Monthly Archives: April 2016

Graded on a Curve:
New in Stores, April 2016

Part one of the TVD Record Store Club’s look at the new or reissued wax presently in stores for April, 2016.

The Adverts, Crossing the Red Sea with the Adverts and Cast of Thousands (Fire) Deserving reissues of the killer debut and underrated follow-up by these crucial UK punkers. Sharpened through gigs, Crossing is a rare punk LP that’s fantastic from start to finish, its highlights including their monster early 45 cuts plus album-only doozies like “On the Roof.” Brandishing more ambitious songs and execution, less punk orthodoxy and occasional non-toxic pop gestures (e.g. keyboards), Cast’s rep has steadily grown over the decades. Fire gives both spiffy new covers and bonus tracks. A/A-

Loren Auerbach with Bert Jansch, Colours Are Fading Fast (Earth Recordings) An eye-opening set surely appropriate for Jansch heavies, though amongst numerous contributors this is still firmly Auerbach’s show, rounding up her mid-‘80s albums Playing the Game and After the Long Night and adding an LP of unreleased material. The label notes the difficulty in fathoming the heretofore modest appreciation for her gifts as a vocalist, a point well taken as the music’s original issue on her own Christabel label undoubtedly limited her exposure. This loving collection sets things right. A-

Bardo Pond, Acid Guru Pond (Fire) One of the finest heavy-psych bands of the last 25 years joins up with prolific Japanese contemporaries Acid Mothers Temple and Krautrock survivors Guru Guru (the number of participants from each band isn’t exactly clear) for an extravaganza of expansiveness spread across four sides of vinyl. Studio meetings of this type tend to fall short of expectations, but the Pond’s style of pulse-drone psych fits well with a loose jamming atmosphere, and these five tracks never falter into aimlessness or self-indulgence. A-

Jaye Bartell, Light Enough (Sinderlyn) Wielding a voice not necessarily unconventional but certainly distinctive, Bartell’s background as a poet shines through (influences cited: Spalding Gray, Eileen Myles, Charles Olson) as the verses on his second album sidestep the commonplace with ease. Enhanced by a folky framework, the work of Leonard Cohen and to a lesser extent Bill Callahan does spring to mind on occasion, but Bartell’s ultimately up to something different here. The title track serves as a good entry point and “The Ceiling” expands things very nicely. Excellent cover, as well. A-

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TVD’s The Idelic Hour with Jon Sidel

Greetings from Laurel Canyon!

I’m back from a fun and dusty week in the desert. As I strolled the polo fields of Coachella it was hard not to think about those last images of Woodstock—hippies wandering through fields of garbage to heavy Hendrix riffs. I believe that was the symbolic end of the ’60s generation.

Losing Prince has also been hard. The Artist’s departure weighed heavy on my dear wife’s heart—almost as hard as the death of our sweet kitty, Lu Lu.

How could I knock poor Susan? Although I’m not the biggest fan of “The Artist,” I liked him. He was truly on top of the ’80s and I dare say, so was I.

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TVD Live: Wild Belle
at the Garfield Park Conservatory, 4/22

PHOTOS: BRIGID GALLAGHER | After talking with Natalie Bergman from Wild Belle earlier this month for TVD and getting a preview of their new album Dreamland, I was excited see them perform live. And I definitely wasn’t disappointed.

At a special Earth Day event curated by Land and Sea Dept., Wild Belle played at Chicago’s Garfield Park Conservatory. The conservatory was a beautiful setting for the band’s upbeat earthy grooves. Visitors were free to roam the campus to view exotic plants and make their way to the stage through the Palm Room filled with an enchanting tropical landscape.

It was breathtaking to explore, especially with the addition of the nighttime lights. Artgroup, Luftwerk’s critically acclaimed art installation, solarise: a sea of all colors, was a main intrigue of the event as everywhere you looked there was something new to behold amongst the greenery. Guests wandered in out of different greenhouses in wonderment as sounds of old school Jamaican songs spun in the distance.

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Britta Phillips,
The TVD First Date

“I grew up on vinyl. The first record I remember loving was in 1968 when I was 5. The song “Tequila” by The Champs sent me and my little sister into a naked dancing frenzy, jumping up and down on the furniture. We played it over and over until we collapsed.”

“My step-dad bought me a used little record player with built-in speakers that came with stacks of 7” singles. My favorites were “Tip Toe Through The Tulips” by Tiny Tim, “I Feel The Earth Move” by Carol King, and “Those Were The Days” by Mary Hopkin.

