Category Archives: The TVD Storefront

TVD Radar: PJ Harvey, Rid of Me and 4-Track Demos vinyl reissues in stores 8/21

VIA PRESS RELEASE | The vinyl reissue of PJ Harvey’s entire back catalogue continues this summer with RID OF ME and 4-TRACK DEMOS out August 21 on UMe / Island.

Just a year after the acclaimed release of debut album DRY (1992), Harvey returned with her second studio album RID OF ME in May 1993. Produced by Steve Albini it featured the singles “50ft Queenie” and “Man-Size.” RID OF ME charted at No. 3 in the U.K. 4-TRACK DEMOS – released in October of the same year – is a collection of demos written and recorded at Harvey’s home throughout 1991 and 1992. Self-produced, it presents the songs in a simple first incarnation on a record of “depth, range and conceptual completeness” (Rolling Stone).

Taken together, these two releases made for an astonishing major label debut on Island Records in 1993, a body of work which has lost none of its urgent potency. This period also firmly established Harvey’s creative relationship with photographer and director Maria Mochnacz who shot the artwork for both records and also directed the videos for “50ft Queenie” and “Man-Size.”

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TVD Radar: ‘Idiot
Prayer: Nick Cave Alone at Alexandra Palace’ streaming event 7/23

VIA PRESS RELEASE | ‘His singing is also extraordinary in this intimate setting…takes your breath away.’The Guardian

Nick Cave performs solo at the piano in Idiot Prayer: Nick Cave Alone at Alexandra Palace, a film shot at the iconic London venue this June. Join the online streaming event on 23 July 2020. In this unique performance, audiences around the world will have the chance to watch Cave play songs from his extensive back catalogue, including rare tracks that most fans will be hearing for the first time. The songs are taken from across the breadth of Cave’s career, including early Bad Seeds and Grinderman, right through to the most recent Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds album, Ghosteen.

The performance was filmed by award winning Cinematographer Robbie Ryan (The Favourite, Marriage Story, American Honey) in Alexandra Palace’s stunning West Hall. It was edited by Nick Emerson (Lady Macbeth, Emma, Greta).

Tickets to view the film stream online are now available at three times globally: Australia & Asia: 8pm AEST, UK & Europe: 8pm BST / 9pm CEST, North & South America: 7pm PDT / 10pm EDT. The film will be streamed as a live experience, and will not be available to view online following the event. Please note during the event you will not be able to pause, rewind, or fast forward the stream.

For tickets and information on your local time click HERE.

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TVD Radar: Melvin Sparks, I’m Funky Now reissue in stores 8/28

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Melvin Sparks (1946–2011) was a talented American Soul Jazz, Hard Bop, Blues and Funk guitarist. The Texas native picked up a guitar at age 11 and was only 13 when he sat in with B.B. King.

As a high school student he first joined Hank Ballard and the Midnighters, and then the Upsetters (a touring band formed by Little Richard, which also backed Curtis Mayfield, Sam Cooke, and Marvin Gaye). Sparks and his guitar were very much in demand during the ’60s and ’70s and he was featured on sessions by Idris Muhammad, Lonnie Smith, Charles Earland, Ceasar Frazier, Bernard Purdie…and many others. During his career Mr. Sparks recorded multiple albums for renowned labels such as Prestige, Muse, and Savant and worked as a session musician for Blue Note Records. Melvin Sparks’ songs were sampled countless times by DJ’s and Hip-Hop outfits (including Grandmaster Flash) over the decades.

In 1973 Sparks moved into funkier directions and joined the Westbound/ Eastbound family where he recorded some of his all-time classics (“Texas Twister” and “75”). A third record with Westbound was planned for 1976 (called I’m Funky Now) but was never released (although a sequenced production master and and a limited number of acetates were produced) because of the major changes that took place in the music industry at that particular time…clubs were suddenly going for DJs instead of bands and the much loved (but less obvious) genre/scene that Melvin Sparks was part of suddenly fell out of grace.

