Since 2006, Mark Charles Heidinger has fashioned a noteworthy form of folk with his DC based project, Vandaveer.
Vandaveer’s mesmerizing melodies cut down to the bone—speaking on an almost subliminal level. The group circles around playing venues of all sizes, from living room shows to festivals. Their song “Spite” weaves a pulsing rhythm with tense, striking lyrics.
The track begins with a haunting drum knock, growing more mysterious when singer/guitarist Heidinger comes in with his raspy vocals. Rose Guerin enters with her softer tone—providing the perfect cadence to balance out the harmonious duet. The lyrics adhere to a strict structure, creating a powerful aural pattern within the song.
Heidinger sings, “I’m gonna hold my breath to spite the air,” a quick-witted lyric repeated in both verses, serving as a lead for the rest of the lines to follow.
Although filmed in France, the video brims with Americana—dark storytelling with gothic influences. Two stories are twisted together, a baleful vignette of an unnamed man and a traditional video of Heidinger and Guerin, both clad in vintage style, performing the song. Both stories reach their respective peaks around the two-minute mark. The short video is certain to add some depth to your day—you can’t ask for much more.
Some bands take things too far; other bands take things to the very limits of human endurance. Such was the case with Deep Purple live. They felt they were doing their audiences a disservice if they played a song shorter than 11 minutes, and they preferred to go 20. And the English heavy metal legends weren’t just long-winded; they were loud as well. None other than the Guinness Book of World Records declared the Purple “the globe’s loudest band” following a 1972 concert at London’s Rainbow Theatre.
I have no problem with loud, but the band’s longevity is another matter. A 20-minute song inevitably turns into a horrendous jam, with lots of stoppages for the singer to utter fatuous comments and for the drummer to demonstrate his chops. Which is why Deep Purple hasn’t aged nearly as well as its contemporaries Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. They didn’t have that guy at the side of the stage drawing a finger across his neck as a sign for them to shut up and move onto the next tune.
Take Long Beach 1971. It consists of four songs and goes on for almost 70 minutes, and in short is an abomination. No one not blotto on heavy downers could have survived such a show. On the band’s best albums—1971’s Fireball, 1972’s Machine Head, and 1974’s Burn—they kept things short, which is why human beings can still listen to these records with a modicum of enjoyment, if Deep Purple’s amalgam of Jon Lord’s ham-fisted organ playing, Ritchie Blackmore’s guitar pyrotechnics, and the otherworldly vocals of first Ian Gillian and then David Coverdale are their thing.
“To me, listening to a vinyl record is the audible equivalent of putting my feet up in front a coal fire. It’s the hiss, crackle, and general analogue warmth that soon gets me nostalgic for Christmases at home. This may not sound like your average record lover’s interpretation, but for me vinyl is very much something I associate with home and family.”
“This might not sound so strange given how I first got into records. I was roughly 12 or 13 and my Dad had offered me his study/studio as my own bedroom on the condition that it continued to store some of his music equipment. To most this might have been irritating, for me it was probably a touch inspiring. Amongst the goodies I had acquired was a 16 track recorder and computer with music recording software. It is probably not too unrealistic to say that this started me on my music production path.
But anyway back to vinyl, as you probably guessed I was left his record player. It wasn’t actually a few years after I got my own room that I took proper notice of this gem. However, I remember the first time I lifted the needle and placed it on one of my Dad’s Hendrix records. From that moment on I was hooked. I continued to go through all of his music collection, some was good and some was bad. My personal favourites had to be Radiohead’s The Bends and The Jam’s Setting Sons. Without sounding all mushy it gave me an insight to what it must have been like to be my dad when he was young listening to those records.
“Go tell you own story/ Go chase you own dreams,” sings Auna Sims on her debut single, “Right Place,” an exploration of identity reminiscent of ’90s singer/songwriters. “I wrote this song when I was struggling with the ‘Why try again’ questions,” said Sims. Right before she was to audition for the head of the Symphony in her native city of Atlanta, she was suddenly struck by an idiopathic injury to her hand and arm–meaning it was from an unexplained source.
