Monthly Archives: September 2020

TVD Radar: Billie Holiday, Billie: The Original Soundtrack
in stores 11/13

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Verve/UMe will release the official companion soundtrack for the anticipated documentary, Billie, about legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday on November 13. Billie: The Original Soundtrack, which will be available on CD, LP, and digitally for streaming and download, collects some of Holiday’s most popular songs featured throughout the transfixing film including “God Bless The Child,” “I Only Have Eyes For You,” “I Loves You, Porgy,” and “Strange Fruit,” along with instrumental cues. 

Playing out like a film noir, Billie, directed by James Erskine, explores the story of the world’s greatest jazz singer, whose life was mired in controversy, through a wealth of never-before-heard tapes recorded in the 1970s by the journalist Linda Lipnack Kuehl. Over eight years, Kuehl tracked down and recorded over 200 hours of interviews with extraordinary and brilliant characters that populated the iconic and controversial singer’s short, tumultuous life. But after Kuehl’s unexpected death, her tapes were never heard. Until now.

Using state-of-the-art techniques to bring her performances to life in color for the first time together with home movie footage, specially shot material, archive and still images, “Billie” plays out as a film noir and captures the complexity of a legend through the eyes of a woman whose obsession would lead to her own mysterious death. An Altitude and MPC presentation of a New Black Films and Reliance Entertainment Productions Documentary in association with Concord, BBC Music, Belga Films and Polygram Entertainment, Billie will be released in theaters November 13.

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TVD Premiere: Bon Bon Vivant, “Ship Is Sinking”

Bon Bon Vivant is one of those only-in-New Orleans bands. They are hard to categorize, write great songs, and perform with the joie de vivre inherent in the city’s musical culture and overall vibe. TVD is proud to present the worldwide debut of “Ship Is Sinking,” the first single from their new album, Dancing in the Darkness.

The song is a kick-sand-in-the-bully’s-face response to the current political, economic and cultural climate. “If this world is ending, why don’t we go out singing” is one of the telling lyrics along with “we won’t go quietly into this angry sea.”

Though the song expresses rage and frustration, the music is uplifting with a lilting groove and a great chorus. I can imagine it being a great, singalong crowd pleaser once we are allowed to dance together again.

I have seen Bon Bon Vivant live numerous times and their unusual instrumentation contributes to their singular sound. Guitar, saxophone, accordion, sousaphone and voices mingle in an amalgamation that references eastern European folk music, jazz and Tin Pan Alley songwriting amid a danceable pop vibe.

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Needle Drop: XIMXIA, “Pretend”

Versatile Los Angeles singer/songwriter XIMXIA is gearing up to release her debut EP, leading off with a dynamic new single that is already drawing comparisons to Portishead and Ellie Goulding.

Turning moody orchestrations into sweeping, widescreen digital productions seems to come naturally to the songstress who delays the song’s sugary Top 40 hook for a good minute before allowing its fangs to sink in. Clearly she is not interested in immediate clickbait, prefering to reward the listener for hanging through the dark curvature of the verse.

The resulting track is refreshingly bold and a wonderful introduction to an artist intent on pushing the boundaries, navigating the modern pop groove of Halsey and Robyn while leaning into the alternative nuance of Son Lux.

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Graded on a Curve:
Four from El Paraiso Records

Operated by Jonas Munk & Jakob Skøtt, El Paraiso is a Danish label that began back in 2011 as an outlet for the psych-stoner-space rock sounds of Causa Sui, but has since expanded beyond that objective, all while maintaining a focused stylistic vision, expansive yet often heavy, that is well-encapsulated by their most recent releases, The Discipline of Ascent by the Martin Rude & Jakob Skøtt Duo, San Diego Sessions by the Ellis/Munk Ensemble, Aak’Ab by Justin Pinkerton, and Feat. The Legendary Emil Nikolaisen by Fra Det Onde. The first three are out now and the last is available October 2, but please don’t delay in purchasing, as they are all limited on vinyl and are sure to sell out their first pressing.

