Monthly Archives: December 2013

Happy Holidays!

Posted in The TVD Storefront | 1 Comment

TVD’s The Idelic Hour with Jon Sidel

Greetings from Laurel Canyon!

Well, it’s that time. The Idelic Hour is a wrap for 2013. Looking back at this year it’s hard not to make a few observations.

Strange, but my first impression of 2013 has to be, “This was a long fucking year!” My god, I can sure use a bit of “A&R,” I mean “R&R”—ha!

I can’t say 2013 was a rad year for music but it didn’t suck either. I heard someone say Lorde was the best songwriter of this generation. Maybe it was the year music bloggers tired to made “chick music” cool?

My response is “good grief Charlie Brown!” Although the IH might have been one of the first onto Lorde, Chrurches, Wet, and the rest, we in “this Idelic canyon” prefer intelligent lyrics and psychedelia to experimental urban and blogger chick pop.

The biggest thing in music that happened to me in 2013 was Spotify. At times turning onto the program felt as groovy a smoking cocaine for the first time. I’m not sure how “subscription models” will affect the music fan, however. Let’s just hope there’s life after crack (or should I say free-base?)

Read More »

Posted in The TVD Storefront | Leave a comment

The 11 best touring bands in 2013 that you probably missed

Brick and Mortar in San Francisco shot by Jason Miller-3

2013 has been a fabulous year for music, but much like every year before, chances are that you probably missed out on some of the best artists. The sheer volume of new music and all the internet noise that surrounds the flavor of the month tends to drown out many of the diamonds in the rough.

I have photographed more than 100 artists this year and have seen some truly mind-blowing shows, from the big ones such as Van Halen and Alice in Chains at major venues to the smaller ones that some pretty cool publicists turned me onto at tiny clubs.

Instead of pulling together a list of my top albums of 2013, I thought I would take it a step further. I have been lucky enough to see every artist on my top albums list live, so I pulled together some exclusive photos I have taken this year and paired them up with why I think they are the best of 2013 and what they sound like. These are the best of the best for me, and I think many of them will be having a breakout year in 2014.

Read More »

Posted in TVD San Francisco | 1 Comment

TVD Recommends:
The Early November at Union Transfer, 12/21

New Jersey’s own The Early November are celebrating the 10-year anniversary of their most influential album this Saturday at Union Transfer

In what will be a homecoming show of sorts, New Jersey residents The Early November will travel across the Delaware River Saturday night to make their way to Union Transfer. There, they will be playing to a sold-out crowd who are not there to hear new songs. Instead, it will be to hear the band’s biggest album, The Room’s Too Cold, in its entirety. It’s been a decade since it first came out, but it’s clear that it has not gotten lost amongst the numerous other albums released in the years following.

Read More »

Posted in TVD Philadelphia | Leave a comment

TVD Recommends: Walter “Wolfman” Washington’s 70th Birthday Party, 12/20

Tonight, the legendary guitarist and vocalist celebrates a milestone birthday with a slew of special guests at the Maple Leaf Bar.

I first saw “Wolfman” in the early 1980s at the Rose Tattoo, a smoky neighborhood joint with a held-over disco ball, which was located right across Napoleon Avenue from Tipitina’s. His band at the time was called the Solar System, and truth be told, I was more impressed with his drummer, the late Wilbert “Junkyard Dog” Arnold and his rapport with the bass player, Jack Cruz, than I was with Washington.

But over the years I saw the band which remained intact, though their name changed to the Roadmasters, hundreds of times until Arnold retired from performing in 2006. They were the late night act to catch at the Maple Leaf Bar after all the other bands shut down. For more details on this period, get my book!

