Category Archives: The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
The Other Years,
The Other Years

One can rest-assured that the reservoir of contemporary old-time artistry far exceeds the supply of new recordings, in part due to the participants valuing community, and live playing in particular, over establishing some sort of foothold on a pro career. Rather than watering things down or gussying them up for consumption, the best current wax in the old-time style manages to capture this emphasis on social music like a snapshot, and the self-titled debut from the Kentucky duo The Other Years is a fine example. Anna Krippenstapel and Heather Summers aren’t affectedly rustic, however. Theirs is a rich potency expressed largely through striking original songs, and it’s available now through No Quarter.

Some neo-old-timey stuff leans so heavily into authenticity that it begins to feel like theatrics; at the very least, an ear will find it extremely difficult if not impossible to misplace that it is young people playing music that’s significantly older than they are. Older than their grandparents, even. This quality isn’t absent on The Other Years, but by its end numerous moments have accumulated where the primacy of the old-time objective is augmented with creativity that’s considerably, and at a few points, arrestingly beautiful, and in a manner not at all discordant with the contemporary.

Along with guitar and vocals, Anna Krippenstapel bows the fiddle here, while Heather Summers plucks the banjo and adds guitar and vocals of her own. To hopefully offset the potential romanticizing of the “social music” idea (the term in this context spanning back to the middle of last century as a category of the Harry Smith-compiled Anthology of American Folk Music), Krippenstapel has prior recording experience, contributing to releases by fellow Louisville residents Joan Shelley (a labelmate and old friend of The Other Years) and Freakwater (she can be heard on their latest release Scheherazade).

Further breaking down the old-time mystique, Krippenstapel played violin in Vampire Squid, which by reports (there aren’t many) was an arty-metal band. What she and Summers achieve on this debut lands decidedly nearer to the moments in Freakwater that zero in on Janet Beveridge Bean and Catherine Irwin; there’s also the timeless duo of Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard to consider.

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Graded on a Curve: Charalambides,
Tom and Christina Carter

Houston’s Charalambides have amassed over thirty full-length releases since 1993, with their output (a large hunk on vinyl) navigating the realms of acid-folk, psych-rock, and improvisation. It’s a significant accumulation of sound, but newcomers shouldn’t be flummoxed over when and how to jump in, as there is no better time than now through their latest; it’s out October 12 via Drawing Room Records. Charalambides has trio incarnations in their history, but the title of the new one gets right at their enduring reality as a duo: Tom and Christina Carter. With six tracks spread across four sides of vinyl, the byproduct of their union is exploratory, at times gentle and distant but intense and never unfocused.

The genres of acid-folk and psych-rock cover a lot of territory, so it’s worth adding that the mention of improv in the paragraph above (all three terms borrowed from the autobiographical description on their Bandcamp page, where they’ve attached the phrase “outer limits”) establishes an undeniable rigor, even as the music on their latest (and as its title expresses, a good representation of their discography as a whole) isn’t antagonistic or abrasive in nature.

A good litmus test for receptiveness to Charalambides would be how a listener feels about Jandek (and with emphasis on the listening and not just an appreciation of the latter’s unusual backstory). Now, some will say that if a person doesn’t know Charalambides they are unlikely to know Jandek, but I disagree, as a documentary film has been made and book chapters have been written on the guy.

It’s not just the shared locale (Jandek hails from Houston). It’s not just that Heather Leigh, who is one of the two folks to have filled out the trio lineups of Charalambides (and also half of Scorces with Christina Carter) has played live and on record with Jandek. And it’s not just that on the 1995 compilation Drilling The Curve Charalambides covered Jandek’s “Variant.” But put all three instances together and you do have a worthwhile point of reference.

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TVD Radar: Creedence Clearwater Revival 7-LP deluxe box set in stores 11/30

VIA PRESS RELEASE | The arrival of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s 50th anniversary brings an unprecedented celebration of everything the band contributed in their short but startlingly epochal time together (1968–1972). To commemorate this milestone, Craft Recordings is releasing a deluxe box set comprising the band’s complete seven-album studio output: Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bayou Country, Green River, Willy and the Poor Boys, Cosmo’s Factory, Pendulum and Mardi Gras.

