Monthly Archives: September 2020

TVD’s The Idelic Hour with Jon Sidel

Greetings from Laurel Canyon!

And when / I was the line / You were a light / Shining like some planet / You call home

Talking aloud / What’s it about / The ending or beginning of a word

That was with me all along / I let go, you held strong / Are we all not lost in song / Feeding back until we’re found

“What’s going to happen next?” has been a serious question of concern in 2020 (shit taking, con-man, president aside). Dude, thinking ahead to tomorrow has become something that can really suck.

Tuesday I had a blow out on the 134 freeway. I had just enough time to say something to myself like, “Oh shit!, fuck me, fuckkkkkk!” And then… OK what do I do next?

Thank you GOD, Triple AAA, and my man in the tow truck. I was saved from disaster.

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TVD Radar: Nina Simone, I Put a Spell on You and Pastel Blues audiophile reissues in stores 11/6

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Nina Simone’s classic 1965 albums I Put a Spell on You and Pastel Blues will be released as definitive audiophile grade versions as the third installment of Verve/UMe’s recently launched audiophile vinyl reissues series Acoustic Sounds.

Utilizing the skills of the top mastering engineers and the unsurpassed production craft of Quality Record Pressings, the LPs, which will be available November 6, were mastered in stereo from the original analog tapes, pressed on 180-gram vinyl and packaged by Stoughton Printing Co. in high-quality tip-on gatefold jackets. Like all Acoustic Sounds titles, the releases are being supervised by Chad Kassem, CEO of Acoustic Sounds, the world’s largest source for audiophile recordings. The Simone titles follow the Acoustic Sounds editions of John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme and Ballads set for release October 9.

I Put a Spell on You and Pastel Blues are two of the seven incredible albums that Simone recorded for Philips Records during an extremely prolific four-year period from 1963-1967. Lauded during their initial releases, both albums have only grown in stature and popularity over the years as Simone’s timeless recordings, many covering such important territory as race and equality, remain as vital and relevant as ever 55 years later.

A distinctive contralto vocalist and Julliard-schooled pianist who expressively melded jazz, blues, pop and classical in her repertoire, Simone was unlike most other top-line vocalists of her time as the ardent political activist often used her voice to protest racial inequality and became a siren of the civil rights movement. In 2018 Simone was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, who proclaimed: “Her triumphant voice sang what it meant to be young, gifted and black in a sometimes unjust and troubled world.”

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Adam Wright,
The TVD First Date

“I grew up in the ’80s, so I was very much a cassette kid for a lot of years, but my earliest memories of hearing music were of digging LPs out of my Dad’s closet and playing them on our record player. It was how I first discovered music. My first record store, I guess.”

“The first time I put on “Louie, Louie” by the Kingsmen, I was absolutely hooked. I used to hold my breath for the few seconds of hiss and pop before the intro lick. Another pivotal moment was hearing The Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction” for the first time. I had never heard anything like that electric guitar, or anybody sing with that kind of swagger. I remember being slightly terrified and fascinated by “Play With Fire.”

There was also Simon and Garfunkel, The Righteous Brothers, The Beach Boys and The Oak Ridge Boys. And while I didn’t listen to the Herb Alpert Whipped Cream And Other Delights album much, I certainly spent a good deal of time looking at that cover. Add to all of this, the sheer mystery of the physics of a record player, and it’s safe to say my little mind was blown.

I remember going on family trips to the mall and getting to go to the Record Bar. I played guitar by then and I’d load up on as many Chuck Berry, AC/DC, and Led Zeppelin tapes as I could afford. Sometimes I’d hear a song on the radio and not know who it was, and I’d go to the clerk and sing a little of it for them and they could always find it for you. That level of mystery and engagement in music discovery seems to plant it a little deeper in your soil.

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Graded on a Curve: Starship,
Knee Deep in the Hoopla

Once the beans have been counted, the votes cast, and the losing tickets torn and scattered to the winds, which is the worst band ever? The Red Hot Chilies, obviously. But who’s in second place? It’s a difficult question. International commissions composed of scientists, physicians, casino owners, philosophers, music critics, statisticians, psychiatrists, bookies, seeing eye dogs, and necromancers have failed to come up with an answer.

