Monthly Archives: March 2016

TVD Live, Before and After: Kitten at the Rock and Roll Hotel, 3/25

For a touring musician, the often cliched “life on the road”—shuttling from venue to venue, city to city—can become insufferably grueling. For Chloe Chaidez, Kitten’s unique force of nature, it’s simply the method by which she’s garnering fans on a steady climb to the stratosphere—venue to venue, city to city. It also doesn’t hurt that she possesses a bewilderingly strong catalog of material and a crack band behind her.

In Washington, DC last week, Kitten’s stop was the venerable Rock and Roll Hotel to which we dispatched our own force of nature, photographer Richie Downs to chronicle the stuff the enthusiastic crowd that evening didn’t catch—the minutia, preparation, and the dedication to putting the music together night after night. And the live show too, of course.

Back at TVD HQ, Richie told us, “When Kitten hit the stage around 11PM, Chloe came out at full force and showed no signs of slowing down throughout her entire set. I’ve seen Kitten perform several times and the truth is this band keeps getting better each time they’re in town. Their delivery was flawless.”

Kitten is touring in support of the new EP “Heaven or Somewhere in Between” released this month. —Ed.

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Shannon LaBrie,
The TVD First Date

“A love letter to my first…stolen…record.”

“I didn’t know you when I was younger, because I didn’t know you existed. All I had was a white square thing with a guy sitting next to a pink giraffe named Stephen Stills.

I didn’t know what you were, when I was younger but, when I found you, tucked away in my Dad’s old boxes hidden up in the garage, I loved you. It was like I had found a precious heirloom that I had to protect. I hid you under my mattress for years. Granted, I mostly hid you because I was afraid to tell my Dad that I had gone through his boxes in the attic, but, that’s neither here nor there. You were beautiful and I didn’t have to play you on a record player to know your worth.

I would take you out every so often and stare at you, wondering what machinery I’d have to get to bring you to life, but honestly, you were beautiful just the way you were.

After Dad died, I put you on my desk, as a piece of art. You looked so prestigious and important. More than that, you reminded me of him in a way that no one else could. You were a part of his youth and now, a part of his youth is with me.

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TVD Premiere: Cha Wa, Funk ‘N’ Feathers

Mardi Gras Indian music continues to evolve in New Orleans. On Friday, April 1, the latest album of the classic sounds of the streets of New Orleans hits record stores. But TVD has it here first! The album Funk ‘N’ Feathers from Cha Wa features Spy Boy “Honey” Bannister of the Creole Wild West and Spy Boy J’Wan Boudreaux of the Golden Eagles on lead vocals and tambourines. Ben Ellman—the saxophonist of Galactic and a rising star in the world of music production—was behind the board for its recording.

Drummer Joe Gelini, who leads the band with Bannister, is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music and has immersed himself in the music of the black Indians of New Orleans since the first time he saw them on Fat Tuesday. He said, “We have so much respect for the elders who came before us; because of this respect, we wanted to make this record the right way. This meant (only) going into the studio after developing our own interpretation of the music.” His partner in the percussion section is famed Indian drummer, Norwood “Geechie” Johnson.

Geechie has been part of the Mardi Gras Indian world for decades. He played with Bo Dollis’ legendary stage band, the Wild Magnolias, for many years and was a parading member of the tribe. Guitarist John Fohl, late of Dr. John’s band, and pianist Yoshitaka “Z2” Tsuji of Kermit Ruffins and the BBQ Swingers are featured on the album.

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Needle Drop: Luke Howard, Two Places

Luke Howard’s new album Two Places is an incredible journey via both classical and electronic music structures with a sound that is rich and complex built upon its intertwining instrumentation.

A session performer and composer for film and television, Howard has collaborated with numerous high-profile musicians such as Ben Frost and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, garnering a great deal of critical acclaim for his collaborations and now for his solo work.

On Two Places, Howard continues to experiment with the melding of both classical and electronic music, building upon his previous release Sun, Cloud. The title track “Two Places” is a standout with a solo piano laying a foundation over which shimmering, sweeping synth and string sounds swirl, creating a crescendo of noise which comes to a head before suddenly slipping away.

