Monthly Archives: April 2020

TVD Radar: Songs for the National Health Service ft. Foals, Wolf Alice, The Vaccines and more, blue vinyl in stores 7/19

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Responding to the worldwide Covid-19 emergency, Songs For The National Health Service is a one-off compilation album of exclusive, unreleased tracks by some of the biggest names in indie, with all proceeds funding specialist PPE for hospitals and NHS key workers.

Foals, Wolf Alice, Baxter Dury, The Vaccines, The Big Moon, The Wombats, Sports Team, The Magic Gang, Spector, Swim Deep, The Orielles, Nilüfer Yanya, Alfie Templeman, Oscar Lang, Pixx and Jessica Winter have all come together exclusively for the album, with a mix of special covers, remixes, live tracks and demos not available anywhere else, the majority being made available for the very first time. Songs For The National Health Service is working in partnership with Dr. Natalie Watson at University Hospital Lewisham, as she launches the Hoods for Heroes campaign.

Our initial target of £30,000 will provide enough ‘PAPR’ (powered air purifying respirators) to help fully stock Lewisham Greenwich NHS Trust (site of the UK’s first confirmed Covid-19 patient), Mid Yorkshire NHS Trust and University Hospital Crosshouse, Scotland. All money raised beyond that will provide equipment for further hospitals and regions based on need, not only helping safely treat victims of Covid-19, but enabling NHS teams to restart time-critical head and neck cancer surgery.

The artists hope this album will not only raise funds, but also serve as a keepsake of our indebtedness to the NHS and its staff working tirelessly and courageously through this difficult time. In the future we must do much more to ensure they are funded and paid properly, and forever treated with the respect they deserve.

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TVD Radar: My Morning Jacket streaming video of 2016 Shaky Knees Festival to benefit Crew Nation, 5/1

VIA PRESS RELEASE | My Morning Jacket will offer a free webcast of their full set from the 2016 Shaky Knees Festival in Atlanta, GA this Friday night at 8 pm ET on the band’s YouTube channel, Facebook page, and Nugs.TV. The webcast kicks off “Shaky Knees TV,” a virtual weekend of live sets from the festival playing through the weekend. The band and Shaky Knees are including a charity component, encouraging viewers to make a donation to Crew Nation, a global relief fund supporting live music crews who have lost work during COVID-19.

The webcast is broadcast in conjunction with the re-launch of the My Morning Jacket live archive audio program via, the leading live music platform for concert recordings and live streams. Starting today, 27 MMJ shows, previously only available for purchase as a-la-carte downloads, can be found on’s live music streaming service, most of which are also offered in MQA 24-bit hi-res audio. In addition, two new shows are being added to the service and as downloads — their 2016 show from the Tivoli Theater in Chattanooga, TN (available now) as well as the 2016 Shaky Knees show being webcasted on Friday (this will be available on the nugs.service after the webcast concludes on Friday night). New shows from the band’s extensive touring history will be added to the service each month.

Subscribers to can listen to over 15,000 live concerts and view over 100 HD videos of full shows, ad-free, exclusively on the streaming app, on desktop, and through Sonos. New and legendary shows from iconic artists are added daily and downloadable for offline playback.

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TVD Radar: Little Steven partners with SiriusXM, Rock Hall, and others today for ‘Lean On Me’ sing-a-along to honor Covid-19 heroes

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Stevie Van Zandt’s Rock and Roll Forever Foundation and its national K-12 curriculum initiative,, along with the student-run organization YOUnison as well as 50 supporting organizations will be honoring first responders and healthcare workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic today, April 30, as part of the “Worldwide Day of Gratitude” initiative. “Worldwide Day of Gratitude” will be a global coming together through the arts and to mark the occasion, the late Bill Withers’ classic “Lean On Me” will be played on SiriusXM stations tomorrow at 7:00 pm EDT in a nationwide sing-a-long.

Teachers, students, and members of the general public, are all invited to learn and share the iconic song via sheet music authorized by Hal Leonard Corporation, as well as special lesson plans developed by, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and others. Participants are encouraged to download the materials and then share their unique versions on YouTube and social media channels using the hashtags #LeanOnUs and #DayOfGratitude. “We are all finding ways to say thank you to our essential worker heroes who have worked right through this very scary time,” says Van Zandt. “We applaud them every night at 7:00. Now we’ll add a great song to say thank you.”

