Monthly Archives: August 2017

The Best of The Idelic Hour with Jon Sidel

Greetings from Laurel Canyon!

I got back from NYC last Friday evening to some of the warmest nights I’ve ever experienced in LA. It’s truly been more than a wild Indian summer. To cool down I’m still listening to the sounds of the streets of New York. I’ve always loved the month of October in NYC. The Autumn brings out night owls, and oh how those night owls thrive in the Big Apple.

It comes down to reality / And it’s fine with me cause I’ve let it slide / I don’t care if it’s Chinatown or on Riverside / I don’t have any reasons / I left them all behind / I’m in a New York state of mind…

This week is the annual CMJ music festival in the city. Although the actual CMJ conference is not what it used to be, the lure of a gathering of indie rock tribes is still very appealing.

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TVD Live: Shelby Lynne & Allison Moorer at the Birchmere, 8/27

PHOTO: JACOB BLICKENSTAFF | It’s a bit of a head scratcher why it hasn’t been until now that Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer have collaborated together. The sisters have each carved out distinctive careers with varying degrees of commercial success over the last 30 years, released 24 albums between them, and share in an Alabama upbringing and tragic family history.

The only excuse they could give in a lovely duo concert Sunday at The Birchmere, celebrating their first album collaboration, is that they were living on opposite coasts. They finally found time last year to record 10 tracks with Teddy Thompson for a new album this summer called Not Dark Yet.

They performed the work of almost all cover songs with a backing trio—in order, start to finish—their clear, evocative voices blending in a way siblings often can. Their cover choices were meant to surprise, songs they said were country mainstays around the house. So in addition to Jessi Colter’s “I’m Looking for Blue Eyes” and Merle Haggard’s “Silver Wings,” which they said they were singing as long as they can remember, there were more unusual choices from the rock arena, from the Killers’ “My List” that began the show, to Nick Cave’s “Into My Arms” deep into the set.

They all fit the tone of engulfing warmth, but none so well as their Townes Van Zandt selection, “Lungs” or that of Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires’ “The Color of a Cloudy Day.” The only sibling song they took up was the Louvin Brothers’ “Every Time You Leave,” but they did it in the yearning style Emmylou Harris used when she recorded it. The title track brought back one of Bob Dylan’s languid, mid-period high points, beautifully done with Moorer taking her place behind the grand piano as her sister played guitar.

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TVD Double Premiere: NINETEEN THIRTEEN, “Trick Zipper” and “Hot Garbage”

PHOTO: NINA ROBERTS | And then there were two. When a band finds its sound through a unit you could seat at a restaurant’s smallest table, there’s always that rousing surprise when they launch into their first song live and—if it’s the bands I’m thinking of, including this one, NINETEEN THIRTEEN—a large, rich soundscape unfolds, or a wonderful rock and roll thunder.

Thunder-wise, you have the White Stripes, of course. The Black Keys. Back in the late eighties I caught the Flat Duo Jets—a Jack White favorite, featuring psychobilly guitarist Dexter Romweber and cudgel-drumming Crow—down in North Carolina, followed quickly by the Richmond, VA, band House of Freaks, fronted by singer-guitarist Bryan Harvey and drummer Johnny Hott, and both bands were so scorching, blast waves of stage dynamism, percussive slams meeting electric crunch, that I think a part of my listening soul might still happily adhere to the ceiling of Carrboro’s Cat’s Cradle music club.

Even that master of noise himself, Big Black and Shellac guitarist Steve Albini, when asked in 2005 about his preference for trios, said the sonic triangle itself could overcomplicate things: “I think two people is plenty. Three people is sometimes excessive!”

Milwaukee chamber rock duo NINETEEN THIRTEEN, comprising legendary drummer Victor DeLorenzo, founding member of the Violent Femmes, and classically trained cellist Janet Schiff, create a gorgeous, mesmerizing sound whose essence emerges from the stick and steel-brush strikes—crisp, swirling, jazzy, witty, martial, trippy—of DeLorenzo, and the deep emotion—the voice—of Schiff’s cello, crafted in Romania in, yes, 1913.

