Monthly Archives: July 2016

TVD’s The Idelic Hour with Jon Sidel

Greetings from Laurel Canyon!

Drenched in summer—sometimes lost between a new and old year—I’m self prescribing what I call “summer fun.” Play, be silly, go to a rave, go to the beach and crash around the surf, get wet, sandy, and let your hair frizz!

Funny that I hadn’t made it to the beach until last Sunday. Per a recommendation from a fishing pal, we hit Crystal Cove in Newport. It’s a beachfront with a glimpse back to what California looked like in the ’50s and ’60s. The waves were pounding and the current strong. We had a blast. It felt timeless and young.

So play. Why not? Musically I tried to follow suit and be playful with this week’s Idelic Hour.

I was having lunch with Liz Garo, an old friend and the booker for The Echo for the last 20 years. She was telling me about a new crop of bands with Rough Trade/riot grrrl roots and it hit me, “white mice and brown rice.” It doesn’t really mean anything, but after a touch of digging through hot crates I found more songs about rats than mice. Neither has much of chance if they run against our kitty Nori.

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Spinning: Nick Gilder, “We’ll Work it Out”

Look, it’s hard to tell people how you feel, what’s going on, the tides pushing and pulling.

Time was when a mixtape was that bridge, or the spin of a well-intentioned record eliciting its own waltz about a candlelit room with the object of one’s adoration.

It’s an emotional world, it is. Thus TVD HQ’s recurring fuel for your fires and mixtapes.

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TVD Video Premiere: Fairview, “Put It On”

If there’s a silent narrative we tend to underscore often, it’s that record shops and records themselves are an intergenerational construct, no longer for the older, and often male, audience. The “vinyl renaissance” as it’s been referred to, is bouyed by musicians across the age spectrum who just get it—regardless of gender or genre. And the fans are following.

Enter Chicago’s Fairview—Matt, Lizzy, and Becca—and their brand new video “Put It On,” which we’re delighted to debut today. The trio signed to Tom Higgenson of the Plain White T’s production company has delivered a track so spot on—infectious and hooky—which arrives in tandem with a video shot at Chicago’s Dusty Groove Records that speaks to the allure of records and record shops and the individual affinity one comes to have with a record as personal soundtrack.

The band has also given us the track as a free download for your on the go listening, but we had to wonder to ourselves—what record holds a significant meaning for the three in Fairview? They were more than ready with answers.

“If I were to hold a record in the video it would be the album “+” by Ed Sheeran. When I was a teenager, I worked in the TV department of a Best Buy, and they would run different videos on a loop on all the TV’s. One of the videos was an interview with Ed Sheeran where he told his story. The video ended with a live performance of the song “The A Team.” Hearing that play on repeat every day really inspired me, and the songs on the album were very influential to me.”

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Squirrel Nut Zippers to celebrate the reissue of Hot at Tipitina’s, 7/30

Twenty years ago the Squirrel Nut Zippers were an international sensation. The band, which many had initially considered a novelty act playing retro lounge music, sold over 1.3 million copies of their second album Hot on the strength of the single “Hell.” The band is back on the road and will celebrate the reissue of the landmark album Saturday night at Tipitina’s.

The newly remastered version of Hot, along with a bonus track “The Puffer,” is in stores today on Hollywood Records. The album, long out of print on record, makes its glorious return to wax on 180-gram vinyl.

While their debut album, The Inevitable was critically lauded in some circles, times were different in the summer of 1996. While the neo-trad movement had taken hold in New Orleans—I have argued led by Kermit Ruffins’ solo career and a swing revival said to be underway nationally—the widespread movement away from electric instruments towards acoustic guitars, horn sections, fiddles, and old timey roots music was still in the future.

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Law Holt,
The TVD First Date

“As a child, I got into music in that crossover period between CDs and MP3s. I still buy CDs today so I can put them on an MP3 player and also play them on my oversized Hi-Fi. But I also buy vinyl records—special ones, discoloured jazz and roots sleeves that I summon up the courage to play and meditate over, still amateurish with the needle. The last record I bought was a James Cleveland LP from Sounds of the Universe on Broadwick Street. It was so magisterial I haven’t been able to look at it since. I’ll tell you about my own collection some time. First, here’s a story about my people.”

