Category Archives: The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
bill bissett &
Th Mandan Massacre,
Awake In Th Red Desert

Although it fits with the terminology, to consider the underground as an expansive basement only works so well. It’s perhaps more beneficial to describe the u-ground as a hulking, organically cultivated and mysteriously regenerative onion of uncommon deliciousness and diversity of flavors. As the layers get peeled away, the tastes frequently become more intense, initially intriguing and especially when historically situated, revelatory. Such is the case with Awake In Th Red Desert by Canadian poet bill bissett & the gang of Vancouver outsiders named Th Mandan Massacre. Not a lost record but surely too-little known, Feeding Tube’s first-time vinyl reissue in an edition of 500 should help change that.

If you think music holds vast stores of subterranean obscurity (hey, it does!), you should try literature on for size. Naturally, a high percentage of u-ground writing is located in the poetry section of the used bookstore, in part because the form frustrates the nagging belief that the essence of literature resides somewhere in the neighborhood of “a great story artfully told.” Additionally, poetry largely isn’t writing meant to be quickly grasped by the reader. Instead, it stymies the attempts to conquer its totality, or to employ a contemporary phrase, the need to “get it.”

And thus, bill bissett (deliberately lowercase, and we’ll get to that) remains largely unknown outside of hardcore poetry circles, even after being rated as a “great poet” by Jack Kerouac, a figure who still stands as one the kingpins of the whole grand countercultural experience, even if he’s currently somewhat out of vogue.

Part of the reason Kerouac’s praise hasn’t carried more weight might be due to its coming from deep in the man’s grumpy, boozy Florida-based late period as part of an interview conducted for The Paris Review by New York School poet Ted Berrigan. I do believe the occasion of this chat brought Kerouac exposure (courtesy of Berrigan) to the work of a young Jim Carroll, writing that Jack also praised, but I digress. Poetry’s good for sideroads of thought, y’know?

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TVD Radar: Kanye West, The College Dropout 2LP vinyl reissue in stores in March

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Kanye West dropped his debut studio album, The College Dropout, on February 10, 2004. Released by Def Jam Records and Roc-A-Fella Records, the 21-track album solidified West as more than just your favorite rapper’s go-to producer, at the time.

After working in the studio with Jay-Z, Talib Kweli, Freeway, Cam’ron, and many more, West signed his own deal with Roc-A-Fella and recorded The College Dropout over the span of four years. While West handled the majority of production, artists including Jay, Mos Def, Jamie Foxx, Ludacris, and John Legend were involved in the making of the album. With singles including “Through The Wire,” “Jesus Walks,” “All Falls Down,” and “Slow Jamz,” The College Dropout debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 but was met with widespread critical acclaim.

West won a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album at the 47th annual Grammy Awards, and The College Dropout is lauded as one of the greatest albums of all time.

This item is expected to ship in 2-3 weeks.

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Graded on a Curve:
Sheer Heart Attack

It’s a shame, when you think about it. All the great albums I never heard growing up because (1) I could rarely afford the cost of an LP, and (2) there was no great or even half-decent FM radio station within listening range of the one half-horse town (the other half of the horse was owned by nearby Harney, and they got the front end) I called home.

Take Queen’s Sheer Heart Attack. Never heard it. Never heard of Queen period until “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which I should have liked but didn’t because I thought it was too camp. Too camp! This from a guy who spent the better part of his adolescence idolizing Elton John. But that’s the way I roll. I didn’t like the pitch of Freddie Mercury’s voice, or the band’s lush and ubiquitous vocal harmonies, and as for the songs, they were too structurally baroque for my primitivist tastes. In hindsight, I was a little punk in the making. My attitude was keep it simple, which was why I never liked progressive rock, period, until I started to get high and listened to my fair share of Peter Gabriel-era Genesis.

And if I didn’t like Queen much to begin with, I really disliked them after they put out those bookend hits, “We Are the Champions” and “We Will Rock You.” To me they sounded like pseudo-fascistic declarations of supremacy, and I thought then and still think now their Übermensch shtick would have gone over like gangbusters at the Nuremburg Rallies. The line “no time for losers” offends me as much as any line in rock history, which is why I never listened to 1974’s Sheer Heart Attack even after I knew it existed. I thought of Queen as a bunch of snotty high-pitched twats whose songs were too complicated for their own good, and wrote them off as bad rubbish.

