in June

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Intervention Records is thrilled to announce Judee Sill’s classic 1971 debut, Judee Sill (Cat# IR-016), and her stellar followup Heart Food (Cat# IR-017). Each album is cut as a double-45RPM LP set and pressed on dead-quiet 180-gram vinyl. Both LPs are anticipated to street in June 2017 and are available for pre-order now.

The astonishing Judee Sill was the first artist signed to David Geffen’s Asylum Records, and Judee Sill the first album released on the label. Sill’s music is intensely spiritual, redolent of mystical and divine imagery, yet grounded by great songwriting and a pure but powerful singing talent. Her songs impart incredible intimacy that is enhanced by her sometimes complex string arrangements (remarkably Sill arranged and conducted the strings/orchestra on these albums!).

Sill’s life was tragic personally and professionally. Her father and brother were killed when Sill was young, and her tempestuous relationship with her alcoholic (and remarried) mother resulted in her leaving home at 15. She committed robberies and began a battle she was destined to lose against drug addiction. When stardom didn’t follow the critical acclaim of these two albums her career never recovered. Sill was dead from a drug overdose in 1979 at just 35. The brevity of Judee’s musical legacy is outweighed by the emotional power and weight of these two extraordinary albums.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Frank Zappa,
Hot Rats

Frank Zappa and I have a complicated relationship. During my formative years spent smoking pot with pig farmers I was besotted by the fellow. I thought he was smart, and figured that listening to him made me smart too.

But we agreed to a temporary separation around the time of the 1979 release of Sheik Yerbouti, and split for good after that same year’s Joe’s Garage Act I. I could no longer ignore the derisive sneer of perceived intellectual and moral superiority audible in every one of his songs. That and it finally occurred to me that the mildly scatological humor I found so clever was just as clever to 12-year-olds.

There are other bands I liked then but no longer listen to now. But Zappa is the only artist I have ever wished to airbrush, Soviet-style, from my musical past. Liking him as much as I did then actually embarrasses me. And that’s a step too far, I think. There is no denying that Zappa expanded the limitations of rock’n’roll. So I have made a few tentative steps towards a rapprochement over the past several years. Why, I even went so far as to borrow my brother’s copy of 1969’s Hot Rats—an LP I must have listened to a thousand times when I was stoned—then actually played the damn thing.

And? Well, upon first listen, I was inclined to agree with Robert Christgau, whose review of Hot Rats went, “Doo-doo to you, Frank–when I want movie music I’ll listen to ‘Wonderwall.’” This was a rejoinder to Mr. Zappa’s description of his second solo LP following the breakup of the Mothers of Invention as “a movie for your ears.” But I think that’s overly harsh. Some of Hot Rats can be written off as overly formal forays into jazz-rock fusion. Violinist and jazz fusion hero Jean Luc-Ponty doesn’t play on LP closer “It Must Be a Camel”— a brave if rather plodding foray into Eric Dolphy country—for nothing. And the horn arrangements are, for the most part, both prissy and as tight-assed as the fella what came up with them. But Hot Rats contains some very exciting moments and two songs for the ages in “Willie the Pimp” and the lengthy “The Gumbo Variations.”

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TVD Washington, DC

Play Something Good with John Foster

The Vinyl District’s Play Something Good is a weekly radio show broadcast from Washington, DC.

Featuring a mix of songs from today to the 00s/90s/80s/70s/60s and giving you liberal doses of indie, psych, dub, post punk, americana, shoegaze, and a few genres we haven’t even thought up clever names for just yet. The only rule is that the music has to be good. Pretty simple.

Hosted by John Foster, world-renowned designer and author (and occasional record label A+R man), don’t be surprised to hear quick excursions and interviews on album packaging, food, books, and general nonsense about the music industry, as he gets you from Jamie xx to Liquid Liquid and from Courtney Barnett to The Replacements. The only thing you can be sure of is that he will never ever play Mac DeMarco. Never. Ever.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve: Orchestra Baobab,
Tribute to Ndiouga

For longtime lovers of global sounds, Senegal’s Orchestra Baobab require no introduction. Budding aficionados need only understand the group’s blend of Afro-Cuban and traditional African sounds as a rare gift of international music, and from there begin listening. In a positive turn of events, the outfit has completed a new album, and it’s as solid an entry point as anything in their unusually sturdy discography; honoring one of the group’s original vocalists who sadly passed last November, Tribute to Ndiouga Dieng is out March 31 on World Circuit.

