Category Archives: The TVD Storefront

Needle Drop: oh?no!ok., “Wheel of Fortune”

PHOTO: MEIRA BASHIR | Salt Lake City buzz band oh!no?ok. are not trying to reinvent the wheel, but certainly know how to spin it with joyful abandon.

Their latest single, “Wheel of Fortune,” is one part ’80s pop rock, one part ’90s alternative slacker psychedelia, 100% riff-roaring good time. The band’s freewheeling vibe embodies punk rock’s counter-impulse toward joy, color, and self-deprecation, and certainly gets one excited for their debut record, randy warhole (or something), which is set to arrive in stores later this year.

With songs that probe entitlement, video game addiction and idolization, it’s clear we are dealing with a wildly fresh take on slacker rock.

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Graded on a Curve:
African Head Charge,
Drumming is a Language 1990–2011

In 2016, On-U Sound delivered vinyl reissues of the 1980s work by African Head Charge, the collaboration of percussionist Bonjo Iyabinghi Noah and producer Adrian Sherwood, and compiled the material in the 5CD box Environmental Holes & Drastic Tracks 1981 – 1986. Now, the label has followed up that activity with five more vinyl sets and a second CD box, Drumming is a Language 1990 – 2011. The blend of Jamaican roots, African-derived rhythms, and the expected studio enhancements, including healthy servings of dubby weirdness, establish a high standard of quality; as the discs unfurl, the consistency can be rather startling. In whichever manner one chooses to partake, the music is out now.

For the details regarding African Head Charge’s formation and a deep word dive into the unit’s ’80s stuff, one should consult the earlier review in this column of their first four LPs. For this piece on the latest set, it suffices to say that Bonjo and Sherwood’s union was set into motion by the former’s membership at the start of the ’80s in the group Creation Rebel, an outfit associated with the latter’s extensive post-punk studio productivity during the same period.

What began as a studio project gradually morphed into a band scenario, though one with considerable fluidity of personnel, and Songs of Praise, the first release chronologically in this spate of reissues (hence disc one in the box set) reflects this shift exceptionally well, while keeping a solid grip on Bonjo’s percussive objectives (as highlighted by the new box set’s title) and Sherwood’s production savvy.

Released in 1990, Songs of Praise is considered by some to be African Head Charge’s creative high-water mark. Now, this might be in part because of its ample running time, with 14 tracks on the original CD (truncated to eight on the first vinyl press) totaling just over an hour. For this edition, the number is expanded by three (and the LP edition is now a double, holding everything). And so, the release offers an abundance, and in any version, it doesn’t run out of gas. Another factor is the record’s concept, as it gathers religious chants from across the globe and infuses them with Jamaican-African-UK vigor.

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TVD Radar: The Hotrats, Turn Ons hot pink 10th anniversary double 10” vinyl in stores 6/20

VIA PRESS RELEASE | In 2010, one half of Britain’s much loved pop rock combo Supergrass, Gaz Coombes and Danny Goffey teamed with world-renowned producer Nigel Godrich to bring you The Hotrats.

With the original intention of diving into the studio for some light relief, the spontaneous sessions soon became Turn Ons—Gaz & Danny’s own Pin Ups style covers record of classic songs, born out of a true love and respect for their rock heroes. Released as a highly limited run, Turn Ons was a 12-track doff of the cap to musical forefathers including Syd Barrett, Lou Reed, Roxy Music, David Bowie, and The Sex Pistols and has remained an out of print record shop rarity for a decade.

Gaz Coombes explains: “The Hotrats was all about freedom to experiment, about exploring our own surreal psychedelic tendencies in a studio while celebrating the music that shaped our worlds growing up. And just to have some fun with great music in the mould of classics like Bowie’s Pin Ups or Lennon & Nilsson’s Pussy Cats. They felt like proper records to me, and that’s what we wanted to feel with Turn Ons, something super creative and exciting.