“When we were growing up in Leicester my Mum worked a number of jobs so she kind of relied on our great-grandparents for childcare. We spent days and days in their big house over the main road. Grandmam and Farda had come over from Monserrat in the ’60s. Fuck knows what they thought of the East Midlands. I was born there and I know what I think of it.

Their house was typical of West Indian homes in that, as well as having Caribbean traits (an off-limits room, untouched behind glass for ‘best’, chairs covered in plastic, orange peels strung from the ceiling) it also aspired to an assimilated Britishness. There were China cups, pressed suits, pictures of the Queen.

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Graded on a Curve:
Rod Stewart,
Never a Dull Moment

Rod Stewart remains my greatest lost hero, who went from a likable rogue with a knack for writing great and frequently self-deprecating songs to the cheesy Lothario of “Hot Legs” and “Tonight’s the Night.” And while pinning down when he jumped the shark from jovial rascal to queasy-making lecher (my pick: the lines from “Tonight’s the Night” that go, “You’d be a fool to stop this time/Spread your wings and let me come inside”) can be difficult, in my humble opinion his final great moment was 1972’s Never a Dull Moment, which was not nearly as great as 1971’s Every Picture Tells a Story, but still highlighted Stewart as an irrepressible rake rather than a sleazy ladies’ man.

Sure, both 1974’s Smiler and 1975’s Atlantic Crossing have their moments, and even 1976’s A Night on the Town includes the great “The First Cut Is the Deepest.” But Never a Dull Moment is the last Stewart LP to include more good tracks than mediocre ones, and features some undeniable classics in “Lost Paraguayos,” “Mama You Been on My Mind,” and the wonderful “You Wear It Well.” Indeed, Never a Dull Moment lives up to its title, although I have to admit I’ve never been a huge fan of the blues standard “I’d Rather Go Blind,” which Etta James turned into a hit in 1968. On the other hand, his cover of Sam Cooke’s “Twistin’ the Night Away” rocks and rolls thanks to the cranked-up guitar of Ron Wood (the Faces featured on Rod’s first four “solo” records; odd how their ultimate disappearance coincided with his downfall) and the powerful drum thump of Micky Waller, who’d played with Stewart back in the days of The Steampacket.

The LP features more covers than originals, never a good sign, but all of the Stewart originals (which he co-wrote either with Wood or classical guitarist Martin Quittenton of blues-rock band Steamhammer (not to be confused with The Steampacket) are stellar. Opener “True Blue, ” on which Faces’ stalwarts Wood, keyboardist Ian McLagan, and bassist/vocalist Ronnie Lane keep things punchy, features Stewart in familiar mode; down on his luck, but still high-spirited, and trying to find his way back home. “I just don’t know what to do,” he sings, just before Wood cranks up both the volume and the tempo and the band goes into boogie mode, complete with the sound of a racecar and McLagan really laying it out on organ. Fantastic tune.

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In rotation: 7/29/16

Crooked Beat records finds a new home: Less than three months after closing its doors in Adams Morgan, Crooked Beat Records has found a new home across the bridge in Virginia. Back in April, the store’s owners revealed that deteriorating building conditions forced them to close down Crooked Beat and search for a new home. Throughout June and July, the store posted a series of Facebook updates on its search, noting that high rent prices have forced them to look outside the District. “The bad news is that it looks like we are getting priced out of reopening a store in DC,” said one recent Facebook status.

Real Groovy’s new weekly initiative: Vinyl Tuesday: Forget Christmas, Record Store Day is the biggest celebration on the vinyl enthusiasts’ calendar. Falling on the third Saturday of April, RSD was conceived at a time when both records and record stores were ailing. Designed purely as a way to get collectors in store, it tempted the beardy and compulsive collecting habits of the formats fans by offering up limited edition one-offs, special reissues and other desirably exclusive releases that were only available in store and in limited quantities. Since then it’s become a sales juggernaut. So much so that the organisers are launching a new weekly initiative called Vinyl Tuesday.