While none of these new offerings from El Paraiso are accurately categorized as stoner rock in nature, all four can be correctly tagged as creatively searching, if not necessarily psychedelic in comportment. Due to Skøtt and Munk being members of Causa Sui, one might expect the records they play on here to be nearer in sound to that of El Paraiso’s flagship band, but The Discipline of Ascent throws that supposition right out the window.

For the album, Skøtt plays drums, keyboards and contributes effects, while Martin Rude (who teamed with Skøtt in an earlier El Paraiso duo outfit, Sun River, cutting one album back in 2012) handles double bass and guitar, both acoustic and baritone. Given the number of individuals and the amount of instrumentation, it would be fair to assume some overdubbing took place, but the results flow like a live session; Skøtt seems to be doing double duty on the drums and effects, while Rude alternates between bass and guitar.

El Paraiso’s description of the album explains it as an homage to Miles and Coltrane, and especially their drummers Tony Williams, Jack DeJohnette, and Elvin Jones, though bass titan Mingus is also mentioned, which is fitting, as the sheer heaviness of Rude’s playing in the second track “A New Arrival” reminded me of Mingus’ wild string pulling on Money Jungle. Elsewhere, I thought of Richard Davis, Reggie Workman, and Cecil McBee, and that’s sweet. The infrequent sound of vibraphone had me thinking of Bobby Hutcherson, but in the context of Bitches Brew.

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In rotation: 9/30/20

Ashville, NC | With Citizen Vinyl, Asheville Drops The Needle On State’s Only Large-Scale Record Pressing Plant: Eighty-one years ago, when Asheville had two daily newspapers, the new art deco building that housed them across from the Grove Arcade featured tall ceilings, glass block windows, frosted light sconces and vast, marble floors with custom inlays. On the third story, long ago hidden beneath asbestos tiling, there was another unique floor. “And you see all these pock marks?” Gar Ragland said, pointing down. “These are cello stands, these are mic stands, I mean, who knows?” When Ragland learned this was also the one-time home of WWNC-AM Radio, he knew he’d found the home for his own dream—of resurrecting an artifact from a bygone musical era while giving Asheville something altogether new: A vinyl records pressing plant. “We had seen this in some of the historic photographs,” he said of the neglected confines on the former radio studio. “This is unbelievable. We have this opportunity, both a privilege and responsibility, to incorporate this into our new startup story.”

Washington, DC | A Vintage Record And Magazine Store Opens On Maketto’s Second Floor: Vinyl collectors can now add a D.C. restaurant to their list of places to go crate-digging. Cool Kids Vinyl, a new record store, has taken over the second floor of Maketto, Chef Erik Bruner-Yang’s food/coffeeshop/retail spot on H Street. The shop, which launched Sept. 1, is the brainchild of 28-year-old Matthew Talley, a creative marketing specialist from Southeast D.C. Five years ago, Talley started Digging Thru The Crates, a series of pop-up events hosted with D.C. legend DJ Alizay and featuring guests like rapper Biz Markie and producer 9th Wonder. The concept gave attendees a chance to dig through crates of vinyls, pick one, and hand it to the DJ to spin for the party. Talley has long wanted to take that energy and put it into a brick-and-mortar business, but the coronavirus pandemic complicated his plans to rent out a space in Southwest. Talley, who works as a daytime manager at Maketto, said his boss was looking to shake things up a bit for when the restaurant reopened indoor dining this month. “Erik was like, ‘Hey, why don’t you just do it upstairs, man?’ It’ll, in a way, re-garner that community that used to come to Maketto,’” Talley says. “The records kind of compliment those people.”

