Monthly Archives: March 2014

TVD Live: …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead with La Femme and Midnight Masses at the Rock & Roll Hotel, 3/27

Rock & Roll Hotel was completely packed for last Thursday’s …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead show. 

They played a nearly two-hour set, including Source Tags & Codes in its entirety. Along with the rest of the crowd, the band dripped sweat as they crowd surfed and joined the pit for brief moments. Towards the end of their set, they allowed for the crowd to join them on stage.

Earlier, wearing masks, Midnight Masses got on stage to start off the night and performed straight through a slew of songs, not stopping for twenty-five minutes. I could barely tell when one song started and when another ended and wonder if the brevity in pauses was due to their starting 10 minutes later than scheduled.

After that, French punk band La Femme were shockingly able to start almost on time due to Midnight Masses’s short set. By the end of La Femme’s set, the crowd was shouting for an encore—one more song, two more songs, even three more songs. One person from the crowd screamed, “I want to have a thousand of your babies! You guys are awesome!”

Overall, it was one of the best punk shows I’ve seen all year.

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Up next: The mysterious Conner Youngblood

Conner Youngblood is really rather fascinating. The Dallas-born, Nashville-based musician is only 24 years old, and yet he has already become at least somewhat practiced in some-odd 30 or 40 different instruments, has performed at SXSW three times, and has succeeded in crafting a sophisticated sound reminiscent of—but distinct from—indie greats Bon Iver and James Blake. What’s more fascinating: somehow, the unsigned Youngblood has managed to remain relatively unknown.

And yet that it is exactly why he is so interesting. Conner Youngblood is a mystery. A one-man-show inspired by the falsettos and atmospheric sound qualities of his idols, the wispy folk of Ray LaMontagne and the breezy beats of Gorillaz, he self-produces an obscure, understated sound matched only in ambiguity by his vague online persona. But as an artist with a knack for masterfully layering electronic synths and acoustic instrumentals with gorgeous, transcendent vocals, Youngblood proves he has talent—and a creative vision—worth talking about.

Youngblood’s story isn’t exactly typical. In fact, he didn’t even know he could sing until a few years ago. “I thought, hey, that doesn’t sound half bad,” Youngblood said of the first time he recorded himself singing. Having practiced guitar since his youth, he spent his college days experimenting with different instruments and schooling himself in music history. “I’m just now finally getting caught up,” he said. “Now I’m trying to find as much new stuff to listen to as I can.” Don’t misunderstand, though: despite being inspired by various artists and genres, Youngblood’s sound carves a niche in modern music all its own.

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TVD Recommends: A DC Record Store Listening Party With Electric Cowbell, Lost Origin Sound Series, and The Vinyl District, 4/6

On Sunday, April 6, The Vinyl DistrictLost Origin Sound Series and Electric Cowbell Records will do a listening party tour of local Washington, DC-area brick-and-mortar record stores from 12PM-6PM.

We’ll play Ancient Sufi Invocations and Forgotten Songs from Aleppo in its entirety and be giving away free download cards for the album and have free coffee courtesy of local small batch coffee roasters, Zeke’s Coffee. The album will be released on Record Store Day April 19, 2014.

12:00PM Som Records
1:00PM Crooked Beat Records
2:00PM Red Onion Records
3:00PM Hill and Dale Records
4:00PM Blue Groove Soundz
5:00PM CD Cellar

What do two old-school punk rock drummers have in common? Apparently they both share an interest in ancient Sufi chants from Syria. On Record Store Day, April 19, 2014, Electric Cowbell Records and Lost Origin Sound Series join forces to release a limited-edition album titled “Ancient Sufi Invocations and Forgotten Songs from Aleppo” by a secretive group of Sufi musicians known as NAWA.

Jim Thomson, one of the original drummers for Gwar and SST band Alter Natives, runs Electric Cowbell out of his home in Arlington, while keeping a small warehouse in Brooklyn.

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TVD Premiere: The Caribbean, “Jobsworth” (Jimmy Ether Sleepdance Remix)

“I’ve loved The Caribbean for a few years now and was thrilled when Matthew asked me to remix “Jobsworth.”

