Monthly Archives: July 2013

TVD Live Shots: Black Clouds, Shark Week, Warchild, Typefighter at the 9:30 Club, 7/27

PHOTOS: RICHIE DOWNS | Presented by the DC Party Action Committee Council, some of DC’s most beloved bands graced the 9:30 Club stage for a raucous Saturday night, celebrating records and saying joyful goodbyes.

Masters of atmospheric, encompassing rock, headliner Black Clouds was joined by a bill of local favorites, including Shark Week, Warchild, Typefighter, True Head, and Highway Cross, with the Blackout DJs keeping the momentum going between sets. Black Clouds, whom we interviewed in advance of the show, debuted the vinyl release of their full-length, Everything Is Not Going To Be OK, released last year by Australopithecus Records. It was also the record release party for garage-punk surf-rockers Shark Week‘s 7″ “Santurce,” recorded during their recent trip to Puerto Rico.

Additionally, DC was able to bid one final adieu to metal gods Warchild, complete with girls dancing on stage with water guns, during their last performance ever. Along with indie rock mainstays Typefighter, we were able to snap photos of these bands to commemorate this very special night of talented local musicianship.

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The Perfect Vessels discuss production of their newest EP, “Habitual Long-Distance Lovers”

Garage-pop quartet Perfect Vessels have been working the Memphis scene for years. They’ve built a sound of clean guitar and catchy choruses stitched together with plenty of grown-up relationship subject matter. As of late they have been working off of the physical release of their newest EP Habitual Long-Distance Lovers.

The four-song effort bolsters a matured take on the role relationships play in adult life through a sort of jangly garage rock, detailed with catchy riffs and choruses. Though the boys have sought studio shelter in the past, the music for the EP was crafted in much more comfortable place.

Guitarist Graham Burks explains, “Rather than going into a studio to re-do all of our work, we got a little more serious about the craft of our home recordings and decided to release those instead. Because these songs were recorded at home over the course of a year, we were able to grab takes whenever inspiration would strike. We were able to experiment more with the arrangements.”

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Jazz in the Park releases season four lineup and expands hours

This morning at 10:30 AM, the leaders of the newest sensation on the outdoor concert series scene announced the bands that are scheduled for the nine-week run that begins September 5, 2013.

Among the highlights are appearances by homegrown greats Davell Crawford and Stephanie Jordan (September 12), and a new band from the legendary percussionist, bandleader and vocalist Cyril Neville (October 10).

Neville (pictured above) has fronted numerous ensembles in his long career including a decades-long run with the family band, the Neville Brothers. His newest aggregation is dubbed Cyril Neville’s Swamp Funk. His wife Gaynielle will open the show with her Sweet Stuff Band.

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Elephant Stone:
The TVD Interview

We talked with psych-pop favorites and innovators of “Hindie Rock” Elephant Stone, in the hot summer sun of Austin Psych Fest—well, actually in the cool comfy rocking chairs of the Artist tent—to discuss the band’s latest self titled record, their US tour with The Black Angels, and well, vinyl.

Vocalist, bassist, and sitar genius Rishi Dhir and guitarist Gab Lambert spill it all in the TVD Interview.

Recently, I asked the band SUUNS this same question since you guys are both from Montreal. Is there a psych scene coming out of Montreal?

Rishi Dhir: Montreal is funny, it’s been so conditioned by Arcade Fire and the Arbutus Records scene. I can’t say there’s a big psych scene in Montreal. No Joy is kind of shoegaze-y, Besnard Lakes are shoegaze-y, I think Suuns are probably the most “psych” band in Montreal.

Yea, they’re kind of a totally different monster…

RD: Yea, the stuff they’re doing… no one else is doing that. It’s not pop. We do pop, we’re a pop band.

You guys do pop so well. You do a great job of integrating some psychedelic aspects, but at the heart of it Elephant Stone is a pop band. 

RD: It’s funny, I posted a video on our YouTube account and someone commented that us, The Black Angels, and Tame Impala are their hope for music right now. One guy writes “Yhese guys are nothing like Tame Impala or The Black Angels, this is shitty pop music.” I posted back, “Yes, it is pop music, so what?” Some people are so closed-minded. Tame Impala is pop music too. I posted the video so when I replied to it was my name, and this guy is hiding behind a pseudonym, so he knows it’s me responding to him. It’s funny how trolls like that work.

