Monthly Archives: March 2019

TVD’s The Idelic Hour with Jon Sidel

Greetings from Laurel Canyon!

Who is “in” / Who is “out” / Who is “in” / Who is “out” / Up to nine, it’s OK, you’re “in” / After that, you’re KO, you’re “out” / It’s the same for boxing / Movies, fashion and cash box

Time’s still flying as we hit full stride in March madness. Fools might come out of the closet next week as April showers wash away this Mercury in retrograde. All in all, we keep the nose to the grindstone.

Yesterday I pulled a few hours from my day to volunteer at the local middle school. I lectured three film classes on listening to music, and ate my lunch on a bench in the midst of hundreds of 13 and 14 year old kids—none of whom knew me or any of the songs on this week’s Idelic playlist.

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TVD Radar: Room 37:
The Mysterious Death Of Johnny Thunders
Blu-ray and DVD in stores 5/24; Lost live concert 4/5

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Room 37: The Mysterious Death Of Johnny Thunders is inspired by true life events surrounding the mysterious death of the legendary guitarist Johnny Thunders.

Johnny Thunders arrives to New Orleans to begin a new chapter of his life by following a new musical sound, and staying clean from drugs in order to see his kids again. After he settles into the St. Peter’s Guest House Hotel, things go awry. His room is robbed which contained the last of his money and his only methadone supply. Johnny’s journey to recovery quickly turns dark when he takes desperate measures to get better, all which propel Johnny deeper in chaos that ultimately leads to his unexplained mysterious final hours.

Madrid Memory features a long-lost live concert performance from The Heartbreakers explosive 1984 reunion world tour that included fellow Dolls Sylvain Sylvain and Jerry Nolan plus Billy Rath. Filmed for TV broadcast at La Edad De Oro in Madrid, Spain, this concert captures powerful performances of songs from throughout Thunders’s amazing career including “Personality Crisis,” “Too Much Junkie Business,” and “Born Too Lose.”

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Morgan Geer,
The TVD First Date

“I’m lucky to come from a family of multi-generational music lovers and musicians. From my grandfather’s jazz and classical 78s to my uncle’s Elvis Costello records, vinyl was always there growing up. My earliest memories are the sound of Willie Nelson’s voice spinning out of a massive sound system and the smell of marijuana smoke filling up our old New Orleans home. Everyone seemed happy and the world was a mystery.”

“Barely old enough to walk, I had a yellow plastic portable record player and would listen to a lot of Carol King’s Really Rosie and Sgt. Pepper. (Later I realized that I had the stereo mix of Pepper and the record player only played mono—blew my little mind when I finally heard the full thing.)

The first vinyl record I remember asking for was Tattoo You by The Rolling Stones. I would take it to school and stare at it. Of course I was ostracized. I didn’t care, I was proud and felt grown up to own it.

I’ve never not had vinyl records but I’m not much of an audiophile. I still don’t own a very nice hi-fi set up. It’s a tactile experience. Big art. The way they look while they spin—like the most elemental of dances. The potential of the waiting disc on a still plate. On your mark, get set and go cat go. Plus it’s just really cool and elegant technology.

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Graded on a Curve: Wishbone Ash,

Four English song-smithies who couldn’t figure out if they wanted to be guitar heroes or fey sylvan Medievalists playing music to seduce water sprites by, Wishbone Ash really gets my goat–wowing me one minute, and making me want to scream the next.

Take 1972’s Argus, Wishbone Ash’s most successful outing. This baby totally befuddled me as a kid; I loved the groovy guitar interplay between Andy Powell and Ted Turner, but got thrown every time by all the King Arthur’s-in-the-house horseshit. The damn thing sounded like a cross between a Renaissance Faire and Lou Reed’s Rock n Roll Animal, and I simply couldn’t wrap my poor teen mind around it.