“The original version kinda meanders quickly around a lot of great hooks, so I just wanted to find a way to sustain my favorites a bit longer. The approach was hands-on turntable manipulation and patchwork edits of various analog mixes.”
Jimmy Ether

As producer Chad Clark notes in regard to Washington, DC’s The Caribbean, “Bands should get stronger and more interesting as they progress. Ideally, public awareness, critical acclaim and popularity increase in accord.”

We’d like to think in some tiny part we’ve done our bit over the years putting the DC trio on your collective radar, and we’re delighted to underscore our enthusiasm with the debut of the Jimmy Ether remix of “Jobsworth” from the the band’s 2014 release, Moon Sickness.

The Caribbean Official | Facebook | Twitter

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Graded on a Curve:
Roxy Music,
Viva! Roxy Music

I am writing these lines in my own blood on a sheet of homemade papyrus, which I will then shove into a bottle and toss into the sea. Why? Because this review is about Roxy Music, and Roxy Music fans are a deranged and dangerous lot, known for issuing fatwahs against people who disagree with their fiercely held opinions—that or just plain fopping them to death.

So coward that I am, I took the precaution of relocating to a deserted archipelago in the remote vastness of the South Pacific—you know, to lie low until the spear-shaking dies down. Unfortunately, I now find myself a castaway (can’t believe I forgot to book that return trip) and have been reduced to a diet of stump-toed gecko and fermented 190-proof coconut hooch, a volleyball with a face painted on it for company.

Because what I’m about to say is sure to cause every Roxy fan on earth to howl and then hunt me down. To wit, Roxy Music’s best album is NOT one of the fetishized Eno-era LPs, or the critically acclaimed 1973-75 albums that followed, or even the much-beloved late-period Avalon. No, Roxy Music’s best LP is—prepare to go apoplectic, Roxy lovers—1976’s live Viva! Roxy Music.

There, I said it. And I can hear the howls of outrage way out here in the middle of nowhere. Thank God for good old Wilson—at least I know he agrees with me.

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TVD’s Press Play

Press Play is our Monday morning recap of the new tracks received last week—provided here to inform your vinyl purchasing power. Click, preview, download.

Xu Xu Fang – Noir State Beach
Blank Realm – Bulldozer Love
Jake Bellows – I Know You
WOOL – Stars
Armand Margjeka – Hummingbird
Scary People – Crush The Bug
Ellie Goulding – Burn (Gryffin Remix)
Sleepyhead – Liberation Theology
Sioux City Kid – Heartbreak Shakedown
Arum Rae – Warranted Queen

King of Prussia – Actuary

Kaela Sinclair – Stranger
Craft Spells – Breaking The Angle Against The Tide
French Horn Rebellion – Swing Into It (ft. HAERTS)
Overlake – Disappearing
The 1975 – Settle Down (EMBRZ Remix)
IRie Idea – Soul Vending
Olympic Ayres – Take Flight (Acaddamy Remix)
Champagne Jerry – Apologies Detected
The Cure – Just Like Heaven (The Penelopes Remix)
LAZYTALK – Just A Ride

12 more FREE TRACKS on side B!

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TVD’s The Idelic Hour with Jon Sidel

Greetings From Laurel Canyon!

After a lost week, The Idelic Hour is back in action. Fuck me, this year SXSW took its toll on many of us. I returned from Austin with a wicked cold. All the “vampire shots” in Erewhon market couldn’t shake me free of a massive headache this week. To boot, as SXSW wrapped Saturday, sad news reached Texas—Stooges drummer Scott Ashton had died of a heart attack.

It should come as no surprise that Scott “rock action” Ashton is this week’s Idelic Hour muse. Even by rock ‘n roll standards, this was no ordinary cat. His vibe and drum style were savage, scary, and downright druggie. His beats were the backdrop for a new musical context. A “dark wind;” a prevailing attitude where rock ‘n roll as “art” could for many of us take precedence over sound.

