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:
Friendship,
Shock Out of Season

Friendship hail from Philadelphia, and on their second full-length they’ve made considerable strides, in part by enhancing their alt-country bedrock with electronic instrumentation. If that tactic reads as suspect, the results are strikingly effective, but just as important is the heightened sharpness of Dan Wriggins’ vocals and lyrics. On their prior output his stuff was solid; these eight new songs strongly suggest he has greatness in him. Shock Out of Season is out now on vinyl, compact disc, and digital through Orindal Records.

Conversational as a descriptor for recorded vocals can encompass numerous bushel-baskets full of talkers talking, but the term is especially appropriate to Friendship’s Dan Wriggins. It’s all right there on Shock Out of Season’s opener “If You See My Beloved”; not only does he favor a speaking, or better said, relaxed oratorical style, over a conventional singing approach, but he enunciates with such natural clarity that it was essentially impossible for this listener to not absorb every line.

In addition to Wriggins’ voice and guitar, Friendship includes Peter Gill on pedal steel, Mike Cormier on drums and drum machine, Evangeline Krajewski on synthesizer and flute, and Jon Samuels on percussion and drum machine. This unique blend of instrumentation makes the foregrounding of Wriggins’ manner of address doubly impressive.

The blending of trad instruments and electronics is nothing new, and when it’s done well it can bring a caboodle of good strokes, but too often, once the novelty wears off, the combination is beset by shallowness. By avoiding overplayed tropes, wielding a collective light touch and radiating the impression of being more interested in pleasing themselves than straining to impress others, Friendship succeeds.

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 11/15/17

Vinyl revival sparks Record Store Day: Corporate holiday, Black Friday, has showed to be no foe to the independent record store scene. Instead, indie scene supporters such as Record Store Day are hopping on the Black Friday band wagon due to the recent vinyl revival. The vinyl revival refers to the renewed interest and increased sales of vinyl records, or gramophone records, that has been taking place in the Western world since about 2007. Since, vinyl sales are growing at a fast pace. A main vehicle for pop music since the 1950s, vinyl lost popularity to CDs in the ’80s and ’90s. Since the 2000s, digital downloads and streaming have been all the rage. Ten years into the vinyl revival today, it’s clear that the millennial generation are streamers as well as collectors.

Vinyl resurgence helps Amoeba mark 20th anniversary: Amoeba Music is the only record store Charlotte Parsons has known. The emporium in an old bowling alley on Haight Street opened when she was 6, and right up through high school she was among the masses flipping through the bins of CDs, their plastic cases clacking like the sound of corn in a popper. Then the clacking stopped. “CDs aren’t part of my life at all. When I went to college, I stopped listening to them,” says Parsons, 26, as she flips through the comparatively silent bins of LPs in cardboard jackets. “Now it is vinyl or Spotify.” Regulars like her are the reason Amoeba will live to see its 20th anniversary on Wednesday.

Scooter’s Records plans Wednesday opening: A new independent record store will officially open up shop this week on the fringes of the Cotton District. Scooter’s Records owner Scott Thomas moved into his new location – a former tanning salon – on University Drive in early October and began the task of renovating the space to become Starkville’s only record store. “I wanted to be where there’s walking traffic,” Thomas said. “If I had to be in a strip mall or on Highway 12, I didn’t think that was going to work out for me or I would be happy. I wanted to be in the middle of the students.” The new store is roughly 1,400 square feet and will be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week to begin with, but Thomas said eventually he would flesh out a day to have the store closed.

Pick out a record and sip a cocktail at Jeffersonville’s newest bar: It’s easy to pass the Vinyl Lounge on Spring Street in downtown Jeffersonville. But once you climb up the bar’s rainbow-lit steps and walk into its ’60s-inspired parlor, typically blasting jazz or alternative hits, it’s hard to forget. The owners of O’Shea’s opened the Vinyl Lounge, situated above their pub, H.M. Franks, around two months ago, but the lounge’s beverage director and manager, Chris Palmer, is quick to differentiate the bar from its Irish-inspired counterpart. “We’re trying to do a little bit more of a cocktail-esque bar here,” Palmer said. “Which, you know, they have some signature cocktails down there, but we’re doing old fashioneds, sazeracs, a rotating seasonal cocktail list. And I think that kind of distinguishes us a little bit from what their typical branding is.”