“The effort put forth by the first responders and healthcare workers has been incredibly inspiring to so many around the world,” said Andrew E. Morrison, co-founder of YOUnison, a student-centered community empowering YOU to achieve musical excellence based around self-directed learning, creativity, and collaboration. “To show our gratitude, teachers, students, and people of all ages can use the power of music and the arts to unite to honor these amazing heroes.”

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Justin Furstenfeld
of Blue October,
The TVD Interview

Justin Furstenfeld is anything but ordinary. At an incredibly young age he realized he was different from others his age and possessed a unique artistic sensibility that most around him failed to appreciate. Over the years, this once-in-a-lifetime talent became one of the most prolific songwriters of our generation. However, Furstenfeld’s journey was never easy. He battled a constant stream of anxiety, depression, and a host of addictions that chipped away at him.

Now, clean and sober for almost 8 full years, Justin has reimagined his life and lives it to its fullest with the support of his loving wife, family, and lifelong friends. Although he has not fully won the war from within, it now appears much more manageable, and Furstenfeld has been able to channel the remaining fury into transcendent storytelling that has offered hope and inspiration to countless Blue October fans all around the world.

Let’s get going, Justin—how did you get your start in music?

I would have to say it was when I was five years old. I saw a movie called Empire of the Sun. Christian Bale was the kid, and he walked around, and he sang. It was this crazy high voice thing. And I was out in my front yard, and I remember I was five or six, and I was just belting out this high-pitched opera, right? And the mailman kept coming by, and neighbors kept coming by, and they were just like, “Wow.” And everybody kept telling me, “One day, we’re going to see you on TV, and one day we’re going to hear you on the radio.” And I was like, “Whatever.”

But I was always enamored by music. I heard Roy Orbison’s “Crying” for the first time when I was six—I just started bawling because I didn’t even know what it was about, but it just made me cry. It’s just a powerful song. And then, at age 10, I got into The Cure and The Smiths…heavy. And at age 10, getting into The Cure and The Smiths is so fucking sad, right? And, every time I’d hear a song, I’d be like, “Wow, I don’t know why they wrote that. I could do better than that.” I was really competitive, and it just became this hobby. Wherever I went, I was always writing songs.

I remember from the youngest of ages, from second grade on, I was just always writing songs. And, I remember hearing the Pixies and going, “That shit is so simple, but it’s so cool,” and being like, “Wow, if they can do it like that, holy crap.” And I just have always been obsessed with making up melodies with emotion because I truly believed that the two things that keep people going were smell and sound. I have always been a sensory guy, so I’ve always created. And I’ve gone through everything—I loved hairbands, I loved rock, I loved George Winston, I loved classical. As long as it was sad, I fucking loved it. And that is how I started.

What was it like for you the first time you performed on stage?

It was truly cool. I remember I was in second grade, and we were supposed to write a poem about something that makes us happy. And I went home, and I wrote a song instead of a poem just because I had to win. And I came back the next day, and they liked it so much that they told me at lunch that I was going to sing it in front of the whole school. And I was so nervous… I was like, “Are you kidding me?”

And I remember I got up on stage—and it was something that I had written—it wasn’t just like singing, “Jingle bells, jingle bells.” And I got up, and freaking sang, and I just remember everybody in the school stopping and looking, and really paying attention, and liking it. And I just thought, how cool is that? Something that I wrote last night that I really loved just affected them all and made them smile. It was just a cool moment in my life.

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Graded on a Curve:
New in Stores for
April 2020, Part Six

Part six of the TVD Record Store Club’s look at the new and reissued releases presently in stores for April, 2020. Part one is here, part two is here, part three is here, part four is here, and part five is here.

NEW RELEASE PICK: Damien Jurado, What’s New, Tomboy? (Mama Bird Recording Co. / Loose) I got into Jurado’s work pretty early on, shortly after his second album, 1999’s Rehearsals for Departure, came out on Sub Pop. I was pretty taken with that one and his follow-up from 2000, Ghost of David, enough so that I picked up a bunch of his subsequent stuff, which consisted of one more for Sub Pop and then a bunch for Secretly Canadian. And I can’t say I was let down by any of it; the guy’s consistency as a singer-songwriter in what I’ll succinctly call the post-Neil Young tradition is striking and a bit reminiscent of another guy I stumbled onto around the same time, Richard Buckner, not because they sound similar (they do, and yet they don’t), but because they were able to turn that tradition into something that was very much their own.

