Monthly Archives: May 2020

Needle Drop: Night House, Everyone Is Watching From Afar

It’s a strange time in the world at the moment, and sometimes it feels like there is no escape. News updates are constant, we’re missing our families, and sadly there seems to be no real end in sight right now. It’s times like these when people turn to music, more than ever, to escape from reality and to be absorbed in something beautiful. That’s exactly what Brighton’s Night House have accomplished with their debut album Everyone Is Watching From Afar, out now.

Combining orchestral folk, electronic beats and icy synths, Night House creates a sound that is oozing with ethereal goodness from start to finish. Previously released single “Unfold” channels the likes of Bon Iver and James Blake as woozy electronics compliment lead singer Nicholas Williams’s stunning falsetto.

Talking about the single, Nicholas explains, “‘Unfold’ focuses on the moments of change in relationship that is breaking down.” The track was written for a close friend after a breakup with his boyfriend. “I wrote ‘Unfold’ as an attempt to comfort my friend and that this pain, however hard, in time will pass.”

Also featured on the album is the celestial delight that is “To Be With.” Once again showcasing Night House’s ability to create ambient electronics with a poignant quality, “To Be With” offers us a glimpse at the band’s more delicate side.

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TVD Video Premiere: Silver Liz, “Microwave S’mores”

PHOTO: MATT SCHWERIN | Chicago-based Silver Liz is the recording moniker of Carrie and Matt Wagner who have been creating shoegaze-y indie jams since they bonded over a mutual love of The Strokes in college. But the band’s current vibe feels more akin to Sonic Youth, as Silver Liz has the uncanny ability to produce lush, fuzzed out indie pop that is both gritty and sensitive. Their latest single is also timely, diving into the pros and cons of being an introvert in modern society.

Matt shares, “‘Microwave S’mores’ is about embracing the tendency to be a homebody. When I showed one of my friends the song, he asked ‘you okay, bud?’ The lyrics are not meant to be depressing and it wasn’t out of irony that we chose to put them with music that is light and in a major-key; the music suggests that the lyrics are a celebration of accepting your introversion.”

Carrie adds; “The song, which we actually wrote last year, is about wanting to stay indoors. Of course, many of us are desperately wanting to go outside these days, but this song might help some remember all the times they wished they’d had an excuse to stay in and not go out.”

All proceeds from the track, set for release on May 23rd, will be donated to the MusicCares’ COVID-19 Relief Fund.

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Graded on a Curve:
Sabir Mateen, Patrick Holmes, Federico Ughi, Survival Situation

Those who crave the intensity and beauty of free jazz might already be familiar with 577 Records of Brooklyn. However, as the label’s been quite busy of late, it’s a good idea to spotlight one of their more recent releases that’s also received a limited-edition vinyl pressing, namely Survival Situation from multi-instrumentalist Sabir Mateen, clarinetist Patrick Holmes, and drummer (and 577 co-founder) Federico Ughi. While some of 577’s newer stuff has ventured into electronic regions and even mingled with bluegrass and Americana, this set falls nearer to the classic free jazz tradition while incorporating a wide range of instruments including Mateen on Farfisa Matador. The black, yellow, or cyan wax is out now.

Sabir Mateen is the veteran of this trio and by a considerable stretch, which explains why he is top billed on the cover. His background is rewardingly wide-ranging, with his first appearances on record coming through the Pan-Afrikan Peoples Arkestra, a community-based aggregation organized by the undersung West Coast pianist-composer Horace Tapscott.

Originally issued on double vinyl by Nimbus West Records (a label specifically set up to document the work of Tapscott), Live at I.U.C.C. was reissued in 2019 as a triple LP (but with no extra stuff) by the Outernational Sounds imprint, a subsidiary of Honest Jon’s. With two compositions credited to Mateen including the side-long “Village Dance,” Live at I.U.C.C. features his tenor saxophone, which can also be heard on the two live tracks added to the CD and LP reissues of the PAPA’s Flight 17, originally from ’78, and on Dial ‘B’ for Barbra, a 1981 session by the Horace Tapscott Sextet.

This Tapscott-era material lays the foundation for Mateen’s subsequent work as an ensemble player, which is highlighted by performances with Sun Ra at various times from the ’80s up to ’91, and as part of Cecil Taylor’s large band from 2002-’05; in addition, he’s recorded in the groups of Marc Edwards, Mark Whitecage, Dennis Gonzalez, Steve Swell, Matthew Shipp, Gunter Hampel, and William Parker.

