Monthly Archives: November 2016

TVD Live: Conor Oberst at Thalia Hall, 11/26

Conor Oberst spent time in Chicago this past weekend for two evenings of intimate performances at Thalia Hall. Joining him Saturday night was singer-songwriter, Anna McClellan.

In Oberst’s words, Anna McClellan is a “secret weapon from Omaha, Nebraska.” The audience was quick to feel her power and be captivated by her haunting voice and playful melodies. She played out heavy repeating chords on the piano while her engaging lyrics and lovely refrain hovered above and took over the room. The room’s energy level rose to a new high when Oberst walked on stage to join McClellan on her song “Fire Flames.” McClellan’s inviting presence kept the crowd quiet and in their seats which is a rare feat for an opening act. Anna McClellan’s current album Fire Flames (which features Oberst on the title track) is available to download.

The crowd was ready for Conor Oberst before he even entered the stage. Within the first notes of his opening song people were already cheering and singing along. Arms went up during favorite lyrics and friends turned to each other to mouth the words during quiet parts. It was a warm welcome. The stage was sparse with only a single bassist to accompany him. Oberst alternated between an old upright piano and his guitar. An assistant sat at a fishbowl shaking out harmonicas in-between songs to pass off to Oberst.

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Graded on a Curve: Kansas,

I’m listening to Kansas. My shrink gave me explicit directions not to do this. But what does he know? He’s the same fool who tells me I’m sane, hah! As for me, I say, “Pop prog from America’s wheat belt, what could possibly go wrong?” Why, I’m listening to 1976’s Leftoverture as I write this, and–Gak! Erk! Blagh! What Lovecraftian horror is this? Quick, Thorazine! Shock treatment! Gag and glumph, I should have listened to my shrink! I’m vomiting poisonous toads! And giant black death buzzards are hurling themselves against my glass patio door! Oh, I know they’re an appalling hallucination brought on by Kansas poisoning, but still! Their shrieks sound real enough! Must turn off! Must (review ends here; writer vanished, and has yet to be found).

Three days later: Okay, so I’m back. And perhaps I overreacted. Kansas may carry the horrid prog virus, but its music isn’t as infectious as that of its compatriots across the pond. And Kansas did, much to its credit, write Thee Definitive Eschatological Dirge in the great “Dust in the Wind,” something you can’t say about Grand Funk Railroad or Jackson Browne or the Velvet Underground even.

And frequently Kansas actually rocks, instead of slavishly aping that geriatric classical sound, the way Emerson, Lake & Palmer were wont to do. Why, the big guitar riff in “Carry on My Wayward Son” off Leftoverture is deserving of kudos, and it’s not until the hackneyed Icarus allusions that the song threatens to go downhill. But instead the band launches into a hard rock jam featuring a vicious guitar wrapped around a muscular organ. And if that’s not enough, vocalist Steve Walsh tosses off the truly profound lines, “And if I claim to be a wise man/Well, it surely means that I don’t know.”

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UK Artist of the Week: The Imagineers

Eclectic Scottish indie rockers The Imagineers formed back in 2011 and released their first EP “See As I Say.” They have since gained exposure through an array of publications as well as making a guest appearance on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. With the release of their debut full length Utopian Dreams imminent and the title-track released as their first single, The Imagineers are well and truly back, sounding bigger and better than ever.

Utopian Dreams is an album full of sonic ups and downs. Their tastes differ from track to track, and quite rightly so, allowing each member of the band to incorporate different styles to create a unique sound. Elements of surf rock, baroque pop, and folk inform the album with a natural cinematic edge.

With the music industry continually in flux, The Imagineers’ diverse sense of songcraft bodes well for a flourishing career. You’ve heard it here—and them—first.

Utopian Dreams by The Imagineers is out on 24th February 2017 via Hit The Light Records.

