UK Artist of the Week: Cristina Hart

This week’s Artist of the Week is Swiss-born, alt-pop songstress Cristina Hart. She had quite the year last year—despite the chaos—and released her critically acclaimed debut EP “Sell A Dream” in December. Keep an eye on this one, we’re sure 2021 is going to be an exciting year for Cristina.

“Sell A Dream” is a perfect collection of alt-pop vignettes for any pop fanatic looking to spice things up this winter. Opener “I’m a Mess” is a celestial delight from the offset, oozing with infectious melodies that will have you singing along in no time. “Bad Girlfriend” and “Vanilla” similarly follow suit, with Cristina’s relatable lyricism and rich, soulful vocal always on point.

Closing with gorgeous power ballad “Will You,” we’re privy to a more vulnerable side to Cristina that we haven’t seen previously. Her effortless vocals soar over subtle piano chords, creating a sound akin to that of Gabrielle Aplin.

Cristina Hart currently resides in London where she is no doubt a discovery on the live circuit. For now, however, we highly recommend enjoying her ethereal tones from the comfort of your own home.

“Sell A Dream” is in stores now.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve: Midnight Sister,
Painting the Roses

Midnight Sister is the duo of Los Angelinos Ari Balouzian and Juliana Giraffe, two interdisciplinary artists who are releasing their second full-length Painting the Roses January 15 on vinyl, CD, and digital via Jagjaguwar. Established as co-writers, the classically trained Balouzian brings his skills as arranger while Giraffe’s impact is felt through a voice that’s warm and rich. Breathy? Oh my. The songs are consistently vivid, frequently lush and reliably strange, as Midnight Sister maintain a pop sensibility throughout. Hovering between warmly retro and approachably surreal, there’s never a dull moment as the LP’s dozen tracks unwind.

The label bio relates that Midnight Sister’s halves have worked in “fashion, visual art, video and film scoring,” with Giraffe a filmmaker and Balouzian having arranged for musicians Tobias Jesso and Alex Izenberg. Their 2017 debut Saturn Over Sunset is described as her first time writing and performing music and his inaugural dive into dishing out “true pop music.”

True pop it is, but Painting the Roses is frequently as bent as a box of boomerangs, though with appreciable acumen on display, the record flows instead of just amassing a succession of shallow attempts at weirdness. This is apparent right off in opener “Doctor Says,” which blends the sophistication of strings and the measured emotiveness of Giraffe’s voice with cascades of pop-rock guitar.

As a beginning, it’s engaging enough, but the ’70s big-beat soulfulness of “Satellite” kicks the album into cruising gear, with bass large enough to bring the productions of Leon Michels to mind, plus a handful of diagonal violin lines and recurring surges of tweaked, occasionally backward, mellotron. Next, “Foxes” starts out as vividly baroque-poppy as prime ’70s ELO but then gets glitter-funk sassy and with hints of Beatles-esque psych-pomp (meaning we’re back in Jeff Lynne territory).

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 1/12/21

‘Spending more on home entertainment’: Vinyl sales skyrocket thanks to COVID-19 pandemic: The record renaissance has gone from niche novelty to record-breaking sales thanks, partly, to the global pandemic. Vinyl purchases in the United States have eclipsed those of compact discs for the first time in over 30 years, with local sales echoing the trend. Apera Te Hemara’s record collection is a story of his life. From the first LP record that he bought in the ’70s, he’s been hooked on the total experience. “Just the action of putting the vinyl onto a turntable, putting the stylus on and hearing all the crackles and pops… I think that’s great,” Te Hemara says. New Zealand’s largest music retailer Real Groovy says for the first time in 40 years, record sales both here and overseas have surpassed those of CDs. “The Christmas week, not the week before, we sold more new vinyl records than we ever have in the history of Real Groovy,” Grant McAllum from Real Groovy says.