My parents didn’t live together, but they both owned a lot of albums. Neither of them were into pop or rock music. I considered my mom’s records mine as well. She was really into folk and had all the early Dylan records, Simon & Garfunkel, Judy Collins. She also loved Jacques Brel and Edith Piaf and Ray Charles, Bo Diddley and Billie Holiday. And I loved all of these records with her.

My dad was into classical and jazz but he knew the Beatles were good and gave me all of their albums. My favorite was Abbey Road. Later, my dad was the musical directer of Jesus Christ Superstar on broadway and I loved the cast album along with Hair and Godspell.

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Jazz Fest 2016: Our picks for the second weekend, 4/30–5/1

Saturday may be the biggest day in the history of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival presented by Shell. Every stage is overflowing with talent particularly in the headlining slots at the biggest stages where Stevie Wonder (pictured at top), Beck, Snoop Dogg, Arturo Sandoval, and Buddy Guy vie for the attention of festers. Here are our Saturday picks. The full Saturday schedule is here.

Guitarist and bandleader Deacon John is a legend in these parts—a man who has weathered every change in the music business since the 1950s. He must also be an early riser as he is opening the Acura stage at 11:30 AM. This might be puzzling given his stature except for the fact that he was scheduled at 11 AM at the French Quarter Fest three weeks ago.

Putting Sweet Crude, Louisiana’s favorite (only?) percussion-heavy, francophone indie rock band on the same stage as Beck is pure genius. I love the joie de vivre this band exhibits when they play and I hope Beck is in the wings checking them out.

I am seriously torn about the options in the third time slot around 1:40 PM. Jon Batiste, the bandleader who replaced the irreplaceable Paul Shaffer, along with his band Stay Human, is opposite the Midnite Disturbers, a brass band super group. I have watched Batiste mature since his first Jazz Fest appearance and I have seen every Disturbers show (as far as I know they only play at Jazz Fest). I guess the decision will have to be made at the time.

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Needle Drop: Adam Cleaver, “Narrow Spines”

Adam Cleaver is no stranger to us, but we must say we’ve not heard him quite like this before.

His latest single, “Narrow Spines” retains the powerful vocals per previous singles “Man or Beast” and “The Salt Mine,” however this latest cut also feels darker and edgier. He’s moved away from the indie folk niche he’s honed previously toward a heavier, post-rock sound which is a welcomed change. Fans of Dry the River and Frightened Rabbit will feel at home here.

The video for “Narrow Spines” is a masterpiece as well. Fantastically directed by James Byrne, this captivating and haunting short film adds another level to the track altogether. Talking about the single, Adam says “’Narrow Spines’ is about weakness. When someone is so trapped in their own grief they aren’t able to comprehend the people around them.”

“Narrow Spines” is in stores now via Veta Records.

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Graded on a Curve:
Jerry Reed,
Jerry Reed Visits Hit Row

A guitar picker extraordinaire and redneck comedian whose songs could almost be called funky, the late Jerry “Alabama Wild Man” Reed is one of my favorite country artists. Me, I’d love him if he’d never cut anything but “East Bound and Down” (the theme song of Smokey and the Bandit!), “Amos Moses,” and “The Preacher and the Bear,” a hilarious tale of an unfortunate meeting in the woods between a preacher hunting on the Sabbath and a grizzly bear that ends with the preacher up a tree and praying to his Lord, “I mean/Look at how he’s lookin’ at me/Does the word ‘fast food’ mean anything to you, Lord?/Oh, he’s hairy/And he’s still thinkin’/And he’s lookin’ at me like I… smell good!”

The man’s usual mode was high-spirited, and he had a knack for what you could call novelty tunes, but he was also capable of singing about the more lugubrious aspects of life; you know, broken hearts and all that. But I much preferred him at his wildest and woolliest, as did Robert Christgau, who called him “a great crazy,” and said apropos his more saccharine tunes, “He couldn’t sell soap to a hippie’s mother” and “RCA should ban the ballad.” Me, I hadn’t listened to him for years when my girlfriend gave me a truly terrible ‘70s compilation CD redeemed only by R. Dean Taylor’s great “Indiana Wants Me” and Reed’s fantastic swamp tall tale, “Amos Moses,” which is one of the songs on the 2000 best-of compilation, Jerry Reed Visits Hit Row.

Fiddle-driven opener “East Bound and Down” is a bootlegger’s anthem and smooth as Jim Beam Single Barrel bourbon, and includes a great solo by Reed. It speeds along like an 18-wheeler on the run from Smokey, and if you think it’s a bit slick, well, all I can say is all those thirsty boys in Atlanta don’t agree. “Amos Moses” is a funky tune about a Cajun alligator poacher, mean as a snake on account of his old man, who used the young Moses as alligator bait. He’s got one arm on account of a hungry gator, most likely killed a sheriff trying to track him down in the bayou, and the only thing cooler than his biography are Reed’s righteous guitar picking and distinctive voice, which are as good old boy as you can get.