You got, for instance, “Sometime World,” which begins life as a moody evocation of England’s green and pleasant land and ends it as a guitar rampage for the ages. “Throw Down the Sword,” similar deal. It opens with a drum tattoo like you might have heard at the beheading of Anne Boleyn before going all Alfred, Lord Tennyson–or Styx–on your ass. But just when you’re ready to dismiss it as a piece of pretentious prog wankery, it goes out blazing in a fiery fandango of guitars that’ll set your hair on fire. It’s furious-making.

Why, oh why, couldn’t these princes of pettifoggery just throw away their suits of armor and kick out the jams like righteous 20th Century motherfuckers? “Warrior” comes on like a case of 21st Century schizophrenia, man, it’s all blistering guitars and cymbal smash and you think “Yes! Finally!” Only to then collapse like Percy Bysshe Shelley in a poetic swoon!

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In rotation: 3/29/19

Brooklyn, NY | Two new record stores are opening in Brooklyn: Two new record stores are opening in Brooklyn thanks to the Mexican Summer label, which is also based in the New York borough. The owners of Co-op 87 are partnering on the outlets. Brooklyn Record Exchange will first welcome customers at 599 Johnson Avenue, Bushwick, on Saturday 30th March. It will share the address with revered club and live venue Elsewhere. A second location at 87 Guernsey Street, Greenpoint, will open later in spring— where Co-op 87 was doing business until its recent temporary closure. According to reports, there will be dedicated areas for Mexican Summer releases, alongside its reissue imprint Anthology Recordings. Albums, singles and EPs from other labels will also be sold, of course, as will books and films.

Petaling Jaya, MY | Go out and buy some music at these Record Store Day events in April: makes it stand out as one of the busiest times for record buying, visiting music shops and going out for independent music events in the Klang Valley. The international Record Store Day (RSD) buzz is an obvious – nearly festive – highlight next month (observed on April 13). RSD, arguably, seems to bring out the best qualities in music lovers. It gets people excited about music buying again. From Kuala Lumpur to Subang Jaya, we’re talking about Instagram feeds filled by scenes of eager music fans waking up early on a weekend and lining up in front of record stores to grab exclusive RSD releases – official or not. Local indie bands seeing their out-of-print albums reissued by a small circle of dedicated music ‘archivalists’ and the sight of young and old vinyl collectors mingling together at pop-up music events are surely rare moments to rejoice.

Loveland, CO | Loveland Today: Downtown Sound’s new owner: As of March 1, Downtown Sound, a shop selling vinyl records and musical instruments and equipment in downtown Loveland, has a new owner. Rogan Magyar, who has owned Keptone Music Workshop in Orchards Shopping Center since 2011, purchased Downtown Sound from the Roth family, closed the Keptone location and moved his music-lesson business downtown. The record store at 330 E. Fourth St. will continue to sell old and new vinyl, guitars and vintage amps, and all the merchandise it always provided, Magyar said, plus it will offer music lessons. A bonus: Because the business is staying open in the evenings for private music lessons, shoppers now have more hours to browse the record racks.

Virgin Voyages Is Committing to Music Theme With Vinyl Record Store and Karaoke Lounge: It looks like Virgin Voyages is going all-in with the music theming on its first ship. The start-up line backed by Richard Branson’s Virgin Group announced on Wednesday that its 2,770-passenger debut vessel, Scarlet Lady, will have its very own vinyl record store — an homage to Virgin Group’s early days as a record-selling business. To be called Voyage Vinyl, the record shop on Scarlet Lady will feature listening stations where “sailors” (what the line calls its passengers) can sample music before buying. It’ll sell a mix of current and classic albums, plus limited-edition collections created by the line’s resident DJs. Music magazines and headphones will also be for sale alongside record players (for those of you who go on cruises to buy record players).

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TVD Radar: The Chills: The Triumph & Tragedy of Martin Phillipps in theaters 5/2

VIA PRESS RELEASE | The story of lyrical genius, Martin Phillipps and his band, The Chills, is a cautionary tale, a triumph over tragedy, and a statement about the meaning of music in our lives.