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In rotation: 5/20/20

Kamloops, CA | Some businesses wary about reopening as more provinces ease COVID restrictions: Businesses in some provinces spent the long weekend preparing to reopen ahead of an easing of restrictions aimed at curbing the COVID-19 pandemic, even as others said they’re not yet ready to throw open their doors. Ontario has given the green light to certain retail stores to open their doors Tuesday as the province enters the first stage of its reopening plan. …Others said they’re eager to open up shop again, but may need more time to prepare. Stephen Yorke, who owns the Toronto record store Dead Dog Records, said he would will reopen his store’s two locations as soon as possible, but not until he can equip the cash area with plexiglass screens later this week. Even then, the stores will only be able to accommodate two to four customers who will be supplied with latex gloves before they can do any browsing, he said. Staff will continue to sanitize common areas, including door pulls and card readers, he said.

Record Store Recs: Chulita Vinyl Club On The Best Music Stores In L.A., Oakland, Austin & Beyond: In the latest edition of our crate-digging interview series, two reinas from the all-vinyl Latinx DJ collective reveal their favorite vinyl haunts across California and Texas. Texas-born, San Jose, Calif.-based Claudia Saenz originally founded Chulita Vinyl Club to share her love of records—especially Tejano, ranchero, Motown and soul—in a fun, tangible way. The collective, a crew of female-identifying Latinx vinyl-spinning DJs, has grown to seven chapters across California and Texas, including the (Northern California) Bay Area Chapter, which Saenz, a.k.a. Chulita Tear Drop lives. …We caught up with Saenz and one of her fellow Bay Area cohorts, Los Angeles-born, Oakland-based Mar Velez, a.k.a. DJ Marvelouz, for the latest edition of our Record Store Recs interview series. Read on to find out where they get all their great vinyl gems from, and learn about some of the indie labels, artists and new records they have their eyes on.

Portland, ME | Keep ME Open: ‘Bullish’ on changing Maine business during coronavirus pandemic: One well-known Maine business has had to adapt to shifting retail landscape, yet again. This time, Bull Moose had to adapt to the coronavirus, COVID-19 economy. “I was a college student at the time, just really didn’t have much going on,” says Bull Moose Music founder Brett Wickard. So he decided, almost as a whim, “Hey! I’m gonna open up a record store and tell all my friends.” Wickard didn’t really have much of a business plan when he opened the first Bull Moose store in Brunswick in the summer of 1989, but today he oversees nine stores in Maine and three in New Hampshire with 175 employees. Successful entrepreneurs know they have to adapt to changing times if their business is going to thrive, and Wickard has seen a lot of threats over three decades. “When we started out the word was ‘home taping is killing the music industry.’ Then it was ‘big-box retailers are killing small retail.’ Then it was Internet downloading.” He survived by knowing the market…and knowing his audience.

Gallatin, TN | Every Era nears downtown Gallatin debut: She is a self-proclaimed “1970s chick.” He believes that 1959 was the height of American design. Together, recording artists Eric and Lindsey Heatherly hope to share their love of all things vintage with the opening of a new store in downtown Gallatin later this month. Every Era will feature vintage and vintage-inspired items from the 1940s through the 1990s that the Gallatin couple has found throughout the years while traveling and performing shows across the country. “We go everywhere and anywhere to try to find treasures,” said Eric Heatherly, whose cover of “Flowers on the Wall” was a Top 10 hit on the country charts in 2000. “We have a little bit of everything. It’s all hand-selected and picked by us.” Located on Prince Street near the intersection of North Water Avenue, the store will feature a variety of vintage clothing and furniture including Mid-Century Modern lamps, kitchenware, suitcases, cowboy hats, cowboy boots, purses, posters, CDs, vinyl records and turntable consoles.

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Graded on a Curve:
The Mekons,
The Mekons Rock ‘N’ Roll

It’s a rare occasion for the TVD reviews team to have weighed in on the same LP several years apart. We put them side by side today—with surprisingly similar results.Ed.

