Monthly Archives: January 2016

Sexy Fights,
The TVD First Date

“My earliest memories of vinyl happened to be some of my most vivid and cherished childhood memories. Without a doubt, my favorite memories of my father involve vinyl. My dad had an old wicker crate that he kept all his records in. It consisted mainly of classic rock, nothing too out there but classics nonetheless. I remember opening it up to flip through the album art and inspect the intricate and unique inserts. I can even recall pulling the vinyl out of the sleeve and tracing my finger along the grooves, trying to wrap my head around how that could possibly produce sound.”

“Growing up, every night after my parents would put my sister and me to bed. My dad would pour himself a drink, dim the lights in our den, and listen to his record collection for hours to unwind in solitude. I would lay in my bed as long as I could trying to fall asleep while listening to the music from my room, always intrigued and jealous that it was past my bedtime. Eventually, every night after my mom and sister would fall asleep, I would sneak out of my room and ask my dad if I could stay up and listen to records with him.

To my surprise, instead of being scolded for sneaking out past bedtime, Dad didn’t mind and let me hang out. He’d play me all his favorite songs and was so blissfully happy while doing it. The ultimate test for my dad was if a song gave him the chills. He’d show me his arm covered in goosebumps after his favorite part of a song came through the speakers and my childhood brain was blown away at the power sound could have on us. I was hooked. These joyous late night listening sessions with him undoubtedly fostered my passion for all things music.

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Needle Drop: Right Hand Left Hand, “Seat 18c”

Right Hand Left Hand are an alt-rock two piece from Cardiff on the verge of releasing their second album via Jealous Lovers Club. With an impressive touring record, having supported Super Furry Animals, Los Campesinos!, and Funeral for a Friend, they are definitely ready for the big time.

With both members swapping guitars and drums and an extensive use of loops, their sound obviously takes cues from the heavier side of post rock, but they are absolutely not just revivalists. Incorporating elements of math rock and electronica—with metronomic, driving drums and looping layered guitars—they make an impressive amount of noise for just two people.

“Seat 18c” is the second release from their upcoming, self-titled album and it is relentless. Following first single “Tarts and Darts,” it begins with layers of fingerpicked guitar creating a very real sense of unease, and it’s not long before the obligatory riff breaks through driving the track forward. It’s reminiscent of Mogwai’s heavier tracks and definitely impressive. If I’ve any criticism it’s that it ends so abruptly, and to me it seems like the build-up deserved more. It’s a great song however, so do yourself and favour and play it loud.

Right Hand Left Hand’s self-titled album is released February 12th.

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Graded on a Curve: Freakwater,

Formed in Louisville, KY, Freakwater span back to the early days of alt-country. Co-headed by guitarist-vocalists Janet Beveridge Bean and Catherine Ann Irwin, the group’s string of albums has helped to raise their genre’s level of quality considerably, and after a decade-long stretch of inactivity they’re back with a new full-length. Featuring longtime cohort David Wayne Gay on bass, Scheherazade finds them reigniting their non-hackneyed approach to roots-infused harmony without a hitch; it’s out February 5 on vinyl, compact disc, and digital via new label Bloodshot Records.

A huge mess of alt-country recordings have been cut, shrink-wrapped, and delivered to the bins since Freakwater issued their self-titled debut in 1989. In fact, the style has been extant long enough that a sizable percentage of its practitioners have fallen victim to the same faults and miscalculations the form was initially attempting to remedy.

Risk averse, excessively calculated, beleaguered by overzealousness of persona, and frequently too damned slick; circa the late ‘80s these problems amongst others proved a nagging burden to the trad country landscape. Of course, the best of the upstart acts on the yet to be named alt-country fringe weren’t overly reactionary in form or content, instead electing to just do their own thing as they accumulated fans and forged relationships with likeminded artists along the way.

Some were punkers who’d gotten energized by a taste of undiluted country glory, while others had grown up with exposure to the music and were moved to carry it forward. Freakwater are roughly in line with the former scenario, Catherine Irwin coming of age in Louisville punk bands to be eventually swayed by the sounds of the Carter Family. Additionally, the group sprang in part from the hard-edged roots-rock of Eleventh Dream Day, a Chicago band formed by Louisville transplants Rick Rizzo and Janet Bean.

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In rotation: 1/27/16

Record Shop To Open In Aylesbury: An independent record shop is coming to Aylesbury. Second Earth Records will be a pop-up shop in Aylesbury’s Market Square as well as an online store. There’s currently a campaign to raise funds to get the website up and running.