Each album in this collection has been mastered at half-speed at Abbey Road Studios, benefiting from an exacting process that allows for an exceptional level of sonic clarity and punch, bringing these classic recordings a new vibrancy. The 180-gram LPs come housed in handsome tip-on jackets replicating the packaging of the original pressings. Along with the complete studio album collection comes an 80-page book featuring new liner notes from music journalist Roy Trakin, archival photos, and reproductions of band ephemera—offering something for both new and the most diehard of Creedence fans.

Using high-res transfers from the original analog tapes, the half-speed mastering process involves playing back audio at half its recorded speed while the cutting lathe is turned at half the desired playback speed. The technique allows more time to cut a micro-precise groove, allowing more accuracy with frequency extremes and dynamic contrasts. Abbey Road Studios’ award-winning engineer Miles Showell explains, “I’ve tried to be as authentic as I could, and just make it sound like music. Not over-hyped, not over-processed. Up until now a lot of processing has been done on these recordings, so my approach was to strip them right back and just expose them for what they are—because what they are is great music.”

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TVD Video Premiere: Vive La Rose, “Schiehallion”

“Schiehallion is a mountain that overlooks a family home, and is Gaelic for “Fairy Mountain.” It was the site of an 18th-century experiment to determine the density of the Earth, using a pendulum to measure its gravitational pull. The song looks at the effects of being too close to or too far from family, the push and pull of that dynamic, and the wisdom of pulling on those threads.”David Luximon-Herbert

One of our favourite Edinburgh artists is back with a brand new video and it will give you all the feels. We are extremely pleased to premiere Vive La Rose’s wonderfully nostalgic video for “Schiehallion” right here at TVD. So sit back, relax and enjoy.

The video is delightfully simple, featuring old footage of Vive la Rose, aka David Luximon-Herbert, in which we are able to watch him grow from a wee Scottish lad into the man he is today. Apparently Schiehallion is one of Scotland’s best known mountains and if you give it a quick Google (as we just have), the views really do look exquisite and we can understand precisely why David has chosen to write a song about such beauty.

The song itself is equally stunning, filled with lush cinematic soundscapes and David’s signature rugged vocal style making it undeniably unique. This really is an absolutely delight to listen to—and watch.

“Schiehallion” is taken from Vive la Rose’s forthcoming album For She Who Hangs The Moon, out on 12th October 2018 via Gestation Records. Pre-order here.

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Graded on a Curve: Hamell on Trial,
The Night Guy at The Apocalypse Profiles of
a Rushing Midnight

Welcome to the Apocalypse. No, I’m not talking about the End of Days. I’m talking about that mythical taproom perched somewhere between heaven and hell (I would situate in somewhere in the environs of Detroit) where every day is Judgement Day and harsh punishment is meted out to the evilest motherfuckers amongst us.

The night guy at the Apocalypse is the proudly foul-mouthed anti-folk saboteur Edward Hamell aka Hamell on Trial, who has been proudly offering up his unique blend of acoustic punk, spoken word agitprop since 1989 or thereabouts.

And we’re lucky to have Ed there, because he just so happens to be the best American storyteller this side of John Darnielle. Ed hears all, sees all, and tells all in his brand spanking new Saustex Records release The Night Guy at the Apocalypse Profiles of a Rushing Midnight, and let me just state from the outset that he has some harrowing yarns to spin.

Forget about Charles Bukowski; Hamell’s darkly hilarious tall tales of brutal revenge, crimes both small-time and large, dysfunctional love, and drug- and alcohol-fueled mayhem are a million miles away from America’s original barfly’s quotidian tales of ordinary madness. At the Apocalypse people get taken out in some not so very pretty ways, but don’t get too disturbed–they really, and I mean really, have it coming.

Hamell has been down the road of addiction and he remembers everything; the junkies and hookers and petty criminals, the bar fights and the fucked-up heists, the way shit has of always going south. Hamell emerged from hell a man of conscience; I don’t know anyone who’s angrier about the injustice we see all around us, or who so despises the power mongers, hypocrites, and all-around assholes who wield the levers of power in Donald Trump’s America.

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TVD Live Shots:
Pale Waves at the
O2 Shepherds Bush Empire, 9/27

The Cure crossed with the Cocteau Twins with a touch of Blondie—that’s how I would describe one of the hottest bands in the UK at the moment, Pale Waves.

