The TVD Storefront

The Darkness: In-store with TVD at Washington DC’s Som Records

PHOTOS: RICHIE DOWNS | As we noted last month, Last of Our Kind is the first album in three years for The Darkness. It’s hailed as one of their finest records yet, and a maturation of their sound. “It is the best rock album you will hear this year,” says singer Justin Hawkins. “It is the best rock album you will hear until next time The Darkness makes an album.” It’s difficult to argue for a more appropriate title; they don’t make rock bands like The Darkness anymore.

“We’ve always been a cult band,” bass guitarist Frankie Poullain tells TVD, but that’s quite an over-simplification (and he knows it). It’s been over a dozen years since Permission to Land blasted rock music out of its same-y, neo-garage rut. Its influence punched the genre in the face and reminded people, who were too young to remember, what it was like for rock to be a fun, profane, exhilarating spectacle. With Last of Our Kind, The Darkness again unleash tongue-in-cheek bombastic rock music that delivers in spades and (figurative, possibly literal) pyrotechnics.

In DC for a show just over the District line proper at the Fillmore Silver Spring (our coverage is here) The Darkness’ Dan Hawkins and Frankie Poullain reveal themselves to be—what else?—real record store denizens. And sure, we talked Thin Lizzy, but their touchstones are varied. Teenage Fanclub, Big Star, The Waterboys, My Bloody Valentine, and the Blue Nile are among some of the band referenced that might not come to mind immediately with the lads over a record rummage, but there you have it.

So, let’s go—we’re record shopping with The Darkness at Washington, DC’s Som Records.

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TVD Asbury Park

Garden State Sound
with Evan Toth

All jokes aside, New Jersey is a pretty great place. While it has a lot to offer as a state, it also has a rich musical history of which many people remain unaware. Everyone knows Sinatra and The Boss, but there’s much more.

“Whatever your personal politics are, there’s no doubt that things are a little ominous out there. Maybe that’s what people always think and say, maybe that’s how everyone qualifies their place in the ever-expanding galaxy we call home: now is their personal time on Planet Earth, these times are singular, how lucky they are to witness them.

In any case, few would disagree that tumult, suspicion, anxiety, and distrust are the order of the day. Maybe that’s why revisiting Bruce’s 1995 album The Ghost of Tom Joad on its 20th anniversary isn’t a bad idea. Today, the climate is right for us to sink into the shoes of the characters Bruce sketches on this album and walk a mile, or two, even if the path we are led down is a little dark and cold.

One of the major values of art is—if done right—the viewer is forced to see the world through new eyes. Sometimes that’s uncomfortable, but that’s the point. The Ghost of Tom Joad isn’t an easy listen, but it’s not supposed to be. Tune in.” —EZT

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Todd Rundgren’s Utopia, Another Live

I’m of two minds when it comes to Todd Rundgren. Part of me hates him, and the other part of simply loathes him. Oh, I’m kidding. I really liked the Todd Rundgren who gave us 1972’s Something/ Anything?. It wasn’t until he formed the synth-heavy prog rock band Utopia that things got ugly. Ugly as in pompous, long-winded (a song off the band’s 1974 debut clocks in at 30:26), and philosophically empty-headed. He became the kind of guy who referred to Ra, the sun god, as a “holy synthesizer.” And speaking of Ra, Utopia’s 1977 LP, none other than Robert Christgau complained that, “The first side is bad, the second unspeakable.” And that’s before he really starts getting insulting.

That said, I have a horrible confession to make. I actually owned Utopia’s 1975 LP Another Live, which followed the band’s self-titled live debut. And not only did I own it, I played it, on my 8-track boom box, while painting houses in Gettysburg, PA in the bicentennial year 1976. It seems inexplicable to me now, given that I would soon despise them, but what I really liked, looking back, were the songs “Heavy Metal Kids” and “Just One Victory,” both of which appeared on Rundgren solo albums before Utopia got around to performing them. My brother and I even painted the legend “Heavy Metal Kids 1976” in silver glam paint on the stone windowsill of one of the houses we painted. I went back to Gettysburg not too long ago, in part to see if it was still there. It wasn’t. Some people just have no respect for history.