The songs are already cemented in the history books, but for us it was about injecting our own energy into something, not replicating the original. More a case of re-shaping the chemistry. Re-doing the original experiment (hopefully) without destroying it in the process!” Fast forward ten years to 2020 and Coombes, Goffey and Godrich reconvene to celebrate the tenth anniversary of this forgotten classic with a new offering; a psychedelic twist on the Kelis classic “Milkshake.”

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TVD Radar: The National, High Violet 10th anniversary 3LP
in stores 6/19

VIA PRESS RELEASE | The National have announced they will be releasing a 10-year anniversary expanded edition of their 2010 album High Violet, on June 19th, 2020.

Originally released May 11, 2010, the critically acclaimed fifth studio album features the now-classics “Terrible Love,””Bloodbuzz Ohio,”“England,” and perennial show closer, “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks.” In addition to the 10 original tracks, the triple LP package includes a third LP which includes tracks never before available on vinyl, including “Wake Up Your Saints,” an alternate version of “Terrible Love,” ”Walk Off” and more. The vinyl comes in three different versions, Standard (white & purple marbled vinyl), Cherry Tree (white & purple split color vinyl), and Vinyl Me Please (white & purple splatter vinyl).

To celebrate the announcement, The National will share their D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus-directed film, The National – High Violet Live From Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), shot May 10th, 2010, the night before the release of the album. Fans can watch the performance below.

The band also announced this week that all profits from their webstore and fan club enrollment will be directed to subsidizing the lost wages for their twelve crew members until the end of this crisis. “Our crew are the lifeblood of our touring operation and have become family through the many years we’ve worked together. As uncertainty looms over the state of the live concert industry, we will direct all profits from merch sales through our webstore, new Cherry Tree fan club enrollments, and sales from the Cherry Tree members-only store to support our crew members throughout this crisis to the best of our ability. Visit Shop.americanmary.com, americanmary.com/cherry-tree, and cherrytreeshop.americanmary.com.

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Ellen Starski,
The TVD First Date

I was a little girl sitting on the yellowish shag carpet that decorated floors across America in the ’80s. Too young to read I picked my albums via cover designs and knew which album was the Eurythmics because of the RCA label with the little white dog, head cocked to the side staring into the Victrola.”

“This is where my love of vinyl began, and man did I wear that record out. Thinking back on it, I must have been 3 or 4 years old pulling out vinyl and placing it carefully on the player. That’s wild. You know how we are so careful placing the needle down to vinyl… Well, I guess I had that technique down pretty early.

I love the memories that come along with buying vinyl. I vividly remember scouring antique stores in Pennsylvania with my parents and finding Neil Young’s first album, and Bitches Brew by Miles Davis. These albums in particular helped shape me during a transitional part of my life when I was trying to understand who I was, and how I would become the artist I am today.

Now here I am getting ready to release my first vinyl record with the test press arriving any day! Back in those earlier years, I never would have imagined this moment could actually happen. The resurgence of vinyl is a beautiful thing. The entire process has been enlightening from the music creation to the album artwork which was painted and designed by Patrick Dennis.

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Graded on a Curve:
Windy and Carl,
Allegiance and Conviction

While this column focuses on new releases, current events are mentioned only intermittently. As we (meaning, the human race) are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, this is one of those times. During a sustained crisis, art and its makers often get undervalued or pushed aside, but the nature of this emergency has illuminated the necessity of creativity in our world. Whatcha gonna do when you gotta stay home? Listen to records, maybe. Dearborn, MI’s Windy and Carl have a new one out, and while the terse and humorous motto of their label is “going nowhere slow,” rest assured that dropping needle on Allegiance and Conviction will take you places. It’s available now on LP, CD, and digital via Kranky.

Bassist-vocalist Windy Weber and guitarist Carl Hultgren commenced their musical partnership (they are also married) in the early ’90s as part of that decade’s thriving drone-ambient-experimental-psychedelic-shoegaze underground. At the time, if you were into Roy Montgomery, The Azusa Plane, Jessamine and even the slightly higher-profile outfits Flying Saucer Attack, Bardo Pond, Damon and Naomi, and Low, the odds are good that you’d picked up on at least a percentage of what Windy & Carl had laid down.