Chapel Hill, NC | There’s a new groove – and even appreciation – for vinyl records. Sales improve for old school technology. Ben Alschuler steps over the children’s’ toys and books sprinkled across his living room floor on his way to another room. As he enters, he waves at the rows of multicolored album covers stacked floor to ceiling in two cabinets against the wall. Between the shelves sits a long, polished counter, like the dashboard of a spaceship. Two turntables flank a panel of switches and knobs connected to speakers below. Alschuler climbs a step ladder to reach a record from a high shelf. “’I made this like a mini-night club, which is unusual for a house,” he says. Alschuler, who lives in Chapel Hill with his wife and two young children and grew up with cassettes and CDs, said records were his parents’ hobby. Now, Alschuler’s kids could say the same about their dad. Alschuler pulled a bright yellow and blue album from his kids’ shelf: Sesame Street’s “C is for Cookie,” with Cookie Monster grinning on the cover. No longer DJing for just college friends, Alschuler, 38, emcees dance parties for his 2- and 5-year-old sons. His turntables are dance-proof; they sit on springs that absorb the bounce of tiny feet as two generations of Alschulers share a nearly century-old music experience.

Record Store Recs: El Guajiro Of Ghetto Kumbé Shares The Music & Rhythms That Inspire Him: With Ghetto Kumbé’s self-titled debut full-length album, released in June, they’re ready to bring their global sound and the messages of unity around the world. To listen to Colombian trio Ghetto Kumbé’s music is to go on a lively, joyful journey through time and space, where borders no longer exist and drums and dancing are aplenty. The group consists of singer/producer El Guajiro, percussionist Chongo and West African percussion master Doctor Keyta—all veteran musicians who grew up on Colombia’s musically and culturally rich Caribbean coast. Their music seamlessly fuses traditional sounds with modern electronic beats and aesthetics. For example, their use of call-and-response lyrics come from the rich African and Afro-Colombian tradition called gaita, and the hand drums and rapid rhythms they incorporate also come from Afro-Colombian traditions.

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TVD Radar: Orchestra Baobab, Specialist In All Styles on vinyl for the first time, in stores now

VIA PRESS RELEASE | In celebration of the group’s 50th anniversary, acclaimed Senegalese group Orchestra Baobab is reissuing their 2002 comeback album Specialist In All Styles via World Circuit Records. Out today, the record is now available on vinyl for the first time ever. The reissue follows the sudden passing of one of the band’s leaders and co-founders, Balla Sidibé, in early August at the age of 78.

Specialist was the first album by the full group since 1982’s legendary Pirates Choice, a holy grail for African music fans. Recorded at London’s Livingston Studios in just ten days and produced by World Circuit’s Nick Gold with Youssou N’Dour, Specialist In All Styles is a definitive illustration of Baobab’s Afro-Latin magic, introducing new material and reinventing some of the old tunes that made them famous.

The record features Baobab’s sublime rhythm section and two of the most distinctive sounds in African music: Barthélemy Attisso’s extraordinary guitar and Issa Cissokho’s atmospheric sax. The band’s five unique lead singers, each with their own contrasting but complementary styles, are joined on the song “Hommage à Tonton Ferrer” by special guests Buena Vista Social Club star Ibrahim Ferrer and Youssou N’Dour.

Adored both at home in Senegal and across the world, Baobab occupy a special place in the history of African music. Their epic story begins in the heart of Dakar’s Medina in the 1960s and extends across the world and into the 21st century, featuring a brilliant assembly of diverse musical personalities and encompassing a unique blend of Afro-Latin styles, international pop, West African griot music, and an after-dark West African nightclub ambience of lilting, mellifluous rhythms.

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Annie Dressner,
The TVD First Date

“I moved to England in 2011 and brought only one vinyl with me; Phoebe Snow’s Against The Grain. My mother had bought it for me a few years prior when I was still living in NYC, and I cherished it. One night, I was at a local bar in Astoria, LIC BAR, where I would perform a lot. The bar had and still has wonderful curated nights, booked by Gustavo Rodriguez. While enjoying a drink, who walked in? Phoebe Snow! I had to tell her that the only vinyl I owned at the time was hers. She was very nice, and it made the vinyl feel even more special to me.”

