TVD San Francisco

TVD Live Shots:
Alice in Chains at the
Fox Theater, 7/24

An evening with Alice in Chains, a sold out crowd, and a setlist that perfectly captures the legacy of one of the most influential and successful American rock bands of the last two decades. No opening band, just two hours of epic music. And they sounded so spectacular live that I would easily list them as one of the top five touring bands on the planet at the moment.

Frontman William Duvall is simply masterful at handling lead vocals and his guitar adds a welcomed layer to the band’s colossal wall of sound that wasn’t there before. And before you say that no one can replace the late, great Layne Staley, I will say that I agree. He’s not trying to. Duvall sounds fucking amazing on the classic material and adds a new dimension to the Alice in Chains sound—keeping it alive and well.

And how’s the rest of the band? Jerry Cantrell looks and sounds as good as ever before, Sean Kinney still pounds the shit out of his drums, and Mike Inez continues to make it look effortless laying down the bass upon some of the heaviest grooves of all time. Collectively these guys look like a band that still very much loves to perform, instead of those who tour only for a paycheck.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Live Shots: The Pennsylvania Blues Festival at Split Rock Resort, 7/25

Our own Doug Seymour attended the Pennsylvania Blues Festival on July 25th at the Split Rock Resort in Lake Harmony, PA to capture the day’s events.

Blues singer Shemekia Copeland, daughter of the late great Johnny Copeland, headlined the festival.

There was also a late night showcase featuring the original members of Johnny Copeland’s band. This was the first time the group had performed together since Johnny’s passing in 1997. Shemekia Copeland joined the band for this historic moment.

The full day’s events are captured on the flip.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Attila, (s/t)

It’s not exactly a state secret, but plenty of people don’t know (and need to know) the horrifying truth; before he turned into the pop superstar who gave us such classics as “Piano Man” and “Uptown Girl,” Billy Joel was in a heavy metal duo called Attila. They released one LP, 1970’s self-titled Attila, and you will frequently find it on lists of the worst albums ever recorded. And small wonder. Attila kinda sound like a retarded Deep Purple. Lots of organ noodling by Joel, you know? And the cover! Billy looks like a New Jersey medieval knight, with hair way down to here and a mustache that is frankly offensive. Oh, and he’s surrounded by dead meat hanging from hooks. I don’t even have to listen to the album when I want a laugh; I just look at the cover.

We all make youthful mistakes, but this one is a doozy. Attila featured Joel on organ and Jon Small on drums, and Joel himself has written it off as “psychedelic bullshit.” But that’s nothing compared to the review written by one AllMusic critic, who opined, “Attila is undoubtedly is the worst album released in the history of rock’n’roll—hell, the history of recorded music itself.” No one, he adds, has ever matched “the colossal stupidity of Attila.” Me, I don’t think it’s that much stupider than most of the works of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, and it’s a tad less pretentious, so I’m inclined to give Attila a break. But make no mistake about it. This is an album so dumb it transcends dumb and almost becomes genius, that is if you look upon it as satire, which unfortunately Joel and Small didn’t. They were serious as a heart attack-ack-ack-ack, which seems impossible when you listen to songs like “Brain Invasion.”

As for Joel, he wisely skedaddled with Small’s wife after the LP’s release, ending the collaboration, and went on to disprove F. Scott Fitzgerald’s adage that there are no second acts in American life. And good thing, too, because if Joel had stuck with Attila, he’d undoubtedly be working in the meat-packing plant where the cover shot was taken. Instead he became a balladeer and sometimes rock’n’roller, and is worth approximately $83 billion dollars. As for Small, he forgave Joel and went on to produce some of Joel’s LPs, as well as the greatest hits of Run-DMC and a concert film by the sad remnants of Lynyrd Skynyrd. The world can be a surprisingly lenient place.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Ticket and Vinyl Giveaway: Ezra Furman in the city and venue of your choice and the new LP, Perpetual Motion People

Guitarist and singer Ezra Furman is truly compelling. Most often seen performing in a dress and cherry red lipstick, his energetic, gritty, and brutally honest songs have generated a rapidly growing fanbase. Furman is a true rock ‘n’ roller who puts on thrilling, high-energy performances that shake the house.

Formerly of four piece indie-rock band Ezra Furman and the Harpoons, he is currently backed by The Boyfriends, who feature saxophonist Tim Sandusky, producer of each of Furman’s three solo albums. The first of these, The Year of No Returning, was done without a label, instead using a Kickstarter campaign to fund the recording and release.

