Category Archives: The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Delphine Dora & Mocke,
Les Corps Defendant

French vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, and composer Delphine Dora has accumulated an ample body of work since the middle of last decade. Dominique Dépret aka Mocke Depret is a French-born Brussels-based guitarist with credits including membership in Holden and Midget!, collaborations with Flanger and Laetitia Sadier, plus solo work. Together they are Delphine Dora & Mocke, and their Le Corps defendant lands betwixt experimentalism and avant-pop. It’s the eleventh release from the Belgian label Okraïna, like all the imprint’s output issued on 10-inch vinyl, in this case a double set, and like the rest featuring attractive sleeve artwork by Gwénola Carrère.

On Le Corps defendant, Delphine Dora is credited with voice, piano, prepared piano, keyboards, celesta, glockenspiel, piano and guitar strings, violin, shruti box, field recordings, and objects. Mocke just plays the guitar, and yet there is a creative equality in the results that registers as quite natural, perhaps because the contents evolved over the course of three years.

Much of the music’s strength comes from the richness of Dora’s voice, which is layered numerous times in opener “Les Miroirs conversent avec les etoiles en silence,” spanning from a whisper to conversation to distant singing. Instrumentally, Mocke’s guitar lends the piece much of its structure, while Dora provides abstract counterpoint on piano.

Not knowing French lends an aura of mystery to Le Corps defendant, but a measure of clarity arises through learning that the first track’s title translates to English as “Mirrors converse with silent stars.” Overall, this collab can be aptly described as possessing an avant sensibility, but the atmosphere is never harsh, and the second selection “L’Illusion s’etrangle” brings the rich history of French pop song to mind.

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TVD Radar: Manu Dibango’s Electric Africa in stores 9/22

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Manu Dibango needs litle introduction, born in Cameroon in 1933, Manu developed a musical style fusing jazz, funk, and traditional Cameroonian music. He’s definitely among the best known African artists outside of Africa. Collaborations were numerous and include top acts like Fela Kuti, Herbie Hancock, Bill Laswell, Sly & Robbie, Don Cherry, and Bernie Worrell. In addition to selling hundreds of thousands of copies of the albums he recorded, he played such huge venues as Yankee Stadium and Madison Square Garden.

In 1972, at 40 years of age, Manu Dibango did something almost unheard of for an African artist—he had a pop hit. His song “Soul Makossa” became an enormous hit which influenced popular music for decades to follow. First picked up by David Mancuso (The Loft), “Soul Makossa” took New York dancefloors by storm and in July 1973 it became the first disco record to enter the Billboard Top 40—an early instance of Western pop experiencing a paradigm shift thanks to Africa. The song’s chant of “ma-mako ma-ma-sa mako-mako sa” echoes through the greatest-selling pop album of all-time, Michael Jackson’s Thriller, and it’s in the DNA of the music of Kanye West, Rihanna, A Tribe Called Quest, Akon, and The Fugees.

By 1985, Dibango was back in Paris, one of the most successful African artists in the world, to start on the recordings for the Electric Africa album. This album hooked Manu and the Soul Makossa Gang up with New York avant garde producer Bill Laswell, jazz pianist Herbie Hancock, Parliament-Funkadelic keyboard player Bernie Worrell, Pan African synthesist Wally Badarou, New York guitarist Nicky Scopelitis, African drummer Aiyb Dieng, and Malian kora virtuoso Mory Kante. This means of working gave Manu and Laswell license to fuse synthesizers and kora, talking drums and samples, ngoni and electric guitar. What it all boils down to is world beat in its truest sense.

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King James & the Special Men, The TVD First Date

“My earliest memory in life is of my grandmother bathing me in a washtub, but my second memory is of my father’s gigantic record collection.”

“A typical young man of the ’70s, my father listened to his vast record collection at home and loud on his floor-to-ceiling hi-fi stereo system with speakers in every room. He even saw fit to put a little turntable in my bedroom with a box of old 45s from his teenage years. He was an audiophile and he wanted me to be one too. I would listen to Little Richard’s “Tutti Frutti” and “Wild Thing” by the Troggs a thousand times a day, jumping off the bed and playing imaginary concerts all the while. I would draw different guitar shapes onto cardboard and rock out with my cut-out. I was obsessed, and when I finally got my first real guitar at the age of four, I played it until I bled the very first day.

What’s significant to me looking back is the fact that my earliest notions of “music” itself involved the act of recording and the art of making albums. I now understand that songwriting, composition, performance, conducting, recording, and the construction an “album” are all distinct and worthy disciplines unto themselves, but as a kid I only knew that you played music in hope of making records, period. Much like a kid today would have a hard time imagining a world before the internet and smartphones, I was unable to imagine a world before records. To me, they were the only reason to pick up an instrument in the first place. You rock, you record, you rock, you record, etc…

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TVD Radar: Peter Case’s On the Way Downtown: Recorded Live on FolkScene in stores 10/27

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Peter Case has always been a pioneer. Genre-tripping through punk with the Nerves (“Hangin’ on the Telephone”), new wave/power pop with the Plimsouls (“A Million Miles Away”), and Americana with his Grammy®-nominated, self-titled solo debut. It is a career that is still going strong over 40 years later on the strength of his exceptional songwriting. On the Way Downtown: Recorded Live on FolkScene, due out October 27, 2017 on Omnivore Recordings, is a snapshot from nearly 20 years ago when Case sat still long enough for the airwaves to catch up to him.