You don’t have to be a dyed in the wool Marxist to know that rock ’n’ roll is product—just another consumer item to be consumed by consumers who live to consume. It’s everybody’s not-so-secret dirty secret, as obvious as a turd suspended in Jello, but when push comes to shove only a limited number of bands—I can think of the Minutemen, the Fall, and Fugazi off the top of my head—have addressed the issue both in the way they do business and as subject matter in their songs. And no band has ever done it with such passion, fatalistic humor, and rage as The Mekons do on their 1989 walk on the riled side, The Mekons Rock n’ Roll.

Formedon in 1977 by a rowdy bunch of University of Leeds art students, the Mekons combined rank amateurism, left-wing politics, and a wry sense of humor (the title of their 1979 full-length debut, The Quality of Mercy is Not Strenen, doesn’t make much sense until the album cover reveals it to be a monkeys at typewriters producing Shakespeare joke). The Mekons gradually evolved, practically inventing alt-country in the process, but returned to their punk roots (at a stage in their career when most bands have settled into comfortable conformity) to produce what is both a howl of unbridled savagery and probably their masterpiece.

Upon first listen, The Mekons Rock n’ Roll is exactly what it purports to be—a rough and raucous celebration of the glories of rock ‘n’ roll. Except it isn’t. What it is a sly critique of rock as commodity, of sex as commodity, of a world where everything is commodity—a veritable “Empire of the Senseless,” to cite just one of the wonderfully intelligent and derisory tunes on this savage assault on capitalism disguised as an LP. “They took away our films and tapes and notebooks/But it’s ok ‘cos we’ve self-censored this song,” sneers Tom Greenhalgh, before running down a long list of the lies and deceits and casual everyday treacheries that constitute life in a materialistic society where everything has its price. As for the song itself, it boasts a great chorus, one wonderful melodica, and some truly brilliant fiddle by the wonderful Susie Honeyman.

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Graded on a Curve:
The Mekons,
The Mekons Rock ‘N’ Roll

It’s a rare occasion for the TVD reviews team to have weighed in on the same LP several years apart. We put them side by side today—with surprisingly similar results.Ed.

The Mekons are one of the very few ‘70s-era punk bands still extant as something other than a cash-cow regurgitating pale imitations of past glories. They’ve achieved enduring relevance by adapting and keeping things fresh, and if a steady flow of personnel changes have occurred along the way, the thrust and verve that’s always made their records worthwhile remains intact. Perhaps the band’s best LP was released in 1989, a batch of unruly and often sprawling songs that was collected under the title The Mekons Rock ‘N’ Roll.

It’s not hard to understand why folks, the writer included, get a little wrapped up in the idea of firsts when considering the great big wallop that is the history of rock ‘n’ roll. It’s an idea that extends to the appreciation of art forms in general, and it’s often due to the clarity they provide in absorbing exactly what happened way back when and how it all relates to where we are right now.

So many noteworthy firsts served as the impetus for all kinds of subsequent reactive activity, being new directions that provided a springboard for others to create their own unique perspectives upon fresh ideas and alternatives. They were game changers that eventually became historical markers, their significance effectively squashing any doubts over the regenerative qualities of art. And when the reading, looking and listening remains absorbing over the span of time, they transition into selections in a grand smorgasbord of options that help bring fulfillment to our numbered days.

Rock music can get all tangled up in the mentality of firsts. Sometimes this inspires debate that’ll never be absolved; what’s the first rock ‘n’ roll single? What’s the first example of hard rock becoming heavy metal? What release effectively marks the end of the proto-punk era and signifies the beginnings of self-conscious punk rock, and what song or album distinguishes the emergence of hip-hop from the fertile soil of old-school rap?

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UK Artist of the Week: MC Salum

We’ve got something a little different for you this week and it comes all the way from Dundee in Scotland. MC Salum—aka Mike Vincent Colville—recently released his forward-thinking new single “Felina” and it’s the blistering slice of conscious hip-hop we didn’t know we needed.

Featuring guest vocals from TVD favourites stmartiins’ front woman Katie Lynch, “Felina” combines Katie’s soft, celestial vocal with Mike’s dynamic rap style and producer Liam James’ crisp, synth-laden style in order to create a sound that is both infectious and innovative. Fans of Slowthai and Tyler The Creator will feel at home here.