Wellington’s record fair returns on 27th August: ‘A Vinyl Affair’ – Wellington’s record fair returns on 27th August 2016 at San Fran! With FREE ENTRY to the public, DJs Psyrok, Skaman Selecta and Mr T spinning great records all day, spot prizes, as well as 1000s of new and used vinyl and other merchandise to choose from, it’s going to be another big day for vinyl enthusiasts! There will also be specials on food and drinks available. This is a family-friendly event for music lovers of all ages.

Langley Records hosts show of support from bagpiper as exit day looms: A keen bagpiper and fan of Langley Records pitched in to help the West Molesey vinyl store with a rousing performance of piping classics. Simon Ribbons, 48, grew up in Molesey and regularly bought 7” and 12” vinyl records at the Walton Road store in his youth. On learning that the store is due to close on August 31 – with landlord Royal Mail securing permission to develop staff toilets at the site – Mr Ribbons wanted to show his support.

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TVD Live Shots: Public Enemy, Ice-T, Naughty
By Nature, Grandmaster Melle Mel and Scorpio at Regency Ballroom, 7/24

Public Enemy

Billed as a “legendary lineup of hip-hop artists spanning the history of the art form,” the “Art of Rap” tour hit San Francisco’s Regency Ballroom with over 4 hours of entertainment for the Bay Area’s fans. Curated by none other than Ice-T, the line-up included headliners Public Enemy with support from Ice-T, Naughty by Nature, and Grandmaster Melle Mel of Grandmaster Flash fame.

A last minute shift in venue from the Warfield to the smaller Regency Ballroom proved a wise move. While the room was disappointingly sparse for Melle Mel’s 6:40 pm opening set, the room quickly filled with bodies bringing with them a thick haze of smoke from Northern California’s finest for what would prove to be an intimate evening of hip hop classics.


While each act pulled the best of their catalogs (you can’t really expect Naughty By Nature to get away without playing “O.P.P” or “Hip Hop Hooray” now, can you?), they lived up to the billing by paying tribute to the OGs such as The Digital Underground, LL Cool J, and Kool Moe Dee, as well as the more recent artists such as Eminem.

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Graded on a Curve: Charles Mingus,
The Black Saint and
the Sinner Lady

Bassist-bandleader-composer Charles Mingus remains one of the most important figures in the history of recorded sound. A jazzman of uncommon versatility, his extensive achievement is deeply linked to a voluminous personality and an occasionally volatile temper. In 1963, as part of a brief, fertile association with Impulse! Records, he waxed The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady; it’s widely rated as the apex of his career, which in turn awards it placement amongst the great moments in 20th century music. A vinyl reissue is out now courtesy of Superior Viaduct.

Please forgive me if I’ve fallen egregiously behind the times, but I continue to perceive the goal of education as more than a factory churning out highly efficient producers brandishing economically useful skills, a mass of graduates left to dodge underemployment in hopes of spending decades in the modern workplace’s existential ditch. But maybe I’m just frightfully naive in considering higher learning as the valiant endeavoring to intellectually engage with generations of individuals, hopefully leaving them at least somewhat prepared for the ups and downs of existence, and potentially armed in adulthood with the knowledge to utilize portions of history’s immense landscape to their advantage.

And not only history but art, which is easily the most disrespected component in contemporary academe. This may come as a shock to anyone aware of the number of art schools, conservatories, and Liberal Arts institutions taking up residence from sea to shining sea, but my observation concerns quality rather than quantity; to get down to the matter at hand, while Charles Mingus’ life and music are far from absent in the educational curriculum, I know of no school offering an extended, intensive course in Mingus Studies.

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Needle Drop: Lessons, “Tempest” EP

Finland’s Lessons have released their debut EP “Tempest,” out now via Sinnbus. The EP touches upon near death experiences, addiction, and oppressive regimes via the eyes of an imagined, fictional character.

The trio have created their own electro-gloomgaze sound, channeling the synth pop of Devo and Suicide with a hint of ’90s shoegaze akin to the Cocteau Twins. They join an array of darker electro artists like SOHN and James Blake who have added an intimacy and reflective shade to the genre. However, Lessons display their own intensity that’s both seductive and intriguing.