Ipswich, UK | From 45s to CDs, which record shops were your favourites over the years? Which was your favourite record shop in Ipswich as a teenager? Long before the days of CDs, let alone streaming and downloads, youngsters across the area saved up their pocket money to buy the latest 45s and albums. Today we’re looking back at some of the most popular music shops Parrot Records, in Queen Street in Ipswich town centre, was the place to browse through endless stacks of LPs back in the 1970s. Top DJ Noel Edmonds carried out the official opening in 1976. Later on the store became Rex Records, and continued to be the town’s best-known independent record shop until it finally closed in 2005, marking the end of an era. The Ipswich branch of Virgin Megastore was another popular place to buy records, and our gallery includes a photo of DJ Bruno Brookes cutting the cake at an official opening in 1986. Another fondly remembered record shop was Andy’s Records, which had branches around the area. In more recent years, vinyl fans have also been able to seek out their favourite music at pop-up shop events in Ipswich Tourist Information Centre, which has now sadly closed.

“Are You Now or Have You Ever Been”… a Side-ist? OK, before we start, a word about the title. The late Scott Campbell, a remarkable musician from Tallahassee, had just released what would be his final recording late in 2016, An Old Photo, that included a great song with that title. But what, you may ask, is a SIDE-IST? Good question. This goes back to the glory days of vinyl (and it is delightful understanding that vinyl has come roaring back), when people often gravitated to one side or the other of a record album. Yes, of course many albums were solid all the way through, but if you “are now” or “have ever been” a vinyl junkie, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. Take last night. I was listening to Argus, the third album from Wishbone Ash (1972). I was impatient with the first three songs (on CD or Spotify), waiting to get to Side 2, with “The King Will Come > Leaf and Stream > Warrior > Throw Down the Sword.” Same with Sisyphus from Cold Blood (1970); I rarely listen to Side 2. How about Paul Kantner’s Blows Against the Empire (1970)? Side 1 was fun, but usually we headed straight for “Sunrise”! (You can call it Jefferson Starship if you want.)

Washington, DC | Interview With Cool Kids Vinyl Record Shop Owner “…D.C. needs a space like Cool Kids Vinyl to give all guests the opportunity to not only take in the history of vinyl records, but to experience the pop-culture side of it. Cool Kids Vinyl has a focus on Hip-Hop and we are trying to preserve its essence in the city by allowing people to come in, chat, ask questions and learn from one another in their community. We have that time capsule almost that puts you in that 70s, 80s, 90s realm, where the music can just be appreciated a bit more. In a generation of online streaming, vinyl gives listeners a piece of memorabilia that online streaming doesn’t offer. The listening experience is unmatched, it transforms you back in time and provides more of a listening experience than online streaming. Because vinyl is more tangible than streaming music, we are giving the current generation the opportunity to physically feel the music and connect with it on a more intimate level.”

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Radar: Mutiny, A Night Out With The Boys reissue in stores 1/22

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Jerome “Bigfoot” Brailey is an American drummer who started performing in the early 1970s with several R&B groups from the likes of The Unifics, The Chambers Brothers, and The Five Stairsteps where he developed his unique style and finesse on drums.

Later in 1975 he joined George Clinton’s P-Funk collective and has appeared on many of Parliament and Funkadelic’s most popular recordings (some of which he also co-wrote). Brailey played on classic albums like Mothership Connection and One Nation Under A Groove. Samples from that body of work (and his drum arrangements) have since then appeared on hundreds of hip hop and contemporary R&B songs by renowned artists such as Kendrick Lamar and Childish Gambino.

Jerome Brailey is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (inducted in 1997) and part of their “50 greatest drummers in the Hall” list (stating that his drum style kept Parliament-Funkadelic rooted in the old-school “James Brown-style funk”). Next to this achievement, he was proclaimed by Rolling Stone as one of the “100 Greatest Drummers of All Time” for his steady kick drum, shifty hi-hat action, and intricately unpredictable snare patterns. Brailey earned numerous Gold and Platinum records with the P-Funk Organization and has worked as a session drummer for many talented artists such as Herbie Hancock, Buddy Miles, Snoop Dogg, and Pharoah Sanders.

