Monthly Archives: September 2017

TVD’s The Idelic Hour with Jon Sidel

Greetings from Laurel Canyon!

I wandered home though the silent streets / And fell into a fitfull sleep / Escape to realms beyond the night / Dream can’t you show me the light? / I stand atop a spiral stair / An oracle confronts me there / He leads me on light years away / Through astral nights, galactic days / I see the works of gifted hands / That grace this strange and wondrous land / I see the hand of man arise / With hungry mind and open eyes / They left the planet long ago / The elder race still learn and grow / Their power grows with purpose strong / To claim the home where they belong / Oh, to tear the Temples down… / Oh, to change…

Last week I found myself in Montreal, Canada doing my “thing,” visiting a young rock ‘n’ roll group and some friends in the French and French Canadian music biz. At times I found myself among a crossfire of animated French conversations.

Occasionally I would hear someone at the table blare out my name in French, “Jean Sidel!” In those moments I took the time to sit back and soak it all in, snap a photo, and enjoy this stop on my rock ‘n’ roll journey.

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TVD Radar: I Wrote
That One, Too… A Life in Songwriting from Willie to Whitney
by Steve Dorff in stores 11/1

VIA PRESS RELEASE | One of the most diverse and successful songwriters and composers of the last twenty-five years, Steve Dorff has penned over 20 Top 10 hits for pop and country artists around the world, including Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion, Blake Shelton, Smokey Robinson, Kenny Rogers, Ray Charles, Anne Murray, Whitney Houston, George Strait, Dolly Parton, Judy Collins, Cher, Dusty Springfield, Ringo Starr, and Garth Brooks.

He has scored for television shows, including Growing Pains, Murphy Brown, Murder She Wrote, and Reba, and many feature films, such as Every Which Way but Loose, for which he penned the titular song. More recently, he has returned to his first love, musical theater, with his forthcoming musical Josephine. In addition to winning the NSAI Songwriter of the Year award, Steve has been honored with more than 40 BMI awards, 14 Billboard No. 1s, and 15 Top 10 Hits. His songs span all genres, from contemporary sounds to haunting orchestral melodies, and he remains an integral part of today’s music scene.

Steve has now composed his next hit: I Wrote That One, Too… A Life In Songwriting from Willie to Whitney, coming out November 1 on Backbeat Books, an imprint of Hal Leonard. This memoir follows Steve from his childhood in Queens to Manhattan to Nashville to his eventual arrival in Los Angeles, sharing anecdotes, advice, and insights into his phenomenal career along the way. This book is a stargazer, as Steve recounts a host of often-hilarious behind-the-scenes stories that feature the many famous singers, musicians, producers, and lyricists with whom he has collaborated.

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Thee Commons bring Paleta Sonora to Gasa Gasa, 10/3

Cumbia began as a style of music on the Caribbean coasts of Latin America. Since then the genre has expanded to other parts of the world and integrated other influences. The latest buzz band on the scene in Los Angeles is Thee Commons and they describe their hybrid as psychedelic cumbia-punk. They play at Gasa Gasa on Tuesday night.

Singing in both Spanish and English, the group takes the dance beats associated with cumbia and marries them to the raucous energy and irreverent lyrics of punk. Their live shows have garnered critical raves since the band began playing their high-energy sets in 2012.

Chris Ziegler, founder of LA Record, wrote about Thee Commons, “Live, they’re fearless, confident, and ready to go off-script at a moment’s inspiration. It’s wild stuff, just as it absolutely should be.” To which Chris Kissel of LA Weekly further commented, “If Thee Commons aren’t the best live band in Los Angeles, they’re damn near the top.”

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Fruit Juice, The TVD First Date and Video Premiere, “Flesh”

“The last record I bought was Les Rita Mitsouko’s first album, a Japanese version, that I found when I was in Beijing! And, yes I may be trying to show off a little there, but I feel like that’s just a perfect example of the joy and magic that comes along with the physicality of vinyl, something to keep and treasure. I may have only listened to the actual record once, but I’ve gotten so much more into that album because of the association with it. It has a life in memory, and whenever I listen to it online, I’m right back there in that hip record store in China with my brother.”

“I first started digging into vinyl around 13, through my dad’s little collection that he still had after having ditched most of them for the epic and now sadly irrelevant evolution of the Compact Disc. I was moving out of a brief, angsty Neo-Metal phase and deeply into ‘Classic Rock,’ and his collection gave me JJ Cale, Mills Brothers, and Fleetwood Mac. Then the 50 cent bins at Rainy Day Records in Olympia become a fantastic friend for getting all those old ubiquitous staples, and the beautiful fold out Yes records that I would try so hard to appreciate while doing homework in my room (since then I’ve learned I don’t think I need the 20 minute version of ‘Long Distance Runaround,’ sorry to those hard core prog rock appreciators out there).