Martin Phillipps came tantalizingly close to conquering the international music scene with his band The Chills, but instead fell into decades of debt and addiction in his hometown of Dunedin, New Zealand. At 54, he’s been given a dire medical prognosis, forcing him to face his demons and realise his musical ambitions before it’s too late. This intimate portrait follows the eccentric Martin as he reconciles a lifetime’s worth of curious collections, looks back on a catalogue of heavenly pop hits and reclaims his place in the iconic Flying Nun and Dunedin Sound. With a startling sense of humour even in the blackest moments, we bear witness to one man’s universal battle with the fear of failure and the jarring reality of his own mortality.

Listen to the rock music that personifies 1980s New Zealand, when people loved their leather jackets, and lived through the doldrums. Discover one of New Zealand’s most important songwriters and the groundbreaking era that changed the way the world appreciated New Zealand music.

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Graded on a Curve:
Scott Walker,
Bish Bosch

We remember Scott Walker who passed away Monday, March 25, with a look back from our archives.Ed.

From his beginnings as a pop idol working in the mode of The Righteous Brothers to his period as a smooth student of Jacques Brel to his unprecedented re-flowering as a restless, challenging avant-garde artist, there is no doubt that Scott Walker’s career has been a long and fascinatingly strange trip. And Bish Bosch, his latest record for 4AD, continues that progression, being his most extreme and often baffling statement to date. Opinions will most certainly be divided, but one thing is certain; there’s nothing else like it.

My introduction to the name Scott Walker occurred shortly before the release of his 1995 release Tilt, but I’d already been exposed to him for years without knowing it due to his membership in The Walker Brothers. That duo’s “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore” hit #1 in the UK and #13 in the US in 1966, and it’s a beautiful song that remains on the radar to this very day in large part through consistent rotation on oldies radio. That’s where I first heard it as a youngster, but from within that context it was just one fine song amongst many, and my memory is quite foggy regarding exactly when and how I connected the dots between Walker’s early pop stardom and his slowly realized total about-face as an enigmatic experimental musician.

Walker’s unusual career path has been described by some as being completely his own. And essentially that’s true. Sure, there are numerous examples of creators from across the artistic spectrum who successfully emerged from the realms of the conventional, only to end up in the deep weeds of uncompromising experimentalism; film director Nicholas Ray and writer James Joyce both spring to mind. But nobody seems able to come up with an instance of a pop icon so completely abandoning their commercial sensibility for an environment of success so blatantly the opposite.

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Needle Drop: William Russell Wallace, “Understanding”

SoCal based singer-songwriter William Russell Wallace crafts the kind of hard-hitting, poetically nuanced songs that immediately invite you into his world. The man we encounter in this place is in a reflective state, looking back at his young adult life with a sense of compassion and a tinge of regret.

Wallace fronted several other bands before striking out on his own, and lived the kind of life that revolved around drinking, drugs, and chasing women. This culminated in a car crash and, eventually, a stint in rehab, which is where he tracked the bones of “Understanding.”

The song is flush with beauty and pain, with a tasteful harmony to drive the heart-wrenching chorus home.

The official debut album from Wallace, Dirty Soul, arrives in stores on April 8th.

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Abigail Dowd,
The TVD First Date

“The first album I ever bought was Janis Ian’s Between the Lines.”

“I had just moved to Maine and we bought a record player for our tiny apartment in Portland. I was so excited to start my collection with that album. Later, I learned that it was also my late father’s favorite album in college and that made it even sweeter. It’s still one that I return to every year.

One of my earliest memories of my Dad is being a toddler running around the living room, galloping with my wooden horse while he played Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture,” and teaching me to gallop lightly so that the album didn’t skip. He was always putting on records and teaching me the words to his favorite songs. Thus began my musical education.

When I moved to Maine in my late twenties, I spent almost every weekend at a farm house in Vassalboro. There was no TV or internet, no smart phones. Just a record player and an amazing collection of records. We’d spend all day outside and then come in and listen to records for hours on end. Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell, Led Zeppelin, Sly and the Family Stone, Jim Croce.

