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TVD Radar: Strange Freedom: Songs of Love and Protest in stores 7/14, proceeds to benefit Planned Parenthood

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Nashville-based Americana songwriter Matt Haeck was still in shock last year after Trump’s election when a new song from an artist whose album he was producing, Rayvon Pettis, shook him out of his stupor. “Lailly and Abdullah” is the heart-breaking story of two young Aghani lovers torn apart by war, and it came to Haeck just a few days post-election.

Unsure of how to respond and bombarded by fellow folk songwriters looking to fight back, the song unlocked a new perspective on resistance. “Love is protest,” Haeck says now over the phone, and “protest is love. That’s what I realized. I love people and I see vulnerable people getting trampled on. As someone who’s been privileged not to be affected by oppression, I feel responsible to do what I can to fight against it when I see it.”

That feeling of love that Haeck got from being exposed to a humanized Afghani story, as opposed to the daily barrage of virtual news, was something he wanted to pay forward, a new way to resist Trump’s regime. The next day he put out an ask on Facebook for friends to help him put together an album of love and protest and was bombarded by requests, many from Nashville friends and colleagues. Working together with Doug Williams of Wild Ponies, the two took the small bit of money sent them from a willing donor and booked two days at John Prine’s Butcher Shoppe recording studio in Nashville and brought in as many artists as they could for a whirlwind series of recordings. A key idea of the album was to keep the resistance local to Nashville artists.

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In rotation: 5/26/17

Independent Shop And Label alt.vinyl To Close: Independent online record shop and label alt.vinyl has announced that it is to close after 13 years. It began life as a record shop based in Newcastle opened by Graham Thrower, but soon changed to an online-only organisation, while remaining very much rooted in its northern surroundings putting out records from Richard Dawson and :zoviet*france: amongst others. In total, the label released more than 70 records. “It’s been great to have been a part of a global independent music community but the time is right… this cycle has come to a close,” Thrower wrote on the label’s website. “At the risk of a long post I’d just like to thank all those artists that alt.vinyl has had the pleasure to work with…”

Nostalgia for vinyl? Hamilton store’s 5,000 records can help: A new record shop in Hamilton aims to bring the resurgent vinyl format back to the forefront of people’s minds. Main Street Vinyl at 227 Main Street offers “a little bit of everything,” including albums from rock, soul, blues, country, jazz and reggae artists and groups. “You’ve got to have variety,” said store owner Bill Herren, whose collection of nearly 5,000 records, displayed in the business and stored in back, provides the bulk of the store’s inventory…“CDs are fading out and vinyl’s back,” Herren said. “There’s more vinyl sold in the last year that’s been sold since the 1980s … so it’s a good time to do it.”

Craft beer meets vintage records at The Vinyl Room: At first glance, The Vinyl Room could be a standard craft beer bar. Four local brews are on tap, with a selection canned beer and wine, and a light food menu. But guests will also find vinyl-packed shelves and turntables sure to delight any music fan. Equal parts bar and record shop, The Vinyl Room plans to combine the two interests into one unique addition to Wappingers Falls’ Main Street. And, it could be open by late-June.The business stems from owner John Kihlmire’s passion for music and beer. “I’ve been collecting vinyl since I was 15 years old,” he said. “More recently, I’ve really gotten into sour beer.” But The Vinyl Room isn’t just a mash-up of Kihlmire’s interests.

Seeking refuge in vinyl records during China’s cultural revolution: Around the beginning of the 1960s, our father spent 400 RMB to buy a Peony radio-record player. The record player, in particular, was quite high-tech back then: four-speed selection with automatic stopping coupled with a speed-detection regulation system. I imagined the flood of music that would flow out of the tiny red-and-green power light, turning our lives totally transparent, as if we lived inside a glass house. Father, however, didn’t particularly understand music, his purchase, while linked with an infatuation with modern technology, was more a reflection of his romantic temperament, a sharp contrast to the ominous age taking shape around us. An age when people endured constant hunger and busied themselves just trying to scrape by, living hand to mouth—idle ears seemed superfluous.