But I must confess that I lost track of Jurado’s work around 2012, right about when his album Maraqopa came out. This drifting apart was mainly down to his prolificacy before and since, as this new record is his 15th full-length (and he has a slew of EPs and singles, as well). This is not the only instance where I’ve disconnected from a musician or band for no fault of theirs, though sometimes return engagements can prove to be a letdown. Well, happily, not here, as What’s New, Tomboy? unwinds with confidence and verve, just like I remember it, though I don’t want to infer that he hasn’t grown as a musician since the last I heard him. No, the songs consistently impressed upon me that Jurado is in strong creative form, and it wasn’t until roughly halfway into the record and “Francine” (with its terrific vibes playing and fingerpicking) that I was reminded of the influence of ol’ Neil. From there, Jurado continues to exemplify everything that is worthwhile at the crossroads of indie and folk. Now, to catch up on what I missed. A-

REISSUE/ARCHIVAL PICK: Sopwith Camel, The Miraculous Hump Returns from the Moon (Real Gone) As is the case with countless acts, maybe the least interesting thing about Sopwith Camel was their hit single, namely “Hello Hello,” which made it all the way to No. 26 in ’67. That might be overstating matters a bit, but it’s in aid of explaining how this San Francisco outfit’s long-delayed second album didn’t come completely out of nowhere. But still. Reformed with all the original members except one, the sound of Sopwith Camel circa ’73 had almost nothing to do with the Lovin’ Spoonful-Mamas & Papas neo-vaudeville pop of their earlier days, instead diving into a merger of funkiness, soft rock and spaciness, though a few songs on side two do reinforce a connection to what they sounded like before.

Now, I’ll confess to coming to Miraculous Hump with fresh ears. If the record had a cult following, I wasn’t clued in, and will admit to being more than a little skeptical over the specialness of the situation as proclaimed in the 2014 Guardian article cited in the press for this reissue, which was released in late March in a limited edition of 750 on marbled smoke vinyl (and still available). However, checking this out establishes it as much more than a curiosity (if not quite as amazing as some of the praise has it). As a lot had transpired in the period between the group’s two albums, that they migrated toward what is at times reminiscent of Steely Dan mating with Santana in a Seals & Crofts state of mind shouldn’t be a shock, but that it holds together so well, kinda is. It’s so effective that the later cuts which recall their earlier incarnation have an almost Bonzo Dog Band goes soft rock feel. Cuh-razy. I also have a creeping suspicion that folks into Shuggie Otis will dig this. B+

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In rotation: 4/30/20

Record Store Day announces RSD Drops For August, September, and October 2020: New dates replace original April 18th and rescheduled June 20th date. Since 2008, Record Store Day has grown into the world’s largest single-day music event, shining a light on the culture of the indie record store across the globe. In 2020, that world is different, so Record Store Day will be too. RSD is now scheduled to be celebrated with special, properly distanced release dates on Saturdays in August, September and October. The titles on the RSD 2020 Official List, launched on March 5th, will be released at participating record stores on one of these three RSD Drops. Those dates are August 29th, September 26th, and October 24th. Before the pandemic-inspired three “socially distanced” RSD Drop dates, Record Store Day 2020, originally scheduled for April 18th and then rescheduled for June 20th, was set to look and feel different from any of the previous twelve. Prior events have been as much about the gatherings, parties, concerts and “group hang” element of a celebration as the special releases, but in this unprecedented global situation, the focus of these RSD Drops dates is on bringing revenue to the stores, as well as to the artists, labels, distribution and every other business behind the scenes making record stores work.

St. Catharines, ON | Shops seeing benefits now from Digital Main Street grants: Mindbomb Records can’t let customers browse through its vinyl in person right now, but it has made its online shopping experience a little more satisfying. The downtown St. Catharines store has been adding more content to the items on its formerly “bare bones” website, thanks to a Digital Main Street grant it received a month ago. The funding, which coincidentally came as COVID-19 shut down storefronts, has allowed the shop to boost its online presence at a time when it counts more than ever. “If you are a business that can benefit from doing online sales, it’s kind of a do or die at this point,” said Mindbomb owner Chris Charkowy. Mindbomb Records is one of the local stores taking part in the city’s first digital market on Friday, hosted by Niagara’s Digital Service Squad. The event on Instagram from noon to 2 p.m. is showcasing products from local businesses with a focus on gifts for Mother’s Day.