We’ll be honest, we had no idea there was even a hip-hop scene in Dundee, let alone a high quality one, but perhaps we’re just showing our age… Nonetheless MC Salum is certainly putting Dundee on the map and we can’t wait to see what the rest of 2020 has in store for this rising rapper.

“Felina” is in stores now.

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Graded on a Curve:
The Reply,
The Complete Collection

Comprised of bassist-singer Gary Roth, guitarist Ted Riederer, drummer John Lyons, and keyboardist Mark Thorp, Washington DC’s mod-punk outfit The Reply formed in autumn of 1983 as 13-year-olds and lasted until ’89. In between, they played a bunch of shows, getting all the way to the stage of CBGB’s, and also did a bit of recording, which is gathered on two white vinyl LPs in The Complete Collection, with sounds likely to please fans of The Jam, The English Beat, and Ted Leo’s work in Chisel and with the Pharmacists, as that New Wavy keyboard component could bring a smile to the face of those into the Fleshtones and Joe King Carrasco. It’s out now with liner notes in a gatefold sleeve from Reply Records.

Like a lot of teens in the 1980s, the members of The Reply weren’t pleased by what was being offered on the radio. Instead, per the notes and PR for this retrospective set, they took inspiration from the likes of The Jam, The Clash, The Specials, The Beat, The Ramones, The Damned, and “the really early Cure like “Fire in Cairo.””

Forming in 1983 means The Reply’s timeline runs concurrent to the development of DC hardcore, a movement which in fact inspired the band as they shared a common mentor in the late Skip Groff, the owner of storied record shop Yesterday & Today and the man behind the noted DC indie label Limp. A point of pride for the band is that Groff put a poster for one of their shows on his wall and then “left it there forever.” That he would do so isn’t surprising, as The Reply’s sound was shaped by the same sort of records Groff had been digging in the late ’70s (Limp’s name was an homage to Stiff Records).

While The Reply were distinct from harDCore stylistically, they were still part of the same scene, playing venues like DC Space (booked by photographer Cynthia Connolly, whose pictures, along with the work of others, document part of the city’s scene of the period in the book Banned in DC), the old 9:30 Club, and the Wilson Center, plus sets in the summer at Fort Reno and benefits for Positive Force and Rock Against Racism. By their breakup in 1989, the PR describes The Reply as being “part of the same milieu as Fugazi, Gray Matter, Scream, and Swiz.”

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In rotation: 5/19/20

Milwaukee, WI | A Lockdown Guide to Record Stores: Music collectors are a particularly rabid bunch, lining up hours before dawn on Record Store Day searching for hard-to-find titles. While some collectors may fall back on websites like Discogs or eBay, there is nothing like the camaraderie of stopping in at a neighborhood record store. Milwaukee is fortunate to have a handful of thriving shops, some of which also host live performances. With Gov. Tony Evers’ easing of restrictions on retail operations here is a guide to local (and beyond) record shops for cratediggers who may be going into withdrawal. ACME Records: “I’m waiting this out for a bit, we’ll see how long,” said ACME’s Ken Chrisien. He said he is still buying records from some regulars (in a very non-contact sort of way). “Appointments and curbside service are being considered at the moment, perhaps in the near future, but I’m guessing that I’ll be one of the last stores to open, as I suspect of this ‘get back to normal’ rush that’s happening right now….we’re a long way from this being controlled.”

Madison, WI | Strictly Discs in Wisconsin, in a Pandemic: ‘I Just Hope We Don’t Have a Resurgence.’ Angie Roloff, owner of Strictly Discs in Madison, Wisconsin, is preparing to reopen the store after the state eased its safer-at-home mandate. In October 1988, Angie Roloff and her husband Ron opened Strictly Discs in Madison, Wisconsin, after Ron left a career in the biomedical research field to pursue his love of music full time. Nearly 31 years later, the couple made the difficult decision to shutter in-store operations due to COVID-19, roughly a week before Governor Tony Evers forced a mandatory shutdown of all non-essential businesses. Now that the Wisconsin Supreme Court has overturned Evers’ stay-at-home order — ruling it “unlawful” and “unenforceable” — the Roloffs and their employees are preparing to reopen Strictly Discs in a limited capacity for the first time since mid-March. As part of Billboard’s efforts to best cover the coronavirus pandemic and its impacts on the music industry, we will be speaking with Roloff each week to chronicle her experience