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TVD Radar: Seven Days of Satch: A Virtual Celebration of Louis Armstrong, 7/27–8/2

VIA PRESS RELEASE | French Quarter Festivals, Inc. (FQFI), producers of French Quarter Festival and Satchmo SummerFest, proudly announce Seven Days of Satch presented by Chevron. The multiplatform, virtual celebration is a collaboration between FQFI, New Orleans National Jazz Historical Park, WWOZ, WWL-TV, and New Orleans Jazz Museum. Seven Days of Satch will span an entire week, starting on Monday, July 27 and run through the end of Sunday, August 2. Fans can look forward to thematic programming on WWOZ, Louis Armstrong-inspired cooking demos on WWL-TV, and a full weekend of original performances and Armstrong scholars broadcast on Facebook Live.

The virtual event pays tribute to 20th anniversary of Satchmo SummerFest presented by Chevron, an annual festival dedicated to the life, legacy, and music of New Orleans’ beloved native son, Louis Armstrong. Traditionally, Satchmo SummerFest has been a weekend filled with music, education, cuisine, and culture on the grounds of the New Orleans Jazz Museum. Due to public health concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, FQFI announced the cancellation of the event in May. “Since 1984, we’ve been committed to our non-profit mission to showcase our incredible local music and culture,” said FQFI President & CEO Emily Madero. “For the remainder of 2020, FQFI has refocused its energy on creating new ways, like the Seven Days of Satch, to support the community and deliver on this mission. We are thrilled to work with our generous partners, talented artists, chefs, and speakers, to produce this virtual tribute.”

The Seven Days of Satch lineup includes eight acts from beloved New Orleans artists: James Andrews, John Boutté, Wendell Brunious, Topsy Chapman and Solid Harmony, Meschiya Lake and the Little Big Horns, Herlin Riley, Treme Brass Band, and Tuba Skinny. Musical performances sponsored by the New Orleans National Jazz Historical Park will be filmed onsite at the New Orleans Jazz Museum and shared on Facebook live Saturday, August 1 – Sunday, August 2. Louis Armstrong-inspired cooking demos will air on the WWL-TV Morning Show July 27-30.

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Graded on a Curve: Blodwyn Pig,
Getting to This

When friends recommended I check out Blodwyn Pig’s 1970 sophomore LP Getting to This, I was dubious. This was, after all, the band England’s New Musical Express praised for its promising blend of “Hooting grunting blues mingled with snorts of jazz.” The only adjective they omitted was squealing. Then there’s the issue of the awful band name, which only beats Pearls Before Swine by snout. You really shouldn’t name your band after livestock, unless you’re The Cows.

But now that I’ve listened to Getting to This, I can only say the above description is an understatement. Ex-Jethro Tull guitarist Mick Abrahams and gimcrack saxophonist/flautist Jack Lancaster (who’s been known to play two saxes at once just like Rahsaan Roland Kirk!) do more than hoot, grunt and snort—on Getting to This they whip up a pig’s ear stew, and toss in everything but the trotters.

The eclectic shtick doesn’t always work. Take “San Francisco Sketches.” It opens with some ocean atmospherics ala the Who’s “Sea and Sand,” then cuts to Lancaster sitting beneath a tree in Sherwood Forest playing a fey flute. Then a high school jazz band enters stage right, Abrahams plays a hot dog of a guitar solo, and a choir of heavenly voices enters stage left and pulls a Godspell on ya. Then things kick into overdrive, Abrahams’ guitar adds kraut to the dog, and Lancaster follows up with a tasty sax solo. Me, I want to take a surgical knife to the damn thing and remove the parts that irk me. I guess this is what your aficionados call progressive rock. I prefer to call it attention deficit disorder.

“Variations on Nanos” is even more out there. Lancaster opens on a freak flute note, launches into a flitting butterfly of a solo, then hands things over to Abrahams, who serves up a subdued but classy guitar solo. All’s as should be until Abrahams (who sounds a whole lot like nemesis Ian Anderson) decides to sing from the deep end of a swimming pool before climbing out, drying himself off, and launching into a dead-on impersonation of Captain Beefheart. Weird, but not as weird as “To Rass Man,” a Deutsche Schlager Oompah reggae tune designed to excite the lederhosen hacky-sack crowd.

