Monthly Archives: October 2016

Graded on a Curve: Bauhaus,
In the Flat Field

Sometimes I’m ashamed for my fellow music critics. Take their rude treatment of Bauhaus’ 1980 debut, In the Flat Field. An NME writer described the LP as “nine meaningless moans and flails bereft of even the most cursory contour of interest,” while a Sounds writer dismissed the LP for having “No songs. Just tracks (ugh). Too priggish and conceited,” before writing the LP off as “coldly conceited.”

I’m no Goth fan because I have a pulse, but I think the writers above are idiots. I will concede that In the Flat Field is cold, but I also happen to find it brilliant—one of the finest LPs of 1980. Clamorous and loud, it’s a wonderful example of the sonic possibilities of carefully controlled noise, and its wild sounds and angular riffs provide the perfect backdrop for the chilly vocals of Peter Murphy. Take “Dive.” Daniel Ash’s guitar playing and saxophone work are brilliantly crisp and menacing, the tune proceeds at a breakneck pace, and Murphy’s vocals are a marvel; he stutters, shouts, does it all. Or take LP opener “Double Dare.” It commences with some heavily fuzzed out riffs, then the drums kick in, and this is metal, people. Murphy is as his dark best, producing nonsense noises when he isn’t shouting, the rhythm section is heavy as Flipper, and what we have here is a drone rocker as good as any by No Trend.

The title cut is a racing rumble of distorted guitar, with great percussion and Murphy singing about who knows what (“black matted lace of pregnant cows”???), although the chorus is clear enough: “I do get bored, I get bored/In the flat field.” My recommendation is to ignore the lyrics about “spunge stained sheets” and hone in on Ash’s shredding sheets of guitar noise, the wonderful percussion, and Murphy’s vocals, which climb to an apocalyptic pitch while Ash’s guitar howls and howls. “A God in an Alcove” opens with some tentative guitar and Murphy sounding like he’s been gagged, before the song’s angular riff takes over. Ash’s guitar is ominous, someone joins Murphy on vocals, and together they make a wonderful noise, and then the song takes flight, 100 mph in a 55 zone. “Silly,” repeats Murphy, before the song’s close, but there’s nothing silly about the tune, which rocks.

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Kevin Haskins,
The TVD Interview

The post-punk band originally lasted only five years, but the work of Bauhaus continues to have an influence on a host of bands that would come after them. Drawing on the darker sounds of The Velvet Underground and glam, Bauhaus was credited with starting goth rock, possibly because its groundbreaking first single in 1979 was the nine-minute “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” about the chap who played the most famous vampire.

Composed of singer Peter Murphy, guitarist Daniel Ash, and brothers Kevin Haskins on drums and bassist David J, Bauhaus reunited to great acclaim just twice—in 1998 and again at Coachella in 2005. 

Fitting for a band named after an art movement founded 60 years earlier, Bauhaus left behind a visual trove that included not only its striking logo, but various flyers, posters, and cover art along with a load of unseen sketches, photos, and set lists. Many of them are jammed into the new coffee table book, Bauhaus Undead: The Visual History and Legacy of Bauhaus. Its author is drummer Haskins, who would go on to join Ash in Tones on Tail, and with David J joining those two, the band Love and Rockets which lasted three times as long as Bauhaus. 

We talked to Haskins, 56, from his studio in Los Angeles, where he’s lived for 25 years about the book, Bela, his beats, and Bauhaus.

There have always been a lot of Bauhaus fans in L.A., right?

Yeah, there are. Actually, last Halloween, Daniel and I DJ’d at a bar in L.A. and there was a line around the block, people couldn’t get in. So we do have a good fan base here, yeah.

Halloween is the time for “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” after all.

You always hear ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’ on the radio. And we get offers to perform and DJ around this time. So yeah, I guess people think about us around this time.

What’s the story behind that song? It may be your best known, but it was also your first. How did that come about.

Well, David had just joined the band and we hadn’t rehearsed with him at this point. He called up Daniel the night before the first rehearsal and told him he had this lyric about Bela Lugosi, you know, with a vampire theme. And Daniel said, well, that’s good because I came up with these haunting chords today, so maybe those two things will go together well. So we got to rehearsal, David gave Peter the lyrics sheet, Daniel started playing the haunting chords, and David started looking around for a bass line.

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Dan Croll,
The TVD First Date

“As a kid I never had vinyl around me, it was strictly cassettes and CDs, and I believe this led to me becoming a serial ‘skipper.’”

