Monthly Archives: September 2016

TVD’s The Idelic Hour with Jon Sidel

Greetings from Laurel Canyon!

Into numberless reflections / Rises a smile from your eyes into mine / Frozen warnings close to mine / Close to the frozen borderline / Frozen warnings close to mine / Close to the frozen borderline

Reading Nico’s icy lyric, I can’t help to think about last Monday’s Presidential debate. Yikes! God help us!

On an opposite note, it’s been a hot one in the canyon this week. What this current heatwave has to do with “frozen warnings,” fuck only knows.

I’ve always liked hot Santa Ana winds, and warnings in a song. One of my band’s first songs was called “Beware.” It’s actually pretty funny that the song had absolutely no meaning, but drew out that certain smile I only seem to find in young men wearing leather jeans or cool psychedelic garb.

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TVD Live: Angel Olsen and Rodrigo Amarante
at Thalia Hall, 9/27

PHOTOS: BRIGID GALLAGHER | Angel Olsen was welcomed to Chicago with two sold out nights at Thalia Hall this week. Joining her was bilingual crooner Rodrigo Amarante.

Brazilian singer-songwriter (perhaps best known for the theme song for Netflix’s Narcos), Rodrigo Amarante set the scene for the night holding down the stage with just his guitar and sweet vocals. Between songs he told the audience, “I had the best day. They treated me like a king here even though I’m just a pawn. I’m so happy.” You could feel his happiness as he whistled along with his tunes. As Amarante sang, he and his guitar filled the room with the impression of a full orchestra playing.

Amarante’s first solo album, Cavalo is currently available on vinyl. His sophomore release is anticipated some time this year.

A full house waited in anticipation gathering closer and closer to the stage as Angel Olsen’s set time was approaching. Soon her band entered the stage in uniformed suits topped off with bolo ties. A few moments later Olsen appeared on stage and everyone went silent as she put on her guitar. “Oh you’re quiet now…that’s cool,” she told the crowd who quickly began cheering, “Yeah right!” she exclaimed before playing the notes of her first song “Never Be Mine.”

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TVD Live: Billy Bragg
& Joe Henry at the Birchmere, 9/27

Capping one of the more remarkable concept recordings of 2016, the next phase of Billy Bragg & Joe Henry’s celebration of the U.S. train system, Shine a Light: Field Recordings from The Great American Railroad is a U.S. tour that started Wednesday at the Birchmere in Alexandria, VA.

The two seemed a little startled to see so many people. After all, there seemed little passerby interest when they had recorded their collection of classic train songs just last spring, while on board the Texas Eagle from Chicago to Arkansas through the Lone Star state and then on the Sunset Limited up to Tuscon to Los Angeles. In addition to recording while they rolled along, they set up inside grand old train stations, alongside the track or inside hotel rooms nearby (the same one, in San Antonio, where Robert Johnson first recorded).

It’s a lovely and evocative set of songs, of course, from Lead Belly and Jimmie Rodgers (“The Singing Brakeman”) to the Carter Family and Woody Guthrie, whose lyrics Bragg had previously put to song in his Mermaid Avenue project with Wilco. Still, when they did their recordings, they said they had next to nobody stopping to listen.

In concert, Bragg’s deep British baritone works as well on these old songs as they did old labor tunes, standing out on things like Jean Ritchie’s “The L&N Don’t Stop Here Anymore” and the traditional “John Henry.” He brings a steady authority and empathy for the bypassing era.
Henry, who may have started this project as producer but elevated to co-singer and guitarist adds key harmonies and intricate strumming. Their singing together lessens the loneliness of the troubadour traveling by rail.

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The Bear Creek Bayou Festival arrives in New Orleans: Our picks for Saturday, 10/1

The music and festivities get started at 11 AM on Saturday morning and continue all day and well into the night. It’s a marathon not a sprint. Here are our picks for the day. The full schedule is here.

I love when festival organizers book up-and-coming bands. Though I haven’t heard Doombalaya, I love their name and given the track record of this fest, I expect they will impress. They hit at 12 noon after a breakfast set from Mardi Gras Indian funkateers, Cha Wa.

Of course, since Doombalaya is up against Zigaboo’s Funk Revue it may be hard to skip one of the originators of New Orleans funk. However, Zig will be reprising his Friday evening set with Foundation of Funk at 3 PM on Saturday, so there’s another chance to hear the drummer from the original Meters.

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Vanessa Silberman,
The TVD First Date and Premiere, “American
Folk Rock”

“I always loved going to Amoeba or Rasputin Records growing up in the Bay Area or going to little mom and pop shops and going through the used vinyl and 7″ sections looking for music I liked or cool covers—I love vinyl art!”