Reinventing the record: New Burlington factory turns out vinyl albums: Vinyl fanatics have a new champion in Gerry McGhee. McGhee is the proud vice president of Precision Pressing, a state-of-the-art vinyl record manufacturing facility in Burlington. The 20,000-sq.-ft. plant celebrated its official opening on May 11. It may be weird to describe a factory as beautiful, but that’s exactly what Precision is — a light-filled, high-ceilinged, scrupulously clean structure filled with handsome pressing machines and dozens of enthusiastic employees. Precision Pressing is a labour of love for McGhee, 55. He’s a lifer in the music industry — as both a musician and an executive — and Precision Pressing represents years of hard work and perseverance on his part to serve the global vinyl resurgence.

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TVD Radar: Best of Big Star in stores 6/16

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Stax Records, an imprint of Concord Music Group and its Catalog Division, Craft Recordings, is excited to announce the release of a new compilation celebrating Big Star. The 16-track collection spans all three of the influential band’s LPs (1972’s #1 Record, 1974’s Radio City, and Third, released after the group disbanded, in the late ’70s), and features rare edits of some of their most popular songs. Liner notes from GRAMMY® Award-winning writer and director Robert Gordon, plus an introduction by the sole surviving Big Star member, drummer Jody Stephens, round out the package. In stores on June 16, 2017, Best of Big Star will be available as a 2-LP, 45 rpm album housed in a gatefold jacket, with lacquers cut at Ardent Studios and pressed on 180-gram vinyl at Memphis Record Pressing. The title will also be available digitally and on CD.

Much like Nick Drake, the Velvet Underground, and other critically esteemed artists whose work only gained commercial traction long after its initial release, Big Star let loose their trademark mix — shimmering jangle pop with a side of elliptical melancholia — into a world that just wasn’t ready for it. In his liner notes, Robert Gordon muses that the band “fizzled before most anyone heard them, then when they seemed totally forgotten they began to exert more musical influence than most bands ever dream of — an unusual story … Big Star reminds us that great art lives, that immediate audience appreciation can’t be counted on and that it’s not about the brightness of the light but its beauty.”

Formed in 1971 by singer/songwriters Alex Chilton (1950-2010) and Chris Bell (1951-1978), drummer Jody Stephens (b. 1952) and bassist Andy Hummel (1951-2010), the Memphis-based group is now considered to be one of the most influential bands in modern music, having inspired some of the biggest alt-rock artists of the ’80s, ’90s and beyond. An underground core of fanatical enthusiasts kept the fire burning. The Replacements famously released “Alex Chilton,” a song that paid tribute to Big Star’s songwriting genius. R.E.M.’s Peter Buck said, “Big Star served as a Rosetta Stone for a whole generation of musicians.”

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TVD Radar: Twin Peaks soundtracks available from Rhino, in stores 9/8

VIA PRESS RELEASE | The eagerly awaited revival of Mark Frost and David Lynch’s revolutionary television series Twin Peaks made its debut on Showtime. The music that appears in the new series will be part of two upcoming soundtracks to be released by Rhino Entertainment on September 8.

Twin Peaks (Music from the Limited Event Series) and Twin Peaks (Limited Event Series Original Soundtrack) will be issued on CDs ($18.98), as well as on double LPs ($31.98). Rhino also recently reissued the original soundtrack to both the original series (1990-91) and subsequent film, Fire Walk With Me (1992), as part of the buildup to the premiere of the new series.

Music has always played a central role in Lynch’s work and it helped establish the haunting, dreamlike nature of the original Twin Peaks. The same is true for the new series. Much like the plot of the show, the songs that appear on the new soundtracks will be revealed gradually over the course of the season’s 18 episodes.