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Graded on a Curve: New in Stores for March 2019, Part Four

Part four of the TVD Record Store Club’s look at the new and reissued releases—and more—presently in stores for March, 2019. Part one is here, part two is here, and part three is here.

NEW RELEASE PICKS: Amirtha Kidambi’s Elder Ones, From Untruth (Northern Spy) Matt Nelson’s soprano sax and Nick Dunston’s upright bass lend this LP a jazzy (and decidedly out-jazzy) component, though it’s augmented by drummer Max Jaffee adding “Electronic Sensory Percussion” to his standard kit and Nelson doubling on Moog. But the focal point is unquestionably vocalist Kidambi, who adds synthesizer and harmonium to four compositions that on this aggregation’s second release cohere into a uniformly superb, at times gripping (and thrilling!) post-category statement. The mention of “futurist realms” rings true. From Untruth also tackles major themes of politics and injustice, but with the intent to give the listener respite from the ugliness of our current reality. Kidambi has succeeded mightily. A

The Underground Youth, Montage Images of Lust & Fear (Fuzz Club) In 2017, this Manchester-born but currently Berlin-based outfit led by vocalist-guitarist Craig Dyer released What Kind Of Dystopian Hellhole Is This?, a record that reminded me somewhat of Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Anton Newcombe. But this follow-up, the band’s ninth overall, reminds me of Newcombe’s output not at all. Instead, the dark and tense atmosphere makes me think of the Birthday Party, but with instrumental precision (matched with sharp lyrics) that helps the whole to stand apart. Suicide is mentioned by the label, but I thought more of Michael Gira (Swan Kristof Hahn guests on six tracks here) and occasionally of Joy Division. When Dyer shifts to ballads, things get distinguished even more. Borderline excellent. A-

REISSUE/ARCHIVAL PICKS: Mary Lou Williams, S/T (Smithsonian-Folkways) Along with Lucinda Williams’ Happy Woman Blues (reviewed in full earlier in March) this and the Elizabeth Cotten LP below comprise the 2019 Women’s History Month installment in Smithsonian-Folkways’ vinyl reissue series. It’s a well-rounded trio. This record, originally released in 1964 on this great jazz pianist’s Mary label (distributed by Folkways back then) is probably the most underrated of the bunch, in part due to how it transcends category. Though infused with jazz (Percy Heath and Grant Green contribute), the music here, titled Black Christ of the Andes, is a devotional work that features choral sections of considerable scale and beauty, and all the better because it’s a sound almost unheard of today. A major achievement. A

Elizabeth Cotten, Folksongs and Instrumentals with Guitar (Smithsonian-Folkways) Many folks know this LP as Freight Train and Other North Carolina Folk Songs and Tunes; it’s reissued here under the title of its initial release. The story of Cotten’s life is well-known (it’s recently been told as a children’s book by musician Laura Veirs) and her rediscovery (through the family of Pete Seeger, which accurately was just a discovery, as she’d never recorded previously) commenced one of the most welcome and enduring byproducts of the whole mid-20th century folk revival. Taped by Mike Seeger in Cotton’s bedroom in her Washington, DC home in 1957, this is powerfully intimate music, reminiscent of Mississippi John Hurt in its calmness, featuring guitar, banjo and vocals. For folk music lovers, I’d call this one essential. A

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In rotation: 3/28/19

Los Angeles, CA | Amoeba Music in Hollywood sets to relocate as city plans move forward: After years of being in limbo, Amoeba Music, an iconic Hollywood record store, is leaving its current space for a slightly smaller one nearby. In 2015, Amoeba Hollywood sold their property for a reported $34 million to a holding company associated with GPI Companies. The store was able to lease the location back for a couple of years, but ultimately the company plans to replace the record store with a residential apartment building over 20 stories high. Buzz of this news filtered all throughout the internet, and long-time fans of Amoeba feared this could be the end. But in 2017, Amoeba put rumors to rest with a Facebook post ensuring that the store will not leave L.A., but is “now in a position where [Amoeba] may have to change locations in the coming years.” On March 14, 2019, the Los Angeles City Planning Commission voted to reject an appeal to halt the project, moving forward plans for the store’s relocation. Luckily for music fans, Amoeba won’t leave Hollywood. In fact, the branch hopes to only have to move a block or so away.

