Monthly Archives: January 2021

TVD’s The Idelic Hour with Jon Sidel

Greetings from Laurel Canyon!

My telephone wakes me in the morning / Have to get up to answer the call / So I think I’ll go back to the family / Where no one can ring me at all

Living this life has its problems / So I think that I’ll give it a break / Oh, I’m going back to the family / Cause I’ve had about all I can take

Most people I know wouldn’t mind turning the clock back to a simpler time. To think our kids may never experience a carefree day with no devices or internet looming. Well, it’s a big pill to swallow on a cold and wet Friday morning.

This week my computer screen was filled challenges often created by internet culture and some by yours truly. Well, here in our Canyon we’re just glad the power is on and the heater works.

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TVD Radar: The Podcast with Evan Toth, Episode 21: New Music Mix

This week on Radar, more great new music, and new to you music. ’90s power-pop kingmeister (a word that I apparently just invented), Matthew Sweet has a new album out on Omnivore titled, Catspaw. You’ll hear more of it in the next few weeks, but on this episode we begin at the beginning with the track, “Blown Away” which—if you love Matthew Sweet—is what you’ll want to hear.

Billie Joe Armstrong (that guy from Green Day) released his first ever solo album and it was the result of lockdown days. It’s a gallop and a romp through some of his favorite songs and – well, you’ll just have to tune in to see what classic song gets the Armstrong-treatment. The album on Reprise Records is titled No Fun Mondays because he apparently posted a new song each Monday during the pandemic.

Bobby Watson’s new album Keepin’ it Real (Smoke Sessions Records) does just that and also succeeds in imbuing strong, infectious melody in his compositions. Love him for his great sax jazz chops, admire him because of his longtime dedication to educating in the field of music.

You’ll also hear something new from the Avalanches and The Bee Gees, too! Have you been watching the HBO documentary? I haven’t finished it, but so far, so good. You’ll also enjoy music from two forthcoming interview subjects: A.J. Croce and Jim Keller who both have terrific new albums out.

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TVD Radar: Various Artists, The Vinyl Series Volume One curated
by Chris Blackwell in stores 2/26

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Since its beginnings in Jamaica in 1959, the story of the pioneering Island Records label has been inextricably linked to the story of its founder, Chris Blackwell. Now, Blackwell has curated a series of compilation LPs, featuring his hand-picked tracks that correspond with his and Island’s legendary history.

On February 26, Island Records / UMe will release Volume One of The Vinyl Series, a 14-track album covering the years 1962 to 1969. Volumes Two and Three will follow later this year and explore Island’s history in the decades that followed. “When I moved Island Records’ base from Kingston to London in 1962, all I wanted to do at first was just release the really great music that was coming out of Jamaica,” writes Blackwell in the collection’s liner notes. “But then I got caught up in all the music that I was hearing in London, much of it from America.”

The first volume of The Vinyl Series includes such groundbreaking hits as Millie Small’s “My Boy Lollipop” and “Israelites” by Desmond Dekker and the Aces—songs which introduced much of the world to the sound of Jamaican music. Several early singles set the context for these singles by Toots and the Maytals and “Forward March” by a teenage Derrick Morgan, the “first star of ska.”

The set also points to the expansive musical directions that Island would soon pursue, especially after the 1966 smash “Gimme Some Lovin’ “ by the Spencer Davis Group, whose lead singer, Steve Winwood, would later further influence the label’s direction.

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Our New Orleans, post-Katrina benefit album featuring 5 previously unreleased tracks in stores today, 1/29

Our New Orleans is available on vinyl for the first time through Nonesuch Records. The album has raised $1.5 million to benefit Gulf Coast survivors of the devastating 2005 hurricane via Habitat for Humanity.

The new version of the album, which features songs recorded by New Orleans musicians immediately after Hurricane Katrina, includes tunes by Allen Toussaint, Dr. John, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Irma Thomas, the Wild Magnolias, Buckwheat Zydeco, Randy Newman and more.

The album received rave reviews when it was first released. The Washington Post said, “Rife with stirring performances, Our New Orleans has the soul of the city.” The New York Times called it, “An album full of mourning, obstinacy and longing for redemption.”