“My first memory of vinyl was my parents copy of John Denver’s Windsong as it leaned on the corner of our wooden side table in my living room in downtown NYC. My parents were always playing records, ranging from folk to classical, to rock to musical theatre. I actually once wrote a song called “Paper Moon” where I mention a vinyl that I “played so much that I broke it.” I’m not exactly sure what the record was called, but it definitely had the song “Pop Goes the Weasel” on it. (It only occurred to me lately that perhaps I didn’t break it, but maybe my parents couldn’t stand it anymore so that’s what they told me… hmmmm.) I used to run circles around living room and it was very fun!

My parents record player was one that flipped the record from side A to side B without our having to flip it. I was quite young, but I’m almost certain this is true, because I have a memory of watching it in awe and thinking it was cool. I also knew that I was not allowed to touch it, which I did not—but I wanted to. My brother, did however, teach me how to get an electric shock from the volume knobs of our hifi and also make our hair get staticky.

Another early memory I have of vinyl—if you can even call it that—was my Fisher Price record player. I don’t remember what songs it had, but I believe the ‘vinyl’ were primary colors. This was a great toy!

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UK Artist of the Week: A.S. Fanning

We are living in trying times right now and it’s so important—now more than ever—to look after each other and our own mental health. Irish artist A.S. Fanning reminds us of this with his powerfully poignant new single “You Should Go Mad,” out now.

Taken from his upcoming album of the same name, “You Should Go Mad” combines elements of goth-rock, psychedelia, and classic rock creating a sound that is wonderfully dark and richly resonant. Fans of The National and David Bowie will feel at home here. Talking about the single, A.S. Fanning, aka Stephen Fanning, elaborates, “’You Should Go Mad’ is a song about mental illness or ill-health, or more specifically about anxiety.”

“The title came from Moby Dick. There’s a section in it where Ahab is speaking with the blacksmith, Perth. Perth has had a lot of misfortune in his life but is a very stoic person. Ahab tells him ‘I am impatient of all misery in others that is not mad. Thou should’st go mad, blacksmith’. I suppose I found it a funny piece of advice, the idea that madness is somehow a beneficial choice, or preferential to internal turmoil.”

Fanning is originally from Dublin but now lives in Berlin. His upcoming album You Should Go Mad is due for release on 13th November 2020 via Proper Octopus Records.

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Graded on a Curve:
Elkhorn,
The Acoustic Storm Sessions

With The Acoustic Storm Sessions, the NYC guitar duo Elkhorn release their sixth full-length, a companion record to The Storm Sessions, which came out earlier this year. As on that record, guitarist Jesse Sheppard and Drew Gardner are joined by Turner Williams (of Ramble Tamble and Guardian Alien) who also plays guitar. However, these two side-long tracks are, per the title, the first all acoustic Elkhorn recordings, documented a day prior to its acoustic-electric counterpart, and rising to the same heights of quality. Blending American Primitive string beauty, substantial raga motions and discerning psychedelic moves, it’s out October 2 on Centripetal Force in North America and Cardinal Fuzz in Europe.

The lowdown on this record and its predecessor relates to sessions that took place in Drew Gardner’s studio after a snowstorm put the kibosh on traveling to a Brooklyn venue for an eagerly awaited performance they were scheduled to give. But instead of moping, watching TV, endlessly phone scrolling or doing crosswords, this pair plus one got down to the business of spinning a positive out of a bum situation.

Hence, the name of the two excellent LPs, with the positivity extending to the listener rather than just being impromptu/ improvisational therapy for the participants. Of course, it helps that improv is already a significant aspect of Elkhorn’s equation, since the background scenario does read like a recipe for a time-filling basement jam, the kind that might sound wonderful when you’re listening to friends while lounging on the sofa and working on beer number six.

