Category Archives: The TVD Storefront

Jason Loewenstein,
The TVD First Date

“Records! I was lucky to have parents who were into music. I had my own record player and LPs. Free to Be… You and Me, Sesame Street, Electric Company, Beatles. Then me and my buddy raided his sisters collection and found B52’s, Devo, Ramones, even Pork Dukes and Dead Kennedys! We now knew something was up, something more interesting than what we were hearing on the radio.”

“Then came the amazing USA network underground music program Night Flight. Now even we suburb dwellers were being exposed to punk rock and new wave. But where do we get this stuff?! Next stop is the record store where you are looking for clues as to making your next big discovery, usually based on a record label’s reputation, a cool record cover, and blind faith. Then there are flea markets and the deep dark recesses of the used sections of these stores. That’s where the magic happens. It’s a needle in a haystack and the quest for a certain rare record can go on for years, taking the seeker on an adventure of accidental discovery that can be so rewarding.

I was super lucky to be in a touring band as we would hit record stores almost every day looking for stuff to feed our heads. Sebadoh collectively put a LOT of money back into the music economy this way!

In my years of trying to locate (among other things!) Beefheart and Silver Apples LPs in flea markets and record stores all over the country, I found so many weird and low-tech spoken word, comedy, instructional, polka, country, gospel, etc. Stuff that you buy based on instinct and record cover, and end up with something that is really fun to play for people and you can be pretty sure it will be their first exposure. Fun to turn people onto weird/wonderful sounds!

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Graded on a Curve:
The Mekons,
The Mekons Rock n’ Roll

You don’t have to be a dyed in the wool Marxist to know that rock ’n’ roll is product—just another consumer item to be consumed by consumers who live to consume. It’s everybody’s not-so-secret dirty secret, as obvious as a turd suspended in Jello, but when push comes to shove only a limited number of bands—I can think of the Minutemen, the Fall, and Fugazi off the top of my head—have addressed the issue both in the way they do business and as subject matter in their songs. And no band has ever done it with such passion, fatalistic humor, and rage as The Mekons do on their 1989 walk on the riled side, The Mekons Rock n’ Roll.

Formed in 1977 by a rowdy bunch of University of Leeds art students, the Mekons combined rank amateurism, left-wing politics, and a wry sense of humor (the title of their 1979 full-length debut, The Quality of Mercy is Not Strenen, doesn’t make much sense until the album cover reveals it to be a monkeys at typewriters producing Shakespeare joke). The Mekons gradually evolved, practically inventing alt-country in the process, but returned to their punk roots (at a stage in their career when most bands have settled into comfortable conformity) to produce what is both a howl of unbridled savagery and probably their masterpiece.

Upon first listen, The Mekons Rock n’ Roll is exactly what it purports to be—a rough and raucous celebration of the glories of rock ‘n’ roll. Except it isn’t. What it is a sly critique of rock as commodity, of sex as commodity, of a world where everything is commodity—a veritable “Empire of the Senseless,” to cite just one of the wonderfully intelligent and derisory tunes on this savage assault on capitalism disguised as an LP. “They took away our films and tapes and notebooks/But it’s ok ‘cos we’ve self-censored this song,” sneers Tom Greenhalgh, before running down a long list of the lies and deceits and casual everyday treacheries that constitute life in a materialistic society where everything has its price. As for the song itself, it boasts a great chorus, one wonderful melodica, and some truly brilliant fiddle by the wonderful Susie Honeyman.

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TVD Radar: The Stooges, Highlights from the Funhouse Sessions next up for Run Out Groove

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Each month, Run Out Groove allows fans to vote on the label’s next high-quality vinyl pressing, chosen from selections of unreleased material, out-of-print material, or brand new collections compiled from the Warner Music vault.

Stooges fans united and voted for Highlights From the Fun House Sessions to be the next official limited and numbered Run Out Groove title. This is a brand new collection to vinyl that includes some of the best alternate takes from the Stooges’ lauded and expansive 1970: The Complete Fun House Sessions box, now sequenced for a 2LP set. Highlights From the Fun House Sessions is available to order exclusively via the Run Out Groove website until July 1st and will be limited and numbered based on total orders taken at the end of the pre-order period. After the pre-order closes, the only way to purchase a copy will be via participating music retailers across the U.S., while supplies last.