You can’t go anywhere in London without seeing posters plastering tube stations and busy street corners announcing the band’s debut record My Mind Makes Noise which was released last month and hit number 8 on the UK albums chart. Led by lead singer and guitarist Heather Baron-Gracie, Pale Waves are taking the UK by storm and priming themselves for the rest of world with their brand of incredibly catchy goth-synth-pop.

It’s fascinating to watch a group build a buzz the right way—by putting in the work. Having recorded and released a slew of widely acclaimed singles and gigging with successful peers The 1975, the buzz was building and undeniable. They would go on to win the coveted NME Under the Radar Award earlier this year and performed at the much-celebrated awards ceremony along with the likes of Alt-J and the mighty Liam Gallagher.

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TVD Radar: Waiting–
The Van Duren Story
soundtrack in stores 2/1/19

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Memphis musician Van Duren had it all going for himself. He was managed and produced by Andrew Loog Oldham (Rolling Stones) in the 1970s, he was a contemporary of Big Star and was in a post-Big Star band (Baker Street Regulars) with Chris Bell and Jody Stephens, and had made a debut album, Are You Serious?, that had some people comparing him to Paul McCartney. But instead of being the next big thing, he faded into obscurity.

Though he didn’t break through with Are You Serious?, and a second album was recorded and shelved (eventually released in 1999), Van continued making music. With his band, Good Question, he had a regional hit with the song “Jane” that had record companies sniffing around, but again, to no avail. Forty years later and a world away, two Australians,Wade Jackson and Greg Carey, came across Duren’s lost album, fell in love with the music and set out to discover what went wrong. They tracked Van Duren down on Facebook and despite having never picked up a movie camera, they journeyed to the U.S. to meet Van Duren and tell his story.

Along the way, they crossed paths with rock stars, Scientologists, and a host of talented musicians who never quite made it. The film took them to North America, Colombia, Japan, and back to Australia, staying true to their pledge to finish the film and shine light on Van Duren. Van’s lost career is a parable of the trials and tribulations of the music industry — an industry that leaves countless broken dreamers behind in its wake. Waiting: The Van Duren Story is a love letter to the artist and his music that should have helped define a generation.

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Spirit Award,
The TVD First Date

“I was never into vinyl much growing up, my family never had a record player.”

“One of my earliest memories of vinyl was going to my grandfather’s house and he had a record with “Big John Davy” by Jimmy Driftwood on it. I remember replaying that song over and over, and loving the sound of the needle scratching as I clumsily turned the needle back.

My first vinyl I got was Abbey Road. I found an original Apple pressing for sale at a coffee shop. I didn’t have a record player at the time, and I hadn’t even heard the record, but I knew it was important. I went to Goodwill and got a cheap player and put it on. It was the first time I realized that The Beatles were in fact musical geniuses (something I shrugged off in my younger years). This was really one of the first records I sat intently and listened to all the way through.”

“I’m was fortunate to have grown up in a household with a vintage 1950’s jukebox in our living room that worked and played 45s.”

“One of my first vinyl memories was as a young child (between the ages of 3-4) listening to 45s being played on my family’s jukebox. My favorite songs at that time were Steppenwolf’s “Wild Thing” and The Rolling Stones “Satisfaction.” I was always selecting those two tunes to get played.

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Graded on a Curve:
Player, Player

Do you remember Player? They were, without a doubt, the sleekest vessel in the Yacht Rock marina. Unlike many of the other soft rock artists of the time they actually looked like rock stars, which is more than you can say about Christopher Cross, England Dan and John Ford Coley, and Michael McDonald.

Unfortunately, this California quartet’s rock star sheen only took it so far; Player may not have been one-hit wonders, but most folks would be hard pressed to remember them for anything but 1977’s No. 1 hit “Baby Come Back.” And while the band would record a number of LPs, none of them scored big but their eponymous 1977 debut.

On Player the band put its MOR pop craft to uninspired but more than competent use; if your idea of good music is substandard Steely Dan, you owe it to yourself to run out and buy this record. Player’s 10 cuts are pleasantly unremarkable, vapidly unobjectionable with only one or two exceptions, and hard to hate if you have a single soft rock bone in your body. I have several.

Romance, of course, is the album’s theme; boy loves-hates-wants-loses-misses girl was the wind that set sail to every boat in the Yacht Rock flotilla. Does Player have anything novel or interesting to say on the subject? Of course not. On the ersatz funky and very bass heavy “Love Is Where You Find It” they at least find a unique musical setting for their very unoriginal sentiments, but other than that they might as well be one of those Hallmark cards that plays a song when you open it up.