George Clinton’s funk empire was not without its disagreements and Jerome Brailey’s Mutiny project was a direct result of just such a disagreement (as well as one of the more notable offshoots of the P-Funk axis). Mutiny performed in a style not far removed from the classic P-Funk style and with a lot of emphasis on the dual lead guitar work, but what makes them unique compared to their contemporaries is that at times their recordings also emit a darker, more sinister feeling.

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TVD Radar: The Black Crowes, Shake Your Money Maker 30th anniversary 4LP box in stores 2/26

VIA PRESS RELEASE | The Black Crowes Present: Shake Your Money Maker, the multi-platinum debut by the seminal rock n’ roll band The Black Crowes, is being re-released in multi-formats sets on February 26, 2021, through UMe/American Recordings.

Band founders, brothers Chris and Rich Robinson, with original producer George Drakoulias, oversaw the creation of the re-release. Most exciting are the 4LP and 3CD Super Deluxe versions, which includes the original album, remastered; 3 never-before-heard studio recordings; 2 unreleased demos from the band’s early incarnation as Mr. Crowe’s Garden; B-sides; a spectacular, high-energy 14-song unreleased concert recorded in their hometown of Atlanta, GA in December 1990; reproductions of an early Mr. Crowe’s Garden show flyer, setlist and tour laminate; a 4″ Crowes patch; and a 20-page book with liner notes by David Fricke.

One of the previously unheard studio songs, “Charming Mess,” which was originally slated to be the band’s first single, but was ultimately left off of the album entirely, is available today.

A 2CD Deluxe version has the remastered album along with the unreleased studio songs, demos, and b-sides. There are also standard 1CD and1LP versions that are the mastered version of the original.

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Graded on a Curve:
Boney M.,
The Greatest Hits

Let me just say from the outset that most people would sooner push a turd up a mountain with their nose than read a review of Boney M. I know I would, and I wrote the damn thing. But I can think of plenty of good reasons to listen to the cheesy Euro-disco of this Euro-Caribbean vocal group, created by German record producer Frank (the genius behind Milli Vanilli) Farian.

The first good reason to listen to Boney M. is they’re masters of kitsch–one only need check out their video for “Rasputin” to be convinced. The guy playing Rasputin is a Borat double, and the lyrics are hilarious. The second good reason to listen to Boney M. is, believe it or not, they produced some good disco songs, many of which were as ubiquitous to European dance floors as coke spoons were to Studio 54. Imagine a dollar store Abba with–and this is all-important–a dada twist. Tristan Tzara would have loved them.

Boney M. are superstars in such disco hotbeds as Russia, Norway, and South Korea, which says everything you need to know about their appeal. They hardly made a dent in the U.S. market, and the loss is ours, because they’re oodles of good dumb fun. It’s undeniable that most of the tracks on The Greatest Hits-one of the approximately 10,000 or so greatest hits compilations out there–blow big time, but a few of its cuts are inspired shlock and essential additions to your disco library.

The first thing you need to know about Frank Farian is he’s a man of exceptional erudition; he may have majored in Disco Studies at Germany’s Heidelberg University, but he minored in history. And it’s apparent on the dance floor fabulous “Rasputin,” a monograph of sorts on the hard-to-kill Svengali and renowned Lothario. ”There was a cat that really was gone,” sing Boney M., before calling Rasputin “Russia’s great love machine.” Farian’s also an expert on America’s legendary criminal figures, as he proves on “Ma Baker.” Aside from the fact that the crime matriarch in question’s name was Ma Barker, it’s almost as wordy as Gordon Lightfoot’s “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” and sounds better beneath a glitter ball.