But there is a time and a place for everything, and now is the time to give Queen their chance at rocking my world. And guess what, they have. Sheer Heart Attack isn’t the perfect LP, but it includes a slew of cool songs I like, even if some of their affectations continue to irk me. Bottom line: Any band with a guitarist as good as Brian May, and that can come up with a line as good as “Give me a good guitar/And you can say my hair’s a disgrace” is okay with me.

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TVD Radar: The Prodigy splatter effect, black light vinyl soundtrack in stores now

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Waxwork Records is thrilled to announce their partnership with Orion Pictures for the release of The Prodigy Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Music By Joseph Bishara. Directed by Nathan McCarthy and starring Taylor Shilling (Orange Is The New Black) and Jackson Robert Scott (2017’s IT: The First Chapter), The Prodigy is a 2019 American horror-thriller film centered around a child whose disturbing behavior signals that an evil, possibly supernatural force has possessed him.

The haunting soundtrack by Joseph Bishara (Insidious, The Conjuring) is an expert composition of dark orchestral scoring focusing on heavy string arrangements, clarinet, and horns reminiscent of classic 1970s horror soundtracks. The orchestration is blended with emotive electronic soundscapes. Bishara’s tense strings, coupled with droning electronic rhythms and piano, sets the dark tone and effectively captures impending doom.

Waxwork Records worked directly with Orion Pictures and Bishara to create a deluxe vinyl release of the soundtrack featuring UV reactive 180 gram “Blue Iris” colored vinyl, new art by Adam Rabalais, a printed insert, old style tip-on gatefold jackets, and high quality LP packaging.

It was Waxwork’s aim to create a vinyl record that could appear “possessed” and by using UV reactive compounds, the record emits an eerie, glowing splatter effect when exposed to a black light. The unique result is a stunning vinyl record, both sonically and visually. Much like the character Miles in The Prodigy, the vinyl soundtrack itself is hiding something sinister in plain sight.

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Graded on a Curve: Pentagram,
First Daze Here: The Vintage Collection

I was never one of the Black-Sabbath-loving troublemakers who smoked Camel unfiltereds in the parking lot outside metal shop at my old Alma Mater–fact is I was a faceless geek who wore glasses and preferred Elton John and to be honest, those guys scared me.

But now I kinda feel sorry for that motley crew of greasers and long hairs, and this despite the fact that they posed an existential threat to my personal safety in high school (walking down the hall between classes was like walking point in Vietnam!). Why? Because they never got a chance to hear doom metal pioneers Pentagram but were instead condemned to play their Sabbath and Deep Purple and Kiss 8-tracks over and over until the 8-track players in their bitchin’ Camaros ATE ‘em.

And all because Pentagram vocalist Bobby Liebling was such a colossal drug abuser and all-around egomaniac fuck-up he blew every chance the band ever got to get out of Old Virginny and become the heavy metal gods they wanted (and perhaps even deserved) to be.

Indeed, so feckless and self-sabotaging was Liebling that Pentagram didn’t put out a bona fide debut album until 1985–a good DECADE OR MORE after they produced the demos and live rehearsal tapes collected on the 2001 compilation First Daze Here: The Vintage Collection. And by that time the guys who played on this one were (with the exception of Liebling, natch) long gone.

Which was far too late for my old high school tormenters who by that point in time had probably given up listening to metal years ago (or maybe not–I hope not!) in favor of who knows what… Commercial country? The NRA-era Nuge? Madonna?

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TVD Radar: Beechwood’s Trash Glamour, debut LP reissue in stores now

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Beechwood’s very first full-length, Trash Glamour, was originally recorded in 2013 when Gordon Lawrence and Isa Tineo were still in their teens. The album was originally a cassette-only release and has been remastered and released on CD and vinyl for the first time via Alive Naturalsound Records. Features photo by legendary rock photographer Brad Elterman.

Gordon shares the origins of this early effort, “Trash Glamour was recorded with a single microphone in my parents’ basement when we were 17 and 18 years old. At the time we were obsessed with two albums in particular, Raw Power and Exile on Main St. I had this documentary on the making of Exile that we all sat down and watched together before starting the record. We were mesmerized. That was what a band making a record was supposed to be like.That, to our teenage minds, was rock & roll.”

“And so, we turned the basement into our version of Nellcôte. We surrounded ourselves with friends, girls, drugs, alcohol, and the ideas flowed. I hardly ever remember leaving the basement, though I assume we must have eaten and slept at some point that summer. Things were still fresh at the time, grudges didn’t exist, and things (and substances) that eventually became problems were just being discovered.

