The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve: Marvin Gaye, Volume One 1961–1965

Marvin Gaye is rightly evaluated as a crucial chapter in the story of Motown, but the relationship’s peaks weren’t immediate. Marvin had his goals while Barry Gordy and company had theirs, and across his first batch of releases the results only fitfully align with the vocalist’s popular image. The seven 180gm LPs contained in USM’s Marvin Gaye Volume One: 1961-1965 are still very much of interest however, offering a portrait of the soon to be great artist as a confident young man profoundly concerned with classicist pop objectives.

A recurring theme in the history of 20th century Pop finds record labels big small and in between striving purely in the name of profits to mold and modify a developing talent into a contemporary setting. In the process these actions frequently limited, damaged, or even downright quashed creative promise. In such instances the label’s miscalculations were reliably due to the reactive nature of the whole endeavor, the attempts seeking to capitalize on trends in place of shaping organic wrinkles in musical progress.

The seven albums included here complicate the above scenario considerably, detailing Motown as determined to travel a fertile trail as the young and undeniably skilled Gaye sought not to set trends but instead to examine a Pop/Jazz zone a la Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra just as this tradition was on the wane.

Rather trying to strong-arm him into a mode he didn’t wish to inhabit, Motown displayed a tremendous amount of patience with the singer’s ambitions, though this might not be as commendable as it sounds; Gaye was fully capable of pulling-off (if not truly excelling at) the crooner role, making commercial success in this capacity a possibility. Had that transpired, Motown surely would’ve primed the pump until it gushed. On the other hand, none of the non-R&B focused LPs assembled in 1961-1965 charted, and Motown was unambiguously in the business of hits.

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 5/28/15

Jacaranda to open coffee shop and vinyl record store above iconic bar: Famous Beatles venue to go back to its beginnings with vinyl shop and coffee bar

“Those of you who were busy this past Record Store Day and are still reeling from missing out on all of the excitement, we have some news that will calm your nerves. You can now look forward to participating in the RSD revelry every week…”

A chat with Jett Plastic’s Jarrett Koral: “Jett Plastic is a distinctive little vinyl-only label that’s released archival records by Bootsey X and Necros as well as contemporary recordings by the Ill Itches and the Pizza Underground…”

Drool over this online archive of coloured vinyl and picture discs: “Developed by Birtalan Laszlo, the site currently has 51 pages to browse through, and yes, it even has that piss-soaked vinyl…”

“Following last year’s represses of Cocteau Twins’ Blue Bell Knoll and Heaven or Las Vegas, this July will see their combined EPs of Tiny Dynamine / Echoes In A Shallow Bay and long out of print, early-80s compilation, The Pink Opaque, officially released on 17th July…”

Qrates courts Japan’s love of vinyl records: “Qrates provides artists with controlled distribution of their vinyl, and lowers production risks by collecting pre-orders from fans prior to production and thus eliminating the problem of dead stock…”

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Video Premiere: Records Collecting Dust Exclusive Sneak Peek

As TVD’s Jon Pacella wrote last January, “If there’s one thing that is always on the mind of record collectors—besides what records they already have or may need—it’s what other record collectors have. Facebook, Meetup, and various other online outlets offer a haven for vinyl enthusiasts to share their treasures with like-minded individuals.”

“Filmmaker Jason Blackmore took this a step further, posing the question, “What do the people making the music have on their shelves?” In his new documentary film, Records Collecting Dust, he engages a wide array of musicians to find out.

Relying on off-camera questions, Records Collecting Dust shifts from one common thread to the next, splitting the movie into segments. Punk luminaries like Jello Biafra, Keith Morris, Mike Watt, and Chuck Dukowski sound off, joined by artists like Matt Pike (High on Fire, Sleep), Nick Oliveri (Queens of the Stone Age, Kyuss, Mondo Generator), Matt Caughthran (The Bronx), and more…”

Records Collecting Dust finds its way to DVD and Video On Demand on July 8, 2015 and to whet your appetite for its return—or for those of you who might have missed one of our favorite docs of the year to date the first time around—we’ve got an exclusive clip from the film to reel you in.

Preorder Records Collecting Dust on DVD here and for digital viewing here—and there’s an online auction your can participate in to bid for a signed Records Collecting Dust movie poster autographed by Jello Biafra, Keith Morris, Justin Pearson, Danny Benair, Lisa Fancher, Clifford Dinsmore, and the doc’s director Jason Blackmore. Proceeds of the auction are to benefit San Diego Habitat for Humanity.