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 1/11/21

For the 15th year in a row, U.S. vinyl album sales increased. Harry Styles’ Fine Line helped U.S. vinyl album sales achieve yet another banner year — their highest total in 30 years of tracking — as the set closed 2020 as the top-selling vinyl album, according to MRC Data. The set sold 232,000 copies on vinyl during the tracking year (Jan. 3 through Dec. 31, 2020). Vinyl album sales totaled 27.54 million in 2020, up 46.2% compared to 2019. 2020 marked the 15th consecutive year vinyl album sales grew, and the largest year for vinyl album sales since MRC Data began tracking sales in 1991. Vinyl LP sales also saw their best sales week ever in the MRC Data era, when 1.84 million vinyl albums were sold in the week ending Dec. 24, 2020. Vinyl LP sales were the third-biggest-selling album format in 2020, trailing two formats that both declined: CDs (40.12 million; down 26%) and digital albums (34.39 million; down 12.5%).

Des Moines, IA | Blast from the past: vinyl records are getting a new spin at a Des Moines store. What started as a Facebook group has turned into a thriving shop. In a time of uncertainty, a little nostalgia can go a long way. And that’s what Vinyl Cup Records in Des Moines is hoping to offer music lovers of all ages. It started as a Facebook group in 2017. Store owner Luke Dickens was a collector and would go to shows and pop-ups. He quickly learned his passion was shared by many, saying “we went from 40 members to 2000 members in six months. My wife said get these records out of my house. Okay, so I open the record store.” Dickens and store manager Benji Rask say listening to a record is an experience that transports you into the studio. And it’s certainly nostalgic. But there’s also something magical happening with vinyl. It’s bridging generations. They say “I think that people are really liking kind of going back in time a little bit because we are so attached to our devices, kids are listening to what their parents were, and also new artists, almost every new artist is releasing on vinyl.”

New York, NY | Vinyl sales saw record-setting increase in 2020: Music fans purchasing albums as vinyl records has become more popular in recent years. But sales in 2020 were record-setting. “I think it’s dedicating yourself to something. It’s fashionable. It’s appealing to have a collection. It’s appealing to support your artists in a way that you’d like,” says Rutgers University freshman Sebastian Denis. Denis was shopping at the Princeton Record Exchange to add to his vinyl record collection. The store sold 3,800 new vinyl records in December – an unprecedented number in the digital era, according to owner Jon Lambert. “At times, I feel like I’m in the ‘80s again. But there’s something about these times and that sort of shopping and that sort of experience,” Lambert says. While it was unclear how much of a role the pandemic played in the sale increase, it is a fact that buying habits have changed. Vinyl outsold CDs in 2020 for the first time in nearly 35 years. There was more than a quarter-billion dollars’ worth of sales in the first half of 2020 alone.

Rapid City, SD | Local vinyl record businesses see sizable surge in sales during Christmas week: Local businesses, like Black Hills Vinyl and Ernie November, saw a surge in vinyl record sales during the week of Christmas. It’s the trend that shined through for the old way of listening to music as nearly two million records were sold nationally in the week of December 24. A record in and of its own. Local stores like Black Hills Vinyl and Ernie November cashed in, but the rise in record sales didn’t necessarily come as a surprise, since both businesses said that vinyl says have been increasing over the years. “We’ve definitely had a jump this year in records, but we’ve seen it for the last 10 years; creeping up every year, except this year it would be an exception where it was drastic,” said Keith Coombes, the Manager of Ernie November. “We more than doubled our record sales in the month of December.” A global pandemic is actually helping these businesses in a time where people weren’t able to see their favorite performers live in action.

Grove, OK | The Farr Side column: 2021 arrives, vinyl-y: Picture this: I’m sitting on the floor with the albums “Thriller,” “Purple Rain,” “Like A Virgin,” “Synchronicity,” “Footloose,” “Private Dancer,” “Can’t Slow Down” and so many others. It’s like it was yesterday. That’s because it was yesterday. I never dreamed I’d relive those kinds of moments again. But I did and I’m loving it. Music has been a huge part of my life and that will never change. Can you imagine how thrilling it was for me to venture into the stores over Christmas and see what I was seeing? Thank goodness for having to adorn masks, because I’m sure the look on my face was … interesting. I was like a kid in a candy store. I used to love going to department stores to check their music offerings. It’s been a sad realization to see the music section dwindling over the past few years in the wake of digital music and streaming services. Don’t get me wrong, the ease and quickness to play music is wonderful. But it’s not the same experience.