But I’ve succeeded where the others failed. The second worst band in the world is Starship, which in case you’re keeping score started life as Jefferson Airplane, changed its name to Jefferson Starship, briefly changed its name yet again to Jefferson Starship, and finally settled on just plain Starship. Should the trend continue they’ll drop the Starship altogether and we won’t even know they’re there.

I came to my conclusion through the use of a carefully considered set of variables including annoyance factor, uselessness, stench, former greatness and “We Built This City.” In the end the stench factor prevailed; Starship may have entitled its 1985 debut Knee Deep in the Hoopla, but a better title would have been Knee Deep in Pig Shit.

Knee Deep in the Hoopla marked Starships’s stab at commercial success, and God help us all they pulled it off. The quintet of Jeff Airplane ringers expanded its core audience of aging hippie holdovers to include to a younger crowd weaned on the MOR likes of of Journey, Foreigner, Warrant, and Asia, and made a bundle in the process. It was a smart move on Starship’s part–there’s nothing in the rock rule book that says a band that’s artistically bankrupt need be financially bankrupt as well.

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In rotation: 9/25/20

AU | Record Store Day Drop 2 is here Saturday 26 September: Score a limited edition release and support your local music industry. Following the first of three calendar-distanced drops of Record Store Day last month, Drop 2 is set for Saturday 26 September. This is your chance to join the party at indie record stores and get your hands on limited edition records, enjoy some live music, and give back to the music industry that has provided us all so much. In a year of upheaval, limited edition records, released by record companies to celebrate Record Store Day are being made available across three days, called RSD Drops. The third Drop is set for 24 October. Music stores and artists, like many in the community, have been hit hard by the pandemic so it’s more important than ever to get behind them. For more info, including participating stores near you and what releases will be available, head to

Columbus, OH | The Other Columbus: The joy of record collecting, Columbus-style: I’ve collected records all my life and have the bowing shelves to prove it. Even when I didn’t have a working turntable in my possession, I still bought records. Of all the kinds of collectors that exist — the obsessives, the completists, the hipster dabbler — I rest in the middle of the spectrum, neither obsessive or laissez faire. I’m basically a casual collector with obsessive tendencies. My collection has some rare zingers in it, but I’m mostly about the music, so I’m happy with a $3 used copy of an EPMD record I already played to death when I was a lovelorn teen. I don’t need to drop $30 on a newly pressed Strictly Business LP to relive what can’t really be recreated anyway, unless I’m playing it in the passenger seat of the resident weed dealer’s ride after summer school lets out.

4 of the Best Books About Vinyl Records: The best kind of collectible is one with both class and practical purpose. It should both bring joy and look nice. What could fit that description better than an old (or new!) vinyl record ready to hit your turntable and fill your home with music? As a dedicated record fan myself, I may be somewhat biased. I have been known to truck 30 pounds of vinyl records through downtown New York in a tote bag, giddy with the knowledge that I could trade them for other vinyl records at one particular store in Manhattan. Obsessive? Perhaps slightly. Even so, I’m not alone! You’re here too, and so are the authors and characters of these four books about vinyl. Join the club, put on an album, and read up!

‘Vinyl Nation’ doc captures the diversity of communities keeping record stores alive: Kevin Smokler doesn’t believe the 2001 film “Ghost World” could be made today. Why? Because teenage malcontents Enid and Rebecca would neither sneer nor snicker at the archetypal “Record Collector Guy,” Seymour. More likely, they’d embody that character themselves. The idea that a record collector resembles a scruffy white guy with an ailing social life and a paunch is “not without merit,” Smokler admits, “but it’s a product of a different time.” Smokler, a pop culture-preoccupied author and essayist based in San Francisco, stumbled into the world of vinyl around the same time its cultural comeback began in 2007. About seven years later, in 2014, Albuquerque-based screenwriter and filmmaker Christopher Boone made the same jubilant (re)discovery. Records, although no substitute for streaming, offered something different. They offered a tangible ritual, a welcome reprieve from the digital sphere and its dictates.

