TVD Washington, DC

TVD Live: The Sounds
at the 9:30 Club, 4/12

PHOTOS: RICHIE DOWNS Decked out in a black mini-dress, motorcycle jacket, and metallic stilettos, her bleached hair held back in a ponytail, The Sounds lead singer Maja Ivarsson certainly looks like your quintessential rock star. And with a full-volume, energetic show Saturday night at the 9:30 Club, the band proved to an enthusiastic crowd that sixteen years later, they still have it.

Despite playing an early show—The Sounds took the stage at 7:45pm—the Swedish new wave act performed as if were midnight. Formed in 1998, the band’s set included songs from all five of their albums, from their 2002 hit debut, Living in America to their most recent effort Weekend, released in late 2013. Their sound has varied little over the years, sometimes adding more punk elements or more synth or leaning toward dance or pop. This consistency allowed the show to feel complete, despite the time span their songs covered.

Within this deep history, The Sounds are not known for their sophisticated song writing or musical originality—but they are known for catchy rock and dance tracks. Most of their songs work especially well translated live, with their often-simple lyrics easy for eager fans to sing along to every word with Ivarsson.

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TVD New Orleans

TVD Recommends: Umphrey’s McGee at the Civic Theater, 4/17

SAMANTHA HILSENROD FOR TVD | The Civic Theatre will welcome the ground-breaking Chicago jam band to New Orleans to promote their upcoming album, Similar Skin. Set to be released June 10, Similar Skin will be the band’s eighth studio album, and the first from their new independent label Nothing Too Fancy Music, a moniker shared with one of the group’s most beloved songs.

The band promises a unique concert experience. Known for communal, fan friendly performances, Umphree’s McGee has been at the forefront of concert audio-immersion. A concept recently featured in Rolling Stone magazine, the “Headphones and Snowcones” audio immersion program is an option available at Umphree’s shows that enables fans to listen through headphones connected to the soundboard, blocking out ambient noise.

At the same time listeners preview what the live album cut will sound like. The band will also issue a free download of the performance for those who choose to enjoy the show this way.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Vinyl Giveaway: Jake Bugg, Live at Silver Platters and Shangri La

After a rather successful self-titled debut, Jake Bugg has released its follow-up, Shangri La, and we’ve got one to give away along with a special Record Store Day 2014 release, Live at Silver Platters.

Jake Bugg was only 17 when he signed with Mercury Records after performing at the Glastonbury Festival. His self-titled debut album reached number one on the UK Album Charts. His music is heavily influenced by Oasis, Neil Young, Johnny Cash, and Nick Drake.

Jake Bugg has taken over the UK by proverbial storm, and his single “Messed Up Kids” was released just yesterday.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, (s/t)

Tom Petty scares me. Always has. It’s that skull face of his. I always thought he’d be an even bigger star than he is if his face didn’t look like it should have crossbones underneath it. Yes, I suspect that Petty’s frightening apparition of a face (although he’s improved it a bit by growing hair on it) has kept him from being acknowledged for what he is: namely, a bona fide power pop genius.

Most people think of Petty as a rock’n’roller or a roots rocker or, ugh, a heartland rocker, but I say he’s a power pop genius and goddamn it, I’m right. And he’d be a power pop genius if the only song he’d ever bequeathed us is the great “American Girl,” which I put at No. 3 on my list of all-time favorite power pop smashes behind The Raspberries’ “Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)” and Big Star’s “September Gurls.” But since 1976 Petty has produced a shitload of brilliant and deceptively simple-sounding songs, from “Here Comes My Girl” to “Free Fallin’” to “I Need to Know” to “Into the Great Wide Open”—and the list goes on and on.

Petty reminds me of Creedence Clearwater Revival, another great singles band that never—in my opinion, at least—got the respect it deserved. And unlike John Fogerty—who has been reduced to producing ilk of the “put me in coach, I’m ready to play” variety—or Eric Carmen for that matter, Petty just keeps pumping them out, like a machine, or an Android from the Planet Skull. The man is a marvel, a human jukebox, and as much as I love The Raspberries and Big Star—more than I’ll ever love Tom Petty, that’s for sure—there’s no denying the guy has produced as many—or more—great tunes than both those bands put together.

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The TVD Storefront

Arum Rae,
The TVD First Date

“My first memory of vinyl would have to be my brother dancing his head off to Lionel Richie right in front of the player which would cause the needle to jump and my Mom to holler from kitchen to not get so close to the stereo if he was going to be dancing like that…”

“Just like most of us now days, I listen to music in all forms but I haven’t gotten to know music like I have by listening from vinyl. Randy Newman’s Sail Away, Billie Holiday Sings the Blues, Gershwin’s Rhapsody In Blue to more contemporaries such as Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky and Radiohead’s In Rainbows.