“I would never really listen to albums in full as it was so easy to skip a track on a Walkman or hit fast forward in the first few seconds, and so I only got to know key tracks on a lot of records due to my own impatience.

It wasn’t really until I moved out of student halls and in to a flat with my good friend and producer Joe Wills that I understood vinyl and developed a love for the format. It wasn’t the biggest collection, but it was a great one, and there was no greater feeling putting on a record, turning up the volume, and just going about my day and chores listening to albums in full.

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Graded on a Curve:
Ted Nugent,
Super Hits

Sure, he’s a gun control advocate’s worst nightmare, and his music has always leaned heavily towards the stupid, but I happen to like both guns and stupid—as I’ve noted before, during my formative years my younger brother and I used to get drunk and take our dad’s .22 cat rifle to the basement of the house, where we’d fire it at the brick wall maybe 8 feet away in a game we called “dodge the ricochet.” So I can sort of relate to Ted Nugent, although you’ll never catch me shooting deer, moose, or darling little chipmunks, or whatever else happens to be in season at the moment, with a bazooka.

Me, I prefer Nugent’s unique brand of stupid to the Kiss brand of stupid, or any other brand of stupid (Grand Funk!) that comes to mind. That said, I can only handle it in small quantities, which is what makes 1998’s Super Hits so nice. Ten songs, all of them stump dumb in an addictive sort of way; who needs, or even wants, anything more? Granted, both the sublimely dim Masters and Johnson primers “Yank Me Crank Me” and “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang” are MIA, but we all have to make sacrifices for brevity’s sake.

You can say what you want about crazy Ted, but I love the sound of his guitar, and the fact that his songs don’t mess about: most of them are jacked up on crank, even if Ted the anti-drug advocate isn’t. And he knows how to write a decent melody, too, which is ace. Why, I would almost go so far as to say I don’t see the downside, except that Ted is, well, an asshole. But he’s asshole with wango tango, capiche? As is evidenced once again by the generically titled Super Hits, which covers must of the bases, although it does include a few tunes that are both dumb and lame.

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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.

The Airborne Toxic Event – America
The March Divide – I Might
Bad Reed – Stained Glass
Pussy Riot feat. Desi Mo & Leikeli47 – Straight Outta Vagina
The Burgeoning – Loud Dreams
Kristoffer & The Harbour Heads – Nervous In Berlin
Monster Rally – Moonlight Chase
LEØ – Us
Nick Pes – Sunsets
Enzo Bennet x Will Gittens – Trap Queen
elkkle – Don’t Look Down
Brooke Hummel – Queens of Nothing

Morricone Youth – “Night of the Living Dead” EP

The Chainsmokers – All We Know (Hook N Sling Mix)
Henry Pope + Littlefoot – Swans
James Blake feat. Bon Iver – I Need A Forest Fire (COFRESI Remix)
Du Tonc – Keep Movin’
Madeleine Chartrand – Ani Kuni (2nd Class Citizen edit)
Cryptolect – Punished
David Starfire – Shock (feat. Ragga Twins)
EXSSV – Doomsday
Blank Face – Don’t Give A Fuck
Shaz Illyork feat. Blank Face – Make Way
Doctor P & Flux Pavilion – P.D.S. feat. Jarren Benton (Debroka Remix)
Felmax & TYNVN – Grail
AutoErotique – Run For Cover

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In rotation: 10/31/16

Fountain Square record store, live-music spot to launch next month: A new Fountain Square record store promising live performances and beer and wine is set to open Nov. 4 with an appearance by Minnesota country bluesman Charlie Parr. Patrick Burtch, owner of the recently closed Rocket 88 Doughnut shops, and two partners are launching Square Cat Vinyl at 1054 Virginia Ave., in vacant space next to Goodwill Industries’ Vintage Vogue store. The partners are investing about $100,000 in the 2,000-square-foot leased space that will feature new and used albums, a stage with a furnished high-end sound system, and a small bar serving beer, wine and coffee.

Beloved vinyl stronghold Hear Records opens new outlet in Chinatown: The cosy store is already (and deservedly) recognised as one of the best record shops in the world, and Singapore’s music lovers can’t help but keep coming back to chew the cud with founder Nick Tan and peruse the thousands of records in his ever-expanding catalogue. Cool cats will now have the option to drop by Hear Records’ second repository at Banda Street for even more vinyl classics, as well as high-end turntables, electronics and other accessories. Not to mention it’s an awesome place to hang out and talk about music for hours…

Record Store Day deals return for Black Friday: Remember, remember the 25th of November. Not for any treason, or gunpower, but for something far more important… Black Friday. And the people behind Record Store Day are once again getting in on the action for 2016 with a “kick-off to the season of gift-giving (and gift-wishing)”. As the RSD organisation says, “if America is going to go crazy buying things to wrap up, then record stores need to be part of that“. Fair enough. A host of limited edition records have been announced in the US, with artists featured including Alice Cooper, The Beach Boys, Disclosure, Jimi Hendrix, Prince and The Rolling Stones. As ever, you need to find your local participating record store to get your hands on the releases.