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In rotation: 4/29/16

Pick My Turntable Unveils a Guide to Find the Best Record Players in 2016: In one of the latest news, has launched a new article titled as ‘A simple guide to find the best record player in 2016’, through which the site hopes to help buyers of record players or turntables find the best model. According to one of the site’s representatives, “Anything can go wrong in the record player buying process if the proper steps are not maintained. Besides, buyers must understand or have some important information about what needs to be considered in a turntable.”

Manchester-based record player company signs supplier deal with HMV: GPO Retro, a designer and manufacturer of 20th-century style telephones, radios and record players, has expanded its customer base after signing a new supplier deal with HMV. As part of the deal, the national entertainment retailer has become a stockist for two of GPO Retro’s turntables and a number of its vinyl accessories, including Westwood speakers and vinyl cases.

Denver Public library has released a vinyl record! Yes! The Denver Public Library has released a 45rpm vinyl record featuring local Denver bands Accordion Crimes and The Raven and The Writing Desk! This fantastic artifact is here to raise awareness (in an old-school way) for DPL’s local music service: Volume Denver! I came up with this idea about a year ago and then was afforded the opportunity to present it to the powers-that-be here at DPL and, lo and behold, they liked the idea and approved it!

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TVD Live Shots: Foals at the Observatory, 4/18

So, I used to have a bit of a problem with Foals. They have a very unique rule for photographers—instead of the customary first three no flash, they opt for the last three no flash. While it sounds like a unique idea it poses a problem. How in the hell will I know when the last three songs are and does that include the encore? Last time I went to see them myself and several other photographers missed the opportunity to shoot.

On top of that, we were all so fucking stressed trying to figure everything out that we really couldn’t enjoy the show. So there goes the photo-journalist element of what I love about covering shows in the first place. You see, many of the bigger publications have a writer and a photog, I choose to do both. One, because I can, and two, because I’m in the thick of this and I want the reader to both see and feel what it was really like. I’m convinced that the best way to share this experience comes from one person doing both.

photographed by Jason Miller

Back to Foals. I was speaking at a social media conference in San Diego and noticed the band was playing a show at the Observatory on their way back from Coachella. The first thing that crossed my mind was that I have to get another chance to shoot these guys, and I did. This time though, I was prepared. I found out how long the set was, stood up next to the photo pit barrier, and counted the songs.

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TVD Live: Torres, Boom Forest, and Sioux Falls at Lincoln Hall, 4/21

Red Bull Sound Select came through Chicago’s Lincoln Hall last week, bringing new music from Torres, Boom Forest, and Sioux Falls.

Sioux Falls hailing from Portland, Oregon, started off the night with a perfect garage band feel, but with a special dose of heart. Lead singer, Isaac Eiger played each song to the tips of his toes, occasionally losing balance as the song took him away. They closed their set with the charming “If You Let It” which begins with “dookie’s puking everywhere,” but the surprising turn at the end, ‘’I need to get my eyes checked so I can see your sleepy smile… from far away.”

But of course, “from far away” is given proper emphasis with the whole band projecting it from the top of their lungs to the crowd. Sioux Fall’s latest release, Rot Forever is available on vinyl as a double LP.

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Needle Drop: Holy Bouncer, “Anticipation”

Surf rock has found its way far from the west coast. Barcelona based five-piece, Holy Bouncer recently released their single “Anticipation,” a groove that takes the staples of the genre and fuses them with surprising new accents.

So far, Holy Bouncer has released four official tracks and a few covers online, like the Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” and Leadbelly’s “Where Did You Sleep Last Night.” Although their catalog may be slim, every track seems wholly composed, traversing through different tones—from ripping solos to more mellow interludes—underscoring the group’s sound as one full of startling twists.

Take “Anticipation.” It starts slow, ambling through a catchy riff. A few bends on the guitar signal an energetic break—the only place the song’s going is up. The wait for this melodic explosion lingers through the first verse, then suddenly, the track evolves into a full-on crescendo of howling vocals and bright guitar solos. A kid’s choir enters later singing the chorus, showcasing the band’s penchant for bringing the unexpected. The video is simple, splicing studio shots with live recordings, presenting fun in its most elementary form—playing good music.

