Author Archives: Special to TVD

Noah C. Lekas,
The TVD First Date

“My earliest vinyl memory is pulling the three volume Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two Original Golden Hits set from the back of my Grandparent’s wooden console. One cover was white, one black and one blue, each with a different picture of Cash. Too young to read, I asked my Grandpa who it was, and he said, “That’s the man in black.” A year or so later, he passed and the records went into a box in my Grandmother’s basement.”

“I’m not a purist when it comes to formats or a collector by nature, but I do appreciate vinyl as an aesthetic, sonic and literary medium. At different times in life, each element made a profound impact on me. In the beginning, it was that picture of Johnny Cash.

A half dozen years later, punk records turned my early aesthetic intrigue into a sonic pursuit. The Midwest post-punk scene was in full tilt with all of its sub-genres and I started catching rides up to Atomic Records on E Locust St. They had it all, including copies of Milk, a music zine that along with the Shepherd Express largely sparked my early interest in music journalism. I bought a lot of records in those days, but I specifically remember grabbing a copy of the Hot Water Music “Alachua” 7” with the die-cut logo sleeve and Fugazi’s Red Medicine at Atomic.

After high school, I ended up in Montana on a hiatus from college. I spent the better part of a year waist deep in the river trying to fly fish and elbow deep in the bargain bins at Rockin Rudy’s on Higgins St. I was looking for Mississippi Sheiks, Blind Willie McTell, Earl Scruggs, Mance Lipscomb—the stuff that either hadn’t made a direct jump to CD or you could find for way less in a used record bin.

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Emma Webb,
The TVD First Date

“When I think of vinyl I think about being a young kid, and going through my parents’ record collection. I’d look through them for hours, taking in the artwork and images. I’d take the records out the sleeves and would love dropping the needle.”

“The sound of vinyl is still so raw and nostalgic to me. My dad’s collection was a lot of classic stuff; The Who, Queen, The Beatles. I have such a love of The Who because of those records. My mum’s collection was stuff like Joni Mitchell, Simon and Garfunkel, Neil Diamond. I love Joni Mitchell and adore Paul Simon’s Graceland so a lot of that music has totally rubbed off on me.

Records feel like more than just a way to share music. They feel much more special than a tape or CD, so I keep my current collection in tip top condition. Between my partner and I we have really vintage original records handed down from our parents, plus classic albums like Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, Carole King’s Tapestry, Pink Floyd’s The Wall and Dark Side of The Moon, Queen’s Night at The Opera and a bunch of Paul Simon singles (I need to add Graceland to the collection ASAP!)

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Ryanhood,
The TVD First Date

“’I’ll show you which Beatles songs you need to know!’ my Uncle Phil declared, as he started thumbing through his extensive collection of vinyl to make me a cassette mixtape.”

“At thirteen years old, I was just starting to be able to discern John’s voice from Paul’s and George’s, I was just becoming acquainted with how electric and acoustic guitars sounded different, with how the low plunk of that Höfner bass and Ringo’s backbeat rounded out the sound of a rock band. And as my middle school ears listened to The Beatles’ tracks coming from my uncle’s turntable, I started to learn how music worked.

My uncle, my aunt, and my dad had been playing in bands together since before I was born. They all had instruments lying around, they wrote songs, they had vinyl collections with their names written onto the cardboard so they could share records back and forth with confidence that each favorite would eventually make it home. And they all loved The Beatles. But it was my uncle, with his old school hi-fi vinyl setup, who truly initiated me into their musical world.

Phil got all the wires set up, and began dubbing one song at a time directly from the turntable to the cassette deck. You could hear the tell-tale needle drop, the crackle, and those incredible musical colors that lifted themselves up from the grooves. “Dear Prudence” and “I’ve Just Seen a Face” were on there. So were “And Your Bird Can Sing,” “I’m Only Sleeping,” “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and a few others (many of which Ryanhood has covered over the years).

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Tobias Nathaniel,
The TVD First Date

“As a wee youngin’ of around seven, I was obsessed with a particular vinyl record that happened to be lying around my aunt’s place.”

“This album evoked all manner of mystery and excitement in me: four demonic figures straight out of a twisted game of Dungeons and Dragons perched upon a dais while an assemblage of similarly bedecked succubi wrothe in rapt anticipation below. Who the fuck were these guys? What was the story behind this hellish scene? As it turns out, those guys were Kiss, and the album was 1978’s Love Gun. As for the story—that’s a bit more complicated. And though I couldn’t fully comprehend it at the time, there was quite a lot wrong with the picture I’d ended up painting for myself (and that Kiss had helped paint for me). Let’s have a little look.

