Monthly Archives: September 2016

The Vinyl District Premiere: Fascinations Grand Chorus, “When You Make Up Your Mind”

PHOTO: KELLI McGUIRE | It’s easy to dig the smart sound of Fascinations Grand Chorus, a Brooklyn duo led by Stephanie Cupo who previously led the band Souvenir Stand, a New York outfit that used to play Nirvana’s “About a Girl” in the style of the Zombies.

Here, she’s paired with Andrew Pierce who is often described as her rival, though that’s given no explanation or particular proof. Actually they are clearly of the same mind in creating the kind of irresistible ’60s era pop, once thought disposable but which actually turns out to be indispensable.

After an introductory four song, self-titled debut EP that came out this summer, the duo is back this fall with its second four-track EP, “Actor / Actress” on October 14—and we’re happy to be premiering its first track, the sprightly “When You Make Up Your Mind.”

FGC has certainly made up its mind on approach, using all analog equipment to record her vintage organ work and the rest of the instruments, with no digital alterations, and keeping classic pop creators like Joe Meek in mind. It succeeds in creating a song that echoes the classics while sounding entirely brand new. Put on your go-go boots and dance.

Fascinations Grand Chorus’ new 4-track EP, “Actor / Actress” arrives in stores in November. Preorder it here.

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Play Something Good with John Foster

The Vinyl District’s Play Something Good is a weekly radio show broadcast from Washington, DC.

Featuring a mix of songs from today to the 00s/90s/80s/70s/60s and giving you liberal doses of indie, psych, dub, post punk, americana, shoegaze, and a few genres we haven’t even thought up clever names for just yet. The only rule is that the music has to be good. Pretty simple.

Hosted by John Foster, world-renowned designer and author (and occasional record label A+R man), don’t be surprised to hear quick excursions and interviews on album packaging, food, books, and general nonsense about the music industry, as he gets you from Jamie xx to Liquid Liquid and from Courtney Barnett to The Replacements. The only thing you can be sure of is that he will never ever play Mac DeMarco. Never. Ever.

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Graded on a Curve: Itasca,
Open to Chance

Currently residing in Los Angeles, Kayla Cohen records and performs under the moniker Itasca. Known for acid-folk of an uncommonly rich variety, her success derives from high-quality songs, beautiful vocals, and most strikingly, considerable acumen on guitar. Far from a typical strummer, she’s also no showboat; folks equally into Judee Sill and Bert Jansch should find Open to Chance to be a treat as she’s joined by a full band for the first time. It’s out September 30 on vinyl, compact disc, and digital through Paradise of Bachelors.

Although Kayla Cohen is far from the standard underground folkie, Itasca’s discography does begin in a manner that sorta harkens back to the genre’s boom years. Specifically, her self-released 2012 debut Grace Riders on the Road was offered on cassette in a miniscule run of 50 alongside a more substantial CDR edition of 300. Next came her 6-song “Proto” cassette from 2013, its number bumped up to 80 as circulated by the Belgian label Sloow Tapes. Naturally, it’s physical manifestation is scarce today and sadly, it doesn’t seem to be available digitally at the moment.

That’s not the case with Grace Riders on the Road, which is found on Itasca’s Bandcamp page. It captures the sound of one woman in a room with six strings as a touch of tape hiss emphasizes the modest but competent nature of the recording. Cohen’s playing is already very impressive here, the fingerpicking just weighty enough to keep her gently and occasionally airy songs from dissipating like plumes of incense smoke.

Her follow-up full length and vinyl debut arrived in ’14 on Ducktails dude Matthew Mondanile’s New Images label, and it documents a major step forward. Where her previous effort basically connected as an exponent of the 21st century u-ground folk impulse, Unmoored by the Wind deepened the scenario considerably; instead of simply being informed by the long solo folk chanteuse tradition, Cohen’s personality and ability shined so brightly that the disc could easy be passed-off as a reissue of a rare and high dollar artifact from the late ’60s-early ’70s.

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In rotation: 9/28/16

Amoeba Music granted license to sell marijuana: Iconic Californian music chain Amoeba has won a license to dispense medical cannabis from its 25 year-old location in Berkeley. Amoeba’s flagship store has been competing for a coveted permit since last October. After its initial application failed, Berkeley City Council has now approved the store’s plans for an in-house dispensary. “We are planning the most epic dispensary ever at the Amoeba location on Telegraph,” wrote the store’s Debby Goldsberry after sharing the news on Facebook.