Columbus, OH | Record stores find silver linings amid coronavirus crisis: Local shops are bolstering their online presence, which may put them in a better position once the pandemic passes. Summer is usually a slow time for Downtown vinyl shop Spoonful Records. Co-owner Amy Kesting said most people tend to spend their money on music experiences, like concerts and festivals, in the warmer months. But as the temperature drops, sales of physical music tend to rise. “In winter, when they’re holed up inside, they spend their money on vinyl and stuff they can listen to,” Kesting said. “And right now, it’s like winter all over. Everybody’s holed up, and they need music. Music feeds your soul.” That winter-in-April mentality is one thing working in favor of local record stores, which have been shuttered since late March due to Gov. Mike DeWine’s “stay at home” order. But Columbus shops have adapted to this new era, offering a mix of online ordering, curbside pickups, mail orders and even same-day home deliveries. In fact, in interviews with owners of Spoonful, Used Kids in North Campus and Lost Weekend and Elizabeth’s in Clintonville, all expressed confidence their stores would weather the coronavirus pandemic. Spoonful, for one, might even emerge in a better position.

San Francisco, CA | Records in the time of Corona: Groove Merchant: In our ongoing series about record shops coping with this global pandemic called Records In The Time Of Corona, we got to sit down with the OG of the record game on the West Coast. Cool Chris Veltri from Groove Merchant. Everyone’s favorite San Francisco record store owner and purveyor of top notch vinyl and print media broke it down on how COVID-19 has affected this storied institution and how the game is changing right before our eyes. “As of March 15 the gates closed at the shop. Sales and income diminished quickly. The following two weeks were stressful and uncertain. I got pretty close to flat broke. San Francisco is a city that simply doesn’t allow error, so I had to get moving pretty quick. I ordered an Endicia home postage system and got busy.”

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Demand it on Vinyl:
The Clean, Unknown Country and “Live Dead Clean” streaming now

VIA PRESS RELEASE | New Zealand’s legendary group The Clean have dusted off several releases from their catalog and made them available on all digital platforms! Today marks the digital debut of the band’s 1996 studio album Unknown Country and that of “Live Dead Clean,” a six-song EP of early live tracks recorded in 1981 and 1982. Pop some “Champagne & Misery” to celebrate.

The Clean’s David Kilgour and Robert Scott on Unknown Country: David Kilgour: The Clean always wanna try something different, but on this LP, we were obsessed with the idea. Tracks like “Wipe Me, I’m Lucky” and “Franz Kafka at the Zoo” are fine examples of the approach, I reckon. Quite a long way from “Tally Ho!” and “Beatnik”! I remember we generally left vocal ideas to last, after the tracks were recorded, so we never really knew where we were headed. Might also explain all the instrumentals! Made during the Balkan War, hence the reference. And for the freaks, I think “Balkans” is the only Clean track ever to not actually feature the Clean playing. It’s all Alan Starrett, as we removed the backing track.

Robert Scott: This album is very different from our other albums. We didn’t go into the studio with many “song” ideas—a lot of it was written on the spot. I really enjoyed recording this as it was free of expectation. We weren’t playing much live at the time. It does contain some of my favourite Clean songs such as “Twist Top,” “Wipe Me, I’m Lucky,” and “Valley Cab.” Certainly our most experimental album.”

In addition to the releases mentioned above, Compilation, Vehicle, Modern Rock, and In-A-Live are available for your listening pleasure on your favorite digital service today.

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TVD Radar: Dennis
and Lois
documentary streaming now

VIA PRESS RELEASE | There are bands, there are fans, and then there’s Dennis and Lois. It’s official, April 28, 2020 is the release date for the long-awaited, award-winning documentary called Dennis And Lois. A story about a New York couple that transcended beyond just being “music fans,” to become the legends behind the legends.

In the Rock ‘n’ Roll world, the word “legends” is normally reserved for the performers and the stars, but every now and then, certain people rise up between the cracks of celebrity and fame to cement their own legacy. Dennis and Lois are such people. It all began in the mid-70s at a gritty little club in New York City called CBGB’s where Dennis and Lois befriended an up-and-coming band, The Ramones. They quickly became part of The Ramones inner circle, selling merchandise and assisting the future punk legends on tours around the world. This experience changed their lives.