The first track as heard on the debut episode is “Twin Peaks Main Theme” by Grammy-winning composer Angelo Badalamenti, whose music is inextricably linked to the original series and film. The second track is “Shadow” by Chromatics, an electronic band based in Los Angeles, and will be on their new album Dear Tommy. Chromatics will release the video for “Shadow” immediately after Twin Peaks airs.

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In rotation: 5/25/17

What Retailers Can Learn From the Music Industry’s Meltdown: Labels scrambled to compete via technology they seemed to barely understand. “There were a lot of experiments with formats to try to come up with different things,” said Chris Brown, the CFO for the Maine-based, 12-store Bull Moose record store chain. “We had a summit meeting with BMG,” he recalled of the music conglomerate. “The company’s president held up what looked like a memory stick. He said, ‘People like MP3s, so we’re going to sell them MP3s on this memory stick here.’ It was maybe a one-inch square. They saw that as replacing the cassette. I never heard about it again after that meeting.”

Jerry’s Records owner retiring, but store will remain open: First the good news: As the sign outside the Squirrel Hill store says, Jerry’s Ain’t Closin’. The bad news is that after more than 40 years in the record business, beloved owner Jerry Weber is stepping away from the vinyl store that brought him international fame. Citing the need for another round of knee surgery, Mr. Weber has sold Jerry’s Records to employee Chris Grauzer for an undisclosed price, and his last day at Jerry’s will be July 31. “I sold him the store, the store name, the phone number. He’s going to be the face of Jerry’s Records,” Mr. Weber says.

New Record Store/Bar Opening in the Hudson Valley Next Month: A record store and craft beer taproom called The Vinyl Room will be taking over a vacant Hudson Valley storefront next month. Owner John Kihlmire says the business will combine both of his passions; vintage vinyl records and craft beer and wine. The record store will be open all day, welcoming music fans and collectors to come by and flip through records. While there, customers can also relax at the bar and grab a drink while enjoying some music. Everything played at the taproom will be off of vinyl records, and that policy will also go for any DJs who come to play for the late night crowds. Live music will eventually also be incorporated into the mix.

For the love of vinyl: Natalie plays CDs in her car, uses an iPod when she’s out and about, then puts a record on when she gets home. It’s her hierarchy of convenience and perceived authenticity – running from downloads to expensive vinyl – and from what is being heard at the shop counter, this is how increasing numbers of us are engaging with music. So, with fingers crossed, I’m going to suggest Natalie’s approach as the future, even if that’s more in hope than in any great faith in the youth of the day after tomorrow. The alternative – gulp – is that vinyl, the vestigial nipple of music formats, is well into its final comeback, and it has had more than its fair share already.

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TVD Radar: Raiders Of The Lost Ark score to be reissued on 180-gram vinyl, in stores 6/2

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Concord Music Group is pleased to announce the vinyl release of John Williams’ classic Oscar-nominated score for the legendary Indiana Jones film, Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Due out June 2nd, the two-LP album will be available on 180-gram vinyl pressed at RTI (Record Technology Incorporated), and housed in a two-pocket gatefold jacket featuring original stills and artwork from the film. The audio, which features a wealth of cues not previously available on the original soundtrack LP, was cut by renowned engineer Bernie Grundman, who mastered the score for its initial release in 1981.

Composed by John Williams, and nominated for both an Academy Award and GRAMMY Award, Raiders of the Lost Ark was the only score in Stephen Spielberg’s beloved series performed by the renowned London Symphony Orchestra — which also recorded the inimitable and now ubiquitous score for Star Wars. The soundtrack is most notable for its inclusion of the iconic and instantly recognizable “Raiders March,” which came to symbolize Indiana Jones, as played by Harrison Ford, and was later used in the scores for all subsequent films. This version of the album follows the track list of the 2008 expanded edition, previously only available on CD, and offers over 30-minutes of extended cues not on the original LP.