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Alex Cheatle:
The TVD First Date

“I’ve always loved the glamour and decadence of lying on my bedroom floor listening to records, and definitely prefer the rich texture of vinyl to the sterile feel of a lot of modern production.”

“There’s something really magical about the character of music which hasn’t been fully quantified, for instance; I’ve always liked to think that the most effective part of the build up to the chorus of one of my favourite records, Bowie’s “Life on Mars,” is the way in which the tempo slows ever so slightly right at the very last moment—it’s a little bit like reaching the top of a roller coaster, and, since you know full well that you are about to rocket downwards, your emotions are heightened even further by the tantalising suspense created as the car slows down just before the drop.

Modern music production can sometimes lack the depth of emotion that a record is able to capture, in fact, I often make a point of saluting the past by putting record static back onto my electronic music.

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Graded on a Curve:
Craig Leon, Nommos

Craig Leon is best known as a record producer. Amongst other achievements he oversaw three of the most auspicious LPs in the first wave of US punk, the first albums from Suicide, Blondie, and the Ramones. The enduring success of these documents is enough to ensure him something much more than just album-credit footnote status, but he’s also a musician, and in the ‘80s he released a few records. Superior Viaduct’s outstanding vinyl reissue of his 1981 debut Nommos finds Leon in command of a highly developed experimental approach that was decades ahead of its time.

Craig Leon has a ton of producer credits on his resume, and there’s a whole lot of interesting music residing in that number, including work for such worthy names as Willie “Loco” Alexander, DMZ, The Go-Betweens, Jeffrey Lee Pierce, and The Fall. But where these name-checks basically point to the breadth of his abilities as a coordinator/guide, after consideration three of the biggest (and earliest) entries in his production bag actually serve as the indicator of his advisory talents.

Blondie (co-produced with Richard Gottehrer), Ramones, and Suicide (co-produced with Marty Thau) find Leon at the helm of three disparate streams of punk’s early potential. In the first case, there’s the swankness of unabashed pop accessibility. In the second comes the stripped-down brilliance of the music’s core. And in the third lies the rewards of the outer fringe.

That Leon was able to understand, and at a very early stage, that it was all coming from one vital regenerative impulse is testimony to his acumen (he also produced the early recordings of Richard Hell & the Voidoids), and that he was such a staunch advocate of the Ramones as something much more than just an oddball neighborhood band (according to Tommy Ramone he was instrumental in their getting signed to Sire) makes him quite a crucial figure in punk’s whole development.

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TVD Live Shots: Mayhem Festival at Jiffy Lube Live, 7/24

The Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival made its annual stop in Bristow, VA, last week for the sixth year in a row. Live Nation venues around the country host almost every stop on the Mayhem tour, and last Wednesday, it was Jiffy Lube Live’s turn to welcome metal fans from DC and the surrounding region. The venue, which is the largest capacity amphitheater in the DC area, was transformed for a day into a land of hard-rocking metal and misadventure.

The amphitheater itself served as the main stage for this event and certainly housed the most elaborate stage setups. Amon Amarth played on and around a life-sized Viking Warship complete with Celtic markings, while Rob Zombie sported various toys and evil creatures is his bag of tricks; most notable were a giant dancing robot, a ghoulish zombie skull reaper apparition, a zombified boom box tower, and this incredible half-dinosaur-half-war-tank metal machine.

Mayhem Fest- VA-07-24-2013-1254

The Mayhem tour set up three different stages to host the onslaught of metal bands throughout the day. In fact, the stage setup at this particular event was one of the most impressive and certainly the most efficient setup I have seen from any all-day music event. The smallest of the three, the Sumerian Stage was set along the main walkway of the Pavilion grounds. This stage had a reach-out-and-touch kind of feel to it. Many fans stood at the barricade talking to artists before and after their sets. Because of its location, The Sumerian Stage actually seemed a little camouflaged amongst a line of vendor tents and mixed right in with various booths that sold anything from snacks to body jewelry to full-blown Slip-Knot-style face masks.