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TVD New Orleans

Marc Stone celebrates release of Poison & Medicine at D.B.A., 5/28

Guitarist, songwriter, and bandleader Marc Stone is throwing a major bash this Thursday night at D.B.A. beginning at 10 PM. Expect to see his all-star band plus special guests Mike Dillon, the Honeypots, Benny Turner, Walter “Wolfman” Washington, and John Mooney.

The new album is his Louisiana Red Hot Records debut. The surging label now has a true powerhouse roster that also includes the New Orleans Suspects, the Honey Island Swamp Band, Ivan Neville, and Dumpstaphunk.

Stone is known for his dedicated approach to assembling one-of-a-kind, all-star shows, and he’s going all out to celebrate his new album.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Gary Clark Jr., “Gary Clark Jr. Presents Hotwire Unlimited Raw Cuts Vol. 1″

Gary Clark Jr. isn’t a musician—he’s a force of nature. His uncanny mix of rock, the blues, soul, country, and even hip hop will blow the top of your head off, and that’s when he’s hardly trying. The Austin, Texas guitarist has won comparisons to the best of them, and he deserves them—his live version of “Catfish Blues” will have you thinking Hendrix, but he’s blunter and less flashy. He’s more muscle than finesse, although he’s capable of the latter when it’s required. And if distortion is your thing, as it is mine, well, you’re not going to find better.

How great is Clark? Well, Austin’s mayor declared May 3, 2001 Gary Clark Jr. Day. Clark, a prodigy, was all of 17 at the time. He’s won numerous awards, played alongside dozens of superstars including the Rolling Stones, and gigged at the White House, which should have burned that evil structure down but inexplicably didn’t. You can also hear his music on various television programs. Even the late Idi Amin digs him, and went on the record as saying, “He’s so good, I wouldn’t even eat him.”

I love his more out there guitar work, which is why I’m such a fan of the awkwardly titled 12” limited vinyl EP, “Gary Clark Jr. Presents Hotwire Unlimited Raw Cuts Vol. 1.” Just three songs, but all of them extended jams guaranteed to sanctify the electric guitar freak in you. Recorded live, they demonstrate Clark at him unbridled best, letting his freak flag fly and cutting loose just for the funk of it. The “A” side, which was recorded live at Charlottesville, Virginia, smushes Jimi Hendrix’s “Third Stone from the Sun” with Little Johnny Taylor’s 1964 tune “If You Love Me Like You Say.” The “B” side features an extended version of Clark’s own “Bright Lights,” which has been featured in a number of film and TV programs, recorded live in London. His fellow musicians included Eric Zapata on guitar, Johnny Bradley on bass, and Johnny Radelat on drums.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Vinyl Giveaway:
Mew, + –

When Danish indie-rockers Mew released their long-awaited sixth album at the end of April many fans were unsure of what to expect. Although a return from a six-year hiatus can be difficult, with their progressive new album and a well-received set at SXSW, Mew has proven they’re back with a vengeance. 

+- (as in “plus minus”), released on April 28, 2015 in North America, features the band’s original line up—Jonas Bjerre (vocals), Bo Madsen (guitar), Johan Wohlert (bass), and Silas Utke Graae Jorgensen (drums). With this new release, Mew continues its penchant for enigmatic album titles. Their previous outing in 2009, No More Stories Are Told Today, I’m Sorry They Washed Away//No More Stories, The World is Grey, I’m Tired, Let’s Wash Away, reveled in ambition.

The new music on ” +- ” soars. It’s alive, it’s vibrant and spacious. Its skewed pop sensibilities coupled with an ever-expansive musical backdrop denotes the extremities of Mew’s creative DNA, showing once more a band treading its own unique path. The album was recorded in Copenhagen, produced by Grammy-nominated Michael Beinhorn (Hole, Soundgarden, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Violent Femmes) and Mew with mixing duties undertaken by Rich Costey. “+- ” also features an appearance from Bloc Party guitarist Russell Lissack on “My Complications,” a song he co-wrote that came to fruition having met Mew on a U.S. tour some years ago.

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TVD UK

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. You can also catch Shell’s broadcast here now every Wednesday at TVD.

“Yet another Manchester tipster this week! Charlotte from Hooting & Howling magazine website hits us with a fresh sound from a local band.

I played a new track from the Deltasonic Records label last week—The Vryll Society are the last band that Alan Wills signed. Hidden Charms are also a new signing to the Deltasonic roster and they’ve been working with Shel Talmy (famed for his work with The Kinks) on their new recordings and they chat to me about them on this week’s show!

Ben Khan also joins me on the bandstand this week!