Downtown shops put new spin on vinyl: …Remix isn’t the only store near downtown putting the focus on the low-tech audio format. Another two-in-one shop, Vinyl Arts Bar, is set to open next week on Colonial Drive at the site of a former massage parlor downtown. Vinyl Arts will be an art gallery with pieces from local artists as well as a bar and lounge.

Discovery of rare vinyl record has staff at Huntingdon charity shop in a spin: It is a recording of Memphis Slim at the St George Jazz Club in King’s Lynn in May 1961 and is so rare that it is being donated to the sound archive based at the British Library…Charity shop manager Geoffrey Stalker is unsure how much the record is worth but said the British Library were keen to have it for their collection. He has tracked down the person who donated the record to Oxfam and she is content for the British Library to put it on display.

Scratch The Surface Records opens in Chippenham after surge in demand: Scratch The Surface, spread across two rooms, had it’s official opening on Saturday (Jan 23) with vinyl ranging from the 1920s to the present day and across all genres. The multi-purpose shop, which buys as well as selling records, sits above Phase Patch craft shop on The Causeway and even has an antique and vintage section for customers.

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TVD Live Shots: Steel Panther at the Regency Ballroom, 1/17

If you’ve not seen a Steel Panther show, you’re missing out on one of the most entertaining spectacles ever put to stage. Michael Starr, Lexxi Foxx, Stixx Zandinia, and Satchel are keeping the legacy of hair metal alive as they carry the torch for one of rock ‘n’ roll’s favorite past times.

The Regency Ballroom was completely packed to see these guys and for good reason. Their live show is nostalgic, comedic, part sing-along, and always over the top with excess. With song titles such as “You’re Beautiful When You Don’t Talk,” “Asian Hooker,” “Gloryhole,” and “F*cking My Heart in the Ass,” it’s easy to write these guys off as a simple novelty act, but the songs are incredibly catchy and their musicianship is absolutely stellar.

photographed by Jason Miller-8

So while these guys may come across as a joke they have some serious chops to back up their crude lyrics, and that’s what makes them so brilliant. The band’s new CD/DVD, Steel Panther, Live from Lexxi’s Mom’s Garage arrives in stores February 26th and is available for pre-order. 

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Needle Drop: Furies (s/t)

Sometimes simple is best. Meet Furies, a Spanish-born trio that leaves the empty frills behind—not letting worthless racket disrupt their clean glam rock.

Although they hail from Madrid, the band has clearly borrowed a few licks from the American musical canon. Their new EP has the swing of the ’50s, with riffs reminiscent of Chuck Berry and other memorable founders of rock ‘n’ roll. It even includes the group’s own rendition of “Nutbush City Limits” by Ike & Tina Turner. However, their music isn’t simply a cheap copy of rock icons. Furies have taken these tones and filtered them through their own Spanish energy—finding an exciting new sound in the interstices of European and American rock.

Take the track “Tell Me Why.” It starts simply—with a punchy guitar riff underscored by a well-paced drum kick. Suddenly the group’s lead vocalist, María, enters singing English lyrics tinged with a foreign inflection, giving the track a distinct, almost uncanny feel. It invites the audience to listen carefully, rewarding their effort with a solo, packed with quick slides and full bends, that ends the song.

Furies’ self-titled EP is out now via Bandcamp.

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UK Artist of the Week: HAWK

HAWK are no strangers to TVD—we’ve been big fans of previous singles “Glass,” “Hush,” and their beautiful EP “Clock Hands.” So it came as a bit of a surprise to find that we have yet to feature them as our Artist of the Week. This has now been rectified.

HAWK are one of those bands that has been quietly developing behind closed doors only to suddenly come out of the woodwork with incredible new material that blows everyone away. The band’s latest single “Once Told” is an extremely important one for many reasons. Not only is it beautifully written, it also delivers an important message that demands attention.

Following their previous single “Glass” which focused on the recent Marriage Equality Referendum that took place in Ireland, “Once Told” is a track that has activism at its heart—revealing dated mindsets as to abortion laws and wider issues around pregnancy, sexuality, and contraception.

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Graded on a Curve:
Cian Nugent,
Night Fiction

It’s been a couple of years since guitarist Cian Nugent joined forces with the Cosmos to release Born with the Caul. That truly striking LP surveyed a major progression into edgy ballroom-style psych regions from a guy previously known as a fingerpicker in the post-John Fahey tradition, and in early 2016 Nugent returns but with a newfound tendency toward the realms of the singer-songwriter. The results aren’t as brilliant and seamless as his prior effort, but Night Fiction is still a winner, considerably widening its maker’s range; it’s out January 29 on vinyl and digital through Woodsist.