Oklahoma City, OK | Oklahoma Forward: Bookstores and record shops weigh reopening strategies. Vinyl lovers, rejoice! Guestroom Records is now open. But your browsing experience comes with some stipulations. “Right now, we’re requiring that everyone that comes in wears a mask and either hand-sanitizers or wear gloves,” said Co-owner Justin Sowers. They’re also limiting the number of people in stores to eight in Oklahoma City and five in Norman. So far, Sowers said customers are gladly complying. Yeah, it seems to be working well,” he said. “Most customers seem to be pleased with it.” Pandemic survival has fortunately been easy for Sowers and his staff to navigate. Business through curbside pickup and delivery has been steady, and a nice change of pace. “That’s how the record store sort of started is we used to take – we had a big tub and we would take it around to peoples’ houses, you know when we were in college. And, so, it was kind of fun to hand-deliver records again,” Sowers said.

Baltimore, MD | With Record Day Postponed To June, Stores Look To New Ways To Sell Vinyl: Matthew Moffatt, the owner of Smash! Records in Washington, D.C., was looking forward to Record Store Day, the annual April event when music fans descend upon local record stores to purchase limited-release music recorded on vinyl. Music stores, like all nonessential businesses, have been closed in Washington and Maryland since late March, forcing the cancellation of Record Store Day during what is typically the most lucrative time of year for independent record stores. “I would say that it’s probably every record store’s busiest day of the year, even for the stores that don’t participate,” Moffatt said. Record Store Day has been postponed until June, but in the meantime record store owners like Moffatt are looking for new ways to serve a clientele base of fanatics and obsessives, including pricing and selling records on online platforms like

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Katiejane Garside,
The TVD First Date

“So how did I, at age fourteen, come to have a 7” vinyl copy of ‘Green Onions’ by Booker T & The MG’s in my hands?”

“Well, in 1984 I hit terra firma with a clattering of irons. I wrecked up utterly lost and despairing. I had been unceremoniously ripped from my version of paradise—my homeschooling, sailing boat life of desert islands and turquoise lagoons, vast empty timeless oceans—to the bare-knuckle fighting of bored kids in a boring English seaside town with an eye for the wide-eyed, hapless, flat-chested and weak. I simply wasn’t equipped.

BMX bikes spoke of necessary fast exits from school, so I got one of those. And then one day, an enigmatic pod of boys turned up on their bikes in long green coats, so I went and hid out with them (my BMX skills were considered ‘good for a girl’). They were mods.

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Graded on a Curve: Teenage Jesus and
the Jerks,
Live 1977–1979

In 1979 I was living out my lifelong dream of a being a failed painter in a rat-infected loft on the Lower East Side when I first saw Teenage Jesus and the Jerks. Their 3-minute 78-song set changed my life.

The next day I gathered up the money I was going to spend on bread and bologna and put down a deposit on a guitar and a blown amp. I went home and tuned the guitar to the key of dreadful, tortured it with a pair of plyers until it confessed, then dropped it into my bathtub where it sizzled, blacking out the entirety of Alphabet City.

And just like that I was a No Wave Star.

Except I wasn’t and Lydia Lunch told me so. I played her something and she said, “Look, I appreciate all the bologna you’ve given me over the years, but there’s a big difference between good shit and bad shit and your shit is probably the worst shit I’ve heard in my entire life.”

I was so hurt I cut off her bologna supply and moped around the loft pretending to be a nihilist. After nine hours of deliberation I decided I was going to buy some heroin and become a junkie, but ended up spending the money on a TV Guide instead.

After returning to the loft I tried to figure out what I was doing wrong. I practiced for exactly 13 minutes per day just like everybody else, and owned the exact same La Monte Young album they owned but never listened to. I used mine as an impromptu lap table.

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In rotation: 5/18/20

London, UK | Phonica Records re-opens online shop for orders: The London institution is back. Phonica Records has re-opened its online shop for UK and international orders. While its physical outpost is closed due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Phonica is operating the website as normal, with new records and pre-orders alongside classics, reissues, gear and merchandise. Head here to check out the latest releases on site, and stay tuned for a VF Live set hosted from the shop next week.