“I would decorate my walls in my teens with them and still have everything from Jefferson Airplane, Tom Petty, and Joan Jett, to rare Nirvana, Beach Boys, and Hall & Oates record covers. To me, vinyl record art is as meaningful and valuable as the music itself, or just general paintings or art.

That’s probably what inspired my new Vanessa Silberman EP—the physical CDs look and feel like a vinyl record, have a rice paper sleeve and an insert like an actual vinyl record. I also custom drew the art for each CD per a fan’s requests. It gives me an opportunity to connect with them and ask them what their favorite things are.

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Graded on a Curve:
The Wallflowers,
Bringing Down the Horse

On the subject of The Wallflowers: I resisted Bob Dylan’s fortunate son and his band for a long, long time. I distrusted Jakob Dylan, scion of privilege and owner of one set of amazing cheekbones, the way I do all scions of privilege, and I continued to do so until the night I saw him live in Woodstock, where he was joined for a song or two by the great Garth Hudson, formerly of the Band, on accordion. And wham, I was sold.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m no fan boy of Jakob Dylan or the Wallflowers, but they’ve released some great pop songs over the years, most of them (in my humble opinion) on 1996’s sophomore release, the punningly titled Bringing Down the Horse. Produced by T-Bone Burnett, the album went quadruple platinum—and this despite the defection of lead guitarist Tobi Miller at the beginning of the sessions, which led Dylan to bring in a bevy of guitarists to fill in, including Mike Campbell of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers—and spawned four hits, two of which I happen to love heart and soul.

I call the LP an example of Pop Americana, and Dylan himself has described how, despite the LP’s roots lite feel, he “wasn’t interested in making a throwback album from the ’60s or ’70s.” And this is obvious from opening cut, radio smash “One Headlight,” on. As for the LP’s mood, Dylan has said, “Every song, fortunately or unfortunately is about feeling massively defeated, because that’s what I was living.” Hey, join the club.

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In rotation: 9/30/16

Interview: Graham Jones: It’s fantastic to see the resurgence in vinyl record sales and even better to see new record shops opening. Keynsham gained its own vinyl outlet when Longwell Records opened earlier in the summer… Graham Jones, an industry veteran, has done much to support independent record shops via his hugely entertaining book Last Shop Standing and spin-off tomes: he will be presenting clips from the associated film (with plenty of anecdotes); hosting a pop quiz and there will be live music from Julia Turner.

Playback: Big Henry’s Grooves Antone’s: Enter Big Henry’s Vinyl & Gifts, Antone’s new storefront shop selling records, cassettes, Antone’s merchandise, signed Susan Antone photography, posters, playing cards, and even dominoes. Always spinning are two turntables where clerks – whether it’s co-owner Will Bridges, his wife Noel, employees from Antone’s Records, or house musicians picking up day shifts – play records noon-7pm daily. The shop harks back to Antone’s original Sixth and Brazos location (1975-80), which enjoyed a synergistic relationship with next-door neighbor OK Records.

Is this the final spin for cherished Fremantle record store? One of Perth’s oldest and much-loved record stores is at risk of closing down with apartments proposed for its Fremantle home. Mills Records is one of the most recognisable buildings in not only the port city, but the whole of Perth. Despite the advent of music downloads, the store across the road from the Fremantle Town Hall at 22 Adelaide Street, has managed to stay afloat in a volatile and unpredictable market. But now there is a real risk Mills will have to pack up its records and CDs and move out, after the City of Fremantle received a development application for a five-storey apartment complex and a shop for the circa 1880s heritage-listed building.

25 years after Napster, The Beat (still) Goes On: John Rocchetta remembers the launch of Napster in the late 1990s all too well. The digital music file-sharing service would spell the death of his chain of used CD stores, went the predictions. “Give it up, you’re done,” the founder of The Beat Goes On recalls hearing. But Rocchetta was nothing if not confident in his strategy and determined that the business he’d started in 1991 at the age of 21 with a single store in Kitchener wasn’t just going to survive, but thrive. “We’ve always had a niche market, and we’ve developed that niche market year over year,” he says. “And we’re still here today.”

Huge vinyl record sale planned for Newmarket: Those who enjoy firing up their record players to listen to their favorite music in old school style are invited to an event that will give them an opportunity to purchase albums to build their collection, and meet with others who share their interest. All types of vinyl records, both 45s and LPs, will be available, as will an assortment of related paraphernalia such as record storage, sleeves, dividers, jackets, cleaning supplies to keep their collection in top shape, books, posters, CDs, equipment, and other collectibles. There will be 43 tables set up for vendors to sell their wares, and those from the sale’s previous years will be on hand, along with some new ones.