The Stooges (along with the Velvets and the Dolls) inspired with songs like “No Fun,” “1969,” “Real Cool Time,” “Not Right,” and “I Wanna Be Your Dog.” Yes, if it were Lou Reed and Iggy who inspired punk, it was Ashton who pounded the seeds of punk out of our imaginations and into ritual.

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Needle Drop: Timber Timbre, “Curtains?!”

With the release of Hot Dreams, Timber Timbre has made it clear their uncanny knack for spooky yet seductive songs is their stock of trade.

While their previous releases have dabbled in the more muddled shades of musicality, this release seems like an intentional side step into the shadows. Unfolding like some whacked out spaghetti western film noir soundtrack, Hot Dreams delivers some of the most rollicking music of Timber Timbre’s career along with the brilliant studio finesse we have come to expect from them.

I found myself returning again and again to “Curtains!?” mostly upon the request of my 4-year-old. It seemed to send his imagination reeling with visions of bad guys on our tail, car crashes, and people hiding around corners. It is a quite a wonderfully mixed and mastered piece of music; less about approach and more about attack, resulting in a thumping Technicolor soundscape below the deeply creepy vocal.

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The 9th Mid City Bayou Boogaloo announces 2014 lineup

Last year, more than 35,000 locals and visitors enjoyed the Mid-City Bayou Boogaloo. In 2014, festers will once again be able to revel in music from three stages, enjoy diverse offerings from local food vendors, and shop the Boogaloo Art Market. As always, the free Mid-City Bayou Boogaloo is a family-friendly event with a kid’s stage, games, and activities.

Positive Vibrations Foundation, a non-profit organization whose mission is to create and encourage community through development and preservation of arts, music, culture, and heritage, presents the 9th Annual Mid-City Bayou Boogaloo festival.

We are thrilled to once again partner with the MotherShip Foundation to present the Mid-City Bayou Boogaloo,” said Ben Faulks, Co Founder and Director of Positive Vibrations Foundation. “The festival provides our community with a special time to come together on Bayou St. John each May, when and where both the arts and music are accessible to everyone and enjoyed by all,” he added.

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(Re)Graded on a Curve:
Jobriath, s/t

In terms of popularity, America never produced an equivalent to David Bowie. But there was Jobriath, an unfortunate victim of record label hype and consumer indifference who produced what’s easily the USA’s purest expression of glam sensibilities.

Jobriath Boone, né Bruce Wayne Campbell is one of the more fascinating casualties in rock’s colorful history. Starting out in the ultra-obscure pop-folk-psyche group Pigeon (who recorded an LP and a single for Decca in ’69) after defecting from a Los Angeles production of Hair, his demo tape was stumbled upon by ‘70s mover-and-shaker Jerry Brandt, who managed to get him signed to Elektra Records for the reported sum of $500,000.

A barrage of publicity followed, including a billboard in Times Square and an appearance on the late night TV variety program The Midnight Special. Problem was, his ’73 debut tanked commercially, setting off a media backlash that left his follow-up Creatures of the Street to wither without promotion. His relationship with Brandt severed, Jobriath was held in the clutches of a ten year contract that kept him from recording any further material. Instead, he worked as a cabaret singer under the name Cole Berlin and lived in the Chelsea Hotel, where he died of AIDS in 1983.

Jobriath’s status as an openly gay musician sets him apart from his glam contemporaries. Where Bowie and others flirted with the perception of bi-sexuality, Jobriath made no bones about his sexual orientation. He described himself to the press as a “true fairy,” displaying frankness and flamboyance that surely damaged his chances with many observers hiding a closed mind in the closet, and in fact this defiant boldness situates Jobriath as an exponent of the camp theatricality that’s long been an aspect of gay culture.

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TVD Recommends Stones Fest: A Tribute to the Rolling Stones at Tipitina’s, 3/28

Tribute shows are all the rage. Just witness the plethora of bands out there who ape much more famous bands. The pinnacle of this trend has to be Who’s Bad, the Michael Jackson tribute band because they have two “Michaels,” one who can really sing and one who can really dance.

Tomorrow night, the Stones Fest at Tipitina’s is a different sort of animal. First off, the band is composed of the cream of the crop of local musicians. Secondly, they don’t play together all the time. In fact, this particular aggregation doesn’t really ever play together. They are just a bunch of musicians who love the Stones. The video below features many of the same musicians two years ago.