First, I could never have predicted what I’d ultimately experience once finally listening to the record. Yep, that’s right. I hadn’t even heard the album. My parents deemed the music inappropriate for one of such a tender young age. Consequently, I conjured up auditory images which I perceived to match the album’s visuals. I figured Love Gun would sound something like Metallica’s “The Thing That Should Not Be” or perhaps Meshuggah’s “Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave It Motion.” How could it be anything other than the fiercest, heaviest, most relentless assault the album cover visually suggested?

A couple years later (evidently nine is the magical Kiss-listening age), with suspense thoroughly built, the needle finally made contact with Love Gun. My jaw dropped, but not in the way I’d hoped. What was this? Where was the vicious onslaught I’d been waiting for all these years? This wasn’t anything I hadn’t already heard on the radio (and very likely had, without realizing what it was). Staring back and forth from album cover to turntable, I just couldn’t get to grips with this stark juxtaposition. Thoroughly dejected, I headed out to the local comic book shop. Man, I should’ve seen this all coming.

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Kolby Knickerbocker,
The TVD First Date

“Vinyl, for me, has always been a forced pause in the moment. The non-skipping, non-skimming, full embrace of an artist’s musical vision; each song intentionally placed to create a full-course audio meal.”

“My dad had a massive collection of vinyl when I was growing up. They were stored in these dingy old orange crates, stacked tightly together in our living room.

The first record I remember grabbing was this Marmaduke book set, like an audiobook for vinyl. It wasn’t the vinyl content (I’m not a huge fan of Marmaduke), but the packaging that I loved.

Instead of the standard cardboard record holder, Marmaduke was stored in this thick, turquoise and white, tie-dye, translucent, plastic record holder. It was this thick jewel of a record among plain cardboard, and I loved grabbing it and just looking at it.

I can still hear the creaking of the plastic as I tried to open it when I was a kid. I can’t even remember what was on the record to tell you the truth, but I still remember that thick plastic holder.

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Creed Bratton:
The TVD First Date

Celebrating Creed Bratton on his 78th birthday with this look back to a 2013 chat with the actor and musician.Ed.

“I recall the anticipation and excitement when the stylus dropped on my old Silvertone record changer. I could tell by the tone of the hiss which one of my favorite 45s were going to play, and knew all the lyrics and guitar lines that were coming up.

Vinyl is a visceral thing, not like digital in the head, but down lower…vibrating in the navel chakra.

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Holiday87,
The TVD First Date

“My first job when I was 15 was working at an old record store in rural New Hampshire.”

“The owner couldn’t afford to pay me, so he would let me take some of the records home from the shop at the end of the day. I’d race home and head into my basement to listen to everything in the stack and find samples I could use for making mixtapes. At the time, I was selling these mixtapes to kids at school to make a few bucks. Once I was done with the vinyl, I’d bring them back to the store and exchange for new ones to experiment with.

Having access to this extensive collection of different genres and time periods had a profound effect on me as a kid. Growing up, I was heavily into hip-hop, but being able to listen to and experience so many insanely talented artists across the spectrum really opened up my world and gave me a new appreciation for artists from all walks of life.

When I started The Knocks, I continued this idea of sonic experimentation and collaboration, which has allowed me to travel the world doing what I love. Just last year (before the pandemic), I got to do some serious crate digging in places like Japan, Cuba, and Texas, to name a few.

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The Los Sundowns,
The TVD First Date

“Some of my first musical memories, around ’80 or ’81, revolve around a little Mickey Mouse turntable I had.”

“I distinctly remember a Davy Crockett and a Star Wars record that were meant to play while you read the book. A couple years later and I fancied myself a Breaker (B Boy) and the soundtrack to Breakin’ was my turntable obsession. I played that record constantly until one day I decided that if I put on my fingerless leather gloves, I’d be able to scratch the record on the turntable like in the movies. Needless to say, it didn’t work out like I wanted to and I got in trouble.

For the next couple years, my musical obsessions deepened and I discovered heavy metal. Still, I loved to return to my parents’ record collection of classic rock, disco, and funk. I remember Stanley Clarke, the Bee Gees, Saturday Night Fever, Michael Jackson, Santana. I’d pore over the record sleeves and the artwork even when not playing any music. When my parents had get-togethers, I’d jump at the chance to play DJ and I suppose that’s where an early affinity for a variety of music came from. As I got older, the medium that I delved into with my own money was cassettes, less so CDs. I lost touch with vinyl for about a decade or more.