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TVD Radar: Pink
Floyd, Delicate Sound
of Thunder
3LP in
stores 11/20

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Warner Music [Sony Music outside Europe] today announced the upcoming release of Pink Floyd’s Delicate Sound Of Thunder on Blu-ray, DVD, 2-CD, 3-disc vinyl, and deluxe 4-disc edition with bonus tracks, on November 20, 2020.

Across the various different formats, the release of Delicate Sound Of Thunder encapsulates a band at their best. Alongside the classic live album and full concert film (restored and re-edited from the original 35mm film and enhanced with 5.1 surround sound), included in The Later Years box set, all editions feature 24-page photo booklets, with the 4-disc box edition including a 40-page photo booklet, tour poster, and postcards. The 3-LP 180-gram vinyl set includes 9 songs not included on the 1988 release of the album, while the 2-CD release includes 8 tracks more than its original release.

In 1987, Pink Floyd made a triumphant resurgence. The legendary British band, formed in 1967, had suffered the loss of two co-founders: keyboardist / vocalist Richard Wright, who left after sessions for The Wall in 1979, and bass player and lyricist Roger Waters, who had left to go solo in 1985, soon after the 1983 album The Final Cut.

The gauntlet was thus laid down for guitarist/singer David Gilmour and drummer Nick Mason, who proceeded to create the multi-platinum A Momentary Lapse Of Reason album, a global chart smash, which also saw the return of Richard Wright to the fold.

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Graded on a Curve:
Bruce Springsteen, Nebraska

Celebrating Bruce Springsteen during his birthday week.Ed.

Born to Run changed my life. Oversized, operatic, and full of grandiose musical gestures, it sounded like a Phil Spector album and I loved it for its outrageous flourishes, its sheer joy in its own majesty, and its wild and outrageous poetry about life on the Jersey shore. It turned my teenage hormones to 10, and made me want to break free of all the constraints of my small town life. It conjured up a world of desperate and romantic characters—set against a backdrop of turnpikes, oil refineries, and billboards—making last ditch attempts to get out, escape, and set themselves free, no matter the cost.

It seemed impossible that Bruce Springsteen could ever top the grandiosity of Born to Run, and he didn’t. Instead he began a process of relentlessly stripping his sound down and paring his lyrics to the essentials. No more operas out on the turnpikes; his concerns shifted from the fervent fantasies of adolescence to the constraining realities of adulthood, a process that reached its apotheosis with 1982’s Nebraska, which featured just Springsteen and a handful of instruments, all of which he played himself. The back story is well known; the Boss originally recorded the songs as demos for an album with his E Street Band, but after recording a version of them with the band—which has never been released, although there has long been talk of its emergence—he decided the demos were better, and ultimately decided to release them rather than the E Street versions.

Nebraska is bleak—much of Springsteen’s canon is dark, and I’ve had many an argument over the years with people who failed to pick up on that darkness, especially on Born in the U.S.A.—so dark indeed that there isn’t what I’d call an upbeat song on the thing, although “Open All Night” comes close. What is remarkable is the beauty he conjures from that darkness. Haunting and haunted, he sings song after song of bad luck, murder, crime and punishment, economic hard times, and looking for reasons to believe—in life, in goodness, in the meaning of it all.

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An Evening in Paris
from pianist Lawrence Sieberth in stores today

Lawrence Sieberth is one of those great musicians that all the other musicians know about. But unless you’re involved in the jazz scene in New Orleans, you probably don’t know about him or his music. That should change with the release of his latest quartet record, An Evening in Paris. It’s out today.

Sieberth is a veteran player on the local scene and has a vast number of national and international credits as a versatile keyboard accompanist, multifaceted composer, bandleader, producer and more. Jeff Coffin, the saxophonist for the Dave Matthews Band, said, “Larry Sieberth is more than a great pianist, he is a great musician! I have known him for many years and have recorded with him, hung with him, and played gigs with him. His playing is legendary in New Orleans.”