The “Tempest” EP kicks off with the title-track, setting the standard with stunning synth tones, a delicate vocal, and a bass line that just won’t quit. “Laughter in the Dark” and “Double or Nothing” are strong pop songs, whilst “Glory” and “Secret Knowledge” are more emotive, displaying Lessons’ signature sounds.

Lessons’ “Tempest” EP is in stores now via Sinnbus.

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The TVD First Date

“When I think back to my childhood, in fact my earliest memories of existing on this planet, it was filled with music. It’s not a surprise, it’s nothing new, and I’m sure you’ve heard this story a thousand times before, but it’s a love story that started from an early age that has continued into the present. My love affair with vinyl.”

“Just like distant memories of it always being sunny in the summer holidays (when in fact it probably rained for the most part—it was the UK after all), vinyl reminds me of the nostalgic days of childhood.

Saturday afternoons and evenings always stand out. My dad, taking advantage of my mum’s afternoon shop, would often drag out his record collection and create the most wonderful sound track, shouting out across the roof tops of East London. It was the sound of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s expertly blended by my own personal DJ, my dad.

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Graded on a Curve: New in Stores, July 2016

Part two of the TVD Record Store Club’s look at the new or reissued wax presently in stores for July, 2016. Part one can be found here.

NEW RELEASE PICK: Inter Arma, Paradise Gallows (Relapse) This Richmond, VA five-piece breaks the 70-minute barrier without losing points at the finish line; along the way the sound is about as heavy as metal gets, combining doom, crunch, growl, and pummel with surprising attention to songwriting. They also resist clichés, impressively so given the duration, and consistently broach the unexpected; there are soaring guitar motifs, stately piano, and in the midst of “Primordial Wound” agitated, higher pitched vocals, delivering a highlight to this remarkable whole. A

REISSUE PICK: V/A, Tanbou Toujou Lou: Meringue, Kompa Kreyol, Vodou Jazz, & Electric Folklore from Haiti 1960 – 1981 (Ostinato) Producer-researcher Vik Sohonie adopts the generosity of a DJ alongside his scholarly approach (he also penned the liner notes) and like a record spinner he favors the impulse to dance, but his finds are so instrumentally rich and varied, spanning from small groups to big bands and urban sophistication to rural gusto, that the program should easily please those afflicted with two left flippers. Available on CD and gatefold 2LP with a 20-page booklet, this is a stone winner all around. A

Glenn Branca, Symphony No. 13 (Hallucination City) for 100 Guitars (Atavistic) Plus one drummer (Virgil Moorefield). Documenting a Feb 28, 2008 performance from the Auditorium Parco Della Musica in Rome, in terms of massive scale the sounds on this CD really deliver, but even more impressive is the litheness and the complete non-gimmickry on display throughout the piece’s four sections; that is, the heaviness, which again is substantial, never falls victim to grandiosity and just as often exudes subtlety backing up the claims (for any doubters lingering out there) of Branca as a major composer. A

William Burroughs, Let Me Hang You (Khannibalism/Ernest Jenning Record Co.) This finds Hal Wilner pulling 20-year-old tapes of Burroughs reading from Naked Lunch off the shelf and having King Khan finish them; mingling the original backing of Bill Frisell, Wayne Horvitz, Eyvind Kang, and other NYC-based musicians with Khan’s rougher rock-based input, the results are surprisingly cohesive, but the real treat is how Burroughs’ glorious croak reintroduces him as one of the 20th’s great smut peddlers; if you didn’t know Steely Dan was named after a Burroughsian dildo, well, you certainly will after hearing this. B+

John Cage with David Tudor, Variations IV (Modern Harmonic) From a 1965 performance at the Feigen/Palmer Gallery in LA, this captures Cage’s chance compositional period; originally on budget label Everest, this was one of the few Cage LPs intermittently turning up used (at least in my neighborhood) and was also high-test fuel for those rating the man as a provocateur-charlatan rather than a “serious” composer. Briefly, the randomness of this sonic collage brings real uh, variations in quality, but this is a historically important recording and it remains an involving listen over a half century later. A-

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In rotation: 7/28/16

Nevermind the bollocks, here’s the vinyl record industry: The Michael Nelson-penned Stereogum report referenced above may be viewed by some as “just another person belly-aching about the record industry and its mistakes.” However, from my perspective as a record store owner—I operate three Schoolkids Records businesses, in Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill—it is all 100% accurate and an honest take on where things stand. (The comments that Stereogum readers posted following the piece are honest, too; they are all spot on.) Regular customers who shop at stores know. This is fluid and serious. Now, more than ever, support your local stores—they need you.