This new album captures material from two live radio performances on the highly influential KPFK-FM Los Angeles syndicated radio program in 1998 and 2000. The first half features material from his then, newly released Full Service, No Waiting—an album New York magazine called “stunning.” The Full Service No Waiting set is a live full band performance featuring some of Peter’s great musical friends. The latter half contains material from 2000’s Flying Saucer Blues, as well as songs from his earlier releases. Plus, some choice covers appear as well. Both intimate acoustic sets have remained unheard since their original broadcasts. The 2000 set features Peter with violinist extrodinaire David Perales.

In the liner notes, written by Case himself: “It felt like such an honor to play Howard and Roz Larman’s FolkScene. All the great people were on it, a Who’s Who of folk music. I’d loved the program for years. I listened in every week. Roz spun the coolest records, Howard deftly handled the interviews, and a key member of the team was Peter Cutler, their sound engineer. He tuned in great sound for each session. Live six-piece band with an hour soundcheck? No problem for Cutler.”

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Graded on a Curve:
Allen Ginsberg,
The Complete Songs
of Innocence and Experience

Allen Ginsberg remains a towering figure in the annals of freedom, but his musical output has suffered varying levels of neglect over the decades. The recent emergence of The Complete Songs of Innocence and Experience helps change that. It finds Ginsberg adapting the writing of William Blake to song, and features such participants as Bob Dorough, Don Cherry, and Elvin Jones. In a case of unexpected added value, noted avant cellist Arthur Russell contributes to a bonus session from 1971; it’s all available on 2CD with informative notes by Pat Thomas through Omnivore Recordings.

Of the three main points comprising the Beat Generation triangle, Allen Ginsberg was easily the most culturally adaptive. Kerouac couldn’t hang with the hippies he’d helped spawn; tormented by inner conflict and addled by booze, he was dead before the end of the ’60s. Yes, Burroughs eventually settled into a niche as an outlaw godfather of punk, both musical and cyber, but he did so by essentially just being himself; he obviously engaged with those inspired by his art and life, yet it’s also quite clear they largely sought him out, rather than vice versa.

But it was Ginsberg’s diverse activism for free speech and protest of war, intolerance and discrimination, plus his sheer curiosity into post-Beat youth movements, interacting along the way with hippies, punks, and even the subsequent ’90s Alternative generation (by request, he gave the Blake Babies their name and guested on Cornershop’s When I Was Born for the 7th Time), that positioned him as more than just one of the 20th century’s greatest poets.

Instead, he was elevated to an ambassador for free thought, open-mindedness, and nonconformity, joining Burroughs (whose own collabs with the Alt scene include Ministry, Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, and Kurt Cobain) in a twilight renaissance. During the same period Kerouac’s posthumous stature hit something of an all-time high.

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TVD Radar: Spoon’s
Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga 10th anniversary reissue
in stores 10/20

VIA PRESS RELEASE | To celebrate its ten years of existence, Merge has announced a double vinyl reissue of Spoon’s indispensable album Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. Remastered by Howie Weinberg, it features the studio album on one LP and the 12-track “Get Nice!” EP—previously available only as a bonus CD—on the other, both packaged in a gatefold jacket with updated art. The reissue will be in stores on October 20; pre-order it now in the Merge store, bundled with a t-shirt featuring the prophecy found on the album’s center label.

Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga was recorded throughout 2006 in Austin, TX, by the band and Mike McCarthy (except “The Underdog” which was recorded in Los Angeles with Jon Brion). Starting with “Don’t Make Me a Target,” a song that builds on Spoon’s familiar minimal rhythmic piano/guitar vamp popularized on earlier hits, the album quickly moves into uncharted territory with the atmospheric “The Ghost of You Lingers” and moves through several different stylistic changes from the, er, explosive “You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb” to the wall-of-sound horns of radio single “The Underdog.” Upon release, critics and listeners alike praised the record, which subsequently received Best New Music status from Pitchfork and cracked the top 10 of Rolling Stone’s Best Albums of 2007.

This Record is a Hit, as recently restated by Stereogum’s Pranav Trewn: “Every song on Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga sounds like instant canon, as though these were established classics from a previous era that you’ve only heard about but hadn’t actually heard yourself.”

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David Ryan Harris,
The TVD First Date

“My dad had a huge collection of vinyl. Both my parents loved music and entertaining. My dad, mostly jazz and mostly bebop, but he always had the cool bleeding edge pop stuff too. I grew up seeing record jackets used for their intended purpose, but I also was used to seeing them used as wall art, giant coasters, makeshift fans for the summer heat, and as the best place to separate the stems from the seeds (full disclosure: that didn’t happen at home with my parents).”

“For me vinyl was the only way.