Fans decide what ROG presses next! | Morphine, Live at the Warfield 1997: Completely unreleased live recordings in stunning fidelity from their Like Swimming Tour, 1997. Package includes never before seen photos, original watercolor drawings by Mark Sandman and was co-produced by saxophonist, Dana Colley. Plasticland, Plasticland: Long out of print 1984 debut album on Enigma/Pink Dust from Wisconsin garage band who were a big part of the Paisley Underground scene. Plan 9, Keep Your Cool and Read the Rules: The fourth, long out of print, 1985 album from Rhode Island’s neo-psychedelic rockers.

Initial offerings from Run Out Groove included a new MC5 collection in stores now, an Echo & The Bunnymen live release from the ’80s shipping at the end of June, and a deluxe reissue of Secret Machines’ Now Here is Nowhere in production now. Pre-orders for a new reissue of Dream Syndicate’s The Complete Live at Raji’s closed this month.

Run Out Groove encourages feedback, questions, and suggestions for potential new titles at [email protected]

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The Juliana Theory,
The TVD First Date

“I don’t consider myself a traditional vinyl collector. I’m not one of those who prefer unopened, unplayed vinyl wrapped up tightly in plastic. Whatever the appropriate antonym for a hoarder is, that’s typically what I aspire to be. Vinyl is a slight exception to the rule. I prefer buying records on the cheap, beat up fizzes, pops and all, as long as they don’t skip. Half the fun of looking is what you may find.”

“Jerry’s Records, (not just Pittsburgh famous) is one of a kind, just a mile from my house. Jerry’s sometimes offers large boxes of free vinyl, one box per person. I’ve stumbled across some gems. You find standard Sinatra, Tom Jones, some Glenn Miller Orchestra, and lots of Ray Charles. Those are fun with drinks, catching up with old friends. I’ve pulled some Motown Christmas albums and yacht rock like Seals and Crofts from those boxes. Oh yeah and Van Morrison’s Hard Nose The Highway. That’s the one he sings Kermit the Frog’s “Being Green.”

Some of my current favorites in regular rotation are Isaac Hayes’ Hot Buttered Soul. This choice signals the transitional wind down to any end of the night dance party. If I need to clean the hell out of the house The Clash’s London Calling or Fugazi’s In On the Kill Taker gets me going. I enjoy warming up my voice and singing harmonies to The Beatles ‘65. Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk can unwind me from a stressful day.

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Graded on a Curve:
Three from The Vin Du Select Qualitite Label

The Vin Du Select Qualitite label, or VDSQ for short, focuses on solo guitar recordings in various styles and sizes, and features entries from an august group of players including Chris Brokaw, Sir Richard Bishop, Bill Orcutt, Alan Licht, Michael Chapman, and Thurston Moore. With the release of Chuck Johnson’s Balsams, Anthony Pasquarosa’s Abbandonato da Dio Nazione, and Mark McGuire’s Ideas of Beginnings, VDSQ has just surpassed the 20-release mark with élan; attractively designed vinyl editions of all three are available now.

Vin Du Select Qualitite put out its first record in 2009, with Joshua Blatchley’s Solo Acoustic Volume One inaugurating a series that’s most recent installment, Icelander Kristin Thora Haraldsdottir’s Volume 14, emerged last spring. As the three LPs under consideration here highlight, not everything VDSQ issues falls under the Solo Acoustic umbrella, nor is the discography composed entirely of full-length discs; a pair of 7-inches by Dan Melchior and Glenn Jones reside amongst the spoils.

VDSQ is run by Steve Lowenthal, who some may know as the publisher of Swingset, a terrific and sadly defunct zine that flourished during the ’00s, and he’s also the writer of Dance of Death: The Life of John Fahey, American Guitarist. VDSQ sets by Jones and Sarah Louise Henson underscore the subject of Lowenthal’s authorship as quite germane to the label’s raison d’être; as the catalog numbers shoot off into all sorts of complementary guitar zones, the American Primitive is never out of sight.