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Needle Drop: Llargo, “Clouds”

Llargo, led by Italian singer-songwriter and producer Christian De Cicco, is an open ensemble that explores a common ground through downtempo electro jazz. Influenced by the work of Bon Iver, The Cinematic Orchestra, and Massive Attack, Llargo conjures up a dreamy and captivating world of mystical folk progressions and otherworldly ambience.

Regarding his unique and eclectic blend, Christian says, “I’m always searching for new ways into music and sounds, always pushing outside of my musical comfort zone.” Reaching out to one of his favorite vocalists, Heidi Vogel of The Cinematic Orchestra, was one of the ways he pushed himself.

“I wrote ‘Clouds’ with Heidi’s voice in my mind. I’m a huge fan of her tone and I thought she would be perfect for this song as her voice would blend really well with all the other instruments. We then met and recorded her vocals in London. What a magic experience!” The resulting track is pregnant with sonic potential, begging for further exploration of this one-off collaboration.

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Graded on a Curve:
John Bence,
“Kill” EP

Bristol, UK-based composer and producer John Bence has two releases in his discography, both EPs released on vinyl: 2015’s “Disquiet” on the Other People label of Nicholas Jaar and 2018’s “Kill” on the Grooming imprint of Yves Tumor. The latter initially came out in an edition of 100 copies on one-sided wax and was then given a clear vinyl run of 200. Needless to say, not many folks own a copy, but Thrill Jockey is remedying that situation with a third press, also clear and one-sided, which, due to Covid-19 plant closings, is now releasing August 21. However, the brief three-part suite is out digitally July 10, with the 12-inch available for preorder. It’s a work of considerable depth and narrative power.

John Bence’s “Kill” is indeed a short affair, at 14 and a half minutes only slightly longer than “Disquiet” (which has vinyl copies still available, try Forced Exposure). But his first effort is markedly distinct, being the byproduct of a composition for soprano voice and cello that was recorded and then manipulated by Bence, with this process repeated three more times.

While “Kill” is appropriately billed as an EP, due to narrative cohesion and gripping intensity, it lingers in the memory like a much-longer work. This is not to underrate “Disquiet,” which is a piece, also in three movements, of substantial beauty and unpredictability, and doubly impressive as it was conceived when the composer was just 19 years old.

“Kill” was written and recorded during a six-month residency at the FUGA space in Zaragoza, Spain, with its impact musical but also thematic. In Bence’s words, it “tells the story of a murderer who kills his lover, commits suicide and then accelerates towards God to be judged.” Given that description and considering Bence’s youth, newbies might fear that “Kill” will be the work of an insufferable edgelord, but thankfully, that’s not the case.

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Graded on a Curve:
Ringo Starr,
Blast from Your Past

Happy 80th birthday to Sir Richard Starkey MBE.Ed.

Beatles fans, stop your incessant bickering about who’s the better artist, Paul McCartney or John Lennon! Because let’s face it, Ringo Starr beats the MBEs off both of ‘em! He’s a hit machine, a genius and a true Starr! And to those who would say otherwise I say, well, to HECK with you!

I don’t base my opinion on the fact that Ringo is the humblest and most lovable Beatle. No, all one has to do is compare his best of, 1975’s Blast from Your Past, with those of the other members of the Fab Four. It’s got a higher winner to loser ratio (90%, and that’s only if I call “Beaucoups of Blues” a loser, which it ain’t!) than John Lennon’s Shaved Fish (64%) Wings’ Wings Greatest (50%), and George Harrison’s The Best of George Harrison, which I refuse to even consider seeing as how its first side is composed solely of Beatles’ era songs.