Anyway, I decided to gird my loins and listen to Another Live again, just to determine whether it sparked any nostalgic memories. And I’ll be damned, but the LP isn’t bad. Or not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. There are, admittedly, moments of sublime banality, combined with large amounts of futuristic brouhaha, but a few of the songs actually get out of their wheelchairs and dance, which is certainly more than I expected.

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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.

Lauren Marsh – Wildfire
The Retrospectives – Rolling Stone (Acoustic Version)
Sea Caves – Spanning the River
Wonky Tonk – Denmark
Gazebos – I Don’t Wanna Be Here
Stevie B Wolf – Nothing But A Name
Chris Storrow – Raised The Bar
Andrew Johnston – Take The Highway

Crowded House – Help Is Coming (with an introduction by Benedict Cumberbatch)

The Black Ships – Dead Empires
J Hacha De Zola – Strange
Scary Little Friends – In This Lifetime
Coldair – Denounce
Steed Lord X Sam Sparro – Night Games
Rex Riot – Tap Back
Dani Deahl – Cha Ching
NAT – Follow Me (Berger & Shaqiri Remix)
Dirt Nasty & Mickey Avalon – Top Down

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 11/23/15

New Jersey startup gives white-glove treatment to revival of vinyl records: Independent Record Pressing opened its doors over the past year after a group of investors purchased six used vinyl presses from Canada and relocated them to a Bordentown, N.J. warehouse. Sean Rutkowski had never worked in vinyl pressing prior to being hired as General Manager at Independent Record Pressing. He is leveraging twenty years of music industry experience, and had noticed a major change at his local record store.

Let’s build a home: Third Man Records returns to Detroit: For Third Man co-founder Ben Blackwell, the new endeavor marks a return to the neighborhood where he used to sneak into shows as a teenager. It’s a homecoming—even if that home isn’t exactly how it used to be.

Adele’s 25 goes on sale – with no queues outside record shops: The days of the megastores opening overnight to sate the appetites of fans have been killed by downloading – and it’s rather a shame

Local musicians go on the record with vinyl: “There’s no romance to the CD format,” says Ken Carson, the manager of That’s Entertainment, which has expanded its vinyl selection in recent years, “and the digital download serves that market just as well, and more conveniently. But the vinyl album, with the glorious 12×12 artwork, the liner notes and photos, the true analog sound, even the gentle handling required, creates a deeper relationship to the music. Plus, if there’s a digital download included with the album, you can have it both ways!”

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The TVD Record Store Club

The TVD Record Store Club for 11/20/15

Welcome to the TVD Record Store Club for the week ending 11/20/15.

The TVD Record Store Club is another free feature we’ve added to The TVD Record Store Locator App that recently relaunched refreshed and rebranded. The Club points to a record store agenda that we’re assembling for your weekend now that new release vinyl lands in stores on Fridays—AND for the early part of the week coming when those mom and pops could use the foot traffic.

Every Thursday we’ll be tipping you off right here at TVD—and within the app at the Club tab—to releases of merit newly on store shelves, along with in-store ticket giveaways you can win by simply waving the app, pricing incentives, contests, cool partner initiatives, and a host of surprises we’re looking forward to putting in your pocket on the regular.

This week for your pre-holiday shopping, the Grateful Dead’s “Fare Thee Well” shows land on vinyl, Mountain’s Leslie West returns to the racks, a 2-fer reissue from M83, and more Led Zep on vinyl? Right on. (Plus, we have the skinny on some cool incentives to light a fire under you.)

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TVD Los Angeles

TVD’s The Idelic Hour with Jon Sidel

Greetings from Laurel Canyon!