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TVD Washington, DC

TVD Live: Pere Ubu
and Johnny Dowd at
Hill Country Live, 11/9

PHOTOS: RICHIE DOWNS | Pere Ubu as a band predated the American punk explosion, which nonetheless gave context to its fierce, bare-boned recordings. And though it remained associated with the explosion of bands at that time, Pere Ubu the band always seemed more an extension of the kind of outsider, rough-edged cadre of blues shouters, poets, and hipsters that grew from jazz and blues to the Beat poets, with its only remaining figure David Thomas continuing in the tradition of  Lord Buckley, Captain Beefheart, or Tom Waits, shouting out observation and complaints amid keening choruses done in his unique style.

That Pere Ubu is still around at all by now, nearly 40 years after groundbreaking early albums like The Modern Dance and Dub Housing, is kind of a gift; that it continues to record such consistently strong material, on 2014’s Carnival of Souls and the new 20 Years in a Montana Missile Silo, is almost a miracle.

It comes on the weary shoulders of frontman David Thomas, who in his black hat and cane, presents himself as a somewhat menacing figure. At the Hill Country BBQ in Washington Thursday, he could be seen standing outside the restaurant in the rain before the show, scowling like a gargoyle.

Five musicians were already at work when he found his way to the stage slowly, plopping down on a chair and leaning into a well-lit music stand holding his lyrics. He’d put on his reading glasses and began, with a voice unlike most in music—the kind of squeal of a wounded animal who’d been prodded too much.

The approach worked because he had a really solid band behind him. It began with the stinging guitar of Gary Siperko, able to carve out surf to funky chords. Longtime bassist Michele Temple worked well with hard-hitting drummer Steven A. Mehlman. The whole sound was sweetened by the experimental flourishes of Kristoph Hahn of The Swans on pedal steel guitar, and especially Robert Wheeler, working both an old ElectroComp 101 synthesizer, looking like an old telephone switchboard, as well as a theremin. Not only did it add interesting electronic texture to the sounds, it also provided the unusual sight of Wheeler playing an instrument as if he were doing tai-chi.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Radar: Chuck Berry, The Great Twenty-Eight: Super Deluxe Edition vinyl set in stores 12/15

VIA PRESS RELEASE | In the firmament of rock ‘n’ roll’s first-generation creators, no artist looms larger than Chuck Berry. In a consistently innovative recording career that spanned more than 60 years, the iconic singer-songwriter-guitarist, who passed away on March 18, 2017, laid much of the groundwork for modern rock ‘n’ roll, while creating some of rock’s most distinctive and enduring anthems, from “Johnny B. Goode” to “Roll Over Beethoven,” “Rock and Roll Music” to “Reelin and Rockin’,” and many more.

Geffen/UMe will pay tribute to the immortal spirit of Chuck Berry, who would have turned 91 last month, with the ultimate vinyl version of his landmark greatest hits compilation, The Great Twenty-Eight, as it celebrates its 35th anniversary, with The Great Twenty-Eight: Super Deluxe Edition. On December 15, the album will be released as a limited edition five-disc box set on “Chess Blue” vinyl, limited to only 500 copies worldwide and available exclusively via UDiscoverMusic.com. A wide release standard black vinyl edition will be available next year on January 26, 2018.

Housed in a textured box, the Super Deluxe Edition will complement the original two-LP, 28-song compilation with an additional LP, More Great Chuck Berry, containing 14 more hits, rarities, and B-sides missing from the original, as well as a rare live album, Oh Yeah! Live in Detroit, available on vinyl for the first time. The collection will also include a newly created bonus ten-inch EP “Berry Christmas,” featuring four holiday-themed classics on “Rudolph-Red” vinyl, with one song on vinyl for the first time as well. Pre-order The Great Twenty-Eight: Super Deluxe Edition here.

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The TVD Storefront

*repeat repeat,
The TVD First Date

“It would be really cool of me to say I grew up listening to vinyl records, that my parents played ‘The White Album’ while I was in the womb, and that I was always inspired by Brian Wilson since my prepubescence. The truth is not that. I grew up in Gilbert, Arizona to parents who fed me a steady diet of Sugar Ray, DC Talk, and AC/DC. It was a very confusing musical upbringing, but it eventually forced me to seek out on my own the music I wanted to get excited about and in turn appreciate those artists even more.”

