Monthly Archives: January 2018

TVD Live Shots: TNK Fest with Diane Coffee and Ron Gallo at Lincoln Hall, 1/19

January in Chicago can be rather dreary.

The end-of-the-year holiday insanity has passed, and we have not much but cold weather on the horizon for the time being. However, years ago the good geniuses at Schubas Tavern and Lincoln Hall decided to organize a winter music festival, Tomorrow Never Knows. TNK Fest now spans across five venues (Schubas, Lincoln Hall, Metro, Hideout, and SmartBar), lasts for five days, and features a shitload of talented musicians and comedians.

My work travel schedule prevented me from attending the bulk of TNK Fest this year, but I was able to catch Diane Coffee and Ron Gallo’s excellent show at Lincoln Hall on January 19th. Both bands are worth the cost of a ticket. Diane Coffee is a true performer, bringing stage theatrics to enhance his brand of psych rock. And be on the lookout for Philadelphia’s Ron Gallo, who’s got some great garage rock tunes and a fun stage presence.

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TVD Radar: All Gates Open: The Story of CAN in stores 5/5

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Faber & Faber are proud to announce All Gates Open, the definitive story of the most influential and revered avant-garde band of the late twentieth century: Can. It consists of two books and previously unseen art and photos.

In book one, All Gates Open, Rob Young gives us the full biography of a band that emerged at the vanguard of the Krautrock scene in late sixties Cologne. Can’s studio and live performances burned an incendiary trail through the decade that followed, and left a legacy that is still reverberating today in hip hop, post-rock, ambient, and countless other genres. Rob Young’s account draws on unique interviews with all the founding members of Can, their vocalists, friends and music industry associates. And he revisits the music, which is still deliriously innovative and unclassifiable more than four decades on. All Gates Open is a portrait of a group who worked with visionary intensity and belief, outside the system and inside their own inner space.

Book two, Can Kiosk, has been assembled by Irmin Schmidt, founding member and guiding spirit of the band, as a “collage” – a technique long associated with Can’s approach to recording. There is an oral history of the band, collated by former Electronic Beats and Spex editor Max Dax, and Robert Defcon, drawing on interviews Irmin conducted with musicians who see Can as an influence.

These musicians include the likes of Bobby Gillespie, Geoff Barrow, Mark E. Smith, Daniel Miller and many others, but also with artists and film-makers like Wim Wenders and John Malkovich, where Irmin reflects on more personal matters and his work with film. Extracts from Irmin’s notebooks and diaries from 2013–14 are also reproduced as a reflection on the creative process, and the memories, dreams and epiphanies it entails. Can Kiosk offers further perspectives on a band that has inspired several generations of musicians and film-makers.

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Graded on a Curve:
Tony Conrad with Faust, Outside the Dream Syndicate

How best to describe this remarkable 1973 exercise in minimalist drone by U.S. avant-garde composer Tony Conrad working in collaboration with the Krautrock avatars Faust? Boring would be one way of describing it. But I prefer to describe it as mesmerizing.

I generally give a wide berth to avant-garde music for the simple reason that I’m too dumb to appreciate avant-garde music, but this sounds like a couple of guys sat down, gobbled a whole bunch of thorazine, and proceeded to warm up for a pair of songs they never actually got around to playing because they were too wasted on thorazine to remember how said songs went. I recommend it to psychotics, minimalist noise freaks, and people who have just taken a lot of thorazine. I’ll bet you Outside the Dream Syndicate sounds simply spectacular with a head full of thorazine.

Tony Conrad was a member of Le Monte Young’s The Dream Syndicate (original name, Theatre of Eternal Music), and played on a pair of LPs (the second of which is primarily attributed to John Cale) that were recorded in the mid-sixties but didn’t see the light of day until the early 2000s. The album came about after Conrad was invited by a Hamburg film producer to come to Germany where he met Uwe Nettelbeck, Faust’s producer. The man and the band proceeded to record this experimental two-song LP (issued under the Caroline label) in an old schoolhouse in Wümme, which is mysterious as Wümme is a river rather than a place. I can only assume their instruments got wet. At any rate, no subsequent LPs bearing Conrad’s name were released until 1995; his career is perhaps best summed up by a 2011 article in Gramophone entitled, “The Minimalist Pioneer Time Forgot.”