The label’s stylistic terrain now encompasses Balsams’ pedal steel ambiance, Abbandonato da Dio Nazione’s soundtrack to an unmade Spaghetti Western, and Ideas of Beginnings’s crisply flowing blend of melodicism and loop-based techniques. Although much of VDSQ’s output is still in print, acquiring this sweet trifecta while it’s hot would make a fine introduction to Lowenthal’s curatorial skills; that the contributions of Pasquarosa and McGuire are return engagements only reinforces this scenario.

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TVD Radar: Jack Tempchin’s debut album reissue in stores 7/22

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Jack Tempchin is a singer-songwriter whose name is most closely associated with the “California Sound” of the mid-seventies. He achieved some notoriety as the composer of several notable tracks for The Eagles, including the classic “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” “Already Gone,” “The Girl From Yesterday,” and others.

This was Tempchin’s first solo album, (originally released on the Arista Records label), now to be reissued on the Retroworld reissue division of North London indie Floating World Records on Friday, July 22nd 2017. The album was recorded at the famous Muscle Shoals studios in Alabama, and amongst the ten tracks, there is one co-write with fellow California writer JD Souther, and, that very rare thing—a co-write with Tom Waits, no less, entitled ‘Tijuana’. There are guest cameos from Souther and Jackson Browne.

Jack Tempchin—the album—boasts quality songs, excellent production values, and fine musicianship, but by the time of its release—1978—the “California Sound” was on the wane, giving way to New Wave and Adult Orientated Rock. A shame, because Jack Tempchin is an album that has worn well. Tempchin still records and performs in the USA; his story is a small but important part of the West Coast Rock scene of the 1970s.

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Graded on a Curve:
The Byrds,
Fifth Dimension

Few bands have produced such blissful music, or music that so well fit the spirit of its time as The Byrds. Theirs was a bright and shining sound, filled with shimmering optimism and jingle-jangle hope, and they made the transition to the psychedelic age as well as anybody. Indeed, their 1966 LP Fifth Dimension is an acid rock landmark, and I listen to it whenever I want to pretend I’m tripping.

Speaking of pretending, let’s play a game of make believe, shall we? The year is 1966, and we’re just removing the plastic shrink-wrap from a virgin copy of Fifth Dimension. Let’s say we’re at my pad. It’s not bad so far as hippie crash pads go. Please don’t touch the lava lamp. I just bought the album, you brought the pot, and that redolent example of fetid man reek over there in the filthy poncho and crud-encrusted beard is the hippie who brought the acid, which is the only reason we invited him to our little listening party in the first place.

Really, no one wants him around. Not with his long staring silences, sudden bouts of insane cackling provoked by nothing going on around him, and rather scary habit of carrying a long and wicked-looking blade in a buckskin sheath. He uses it to kill squirrels, which along with the acorns he stole from the squirrels and purloined packets of McDonald’s ketchup constitute his entire diet. Do you have any idea how quick you have to be to seize and slit the throat of your typically twitchy squirrel? It’s too horrifying to contemplate. He reaches into his pocket and says, “Anybody want some delicious squirrel jerky?”

You and I both shudder and politely refuse, and then we put the LP on. The opening track “FD (Fifth Dimension)” instantly transports us to a higher astral plane where giant birds of phantasmagorical plumage perform dizzying acrobatics above the pulsating crystal abodes of the perfect ones. Or something like that.

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Graded on a Curve:
Chain and the Gang,
Best of Crime Rock

Led by noted musician-thinker Ian Svenonius, Chain and the Gang’s current lineup features two new members in bassist Anna Nasty and guitarist Francy Z Graham, as Mark Cisneros lends a hand on drums. They have a full-length on the horizon, but right now the focus is on Best of Crime Rock, which finds the revamped unit dishing out fresh versions of some of the outfit’s well-loved tunes. Bluntly put, few have the chutzpah to attempt such a maneuver, but Chain and the Gang pull it off and with panache to burn. Holding two new tracks amid the dozen offerings, it’s available now on vinyl, compact disc, and digital through In the Red Records.