His collaborations go back decades. He has performed and/or recorded with a who’s who of local players including the legendary Allen Toussaint, vocalist Johnny Adams, saxophonist Charles Neville, singer Irma Thomas, reedman Victor Goines, drummer/vibraphonist Jason Marsalis, vocalist Germaine Bazzle (featured in the above video) and hundreds of others.

The new album features all Sieberth originals, mostly new, brimming with melodic and rhythmic invention. He has a long history of playing and recording in France and this album, which delves deep into modern acoustic jazz, features the stellar French musicians Stephane Guillaume on tenor/soprano saxophones and Michel Benita on double bass, as well as longtime Paris-based expatriate and fellow Louisiana native Jeff Boudreaux on drums.

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Simon Lunche,
The TVD First Date

“There’s a Harry Potter closet under the stairs in the house I grew up in. When I was little the whole thing was crammed full of stuff to the point you could barely move in there. Jackets, baseball gloves, and stereo equipment filled most of it.”

“However buried far in the back there were two boxes of old vinyl records. It took me quite a bit of digging, but I remember how excited I was as a 6 year old kid to see Abbey Road and Revolver amongst so many other cool album covers peeking out at me from behind the barricade of junk. I had found my dads old record collection.

Shuffling violently through the boxes, I picked out all of the Beatles and Beach Boys albums I could find and set them aside on the floor. At this point in time I was in elementary school, probably in first grade, and I’d ask my parents to put on “California Girls” and “I Want To Hold Your Hand” every day on the way to school. So those records were extra special to me when I found them in the old vinyl box.

At this point in my life my family didn’t have a record player, so much to my dismay I couldn’t actually listen to the records I found. I remember asking my parents over and over if we could get a player but all the good ones were always too pricey and my dad didn’t want to play such old records on a bad table that would mess them up. Funny enough, to this day I’ve never actually listened to those particular records.

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Graded on a Curve: New in Stores for September 2020, Part Four

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

NEW RELEASE PICK: Chris Smither, More From the Levee (Signature Sounds) Singer-songwriter Chris Smither is from the old school. When I listen to him, I hear echoes of Townes Van Zandt, Spider John Koerner, Eric Von Schmidt, and even a key influence on Smither, Mississippi John Hurt, as the fingerpicking on this album is impressive. Smither cut two records for the Poppy label in the early ’70s and then a third one for United Artists that went unreleased for decades. In fact, he didn’t record again until 1984, but since then, he’s been steadily productive, with More From the Levee his 18th album, though the songs date back to 2014 and the recording of his 16th, Still on the Levee, which was a 25-track double set featuring fresh versions of songs from his substantial repertoire. Well, that record wasn’t the entire session, with these ten cuts right up there with the prior 25 in terms of quality. Similar to Randy Newman’s Songbook albums, the new treatments hold up like someone just bought them a pair of suspenders, with “Lonely Time” and “Caveman” my favorites so far. But the whole thing is a delight. A

REISSUE/ARCHIVAL PICKS: Willie Colón canta Héctor Lavoe, Cosa Nuestra (Craft Recordings) This was the first gold record for the union of trombonist and leader Colón and vocalist Lavoe; it is often cited as Colón’s first masterpiece and occasionally ranked as his best album. As I haven’t heard all of Colón’s work, I can’t verify the latter statement, but that Cosa Nuestra is a masterwork is easy to affirm, as it’s a flawless document of constant structural magnificence that, as the eight selections unfurl, strikingly mingles sheer verve and heightened finesse. As the fourth record to team Colón with Lavoe (all of them for the Fania label), with Johnny Pacheco again serving as recording director, it found them truly hitting their stride as the NYC scene transitioned toward salsa. Make no mistake; this is the sound of a band with no weak link, though the dual trombones of the bandleader and Eric Matos are a total gas, as is the piano of Professor Joe Torres. The rhythms punch with flair, and Lavoe is a gift of assured expressiveness. A+

