Monthly Archives: November 2015

Needle Drop: The Van T’s, “Laguna Babe” EP

Honeyblood, Hinds, Menace Beach—over the last few years there have been a number of excellent post-punk, female-led bands to emerge onto the alternative music scene, and with their new EP “Laguna Babe,” The Van T’s are making a strong case to join them.

Led by twins Hannah and Chloe Van Thompson, these Glaswegian rockers combine dual vocals with simple but catchy reverbed guitar lines and frantic drums to produce tunes which come with all the energy you might expect—yet with some equally impressive songcraft.

Title track “Laguna Babe” (which has also been released as a single), lures you with its slow grungy intro before dropping into the double-time verse and a classic surf-rock lead guitar line. “Growler” on the other hand brings to mind strong comparisons to bands like the Pixies with its harmonically distorted guitars and heavy ride cymbal drum beat.

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The Best of Garden State Sound with Evan Toth

All jokes aside, New Jersey is a pretty great place. While it has a lot to offer as a state, it also has a rich musical history of which many people remain unaware. Everyone knows Sinatra and The Boss, but there’s much more.

Tune in to Garden State Sound with Evan Toth to explore the diverse music with connections to New Jersey. You’ll hear in-depth interviews with some of Jersey’s best music makers and have the opportunity win tickets to some of the best concerts in the state.

“How do you interpret a Beatle? How can you alter their lyrics and music into your own vision; give them a new sound, or feel? How can one do so in a way that won’t detract from the timeless originals, but yet be unique enough for people to want to hear? Those were some of the challenges facing Paterson, NJ’s John Pizzarelli when he decided to embark upon his latest project, “Midnight McCartney.”

But, it wasn’t really John’s idea, it was Paul’s. Having worked with Paul as a featured jazz guitarist on his 2012 standards release, Kisses on the Bottom the former Beatle was aware of Pizzarelli’s jazz chops and methods of interpretation. So, he sat right down and wrote him a little letter about interpreting his solo work in a jazz setting. When Macca makes a suggestion, you’d best follow suit.

Join us this week as we talk McCartney originals, recording with a legend, and how the miles that separate Paterson from Liverpool aren’t really all that much between musicians.” —EZT

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TVD Video Premiere: Jemima Surrender, “Hammer and Peg”

“The video was made pretty organically (that means we didn’t have any ideas, hah!) but I knew I wanted the hammer and peg toy in it, although I normally don’t like literal videos.”

“The hammer and peg imagery is borrowed and twisted from the sweet little book Naive. Super by Erlend Loe. The main character uses it to find peace, ‘exquisite monotony,’ in the song though it’s more a metaphor for feeling beaten by the monotony of relationships and a constant need for validation.

That monotony is easy and safe, but empty at the same time. The song isn’t all doom and gloom though, it’s self-empowering, which is probably why the video is colourful with a lot of me in it! The cat decided she wanted to be in it so we didn’t really have a choice, otherwise she wees on our stuff.”
Millie Phipps

Bristol-based trio Jemima Surrender channels ’90s alt-rock in quirky video for “Hammer & Peg.”

We have the pleasure of premiering the video off the band’s debut, The Uninhabited World, which oozes casual charm and indie sensibility. The stark punk approach to their instrumentation enhances the subtle visual flow, while lead singer Millie Phipps’ cerebral lyricism comes to life when sung directly into the camera.

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Graded on a Curve:
Billy Bragg & Wilco,
Mermaid Avenue

Of all the musical collaborations that come to mind, none is as both as lovely and as rambunctious as Mermaid Avenue, the album Billy Bragg and Wilco recorded of music they set to the lyrics of the greatest folkie of them all, Woody Guthrie. It never fails to move me, or do a silly dance as Jeff Tweedy sings in the great “Hoodoo Voodoo.” Kindred spirits, Bragg and Wilco achieve an amazing feat; they provide ingenious musical settings for songs that Guthrie, who’d written the lyrics, was too sick to write music for due to the physical impairments of Huntington’s Disease. It’s truly a masterpiece this one, and never fails to remind me of E.M. Cioran’s comment that “What is not heartrending is superfluous, at least in music.”