That sorta thing can make for a nice memory of your pals just totally killing it. If only somebody had recorded them…unless, somehow, it was recorded, and then, experiencing it all over again in the cold, bright, sober light of day, reality sets in. But hey, don’t go gettin’ sad, as it was still a fun night with friends…

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In rotation: 9/29/20

Wilmington, NC | Yellow Dog Discs celebrates 20th year of business on Record Store Day: Saturday was Record Store Day, featuring dozens of new releases at record stores across the country. But for one local record store, the day was even more significant. Saturday marked the 20th anniversary of Yellow Dog Discs in Wilmington. The business had to close its doors for a couple months due to the pandemic but reopened in early May. Despite the challenges, store owner Tim Freeman says records are making a major comeback, and so is the store. “Today [Saturday] is record store day drop two,” Freeman said. “We have a lot of exclusive titles in store, just because of the customer base we have that really enjoys records. They come out today and they’re really helping support us. We’ve been busy all day.” Freeman says the store has become so popular they may have to move to a bigger building in the future.

Merthyr Tydfil, UK | Heavy metal vinyl store becomes Merthyr Tydfil’s newest record shop: A Merthyr Tydfil heavy metal fan is capitalising on a current revival of interest in the genre and in vinyl records by opening the first new vinyl store in the town in years. Heavy Metal Merthyr has opened in the upstairs indoor market at St Tydfil Shopping Centre, Merthyr Tydfil with support from the Council’s ‘Meanwhile’ scheme. Owner Paul Bezant, 46, is passionate about vinyl, heavy metal music. A self-taught guitarist, when he was growing up, Paul was a frequent visitor to a town centre music shop that inspired him for the sort of store he wanted to create. The shop will also sell electric guitars by big name brands such as Fender and Jackson (US) and the Japanese Ibanez, Blackstar amplifiers, clothing and other accessories, while Paul is also aiming to eventually become a ticket distributor with promotional events involving local bands. Paul said: “After many years of heavy drinking, I had a liver transplant, which turned my life around. I started volunteering with Drink Wise Age Well, helping others who were in a similar situation. “This inspired me to go ahead and start my own business – and prove what’s possible if you put your mind to it.”

eBay Kicks Off ‘Vinyl Week’ with Ultimate Selection of Records Curated by Independent Record Stores: Music enthusiasts can support small businesses and build their collections by shopping curated staff picks and best-of-the-best finds sourced from shops across the country. eBay, one of the world’s largest and most dynamic marketplaces, kicks off its week-long “vinyl obsession” event with an amazing breadth of rare and trending vinyl curated directly from Record Store Day-pledged stores, available at eBay.com/vinylweek. Now through October 4, shop curated staff picks, collectible titles and a dedicated selection of top albums in a sale benefitting MusiCares. This event celebrates records, music culture and the shops that make it all possible, and there is something for everyone to enjoy. eBay’s Vinyl Week takes record shopping digital with an experience that nods to beloved in-store offerings. From perusing the pre-loved vinyl bin and uncovering a coveted LP to getting recommendations from the experts behind the counter, shoppers can find exactly what they’re looking for from a cohort of small businesses dedicated to bringing record collections to life.

Starkville, MS | Scooter’s Records still rockin’ and rollin’ amid pandemic uncertainty: Scott “Scooter” Thomas sits behind the register and basks in the vocals of Texas-based bluegrass group The Gourds. The tune, “Lower 48,” is part of Thomas’ recent kick on Longhorn State bands, though he explains he tries to flip the music playing over the speakers in his store based on the clientele walking in and out. “If Grandma and her kids are coming in, whenever I see him out the door, I’m probably not going to be playing any heavy metal,” he quipped. With wrists coated in bracelets, beads and metal clasps, Thomas’ denim jacket and long graying hair offer him the befitting look of a man who’s record store boasts a collection of vinyl that numbers more than 10,000. The store itself, aptly named Scooter’s Records, is a passion project of sorts for the Louisville native and Starkville transplant. In his youth, Thomas’ aunt worked at a record store in Hattiesburg — a shop he’d spend countless hours wandering aisles and navigating boxes among greats like Bowie and Springsteen, Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones. He said the first record he ever received was Elton John’s “Captain Fantastic and The Brown Dirt Cowboy,” while the first album he ever purchased was The Kinks’ “Greatest Hits!” He bought the latter at a garage sale for a nickel.

