Monthly Archives: November 2015

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.

“Whatever your personal politics are, there’s no doubt that things are a little ominous out there. Maybe that’s what people always think and say, maybe that’s how everyone qualifies their place in the ever-expanding galaxy we call home: now is their personal time on Planet Earth, these times are singular, how lucky they are to witness them.

In any case, few would disagree that tumult, suspicion, anxiety, and distrust are the order of the day. Maybe that’s why revisiting Bruce’s 1995 album The Ghost of Tom Joad on its 20th anniversary isn’t a bad idea. Today, the climate is right for us to sink into the shoes of the characters Bruce sketches on this album and walk a mile, or two, even if the path we are led down is a little dark and cold.

One of the major values of art is—if done right—the viewer is forced to see the world through new eyes. Sometimes that’s uncomfortable, but that’s the point. The Ghost of Tom Joad isn’t an easy listen, but it’s not supposed to be. Tune in.” —EZT

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Graded on a Curve:
Todd Rundgren’s Utopia, Another Live

I’m of two minds when it comes to Todd Rundgren. Part of me hates him, and the other part of simply loathes him. Oh, I’m kidding. I really liked the Todd Rundgren who gave us 1972’s Something/ Anything?. It wasn’t until he formed the synth-heavy prog rock band Utopia that things got ugly. Ugly as in pompous, long-winded (a song off the band’s 1974 debut clocks in at 30:26), and philosophically empty-headed. He became the kind of guy who referred to Ra, the sun god, as a “holy synthesizer.” And speaking of Ra, Utopia’s 1977 LP, none other than Robert Christgau complained that, “The first side is bad, the second unspeakable.” And that’s before he really starts getting insulting.

That said, I have a horrible confession to make. I actually owned Utopia’s 1975 LP Another Live, which followed the band’s self-titled live debut. And not only did I own it, I played it, on my 8-track boom box, while painting houses in Gettysburg, PA in the bicentennial year 1976. It seems inexplicable to me now, given that I would soon despise them, but what I really liked, looking back, were the songs “Heavy Metal Kids” and “Just One Victory,” both of which appeared on Rundgren solo albums before Utopia got around to performing them. My brother and I even painted the legend “Heavy Metal Kids 1976” in silver glam paint on the stone windowsill of one of the houses we painted. I went back to Gettysburg not too long ago, in part to see if it was still there. It wasn’t. Some people just have no respect for history.

Anyway, I decided to gird my loins and listen to Another Live again, just to determine whether it sparked any nostalgic memories. And I’ll be damned, but the LP isn’t bad. Or not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. There are, admittedly, moments of sublime banality, combined with large amounts of futuristic brouhaha, but a few of the songs actually get out of their wheelchairs and dance, which is certainly more than I expected.

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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.

Lauren Marsh – Wildfire
The Retrospectives – Rolling Stone (Acoustic Version)
Sea Caves – Spanning the River
Wonky Tonk – Denmark
Gazebos – I Don’t Wanna Be Here
Stevie B Wolf – Nothing But A Name
Chris Storrow – Raised The Bar
Andrew Johnston – Take The Highway

Crowded House – Help Is Coming (with an introduction by Benedict Cumberbatch)

The Black Ships – Dead Empires
J Hacha De Zola – Strange
Scary Little Friends – In This Lifetime
Coldair – Denounce
Steed Lord X Sam Sparro – Night Games
Rex Riot – Tap Back
Dani Deahl – Cha Ching
NAT – Follow Me (Berger & Shaqiri Remix)
Dirt Nasty & Mickey Avalon – Top Down

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In rotation: 11/23/15

New Jersey startup gives white-glove treatment to revival of vinyl records: Independent Record Pressing opened its doors over the past year after a group of investors purchased six used vinyl presses from Canada and relocated them to a Bordentown, N.J. warehouse. Sean Rutkowski had never worked in vinyl pressing prior to being hired as General Manager at Independent Record Pressing. He is leveraging twenty years of music industry experience, and had noticed a major change at his local record store.

Let’s build a home: Third Man Records returns to Detroit: For Third Man co-founder Ben Blackwell, the new endeavor marks a return to the neighborhood where he used to sneak into shows as a teenager. It’s a homecoming—even if that home isn’t exactly how it used to be.

