Monthly Archives: September 2010

TVD’s Twitter Music Monday for 9/20/10

The top trending hashtag today is #becauseimagangsta. The lack of an apostrophe in this hashtag bothers me, because I am not enough of a gangsta.

One thing that makes me not a gangsta is that I really like to play games. I don’t mean that in a “mess with your significant other” way; I really love board games and card games and computer games and video games and crosswords. In fact, I like games so much that I frequently make up new ones that are maybe not that interesting to the general population.

Which brings me to today’s column. Today will be a three paragraph game. Each paragraph will be based on the #musicmonday tagged tweet that hit the web immediately after I finished the paragraph prior. I am not allowed to make fun of nu-metal or Kanye. If I drop the third strike, the batter is allowed to steal first base.

Wait, no. Not that last one. Just checking to see if you’re still paying attention. Here’s the first tweet up:

@jillesta: #musicmonday please take a minute to listen to Rick Berlin. I saw him perform at @amandapalmer ‘s #LNFC Love him.

I like this Twit already—so polite! In 140 characters or fewer, little niceties like “please” are easy sacrifices. Thank you, jillesta, I will take a moment to listen to Rick Berlin. [pause to listen.] Like the tweet that pointed me to it, this song is simple and sweet—pretty little melody, rather nice, nothing fancy. Reminds me a lot of Damien Rice or Jeff Buckley. It’s like “please” and “thank you”—lovely, but easy to let slide in a crowded media environment. NEXT.

@Ouill: Oh my god yes, yes, yes!! RT @ZUNE Carmen: A Hip Hopera is a perfect throwback to wind down another #MusicMonday –

I like to think that @Ouill was making an exaggerated O face when he typed this tweet. Does anyone older than high-school age talk about O faces? I feel like it might be a relic of school busses and kids who don’t really know what Os even are. I don’t know what a hip hopera is, so I’m going to check it out and report back. You’re on your own about Os, though. (Hint: It’s a baseball team. Right?) OHHH Carmen: A Hip Hopera is the title of a movie from 2001 starring Beyonce, Mekhi Phifer, and Mos Def, among other really huge names. I was in high school trying to figure out school bus nonsense when this came out, which is probably why I didn’t see it. But Bizet opera + Beyonce + 1930s costuming means this is going on my Netflix queue. Thanks @Ouill! Next!

messmooka RT @Juneedme: Ooo I had to hear this agn –> #NP MESSMOOKA @messmooka Aftershock mixtape #musicmonday

I’m not entirely sure what’s happening here. Sometimes the syntax of Twitter is impossible to parse. I think that @messmooka tweeted “Aftershock mixtape,” then @Juneedme retweeted that with the comment “Ooo I had to hear this agn.” I think @messmooka responded to her tweet by saying “NP” (No Problem) and signing his name…as a retweet. I’m going to take a guess here and say the song in question uses the name Mess Mooka at least once or twice. It’s like a game within a game! [over to the link…] A game that I lost on a technicality because “Aftershock mixtape” is twenty songs, not one. Duh. I will not be listening to all 20. I will note that it took until the second song to hear the name Mess Mooka, so I just lost all the way around.

Game’s over! Except that there’s no score. Want to let me know if this was a win, loss, or draw? Give me an arbitrary point or grade or word in the comments, just make sure to justify your assertion with a brief but logically valid argument.

My #musicmonday pick: Son the Father, by F***ed Up. I wish indie bands would quit using the F word in their names; it’s tough on my delicate sensibilities. Delicacy does nothing to explain why I can’t stop listening to this song, though.

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TVD Takeover | The Mynabirds

For those of you following attentively at home, it’s no secret that The Mynabirds’ debut release has garnered more than its share of praise in these parts. From swooning over of the first track released to the blogs, to making the LP available in a giveaway, to our First Date with DC ex-patriot Laura Burhenn, she of The Mynabirds (and Georgie James prior) we’ve simply been taken with the level of authenticity and craft—both elegant and (seemingly) effortless. Simply put. “What We Lose in the Fire, We Gain in the Flood” is quite high on our list of favorites for the year.

Laura and the rest of The Mynabirds are currently on the road with David Bazan in support of the aforementioned Saddle Creek release—in the van—making their way to DC where they take the mainstage at the Black Cat this coming Saturday night, 9/25.

We’re delighted to present a bit of a Mynabirds road diary in advance of Saturday night’s show. Laura’s in the driver’s seat and it’s her Vinyl District. All week. —Ed.

Well hullo there, dear DC. So good to see you here. Very much looking forward to meeting up at the Black Cat on Saturday. Til then, I’ll write you letters everyday, starting now.

After meeting up with David Bazan and his sweetheart crew in Chicago, we wound ourselves through Detroit, Toronto, and Montreal. Just crossed back over into the States a few minutes ago, in fact. In Toronto the sound guy, Ron, said, “Mynabirds, Mynabirds, hmm… Haven’t you guys played here before? [PAUSE] Oh wait — no, there’s a Toronto band. Oh, and they were from the 60’s.” I got a good laugh outta that one — told him he perfectly pinpointed our namesake. Felt good to play our first Canadian date in the land of Neil and Rick. I joked with our drummer, Nicole, that we should pull out a cover. But I’ve gotta be honest — as much as I love the notion of the original Mynah Birds and that incredible cast of characters, those two singles Motown put out aren’t my favorites. In fact, I kinda feel creeped out by Rick James singing, “It’s my time, don’t care what you say. It’s my time — gonna love you anyway.” Sounds pretty smarmy. But maybe it’d be a good trick to turn it on its head and have a lady sing it. We’ll see…

We spent the night in Toronto with friend and label mate, Nils, from the Rural Alberta Advantage. They’re in the midst of finishing their sophomore record. Can’t wait to hear it.