The story is that Orchestra Baobab started breaking through internationally just in time to get eclipsed at home by Mbalax, a newer Senegalese sound, which quickly came to be personified in the World Music scene by their younger countryman Youssou N’Dour. By 1987 Baobab had broken up, and while they’d cut a slew of vinyl records and tapes, their subsequent reputation grew primarily through ’93’s Bamba (a combo of ’80’s Mouhamadou Bamba and ’81’s Si Bou Odja on one CD) and the celebrated Pirates Choice from ’82, though it didn’t get a US release until ’01 through World Circuit/ Nonesuch.

The Paris-based West African-focused label Syllart Productions compiles a ton of Baobab’s ’70s material onto the La Belle Époque 2CD and it’s equally exhaustive second volume, but in terms of pro production their best sounding set of that decade is surely On Verra Ça: The 1978 Paris Sessions. Those wanting to soak up Baobab at an early stage are encouraged to seek out the Dakar Sound label’s ’98 CD N’Wolof, which features Wolof griot vocalist Laye M’Boup.

Pirates Choice’s reissue was so well-received that it helped inspire a return to activity. Specialist in All Styles arrived in 2002, produced by N’Dour (alongside Nick Gold) and flaunting guest vocalist Ibrahim Ferrer, then at the peak of his popularity as a member of the Buena Vista Social Club. The appearance emphasized Baobab’s already prominent Afro-Cuban roots and solidified their newfound popularity. In 2008, Made in Dekar emerged with no slippage of quality amid tangible growth.

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 3/29/17

Record Revival: Vinyl is alive and well in Morinville: As you walk through the front door of Smith Music, expect to be greeted by a whirl of activity and sound. If you haven’t been there in a while, you’ll likely notice the place has changed, a lot. What was once a singular, large open room is now a building split up into three unique identities. There’s a new massage therapy business there. And, of course, there’s Smith Music with its immense stage and new (not to mention, impressive) recording studio. And, there’s Ron’s Collectibles.

Celebrating the 10th anniversary of Record Store Day: “I was given a challenge by Bryan Burkert, the owner of The Sound Garden in Baltimore, to make record stores relevant in the face of the collapse of Tower and the rise of digital. So I started talking with record store owners about how it could be done. Chris Brown (with Bull Moose) suggested we do an event modeled after the indie comic book stores’ Free Comic Day. Eric Levin (with Criminal) was thinking the same thought and he was the one that suggested that we make Record Store Day all about vinyl…”

Vinyl records make comeback in Vietnam with new releases: Two albums of vinyl records (analog recordings) were released recently in HCM City, introducing a new element in the local industry that is dominated by digital CDs and DVDs. The album, entitled Mot Thoi Da Xa (Passing Time), has been produced by Music Faces Records, one of the region’s leading music producers, in cooperation with Gia Dinh Audio. It has 11 romantic songs written by veteran musicians such as Thanh Tung and Truong Huy, who were famous in the 1990s. Mot Thoi Da Xa features young singers Uyen Linh, Thuy Chi, Thai Trinh and Huong Giang. “We decided to use analog technology to make our new productions original and with perfect sound,” composer Duc Tri of Music Faces Records, who has more than 10 years of experience in recording, said.

Vinylmania sees music lovers flock to Coventry records fair, Fans could browse likes of Beatles, Queen and Oasis at Fargo Village fair: A crowd of music lovers flocked to a records fair held at Coventry’s Fargo Village. With vinyl said to be outselling downloads, the event attracted a number of records fans yesterday. They could browse through prog rock, punk rock and hip-hop to soul, reggae and doo wop at the sale organised by VIP Record Fairs. A large variety of artists were on sale from Presley to Plan B, The Beatles to Bob Marley, Arctic Monkeys to Pink Floyd, The Kinks to Kasabian, Stones to Sex Pistols, Led Zep to Queen, Oasis to Otis Redding – the whole spectrum of rock and pop was at the event.