Adele’s 25 goes on sale – with no queues outside record shops: The days of the megastores opening overnight to sate the appetites of fans have been killed by downloading – and it’s rather a shame

Local musicians go on the record with vinyl: “There’s no romance to the CD format,” says Ken Carson, the manager of That’s Entertainment, which has expanded its vinyl selection in recent years, “and the digital download serves that market just as well, and more conveniently. But the vinyl album, with the glorious 12×12 artwork, the liner notes and photos, the true analog sound, even the gentle handling required, creates a deeper relationship to the music. Plus, if there’s a digital download included with the album, you can have it both ways!”

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The TVD Record Store Club for 11/20/15

Welcome to the TVD Record Store Club for the week ending 11/20/15.

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.

This week for your pre-holiday shopping, the Grateful Dead’s “Fare Thee Well” shows land on vinyl, Mountain’s Leslie West returns to the racks, a 2-fer reissue from M83, and more Led Zep on vinyl? Right on. (Plus, we have the skinny on some cool incentives to light a fire under you.)

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TVD’s The Idelic Hour with Jon Sidel

Greetings from Laurel Canyon!

Never mind the forecast ’cause the sky has lost control / Cause the fury and the broken thunders / Come to match my ragin’ soul / And now I don’t believe I want to see the whole morning

Going down the stoney end / I never wanted to go down the stoney end / Mama let me start all over / Cradle me, Mama, cradle me again…

George Harrison once sang “all things must pass,” and this week’s hour-long mix has an end to a chapter in mind. As I have repeated many times, my rock ‘n’ roll journey has been about great people and cool songs. This playlist was made to ease my soul.

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Hello Industry,
The TVD First Date

“My first memories of vinyl are listening to my dad’s Simon and Garfunkel and Beatles records. Those were always playing in my house as a kid. I also remember poking in the dust caps of my dad’s speakers. Incidentally, my 2 year old daughter just returned the favor this month. I’ve had that coming for 30 years.”

“To be honest, I only recently was turned back on to vinyl. I appreciate the sonic differences for sure, but I’ve always chosen the convenience of using my phone over sonics. That said, six months ago, during the darkest and scariest time of our life, my wife and I decided to install a record player center-stage in our living room and start collecting vinyl records, for the first time in our lives.

A year ago my wife and I received the news that our fourth child, to be born a few months later, had a fatal disease and would most likely not survive birth. If she did, she would not live more than a few hours. We were turned over to grief counselors and referred to a funeral home to make arrangements. Miraculously, she survived birth, then her first few hours, then her first few days. Ten months later Olivia is still alive!

The first few months of Olivia’s life were beautiful and they were hell. We said goodbye to her more times than we could count, but each time she pulled out of it. It was an emotional roller coaster to say the least. We were tired and our nerves were fried. A friend gave us a check and told us to buy something that would bring us some joy. We decided to buy a record player and some vinyl.

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TVD Recommends:
The Annual Oak Street Po-Boy Festival, 11/22

With Sunday a day off for the New Orleans Saints as they try to recover what’s left of the season, it’s time for the annual Oak Street Po-Boy Fest. This year they have another great musical lineup with old favorites and a few newcomers. Of course, there are also more food choices than imaginable. Click the link for the full schedule.

Besides the two main outside stages, three of the businesses on Oak Street are also hosting saloon stages. From 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM, hop into Oak Wine Bar and check out Cole Williams and Danny Abel. Most readers know Abel as the guitarist in Gravity A and numerous other bands. Cole Williams is a newcomer to the city, but the singer has already put down some serious roots and is an exciting performer. This intimate duo set should give first time listeners a close up experience.

Another act worth checking out appears at 2 PM on the Blue Plate Mayo stage at Leonidas and Willow Streets. Tank and the Bangas burst on the scene like a blitzkrieg and have not let up yet. The neo soul outfit spent a good part of this past summer gigging in Europe and their sound has benefited from the time across the pond.

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Needle Drop: Chris Meid, “Red River”

I’ve always found Europop a bit of a marmite genre—there are those who love it and those who hate it. Its distinct sound and simple building blocks make it easily recognizable, and if that’s your thing you can’t really go wrong. If you like Swedish House Mafia, you probably like David Guetta.

