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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TVD Washington, DC

TVD Ticket Giveaway: Capital Audiofest at the Sheraton, Silver Spring, 7/25–7/27

Given the sheer volume of what we’ll call “Going Out Guides” that rear their heads daily, weekly, monthly, seasonally, we like to fancy ourselves as a “Staying In Guide” every now and again. Records and turntables tend to mandate it. 

And records also mandate a keen ear and some attention to what they’re played on—and the music that spinning disc of plastic is revealing. Yet, there IS something to the notion that record collectors may not be “audiophiles” per se, but we do care quite considerably that our investments are being listened to and heard properly.

So, allow us to invite you to come out to pursue some of the very best reasons to simply—stay home.

The Capital Audiofest 2014 returns to the region this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to the Sheraton Hotel in Silver Spring, Maryland bringing with it the very best in contemporary and vintage gear, a list of exhibitors far too long to list, guest speakers, raffle items, and a healthy dose of inspiration as to what that man cave—or woman cave—could house to give those records you’ve been stashing away a proper airing.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve: James Blackshaw,
Fantomas: Le Faux Magistrat

Last Halloween, British 12-string guitar wizard James Blackshaw, in collaboration with electro-acoustic composer and sound-instillation artist Duane Pitre, Slowdive drummer Simon Scott, and multi-instrumentalist Charlotte Glasson, delivered the live score for the final installment of master French director Louis Feuillade’s silent film series of 1913. Fantômas: Le Faux Magistrat, Tompkins Square’s 2LP/ CD/ digital issue of the performance’s recording, reveals an ambitious undertaking that succeeds due to a lively combination of respect and invention.

Perusing the details of the centenary celebration of Louis Feuillade’s Fantômas, specifically an event coordinated by Yann Tiersen hosted last year in Paris’ Théâtre de Châtelet (additionally broadcast live on the European ARTE TV channel) that indeed culminated on All Hallows Eve 2013, is enough to inspire Pavlovian levels of salivation in movie buff/music fans. The affair generated scores from Tiersen, Tim Hecker, Loney Dear, Amiina, and Blackshaw for all five parts of an enduring opus by one of cinema’s most talented and intriguing filmmakers.

Naturally a danger accompanies these sorts of endeavors, in particular the belief that the images receiving a soundtrack are somehow lacking in vibrancy and require a boost of modernization. This often results in knuckleheaded maneuvers (e.g. noise hostility, egregious dance beats) or more problematically gestures of shallow commentary or even attempts to subvert the message of the picture.

Of course, the other extreme is inhabited by scores, reliably knocked-off by studious nimble-fingered scholarly pianists, which are well-intentioned but unfortunately burdened with quaintness. At least this tactic eschews arrogance and largely avoids obnoxiousness; in the case of Feuillade though, playing it overly safe is almost as insulting as underestimating his visual skills and undermining his status as a visionary.

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TVD Washington, DC

TVD Live: Camera Obscura at the 9:30
Club, 7/18

PHOTOS: NICK NEMPHOS | On Friday night, veteran act Camera Obscura brought their dreamy indie pop to an adoring crowd at the 9:30 Club. It was a show with few surprises and a couple of standout songs, but one that fulfilled the longing of fans to bask in lead singer Tracyanne Campbell’s beautiful, distinctive voice and to sing along to the band’s familiar love songs.

If you’re a fan of indie pop, or beachy, breezy pop with a little soul, or catchy pop songs with a strong brass section, or any combination of the above, you’re going to enjoy a Camera Obscura show. It doesn’t hurt that all Camera Obscura songs sound exactly like Camera Obscura. While each record might lean on electronics or add an orchestral arrangement or stronger beats, the underlying vibe backed by Campbell’s incredible voice remains constant.

For other bands, that could be their downfall. But with Camera Obscura, it is exactly what has kept fans around after five studio albums spanning more than a dozen years—and it’s why the 9:30 Club was packed on Friday.

The crowd leaned older than many 9:30 Club shows. And just three songs into the set, when the Glasgow-based band dove into “Let’s Get Out of This Country,” the title track of their 2006 breakthrough album, the cheering and singing made it clear that the audience was made up of longtime fans.

