The TVD Storefront

Needle Drop: Common Jack, “Restless”

PHOTO: NICOLE MANGO | Brooklyn-based folk rocker Common Jack is a straight shooter, and like his name indicates, a man of the people. But when you dig deeper into his music, it becomes apparent that he is using everyday language to reach a deeper meaning, endowing his music with the unique ability to paint personal stories with broad strokes.

The songwriter, who played a primary role in the Broadway show Once, worked directly with Glen Hansard and the rest of the Oscar, Grammy, and Tony winning creative team behind the motion picture before setting off on his solo career. His streamlined approach to his solo work reflects this schooling, blending rough-hewed folk with unabashedly utilitarian acoustic pop.

His newest single, “Restless,” makes no excuses for its anthemic take on Americana, already drawing comparisons to the Lumineers, Neil Young, and The Avett Brothers. It’s a joyous romp that lets its tight dynamics loose in all the right places.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve: MERCH,
Amour Bohemian

MERCH is headed up by San Franciscan Joe Medina, and Amour Bohemian is the project’s latest album. Best described as ambitious symphonic pop-rock, roughly 65 musicians had their hands in its creation, yet it’s unequivocally an auteur-driven work, and one that thrives on discipline. Even more so, it benefits from concision; a whole lot of new music is getting pressed onto vinyl these days, but little of it radiates like a nugget from the heyday of the long-playing record quite like this specimen, while still connecting as contemporary. Buyers will surely load these nine songs onto their devices, and they work well in that context. However, this one sounds best in the listening room. It’s out now through Sassafras Records.

When I first glimpsed the sleeve of MERCH’s 2012 LP This Betrayal Will Be Our End, I did a double take, for that album’s cover photo and the snapshot adorning the jacket for Undercurrent, the classic 1962 duo set from pianist Bill Evans and guitarist Jim Hall, are one and the same. The gesture immediately registered as homage, but even as jazz fits into Joe Medina’s teeming bag of influences, soaking up the record drove home my assumption as off-target.

Before its usage by United Artists for the Evans/ Hall disc, Toni Frissell’s photograph, Weeki Wachee Spring, Florida was well-known, appearing in Harper’s Bazaar in ’47 and Sports Illustrated in ’55. For Undercurrent, the image is eerie but tranquil; when the sharp black & white is combined with Medina’s album title and songs, the mood becomes considerably more noir, adding a distinctively dark spin to what’s been categorized as a breakup record.

This Betrayal Will Be Our End isn’t MERCH’s debut, but even as nothing the outfit released prior appears to be easily obtainable, the album still strikes the ear as a major artistic stride, and as such, presented a difficult act to follow. But through the participation of the Prague FILMharmonic Orchestra, a Latin jazz band, opera singers, and a rack of psych, garage, and jazz players out of San Fran and L.A., Medina has pulled it off.

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The TVD Storefront

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.

VanWyck – An Average Woman
Anastasia Minster – When I Die
Threefifty – Allegiance
Caroline Reese – Nicotine
ATTEMPT – Against The Light
Essie Holt – Underwater
The Morning Yells – She Knows Exactly What She’s Doing
Cotton Mather – The Cotton Mather Pledge
Broke Royals – As Long As I Can See

TVD SINGLE OF THE WEEK:
The Clientele – The Neighbour

Renraku – Gravity Well
Cross Culture – Faded Away
The Able Bodies – Flicker
JM Vercetti – House Of Gold
Whispers – Whizard Throne
Lunettes Noires x Dev – In The Dark
Jahn Rome – Superhero
Jinco – Scherzo In E Minor
Bitta Blood – I Know (Dirty)

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Jackson Browne,
For Everyman

I’ve come up with a great contest idea. If you win second place Jackson Browne plays an intimate show in your living room. If you win first place Jackson Browne doesn’t play an intimate concert in your living room. Just kidding. Jackson Browne has never been my sensitive El Lay singer-songwriter of choice, but then again I can’t be said to have a sensitive El Lay singer-songwriter of choice. All I know for sure is he beats hell out of Andrew Gold.