Some like Dave Malone, formerly of the Radiators now with Raw Oyster Cult, have been covering the Stones for years. Although truth be told, as a kid in Edgard, Louisiana he was much more partial to the Beatles.

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Graded on a Curve:
John Lennon and
Yoko Ono,
Double Fantasy

Beware of confusing the idol for his work. This is particularly true of John Lennon, ex-Beatle, whose murder outside The Dakota in December 1980 instantly transformed him into a martyr and secular saint. More importantly, it effectively obscured the fact that as an artist Lennon had reached a creative nadir with 1980’s Double Fantasy—in my opinion, one of the most overrated albums in the history of popular music.

There is no need to recount Beatle John’s brilliant contributions to music. They speak for themselves, as does his early post-Beatles output. But from those early heights Lennon fell into a precipitous artistic decline that culminated in 1974’s lackluster Walls and Bridges and 1975’s Rock’n’Roll—an oldies album, that last refuge of a musician who has run out of original ideas. It was at this point that Lennon retreated to The Dakota and “retired” from music.

Double Fantasy marked his return to music. Largely forgotten now is that initial sales of Lennon’s much-vaunted “comeback” were sluggish, and the record-buying public avoided it in droves. Also largely forgotten is the fact that most top-notch music mags—including Rolling Stone, The Times, and The Village Voice—panned Double Fantasy.

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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 A Record Of The Week From La Luz from Seattle, It’s Alive and a #shellshock from Howling Bells.” —SZ

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Graded on a Curve: Andrew Hill,
Point of Departure

Pianist and composer Andrew Hill cut Point of Departure for Blue Note just a touch over 50 years ago. To this day the session endures as one of the true masterpieces in post-bop jazz. Featuring an amazing supporting cast and a brilliant program of Hill’s original songs, it’s a faultless and frustratingly undersung record.

When the subject turns to underrated piano players, the late Andrew Hill fits the description perfectly. While he’s not as unknown as Ran Blake, Lowell Davidson, or Valdo Williams, it’s still stymieing how a guy who consistently produced one classic after another for arguably the most successful jazz label of the 1960s is basically only on the radar screens of heavy-duty jazzbos and Nels Cline-nuts (in 2006 the veteran improviser/Wilco guitarist issued the tribute New Monastery: A View Into The Music Of Andrew Hill).

Andrew Hill often gets lumped in with the avant-garde, and while that is far less of a disservice to his oeuvre than just placing him into the ‘60s jazz mainstream (though he did possess significant commercial potential), the New Thing doesn’t accurately encompass his strengths throughout a long and occasionally problematic career.

A good word to describe him would be cerebral. Both Hill’s composing and his improvising are positively loaded with unanticipated turns gracefully rendered, and he was able to get considerable expressiveness from some of Blue Note’s most familiar personnel. He also regularly included more eclectic recruits, a few of which are painfully under-documented.

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TVD Live: Jackie Greene at the Fox Theater, 3/21

Jackie Greene (1 of 1)

Jackie Greene and The Mother Hips together on one stage make for a magical night in the San Francisco Bay Area. Even better, the show was at the beautiful Fox Theater (and yes, apparently every city has a Fox Theater). For those of you not familiar with Jackie’s work, his resume reads like a who’s who of bluesy jam band music, but not so far down the Grateful Dead rabbit hole that you have to be high as a kite to enjoy it.

Jackie recently finished up touring with The Black Crowes and now word is that he’s focused on touring and recording a new solo record. It’s about time since his last record; the brilliant, critically acclaimed Til the Light Comes came out in 2010.

Jackie Greene (4 of 5)

Back to Jackie’s resume, this guy plays with the best of them around town and beyond, including the current supergroup Trigger Hippy which includes Joan Osborne, Steve Gorman (The Black Crowes), Tom Bukovac (Renowned Session Guy), and Nick Govrik. He’s also jammed time and time again with Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead and Chris Robinson calling themselves the Weir, Robinson, Greene trio. They should probably work on that band name a bit.

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