I think I’ve been in possession of 6 record players throughout my life, 5 of which never seemed to work! And now whenever I visit a friend’s home I see these cute little fake cherry wood boxes with built in little speakers, that have a turntable, a CD player, and a cassette player. And 93% of the time they have an aux cable coming out of them that they plug their phones or computers into. It’s funny yet not surprising that we long for that vintage element without actually using the vintage sources that they were designed to utilize. Hard not to fall victim too, as most likely, all those 5 non-functional turntables I had just needed a new needle!

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Graded on a Curve:
A Farewell to Kings

Once upon a time, in that purely mythical land called Canada, a power trio called Rush sat down and said, “Let us abandon our blues-based approach to rock, and mold a new reality, closer to the heart. Featuring lots of Renaissance Faire type 12-string guitar shit and long and meandering conceptual songs featuring unnecessarily complex time signatures and lots of cool glockenspiel and dumb fantasy lyrics that will blow 14-year-old minds.”

And true to their word our power-prog triumvirate went on to forge their creativity, and the result was 1977’s A Farewell to Kings, which depending on how you look at things is either one very deep prog-nasty foray into the philosophy of the lamentable Ayn Rand or one of the greatest comedy albums of our time. The great thing about A Farewell to Kings is you can’t lose.

I have an imperfect understanding of the German philosopher Immanuel Kant’s concept of “perfect duty,” but what I think he was trying to say is that one has an actual moral responsibility to laugh at Rush. They’re trying so hard. Too hard, and that’s the problem. They just can’t help overcomplicating matters. There are some nice bits on their longer songs, and even on the shorter title track, but they get lost in all the other bits and if you’re like me you’re simply not willing to listen to all the other bits just to hear the bits you like. And then there’s the thorny issue of Geddy Lee, who seems to have stolen his vocal chords from some giant swooping and screeching predator bird from Middle Earth. In my case Geddy’s pipes are the equivalent of thumbscrews for the ears, and I’ll be damned if I know how anybody puts up with them.

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In rotation: 9/29/17

Rolling Record Store comes to town: DES MOINES – It’s like a food truck for music lovers! The Rolling Record Store was set up on Ingersoll Avenue on Wednesday. The record mobile travels all over the country selling exclusive music and merchandise that you can’t find anywhere else. Staffers say driving a mobile record store around is a unique experience. “It’s pretty fun. It doesn’t go quite as fast as a normal car, so it takes some time to get places, but it’s really cool. I get to see places I never thought I would go. I mean I’ve driven through Des Moines before but never stopped, so it’s kind of cool to see some new spots,” said Jessica Artt, Rolling Record Store employee. The Rolling Record Store sells music from all types of genres. It has been in business since 2001.

Cassette tapes return as demand rises among music nerds, disconnected seniors: SEOUL, For fans of rock and heavy metal music, a visit to Dope Records, an independent record store run by Kim Yun-jung in Mapo, western Seoul, evokes a strange feeling. The dim-lit basement shop feels as if time has rewound back to the mid-90s — almost three quarters of the 82-square-meter store is covered wall-to-wall by a huge collection of rock music cassette tapes. With a backlog of around 15,000 tapes (50,000 when including ones in storage), predominantly Western rock, pop music and also classic Korean albums, the store is undoubtedly a treasure trove for those with fond memories of using a Walkman during the 1980s to the late 1990s, when the medium started to phase out. But in the digital age, Dope Records, at first glance, seemed almost suicidal from a business perspective.

Vinyl lounge records anniversary: The National Film and Sound Archives’ (NSFA) Vinyl Lounge, is marking its fourth anniversary on 6 October. To celebrate the occasion music lovers are invited to share in a night of refreshing drinks, good company, and great music. Since its first meeting 2013, Vinyl Lounge has become a popular gathering place amongst a community of dedicated record aficionados. Around 80 music lovers gather on the first Friday of every month to play songs from their favourite records on the NFSA’s pure analogue sound system. Sound Curator at NFSA, Thorsten Kaeding said the event would not have become what it is without its regular attendees.

Enter Shikari fans invade St Albans’ Empire Records for album signing: Rock band Enter Shikari signed copies of their new album at Empire Records in St Albans this week. The band – made up of Rou Reynolds, Chris Batten, Rob Rolfe, and Rory Clewlow – released The Spark last Friday. To coincide with its release, they arranged a series of album signings around the country, including in their home city. Empire Records’ manager Dave Burgess said: “A St Albans band were putting out a new album, so it made sense for us to do something. “They did signings with the larger stores like HMV, so we were the smallest.”