That said, let me start all over again with two quick observations on Browne’s 1973 sophomore album, For Everyman. One: You would think a legendary singer-songwriter of Jackson’s fastidious ilk would have put more time into writing compelling songs. Two: The songs that are compelling are the ones he seems to have spent the least time writing. Does it make sense that we should applaud such a deep soul as Browne for what appear to be his toss-offs?

Why not? The serious Jackson Browne has problems. For starters, he’s not a very good poet, at least on For Everyman. It’s impossible to know what the hell he’s trying to say when he says things like, “Hanging at my door/Many shiny surfaces/clinging in the breeze” (from “Colors of the Sun”) or “I Thought I was a child/Until you turned and smiled” (from “I Thought I Was a Child”). Browne has a gift for the portentous that borders on the pretentious, but too many of his songs hinge upon lyrical vagaries that drift away like smoke when you try to parse their meanings.

More problematic by far is the fact that too many of the songs on For Everyman appear to have failed out of charm school. It’s hard to imagine a song more colorless than “Colors of the Sun”; the melody plods along like a workhorse, the lyrics are so much mush signifying not so much. And “Sing My Songs for Me” ain’t much better. Browne has a template for dirges like this one, and on For Everyman he repeats the formula too often. “The Times You’ve Come” has a more delicate feel but the result is the same; I don’t know what you call what Jackson does but I call it droning. The slow tempos drag you into a pit of ennui that only a quick listen to Elton John’s “The Bitch Is Back” will alleviate.

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 11/20/17

Death and the salesman: running a record shop with cancer, Willie Meighan of Rollercoaster Records on dealing with a terminal illness and the “happiest little record shop in the world.” Speaking to people about their passion and their time spent working in music is a pleasure, but all the talk of work evaporates in the face of life-changing news, which Willie Meighan, the proprietor of Rollercoaster Records in Kilkenny, shares in the first few minutes of our chat. Meighan has cancer and recently found out it’s terminal…Meighan is pragmatic about his prognosis and has continued to do bits and pieces for the shop that he so clearly enjoys running. He does orders from home, and his staff look after the day-to-day running. He was also booking gigs in Kilkenny but he has had to let others look after that end of things.

New Hamburg record store fulfills vinyl dreams: “It’s millennials, mostly,” he said, referring to the traffic coming through his store, Rick’s Record Shack & Wifey’s Closet, which opened three weeks ago, 10 minutes south of the city at 3348 Lakeshore Road in Hamburg. “I love that these younger people have so much passion for music, and deep knowledge about it, too. I mean, I had these kids in here freaking out about finding old Ella Fitzgerald vinyl in the store.” It should go without saying that the idea of opening a record store in 2017 would not seem to qualify as a genius business decision. Given the way retailers are imploding financiall, it might not be a wise decision to open any kind of store, but music sales in particular have been especially hurt by the rise of the digital and social media culture.

Company hopes to turn the tables on vinyl market: One firm is hoping to shake up the vinyl record market with its new state-of-the-art machinery. In August, Vinyl Presents began operations from its production facility in Victory Trading Estate. A 2016 report stated that, in 2016, market demand for vinyl in the UK was over 1,700,00 per month. As the majority of pressing plants are situated abroad, the team behind Vinyl Presents are hoping to bring the manufacturing back to the UK. Director & CEO Daren Fudge said: ‘Our plan is to bring record manufacture home to the UK, ‘A huge percentage of vinyl is currently pressed overseas which is a trend we want to reverse.

Vinyl art exhibition sure to spark some nostalgic music memories: Record sleeves were once such an iconic part of the music industry. Now people can enjoy some great nostalgia with a new exhibition celebrating that art and will also give people the chance to vote on what they like most. Best Art Vinyl is an international award celebrating the best in record cover design and comes to Barnsley as part of a new exhibition featuring a host of renowned names from the world of music, art, design and photography. Best Art Vinyl celebrates record cover art, compiling the global opinion on the best in art, photography and graphic design in modern music culture.