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TVD Los Angeles

The Best of The Idelic Hour with Jon Sidel

Greetings from Laurel Canyon!

The woman from the supermarket / Ran to call the cops / “He must be high on something, ” someone said / Though it never made The New York Times / In The Daily News, the caption read, / “Save the life of my child!” / Cried the desperate mother…

Yesterday was pretty stressful. How do we handle Corona protocol? Even Presidents, movie stars, and pro-hoopers get it. I hear we need to try to stay calm, keep extra clean, and for now keep your distance.

In the meantime, The Idelic Hour is here to provide a touch of comfort for those who need an hour of great curated tunes to free their mind. I find old songs are sometimes better friends than people.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Born to Be With You

Poor Dion DiMucci. In 1975 the singer-songwriter from the Bronx—still seeking to recapture the fame he achieved in the late 1950s and early ’60s with vocal group The Belmonts and as the solo artist who gave us “The Wanderer” and “Runaround Sue”—made the same mistake so many musicians seem to make: he decided to hire fellow Bronxite Phil Spector to produce his album. Fortunately Spector—a stick of unstable human dynamite on a good day—didn’t shoot Dion, or so much as brandish a gun at him or even give him a wedgie, as he did the Ronettes. But Spector was his normal—which is to say volatilely abnormal—self, and the sessions were chaotic, to say the least.

And what did Dion get for his trouble? A flop. The critics panned Born to Be With You and record buyers shunned it. Even Spector and Dion hated it, the latter going so far as to disown it as “funeral music.” But the winds of fortune are nothing if not mercurial, and in subsequent years the album has become a cult fave, with critics reversing their opinions and many prominent rockers citing it as an influence on their own music.

Dion’s career trajectory is complex, zig-zagging improbably all over the place like the Kennedy Assassination’s Magic Bullet. He began with The Belmonts, which made him famous and almost killed him on the frigid evening of February 3, 1959, when Dion—travelling with the Belmonts as part of the Winter Dance Party tour—declined for financial reasons to board the infamous Beechcraft Bonanza that crashed near Clear Lake, Iowa, killing fellow tour members Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and The Big Bopper. In 1960 Dion went solo, and more hits followed. Then he fell prey to heroin addiction, and his style of music became instantly antiquated the moment the British invaded.

DiMucci spent several years in the pop wilderness, experimenting without much pop success with rock and classic blues. But—and here we are, back at the Kennedy Assassination and the Magic Bullet again—in 1968 Dion covered Dick Holler’s “Abraham, Martin & John,” not long after having a profound spiritual experience and giving up heroin. The song became a hit and put him back on the musical map. It also helped establish him as a mature artist, rather than a teen idol. Over the next several years Dion recorded a series of excellent LPs, including Born to Be With You.

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Graded on a Curve: Françoise Hardy,
The Disques Vogue Collection

French vocalist Françoise Hardy openly disdains being described as an icon, though of course her modesty plays a large role in why she continues to be revered by so many. Naturally, the most important component in her enduring reputation is the music; a superb singer and true artist from within the oft-unrelenting 1960s pop machine, her records have aged exceptionally well, retaining the allure of their era as they lack period gaffes. Hardy’s first five French language albums, all originally issued by Disques Vogue from ’62-’66, comprise a highly worthy run of productivity.

Françoise Hardy is a cornerstone of the ’60s Euro-pop phenomenon known as yé-yé. Akin to rock, girl groups, svelte male crooners, and the majority of the era’s teen-oriented sounds in general, yé-yé was widely considered to be of an ephemeral nature, and by extension was basically dominated by the collusion of producers and labels. The singers, amongst them France Gall, Sylvie Vartan, Clothilde, and Chantal Kelly, were the crucial ingredient in a very calculated recipe.