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TVD San Francisco

TVD Live Shots: The Kills and Dream Wife at the Fox Theatre, 3/22

The Kills are on the road supporting their 15th anniversary with a handful of West Coast dates that wrapped up at Oakland’s Fox Theater.

Those who arrived early were treated to an amazing set by Dream Wife. Based in London with an Icelandic vocalist (who spent the first 10 years of her life in the Bay Area and was clearly stoked be back), the band tore through a generous 40 minute set that showed why The Kills have tapped them for this tour. Crunchy, searing guitars juxtaposed with dreamy, charged vocals made for a set that few will forget.

Sufficiently primed for the headliners, the anticipation for The Kills 9:30 set was palpable as the crew transformed the stage, finally revealing a giant Ash & Ice backdrop. Strolling out onto the stage and blasting into “Heart of a Dog,” The Kills quickly demonstrated that they meant business.

Jamie Hince played muse on guitar to Alison Mosshart’s vocals … the stone-faced yin to her wild, hair-flinging yang. Near-perfect opposites that together were a combined force on stage that had the crowd ecstatic and rapt with attention.

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TVD New Orleans

Jazz Fest reveals 2017 “cubes” and posters

With one month before the annual celebration of New Orleans music and culture, the stage lineups for the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival were revealed this morning at a spirited press party at the New Orleans Fairgrounds.

This year’s festival, the 48th in a row, celebrates the music of Cuba and fittingly the musical entertainment was New Orleans’ own Cuban band, AsheSon. The group, which now features the wonderful Cuban native Alexey Marti on congas, played a couple of tunes as a very excited man waved a Cuban flag, hooted and hollered.

Quint Davis, the producer/director of the fest, explained the detailed process in dealing with the communist government of Cuba. Former U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu got involved and set up a meeting with diplomats over two years ago.

Though former President Obama gradually began the process of restoring relations between the two countries, some of what the festival’s planners had in mind might not necessarily have been legal at the time.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Video Premiere: Tree Machines,
“Waiting On the Sun”

The brainchild of two Kansans now out and about in LA, Tree Machines are on the verge of a follow-up album to their inaugural 2015 EP, a collection of songs highlighting the ennui of small-town Midwest living, something that Lawrence natives Douglas Wooldridge and Patrick Aubry, the duo in question, may have grown accustomed to over the years, but have since hitched a ride to the City of Angels, trading in Mass Street for a Canoga Park garage.

Their upcoming debut album Up for Air arrives this year, and if the first single off the LP is any indication, Wooldridge and Aubry are seeking to cast a wide net. Driven by visions of Los Angeles, which is made even more apparent in the accompanying lyric video dominated by drone-captured, colorless images of the cityscape and shoreline, “Waiting On the Sun” amounts to an extended vocal-synth crescendo of hope and illumination at the prospects of a new day.

Though the lyrics are quick to remind that darkness looms here just as in any other place, the song retains a musical brightness which never forsakes the inevitability of that titular light rising again.

Wooldridge and Aubry certainly bring a bit of Kansas to LA, and they possess a keen understanding of their new whereabouts, but it’s never in question that the two are aiming for a clarion call of universal intent, one to curb the loneliness that hangs over most every soul in high and low places

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UK Artist of the Week: Pip Blom

Having received airplay from Huw Stephens on BBC Radio 1, as well as plenty of acclaim from both Steve Lamacq and Marc Riley at BBC 6 Music, Amsterdam-based artist Pip Blom first caught our attention last year with her EP “Are We There Yet?” Now, along with her band—Tender Blom (guitar and backing vocals), Berend Kok (bass), and Bowie Thörig (drums)—she is busy touring the UK with Surfer Blood, off the back of releasing her latest single.

“I Think I’m In Love” is filled with infectious, racing hooks and Blom’s distinctive youthful vocals reflecting on the complications of love and relationships. An uplifting, energy-fuelled offering reminiscent of Aussie rocker Courtney Barnett, “I Think I’m In Love” has all the twinkling melodies and rich harmonies you could ever dream of, complete with an addictive, sing-along chorus.

With her quirky charisma, raw vocal power, and ability to create such incredibly catchy offerings, it seems a sure thing that Pip Blom will be winning over the ears of many this year with her own distinct brand of charming, fuzzy indie-rock.

“I Think I’m In Love” is in stores now via Toaster Records.

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