Read More »

Posted in TVD New Orleans | Leave a comment

Graded on a Curve: Baader Meinhof,
Baader Meinhof

As the great P.G. Wodehouse once wrote explaining how it was that the fictional lion hunter A.B. Spottsworth came to find himself in the obituaries, “He thought the lion was dead, and the lion thought it wasn’t.” Like that lion, the Baader Meinhof Group—which quixotically set out in the early seventies, all 25 or so of them, to overthrow the West German State, only to end up in prison or dead—lives on in feature films, documentaries, and numerous books, thanks largely to its fascinating mix of characters, Bonnie and Clyde-like antics, and sheer youthful sex appeal.

But my favorite piece of Baader Meinhof-inspired art is the 1996 LP Baader Meinhof, by the band of the same name. A one-off project by Luke Haines of The Auteurs and Black Box Recorder fame, Baader Meinhof is a strange hybrid of Haine’s usual brainy pop, Blaxploitation film soundtrack music, and Middle Eastern influences. Forget about Cabaret Voltaire’s unlistenable “Baader Meinhof”—this baby is the real deal, both a history lesson and one very dark but catchy LP in one. You’ll have to look hard to find a copy, but like I always say, if it’s not impossible, it’s not worth doing.

But first, some brief background. The name Baader Meinhof Group was actually a creation of the press—the members called themselves The Red Army Faction. Baader Meinhof focuses on the tiny band’s suicidal daring-do—they once robbed three banks in 10 minutes—and the events of 1977’s German Autumn, during which the Red Army Faction’s so-called “second generation” committed murders and kidnappings to pressure the West German government into releasing jailed Baader Meinhof leaders Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin, and Jan-Carl Raspe. The trio ultimately committed collective suicide—or, as copious evidence exists to suggest, were assassinated in cold blood—in October 1977, following a failed PLO plane hijacking intended to force West Germany to free them.

Read More »

Posted in The TVD Storefront | Leave a comment

The Best of the
TVD Interview 2013:
Brian Wilson

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON OCTOBER 1, 2013 | “Some people say I’m a genius like Gershwin. I don’t know if I’m as good as Gershwin, but I know I’m good at music, you know?”

The public forgives everything but genius, or so the saying goes. But that doesn’t account for Brian Wilson. Few rock stars have endured the prolonged tragedy that followed Wilson throughout his career, and fewer still have enjoyed the kind of creative resurgence which lifted one of the greatest American songwriters out from under decades-long descents into addiction and mental illness. That’s the power of genius for you.

The 71-year-old Wilson is experiencing a creative reawakening that began in earnest with his live performances of his opus, Pet Soundsin 2002. When he finally completed the long-shelved Pet Sounds follow-up as Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE in 2004, the musical floodgates opened again. The formerly (and notoriously) reclusive Beach Boys co-founder has been more prolific in the last decade than he has been since his brilliant ‘60s heyday, releasing six albums since 2004, with a seventh on its way.

Read More »

Posted in The TVD Storefront | Leave a comment

Graded on a Curve:
The Best of 2013

Some rock, a few new takes on old traditions, a jazz disc, and an ample dose of contemporary experimentalism; hopefully in the end a little something for everybody. Here’s our Top 10 for 2013.

10. Body/Head, Coming Apart

If I had a dollar for every time I heard somebody rag on Kim Gordon, I’m not sure what I’d buy, but I’d surely have quite a few more bucks than my tattered billfold carries right now. Coming Apart, which is basically her post-Sonic Youth musical debut in collaboration with Bill Nace, finds Gordon laying down her bass for an excursion into a two guitar-plus-vocals improvisational zone, and not only is it the post-SY “solo” release that’s most reflective of what made the band such a valuable entity (to these ears anyway), it also happens to get better every time I play it.

Which admittedly isn’t a lot, due in part to its length and additionally the demands it makes upon the listener, but it has gotten more spins in this house than Chelsea Light Moving and the latest from Lee Ranaldo combined. Coming/Apart isn’t likely to hush her detractors, but for Sonic Youth fans who also dabble in No Wave and dig the great out-vocalist Patty Waters’ two ‘60s records for ESP Disk, it’s a welcome hunk of expansive formidableness.