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TVD Los Angeles

TVD’s The Idelic Hour with Jon Sidel

Greetings from Laurel Canyon!

Cubscouts are screaming, / Needing icescreaming and all the pleasures of June / I’m in a parked car. / Flowers seem friendly and people in hall ways feel walls. / Now it is night time maybe we’e cruising avoiding the anti-cruise. / Oh I don’t really know where we are. / If things get real promise to take me somewhere else, / By the time fear takes me over will we still be rolling and feeling oblivion.

(I’ve always loved a great British lyric to take me to a far away imaginary place.)

On another note, last week Jon from The Vinyl District reminded me that due to the holiday schedule I only had four Idelic Hours to go before year’s end. My reply was something to the effect of… “I know.”

For some years now, bloggers have been creating their “Year End” lists earlier and earlier in the year. The standard rule of thumb these days might be the week after Thanksgiving. In this day and age someone always knows better than me.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Radar: Morrissey biopic England Is Mine Blu-ray and DVD editions in stores 12/12

VIA PRESS RELEASE | England Is Mine is a new drama about the early days of Morrissey, the iconic pop star and original front man for the seminal band, The Smiths. Directed by Academy Award® and BAFTA-nominee Mark Gill, the film stars Jack Lowden as the artist formerly known as Steven Patrick Morrissey and Jessica Brown Findlay of Downton Abbey fame as his soul mate and muse.

Set in Thatcher’s Britain of the ’70s and ’80s, a time when working class Manchester was beset by unemployment and riots, the film tells the story of 17 year-old Steven (Lowden), a painfully shy, intellectually precocious loner who lives for, and writes about, the burgeoning local music scene—a surprisingly vibrant subculture in an otherwise drab industrial city. Too intimidated to join that scene, he writes reviews from the sidelines, imagining what he would do if he were on stage.

When one of his write-ups is noticed by kindred spirit Linder Sterling (Brown Findlay), an aspiring painter, the two become fast friends, and she pushes him to form a band and take to the stage. Steven finally works up the courage to book a club date, and performs a dazzling cover of an old girl-group standard. This is the first time the world gets to hear the distinctive, emotion-filled voice that would eventually propel him to stardom.

That very night, a manager reaches out with an offer. Unfortunately, it’s only for guitarist Billy, not the lead singer, meaning Steven will be left behind. His dreams of a musical career vanish and he’s left with nothing but wasted days at a soul-crushing civil servant job, and lonely nights holed up in the same bedroom he’s slept in his whole life. Only his mother’s unwavering belief in his talent, and Linder’s constant reminder—”be yourself, everyone else is taken”—give him the strength to keep trying to become the artist he was always meant to be.

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TVD New Orleans

Bonerama brings Hot Like Fire to Tipitina’s
for album release party Saturday night, 11/18

When Hurricane Nate was threatening the gulf coast, the city of New Orleans ill-advisedly instituted a city-wide curfew 36 hours before the unpredictable storm was slated to make landfall. Perhaps the early warning was because of devastation wrought in Houston or long memories of Katrina. Though the storm ended up to the east of us, numerous shows were cancelled including Bonerama’s album release party.

Back in October, their seventh studio album, Hot Like Fire, the first on New Orleans’ premier independent label, Basin Street Records, was released on schedule and has been earning rave reviews. Due to the only-in-New Orleans, trombone-driven funky rock band’s relentless touring schedule, the party was rescheduled for Saturday night. Darcy Malone and the Tangle are the opening act.

Bonerama first burst on the scene twenty years ago with a sound unlike anyone had ever heard. With three trombones out front, led by founding members Mark Mullins and Craig Klein, the group moved past genres into a category of one.