The long drive between Toronto and Montreal included a long conversation about great lyricists. I realized three of my all-time favorites are Canadian: Joni Mitchell, for knowing how to set a scene; Leonard Cohen, for his Zen way saying the most with the least; and Neil Young, for his jazz standard strength in simplicity. Then we all wondered aloud about the great lyricists of today. Who’s our Dylan? Who can turn a phrase and get the zeitgeist of our whole generation? Do we have a zeitgeist? Or are we just the dregs of a non-movement, content with our bougie coffees and fancy phones while the world turns to shit? I’d like to think not, to hope that the good voices will rise above the top 40 radio crap and redeem us. Sorry for the rant. Probably just preaching to the choir anyway. (Good that we’ve got a choir on the good side.) But seriously, who moves you these days, lyrically? How do you feel about politically – and socially-minded music? I, for one, eat it up. Reminds me of being a kid with pink hair and combat boots, my friends in bands with high ideals and punk patches, all of us excited about the world we were about to make our own. I say let’s do it. There’s still time. We’ll tear it down and build it back up one lyric at a time.

In Detroit Thursday night, David gave this great little segue way about being courageous in how we consume music. If we don’t put our dollars behind music that means something, commercialism will win out and our kids will be left with vapid jingles for crap on TV. Musicians who sing about the real stuff won’t be able to keep making music — they’ll starve doing it. I’m hopeful that it won’t quite come to that, but it’s a good cautionary tale — and a good reminder about the power we do have. Put your money where your MIND is, I guess. There’s a line in a Pedro the Lion song that I just love:

Have you ever seen an idealist
With grey hairs on his head
Or successful men who keep in touch
With unsuccessful friends
You only think you did
Yeah, I could have sworn I saw it too
But as it turns out
It was just a clever ad for cigarettes

Damn. Now that’s a great lyric.

More tomorrow!


The Mynabirds – Let The Record Go (Mp3)
The Mynabirds – Numbers Don’t Lie (Mp3)
Approved for download!

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TVD Interview (and giveaway!) | Brian Roettinger

The fine folks at Soundscreen have been producing an incredible pairing of music-inspired design and art in their Artist Music Journals. For their 10th release in the series, they called upon Brian Roettinger, the man behind the design studio Hand Held Heart.

In turn, they received something wonderful and unexpected – not only did Roettinger create the desired book of art, but he also created new music along with the band No Age, a group he is well known for collaborating with visually. That combination has led to Grammy nominations for packaging in the past, and now it gives back to the ears as well as the eyes, with an exclusive 10″ record accompanying the book.

We had a chance to pair designer and author John Foster with Brian, to discuss the new release as well as his relationship with music and his design upbringing. Listen in.

It’s rare that a designer gets to have an intimate relationship with a label – much less a specific artist these days – yet you have this concrete bond with No Age – what brought you all together, and more importantly, what has tightened that hold as the years have moved forward?

Dean and I grew up in neighboring neighborhoods. I am a few years older then him. We were both into skateboarding and punk. He was in a band called Unit End and I was in a band called Phil’s Throne (w/ Aaron Hemphill from Liars). Years later we would reconnect via shows at The Smell and he told me that he use to see Phil’s Throne play.

The collaboration has gone so well because not only do we seem to share a very similar in interest in visual aesthetics, but that in each collaboration, much like conceptual art, the “idea” or “ideas” always takes precedence over the aesthetics. It’s always the most important factor in the collaboration and to share that mode of thinking really bonds us together.

How did you decide to collaborate with the band musically and what surprised you about the results?

We spoke about it for awhile. Rather than design, let’s try our collaboration on their side of the fence with music, and with the AMJ, it made the most sense, the joining of music and art. I’ve made music by myself as a side project and just as a general time waster, as I rarely keep anything or do anything with what I’ve made.

There is a strong theme in the black and white work here, as well as a ton of imagery – is this something you were working/ruminating on before the music portion came about or only after?

It really happened before, during, and after the music, but the general sense of how I wanted the music to feel and work with the book was always there as somewhat of a series of soundscapes or sound collages based on field recordings and samples we made or collected.

This is a change in your relationship with Soundscreen (you did their identity work.) What was it like coming in as an “artist” they are publishing as opposed to their “designer?”

My “design” and “art” process share similar responsibilities, in that my primary focus is about presenting an idea rooted from an idea, sometimes that is clear – sometimes it’s not. What differs is that usually the design involves a client who, unfortunately in the end, has the final say. With my “art” and the AMJ, it was really up to me on what I wanted to do, or in this case, not do.

How did they respond to the idea of putting out a limited edition record to go with the book this time – the first time that has happened in the Artist Music Journal Series.

They were just as excited about it as we were, as long as it was affordable and the final piece was in the same price range as the others in the series.

Some of your work has a lot of production bells and whistles and then others seem to cling to a lo-fi application- with equal success – is that a budget (gallery vs indie band) or conceptual consideration?

It’s a little bit of both, but more importantly, it depends on the basis of the project and presentation of the content regardless of its exhibition catalog, monograph or 7-inch record. The form and material, is for me, always a by-product of the idea – although I really enjoy and embrace the quality and “crappy printing” or lo-fi printing techniques like photocopying, Riso, screen-printing, newsprint (Webpress). These are all cheap modes of production that have become aesthetically pleasing regardless of budgets. Coming from a DIY background, I have always been budget conscious (Soundscreen would probably laugh at this) and very hands-on and involved in every step of the process from production, to making, to distribution.

Did you study under Louise Sandhaus at CalArts? What is it like being a student there and then returning as a professor?

Louise was my design instructor during my second year. The year most designers either make it over the hump or shit the bed trying, and transfer over to experimental animation. My first year of teaching I still felt like a student. I had only been out of school for a two years and was teaching a class that I took, in a studio that I spent 18 hours a day in for a year. It was my home away from home and to come back as an instructor was somewhat abstract.

(Super “inside” question – did you do any of the REDCAT posters while there? I will have to see if your work featured in an article I did on the program in 05. Might have just missed you.)

Yeah I did a poster in 2004. I think it was the first poster the museum produced. Here it is:

How much do you think that “CalArts” mode of thinking about typography influences your work even today?