The two-LP set, also available digitally, includes five previously unreleased tracks: “Do You Know What It Means,” by Davell Crawford; “Let’s Work Together,” by Buckwheat Zydeco and Ry Cooder; “Crescent City Serenade,” by Dr. Michael White; “Do You Know What It Means,” by The Wardell Quezergue Orchestra featuring saxophonist Donald Harrison, Jr. and “Walking By the River” by Dr. John (the above video was recorded in a New York City studio in September 2005).

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Graded on a Curve: Various Artists, Footloose: Original Soundtrack of the Paramount Motion Picture

So the kids in Bomont, Oklahoma think they had it bad? In my rural hometown, we weren’t allowed to square dance. Our town elders also banned chewing gum, walking the streets after the 7:30 curfew, the subversive music of John Denver, and the word “squid.” Guess they thought it was an obscenity or something.

So imagine the liberating effect 1985’s Footloose and its accompanying official soundtrack had on us. No longer would we put up with our parents’ dour puritanism. No longer would we stand around at high school dances not dancing. We wanted to dance up a storm, press body to body and sweat up a healthy hard-on. We even created our own dance–a bouncing-like-pinballs variation on square dancing’s “boxing the qnat” we dubbed “moshing.”

The storyline of Footloose goes something like this: Chicago kid Ren moves to small town, falls for small town girl Ariel, wins game of tractor chicken (yes, it’s a thing) against town bully Chuck, and inspires the ire of the town preacher and his dour acolytes. A fist fight with Chuck and some book burning ensue, and Ren finally wins the day by holding the prom at a local grain silo, where everyone dances well past their 10:30 bedtime.

This is why I’ll always love the Footloose soundtrack; it represents sweet teen rebellion to me. Artists include, of course, Kenny Loggins, who contributes both the title track and “I’m Free (Heaven Helps the Man).” Other artists include the great Deniece Williams, Bonnie Tyler, Sammy Hagar, Shalamar, Moving Pictures, and Mike Reno and Ann Wilson of Heart fame, who duet on the soundtrack’s unforgettable love theme, “Almost Paradise.” Hardly what I’d call a stellar line-up for a dance-oriented movie soundtrack, and the fact that there are only two black acts represented here doesn’t improve matters. But I guess that’s the way it goes in rural Oklahoma.

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In rotation: 1/29/21

Waukesha, WI | We’re Open: High-end collectible shop opens in downtown Waukesha: A new high end collectibles shop opened in downtown Waukesha in January called Music Nostalgia and More. The store located at 321 Main Street sells video game soundtracks on vinyl, standard records, and vintage video games/consoles. “It is vinyl and video games it is meant to recapture the soul of your childhood,” owner Stephen Howitz said. Howitz is a lawyer turned shop owner. He said this is his shot of living his dream. “They always say what would you do if you have a million dollars? What would you do if you won the lottery? This is what I’d do.” He sells limited edition video game soundtracks like the Super Smash Bros Nintendo 64 soundtrack, Doom, Pokemon, Fallout 3, and so many more. If you don’t necessarily know what those are, that’s okay. They are very popular video games. You might not expect it, but these sell fast. …He also sells regular records like The Doobie Brothers, The Beatles, and Katy Perry. What might be most impressive about it all, is that almost every record in the store comes from his own personal collection. He said he has around 4,000 records.

Dallas, TX | Female-Owned Record Store Red Zeppelin Is Now a Music Label: Katie Scott has not let a matter as small as a global pandemic get in the way of her dreams. Last July, the teacher-turned-business-owner opened Red Zeppelin Records in downtown McKinney, a punk-grunge haven for crate diggers. Soon after she opened the shop, Scott began to receive music submissions from local bands and singers. These artists only wanted Scott’s opinion, but she was blown away by the talent, which inspired yet another bold, mid-pandemic move. Earlier this month, Scott launched an independent record label, aptly called Red Zeppelin Records, to create a launching pad for North Texas musicians. “I spoke to a few others who have experience in the record label business,” Scott says, “and made the decision that I would create a platform for these musicians.” So far, Scott has signed two artists to the label: Juno Uno, whom she describes as a “captivating character that creates dreamy synth-pop sounds combined with classic singer-songwriter elements,” and the store’s manager, Bayleigh Cheek, “a quiet storm of a human that mixes haunting vocals with raw and bold instrumentation.”

