Category Archives: The TVD Storefront

Happy Labor Day Weekend!

We’re taking a long weekend and will return tomorrow, 9/2. 

While we’re away, why not fire up our free Record Store Locator app and visit one of your local indie record shops? Perhaps there’s an interview, review, or feature you might have missed? Catch up and we’ll see you back here on Tuesday.

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TVD’s The Idelic Hour with Jon Sidel

Greetings from Laurel Canyon!

To all my Idelic friends, have a cool and restful Labor Day weekend. Seems Jon and the TVD gang are gonna call it a short week, so WTF—I’ll make it a short column.

This week’s playlist is the “brotha” playlist to last week’s Idelic “songs about chicks.” The way I’ve always seen life is this—I like being around a few cool dudes…and TONS of cool chicks!

Appropriately, this hour plus are songs about Jon, Bill, Jimmy, Joe, Sam, and a few others. Check it and see ya next week!

The Idelic Hit of the Week:
Gap Dream – Fantastic Sam

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Graded on a Curve:
Herman’s Hermits,
Their Greatest Hits

Amongst the insults lobbed at Herman’s Hermits over the decades: fabricated, shallow, calculatedly commercial, utterly safe, disposable. At home they scored hits and in the US became one of the most popular imports of the mid-‘60s, though for many they are simply a Brit Invasion phenomenon connecting the Frankie Avalon/Fabian ‘50s scene and the eventual rise of bubblegum. Any folks curious as to what the fuss was all about might want to look into ABKCO’s LP reissue of Their Greatest Hits.

Herman’s Hermits can be considered the UK equivalent of and predecessor to The Monkees, though they had to fight longer for a redemption that is still in progress, as many persist in evaluating them as eternal inhabitants of Squaresville, damned to never ascend phoenix-like from the circumstances thrust upon them by their era.

The ever-growing legion of Pop scientists will chalk this up to plain Rockism, but it’s a little more complex than that. Prior to getting captured in the viselike clutches of Mickey Most, Herman’s Hermits were a highly amiable small-time gigging Manchester-based band, one initially shouldering the rather unimaginative moniker of the Heartbeats; it was subsequent to Peter Noone’s arrival that a name change, reportedly inspired by managers Harvey Lisberg and Charlie Silverman, occurred.

Herman’s Hermits is a sly appellation; unlike the Heartbeats, it stuck in the memory, and it straddled the lingering and soon to resurface pop idol angle while acknowledging if not fully succumbing to the post-Beatles vogue for leaderless units. Once in league with Most the only member of the act to unfailingly appear on their studio efforts was the gent some mistakenly thought was Herman; the front-man, or in the parlance of a certain UK group called the High Numbers, The Face.

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TVD Premiere:
Harris Hawk,
“Make the Fonz Bleed”

“I was in the 4th grade. I lived in Littleton, CO. I worshipped Janet, Whitney, and Mariah. They were the very beginning of my musical awareness and I have great respect for their talents. That was the summer my aunt came to town.”

“She lived in LA, but hailed originally from Seattle like the rest of my mom’s family. She saw Nirvana play in small clubs. She gave me the album that served as the catalyst that brought me into the world where the music was raw, emotional, and tough. Where the guitars expressed as much as the vocals. Where there was no discernable pretense, nothing was polished. I was the weird kid and I had found my home.

It was 1993. I listened to Nevermind countless times on my little bedside table alarm clock/tape deck. It would be almost a decade before I seriously started exploring my own musical voice. When Kurt Cobain died, my aunt wouldn’t leave the house. My grandparents laid flowers on his driveway. And my young self struggled to make the connection between the artist I admired and the person in enough pain to kill himself. I still do. And, every once in a while, I stop to think about how deeply rooted my musical expression is in my own pain. And then I stop and go about my day.”
Anne Warnock, vocals, guitar

“I remember finding my dad’s old records in middle school and being blown away by the sound compared to my CDs.”

