Category Archives: The TVD Storefront

TVD In-store: Breaking Benjamin, Meet & Greet at Gallery of Sound, 6/27

You could call it a homecoming of sorts. Wilkes-Barre, PA’s favorite sons, Breaking Benjamin, armed with a brand new record in stores, Dark Before Dawn—their first in 6 years—celebrated its arrival by paying a visit to Wilkes-Barre’s Gallery of Sound record store for an informal fan meet and greet last weekend.

Over 400 strong lined the building on a sunny summer Saturday and had almost anything and everything signed by the band.

We sent TVD’s Doug Seymour into the throng to capture an informal “record store day” with the band, and yep—to get his record signed. —Ed.

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Graded on a Curve:
Grace Slick, Manhole

“The horror! The horror!” Mistah Kurtz, Heart of Darkness

Some things just should never have been. Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Foreigner. John and Yoko’s Double Fantasy. And let’s not forget Grace Slick’s 1974 debut solo album, Manhole. From the unfortunate sexual connotations of its title, to its inflated songs odious cover art, Manhole is just that: something you might fall into, and be very frightened until you manage to climb back out. Oh, and it says something, although I don’t know what, that on Manhole’s best cut—and that’s relative—Slick doesn’t even sing.

Don’t get me wrong; Slick sings well, and she’s surrounded herself with everybody who was anybody in San Francisco at that unfortunate juncture in time. Even David Crosby, Grace’s male equivalent, makes a cameo. But you know you’re in trouble when the album’s highlight—or lowlight—is a 15-plus minute opus entitled “Theme From the Movie Manhole,” a movie that never got made and for all I know was a figment of Slick’s acid-fogged imagination.

I’ve never been a big Jefferson Airplane/ Jefferson Starship/ Starship fan, so I’ll admit to having a bias. I like the song “Volunteers” and that’s pretty much it, although I will confess to occasionally listening to Jefferson Starship’s “Miracles” just to guffaw when Marty “I got punched in the nose by a Hell’s Angel” Balin sings, “I had a taste of the real world/ When I went down on you, girl.” But I try to keep an open mind because, well, I’ve seen previous musical prejudices of mine destroyed on multiple occasions, and it’s no fun eating crow.

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Graded on a Curve:
Alan Lomax, Music for Work and Play: Carriacou, Grenada, 1962

We’re in the midst of the Alan Lomax Centennial and the achievement of the indefatigable folklorist radiates life-affirming goodness as strongly as it ever did. Global Jukebox is the digital-only imprint of the Alan Lomax Archive, and on July 7 their latest installment Music for Work and Play: Carriacou, Grenada, 1962 will be available for download. Focusing heavily on a cappella groups and string bands with the added enlightenment of interview segments, it adds impressively to the already vast wealth of Lomax’s research and documentation, the sheer value of which is essentially incalculable.

Alan Lomax was a folklorist, ethnomusicologist, archivist, writer, scholar, activist, and more, but less grandly he remains part of a family tradition spanning three centuries; he’s the son of distinguished folklorist John A. Lomax and father to Anna Lomax Wood, who currently runs the Lomax Archive in addition to heading the Association for Cultural Equity.

Founded by her father, the ACE is a charitable organization housed at New York City’s Hunter College. Its objective is to “explore and preserve the world’s expressive traditions with humanistic commitment and scientific engagement.” By extension the Global Jukebox, which Lomax and a team of developers began in 1989, attempts to “organize and synthesize the findings of anthropology and musicology that evoked relationships between expressive style, human geography, and long-standing patterns of subsistence and social life.”

One of the benefits of digital innovation is how it aids in the dissemination of large stores of historical material while simultaneously helping non-profits keep costs at a minimum. This shouldn’t bum-out fans of physical media (of which I am one) and lovers of vinyl (ditto) for it’s become pretty plain digital itself is not an enemy, though soulless streaming sites might be. And yet as a correspondent for this website I would be remiss in not mentioning Global Jukebox’s teaming with a handful of other organizations to utilize a wide array of formats.

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TVD Premiere: Scott Krokoff, “Sparrows”

NYC singer-songwriter Scott Krokoff delivers refined bittersweet folk lullaby.

We have the pleasure of premiering Scott’s soothing single “Sparrows” from his second LP installment, Realizations & Declarations Vol. 2, which finds the practicing lawyer tapping his love for ’70s era Petty and James Taylor. While most of the album is filled with orchestrated country pop, “Sparrows” is a decidedly stripped down affair—adorned with adroit fingerpicking and clean delivery.