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TVD Radar: The Velvet Underground Experience opening week events 10/10, 10/11, and 10/13

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Lineup includes Q&A with John Cale, musical performance by The Feelies and design walk-and-talk with world-renowned French designer matali crasset.

The Velvet Underground Experience, an intriguing new multi-media art and music exhibition spotlighting the iconic band’s early NYC roots and opening in New York City on October 10, today announced three exclusive new events to kick-off the exhibition’s opening week. The first exhibition dedicated to the Velvet Underground, The Velvet Underground Experience will host a Q&A with co-founder John Cale on October 11, a walk-and-talk with world-renowned French designer matali crasset on October 10, and a special concert by The Feelies on October 13.

As co-founder of The Velvet Underground, legendary musician John Cale will participate in a special moderated Q&A on Thursday, October 11 at 5:00pm at the exhibition space-seating is limited and will be first come first served day of event.

During the Q&A, fans will be able to hear from Cale about the indelible impression the band had on the music scene in the 1960’s, his relationship with Lou Reed, the band’s lasting legacy, and what it means to bring The Velvet Underground Experience to New York. At the end of the Q&A, the moderator will open up the floor for questions from the audience.

On Saturday, October 13, veteran indie rock band The Feelies will play a tribute concert performing some of The Velvet Undergrounds most iconic songs. The concert will take place across the river at the White Eagle Hall in Newark, New Jersey. Doors open at 8:00pm with the band taking the stage at 9:00pm. Tickets for the October 13 show can be purchased here.

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TVD NSFW Video Premiere: Smoota, “Ballbuster”

“This song is emblematic of one of the cores of my philosophy: we should celebrate all kinds of loving relationships, no matter how outside of the mainstream.”Smoota

According to the encyclopedia Encyclopedia Britannica, a ballbuster is: 1. a woman who is rough on a man and, 2. something that causes ejaculation. Blue-eyed soul man Smoota checks off both categories in his newest NSFW video.

The steamy visuals marry the 1960s New Wave European films from France, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia with the 1960s and ’70s American sexploitation movement. Like these films, “Ballbuster” feels tender and intimate, composed of Smoota and his pregnant dominatrix engaging in some sweet and often questionable bedroom endeavors to the tune of his ultra-smooth brand of R&B.

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Graded on a Curve: Jefferson Airplane,
Sweeping Up the Spotlight: Live at the Fillmore East 1969

The recent passing of Marty Balin puts me in an awkward situation–how do I eulogize a man I’ve been poking fun at for years?

Every year I tastelessly commemorate the anniversary of Altamont as “Punch Marty Balin in the Mouth Day,” but not because I disliked the man; fact is his work with the Jefferson Airplane brings me a lot of joy. As for his later years, he provided some much-needed yucks; his conflation of vagina with ultimate reality in “Miracles” (“I got a taste of the real world/When I went down on you”) always cracks me up, as does his wonderfully awful performance on “We Built This City.” But mock him as I might, Balin was a key member of one of the most important bands to emerge from the ballrooms of San Francisco’s psychedelic scene in the days leading up to the Summer of Love.

The Jefferson Airplane might not have had the mad improvisational skills of the Grateful Dead–you won’t find any 48-minute renditions of “Somebody to Love”–and they’ve left a fainter footprint on the counterculture than Jerry, Bobby et al. But Balin and Grace Slick were THEE VOICES of the acid experience in the late sixties, and on songs like “White Rabbit” the Airplane communicated the sheer visceral weirdness of LSD in a way the Dead never did.

And the archival treasure that is 2007’s Sweeping Up the Spotlight: Live at the Fillmore East 1969 captures the Airplane at their most fiery–and inconsistent. Recorded on November 28 and 29, 1969 in the city that never sleeps, this baby may disappoint fans of the early, folk-rocking Airplane, and offend those who don’t want to hear their faves played at warp speed. In short, if it’s subtlety you’re looking for, forget about it–on this live one from the vaults the Jefferson Airplane sound lean, mean, and very, very ready to trample their audience underfoot.

