TVD Washington, DC

TVD Recommends: Samhain at the Howard Theatre, 10/31

Samhain. A Gaelic holiday that marks the end of the harvest and the coming winter. Adopted in the 20th century by Wiccans and Neopagans, the origins of the Samhain celebration date back as far as the 10th century. As Christianity made its way across Europe, the annual observance began the metamorphosis into what we today call Halloween. This Friday, Halloween night, Samhain will rise again at the Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C.

This time, it is not a harvest we’re celebrating, but rather the return of the gothic rock band fronted by the mighty Glenn Danzig. Celebrating “30 Bloody Years,” they have returned to play a handful of dates in 2014, including Riot Fest in Chicago. Danzig has brought back original members London May on bass and Pete Zing on drums, with Peter Adams of Baroness taking over the guitar duties.

What started as a side project became Danzig’s full-time band, as Samhain rose from the ashes of punk legends The Misfits. Drawing from varied influences and layering that with the horror-themed punk of his former band, Danzig, along with bassist Eerie Von, drummer Steve Zing, and an assortment of coming and going musicians, released Initium in 1984. A dark, experimental journey of heavy gothic deathrock, the album was not commercially accepted but gained a huge cult following. The blood-soaked, devil-locked band image on the cover became iconic, as did the first use of the skull that would be associated with Danzig for his entire career.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Video Premiere:
MR NASTI, “Like A Wild Animal”

“As I write, I am sitting in my Iowa cabin, listening to a Simon and Garfunkel record. It’s morning, and light is peeking across the corn fields through the East-facing octagonal window to my right.”

“I began collecting vinyl eleven years ago. The first record I bought was Licensed To Ill by The Beastie Boys, which still gets a lot of rotation. I remember digging through my mama’s records and pulling out Rhymes and Reasons by John Denver, with a weathered little piece of paper taped to the front that reads “Billie,” my mother’s name. She listened to it frequently as a kid, and it now holds a prized position in my collection. It’s interesting how all the CDs I collected through my teenage years have all but disintegrated, but this record still sounds vibrant.

What I love most about vinyl is the deliberate nature of the medium. It takes effort, thought, and energy. The required intention makes the experience more valuable and memorable. It’s big, and it feels like something, like a real piece of art. We’re in an age of streaming, where music has become less tangible. You don’t even have to download anything anymore. Where there used to be a square foot of infinite artistic possibility is now an abstract idea that comes and goes so easily that it has no value. A record is a big, beautiful object that feels good to hold in your hands. The sound of vinyl is organic, earthy, and human.

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Shell Zenner Presents

Greater Manchester’s most in the know radio host Shell Zenner broadcasts the best new music every week on the UK’s Amazing Radio and Bolton FM. You can also catch Shell’s broadcast right here at TVD, each and every Thursday.

“After the Award events of last weekend I dragged my slightly shattered self to Carefully Planned Festival and despite my eyes almost seeing double, my ears were in fine fettle. I got to see the awesome Gymnast playing live for the first time, what an absolute treat! I was very fortunate to be given a copy of their new album Wild Fleet which has been glued to my car’s stereo ever since! So, this week’s ROTW is just that!

Need a soul infusion? Like Sharon Jones? Naomi Shelton & The Gospel Queens are here to hit you between the eyes and ears with this weeks #shellshock.

Packed with new musical treats, it’s going to get fresh in the studio with the new jammmmmmms and there is likely to be some Mercury Prize chat too… It’s going to be all kinds of amazing.” —SZ

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve: Throwing Muses, Purgatory/Paradise

In October 2013 Throwing Muses released their ninth album and first in ten years on CD in tandem with a book of photos, artwork, lyrics, and short essays by leader Kristin Hersh. An atypical yet smart combination, and in a swell turn of events the Athens, GA label Happy Happy Birthday To Me is issuing Purgatory/Paradise in a 2LP edition of 500 copies. Intrigued parties who missed it should not dally to investigate, for it finds the three-piece of Hersh, drummer Dave Narcizo, and bassist Bernard Georges in skilled, vibrant form.

Another encroaching year’s end foretells many things, and a certainty is a surge of Best Lists. I enjoy reading them almost as much as writing them, as I’ve done a few times here at TVD. What’s important is to not take them too seriously, in part because nobody, not even rapscallions and dandies living lives of utter leisure, can absorb everything released across the span of a dozen calendar pages, and most assuredly not by the 31st of December.

