Monthly Archives: March 2014

Jazz Fest 2014: A closer look at the “cubes”


Now that everyone has had a chance to make an initial pass through the Jazz Fest lineup, it’s time to dig a little deeper beyond the obvious. Here are a few thoughts about each of the seven days.

On the first Friday, Ruben Blades and the Roberto Delgado Orchestra precede Santana. This is fest booking at its best. Blades is best known, if he is known at all to the younger generation, as an actor. But he is also a great musician. His set will educate fans about Latin music before one of the icons takes the stage.

On the first Saturday, Phish takes over the Acura stage for a full three hours. I may be incorrect, but I believe this is the longest set any single act has ever had at the Jazz Fest. Their cube looks incredibly strange—five tiny letters on a huge field of white.

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TVD Video Premiere: MammaBear,
“Raven Falls”

“Everyone takes in music differently as a child and what you are exposed to at a young age is what you’ll be bouncing back to the world when it’s your turn to keep the lights on and feed the next generation. Music is motion, and motion is energy.”

“Dancing was a big deal to my mother growing up, but not what you think of as normal dancing, but a free form, often humorous exchange between the song and her heart. Listening to music she would say, ‘You know Kyle, this song makes me want to do this…’ and then would proceed to do some silly spin or something hilarious with her hands in a ‘backing up Diana Ross’ kind of way. Music was motion, motion is energy, and that still means a lot to me today.

Music was the fuel, and most of that fuel was hippy dippy shit, like the Beatles and CSNY. That’s not to say that’s all we listened too, but that was the spark. The albums she had were the ones I grew up with, but as I got older I found my own voice and my own types of music that inspired me.

Let’s look at a few, shall we?

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Needle Drop:
Foster the People,
“Goats in Trees”

Mark Foster of Foster the People has spoken of the band’s new album, Supermodel, as having a “perfect pop record sound.” While this may apply to the majority of the tracks on the new release, it is the unrelenting acoustic howl of the 9th track, “Goats in Trees,” which takes FTP’s sound to an extraordinary new place.

Sounding like a demented B-Side from the early Shins catalogue, the track takes off in a whirlwind of cryptic lyrics, backed by spooky guitar work and reversed vocal lines. The track’s tone and vocal range is really the star here, allowing Foster to dip low into his dry crackle of a baritone and rise into a Lennon-esque crescendo. This interplay keeps things interesting without relying on the usual crutch of a big chorus.

Surpassing the sometimes forced, pumped over pop on the rest of the album, “Goats in Trees” shows a growth, maturity and diversity which is convincing enough to continue my future impulse purchasing of Foster the People’s music.

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TVD Ticket and Vinyl Giveaway: Skaters at Rock and Roll Hotel, 4/3

A year after signing with major label Warner Bros. and gaining popularity with the single “I Wanna Dance (But I Don’t Know How), SKATERS released their debut album, Manhattan, on February 25.

The members of the New York based band started out as bartenders in New York City with big dreams of forming a band and selling out shows. Once Michael Ian Cummings formed the band with Josh Hubbard and Noah Rubin, they became unstoppable.

SKATERS are currently on tour promoting their new album and will be making a stop at the Rock and Roll Hotel in DC on Thursday, April 3, and we’re giving away a pair of tickets—and the debut LP—to one winner!

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Graded on a Curve:
“First Demo 12/29/80”

In 1981, a fleeting outfit from Washington, DC called State of Alert released an EP titled “No Policy.” Its grooves held ten short brutish blasts of early American hardcore that have endured to become historically famous. Subsequently, debates raged over its actual sonic worth. The freshly issued “First Demo 12/29/80” returns S.O.A. to 7-inch vinyl after nearly 35 years, and its eight concise tracks make a fantastic case for the band’s musical value.

By the end of the 1980s hardcore’s critical rep was at a nadir, mainly because the style just wouldn’t die. This is largely due to kids discovering it intermittently. As part of the underground, knowledge of ‘80s punk/HC was almost entirely disseminated via printed matter (fanzines and select glossy rags), word-of-mouth (a talkative classmate in the cafeteria) and guiding example (older bro or sis).