A band endeavoring to rerecord their hits for a Best of set is aptly pegged as a dicey exercise, but from this writer’s perspective Ian Svenonius, high of profile as frontman of The Nation of Ulysses, The Make-Up, Weird War, and now Chain and the Gang, has an impressive track record of turning iffy propositions into resounding success.

Svenonius’ musical activities are always conceptual, and to anybody acquainted with his writings, recordings, and indeed just his public persona, this should be crystal clear. But for those unfamiliar, please don’t get the wrong idea. When the term conceptual is applied to music, it can be difficult to suppress an assortment of fears, prominent amongst them bone-dry slogs, ludicrousness bred from unchecked indulgence, and of course varying degrees of arrogance.

Thankfully, Svenonius’ work is none of those things, in part because he combines economy and intelligibility with doses of sharp, smart humor, attributes gleaned from the punk aesthetic that’s at the core of his art. Just as importantly, throughout his discography is found an unflagging attraction to the lowercase disposability of rock ‘n’ roll.

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TVD Radar: Astralwerks to reissue four limited edition Brian Eno LPs on double vinyl

VIA PRESS RELEASE | On August 4th, Astralwerks Records presents a limited edition of 4 deluxe gatefold, heavyweight double vinyl Brian Eno classics—Here Come The Warm Jets, Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy), Another Green World, and Before and after Science. Each album is now spread over 2 vinyl discs, playing at 45 RPM and were half-speed mastered by Miles Showell at Abbey Road Studios, ensuring these seminal works sound better than ever before. The reissues are available for preorder here.

While Eno’s output as a music and visual artist and writer of philosophy, science and socio-political theory is as prolific as it has ever been, his illustrious music catalogue spanning five decades still holds as much influence as ever. With experimentalism, conceptual art theory and use of the accidental forming the foundation of these four albums, they challenged and broke through the boundaries of popular music that existed at the time. Elements of prog/psych/art rock, avant garde and ’50s rock ‘n’ roll were married with an array of cultural and philosophical ideas to create music that was both visionary and captivating.

Alongside George Martin and The Beatles’ work on Sgt. Pepper’s…, Eno is arguably the other most pre-eminent practitioner of the “studio as instrument” approach. His unconventional recording techniques have resulted in a canon of work that places him alongside iconic, visionary producers such as Brian Wilson, Lee Scratch Perry, and Phil Spector.

As these albums progress chronologically, a nascent form of music begins to emerge. The ideas we hear in this early work continue to reveal itself in Eno’s later ambient and electronic experiments.

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The Savage Radley,
The TVD First Date
and Video Premiere, “Milk & Honey”

“More than anything else, our local music community has shaped our band’s relationship with vinyl. I have lived in Murray, KY since age 5, and Shaina moved to town in 2007 to pursue a degree in philosophy. Murray is home to an independent record store, Terrapin Station. It has served as a mecca for music lovers in Western Kentucky since 1985. The owners were a couple of Deadheads back in the day, and followed the band on tour for over 33 shows before settling into their own record store. There is nothing quite like it in a several hundred-mile radius, and it’s a wonder the place even exists at all in a town with a population of less than 20,000.”

“Back before we were playing music together, we were unaware that we were gaining many mutual friends through events at Terrapin Station. Shaina had a pop project in her early years of college and had given copies to the store to hand out to customers with their purchase—I happened to be one of those customers. It would not surprise me if we stood side-by-side thumbing through records at some point, or had maybe bumped into each other at one of the many DIY shows the store put on before meeting in a humanities class in 2010.

After joining The Savage Radley in 2011, Terrapin Station was where we cut our teeth playing live. It is still to this day our favorite music venue around. Terrapin has allowed us to share shows with touring bands from across the globe, and not to mention countless bands across the United States.

There is really no way to separate our relationship with vinyl from the total experience of playing in a band, of being part of a music scene, of just hanging out and listening to music with friends, and finding shared interests with strangers who would become friends. It’s all the same thing. In our video, “Milk and Honey” the couple you will see are two people whom we cultivated a friendship with during time spent at that little record store.

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