9. Barrence Whitfield and the Savages, Dig Thy Savage Soul

Barrence’s smoking return to form hits hard right out the gate, but it’s also a real grower. When assessing it a few months back, I wrote that while a great disc it wasn’t likely to get my pick for best of the year. Well, it’s not in the top spot but it has crept through the contenders via frequent play (unlike Coming Apart, Dig Thy Savage Soul is concise and sounds great while house cleaning) to make the short list. And that’s quite an achievement.

Frankly, if a comeback this sweetly unexpected was tacked onto the conclusion of a sports movie, cynics would be mocking it for decades. But Whitfield just destroyed the odds and came up with a record so lean and lithe that garage hopefuls half his age should study it for pointers on how to conduct themselves in public. No, it’s not as distorted and disheveled as much of the post-Gories/Oblivians/Jay Reatard scene, but it’s still plenty raw, and it comes loaded with knowledge of musical history that could only derive from a dude who worked in a record shop.

Read More »

Posted in The TVD Storefront | Leave a comment

The Best of the
TVD Interview 2013:
Van Dyke Parks

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON SEPTEMBER 19, 2013 | Van Dyke Parks is simply one of our great American originals. Let’s see, there’s his work arranging “The Bare Necessities” from the Disney animated classic The Jungle Book, his involvement in the shaping of the once lost but recently recovered Smile from The Beach Boys, his own string of wonderfully individual albums (never has he made a bad record), his brilliant and integral contribution to Joanna Newsom’s masterpiece Ys…the list does go on for a while.

But that’s all a matter of the public record, and Mr. Parks has a pair of recent projects, Songs Cycled and Super Chief, which show he’s still very much on top of his game. He recently took time to discuss these records with us, and his thoughts prove to be as stimulating as his music.

So, the website is called The Vinyl District?

Yes, that’s correct.

And you know that I have championed vinyl in three…well let’s see. Last year there were three reissues in vinyl, and this year there was Songs Cycled and Bella Union put out Super Chief, which is now in limited availability in the United States. And they are beautiful to hear, and I’m happy to have once again connected with vinyl.

The recent records you’ve released, more than just sounding fantastic, they look fantastic as well…

Well, I think there is an absolute iconic value to vinyl. I remember now that I was the last vinyl pressing at Warner Brothers before they dived feet first into the CD era. And that was with a record called Tokyo Rose. That was the last vinyl album produced at Warner Brothers Records, and we’ve seen what happened in the meantime.

Everyone was very enthusiastic about the CD, but the first thing that I noticed, I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the sound of CDs, but my first reservation about the CD was the miniaturism of the artwork, that all of a sudden we couldn’t read the liner notes or the liner notes had to be left out because there wasn’t enough space. And to me that was a significant problem with the CD era, which of course has come and gone as a principal market force. It’s downloading now, but vinyl is back, and vinyl is back certainly not for any reasons of sentimentality, but in fact, because it’s better. It is still the finest way to reproduce music technologically, and to me the artwork is hand and glove with that listening experience.

Read More »

Posted in The TVD Storefront | Leave a comment

TVD Recommends:
Their / They’re / There at the First Unitarian Church, 12/20

No, it’s not a third grader’s grammatical nightmare. Their / They’re / There are three guys taking a break from their mainstays to come together for something new. Friday marks their Philadelphia debut, and it is going to be a show not to miss.

Separately, Mike, Evan, and Matt have already left, and are continuing to leave, a huge, influential mark on the emo scene. They each have played in a number of different bands, and each have played in numerous cities multiple times across the country and beyond. But recently, Mike Kinsella, Evan Weiss, and Matthew Frank decided to start writing music together to see where it would take them. Two EPs later, they are embarking on their first tour together as Their / They’re / There.