I think, like most designers, the form typography takes and the importance of language is something that were all obsessed with and is a huge part of my process when it comes to design. This was even before CalArts, but CalArts taught me how to really look and understand with a critical eye.

How difficult has it been to stay small and nimble as a studio and what are the benefits and drawbacks to working that way?

It’s difficult when you’re on the cusp of having way too much work to do by yourself, but not enough work to be able to pay someone to be around full-time – so I have friends who freelance on projects every now and then. The unfortunate thing about having a lot of projects is that I spend a lot more time emailing and project managing than I do designing.

What does the immediate future hold for Hand Held Heart and who would be your dream artist to work with next?

Easy, if Dieter Roth and Joseph Beuys came back from the dead.

To wrap it up on a light note, everyone loves lists. Even random lists. Jon (who runs this operation over here) and I both love this game where you list out the first 5 songs to come up on random shuffle on your itunes/ipod – no cheating and eliminating embarrassing Vanilla Ice (the metal version, nothing embarrassing about those smooth raps.) Go!

1. Lil’ Wayne – Let The Beat Build
2. Def Leppard – Photograph
3. Syd Barrett – Wouldn’t You Miss Me (Dark Globe)
4. 52nd Street – Cool As Ice
5. Run DMC – Son of Byford


Instead of just talking about the book and 10″ you’ve got an opportunity to put one in your hands in exchange for your feedback in the comments to this post. Let us know why Soundscreen should send you above all a copy, and the best of the bunch nabs the book.

We’ll give you a week to drum up the perfect response and remember to leave us a contact email address and by signing up for the giveaway, you’ll also get to hear more about Soundscreen’s awesome products! Contest closes at noon 9/27.

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The DC Record Fair Returns! Sunday, 9/26 at U Street Music Hall, 11-5!

Here’s a look back at the last one courtesy of Loop Diggin’ 101.

Full details here and follow the DC Record Fair on Twitter.

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Ticket Giveaway! | Fitz and The Tantrums, Monday (9/20) at the Rock and Roll Hotel

OK, here’s what I want you to do: Click the play button on this youtube video, close your eyes, and listen until the end.

Go ahead, I’ll wait.

It’s not that Fitz and The Tantrums aren’t a stylish and attractive bunch—indeed they are. What you’re hearing is something that I like to call timeless authenticity. Some bands simply have it – effortless soul, swagger and groove.

I close my eyes and it’s the 1970’s again. You know, when the real shit was going down.

Fitz and The Tantrums are currently on the road in support of their Dangerbird Records debut, Pickin’ Up the Pieces. The tour stops Monday night in DC at the Rock and Roll Hotel and we’ve got a pair of tickets to put in the hands of one of you authentic souls.

And it’s with this show and ticket giveaway that we’re pleased to announce our partnership with our favorite DC arts website, ReadysetDC for all of our ticket giveaways going forward. We’ll be sharing and cross-promoting both of our ticket contests so you can enter to win any and all either here at TVD or at ReadysetDC. (Yes, we’re streamlining your evening plans.)

You have until Monday morning (9/20) at 9am to enter to win the pair of Fitz and The Tantrums tickets by leaving a response in the comments to this post, again either below or at ReadysetDC. Good luck and remember to leave us a contact email address!

Fitz And The Tantrums – Money Grabber (Mp3)
Approved for download!

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TVD’s The Ardent Sessions Presents: Jump Back Jake

“Several of my friends have pointed out that my more recent and more personal material like “Call Me Your Man” or “Tara” sounds much less like a character than the songs that make up our first record Brooklyn Hustle/Memphis Muscle. Re-watching the videos of Jump Back Jake on the Ardent sessions I can see so clearly who this character was.

Though only a couple of years ago, I looked and sounded so different than I do today. If I was playing a character, it wasn’t simply a mask I wore for performances or recording, but a person I inhabited. I think I was trying to become a Memphian—perhaps an impossible task for a New York City born yankee like myself, but I did try.

I lived in a house with a huge back yard where I would throw massive barbecue parties on July 4th and Labor Day that usually involved slow cooking a pork shoulder on an oil drum barbecue smoker. I had a hound dog named Jim that I would walk around the neighborhood every day after finishing a shift at my job cleaning houses.

The day we recorded the Ardent Sessions was my 27th birthday and Jump Back Jake was a road weary soul band (we’d just come back from gigs in Shreveport and Little Rock) with a full horn section and a B3 organ player. This is one of the better documents of that moment in time before our music and lives changed.

Six months later, I would hit the road indefinitely with Francis and the Lights, returning home whenever possible to rehearse and record new material with the JBJ. The music borne out of that moment makes up the songs on our new EP, and there aren’t any horns or keyboards on it. Just the four of us banging it out in Studio A with the knowledge that the next day I’d be on a plane not knowing when we’d all get together to play again.

But the idea to record live in that room with no isolation at all only doing a couple of takes was borne out of the experience I had listening back to our Ardent Sessions. I was on the road somewhere listening to a captured moment of what Jump Back Jake sounded like in November of 2008 and using it to construct a vision of what we might sound like in the future. Now we can listen to both recordings and figure out where to go next.”
—”Jump Back” Jake Rabinbach

Enter to win Jump Back Jake’s debut LP “Brooklyn Hustle / Memphis Muscle” on vinyl by simply leaving a comment, your name, and a contact email address in the comments to this post. We’ll choose one winner each Friday for that week’s giveaway which ALSO includes the entire Ardent Music catalog. (That’s just 2 artists at this point, but hey, who’s counting?)

To hear more great Ardent Sessions please visit Ardent Presents.

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TVD’s Obscure Alternatives

I’ve long felt that both the ‘70’s and the ‘80’s were both intensely fertile decades for music of merit. I’m not saying they were the best decades, mind you—just perhaps my favorites. (OK, maybe just half of the ‘80s.)

So, we’re delighted to offer up our new Thursday fix from the rare and obscure crates of 80’s vinyl to run in tandem with our ‘Class of the ‘70’s series that’s been appearing here for well over a year now. We’ll let our pal Gil fill you in on the specifics… —Ed.