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The TVD Storefront

Festival Fast Talk:

If you caught our previous Festival Fast Talk, you saw that we spent time at the Red Bull Music Academy at Bonnaroo. The facility was a spot that Red Bull set up, bringing 20+ producers together, granting them time in fully stocked studios, having Mannie Fresh and Thundercat lecture them, and encouraging them to write music.

Though the entire crowd of producers were all great, one producer who definitely resonated inside the pack was BoomBaptist. Just as his moniker implies, he religiously studies the art of boom bap, making offerings to its church in the guise of hip hop beats and heavy grooves. BoomBaptist makes hard hitting and soulful beats over chops of kitwork and carefully queued samples. Be careful, his tracks might just give you whiplash if you’re not paying attention to how hard you’re nodding along when the snare follows the kick and it hits so hard its difficult not to just be like “damn.”

How did you start making music?

My mother instilled a love for music in me as a child. She was a very talented pianist, extremely focused, and dedicated to her craft. She put me through piano lessons early on in life, around six years old, I believe. But as far back as I could remember, I was drawn to the medium. Supposedly I would play the glockenspiel for hours and rock to the rhythm of washing machines as I sat on top of them.

Several years later, when I was exposed to East-coast rap on the radio in Miami, I obsessively studied all the production greats of that era—early ’90s—Premier, Dilla, Pete Rock, Diamond D, etc., etc. I realized that what drew me to those records was the production. At the time, a couple of friends and I had invested in our first turntables/mixer. The package was called the Gemini Starter Kit and was the budget option for people wanting to get their feet wet with DJing. Around the same time, I started dabbling with other styles, playing in a couple of jazz groups (percussion/woodwinds), a Latin group, etc. But ultimately, I had a real love for hip-hop and its production. About a year later, I discovered a free online program named Fruity Loops that was a very elementary option, and that sparked what became BoomBaptist.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Vinyl Giveaway: Fozzy, Do You Wanna Start a War? Signed by Chris Jericho!

From yesterday interview with Fozzy’s Chris Jerico:

What can we expect from the new Fozzy album, Do You Wanna Start a War?

The only rule we had with this record is that we had no rules. We didn’t want to make a record that was like anything that we had ever done before. We wanted to take our sound to the next level. You know, a lot of bands can kind of fall into a trap of doing the same record over and over again, and that’s fine. We love bands like Iron Maiden, Metallica, we love Avenged Sevenfold but we also love Queen and Pink Floyd, Zeppelin and the Beatles, bands that would make a different record every time. There was really no rules or chains as to what kind of songs they would do.

I mean, if you look at a Queen record, there would be a metal song, a rock song, a pop song, a dance song, a rockabilly song, a ballad. It was all good, because it was Queen. That’s what we wanted to do, just make a really diverse record with good songs. I think that’s the difference. There’s some songs that are more danceable songs, you could hear them at a dance club. There’s songs that you could hear at a strip club, there’s songs you could hear at an R&B club, but they are all good, they are all heavy and they’re all Fozzy, and that’s what we wanted to do.

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The TVD Storefront

Identical Homes,
The TVD First Date
and Vinyl Giveaway

“That bead of sweat. Do you remember? What part of the body was it? I don’t think anyone knows. But Hall and Oates H20 is definitely the first album cover in my parents collection that caught my eye.”

“It was leaned up against their dark wood record cabinet that housed their wood grain Rotel player. Vinyl was on its way out, and my brother and I were on a steady diet of Dead Milkmen, early Chili Peppers, and Iron Maiden tapes. Anything remotely related to adult contemporary would spark a protest. Blasting Christopher Cross’s “Sailing” was how they got us out of the house on the weekends.

But even my bleached hair and vision street wear attitude couldn’t shake a song like “Maneater” on vinyl. That heavily delayed sax solo through the bridge? It’s undeniable. I’m not saying the album was without its faults. The song, “Italian Girls” features this line: “I eat, I eat, I eat so much pasta basta, I’m so full and yet so lonely.” Regardless, that record would stay with me through the rebellious years, foreshadowing the musical direction I would eventually head in.

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