For instance, I’ve just recently become acquainted, roughly 12 months after its emergence, with Throwing Muses’ outstanding Purgatory/Paradise. Now, I could chalk up the delay to the music’s unusual connection to the publishing industry described above, but that wouldn’t be accurate. I’ll simply confess to not keeping up with the singer-guitarist-bandleader’s activity post-University back in ‘95. As stated, one cannot hear it all. Bluntly, I’m very pleased to have belatedly caught up with this record.

Last year’s dual release is frankly a savvy idea, one I’m surprised hasn’t been employed with more frequency. And I do look forward to examining Purgatory/Paradise’s accompanying tome, for clearly the text will provide scores of insights into a rather unique collection; however, this review is specifically concerned with those 32 tracks. Not to worry, for their uniqueness stands up easily on its own.

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TVD New York City

TVD Live: Residual Kid at Baby’s All Right, 10/25

Rock ‘n’ roll is not dead and will never die.

Meet Residual Kid from Austin, 14 and 16-year-old brothers Max and Ben Redman holding down the rhythm section, and 16-year-old front man Deven Ivy.

We were walking the dog Saturday morning past Baby’s All Right and Alex popped in to check the vibe for the big Brooklyn Vegan CMJ day party and on stage there were 3 kids jamming.

At first glance he thought they must be the children of one of the sponsors having fun, and we were told a great band was playing at noon, so we took the dog home and came back.

To our pleasant surprise, these kids were the band, a perfect 3 piece, power-pop, grunge garage band. A good, old-fashioned shred-fest performed with the ease and grace of the most seasoned of road dogs complete with a collection of solid songs, especially the last one, ripe with breakdowns and vocal hooks. We have no idea how the 3 got so good so young, but we are psyched for what’s to come for them.

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TVD San Francisco

TVD Live Shots: Placebo at The Masonic, 10/23

Placebo band Photographed by Jason Miller-1-2

There are a few bands on this planet that are so unique you can identify their sound almost immediately. One of those bands is certainly Placebo. Formed in London in 1994 by singer-guitarist Brian Molko and guitarist-bassist Stefan Olsdal, they have released seven studio albums, all of which have reached the top 20 in the United Kingdom, and have sold around 11 million records worldwide.

Placebo released their latest album Loud Like Love last year and are currently touring the US for the first time in seven years. These guys do exactly what legendary artists do—they evolve their sound while staying true to the formula that their fans have grown to love. Frontman Brian Molko is a perfect example of an iconic eclectic rock star in every sense. His thought-provoking lyrics are genius and his ability to effortlessly combine elements of post-punk, glam, and electronica seamlessly layering them one on top of another creates incredible songs.

Placebo band Photographed by Jason Miller-1

With the release of Loud Like Love, Placebo have crafted an absolute masterpiece from start to finish. Every song on this album stands on its own. Brian Molko is one of those rare singers with such a unique voice that he needs no harmonies or special effects to enhance, only a massive sonic landscape as a foundation. And the live show is the perfect showcase for such brilliance.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Patti Smith,

“Would it be a Patti Smith album without bullshit?” asked Robert Christgau following the release of one of her many albums. And he likes her. Me, I’ve mainly disliked her for years. Her 1975 debut is undeniably brilliant, but only to the extent that you can mentally filter out her “poetry,” because exactly 62 percent of the verse in Horses is pure horseshit. Her next three albums had their share of great songs as well, but only reinforced Smith’s delusional image of herself as the second coming of the famed French poète maudit Arthur Rimbaud, as well as the Official poet-prophet of boho NYC. I say delusional because even the most cursory reading of her lyric sheets reveals she’s neither a good poet nor a visionary. At her best she’s a poetaster and a second-rate Jim Morrison.

What irks me even more about Smith is she has somehow managed to convince ostensibly intelligent people (including the French Ministry of Culture, which named her a Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in July 2005) that she’s a sort of shamanistic priestess, when in fact, as John Strausbaugh notes rather cruelly but accurately in his 2001 book Rock Til You Drop, she is “one of the least talented posers in rock… Jim Carroll with breasts, Lydia Lunch with anorexia, the Madonna of punk rock: everything bad and pretentious about the union of punk and poetry in one self-conscious package.” She was only a punk poet priestess to the extent that she lacked a sense of humor (priestesses take everything, especially themselves, far too seriously to laugh), which even pseudo-acolyte Bobby Christgau conceded when he wrote she “always took herself too seriously” and “Good thing she’s a little nuts, because funny’s beyond or beneath her.”