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PazFest IV: New Orleans’ Tribute to Joni Mitchell to benefit the Ruth Paz Surgery & Burn Hospital at the Civic Theater, 9/3

PHOTO: JACK ROBINSON, VOGUE, FEBRUARY 1969 | PazFest is a musical tribute to singer/songwriter and legendary composer Joni Mitchell and a fundraising celebration for the continuing support of the Ruth Paz Pediatric Surgery and Burn Hospital in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. There’s a who’s who of local, national, and international talent on board for the tribute and benefit. The show begins at 7 PM at the Civic Theater.

Among many of the musicians scheduled to perform are the husband and wife act Judith Owen and Harry Shearer, Tommy Malone of the subdudes, the legendary New Orleans musical great Deacon John, Jeff Coffin of the Dave Matthews Band and Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, and Chuck Mitchell, a veteran folk artist and Joni Mitchell’s first husband.

Brandon Tarricone, a fondly remembered musician who performed locally with the Brotherhood of Groove, is returning to town with his New England-based ensemble, Krewe de Groove. A well-known California act, A Celebration of Joni Mitchell featuring Kimberly Ford, is on the bill as well. Also, expect to see musicians who are expert interpreters of Mitchell’s music from as far away as Denmark, Colorado, and Ottawa, Canada including Philadelphia-based musician Joshua Thomas.

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Jung Youth,
The TVD First Date

“There are few sounds more satisfying and soothing to me than the crackle and pop of a vinyl record when you first drop the needle in the few seconds right before a song starts.”

“As a kid, I never really understood what an incredible format that records actually are—my curiosity began when I was snooping around my parents’ basement and stumbled across some dusty albums from my dad’s old collection. He didn’t have many records but a few of the ones I found made an impact on me. Some of them included ELO’s Out of the Blue, Cat Stevens’ Greatest Hits, and Crosby Stills & Nash’s Daylight Again.

It wasn’t until about a decade later while in high school that I began listening to records while visiting my hometown’s favorite record store, ear-X-tacy. My friends and I would always go and check out the newest releases before buying anything since we didn’t have the money to buy more than one record every now and again. Apple had just released iPods and a lot of the way that we consumed music was through burnt mix CDs and mp3 players like that, but my best friend had begun digging through crates and collecting random albums for the purposes of chopping up samples and making beats with his MPC2000XL. At the time, I was becoming absolutely obsessed with hip hop music and once he played J Dilla’s Donuts and The Shining for me, I became interested in the idea that one could manipulate the records’ sounds and turn them into entirely new forms of art.

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Graded on a Curve: New in Stores, August 2017

Part two of the TVD Record Store Club’s look at the new and reissued wax presently in stores for August, 2017. Part one is here.

NEW RELEASE PICKS: Nadia Sirota, Tessellatum 2 (Bedroom Community) On occasion, the impulse to combine experimental sounds with visuals (often of a likeminded nature) smacks of a covert attempt to quell boredom. However, when the union is inspired it can be sublime. Such is the case here. Featuring Sirota on violas and Liam Byrne on viola da gamba playing a composition by Donnacha Dennehy, the accompanying animated film by Steven Mertens (available as a download with the LP/ CD) enhances an already full-bodied sonic tableau; think modern classical with elements of drone. Superb. A

Rob Noyes, The Feudal Spirit (Poon Village) A stunning solo 6 and 12-string guitar debut (in an edition of 330 with a Raymond Pettibon cover), aptly tagged as post-Takoma school (Glenn Jones is a vocal proponent) but with broader folk-blues reach (lines of descent have been drawn from John Renbourn, Davey Graham, Wizz Jones, and Michael Chapman) and a level of intensity setting him apart from the ever-increasing contempo fingerpicking hoards. Noyes has a background in loud post-HC rock (e.g. Bloody Gears), but his playing, often aggressive and fast, evinces no traces of the recent covert. A