Duff McKagan announces new Guns N’ Roses vinyl but it seems like fans are not happy about it: The legendary multi-instrumentalist and the bassist of the rock band Guns N’ Roses, Duff McKagan, posted a new photo on his official Instagram account and announced that GN’R has released a new vinyl. As Duff uses her lovely wife and beautiful star Susan Holmes McKagan as a model for the announcement of new vinyl of Guns N’ Roses, he also stated that he’s kind of a nerd for records these days. Guns N’ Roses’ Greatest Hits was released as a 2 LP format and now available on Amazon for $38.98. However, most of the fans did not like the breaking news of Duff McKagan. Lots of followers of Duff went to the comment section and stated that GN’R should release new music as a band. The fans want to push Duff and other members to record something new instead of re-releasing their old stuff. Besides the fans are not happy about not having any news about the new album of the band, over 40K people did not hesitate to push the like button on the post.

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TVD Radar: The Best of Bond… James Bond 3LP set in stores 11/20

VIA PRESS RELEASE | On November 20, UMe will release an updated version of The Best Of Bond…James Bond, a digital, 2CD, and 3LP black vinyl compilation featuring celebrated theme songs from the longest-running film franchise.

In addition, a limited-edition gold vinyl will be available exclusively via uDiscover Music and Sound of Vinyl. The new collection will include “No Time To Die” by Billie Eilish from No Time To Die, the 25th film in the series. Also now included will be Adele’s “Skyfall” from Skyfall, the highest-grossing Bond film to date, and Sam Smith’s Spectre theme, “Writing’s On the Wall,” – Oscar® winners for Best Song in 2013 and 2016, respectively.

In addition to Billie Eilish, Adele and Sam Smith, included is the signature instrumental “James Bond Theme” by The John Barry Orchestra, which remains one of the most recognizable themes from film. The collection also includes Dame Shirley Bassey (“Goldfinger,” “Diamonds Are Forever,” and “Moonraker”). With “Goldfinger,” Bassey achieved her first Top 10 hit, reaching No. 8 on The Billboard Hot 100 and No. 2 on the Adult Contemporary charts.

Bassey made her Oscars® debut at the 85th Academy Awards®, where she performed a spectacular rendition of “Goldfinger” as part of the telecast’s James Bond 50th Anniversary tribute, which was celebrated by UMe with vinyl reissues of long-out-of-print soundtracks to Dr. No, Goldfinger, and Live And Let Die.

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The Messenger Birds,
The TVD First Date

“There has always been something special about hearing a record on vinyl. When I was really young, my dad would blast Tower of Power and all sorts of other jazz, blues, and funk records on his turntable, but I didn’t have a true understanding or appreciation for vinyl as a medium until much later.”

“CD was king through my formative years. I used to save money so I could go to Barnes and Noble or FYE to buy CDs when I was in middle school, which was at the height of the emo wave in the early 2000s. So you can probably imagine my collection—Brand New, The Used, Taking Back Sunday, My Chemical Romance, Coheed and Cambria, you name it. I got really heavy into Bright Eyes around the time Wide Awake and Digital Ash came out, and it was kind of the first time I started paying any attention to lyrics. Nuance was suddenly really important in every aspect of the music I listened to, and when I got back into listening to albums on vinyl, that stuck with me.