In short, Smith put one brilliant album and three more-than-decent ones while being utterly humorless, totally pretentious, and the worst rock poet (because she takes herself more seriously) since Bernie Taupin. Except Taupin would never unleash a line as bad as “Wisdom was a teapot/Pouring from above” on a defenseless world, or for that matter the fecal mysticism of “The transformation of waste is perhaps the oldest pre-occupation of man/Man being the chosen alloy/He must be reconnected via shit, at all cost.” I don’t quite know what she’s getting at with that mini-lecture, but if it’s really true that shit must be transformed, I humbly suggest we start with her poetry.

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TVD New Orleans

TVD Recommends: Jorge Luis Pacheco Trio at the Prime Example, 10/30

The Cuban jazz piano player returns to New Orleans for two sets at the intimate Broad Street club on Thursday night.

Pacheco has been making waves in the Havana jazz scene and is considered one of the leading lights of the next generation of jazz artists from the music-obsessed island nation. His trio features New York-based Ivan Llanes Montejo on drums and percussion and Carlos Mena on bass.

Jorge Luis combines his classical training with his passion for jazz and playful touches of popular Cuban and American music. With his parents being prominent opera and choir directors, it’s only fitting that Jorge Luis will sing a few songs as part of this performance.

Don’t miss this rare opportunity to experience first hand one of the best performers of contemporary Cuban music. Showtimes are 8 and 10 PM.

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The TVD Storefront

Needle Drop: Rachel Goodrich & The Grrrls, “MonstA Mash”

We have a special Halloween Needle Drop for you all starring Rachel Goodrich & The Grrrls in their campy video send up, “MonstA Mash.”

Filmed for genuine VHS glory and boasting an array of janky props and gags, this music video is a must see for any home-made-movie horror fan. Rachel and The Grrrls have to battle vampires, mummies, and Frankenstein and do so without smudging their make up or frazzling their teased hair. In the end, it seems the only logical solution is to pick up their instruments and entertain their demented guests with punchy power chords and doo-wop harmonies. Well played, ladies… well played.

“MonstA Mash” is from Rachel’s newest EP, “Baby, Now We’re Even” which digs deep into the fuzzy influences of the British Invasion, catching some ’70s pop punk veneer on the way back to 2014. The ladies definitely have a solid and identifiable retro sound which adds serious points to this already kitschy video.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Philip Johnson,
Youth in Mourning

As the bleakness of the ‘70s begat the stagnation of the ‘80s, Philip Johnson was one of numerous figures populating the often fascinating DIY underbelly that fermented in the UK. Issuing over two dozen tapes during the period, he managed a solitary LP, 1982’s Youth in Mourning. Originally released without fanfare by the Namedrop label, the album has been retrieved and given unexpected but welcome reissue by San Francisco’s Superior Viaduct.

In the succinct background information provided by Superior Viaduct regarding their fresh pressing of Youth in Mourning, Philip Johnson is described as a component in Great Britain’s “cassette culture,” an impulse that gets regularly tagged as UK DIY. The origins of this scenario can be traced to the hugely influential shambolic punk act The Desperate Bicycles, the back of their ’77 debut 45’s picture sleeve containing the mantra so many have embraced since: “It was easy, it was cheap—go and do it.”

The increasing ease of cassette reproduction that eventually came to be associated with DIY was also an integral aspect of the fledgling Industrial scene, with Throbbing Gristle one of the earliest adapters of the format. Indeed, DIY and Industrial have much in common, and that crossroads is where the work of Philip Johnson resides.

Along with a ton of self-made tapes, Johnson started the Namedrop label in ’81. That enterprise completed four records: Exist, a 10-inch by Doof, the project of Johnson and a gentleman named Paul Platypus, Straight Out the Fridge, a 10-inch by Twelve Cubic Feet (also featuring Platypus), “The Machinist” 7-inch by Cold War, and Johnson’s LP.

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