Did Jack White hide vinyl records in these chairs?: A Reddit user claims to have come across four chairs that could hold hidden Jack White vinyl records within them. During the early days of the White Stripes, White teamed up with musician friend Brian Muldoon to form The Upholsterers. Both former upholsterers, the pair then hid 100 copies of their song ‘Your Furniture Was Always Dead… I Was Just Afraid To Tell You’ in reupholstered furniture around Detroit in 2004. Earlier this year, one of the records was found inside a sofa, while two others were found in furniture 2 years prior.

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TVD’s The Idelic Hour with Jon Sidel

Greetings from Laurel Canyon!

Ever since the riots / All I really wanted / Was a black girlfriend / They don’t play around / They’re hard enough / To keep any man in line / Thinking of my pale white skin / Thinking of her dark and smooth / She against me / (My black girlfriend) My black girlfriend / Black girlfriend

Most of my Idelic Hour shows are made mid-week and finished Thursday late evening in my garage office (in the Canyon of course!) Funny enough, I woke up this morning realizing something was missing! Yep, I spaced on finishing this week’s show—ha!

It’s not the first time I’ve cut (MC’d) in the AM but it has a different vibe for sure, especially in a mix of sounds inspired by darkness. I don’t know about you, but I think this time of year (mid October to January) has the darkest nights. Take it from someone who still often roams at night. ‘Tis the season of darkness.

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Nine tunes that will scare you shitless.

You’re alone in the dark, and the only voices of reason you have are your thoughts. Don’t be fooled; darkness is not a place of solitude.

Sounds that are ordinarily mundane, like a dripping faucet or a creaky wood floor, become amplified, grabbing your undivided attention. If you’re devoid of light for too long, these sounds might completely betray you. Welcome to the sadistic and moribund world of Halloween. Below we’ve compiled a list of song with lyrics and situations that will make you look behind your back and perhaps leave you scared…shitless.

Megadeth – Go To Hell | Don’t fear the reaper? That’s nonsense when your soul is wagered on a game of eternal blackjack. The Charon, the ghastly oarsman who shepherds souls, bears little comparison to the fateful entity that has dominion over the realm of fire and brimstone. Uncorrupted minds everywhere—if you hear Dave Mustaine’s verses, rebuke them immediately. Or damnation will be upon you.

Audra – You’re So Pretty | The acoustic scales over the chamber alone are chilling. The sequence of the four-note motif cycles in this tune like the seconds along a clock. What’s the fate of this woman trapped in the basement? What will happen to her? Only time will tell.

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Graded on a Curve:
The Flesh Eaters,
A Minute to Pray,
A Second to Die

Any shelf dedicated to classic California punk requires representation by the Flesh Eaters of Chris Desjardins, aka Chris D. Never a bad record has he made under that moniker, but the finest of them remains the talent-drenched and enduringly brilliant 1981 LP A Minute to Pray, a Second to Die. It’s just been given a welcome reissue by Superior Viaduct of San Francisco.

I first learned of Chris D.’s work in the latter portion of the 1980s, my discovery largely aided by the diligent underground music press of the era, in particular the scribbling of Byron Coley. While numerous zines featured reviews of both the Flesh Eaters and Chris D.’s band of the period The Divine Horsemen, it was really Coley that helped to put Desjardins’ art in proper context.

In fact, Coley’s such a determined champion of the man’s work that his new liners for this reissue aren’t an extra so much as a prerequisite. And the insight was found in more than just reviews, articles, and prior sleeve notes, as Coley and Forced Exposure publisher/writer Jimmy Johnson conducted an extensive interview with Desjardins for issue #12 of their reliably hefty “quarterly” mag. The duo also provided space in the back for “Chris D.’s Video Guide,” an enjoyable and extremely enlightening tour of the guy’s VHS collection.

I’d already sized Desjardins up as a major part of the USA’s roots punk brigade, his output landing in the same rough region as The Cramps, X, The Blasters, The Plugz, and The Gun Club, but the conversation in FE presented him as an uncommonly astute member of the punk community (especially when compared with the average Flipside chat).