Chris Meid definitely fits alongside those artists. His new single—his first as a solo artist—has the thump of the bass drum, the singable lyrics, and the catchy chord progression. However Chris has managed add fresh elements to the track while still making it appealing to fans of the genre.

In “Red River” we hear banjos, a lead melody that is whistled, and Tyler Sjöström’s distinctly US Country influenced vocals. And amazingly—you might have guessed from my first paragraph, I am not a fan of Europop—I do find myself enjoying the song. I’m probably not going to rush out and buy it, but the aspects added by Chris has peaked my interest and made me want to keep my eye on him and how he develops as an artist. Considering my starting impression that’s definitely a win, Chris.

Chris Meid’s debut single “Red River” is out now via Warner Music.

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Graded on a Curve:
Roxy Music, Siren

I wish I was as suave as Bryan Ferry, the tuxedo-clad Euro-sophisticate whose jaded crooning about love has made him the most elegant lounge lizard in rock history. Not a bad act of sartorial re-creation for the son of a miner from Northern England, not bad at all. I wish I could pull it off. God, do I wish. But what can I say? When I was at the age he formed Roxy Music I was still wearing bib overalls. And guys in bib overalls have zilch odds of being mistaken for dapper Euro-seducers, which never occurred to me at the time—I simply thought of myself as a ladies’ man in the midst of a long, lonely run of shitty luck.

Formed at the dawn of the seventies, Roxy Music featured a core band that included Ferry on vocals, Phil Manzanera on guitar, Andy Mackay on saxophone and oboe, Paul Thompson on drums, a seemingly endless succession of guys on bass, and Brian Eno, who initially joined as a technical adviser, on synthesizers. Eno played a profound role in the band’s sound but left after two LPs due to creative differences with Ferry, and was replaced by keyboardist and electric violinist Eddie Jobson, formerly of Curved Air. You’ll run across gads of avant gardists who think Eno’s departure marked the end of Roxy Music as a great band, but I’m not one of them.

Me, I love all of their albums, but know I’m in the minority for believing 1977’s live Viva! Roxy Music is the best of them. But I’ve reviewed that LP already, which leaves me with my second favorite LP, 1975’s Siren. I’m not going to lie to you; I wish it had “Do the Strand,” “Virginia Plain,” “Street Life,” and “Pyjamarama” on it, but it doesn’t. Which is why the smart bet is to buy one of their “best of” compilations and be done with it. But then you’d be without “Just Another High” and “End of the Line” and all the other cool songs on Siren that you won’t find on any greatest hits package, and won’t you be sorry then? Eh?

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In rotation: 11/20/15

Jack White’s Third Man Records slates Black Friday opening in Detroit: Third Man Records, the vinyl-championing Nashville-based record store opened by Detroit native and Grammy Award-winner Jack White, will open the doors to it’s Detroit store on November 27 for Record Store Day Black Friday.

Third Man, Tamla Records team up for reissue series: Jack White and Berry Gordy are teaming up for a series of reissues from Gordy’s Tamla Records, set to launch at White’s Third Man Records store in the Cass Corridor. When the store opens its doors on Black Friday, among the items for sale will be reissues of nine 45 rpm records from the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, the Miracles, Barrett Strong and more, Third Man announced Wednesday.

Record Number of Consumers Are Aware of Small Business Saturday, Almost two-thirds (65%) plan to spend at least $100: As small business owners across the nation gear up for Small Business Saturday, a record number of shoppers are making plans to support their favorite local businesses. According to the fourth-annual Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey, released today by the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) and American Express, supporting local small businesses continues to be a priority for shoppers nationwide.

Something for everyone at Papa Chum’s: The shop has vinyl records, which Daniel says are making a comeback, as well as record players. They will sell, buy and trade vinyl as well as musical instruments and books. They will also take consignments, he added.

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Sleeping At Last,
The TVD First Date

“Nat King Cole’s Christmas music is the first memory I have of vinyl.”