Independent Leeds music store celebrates 45 years with its own vinyl single: Over the past four and a half decades, Jumbo Records has been a flag bearer for Leeds’s independent music scene. Now the independent record store, in the city’s St Johns Centre, is to celebrate its 45th anniversary on October 1 with the release of its own special 45rpm vinyl single. The split seven-inch release, produced in conjunction with the record label Too Pure, features songs by Menace Beach and Post War Glamour Girls, two bands that Jumbo says “typify the vibrancy of Leeds’ current musical underground”.

Bob Dylan Announces 36-Disc Set of 1966 Live Albums, Shares “Tell Me, Momma”: On November 11, 36 Bob Dylan concerts recorded throughout 1966 will be compiled in a massive, 36-disc set called The 1966 Live Recordings, Rolling Stone reports. To mark the announcement, Dylan has shared a version of “Tell Me, Momma” recorded at London’s Royal Albert Hall on May 26, 1966, which you can hear below. (The song never appeared on a studio album.) The mostly unreleased recordings were taken from soundboards, CBS Records mobile recordings, and audience tapes. There will also be a standalone release for the Albert Hall concert, The Real Royal Albert Hall 1966 Concert, out November 25.

Annual record sale in aid of Farleigh Hospice to return next month: A record and vinyl sale in aid of a hospice will return to Maldon next month. Every year the Farleigh Hospice Shop in High Street holds the event which sees more than a thousand records, LPs and Eps go on sale. The offer includes music from a range of genres such as folk, jazz, rock and country. It will be the second record sale held at the store this year. Hospice Shop Manager, Sara Fisher said, “Our record sales have been growing in popularity over recent years but this year we have something special.

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The Fall 2016 DC Record Fair in Photos

“When the nation was deeply divided by segregation, The Howard Theatre provided a place where color barriers blurred and music unified. Dubbed the “Theatre for The People” by The Washington Bee, it was the place where dignitaries like President Franklin D. Roosevelt gathered with everyday folks to see both superstars and rising stars – many of whom debuted at The Howard Theatre.

Along with Duke Ellington, greats such as Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holliday, Cab Calloway and Nat King Cole graced the Howard stage and made way for talents like Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, Dizzy Gilespie, The Supremes, Otis Redding, Lena Horne and James Brown.”

Hundreds of you filled the Howard Theatre on Sunday for the Fall edition of the DC Record Fair, and it was quite the honor indeed to be on stage (literally) at the historic venue. TVD’s Richie Downs was on hand to capture the day for us in photos.

And while we’re at it—mark your calendars! The DC Record Fair returns on January 29, 2017 to Penn Social. —Ed.

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TVD Live Shots: Jane’s Addiction and Fishbone at the Masonic, 9/21

Jane’s Addiction is currently wrapping up the current leg of their “Sterling Spoon Anniversary” Tour commemorating the 25th anniversary of both the release of Ritual de lo Habitual and Lollapalooza. This past Wednesday night found lineup Perry Farrell (vocals), Dave Navarro (guitar), Stephen Perkins (drums), and Chris Chaney (bass) in San Francisco in front of a packed house at the Masonic.

But before the Ritual could begin, there was 45 minutes of antics from one of the hardest working bands out there, Fishbone. Hailing from Los Angeles, Fishbone almost feels like a hometown band to the San Francisco crowd that has become accustomed to their regular visits. Kicking things off with a powerful version of “Sunless Saturday” before tearing through the classics. By the time the set ended with “Party at Ground Zero,” frontman Angelo Moore was dripping with sweat and the crowd was sufficiently primed for Jane’s Addiction.

Between the large scaffolding set up at the rear of the stage and Perry’s mysterious box of knobs, the stage looked small and the show felt intimate despite the 3,000-ish in attendance. Kicking right into “Stop!,” the lead track from Ritual de lo Habitual, was like solid punch in the face … zero to 60 in 4 seconds flat … pulling G’s off a space shuttle lift off. You’d have thought the crowd would have been blown back by the blast, but instead they surged forward.

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The TVD First Date

Josh Carruthers: Alongside the obvious HMV, I used to love going to Bradley’s Records in Halifax, West Yorkshire growing up. I remember when I was 16 I plucked up enough courage and asked the owner if they would consider selling my band at the time’s debut EP. To my amazement they said yes and took a handful of CDs off me—I thought I’d won the lottery!