That is to say, the pair were fairly prolific across a string of releases, output that unsurprisingly included a long stretch of various artists compilation appearances, with these contributions corralled on one of the three compact discs in the self-released (on the Blue Flea label) Introspection: Singles and Rarities 1993-2000; disc one is devoted to 7-inches and EPs, while disc three holds live and unreleased material.

For those unfamiliar with Windy & Carl’s work, Introspection would deliver a solid, if extensive, introduction to their stuff, though you could begin just as satisfactorily with Portal, their debut full-length from 1994, initially a cassette (on Blue Flea) and shortly thereafter pressed onto CD (via Ba Da Bing!). From there, moving forward chronologically is a safe bet.

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TVD Radar: The Ballad Of Shirley Collins, doc streaming now for the first time

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Fire Films announce feature documentary The Ballad Of Shirley Collins about the iconic English singer is now streaming for the first time via Vimeo on Demand, including the first ever digital release of a host of bonus materials.

Having been an indelible presence in the English folk scene for more than 20 years, Shirley Collins was until recently remembered predominantly for losing her voice in mysterious circumstances in the 1980s. This film explores the reasons behind this, and documents her brave attempt (at the age of 80) to rediscover her voice and with it her place in the pantheon of musical greats. The film follows Shirley through the recording of her feted comeback album Lodestar.

Alongside this, it explores a story from the other end of her life, when in 1959 she went on the celebrated “Southern Journey” song-collecting trip with her then-lover Alan Lomax. Together they embarked on a road-trip around the Southern USA, where they collected a vital body of American roots music that provided the inspiration for the young Collins to find her own, uniquely English voice. The film is both a celebration of the power of tradition and an inspiring story of triumph over adversity, and an exploration of the flow of cultural exchange between the US and UK.

The film screened at prestigious international festivals including Rotterdam, CPH:DOX, and the London Film Festival, and was released in US and UK cinemas in 2018. Earth Recordings have released both a triple-LP tribute album by a host of artists including Will Oldham, Angel Olsen, Johnny Flynn, Stewart Lee and Ulver, and the soundtrack album for the film, featuring previously unreleased Shirley Collins recordings and songs from the Southern Journey. Directors Rob Curry and Tim Plester have also recently finished a follow-up film, Southern Journey (Revisited) retracing the Southern Journey route in the present day, due for release later in 2020.

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Graded on a Curve:
Kenny Rogers &
The First Edition,
Anthology

Today we remember Kenny Rogers who passed away on March 20th with a look back from our archives and our introduction to “The Gambler” via The First Edition. Ed.

Kenny Rogers & The First Edition would be groovy with me if they’d never cut another song besides acid burnout anthem “Just Dropped in (To See What Condition My Condition Is In).” I love it, you love it, Jimi Hendrix loved it–hell, even Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski loves it, and if that ain’t the Definitive Imprimatur of Indisputable Cool, I’m a walking 7-10 split.

But–and let’s just stick with the bowling metaphors for a moment–during their surprisingly long tenure (from 1967 to who knew?–1975) on both the pop and country charts The First Edition rolled a couple of strikes and a few more spares in the form of a bunch of songs that must have sounded just dandy in the confines of your average Dixie bowling alley. Probably even started a few brawls, a couple of ‘em; The First Edition may hardly be your idea of a socially conscious protest group, but they ruffled feathers with the likes of “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town” (a crippled vet? What are these fellas, COMMIES?), “Something’s Burning” (is this Kenny Rogers some kind of slobbering sex fiend?), and “Reuben James” (you talk race, we get nervous).

The First Edition were an eclectic bunch; a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll, Kenny and the boys brought the former to suburban Northerners and the latter to rural Southerners, effectively bringing the whole wide world that much closer together. In short they provided an important public service in their desperate bid for radio airplay; hell, even your Muskogee marijuana haters and their long-hair enemies found common ground in writing ‘em off as a shameless commercial shuck.