It was Nora Guthrie, Woody’s daughter, who offered the lyrics to radical folk singer Billy Bragg, who went to Wilco about recording an album. The sessions ended up being stormy; Wilco’s Jay Bennett felt that Bragg’s musical settings were too ornate, and there was a falling out. Bennett called Bragg about re-recording some of Bragg’s recordings, to which the Englishman replied, “”You make your record, and I’ll make mine, fucker.” But things were finally settled, and I’m of the opinion that Bennett overreacted; the songs sound all of a piece, like a latter-day Basement Tapes.

From the wild opener, “Walt Whitman’s Niece,” a raucous and harmonica-fueled tune featuring group vocals and a spoken section by Bragg about a run-in with a woman who claimed to be Walt Whitman’s niece to the sublimely beautiful “California Stars,” the album will make you dizzy with joy from the start. “California Stars” boasts an ethereal melody that will make you swoon, some lovely piano and guitar, and Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy on vocals. He wants to make lay his head on a bed of California stars, and violinist Eliza Carthy helps provide the beautiful sound that makes the song altogether irresistible. That and Jay Bennett’s piano, and lots of guitars. One of my favorite songs of all time, this one.

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TVD’s Press Play

Press Play is our Monday recap of the new and FREE tracks received last week to inform the next trip to your local indie record store.

The Frisbys – Give In To The Dark
Suntrodden – Sunrise To Sunset
Drew Gibson – Bettie-Jane
E T E R N A L S – Out Of Context
Violent Mae – In The Sun
OVERLAKE – Travelogue
Broken Gold – Turning Blue
Germany Germany – October
Shapes On Tape – Still Believe in Love
Monogem – Wait And See (Adam Johan Remix)

Donna Missal – Hotline Bling

Moa Holmsten – Tougher Than The Rest
Bobby Shoebotham – Somebody Else’s Girl
Postcards From Jeff – Goddess Of The Sun
The Drama State – Pool House Envy (feat. AJ Perdomo)
Shannon and the Clams – It’s Too Late
The Black Ships – Dead Empires
Shinobi Ninja – Bang Bang
Grave Babies – Something Awful
Strange & Primitive – Highwayman

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In rotation: 11/30/15

Digital Culture, Meet Analog Fever: It turns out that while the digital often comes close to crushing its analog precedents, that process can do something curious to its putative victims: underscore their virtues, elevate their status and transform the formerly workaday into something rarefied, special, even luxurious.

Jack White previews Third Man store at opening party: Before its doors open to the public on Friday, Jack White threw a private party for a few hundred guests at his new Third Man Records store in the Cass Corridor Thursday night. Those guests — friends, family and members of the Detroit rock community — were given a sneak preview of White’s expansive new emporium, a black and yellow wonderland selling all manner of Third Man goodies, collectible vinyl and Jack White-themed merchandise.

Jack White To Open Vinyl Plant: Demand is apparently considerably backed up at the two main plants in the region, but Third Man will primarily be used to press Third Man’s own releases while also opening itself up to local acts. Co-founder Ben Blackwell told Pitchfork: “This is going to make it easier for a little punk band to make 300 copies of a 7”.”

Record stores learn to embrace Black Friday without getting carried away: “Anything that puts people’s focus at a record store is good,” says Chris Penn, co-owner and manager of Good Records on Lower Greenville. “It’s got good intent.”

Record Store Day draws Black Friday crowd to UHF Records: For some, Black Friday is about the deals. For others, it’s about the tunes. A crowd of about 40 people who braved unpleasant weather Friday morning outside of UHF in Royal Oak would fall into the latter category.

Sound and Color will bring vinyl records and a flair for design to Grand Avenue in January: Sound and Color, a mixed-use space that will host a design studio, vinyl retail store, gallery space for art shows and more, will open on Grand Avenue in January…“We just kind of want to do our part and give people a little platform to come and share their music and not feel weird about being in a record store and, you know, actually talking about tunes and sharing music,” Tsimahidis said. “First and foremost, you know, you’ve got to share the music.

Seth Troxler buys Dave Haslam’s record collection: Remember we told you about former Haçienda DJ Dave Haslam selling his record collection? Well, it’s been sold to Seth Troxler. Dave announced in October that he would be flogging about 4,500 pieces of wax, saying he wanted to get rid of the lot in one go, and the records will soon be in Seth’s hands.