Through the years, Dennis and Lois continue to build friendships and sell merchandise for the bands they admire. Happy Mondays immortalized them in song and Spin magazine published a comic strip celebrating their “War Stories from the Road.” Dennis and Lois are considered by many to be rock ‘n’ roll icons, but as age and illness start to threaten their lifelong tour, they need to rely on the friends they’ve collected along the way and the music that energizes them to keep it going.

Dennis and Lois is a documentary about love, passion, and the power of music. It’s about a couple who’ve always lived life on their own terms, and who have dedicated their lives to the spirit of Rock ‘n’ Roll with a self-imposed moral obligation to give back to those who create the music that moves them. It’s a film about the long list of artists that they’ve come to call friends, who consider Dennis and Lois an integral part of their own success and purpose.

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Graded on a Curve:
Field Works,

Although he has a sizable discography to his credit, Stuart Hyatt isn’t accurately labeled as a musician, but rather as a field recorder, and through extensive collaboration, a sonic architect (he indeed studied architecture, an endeavor that led him to his current pursuit). Released as Field Works, his productivity was collected in a large-scale limited edition vinyl box set in 2018, and now there’s Ultrasonic, a 2LP, CD, and digital release of Hyatt’s compositional sources enhanced by, amongst others, Eluvium, Sarah Davachi, Mary Lattimore, Noveller, and Jefre Cantu-Ledesma. Cohering into a rewarding “storytelling project” concerning the endangered Indiana bat, it’s out May 1 via Temporary Residence.

Although electronic music has its share of multi-member groups, and most-often duos (e.g. Boards of Canada, Matmos, Autechre, The Knife), it is still dominated by solo operators (and doesn’t my promo inbox know it). Indeed, electronic music is largely an auteur-driven zone where collaboration is regularly utilized as a way to extend or just spice-up an approach that has already proven effective on its own.

But wait. To describe Field Works as electronic is reductive, even as the list of those who’ve built upon Hyatt’s foundations include many who fit into that category (the aforementioned Matmos, Visible Cloaks, Ben Lukas Boysen, The Field, Dntel, B. Fleischmann, Gazelle Twin, Prototokyo, Pantha du Prince, and more), along with others, with the expected descriptive overlap, who are frequently tagged as ambient (Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Lusine, Chihei Hatakeyama).

But there are also names standing a little further apart (The Album Leaf, Juana Molina, Lullatone, Dan Deacon), or a lot (William Tyler) as Field Works becomes distinguished for the bedrock necessity of collaboration. To offer some background, the numerous prior recordings in the Field Works catalog, currently available separately digitally but released in 2018 on vinyl in the 7LP set Metaphonics: The Complete Field Works Recordings, evolved from a site analysis Hyatt conducted of the Washington Street neighborhoods in his hometown of Indianapolis as part of his M.Arch. thesis project.

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In rotation: 4/29/20

New York, NY | Rough Trade NYC: We’re back! Although our NYC store doors have to remain closed for now, Rough Trade is re-open 24/7 online in the US for all of your LPs, CDs, 7”, tape & music book needs. We can’t thank you enough for your kindness and patience during our period of online operational downtime. With more time spent at home than ever before, we know it is crucial to be able to have, to hold and to spin the music that you love. Every dollar you spend with us is a dollar that supports our store, our staff, the labels and artists that have all been heavily affected by this new climate. A couple of points worth noting: firstly, as with any mail delivery service right now, delivery times are severely affected by the conditions, so patience is undoubtedly a virtue when it comes to waiting for your delivery to arrive. Secondly, release dates for physical releases are also prone to alteration more than normal in these current conditions, so be sure to keep an eye on our website for the latest information. OK, time to get browsing once again!