Sometime in the late ’90s, after moving to Austin from my hometown of Laredo, I stumbled on the remnants of a burned out abandoned house on a hike. I happened to find a stack of records, slightly water damaged, but not really in bad shape, considering. Among this batch was a copy of the Beastie Boys’ “Cooky Puss” 12″ single. I opened it up and it was in good shape, even more exciting, there was $20 in there. Go figure.

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The Luka State,
The TVD First Date

“Music… it gave me an identity.”

“Music for me is a relationship that was solidified and blossomed from a very early age, I mean from the age of eight onwards I fell in love with this thing that I didn’t understand—that I was surrounded by on a constant basis. My family, my uncle and my cousins would play the guitar and at family parties music would be a big thing that would get everybody on their feet, would connect people, would make people emotional. From there I realised that I wanted to be the centre of that connection from around eight years old.

So around eight years old I got my first guitar and then from there my love affair with music developed. Then I started to understand music as such a bigger picture, it gave me an identity as I became a young boy, especially through discovering different kinds of music, and this whole new world, and this whole new universe was opening up to me before my eyes, through rock and roll to reggae to soul to grunge to punk to Motown, to all these different genres that I was in control of.

I’d never experienced a feeling like this where I could go out and research, and find music for myself, and the first time upon hearing bands like The Beatles, and how it blew my mind, and the first time I’ll never forget listening to things like that. The first time I ever heard The Doors and Ziggy Stardust, and “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” and these songs that encapsulated me with this feeling that I’d never felt before.

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Josh Hoyer,
The TVD First Date

“For me, the best vinyl albums are the ones recorded mostly in one room with minor overdubs, if any. The records feature real instruments, not synthesizers.”

“The pairing of vinyl with a crackling amplifier, the organ swell of a Leslie, the tines of a Rhodes, the footwork and steel coming through an acoustic piano, the clack and thump of drums, the sound of a natural reverb on horns and voices, is right and harmonious.

I love listening to jazz on vinyl. Everything just seems to BE there. One of my favorite recordings is Duke Ellington and John Coltrane’s version of “In A Sentimental Mood” and on an LP it is sublime. With vinyl, you can almost simulate sitting in the room when the music was recorded.

Playing Robert Johnson’s King of The Delta Blues Singers on LP can completely transport you. The warble and moan of Johnson’s singing comes dancing off the player, and the vinyl seems to be able to emit the stifling heat and sweet air of the south. You can see the sweat coming off his brow, kicking up dust from the floorboards. Magic.

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Peter Stampfel,
The TVD First Date

“The Holy Modal Rounders, myself and Steve Weber, recorded our first album the day before Kennedy got shot.”

“Of course, it was a vinyl record. But our label, Prestige, was not strongly connected to us, as we had been signed by Paul Rothchild, who quit and moved to Elektra two weeks after he signed us. This lack of a strong connection is perhaps the reason Prestige decided to use super cheap vinyl to press our album.

I knew the first pressings looked a little weird—the records seemed to be a little thicker than normal. But within months I started hearing purchasers say their records were wearing out, and the music couldn’t be heard anymore. My inquiries to the label were ignored. Has anyone out there had a similar shoddy vinyl experience?

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VINOK,
The TVD First Date

“For those of us whose parents grew up during the Soviet Union, vinyl was associated with something much more than just a means to music or a stylish expression.”

“Vinyl—at least those from the West—were banned in the Soviet Union and we remember hearing stories from our parents of how their friends would secretly find ways of how to get a copy of Stevie Wonder, Queen, Emerson Lake and Palmer, King Crimson or Weather Report over the border in hopes to listen to something unknown and censored by the government. Those vinyl were passed on to our parents and naturally that’s the music that passed on to us. Holding vinyl was a symbol of protest, a hunger for freedom, and a social statement.

Decades past since our parents were young and new technology came, vinyl sort of lost their significance after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 as a whole wave of other information came in. And with all of that, vinyl slowly made their way either to the basement, behind shelves, between books or stuffed in boxes.

Then we—the kids—came along. Looking through our parents’ vinyl was like looking into the past, digging into history and trying to decode what exactly it meant for them to have one. For them vinyl were sort of like books, where one would seek for a new stream of information, life and ideas. It is incredible to see the extent of how much care and art was put into vinyl decades ago. The music wasn’t just another “single” out there to be uploaded on a phone but it was a whole commitment of living, a stance for what one believes in, an urge for something more.