Hardy differed from the norm by writing a significant amount of her own stuff, all but two songs on her debut in fact, and as a result she evaded the sometimes embarrassing subject matter thrust upon other yé-yé girls. Furthermore, she was regularly photographed with guitar in hand, though it’s unclear to what extent she actually played on these recordings. To borrow a phrase relating to Studio-era Hollywood, Hardy transcended the “genius of the system” method of pop manufacture, instead excelling at a subdued auteur-driven approach.

In the tradition of the original filmic auteurs, few recognized Hardy as a major talent during her emergence on the scene. She definitely sparked interest in fellow musicians however, including The Beatles, Mick Jagger, and Bob Dylan, the last so struck by her skills he dedicated the poem “Some Other Kinds of Songs” to her; it’s on the back of Another Side of Bob Dylan’s sleeve.

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Graded on a Curve:
Pete Townshend,
Who Came First

When it comes to grandiosity, Pete Townshend takes the cake. He’s always had huge ambitions, as his numerous concept albums—both with The Who (Tommy, Quadrophenia, the abandoned Lifehouse, and The System of Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether–wait, that one was by The Alan Parsons Project) and on his own—demonstrate. And I suppose I always took it he had an ego as big as his ambitions. But what is one to make of his 1972 debut solo album, Who Came First, on which he turns things over on two of the LPs nine tracks to other people? And performs a third song he didn’t even write? Certainly that’s an act of humility, if not abject self-abasement.

And Who Came First isn’t particularly ambitious, either: he throws on a song that would later appear on The Who’s Odds and Sods, along with a prayer set to music for his spiritual guru Meher Baba, and so on. But there’s something becoming about Pete’s laid-back approach on Who Came First—he’s not trying to conquer the world for once, just to be content in it. And the LP includes a cool bunch of tunes that you’re guaranteed to love, even if “Parvardigar” (his salute to Meher Baba) isn’t one of them.

Pete isn’t entirely without ego. While he admirably declined to fill the studio with a star-studded cast of ringers, he went too far in the other direction, recording almost the entire LP all by his lonesome. The great Small Faces/Faces bassist and singer Ronnie Lane makes a cameo, as do musical gadfly Billy Nicholls and percussionist Caleb Quaye, best known for his work with Elton John and Hall & Oates, and that’s it. Townshend even plays the drums, adequately if not inspired, and who knew? I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that he also took charge of mopping the studio WC.

Opener “Pure and Easy” is real pretty, lovely actually, but it doesn’t measure up to The Who version on Odds and Sods, with its powerhouse closing and great drumming by Keith Moon. But Pete’s take is still quite nice, and well worth a listen, for his guitar solo, his equally cool keyboards, and the song’s takeout, which features some nice drumming and Townshend repeating, “There once was a note, listen,” which may be cooler on The Who version, but still packs a punch here.

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 1/8/21

The Real Reason Why Vinyl Sales Just Skyrocketed Record Levels, Passing 1991: Album sales decreased in 2020 across digital and physical. During the year everything else seemed to be in free fall, vinyl sales shot up by a staggering 46.2% according to MRC Data’s 2020 year-end report. Vinyl sales have been steadily increasing for the past 15 years. …The first Record Store Day took place in 2008, starting a legacy and tradition of celebrating the unique culture of record stores and everyone in them. Usually, on the day of, music lovers and vinyl aficionados come out and support indie record stores while getting their hands on special releases. In 2020, the community rallied to show indie stores extra support during a time when small businesses struggled intensely under the toll of the pandemic. While Record Store Day is usually an event in April and November, it became a four-part series in 2020. This helped drive sales.

The Official Top 40 best-selling vinyl albums and singles of 2020: Kylie Minogue, AC/DC, Idles and Joy Division are among the UK’s top selling vinyl releases of the year. Sales of vinyl records climbed for a 13th consecutive year in the UK in 2020, with new as well as classic albums enjoying success on the revived format. As fans turned to music during a difficult year, sales of vinyl jumped by over a tenth (11.5%) year-on-year to almost 5 million (4.8m), music industry body the BPI reports. Many also supported indepedendent record shops by purchasing locally, with hundreds offering online delivery as the UK comes in and out of lockdown. Last year Official Charts launched the Official Indie Record Store Finder, encouraging their customers to become virtual cratediggers. We also teamed up with Record Store Day and National Album Day to launch The Record Club in association with Bowers & Wilkins – a livestream series that takes place every other Wednesday that encourages viewers to order the album of the guest act in each episode through their local record shop, give it a listen, then watch the broadcast to find out all about it.