REISSUE PICKS: Pharoah Sanders, Izipho Zam (My Gifts) (Everland) This sometimes gets tagged as spiritual jazz, and opener “Prince of Peace” (with vocalist Leon Thomas and his ultra-cool yodel) reinforces the observation; more so, the LP was originally on Strata East. But stretches of “Balance” and the 29-minute title track (amidst more yodeling) offer some of the wildest large group free jazz ever recorded. The lineup is wide-ranging, including out-jazz mainstays Sonny Sharrock on guitar and Sirone on bass, but also Sonny Fortune on alto, Howard Johnson on tuba, and Billy Hart on drums. A doozy. A

Jerry Garcia, S/T (ATO) Amir Bar-Lev’s recent film Long Strange Trip is something of a music doc rarity, in that it’s an utter treat for serious Deadheads and more casual fans alike, and it reasserted my love for the band. It also deepened the fresh listen I gave to Garcia’s ’72 solo debut, a record I’ve long dug, but probably never more than right now. Stripped back to just a multi-tasking Jerry, drummer Bill Kreutzmann and some of Robert Hunter’s best lyrics, the first side of this, peaking with the majestic “Sugaree,” is faultless. Some bag on the experimentation opening the flip, but it bothers me not a bit. A

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In rotation: 8/31/17

Vinyl record store called ‘Sunday Records’ to open in Riverhead: An East Moriches couple’s love of records is culminating in a plan to bring a new record store to downtown Riverhead. “A good old fashioned record store like you used to walk into back in the ’70s and early ’80s,” said Brian Volkman of his plans. “Just records. There aren’t any CDs or anything else.” Mr. Volkman and his wife Deborah are planning to open “Sunday Records” on 125 Roanoke Ave. They own the building, and they’ve been doing most of the work of assembling the record store themselves and with family members. They’re hoping to have it open by the Country Fair in October. But it will only be open one day per week — Sunday. At least initially.

The kings of spin! Vinyl record enthusiasts can browse through an extensive collection and enjoy food and drink at a new store in York. The coffee shop and record store, FortyFive Vinyl Café, opened its doors in Micklegate on Bank Holiday Monday. It offers an eclectic selection of vinyl records, coffee sourced from Bradford, simple snacks and sandwiches. The café is co-owned by three entrepreneurial friends Dom White, Steve McNichol and Dan Kentley. Dom said: “The aim of FortyFive Vinyl Café, is to create a friendly, relaxed atmosphere where our customers can enjoy fantastic coffee without fuss and frills, good quality music, whether live or on vinyl, and a selection of simple, honest and tasty food.”

The success story behind Plymouth’s newest vinyl record store, Tony Gilliam’s city market store has proved very popular with music fans: A vinyl record store in the City Market has proved so popular it has doubled in size in just three months of trading. Tony Gilliam opened Just For The Record in May and in less than three months his new business venture has expanded to fill the space of two stalls. “It’s taken me by surprise,” Tony said of his success. “It was a bit of a gamble for me initially and I wondered if I would end up with egg on my face, but I figured I would give it a go. The first day was unbelievable, it was very big. The singles sell phenomenally. People will go through them for ages. A lot of people want a copy of the single that was number one when they were born.”

The world’s best record shops #078: Stranded, San Francisco: Stranded opened in 2012 as the retail arm for Superior Viaduct, the reissue label responsible for bringing some of the 20th century’s most interesting releases from the periphery into the spotlight, from the soundtrack to Tarkovsky’s epic Solaris, to John and Alice Coltrane’s Cosmic Music. Following the label’s aesthetic to focus modestly on records you wouldn’t generally find in every store, Stranded covers both new and used vinyl from classic avant-garde to post-punk, experimental and ambient, to free jazz. Named after William Eggleston’s 1974 film Stranded In Canton, which follows the photographer’s documentation of soul in Memphis and New Orleans, the shop has since expanded to San Francisco, where it took over the legendary Aquarius Records in 2016.