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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:
The Ru-Jac Records Story Volume One–Volume Four

Any time is a good time to soak up old-school Soul and R&B, but really, there’s no better moment than right now, as 2018’s month-long observance of African-American history and achievement is set to begin. Rather than simply replaying the cornerstones of the styles, there’s much to be gained by diving into less celebrated regions of the music’s narrative. With the four volumes comprising The Ru-Jac Records Story, Omnivore Recordings provides a lengthy look at soulful happenings in and around the city of Baltimore. Meticulously researched and co-produced by East Coast soul historian Kevin Coombe, the first two installments came out on compact disc January 19. The others are available February 2.

Kevin Coombe’s notes for The Ru-Jac Records Story offer valuable insight into the entrepreneurship of Rufus Mitchell, who in mid-20th century Baltimore branched out from his vocation as a successful tailor to navigate the uncertainties of professional entertainment, first by getting his feet wet as the general manager of Carr’s Beach Amusement Company, a business focused on enlivening the Annapolis, MD beach that catered to African-Americans during the era of segregation.

Mitchell then struck out on his own; initially, there was Ace Promotions, an enterprise that grew out of a mounting list of contacts through his work at Carr’s Beach. Shortly after forming Ace, Rujac emerged (with investor Jack Bennett, hence the name), beginning as a publishing venture only to morph into Ru-Jac the record company.

Most independent labels last only a short time, but Ru-Jac persevered, in part because Mitchell recognized talent. An ample survey of his ability to identify the solid stuff has already been annotated by Coombe and Omnivore on a pair of 2016 discs, Mr. Clean: Winfield Parker at Ru-Jac and True Enough: Gene & Eddie With Sir Joe at Ru-Jac.

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In rotation: 1/31/18

Walnut Hills and UC grad wins Grammy for Voyager record project: CINCINNATI — Cincinnati native David Pescovitz was still stunned on Sunday afternoon, just a few hours after winning a Grammy Award for best boxed or special limited-edition package. “It’s astounding,” said Pescovitz, 47. He shared the award with his colleagues, graphic designer Lawrence Azzerad and Tim Daly, manager of the legendary Amoeba Music record store in San Francisco, for their work on “The Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition.” The Walnut Hills High School and University of Cincinnati graduate (and a longtime friend of this writer) called the award a capstone to a lifetime spent gazing at the stars, obsessively collecting books about the cosmos and listening to albums made by artists from every corner of the globe.

Vinyl swap Saturday brings back music: David Turner remembers pedaling his bicycle into downtown Gastonia as a young boy to spend time sorting through the bins of albums at Ja-Jo’s Records. “I would take the money I earned from cutting my grandparents’ grass and buy Elvis records,” said Turner. “This had to be in the early 70s. We no longer have any record stores in Gastonia and I wish we still did.” As a way to increase interest in vinyl collecting throughout Gaston County, Turner is hosting a vinyl swap and buy from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 3, at The Atrium at Olio’s, 245 W. Garrison Blvd., Gastonia. During the event, vendors will sell records and people will also have the opportunity to trade with other vinyl enthusiasts. “Vinyl is becoming popular again and more and more people are becoming interested in collecting them,” said Turner.

Record swap to be held Saturday in Elm Grove: Nail City Record in Elm Grove will hold its inaugural record swap on Saturday. All you have to do is bring in a crate of records. They could be old vinyls you’re ready to trade or classics any doubles you might have. Once there, you can trade with other people in the store who have brought in their own collection. Jonathan Napier, the store’s owner, wanted to start this monthly event to bring together vinyl lovers in the Wheeling area. Record Swap Saturday will take place the last Saturday of every month at Nail City Record.

Obit: Mack S. Luchey, owned and operated Doris Records, area’s oldest record store: BUFFALO—When Mack S. Luchey opened the first Doris Records store on Broadway in 1962, he always had a speaker outside. “He and Doris would drive to New York City and bring back something that hadn’t been heard here yet,” said his son, Derrick, who helps manage the Buffalo record store. “It was when ‘Green Onions’ was popular. When people passed by and heard the new stuff, it would attract them in.” Mr. Luchey remained active in Doris Records, now the oldest record store in Western New York, until he was injured in a fall in December 2016. He died in his Buffalo home last Friday. He was 82.