The two larger stages on the grounds were The Jagermeister Stage and The Musicians Institute Stage. These stages were set up up side-by-side on one of the most spacious parts of the Pavilion grounds. Large crowds gathered in front of both stages to form one immense crowd. The coolest thing about this was that the minute one band stopped playing, the next band was ready to go on the adjacent stage. This allowed for almost no down time and helped the crowd from having to walk from one stage to another like most outdoor festivals.

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Dumpstaphunk releases new album today; party at the Maple Leaf Bar tomorrow night, 7/31

Ivan Neville has never been a conventional musician. His torrid ensemble that features two bass players started as one-off band for Jazz Fest ten years ago and grew into a funk institution despite minimal recorded output. He was famously warned by none other than Keith Richards about his excessive consumption of drugs.

Off drugs for years, the keyboardist and vocalist has seen every side of the music industry. He toured with Richards as a member of the X-Pensive Winos. He has recorded with the Rolling Stones and with his father’s longtime ensemble the Neville Brothers.

The new album, Dirty Word, was praised today in the New York Times. It’s a compelling document of what I am calling the post nouveau funk phase of New Orleans music. It is not indebted to the Meters anymore than to the Neville Brothers themselves. The album stands on its own as the harbinger of a new style of 21st century funk.

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UK Artist of the Week: Jan Roth

Jan Roth released his debut album this week entitled L.O.W. It’s out on Sinnbus records, home to many cutting edge German bands and, most recently, UK alt folk duo Rue Royale.

Jan’s music crosses many genres from jazz to chamber music, post rock, and everything in between which makes him an intriguing prospect and a brilliant candidate for our Artist of the Week.

Purely instrumental, being an accomplished pianist and clearly influenced by elements of jazz, Jan’s music could be compared to Brad Mehldau. He blends modern alternative sounds with traditional genres, which marks him above the rest as a modern alternative composer. In his native Germany, he’s collaborated with a number of artists like Tim Neuhaus, Clueso, and Max Prosa. L.O.W. however, is just Jan and his inspiration about the world around him.

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Hot off the Presses: Pond, Hobo Rocket

If you’re a fan of modern psychedelia, there’s a release you should check out. Australian outfit Pond are just about to release their fifth album Hobo Rocket through Modular on August 6.

After the past few years, Pond has become one of the most talked-about Australian acts. Members have been bounced back and forth with sister act Tame Impala, but Pond’s core sound has always focused on references to ’60s psychedelia with a 21st century education and lots of easy-to-follow melodies.

Hobo Rocket is the band’s first major recording in three years. (2012’s critically acclaimed Beard, Wives, Denim was recorded in 2010.) The release of singles “Xanman” and “Giant Tortoise” give insight into the pace the band has set for the upcoming full length.

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Jenn Fiorentino:
The TVD First Date

“It wasn’t until about six years ago that I became interested in vinyl. My family always had two record players in the basement, but neither one of them had functioning needles; so, I usually just fooled around with them, pretending to be a DJ.”

“My parents’ records sat there collecting dust, eclipsed by the new era of the cassette tape, soon to become the compact disc. Even back then, I couldn’t keep up with the changing formats; my friends were all getting these new things called CDs and I was still buying my Backstreet Boys albums on cassette, and damn proud of it. But, I eventually caught up and started collecting CDs, and at the next blink of an eye Mp3’s became the new thing; yet I continued to purchase CDs for something more tangible, something that involved a piece of paper with lyrics and photos, that I could unwrap like a gift.

Now, in an era where music has been significantly devalued, where listeners can acquire a whole discography at the click of a button, free of charge, while the artist watches his or her fan base rapidly grow while still living at home, I see why vinyl has made a comeback. Not only that, but after decades of hearing music in digital format, it’s no surprise that a record has acquired such a superior status in terms of sound. It is so much more tactile, and natural sounding, than a compact disk, and especially an Mp3. When I hold a record, I feel like I am holding a part of somebody’s soul, and when I listen to it, I am brought to a different place, as if I were there with the artist when he or she was writing the song.