“I don’t even remember why, but my mother bought me a record player for Christmas when I was 16. I didn’t even ask for a record player. I think I asked for an ipod. Regardless, I knew that the thrift store down the street from my house had 25 cent vinyl records. Because this was a city that did not have a sprawling music scene, the first four records I bought were Michael Jackson’s Thriller, ELO’s A New World Record, Waylon Jennings’ Dreaming My Dreams, and Johnny Cash’s Destination Victoria Station for a whopping buck. I eventually bought Nat King Cole’s Songs for Two in Love to impress a date.

Kristyn and I decided to go all out and buy one of those big ’60s record consoles a few years back. It was the first time I ever heard how amazing vinyl records actually sound. Whenever we go to the record store, she likes to go through the 25 cent bin and pick out all the ’60s records, heavily weighted with Neil Sedaka albums. We honest to god don’t need any more Neil Sedaka records. I also like to surprise her with her favorite new artists on vinyl. Most recently we’ve grabbed, The Vaccines’ English Graffiti, Cage the Elephant’s Tell Me I’m Pretty, and Andy Shauf’s The Party.

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TVD UK

UK Artist of the Week: The Magic Lantern

PHOTO: KASIA WOZNIAK | Our Artist of the Week this week is the The Magic Lantern, aka Jamie Doe. Jamie has been making delicate alt-folk for quite a while now and his single, “Holding Hands” is his latest masterpiece.

“Holding Hands” builds slowly with Doe’s soft, warm vocals opening the track. As the saxophones come into play, they compliment Doe’s voice effortlessly, creating something truly mesmerizing and incredibly unique. Jamie’s ability to combine jazz and folk into something ethereal and is undeniably spellbinding. Fans of Grizzly Bear and Chet Baker will feel at home here.

Jamie is originally from Australia but moved to the UK when he was 12. He decamped to London in 2007 where he expanded The Magic Lantern into a collective, and together they’ve pushed their music to new boundaries inspired by Jamie’s keen ability to pen beautiful lyrics with lilting melodies. Since then, The Magic Lantern has gone from strength to strength and Jamie now excites fans with the anticipated release of his third album, To The Islands, from which “Holding Hands” is taken.

“Holding Hands” is in stores now via Hectic Eclectic Records.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Marisa Anderson,
Traditional and Public Domain Songs

The upcoming record from Portland, OR-based guitarist Marisa Anderson is slated to hit stores through the auspices of Thrill Jockey, but hey, don’t let’s overlook the nonce. Her 2013 LP Traditional and Public Domain Songs is getting a worthy reissue, available digitally on November 17 with the LP to follow on December 10. Initially released by Grapefruit Records, this vinyl edition comes courtesy of her frequent partners at the Mississippi label; they’ve given it a new sleeve, a fresh sequence, and two additional tracks.

Although Anderson had played and recorded prior, notably in the Dolly Ranchers, her full-length solo debut emerged in 2006. Holiday Motel is diverse, indeed featuring appealing slices of contempo folk and even a cut mildly reminiscent of the Georgia-sung moments of Yo La Tengo, but even at this early juncture, the focus is on guitar prowess that’s already substantial.

Some sources date her follow-up to 2009, others to 2011, but whenever it came out, the contents document a major stride forward. Alongside the abovementioned qualities, Holiday Motel resides comfortably in a post-coffeehouse zone, but The Golden Hour’s solo guitar sans vocals approach is a considerably deeper affair. Both discs share elements connected to John Fahey, but as demonstrated by the plugged-in, expansive atmospheres of The Golden Hour, she was in no way a mere copyist.

2013’s Mercury retained the solo no vox method, and like its predecessor, was issued on wax by the Oregonian label and record store Mississippi (the CDs came out via Important). This connection, clearly geographical, is only strengthened by the trend-averse, historical inclination they share, and of all the records in her discography, Traditional and Public Domain Songs fits easiest into Mississippi’s highly appealing mode of cultural excavation. This makes its delayed entry into their catalog all the sweeter.