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ALMA,
The TVD First Date

“True story… each of us got our first record player in the pandemic. One of us had been gifted one of those kitschy victrola remakes that sell like bananas on Amazon years ago, and it broke six months later, but outside of that, we are new to the vinyl revolution. It didn’t quite start here though. Melissa spent hours at Crooked Beat in Adams Morgan, DC (now located in Alexandria, VA), Alba at Feten Discos (in Salamanca, Spain), and Lillie at Mystery Train Records in Gloucester, MA. We’ve inherited our families’ dusty record collections and have found ourselves here, finally listening to records in our own homes.”

The one record that’s gotten us each through the pandemic…

MELISSA: Flashback to April of 2020. I had spent most of the past six weeks inside. One of the first records I played on my new turntable was Postcard by Mary Hopkin. Her version of “There’s No Business Like Show Business” got me through hard times like no other. It’s weird, yet hopeful. And is the best to belt while dancing around your shoebox apartment. I’ve imagined Mary Hopkin recording that album and thinking how different it is now. We recorded the bulk of our debut album Mosaic from our home studios and would not have been able to put our music out in the world if not for the wonders of technology. So, I personally am the most luddite-esque of the group, but am endlessly grateful for having the gift of resources and knowledge to record at home.

LILLIE: Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon by James Taylor. Specifically, side two, “You Can Close Your Eyes.” There’s just something about it—between “Hey Mister, That’s Me on the Jukebox” and “Machine Gun Kelly” it’s like this surprise, little gem of sincerity and peace between these two cynical songs. In other words, you have two doses of “Damn, James, that’s a blue kind of time” with a helping of sunlight right between them. If that isn’t like the pandemic experience sandwich…I’m not sure what is. We’re all stuck at home trying to figure out our lives, but also, here’s our band ALMA releasing our debut record song by song. Pandemic sandwich!

ALBA: A Change in Diet by Elliot Moss! Elliot actually gifted me my first record player right before the pandemic started—I had arranged some horns for a couple of tracks in the album, so he gave me a copy of the vinyl as a keepsake. Then the pandemic hit, so it was the only vinyl I had for months! I listened to it on repeat, savoring every track. That record holds a special place in my heart.

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Lisa Remar,
The TVD First Date

“I was talking to someone the other day and it dawned on me that I would not have started making music if I only had access to Spotify.”

“The three LPs that I started my own vinyl collection with are Mariah Carey (Charm Bracelet), Jennifer Lopez (On the Six), Songs in A Minor (Alicia Keys)—I listened to their CDs religiously on my pink Walkman, so it was a no-brainer to get them in another format.

These artists in particular taught me how to sing. Vinyl really gives you the chance to immerse yourself in the music. I honestly don’t think I would have chosen music as a life without the intimacy of experiencing music the way the artist intended.

Personally, vinyl gave me the opportunity to actually think about the music and sit with it, paying attention to the details. Non-digital audio is still so important. Listeners are active in making the sound come out of the stereo and you actually get to touch it! Vinyl definitely makes me feel closer to the artist.

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Glenn Morrow’s
Cry For Help,
The TVD First Date

“I’m thinking it was the fall of 1968 that the high school cafeteria in my hometown hosted a record sale. It was all new records that I now realize were some kind of remainders, albums by groups that hadn’t fired up the charts that had been pressed up with a little too much enthusiasm. I think they were selling for a dollar or two.”

“There were a lot of albums by groups I didn’t know. Ultimate Spinach and the Peanut Butter Conspiracy, the Beacon Street Union album The Clown Died In Marvin Gardens. The one group I knew was the Lovin’ Spoonful. But it was an album I hadn’t seen before.

Everything Playing had a crude cartoon drawing on the cover done by leader John Sebastian of the band playing instruments along with some cartoon monsters . It looked like it had been done with crayons like a naive DIY attempt at the Sgt. Pepper cover. The music feels like it was their attempt to create some serious pop art. I would play that album to death.

There were majestic pop songs like “She’s Still A Mystery” and the proto-hippie folk tune “Younger Generation” that I remember thinking “wow, what will those kids be like the when they grow up with parents like John Sebastian?” It all seemed like a long way off with the girl who “got her own videophone.” Everything Playing was released in December of 1967 and made it to #118 on Billboard despite having three charting singles.

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  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


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