Denver, CO | Music lovers are buying records in record numbers: Special sounds are produced when a needle connects with vinyl. “How it breathes through your sound system, you just don’t get that through your iPod or digital speakers,” said Jason Price, a professional DJ. That vintage sound and excitement that can only be heard on records are now spreading to a new generation. “Young people are into old things,” millennial Mykail Cooley said. “With the technology advancement we have right now, it’s that we can explore everything.” While we might be living in a digital world, when it comes to music, many are moving back to analogue. “When the death of CDs and retail happened, everyone just started looking for more ways to explore and collect,” said Price, who also holds a degree in music business from Loyola University New Orleans. Due to this increase interest in vinyl records, he’s started collecting and selling records. With record sales surging so much, he’s now working with a new independent business devoted to this vinyl revival, Larimer Records Cafe.

10 Great Album Covers, Chosen by Melissa Severin of Cramer-Krasselt: Joanna Newsom, Brian Eno, Silver Jews and more. Records were my first exposure to ideas and art far beyond anything available to me growing up in South Omaha in the ’80s. Looking back, it’s clear just how much of the world music opened for me, beyond the music itself. It gave me friendships, cultures, literature, politics, geography and on and on. In fact, it opened up a career. I would go on to work at a record store in college and started my post-college “real job” life doing public relations at Drag City Records. Music is also signposts across time. And a coping mechanism. That’s where my list comes in. These are my favorite covers for the music that’s been helping me cope lately—at turns broody, soothing, optimistic and angry.

St. Louis, MO | St. Louis artist creates tribute piece of Kobe Bryant using vinyl records: She used at least 150 vinyl records in making the life-sized art. Jan. 26 marks a somber remembrance for sports fans. One year ago, NBA legend Kobe Bryant died along with eight others, including his daughter Gia, in a helicopter crash. St. Louis artist Lindsay Wanner is a big fan of Bryant. She uses pieces of vinyl to create her works and put together a tribute to him. It’s more than 8 feet tall, the biggest piece she has ever made. “It goes perfectly with Kobe’s, you know, story; he’s such a larger than life story,” Wanner said. She used at least 150 vinyl records in making the life-sized art. “It’s layered and stacked upon each other to create the 3D effects,” she told 5 On Your Side. “It’s almost like you’re looking at him and that he’s playing right in front of you.” She added wings on the figure made out of snakeskin to symbolize Bryant’s nickname, the Black Mamba. “I wanted it to be something that was kind of like heavenly,” she said.

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TVD Radar: Cheap Trick announce 20th studio album In Another World, vinyl in stores 4/9

VIA PRESS RELEASE | “Quick, think of any other American rock band formed in the ‘70s who is still putting out albums in the modern era that not only don’t embarrass the band but repeatedly revitalize their career. The list starts and stops with one name: Cheap Trick.”Paste

The one and only Cheap Trick have announced today’s premiere of their pummeling new single. “Light Up The Fire” is available now at all DSPs and streaming services. The song heralds Cheap Trick’s eagerly anticipated 20th studio album, In Another World, arriving via BMG on Friday, April 9 digitally as well as on standard black vinyl and CD. Limited edition blue and white splattered vinyl will be available at independent record stores nationwide. In addition, a limited edition picture disc will be available exclusively via Target. Pre-orders are available now, with all pre-orders joined by an instant grat download of “Light Up The Fire.”

Produced by longtime associate Julian Raymond, In Another World sees Cheap Trick doing what they do better than anyone—crafting indelible rock ‘n’ roll with oversized hooks, mischievous lyrics, and seemingly inexorable energy. Trademark anthems like “Light Up The Fire” and “Boys & Girls & Rock N Roll” are countered by more introspective – but no less exuberant—considerations of times past, present, and unknowable future on such strikingly potent new tracks as “Another World” and “I’ll See You Again.”

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The Luka State,
The TVD First Date

“Music… it gave me an identity.”

“Music for me is a relationship that was solidified and blossomed from a very early age, I mean from the age of eight onwards I fell in love with this thing that I didn’t understand—that I was surrounded by on a constant basis. My family, my uncle and my cousins would play the guitar and at family parties music would be a big thing that would get everybody on their feet, would connect people, would make people emotional. From there I realised that I wanted to be the centre of that connection from around eight years old.

