The TVD Storefront

Neil Holyoak,
The TVD First Date

“My parents had a record player when I was a kid, but we never played records on it. It sat like a fossil, with an arm that never moved and a table that never turned.”

“I’d ask my dad why we never listened to records, and he’d tell me ‘the machine needs a new needle’ without explaining to me what that meant. I’d heard that the needle had to be made of diamond as thin as a human hair, so I figured it was something we’d never have, being too rare and fragile for any modern household.

We had a record player at my first apartment in Montreal, but the amp never worked, so I’d spin records and put my ear to the needle and listen to the sound off the grooves. I remember being amazed that the sound was actually there, on the record, not encoded in 0s and 1s but embedded physically into the disc in a way that made the needle sing as it ran along the grooves.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Alice Gerrard,
Follow the Music

A key figure in the history of bluegrass, 80-year old singer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist Alice Gerrard has just issued her latest LP. Produced by longtime admirer M.C. Taylor of Hiss Golden Messenger and pressed up via the Tompkins Square label, Follow the Music finds Gerrard in strong voice and wielding focused intensity across 11 tracks.

To describe the ‘60’s bluegrass scene as male dominated shouldn’t imply the milieu was in any way unusual in the grand musical scheme of the period. Alice Gerrard and her departed playing partner Hazel Dickens were amongst the high lonesome exceptions. Gerrard (then known as Alice Foster) and Dickens cut their ’65 Verve Folkways debut Who’s That Knocking for 75 bucks in Washington, DC’s First Unitarian Church with the worthy assistance of Dave Grisman on mandolin plus Bill Monroe sidemen Chubby Wise on fiddle and Lamar Grier on banjo.

Today the Smithsonian Folkways CD Pioneering Women of Bluegrass collects that LP and Won’t You Come Sing for Me?, its ’73 follow-up. Gerrard and Dickens continued to make records together into the mid-‘70s, producing two more discs for Rounder, though just as important to Gerrard’s background is her participation in civil rights activists Anne Romaine and Bernice Johnson Reagon’s race and gender inclusive ’68 Southern Folk Festival tour, the lineup including Roscoe Holcomb, Elizabeth Cotten, Dock Boggs, Bessie Jones, and the New Lost City Ramblers.

Gerrard’s second husband was the late Rambler Mike Seeger. In 1980 they completed an eponymous album for Greenhays Recordings; it’s currently in print on a CD titled Bowling Green with extra stuff from a ’71 Japanese visit. And while she’s dished three prior solo efforts and played in the awesomely-named Back Creek Buddies with the also deceased clawhammer banjoist Matokie Slaughter (I’d love to hear their ’90 cassette release Saro) Gerrard remains most well-known for her work with Dickens.

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TVD San Francisco

TVD Live: Karen O at the Great American Music Hall, 9/22

Of course you know Karen O as the eclectic frontwoman of the critically acclaimed Yeah Yeah Yeahs and as a fashion idol among the masses of hipster girls, but there’s a side to her that many of us have probably been missing. Last week Karen stopped by San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall for one of the few intimate shows in support of her newly released solo album, Crush Songs.

The show sold out in minutes and the venue would provide the perfect backdrop for her stripped down solo debut. Recorded in 2006 and 2007, Crush Songs is an intimate collection of lo-fi, bedroom recordings in the vein of Karen’s Oscar-nominated “The Moon Song” from the Spike Jonze movie Her. Perfect timing for Karen after performing the song live to a record 43 million viewers, the largest audience for the show in 14 years.

Photographed by Jason Miller-5-2

Joined on stage by the ultra-stripped down duo of Moses Sumney and Holly Miranda, Karen O was stunning in her gold dust woman styled, long sparkly dress. She seemed to be in sort of trance as she sang each of the songs, barely opening her eyes at all to see the capacity crowd. The lighting was at a bare minimum that evening while the trio performed under a neon lit sign that appropriately read “Crush Palace.”

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The TVD Storefront

Locate the exclusive, indie Gold edition of
The Rural Alberta Advantage’s Mended With Gold LP with the TVD App!