On Friday, December 20, the trio of emo vets will play their first show together in Philadelphia in the infamous basement of The First Unitarian Church. Joining them for the night are Mansions, Birthmark (which features Mike’s cousin Tim Kinsella), and Marge. In a time where every music website has written an article on the “emo revival,” this tour has packaged the best of the past, present, and future in the scene all in one nice, little present. And we here in Philly get to unwrap it on Friday!

Read More »

Posted in TVD Philadelphia | Leave a comment

Richie Kotzen of
The Winery Dogs:
The TVD Interview

One of the premier guitar aces of our lifetime, Richie Kotzen, has joined forces with drummer extraordinaire Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater) and bass guitar god Billy Sheehan to form The Winery Dogs. You would think that this would be an all-guns blazing musicians geek fest, but it’s quite the opposite. Some of the best songwriting I have heard all year is backed by overly able musicians playing for the songs themselves instead of face-melting solos.

It’s got a bluesy base that falls somewhere between Hendrix and SRV while showcasing an incredibly underrated voice that is all Richie Kotzen. This guy can pretty much do it all, and I am thrilled that The Winery Dogs record is getting so much recognition, and I am sure that it’s going to be on many top year-end lists. I had one of the most interesting conversations with Richie last month about growing up in Pennsylvania, a near-disaster on That Metal Show, and what it was like when he heard that The Winery Dogs debuted Top 30 on the Billboard 200.

Being that you are originally from Pennsylvania, what were you listening to when you were growing up—were you into Cinderella?

(Laughing) Yes, only Cinderella specifically over and over—no, wait—and Britny Fox. Actually I love Tom Keifer; I think he’s awesome. But when I was living back there, way before Cinderella, I was really just a fan of the records I heard in my house. My mom was into all the classic rock stuff like, you know, Stones, Beatles, The Who, Janis Joplin….She saw all those acts when they came out to play. My dad was kind of an R&B guy; he listened to Percy Sledge and Stevie Wonder records.

So, I was kind of getting hit from both sides, and then once I started writing songs and playing out, I was a rock guy with a love for Soul and R&B. I left there pretty quick, though. I played around in my cover band from the time I was 15 to 17 and then I got signed to a label that was based in San Francisco called Shrapnel Records. I went to San Francisco and made my first record with them, and that was pretty much the beginning of my career.

Read More »

Posted in TVD San Francisco | Leave a comment

TVD Vinyl Giveaway: Inside Llewyn Davis Original Soundtrack LP

Christmas is less than a week away, and seeing that it’s the season of giving, we’re giving away the soundtrack to one of this year’s finest films according to the Associated Press. Find out how you can snag a copy of it as a present from us…

The film Inside Llewyn Davis was released in a limited amount of theaters on December 6. Prior to the film’s release, Inside Llewyn Davis was screened at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. The film follows the rough journey of folk musician Llewyn Davis (based on real life folk artist Dave Van Ronk) as he tries to make it in the 1961 New York music scene.

The indie film, directed by brothers Joel and Ethan Coen, has already won awards and is nominated for three Golden Globes. The award-winning film centers on an aspiring musician, so of course, it should have an impressive soundtrack. The track list includes folk songs from Dave Von Ronk himself as well as Bob Dylan, Marcus Mumford, and Justin Timberlake, just to name a few. As mentioned above, we’re giving away a copy of the soundtrack on vinyl.

Read More »

Posted in The TVD Storefront | 19 Comments

The Best of the
TVD Interview 2013:
Graham Parker

Writer, Don Silver is author of the book, Clive: Working for the Man in the Age of Vinyl, an intimate, insider account of working for Clive Davis at Arista Records. —Ed.

In late 1978, I was hired by Clive Davis to do A&R, which is essentially to scout talent at Arista Records. What sounded very exciting at first, after a year, lost much of its luster. Day after day, I listened to demo tapes and went to clubs and showcases put on by wannabe rockers, formula pop balladeers, and some of the most contrived music I’d heard since I was a little kid begging my parents to change the car radio station. One day, I got a cassette of Graham Parker’s first record for Arista, Squeezing Out Sparks.