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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: Schwartz-Fox Blues Crusade, Sunday Morning Revival

Straddling the fence between jam session and no-fuss recording date, Sunday Morning Revival by the Schwartz-Fox Blues Crusade features major figures from the fledgling late ’60s Cleveland rock scene including three members of The James Gang and harmonica maestro Bill “Mr. Stress” Miller. The first release in Smog Veil Records’ Platters du Cuyahoga Series 2, this archival recording (once thought lost) is loaded with covers tackled with a combination of studiousness and verve; destined to bring a smile to the face of Butterfield and Musselwhite fans far and wide while deepening the already rich history of its municipality, it’s out now on LP, CD, and digital.

Smog Veil’s Platters Du Cuyahoga Series 1 illuminated a wide array of Cleveland underground nooks, specifically post-Electric Eels-style punk racket with a freedom jones (Albert Ayler’s Ghosts Live at the Yellow Ghetto by X__X), glam-tinged avant-pop (French Pictures in London (1975) by the Robert Bensick Band), and post-Butterfield harmonica-driven blues-rock (Live at the Brick Cottage 1972 – 1973 by the Mr. Stress Blues Band).

Series 2 appears to be an equally broad affair, though it begins by burrowing deeper into the city’s blues-rock backstory and adding another chapter to the tale of the late Bill “Mr. Stress” Miller; Sunday Morning Revival finds the singer, bandleader, and mouth harp specialist in a loose conglomeration of likeminded upstarts. There’s keyboardist Mike Sands (Mr. Stress Blues Band), guitarist Glenn Schwartz, drummer Jimmy Fox, and bassist Tom Kriss (all from The James Gang), and guitarist Rich Kriss (Chuck Bates & The Barons and The Joyful Wisdom).

Today the impulse of white guys playing the blues is often oversimplified as mere cultural appropriation, but Nick Blakey’s outstanding footnoted liner booklet for this set does a fine job of complicating this scenario by describing the friction between the ’60s establishment and the sustained tide of nonconformity. One way of articulating opprobrium with the prevailing norms was that of d.a. levy, the jailed Cleveland poet whose work served as posthumous inspiration for Sonic Youth’s NYC Ghosts & Flowers.

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In rotation: 11/30/16

Historic record store finds new life in RR: A historic Albuquerque record store has found new life in the City of Vision, as Cristy Records celebrated its new home in Rio Rancho last week. Cristy Records, at 1670-A NM 528, celebrated its reopening Thursday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The record store, owned and operated by lawyer and musician Michael Sanchez, features CDs, vinyl records and cassette tapes from local and international musicians. “What we’re doing here is trying to promote New Mexico musicians,” Sanchez said. “We encourage people to come in and look around, have themselves a Coca-Cola and just look at all the bands.”

New record shop and bookstore, 2 Bridges, opens in Manhattan: A new boutique and exhibition space called 2 Bridges has opened at 75 East Broadway Suite 205 in Manhattan. Founded by New York native Simon Gabriel Greenberg, the shop offers new and used vinyl as well as cassettes tapes, books and art. Musically it skews towards leftfield electronic and dance records, with a broad inventory that includes house and techno 12-inches as well as free jazz, ambient music and rap. Greenberg opened 2 Bridges with the idea of “putting music, art and books into conversation with each other, the way they are at someone’s house,” he told RA over email.

Vinyl enthusiasts celebrate Home for the Holidays in Morris with exchange event: Jayme Cameron and her son, Matthew Cameron, walked through the event room doors at Clayton’s Tap on Friday afternoon with a bag of vinyl records in tow to swap. “Matthew is my old-soul child. He loves records and has a record player where he listens to records from his great-grandparents and grandparents, so I saw this event on Facebook and I thought he would love it,” Jayme said. From 4 to 6 p.m. Friday, the back room at Clayton’s Tap was transformed into a vinyl record exchange organized by Jamie Barbeau as part of Morris’ Home for the Holidays.

Kiki and Henry’s popular record fair returns to Stourbridge High Street venue The Talbot Hotel: Organisers of a popular Stourbridge record fair will be returning to the cosy confines of the town centre’s Talbot Hotel for their upcoming event. Kiki and Henry’s Record Fair returns to its spiritual home in the Talbot next Saturday (December 10) giving music fans the ideal chance to pick up some Christmas gifts, or just treat themselves during the cold and rainy winter weather. The event will feature two rooms at the historic Talbot crammed with quality vinyl records, CDs and music memorabilia, all sourced by the pair’s trusted traders.

