The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve: Jefferson Airplane,
The Worst of Jefferson Airplane

You should be ashamed of yourself. Here the most important date on my holy calendar has come and gone, and you didn’t buy me a single gift. I’m talking about the anniversary of Altamont, of course, the benighted free concert held on December 6, 1969 at the Altamont Speedway in northern California. Four people died, one poor fellow at the hands of the Hells Angels, who were hired to provide security. The Angels, anger fueled in part by the $500 in beer they received as payment for their services, also rendered Jefferson Airplane vocalist Marty Balin unconscious with a blow to the head, which is why the anniversary of Altamont is also known to strict religious observers such as myself as “Punch Marty Balin in the Mouth Day.”

Altamont is perhaps rock’s most significant day because it, along with the Manson Family killings, put paid to the Age of Aquarius. It was the end of the innocence, to quote that dick from the Eagles, the high water mark of peace, love, and understanding, and on that dark day the glorious lysergic wave of good vibes and universal brotherhood broke and receded forever, as Hunter S. Thompson so astutely notes in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

I write all of this because the Jefferson Airplane was Thee Official Band of the LSD era. “White Rabbit” and “Somebody to Love” were as much countercultural signifiers as they were songs, as was “Crown of Creation,” as in “you are the.” But the whole scene went south, first with the numerous drug casualties of Haight-Ashbury, then with Charles Manson’s bloody murder spree and the disaster at Altamont, about which Grace Slick noted, “The vibes were bad. Something was very peculiar, not particularly bad, just real peculiar. It was that kind of hazy, abrasive and unsure day. I had expected the loving vibes of Woodstock but that wasn’t coming at me. This was a whole different thing.”

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TVD New Orleans

James McMurtry brings Complicated Game to Chickie Wah Wah, 12/9

The celebrated tunesmith James McMurtry will be making a rare New Orleans appearance when he graces the stage at Chickie Wah Wah on Friday, December 9. Modern day bluesman Alvin Youngblood Hart opens in support.

McMurtry has been touring extensively in support of his first album in six years, the universally acclaimed collection, Complicated Game. Texas Monthly praised the longtime Austin resident’s new effort, “At a stage where most veteran musicians fall into a groove or rut, McMurtry continues to surprise,” calling the new album, “…a collection of narratives as sharply observed as any from McMurtry, but with a contemplative depth that comes with maturity.”

Longtime fans know McMurtry’s vibrant vignettes have been turning ears for over 25 years. He counts fellow southern and roots music songwriters including Jason Isbell among his biggest supporters.

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TVD Washington, DC

Play Something Good with John Foster

The Vinyl District’s Play Something Good is a weekly radio show broadcast from Washington, DC.

Featuring a mix of songs from today to the 00s/90s/80s/70s/60s and giving you liberal doses of indie, psych, dub, post punk, americana, shoegaze, and a few genres we haven’t even thought up clever names for just yet. The only rule is that the music has to be good. Pretty simple.

Hosted by John Foster, world-renowned designer and author (and occasional record label A+R man), don’t be surprised to hear quick excursions and interviews on album packaging, food, books, and general nonsense about the music industry, as he gets you from Jamie xx to Liquid Liquid and from Courtney Barnett to The Replacements. The only thing you can be sure of is that he will never ever play Mac DeMarco. Never. Ever.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve: The Best of 2016’s Reissues, Part Two

The sheer number of records put out in a calendar year can be positively daunting, but it’s also an energizing reality; while diving into the decision-making below we discovered a half-dozen items that if heard earlier could’ve easily made this list. Put another way, these picks aren’t engraved on stone tablets, they’re just our current favorites from a sea of reissued and archival material made available across 2016. Part one is here.

5. V/A, Subnormal Girls – DIY/Post Punk Vols. 1 & 2 (Waiting Room) + Pylon, Live (Chunklet) The Subnormal LPs span 1979-’84 and are their Berlin-based label’s first releases; the homeland is certainly represented across the entirety, but the first side of Vol. 1 spreads the geography in impressive fashion, covering the USA (IUD), the UK (The Petticoats), France (Zona), Germany (Mannschreck), Italy (Jo Squillo Electrix), Japan (Boys Boys), and Australia (Toxic Shock).

Naturally, Waiting Room’s gender focus is still quite welcome (the albums are a nice match with 2016’s contempo-focused comp Typical Girls on Arizona’s Emotional Response label), but they also emphasize post-punk as a truly global development rather than UK-centric affair. Additionally, while a few of the inclusions do hold posthumous reputations (The Petticoats, X Mal Deutschland, Rosa Yemen), most of this stuff will be unknown to all but the most voracious of post-punk addicts, reminding me a bit of Chuck Warner’s old Messthetics CDR series (but with a global focus).