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In rotation: 5/24/17

At this Maryland vinyl fest, the wax will never wane: The Arbutus Record & CD Show happens monthly in the volunteer fire department hall in Arbutus, Md. On the third Sunday of the month — usually; this month’s show is the fourth Sunday, May 28 — dozens of dealers haul in LPs, singles, box sets, CDs, posters and other music-related ephemera. (Visit for info.) Some of the records are new pressings — examples of the vinyl resurgence we’ve all heard about — but the vast majority are old. Once, someone wanted them. Then someone didn’t — their owners outgrew Rush or the Monkees; they converted their records to MP3s; they died — and now these dealers hope someone wants them again.

Meet John Damroth of Planet Records in Harvard Square: At 27 years of age, after a short career in advertising I decided to be my own boss and open a record store in 1983. I managed to cobble together a business plan and get a loan to start Planet Records. Located in Kenmore Square in a renovated parlor floor apartment I did the remodeling with my brother and in November Planet Records opened its doors. We were an immediate success and I paid back my loan at the end of the first year. Our success was due to a large selection, high standards and efficient organization. We carried all types of music and over the years went from LPs to cassettes to CDs. There were some lean years for vinyl but I always believed in the medium and its value.

Stacks and Stacks of Vinyl: Tower Records in 1971: Some amazing footage has surfaced from the Sunset Boulevard store of the once powerful Tower Records chain —“Tower on Sunset” as it was known to all in the Los Angeles area, over the years the site of many huge in-store album release events, strategically situated near many record label West Coast offices. As the clip starts, the needle drops on Sly and the Family Stone’s “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin).” The camera follows an employee carrying cardboard boxes on the sales floor, and we pass stacks and stacks of pristine vinyl, in that unique way that Tower sold music, with the top box open sitting atop more of the same title below.

Gramovox puts a new spin on enjoying vinyl: The phonograph — that is the record player — turns 140 this year, and while vinyl is on the return, the record player has hardly changed dramatically. That is until you set eyes on what Gramovox has made. A little different from your mum’s record player, or even the one you keep next to the Sonos so you can send the warm sound of crackling vinyl playing your favourite tunes throughout your home (this is actually us), Gramovox is taking the record player and giving it a different spin. Specifically, it’s making it go upright compared to flat on a platter, essentially creating a record player designed to be seen and heard, rather than the latter.

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TVD Radar: Sia’s Some People Have Real Problems in stores on vinyl for first time, 5/26

VIA PRESS RELEASE | For the first time ever, fans of the international icon, 5X Grammy Award nominee, and multi-platinum selling artist/ songwriter/ hitmaker Sia will be able to purchase her fourth studio album, Some People Have Real Problems on vinyl, come May 26th. This double-LP release, housed in a two-pocket gatefold jacket with printed inner sleeves, is available to preorder now.

After starting her career as a background singer and guest vocalist for the group Zero 7, the enigmatic impresario directed her efforts toward her solo career while simultaneously writing behind the scenes for fellow pop stars Britney Spears, Beyoncé, Celine Dion, and Rihanna for whom she wrote the 2012 smash hit “Diamonds.” Her 2014 record 1000 Forms of Fear debuted #1 on the Billboard 200, spawning the smash-hit single, “Chandelier.” Shunning the spotlight, she has since become known for wearing a wig that hides her face and chooses to live in the spotlight as anonymously as possible, which proves a difficult task given her string of recent successes.

Sia’s fourth studio album, Some People Have Real Problems features the singles “Day Too Soon,” “The Girl You Lost To Cocaine,” “Soon We’ll Be Found,” and the hit “Buttons.” When asked by Rolling Stone in a 2008 interview about the inspiration for the album title, Sia offered that “During the recording people would come in and complain about traffic, and I’d say, ‘Some people have real problems.’ Like, they’re waiting for a lung or they don’t have a mum.”