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Graded on a Curve:
Urge Overkill,

Of the bands that transitioned from the late ’80 US indie rock scene to the early ’90s major label lifestyle, few if any embraced hitting the “big time” with more vigor than Chicago’s Urge Overkill. While a certain Neil Diamond cover endures as their most popular song, the band’s first album for Geffen did make some waves, and if they didn’t capitalize on its success, it remains more than a footnote or a relic of an unpredictable era. That is to say, in 2018 Saturation holds up fairly well. Its 25th anniversary reissue is out now through Porterhouse Records in a clear blue vinyl edition of 1,000.

As a byproduct of a scene where the band t-shirt became an increasingly common signifier of “regular guy” bona fides (to the point where it was almost a uniform), Urge Overkill oozed panache. And as they barreled forth into the upside-down musical landscape of the 1990s, the band progressively cultivated an image as exponents of the highlife, to the point where gazing upon their sharp threads and soaking up the air of confidence they exuded, one could reasonably expect them to offer a sound in the neighborhood of neo-loungsters Combustible Edison.

Urge Overkill rocked it heavy, however. Indeed, early on they were occasionally tagged as noise-rock, with their debut EP for Ruthless Records, 1986’s “Strange, I…” recorded by Steve Albini. His studio touch on the record is considerably felt, but even at this point, in contrast to some of their subterranean scene peers (a handful of them also from Chicago), it didn’t connect as if they were brutalizing rock forms, but rather just kicking things up a few notches in accord with the u-ground moment.

The “Wichita Lineman” b/w “Eggs” 45, the band’s first release on Touch and Go, came out the next year. At the time, some lumped in the disc’s a-side handling of the Jimmy Webb chestnut with the cover tune fun and games of their labelmates Killdozer, but it was somewhat nearer to the more stone-faced tactic as employed by Big Black. Really, it was a harbinger of things to come.

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TVD Radar: Making Vinyl’s Best in Vinyl Packaging awarded
in Detroit

VIA PRESS RELEASE | The best in vinyl records packaging was celebrated at the Making Vinyl Packaging Awards at the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel on October 1.

Three of the 12 categories (Boxed Set, Reissue, and Gatefold) were won by art director/designer Torsten Posselt of German design firm FELD, while the Beggars Group’s 4AD and Rough Trade Records came away with two wins (Record Store Day and Illustrated Cover) and a runner-up (Best in Show), while Merge Records took home one win (45 single) and two runners-up awards (45 single and Photograph Cover).

Genres represented in the top prizes ran the gamut from heavy metal and rap to classical and alternative to Weird Al Yankovic, whose entire catalog was packaged in a facsimile accordion, his trademark instrument, to video game soundtracks.

Smog Design of Los Angeles won the “Best in Show – Alex Steinweiss Award” for its exquisitely packaged 7-inch collection for The Decemberists. Sony Music’s U.S. and European offices each won categories (“They Said It Couldn’t Be Done” and Best CD Boxed Set, respectively). Los Angeles indie label Ninja Tunes won the Best Photograph LP Cover and the runner-up in Best Gatefold categories.

LA creative production company iam8bit won Best Picture Disc category and the runner-up prize for Vinyl Boxed Set, while London music packaging firm Key Production took the runners-up in both Best CD Boxed Set and LP Picture Disc categories. The alternative band The National (4AD) was recognized for two releases (Record Store Day and Best Photograph).

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Rachel Eckroth,
The TVD First Date

“I’ve recently rekindled my love for vinyl. After watching the CD format flourish and decline, and not loving the idea of earbuds in my ears or streaming music on my phone, I met a man with a record player.”

“Everything just fell into place and it just so happened that he had a lot of records I grew up listening to, and a ton of current stuff that I love. We now have a joint obsession with finding records that will warm our home and bring life to our little wooden house.

The experience of listening to vinyl is similar to having a home cooked meal or planting a garden. It is so down to earth. It is as simple as it gets with music these days. Lately, I’m looking for ways to feel simply human again. Putting records on, and I suppose it’s the intention of the inventors of the medium, feels like a way to escape or find yourself.

I just opened the ‘new’ John Coltrane Both Directions At Once, The Lost Album and listened while I laid on the couch. The wood beams that my house is made of soak up the sound so beautifully it’s as if these walls were only meant to hear music that way. Next on the playlist is U2 The Unforgettable Fire then Resurgam by Fink, which I’ve been listening to a lot lately.

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