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TVD Live Shots: Sigur Rós at the Eventim Apollo, 9/22

I’ve seen thousands of concerts in my life, but nothing could prepare me for my first Sigur Rós show. Billed as “an evening with” and a 15-song set split into two sets, it was the final night of three sold-out shows at the Eventim Apollo in London. Touring as a stripped-down trio, the critically acclaimed Icelandic band looks to be testing new material currently being written toward a forthcoming eighth studio album.

Moments into the set you are transported to another world. It’s like a live cinematic experience of both beauty and darkness. Frontman Jónsi Birgisson’s falsetto vocals and the use of bowed guitar (think Jimmy Page, but with grace) build a wall of sound that is complemented by some of the most incredible lighting I’ve ever seen. While the trio’s music is very ethereal and atmospheric, when it goes dark, it gets heavy.

Drummer Orri Páll Dýrason transforms from a fusion style jazz drummer in an instant to a raging power player, hitting each drum with the force of a cannon. It’s an incredible dynamic to watch live, and at certain points I literally thought his drum set was going to break apart.

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TVD Radar: Queen
News of the World
40th anniversary box
set in stores 11/17

VIA PRESS RELEASE | A special box set of Queen’s landmark 1977 album News of the World is set for release towards the end of this year, marking the 40th anniversary of the original release. This lavish new package has a worldwide release date of November 17th. The box set is available to pre-order now here.

The 40th anniversary is also marked with the release of a special limited edition picture disc album. Newly cut from the Bob Ludwig 2011 master, this picture disc version will be available in a strictly limited run of 1977 individually numbered copies housed in a commemorative die-cut sleeve. This version will only be available through pre-order from the official Queen online web store.

Originally launched in October 1977, News of the World is one of Queen’s biggest selling albums of all time. It opens with two of the band’s most indestructible worldwide hits, the Brian May-penned “We Will Rock You” and Freddie Mercury’s “We Are The Champions,” monumental stadium anthems which remain a staple of major sporting events all around the world to this day.

With songs written by all four band members, NOTW, Queen’s sixth album, set a new standard in stylistic diversity, from Roger Taylor’s proto-punk blast of “Sheer Heart Attack” to the salacious funk-rock groove workout “Get Down Make Love,” to the fragrant tropical calypso-pop “Who Needs You.” News of the World also features the hit “Spread Your Wings,” the epic rock saga “It’s Late” and Freddie’s wistfully romantic “My Melancholy Blues.”

The new package includes the original album on CD, plus two further CDs of recently unearthed out-takes and rarities from the band’s archives, one of which is a newly created “alternative” version of the whole album—Raw Sessions.

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Sara Curtin,
The TVD First Date

“Growing up, I was surrounded by vinyl. Wall to wall shelves taller than my head housed my dad’s impressive and ever-growing collection.”

“It was a rare weekend that didn’t consist of catchy choruses and bright electric guitars wafting up from the basement as my dad played and re-played his favorite albums: The Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, and the infections and impeccably performed recordings by The Shangri-Las and The Ronettes. The albums were alphabetized, categorized neatly, and ready to be listened to. It was obvious to me as a kid that he respected the music, the artists who made it, and the vinyl that played it.

After moving out of my parents house to go to college, it wasn’t for another 6 years until vinyl came back into my life. One of my roommates in Brooklyn set up a record player in our living room and we all started collecting cheap and free albums from stoop sales around the neighborhood.

The first record I brought home was Tapestry by Carole King. It was lying on the sidewalk for free with a very worn cover. I’d never heard the album before and didn’t know much about Carole King, even though I’d been devouring her contemporaries’ music for years (Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez).

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Needle Drop: The Anatomy Of Frank,
South America

PHOTO: CAMERON SMITH | The Anatomy Of Frank are an astonishing breath of fresh air within today’s global folk and indie scene. Described as “art-folk,” the band are so dedicated to their craft that they plan to record an album on every continent. With their debut album North America in stores, the band now share the second chapter of their conquest, South America.

South America was recorded with Stephen Cope in a private farmhouse in the Ecuadorian mountains in 5 short weeks as the band tackled anxieties and loss head on. With a drip-feed of family and friends providing a source of inspiration during the recording sessions, the trio would take trips to the Amazon or spend time in the mountains to rejuvenate their spirit.

The album begins with “Ecuador (A New Year),” an eerie whistle into an acoustic intro that, when listening in headphones, captivates and instantly evolves into a cinematic soundtrack. As the album kicks into “The Girl From Ipanema,” the magnificent songwriting and storytelling of vocalist Kyle Woolard charms, hypnotises, and grasps you emotively.