The First Edition’s Contribution to Western Civilization can be best heard on the 2004 best-of compilation Anthology. Its twenty cuts give us The First Edition in all their splendid diversity; country tear-jerkers rub shoulders with MOR ditties and the kinds of treacle that would later make Rogers a country-pop institution of higher earning. Talk about range; a continental divide separates “Just Dropped In” from the maudlin “For the Good Times” (or “Sunshine” or “Poem for My Little Lady” or “She Even Woke Me Up to Say Goodbye” for that matter), and if you’re like me you’ll find yourself bypassing the tripe in favor of The First Edition’s more upbeat material, regardless of what label (rock, country, country rock) you want to put on it.

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Anastasia Minster,
The TVD First Date

“I grew up in Russia and my parents had an old record player in our little apartment on the outskirts of Moscow. Vinyl was very popular back then and I remember listening to fairy tales and audio books when I was very little, perhaps 4 or 5.”

“I was absolutely absorbed in the sound and I could sit in my room for hours with my eyes closed, picturing the characters and building magical landscapes in my head. When I was about 7 years old, my parents gave me the first “serious” record, Swan Lake by Pyotr Tchaikovsky. I was absolutely mesmerized by the music and I could feel it very strongly: it was dramatic, intense but also incredibly beautiful and tender. This was the beginning of my love for Russian classical music which influenced my own music deeply.

There was a little record store in the basement of the building we lived in and my dad would take me there almost every week to pick up something new. By the time I was 10 I had an impressive vinyl collection, mostly Russian classical music and popular singers-songwriters. When I was 11-12 years old, I became interested in foreign bands. Records made abroad were still not easy to find in Russia of the ’90s, but you could get them from someone who had the luxury to travel internationally. I remember my friend’s dad bringing Queen’s Sheer Heart Attack on vinyl from one of his business trips. It was such a treasure!

Now, a few words about my absolute favourite records. The ones that came later and shaped my taste in music, inspired me and influenced my own songs sonically and musically. The first one I’d like to mention is Secrets of the Beehive by David Sylvian. I do like many others by David, Japan and Rain Tree Crow but I think this one is very special. I find it so perfect on so many levels and the more I listen to it, the more beauty I discover. This record helped shape my own sound and I even sent it to my musicians as a reference when we were working on the new album.

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Graded on a Curve: Camper Van Beethoven, Telephone Free Landslide Delivery

At the time when the post-punk/hardcore scene was exploding into a thousand disparate sounds, with bands delving into a myriad of new directions (metal, funk, alt-country, goth, neo-psychedelia, you name it), Camper Van Beethoven did something truly audacious–they exploded in every which direction at once.

On their 1985 debut, Telephone Free Landslide Victory, Camper Van Beethoven delved into, by turns, catchy pop jingle jangle, ska, the sounds of Eastern Europe and Mexico, Spaghetti Western and so on, and the LP so bewildered some–me included–that it took a long while to come to terms with its conceptual originality.

Most bands seek to find a sound and perfect it. Camper Van Beethoven did just the opposite, poking fun at all manner of counter cultural subgroups–skinheads, hippies, skateboarders, waste products, and the like–in the process. So far as lead singer/guitarist David Lowery and the boys were concerned, every manner of youth self-identification out there was a conformist joke. They took one look at their angry skinhead counterparts and decided to take them bowling, strangely humanizing them in the process. Put a bowling ball in their hands, and they were just kids in odd clothing.

Telephone Free Landslide Victory’s 17 maddingly disparate cuts are designed to induce vertigo, but it’s the pop tunes that get you first. The perky ”Take the Skinheads Bowling,” the chipper pre-Slacker anthem “Ambiguity Song (“Everything seems to be up in the air at this time”) and the love as unidentifiable emotion “Oh, No!” (“Oh no here it comes again, that funny feeling”)–are catchy as hell, and once you’ve heard them you’ll never get them out of your head.