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TVD Live: Tom Jones at the Warner Theater, 9/25

PHOTOS: ERICA BRUCE | He’s not moving his hips quite so much any more. His dark hair has long since gone to silver. But time has done little to take the pipes of Tom Jones, who at a remarkable 76 is doing far more than just reciting the hits that made him a star in the ’60s, but reinterpreting contemporary songwriters, great ones from the past and the pillars of the blues and R&B that got him started in the Welsh clubs more than a half century ago.

He’s so beloved by loyal fans, they’ll follow his creative side trips into more obscure music that he loves, or go along with his different approaches to the songs they came to hear. For three albums now, Jones has been working with Ethan Johns, the English producer who has worked with Ryan Adams, Ray LaMontagne, and Kings of Leon (his father is the famous Stones producer Glyns Johns). Together, they’ve created an echoey, booming version of roots music that nevertheless makes way for Jones’ own large voice.

There’s nothing subtle about his approach. Like a 747, his engines start big and then he soars from there. At a packed house at the Warner Theatre in Washington, DC Sunday night, he started with John Lee Hooker (“Burning Hell”), moved to Odetta (“Hit or Miss”) and the first of a couple of Randy Newman songs that have served him well, “Mama Told Me Not to Come.” (“You Can Leave Your Hat On” came later).

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Graded on a Curve: Descendents,
Milo Goes to College

Though it seems they perennially garner fewer accolades than their Cali cohorts Black Flag and the Minutemen, coffee-fueled Los Angelinos the Descendents’ full-length debut Milo Goes to College stands as one of the ‘80s indispensable punk documents. Its grooves are teeming with furious catchiness and what it lacks in good manners it more than makes up for in sheer gusto.

I’ve fond memories of and considerable good will for the Descendents, namely the incarnations of the group that recorded up to and including the Enjoy! LP, but must say that from my viewpoint they can be easily underrated. Or maybe more appropriately, they often slip through the cracks, in large part due to the non-flash nature of their music and image. First and foremost about focused energy, they wrote tunes that joined musical and lyrical concerns triumphantly seeking to shirk the concept of the punk as a metal-studded casualty with a tube of Testors stuck up his/her nostril.

Occasionally described as “nerd-core,” their songs tackled topics like fishing, hanging out in nature, the joys of junk food, loyalty to friends, bodily gasses, the desire to not be a fuck-up, coffee, friction between cliques, and quite frequently late-adolescent struggles with the opposite sex. Many of these concerns have been addressed by other bands, but frankly a few haven’t, and certainly not with the appealingly direct (again, focused) musicality and no-frills sincerity that basically stands as their enduring legacy.

They began in ’79 with a 45 of surfy, poppy guitar rock “Ride the Wild” b/w “It’s a Hectic World.” While a nice enough first effort, it’s unrepresentative of where they would head after the addition of lynchpin vocalist Milo Aukerman on 1981’s “Fat” EP. The six songs grooved into that disc are characterized by short, sharp blasts of youthful punk action; some are melodic, others breakneck and spastic a la Hardcore, but they all still sound worthwhile as they creep up on thirty years of existence. Additionally, they serve as the template the band would refine on their next three releases.

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The Bear Creek Bayou Festival arrives in New Orleans: Our picks for Friday, 9/30

Florida’s loss is the Crescent City’s gain. After nearly a decade in the Sunshine state, the Bear Creek music festival is moving to New Orleans. Taking advantage of the now well-proven site on the river at Mardi Gras World, the fest is reinvigorating its highly respected brand with two great days and nights of music. Here’s a look at our picks for Friday, September 30. The full lineup is here.

The gates open at 10 AM and the fest kicks off at 11 AM with the duel guitar, multi-percussionist, all-star African-inspired group, Pirate’s Choice. I just saw the band last weekend and was blown away again by Sam Dickey’s scintillating lines and percussionists Luke Quaranta and Weedie Brahmin’s perfectly synced rhythm section. It should be interesting seeing this band before noon.

Four New Orleans funk ensembles kick off at 4PM on alternate stages (with a small amount of overlap) before the main event. Soulive burst on the scene with a post-modern take on the organ trio almost fifteen years ago. Guitarist Eric Krasno, who recently produced and co-wrote Aaron Neville’s latest album, tears it up with drummer Alan Evans and keyboardist Neal Evans. The group rarely plays New Orleans outside of Jazz Fest season, so this is an event for soul jazz lovers. They are also playing tonight (Thursday, September 29) at the official pre-party at the Joy Theater.