These revelations occurred in fits and starts, but once the connection was made the record store bins were loaded with wax to buy. Those documents served as the crib-sheets for wave after wave of well-meaning but rudimentary bands, many playing multi-group, all-ages shows in suburban Knights of Columbus halls (or similar locales) all across the USA.

Even at this early juncture, DC hardcore was already legendary, partially due to the later activities of certain key members, but also because the music from that scene/era was easily procured. The gateway names were of course Bad Brains and Minor Threat, but scads of salivating young punks also stepped up to the cash register with copies of the Flex Your Head comp and the Four Old Seven Inches LP collection.

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Jazz Fest debuts posters and “cubes” for 2014

Bright sun shined on the paddock area of the New Orleans Fairgrounds as the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival celebrated the launch of its 45th iteration at the annual press party this morning.

Producer/Director Quint Davis introduced the first of many dignitaries by saying, “We are in a golden age of New Orleans…and of New Orleans leadership under Mayor Mitch Landrieu.” Other big wigs followed all praising the city and its signature event.

The two artists, Terrence Osborne and Richard Thomas, proudly stood before their work as the official poster and the Congo Square poster were unveiled. In what is a Jazz Fest first, Thomas was a mentor and teacher to Osborne when the younger painter was an aspiring artist.

The posters are both available through Art4now.

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Kiss, Nirvana, and
the weird politics
of the Rock & Roll
Hall of Fame

Gil Hodges was a popular baseball player in Brooklyn during the 1950s. In his heyday he was considered one of the best defensive first basemen ever and was fourth on the all-time home run list when he retired with 370. Later, he managed the New York Mets to an unlikely World Series title in 1969. Gil Hodges is not in the Baseball Hall of Fame. He died almost 42 years ago, yet his name is still brought up in New York sports columns and talk radio shows every time Hall of Fame ballots are tallied up and poor old Gil falls short yet again.

One would think if the merits of your career are fodder for vigorous debate decades after it ended, then really what can be the argument against inclusion? This of course is not a symptom singular to baseball, or sports for that matter. No, it’s most appalling application is when it comes to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Sport is based on competition—almost all American mainstream sports are team sports, so to single out certain members from these teams after their career is over is not such a far out concept. Unfortunately the process for these honors has become such a self-important industry unto itself that it almost doesn’t seem necessary anymore.

Art, music, and specifically rock ‘n’ roll isn’t competitive in and of itself. Sure, Brian Wilson can record Pet Sounds as an answer to Rubber Soul and the Beatles can return the volley with Revolver, and so on. Stories of one-upsmanship and rivalries litter the history of rock like cigarette butts on the floor after a Van Halen show. But so what? That kind of thing is good for magazine articles or retrospective documentaries, but it doesn’t really mean anything. To get lost in your weekend, you can play iconic songs while visiting sites like situs judi roulette online.

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TVD Premiere: Brother Blyss, “Still Don’t Seem to Care”

“Listening to vinyl is a much fuller experience. Having a physical record means something to you. It becomes invaluable. It’s easy sometimes in the digital world to overlook the intricacies that go into making a record.

“Not to mention, vinyl simply sounds better.”
Garrett Zeile

We’re thrilled to debut the debut single from LA’s Brother Blyss, ”Still Don’t Seem to Care.” Produced by studio vet Claudius Mittendorfer who’s manned the board for Temples, Kaiser Chiefs, Arctic Monkeys, and Franz Ferdinand, ”Still Don’t Seem to Care” finds the band squarely in Tame/Temples territory, yet touching on the lush instrumentation and ’60s psychedelia of UK Godlike Geniuses, the Stone Roses.

And we’re delighted to be here at the outset.

Brother Blyss Facebook | Twitter

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TVD Vinyl Giveaway: Simone Felice, Strangers

For the past 5 years Simone Felice has labored beneath the shadow of his siblings in The Felice Brothers, the great, raw-boned folk-rock band from the Catskill Mountains.

The singer-songwriter and author was originally a member, but departed in 2009 to pursue a separate career, both as a member of The Duke & The King and as a solo artist. Simone Felice has just released his excellent sophomore solo LP, Strangers, and it looks as if he’s slated to move into the limelight at last.