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TVD Live Shots: Cults
at The Garage, 1/25

I was first introduced to Cults back in 2011 when I was working at Sony Music. The band had a HUGE buzz about them, and Columbia Records was THE label to be on at the time. I was excited to have an opportunity to work this record to my accounts at the time, but alas they were given to the independent arm of the label and released through RED Distribution.

This was a play for credibility which didn’t make sense to me at the time. I mean, was the band on a major label? Yes. But they didn’t use the distribution? And who could work on this record? Would the band graduate to Sony Music proper? This happened all the time, and I’m not sure if anyone benefitted from the thought process here, but at least I got a copy of the debut record on vinyl.

There was a lot of mystery around Cults then too. I thought that was pretty cool at a time when social media was taking off that a band would forego all of the attention and retain their mystique. This was pre-Sia, so it certainly wasn’t the cool thing to do. The record was fantastic and had a ’60s California AM radio pop feel to it. The critics loved it, Pitchfork was all over it, and it looked like there was no stopping Cults from dominating the indie rock scene for years to come.

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TVD Radar: Isaac Hayes’ Hot Buttered Soul, Shaft, and Black Moses vinyl reissues in stores 2/23

VIA PRESS RELEASE | On February 23rd, Craft Recordings will release newly remastered editions of three classic albums from soul icon Isaac Hayes: Hot Buttered Soul, Shaft, and Black Moses.

Each LP boasts audio remastered by leading engineer Dave Cooley at Elysian Masters from the original analog tapes and comes housed in a faithfully reproduced package, complete with old-school style tip-on jacket, and in the case of Black Moses, a replica of the legendary, iconic four-foot cross-shaped fold-out image of Isaac as Black Moses. The release comes on the heels of a year-long celebration of the 60th Anniversary of Stax Records, and a historic look at the contributions made by Hayes to the success of the label as embodied in the lauded 2017 deluxe 4CD box set, Isaac Hayes: The Spirit of Memphis (1962-1976), which celebrates the multi-faceted artist’s talents as a producer, writer, and performer.

About Hot Buttered Soul | Reaching #1 on the Billboard Soul/R&B chart in the year of its release (1969), Hot Buttered Soul is a transformative genre-bending soul record that changed the shape of popular music forever. Featuring “Walk On By” and Hayes’ expansive, cinematic take on “By The Time I Get To Phoenix,” this new reissue from Craft Recordings showcases newly remastered audio cut at Elysian Masters under the supervision of Dave Cooley and pressed on 180-gram vinyl at Memphis Record Pressing.

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The TVD First Date

“When my parents came from India in the late 1970s to attempt making a life for themselves in the United States, they arrived with only a few essentials and not much more. My dad often recalls having $7 in his pocket as he first got off the plane, hitchhiking his way to a small Catholic parish outside of NYC where his brother was the resident pastor. By the early ’80s, my parents eventually moved to West Philly, living in a tiny one-bedroom apartment to begin their new life. While my mom worked as a nurse, my dad worked nights in a factory and spent his days putting himself through printing school.”

“I was only a few years old at the time and I don’t remember much about that apartment, but I do remember two items very clearly. One was an old nylon six-string guitar that my dad bought from one of our neighbors. There’s no name or label attached to it, but this first guitar has stood the test of time, still playable and very much alive after decades of rough abuse by me and my siblings.

The other thing I clearly remember was my dad’s first sound system. It was a solid silver Quasar unit that multitasked as a single cassette deck, radio, and a phonograph. The cabinet was beautiful and heavy and I can remember trying to lift that glass lid just to see the turntable spin, the mechanics of that arm catching my attention anytime it went about its single job. The front of the system was loaded with large silver dials and a two band equalizer that beamed red lights in sync to the audio.

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UK Artist of the Week: Liv Austen

This week’s Artist of The Week is country-pop princess Liv Austen. Her new single “Don’t Regret A Single One” is guaranteed to shake away those January blues.