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Jean Miche, The TVD First Date and Premiere, “Sous La Neige”

Like most artists living in NYC, it can be hard to meet up sometimes, so Jean Miche met up via WhatsApp to record themselves interviewing each other.

AKA JK: Hey, wanna do a walky talky interview?

La Fleur: Alright!

AKA JK: I guess we’re supposed to talk about records?

La Fleur: We’re supposed to talk about records? What are we supposed to say about records?

AKA JK: I dunno. I guess Jean Miche isn’t quite two years old, Jean Miche doesn’t have a lot of experience with records, huh?

La Fleur: Noooo, we don’t have any records. Actually, I’ve never… I’ve never been arrested in my life I don’t think.

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Graded on a Curve: New in Stores, September 2016

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

NEW RELEASE PICK: Shield Patterns, Mirror Breathing (Gizeh) As the latest by this Manchester duo (and the first to make this writer’s acquaintance) plays, vocalist Claire Brentnall definitely brings Kate Bush to mind. That’s cool; even cooler is how she and Richard Knox rewardingly alter a trip hop-ish foundation, adding ambient/ ethereal elements and experimentation. Along the way the thud-echo of many of the drum beats insinuate they’ve been listening to Coil or something similar, the post-industrial quality also infusing the avant-jazzy standout “Balance & Scatter.” Julia Kent guests on cello. A-

REISSUE PICKS: Normally it’s not at all difficult to choose a pick from releases of roughly equal quality, but these two are so complementary that selecting one over the other just seemed wrong.

The Quick, Untold Rock Stories (Burger) This legendary LA band’s stuff finally on 2LP. The contents range from early Who/ Move motion (opener “No No Girl”) to raw glam-tinged power pop action (“Teachers Pet”) to a sprinkling of killer covers (The Four Seasons’ “Rag Doll,” The Beatles’ “It Won’t Be Long,” and a deeper glammy dip via “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”). Split between demos for Mercury and Elektra and wrapping up with bonus tracks exclusive to the vinyl (alt versions of “Poison Polly” and “My Purgatory Years”), the quality never lessens. “Pretty Please” is a standout. Get it before it’s gone. A

Dow Jones and the Industrials, Can’t Stand the Midwest: 1979-1981 (Family Vineyard) Those seeking insight into the widespread nature of the whole punk impulse need only soak up this deserving and lovingly deluxe compilation. From West Lafayette, IN, the herky-jerky, technology-infused personality will surely remind some of early Devo, but Dow Jones frequently rocked up a storm (for evidence, please check the title track) and possessed strong songs amongst the rawness, ranting, and alienated tension. This 2LP holds 29 tracks and comes bundled with a 7-inch and DVD of a complete 1980 show. A

The Album Leaf, Between Waves (Relapse) Jimmy LaValle has amassed a large discography, but this is the first LP since 2010; in the interim he’s been busy with soundtracks. Migrating from Sub Pop to Relapse positions this album, which comes in standard and deluxe editions, as something of an outlier amongst metallic happenings; as The Album Leaf’s electronic post-rock has its own established base of support this shouldn’t be an issue, with fans not likely to be disappointed. Between Waves thrives on group interaction, and the handful of Pet Shop Boys-esque vocal pop moments are very welcome. B+

Alsarah and the Nubatones, Manara (Wonderwheel) Sophomore album of what Sudanese-American vocalist, lyricist, and bandleader Alsarah describes as East African Retropop; along with her assured and engaging voice, the main ingredients are the oud and ngoni of Brandon Terzic and the rhythmic foundation of percussionist Rami El Aasser and bassist Mawuena Kodjovi, a core nicely accented with accordion, violin, keyboard, and on the title track, Kodjovi’s trumpet. Winningly contempo in nature, this compares well to the recent output on the Glitterbeat label; “3roos Elneel” is a standout. A-

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In rotation: 9/29/16

Amoeba Music Berkeley gets OK for in-store pot shop: The Telegraph Ave branch in hippie haven Berkeley was the first of Amoeba’s three California stores. Business has been slow as of late, and Amoeba’s weed-friendly ownership group has been trying to prop up profits with medical marijuana for some time now. The San Francisco location hosts a company called Green Evaluations on-site that goes as far as featuring a photo of Amoeba founder Marc Weinstein on its homepage, but the Berkeley decision, allowing Amoeba to operate in the medical marijuana and record businesses simultaneously, is unprecedented.