Austin, TX | Austin Will Be Hosting The Biggest Vinyl Record Sale In The USA This Spring. The vinyl loving city will be holding the biggest record sale in May. The coolest event for music lovers of all kinds is coming to Austin this May. For three days the largest record convention in the entire country will be held at the massive Palmer Events Center in downtown Austin. Fans of every type of music imaginable will be able to find something they like at this giant sale. The Austin Record Convention will be on May 18th to 19th so mark your calendars right now! The massive Austin sale is known as the largest sale of recorded music in the entire USA. There will be over one million vinyls, CDs, cassettes, LPs, rare finds and memorabilia available for purchase. The giant record sale will host over 300 different vendors from across the U.S. and Europe to bring rarities and styles of music from all over the globe. The event will be so enormous that visiting for just one day wouldn’t be enough! You’ll definitely want to stop by the giant sale when it’s set up in May. You could look for rare and unique vinyl to add to your collection, find the perfect gift for someone you care for, meet local music lovers similar to yourself or just have a blast visiting the past with a collection of thousands of records that go back to the early 1900s.

White Bear Lake, MN | Special day celebrates venerable vinyl: Contrary to what the digital music generation may think, the independent record store is doing a brisk business. You could say the popularity of vinyl is making a comeback, but some say it never really left. Owners of White Bear Lake Records, a downtown store the size of a one-car garage, attest to its staying power. Chris Valenty, a one-third owner who grew up in Forest Lake, admitted that, yes, records went out of style a couple decades ago. “In the ‘90s, people were throwing them out,” he recalled. “There was a time when no one was making records and pressing machines were scrapped. But they’ve started making records again.” And it’s not just the baby boomers walking through the door into the small, cluttered store. Gen Zers are getting hip to vinyl and the whole “music experience” records bring. Valenty sees it as a physical thing. “Records are cool. You put on a record and concentrate on the music in an almost ritualistic way. You have an experience with music rather than something playing in the background. Kids see it as almost magical. It’s alien technology to them.”

Tokyo, JP | Tower Records Tokyo goes all in on vinyl: The Tower Records Tokyo store in Shinjuku is cashing in on the Japanese market’s resurgence of interest in vinyl records. While Tower has sold records for a long time, the Tower Vinyl brand is seizing on the global vinyl revival that has seen consumers worldwide take a preference to the physical discs, with all the nostalgia they represent, over the more ephemeral and invisible distribution of digital music. The store now holds 70,000 records in stock – the majority of which are second hand. The vinyl revival is blossoming just as streaming technology hits a new peak in the territory…Vinyl records have been making a major comeback in Japan for some time, with HMV also launching a vinyl-album store in Shibuya in 2014 – having been absent for the district for several years, and now having expanded its operations since that time. Japanese artists have recently been releasing their music on vinyl, and – rather anachronistically – some 90s-era CDs have been reissued on vinyl record.

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TVD Live Shots: Better Oblivion Community Center at Lincoln Hall, 3/23

WORDS AND IMAGES: KATE SCOTT | As I stood in a completely packed Lincoln Hall, the guy next to me made a great point: “If you’re over 30, you grew up with Conor Oberst as your lyrical king. And, if you know anything about indie music, then Phoebe Bridgers is your current queen.” Those words really rang true as I watched Better Oblivion Community Center turn the crowd into a big bowl of emotional jelly.