Freddie Edwards: I personally love Banquet Records in Kingston Upon Thames. They’ve grown over the years into much more than just a record store, constantly finding cool new bands to play intimate in-store gigs. I grew up nearby and can honestly say that they added huge amounts to the local music scene.

Part of the reason I love Banquet is that it’s not too big, you don’t have to walk for miles or ask countless shop assistants to find the genre you’re looking for. The selection of music they have is always really well-chosen and normally supportive of upcoming talent which is great.

JC: I would have to disagree, I love getting lost and losing all sense of time in the huge city centre record stores.

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The Vinyl Guide Podcast
with Nate Goyer

The Vinyl Guide is a weekly podcast for fans and collectors of vinyl records. Each week is an audio-documentary on your favourite records, often including interviews with band members and people who were part of the project.

It’s hosted by Nate Goyer, a self-described vinyl maniac who enjoys listening to records and sharing the stories behind them. Despite his Yankee accent, Nate lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife, 2 kids, and about 1,500 records. (But only about 1,000 of them his wife knows about.)

The Vinyl Guide takes records one by one, telling the tale of how they came to be, why the work is important, and then shares how collectors can tell one pressing from another. Learn more at the or simply subscribe via iTunes or RSS feed.

Van Halen were the most powerful band in the world in 1984. This is the story of that journey, their career-defining LP 1984, and an in-depth discussion with album artist, Margo Z. Nahas.

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Graded on a Curve: Richard Pinhas / Barry Cleveland, Mu

France’s Richard Pinhas first came to prominence as the leader of the cult prog outfit Heldon, but since the unit’s disbandment in 1979 the composer, guitarist, and electronics specialist has amassed a striking number of solo and collaborative efforts. Comprising the more positive half of a recent discographical spurt, Mu is a joint venture in tandem with fellow guitarist Barry Cleveland; featuring the talents of bassist Michael Manring and drummer Celso Alberti, it’s out now on CD and digital through Cuneiform Records.

The early entries in Richard Pinhas’ solo discography actually coincide with the existence of Heldon. Rhizosphere, Chronolyse, and Iceland emerged during the years ’77-’79, and all three recordings have since been returned to print by the persevering Silver Spring, MD label Cuneiform; they’ve done the same with Heldon’s oeuvre and the vast majority of Pinhas’ productivity since, both solo and in collaboration.

Over the decades Pinhas has proven adept at creative partnerships, with his counterparts including countrymen John Livengood, Pascal Comelade, and Noël Akchote, Australian Oren Ambarchi, Detroit noise act Wolf Eyes, and Japan’s Tatsuya Yoshida and Masami Akita aka Merzbow, who join Pinhas on Process and Reality, Mu’s darker and heavier correlative, also out on Cuneiform (watch this space for a review). With Mu, the San Francisco-based guitarist Barry Cleveland expands the list.

While Pinhas is far from a household name, his reputation as a progressive-minded yet consistently edgy instrumentalist is secure. Initially quite taken by Robert Fripp’s numerous innovations both solo and as part of King Crimson, Heldon’s underground stature buffered against any punk-related fallout as the ’70s roared to its conclusion; esteemed as a forward-thinking experimentalist concerned with sonic textures over proficiency, avant-prog was his niche as he sparked interest from discerning fans of electronic music and even industrial (think Throbbing Gristle and Nurse with Wound rather than Wax Trax!).

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In rotation: 9/27/16

Nothing beats vinyl: Record sales seen growing: MANILA – In a music retailer inside a posh Makati City mall, several Filipino music titles on vinyl format compete for space beside hundreds of the latest CD releases. The store started to make space three years ago for these vinyl records, a format that has seen a resurgence driven by the young market, audiophiles, and millennials hungry for nostalgia. Two to three copies of Original Pilipino Music (OPM) records are sold at this Astrovision branch everyday, store staff Gina Barin said.

Vinyl revival ‘saved the mom and pop shops’: Whether you shop in stores or online, you’ve likely noticed this trend: Vinyl is making a comeback like never before, and it’s not losing steam. At a yard sale last weekend, everyone from children to seniors was excited to see I had boxes of old vinyl for sale. To my surprise, by the end of the weekend, every last album from The Irish Rovers to Zamfir playing the pan flute was sold. “It’s definitely come back and saved the mom and pop shops that have been doing it for years when it was more on the fringes,” said Pat Deighan, who with his wife Meghann owns Back Alley Music in Charlottetown — one of those “mom and pop” shops that’s been around for more than 20 years.