When I finally got my own turntable, the first records I bought were Wide Awake and Cassadaga. Then it was Room on Fire (The Strokes), Nevermind and In Utero (Nirvana), and the collection kept growing, but each one felt like it hit different on vinyl, like I was hearing it again for the first time. It felt so raw and real. These records were meant to be listened to that way. And I think that’s how Chris and I both feel about Everything Has to Fall Apart Eventually, especially after hearing the test presses from Third Man. Hopefully other people will feel the same way.”
Parker Bengry (guitar/vocals)

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TVD Radar: The Podcast with Evan Toth,
Episode 1: Val Emmich

Do you have our brand new podcast on your radar? If not, catch up now with Episode 1.Ed.

If you haven’t already, meet Val Emmich, he’s a New Jersey renaissance man: author, actor, and musician. He’s a real Jersey boy and a fellow alum of Rutgers University. You’ve probably seen him and not realized it. He’s been on 30 Rock—as Liz Lemon’s younger love interest—and had a major role in HBO’s Vinyl.

If you’re into curling up with a good book, you’ll want to check out his delightful novel, The Reminders which was published by Little, Brown and Company in 2017. In fact, his writing abilities are so admired that when the creators of the Broadway smash Dear Evan Hansen were looking for an author to write the young-adult version of their show, they chose Val. Of course, it debuted at #2 on the New York Times Bestseller List.

But, wait. What we’re here to discuss is Val’s excellent musical career. After building a loyal fanbase in the early 2000s, Emmich was signed to Epic Records’ Red Ink imprint who released his Slow Down Kid album. Val hasn’t slowed down and has independently released an impressive catalog of music during the last two decades. His latest release, Acting the Optimist is a tightly knit, efficient 10 track album; it’s loud, clever, focused, and continues to unfurl itself after several spins.

Originally recorded as a Zoom chat, join Evan and Val as they discuss the album’s emotional creation, life during pandemic times, songwriting, and more. You’ll hear that discussion and the entire record in this episode.

Evan Toth is a songwriter, professional musician, educator, radio host, avid record collector and hi-fi aficionado. Toth hosts and produces The Sharp Notes each Saturday evening at 6pm and TVD Radar on Sundays at 5AM on WFDU, 89.1 FM. Follow him at the usual social media places and visit his website.

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Graded on a Curve: Element of Crime,
Immer da wo du bist
bin ich nie

Few Americans are familiar with the work of Germany’s Element of Crime; they don’t fall into the Krautrock, heavy metal, industrial or experimental categories so popular amongst Germanophilic music collectors here. Instead their melancholic, chanson-based music speaks directly to the German soul, which is every bit as gloomy as that country’s weather.

I only know of Element of Crime because my ex-wife (a big fan) and I saw them in the Hanseatic port city of Rostock, which is short on charm and long on inclement weather. Element of Crime may not hail from Rostock, but their mournful songs provide the perfect accompaniment to a walk across the barren winter potato fields bordering the small town in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern where my ex- grew up.

The small club where Element of Crime–who took their name from the Lars von Trier film of the same name and are fronted by Sven Regener, author of the acclaimed novel Berlin Blues–may have been packed with adoring fans, but I didn’t expect to like them; from what I’d been told they were a kind of cabaret act who’d never heard of Chuck Berry and sang in a language I didn’t understand. But I was in for a surprise; Element of Crime’s music transcended both language and cultural barriers and spoke to me in a way Neu!, Can, Rammstein, or Einstürzende Neubauten ever could.

The music of Element of Crime can’t be compared to that of any American or English band I can call to name. I hear vague echos of Lambchop in a few of their songs, but for the most part they constitute a genre in and of themselves.”It describes things that have no name in English,” wrote the Australian writer Anna Funder of the German language, and the same can be said of the music of Element of Crime.