“I still remember opening the first box of vinyl that we received from Saddle Creek. We were playing a show in Minneapolis at the 7th Street Entry. There was something about seeing Hometowns on vinyl for the first time, holding onto a tangible product that was in a way a summation of every show, practice, and recording session that we’d done up to that point that made you feel like you’d actually created something.

When you hold something like that for the very first time, you actually feel like you’ve maybe done something special.”
Nils Edenloff

Special, indeed. The Rural Alberta Advantage returns with a brand new LP, Mended With Gold this coming Tuesday, (9/30) and its arrival it being met with anything but faint praise, with Filter noting, “The band shines in its own ability to blend pared-down composition with fast-paced percussion and lyrics that could only come from, well, rural Alberta.”

“The Toronto-based trio, led by born-and-bred Albertan Nils Edenloff are full of nostalgic songs about hometowns and heartbreaks, marrying salt-of-the-earth acoustic rock to energetic rhythms and grand orchestral arrangements,” Pitchfork recently underscored.

Another facet of Mended With Gold’s arrival is the gorgeous clear vinyl with gold splatter edition (shown above) of which 1,000 were pressed as a mom and pop shop, indie exclusive edition. Of the 1,000, 250 were offered as presales which sold out in a proverbial flash—but 750 have made their way across North America and they arrive in your local shops on Tuesday for purchase.

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TVD UK

India Mill,
The TVD First Date

“My own memory of vinyl is just it being there because my mum had so much of it. I remember getting singles on vinyl such as “T.U.R.T.L.E Power” by Partners In Kryme (still have it) as well some stuff by Paula Abdul and Madonna. I was tiny and happy.”

“When I was 10, my Uncle died, who was a big character in our family and one who was very musical. We inherited most of his records and there was so much. As I got older and more curious about wanting to know who he was outside of my fading memory, I used to play the records almost as if to see if he was there inside them. That sounds cheesy and sentimental but it meant that I discovered people like Buddy Holly, Marty Robbins, Ben E. King, along with Fats Domino and all these wonderful songs. There was so much in there.

As my brother and I both progressed into our teens, my older brother became a huge Guns ‘n’ Roses fan (he saw the first leg of the Use Your Illusion tour at Maine Road while Izzy Stradlin was still in the band!) and I remember my mum and me going to Castle Records in Darwen to buy him a copy of Skid Row’s Monkey Business. It was a 12” single and the cover had this picture of a gorilla with a crow-bar in its hand. It was fantastic and it made me laugh for days. We also bought him Hey Stoopid by Alice Cooper. However, being at opposite ends of puberty, I followed my nose towards my mum’s Beatles’ collection, which is where my love for songs really kicked off…

The sheer size of vinyl was something that was in some ways great because it meant that you could really take in all the artwork, but once CDs came along then I didn’t really miss it ‘cos it could also be a massive pain in the arse—but then nostalgia is a much bigger pain the arse. I do think that vinyl, tapes, CDs are all representative of a time when people felt much more of a physical ownership over their music, as well as being of a time when albums were a work as a whole rather than the latest collection of songs.

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TVD New Orleans

TVD Recommends:
The Head and The Heart
at the Civic Theatre, 10/1

This Wednesday, the Seattle favorites will be bringing their indie-folk rock to the Crescent City. The roots rockers are arguably the biggest grassroots success story in recent memory.

After recording and releasing their debut album on their own dime in 2010, the band was able to sell 10,000 copies by word of mouth alone. This is an impressive feat for any unsigned band, especially given the fact that so many people no longer buy music. And these fans weren’t just some teenyboppers.

They garnered the respect of such varied acts as Vampire Weekend, the Dave Matthews Band, Death Cab for Cutie, and My Morning Jacket, touring with many of the big names while they were still an unsigned commodity.

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TVD UK

The Single Girl: Mano’s Daughter, “Shiver” EP

Mano’s Daughter’s latest EP “Shiver” presents a darker, more cerebral side to the London-based electro trio. With these five tracks, it marks a busy end to the year for the band as they retreat into Autumnal hibernation.

Their previous EP, “Smart” was bright and poppy—it was the “Jessie Ware-esque end” of the female fronted electro pop crossover genre with intelligent, sparkling tunes that glittered in the gloom. This latest EP starts with the same pace as “What’s A Girl Supposed To Do” bursts into life and invigorates with an energetic opening. However, this is only the start of our journey as the band take us down darker paths as the EP journeys on.