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TVD Live Shots: The Dead Daisies at the Electric Ballroom, 11/22


The Dead Daisies took over Camden’s Electric Ballroom for an old school rock ‘n’ roll show that is truly one of a kind these days. Touring in support of their third album Make Some Noise, this supergroup has a rotating lineup that never disappoints. On deck for the Daisies during their UK tour are Brian Tichy (Ozzy Osbourne, Foreigner), David Lowy (Mink), John Corabi (Mötley Crüe, Union, The Scream) and Marco Mendoza (Thin Lizzy, Whitesnake), and guitar virtuoso Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake, Dio).

Let me start by saying that these guys might be the hardest working rock band on the planet. Not only do they connect with their fans in meaningful ways at their shows (they do meet and greets every single night), but they are masters at social media marketing at which most artists are flat-out terrible.

From live video performances to video updates and exclusive photos across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, these guys could give a masterclass in social media to 99% of their rock ‘n’ roll colleagues. It’s always an approach that makes all the difference and these guys are leading the way and setting one hell of an example for their peers.

But back to the music. I have two words for you: John Corabi. This guy is one of the most underrated/ under-celebrated talents on the planet. He’s got it all—the voice, the chops, the personality—it’s as if he was born to lead a super-group, and I think he’s found a perfect home for his talents.

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TVD Radar: T Bone Burnett, A Life in Pursuit by Lloyd Sachs

VIA PRESS RELEASE | “This first critical appreciation of T Bone Burnett reveals how the proponent of Americana music and producer of the cream of the crop of artists has profoundly influenced American music and culture.

“Renowned as a studio maven with a Midas touch, Burnett is known for lifting artists to their greatest heights, as he did with Raising Sand, the multiple Grammy Award–winning album by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, as well as acclaimed albums by Los Lobos, the Wallflowers, B. B. King, and Elvis Costello. Burnett virtually invented “Americana” with his hugely successful roots-based soundtrack for the Coen Brothers film, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, which went on to sell 8 million albums. Outspoken in his contempt for the entertainment industry, Burnett has nevertheless received many of its highest honors, including Grammy Awards and an Academy Award.

Lloyd Sachs offers the first critical appreciation of Burnett’s wide-ranging contributions to American music, his passionate advocacy for analog sound, and the striking contradictions that define his maverick artistry. Lloyd Sachs highlights all the important aspects of Burnett’s musical pursuits, from his early days as a member of Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue and his collaboration with the playwright Sam Shepard to the music he recently composed for the TV shows Nashville and True Detective and his production of the all-star album Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes.

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Needle Drop: Vienna Ditto, “Busted Flush” EP

Vienna Ditto is band who are hard to define. With their previous EP “Ticks,” one felt you could potentially put them in the box with new wave artists such as The B-52s. They are a band who defy genre and they continue to do so with their latest EP “Busted Flush.”

Title track “Busted Flush” has a fantastic tango-like feel, almost as if its been composed especially for the Moulin Rouge. Moving swiftly to “Barracuda”—about guitarist Nigel Firth living in his barracuda bungalow boat (obviously)—this one’s more upbeat and oozing with wonderful ’80s inspired synths and sci-fi infused goodness. The final track on this multi-coloured, vibrant EP is “Boy Meets Wolf,” a blues tune that wouldn’t feel out-of-place in some sort of new-age Western.

Throughout the EP, lead singer Hatty Taylor’s voice is focused—her smoky, soft tone breathing life into each track. “Busted Flush” may not be everyone but there’s certainly a huge amount of intrigue and more than enough to dig your teeth into—mark our words.

“Busted Flush” is out now via Ubiquity Project Recordings.

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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.

We don’t throw the term “legend” around too much, but today it’s very appropriate—Keith Morris, founder and former lead singer of Black Flag, Circle Jerks, and OFF! joins us to talk about his career, his music, his life, his unique perspective, and of course his record collection.