Never mind the forecast ’cause the sky has lost control / Cause the fury and the broken thunders / Come to match my ragin’ soul / And now I don’t believe I want to see the whole morning

Going down the stoney end / I never wanted to go down the stoney end / Mama let me start all over / Cradle me, Mama, cradle me again…

George Harrison once sang “all things must pass,” and this week’s hour-long mix has an end to a chapter in mind. As I have repeated many times, my rock ‘n’ roll journey has been about great people and cool songs. This playlist was made to ease my soul.

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The TVD Storefront

Hello Industry,
The TVD First Date

“My first memories of vinyl are listening to my dad’s Simon and Garfunkel and Beatles records. Those were always playing in my house as a kid. I also remember poking in the dust caps of my dad’s speakers. Incidentally, my 2 year old daughter just returned the favor this month. I’ve had that coming for 30 years.”

“To be honest, I only recently was turned back on to vinyl. I appreciate the sonic differences for sure, but I’ve always chosen the convenience of using my phone over sonics. That said, six months ago, during the darkest and scariest time of our life, my wife and I decided to install a record player center-stage in our living room and start collecting vinyl records, for the first time in our lives.

A year ago my wife and I received the news that our fourth child, to be born a few months later, had a fatal disease and would most likely not survive birth. If she did, she would not live more than a few hours. We were turned over to grief counselors and referred to a funeral home to make arrangements. Miraculously, she survived birth, then her first few hours, then her first few days. Ten months later Olivia is still alive!

The first few months of Olivia’s life were beautiful and they were hell. We said goodbye to her more times than we could count, but each time she pulled out of it. It was an emotional roller coaster to say the least. We were tired and our nerves were fried. A friend gave us a check and told us to buy something that would bring us some joy. We decided to buy a record player and some vinyl.

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TVD New Orleans

TVD Recommends:
The Annual Oak Street Po-Boy Festival, 11/22

With Sunday a day off for the New Orleans Saints as they try to recover what’s left of the season, it’s time for the annual Oak Street Po-Boy Fest. This year they have another great musical lineup with old favorites and a few newcomers. Of course, there are also more food choices than imaginable. Click the link for the full schedule.

Besides the two main outside stages, three of the businesses on Oak Street are also hosting saloon stages. From 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM, hop into Oak Wine Bar and check out Cole Williams and Danny Abel. Most readers know Abel as the guitarist in Gravity A and numerous other bands. Cole Williams is a newcomer to the city, but the singer has already put down some serious roots and is an exciting performer. This intimate duo set should give first time listeners a close up experience.

Another act worth checking out appears at 2 PM on the Blue Plate Mayo stage at Leonidas and Willow Streets. Tank and the Bangas burst on the scene like a blitzkrieg and have not let up yet. The neo soul outfit spent a good part of this past summer gigging in Europe and their sound has benefited from the time across the pond.

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Needle Drop: Chris Meid, “Red River”

I’ve always found Europop a bit of a marmite genre—there are those who love it and those who hate it. Its distinct sound and simple building blocks make it easily recognizable, and if that’s your thing you can’t really go wrong. If you like Swedish House Mafia, you probably like David Guetta.

Chris Meid definitely fits alongside those artists. His new single—his first as a solo artist—has the thump of the bass drum, the singable lyrics, and the catchy chord progression. However Chris has managed add fresh elements to the track while still making it appealing to fans of the genre.

In “Red River” we hear banjos, a lead melody that is whistled, and Tyler Sjöström’s distinctly US Country influenced vocals. And amazingly—you might have guessed from my first paragraph, I am not a fan of Europop—I do find myself enjoying the song. I’m probably not going to rush out and buy it, but the aspects added by Chris has peaked my interest and made me want to keep my eye on him and how he develops as an artist. Considering my starting impression that’s definitely a win, Chris.

Chris Meid’s debut single “Red River” is out now via Warner Music.

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