Remember This: Every trip to Wizard Records was a magical mystery tour of its own, Crates of LPs, rock stars, the epicenter of vibe: Musicians from throughout the land, both world-famous and struggling locals, would visit. Music lovers and “crate diggers” — treasure hunters who loved rifling through peach crates of old vinyl LPs – frequented it. Wizened city dwellers searched for gold alongside wide-eyed suburban teens making their first trip into “the big city.” This place was in a land called Corryville, and even its name conveyed the sense of sorcery its many fans felt it deserved: Wizard. Or, more precisely, Wizard Records & Tapes. “We lived in magical times,” said John James, former owner. “There was something so magical about Wizard. Bands playing at Bogart’s would do sound checks and then come hang out. We’d have their stuff displayed in the window.”

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TVD Live: Greta Van Fleet at DC9, 8/26

PHOTO: MICHAEL LAVINE | Like Lynyrd Skynyrd, Greta Van Fleet was named after a random person in their community with a quirky moniker. The teen band from Frankenmuth, Mich., might have risked getting mixed up with Greta Van Susteren at some point or at least the singer Grace VanderWaal.

But they might be a much bigger thing. To hear the people at their sold out debut at DC9 in Washington Saturday, it might be the second coming. “It might be like seeing Hendrix in a club before he got big,” one guy in the crowd way oversold it. And actually, the band brings enormous good cheer to its very familiar sound. It’s a kick to hear a sound so accomplished—and so tied to classic rock of a half century ago—coming from a fresh-faced band of brothers.

Curly-haired Josh Kiszka, who for some reason wore Adam Ant war paint on his face as if mixing up rock periods, is lead singer. Brother Jake Kiszka is guitarist, the youngest of them Sam Kiszka switches from bass to keyboards. And like every rock band that ever existed, they’ve replaced their drummer. The current incarnation is Danny Wagner, who looks like a young Joe Perry banging away.

But the main thing about Greta Van Fleet, from their first note to their last, is their slavish reconstruction of Led Zeppelin, from the supercharged version of blues and rock, every guitar intro, and to the bashing of the non-brother drummer. And especially the wail of young Josh on vocals, who boasts every vocal trick from the Robert Plant tool box: “Yeah-ee-yeah-ee-yeah-ee-yeah” is there; “woo-yeah” as well, as is the sonic wail that begins low and goes all the way to the destroyed penthouse. He even addresses the women in the very simple songs as “Lady.”

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TVD Radar: Beside Bowie: The Mick Ronson Story in theaters 9/1, in stores 10/27

VIA PRESS RELEASE | An Emperor Media Ltd production, documentary special Beside Bowie: The Mick Ronson Story (101:50 minutes) is from award-winning producer/director Jon Brewer. Mick Ronson’s humble beginnings in Hull, England underpinned his values and modest, unpretentious personality as he worked with the city’s council whilst pursuing his craft with consummate dedication.

Soon word of his talent reached David Bowie, who grabbed at the chance to work with Ronson, in what would become a career-long association, alongside collaborations with other greats such as Bob Dylan, Ian Hunter, Lulu, Lou Reed, Morrissey, and John Mellencamp. The Man Who Sold the World, Aladdin Sane, Hunky Dory, The Jean Genie—all were constructed with Ronson on guitar. Sadly in 1993, while working on a solo album, Ronson passed away before receiving the recognition he so richly deserved or before taking that final bow. Now, with unprecedented access to archival backstage footage—never before released—and iconic imagery from superstar photographer Mick Rock, this fascinating and at times controversial special reveals the ultimate authentic chronicle of the career of a cornerstone of rock.

Producer and director Jon Brewer commented, “Both Mick Ronson and David Bowie together were the ultimate duo. They performed and recorded like magicians and created masterpieces that will live on forever.” Beside Bowie: The Mick Ronson Story is distributed in the US by MVD Entertainment Group via Blu-ray + DVD, transactional video on demand, and download to own rights from international distributor Content Media following the Parade Deck Films theatrical release.

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Kermit Ruffins to host benefit for Backstreet Cultural Museum, 9/1

The Backstreet Cultural Museum which is located in the heart of the Tremé neighborhood, is known as a “powerhouse of knowledge.” The museum makes up for its relatively small size by its vast collection of memorabilia related to the black culture of New Orleans including Mardi Gras Indian suits, social aid and pleasure outfits, and jazz funeral ephemera. This museum needs support and this Friday night Kermit’s Mother-in-Law Lounge is the place to be.