We go deep on this one and share information on Keith’s new autobiography My Damage, a fascinating read through his life and the early days of punk rock. Plus a short record-nerd tutorial on Black Flag and SST’s first record, “Nervous Breakdown”—early pressings fetch several hundred dollars. Today we share what you need to know to spot one.

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Graded on a Curve:
Buck Owens and the Buckaroos, The Complete Capitol Singles: 1957–1966, Don Rich and the Buckaroos, Guitar
Pickin’ Man

Anybody desiring a hearty serving of topnotch country music shouldn’t dally in snatching up Omnivore Recordings’ 2CD Buck Owens and the Buckaroos retrospective The Complete Capitol Singles: 1957-1966; out on December 9, it’s a bountiful but easily digestible dive into the birth and growth of the innovative and enduring Bakersfield sound. Those needing another helping need not fret, for a week later Omnivore spills the spotlight onto key Buckaroo Don Rich via the rewarding 18-track collection Guitar Pickin’ Man.

The career of Alvis Edgar “Buck” Owens, Jr. remains one of the essential developments in the history of country music; primarily remembered today for a still impressive string of chart hits and as the co-host of the TV show Hee Haw from 1969-’86, he wasn’t an immediate success. Often described as a prime dissenter during the reign of countrypolitan, Owens’ embracing of the honky-tonk style and pioneering of the Bakersfield sound (alongside Merle Haggard, who came later) occurred only after his initial 45s for Capitol stiffed.

Active as a musician as far back as the mid-’40s, somewhere in the middle of the following decade Owens made his recording debut for the Pep label. The resulting sides include the pretty cool rockabilly one-off “Hot Dog” b/w “Rhythm and Booze” issued under the pseudonym Corky Jones, but the rest finds him largely in honky-tonk mode and with a detectable debt to Hank Williams.

Due in part to extensive session work in Hollywood for Capitol, Owens landed a contract with the label at roughly the same time that country music was establishing its mainstream; his debut for the company reflects this trend, lacking fiddle and steel guitar while adding the backing voices that were soon to become a defining countrypolitan trait. To be fair, “Come Back,” the rockabilly-ish “Sweet Thing” and their respective flips are decent enough tunes, but they’re not what anybody thinks off when they think of Buck Owens.

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In rotation: 11/29/16

Buy Dennis Hopper’s Personal Record Collection for $150,000, Actor’s copies of classic LPs, one-of-a-kind seven-inch of Carl Perkins’ “Blue Suede Shoes” offered by Hopper’s daughter: Attention (wealthy) Blue Velvet fans: Dennis Hopper’s personal, 110-LP record collection, stocked with the late actor’s copies of classic LPs alongside rare and unreleased recordings, is available to purchase via Moda Operandi for $150,000, or roughly half the budget of Easy Rider. The collection, offered up by Hopper’s daughter Marin, features “handwritten notes to the actor from various artists and several unreleased records, this is a very personal biography of Dennis Hopper’s musical journey…”

Local vinyl guru enjoys success selling records: Region Records owner 24-year-old Josh Becerra reaches success with a business selling his life’s passion — vinyl albums. The humble Becerra is a throwback to a time when the music industry was very different and fans raced to record stores to pick up new albums and load them up on their turntables for hours of listening…Region Records, 208 Main St. in Griffith, recently moved two storefronts west of its previous site and is still a draw to music lovers.

Vinyl Destination: Why are so many record shops opening on this one Melbourne street? Something special is happening on Johnston Street in Fitzroy, Collingwood and Abbotsford. Over the past two years, eight new record stores have opened on or near the thoroughfare. The three suburbs now host 13 vinyl shops between them, packing everything from jazz to punk; bluegrass to techno. Unlike some of their predecessors in the area, none of these shops were opened on the cheap. Most have well-equipped listening stations, spotless display racks, and in some cases, outrageously pricey machines for cleaning and/or straightening old records. It’s clear: these newcomers are confident they’ll be around for many years to come.