We had the sense that no one else was doing what we were doing at the time, that rock & roll had become soft with bands with names like “The Pains of Being Pure at Heart.” (Gimme a break.) And so, we made a loud, raw rock & roll record with little regard for “production quality.” We pushed our music and our minds into the red, and though it took ourselves almost three years to come down from what began with this record to eventually make Songs From The Land of Nod, none of us regret a thing”.

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Graded on a Curve: Melville A.D.,
11 Electric Poems
for E.M. Cioran

When it comes down to my philosophy of life, everything I believe I stole directly from the Romanian philosopher E.M. Cioran. A master of detachment and nattering nabob of negativity who wrote in a pithy and crystalline French, you can distil his entire work to one of his marvelous aphorisms, to wit: “No one has been so convinced as I of the futility of everything; and no one has taken so tragically so many things.” Just how much did he hate life and his fellow man? Let’s see: “Sometimes I wish I were a cannibal—less for the pleasure of eating someone than for the pleasure of vomiting him.”

I’ve long wanted to write a concept album to him, but it seems Melville A.D, who entitled a 2015 LP 11 Electric Poems for E.M. Cioran, has beaten me to the punch. I’m not typically much of a fan of abstract electronic music, but Melville A.D—one of the musical projects of Frenchman and long-time New Yorker Didier Cremieux—strikes exactly the right bleak but still funky note on his songs, which are entitled “Emc 01,” “Emc 02,” etc. Like Cioran’s dark aphorisms the songs on the LP strike an unflinching and elegiac note, one appropriate to the man who once wrote, “To live is to lose ground.”

Cremieux’s other musical projects include Mr. Untel, collaboration with fellow Frenchman Gerard Iangelia. Cremieux described Mr. Untel’s electronic music it to me as “cosmic music for cocktails in the bayou.” According to Cremieux, another project, Firefly Choir, is “a pure electronic project characterized by longer, slower pieces,” featuring “processed organic sounds and as little structure as possible.” Cremieux told me he is inspired by the written word: “I often find myself with many sound ideas after reading words and always try to create a soundscape or a sound illustration to such works.”

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TVD Radar: KT Tunstall, Eye to the Telescope red vinyl reissue in stores 3/1

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Brit and Ivor Novello Award-winning artist KT Tunstall is reissuing her debut album Eye To The Telescope for the first time since its original release in 2004 to coincide with her 2019 UK March tour via UMC. The album, pressed on striking transparent red vinyl, features hit singles “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree,” “Other Side Of The World,” and “Suddenly I See.”

Following the immense success of her debut, KT outsold every other female artist in the UK in 2005, won the 2006 Brit Award for Best British Female Solo Artist, won the Ivor Novello Best Song award for her huge, self-penned hit “Suddenly I See,” and a Q award for Track of the Year. She also landed a Grammy nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and lent her tunes to a host of movies (The Devil Wears Prada), TV shows and Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign theme song.

Over the next decade, three further critically acclaimed albums followed; Drastic Fantastic, Tiger Suit and Invisible Empire//Crescent Moon in 2007, 2010 and 2013 respectively, keeping the platinum sales rolling and cementing the Scottish singer-songwriter’s reputation as a major recording talent, as well as a mesmerizing live artist.

This past year, KT released her 6th studio album WAX, out now via Rostrum Records. WAX, landed at #30 on Billboard’s Independent Albums Chart and the single “The River” sits at #21 on Billboard’s AAA Songs Chart.

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Graded on a Curve:
The Bureaucrats,
“Feel the Pain” b/w “Grown up Age”

Amongst other things, Canada is renowned for producing comedians and playing a whole lot of hockey, but they also have a worthwhile punk rock lineage. One of the lesser-known twigs on that leafy tree was Ottawa’s The Bureaucrats, a band that knocked-out a spectacular 7-inch in 1980 with “Feel the Pain” b/w “Grown up Age.” That record was once the domain of big-dollar spenders, but the Ugly Pop label has given it a much deserved repressing, and anybody with a deeply personal relationship with The Jam’s All Mod Cons or The Buzzcocks’ Another Music in a Different Kitchen should investigate its contents with due haste.

In the annals of punk rock, the coverage of the movement’s Canadian division frequently devotes prominent placement to Vancouver’s D.O.A. And that’s not without good reason, since that group stampeded forth as one of the earliest and finest in Hardcore’s first wave of pissed-off tumult. Indeed, their second album Hardcore ’81 is the meat in a highly tasty and unusually nutritious three album sandwich, with the bread being the 1980 LP Something Better Change and ‘82’s 12-inch EP (later expanded to album length) “War on 45.”