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 11/14/17

Why Grand Rapids record store is expanding near downtown: Revolve Records is moving closer to the Grand Rapids music scene. The record shop, which sells vinyl records and other music-related merchandise, will open near the Heartside business district on New Year’s Day. “This is a prime location that will allow us to empower, educate and bring the entire community together through music and we can’t wait to open our doors this fall,” owner Daniel Phelps said. Revolve will open at 453 Division Ave., near Logan Street, in the former home of Comprenew, an electronics recycling and data security firm. The new 2,706-square-foot storefront is nearly double the size of Revolve’s current location at 1606 Fuller Ave. SE, and comes parking lot with 12 spaces for customers.

NYC transplant opens Vinyl Remains in Dormont: Rummaging through a thrift store’s record bin many years ago, Greg Anderson came across a “best-of” LP by jazz saxophonist John Coltrane, which he bought for the princely sum of a quarter. “The first song I ever heard from his was ‘Alabama,’” he recalled. “I’ll never, ever forget listening to that. It was on my grandma’s white hi-fi set. You had to wait five seconds for the static.” And then came the strains of Coltrane’s heart-rending elegy for the young victims of a Civil Rights-era church bombing, at once providing Anderson with an enduring appreciation for a different style of music. He hopes to help others experience similar listening epiphanies after they visit Vinyl Remains, his new store in Dormont.

Couple opens a one-of-a-kind store in Woodlawn: Rick Rhodes has had a life long love of vinyl. Records that is. He recently spun his hobby into a business called “Rick’s Record Shack & Wifey’s Closet”. Janis is Rick’s wife. She says “Rick calls me wifey all the time.” She has a store too. Actually her store is in the same place. Records in one half the the place and clothing, jewelry, shoes, purses and much more on the other side. Janice thought she should provide something for the women who come in with their husbands, adding “Men can spend hours and hours on records.” Instead of the wives getting bored, they can now check out Janis’ merchandise. The clever couple has created a cool shop that appeals to men and women.

Ames man opens vinyl records store at mall: A local man is using a small shop in the North Grand Mall to spread his self-described “addiction” to vinyl records and magic to others. George Noble, owner of Vintage Vinyl and More, has been practicing magic and repairing and collecting vinyl players as far back as the seventies as he began repairing them as a hobby. After several trips to garage sales and flea markets, Noble had built a large collection of gear in his home. “After I got so many, my wife said, ‘What are you going to do with them?,’” he said with a laugh. Noble then opened and ran a vinyl store in Jewell for eight years, but closed the store in the nineties to work for the Postal Service. As he was working, Noble started going back to record shows after noticing vinyl’s popularity soar among younger music aficionados.

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TVD UK

TVD Live Shots: !!!
(Chk Chk Chk) at Festsaal Kreuzberg, Berlin, 11/6

Somehow I completely missed !!! (Chk Chk Chk) over the past twenty years. I remember seeing their record on the shelf at Waterloo Records in the mid-2000s during my time in Austin, but I wrote them off as the next big thing for hipsters, which I am not. They were one of those bands for the cool kids it seemed who celebrated Radiohead’s newfound approach to “freeform jazz explorations to festival crowds”—something I was not into at all. But holy hell was I wrong, and now two decades later I’m kicking myself in the ass for not seeing them sooner.

Being a metal guy at heart, I tend to lean towards the heavier stuff, specializing in hardcore and ’80s hair metal (yeah, I’m all over the place). I also have a special spot in that headbanging space for well-written pop with an edge. For example, the first time I saw Scissor Sisters I was blown away, and now they are one of my all-time favorite bands. I never thought I would have another musical awakening like that, but I did—and it was last week in Berlin. The band was called !!! (Chk Chk Chk), and they absolutely blew my mind.

What do they sound like? I’m not sure as I was dancing my ass off with the rest of the crowd (and I don’t even know how to dance) while trying to take some decent photos for TVD. I do remember every single song was a gem and the insane chemistry between Nic Offer and Lea Ratcliffe put the entire show over the top for me. It’s a rare thing to see a band pull off what is commonly referred to as dance-punk in a live environment, but !!! makes it look easy. If you see this show live and don’t immediately jump out of your seat and start celebrating life, then have someone check your pulse immediately.

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  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


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