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Graded on a Curve:
New in stores January–March, 2016

Our 2016 first quarter overlook is in no way an attempt to be all-encompassing; it’s simply some thoughts and grades on records released in the first three months of the year. Part two arrives next week.

Adult Books, Running from the Blows (Burger/Lollipop) Guitar-based pop-rock in a late ’70s-early ’80s vein; that means occasional new wavy flourishes and a few welcome touches of leather-and -scarf attitude, and even as a couple of lesser songs emerge this is surprisingly strong for a full-length debut. On a just planet every town would have an Adult Books practicing outdoors on crisp autumn afternoons. But to paraphrase William Gaddis, we get justice in the next world; in this one we have the law. A-

Animal Collective, Painting With (Domino) Opener “FloriDada” strives for novelty but is ultimately just kinda corny and the album never really recovers; the whole is intermittently pleasant but constantly lightweight. Along with samples of the Surfaris and Bea Arthur (a real “are you shitting me?” moment) are guest spots by John Cale and Colin Stetson that are far more exciting on paper. In the end it’s a typically average late-work. C+

Anenon, Petrol (Friends of Friends) Producer and saxophonist Brian Allen Simon resides in Los Angeles, and fittingly his electronic-ambient-experimentalism is very L.A.; a few spots here conjured thoughts of burnt orange sunsets and smog. But worry not east coasters, for the manipulated blend of synthetic and organic instrumentation isn’t a bit shallow, with Simon’s sax bringing distinctiveness to the techno-abstract table. A-

Animal Daydream, “Citrus” (Jigsaw) 4-song EP retaining the Swedish duo’s devotion to the Buck/Nicks-era of the Fleetwood Mac, though this time out the tunes aren’t quite as strong. Saving them is the instrumentation however, which is likely to appeal to guitar-pop aficionados with nary a care regarding ’70s soft rock. B+

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In rotation: 3/31/16

Rock Candy: A few local record stores are moving: Almost Music is relocating from Benson to the Blackstone District, and Recycled Sounds is leaving Lincoln for central Omaha. Drastic Plastic is rebranding and dividing its shop into two businesses. Recycled Sounds and Almost Music plan to reopen in their new locations this week. Record stores have seen something of a resurgence in recent years in Omaha.

Meet the inventor of album cover art: Long before record companies had design teams, albums were sold in simple packaging: either the record store’s own bag or something plain and unmarked. Only very special or limited-edition records came with any sort of notable packaging—even then it was printed separately and glued onto covers. Then came Alex Steinweiss, the designer who pretty much invented album art as we know it today. When he came to work for Columbia Records as an advertising manager in 1939, he realized cover art could be a great advantage when it came to marketing.

J Sainsbury: Shop in spin about vinyl record sales: A record shop owner has accused two supermarkets of ‘jumping on the bandwagon’ by selling vinyl. Sainsbury’s is stocking them for the first time since the 1980s as the format enjoys a revival, following a similar move by Tesco, which announced they would be selling LPs in December. Claire Howell, owner and manager of It’s For You Vinyl in Cleveland Street, hopes music lovers stay loyal to the smaller independent stores which she believes have kept the trade alive. She said: “I didn’t know Sainsbury’s were going to do it as well.”

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TVD Live Shots: Savages and Angus Tarnawsky at the 9:30 Club, 3/27

Living up to their name and reputation, London’s Savages took the 9:30 Club by storm Sunday night, leveling the District audience. With what seemed like nonstop barrage of melodic indie-post punk, the band played hard and steady. Most of all, they played extremely fucking loud, I’m talking sonic levels here—probably the loudest show I’ve attended this year.

Standing tough and firm, vocalist Jehnny Beth delivered a flawless and often poetic performance. Accompanied by her fellow bandmates—Gemma Thompson on guitar, Ayse Hassan on bass, and Fay Milton on drums, the foursome seemed more like a gang ready for battle.