It was D.O.A., and to a lesser extent their hometown cohorts The Subhumans (responsible for the killer ’83 album No Wishes, No Prayers amongst other worthy material, and not to be confused with the Brit anarcho-punks of the same name) that really put Canada on the map for a generation of younger punk fans. And through relentless touring and unflagging political commitment, D.O.A.’s rep really persevered. In fact, it’s continued to linger even as their most productive musical period grows ever more distant in the rear-view mirror of history.

But the truth of the matter is that D.O.A. and The Subhumans were kicking up dust in a country with considerable punk rock achievements already under its belt. Three of the earliest and most notable bands in the land were Teenage Head, The Diodes, and The Viletones, all formed in Toronto during the formative and formidable ’75-’77 period. And part of the reason for this trio’s enduring profile relates to a four-night stand the three bands undertook at New York’s CBGB in July of 1977, with the late Lester Bangs giving them a write-up in The Village Voice.

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TVD Radar: Ben Folds, Live at Myspace 2LP reissue in stores 3/29

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Remember Myspace? By August 2006, Myspace had over a hundred million member accounts, and, in October of that year, it decided to launch its first-ever webcast. The artist chosen for this epochal event? Ben Folds. The hour-long program featured Folds in front of a small audience housed in a custom set built right in Folds’ home studio in Tennessee, performing songs from his third and latest solo album, Supersunnyspeedgraphic, as well as a couple of tunes from his previous group, Ben Folds Five.

As the first concert offered in real-time by the social networking site, Folds and his band (bassist Jared Reynolds and drummer Lindsay Jamieson) were arguably positioning themselves on the leading edge of entertainment-meets-technology. “Well, it felt like someone was,” Folds says today with a chuckle, “But I didn’t think it was me. My fans and people around me were always really computer savvy, and there was a lot of hyping of [the event].”

Now—just like it did with its release of Ben Folds Five: The Complete Sessions at West 54th—Real Gone Music is bringing this superlative show to CD and LP for the first time with its release of Ben Folds: Live at Myspace, a single CD/double vinyl package featuring all 12 songs from Folds’ Myspace performance along with five bonus tracks from the digital-only iTunes Originals series.

Featuring pictures from the Myspace gig and liner notes by Bill Kopp offering Ben Folds’ reminiscences about the concert, this is as close as you can get to being there, and the studio-quality sound may just convince you that you are there if you just shut your eyes. We’ve also created custom gatefold jacket art for the vinyl release, which is being pressed in white vinyl limited to 1,000 copies.

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Graded on a Curve:
The Sensational
Alex Harvey Band,

What the fuck is this? Glam hangers-on The Sensational Alex Harvey Band were a uniquely Scottish phenomenon, trainspotting and pronouncing the word “garage” the way Elton John does in his song “Levon.” Which is just another way of saying that hardly anybody in the U.S. of A. outside of Cleveland ever laid ears on ‘em, much less considered ‘em sensational.

And small wonder, because the Sensational Alex Harvey Band were simply too esoteric gonzo in the grand tradition of unapologetic English eccentrics for mass consumption. Pub rock heroes with progressive rock tendencies who weren’t afraid to shamelessly camp it up for the Glitter kids, SAHB liked to keep the punters guessing, as 1973’s Next aptly demonstrates.

On the band’s sophomore LP you get some Mott rock, a faux-snakeskin swamp blues, an esoteric hoodoo jive number called “Vambo Marble Eye,” some straight-up Glam Rock, and a couple of numbers so completely over the top flamboyant they make David Bowie and Gary Glitter look like wallflowers. Fact is I’ve never heard anything like ‘em outside the canons of Jobriath, Meatloaf, and Morrissey.

All of which to say is that Alex Harvey and Company were some twisted people, as their madcap live shows proved. Superhero costumes, props, you name it–these anything goes eclectitions (a word I just made up!) put every bit as much outré energy into their stage act as Alice Cooper or Jethro Tull, and their fanatical UK cult following adored them for it.

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Needle Drop: Ashley Wilson, “Paint the Sky”

San Francisco songbird Ashley Wilson’s debut album Paint the Sky conjures up the smooth quality of Come Away with Me-era Norah Jones.

Not only is Wilson versed in the technical and intuitive nuances of jazz singing, but she has a similar ability to conjure up lasting melodies that form like cumulus clouds, hovering in your head for days on end.

The title-track off the LP, streaming here, is perfect example of her mellifluous touch. Floating atop a refined bed of strummed electric guitar and twinkling drums, Wilson’s vocal guides us to a place of mellow surrender, while she lovingly plants her plaintive call to give a romance a chance to bloom. This tender gem, along with 10 other original tracks, will be featured on Ashley’s Paint the Sky LP, due out March 1st.