Live has only grown in my esteem as 2016’s calendar pages have hit the trashcan, with its contents (taped in December ’83 at the Mad Hatter club for an aborted PBS music program) helping to recalibrate post-punk geography more than a little, though admittedly Pylon has long been tagged as one of the USA’s few legitimately post-punk units. It’s still appropriate to group them into the early college rock brigade alongside Athens, GA mates R.E.M. (who covered Pylon’s “Crazy”) and TVD Best Reissues of 2016 counterparts Game Theory and The Feelies, but the arty dance-rock and the vocals of Vanessa Briscoe-Hay underscore their kinship with such units as Delta 5, Kleenex / LiLiPUT, and Au Pairs.

Most of the acts on Subnormal Girls burned brief but bright as part of a grand musical transition, but Live documents one of the major units of the 1980s.

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 12/7/16

Record shop owner finds fitting home in historic building: Doug Frank wasn’t looking for a new place to live when he saw the renamed Grand Manse Pavilion pop up in a Craigslist ad this summer. He was looking for a place to open up his post-retirement business, one that brought him full circle to one of his first jobs, at a record shop. On Thursday, Frank flipped over a David Crosby album inside Lincoln’s newest used vinyl shop, Black Circle Records.

Can Legalized Weed Sales Help Ailing Record Stores Turn Over a New Leaf? It seems miraculous that any music retailer has survived the demolition-like forces that piracy, downloading and streaming have unleashed during the past 15 years…But there is hope on the hazy horizon, and it’s coming in the five-leafed form of marijuana, which is legal in a majority of states — 28 of them have sanctioned cannabis for medical or recreational use — following the 2016 elections. What does reefer have to do with records? With music retailers getting into the dispensary business or aligning their physical location with pot shops, the long-standing symbiotic relationship between music and weed may finally be (legally) monetized.

Vinyl enthusiasts buy, sell and talk records in New Plymouth: The Lambert Twins, Hi-Glow, the Rockettes, Lew Pryme and the Edward Sisters have been gone from the music charts awhile, but they’re not forgotten. A vinyl album featuring the Taranaki United Artists was one treasure picked up by organiser Brian Wafer at a record fair in New Plymouth on Saturday. Several thousand records featuring groups well known and obscure were lined up in boxes on 10 trestle tables at the Blind Foundation Hall, for buyers to rummage through.

The 10 best album covers of 2016 – and the stories behind them: Cover art may have evolved from vinyl gatefolds and CD jewel cases to a thumbnail image on a digital player, but the essence of what makes a sleeve great hasn’t changed that much. An attention-grabbing cover can make you hear an album in 3D and spark a conversation, regardless of the process, tools or medium. 2016 has had no shortage of memorable sleeves, from the strikingly simple portrait of Solange adorning A Seat At The Table to the strange cartoon colors of the Lil Uzi Vs The World cover. We asked the designers behind our top 10 pieces of album artwork to explain the stories behind the sleeves.

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The TVD Storefront

Grace Potter: In-store with TVD at DC’s Som Records

PHOTOS: SHANTEL MITCHELLShe’s a dynamo, she is. Whether she’s gracing your turntable at home or she’s live on stage, the multifaceted and multitalented Grace Potter is simply electric, as we’ve captured quite often over the years.

The electricity follows her in person too. Positively beaming upon her arrival at Washington, DC’s Som Records, Grace joined us for a record rummage between 2 back to back dates at the Capitol’s venerable 9:30 Club. Rolling up her sleeves and raring to go with nary a prompt from us, it was all about the vinyl.

So, onward—we’re record shopping with Grace Potter at DC’s Som Records.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Video Premiere: matt pond PA, “Whoa”

PHOTO: SEAN HANSEN | “‘Whoa’ sparked from the memory of sledding in northern New Hampshire. The biting cold and the purest love of a red-faced girl with frozen snot on her philtrum.”

“We went to Iceland to unearth that same purity, searching for true beauty. We blasted through the countryside in a flimsy hire car. From city to sea, geyser to glacier. Every moment was mindblowing. The bright green and black lava fields, the tempestuous sea at Vik, racing bikes down the streets of Reykjavik, jumping in the ocean at Jökulsárlón, emerging from a pitch-black cavern into a field filled with ponies.

Adventures are strange beasts. If they’re true-hearted, then there’s no time for sentience. Second guesses, sarcasm, and social media all vanish with the mist in the midst of a proper quest.” —Matt Pond

Fully titled “Whoa (Thirteen and Sledding With Kerry in Northern New Hampshire),” the track on matt pond PA’s newest album is a jaunty celebration with a video to match.