Now signed with Bella Union, Furman released his third solo album, Perpetual Motion People, earlier this month. Of this album’s concept, Furman said, “I’ve always viewed the idea of truth itself as something wobbly, always slipping out of our grasp. That’s what the songs are about: a head that is haunted, a society I cannot join, a lover who is perpetually in the act of leaving. A central idea is the fugitive or runaway, in a hideout built in the midst of an unfriendly or alienated world.”

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The TVD Storefront

FLORALS, The TVD
First Date & Premiere, “Becalm”

“My father is a jazz musician, so music has always been a huge part of my life. I would go into summer music workshops at the college he was teaching at and hung out with older musician kids. Some of them would carry around LPs because there was a record player in the lounge. I was in middle school, so I wasn’t that into it. I was always more into CDs because carrying around a Discman seemed way cooler to me. That was my first experience with vinyl (beyond thinking it was for “old people,” as my 12-year-old self would say.)”

“When I got into my twenties, that’s when I started to appreciate vinyl records more and the value of actually owning them has. There’s something about the pops and crackles that emit from the record player as it spins the LP that is oddly comforting to listen to. It wasn’t until Stephanie, our singer, got me a record player for my birthday a few years back, that I started to actually collect records.

We live close to Amoeba on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, so I try to pop in there and find good deals. Most recently I found Tycho’s Dive LP barely used for $10.00, and also an original print of M83’s Dead Cities, Red Seas, and Lost Ghosts for $15.00. One of my proudest achievements was a four album Christmas set for $3.00. It had all of the C-List singers of the ’40s and ’50s singing the classics. I’ll cherish it for the rest of my life.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve: BLiNDNESS,
Wrapped in Plastic

The London-based trio BLiNDNESS formed all the way back in 2008 and seven years later their first LP has arrived. Flaunting tunefulness enveloped in rawness and volume, its songs are unabashedly idling at the crossroads of ‘90s alt-rock and indie, with detailed attention paid to shoegaze and nervy electro elements. The results fall a tad short of amazing, but through confidence and focus it serves as a promising debut; Wrapped in Plastic is out now on vinyl/CD/digital via the Saint Marie label of Ft. Worth, TX.

BLiNDNESS consists of Beth Rettig on vocals and programming, Emma Quick on bass, and Debbie Smith on guitar and feedback; all three get credited with noise. Those curious over the long period between the unit’s formation and Wrapped in Plastic’s emergence should understand that Rettig is part of The Mekano Set while Quick plays in Climbing Boys.

Smith has been busy as well, and she’s the point on BLiNDNESS’s triangle sporting the highest profile; from ’91-’94 she was a touring contributor to Curve and was also involved with Echobelly, Snowpony, Nightnurse, and Bows. A bit more casually she was/is in The Nuns, an all-female Monks cover band (!), and more recently worked alongside her former Curve mate Dean Garcia in SPC ECO.

One might be grasping a few commonalities; Snowpony was an indie supergroup featuring members of Stereolab and My Bloody Valentine, and Bows recorded for the esteemed ‘90s UK label Too Pure. BLiNDNESS’s influences are well-contained, however; amidst the rapidly observable strains of shoegaze and electro pop they strive to maintain a specific sound.

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 7/29/15

The Garage: Studio Records, where you can browse vinyl, quaff a brew and listen live all at the same time: “We’re all passionate about music,” exclaims manager Max Cunningham. “We love records.

Peter Gabriel announces vinyl reissue series: “Peter Gabriel is to launch remastered, limited edition vinyl versions of his first four solo records – marking their return to the format for the first time since 2002. It’s the first in a series that will see all his records available in vinyl.”

Queen To Release The Studio Collection Special Edition Vinyl Box Set And Limited Edition Turntable: “The band and their label Universal Music, have announced Queen: The Studio Collection, an 18 disc theme-coloured vinyl LP collection to be released September 25th. This unique package will be complimented with a fully customised limited edition Queen branded turntable made by Rega.

NJ record store in business since 1934: “‘I was practically born here,’ Joan says. Her father Anthony opened this shop at this location in Cliffside Park in 1934. Joan and Bill took over after Anthony died.”

(We still don’t understand the appeal, but:) “Cassette Store Day is back this autumn on October 17th with a day of global celebrations and more international partners than ever before. Founded by UK indie labels Suplex Cassettes, Kissability, and Sexbeat in 2013, last year’s Cassette Store Day saw prolific tape lovers Burger Records at the helm of US releases and events. This year they are joined by Rice is Nice in Australia, Arch Hill in New Zealand, andMansions and Millions in Germany.”