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Graded on a Curve:
New York United,
New York United

New York United is saxophonist Daniel Carter, electronic specialist Tobias Wilner of the Danish duo Blue Foundation, bassist Djibril Toure, known for his work with Wu-Tang Clan, and drummer Federico Ughi. New York United is a collaboration blending jazz of the progressive/ avant-garde variety with contemporary, often beat-driven electronic sounds; at their best, which is often, they connect with the vitality of a well-seasoned band. New York United is their debut album, recorded in 2016 and belatedly released right about now, on vinyl in an edition of 300 copies and digitally with a bonus track. It’s in stores February 8 via 577 Records.

For a style that some are eager to declare as being moribund if not altogether dead, jazz is a wonderfully resilient and multifaceted thing, in part because, purists be damned, a portion of its makers have reliably strained against the music’s supposed boundaries. This pursuit for fresh possibilities often included engaging with forms outside the realms of jazz, and with the expected critical blowback, whether it be pop, classical, R&B, or rock.

Yeah, the blowback. One of the nicer developments in the last quarter century (or thereabouts) is the decrease in opprobrium over crosspollination (to be followed by varying degrees of reevaluation), meaning that one need not shake off the burden of somebody else’s vented spleen (or conversely, uncritical enthusiasm), the better to absorb the music on its own merits, good or bad.

New York United land securely on the positive side of the landscape as they have direct ties to precedent, specifically the intersection of the jazz avant-garde, electronica and hip-hop that comprises a significant portion of the Thirsty Ear label’s Blue Series. Indeed, alongside pianist Matthew Shipp and bassist William Parker, both Blue Series mainstays, Daniel Carter was a contributor to some of that initiative’s most crucial entries.

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TVD Radar: Serving the Servant: Remembering Kurt Cobain by Danny Goldberg in stores 4/2

VIA PRESS RELEASE | “Insightful, passionate and clear-eyed, Danny Goldberg’s account of his personal and professional relationship with Kurt Cobain is required reading for not only Nirvana enthusiasts, but anyone interested in how the corporate music industry engaged with the punk rock underground of the early 1990s. While providing an intimate view of the support system the band had from a world their scene was historically at odds with, Goldberg shares what is essentially the story of two men, a generation apart, who became unexpected friends through a mutual appreciation of feminism, LGBT rights, and a dedication to the activist power of music. It is a contemplative requiem to losing someone you love who immeasurably touched the entire planet with a singular magic.”Thurston Moore, Sonic Youth

On the 25th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death comes a new perspective on one of the most compelling icons of our time. With candor, honesty and empathy, Danny Goldberg, one of Nirvana’s managers from 1990 to 1994, shares his memories of his brief but momentous time with Kurt and the band in SERVING THE SERVANT: Remembering Kurt Cobain (Ecco; On sale April 2, 2019; $28.99, 304 pages; ISBN 978-0-06-286150-4). The result is a fresh and frank portrait of an icon unlike any that has come before.

When Goldberg agreed to take on Nirvana, he had no idea that Cobain would become a pop-culture icon with a legacy arguably at the level of that of John Lennon, Michael Jackson, or Elvis Presley. Goldberg worked with Kurt from 1990 to 1994, the most impactful period of Kurt’s life.

This key time saw the stratospheric success of Nevermind, which turned Nirvana into the most successful rock band in the world and made punk and grunge household terms; Kurt’s meeting and marriage to the brilliant but mercurial Courtney Love and their relationship that became a lightning rod for critics; the birth of their daughter, Frances Bean; and, finally, Kurt’s public struggles with addiction, which ended in a devastating suicide that would alter the course of rock history. Throughout, Goldberg stood by Kurt’s side as manager and close friend.

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Needle Drop: Cathedral Bells, “Ethereal Shadow”

DIY bedroom pop outfit Cathedral Bells serve up a sprawling brew of shoegaze/dream-pop that transcends the time stamped indie rock of the ’80s, the ’90s, and the naughties.

While there is a distinct retro flavor to their musings, the band is eager to innovate, and do so with supplemental flair on their newest single “Ethereal Shadow.”

The band’s self-titled EP saw a cassette/digital release via Good Eye Records earlier this month and is a shining example of the dreamy garage sound the NY indie label is cultivating. It’s also a perfect accompaniment for some late-night mischief, if your lacking in that particular soundtrack department.

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