It was actually Parker’s fourth album and it was quite a little masterpiece of coiled up energy, cynicism and craft, explosive, snarky and catchy as all get out. He’d built quite a following in the U.K. but his first U.S. release pretty much died stillborn. There was also a gray vinyl 12” single that we didn’t include in the album that Parker had written in accordance with what was the ethos of punk–a scathing rebuke of his former label called “Mercury Poisoning.”

Squeezing Out Sparks didn’t sell like Fleetwood Mac or Foreigner, but it was critically acclaimed for its fine songs, high voltage performances, and irreverence. For me, at least for a minute, it was like the old days when I first dreamed about being in the record biz; everybody thought Squeezing Out Sparks was a really good record by a guy who someday was going to make a great one.

Graham Parker’s second album for Arista, Up the Escalator, was produced by Jimmy Iovine right around the time Iovine produced Tom Petty’s Damn the Torpedoes. Maybe Parker hadn’t had enough time to write new material. Maybe expectations were too high. It didn’t have the magic.

Read More »

Posted in The TVD Storefront | 1 Comment

Shell Zenner Presents

Greater Manchester’s most in the know radio host Shell Zenner broadcasts the best new music every week on the UK’s Amazing Radio and Bolton FM. You can also catch Shell’s broadcast right here at TVD, each and every Thursday.

“This week’s show is devoted to my commitment to travel to see music that I love. Recently my friend Jenny’s jaw dropped when I took her to witness the fitness that was Jonathan Wilson in concert in Liverpool. Fanfare is a gorgeous album that I’m honoured to be able to spin three tracks from this week on the show as my ‘Record of the Week.’

Talking about Liverpool and Jaws, I got to catch up with the latter in the former recently, and also visited their homestead Birmingham twice this year to check out its burgeoning musical loins. The fruits of both will be discussed in this weeks feature interview with Jaws. With more new music than you can shake a stick at, you’d be daft to miss it…” —SZ

Posted in TVD UK | Leave a comment

Graded on a Curve: The Best of 2013’s Reissues

A massive amount of superb reissues hit the stores this year, and we’ve only ten spots to rank them in. So please allow us to cheat and pair them up thematically.

Here are our picks for the best of 2013, aka the year Superior Viaduct blasted it out of the archival music ballpark.

10. Public Enemy, 25th Anniversary Vinyl Collection and Slick Rick, The Great Adventures of Slick Rick

Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back arrived in March of 1988 and Slick Rick’s debut appeared the following November, just two LPs from a year jammed up jelly tight with top-notch rap releases. But for a long time thereafter it seemed like PE’s second album was the harbinger of hip-hop to come while The Great Adventures stood as one of the last great expressions of the old-school, partially because the ‘90s were loaded with multi-member crews and, the obviously Rick-influenced Snoop Dog aside, not so full of rappers going it alone.

But flash forward to right now and the scenario tilts to just the opposite extreme, and furthermore Rick’s first and best record is one of the few ‘80s rap disc’s that non-hip-hop diehards manage to recall with any level of affection. The PE box set is plainly a heavyweight document that’s brimming with the squad’s still potent sonic mayhem and unbridled syllabic onslaught, but this standalone item from the British native with an eye patch assists in revealing rap’s diversity circa ’88 and easily transcends the level of period-piece.

Yes, some of the sentiments expressed on The Great Adventures are thorny and even downright unfortunate, but compared to much of what was to come the disc is frankly PG-rated (well, other than the bizarre and rather disturbing “Indian Girl.”) For progressiveness and wildly broken ground the 25th Anniversary Collection wins hands down, with the first three LPs included being no-brainer entries on any greatest hip-hop albums list. But The Great Adventures of Slick Rick would make that cut as well. And nobody enunciates their lines quite like Ricky Walters.

Read More »

Posted in The TVD Storefront | Leave a comment

  • Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text
  • Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text