The indie folk supergroup, composed of Oberst and Bridgers, is a bit more aggressive than Bright Eyes and a bit more whimsical than Bridgers’ solo work. The creative chemistry between the two artists makes for completely unique and beautiful music. Case in point, their single “Dylan Thomas” is a harmonious blend of both artists’ voices. Their self-titled debut album puts both Oberst’s and Bridgers’ strengths at the heart of each track, while allowing for a little vulnerability and humility as well.

Their first sold out night at Lincoln Hall was an intimate and powerful performance. With each artist on opposite ends of the modest stage, surrounded by old-fashioned lights and a backdrop of their fictional community center, it felt like we were watching a performance in a garage on a warm summer night.

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Jazz Fest unveils 50th anniversary “cubes” and announces 2019 news

Tuesday morning, the paddock area of the New Orleans Fairgrounds was abuzz and the annual “press party” —or press conference, for readers unfamiliar with the mores of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival—was more crowded than I have ever seen it. Everyone was eager to find out the specific times and stages for the thousands of acts booked for the festival’s 50th year.

But before producer/director Quint Davis got to the metaphorical goods, the Preservation Hall Brass Band treated attendees to a song sung by octogenarian Charlie Gabriel. The group, which played at the first festival in 1970, was announced in advance. But Irma Thomas was a surprise and she wowed the crowd with a spirited rendition of “Don’t Mess with My Man” backed by the Hall band.

After the requisite speechifying from officials and sponsors, which also included a touching moment where Thomas explained the role of the early festival in reviving the careers of so many of New Orleans’ R&B stars of the 1950s, Thomas sang an a capella version of “Happy Birthday” to the festival itself.

Then Davis told the crowd about the lineups for each day. Of course, who would precede The Rolling Stones on what has been informally dubbed “Stones Thursday” (May 2) was on many minds.

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Graded on a Curve:
Thumb Days

Remember that scene in Halloween where Donald Pleasance is lurking in the bushes by Michael Myers’ empty house and this little punk named Lonnie’s getting ready to go up the walk and Pleasance cups his hands around his mouth and stage whispers, “Hey! Hey Lonnie! Get your ass away from there!”?

Well, all I got to say about Thumb Days is “Hey! Hey you! Get your ass away from this record!” Because there’s something serious amiss in the mental department with Shorty, the Chi-Town post-rockers who put it out, and the contents of said record are far scarier than anything Lonnie might have come across in Michael Myers’ house.

The five dudes in Shorty may look like a harmless bunch, guys you wouldn’t look twice at at a house party, but they have a positively inspiring knack for making your skin crawl. Needless to say, I love ‘em to death.

On 1993’s Thumb Days Shorty established its bona fides as the creepiest practitioners of Midwestern Noise Rock, an honor I bestow upon them in large part due to the unique vocal stylings of the great Al Johnson, who sounds like your basic pedophile with a bad case of laryngitis. He has this way of hissing like the snake that seduced Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and gives off this real perv-o vibe that makes you think here’s a fellow you don’t want near your person because he just might start licking you. The album gives off the same vibe.

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TVD Premiere: Quiet Kids, “Quiet Kids” EP

Formed in 2014 in McAllen, TX by songwriter Andy Peña with bassist Devin Garcia, Quiet Kids have an innate knack for hallucinogenic indie pop. Their artfully crafted sound found resonance with other artists such as Angel Olsen, Mitski, and Miniature Tigers, who handed the newcomers support slots on their tours.

The Vinyl District is pleased to be premiering the band’s new, self-titled EP which is chock full of synth drenched, intelligently conceived indie rock. Their smart lyrics and tight-knit hooks make for an alluring listen that is both pleasurably broad in its strokes yet intensely personal.

Peña details, “People, places and things pull you in every direction, and it’s easy to please any and everyone. If we all just said what was on our minds we’d have much more of an understanding of who we are, and what we’re looking for… It’s only in the stability of my relationships that I realized I can write about whatever I feel. My art is me, and my family, and friends.”

“Quiet Kids” arrives in stores on March 29th.

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