“Each week I will review and bring to light an obscure out of print album from the 1980s that fell through the cracks and went unnoticed by the mainstream music media. I will endeavor to cover the myriad of alternative music genres that were prevalent during the decade of decadence. The genres covered will be new wave, minimal synth, power pop, electro, post punk, indie rock, goth, and synth pop.

There’s no better feeling for a vinyl collector when they find and add an elusive obscurity to their collection. My hope is that this feature gives you some interesting recommendations to ponder before you set off on the hunt…Enjoy.”

THE TALK – New Language LP
The Talk was an alternative new wave foursome who hailed from the Midwest in Missoula, Montana. Yes, there seems to have been an indie music scene in the outer reaches of the Midwest.

The band was formed in the early 80’s and created two albums. Both albums were privately pressed on Seal Pup Records out of the same town, Missoula. The first album, “Not Just Hearsay” was produced in 1982 and was essentially a power pop rock affair. The second and final album, “New Language” was produced in 1984 and had a more polished new wave approach with melodic arrangements, solid percussion and even some strategic saxophone playing in some of the songs.

There is also a more prominent role for the keyboards on this second album. The lead vocalist has a great voice that sticks out from his many mainstream peers of the day. It was clear that more time and effort was put into the production on this second album, and it’s heard in the overall final eight song product. A first rate new wave album by this talented indie band who should have garnered more attention in their time.

The Talk – Fools For Fashion (Mp3)
The Talk – Out My Window (Mp3)
The Talk – Pretender (Mp3)

For more obscure and unknown titles, check out Vinyl Obscurity.

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TVD First Date | Jets Overhead

Jets Overhead frontwoman, Antonia Freybe-Smith counts us off in 3’s:

“I feel like I can describe my love affair with vinyl in 3 parts...

Part 1: Young girl of 12 discovers her parents abandoned LP collection in the strange-smelling cupboard of the rarely-used den of her parents strange house. Nana Mouskouri. The Mammas and the Papas. Simon and Garfunkel. West Side Story soundtrack. etc. Young girl is intrigued and digs out her Mickey Mouse record player so she can listen to the LP’s in the privacy of her own room. The Mickey Mouse player is small (meant for playing bright blue Disney 45’s) so her parents giant black LP’s hang over the edge but still play fine. The young girl finds this set-up funny and charming and listens to the records over and over, then forgets about it when she gets her first Sony Sport Walkman, the red one, for Christmas.

Part 2: Young woman of 18 is spending a lazy Sunday with her awesome roommates perusing all the Victoria garage sales while they should be back a their cozy old house studying away. They find a record player, 2 decent speakers and 3 large boxes of LP’s sitting off in a corner at a sweet garage sale on Moss Street. They snatch up the whole kit n’ caboodle, and are quite tickled by some of the many gems they find in the 3 boxes (Bruce Springsteen Live Boxset 1975-85!!!!!). They enjoy a hip phase of record playing at their cozy house…but unfortunately abandon the player and the LP collection to other roommates when they graduate and scatter off to the wind in search of adventure and purpose (as one tends to do after spending a shitload on a University degree and then feeling rather lost afterwards).

Part 3: Slightly older young woman of 29 is recording the overdubs for her band’s new record in downtown Victoria at an old brick building recently vacated by a local radio station. A relaxed, unhurried employee of the station is clearing out the last of the radio gear as we start our overdubs in a small studio in the building. The unhurried employee encourages us to take whatever we want when we inquire after all the leftover stuff. The slightly older young woman and her handsome husband/bandmate, Adam, proceed to unscrew a record player from one of the old booths, and remove a bunch of the hanging speakers. It isn’t until the end of the overdub sessions that the slightly older young girl and her cool-as-a-cucumber producer, Neil Osborne, discover a small, windowless roomed crammed with LP’s. Floor to ceiling shelves full of vinyl, organized alphabetically and in perfect condition (except for Dj notes next to the song listings – ie. written in pen next to the song Hotel California: “single?”). The slightly older young woman and cool as a cucumber producer go crazy like two kids in a candy store and walk out each night of those last days of overdubs with their arms ladened with sweet records. Beach Boys. Sergio Mendes. Dire Straits. Shirley Horne. The Glenn Miller Orchestra. Sinatra. CSNY. Pink Floyd. Bob Marley. Bach. A Nat King Cole record that the slightly older young girl ends up listening to over and over and over as if she’s in a trance. So the slightly older young girl and her handsome husband/bandmate fall back in love with vinyl. They start buying new records on vinyl. They have big grins on their faces when their band’s own record is pressed on vinyl. Slightly older young girl presents her band’s LP to her parents who congratulate her proudly and then proceed to place it carefully in a strange-smelling cupboard in the rarely-used den of their strange house.”

—Antonia Freybe-Smith

Jets Overhead Website | Facebook | MySpace | Twitter

Jets Overhead – Heading For Nowhere (Mp3)
Jets Overhead – No Nations (Mp3)
Jets Overhead – I Should Be Born (Mp3)
Approved for download!

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The Vinyl District Takeover | Those Darlins’ Vinyl and Ticket Giveaway

One thing’s for certain, around these parts if there’s a ‘blog takeover’ we’ve got some stuff to give away—and the Darlins have indeed hooked us up. I’m going to quote a bit here from the press release first:

Those Darlins return from the wilds of Middle Tennessee with the brand new “Night Jogger/Funstix Party” 7” which offers just a taste of the gritty, rock ‘n’ roll direction these three mouthy ladies—plus one smirking drummer—are taking. Fans are hungry for more music after the band’s critically acclaimed debut, and Those Darlins will be supporting this 7” with an extensive headlining tour w/The Strange Boys, Gentleman Jesse & His Men, Turbo Fruits, The Soft Pack and Black Lips, including a performance at ACL Fest.

This southern garage rock band set out in 2006 to get folks off with their rowdy, cheerfully sarcastic, booze-fueled show. Where classic pop meets garage rock, with a telltale country drawl, Those Darlins’ curious mix makes them one of a kind, eliciting queer comparisons like, “The Carter Family meets The Black Lips.”