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Jazz Fest 2016: Our picks for Friday, 4/29

Get out your energy drinks, carbo load, eat a good breakfast and do whatever it takes to fortify your body and spirit because the four consecutive days of the second weekend of the New Orleans Jazz Festival presented by Shell are not for the faint of heart. Here are our picks for day two (or five if you’re in it for the duration). The full schedule is here.

Big Chief “Little” Charles Taylor (photo below by Skip Bolen) is one of the most respected Mardi Gras Indians in the tight-knit community. Known for his elaborate, three dimensional suits in the downtown style and his unmistakable vocals, he kicks off the Jazz and Heritage stage with his tribe, the White Cloud Hunters at 11:15 AM. Be sure to see an Indian every day at the Jazz Fest!


Last year, Tony Hall’s New Orleans Soul Stars were playing when the first of several massive waves of rain and wind hit the Fairgrounds prior to organizers eventually shutting the whole thing down. They persevered in the face of some of the worst weather I have ever seen at Jazz Fest. Here’s hoping the day is pretty when they reprise their tribute to James Brown.

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TVD Video Premiere: Seafair, “Birdhouse”

Recent unexpected deaths remind us not only of our ultimate shared mortality, but our general inability at such times to express loss. And that’s where music comes in.

“Birdhouse,” the latest video from the Cleveland band Seafair that we’re proud to premiere today at TVD, uses the band’s strengths to pledge love and continued devotion to those departed, in a most tuneful way.

Like many of the band’s songs, it’s built on the snap of Ryan Kelly’s drums, over which the acoustic guitar and bass of Michael Flaherty and Joshua Riehl are deepened and colored by the tastefully done violin and cello of Andrea Belding-Elson and Tara Hanish. Atop all of that are the warm and rich vocals of Chayla Hope, who also provides keyboard touches.

Visually, the clip for Seafair’s “Birdhouse” is as lyrical as the sound, with its indication of memory marked by a stack of shared favorite vinyl, the flipping pages of a book, or especially the flocks of birds coming in to land. Throughout, the visual constant that’s front and center is its chief symbol of remembrance—not some mournful shroud or stone marker, but that most hopeful sentinel of spring and flight, the birdhouse.

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In rotation: 4/28/16

Nielsen Music: Indie Retail Sales Surge On Record Store Day: • Vinyl album sales at independent record stores jumped by 321% over the prior week • Independent record stores accounted for 75% of total vinyl LPs sold in the US that week. • Independent record stores account for 96% of all physical singles sold in the US that week. • RECORD STORE DAY limited edition albums and singles combined to sell nearly 300,000 copies in the US.

Technics’ turntable will give you good vibrations late this year: Technics, the audio brand of Japanese giant Panasonic, has today announced that its Grand Class Direct Drive Turntable System SL-1200G will release in Autumn 2016 (or Spring if you’re in Australia). The announcement follows the release of the limited edition SL-1200GAE, which saw its limited run of 300 sell out in just half an hour when it was released in Japan. 900 units were later released worldwide…The turntable may be using a vintage music format, but its design and construction employs a number of modern innovations to overcome issues that have historically been associated with the format.

Two David Bowie live albums set for vinyl reissue: David Bowie’s legacy looks set to be cast in wax once more, with the release of two live albums on vinyl. Included in the David Bowie: Five Years 1969 – 1973 box set announced last year, Live Santa Monica ’72 and the live album Ziggy Stardust Motion Picture Soundtrack that corresponds to the film of the same name, will be available individually for the first time.

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TVD Live Shots: Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals at the Riviera Theatre, 4/16

I first heard Ben Harper in 1995 when my friend Kim made me a copy of Welcome to the Cruel World on a tape. That was all I needed. I was sold. I wore that tape out. And by 1999, when I began my freshmen year of college, a Ben Harper patch adorned my backpack—the lone signifier that distinguished my Jansport from the next.

In 1999, I saw Ben—with those spectacular Innocent Criminals—at The Riviera Theatre for two sold-out shows. And last week I returned to The Riv to photograph Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals. I know—full circle, right?

The knot of anticipation in my stomach vanished the minute the band walked on to the stage. Perhaps a touch more weathered since I saw them last, they nevertheless sounded as good as ever, which is no surprise given their layers of talent.

After I photographed the first three songs, I found a spot and just took in the remainder of the show. It was everything that I could’ve asked for: Ben’s unmistakable voice, the arcs of energy, the guitar solos, the acoustic set, Juan manhandling his bass, Leon’s beats, the seamless shifts in genre from song to song. I would’ve loved to hear some deeper cuts but I guess that’s the problem when you have thirteen studio albums—everyone wants to hear different tracks.

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