And not only does Ringo have a better batting average–he’s also a lot more fun. Sure Lennon’s “Cold Turkey” (to pick just one song) is a harrowing depiction of heroin withdrawal blah blah blah, but do I ever listen to it? Of course not! It’s a stone bummer! And yes, Paul the Frivolous has written some lovably lightweight songs over the years, but he’s also the spitwit responsible for “Silly Love Songs,” “Let ‘em In,” and “Ebony and Ivory,” which makes him a horrible person in my book! And don’t even get me started on that nebbish George Harrison. No, Ringo’s the King, and I say that not as a fan but as a completely objective party who Ringo just paid me to say that!

Look, I would call Ringo the Greatest but I don’t have too since he comes right out and says he is in “I’m the Greatest,” just one of the delicious trifles that make Blasts from Your Past as indispensable an album as, well, pick an album, any album! And just in case you think Ringo’s only good for producing trifles, I give you “Photograph” (as touching a song as you’ll ever run across) and “It Don’t Come Easy,” which has George Harrison’s fingerprints all over it but who gives a shit!

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Graded on a Curve:
The Twinkeyz,
Alpha Jerk

Once diminished as a momentarily convulsion on the path toward increased aural sophistication, punk rock has endured as a vital development in the annuls of modern music. It’s a style too often debased today, but in a swell turn of events Sacramento’s Ss Records offered a corrective to the defilement by reissuing the sole album from their hometown brethren The Twinkeyz. Infusing a modestly scaled and vibrant garage package with knowledge of the era’s fringe, the enlightening and appealing Alpha Jerk stands as a worthwhile instance of pre-codified punk form.

“Aliens in Our Midst” might’ve been released in 1977, but the A-side to The Twinkeyz’ first single is simply dripping with the wide-open spirit of ’76. Formed in the summer of that year, the band was certainly impacted by familiar touchstones, most obviously the output of proto-punk mainstay the Velvet Underground, yet these tangible qualities are interspersed with the atmosphere of a bunch of guys getting it all down on wax before the rulebook was chiseled into granite.

Underscoring the breadth of influence, The Twinkeyz’ name derives not from the junk food staple but is a tribute to Twink, the drummer for UK group Pink Fairies. Donnie Jupiter was the constant member as Steve Bateman and Wit Witkowski exited fairly early; Marc Bonella, Walter Smith, and Keith McKee were involved as well. Tom Darling was around from beginning to end but didn’t fully join until after the session that produced their best known song.

And what a song it is; “Aliens in Our Midst” unfurls a glorious recipe, a few of the ingredients having fallen to the wayside as punk grew far more focused on the intersection of surliness and speed; those VU attributes, specifically a Reed-like vocal approach and Loaded-era hook, get introduced to a decidedly garage template as a downright catchy melodic sensibility emerges complete with backup singing.

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Captain Planet,
The TVD First Date

“In the fall of my junior year in high school, I was briefly suspended from a NYC based ‘City-As-School’ immersive, experiential education program that I was attending. A teacher had walked abruptly into my non-coed dorm room, discovering a very alarmed 16-year-old version of me, in bed, with 4 feet sticking out from the bottom of the blankets.”

“While it was the worst possible way to be introduced to my girlfriend’s parents, the upshot was that I spent a handful of days with some old family friends in Brooklyn. The older son had just gotten into scratching and juggling records. As someone who was already quite obsessed with making music and dancing (a drummer, guitarist, noodler on the bass, and B-boy wannabe), seeing what my friend was doing with vinyl cracked my head wide open. This was 1998. ATCQ’s “The Love Movement” had just come out, but I was still swearing by my Beats, Rhymes and Life CD, which wound its way up through my Sony Walkman’s headphone cables on repeat, tapping directly into my endorphin receptors, transporting me to a near ecstatic state regularly while riding the 4, 5, 6 line.

After that firsthand glimpse of how hip hop records were actually conceived—the sampling, looping, scratching and manipulating of doubles—I was transfixed. A handful of months later, I acquired the very same used Gemini belt-drive turntables and mixer from this Brooklyn friend, and brought them to Marin County in northern California where I would later go on to finish High School.