Nashville, TN | Fixing It In Post: Doyle Davis On How Grimey’s Is Surviving With Online Sales: Grimey’s New & Preloved Music, now in its third location in 21 years of business, has come to symbolize what’s best about modern Music City. It’s a trend-setter, a hang-out and a venue where bands from in and out of town introduce new music to the world. So anything that threatens the record store’s well-being is taken gravely seriously by the music community, and the coronavirus shut-down is such a threat. The store laid off its staff in March in order to qualify them for unemployment benefits and with hopes to hire them back, which may now be sooner than later, thanks to a surge in online sales and prospects for re-opening becoming clearer. Last week, five weeks into Nashville’s local Shelter-At-Home order, WMOT spoke with Grimey’s co-owner Doyle Davis about the status of the store and its staff. The following conversation has been edited for space and clarity. “…The mail order business from our website and our store have been honestly enormous. It’s gratifying and a little bit terrifying looking at the (fulfillment and shipping) workload. It puts me in a quandary. Should I bring back staff now?

Washington, DC | City Lights: Rent Other Music from Local Venues or Obsess Over D.C. Money Diaries: The 2019 documentary about the beloved New York City record store is available from AFI Silver, Songbyrd, and the Miracle Theatre. The 2019 documentary Other Music, directed by Puloma Basu and Rob Hatch-Miller, is more than just a historical film about the legendary New York City record store that was open from 1995 to 2016. As Other Music co-owner Josh Madell says in a touching scene shot two days before the store’s final closing, it’s about the “magic of human interaction” and whether that can exist in a world of pricey rents and digital-only culture—and that phrase takes on an even more affecting meaning in these days of coronavirus. The Other Music shop started long before online streaming became the primary way that most people interact with music. Owners Madell, Chris Vanderloo, and Jeff Gibson met as employees of Kim’s Underground, a New York store that rented and sold arthouse and underground movie videos and later music.

Los Angeles, CA | Amoeba Music’s Sunset Boulevard location will not reopen due to coronavirus; new location set to open in the fall: With nearly 20 years of memories that were to be celebrated over the summer months, the independent record store won’t be able to give its original location a proper send-off. Back in February, Amoeba Music officially announced that it would be moving to a new location, just blocks away from its original home at 6400 Sunset Blvd., in Los Angeles, next to the ArcLight multiplex Theater. It was supposed to be a seamless transition, with the former location remaining open until the new spot, located at the El Centro Complex at 6200 Hollywood Blvd. on the corner of Argyle Ave., opened sometime in the fall. However, once the global coronavirus health crisis hit Southern California, Amoeba was forced to close its doors on March 18 amid the spread of COVID-19 and rely strictly on online orders. On April 21, the self-proclaimed “world’s largest independent record store” launched a GoFundMe campaign, hoping to raise $400,000 to stay afloat and pay its staff of 400 at its Los Angeles, Berkeley and San Francisco locations. So far, the GoFundMe effort has raised over $215,000 and has more than 5,000 donors.

Mondo to release Infinity Saga vinyl collection for ‘Avengers: Endgame’ anniversary: To celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s conclusion of the Infinity Saga, Mondo is releasing a vinyl collection for “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame.” The collection features six vinyl records covering the entirety of composer Alan Silvestri’s scores to the two blockbuster Marvel films, housed in individual slipcases with artwork by Matt Taylor and a web-exclusive case for both sets. This box set is pressed on 6x 180 gram “Infinity Stone” vinyl and is priced at $90. The collection is expected to ship in June 2020. Both individual films’ soundtracks are also available as 3x LP sets. If you’re not interested in the Infinity Stone-colored versions, you can also pick this collection up on 3x 180 Gram Black Vinyl for $45. In addition to this vinyl release, Mondo will also offer a brand-new Avengers slipmat for record players, featuring Captain America’s shield on one side and Thanos on the other for $12.

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Graded on a Curve: Pram, The Stars Are So Big, the Earth Is So Small…Stay as You Are and Helium

Although long defunct, throughout the 1990s the UK label Too Pure promulgated a sweet heaping mess of worthwhile musical activity; most illustrious in the outpouring were PJ Harvey and Stereolab, but numerous additional acts fortified the scenario, and amongst the finest was Pram. Formed in Birmingham, England in 1990, the experimental pop outfit released three full-lengths on Too Pure, and the first two, ’93’s The Stars Are So Big, the Earth Is So Small…Stay as You Are and the following year’s Helium are available via Medical Records of Seattle, WA.

