Category Archives: The TVD Storefront

Spinning: Joe Jackson,
“A Slow Song “

Look, it’s hard to tell people how you feel, what’s going on, the tides pushing and pulling.

Time was when a mixtape was that bridge, or the spin of a well-intentioned record eliciting its own waltz about a candlelit room with the object of one’s adoration.

It’s an emotional world, it is. Thus TVD HQ’s recurring fuel for your fires and mixtapes. Reading between the lines—encouraged.

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Don DiLego,
The TVD First Date

“Western Massachusetts in the late ’70s and ’80s was not exactly the center of the musical universe. I grew up in the mountains of the Berkshires, and getting your hands on a new release took some serious planning.”

“Step 1 – Figure out the release date of the album in question. Now today, this may seem ridiculous considering the ubiquitous nature of information and your almost INABILITY to avoid it. But “way back then,” you had to earn it. Somehow, usually via the radio, you’d hear mention of a new record from your favorite band. The mission would grow from there.

Step 2 – Build your alliances and acquisition network. That’s right. If you wanted that copy of the new album on the day it came in, you’d need to have a couple of alliances at local music stores. You definitely needed to know them by name! There was often a “list” that they would keep of people looking for the first copies that came in, so you’d want to plant the seed early. Having a small army of like-minded passionate music pals helped immensely because they may know someone you don’t.

Step 3 – Ditch school early and get to the record shop on release day. Man, I feel so old saying that, seeing as though there is ZERO reason for this anymore! All things being digital, and pre-order, etc. You don’t need to go ANYWHERE! But back then, like I said, you had to earn that record. It took some serious and methodical planning.

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Graded on a Curve:
Bob Dylan,
Planet Waves

I am going on record, right here and now, as stating the indefensible; namely that Bob Dylan, the great Bob Dylan, would have done us all a favor had he disappeared into darkest Africa—as the brilliant young Symbolist French poet Arthur Rimbaud did after abandoning poetry at the ripe old age of 21—after recording The Basement Tapes with the group that would go on to be called the Band. Because nothing he ever did after them even comes close to measuring up.

Oh, I know Blood on the Tracks has a billion fans, as does John Wesley Harding. Hell, I’ll bet even the execrable Self-Portrait and its bastard son Dylan have their doting admirers. But I’m not one of them, and I will spend the rest of my days wondering what happened to the trickster Zimmerman whose surreal wordplay, wild sense of humor, and flashes of brilliant spiritual insight illuminated The Basement Tapes, making them, I think, the best folk-rock music ever recorded.

I know, I know, I constitute a minority of one. But aside from 1974’s great Before the Flood, the live LP Dylan recorded with his old buddies the Band, the only post-Basement Tapes LP I ever listen to is that same year’s Planet Waves, the studio LP Dylan recorded with Robbie Robertson, Levon Helm and Company before the tour that led to Before the Flood. That this LP constitutes the only real studio collaboration between Dylan and the Band is downright inexplicable; the feel between Bob and his Basement Tapes compadres is hand and glove, and if the LP is a kind of bummer (“Dirge” and “Wedding Song” make sure of that), it’s a lovely bummer, and makes up for its down in the mouth lyrics with ensemble playing that is inexplicably both impromptu sounding and tight as a pair of too small shoes.

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TVD’s Press Play

Press Play is our Monday recap of the new and FREE tracks received last week to inform the next trip to your local indie record store.

Somatoast – Nodus Tollens
Caleb Keith & the Calaveras – Marie
Angie Keilhauer – Made To Live By The Water
The Chairman Dances – César Chávez
The YUM YUM’s & Mat McHugh – A Pocket Full of Shells
The Shondes – Carrion Crow

TVD SINGLE OF THE WEEK:
Bloods – Bring My Walls Down

IAN SWEET – All Skaters Go To Heaven
Fialta – Be Someone
Jessie Reyez – Figures (beats 1 Zane Lowe Premiere RADIO RIP)
Mood Robot – Ghost
The Burgeoning – Beautiful Rampage
The Moondoggies – Oh Now Honey
Time – World War Me

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Spinning: Arnold,
“Oh My”

Look, it’s hard to tell people how you feel, what’s going on, the tides pushing and pulling.

Time was when a mixtape was that bridge, or the spin of a well-intentioned record eliciting its own waltz about a candlelit room with the object of one’s adoration.

It’s an emotional world, it is. Thus TVD HQ’s recurring fuel for your fires, mixtapes, and fan letters.

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Andrew Belle,
The TVD First Date

“To be honest, the first time I set a needle to a record was only about 7 years ago. I was born in 1984 and so by the time I was really interested in music, cassettes and CDs were the most commonly available. My family didn’t own a record player—I think maybe my grandparents had an old Victrola in the basement but it was basically furniture.”

“In fact, my first real memory of being excited about music of any kind wasn’t until Christmas 1995. I asked for and got my first boombox CD/Cassette combo, paired with the soundtracks from my two favorite movies at the time—Batman Forever and Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls. So needless to say, I was a late bloomer. Here are a few memories that come to mind with regard to my discovery of vinyl:

1. In 2009, I was in Seattle to open a show for Ben Folds in Bellingham, WA. It was just a one-off opportunity but I was still excited out of my mind for the opportunity. I had never been to WA and barely had any money back then and so I remember having to call in favors to get picked up at the airport at midnight, sleep on someone’s couch, and then bum a ride to Bellingham from another singer-songwriter my manager was friends with.