She was prodigiously gifted piano player who grew up the oldest of ten musically gifted children in a house where music infused everything, and had studied classical performance all throughout her childhood and adolescence. Auna was prepared to embark on a post-secondary education centered around the study of the piano. She was devastated.
Music consumed Auna though, and she persevered. Always a fan of classical music, her tastes broadened to include indie music and pop music–insofar as The Beatles and the like mean pop music. Because she had to create, because there was no version of herself that does not make songs come into being, she began to play the piano one-handed. Within these limitations, she developed her performance and her voice. She kept the music to herself and she wrote song after song.
“We wanted this video to be a summation of who we are and what we’re about rather than a smoke and mirrors show. (Director) Daniel Iglesias Jr. (The Neighbourhood, X Ambassadors, Bad Suns) encapsulated everything we are as a whole; a group of friends, and a group of guys who just want to play rock music.”
‘Cold Hearted Girl’ is a great representation of our music. It has the roller coaster dynamics of the rock songs we love and the brutally honest lyrics we try to write. Within one listen you get what the song is about. I’m sure everyone can relate to the topic. That’s why we went with ‘Cold Hearted’ for the first single.”
New Jersey pop rockers The Mosers deliver unbridled kiss off to one cold hearted girl.
We have the pleasure of premiering the four piece’s single and accompanying video for “Cold Hearted Girl” exclusively to the readers of TVD. If you’re a fan of modern rock ‘n’ roll, I can promise you that these Jersey boys deliver the goods—and would even go so far as to call this single a bona fide smash.
Glenn Mercer is a key figure in guitar-pop history, with his most important roles being vocalist, string-bender, and songwriter in New Jersey titans The Feelies. He’s also been a factor in numerous related projects across the decades, and on October 9th Bar None Records doubles his solo discography through the release of Incidental Hum, an all-instrumental affair featuring twelve originals and three covers. It’s available on LP, CD, and digital.
Way back before the beginning there was the Out Kids, the group’s membership including Mercer, drummer Dave Weckerman, and later bassist Bill Million. Initially specializing in versions of ‘60s garage rock, they eventually transitioned to originals and played gigs in late ‘70s NYC; after an irate lead singer ushered the Out Kids to an end, a few adjustments were made and The Feelies were born.
Released in 1980, Crazy Rhythms stands as their essential document and one of the finest albums of its decade, gleaming like a beacon at the historical intersection of Velvets-derived post-punk and the ensuing college radio aided jangle-pop explosion; head and shoulders above the legions of bands they influenced, if Mercer had contributed to nothing else his placement in the annals of recorded music would be secure.
The Feelies went on to cut three more LPs before breaking up in the early ‘90s, and along the way Mercer took part in offshoots the Trypes (Acute Records’ retrospective Music for Neighbors is excellent), Yung Wu (who left behind ‘87’s nifty Shore Leave) and the Willies; post-dissolution (they’ve since reunited) he formed Wake Ooloo for a series of discs, played in True Wheel and Sunburst, and in 2007 issued his debut solo effort Wheels in Motion on the Pravda label.
When it comes to outlaw country, Jerry Jeff Walker is a proud representative who rarely tops anybody’s list. Chiefly noted for writing the ubiquitous “Mr. Bojangles” and for his cover of Ray Wylie Hubbard’s “Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother,” Jerry generally gets short shrift in comparison to Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Townes Van Zandt. But a listen to his 1973 live LP, ¡Viva Terlingua!, demonstrates conclusively that Walker can hold his own with the best of them.