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Demand it on Vinyl: John Stewart, Old Forgotten Altars: The 1960s Demos in stores 5/8

VIA PRESS RELEASE | In a career spanning more than four decades, John Stewart swiftly progressed, from his beginnings in a Southern California garage band, through folk groups the Cumberland Three and the Kingston Trio, to a successful solo career. He contributed well over 40 albums and more than 600 songs to our musical universe. His song catalog is not only staggering in volume, but it’s also loaded with classic compositions.

Most will know Stewart’s songwriting from “Daydream Believer” by the Monkees (and Anne Murray) or his own Lindsey Buckingham-produced “Gold,” a #5 hit in 1979. But just as impressive are “Runaway Train” from Rosanne Cash’s 1987 King’s Record Shop album, “Sweet Dreams Will Come” on Nanci Griffith’s Little Love Affairs, or “Mother Country” from Stewart’s own 1969 California Bloodlines album, which was used to usher the Apollo 11 spacecraft safely back to Earth after its historic journey. Omnivore Recordings will release Old Forgotten Altars: The 1960s Demos on May 8, 2020. The collection was produced and compiled by Grammy-nominated producer Ron Furmanek and overseen by Buffy Ford Stewart.

Four tunes found on the collection wound up on the Kingston Trio’s 1966 release Children of the Morning, with one of them, “The Spinnin’ of the World,” getting a second airing on 1979’s hit album Bombs Away Dream Babies. That LP also yielded the aforementioned charting single “Gold,” with two other songs, “Midnight Wind” and “Lost Her in the Sun,” also making the Top 40.

Three duets with Buffy Ford Stewart foreshadow the Signals Through the Glass album, which the singing partners, and later husband-and-wife team, would release on Capitol Records in 1968. Old Forgotten Altars also features five tracks that would form nearly half of Stewart’s classic California Bloodlines album, released in 1969. Of particular note, “July, You’re a Woman” makes its first recorded appearance here alongside demos for “Mother Country” and “The Pirates of Stone County Road.”

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Graded on a Curve:
The Dandy Warhols,
Odditorium or Warlords of Mars

The Dandy Warhols play stadiums in my head. In the real world they’ve been relegated to playing clubs, which is a gross injustice seeing as how they’re the greatest American band this side of Grand Funk Railroad. The unfairness of it all just reaffirms my belief that life ain’t fair and most people are complete morons.

Plenty of folks know the Dandy Warhols only through 2004’s Dandys vs. Brian Jonestown Massacre documentary Dig!, or a small handful of songs including “Bohemian Like You,” “Not If You Were the Last Junkie on Earth” (with its catch phrase “Heroin is so passe”), and “Boys Better.” But they’ve released scads of other fantastic songs, as you know if you’ve been attending the biweekly Dandy Warhols’s concerts at the stadium in my head.

At the stadium shows in my head, opening acts have included the Rolling Stones (who’ve been met with catcalls along the lines of “Where’s Mick’s wheelchair?”), Aerosmith (who’ve been run off stage by some epic booing), the Red Hot Chili Peppers (who on one memorable occasion were pelted with objects both large and small and were seen backstage whimpering), Radiohead (whose performance was best summed up by a collective “Wake me up when it’s over”), and the Foo Fighters (about whom the general consensus was something along the lines of “Think I’ll hit the john”). Only the dead but alive, alive but dead Jerry Lee Lewis escaped abuse, most likely because the audience was terrified into silence by the prospect of getting collective ass kicked.

Each and every one of these bands humiliated itself like a ninth grader pissing himself after being hit in the nuts playing dodgeball, but nobody in the SRO audience really cared; they were cheering like Nazis at a Nuremberg Rally as the Dandys took the stage.

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TVD Radar: On Record–Vol. 1: 1978 from G. Brown in stores 3/24

VIA PRESS RELEASE | The On Record book series looks at the evolution of popular music from 1978 to 1998 through images, interviews, and insights.