Except it turns out he was busy that night and so his girlfriend—who none of us knew—offered to drive us the 2 hours there and back instead. With a little time to kill that day, our new friends showed us around Seattle—specifically a little artsy neighborhood called Fremont. We wandered into a record shop and for some reason, despite not owning a record player myself or having ever bought vinyl before, I walked out with U2’s War album and Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA. Those were the first 2 records I ever bought.

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Graded on a Curve: Swamp Dogg,
Total Destruction
to Your Mind

Let us, dear reader, turn to the strange case of Jerry Williams, aka Swamp Dogg. In 1970, tired of playing “second banana” and biding his time as a “jukebox” for other people’s songs while getting screwed over in the royalties department in the process, the deep soul and R&B singer decided to reinvent himself. “So,” in his own words, “I came up with the name Dogg because a dog can do anything, and anything a dog does never comes as a real surprise; if he sleeps on the sofa, shits on the rug, pisses on the drapes, chews up your slippers, humps your mother-in-law’s leg, jumps on your new clothes and licks your face, he’s never gotten out of character. You understand what he did, you curse while making allowances for him but your love for him never diminishes.”

Dogg’s reinvention, which was apparently aided by an LSD trip, allowed him to turn his attention to, in his own words again, “Sex, niggers, love, rednecks, war, peace, dead flies, home wreckers, Sly Stone, my daughters, politics, revolution and blood transfusions (just to name a few),” without ever getting out of character. Recorded at Muscle Shoals and Macon, Georgia with a bevy of incredibly talented session guys, the songs on Dogg’s 1970 debut LP Total Destruction to Your Mind are every bit as strange as the album’s cover, which shows Swamp Dogg in his underwear sitting on a pile of garbage. One of a kind he is. If you have any doubts, check out his Christmas album, which boasts the wonderful title, “An Awful Christmas and a Lousy New Year.”

No, there’s no doubt about it, Swamp Dogg is one of a kind. The very soulful “I Was Born Blue” posits a world in which Dogg is blue and the rest of the world has orange skin and green hair; “Sal-A-Faster” is, I think, a hilarious testimonial to the wonders of LSD. But who knows? As for the horn-fueled “Dust Your Color Red,” I have no idea whatsoever what Swamp Dogg is talking about, or to be more accurate, testifying about.

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Spinning: The Style Council, “The Paris Match” (feat. Tracey Thorn)

Look, it’s hard to tell people how you feel, what’s going on, the tides pushing and pulling.

Time was when a mixtape was that bridge, or the spin of a well-intentioned record eliciting its own waltz about a candlelit room with the object of one’s adoration.

It’s an emotional world, it is. Thus TVD HQ’s recurring fuel for your fires and mixtapes. Reading between the lines—encouraged.

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Graded on a Curve: Cannonball Adderley, Somethin’ Else

Blue Note Records is celebrating 75 years of existence by giving numerous key titles from their incomparable catalog high-quality vinyl reissues, and it’s fitting that we begin our tribute to the label’s longevity with a look at one of their very finest releases, the great alto saxophonist Julian Cannonball Adderley’s 1958 masterwork Somethin’ Else.

The LPs of Blue Note’s classic-era are aptly described as an embarrassment of riches. Along with loads of amazing music, there is of course the surrounding context, and engaging with the fruits of the imprint’s labors offers a truly enlightening historical narrative. Naturally, it’s only part of jazz’s larger story, but it’s also a highly valuable component since Blue Note is an example where respect for the music trumped pure capitalistic desire.

That respect extended to the amount of studio time given to the musicians, but it also concerned other vital aspects of record production, beginning with the use of engineer Rudy Van Gelder and ending with the company’s justly celebrated graphic design. Blue Note didn’t have the market cornered on either the Van Gelder touch or the manufacturing of handsome album jackets, for it really was a fantastic era in terms of both fidelity and sharply conceived presentation, but throughout the salad days of Modern Jazz (and for a good while afterward) the label was at the forefront.

Somethin’ Else is one of many excellent Van Gelder jobs, but some may evaluate its sleeve as solid but not spectacular. Please allow me to disagree. While I don’t think it’s one of the very greatest of Blue Note covers, it is nicely pared down to only essential information and is a fine model of strong but subtle construction; obviously the large black space, but also the contrast with the white lettering, and then the font, bold type that possesses just a hint of distinctiveness. Add the further contrasting element of color, with green for the leader and blue for his band.

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Jonas Martin, The TVD First Date and Premiere, The Color Scheme

“My dad loved technology and was always interested in the newest thing. I remember being the only weirdo on my block with a computer when I was a kid. Just amber dots on the screen but there were still cool games on it.”

“I remember that he got us a LaserDisc player when that was a thing for about one day. When it came to music, we had cassettes, CDs, and eventually he had a library of about two terabytes on his PC. So, I actually don’t remember ever listening to vinyl when I was growing up but they were there, in the house. Shelves and shelves covering all sides of his office. Some of them framed on the wall above his desk. Some just stored in the garage alongside a pile of old turntables. At least 6-800 albums that he refused to get rid of even if he wasn’t utilizing their unique richness of sound. For years I wondered, “What’s the deal with these gigantic discs? Why keep them?”

One day after I had left the nest, my girlfriend came home with a turntable and some vinyl she picked up at a thrift store and I started to understand the appeal. This big beautiful jacket with so much more to engage you. The tender sonics of the linear sound recording coming out of the speakers. Even the limitations of the thing were interesting to me, especially when I began to design my own vinyl records years later. But that’s a different story. Anyway, I went to my dad and asked him to give me all that vinyl I knew he wasn’t even listening to. “Nope, sorry.” “Pleeease…” “Ok, maybe you can have a couple.” This went on for years.

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