I first wrote about the museum back in the early 1990s when longtime director Sylvester Francis opened his establishment in the former Blandin Funeral home across the street from St. Augustine Church. Francis was motivated to start collecting Mardi Gras Indian suits after he saw one moldering in the backyard of an Indian friend. I also covered last year’s benefit for TVD.

It may be hard to believe in the current cultural climate of New Orleans that Indians used to simply discard the artistry they had worked so hard to create. They also used to take the suits apart to reuse beads and other elements of the unique creations.

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Graded on a Curve:
Huey Lewis and The News, The Heart of Rock & Roll: The Best of Huey Lewis and The News

When it comes to Huey Lewis and The News, the only critical analysis that really matters is the one delivered by Patrick Bateman, the New York investment banker/serial killer protagonist of Bret Easton Ellis’ novel American Psycho.

Bateman’s infamous monologue (in the 1991 film adaptation, anyway) goes, “Their early work was a little too new wave for my tastes, but when Sports came out in ’83, I think they really came into their own, commercially and artistically. The whole album has a clear, crisp sound, and a new sheen of consummate professionalism that really gives the songs a big boost. He’s been compared to Elvis Costello, but I think Huey has a far more bitter, cynical sense of humor.” (That last line always cracks me up.)

Bateman’s assessment of Huey Lewis and The News is as gleefully perverse as his favorite hobby, but let’s consider for a moment the possibility that it’s, er, dead on. Sure, his appraisal’s every bit as generic and shallow (“a new sheen of consummate professionalism that gives the songs a big boost”) as the bland façade of normalcy he projects to protect his depraved inner life, but there’s no denying that millions of people gobbled the music of Huey Lewis up, and it most certainly was not because they were looking for some deep message of social or personal import in such songs as “Hip To Be Square” or “I Want a New Drug.” No, one can only conclude that during the 1980s (Lewis’ heyday) the world was FULL of Patrick Batemans, even if they weren’t all murderous psychopaths.

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The Best of TVD’s Play Something Good with John Foster

TVD’s Play Something Good returns in September with all new—and all good—episodes. —Ed.

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: Rivener, (S/T)

The New Haven, CT-based duo Rivener describe their work as “lysergic free-rock improvisations,” and it only takes a listen to verify the astuteness of that claim. After a pair of tape/ CDR releases, they’re making their long-playing vinyl debut with a highly communicative and wholly satisfying eponymous effort. Across six tracks the pair engage in elevated abstract back-and-forth, and it’s all out September 1 through Twin Lakes Records and These Are Not Records.

Rivener is Paul Belbusti, who has recorded extensively as Mercy Choir, and Michael Kiefer, who plays in Myty Konkeror and has also served as live drummer for Aussie Michael Beach. For their new album Belbusti is credited with guitar and keys and Kiefer with drums (both add percussion to the scenario), and they manage to tackle a combination of noise-imbued psych and out-jazz-flavored no wave in a manner that avoids overplayed tropes.

Tellingly, neither member is divorced from more trad rock forms. As said, Kiefer has worked with Beach, an undeniably song-oriented guy, while the notably heavy Myty Konkeror is still accurately tagged as rock. Likewise, Belbusti’s Mercy Choir is self-described as a songwriting project, amassing a sizeable discography. This is all worth mentioning as Rivener’s free-rock doesn’t spew forth in a savant-like gush. Proficiency (though not flashiness) emerges amid the abstraction, and elements of tangible rock form enhance the loose flow of their overall approach.

Of their two prior cassettes, “Fires in Repose” found them more inclined to stretch out, hitting lengths of 11 and 16 minutes, with a shorter piece in between. On last year’s “Svengali Gaze” none of the three selections went beyond ten as the duo explored rock structure a little more, but with ultimately no weakening of their outbound appeal.