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Self-titled debut album from The Olympians in stores today, 10/28

If you like vintage soul, R&B, and funk created by a new generation of musicians, Daptone Records has been the place to look for it. The label, which may be best known for jump-starting the career of soul belter Sharon Jones, has released lots of great music. Their latest, the instrumental funky soul of The Olympians, is out today.

The band includes musicians associated with the label’s house band, the Dap-Kings, and other bands connected to the label. The music features lush instrumental arrangements of strings, harp, vibes, guitar, and a plethora of keyboards, all laced with blazing horns soaring over funky bass and drums.

The story of the band and its music begins with a dream. Multi-instrumentalist Toby Pazner (keyboards, vibes, bass, and percussion) was moved to put the story of the actual Greek gods, whose mythical home was on Mount Olympus, to song.

He enlisted members of the Dap-Kings including trumpeter David Guy (also of the Tonight Show band), drummer Homer Steinweiss, saxophonist (and Daptone Records co-owner) Neal Sugarman, saxophonist Leon Michels, as well as trumpeter Michael Leonhart (the musical director for Steely Dan and David Byrne), trombonist Aaron Johnson of Antibalas and the musical director of the Broadway show Fela!, and drummer and percussionist Evan Pazner.

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Young Summer,
The TVD First Date

“I am from Washington, D.C. and recently moved just a couple of miles out into Virginia, and now I live very close to an amazing record store called CD Cellar. It has an extensive collection of music and I feel spoiled rotten that it’s so close.”

“I have a vinyl wall in my apartment where I display twelve albums, which I’ll change from time to time, but right now the albums on display are; ANOHNI’s Hopelessness, Father John Misty’s records I love you, Honeybear and Fear Fun, Tribe Called Quest Midnight Marauders, Radiohead In Rainbows, Tame Impala Currents, Niki & The Dove Instinct, Jamie XX In Colour, Kanye West My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and Prince Purple Rain.

When I am figuring out my own album artwork the real test for me is asking myself, “Would I want to hang this on my wall”? If it won’t look beautiful as a 12” then it isn’t good enough to be the album art.

My earliest obsessions were Michael Jackson and The Carpenters. I had a Fisher price Tape recorder that basically became another appendage, as I never wanted to be without music. This dependence with music was a learned trait because my family was the same way. We moved, on average, every two years due to my father’s occupation in the military and my mom wouldn’t let the movers take the stereo system.

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Graded on a Curve:
Bob Weir,
Blue Mountain

Well I’ll be damned. I didn’t think Bob Weir, the eternal boy howdy of the Grateful Dead, had it in him. After decades of coasting—his last great solo offering, 1972’s Ace, was released a shocking 44 years ago—here comes Weir, looking as weather worn as Grizzly Adams in his white beard, or like the great D.B. Cooper finally emerging from the Washington state wilderness, with an album that is not just good, but downright excellent. It just goes to show you—never count a fellow out until he’s six feet underground, and for at least three days at that.

2016’s Blue Mountain is an album of “cowboy songs,” according to Weir’s collaborator Josh Ritter, and was inspired, according to Weir, by his days as a 15-year-old ranch hand in Wyoming. But this is not a collection of other people’s music; Weir had a hand in writing the music for every song, while Ritter both contributed to the music and penned the better part of the lyrics. And so far as the descriptions of it as “campfire music” go I disagree; many of these songs are far too lush and musically sophisticated to cook weenies on a stick to. But two things they are for sure: beautiful and thoughtful. They demonstrate that the eternal Peter Pan of the Dead has finally grown up and gotten wise, and has honed his songwriting skills in the process. Compared to his previous solo outing, 1978’s Heaven Help the Fool, which utilized lots of studio hacks and frankly sucked like an industrial vacuum cleaner, Blue Mountain is a cool breath of fresh Wyoming air.

Blue Mountain is the work of a man who has finally come face to face with his own mortality, as Weir demonstrates on the elegiac and lovely album closer “One More River to Cross,” in which he acknowledges he’s tired but nearing that final home in the bye-and-bye. And the very rhythmic “Lay My Lily Down” is an unreconstructed death ballad complete with rattling chains, and has Weir singing, “Dig a hole, dig a hole in the meadow/Dig a hole in the cold, cold ground/Dig a hole, dig a hole in the meadow/To lay my Lily down.” Weir, whose vocals during the Grateful Dead years generally left me cold because, well, he never managed to make the words he was singing sound convincing, sounds like the real thing here, just as he does on the great “Only a River,” a somber but utterly sublime paean to the Shenandoah River. “Only a river gonna make things right,” he sings, longing to see that lovely river once more.