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Graded on a Curve: Superchunk, “Me & You & Jackie Mittoo” b/w “Sunset Arcade” 7″

The A-side of “Me & You & Jackie Mittoo” b/w “Sunset Arcade” finds indie cornerstone Superchunk continuing to explore the increasingly classique strain of pop-rock that’s marked their late-period work, and the flip is a fine extension of the band’s mid-‘90s thrust. They will be releasing their tenth proper LP next month, and if the sound of this 7-inch is an accurate foreshadowing of what’s in store, then I Hate Music will retain the band’s typically high standard of quality.

For a band whose appeal for well over two decades has been based upon a rather direct and non-sophisto approach to indie rocking, Superchunk’s existence holds a high number of equally rewarding facets. For starters, as the flagship band on one of the great imprints to rise (and persevere) out of the whole ‘90s indie shebang, Superchunk prospered on Merge Records through a combination of smarts and tenacity while a heap of ‘90s acts unfortunately floundered after jumping into the major label ring.

Another major aspect of the group’s personality directly relates to their doggedness in serving one of the most important functions of a highly talented yet light on the frills rock band, specifically getting out on the road and playing a heap of live shows. Throughout the ‘90s Superchunk seemed to be constantly on tour, headlining clubs, opening larger dates for bigger names and even signing on for the second stage of that Alternative Rock über-festival Lollapalooza.

Then there are the albums to consider, nine to be exact, seven of them appearing during the ‘90s and directly feeding into the intensity of Superchunk’s touring schedule during the era. And that tally of nine LPs leaves out the group’s three Clambakes volumes, a series that includes a collection of acoustic in-stores, a ’99 live set from long-serving hometown nightspot Cat’s Cradle and a performance score for Teinosuke Kinugasa’s 1926 silent film A Page of Madness.

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TVD Live Shots: Backstage with GEMS
at the Black Cat, 7/21

While much is made of the axiom “to leave it all on the stage,” there’s a well rehearsed mile from here to there.

Photographer Kate Warren caught DC duo Clifford John Usher and Lindsay Pitts, together known as the next big thing to emerge from the District—GEMS, backstage before their recent show at DC’s Black Cat for a candid look prior to their set. —Ed.

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TVD Live: Loretta Lynn at the 9:30 Club, 7/26

Loretta Lynn’s music is intimate and revealing in a way that few of her female classic country contemporaries can claim, and it is most readily apparent in the songs she penned herself. Her enduring career is due in no small part to her easily relatable lyrics, particularly when it comes to themes that impact women. The fact that she drew heavily from many of her own classics for Friday night’s show at the 9:30 Club made for a memorable evening.

The night started with a few songs from her son Ernest Ray as backed by Loretta’s band The Coalminers. It was a solid way to get the crowd going a bit, and while I have heard his performances can be hit or miss he, was in good form for the covers he sang. Up next were a few sang by Patsy and Peggy Lynn, Loretta’s twin daughters, who did a great job of working the stage end-to-end, whose songs were a bit more in the realm of contemporary pop country. I liked their stage presence, and the crowd loved it.

Loretta came out in a floor-length sequined gown and started things off with “They Don’t Make Them Like My Daddy.” It immediately struck me just how top-shelf her voice still is. After 50 years in the music business, you don’t really expect her voice to be quite so potent, and yet here she is all these years later, not only keeping up with, but surpassing, the vocals of so many other female singers. The quality, combined with her unique vocal delivery, creates a compelling sound that really doesn’t disappoint.

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Burning Condors:
The TVD First Date

“My first memory of vinyl, which I guess is similar for most people my age, was listening to my parents’ and grandparents’ records.”

“My dad has really a good collection which includes some classic records by The Rolling Stones and Bowie from when he was growing up. My grandparents have some great older stuff—I particular remember playing air drums to Cozy Powell’s “Dance with the Devil” as a kid!

Vinyl always seemed a whole different world to me, being someone who grew up with cassette tapes and CDs. It seemed so much more effort putting a record on! It’s only later that I’ve really understood why people love them so much. A lot of this is probably linked to making my own music.

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