In 2009, the girls toured feverishly around their critically acclaimed debut, playing 140 shows and sharing the stage with the likes of King Khan & BBQ Show, Dan Auerbach (of The Black Keys), Deer Tick, Wanda Jackson, and MAN MAN. They made huge waves not sucking at SXSW, Bonnaroo, and Garage Fest. 2010 has already been full, with a Eastern headlining tour selling out many cities, including Atlanta, Chicago, Boston, Washington DC, St. Louis, Louisville, Birmingham, Nashville, and more.

We’ve got a pair of tickets for Wednesday night’s Darlins show at the Black Cat (with Strange Boys and Gentleman Jesse & His Men) and the “Night Jogger/Funstix Party” 7” for one winner who suitably convinces us in the comments to this post that he or she should be the rightful owner of both the tickets and the 7.” We’ll choose one winner at 3 PM this Wednesday, the afternoon before the show.

Get a move on and remember to leave us a contact email address!

Those Darlins – Night Jogger (Mp3)
Funstix – Funstix Party (Mp3)
Approved for download!

Posted in TVD Washington, DC | 4 Comments

TVD’s Twitter Music Monday for 9/13/10

Today is #musicmonday, but there are two music-related trending topics right now besting that time-honored hashtag. One is #letshaveatoast, which, according to What the Trend,
“originates from the song Kanye West sang at the VMAs 2010.” The other is #bornthisway, which is the newly announced name of Lady Gaga’s forthcoming album. I swear on my cat that I will not write about Kanye. This leaves Gaga.

(Bad argument alert! I just made it sound like the only alternative to writing about Kanye was to write about the Ga, but that’s mistaking a set for a universe. There are loads of other things to write about. I considered trying my hand at insight and analysis to say something about how #musicmonday is a pretty measly hashtag compared to the trending topics buzzing around superstars like Justin Bieber and superstar-studded events like the VMAs. I thought I might look into whether those bigger events had any bearing on what does trend in #musicmonday. But I’d just end up wondering, again, why there’s so much awful ‘90s nu-metal on Twitter, plus I was sort of hired to write snark, if you define “hired” looser than the jitterbug and also dig very deep into the conversations surrounding the birth of this column to find out what “hired to” might mean.)

So! Gaga! I have a heady sarcasm-n-worship cocktail to send her way. It’s like a martini and includes a plastic cup full of olives on the side. I’ll try to go heavy on the former, because worship, or at least respectful bewilderment, are cheap and sweet and I prefer my cocktails expensive and dry.

Worship first, because otherwise I’ll wind up doing a Seinfield imitation. “The meat dress! What is the deal with the meat dress?” (Full disclosure and revealing my age, if you hadn’t guessed from the fact that I’m writing a column about effing Twitter: I was a bit young for Seinfeld and base the previous sentence on other comedians’ imitations of Seinfeld.) While I agree with Gaga’s detractors that her provocative style borrows generously from Grace Jones and Madonna and the like, I think she’s filling an important AND AWESOME cultural function by bringing avant-garde art and fashion to a population that doesn’t live in a high-concept-saturated environment. Like, the burbs. Not that the burbs are devoid of art or fashion, because I would not touch that conversation on the internet with a pole, but as someone who grew up in the exurbs and now lives within a 5 block radius of no-kidding half a dozen galleries, there’s a level of effort required to see certain perspectives in certain places when those perspectives are impossible to avoid in other places. Um duh, hedging, let’s sum up: Dance Music + Crazy + Smart = Happy Allyson.

Ok so really though: What is the deal with the meat?

First of all, we didn’t really need it twice. She already appeared on the cover of Vogue Hommes Japan dripping in raw red meat. And it’s not like no one saw that cover, even though it’s two adjectives removed from being Vogue Vogue—the Internet ate it up, so to steak. I mean speak. Besides, it had already been done ages ago on America’s Next Top Model. Specifically, Cycle 10, Episode 4, titled “Where’s the Beef?” Please do not ask me how long it took me to a) remember that photo shoot, or b) find the pertinent nitty gritty on it. The point is: ANTM has some awesome photo shoot concepts, but Gaga revels in making obscure references and Tyra Banks is whatever the opposite of obscure is.

Second, the messaging is almost…obvious? Like, duh, meat is just a step removed from fur, or leather, I get it G, can you get drunk at a Yankees game again now ‘cuz that was fun.

Third: Baiting the PETA people is practically cheating. These are the same people who want you to drink beer instead of milk. Sort of. It’s complicated. But really, someone as completely bonkers as Lady Gaga should be able to find a more challenging target. Like, let’s try to outrage the people who choose the typeface for subtitles in foreign films or something next time. (“Slab serif? What is she trying to suggest???”)

Fourth: Wouldn’t prosciutto have been a bit more supple? Or any other thin-sliced deli meat, really.

Fifth: Did you know if you Google Image Search “Lady Gaga Meat Dress” it auto-corrects “meat” to “metal”? Now you know.

Sixth (sixth sixth): I worry that Lady Gaga is veering uncomfortably away from Madonna and toward Marilyn Manson. (666? Get it? Huh huh?) Even when Madonna was at her shockingest best, she was always fun to watch. (I know, I know, I already outed myself as being too young to have seen Seinfeld. A friend had a VHS tape of classic Madonna videos and I watched it obsessively in middle school.) Manson (who was hitting his stride when I was rewinding “Express Yourself” a million times) wasn’t trying to do much more than make people vomit, from what I remember. Gaga has proved that she can provoke without resorting to gross-out tactics, so a gory awards-show dress is a potentially Mansony new direction. And nothing says “meteoric rise followed by obscurity and irrelevance” like Marilyn Manson.

Finally, and about time: Where can she possibly go from here? Translucent deli meat might be a good next step, because it keeps the gore but adds some nudity. Maybe she’ll start dressing like a monk and riding a skateboard, although I have a friend who did that for a large chunk of college so that’d be weirdly derivative but also psychic. My educated guess is heavier body modification, but that gets us back to point the sixth: Shock for shock’s sake and the plummet to obscurity. Mainstream America isn’t ready for horn implants, I’m, like, 99.9% sure.