With a sousaphone and drum kit (Matt Perrine and Walt Lundy respectively) driving the beat, they can sound like a brass band. With a driving electric guitar, played with jazzy aplomb by Bert Cotton, they can rock. Given this is a New Orleans band through and through, heavy funk is in the DNA as well provided in a large part by third trombonist Greg Hicks. Consider his solo on the album’s last cut, “Christiania.”

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The TVD Storefront

The Vaughns, The TVD First Date and Premiere, “Bby Save Me”

“When I was about three years old, I remember scrounging around my basement through my dad’s massive vinyl collection.”

“I remember seeing Bowie’s infamous cover of Diamond Dogs and was so fascinated by its creature-like appeal. Every day for about a month, my parents told me I would walk around the house just saying, “BOWIE, BOWIE, BOWIE” over and over and over. I probably made them crazy. Personally, I still make a habit of waking up every Saturday morning and throwing on one of these classic records to my turntable.

Anyway, to this day The Vaughns still practice in this old basement and we have taken these old duplicate records and lined them around our practice walls. Old records including Aerosmith, Cheap Trick, Elton John, Fleetwood Mac, Zeppelin, and The Pretenders surround us every time we practice and write. I feel like these tiny vintage subtleties have bled into our songwriting over the last year and a half. I think all four of us agree that vinyl provides an artistic listening experience like none other and I’m just elated that our new singles are now available in this format for all our continued followers.
Tom Losito

“Thinking they were a product of the past—I used to have records hanging up on my bedroom walls for decoration. One of my favorites was the Doors’ LA Woman because of the butterfly on the label.”

“Some years later I was at a friend’s house when I heard TV on the Radio blasting through a pretty legit record player. It blew my mind that modern-day bands were still releasing vinyl records, and even more so that kids my age were collecting them. It also sounded incredible. The next day I rummaged through my parents’ garage to dust off their record player and devour their collection.

These days Tom is always showing us some random ’80s record like Phil Collins’ “I Cannot Believe it’s True,” Ryan is letting me borrow his Sylvan Esso album for the weekend, and I’m still wondering how anyone will top David’s Secret Santa gift to me last year, The Lemon Twigs’ Do Hollywood vinyl. There’s something special about sharing the music you love with your friends. I think adding a tangible aspect offers an intimacy to the exchange that mp3 files and sending links can’t compete with. Let’s hope that never goes out of style.”
Anna Lies

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve: Blackmore’s Night,
Shadow of the Moon

What does it feel like to be a voluntary atavism? I can understand those contemporary rockers who fall prey to an irresistible urge to retreat to the days of rockabilly; life nowadays is so complicated and scary and it’s hard to fight the longing for a return to some mythical, “simpler” time.

But there’s looking backwards and then there’s really looking backwards and it took the unadulterated genius of Ritchie Blackmore—of Deep Purple and Blackmore’s Rainbow fame—to slither his way backwards in time the whole way to the Renaissance.

The Renaissance! Oh wondrous age! When the men wore codpieces and the women wore merkins and people got smarter! And folks wiped their greasy hands on the olde pub dog and suffered from black bile and lived to the ripe old age of 35! Those were great times if you were a fan of the Great Plague, and Blackmore—along with wife Candice Night, who does the singing—unwittingly provide an appropriately pestilential soundtrack for the Age of the Black Death.

The songs on 1997’s Shadow of the Moon would sound just right coming from the stage of your local Renaissance Faire. The problem is I hate Renaissance Faires. I was strong-armed into attending one once and it was all I could do not to beat the closest wandering minstrel to death with an oversized turkey leg. If there’s one thing in this world I cannot abide it’s a wandering minstrel. And lest you think Blackmore and Night would be offended by comparisons with Renaissance Faires please allow me to point out that they’ve seen fit to equip Shadow of the Moon with a song called “Renaissance Faire.” About the best I can say for it is that it’s every bit as vapidly pleasant as most of the other songs on this benighted LP.

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