The show was outstanding and Savages have certainly mastered their live sound. They stayed right in the pocket throughout their entire set and come across as relentless and seemingly unstoppable. Savages are touring to promote their new album, Adore Life, released on Matador Records in January of this year—which is available on vinyl.

Angus Tarnawsky got the evening started with his progressive beats and aggressive use of percussion.

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Graded on a Curve:
Iggy Pop, The Idiot

David Bowie was a great artist, but he was also an appropriator and opportunist, and was not above exploiting his friends to achieve his own goals. Take Iggy Pop. Pop had been floundering since the Stooges dissolved, and found himself in Berlin with Bowie who, like Pop, was trying to fight both his drug demons and find his way to a new sound, which would emerge in 1977’s Low. But before Low he produced Pop, as much out of self-interest as friendship. As he would say later, “Poor Jim, in a way, became a guinea pig for what I wanted to do with sound.”

Fortunately for Pop, their creative collaboration—for their sessions were much, much more than Bowie’s simply using Pop as a laboratory animal for musical experimentation—resulted in 1977’s The Idiot, a work of genius and a radical departure from Pop’s frankly self-destructive proto-punk with the Stooges. Indeed, it was so radical it skipped punk entirely, and disappointed plenty of people who thought Pop should have been taking advantage of a sound and attitude he had helped to foment.

The Idiot would have been unthinkable to anyone familiar with Pop’s previous personae as rock’s wildebeest, who flung himself about to the frenetic roar produced by the Stooges, seemingly oblivious to the physical and psychic damage he was inflicting upon himself. On The Idiot, the roar of guitars was replaced by a funky and robotic foray into more Apollonian territory, with Pop singing over Kraftwerk-flavored art rock, quieter tunes some with Gothic overtones, and even proto-industrial electronica. Most of its songs would be celebrated by proponents of the various genres of post-punk, demonstrating conclusively just how far ahead of its time it was. On a bummer of a note, it was even the soundtrack to Joy Division singer Ian Curtis’ suicide, as it was found spinning in the room where Curtis hanged himself.

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Wa Di Yo in stores from Lakou Mizik, 4/1

The hurricane that devastated Haiti in 2010 left lasting destruction, occasionally still making the news in the United States. One positive to emerge from the mess is the debut release from Lakou Mizik which formed in the wake of the natural disaster.

Like in New Orleans, music is at the core of Haiti’s identity. And like in New Orleans following the flood after Hurricane Katrina, a new generation of musicians is keeping the music and culture alive.

The band is a multigenerational collective of Haitian musicians including elder legends and rising young talents, united in a mission to honor the healing spirit of their collective culture and communicate a message of pride, strength, and hope to their countrymen and the world.

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The TVD First Date

“‘Til this day, every time I see pink and yellow paired together, I can hear it: the angry, driving kick drum that introduced the world to the Sex Pistols via Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols’ opener ‘Holiday In The Sun.'”

“I was twelve-years-old, quietly ransacking my uncle’s basement for something incriminating to read or play with when I stumbled upon his well-concealed, immaculately kept record collection. I combed through shelves of vinyl, studying the names, the faces, and the artwork until I finally found one that peaked my interest. I remember grimacing at the word “sex” plastered across the lemon backdrop as I plucked it out of place. I scanned the room to make sure I was still alone and tiptoed over to my uncle’s record player—a machine I had seen in movies, but never in real life. After fumbling with it for a moment, the raspy fuzz kicked in and I panicked, thinking I had broken it.

Panic shifted to genuine confusion as soon as the music came blaring through the built-in speakers. The frantic guitars, Rotten’s unhinged vocals, the speed—it was chaos. Perfect fucking chaos.

By the end of “No Feelings,” the Pistols had me hooked. Unfortunately, my revelation was interrupted when I heard my uncle rumbling down the stairs. I instinctively jabbed at the machine in an attempt to silence it, but it was too late. I avoided eye-contact as I waited for my uncle to scold me for going through his shit, however, instead of addressing my failure to adhere to any sort of personal boundaries, he high-fived me and shouted, ‘The Pistols! Man, I love that record.’