Top 5 reasons why vinyl records are better than digital music: Music fans across the UK are embracing old experiences and purchasing vinyl records in droves. With many cancellations of gigs over the last year, it’s no surprise that the UK vinyl market has boomed. Listen to a superior sound quality: While digital music is produced for a smooth, clean listening experience, vinyl records offer a sound quality like no other. If you want to recreate the sound experience of a live concert, vinyl is about as close as you can get. From the soft crackle between tracks to the specific timbre of your favourite singer, vinyl effortlessly captures the qualities your ear loves to hear. Enjoy a real, hands-on experience: Whichever record player you decide on (choosing the right one can take time) you’ll enjoy a real experience when playing your records. From sliding the record out of its sleeve to lowering the needle, it is a hands-on experience that will make you appreciate music in a new way.

10 Great Album Covers, Chosen by Andrea Beaulieu of Studio Linear: Nirvana, Likke Li, Björk and more. My childhood was full of music. From a young age—3rd grade, to be exact—I started piano lessons, which continued all through grade school and high school, and then I attended college for music composition. I played in many bands starting in 7th grade, playing in a friend’s basement for hours practicing music by Green Day, Nirvana and other grunge-inspired music. I really wanted to be a rock star and had a family that encouraged that path. Music is in my blood, I suppose you could say. My dad once researched our family tree to find that on one side we were distantly related to Eric Clapton and on another side our roots came from Cape Breton, where we are connected to the MacMaster family of musicians. I have these wonderful memories of being a little girl and watching my grandmother play her honey blonde piano or my dad buying me that electric guitar I wanted for Christmas and we would just jam for hours, him on the bass and me on any instrument I could get my hands on. Yeah, my childhood was full of the favorites.

Record Store Recs: Estereomance Are All In Their Feels With Vinyl From El Paso, Los Angeles & Mexico City: These three record stores are important locations for us. Amoeba in L.A. always gives us that big city treat; You can literally stay there for hours, finding new music every minute. We love that they have in-store shows that a lot of great artists perform at—that always inspires us and makes us daydream of playing there one day. We are mostly working when we are in L.A., but we made it a tradition to make time in our schedule to go and find records there; it feels like a souvenir from each trip. The last time we were there, Adria got Quincy Jones’ Sounds…And Stuff Like That!! (1978, A&M Records), Manu got Madvillain’s Madvillainy (2004, Stones Throw Records) and Paulina got Aretha Franklin’s Aretha Now (1968, Atlantic Records).

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The TVD Storefront

Demand it on Vinyl: Richard Pryor, Richard Pryor and ‘Craps’ (After Hours) expanded editions in stores 2/26

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Naming him the #1 stand-up comic of all time, Rolling Stone wrote of Richard Pryor: “Pryor was untouchable … If [George] Carlin is the brain and conscience of comedy, Pryor is its guts and heart, and it’s unlikely the man referred to as the ‘Picasso of our profession’ — by no less than Jerry Seinfeld — will ever be topped.” On February 26, 2021, Omnivore Recordings will release expanded editions of Pryor’s first two recordings, Richard Pryor and Craps’ (After Hours). Both will be available on CD and Digital.

Scott Saul, author of Becoming Richard Pryor, wrote in his liner notes for the Richard Pryor reissue: “What you hold in your hands is something precious: both the landmark debut that was, and the piece of cultural dynamite that might have been. In its original form, Richard Pryor alerted the world that Pryor had stepped out of Bill Cosby’s long shadow and developed a style — surreal, nervy, improvisational — that was all his own.”