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In rotation: 9/28/20

UK | Fans share hauls from second of three 2020 Record Store Day events: The annual Record Store Day celebration is being spread over three separate days due to the coronavirus pandemic. Fans have shared their hauls from the second of three 2020 Record Store Day events. The annual Record Store Day celebration was originally due to happen on April 18, but is now taking place over three separate days this year. The decision was taken to accommodate social distancing measures put in place for the coronavirus pandemic. Fans across the country have been sharing the limited edition records and special releases that were released for the second event today. Each event this year will have different releases… The October event will feature exclusive releases from Beck and St. Vincent, Def Leppard, Eminem, Suede, Lou Reed, The Rolling Stones, Snoop Dogg and Thin Lizzy. Record stores shared photos of the crowds visiting them for the event today. “Drop 2 has begun!” tweeted Resident in Brighton. “Lovely to see some familiar faces and lots of grinning eyes!!!

Darien, CT | Record Store Day celebrated by shoppers at Johnny’s Records: Closing in on its 45th year of business, Johnny’s Records is more relevant than ever as a center for people’s beloved vinyl. On Saturday the second of this season’s three Record Store Day events took place. And while there weren’t as many people expected to turn out, given the limited number of titles, over 100 records fans still paid a visit to Darien to get some special pressings. “It’s really busy,” said John Konrad, who opened the store in October of 1975. “Normally it’s in April,” he said, along with a Black Friday event the day after Thanksgiving. But owing to COVID-19 considerations, the initiative—representing a collaborative between record store owners and staff—decided to split the main event into three—Aug. 29, Sept. 26, and Oct. 24, in order to reduce the traditional crowding that has earmarked the events since it began in 2007. “Normally there’s a crowd going halfway down the block,” said Konrad in between juggling orders and vinyl requests, and yet only allowing a couple of customers at a time into his store. “Records are becoming more popular now,” noted customer Marc Stein, who comes regularly from Weston to shop at the store.

Kingston, UK | Banquet Records on their MW Awards win and the importance of RSD 2020: Earlier this week, Kingston’s legendary Banquet Records beat some tough competition to win the Independent Retailer honour at the Music Week Awards 2020. In the new issue of Music Week we speak to all the winners, and that includes Banquet’s MD Jon Tolley who celebrated Banquet reclaiming the title, having previously won a number of times, the last of which being back in 2017. Tolley – who said he was devastated to miss out on the ceremony’s usual cheesecake offering – was quick to stress that while his store was delighted with the result, independent retailers are not in competition. “Someone has to win this thing, and I’m very glad it’s us, the staff have worked really hard and it’s recognition of that,” said Tolley. “But, as cliche as it is, I can’t think of any industry where we all want each other to succeed as much as this.” While there have been some heartening headlines to have emerged out of the independent retail sector during the trials and tribulations of the coronavirus pandemic, Tolley warned that they should not overshadow the reality. Stores still need help.

Los Angeles, CA | Los Angeles record store Mount Analog reopens in new Silver Lake location: The shop will be open on weekends at 2217 Hyperion Avenue. Mount Analog, the influential Los Angeles record store, has reopened after two years at a new Silver Lake location. The record shop and book store is now open on weekends in LA’s Silver Lake neighborhood at 2217 Hyperion Avenue. The store’s original location in Highland Park shuttered in 2018, but Mount Analog has operated as an online shop and continued to function as an agency and management company in the years since. Mount Analog had a impact on LA’s underground community both through its highly-specific stock of vinyl, cassette, books and other wares as well as events like the Nuit Noire series, which hosted acts ranging from Regis to Grouper. We spoke with Mount Analog’s sole proprietor Mahssa Taghinia on the store’s reopening. “…Silver Lake and Franklin Hills has a rich, vibrant history filled with stories from Latino and LGBTQ communities, and I hope we can be a part of that conversation in our own way—with art and music that is actually dominated by non-white trailblazers and healthily representing a spectrum of gender. Mount Analog is now a business that is 100 percent owned by a woman of color as well.”

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