Liv has been making waves in the UK country scene for quite some time now. Her previous single “The Next Time” was picked up by both country and pop fans, including the acclaimed UK radio station Chris Country who popped her on the A list in excess of 12 weeks, with Liv the only UK artist to make the cut.

With “Don’t Regret A Single One,” Liv continues to blur the lines between the two genres, however her latest cut is possibly straying closer toward the country world, sounding akin to an early Taylor Swift or Carrie Underwood. Liv’s latest single is a feel-good anthem about learning from your romantic mistakes in a more positive way. Its undeniably catchy from start to finish and is guaranteed to stay in your head for days (sorry!).

“Don’t Regret A Single One” is in stores now via NUA.

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Graded on a Curve:
Sarah McQuaid,
If We Dig Any Deeper It Could Get Dangerous

Sarah McQuaid’s prior releases have garnered deserved praise, and yet she has remained underappreciated in relation to her talent. She’s a gifted guitarist, with comparable vocal prowess, and her songwriting skill is…well, you get the idea. But with the imminent release of If We Dig Any Deeper It Could Get Dangerous, it seems a higher profile is all but certain, as the record, a major statement in contemporary folk adding considerable depth to an already personal approach, continues her positive trajectory. Produced by the estimable UK guitarist Michael Chapman, it’s out February 2 on vinyl, compact disc, and digital through Shovel and a Spade Records.

Sarah McQuaid’s prior full-length Walking in White came out on compact disc in 2015. The result of the Spanish-born and Chicago-raised McQuaid’s trip from her adopted home in Cornwall, England to Cornwell, NY to record with her cousin as co-producer, ‘twas a solid effort, quite solid in fact, enough so that I worked-up a long glowing review, complete with some background on her earlier stuff, in this very column.

I’ll admit that after giving an artist the full review treatment once, with a few exceptions I’m hesitant to do so again, mainly due to the circumstance of underappreciation mentioned above; there is a considerable amount of fine music on the current scene that’s deserving of a wider audience, and it seems appropriate to cast the spotlight as wide as possible.

But as I said, there are exceptions; through songs that are increasingly sharp (McQuaid began her recording career more as an interpreter than as a writer) and instrumentation that remains top flight, If We Dig Any Deeper falls into my personal return engagement category. Overall, the set, her vinyl debut, delivers a slight but still tangible improvement on its predecessor.

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In rotation: 1/30/18

A mapped guide to Philly’s 13 best record stores: Philadelphia record stores have a seemingly endless selection of physical music, from old school cassette tapes to classic vinyl records and everything in between. Whether you’re looking for an iconic album or you’re digging through the crates for a cult favorite, Philly has what you need…From mom-and-pop record shops to mega-stores, Philadelphia has a remarkable range of locations offering throwback staples to the most recent releases. There’s no reason for you to be bored with your music since fresh artists are a trip away.

Oxford’s End of All Music relocates records, revamps vinyl: It was the needle drop heard ‘round Lafayette County. When David Swider took to social media on Dec. 23 to announce that The End of All Music – Oxford’s premiere vinyl music shop – was moving, he knew something special was about to happen. However, announcing was the easy part. Making the move in less than four weeks was a bit harder, especially at the busiest shopping time of the year. But with a team of dedicated friends and family, a little ingenuity and some good tunes, Swider made it happen. The End of All Music now resides on Oxford’s historic Square’ a place it has always belonged.

The Future of Vinyl: After another year of all-time highs (as Nielsen reports sales up 9% in the US, and BPI posts a 26.8% increase in the UK) the vinyl format is stronger than the My Bloody Valentine Loveless-era. The format has become a cultural identifier — a badge of honor amongst the millennials, an “I told you so” moment for collectors, and a commercial star for specific rheumatoid arthritis medication. Some have predicted the vinyl bubble will burst. That said, turntable sales are on the rise and big-box shelf space is now devoted to Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift wax. These indicators seem to tell a different story. To get a read on the situation from those in the know, we’ve asked industry experts, collectors, and enthusiasts from around the world to chime in on the future of the vinyl format.