“Many of my songs are about not giving up and pursuing what you love for obvious reasons,” Scott reflects. The songwriter is adamant that one should never put a shelf life on their dreams and these principles are reflected in his graceful tales of morality and perseverance.

Krokoff’s Realizations & Declarations Vol. 2 is scheduled for a September 4th release.

Scott Krokoff Official | Facebook | Twitter

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Graded on a Curve: Sonny Knight and the Lakers, Do It Live

2014’s I’m Still Here advanced Sonny Knight to the venerable ranks of rejuvenated soul belters. He was backed on the LP by the Lakers, a young and energetic gang of Minneapolis-based R&B acolytes, and the pairing has reemerged with a four-sided performance bonanza. Captured during a two-night stand last December in front of a hometown crowd, it provides ample evidence of Knight’s aptitude for vocalizing and showmanship; behind him the Lakers are a tight and relentless sonic machine. Do It Live is currently available from Secret Stash, and the first 300 copies of the 2LP are on orange vinyl.

Sonny Knight’s career began in the mid-‘60s; as a teenager he fronted and cut a 45 as leader of the Cymbols, though his musical pursuits were curbed by subsequent US military service in Korea and Vietnam. Upon returning, he spent time in California before moving back to Minneapolis and hooking up with funk/R&B outfit Haze. Disco’s commercial crash reportedly spelled the end of that act; thereafter Knight took up truck-driving as a vocation.

His reemergence is directly related to a budding relationship with the Minneapolis-based Secret Stash label. Devoted to soul, funk, African, and Latin recordings predominantly of ‘60s and ‘70s vintage, Secret Stash is run by Eric Foss, who also plays in the enterprise’s house band the Lakers. Amongst the imprint’s worthy reissues is 2012’s Twin Cities Funk & Soul: Lost R&B Grooves From Minneapolis/St. Paul 1964-1979, a dilly of a geographical comp offering selections from The Valdons, Wanda Davis, the Prophets of Peace, Morris Wilson, Willie Walker, and more.

Secret Stash additionally booked studio-time for Wanda Davis and The Valdons as assorted gigs were scheduled; amidst the activity the call was made for Knight’s abilities. As the frequency of these assists increased, little time was wasted in devising a scheme to combine vocalist and band, an entity comprised of Foss on drums, Sam Harvey-Carlson on organ, Blair Krivanek on guitar, Casey O’Brien on bass, Bryan Highhill on trumpet, Cole Pulice on sax, and Tony Beaderstadt on trombone.

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TVD Vinyl Giveaway: Brian Wilson, No Pier Pressure, Autographed

As our own Tim Hibbs noted last April prior to a chat with the man himself, “…Brian Wilson is a musical genius. The depth he brought to the Beach Boys recordings through his vocal and instrumental arrangements is still the benchmark so many strive to reach. Wilson’s personal struggles have been well documented but he has never stopped creating arresting and vital music.

On April 7th, Capitol Records releases Wilson’s eleventh solo studio album, No Pier Pressure. Originally intended as a Beach Boys release, those plans were scrapped when the band fell apart after their 50th anniversary tour. Instead, Wilson assembled an all-star lineup of guest vocalists including Kacey Musgraves, fun.’s Nate Ruess, and She & Him’s Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward, along with Beach Boy alumni Al Jardine, David Marks, and Blondie Chaplin.

Likewise, he recruited A-list session players like Don Was, drummers Jim Keltner and Kenny Aronoff, Dean Parks, and Jeffrey Foskett. The good news for vinyl fans is that it will be released as a two-LP set pressed on 180-gram vinyl in addition to CD and digital formats.”

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Zac Nelson,
The TVD First Date

“I always loved going to my Gammy and Papa’s (my father’s parents) 75 acres with a beautiful lake and hills out in Carbondale, Illinois. There is a college there (SIU) and it was a big deal to go in this rad place called Plaza Wuxtry and get CDs and patchouli oil, but I didn’t actually start collecting vinyl until later in my life.”

“Growing up, I was influenced by a lot of albums, including the first and second Blind Melon albums, Rap Beginnings Volume One, a Yes Fragile tape with no cover that my mom had for some reason, a Metallica Black Album with no cover that my mom had for some reason, a whole bunch of classic ’90s alternative stuff, folk style music like John Denver, Weezer, Beck—my sister listened to a bunch of awesome ’90s singing groups like Boyz II Men, Shai, Color Me Bad, etc.