I might buy the cassette version of a record every now and then, but with the cassette version you never got the benefit of seeing the cool artwork as large, and you missed out on the tactile sensation of flipping through the insert booklet and/or reading the front and back covers as if looking for clues. More often than not, if I needed a cassette version of an album for the car, I would buy the vinyl and then make a cassette copy from that. Literally the original mixtape.

When CDs were first introduced, like the rest of the world, I was excited about the idea of having pristine digital copies of all of these records that I’d loved so much. The promise of having music delivered on a virtually indestructible medium that would last forever without signal degradation (in theory) seemed incredibly space-age and awesome. I mean, just look at those things!! They look like they’re made out of spacesuit material!!!

But I digress.

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Graded on a Curve:
Red Hot Chili Peppers, Blood Sugar Sex Magik

What are my criteria for a great album? I’m not sure I know, but I can tell you this—it helps if I want to put the thing, at least once in a while, on my turntable and actually listen to it. And by this standard the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “landmark” 1991 LP Blood Sugar Sex Magik is not my idea of a great album. Because the truth is I’d sooner listen to Kool & The Gang any day. Or Blood Sweat & Tears even. Sure I hate ‘em, but at least they make me giggle.

I realize I’m in the minority on this one. Everybody loves the lovable Red Hot Chili Peppers, who put the funky in alternative and wore socks on their dicks and in general made good time music for drunken frat boys and drunken would be frat girls and even briefly won me over with their eponymous 1984 debut, which brought the funk to the punk rock party with such songs as “Get Up and Jump.”

But the thrill soon wore off, at least for this guy, and by the time I found myself listening to the schlock heroin recovery ballad “Under the Bridge” 54 times per day on the radio I started rooting for the dope. I’m as sappy as the next guy—the Bellamy Brothers’ “Let Your Love Flow” is one of my all-time faves, fer Christ’s sake—but “Under the Bridge” is to heroin recovery what “Tears in Heaven” is to child defenestration and it made me, and still makes me, want to puke. Does that make me a bad person? So be it, I’m a bad person.

And “Under the Bridge” is far from my only problem with Blood Sugar Sex Magik. When push comes to shove, I only like two songs on the LP: “Give It Away,” which is so ferocious that even Anthony Kiedis’ leaden vocals (he definitely slows the flow, except on the song’s tag line) can’t keep it down, and “Breaking the Girl,” which is a bona fide lovely song that I never would have believed the Red Hot Chili Peppers had in them. It taps into the same vein of emotionality as “Under the Bridge,” but Brendan O’Brien’s turn on the mellotron adds a poignant feel to the song that sucks me in every time. Hell, even Kiedis can’t sidetrack the damn song.

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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.

jane/john doe – Well It Really Does Matter Does It
Flotation Toy Warning – A Season Underground
Happy Abandon – Severed Seams
Weatherboy – A Bright Flame
Brad Peterson – What The Open Heart Allows
Sam Wu – Cardinal Direction
This Way to the Egress – Rollin’

TVD SINGLE OF THE WEEK:
The Jezabels – The Others

Romeo Dance Cheetah – The Air Guitar Song
Kisos – No Control
Macrohard – Right On Time Feat. Tae Buddha & Pollimer
DJ Sabrina The Teenage DJ – I Don’t Like What I Feel (Maybe Tonight)
Bitta Blood – We Run This REMIX ft Troy Ave (Dirty)
Aesop Rock & Homeboy Sandman – Triple Fat Lice
Q – Rant
Stereotype – Zebra’s & Stuff E.P.

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TVD Radar: Jerry Yester’s lost ’70s album Pass Your Light Around in stores 10/6

VIA PRESS RELEASE | In the ’60s and ’70s, it was not rare to see Jerry Yester’s name on classic albums, as producer for acts like the Association, the Turtles, Tim Buckley, and Tom Waits, or as a performer with the Modern Folk Quartet, Rosebud, the Lovin’ Spoonful, and Judy Henske (on the rediscovered gem Farewell Aldebaran). But aside from a pair of 1967 singles, there wasn’t a Jerry Yester “solo album” from that period, as he was so busy creating music with and for other artists.

Pass Your Light Around collects the songs Yester recorded in various studios throughout the 1970s (and even one dating back as far as 1964 from his Bleecker Street apartment). Written with poet/ lyricist and Tim Buckley collaborator Larry Beckett (who he got to know while producing Buckley’s Goodbye and Hello), the material features performances by Yester, Rosebud bandmates David Vaught and John Seiter, future Lone Justice member Don Heffington, and Laurel Masse from the Manhattan Transfer, among others. In true Yester fashion, the instrumentation moves from classic guitar-based instrumentation to strings, celeste, harmonium, and synthesizer.

Produced by Yester with Grammy® Award winner Cheryl Pawelski, the release features tracks sourced from Jerry’s personal archives and remastered by Grammy® Award-winning engineer Michael Graves. These 15 previously unissued songs act as what could, and should have been another Yester-tagged classic, but this time under his own name. Packaging contains photos, lyrics, and a new essay from Barry Alfonso detailing the genesis of the songs and recordings, augmented by new interviews with both Yester and Beckett.

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