Recorded with his Lost Gonzo Band at the Luckenbach Dancehall in 1973, ¡Viva Terlingua! is a masterpiece, featuring a unique mix of “outlaw” rock, blues, and traditional Mexican music styles that makes him one of a kind amongst his outlaw compadres. The album’s wonderful mixture of covers and originals helps—there isn’t a weak cut on the damn thing, from the carefree opening track, “Getting’ By,” a rollicking country tune on which Walker sets down his easy-going philosophy of living. The solos are great, Walker is charmingly insouciant, and if this one doesn’t make you happy, I recommend you look into ECT.
His cover of Guy Clark’s “Desperados Waiting for a Train” is a slow and lovely country lament over an old man who took him under his wing when he was a kid. The desperados turn out to be drifters and domino players, and Walker hits just the right note, avoiding bathos and steering clear of the maudlin, while the band kicks out the jams on the choruses and then kicks into the overdrive at the end, taking the song out, on a rock note.
As the name suggests, Funeral Horse prefer it dark, pummeling and raw, though the Houston-based trio’s thrust is more inclined toward stoner-riff velocity than the oft-gradual density of experimental doom. Extant since 2013 and no strangers to a touring van, they’ve recently released a sophomore full-length, and it expands their sonic template in interesting ways. Divinity for the Wicked is out now on virgin black vinyl in an edition of 400 copies through hometown label Artificial Head Records, and with exclusive artwork by the notable Brit scribbler Savage Pencil.
Make no mistake, Funeral Horse specializes in the heavy; Jason Argonaut plays the bass, Paul Bearer wields the guitar and spouts the syllables, and Chris Bassett thumps the cans, but with a couple of obviously bogue monikers in place the band makes it clear they don’t regard their collective endeavor too seriously.
And as one might guess, the basis for their sound is the work of Black Sabbath, particularly the four groundbreaking and enduringly influential albums the quartet cut in the early ‘70s, but perhaps just as enlightening is the trio’s open appreciation of such bastions of the style as Kyuss, Sleep, High On Fire, Harvey Milk, and the Melvins.
Funeral Horse debuted in July of 2013 with the six-song “Savage Audio Demon” EP. Self-released on extremely limited cassette (sold out but available digitally via Bandcamp), its contents are revealed as muscular yet energetic with a caustic guitar tone and agitated, low-mixed vocals; along the way atmospheres of psychedelia are interspersed with tribal bombast.
As TVD’s Jon Pacella noted well over a year ago, “There seems to be a bit of a musical civil war going on in America. The terms have been made clear, the battle lines have been drawn, and the armies have amassed.
The battle rages over country music, and the sides couldn’t be more different. On one side, you have the shallow, commercialized pop country, basically composed of love songs with an added occasional twang, or blathering about beer, trucks, or pretty girls in tight shorts. The opposing side is deep-rooted and a bit rougher around the edges. You won’t see them topping the country charts or appearing in beer commercials, and they are determined to “put the “o” back in country,” as Shooter Jennings so eloquently put it.
What you will get, in the case of someone like Sturgill Simpson, is truth. Truth about alcoholism, truth about the struggles of getting through hard times, and truth about drugs, for better or worse.”
And currently it doesn’t seem much of a leap at all given Simpson’s empathy for stories of struggle and survival for him to have lent his critically lauded 2014 release, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music to the pink vinyl treatment for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. He’s joined by a number of performers who “last year helped raise $30,000 for Gilda’s Club NYC, an organization that provides community support for both those diagnosed with cancer and their caretakers.”
“Frank Sinatra spinning on vinyl, the rotary-dial phone ringing on the end table, family scattered across the floor in front of the fire. That’s what I think of when I think of the holidays. (In the late 1990s, to be clear).”
“I lived in an old colonial house in Massachusetts where quality always out-valued the latest fashions. My parents have a special appreciation for things that endure, and it’s that appreciation that brought me to vinyl. And in turn, brought me to music.
I could have veered away from the phonograph (and rotary-dial phone) because it was out-dated, but the truth is, I loved the way it took me out of modern reality for a moment and brought me to wherever I needed to be. Music does that. It fills you up right where you’re empty. And over the years, lying on the floor listening to records turned this music-lover into a music-maker.