A Ridiculously Massive Record Collection Of Rock & Roll Vinyl Has Been Put On Sale: If you’re looking to add a cheeky 10,000 records to your budding vinyl collection then we’ve got the perfect thing. An Ebay user has put his 10,000-strong record collection up for sale on Ebay and it’s packed full of some pretty unbelievable stuff. The collection has been built up over 60 years and consists of Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Buddy Holly, Cliff Richard and heaps more. These just aren’t your average records as well. Most of them are rare pressings that are still in mint condition.

Harry’s hi-fi obsession is rooted in his love of music: Harry, the namesake of the Regina institution Harry’s Hi-Fi, tells this story in the home theatre room of his Warehouse District store. His wife and business partner Pat drifts in and out, helping customers as they enter the store. The music switches from The Killers to The Band to Tracy Chapman as she demonstrates the equipment’s sonic diversity. A song at a time: It’s not the usual way someone would listen to a record. Usually you’d clean the record, clean the needle, sit down and listen until the arm lift signals Side A’s end, flip the record over, clean the record, clean the needle, sit down and listen…

Think the Cassette Tape Is Dead? Introducing ‘Cassette Store Day 2016’: Cassettes don’t chart. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t selling. Or, that people aren’t actively selling them in smaller indie shops and labels. Just recently, Campers’ Rule Records announced the upcoming release of Brooklyn’s Cuss Words. Campers’ Rule Records is a boutique independent record label founded in Brooklyn back in 2012. They focus on small analog runs of cassette tapes or vinyl records.

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TVD Live: Brian Wilson at the Music Center at Strathmore, 9/20

PHOTOS: ERICA BRUCE | Not exactly a smash when it was first released a half century ago, Pet Sounds has since been heralded as one of rock music’s crowning achievements—a big turn for a band known for simple surf songs that opened the door for all kinds of mad studio experimentations, orchestral collaborations, and unusual sound effects that would help define the psychedelic ’60s, and continue to some degree today.

More than that, its odd instrumentation and time signatures were in service of some of the most nakedly vulnerable lyrics in pop—a wrenching examination of growing up and losing love, a sadness and loss that also was reflected in the genius at the helm, Brian Wilson whose bandmates in The Beach Boys seemed at first to only be humoring him in his leaps of musical boldness. Pet Sounds today is pop excellence, a chamber classic, deserving to be played by orchestras worldwide into its second half century. So why was Wilson pretty much apologizing for it during his concert billed as his final tour for the work?

The Music Hall at Strathmore in Bethesda Tuesday was sold out for weeks by fans jumping on the chance to hear Pet Sounds recreated so well by the large and enthusiastic band surrounding Wilson. There was no need for the affable bandleader, now 74, to preface the full performance of the 1966 album with the qualifier “Now we’re going to do something very musical” and “very moving and emotional.” “Pleasant music,” he called it, but he warned, “not rock ’n’ roll.” When it was over, he promised, “then we’ll rock ’n’ roll for 20 minutes.” As if he had to convince people to stay.

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Garden State Sound
with Evan Toth

All jokes aside, New Jersey is a pretty great place. While it has a lot to offer as a state, it also has a rich musical history of which many people remain unaware. Everyone knows Sinatra and The Boss, but there’s much more.

Well, nothing lasts forever. Here is the final episode of Garden State Sound. After two years, and 88 episodes, the time has come to bring our travels through New Jersey music to an end. For now, at least.

My new shift at WFDU, 89.1 FM (6am-9am) will take up most of my radio time, and I don’t know that I’ll have the extra gusto to produce this weekly program. It feels like the right time to shut it down.

We go out with a rollicking trip through some of my favorite music and guests from the last two years: Frank Sinatra, Bruce Springsteen, Uncle Floyd, Donald Fagen, The Rascals, Soul Attack, D.L. Byron, Bob Crewe, Val Emmich, Titus Andronicus, Spin Doctors, Nathalie Pires, and others.

To The Vinyl District, WFDU, all guests of the show, and to our supporters we say: Thank You. I hope you’ll follow me on this lifelong journey of music. Thank you for listening!