The world’s best record shops #038: Casarão do Vinil, São Paulo: Officially opened to the public in 2014, it’s a place where one can get lost in records for the entire day, even week, as each room in the house has a mix of Brazilian music and jazz/rock/soul from all over the world. Each section of the house is divided by price therefore you can sit in a room that only has records for $30BRL, $50BRL and so on. Downstairs, there is a batch of about 20 boxes of 7”s which often has great records below market value and they frequently run sales where if you buy a certain amount of records, you also get to take home another record for free.

Radiohead unveil ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’ special edition as vinyl starts shipping: Radiohead have unveiled the special edition of ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’ in an unboxing video, as the record has started shipping. The band released their Mercury-nominated ninth album back on 8 May 2016, but only now has the delivery of the deluxe, expanded edition begun. As well as the original album, ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’ now comes on two heavyweight 12″ vinyl records, two CDs including two extra tracks, a length of master tape from the actual recording sessions 32 pages of Stanley Donwood artwork and much more.

Faith No More May Release Vinyl-Only Single “Cone of Shame” on Record Store Day 2016: There is some evidence that Faith No More will release “Cone of Shame” on November 25th, because according to this Amazon listing, the single is set for a Vinyl-Only release November 25th – which also happens to be Record Store Day. The record will be released through Ipecac Records. We are just going to have to keep our eyes open to see what other hints Faith No More will be dropping for the release.

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TVD Live: Death at the Black Cat, 9/2

“Are y’all ready for Death?” Such went the call from the opening band, referring to the headliners. That it would come out as such a sobering question of mortality may have been one of the reasons the band named Death never became the stars they might have 40 years ago.

The sound of Death (not to be confused with the ‘80s Orlando metal band with the same uncommercial name) predated the Black Rock Coalition by a decade, but the trio of Detroit brothers conjured up a hard rock sound of bluntness and soul. From the town of MC5 and Iggy and the Stooges, here was a straight ahead band playing the kind of rock Hendrix was hinting at in the Band of Gypsies five years earlier—a Detroit sound quite different from that came from Motown which had only recently fled to Los Angeles. Still, the brothers Hackney—particularly its guitarist David—refused to compromise on the name. Record companies had contracts ready for them if only they’d change it. But they were adamant on keeping the name.

So aside from a couple of local singles that now fetch hundreds of dollars, the band went unknown until Drag City looked them up, acquired the master tapes, and issued an album in 2008 that held up quite well to a new generation. There followed one of those movies about another long-lost act making a comeback, in the tradition of Searching for Sugar Man (about another Detroit active about the same time, Sixto Rodriguez, who was unaware of his legions of fans in South Africa) or the one about the obscure metal band Anvil! The Story of Anvil.

A Band Called Death came out in 2013 and its director is still connected to the band; he introduced the show Saturday at the Black Cat in Washington, DC, an event significant enough to give the film a new, upbeat ending.

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Graded on a Curve:
Rio Reiser, Rio I.

It is, upon occasion, the privilege of the humble music reviewer to introduce his or her audience to an artist they have almost certainly never heard of, because said artist hails from some god forsaken place like Germany, that dastardly nation responsible for spawning two world wars (and even worse!) my second ex-wife, who is a kind of one-person world war and against whom I hold a grudge because she won’t let me see our Chihuahua Rudi, who loathes everyone and everything and holds the world’s record for nonstop barking at 12 hours, 43 minutes, and 17 seconds.

Oh, I know that plenty of German bands have successfully crossed the Atlantic Ocean to our shores. Can, Neu!, Kraftwerk, Trio, Scorpions, Rammstein, Tangerine Dream—the list goes on and on. (See Boney M., who many credit as one of Hitler’s much-vaunted vengeance weapons.) But singer/songwriter Rio Reiser is not amongst their ranks, and that’s too bad. Part of Reiser’s problem was that he was a pop rocker and sometimes folk musician, and such individuals have never broken through to an American audience. What’s more, he sang in German and his approach was frequently sentimental. Finally, his music varied widely in style from folk to pop to new wave to protopunk, making him a tough artist to put a label on.

This is exemplified on 1986’s Rio I., the first album Reiser recorded after leaving the similarly obscure but great Ton Steine Scherben, which aligned itself with West Germany’s squatter scene, as well as its student and labor movements. Ton Steine Scherben’s radical activities translated into mass popularity but no money, and dire financial straits were one of the reasons Reiser left the band, leading to accusations that he was a money-grubbing sellout. It’s true that Reiser’s highly successful debut album put him in the black, financially speaking, but it also happens to be, for many of the German youth who grew up listening to him, a sacred document. My ex- may have had a Kurt Cobain poster on her bedroom wall, but it was to Reiser she turned most often, for such songs as “Junimond” and the great “König Von Deutschland” (“King of Germany”).

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