Alfredo Linares Y Su Sonora, Yo Traigo Boogaloo (Vampisoul) As detailed directly above, most of the Latin retrospective heat to recently hit my ear canals has come via Craft Recordings and their welcome Fania reissues, but here’s an exception, cut in Peru in 1968 and originally released by the MAG label, the second of two LPs from the band led by noted pianist Linares. Per the title, the boogaloo style is prominent across these 13 tracks, but the sound also incorporates Latin jazz and descarga (the Cuban jam session style) while pointing toward salsa, as the sounds of New York were influential on what was being harnessed in MAG studios. While the heft of the swinging collectivity here isn’t as gripping as on Cosa Nuestra, it’s still an utter treat from start to finish, and I especially like Charlie Palomares’s vibraphone. 500 copies, so don’t futz around. A

Camille Yarbrough, The Iron Pot Cooker (Craft Recordings) A record that should have a much higher profile (beyond its sampling by Fatboy Slim) gets a deserved reissue. The reason for my esteem is threefold. First, Yarbrough is a ’70s street-poetess, performance artist, and social activist of the first order, a total equal to Gil Scott-Heron and The Last Poets, and with a command of language strong enough that I also thought of Wanda Coleman, Nikki Giovanni, and Jaki Shelton Green. Second, the instrumental accompaniment across the record is consistently rewarding, legitimately enhancing the proceedings rather than simply providing standard “spoken-word” backup, which directly relates to reason number three, specifically, that Yarbrough is quite talented as a singer, best heard in this context in the sequential tracks “Ain’t It a Lonely Feeling,” “Take Yo’ Praise” (the one Fatboy sampled), and “Can I Get a Witness?,” enough so that The Iron Pot Cooker also brought Nina Simone to mind. Such a powerful recording, with closer “All Hid” unnerving in the context of the moment. Edition of 2,300. A

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In rotation: 9/24/20

UK | Vinyl sales continue to rise in UK despite coronavirus crisis: The increase has been attributed to the first Record Store Day 2020 event. Vinyl sales have continued to rise in the UK despite the coronavirus crisis causing significant problems for other areas of the music industry. According to the Official Charts Company, last month’s Record Store Day – the first of three socially distanced events scheduled for 2020 – resulted in a 3% rise in vinyl sales, with 2.7 million units sold so far this year. The new figures come from the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA), who manage Record Store Day in the UK. This continuing rise comes in spite of UK music retailers and record shops being forced to close their doors in March until June as a result of the national lockdown. During the intervening period, however, many stores set up delivery services or a click-and-collect option in a bid to survive. Last month, Discogs’ mid-year report revealed that physical sales (vinyl, CD and cassette) rose by 29.69 per cent – 4,228,270 orders – on their website between January and June this year, compared to the same period in 2019.

Here are the best releases you can buy on Record Store Day (Drop Day 2): This weekend sees the second Record Store Day of 2020 – and we’ve picked our 20 favourite releases. With everything that’s been going on in the world, this year’s Record Store Day has an altogether different feel. The main day itself was originally scheduled to take place back in April, but it was postponed and split into three separate days in order to maintain social distancing directives. This year’s first Record Store Day took place on August 29, with part two coming up this Saturday (September 26) – and while there won’t be quite as much music available as last month, there’s still plenty of choice cuts to get stuck into. We’ve gone through the list and hand-picked our 20 favourite Record Store Day releases that’ll be available on Saturday.

MN | Record Store Day 2020’s next drop date is Saturday, Sept. 26: This Saturday marks the second (of three) official Record Store Day drops of 2020. As we did during August’s Record Store Day iteration, The Current will spend the day celebrating vinyl and the culture of record collecting. From 8 to 10 a.m. (CDT), Jim McGuinn will host another very special Teenage Kicks, spinning nothing but vinyl from his own collection, digging out some of his 45s and albums from the Teenage Kicks era to share with you. “Last time, I only had one glaring skip, thanks to a Blondie 45,” Jim says. “We’ll see what happens this week when I bring in another crate of vinyl from home, crafting the show on the fly.” For those heading out to record stores (whether actually or virtually), the people at Record Store Day have provided a list of new RSD drops coming this Saturday. Meanwhile, listen to The Current from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. CDT as Bill DeVille and Mac Wilson debut some of these exclusives and spin crate-digger classics.