Felice is a true romantic and a sensitive soul, and boasts a sweeter voice and a smoother, prettier sound than his rougher-edged siblings. His are lovely and beguiling songs in the classic singer-songwriter mode—less suited for the honky-tonk than twilight in a darkening room with that special somebody, a warm spring rain beating against the window panes.

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TVD Recommends: Alsarah and
The Nubatones at
Tropicalia, 3/28

If East African retro pop is your thing then you need to check out Alsarah and the Nubatones immediately. If you like good music you should do the same.

Their debut record, Silt, was released March 11 on Wonderwheel Recordings, which is run by NY-based producer and frequent ESL collaborator, Nickodemus. It’s a record largely influenced by Nubian folk songs (Songs of Return) from the region of northern Sudan that was flooded after the construction of the Aswan High Dam in Egypt. The flooding caused a massive exodus of people from their ancestral homes and consequentially a loss of identity for a culture. Alsarah and the Nubatones are finding new ways to sing the songs of the Nubian Diaspora.

Alsarah hails from Sudan originally. Her heart and soul are rooted in Nubia, a region along the Nile. Like a river whose waters eventually reach distant lands, her journey has led her to a degree in ethnomusicology and brought her to the shores of Brooklyn, where she and the Nubatones are based. The band is an only-in-New-York kind of multicultural phenomenon that includes members with roots in Egypt, Togo, France, and Armenia. Alsarah’s confident and sensual voice takes center stage but the stage itself is buttressed by a tasteful blend of pentatonic harmony, virtuosic oud playing, and Nubian rhythms.

Alsarah and the Nubatones have selected to only play a handful of album release dates for Silt. This Friday, March 28, they bring their East African retro pop to Washington, DC for a performance at Tropicalia. We were able to get Alsarah to take a few questions from the Vinyl District in anticipation of her arrival to the nation’s capital, what she calls “Little East Africa.”

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Graded on a Curve: Golden Retriever,

Extant since 2008, Golden Retriever consists of Matt Carlson on modular synthesizer and Jonathan Sielaff on bass clarinet. They offer an uncommonly approachable strain of experimentalism that’s blended with drone textures both organic and at times quite psychedelic. The duo’s fifth and latest release is Seer, and it continues to explore their sonic objectives with an unusually high ratio of success.

For many listeners raised on a steady diet of song-based musical forms, the very concept of experimental sound creation comes attached with a muddle of forbidding baggage. Amongst all this clutter are visions of aggressiveness, abstraction and abrasion, with this handful of descriptors plucked from just the first letter of the alphabet.

To be sure, a huge mess of experimental gush does resemble those remarks. Sometimes a trail is blazed far beyond the prevailing norms of its period (a la the true meaning of the term avant-garde) only to have the discomfiting edges gradually sanded down over time. For three examples, legions of ears (though absolutely not all) eventually caught up to groundbreakers Igor Stravinsky, Charles Ives, and Ornette Coleman.

As the decades have unfurled however, plenty of other instances have arisen where the challenging and indeed difficult aspects of experimentation have been retained; think Arnold Schoenberg, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and Peter Brötzmann (especially circa-Machine Gun). In summation; certain musicians visit the fringe while others reside there indefinitely.

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TVD Ticket Giveaway: The Faint at the 9:30 Club, 5/20

2008 marked what appeared to be the end of Nebraska band, The Faint. Five years later, the band made a resurgence with the release of a 4-song EP titled Preversions, which ultimately led up to their new LP set for release this coming April. 

After releasing their fifth studio album, Fasciinatiion, the Nebraskan foursome, currently composed of Todd Fink, Clark Baechle, Jacob Thiele, and Dapose, realized their songwriting process became somewhat of a dud. Seeing this as a sign for a hiatus, The Faint faded into the background, its members going off on their own creative endeavors. A year after regrouping in 2013, the band is releasing their long-awaited sixth album titled Doom Abuse.

Doom Abuse will be released on April 8. Later that next month, The Faint will be heading out on a nationwide tour that includes a stop at the 9:30 Club on Tuesday, May 20. Haven’t gotten your tickets yet? No worries! We’re giving some away!

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UK Artist of the Week, Shambles in a Husk

Coming seemingly from nowhere, Shambles In A Husk feels like they’ve smacked us all right in the face with their hard-hitting, tight and uncompromising style that blends metal and post-hardcore, taking influences from Adebisi Shank and the legendary Refused.