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The TVD Record Store Club for 11/27/15

Welcome to the TVD Record Store Club for the week ending 11/27/15.

The TVD Record Store Club is another free feature we’ve added to The TVD Record Store Locator App that recently relaunched refreshed and rebranded. The Club points to a record store agenda that we’re assembling for your weekend now that new release vinyl lands in stores on Fridays—AND for the early part of the week coming when those mom and pops could use the foot traffic.

Every Thursday we’ll be tipping you off right here at TVD—and within the app at the Club tab—to releases of merit newly on store shelves, along with in-store ticket giveaways you can win by simply waving the app, pricing incentives, contests, cool partner initiatives, and a host of surprises we’re looking forward to putting in your pocket on the regular.

Ostensibly, the TVD Record Store Club exists to light a fire under you each week and weekend to get out to your local mom and pop record shops, but with Record Store Day’s Black Friday event looming, it’s kinda been taken care of for us this week. Our picks from among the Black Friday releases come from The Arcs, The B-52’s, Buzzcocks, Gang of Four, Green Day, and The Jesus and Mary Chain.

In addition to the Record Store Day flood of product this weekend, Saturday brings you Small Business Saturday, which is at the crux of our daily agenda at TVD when you get right down to it. So, after your record rummage, why not “shop small” and spend some time in your local indie comic book retailers, your book stores, the little coffee spot, that donut shop, sandwich store, or small batch brewery. It’s habit forming.

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TVD Live Shots: The Cult and Primal Scream at the Warfield, 11/17

The Cult Photographed by Jason Miller-7

I’ve seen The Cult perform live almost a dozen times and they never cease to amaze me. How could one ever get tired of the combination of Ian Astbury’s dark yet soulful voice and Billy Duffy’s one of a kind Phil Spector-esque wall of sound guitar tone?

Add in some of the most iconic and memorable rock songs of the past 30 years and you have arguably one of the greatest rock bands on the planet in my opinion. For some reason they seem to play in San Francisco more than any other city in the country, but this time around it was quite a different show.

The Cult Photographed by Jason Miller-2-2

Teaming up with Scottish rock gods Primal Scream, the co-headlining bill appropriately named “Primal Cult,” is in the midst of a short West Coast run. I’m a casual fan of Primal Scream as they usually come in one of two flavors in regards to their live shows. One being their signature, noise-induced psychedelic electro-rock in the form of Screamadelica and Evil Heat (which I totally dig as do so many aging hipsters), and the second, their Stones-infused classic rock jams found on my favorite two records from them, Riot City Girl and the terribly underrated Give Out but Don’t Give Up. This show in particular would feature the later.

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Josh Rosenthal’s The Record Store of the Mind: A Consideration

Before founding and operating his consistently rewarding label, Josh Rosenthal worked in the big-time music industry. Prior to that he was in college radio and even earlier was just a budding music junkie, seeds planted in childhood gradually blossoming into Tompkins Square Records. Along the way he’s naturally amassed some stories, viewpoints and favorites, and some of them are corralled in his new book The Record Store of the Mind. Folks with sizable collections should find it a welcome companion, and those just getting the fever will likely have their horizons broadened and want lists substantially increased.

A little over halfway through The Record Store of the Mind, in a chapter simply titled “Jazz,” Josh Rosenthal bluntly states a personal requirement regarding the particular section’s topic; even in traditional jazz, or “inside” stuff to borrow the parlance of the music, a discernible “outside” element still needs to be present or the end result will fail to grab his interest.

Non-jazz buffs might not get it; for one thing, the conventional (received) wisdom is that above all else jazz must “swing.” But Rosenthal’s prerequisite makes total sense and is a fairly common barometer; for instance, this writer adores the titanic outside piano of Cecil Taylor and also loves the inside with undercurrents of out mode of Bill Evans but has hardly ever been swayed by the (at least to these ears) firmly inside style of Oscar Peterson.