Though initially noted as an exponent of the American Primitive guitar school, Cian Nugent’s status as a natural-born Irishman, indeed a Dubliner, deepened the scenario more than a little. His album Doubles came out in 2011 on the small Virginia-based label VHF; it featured a pair of instrumentals, both over 20 minutes long, and while it wasn’t difficult to peg Fahey as Nugent’s main point of reference, his playing was at times spectacular (basically an American Primitive prerequisite) as horn arrangements and elements of drone carried him beyond the style’s norms.

Nugent’s next long-player found him in the company of a full-fledged band, the Cosmos helping to elevate Born with the Caul to the plateau of 2013’s best releases. Launching from the fingerpicking sensibility of Doubles, the 3-song set unfurled a heavy psych disposition somewhat reminiscent of late ‘60s San Fran but with crucial threads of contemporary verve.

It also briefly offered vocals, a facet in far greater abundance across Night Fiction. And for his latest Nugent has essentially retained the core of the Cosmos, namely Conor Lumsden on bass, Brendan Jenkinson on organ and piano, David Lacey on drums, and Ailbhe Nic Oireachtaigh on viola; the latter two contributed to Doubles, so it’s clear the guitarist and now tune-slinger’s creative evolution benefits from a recurring cast of collaborators.

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In rotation: 1/26/16

The mysterious power of old Bollywood LPs: There are few things that put me in such a nostalgic mood than a vinyl record of Bollywood songs from my childhood. I recently discovered it is the same for my elderly aunt, for whom records from the 1950s bring back a mixture of precious and painful memories.

Massive crowds flock to 6PR bushfire album sale: The lure of music on vinyl attracted huge crowds to the 6PR Radio carpark at 169 Hay Street in East Perth, with the queue stretching far down the street towards the WACA. The radio station donated its 8000 vinyl LPs for the sale and it proved a huge hit with the public who snapped up almost every LP raising nearly $19000 for those who lost everything in the south-west bushfire.

Get in the groove at Wonder Records: Last June’s launch of Apple’s streaming service may have thrilled thrifty music lovers, but many listeners who want to hear their favorite albums at the highest quality contend that MP3s, the digital music transmitted via the Internet, can’t compare to the quality of vinyl. According to data released by Nielsen Soundscan, digital listening hasn’t made vinyl a thing of the past, as more than 9.2 million vinyl records were sold in 2014 — a 52 percent increase from 2013.

EMI are taking a trip down memory lane at Hayes Old Vinyl Factory: EMI are inviting former employees at the Old Vinyl Factory in Hayes, to come back and share their memories of the iconic site. The factory was a major employer for the town and produced records by some of the world’s best-known artists, including The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Cliff Richard. The reunion will take place on Wednesday, February 3, from 10am-1pm and is hosted by the EMI Archive Trust in conjunction with the BBC for their People’s History of Pop project.

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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.

This week, on “Garden State Sound” we get into the car and drive all over the state before the snow starts falling. That’s right, this episode was taped while Jonas was out there lurking and preparing to dump two feet of snow on the New York City metro area.

Let’s take advantage of the snow-free streets and sample all the best that NJ has to offer: Melody Gardot, The Battery Electric, Spiraling, Wyclef Jean, Chris Barron, A Girl Called Eddy, and more!

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Needle Drop, The Frisbys “The Cause” EP

One can never tire of a good harmony. Something about the sounds made by two or more intertwining vocal melodies is beautiful and often otherworldly. Twins Nicola and Helen Frisby have been creating such harmonies for years.

Now on The Frisbys’ second EP, “The Cause” they have used their harmonic talents in conjunction with some strong writing to produce a great six song collection. With tracks that deal with a wide array of issues, both of the lighter and darker sides of life, it’s an epic EP.

Lead track “Born and Raised” is a prominent moment. Released as part of the double a-side single along with “Give Into The Dark,” the twins’ songwriting shines with some fantastic use of melody and great hooks, kicking off the EP in style.

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Francis Macdonald,
The TVD First Date

“While waiting for Teenage Fanclub to complete our next studio album I’ve been on a bit of a journey, making music for filmmakers and listening to classical and soundtrack music. When I decided to make Music For String Quartet, Piano & Celeste it was important that it be available—albeit in a limited quantity—on vinyl, as well as on CD and digital.”

“I took a lot of time planning this album. I used a good studio with a good piano (Mogwai’s Castle Of Doom in Glasgow) and a great string quartet. I learned a lot about writing for strings. I pushed myself to play all the piano and celeste parts, etc. I wanted to be able to hold an actual record in my hand at the end of the process and feel I’d gotten somewhere.