Seattle, WA | A happy ending for Seattle’s Bop Street Records: a nonprofit buys up the entire collection: When Dave Voorhees, owner of Seattle’s Bop Street Records, announced last month that the store was closing at the end of June in part because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he wasn’t sure if he would be able to sell his enormous collection of 500,000 recordings, sales he had hoped would fund his retirement. This past Sunday, Voorhees stopped worrying. A San Francisco nonprofit called the Internet Archive agreed to purchase the entire collection, sight unseen. Bop Street business manager Bob Jacobs said the exact purchase price will not be settled until the archive has sifted through the collection, but the buyer has already sent a preliminary check and signed a contract. At the end of the day, said Jacobs, “Dave is going to have a healthy, six-figure down payment on his retirement.” …Though “six figures” is a far cry from the $3 million value Jacobs put on the store’s collection last month, Voorhees said he was relieved.

Clawson, MI | Clawson’s Flipside Records battles for business amid COVID-19 state shutdown: “We started out with records, expanded to toys, comics all the rest of the paraphernalia you see around here,” said Todd Fundaro. But ultimately at Flipside Records it’s about the music. They’ve been playing it and selling it in downtown Clawson since 1983. “Music is always, it’s an emotional thing, right? It appeals to your emotions,” said Fundaro, the owner of Flipside Records. Like so many other small shops business was good – until it wasn’t. A global pandemic and a statewide shutdown took place while Flipside Records has been playing the music – but there’s no one there to listen to it. “We do some online sales but there’s way to possibly make up for the loss of business that we have online,” he said. There is also curbside pick-up. “So you call us up, and we have what you want, and we will give you a total on it,” he said. “You can pull up to the door, we’ll get our masks on, our gloves, get your credit card payment or cash and bring it out.”

Columbia, TN | Shoppers return to Variety Record Shop: After weeks of staying at home, Columbia’s music lovers can return to shopping for classic albums and the latest releases at a locally owned brick and mortar store. Maury County’s Variety Record Shop opened its doors last week after more than a month. It was closed in accordance with a state order to shut all non-essential businesses. “It has been steady,” shop co-owner and celebrated bluesman Scott Holmes said of customer traffic as he sat behind the store’s counter with a butterscotch telecaster in hand after reopening the store. Variety Record Shop reopened just in time for the release of the new album from Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit, as it was made available exclusively through independent record stores, pressed on “dreamsicle” orange vinyl. The celebrated singer and songwriter and bandleader called the special release a “thank you for all the support throughout the years.”

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TVD’s The Idelic Hour with Jon Sidel

Greetings from Laurel Canyon!

I’m walking down a lonely road / Clear to me now but I was never told / Trouble with dreams is you never know / When to hold on and when to let go

If you let me down it’s alright / At least that leaves something for me / ‘Cause you know I’ve got an awful lot of big dreams

The last couple years it’s been a theme of mine that I had lost my dreams. I often drifted toward the dreams of others, especially my children. Maybe in fashion or a baseball star? A poet or filmmaker? After a spell I took to meditation and my “earthly” dreams slowly evolved toward a dream that’s “spiritual” in nature. But hey, not to get too heavy here.

The interesting thing now in quarantine is that when I would start to think my dreams would really disappear, they’ve returned. The first of which has been a bit strange.

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TVD Radar: Eugene McDaniels, Outlaw 50th anniversary red vinyl reissue in stores 6/26

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Eugene “Gene” McDaniels first broke through in the early ‘60s with pop soul hits like “A Hundred Pounds of Clay.” But that was a different time… and a different man. By the time McDaniels recorded his 1970 album Outlaw, he had re-christened himself “the left rev mc d” and penned the soul-jazz protest anthem “Compared to What,” first recorded in 1966 by Les McCann and turned into a standard by McCann and saxophonist Eddie Harris on their 1969 album Swiss Movement.

Indeed, the front cover of Outlaw left no doubt as to the radicalization of McDaniels’ politics. As Pat Thomas puts it in the liner notes that we have added to this reissue, “One sees Middle America’s worst nightmare coming to life. There’s the badass Reverend Lee himself holding a bible. Righteous Susan Jane in a jean jacket and black French resistance turtleneck is wielding a machine gun, and McDaniels’ then-wife Ramona appears as a soul sister with cross your heart Viva Zapata! ammo belts. In the forefront is a large human skull, just in case you didn’t already get the message.”