Respected veteran music journalist, broadcaster and historian G. Brown has authored the first in an encyclopedic series of books celebrating popular music, to be released March 24. On Record—Vol. 1: 1978 features Classic Rockers from Journey to Bruce Springsteen to the Cars; nascent new wavers such as the Police, Talking Heads, and the Clash; as well as the year’s greatest releases from Pop, R&B, Country and Jazz. Celebrating his 50th year as one of America’s foremost popular music writers, G. Brown has interviewed more than 2,500 musicians, including Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Mick Jagger, and Kurt Cobain, all of whom recounted their escapades and reminisced about what their time on the charts meant to them personally and musically.

“In addition, my curated archive of more than 15,000 rare promotional photos tells a remarkable visual history of seminal periods of music history,” G. Brown said. “A lot of time, creativity and capital was invested by the artists in the creation of these images. I did not want them lost to time. It’s a privilege and even a responsibility to share them and the artists’ stories via the On Record book series.”

Each volume of the On Record series highlights nearly 200 limited and extraordinary images and 100 profiles with an array of musical artists from the late Jerry Garcia and Dave Matthews to Bono and Santana. Every edition is beautifully crafted and geared to every music fan’s library and institution.

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TVD Radar: Rory Gallagher, Check Shirt Wizard Live in ’77 3LP
in stores now

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Following on from 2019’s highly successful Blues album, Chess/UMe proudly released Check Shirt Wizard Live in ’77, in multiple formats, including 3LP 180g black vinyl, 2CD and digital, earlier this month.

Now, this 20-song, previously unreleased set—culled from four Rory Gallagher shows (London, Brighton, Sheffield, and Newcastle) during an early 1977 tour across the UK in support of his then-latest album Calling Card—is No. 1 on the Billboard Blues Album Chart. Featuring explosive live versions of tracks from that album as well as songs from the 1975 Against The Grain album and other live favorites, Check Shirt Wizard has been mixed from the original multitrack tapes from the Rory Gallagher archive, which were recorded by the Rolling Stones and Jethro Tull’s mobile studios and mastered at Abbey Road.

The set was produced by Gallagher’s nephew, Daniel, whose father, Donal (Rory’s brother and manager), took him to his first Rory concert. Check Shirt Wizard’s cover painting is by a young Irish graffiti artist Vincent Zara who has stenciled Gallagher’s image across his home country.

“The first time I ever saw my uncle Rory playing live was at the Hammersmith Odeon, London in 1987,” Gallagher recalls. “My father woke my older brother and me up and said we were going on an adventure. Parked outside our house was a large tour bus, we got in and were whisked away to the famous theatre a few miles north. At the time, being five years old, I had little awareness of what my uncle and father did for a living. I used to think Rory meant magician when he said he was a musician.

We got to the side of the stage, my Dad put ‘Rory Gallagher’ t-shirts on us and pulled back the curtain, and there was uncle Rory playing his battered Fender Stratocaster to thousands of rockin’ fans. Rory looked over and saw my brother and I air-guitaring away and with a huge smile on his face Chuck Berry style ‘duck walked’ over to rock out with us. I finally realized what my Dad and Rory did and why they were always going on trips abroad!

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TVD Radar: Mick Rock’s ‘Behind the Lens’ live stream Thursday, 3/19 at 5PM EST

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Thursday night—March 19th—at 5 PM EST, legendary photographer Mick Rock will be live streaming from his home, on Morrison Hotel Gallery’s Instagram account, giving everyone who tunes in, a look Behind The Lens.

The live stream will feature Rock discussing the stories behind some of the most iconic still and moving images he’s captured throughout his distinguished career—during which he witnessed and documented some of the most monumental moments in music history. His recollection of these moments promise to give everyone watching an entirely new perspective on images that have grown to be part of rock music history.

Tune in at 5 PM Eastern Time and join us for the first ever Behind The Lens Live Stream.

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  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


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