“I remember Dark Side of the Moon being a completely new album and scaring the shit out of me. Records made it fun to shop for music as well. Finding Petitioning the Empty Sky and blasting that is another wonderful memory. Nothing beats the warmth you hear on vinyl. How’s that?”
Mike Sullivan, bass

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Graded on a Curve:
Eric Clapton,
No Reason to Cry

Over the course of my writing “career,” I’ve practically made a cottage industry of disparaging Eric Clapton. I’ve called his supergroup Cream overrated, eviscerated him for making inexcusably racist remarks in the mid-seventies, and let it be known that I’m revolted by just about every song he’s written in the past several decades, especially those twin pillars of pure treacle, “Tears in Heaven” and “My Father’s Eyes.” I’ve condemned him for turning his own best song, “Layla,” into a sluggish travesty, and called him chinless, feckless, gormless, a tool, one of the most overrated guitarists in rock history, and the owner of a voice less suited for rock’n’roll than for working behind the customer service desk at your local IKEA. Oh, and let’s not forget Slowbland.

So why write a review of a guy I have virtually zero respect for, aside from his brilliant work with Blind Faith and Derek and the Dominos, and a small handful of great songs scattered across approximately 150 LPs? Because I actually enjoy 1976’s No Reason to Cry, that’s why. Or at least I used to, when I was a mere sprite, and I’m curious to discover why. It’s hardly one of Clapton’s more beloved albums, and while you can actually find human beings who think highly of 1974’s 461 Ocean Boulevard, which included that pair of embarrassments “I Shot the Sheriff” and “Willie and the Hand Jive,” I’ve never run into a single sentient being with ears that worked who had so much as a single good thing to say about No Reason to Cry.

Like its 1975 predecessor, There’s One in Every Crowd, No Reason to Cry contains no reggae-lite hits or beloved cult favorites, and as far as most people are concerned is simply another one of the many LPs that marked Clapton’s largely lost decade, the seventies, which saw him beat heroin addiction by becoming a hardcore drunk, and was marked by constant geographical cures to Miami, Jamaica, and finally (in the case of No Reason to Cry), Shangri-la, The Band’s former bordello turned recording studio in depraved Los Angeles, home of the evil Eagles.

During the 1970s plastic and cocaine-infested LA was where bands came to lose the thread; small wonder that David Bowie, who recorded the brilliant Station to Station there but in the process lost his shit thanks to a diet of peppers and milk (seriously) supplemented by limo-length lines of high-grade cocaine, later remarked, “The fucking place should be wiped off the face of the earth.” It was also the place where Robbie Robertson, who was also doing a fair amount of blow at the time, received a rude wake-up call in the form of a morning walk along the beach during which he encountered a fully dressed and unconscious Keith Moon, being tossed to and fro by the surf.

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Needle Drop: Phox,
“Slow Motion”

Wisconsin 6-piece Phox dropped their debut album this past June. A stunning collection of artsy, alternative folk that sits as well on adult contemporary stations as it does on hipster blogs. Despite the AAA flair to their often jazz infused material, the band comes through with some surprisingly fresh and daring material for their first LP.

The gem of the debut is the deservingly singled out “Slow Motion” which showcases the husky vocal gymnastics of lead singer Monica Martin. The beautiful singing and songwriting which inhabits the song remains undeterred by the strange structure and rhythmic changes that seem to shape shift with every chord change. And is that a clarinet in there? It certainly is. Possibly the one move that shifted the song away from total mainstream appeal, but a delish musical moment none the less.

The band released their EP “Confetti” in early 2013 and after a Daytrotter session, positive press, a spot at SXSW and a national tour opening for Blitzen Trapper, began to garner some serious attention. The band played Lollapalooza as a last-minute addition in August 2013, drawing a large crowd despite their midday spot. A show people referred to as one of the best sets of the festival.

Phox is touring the UK, France and Germany until late 2014.

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Graded on a Curve:
Il Sogno del Marinaio,
Canto Secondo

The second full-length by Il Sogno del Marinaio, an international entity comprising two Italians and an American, features a fresh yet familiar aural breeze combining progressive rock’s instrumental adeptness and expansionist possibilities with a lean punk-derived lack of malarkey. That the Yank is Mike Watt demands note, but it’s far from the only reason to investigate Canto Secondo, which is freshly available on CD/vinyl/digital via the Clenchedwrench label.

It’s important to respect this trio’s choice of handle, for it’s just one more example in the enduring tradition of naming that underscores the struggle for creative equality inherent to Rock’s communicative structure (furthermore, the Italian moniker translates into English as The Sailor’s Dream). But as stated in the paragraph above, a third of this unit does consist of the great bassist Mike Watt.

Another point in the triangle is guitarist Stefano Pilia, an Italian acquaintance of Watt who had the fortitude to ask a man significantly his senior and of considerable reputation to form a band with his drumming countryman Andrea Belfi. This they did in 2009, commencing a short tour almost directly afterward and recording that first LP between the shows.