Pram initially came together in the late ‘80s under the name Hole. Eventually their founding members, namely Rosie Cuckston on vocals and keyboards, Matt Eaton on guitar, Samantha “Sam” Owen on bass, and Andy Weir on drums, changed the moniker to Pram, and their first recordings wielded an abrasive, nervous quality derived from indie rock and traceable back to their home country’s post-punk innovators, in particular The Slits and The Raincoats.

As part of the upside-down musical landscape of the early ’90s, Pram has surely been categorized as one component in the truly seismic indie explosion. But instead of being tidily indicative of the ’80s underground’s absorption into the mainstream of the ensuing decade, the group can be accurately tagged as prescient; circa ’88 as Hole their sound reportedly sprang entirely from vocals and a homemade Theremin.

Pram has been described as everything from experimental pop/rock to neo-psychedelia to dream pop, but they seem best pegged as an early example of post-rock (though at least one member of the band disagrees) as they adopted a wide range of atypical instrumentation, borrowed ideas from a Krautrock and post-punk antecedents, honed their skills as multi-instrumentalists and then strove to not sound like anyone else.

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Brother Moses,
The TVD First Date

“My dad thinks listening to music on vinyl in the 21st century is hilarious. It’s a conversation we’ve had every Christmas since I was a teenager and my sister and I started getting records in flat Amazon-mailer packages under the tree.”

“He laughs at the absurdity of packing up a box of records that would take up less than 1% of the available space on his iPod. And sure, the fact that my dad still listens to music on an iPod in 2020 is much funnier than anything he could ever say about record collecting, but he does have a point. Vinyl is heavy. It breaks and warps. It’s peddled and collected by an often obnoxious and snobby corner of the music-loving world. It also must be enjoyed at home, which to be honest isn’t really where I most enjoy listening to music. A record, while it might look and sound great, can’t be enjoyed on a walk through the park or on a long drive through the middle of nowhere. So what is so great about it?

The first turntable I ever bought was some Sony USB-powered thing that I got at Best Buy in ninth or tenth grade, and my only impetus for buying it was that my girlfriend gave me The Beatles’ blue album on vinyl and I had no way to listen to it. I brought home the record player and looked for a headphone jack. Couldn’t find one. I tried Googling “how to use turntable” and was immediately overwhelmed with talk of preamps, speakers, cables, needles, and no one even once mentioned just plugging in your headphones. I’d just spent like a hundred bucks on this complicated looking machine that was going to play this record, and now everyone on the internet was telling me I needed to spend more money? No thank you. The turntable, and the record, sat on the back burner up until the summer before I left for college.

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UK Artist of the Week: Spelks

This week’s Artist of The Week comes from Newcastle and they certainly are packed with a scuzzy punch. Spelks’ debut single “The Happy Places” is out now.

Combining noise-pop and lo-fi alt-rock sensibilities, Spelks has created a sound that’s both heavy and infectious. Distorted guitars buzz in the background as Spelks’ frontman Jonathan Sabiston’s distinctively rich vocal tone is able to soar effortlessly, whilst flawless harmonies chime in underneath. Fans of the likes of Weezer and Surfer Blood will feel at home here.

The lyrics themselves discuss what it’s like to live with agoraphobia and anxiety, making the track all the more relatable and emotive. With another single due to be released later this year, we’re excited to see what Spelks get up to next (even if they are stuck at home).

“The Happy Places” is in stores now.

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Graded on a Curve:
Olivia Awbrey,
Dishonorable Harvest

Based in Portland, OR but with time spent in England, Olivia Awbrey writes the songs and sings them on her debut full-length. Just as importantly, she invigorates her tunes with tough guitar playing and enlists a tight crew (including Jen Macro of My Bloody Valentine) to infuse the whole with heft and depth, so that instead of just another indie strum scenario, a tangle of influences productively shine through. Dishonorable Harvest is out May 1 on vinyl, compact disc, and digital through the Quick Pickle label.

Checking out Olivia Aubrey’s first release, the 7-song “Fight or Fight” EP from 2017 (still available on CD), does present something of a strum scenario in its opening title track, though it’s more classically folk-poppy than indie and likeable at that. Following it is a tight dose of up-tempo melodic-rock, with the rest of the set highlighting Awbrey’s budding strengths as a singer-songwriter.