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In rotation: 5/23/17

Ex-Pantera Bassist Rex Brown Says Debut Solo Album ‘Was Meant To Be Listened To On Vinyl’: “I wouldn’t say it sounds like classic rock, but I would say I was influenced by it. Yeah, I had a really good time. I had a really good friend in [Nashville-based guitarist and songwriter] Lance Harvill and we wrote a bunch of songs, starting putting a team together and created this chemistry in the studio and it started coming together. We said, ‘Well, we’d better put something together.'”…”Yeah, I’ve been to Nashville [before]. There’s always been a plethora of good players, but I never left the studio. It’s all listening to old vinyl and about writing the songs. It’s all about the song.”

The Flip Side is Dubai’s hip new independent record store: At the heart of the store is a record section, stocking music from across a host of various genres, which Shadi says over time will “keep growing”. There are also plans to turn the space into a community hub hosting in-store DJ sessions, documentary screenings and providing a seating area for people who want to stop for coffee. Of course, no self-respecting record store would be complete without a stellar sound system, and The Flip Side boasts just that, with an impressive DJ booth to compliment and multiple ‘listening stations’ set up for customers to try before they buy.

Cassette comeback: For fans, ‘a yearning for something you can hold’: Like the original, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” is endearingly retro. The hero Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) cherishes a vintage Sony Walkman and his mixtape of 1970s pop gems such as “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)” from the band Looking Glass. The cassette is part of writer-director James Gunn’s homage to the Analog Era. But tapes are hardly obsolete or even passé. While they may have disappeared from many record store shelves, tapes haven’t gone away. In fact, they’re back in a big way. Cassette sales are up by 82 percent for the year, and even Top 40 hitmaker Justin Bieber is releasing albums on tape.

New Art from Old Vinyl Records: Even though the hearts of consumers were won away by other forms of storage media, the shiny vinyl records that once stored our favorite tunes aren’t ready for the junk heap of history. Artists are still finding creative ways to honor the role of vinyl records in a past generation’s love of music — by using vinyl records to make art! For Brooklyn artist Greg Frederick, it started when he found an abandoned box of records left on the street. For the six years since he’s been making portraits of icons from the music industry using what gadget site Digital Trends calls “an intricate tapestry of vinyl record pieces.” David Bowie, Bob Marley, Prince, and Amy Winehouse are now preserved forever in vinyl encased in resin.

Vinyl never went anywhere for this Midland collector: In case you haven’t heard, vinyl records are coming back in a big way. But for long time fans of the turntable like Bill Young of Midland, vinyl never really went anywhere.How much does Young like vinyl music? “One time I bought out a record store,” he said, laughing. Along with being a life-long music and vinyl record fan, Young is the administrator of the Michigan Record Club, a Facebook page he created to connect people from all over the state through their love of vinyl. Young said the page has given him a slew of new friends who share his passion, and allows him to network about collection opportunities. “Vinyl is a nostalgia thing for older people, but new listeners are buying vinyl for different reasons,” he said. “I am happy to see new people come in to vinyl.”

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TVD Radar: Stax’s Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, in stores 5/26

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Stax Records, an imprint of Concord Music Group and its Catalog Division, Craft Recordings, is pleased to announce the reissue of one of its most provocative titles: Melvin Van Peebles’ Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song. Consistently hailed as a landmark, genre-defining album, this 1971 soundtrack — performed by a then-unknown Earth, Wind & Fire with contributions by Van Peebles — will be made available on May 26th for the very first time in high-res and standard digital formats.

The vinyl edition features audio remastered from the original analog tapes and cut on the original Stax lathe at Memphis’ Ardent studios, then pressed on 180-gram vinyl at Memphis Record Pressing. The remastered LP also includes new liner notes from author, journalist, and music critic Jeff Weiss, as well as from Melvin’s son Mario Van Peebles, director of New Jack City (1991) and 2003’s Baadasssss!, which chronicles the making of his father’s landmark film.

Trailblazing writer, director, actor, and composer Melvin Van Peebles was financially and creatively responsible for the entire production of Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song. Van Peebles not only directed, scripted, and edited the film, but also wrote the score and directed the marketing campaign. The film, which in the end grossed more than $10 million (the highest ever for an independent film at the time), was acclaimed for its political resonance with the black struggle.

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