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Needle Drop: Pip Blom, “Are We There Yet?” EP

Set to release her debut EP on 28th September, Amsterdam-based singer-songwriter Pip Blom writes, records, and releases all her own material, and has already received acclaim from 6 Music’s Steve Lamacq and BBC Radio 1’s Huw Stephens. “Are We There Yet?” is a short but sweet collection of three powerful tracks. Combining driving riffs with sweet, catchy melodies—it’s a true treat.

First track “Taxi Driver” immediately hits you with its uptempo indie-pop goodness. Undeniably catchy, its infectious lo-fi fuzz and jangly melodies will no doubt stick in your head upon first listen. Flowing with Blom’s honey-sweet vocals, it’s a track wonderful in its simplicity.

“Honey” is grittier than its predecessor; filled with grunge-inspired, languid riffs, it oozes a raw power showcasing this young songwriter’s skill for creating her own impressive indie sound. Reminiscent of some pioneering ‘90s female Brit Pop bands such as Sleeper or Elastica, “Alone” closes the EP in a gentler, more reflective tone. With acoustic twangs of guitar and Blom’s stripped-back vocals, it exudes a refreshing, honest vulnerability and emotion-strewn openness. A contemplative and delicately beautiful end to an inspired debut.

Although Pip Blom’s influences are clear on “Are We There Yet?”—most notably Aussie songwriter Courtney Barnett—that’s no bad thing in my book. I can’t get enough of these scuzzy, raw indie anthems.

“Are We There Yet?” is out 28th September via Toaster Records.

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Graded on a Curve:
The Fiery Furnaces,

Leave it to the playful brother and sister team who make up (made up? They’ve been on hiatus since 2011) The Fiery Furnaces to choose the title EP for a full LP. Their perky and sometimes difficult but always diversified sound will grab hold of you, primarily because they have a knack for writing impossibly catchy melodies that brother Matthew Friedberger always manages to lively up in miraculously captivating ways, via some very quirky instrumentation that is as constantly surprising as it is totally original. Meanwhile, sister Eleanor adds lovely but tough vocals and always interesting lyrics.

Most of the Fiery Furnace’s LPs are tough but rewarding listens, but 2005’s EP isn’t one of them. With two exceptions, the songs are lovely and straight-ahead pop tunes enlivened by brother Matthew’s always intriguing musical backdrops. “Here Comes the Summer,” for example, features, in addition to a piano, one very distorted guitar, as well as a blurting something or other—it could just be some gadget to further distort the guitar—and will thrill you with its loveliness. The similarly captivating “Evergreen” is one of the most deliriously delightful songs I’ve heard in a while, thanks to Eleanor’s thrilling vocals, some great piano, one unholy cool distorted guitar solo, and a melody that is guaranteed to win you over. Meanwhile, opener “Single Again” is all synthesizer blurt and momentum, in which Eleanor’s disturbing lyrics about being abused by a boyfriend/spouse offer a dark contrast to the song’s upbeat tempo.

“Tropical-Iceland” is all distortion directed towards a melody that is impossibly catchy, and the best song I’ve heard in a while. I don’t know how Matthew Friedberger is producing those noises: synthesizer or guitar or synthesized guitar, or who knows; all that really matters is they’re strange as tropical Iceland itself. Meanwhile, “Duffer St. George” offers a similarly confounding array of instrumentation, and starts off as a pop tune before it goes hard rock on your ass, only to grow contemplative for a moment before Eleanor repeats, “Duffer St. George/And I don’t care/Duffer St. George/And I don’t… care” to the accompaniment of woodwinds.

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TVD’s Press Play

Press Play is our Monday recap of the new and FREE tracks received last week to inform the next trip to your local indie record store.

Owls of the Swamp – Start All Over
The Deltahorse – Call It A Day
Dark Mean – Settle Down
Crushed Out – Skinny Dippin’
The White Raven – Rose
Allen Clapp – Friend Collector
The Burgeoning – Beautiful Rampage

Blue House – John The Unready

Fiona Soe Paing – Heartbeat
Wingtip – Rewind feat. Sophie Strauss
Shallou x RKCB – Slow
Richie Quake – Hesitate
Big Gigantic – The Little Things (Kasbo remix)
K V A S I R – First Throws
GOTTA – DANCE (I’m Gonna Put My Shoes On)
Marshmello – Alone (Jessica Audiffred Remix)

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