“My parents had a record player and would mostly play records around the holidays. Nat King Cole, George Winston, The Carpenters and others are my earliest musical memories. But my first personal experience with vinyl of my own accord, was at local resale shops as a teenager.

I knew very little about music, but I would scour every resale shop I could, to find interesting records I had never seen or heard of before. I’d buy them based on their album art alone, which led to some really interesting finds that ended up inspiring me and the music I make today, at least in some subtle way.

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Needle Drop: Son Little, “Carbon”

Aaron Livingston just can’t stand still. Originally from LA, he traveled cross the country to New York and Philadelphia, eventually collaborating with hip-hop legends The Roots. Last month, he released an album under his solo monicker, Son Little, and he’s scheduled to tour Europe this December, eventually making his way back through the states in March. 

Son Little’s varied geographic influences are clear in his musical style and he picks up the subtleties of every spot he visits on the map, creating an intricate, and highly memorable, blend of America’s musical terrain. His new self-titled album eludes the bounds of just one genre—beginning at the confluence of rock and R&B and trailing down a river banked by the blues.

“Carbon” opens with a gritty riff against strong chords beating in the background, giving the track its hip-hop punch. Livingston’s vocals fill the song with a soulful fluidity, providing the perfect contrast to the guitar’s overdriven staccato. The track ends before you even realize it, clocking in it at only two-and-a-half minutes.

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A Badge of Friendship,
The Podcast

Thursday slinks its way into the week like a rain soaked, fragrant dog you’ve grown fond of, and it’s time for A Badge Of Friendship’s weekly podcast.

This week the gang decided to get back to basics, so it’s just the three of them putting the world to rights, discussing Sandi Thom‘s meltdown on YouTube, the news that Apple is scrapping Beats Music (the world shrugs in shock), and there’s also an impromptu quiz about Prince. Because Prince.

They also talk about events in Paris, and the campaign to get Eagles Of Death Metal‘s “Say A Prayer” to number one, and ponder if there aren’t better ways to honour the fallen.

The full tracklisting for this week’s show is: Beach Slang – “Bad Art & Weirdo Ideas,” EL VY – “Need A Friend,” GEMS – “W/OU,” Nzca Lines – “Persephone Dreams,” Chinah – “Minds,” Kindling – “Painkiller,” Moving Mountains – “Deathless,” The Van T’s – “Laguna Babe,” Goldmund – “Is As”

If you’d like to be considered for the show, please email A Badge of Friendship: Or, follow A Badge of Friendship on Twitter.

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Graded on a Curve: Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass, Whipped Cream & Other Delights

Herb Alpert is often praised as a veteran bigwig of the record industry who possessed a measure of taste alongside his business acumen. He’s even more notable for his trumpet playing and leadership of a crucial if not necessarily hip 1960s outfit; Whipped Cream & Other Delights is the most popular LP from Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass; it’s also their best, and it sees 180gm vinyl reissue on November 20.

Let’s get it out of the way right up front; nobody in the Tijuana Brass was from Mexico. They were in fact a purely studio concoction at the outset with Alpert overdubbing his trumpet for increased vibrancy. Naturally, these realities have led many to rashly assume the (largely) instrumental venture effectively putting A&M Records (stands for Alpert and Moss, as in executive Jerry Moss) on the map was an exercise in total squaresville.

The theory ain’t necessarily wrong, as the Tijuana Brass albums remain amongst the highest profile artifacts produced in the Easy Listening era. Make no mistake; beginning with 1962’s The Lonely Bull and continuing well into the ‘70s, Herb Alpert strenuously avoided grating upon even a single human nerve. The objective was to sell a ton of records, which he and A&M did by undertaking a generationally inclusive approach and by appropriating a neighboring culture in a manner that, while surely dated today, was far less contemporaneously niche-driven than Alpert’s stylistic relatives in the Exotica field.

But like Les Baxter, Martin Denny and their ilk, there seemed to be a point where the consumers of Alpert’s records arrived at the conclusion that his stuff was either old hat or all of a sudden utterly out of step with their lives. The abovementioned heap of records was unloaded, though not necessarily into the bins of used record stores; instead, the Tijuana Brass was a staple of the antique shop, the consignment store, the Goodwill, the flea market, the yard/garage sale, and the Salvation Army.

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