Record Store Day 2020: the best turntable, speaker, and headphone deals: Record Store Day round two is coming soon. …Following two Covid-19-related delays, Record Store Day 2020 has been split over three dates – and the second ‘drop’ is coming up on September 26, bringing tons of exclusive vinyls to turntable enthusiasts around the world. The first drop landed on August 29, and we have two more to look forward to on September 26, and October 24. …The best turntables in 2020 are drastically improved compared to the clunky old systems you might find gathering dust in your attic. The top record players today come in a wide range of styles and sizes – whether you like the classic look of record players from the past or you’re only interested in the most modern aesthetic. Many of these devices also come with modern features, such as Bluetooth connectivity and USB ports. With a USB output you can record all of the LPs you already own directly to your computer. This brings an added bonus of allowing you to listen to your vinyl wherever you are.

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TVD Radar: Derek &
The Dominos, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs 50th anniversary, 4LP set in stores 11/13

VIA PRESS RELEASE | This November sees the release of 50th Anniversary edition of Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, available as a 4LP vinyl box set via UMe/Polydor. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the 1970 double album, the original has been given the ‘Half-Speed Mastered’ treatment by Miles Showell at Abbey Road Studios and is completed with a certificate of authentication. The 50th anniversary 4LP box set, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, is available exclusively through uDiscover and Sound of Vinyl and can be ordered here.

Layla is often regarded as Eric Clapton’s greatest musical achievement. The album is notably known for its title track, an evergreen rock classic, which had top ten single chart success in the U.K. and features the dual wailing guitars of Clapton and Duane Allman. Alongside this are a further 2LPs of bonus material some of which has not previously been released on vinyl. All the bonus material across all of LP3 and LP4 is mastered normally (so is not half-speed mastered). The LP set also includes a 12×12 book of sleeve notes taken from the 40th-Anniversary Edition.

In 1970, following the break-up of Blind Faith and his departure from Delaney & Bonnie, Derek & The Dominos initially formed in the spring of that year. The group comprised Eric Clapton on guitar and vocals alongside three other former members of Delaney & Bonnie & Friends: Bobby Whitlock on keyboards, Carl Radle on bass, and Jim Gordon on drums.

Derek & The Dominos played their first concert at London’s Lyceum Ballroom on June 14, 1970 as part of a U.K. summer tour. During late August to early October they recorded Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, with the Allman Brothers’ guitarist Duane Allman sitting in, before returning to a tour of the U.K. and the U.S. until the end of the year. Shortly thereafter the group disbanded but their short time together offered up one of the rock canon’s most enduring albums of all time.

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Analog Players Society,
The TVD First Date

“I didn’t know it was vinyl when it was ‘vinyl.’ It was just how the dance party would get started with my sister in the basement on a little portable 45 record player. Or, in the living room on my parents’ old system. It was easier to use than the 8-track. “

“The first records that I remember playing over and over again was the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. My sister had some Madonna 45 singles…and my parents loved Simon and Garfunkel. I have to say that I got into Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass because of the cover. A naked woman covered in whipped cream seemed like a good invitation.

Later in college is when it really came back. I started hanging out with DJs and producers. I fell in love with the Golden Era of Hip Hop’s production techniques, and I started digging. And honestly, that’s when I started falling in love with jazz. Cannonball Adderley, Herbie Hancock obviously… Bitches Brew changed my life. Honestly, after Bitches Brew, my mind exploded.

Also, side note, while I was in high school listening to The Beatles’ “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds,” I finally made the connection that they were talking about LSD. I guess everybody has to figure it out at some point.

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Needle Drop: Philip Brooks, “I’m So In Love With All Of My Friends”

London-based dream-popper Philip Brooks produces nostalgic and emotionally charged tunes that land like bedroom bop Fleetwood Mac. “I’m So In Love With All Of My Friends” is a particularly bittersweet entry into their catalogue, examining regrets over having lost friends by admitting feelings for them. The German-born singer-songwriter has recently come out as non-binary.

Philip says about the track: “I wanted to write a love song for my platonic friends, because deep platonic love is so underrated in my opinion. In the past I was always seeking affection and I famously fell for my friends all the time—like, that was basically my brand. Every time I took the courage to be candid to find out if my crushes felt the same, people kept disappearing from my life until I found myself all alone.”