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In rotation: 8/30/17

Wynwood is getting its first vinyl record store. Thank the guys behind your favorite taco shop. The brainchild of Coyo Taco cofounders Alan Drummond and Sven Vogtland, in partnership with Gabi Chiriboga, the trio promise a smorgasbord of classic records, exclusive releases, and all around good vibes, in the heart of Wynwood…Slated to open mid-October, Lucky Records will offer a music lineup curated exclusively by Tony Garcia (aka DJ YNOT) and founder of Nature Sounds record label, Devin Horwitz. Audiophiles can expect a mix of new releases and vintage records — with tunes ranging from old-school favorites to present-day beats. And for those of you looking for gear, turntables, headphones and DJ equipment will be on sale, too.

Record Theatre belongs to another era now: There’s a scene in the Joan Rivers documentary wherein she mourns the loss of an old friendship, with a man she says was the last link to her formative years, to an era gone by and never to return. I feel this way about Record Theatre, where I spent every penny of every dollar I ever earned or received growing up. My allowance went straight to the deep, rectangular store on Main Street and North Forest in Williamsville, with aisles of cabinets and walls of shelves, and a circular front desk that looked like music itself…I bought lots and lots of concert tickets there, and annoyed workers as I sought updates on upcoming releases. I saved every pink and yellow stamp to save money on future purchases, and insisted on returning on Wednesdays for doubles.

Remembering Jeff Pettit: Originally from Wisconsin, the 46-year-old Pettit, whom his pals lovingly called “El Jefe,” was a tireless supporter of the Valley music scene and a former Zia records employee. His love for music was fuel for his activities, like going to shows and collecting records, as well as in his bonds with others, from gabbing about music to going to shows to ultimately joining forces with a few more music fanatics to open the aforementioned record store in Nashville. Fond Object is highly regarded — not just a place to buy music, but a homey spot to see live music, have fun, and develop bonds with new people, with music as the main thread.

From Technology Commercialization to Social Innovation to Vinyl Records, Munshi Takes on Innovation: Dr. Natasha Munshi, Associate Professor of Management and Entrepreneurship at Saint Mary’s College, who studies technology lifecycles and evolution, finds the resurgence of vinyl intriguing—because it diverges from what has been known about the typical technology lifecycle…In a research paper published in GSTF Digital Library called, “The Role of Demand-side Characteristics in Legacy Technology Evolution: How The Vinyl Record Got Its Groove Back,” Munshi and her student co-author at USI Lugano, Mirko Terrestre, ask the question, “What allows for an almost extinct dominant design technology to re-emerge after a period of decline in order to capture market share?” The paper explores demand-side factors that trigger a legacy technology’s life cycle resurgence.

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TVD Live: Sheer Mag at the Black Cat, 8/23

For all of the power and velocity of her screaming-mimi voice, Sheer Mag lead singer Tina Halladay can be awfully shy on stage.

Raging through the band’s headlining show Wednesday at the Black Cat in DC, she paused just once to talk, and then only to read off some info about how to aid the hundreds of protesters arrested during January’s inauguration and soon to go to trial. That brief message merged with the political underpinnings that emerge on the band’s recent full length LP, Need to Feel Your Love, starting with the bust-down-the-walls attack of their opening song, “Meet Me in the Street” and its anthemic chorus “Come on down and get in the mix / We get our kicks with bottles and bricks.”

There’s other sounds of resistance on the new work, which touches on disenfranchisement (“If you don’t give us the ballot, expect the bayonet”) and of an anti-Nazi warrior who was executed, “(Say Goodbye to) Sophie Scholl.” But what hits you at a Sheer Mag show is the overall sound—beneath Halladay’s peerless delivery are a rich array of time-honored riffs that have, since the last DC visit, broadened to include the sweet three-guitar attack.

An extra rhythm guitarist has been added to provide the basic riffs as Kyle Seely’s extends his tasty lead guitar toppings, wagging his head alongside bass playing brother Hart Seely to the joy of the music. In their shoulder length locks and mustaches, the siblings resemble a couple of dudes from Golden Earring. It’s that same kind of united rock precision that is their own musical golden ring. The extra guitarist frees lyricist Matt Palmer to move from guitar to keyboards and occasionally tambourine and other percussion.

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