So around eight years old I got my first guitar and then from there my love affair with music developed. Then I started to understand music as such a bigger picture, it gave me an identity as I became a young boy, especially through discovering different kinds of music, and this whole new world, and this whole new universe was opening up to me before my eyes, through rock and roll to reggae to soul to grunge to punk to Motown, to all these different genres that I was in control of.

I’d never experienced a feeling like this where I could go out and research, and find music for myself, and the first time upon hearing bands like The Beatles, and how it blew my mind, and the first time I’ll never forget listening to things like that. The first time I ever heard The Doors and Ziggy Stardust, and “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” and these songs that encapsulated me with this feeling that I’d never felt before.

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TVD Radar: Lilys, A
Brief History of Amazing Letdowns
reissue in stores 2/26

VIA PRESS RELEASE | A Brief History of Amazing Letdowns ditches MBV as a reference point; the band has rediscovered pleasant, straightforward guitar pop. “Any Place I’ve Lived” is the best melody Heasley’s written to date; “Jenny, Andrew, and Me” (a Tsunami reference?) has a clever strummed solo over knotty chords.”Douglas Wolk, Trouser Press

The opening guitar riff and drums of “Ginger” became widely recognized in the mid-nineties through use in the notorious CK1 Commercial, as part of Calvin Klein’s Unisex Fragrance ad campaign playing constantly during American late night television. Also used in the Cadillac 2007 summer event campaign, “Ginger” has been touted as the first indie rock song ever used in corporate advertising. The song “Any Place I’ve Lived” is heard during the closing credits of the 2006 film, Keeping Up With the Steins.

These recordings, made in Philadelphia between 1993-1994, present what Kurt Heasley, Lilys frontman, founder, and sole constant member, terms as “a maximum listen, that properly represents the transitional phase” between the 1992 Slumberland Lilys debut In the Presence of Nothing and 1995’s Eccsame the Photon Band (reissued by Frontier Records in 2015).

This 2021 version of A Brief History of Amazing Letdowns (also reissued with Frontier) has the previously unreleased track, “G. Cobalt Franklin” which replaces the track “Glosseder” on the original 1994 10 inch (the song will be avail. on the digital version). The songs “Elsa,” “Coby,” “Timber,” and “Hymn” recorded in 1994 during the demoing process for Eccsame The Photon Band, were shelved, then released in 2000 as the “Lilys/ Aspera Ad Astra” split EP.

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Graded on a Curve: New in Stores for January 2021, Part Four

Part four of the TVD Record Store Club’s look at the new and reissued releases presently in stores for January 2021. Part one is here and part two is here and part three is here.

NEW RELEASE PICKS: Binker & Moses, Escape the Flames (Gearbox) This 2LP, limited to 500 so don’t sit on your hands (98 copies left as of this writing), delivers my first taste of saxophonist Binker Golding and drummer Moses Boyd. Taste? More like a six-course banquet, as the stylistic reach, while remaining in the jazz realm, is considerable. Recorded live at London’s Total Refreshment Centre in June 2017, the evening began with an extended serving of fiery duo exchange (“The Departure”), but then shifted into a sax groove that had me thinking of an edgier Eddie Harris (“Intoxication From the Jahvmonishi Leaves”) and after that moved into a zone reminding me a little of Sonny Rollins on Impulse! (“Fete By The River”). Speaking of Impulse!, much of Golding’s blowing is reminiscent of Coltrane, but his embracement of Modern Jazz romanticism (not just Rollins, but on finale “Leaving The Now Behind,” hints of Paul Desmond) sets him apart. Boyd can bring the thunder, but his attention to the tom drums stands out, and he’s solid with the brushes on that closer. Pretty consistently delightful. A