My #musicmonday pick: The opposite of shocking—I’m really digging indie/hip-hop/funk/soul darling Janelle Monae right now. Cold War and Tightrope are my oh-so-obvious picks.

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The Vinyl District Takeover | Jump Back Jake

It’s a crowded morning at TVD HQ, let me tell you…

As mentioned earlier today, Autumn isn’t merely for falling leaves, but dropping LPs—and one we and our friends at Ardent Music would like to put on your radar is the new EP from Jump Back Jake, ‘Call Me Your Man’ which hits your local record store shelves tomorrow, 9/14.

Jump Back Jake, aka Jake Rabinbach (who also plays lead guitar in Francis and the Lights) formed JBJ back in 2006 after jumping from Brooklyn to Memphis. The new EP is in fond memory of James Luther Dickinson, Willie Mitchell, Jay Lindsay, and Alex Chilton who all in some manner inform the recording.

As such, we’ve brought in guest reviewer Benjamin Popper for a proper review of ‘Call Me Your Man’ in advance of spending the week with Mr. Rabinbach (in addition to Those Darlins!)

TVD: we’re all sorts of taken over this week… —Ed.

The hard driving drums that open Jump Back Jake’s new EP, Call Me Your Man, don’t try to do too much. When the rest of the band jumps in a few bars later, the contours of a small recording studio emerge from the sound. It’s tight, focused, full of momentum. Jump Back starts singing, but the cadence is more relaxed then his older material. I think immediately of Kris Kristofferson when he gets to that line, “I’m sleeping in the next room doll / And all my shirts smell like you”. It’s understatement with an undercurrent, simmering on top of some rock and roll.

Where have all the horns gone? I remember Jake proudly rounding up aging Memphis brass, dragging them out of their retirement kicking and screaming, charming them with grand marnier and an unabashed love for the obscure records they played on decades ago. But the well curated soul sound that powered his first record, Brooklyn Hustle / Memphis Muscle, is over. And frankly I don’t miss it.

That Jake can still be found. The murderous metal riffs on Rose Colored Coffin (track 4) fall right into “I got a Loooovveee,” sung with the tone and melisma of a juke joint regular. But instead of trying to produce a modern soul record, Jump Back is putting those tools to work on compositions that defy easy categorization. There is something of Tom Waits in this track, a spooky gypsy, collecting the odds and ends of American music and stitching them up into an ill fitting suit that scares the women as much as it turns them on.

Records inform one another, and Jake’s new single, King of Romance, makes this new album make a lot of sense. “I remember when we first met,” he sings on that track, over a beat that could have been borrowed from Clipse. “And I took you down to Mississippi/ To see the cotton and the old cities/ Where it still looks like th 50s.” The cadence here is so startling, delivered half speaking with a rhyme scheme reminiscent of Craig Finn. And because of that, that distance from Memphis, from Stax, from soul arrangements and the rest, Jump Back’s love for the south comes across even stronger.

This music has excised the ghosts of influence. What makes the new record so exciting is not how good the musicians are, or Jake’s voice, those have always been good. It’s that he’s doing something novel, something that points forward more than back. It must be all that touring, the constant motion, the distance that makes the heart grow fonder, the pen sharper and the guitar sing.

Benjamin Popper is a journalist living in Brooklyn, NY. He has written for Rolling Stone, Vice, Men’s Vogue, the Daily Beast, New York Observer, and the Memphis Flyer.

Jump Back Jake – Call Me Your Man (Mp3)
Approved for download!

Stream the complete EP right here.

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The Vinyl District Takeover | Those Darlins

It’s often said that Spring is the time of renewal, yet Autumn brings with it its own share of rejuvenations, not the least of which are vinyl releases and tour schedules.

For Those Darlins, a band we’ve championed since way back when, Autumn – and specifically this pre-Fall week – brings both the release of their new 7” ‘Night Jogger’ to store shelves and the band to town on Wednesday night at the Black Cat.

With such an auspicious convergence of events, we thought we’d invite the Darlins over to ol’ TVD HQ and rummage through what the band listens to at home and on the road, courtesy of freshly minted and full-fledged new Darlin, Linwood Regensburg. (He’s the one easily identified in the photo up there.)

Later on today we’ll give you an opportunity to win the 7” and some tickets to Wednesday night’s show with Strange Boys and Gentleman Jessie & His Men, but for now we’re turning over the reigns to Linwood—all week it’s Those Darlins Vinyl District. —Ed.

When was the last time you called your friend and said, “Hey bring your laptop over and lets have beers and listen to some MP3’s?”

Believe me, I’m not the kind who’s totally denying the now, but I can’t help but continually steep in the old. I don’t have an ipod, and my computer rarely works, making vinyl the main means for turning on. Unless of course, you’re interested in making me a mixtape?

LUVS From the Modern World…….list of new shit I like.

Sonny and the Sunsets – Tomorrow Is Alright | I got this record for my birthday, and thank god for birthdays. “Too Young too Burn” knocked me out the first time I put that on.

Strange Boys – Be Brave | We’re on tour with these guys as we speak. I hope it never ends.

Magic Kids – Hey Boy b/w Good To Be (7″) | The Kids just released their full length “Memphis” a few weeks ago. If you can get your hands on their debut single put out by Goner, dooo it. The primera versions of “Hey Boy” and “Good to Be” blow me away. Total wall of lo fi magic recorded by the Magic Kids themselves.

The Soft Pack – The Soft Pack | Some people still can’t get over the fact that they changed their name from the Muslims to the Soft Pack. Who cares. Their drummer, Brian, is one of my favorites. Now he plays standing up.

Jeffrey Novak | Jeffreys got another solo record “Baron in the Trees” coming out in 2010, until the enjoy last years “After the Ball.”

Best Coast – I read that Bill Murray likes Best Coast.