La Busta Gialla didn’t come out until January of ’13, and it wasn’t really hard to understand why. While not aptly described as Experimental, a key component in its prog-influenced sensibility is indeed experimentation, as was the on-the-fly looseness that can only be transcended by the confluence of heavyweight talents.

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We’re seeking interns for a record semester.

They come, they go—every 6 months or so it seems, leaving an indelible mark at TVD and on their own careers. Some depart to labels. Some are drafted by PR firms. Hell, some even stay on as TVD editors from their own home city—they’re just that good.

Fall 2014 looms and we still have a handful of internship openings for Autumn and even into Spring 2015. We’re seeking bright, self motivated, articulate future music industry professionals to join our team on the content side and the marketing and social media outreach that informs the day to day at TVD. Also, candidates need not be in Washington, DC where we’re based to be considered—just be awake when we are.

Interested? Drop Jon and Olivia an email introducing yourself.

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Graded on a Curve: Muddy Waters,
The Best of Muddy Waters

Where to start with the music of that sly titan of 20th century music Muddy Waters? Some will advise an inquisitive newbie to invest in an exhaustive multi-disc box set that retails in the neighborhood of a Franklin, while a closet Johnny Winter-aficionado might recommend one of his late-‘70s LPs for the Blue Sky label (and that’s definitely not the place to begin.) However, the most sensible way to commence a journey into the everlasting goodness of McKinley Morganfield is to simply follow the path many thousands have already made, and it leads directly to the doorstep of 1958’s extraordinarily enlightening The Best of Muddy Waters.

While a certifiable embarrassment of great LPs have been made since the format was first introduced in 1948, they don’t all command the same level of historical respect, even from individuals that happen to hold a deep relationship to the sounds those less revered records contain. For instance, after giving the realms of heavy-duty music connoisseurship a good inspection, there is no doubt that the Best of/Greatest Hits LP continues to shoulder something of a bad reputation, with its appeal often denigrated as being directed mostly to dabblers.

These records, awarded to artists who had managed to secure a handful of creative and/or commercial highpoints either in one fast spurt or in some period of sustained longevity, are reliably frowned upon by more intense listeners as essentially being easy primers designed by cash hungry record labels with the intention of giving more casual ears a quick fix and some level of conversance (a sort of career Cliff Notes, if you will) to discographies of considerable distinction.

That’s not necessarily an incorrect assessment. But there are other elements in the scenario, as anyone who ever got turned on to Donovan through their parent’s well-worn copy of his wildly popular Greatest Hits LP can surely understand. And when handed down by older siblings as they slouched off to spend four years in a cramped college dorm, the Best of/Greatest Hits album has surely functioned as a gateway into substantial musical discoveries of all types.

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Surface Noise: D.F.C., Tchan Nan Nan Nan Nan

Every vinyl lover has been in this situation before: you are at your local record store digging through the crates. You have already picked through the good stuff like Beatles mono releases and original pressings of Ummagumma by Pink Floyd. You make your way over to the bargain bin—the cheap stuff—we’re talking $1-$3 here, and that’s when you find it. That one record you might not normally buy, but for $2? Why the hell not. It may have those familiar words on the price tag, Surface Noise. It comes with the territory in the bargain bin—wear and tear means a lower price tag, but it is here that we discover new things, whether they be amazing, horrifying, or sometimes even stupefying.

That’s what this column will be dedicated to—those wonderful bargain bin gems that we find while crate digging, the albums we might not give a second thought to, but for the low price, it’s suddenly worth it. With every installment of Surface Noise, I will explore the overlooked, eclectic, wacky, and just plain weird. Soundtracks to ’60s biker movies. A double LP of Polynesian Fire Dances. Maybe even some long-forgotten rock albums, like Head East, or the Eddie and the Cruisers soundtrack. I will find the best of the bargain bin, and I won’t spend more than $5 doing it.

Now that you’ve got where I’m going with this, let’s take a look at this week’s pick. Flipping through the $1 bin at Som Records one day after work, I came across this gem. From 1994, Tchan Nan Nan Nan Nan was D.F.C.‘s debut album. I had never heard of them, I just saw the outrageous cover art and had to at least give it a listen. I took it over to the in-store turntable, dropped the needle, and was floored by what was assaulting my ears.

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