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Graded on a Curve: New in Stores, September 2017

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

NEW RELEASE PICKS: Shilpa Ray, Door Girl (Northern Spy) Like many of the great New York records, Door Girl has few strong ’60s threads in its weave, an attribute that gives Ray’s songwriting a sense of timelessness. But she deviates from any kind of comfort zone through lyrical candor (detailing her time working the door at NYC bar Pianos) and beautifully risky stylistic jumps; “Revelations of a Stamp Monkey” is rap-rock that totally kills, and “EMT Police and the Fire Department” weds a post-Beat poetic scenario to a full-tilt punk blowout sans hitch. And jeepers creepers, what a set of pipes she’s got. A

Golden Retriever, Rotations (Thrill Jockey) If a plunge into a blend of kosmische, ambient, new age, and experimentation is what you’re desiring, then look no further than the Portland, OR-based duo of modular synth man Matt Carlson and bass clarinetist Jonathan Sielaff. For Rotations, they enlist a large crew of guests on assorted string instruments, French horn, flute, oboe, percussion, vibraphone, and pipe organ, and the sonically varied results are weightier and edgier than is the norm for this sort of outward-bound sprawl. Lift-off is certainly achieved, but parts of this get downright hectic. I dig. A

REISSUE PICKS: Slade, Slade Alive! (BMG) Rightly remembered for dishing out hits from the earthier side of the glam rock sphere, on the evenings documented by this killer live slab (19-21 October 1971), Slade were just as aptly tagged as good time hard rockers. As evidence, please consider the opening cover of Ten Years After’s “Hear Me Calling.” Harkening back to their days as Ambrose Slade, they were rock knowledgeable enough (and in retrospect, somewhat tasteful, even) to avoid boogying themselves into a hole in the ground, and could shift gears into John Sebastian’s “Darling Be Home Soon” quite nicely. A-

Mal Waldron, Mal/2 (Go Bop) Waldron cut over 100 albums as leader and nearly as many in the support slot. Forget about owning them all, but this early date from his ’50s run for Prestige, where he was house pianist at the time, is one for the shelf. In part for the personnel, which includes Coltrane, Jackie McLean, Sahib Shihab, Bill Hardman, Idrees Sulieman, Art Taylor, Ed Thigpen, and Julian Euell in an interchangeable sextet, though Waldron’s playing is splendid, and his three originals are sharp. The highlights are a fascinating “Don’t Explain” and a refreshing dive into “The Way You Look Tonight.” A-

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In rotation: 9/28/17

Vinyl record shop to open in Chichester: Analogue October Records will open in the former Mr Simms Olde Sweet Shoppe in South Street next month, selling vinyl, cassettes and turntables. The man behind the exciting venture is Craig Crane, who runs a successful visual effects studio working on films with Disney, Marvel and Warner Brothers. “This is an itch I’ve wanted to scratch since I last worked in a record shop in my teens. “We’re looking to open in October and I can’t wait,” Craig, 47, said. He says the shop’s name comes from him having a ‘digital detox’ every October which, three years ago, became a 12-month detox as he now totally shuns the likes of iTunes and streaming music sites.

Record Collector owner Kirk Walther passes, Iowa City mourns: Kirk Walther was beloved by many a music fan in Iowa City for running the only record shop in town and always being open to talk about music, new and old. That made news of Walther’s passing on Sunday all the more difficult to bear for those who make up the Iowa City music scene. He died after a battle with cancer, brother-in-law Andrew Steele said Tuesday. Walther was 61. “In a way, Iowa City lost their musical guru, kind of the backbone of the music community,” Bobby Larson, a longtime employee at Record Collector, said Tuesday morning at the store. “There’s no one working in music in this town for long that didn’t seek Kirk’s company,” Chris Wiersema, a programming director for the Mission Creek Music Festival and manager of the Feed Me Weird Things concert series, wrote Tuesday. “Without him and the Record Collector, I wouldn’t have felt the need or thought I had the ability to be involved in bringing live music to Iowa City.”

Nipper the HMV Dog will be main feature of new building: The Record Store, the latest completed building at The Old Vinyl Factory site in Blyth Road, Hayes, is being launched this Friday (29), with the doors thrown open to the public from 3.30-7pm. Visitors can enjoy carnival rides, stalls, food and drink, live music, a vinyl market and more. As a tribute to the heritage of the site, visitors will get a first look at a newly-commissioned Nipper the dog statue, the icon of HMV. The Record Store is an Art Deco building designed by Wallis, Gilbert & Partners, also known for such the Hoover Building and Victoria coach station.