An album inspired by his upbringing in snowy New Hampshire, aptly named Winter Lives, contains songs fit to listen to curled up by the fire as well as those for romping through the snow. “Whoa” is a song for the latter—and the video will have you packing your bags for Iceland where it was filmed. The clip features Matt Pond and his right-hand man Chris Hansen exploring lavish landscapes and quirky cities, with cinematography that makes the music video feel like a 4-minute Icelandic documentary.

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TVD UK

UK Artist of the Week: Vigo Thieves

Vigo Thieves have been making waves in the UK for a number of years now. Having previously released a string of singles and two EPs, the Scottish five-piece have just released their first full length album Heartbeats, and it’s a real treat for the ears.

Despite the band being away for a while, Heartbeats feels completely timeless. Each track blends in effortlessly to the next with feel good vibes oozing from all directions. Title track “Heartbeats” is infectiously catchy with frontman Stevie Jukes’ soaring vocals taking centre stage and reminding us of Coldplay’s Chris Martin but with a Scottish twang.

Vigo Thieves met in Wishaw in 2008 and they’ve been busy bees ever since. They’ve played Scotland’s T In The Park numerous times and have also supported huge acts such as The Courteeners. The guys are now ready to unleash their dynamic, anthemic sound on to the world and we’ll be chanting along behind them the whole way.

Heartbeats is out now via HiJacked Records.

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The TVD Storefront

The Vinyl Guide Podcast
with Nate Goyer

The Vinyl Guide is a weekly podcast for fans and collectors of vinyl records. Each week is an audio-documentary on your favourite records, often including interviews with band members and people who were part of the project.

It’s hosted by Nate Goyer, a self-described vinyl maniac who enjoys listening to records and sharing the stories behind them. Despite his Yankee accent, Nate lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife, 2 kids, and about 1,500 records. (But only about 1,000 of them his wife knows about.)

The Vinyl Guide takes records one by one, telling the tale of how they came to be, why the work is important, and then shares how collectors can tell one pressing from another. Learn more at the TheVinylGuide.com or simply subscribe via iTunes or RSS feed.

Dave Morell has a fascinating tale about meeting John Lennon, trading records with him, and taking custody of Lennon’s very own Beatles “butcher cover.” Clearly the best record collecting story ever. PLUS we have a special episode coming up featuring new recordings from the night of Lennon’s death—listen for more details.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve: The Best of 2016’s Reissues, Part One

The sheer number of records put out in a calendar year can be positively daunting, but it’s also an energizing reality; while diving into the decision-making below we discovered a half-dozen items that if heard earlier could’ve easily made this list. Put another way, these picks aren’t engraved on stone tablets, they’re just our current favorites from a sea of reissued and archival material made available across 2016.

10. Dow Jones & the Industrials, Can’t Stand the Midwest 1979-1981 (Family Vineyard) + MX-80 Sound, Out of the Tunnel and Crowd Control (Ship to Shore PhonoCo.) The middle of the USA was once (and sometimes still is) belittled as nowheresville, and to play punk rock in the region was once considered folly at best and potentially dangerous to boot.

But hey, it’s not where you’re living, it’s where you’re at, you dig? Of course you do. Dow Jones & the Industrials may have hailed from West Lafayette Indiana, but during their existence they inhabited a highly appealing zone flush with Devo-esque jerking to-and-fro, raw keyboard-synth infusions and horn honk, crunchy guitar flailing, art-funk spasms, and vocals covering the three A’s: alienation, anger, and anguish. Ultimately, they pulled it off like regional champs and Family Vineyard collects it all in a 2LP + DVD set that’s indispensable for any student of punk history.

Some groups just had to pull up roots and plant themselves someplace else, however; that’s the case with MX-80 Sound, a gang of Hoosiers who managed to get an album out via Island Records (’77’s Hard Attack) before the major label’s relationship with rock’s new thing took a severe nosedive. While they certainly fit in with the scene, tagging MX-80 as punk isn’t exactly accurate; in a nutshell, they played an aggressive form of art-rock so powerful it was occasionally compared to heavy metal.

After migrating to San Francisco, they ended up on Ralph Records, and the above two classics of precision racket were the result. Bassist Dale Sophiea and drummer Dave Mahoney are a constantly expressive rhythm team while vocalist-guitarist-saxophonist Rich Stim delivers the art-edge and the lead guitar of Bruce Anderson tears it the fuck up for the punk crowd while being technically proficient enough to win over progsters. Folks who devour the fringe of punk’s first wave, namely Ubu, Suicide, Chrome, Debris, and those Residents, will cozy right up to these well-deserved reissues.

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