The first vinyl single I ever got was “Jilted John” by Jilted John—it was a requested present for my 8th birthday. I wanted it because my big cousin said he liked it.

I still enjoy it whenever I hear it.

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Graded on a Curve: Melville A.D, 11 Electric Poems for E.M. Cioran

When it comes down to my philosophy of life, everything I believe I stole directly from the Romanian philosopher E.M. Cioran. A master of detachment and nattering nabob of negativity who wrote in a pithy and crystalline French, you can distil his entire work to one of his marvelous aphorisms, to wit: “No one has been so convinced as I of the futility of everything; and no one has taken so tragically so many things.” Just how much did he hate life and his fellow man? Let’s see: “Sometimes I wish I were a cannibal—less for the pleasure of eating someone than for the pleasure of vomiting him.”

I’ve long wanted to write a concept album to him, but it seems Melville A.D, who entitled a 2015 LP 11 Electric Poems for E.M. Cioran, has beaten me to the punch. I’m not typically much of a fan of abstract electronic music, but Melville A.D—one of the musical projects of Frenchman and long-time New Yorker Didier Cremieux—strikes exactly the right bleak but still funky note on his songs, which are entitled “Emc 01,” “Emc 02,” etc. Like Cioran’s dark aphorisms the songs on the LP strike an unflinching and elegiac note, one appropriate to the man who once wrote, “To live is to lose ground.”

Cremieux’s other musical projects include Mr. Untel, collaboration with fellow Frenchman Gerard Iangelia. Cremieux described Mr. Untel’s electronic music it to me as “cosmic music for cocktails in the bayou.” According to Cremieux, another project, Firefly Choir, is “a pure electronic project characterized by longer, slower pieces,” featuring “processed organic sounds and as little structure as possible.” Cremieux told me he is inspired by the written word: “I often find myself with many sound ideas after reading words and always try to create a soundscape or a sound illustration to such works.”

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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.

SheLoom – America On Fire
Suntrodden – Sunrise To Sunset
Bay Kee – Alex
Sea Caves – Spanning the River
Nathaniel Bellows – Oh, Now
Lauren Marsh – Wildfire
Daniel Inouwa – Better Off
Jon Patrick Walker – Hideous Monster
Kinder Than Wolves – Hazel Days
Say No! to Architecture – Wieder’s Floor

Avante Black – Imaginary Love

Stray Echo – Nu Erotic Ghost
Shapes On Tape – Change(s)
Bike Thief – Dark Dances
Faroe – Blast
Alex Bent – Run Like Hell
Warning Light – The Lieutenant Colonel
Arona Mane – Things You Do
Inter​-​G​-​Lactic – Age of Vern ft. Yiani Treweeke
Alexandre – Innermost (Original Mix)

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In rotation: 1/25/16

BBC Music partners with Record Store Day: Special programming will take place across the BBC radio networks. In the run up to Record Store Day itself, Steve Lamacq will be talking to different record stores around the UK on 6 Music as they reveal which artists, performers and musical events will be taking place. It is expected that more than 25,000 music fans will be taking to their local record shops from the early hours on April 16.

Webster’s Sweet Spot Audio & Records is worth the drive for vinyl fans: Like an increasing number of people these days, Sweet Spot Audio & Records owner Nigel Harrison believes that vinyl is the superior format for listening to music. “It’s more tactile; you can touch it, you can feel it, you can read it, you’re more engaged with it, you’re interconnected with it, you have to be attentive to it, and there is just more presence with it,” Harrison explains. “And personally, I do think it sounds better.”

The world’s best record shops #003: Dusty Groove, Chicago: It’s not often you see a record shop make the jump from online store to bricks and mortar, let alone make it this emphatically. Born after a massive crate digging trip ended in a snowstorm in the mountains of Pennsylvania, Rick Wojcik and JP Schauer established Dusty Groove as a part-time online record shop in 1996 at a time when dial-up modems were all the rage. Success quickly followed, and the jump from part-time to full time dealership saw the pair upgrade operations rapidly, from running monthly sidewalk sales from the bedsit of a former prostitute to owning a store space with its own shop front.

Oz Music’s new owner talks vinyl, the music industry, and the store’s future: “I am finding more and more stores that have opened that are vinyl only or carry CDs and vinyl, they’ve opened in the last 3-5 years, some within the last 12 months,” he said. “I think the rumors of our demise have been greatly exaggerated.”

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