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In rotation: 10/28/16

Record Store Day Black Friday releases announced: The annual set of Record Store Day Black Friday vinyl exclusives have been announced, set to drop at an independent record shop near you on 25th November. Some of this year’s highlights include a 12″ picture disc of Prince and the New Power Generation’s ‘Sexy M.F’, Lil Yachty’s debut mixtape Lil Boat and Erykah Badu’s But You Cain’t Use My Phone. There are also 1400 copies of Timothy Leary and Ralph Metzer’s LSD manifesto The Psychedelic Experience, a Death Grips’ ‘Fashion Week/Interview 2016’ 2xLP and an Angel Olsen live album up for grabs. As has become the norm for Record Store Day, you’ll have to do a bit of digging among the dross to pick out the gems, of which there are a healthy number this time round.

Store in a spin over accolade disc-overy: ONE of the town’s independent record shops has had a brush with fame after featuring as store of the month in one of the most influential music magazines. Red House Records, which is based inside Holmes Music, appeared in this month’s issue of MOJO and owner Paul Holmes is delighted with the accolade…Paul is hoping the glowing write-up will entice more customers through the door to explore the treasure trove of new and second-hand vinyl, from artists like Bob Dylan and Led Zeppelin to undiscovered niche bands. “The industry is not as easy as it used to be because we are up against everyone in the world,” he added.

Mr. Hankey’s Christmas Classics are coming to poo-scented colored vinyl: Are we already thinking about Christmas poo? We’ve not yet dealt with Halloween poo—much less Thanksgiving poo!—and here we are, discussing the festive excrement of the winter holidays. Oh well, this is our society, in which we’re continually encouraged to fixate on the newest shit. And while we’re on the subject, we might as well give our warm regards to Columbia/Legacy who will soon present us with Mr. Hankey’s Christmas Classics. And on vinyl, no less!

Lil Yachty, D.R.A.M., Geto Boys & Run-D.M.C. Getting Limited Edition Releases For Record Store Day: Record Store Day is prepping for a big Black Friday this year the day after Thanksgiving (November 25). In addition to the Texas-shaped UGK vinyl, the program has organized vinyl releases from all spheres of rap including D.R.A.M., Lil Yachty, The Geto Boys and Run-D.M.C. The Virginia rapper’s chart-topping “Broccoli” single will be available as a 7″ picture disc and his co-MC on the track, Lil Yachty, will get his Lil Boat mixtape released as an LP.

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TVD Live Shots: Phantogram at the House of Blues Boston, 10/21

Electro rock, dream pop, electronica, whatever you want to call it, Phantogram have enjoyed a slow burn over the past decade to emerge as a supernova in 2016. The stars are truly aligned for the Greenwhich, New York based duo of Josh Carter (vocals, guitars) and Sarah Barthel (vocals, keyboards). A brilliant new record simply titled Three finds them at the top of their game with some of their best songwriting to date.

While their early material was very Cocteau Twins-esque, Phantogram continue to evolve their sound into something much more organic. I would guess that the years of touring and expansion of the live band have played a role in achieving a much more holistic view of songwriting. This was the first time that I’ve seen the band live and I would say that they have virtually perfected the live show.

The House of Blues in Boston is such a fantastic venue. Even when it’s sold out it’s not miserable like many other venues that continue to jam people in at capacity. The show opened up with a sort of semi-transparent black screen with the band lit up as silhouettes projected to the crowd. Although I feel like I’ve seen this before, it really added an element of mystique, and when the curtain finally dropped for song number four, Phantogram were locked and loaded.

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Cuban pianist Harold López-Nussa brings El Viaje to Chickie Wah Wah, 10/28

DownBeat magazine called Harold López-Nussa, “the latest in a line of extraordinary keyboardists to emerge from Cuba,” and compared his playing to the work of Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea. He plays the Mid City fine listening establishment Friday night with his trio.

As the relationship between Cuba and the United States gradually opens up, we should be seeing more performers from the musically sophisticated island. López-Nussa will be appearing with his trio featuring his younger brother Ruy Adrián López-Nussa on drums and percussion and Senegalese bassist and vocalist Alune Wade.

Significantly, the conservatory-trained pianist is the first Cuba-based musician (he has dual citizenship in both Cuba and France) to release an album internationally since the lifting of many of the restrictions associated with the longstanding trade embargo.

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