Of course, the parameters of “out” will vary by listener; is it enough to experiment, or does there need to be an aspect of friction at play? And like, what’s your take on Ahmad Jamal? But I digress, as digressing is a foible that afflicts music nuts and yes indeed, music writers as well. However, it bears noting that Rosenthal keeps close to the various points at hand throughout his collection.

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Brenna Whitaker,
The TVD First Date

“I go to a lot of estate sales as I’m intrigued by anything with a little dust on it.”

“Having bought and listened to records since I was a teenager, I’m huge fan of vinyl. I find as an adult now (oh god), I’m most creative working while listening to creepy, slightly sharp (or flat) horn solos from the ’40s or jazz noire compilations from all the fabulous European companies that are helping to keep vinyl alive.

My current record player was bought at the Melrose Flea market in Hollywood and is a Vintage 1972 SE -990 Panasonic that came with matching speakers. It’s been a total gem and an integral part of me discovering myself in the City of Angels. There is nothing more relaxing than cooking or hanging out with my dogs, Louis Armstrong, and Pearl Bailey with lit candles and listening to my favorite pianist, Vince Guaraldi. My most favorite records lately have come from a website called Fantastic Voyage. They have all the rarities that inspire and fuel me to do what I do in life.

Growing up in Kansas City as a kid, I did a lot of professional theater and my mom and dad would drive me to do 2PM matinée and 8PM performances all the time. In the car we listened to this fabulous radio station called Fish Fry Friday that basically changed my life. Lyrically the way songs told stories in the ’50s and ’60s has really stuck with me.

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TVD Recommends: Minos the Saint and Burris at Chickie Wah Wah, 11/27

Even though we will be off for the rest of the week celebrating Thanksgiving, I wanted to give readers an advance warning shot about a great show on Friday night at Chickie Wah Wah. The music scene in Baton Rouge has been heating up lately and representatives from Family Fish Productions have been making the drive upriver to check out the latest bands. Two of the finest outfits are making the trip to New Orleans.

Beginning the evening at 8 PM will be Minos the Saint. This ensemble is an eclectic chamber folk band with a unique sound that is an acoustic blend of guitar-based songwriting mixed with symphonic brass along with accordion and funky bass.

Since the band’s founding in 2013, they have performed at numerous venues and festivals across South Louisiana including French Quarter Fest, Gasa Gasa, the AllWays Lounge, the Marigny Opera House, the House of Blues, and the Varsity Theater in Baton Rouge.

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Graded on a Curve:
Scott Fagan,
South Atlantic Blues

Scott Fagan’s tale holds a circuitous course of impressive connections, valiant attempts, and unfortunate misses, but it’d be anticlimactic without a worthwhile record in the equation; the fresh reissue of South Atlantic Blues helps provide enduring relevance to the narrative. Originally released by Atco in 1968 to utter consumer neglect, it’s a rediscovery requiring neither qualifications nor special pleading, for nobody else cooked up a progressive stew of folk, pop, and soul quite like this one. It’s out now through Saint Cecilia Knows, the first 1,000 hand numbered copies of the LP featuring 180gm vinyl and a heavy-duty tip-on jacket exclusively reproducing Jasper Johns’ lithograph “Scott Fagan Record.”

Scott Fagan’s father was a musician (reportedly a saxophonist and singer) who kept company with such heavyweights as Dizzy Gillespie and Lester Young, while his dancer mother raised him in an art colony on the Caribbean island of St. Thomas. As a teen Fagan played rock ‘n’ roll in an act christened The Urchins and in the mid-‘60s stowed away for Florida, eventually making his way to New York where he immediately scored an in-person audition with Brill Building songwriters Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman.

Consequently, Fagan was signed to Pomshu Productions, receiving two years of mentoring from the duo as he and Pomus wrote “I’m Gonna Cry Till My Tears Run Dry,” a hit for Irma Thomas later waxed by Linda Ronstadt. Pomshu additionally secured deals for Fagan, first with Columbia, where he cut an unreleased single, and then via Bert Berns’ Bang Records, the association producing ‘66’s “Give Love a Chance” b/w “Tutsie.”

The story takes a wild turn as Fagan almost became an Apple signing, South Atlantic Blues amongst the candidates to be the first non-Beatles-related album issued by the label (a distinction belonging to the self-titled debut of James Taylor, though the Modern Jazz Quartet’s Under the Jasmine Tree is documented as sharing the same release date in the UK and US.)