The Nixon White House sure got the message; legend has it that the administration was so offended by the lyrics to “Silent Majority” (“Silent Majority is calling out loud to you and me from Arlington Cemetery”) that either Spiro Agnew or Nixon’s Chief of Staff personally called Atlantic, asking them to stop working with McDaniels. Politics aside, Outlaw offers a heady blend of soul, jazz, folk, and rock grooves played by Ron Carter, Eric Weissberg, and Hugh McCracken among others, with legendary producer Joel Dorn at the controls and cult favorite William S. Fischer operating as Musical Director.

Oft-sampled, and never more relevant, Real Gone’s 50th anniversary release of Outlaw comes in a neon red vinyl pressing limited to 700 copies. And those liner notes we mentioned previously? They come with some pithy McDaniels quotes that confirm his revolutionary fervor remained unquenched till his death in 2011.

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Graded on a Curve:
New in Stores for
May 2020, Part Five

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

NEW RELEASE PICK: Phillip Sollmann, Monophonie (A-Ton) Sollmann is a Berlin-based DJ and producer, who when recording via the alias Efdemin, produces a brand of techno that’s, reportedly, “psychedelic, and idiosyncratic,” doing so as recently as last year on the New Atlantis album (which was based, per the title, on an unfinished 17th century novel by Francis Bacon). He’s also produced work that falls outside of the techno realm, specifically experimental and microtonal composition, which includes the “Panama / Suez” EP (a collaboration with Konrad Sprenger and Oren Ambarchi), Gegen Die Zeit (a co-billed collab with John Gürtler) and Monophonie, which, as a live performance with Ensemble Musikfabrik, dates from 2017, premiered at Berlin’s Volksbühne theatre and then taken to Ruhrtriennale and Kampnagel in Hamburg.

For Monophonie, Sollmann has orchestrated a massive undertaking that employs the “rare historical instruments of sonic research” developed by 19th century physician-physicist Hermann von Helmholtz (including the double siren, an original of which Sollmann played in performance with Ensemble Musikfabrik), the microtonal instruments made by the great 20th century avant-classical composer Harry Partch, and the metal sound sculptures of Harry Bertoia (I did say massive). Utilizing the tuning system of just intonation, Monophonie, akin to his work in techno, attains the psychedelic, which in this case is a transportive music reminiscent at times of ’70s Steve Reich blending with early Terry Riley, but with tones and instrumentation enhancing the non-academic side of the modern classical tradition a la Partch naturally, but also nodding toward Moondog and even La Monte Young. Monophonie is a record of startling beauty and precise, disciplined ambition, destined to be one of the best of 2020. A

REISSUE/ARCHIVAL PICK: Ike Yard, S/T (Superior Viaduct) NYC’s Ike Yard hold the distinction of having the first record released on Factory Records’ short-lived Factory America label, their eponymous 1982 LP sporting the catalogue number FACT A SECOND (FACT A FIRST was given to a NYC live show featuring Ike Yard opening for New Order, whose set was later released on the Taras Shevchenko VHS). Featuring vocalist-percussionist Stuart Argabright, guitarist Michael Diekmann, vocalist-bassist Kenny Compton and synth player Fred Szymanski, Ike Yard’s second release (following the “Night After Night” 12-inch, issued in 1981 by Les Disques Du Crépuscule, a label associated with a few Factory bands. It’s slated for reissue in August by Superior Viaduct) fits into Factory’s post-punk scheme quite nicely while also standing out and being stylistically prescient, distinguishing them as an influential cult band.

This appears to be the first US vinyl reissue for this album (there was a French pressing in 2012), but the music was notably released by the Acute label in 2006 on the CD 1980-82 Collected; that was a welcome set, as original copies of Ike Yard’s releases aren’t exactly common in the bins, which makes Superior Viaduct’s endeavor especially appealing for vinyl lovers who favor electronics-infused experimental rock. As said, the music here oozes chilly alienation that’s right up Tony Wilson’s alley, but with an edge that situates the band as evolving out of their city’s No Wave scene. Sort of by extension, the danceability of their stuff, which draws fair comparisons to other Factory signees (A Certain Ratio, Section 25) and as Superior Viaduct points out, Cabaret Voltaire and Front 242, never registers as Ike Yard’s main goal, which is a big part of why this record continues to hit so hard. Essential for post-punk collectors. A-

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