Whilst the south is musically rich this weekend with the Great Escape in Brighton, the north follows suit next week with Liverpool Sound City festival in its new Dock-based location! So for good measure, I’ll be playing some of the new artists performing at this year’s festival on the show!” —SZ

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Roger O’Donnell and Julia Kent, Love and Other Tragedies

Though his résumé holds assorted accomplishments, Roger O’Donnell is best known as keyboardist for The Cure. Along with a series of solo albums, Julia Kent is a cellist noted for her contribution to Antony and the Johnsons. Love and Other Tragedies depicts their deepening creative partnership; beautiful but never syrupy and emotionally resonant without succumbing to the overwrought, aficionados of top-flight instrumentalism should take note, particularly partisans of chamber classical. It’s available digitally May 29th and on vinyl June 26th via 99X/10.

Roger O’Donnell’s reputation might rest upon his role in a true juggernaut of Alt-Goth, but he’s been on the scene since ’76, his first paying gig backing up the God of Hellfire himself Arthur Brown. Subsequently, he became a touring member of Thompson Twins, The Psychedelic Furs, and Berlin; a more ‘80s-drenched trifecta is frankly difficult to imagine. O’Donnell’s initial involvement with The Cure was also in the performance capacity; he joined in ’87 for the Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me road trip and stuck around for the recording of ‘89’s Disintegration and a whole lot more.

Vancouver BC-born and NYC-based Julia Kent may not brandish as high a profile as O’Donnell, but past collaborations distinguish her as a veteran; before lending her cello to Antony and the Johnsons’ 2005 Mercury Prize-winning I Am a Bird Now and it’s ’09 follow-up The Crying Light, she was a charter member of dark-hued cello-driven rock act Rasputina, her talents figuring in their two ‘90s efforts for Columbia.

Over the past decade O’Donnell and Kent have largely been busy with solo work. He’s released a string of discs first through Great Society and then 99X/10, the imprint he founded with longtime partner and collaborator Erin Lang; they include ’06’s Moog-focused The Truth in Me and ‘10’s Piano Formations. Issuing her solo debut Delay in ’07 on Shayo, Kent has completed three albums since, most recently ‘13’s Character on The Leaf Label.

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 5/27/15

Record Store Day and independent retailers go weekly with “Vinyl Tuesday”: “…It’s unclear how this will help physical sales, but it seems like exactly the type of “vinyl hype” that could be destroying the record.”

Plastic fantastic: the Detroit teenager with his own vinyl record label: Jarrett Koral, 17, maybe the youngest entrepeneur in America capitalising on the increasing popularity of vinyl records

Dust off the boombox, cassettes are having a comeback: They’re cheaper, more portable and have a nostalgic appeal for bands, buyers, Vinyl records still rule old-school music formats

Columbus Ohio’s Strange Loop Records—in Legos.

Langley Records’ fate delayed by late Royal Mail submission: “The future of an independent vinyl store remains in the balance as borough council plans to discuss plans to redevelop the site have been delayed due to a late submission by applicant Royal Mail…”

“David Bowie’s 1999 album Hours… was released in the height of the CD era, meaning that it never got a proper vinyl pressing. Now, it’s finally going to be released on wax thanks to Music on Vinyl, which will be issuing the album on June 15…”

The business behind South Africa’s new love affair with vinyl records: “South Africa is beginning a new love affair with vinyl records, after they were discontinued in the early 1990s in favor of CDs, and more recently for electronic MP3 downloads. Vinyl record stores are opening in most major cities…”

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TVD San Francisco

TVD Live Shots:
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds at the Warfield, 5/18

“Put your fucking phone away and live in the moment,” says Noel Gallagher to a fan in the front row who seemed to be bootlegging the entire show at the Warfield last week.

Gallagher is a rare breed of singer-songwriter. Having represented the better half of Oasis for more than a decade, he continues to deliver and build upon his legacy with his solo project The High Flying Birds. How important is this man to rock ‘n’ roll? Beatles’ producer George Martin described Gallagher as the “finest songwriter of his generation” and he recently won NME’s prestigious God Like Genius Award.

Noel Gallagher Photographed by Jason Miller-4-2

Gallagher has nothing left to prove in terms of his contributions to rock ‘n’ roll. So it’s enough to make a music fan ill reading some of the reviews for his latest record Chasing Yesterday. It’s difficult enough for a well written album review to shine through in a world taken over by peer-to-peer recommendations and user-generated reviews. It’s even worse when it’s written by a snarky over-opinionated critic who’s struggling to stay relevant. (By the way, the record has 74 five-star reviews on Amazon—and Pitchfork gave it a 5.9 which loosely translates to mediocre; not good, but not awful).

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