Of course, the obvious next step was finding records. I raided my mom’s collection, but the funkiest things she had were LPs by Nina Simone, Sam & Dave, and a couple of South African Jive albums which I still cherish to this day. These weren’t gonna help me learn to juggle or scratch though. With no other friends who DJ’d or collected records, I hardly knew where to begin. For you young bloods out there, keep in mind that Youtube didn’t exist, Shazam didn’t exist, the now ubiquitous “DJ Academy” didn’t exist, my internet connected via a modem that made funny sounds and we were still using America Online CDs that came in the mail to get 100 hours of internet. This wasn’t something I could look up at the local library. I was, however, divinely in luck.

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Graded on a Curve: Gordon Anderson,
Moon Man

Anybody who’s partaken in the reissue catalogs of Collectors’ Choice Music and Real Gone Music has Gordon Anderson to thank, as he headed-up the former and co-founded the latter. But he’s also a guitarist, a singer, and a songwriter of considerable ability, as evidenced by his first album, Moon Man, which is out on CD July 10 through, wouldn’t you know it, Real Gone Music. For a guy who returned such a wide range of styles to circulation, his own stuff is quite focused, as post-Byrds jangle and Crazy Horse-informed big guitar moves get combined with rawness and heft that’s reminiscent of early indie rock, both instrumentally and emotionally. After a few spins, it grows into a stone killer.

Moon Man, so titled due to a nickname bestowed upon Anderson at summer camp as a kid, is an album defined by remembrance, but it’s also record collector rock of the best sort, with its opening track covering both aspects at once as it illuminates the life-altering impact the Columbia House Record Club had on Anderson in his youth.

You might know the story, possibly from first-hand experience: seven albums, all for only a buck (with a few more to buy at regular price later). In “Record Club,” Anderson was 12 years old as he came under the spell of rock music on vinyl. His picks included Band of Gypsies, Deep Purple, and Bread, selections that he describes as transforming him into a “rock & roll animal,” fittingly swiping the title of a famed record as Anderson speaks of a personal collection that grew to 1,000s of LPs and CDs (he still has and values those records he got in the mail in 1973).

“Record Club” works effectively as a statement of purpose and sets the instrumental tone for what follows, with Anderson welcoming Kathryn Korniloff of Two Nice Girls as both a player and co-producer. Featuring Fender Telecaster, prominent bass and cracking rhythms, the sound launches from a classic foundation with left-of-the-dial edge, as exemplified by the country-rockish jangling of “Funemployment,” a cut that also establishes Anderson as a bold and appealingly ragged singer.

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TVD Radar: L-Seven, (s/t) color vinyl with bonus 4-song 7″ set in stores 7/31

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Third Man Records is excited to announce L-Seven, a collection of unreleased studio and live recordings by influential early-80s Detroit post-punk group L-Seven, to be released July 31, 2020 digitally and on vinyl.

To ring in the announcement, Third Man has shared “Flowers of Romance,” below. The limited colored vinyl exclusive LP comes with a bonus 4-song 7″ containing 3 studio tracks and one live, very raw version of L-Seven and John Brannon (Laughing Hyenas) covering Alice Cooper’s “You Drive Me Nervous.” L-Seven were a short-lived but foundational post-punk band from Detroit, MI. Active between 1980-83. L-Seven only ever officially released one 7” on Touch And Go’s Special Forces, a division of Touch And Go Records designated for releases that were not just straight-ahead punk and hardcore. The L-Seven 7” was the only Special Forces release.

L-Seven was formed by members of The Blind, Retro, and Algebra Mothers, and fiery singer Larissa Stolarchuk — not to be confused with the similarly named LA grunge group L7 who would form a decade afterward. Following the demise of L-Seven, Larissa (now going by Larissa Strickland), while still donning her bleached blonde hair and tattered floral sundress with combat boots, would put down the mic and pick up a guitar and form the seminal Laughing Hyenas with her partner in (life of) crime John Brannon.