Miami’s Newest Record Store Is a Dream Come True for One Local: Miami’s newest record store — in spite of its name — is proud to be from the 305. “I was raised in Allapattah,” Diane Perez, owner of Brooklyn Vintage & Vinyl, explains, “but my girlfriend was born in Brooklyn, and we always liked it there.” Brooklyn Vintage & Vinyl currently has about 5,000 records in its inventory. The store has space to house up to 9,000 records, but Perez isn’t quite ready for that volume yet. “I’m still bringing records in…”

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TVD Radar: A Fat Wreck, The Documentary About Fat Wreck Chords

VIA PRESS RELEASE | A Fat Wreck: The Punk-u-mentary, the music documentary film about the influential California punk label Fat Wreck Chords is out today on iTunes, Amazon Video, Google Play, Vimeo On Demand, and Blu-ray/DVD via The Orchard and Something Kreative.”

“A Fat Wreck is a successfully crowdfunded music documentary that premiered at Dallas International Film Festival. It is the first to feature puppet reenactments and was produced by open-ended films and directed by first-time director Shaun M. Colón. Film Synopsis: Fat Wreck Chords… The influential music label proud to say they’ve spent the past 25 years “ruining punk rock.” A Fat Wreck tells the story of founders Fat Mike (of the legendary punk band NOFX) and his ex-wife Erin Kelly-Burkett, spanning the birth, growth, struggles, and survival of the Fat Wreck Chords label.

Half inspirational story of chosen family and community, half debauchery and occasionally involuntary drug use… A Fat Wreck blazes exciting new ground in the cinematic genre of puppet-driven punk rock music documentary filmmaking. If you only see one film featuring a dominatrix spanking a puppet in your lifetime… Make it A Fat Wreck!

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Air Traffic Controller,
The TVD First Date

“There were stacks of vinyl in my youth, mostly well-known, critically acclaimed classics, but I don’t need to go there because, number one, I did not purchase these hand me downs, and number two, they were acquired well before I knew I wanted to make music of my own. I hope you’re willing to read about an artist you may have never heard of. He unofficially refers to himself as an “author unknown,” but his name is Jason Falkner and the inspiring album I purchased was Can You Still Feel?.

“My brother showed me Jason’s first album, appropriately titled Author Unknown, and told me that he was one of the original members of the band Jellyfish, which we were pretty obsessed with for their likeness of The Beatles, Queen, Beach Boys, and Supertramp. Why anyone would exit a band as special as Jellyfish is a question that made checking out Jason a necessity. A few songs in, it was clear that his solo thing was way too awesome to not devote all of his time and energy. Whatever the case was, focusing on his own music was the right move.

His debut was a masterpiece in my opinion, so by the time this second record Can You Still Feel was released, I needed to have it right away, and I needed the vinyl. The artwork was cool as hell—Jason dressed in leather, sitting in an outdated airplane with orange interior, being served a drink by a sexy/ghostly flight attendant. I loved this album before I even played it.

The opening line “Take a chance with me…” had me on the edge of my seat, and this new mixture of raw ‘in the room’ sounds along with a signature scapey vibe, courtesy of producer Nigel Godrich (Radiohead, Travis) made this album different yet still very much Jason doing what he does best—which is everything. He plays ALL the instruments on his records extremely well. His witty lyrics, catchy song melodies, and guitar hooks made this another fully satisfying journey.

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Needle Drop: Lowla, “Walls” EP

’90s loving pop duo Lowla are back with the release of their brand new EP “Walls,” bringing their own unique pop flavour with a fierce, no-nonsense attitude that has become their signature.

Title track “Walls” is politically themed, expressing the girls’ anger toward the greed of corporations and the lack of freedom citizens of the world have in contemporary society. Melodically, there are elements of Florence Welch during the chorus as they chant “we’ll start a revolution.” Spine tingling pop. The second track, “Those Days Are Gone” is the EP’s signature ballad with elegantly poised vocals coasting through a whirlwind of emotions—a beautiful and inspiring song.

“Money Doesn’t Matter” is the highlight of the EP—explosive choruses, vibrant synths, and pop melodies—a brilliant concoction. “Electrified” concludes the EP, returning to the shimmering alt pop sound Lowla are so expert at creating—its composition and structure perhaps offering a glimpse of where Lowla is headed next.

Lowla is pop with a conscience…and perhaps we all need a little bit of that right now.

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