Richard Pryor, originally released in 1968, featured cover art (shot by legendary photographer Henry Diltz) that should have let the buyer know this was not your average comedy record. Pryor was at a career crossroads that year, when the album was recorded at the Troubadour in West Hollywood. He’d already become a regular on The Merv Griffin Show and The Ed Sullivan Show, and was signed to the same agency that handled The Beatles and The Supremes. But it wasn’t just his love of artistic freedom that pulled him toward what many looked at as defiance. Pryor wanted to not only change comedy, but how we look at ourselves and those around us.

Richard Pryor’s original eight tracks make up the first disc of this new edition, while the second disc contains 21 tracks from the out-of-print Evolution/Revolution: The Early Years (1966-1974) collection — originally co-compiled by producer Reggie Collins, who helms this new set along with Jennifer Lee Pryor and Grammy®-winning producer Cheryl Pawelski. Remastering is by Grammy®-winner Michael Graves.

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Graded on a Curve:
Wendy & Bonnie,

Genesis, the sole album from the teen femme duo Wendy & Bonnie was released in 1969 to no fanfare, but over the decades it has quietly grown into a solid cult item. 2008 found Sundazed issuing a 2CD/3LP set with a massive helping of extra tracks, but that still in-print edition is a reward for the record’s most ardent converts. In a nice turn of events, on the 21st of this month the label is offering a fresh 180gm vinyl pressing of the original release’s fitfully strong but likeably minor charms, and it’s a gesture far more fitting to the needs of a moderately admiring listenership.

Calling Genesis a period piece will automatically impact some readers as a putdown, in part due to many folks’ yardstick of measurement for the art of the past relating directly to whether or not it’s relevant to right now. On the other end of the spectrum, at least a few of Wendy & Bonnie’s most passionate fans surely prize the duo’s only LP precisely because it is indeed so evocative of the time and circumstances of its making.

Though I’m generalizing, those who love Genesis purely for its Flower Power era ambience are likely to value Roger Corman’s ’67 film The Trip over the great cinematographer Haskell Wexler’s first directorial effort, ‘69’s Medium Cool. The former is a spirited teen-exploitation flick that uses clichés and stereotypes as inspired playthings, but the latter is a one of kind motion picture with a seriousness of intent specifically concerning the upheavals of the tumultuous year of 1968.

And people who expressly use the term period piece as an insult could easily be prone to burdening The Trip and Medium Cool with that problematic bag, though with the possibility that Corman’s movie might be “appreciated” as camp and Wexler’s effort referenced as symbolic of the folly inherent in attempting a formally challenging, legitimately political cinema. And if the denigrators were asked to pair Genesis with one of these films on the basis of shared traits, I’m pretty sure the majority would choose The Trip.

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TVD New Orleans

Bring Music Home
coffee table book benefiting live music venues available for
pre-order now

Bring Music Home is a unique, full color coffee table book that is the first of its kind. Weighing in at almost nine pounds and nearly 400 pages, this gorgeous product features many of the people and places that make up America’s live music ecosystem. Click here to pre-order now.

A portion of the proceeds from the purchase of this book directly benefit the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) as well as support more than 60 individual photographers, producers, designers and writers who helped make this project a reality. Full disclosure—I wrote the essay about New Orleans music.

Over the past eight months, this ace team of creatives from all across the country came together to document the collective experience of live music in the United States and showcase nearly 200 music venues and their staff from around the country. The book features clubs in 30 cities including Tipitina’s in New Orleans, the Empty Bottle in Chicago, and the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC.

Each city is also honored with a one-of-a-kind, museum quality graphic art poster. The New Orleans poster (pictured above) was designed by Jay Sayatovic. Click here to purchase it. Over 375 individuals were also interviewed and photographed from venue owners/ operators to longstanding employees and artists. Variety reported, “Bring Music Home is the only team currently documenting more than 200 music venues across 30 U.S. cities—a story of music culture’s unsung heroes, the real-life people behind live music.”

Pre-order your copy today to keep live music alive in the United States.

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