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Graded on a Curve: Pram, The Stars Are So Big, the Earth Is So Small…Stay as You Are and Helium

Although long defunct, throughout the 1990s the UK label Too Pure promulgated a sweet heaping mess of worthwhile musical activity; most illustrious in the outpouring were PJ Harvey and Stereolab, but numerous additional acts fortified the scenario, and amongst the finest was Pram. Formed in Birmingham, England in 1990, the experimental pop outfit released three full-lengths on Too Pure, and the first two, ’93’s The Stars Are So Big, the Earth Is So Small…Stay as You Are and the following year’s Helium have just been given fresh 180gm pressings by Medical Records of Seattle, WA.

Pram initially came together in the late ‘80s under the name Hole. Eventually their founding members, namely Rosie Cuckston on vocals and keyboards, Matt Eaton on guitar, Samantha “Sam” Owen on bass, and Andy Weir on drums, changed the moniker to Pram, and their first recordings wielded an abrasive, nervous quality derived from indie rock and traceable back to their home country’s post-punk innovators, in particular The Slits and The Raincoats.

As part of the upside-down musical landscape of the early ’90s, Pram has surely been categorized as one component in the truly seismic indie explosion. But instead of being tidily indicative of the ’80s underground’s absorption into the mainstream of the ensuing decade, the group can be accurately tagged as prescient; circa ’88 as Hole their sound reportedly sprang entirely from vocals and a homemade Theremin.

Pram has been described as everything from experimental pop/rock to neo-psychedelia to dream pop, but they seem best pegged as an early example of post-rock (though at least one member of the band disagrees) as they adopted a wide range of atypical instrumentation, borrowed ideas from a Krautrock and post-punk antecedents, honed their skills as multi-instrumentalists and then strove to not sound like anyone else.

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In rotation: 3/30/16

Wax off: Bed-Stuy’s beloved Israel’s Record Store closing after 20 years: It’s the vinyl countdown. Beloved Bedford-Stuyvesant basement music emporium Israel’s Record Shop will soon close its doors after two decades of slinging one of Brooklyn’s most eclectic wax selections, and the eponymous owner says the bad news has his long-time customers in a funk…Yahuda said he found out about seven months ago that the owner of the subterranean Fulton Street haunt — and the building above it — plans to sell, and now the new owner doesn’t want to keep him on.

A Record Shopkeeper Writes: Why Record Store Day Must End: My idea for labels and artists and RSD? Use this as a day to foster better relations between shops and distros for the long term gain in sales, fans and a social music culture in UK towns. Give us old stock on Sale or Return or even better, on consignment, let us sell it for you on a day when people (everyone) will find a bargain, and understand what ‘flicking through the racks’ meant to people in the 80s. Not complicated. Find the common ground for all.

What’s happening in Birmingham for Record Store Day 2016?: Record Store Day’s ninth annual event is coming to the Birmingham area on Saturday, April 16, celebrating independent record stores in the area. A number of new and exclusive releases are due to hit the shelves for vinyl record lovers. This year’s line-up features the likes of Florence and the Machine, Bob Dylan and Fleetwood Mac. The late David Bowie has an album and a 7” single out, with The Man Who Sold The World and TVC15 from the Station to Station album.

Mount Gilead record store turns tables on local music scene: A new Mt. Gilead music store is bringing the vinyl resurgence to local residents and seeks to rekindle the love for the medium. Legend Records (a nod to the owner’s nickname, Larry “the Legend” Landis from his days playing volleyball for Kent State University) opened earlier this year and is Landis’s second location, but first in the Buckeye State. “It all started about 10 years ago when my brother-in-law and I bought our first collection, about 250 thousand records,” Landis said. “And now this store has anywhere from 8-10 thousand pieces of music on display.”

Avalanche Records closing: Just as new vinyl sales definitely started to improve but no other shop was bothered we reached a point where 70% of our sales but by no means our profit were new vinyl. At the same time HMV/FOPP considered vinyl to be a premium product so when pricing they took no heed of any discount and then in fact added a pound or two to give a “premium” price. We were often £3 to £5 cheaper. New release vinyl though sold only for a couple of weeks unlike CDs that often continued to sell for months and getting the numbers right was tricky.