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In rotation: 11/24/15

Visiting the Record Shops of the South West: Whilst living in Poland over the past two years, I’ve been casually photographing record shops here and there. Going back to England for an extended stay, I was excited to revisit some of my old digging spots across South West England. Some had moved, some had changed and some spots had closed down. Here are five of those spots.

Vinal Edge, one of Houston’s favorite record stores, turns 30 years old this month: It spent nearly 27 years on Houston’s north side, nestled in a strip center off Veterans Memorial Drive, a far car ride for most Inner Loop music heads. It was common to hear collectors plan carpools out to the location, saving a Saturday or Sunday to rummage through boxes upon boxes of vinyl that owner Chuck Roast and his employees hadn’t yet priced.

New downtown indie record store the Vinyl Countdown celebrates its grand opening: Vinyl is far from being a dead medium, which works out well for Aaron Levy, owner of the recently opened record store, the Vinyl Countdown. “At this point, the choice of how you get your music is online or vinyl,” he says, pointing to the sales-by-format section of Billboard magazine. “From 2014 to ’15, CD sales are down by 10 percent and vinyl is up 31 percent. Digital is staying flat.”

Opening set for Jack White’s Third Man Records Detroit store: An opening date has been announced for Jack White’s Third Man Records store just north of downtown Detroit. The Detroit Free Press reports that the shop will open Friday with vinyl reissues from Tamla Records.

Record turnout as vinyl fans attend fair at Blanchelande: Passionate LP fans and music hoarders were spoilt for choice at this year’s Vinyl Record and CD Collectors Fair as they sifted through stacks of music.

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TVD Live: Morgan James and Boh Doran at the Hamilton, 11/17

PHOTOS: RICHIE DOWNS | It’s not easy out there for female singer/ songwriters.

Take the duo who played the Hamilton in DC Tuesday night. Headliner Morgan James is a belter who has conquered several fields, from covers, to Broadway to Nina Simone to her own well honed R&B, but still making her way, despite a dynamic presence and often astonishing vocal range.

Opener Boh Doran is having it a little tougher, keeping track of her two keyboards and a backing track via iPad while trying to sing her songs solo and having to lug her own equipment when her half hour was done.

A Minnesotan who studied politics at George Washington a few years back, the former MaryEllen Doran was having a bit of a homecoming in the D.C. show. And while she presents herself as a fully formed interesting chanteuse in her sultry five-song EP and especially the track “White Knuckles,” which this site premiered in June, she had too much to keep track of in a solo show where she ultimately had to serve as her own roadie.

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The Darkness: In-store with TVD at Washington DC’s Som Records

PHOTOS: RICHIE DOWNS | As we noted last month, Last of Our Kind is the first album in three years for The Darkness. It’s hailed as one of their finest records yet, and a maturation of their sound. “It is the best rock album you will hear this year,” says singer Justin Hawkins. “It is the best rock album you will hear until next time The Darkness makes an album.” It’s difficult to argue for a more appropriate title; they don’t make rock bands like The Darkness anymore.

“We’ve always been a cult band,” bass guitarist Frankie Poullain tells TVD, but that’s quite an over-simplification (and he knows it). It’s been over a dozen years since Permission to Land blasted rock music out of its same-y, neo-garage rut. Its influence punched the genre in the face and reminded people, who were too young to remember, what it was like for rock to be a fun, profane, exhilarating spectacle. With Last of Our Kind, The Darkness again unleash tongue-in-cheek bombastic rock music that delivers in spades and (figurative, possibly literal) pyrotechnics.

In DC for a show just over the District line proper at the Fillmore Silver Spring (our coverage is here) The Darkness’ Dan Hawkins and Frankie Poullain reveal themselves to be—what else?—real record store denizens. And sure, we talked Thin Lizzy, but their touchstones are varied. Teenage Fanclub, Big Star, The Waterboys, My Bloody Valentine, and the Blue Nile are among some of the band referenced that might not come to mind immediately with the lads over a record rummage, but there you have it.

So, let’s go—we’re record shopping with The Darkness at Washington, DC’s Som Records.

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