Extending from its first cut, the EP’s an enjoyable listen, but “Geolocation at P.A.M.,” the opening song on her follow-up Dishonorable Harvest, delivers a power move of considerable proportions and sets into motion a long-player that, while solid, still registers as an effort of promise rather than a document of fulfilled potential. Furthermore, the track’s title refers to the Portland Art Museum, the connection revealed in lyrics that dive into (seemingly) autobiographical realms infused with rocking loudness situating Awbrey as a descendant of Patti Smith.

She’s not swiping Smith’s moves though. In her website bio, Awbrey describes her songs as offering a “self-interrogation of her place in the world as a queer woman,” and it’s a self-assessment that shines through in the hearing. Additionally, on an instrumental level, the song’s heaviness feels connected to more recent Alt-indie developments, the bio further detailing how Awbrey met and spent time with one of her inspirations, the English songwriter CJ Thorpe-Tracey, who along with Jen Marco, contributes to Dishonorable Harvest.

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In rotation: 4/28/20

Los Angeles, CA | Amoeba Music won’t reopen original Sunset Boulevard store: ‘We have no choice’: Though you didn’t know it at the time, your last shopping spree at Amoeba Music in Hollywood was your final one. After a month of speculation, the famed record store has announced that it won’t be reopening at its original location at the corner of Sunset and Cahuenga. The spot, where Amoeba had operated since its 2001 opening, has been shuttered since the statewide stay-at-home orders were announced in March. Instead, it will devote its energy to opening in its new location, hopefully in the fall, at 6200 Hollywood Boulevard. In a statement, Jim Henderson, co-owner of Amoeba, said: “We are devastated for our run at this beautiful destination to end like this, but we simply have no choice.” According to a just-issued press release from Amoeba, “The plan was to close the Sunset location in the fall and then move to the new site as soon as possible while moving operations to its new space. That now will not be the case, with the Sunset store having served its last customer and housed its final performance.” Henderson declined further comment. The company had planned a summer-long farewell party to the old location. That will no longer occur.

Canton, OH | Shuffle: Independent Record Stores Spin Up a New Business Model in the Face of COVID-19: On what would have been the 12th annual celebration of Record Store Day on April 18, local music shops remained dark, empty and closed. The event is an annual celebration of independently owned record stores and brings crowds of music fans to these local businesses to buy exclusive or new music releases. Local record stores are experiencing the difficult effects of the COVID-19 pandemic—not only on sales, but also in missing the camaraderie that often comes hand-in-hand with small businesses and their regular patrons. David Sherrill, who co-owns Arrowhead Vintage and Handmade Goods in Canton with his wife Melissa Sherrill, said he took proactive measures, which meant entering self-quarantine early. “Within an hour they confirmed a Stark County case, we just locked the door and turned off the lights,” Sherrill said.

San Luis Obispo, CA | SLO record store keeps turntables spinning amid coronavirus pandemic with online transition: It’s no secret many people and local business are struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. Boo Boo Records owner Mike White realizes that as he navigates the uncertain climate. “Everyone’s hurting,” White told New Times. “I don’t expect anything from anybody, but it’s nice when we get it and it’s super gratifying. We’re thankful.” As businesses in San Luis Obispo and across the state shut their doors for the foreseeable future as a result of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s shelter-at-home directive, creativity became the name of the game. Local establishments are coming up with ways to continue serving their customers while staying home. At Boo Boo Records, this means turning to online sales to keep selling records for music heads. While the store has maintained an online selling presence for the last 15 years, White said he and his employees have put more energy toward the website as a result of the pandemic.

Ventura, CA | Vans shoe with Salzer’s Records logo on sale thanks to support from Anderson .Paak: Ever since Salzer’s Records shut down due to the coronavirus, the Ventura retailer has been selling its music online. This week, there’s new merchandise — Vans shoes with a Salzer’s logo. The shoe, designed by record store co-owner Brandon Salzer, is part of Vans’ Foot the Bill program to help small businesses. Vans had approached rapper and singer Anderson .Paak to select a business to benefit from the program and he picked Salzer’s. .Paak, who grew up in Oxnard and Ventura, still returns to the area and shops at Salzer’s. His last two albums, released in 2018 and 2019, were named “Oxnard” and “Ventura.” When .Paak celebrated the release of “Oxnard” with a free concert at the Oxnard Performing Arts and Convention Center, he asked the team at Salzer’s to sell his CD and vinyl at the event. When the Grammy winner was getting his start, he did an in-store performance at Salzer’s.

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