Vinil Brasil, the newest vinyl pressing plant opens in São Paulo: Vinil Brasil, a new vinyl pressing plant in São Paulo, opens today in Barra Funda for orders. Unique in the segment in the capital, Vinil Brasil has a full service manufacturing 7 and 12 inch discs. Bands, musicians, labels and record companies can already access the company’s website, make budgets and know all the details and curiosities about the plant, as well as information on the culture of vinyl production. The São Paulo’s pressing plant comes to the world market, which according to a survey by the consultancy Delloitte, will move US$ 1 billion by the end of this year, with an industrial production and at the same time unique. The plant project, designed by the poet, musician, composer and DJ, Michel Nath, started at the end of 2014. After Michel commissioned his SolarSoul album, at GZ Media, a pressing plant in the Czech Republic. In the same period, Michel knew of the existence of seven abandoned presses in a junkyard.

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TVD Live Shots: VetsAid featuring Joe Walsh, Zac Brown Band, Gary Clark Jr., Keith Urban at Eagle Bank Arena, 9/20

Last Wednesday night EagleBank Arena in Fairfax, VA played host to the inaugural VetsAid Charity Benefit Concert sponsored by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and multi Grammy Award winner, Joe Walsh. As if the Eagles guitar-man wasn’t enough, Walsh recruited a virtual powerhouse of guitar talent that included Keith Urban, Gary Clark Jr., and The Zac Brown Band as support for the evening.

VetsAid is a non-profit organization whose annual concerts will support veteran centered charities that provide physical and emotional care to soldiers and their families. A Gold Star family member himself, Walsh is no stranger to the trials veterans’ families face, having lost his father in active-duty when he was only 20 months old. Over the years, veterans charities are something that Walsh has kept close to his heart, supporting various organizations and even having visited Walter Reed Medical Center offering free guitar lessons to wounded soldiers.

Working hands-on with his new project, Walsh has reviewed numerous organizations and picked the following as beneficiaries of the inaugural performance: Semper Fi Fund, TAPS, Hire Heroes USA, Warrior Canine Connection, Operation Mend, Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation, Stop Soldier Suicide, and Swords to Plowshares.

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Needle Drop:
The Chairman,
The Strange Life

Following the success of his debut album 2064, Danish artist Lucas Berner—aka The Chairman—has teamed up with producers Mathias Bang Madsen and Jakob Løkkegaard to release his sophomore offering, The Strange Life.

An eclectic, sonically rich collection, The Strange Life is filled with one sweeping soundscape after another. Album opener “Masquerade In The Radio” oozes the subtle power of Berner’s soulful vocals against a backdrop of twinkling melodies, before “Lemon Yellow” scatters glitchy beats and electronic hooks alongside a soaring, dark melancholy.

From the catchy electro-pop sounds and whirring romanticism of “Dandelions” and “Now That You Love Me,” to the racing spoken word and definite nods towards old school hip-hop found in “She’s Not Fine,” The Strange Life fuses together a vast array of musical layers with experimental song structures and production.

Whether you’re being swept away by the rich lyrical storytelling and haunting power of “Animate,” or simply getting lost inside the complex electronic hooks and impassioned vocals of “Barcelona,” this album offers a captivating and unique take on contemporary pop.

The Strange Life is in stores on 29th September via Danish Music Entertainment.

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Graded on a Curve:
Kenny Loggins, Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow: The Greatest Hits of Kenny Loggins

Why is it I can’t think of a single witty thing to say about Kenny Loggins? I had to think for a while before the answer came to me, and the answer is this—Kenny Loggins is no laughing matter. Kenny Loggins is the worst thing that can happen to your ears this side of cholesteatoma.

Here we thought we’d left him behind in the seventies, a spent force. But he rose from his ashes like a bad soft rock taco—please excuse the terrible simile, but I’m upset here—and having once ear-fucked us with such infamous tunes as “House at Pooh Corner” and “A Love Song” he turned around and ear-fucked us all over again. A great man once said there are no second acts in American life. One can only wish this were true.

How did Loggins pull it off? Simple. He abandoned his mushy Mr. Pooh persona and reinvented himself as a performer of such jump and jive movie soundtrack staples as “Footloose,” “Danger Zone,” and “I’m Alright (Theme From Caddyshack).” And presto! America’s No. 1 Vapid Soft Rock Annoyance was back on top, and this time around you could dance to him! Toss in such unforgivably catchy AOR hits as “Whenever I Call You “Friend”” (thanks for nothing, Stevie Nicks!) and “Don’t Fight It” (damn you Steve Perry!) and suddenly there was no avoiding him.

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