“Wheels” is the first step into the unknown as Sarah Carter’s vocals soar and penetrate the dark empty spaces, forcing us to listen closer. “Little Heart” opens the door for a little melancholy and with “This House,” it’s hard not to imagine Sarah beautifully lit in a smokey alien lounge somewhere on a distant futuristic plain—a little Blade Runner—and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, it’s their epic track “You” that gives us an indication of where the band will take us next. The track spans just over 7-minutes and feels like the band are truly blasting us off into a dreamy soundscape, on a moon somewhere far away. It’s beautiful.

Although there’s an abundance of strong female fronted electro crossover acts at the moment, Mano’s Daughter’s unique genre blending, electro sci-fi melancholia is a breath of fresh air. The EP is a bold statement of intent and wherever the band blasts off to next, we want to go with them.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve: Ultimate New Orleans Brass: Second Line Funk!

Thoughtfully assembling 13 tracks from long-established names to younger bands, Ultimate New Orleans Brass: Second Line Funk! not only serves as a primer into one of the USA’s last remaining actively played forms of indigenous music, it’ll most assuredly enliven any shindig requiring a pick-me-up. Released this past August, on 10/7 it gets a deserving double-vinyl pressing.

Amongst the deepest elements in 20th century recorded sound are the constant twists and turns fostered through regional identities. In the US alone, along with numerous outposts in Appalachia, the Mississippi Delta, and of course New Orleans, the 1900s saw enduring styles emanate from Chicago, Detroit, Nashville, and Memphis.

Furthermore, smaller but essential scenes popped up in Bakersfield and on the Texas-Mexico border as distinct punk rock rose out of NYC, LA, and elsewhere. Post-punk aftershocks also rippled from Athens, GA and Seattle, WA as coastal (and frequently competitive) individualism helped to define an era of hip-hop.

These days, at least in the US, regional flavors are an extremely rare occurrence, which is part of the reason Ultimate New Orleans Brass is such a welcome endeavor, spotlighting the city’s brass band style as born from the foot parades sponsored/undertaken by various community organizations and benevolent groups. They constitute the First Line and the band and its followers the Second; it’s a tradition very much alive and therefore thankfully not dominated by purist attitudes and/or the kid-glove museum approach.

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The TVD Storefront

Needle Drop: The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger, “Animals”

Here’s a nice psychedelic freak show from GOASTT, the band otherwise known as The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger, otherwise known as Sean Lennon, who is otherwise known as John Lennon’s son.

Sean’s girlfriend, actress/model Charlotte Kemp Muhl, is also in the band and they truly seem to have some bewitching musical chemistry with their heady lyrics flying over the busted drums, junkyard percussion, and fuzzy bass. An ode to the alternative rock and roll swagger Lennon Sr. helped refine during his “I Am The Walrus” period—perhaps pushing the boundaries a little more, at least with this wild music vid.

The psychedelic video for the single “Animals” sets out to spoof the Source Family and all things wacky and occult. Wait for the UFOs ’round the 4:00 mark, and be sure to catch Sean and Charlotte on their current tour.

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TVD Asbury Park

TVD’s Garden State Sound with Evan Toth

All jokes aside, New Jersey is a pretty great place. While it has a lot of offer as a state, it also has a rich musical history that many people remain unaware of. Everyone knows about Springsteen and Sinatra, but there’s more out there too, including a diverse current music scene.

Tune in to Garden State Sound with Evan Toth to explore music with connections to New Jersey. You will hear in-depth interviews with some of Jersey’s best music makers and have the opportunity win tickets to some of the best concerts in the state.

Garden State Sound is hosted by longtime NJ radio personality and musician Evan Toth on WFDU.FM.

“This week’s episode of “Garden State Sound” celebrates the 65th birthday of the Garden State’s golden boy, Bruce Springsteen. Tune in to hear us spin some deep, vinyl tracks from his early albums, but we’ll also take you for a ride through some of Bruce’s contemporary work. Spend an hour listening to some of the Boss’ finest work, and contemplate how the man keeps himself in such great shape after 65 years!” —ET

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