One of the world’s largest boombox collections goes on sale: New Zealander Craig Kenton has put his massive collection of over 400 boomboxes up for auction. Spanning all sizes and brands, bidding for the collection starts at a rather modest $20,000, although Kenton believes it is worth a lot more. “If I just sold the top 20 they would reach $20,000, and I’ve already had interest in some of those,” he said to “But I would prefer to sell them as a collection.” Collecting for fifteen years, Kenton remembers how he fell in love with the portable stereos when he was a child in the ’80s. “I used to stare goggle-eyed into shop windows wanting them, they were a real statement of ’80s culture.”

The X-ray audio project on communism’s blackmarket bootlegs: In the Soviet Union people used to hide their music in a number of creative ways. One popular way was to cut records on old X-rays sourced from hospital garbage. These rare pressings are commonly referred to as Bones or Ribs. This year’s Krake Festival features a special presentation by Stephen Coates and Aleks Kolkowski who have unearthed a number of these unusual recordings. They will present their findings and even create their own from a performance by Alexander Hacke. We asked Stephen Coates a few questions before the Festival.

Why VHS and Five Other Formats May Live Forever, The final VCRs will ship later this month, but if recent history is any indicator, it doesn’t mean the VHS format will vanish for good: According to Hugh McIntyre at Forbes, vinyl records have been a lone bright spot in the record industry over the last decade. As CD sales have tanked and digital downloads have stagnated, vinyl sales keep going up, increasing by 30 percent in 2015, to about 12 million albums. And its not just a nostalgia trip—while Pink Floyd and The Beatles do appear on the top 10, Adele, Hozier, Taylor Swift and Alabama Shakes also made their mark on vinyl.

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TVD Live Shots: Alabama Shakes at the Aragon Ballroom, 7/20

Alabama Shakes closed out their sold-out, two-night stint in Chicago at the Aragon Ballroom. After the elegant setting of the Civic Opera House the evening before, the band and its fans were ready to let loose in a less formal setting.

The beers were flowing and the sweat was pouring as the band took the stage to play a solid mix of songs off their two excellent and critically acclaimed albums, Boys and Girls and Sound and Color. As usual the star of the night was lead singer and guitarist Brittany Howard because, well, THAT. VOICE.

Fans strained to find a window to watch her as she wailed into the mic and shredded on her guitar. Alabama Shakes continue to prove themselves to be one of the best live acts on the road today. This was my fourth time seeing them and they continue to captivate. I’m already looking forward to the next show.

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TVD Recommends: The DC Record Store Crawl After Party with Good Old War at POV Live, 8/6

“Honestly my whole record collection is borrowed from my Dad. When I got a turntable I raided his records for any album he had on vinyl that I liked. He let me take them under the condition that I return them at some point…”Keith Goodwin, Good Old War

So, the Record Store Crawl that we put on your radar hitting 7 cities across that nation this summer? Well, the DC Crawl on August 6th—sold out. (Quickly.) But, there’s a silver lining friends. The Official After Crawl Party with a performance by Good Old War (who are riding shotgun on the DC Crawl itself) still has plenty of room for you and your vinyl cohorts to attend—and it’s FREE.

Paste magazine premiered Good Old War’s new video for “Never Gonna See Me Cry” back in June which “depicts a dapper dude having increasingly bad luck during an otherwise pleasant stroll while the band looks on” as they noted. (We promise you a far better time on 8/6, however.)

RSVP for the Official DC Record Store Crawl After Party with a performance by Good Old War right here. It’s free—but you do need to register to attend!

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