At the time, I acted like I didn’t like it but now when I reflect on it, I think it had a positive effect for helping me be comfortable to make emotional songs. My parents don’t really listen to jazz at all and one day I found a Chick Corea live acoustic band tape with Dave Weckl on drums and I had never really heard someone play drums like that.

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Graded on a Curve: Earth, Wind & Fire, The Best of Earth, Wind & Fire Vol. 1

Of all the things I’ve loved during my tenure on this planet, it’s hard to beat Earth, Wind & Fire’s Maurice White. And not because he’s a musical genius and head honcho of one of the Seventies’ best soul/funk outfits. No, I love him because he’s the guy who sings, “Yowl!” on several occasions on the great “That’s the Way of the World.” They never fail to thrill me, those yowls, not since I was a young sprog and loved the hell out of MFSB’s “T.S.O.P.”

EWF’s songs dominated Top 40 radio when I was young, because unlike Sly and the Family Stone and Parliament/Funkadelic they were unapologetically middle of the road. But that doesn’t mean that their songs weren’t great, just that they were more like the black equivalent of Elton John than, say, Randy Newman. As the critic Robert Christgau noted about one of their prime LPs, “Most of these songs are fun to listen to. But they’re still MOR–the only risk they take is running headlong into somebody coming down the middle of the road in the opposite direction. Like The Carpenters.”

But so what? Earth, Wind & Fire have produced their fair share of timeless songs, and if they’re slick, the slickness works. Under the direction of White, EWF’s drummer, songwriter, and vocalist, the band’s sound was—and still is—an eclectic brew of funk, jazz, gospel, rock, smooth soul, blues, folk, African music, and disco, and what made them particularly remarkable were their group vocals, and especially the vocals of Maurice White and Philip Bailey. Unrelentingly positive, their songs were a balm for the soul, and I for one think “That’s the Way of the World” is a slice of mystical brilliance and a song for the ages. All of those vocalists throwing in; it’s a sound so soulful I sprout an Afro every time I listen to it. And their horn section, the four-member Phenix Horns, also merits special attention; one listen to the opening of “Shining Star” and you know you’re in the presence of genius.

Which is not to say I like all their songs. The ones on which Bailey handles lead vocals in particular tend to be too slick for my tastes, what with his high-pitched vocals and their tendency to wander into romantic schlock. But hey, he can hardly be blamed for crooning; people love a good crooner. They’re good songs, just not my cup of soul.

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TVD’s Press Play

Press Play is our Monday recap of the new—and FREE—tracks received last week, provided here to inform your next trip to your local indie record store. Click, preview, download, purchase.

Tiny Rhymes – Arrows
Milo McMahon – Caveman
The Legal Immigrants – Fork In The Road
Oki’s Wagon – Horror Chord
Twin Within – Bernie
Joe Hertler & the Rainbow Seekers – Future Talk
Shades. – Time Back
Monks of Mellonwah – Even When It Burns
Muse – Uprising (Disco Fries Edit)
Sentinel – Counting Stars

TVD SINGLE OF THE WEEK:
The Phantom Sound – Get To Me

Pearl Charles – You Can Change
Buku – Might Be
Ron Flieger – All I Want
Zapéd – Prague (ft.Groszek)
Weakling – Pullup
My Dead Air – Holding On
Telegraph Canyon – Why Let it Go
Future Love Hangover – Moving Mountains
BECOME X Elohim – She Talks Too Much
Donatachi – Neo (ft. Blair De Milo)

8 more FREE TRACKS on side B!

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Ashleigh Stone,
The TVD First Date

“There is a sound that comes only from the needle of a record player hitting the vinyl. It’s that silence beforehand and then, eventually, that first moment before the music when one can hear the little artifacts of dust, the crackle of vinyl. That is a sound like no other, and one that has always excited me since childhood.”

“Then there were the Jensen speakers my parents had connected to our record player. When I was a teen, they tried multiple times to sell them in garage sales, and each and every time I rescued them from leaving me. They sit unused in my living room to this day, but I exhibit them like trophies to the memories they hold within them.

My mother had what I recall as being a diverse but also impressive vinyl collection. There was everything from Little Feat, the Beatles, Linda Ronstadt, Clapton, and Michael Jackson all the way to the Let’s Disco dance instructional album and the very beloved family copy of the Reader’s Digest Christmas Collection. My favorite album, and an artist that I feel was never fully appreciated to her full extent, was Joan Armatrading’s Show Some Emotion.

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