Reflecting on these records conjures up not only the music but of course the cover art as well is a reward all in itself.

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TVD UK

UK Vinyl Video:
Fat Goth, “Class A”

Fat Goth return! They’re about to release their next album One Hundred Percent Suave on May 12th and this latest video for album track “Class A” is definitely their statement of intent.

Since their last album Stud, the boys have become minor “celebrities” in their hometown of Dundee, Scotland. In the video for “Class A” we see how their stardom has effected the boys as they crash a party, leaving a path of destruction and embarrassment in their wake.

Never ones to take themselves seriously, the video for “Class A” is an insight into their personalities as they poke fun at themselves against a backdrop of brilliant music—we wouldn’t expect anything less. “Class A” will be released as a free download from April 28th.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve: Bobby Bare Jr.’s Young Criminals’ Starvation League, Undefeated

Bobby Bare Jr.’s latest effort, his fourth with the Young Criminal’s Starvation League, is titled Undefeated. While the roots of his musical upbringing can still be sporadically detected in his recent stuff, the 10 tracks from this new record continue to present the veteran singer-songwriter-guitarist as his own artistic man.

One of this writer’s earliest memories is of grooving in the living room as the 1974 LP Singin’ in the Kitchen spun on my folks’ wooden hi-fi cabinet stereo system, a long-ago state-of-the-art unit sporting durable tweed material covering its speakers, an appliance truly doubling as a piece of deluxe furniture with the hugeness and functionality leaving this young lad fascinated.

Singin’ in the Kitchen was a country sing-along album credited to Bobby Bare and the Family, its songs deriving almost entirely from the pen of Shel Silverstein. While not a children’s record exactly, the kid-friendly disc’s oft-boisterous intent was plainly to enhance familial camaraderie, and in the household of my youth it chalked-up smashing success.

To this day Singin’ in the Kitchen remains an admirable endeavor, showing off the 1970s country scene’s more progressive leanings, though its usefulness for aging bachelors (like me) or for that matter bachelorettes (perhaps like you) is truthfully pretty limited. I mainly mention the LP because Bobby Bare Jr. was a singing member of the Family; he in fact made his recording debut earlier that same year (age five) on his father’s #2 C&W hit “Daddy What If.”

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TVD Washington, DC

TVD Live: Hurray for the Riff Raff at the Sixth & I Synagogue, 4/9

Last Wednesday night, Hurray for the Riff Raff played in front of a packed house at the beautiful Sixth & I historic synagogue in DC. Their performance exhibited their remarkable talents as both stage performers and songwriters.

Touring to promote their new album Small Town Heroes, the Riff Raff’s stop in our fair city made for one lovely night of music at one of DC’s most unique venues. When Alynda Segarra took the stage, she looked up from her fixed guitar stance and said, “Wow, this is a beautiful place” just before she went into her set.

There is a simple yet unstated beauty that lies within folk songs, especially when they are performed in the correct manner. Hurray for the Riff Raff’s performance in DC was one that I will always remember fondly. Segarra’s vocals were as mesmerizing as they were enchanting.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Vinyl Giveaway: The Afghan Whigs, Do to the Beast Test Pressing

Since splitting up and reuniting from 2007 until 2011, alt-rockers the Afghan Whigs have regrouped, once again, and this time for more than just live performances. 

Earlier this year, the Afghan Whigs announced the official release date of their first album in sixteen years. Titled Do to the Beast, the album went on sale in North America today. Do to the Beast marks the seventh album for the band and features ten brand new songs, including the single “Algiers.”

Sixteen years is a long time to wait for new music. In honor of the Afghan Whigs’ first release in sixteen years, we’re giving away one of the test pressings of the long-awaited album Do to the Beast.

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TVD New Orleans

Our French Quarter Fest 2014 highlights

The French Quarter Fest has turned the proverbial corner. Near perfect weather and occasionally oppressive crowds created a new situation for the festival’s organizers to ponder over the upcoming year. When does big become too big?

I heard more complaints than ever before and witnessed lots of bad behavior on the part of the clearly record-setting crowd on Friday and Saturday. More on that later. Here are some musical highlights.

Festers unable or unwilling to get out early on Thursday morning missed an impressive set by jam/rock/funk ensemble Gravy. With a sax and trumpet front and center and a percolating organ and killer vocals calling to mind Stevie Winwood, the band, which has been together for eight years, gets my “most improved” award.

Immediately after they finished I scurried to the new Big River stage to hear Tank and the Bangas. This band, which is fronted by the vivacious Tarriona “Tank” Ball (pictured above and at top), is something special, playing original music that calls to mind a hodgepodge of influences from musical theater to Nicki Minaj and even Frank Zappa.

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