“Feeling both emotionally and physically distanced from my loved ones over the last few months led me to reflect on that, and writing this song helped me manifest that deeply loving people platonically is okay and enough and actually it’s really awesome. The track means a lot to me, especially because so many of my super talented friends are on it.”

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Graded on a Curve: New in Stores for September 2020, Part Three

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

NEW RELEASE PICKS: Profligate, Too Numb to Know (Wharf Cat) Although three volumes of demo tapes have been released since, the last “new” full-length from Profligate, which is the work of songwriter Noah Anthony, was Somewhere Else, released in January 2018, his first for Wharf Cat. That record found him working in territory comparable to synth-pop but with injections of abrasiveness and a general mood that was nearer to darkwave (which isn’t 1,000 miles away from synth-pop, but still), and it was a strong enough effort to receive a new release pick in this column. Well, the writing of Anthony’s latest, which began in Philadelphia, continued after a move to Los Angeles, and then following the theft of a laptop, was restarted in Cleveland, makes significant inroads into the realms of songs over electronic environments, though Too Numb to Know is still aptly categorized as synth-pop (but with some rewardingly atypical use of electric guitar). However, as the title might suggest, the attitude (one could even say atmosphere) is nearer to dour than sunshiny, and that’s A-OK with me, bud. A-

Christopher Parker & Kelley Hurt, No Tears Suite (Mahakala Music) This CD features pianist Parker and vocalist Hurt’s composition, initially written in commemoration and celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Little Rock Nine’s historic enrollment in their city’s Central High School. It’s a work of substantial richness and power that is only heightened by its connection to the Arkansas community, as Parker was born in North Little Rock. Additionally, the piece was composed for the literary magazine Oxford American, which is based in the city. It premiered in 2017 with a strong band that featured Parker, Hurt, Marc Franklin on trumpet, Chad Fowler on alto, Bobby LaVell on tenor, Bill Huntington on bass, and Brian Blade on drums, the lineup heard on the disc, which comes in an attractive, informative 6 panel package.

Fitting for its conception as a historical act of tribute and remembrance, No Tears Suite is a journey deep into the heart of jazz greatness as established by the form’s masterworks of the mid-20th century. Indeed, it’s almost scholarly in comportment, as Parker has studied and taught extensively, but that’s no fault, as there is also crucial warmth and verve. Consistently accessible throughout, Hurt’s contribution, which can described as serving a narrative function, is as pleasing to the ear as it is informative, and deepens the suite’s distinctiveness as the music is at times reminiscent of Mingus, Duke, Benny Golson’s work with Art Farmer, and Max Roach’s with Abbey Lincoln. Also, the release of No Tears Suite will be accompanied by a free streaming listen of the 2019 live performance from Little Rock featuring the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and with arrangements by the great bassist Rufus Reid. For the curious, it’ll serve as a fine introduction to Parker and Hurt’s work and will stand as a splendidly robust and wholly satisfying expansion for those who choose to immediately scoop up the studio recording. A / A

REISSUE/ARCHIVAL PICK: Rüstəm Quliyev, Azerbaijani Gitara (Bongo Joe) Born in 1969 in the village of Kosalar, Nagorno Karabakh, in the Republic of Azerbaijan (formerly part of the USSR), Quliyev’s music is a sweet find, well, a bittersweet find as he died young after a battle with lung cancer. Encountering the guitar while doing military service in Russia, but wasted no time in mastering it upon returning to Azerbaijan (he was already proficient on the tar and the saz), where he recorded frequently on cassettes released by small local labels, as well as playing weddings and appearing in TV. This is his first international release, made with the approval and input of Quliyev’s family, and it details a personal style that is assessed as a step (or steps) beyond the “already idiosyncratic” Azerbaijani guitar scene. Launching from his country’s traditional music, Quliyev incorporated a wealth of outside influences (Indian, Afghan, Iranian, Spanish) for an expansive, and dare I say psychedelic, ride. And after getting acclimated to the sound, “Yaniq Kerem” (track seven) hits the ear, and it’s like, “aww, yes…” A-

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