Sonny and the Sunsets – Too Young To Burn (Mp3)

The Soft Pack – Mexico (Mp3)
Best Coast – When I’m With You (Mp3)

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TVD Live Tease | Kevin Dunn, Wednesday, 9/15 at Crooked Beat Records

Last week I was introduced to Brad San Martin who runs the tiny record label, Casa Nueva. Our introduction was in advance of next Wednesday’s in-store appearance by Kevin Dunn at Crooked Beat Records. Casa Nueva’s just released “No Great Lost: Songs, 1979-1985” a retrospective of Kevin’s underappreciated (if you ask me) studio recordings.

Brad and I got to talking: “I grew up in Atlanta, and have always been fascinated by the Athens/Atlanta new wave renaissance. One of the unsung pioneers of that scene was Kevin Dunn. Kevin co-founded the first art-rock/new-wave band in the southeast, The Fans, who paved the way for much of what was to come. While the Fans were famously unlucky and broke up with little to show for their efforts , Kevin went on to play in important role in nurturing the scene: he co-produced the B-52s legendary “Rock Lobster” 45 and the first 45 and LP by the incredibly influential Pylon (the album was recently reissued by DFA to widespread acclaim). He also released a series of singles, EPs, and albums of his own brilliantly skewed art-pop that was widely heralded at the time…

When I started my little Casa Nueva label, one of the first things I wanted to do was reissue Kevin’s classic one-man solo debut “The Judgement of Paris,” which had never been on CD. I tracked Kevin down, and we spent the past year getting to know and trust each other, and carefully restoring “Judgement” from the original 16-track tapes, as the stereo master tapes had been destroyed in a fire. The result is “No Great Lost: Songs, 1979-1985,” an anthology of Kevin’s solo work containing all of “The Judgement of Paris” (including one UK-only track), both sides of his legendary “Nadine” 45, choice cuts from the EP and LP that followed “Judgement,” and the a-side of the Fans’ “Cars and Explosions” 45.”

Fitting, it seems, that Kevin’s appearance in DC is at Crooked Beat, as he has quite the affinity for vinyl indeed.

My Plastic Madeleine: Vinyl Considered
by Kevin McFoy Dunn

A declaration contrary (certainly in the instant milieu): many are the reasons for me to covet and to collect vinyl, but — as does witness, empirically and to my entire satisfaction, what I deem the robust testimony of my own œuvre’s vicissitudes — sound does not number among them, in my considered and representably subjective opinion. We can leave it at that.

Much crowds in on me when I set to the recollection of vinyl’s role in my life, the greater part of it pretty random, a congeries of idiosyncratic personal associations and miscellaneous rosters of objects. My copy of Cream’s Goodbye, into which I stapled my ticket stub from their farewell-tour performance at the amphitheatre in Atlanta’s Chastain Park on 27 October 1968. The Stones’ Their Satanic Majesties Request and its terminally kool lo-tech 3-D thingie on the cover’s exterior recto. And, indeed, any cover sheathing music that I liked (and, in a few cases, I confess, that I didn’t, exactly) that also served to herald through obliquity of iconography or recondity of design or both what I was, or wished to be perceived as, as a consumer of the thornily æsthetic (one in this category towards which I feel especial warmth for sound and look marvelously allied: Fred Frith’s Guitar Solos). It at length dawned on me as I was raking through the mental midden that, were I to do this something like right, I would be obliged to aim the instruments of recall back a half-century and more to Merivale Road in Jacksonville, Florida. So here goes.

The recorded music in my childhood house was always my music. Early adopters of the big-time teevee lifestyle of the first third of the Fifties, my parents (father sentimental and unmusical; mother repressedly gifted at certain aspects of jazz pianism but without access to a piano) got their tune exposure mostly from Your Hit Parade (I remember Snooky fucking Lanson, for God’s sake) and its ilk, to an appreciably lesser degree from radio, and not really at all from records — unsurprising, as the only platter-spinning device or devices ever gracing our happy home (it was happy, until I was 9 or 10, anyway) would always be, basically, mine.

And it seems as if I was always in possession of a record player. The first — could I have been as young as three years old? — I eideticize as a flattish brownish box, a piece of necessarily mono junk with a three-inch paper-cone speaker blatting in magnetic sympathy with the jittering graven japa of fond memory (arguably too fond), the memorious furrow tracked by an Iron Age stylus the size of a sewing-machine needle (I have this faint, nagging sense that my father may once have actually tried using one whose blunt end he’d modified with a file) inserted occultly into the business end of a blocky tone arm of dark-beige metal, its weird, child-brain-flummoxing finish halfway between hammered and flaking, its dimensions those of a fat three-month-old’s forearm.

My Ur-records themselves (a cache of which I stumbled across while finally steeling myself to clear out the storage space that housed for a decade and change the pitiful, fraught complement of my deceased mother’s worldly goods) were primitive affairs that may have spun at 78 rpm, punched as they were with small holes. (I say “may have” because no indication of playback speed appears on their labels, and I have no turntable with which to check them out.) To judge from the surviving trove, the collection would have consisted chiefly of, of course, rugrat fare, the oldest exemplars (included software for the unit, I suspect, as their aspect is quite generic) bearing a copyright date of 1953. Christmas material was prominent, as was Disney product (one disc sports tunes from Lady and the Tramp, “Bella Notte” the presumptive A-side) and Terrytoons stuff, those two latter on the Golden Records marque; all of that component of the excavated stash was pressed on avant-le-lettre-’80s-hip colored vinyl (red grapefruit and lemon yellow). I may have had some Melanesian-backcountry-guy sort of intimation about the principle behind the zoetrope, I having drawn in pencil on a Heckle-and-Jeckle-themed production (groove-destroyingly vigorously, natch) stick figures of the chatty magpies menaced at a remove of about 90º by what I take to be a bulbous and, I think, peeved Cartoon Dog of Willendorf. Did I perhaps imagine that spinning them would activate latent animation?