Their first single, “Cowboy Doom’, is just a taster of what’s to come as the boys plan to release three more in the coming months and an EP in September.

The video for the single gives you an indication of the effortless energy they put into each component making for an uncompromising sound that should please rock music fans across the board.

With music of this calibre already, things can only go up from here.

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TVD Remembers Dave Brockie, Gwar’s Oderus Urungus

“Dave was one of the funniest, smartest, most creative and energetic persons I’ve known,” former Gwar bassist Mike Bishop told Style Weekly.

“He was brash sometimes, always crass, irreverent, he was hilarious in every way. But he was also deeply intelligent and interested in life, history, politics and art. His penchant for scatological humors belied a lucid wit.

He was a criminally underrated lyricist and hard rock vocalist, one of the best, ever! A great frontman, a great painter, writer, he was also a hell of a bass guitarist. I loved him. He was capable of great empathy and had a real sense of justice.”

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Steve Hackett,
The TVD Interview

“Light industrial heavy metal, that’s me!” says Steve Hackett with a laugh. Progressive rock has always been about contradictions like this. “Progressing” in this genre has meant looking to the past and synthesizing it with the present to create music of the future. In this synthesis, the familiar becomes an unexpected adventure. And Hackett is more certain than ever that in order to undertake this adventure, one has to continue to look back in order to move forward. That’s the impetus behind the virtuoso musician’s Genesis Extended tour which commences at The Lincoln Theatre on Wednesday, (3/26) in Washington, DC.

The Genesis Extended tour embodies the contradictions that continue to make progressive rock so compelling. Genesis Revisited II, the follow-up to 1996’s Watcher of the Skies: Genesis Revisited, forms the lion’s share of the music featured on the new tour. These are “test tube baby” versions of Genesis songs that bring new life to the music from his tenure as lead guitarist for Nursery Cryme-through-Seconds Out-era Genesis (with a few songs outside that era included at fans’ requests). Hackett endeavors to give fans a true Genesis experience and, thanks to his unflagging perfectionism, that’s exactly what he delivers. 

But why does Hackett continue to carry the “classic” Genesis torch after an acrimonious departure from the band over thirty-five years ago? For Hackett, it’s just about honoring the music and his role in creating it. Talking with Hackett just days before the US leg of Genesis Extended tour begins, he spoke with us about the prodigious talents he assembled for the concerts, the way fan interactions have shaped the music, and why authenticity is just about the most important thing to him these days. 

As I was getting ready to talk to you, I remembered back to college, and how my male friends were surprised that I was into progressive rock as much as they were.

It’s funny, it is the denizen mainly of males of a certain age, isn’t it? That’s something that I never quite understood but, nevertheless, that’s the way it is.

I’ve never quite understood that either. I’ve observed the trend among jazz fans as well.

Somebody proposed a theory to me many years ago: the more notes, the less women were interested. [Laughs]

You grew up influenced by classical music and opera, elements of which found their way into your music and into progressive rock in general. When I was first introduced to progressive rock, I imagined that it one day would be performed like the great classical works are. Is that sort of what you had in mind with Genesis Revisited and Genesis Extended?

Well, it’s funny. Despite ourselves and our best efforts to put off as many people as possible in the early days, I think [progressive rock] music has seemed to have survived. It’s gone through many reinterpretations; it’s certainly borrowed from enough forms—from opera to pantomime and then back again—so many influences, so many different kinds of music… I’m thrilled and delighted that it’s survived. I always say that with the stuff I do live—the star of the show is really the music. It seems to survive lots of different interpretations by different line-ups; Genesis itself, of course, is a band—or was a band—that went through many different incarnations. As to whether it’s the classical music of the future, we’ll just have to be around in two hundred years to find out! It’s survived much longer than I thought; we just imagined that we were being as competitive as the next band on the block, and that it would be forgotten pretty quickly.

Here was the latest offering—the latest humble offering—and to have it lauded and praised to the skies now is a very happy accident indeed, but nonetheless it is an accident. Because all music is a shot in the dark. It’s all a big experiment, at the end of the day, to see if it’s going to stick in any way. No one has really got the crystal ball for all of this.

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