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TVD Live: Tal Wilkenfeld at the Birchmere 3/15, the Verizon Center 3/24

PHOTOS: RICHIE DOWNS | It’s a bit of a schizophrenic touring season for Tal Wilkenfeld. Half the time, the Australian bassist is headlining modest sized clubs with her band. The other half, they’re opening huge arena shows for The Who. Fans in DC got to see her at both extremes this month, first at the venerable Birchmere music hall in Alexandria, VA, March 15 and then the cavernous Verizon Center in Washington nine days later on the 24th.

What was surprising is that she didn’t seem to tone her arena show down for the closer confines, nor did she have to make her club show substantially bigger to fill an arena. Wilkenfeld is a young guitarist turned bassist who took her parents’ money meant for college and instead went straight to Los Angeles to play music. She got jobs immediately and caught a lot of attention when she played bass with Jeff Beck, most prominently at a 2007 Crossroads Music Festival, where a video of her solo during “Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers” is up to 1.8 million YouTube views. She’s since performed with the likes of drummer Vinnie Colaiuta (who was part of the Beck band too—and Zappa and Sting before that).

Her current band doesn’t have marquee names but hold their own with complex and powerful playing, especially from guitarist Owen Barry and drummer Tamir Barzilay. The Who, of course, have a storied list of acts who have opened for them, including Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, the Faces in both of its incarnations, the Kinks, the Pretenders, Lou Reed, Bob Marley, and The Clash.

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TVD Live: The 2016
T-Bois Blues Festival,

TEXT AND PHOTOS: TRENT DUNBAR | The 2016 T-Bois Blues Festival took place March 17-19, on a small crawfish and alligator farm in Larose, Louisiana. Featuring camping, food, beer, and some of the best blues artists from across the south and nationally, T-Bois is an experience like no other. Known as the “Cajun Burning Man,” this year’s burn included a wooden hoop adorned with the NOLA Brewing logo, three giant teepee bonfires, and the classic T-Bois burn—a giant guitar-playing gator named Al that shot flames out of its mouth as the fire roared up through its body.

This year’s lineup included numerous new acts for me including the Jason Ricci Band, the Ben Miller Band, Jonathan “Boogie” Long (pictured at top and below) and The Congress, in addition to old favorites like the Lost Bayou Ramblers (photo below jump) , the Colin Lake Band, and Anders Osborne.

The Jason Ricci Band was the first act I was able to see after I was done wrestling my tent into submission at my campsite. Jason Ricci makes no secret of his affinity for punk rock. From his look to his tongue-in-cheek, self-deprecating jokes told between songs, Ricci knows how to draw the audience in and keep them invested. In addition to being a talented vocalist, Ricci plays impressive harmonica.

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Warriors of the Dystotheque,
The TVD First Date

“Back when I was about 14, around 1987, my friend Maxi and I started hanging out at our local record store in Ireland and went on to work there at weekends. Truth be told, we even skipped a few classes. We were totally surrounded by vinyl and cassettes—no CDs or downloads in those days—and as well as getting paid we were allowed to take home loads of vinyl, and boy, did we do that!”

“For years I was getting exposed to all sorts of music and forms from the early days of Depeche Mode, New Order, The Smiths, and the like. If I found my love for the electronic sounds at this time, I was still a kid, so was attending the local youth club and found myself having a bigger collection than the rest of my peers. I was soon made the resident DJ and loved the relationship I was having with vinyl and seeing people dancing and enjoying the music—I was pretty much hooked from then.

As the years went by acid house and techno came around and I was right there on the floor absorbing all these new sounds. The trip hop vines of Massive Attack and Portishead with labels like Mo Wax and Ninja Tune appeared and I was totally hooked, and after hearing a Portishead essential mix; I went straight out on the Monday morning and bought my Technics 1200s and never looked back. I was now buying vinyl with a new purpose and learning to mix these sounds.

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