All of these epiphenomena of hearing music don’t sum to hearing music itself; of that ineffability my impressions barely attain to the diaphanous. Some tableaux are retrievable, with lacunæ and shadows. For instance, I remember sitting with Mom and Dad in a cheerily spartan, neon-washed burger joint (not a chain) in Orlando. It would have been 1959, because as I could not then and cannot now resist in-booth jukeboxes, I was burning through some nickels with my selection for the evening, Johnny Horton’s “The Battle of New Orleans,” the which I wheedled my father into playing (doubtless to the consternation of the other patrons) maybe four times in a row, as I found the bit about the gator so goddamned hilarious. (Dad was something of a military history buff, and took the opportunity to fill me in a little on Jackson and Lafitte.) And I remember also — again, it chances, an episode from ’59 — compulsively spinning in my bedroom, as I also spun myself in a Mevlevi-like approximation of grand nineteenth-century ballroom dancing, a 45 of the waltz from Tchiakovsky’s Sleeping Beauty that had been authorizedly or otherwise (that disc didn’t survive time’s wrack, so I can’t say) released in exploitation of the Mouse Empire’s animated feature; transported, I couldn’t stop listening to it. I think that’s when I learned not to stop listening until the beauty is departed.

And that, as a matter of, if nothing else, sheer causal contiguity, is what I owe vinyl: the first intimations of what the intersection of my autonomy and the neural blandishments of moving air governed by that self-moved me could mean. Quondam et futurus, I am suitably grateful.
— Atlanta, 8.ix.2010

Kevin Dunn – Saturn (Mp3)

Approved for download!

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TVD’s The Ardent Sessions Presents: A.J. Roach

“This past February, my friend Raina Rose and I did a tour together from Memphis to Boston, then from Boston to Austin. The first stop on the tour was an in-studio performance / webcast at Ardent Studios in Memphis. Like most people I suppose, the first thing that struck me about Ardent was the number of records by legendary artists hanging on the wall throughout the whole building. At the time, a bartender friend of mine here in Greenpoint, Brooklyn had just turned me on to a fabulous record by an Artist named Chris Bell called ‘I Am The Cosmos’. Along with Alex Chilton, Chris Bell was an original member of the band Big Star, but I had never heard any of his solo work. That record sort of blew me away the first time I heard it, so you can imagine how surreal it was for me to find it hanging on the wall of Ardent Studio a short two weeks after first having heard it.

The studio space itself at Ardent is beautifully designed. There is a large kitchen / lounge area in the back and a long hallway leading to a control room which — through a large glass window — looks out onto a large, open hardwood-clad studio room. This room is where we recorded the session / webcast.

The session consisted of Raina, myself and another friend of ours, Hunter Paye, each playing a few songs. I was lucky enough to have Raina and some other in-studio friends sing with me on a few of my own songs. My favorite part of performing as a part of the session / webcast at Ardent was the fact that they allow you to bring friends with you and they can sit on the couches in the studio with you while you perform. Robby Hecht, Rebecca Loebe and Betty Soo were all there at the same time as us because they were recording a session just before us, so we got to sit in the studio room and watch them perform and they got to come into the studio and hear us. It really helps foster a sense of community among the artists, and since we had all just come from the annual folk alliance convention held each February in Memphis, it was a natural extension of that community.

Another great thing about doing the session / webcast at Ardent is that afterward, you have a professionally done high quality audio and video recording of your performance. Such high quality production would usually run you hundreds of dollars if not more!

All told it was a great experience and one I’d happily repeat anytime I’m in southwestern Tennessee. Thanks Ardent!
—A.J. Roach

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TVD Summer Vinyl Giveaway | A split 12" on Berlin’s Haywain Recordings

I’ve said it many times over but I’ll repeat it once more—the beauty of this endeavor is being the recipient of solicitations from across the globe pointing me to new music and/or new record labels. Or, shall I say, new to me.

Case in point was an email from Berlin introducing me to that city’s Haywain Recordings and the music of Château Laut and Jeanie Bueller. And I’ve asked them to introduce themselves to you:

“Haywain Recordings documents the creative surrounding of photographer and musician Stephan Laackman. With its do-it-yourself philosophy it has distinguished itself in the past 11 years as an independent platform for offstream acts. From electro to noise, from indie rock to acoustic folk, releases of all kinds can be found on the label, whether as limited vinyl, tapes, CDs or CD-Rs.

Bands, such as Château Laut (bluNoise) or composer and producer Stanley Anscorm (Diamonds and Pearls/EXR) choose Haywain to release music apart from their regular output. 2010 sees the release of the album “Elegiac Stanzas” by Johnny3000, a split 12“ vinyl with Château Laut and Laackman‘s own band Jeanie Bueller, the cover of it featuring art by painter Klaus Lomnitzer. An album with live bootlegs of Château Laut and a new EP with selected and unreleased archivmaterial by The K.o.N. is in the works for a late 2010 release.

It has been Laackman‘s work as a photographer for several years to capture internationally known independent rock bands in Berlin, bringing him in contact with a lot of artists, such as Lambchop, Sonic Youth, Deerhunter, Tortoise or Times New Viking. The resulting book “Citybirches Photography Works” will be accompanied by a compilation of tracks by many of the collaborating bands, released through Haywain.

More exclusive recordings with some of these bands are to follow in form of “Citystreet Hihat”, an audio series of spontaneous field recording sessions of artists and bands on tour, captured in hotel rooms, on the street, before the soundcheck, or after their show. Topped off with individual art work, photos and tour diaries, the episodes are released for free as virtual 7″ on the labels website. The first of those features Tiny Vipers (Jesy Fortino) out October 6, 2010.

All releases are available exclusively at the label‘s webshop.”

We have two copies of the Château Laut and Jeanie Bueller split 12″ by way of further introduction to Haywain to award to two of you who request one in the comments to this post. Download the Mp3s offered below and share your thoughts—with a contact email address—and a package directly from Berlin will land upon the doorstep of two deserving commenters. We’ll give you a week and select our winners on Thursday, 9/16.

Jeanie Bueller – Music For Simulator Flights (MP3)
Château Laut – The Day Will Come Tonight (MP3)
Approved for download!

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