After the vinyl revolution comes the return of the record-playing jukebox: Vinyl sales are booming. At this point, it’s less of a revival and more of a full-on second coming of the long-playing record. While turntables are becoming common in homes once again, the classic vinyl jukebox is also on the comeback trail. NPR reports business is booming for one of the only full-time vinyl jukebox repairmen in the United States. Perry Rosen from New York travels the US doing up old machines from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s…Rosen says his clients include older generations looking to revisit the tunes of their youth, while younger people are also stocking the jukeboxes with their own collections.

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Save the Date: The
DC Record Fair returns
to Penn Social, 2/18!

Back for its 9th year is Washington, DC’s (almost) twice yearly record rummage, The DC Record Fair which sets up shop on February 18, 2018 in the cavernous confines of downtown Washington, DC’s Penn Social.

As with each event, we’ll have 40+ vinyl vendors from up and down the East Coast, the DJ line up, the bar, the food, raffle items up for grabs just for coming through the door, plus the random other surprises that make the DC Record Fair a special community event.

Our friends at the Fillmore Silver Spring put together the above feature a while back that outshines any descriptive copy we could devise—hit play.

Mark your calendars! 

Sunday, February 18, 2018 at Penn Social, 801 E Street, NW
11:00–12:00, Early Bird Admission $5.00
12:00–5:00, Regular Admission $2.00

RSVP and follow via the Facebook invite!

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TVD Radar: NRBQ’s debut vinyl reissue in stores, 3/16

VIA PRESS RELEASE | The New Rhythm and Blues Quintet, better known as NRBQ, formed more than 50 years ago. After playing together for a few years, the band began recording with Eddie Kramer and inked a two-record deal with Columbia Records. Their eponymous 1969 debut featured wide-ranging originals peppered with versions of songs from diverse sources, from Eddie Cochran to Sun Ra, including a co-write between the band’s Terry Adams and jazz experimentalist Carla Bley. It was, and is, a wildly original and influential release.

Crawdaddy once noted, “It was filled with first class rock & roll, but there were a number of strange and wonderful songs that indicated something was happening on a higher aesthetic plane …” John Sebastian says: “The Lovin’ Spoonful closed down about 1969 … To me, it’s always as if NRBQ kind of took the ball at that point for the original American Music Band.” And AllMusic sums it up: “A tremendously important record by a furiously eclectic and always wonderful band.” At the time of the debut album, NRBQ featured Terry Adams, Steve Ferguson, Joey Spampinato, Frank Gadler, and Tom Staley.

For all of its stature, it’s hard to believe that in the recording’s 49-year existence, NRBQ has never been reissued, in any format. That changes on March 16, 2018 when Omnivore Recordings will make NRBQ available once again, on CD (for the first time), digital, and as a gatefold LP. Combining elements of the original, with additional photos and new liner notes from Jay Berman, the package has never looked, nor sounded better.

The band is still going strong, and this reissue follows hot on the heels of their celebrated 5-CD box set, High Noon — A 50-Year Retrospective, and last year’s critically acclaimed Omnivore EP, “Happy Talk.”

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Inara George,
The TVD First Date

“I remember first hearing about compact discs from an engineer at some recording studio I was visiting as a kid. I was probably about ten years old?”

“The engineer spoke about these mysterious discs with that blissful haze and awe that is so distinctive of an audiophile. ‘The quality of sound is nothing like you’ve ever experienced. And these things don’t skip! You could take one into the parking lot, stand on it and spin around and it will still play as just as perfectly.’ He said that, or something like it. I was a kid, so my memory is vague. But I remember being impressed. And when the CD finally made its way into every record store, I was ready. I wanted to experience what he was talking about.

I had grown up with vinyl. That’s just how one listened to music. The first album I ever bought for myself was Around the World in a Day by Prince, which was actually right about when CDs started making their way into record stores. And so I started to make the switch. You could argue that vinyl had limitations when compared to the futuristic compact disc. You had to turn over your vinyl records and with a compact disc you could just keep listening without any interruption. If you didn’t take care of your vinyl they would scratch and skip, CDs weren’t supposed to do that (although they do). CDs were small and compact, they felt like the future.

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