Vinyl Lovers to Convene at Hawaii Record Fair: “Hawaii has more than its fair share of vinyl collectors. You might even say there’s an established vinyl culture here, withRoger Bong keeping tabs on the community at Aloha Got Soul since 2010.”

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TVD San Francisco

TVD Live Shots:
Charli XCX, BØRNS,
and Bleachers at the
Fox Theater, 7/23

Charli XCX Shot by Jason Miller-10

I am going to get a tremendous amount of shit from my heavy metal friends for this one, but who really cares. I have a thing for Charli XCX. Not only because she’s incredibly attractive (I think it’s ok to say that because my wife has a crush on Mason Jennings), but more importantly because she’s got attitude and substance. Out of all the generic pop stars out there Charli has a sort of punk rock I don’t give a f**k mindset that I think is missing from much of the crap cluttering up the last of the available airwaves.

She reminds me of a very polished Joan Jett. On top of that she has a full band behind her that really kicks ass. When I heard that she was coming to the Fox Theater in Oakland I had to be there to photograph what was sure to be an epic pop show. I didn’t really care who was opening the show that night as I just really wanted to see Charli, but then BØRNS hit the stage and completely blew me away.

Charli XCX Shot by Jason Miller-21

After a bit of research, I discovered that these guys are on Interscope and have a pretty good buzz behind them based on one of their songs being featured in a car commercial. The song is called “Electric Love” and the only bad thing about it is that apparently Taylor Swift tweeted about it (by the way that’s not a selling point to your target audience).

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
The Bonzo Dog Band, Tadpoles

I am tempted to call The Bonzo Dog Band (or the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, take your pick) the greatest group in the history of rock. And this despite the fact that they only occasionally got around to playing what could be called a rock song. They were too far too busy cracking themselves up with their hilarious, brilliantly surreal, and utterly deranged wit. If Monty Python had turned to music full-time, they might—although I honestly doubt it—have been as funny as The Bonzo Dog Band.

The genre-hopping mobile insane asylum that was The Bonzo Dog Band might throw anything at you: trad jazz, oldies covers, bizarre street interviews with perplexed normals, and parodies, heaps of parodies—of thirties songs, music hall songs, fifties songs, blues songs, hard-rock songs, psychedelic songs—you name it. And they were excellent musicians—when they wanted to be—with a genius for arranging songs. Your average Bonzo tune may sound anarchic, but you can be certain it was put together with an exacting eye for detail, and every detail is in its right place.

There’s really no one to compare The Bonzo Dog Band with except Frank Zappa, and the comparison is a poor one. Zappa’s humor was sneering and juvenile; his Brit counterparts favored an intelligent and good-natured Dadaism. Just check out “The Intro and the Outro,” a parody of a band introduction that grows stranger and stranger as it goes on, with the announcer snazzily saying, “And looking very relaxed on vibes, Adolf Hitler… niiiice” and “Representing the flower people, Quasimodo, on bells.” No yellow snow here.

Formed in London in 1962 as a trad jazz band, The Bonzo Dog Band’s core line-up included the mad and brilliant Vivian “Ginger Geezer” Stanshall on trumpet and lead vocals; the equally demented Neil Innes on piano, guitar, and lead vocals; Rodney “Rhino” Desborough Slater on saxophone; Roger Ruskin Spear on tenor saxophone and assorted mad sound-producing contraptions, including the trouser press and “Theremin leg”; Dennis Cowan on drums and vocals; and the legendary “Legs” Larry Smith—the tap dancer extraordinaire who played one of rock’s few tap solos on Elton John’s “I Think I’m Going to Kill Myself”—on drums.

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The TVD Storefront

The Reasn,
The TVD First Date

“I remember buying the What’s Going On vinyl by Marvin Gaye at a yard sale when I was young. I listened to it over and over again in my basement. It really opened my eyes early on to how music can change the world and not just talk about the same shit. The music can go as far as you want to take it.”

“Growing from that experience I really started to appreciate reselling, trading, and collecting vinyl. Digging through the crates is like the ultimate nostalgic feeling for me, especially since I don’t really follow any of the new artists. Most of my inspiration as an artist comes from older acts like The Beatles, Marvin Gaye, Donnie Hathaway, etc. I feel the best way to listen to those artists are in the original format that it was created, vinyl.

It’s a really cool experience, especially when you think about how music was recorded back then. Everything you hear is a real person or a real instrument. You have all these super talented musicians in the studio at the same time having a jam session and in the end you get a masterpiece.

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  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


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