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Broken Bones Matilda, The TVD First Date

“Playing a record is a ritual. Running your fingers along your collection (which you recently alphabetised by artist), pulling out a record and going over the track-listing in your head before taking it out of the sleeve and placing it on the turntable. You put the empty sleeve against the shelf, drop the needle and wait…”

“BOOM! There is sound! There is colour! There are memories…teenage angst, long summers, first joint, first times, everlasting, eternal life and lust and love all on one 12 inch vinyl that spins…and spins…and spins until you tell it to stop.

For us there is no better way to listen to our favourite music. Sarah’s music taste was shaped by listening to her Dad’s record collection when she was a young girl. Johnny Cash, Fleetwood Mac, Neil Young, The Rolling Stones etc—all music that was originally mastered and pressed for vinyl. As kids we both grew up in the ’90s and we’ve reacquired most of the stuff we bought on CD in vinyl form.

There is also a duty of care you take on as you build your record collection. You learn the importance of keeping them in as good a condition as possible, putting them away when you’re done listening and keeping them in the sleeve until the next time.

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TVD Video Premiere:
The Roadside Bandits Project, “My Own Lies”

The Roadside Bandits Project, from West London producer Santi Arribas, takes on the scourge of untrustworthy public servants with the directness of Gang of Four, whose lead singer John Sterry collaborates and sings the group’s latest snarling single “My Own Lies.” “I look you in the eye,” Sterry snarls, “and I almost believe my own lies.”

The Vinyl District is proud to premiere the timely video for “My Own Lies” today, with its very contemporary Know Nothing declaration “You don’t need knowledge to know/ Experts are past it/ Time to put your faith on show” coming just a week after Sen. Rand Paul mused pretty much the same thing in a Senate coronavirus hearing (“We shouldn’t presume that a group of experts somehow knows what’s best for everyone.”)

Politics rule on The Roadside Bandits Project’s eponymously named album this fall, with songs like “Borders,” “Landfill,” and an earlier single “Sombre Circus” featuring Nell Bryden. The new video for “My Own Lies” features sinister footsteps, under the table payments, and a cactus-headed politician that seems out of Magritte. We also see Sterry sing, but only in a very close shot of his mouth—showing only the parts of his face that would be covered by a mask in the pandemic era.

“The video tries to show through simple imagery, the behavior of modern politicians whose only resource to convince the public is to lie,” Arribas says. “The symbolism highlights their cynicism and detachment, as well as the way in which they attempt to bolster support, appease and control by building a narrative which is everything to everyone.”

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Graded on a Curve:
The Osmonds,
Crazy Horses

I used to know this rather dim garbage head who gobbled a handful of pills he thought were opiates but weren’t, and he swore—on a stack of ludes!—they didn’t do anything but make his waist-length hair stand straight up in the air and vibrate. I’m pretty sure his story was bullshit. That said, if you’re looking for an album that will do the same thing, you could do much worse than check out The Osmond’s Crazy Horses.

You heard me right: The Osmonds. Because despite what you may have heard about Ogden, Utah’s finest, they weren’t a do-goodie, whiter-shade-of-pale tweenie-pop imitation of the Jackson Five but substance-abusing (they sometimes took as many as three aspirin at once!) Mormon mofos who took their Tang straight yet still managed to stand up on their hind legs and bray. And the culmination of their badassness was Crazy Horses, one of the greatest hard rock albums your ears will ever hear. And that’s not just me talking: in Stairway to Hell: The 500 Best Heavy Metal Albums, rock crit Chuck Eddy puts Crazy Horses at No. 66—which is too low in my opinion, but then everybody underestimates the Mormon Motörhead.

The brothers began their career as a barbershop quartet, The Osmond 5 (math is not taught in the schools of the Church of Latter Day Saints) before becoming worldwide superstars thanks to little brother Donny and the bubblegum classic “One Bad Apple.” Meanwhile, though, Donny’s older siblings were chomping at the bit. They wanted to write their own songs and play their own instruments and smoke fake cigarettes and change their name to The Gentile Killers. So they staged a coup of sorts, relieving Donny of lead singer duties to toughen up their sound while honing their protopunk chops by playing along to Hollies’ records until they were the five maddest, baddest, LDS-taking apples in the whole bunch, girl.

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