The Notwist, Vertigo Days (Morr Music) Germany’s The Notwist has been around for a long time, issuing their eponymous debut in 1990, and they’ve come a long way, emerging with a sound informed by punk and metal that beckoned toward the burgeoning Alternative scene only to enter into a long dalliance with electronics while maintaining an approach to songwriting that can be categorized as indie in nature. Brothers Markus and Micha Acher have been The Notwist’s constant members across that span, comprising a core trio with Cico Beck (who’s half of the electronic duo Joasihno) that for Vertigo Days has welcomed an august crew of guest contributors, including Ben LaMar Gay, who sings on “Oh Sweet Fire,” Gay’s fellow Chicagoan Angel Bat Dawid blowing clarinet during “Into The Ice Age,” the jewel of Argentina Juana Molina delivering voice and electronics to “Al Sur,” and Saya of Japanese pop duo Tenniscoats, who sings in the exquisite “Ship” and also plays in the brass band Zayaendo heard in the album’s closer “Into Love Again.” Vertigo Days offers many highlights amid impeccable flow. A-

REISSUE/ARCHIVAL PICKS: V/A, Somewhere Between: Mutant Pop, Electronic Minimalism & Shadow Sounds of Japan 1980–1988 (Light in the Attic) As Mark “Frosty” McNeill mentions in his notes for Light in the Attic’s latest dive into late-20th century Japanese sounds, its contents are positioned somewhere between (hence the title) the label’s prior Japan Archival Series comps Kankyō Ongaku (dedicated to the ambient, environmental and new age genres) and the two Pacific Breeze volumes (which focus on City Pop, AOR, and boogie styles). As Kankyō Ongaku offers a uniquely Japanese take on the abovementioned forms, its contents were striking to the ear as well as historically enlightening, receiving an A grade in full review in this column. By contrast, the second volume of Pacific Breeze, while just as informative and frequently quite likeable, was given a B+, also in full review. Unsurprisingly, Somewhere Between’s title explicates exactly where its grade falls in relation to those earlier volumes, though a handful of its selections do equal Kankyō Ongaku’s standouts in terms of quality. A-

Sabir Mateen, Christopher Dell, Christian Ramond, Klaus Kugel, Creation (577) Along with possessing excellent taste in shirts, Sabir Mateen is a titan of the free jazz saxophone. He blows mightily on this CD, which was released on December 18, with the contents a live performance from October 14, 2012 at the A-Trane in Berlin. Mateen’s bandmates for the occasion are Germans Christopher Dell on vibraphone, Christian Ramond on bass, and Klaus Kugel on drums, all three new to my ear as Dell makes the strongest immediate impression, in large part because his instrument is not exactly common in the free jazz scheme of things (and as I’ve mentioned before in this column, the vibes are far from my favorite instrument in jazz terms). The good news is that his playing truly fits into this equation (rather than just hanging in there or providing an “interesting” juxtaposition). But it’s worth noting that Creation offers some very appealingly lyrical playing from Mateen (and some sweet scatting) amid the fire. As Francis Davis writes in his nifty liner notes, Ramond and Kugel bring the necessary tandem momentum. A

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In rotation: 1/28/21

Lancaster, PA | A Day in the Life Records opens in Lancaster city with ‘finely curated selection’ of vinyl: A Day in the Life Records has opened a new shop in downtown Lancaster. Now in its own space at 24A W. Walnut St., A Day in the Life Records previously sold vinyl records at Scarlet Willow, a vintage shop at 320 N. Queen St. Daniel Flynn, who owns the record shop with this wife, Ashley Spotts, said they decided to open a separate shop after having a good reaction from selling records for the last four years at Scarlet Willow. Flynn, who formerly worked in finance, now manages the roughly 800-square foot shop, which also carries some music cassette tapes, CDs and books. A Day in the Life Records opened with around 2,000 records, consisting of what Flynn calls a “finely curated selection” that includes new releases and popular titles as well as hard-to-find and collectible items. Flynn said the shop is always looking to buy record collections.

Dire Straits’ ‘Brothers In Arms,’ Mark Knopfler’s ‘Local Hero’ For Half-Speed Vinyl: Both albums have been remastered by Miles Showell at Abbey Road Studios. UMC/EMI have announced the March 19 release of half-speed vinyl masters of Dire Straits’ immortal 1985 album Brothers In Arms, and Mark Knopfler’s revered soundtrack to Bill Forsyth’s 1983 movie Local Hero. Both albums have been remastered by Miles Showell at Abbey Road Studios. They will be available on 180gsm black vinyl with a series branded obi-strip and a certificate of authenticity from Abbey Road Studios. The double vinyl Brothers In Arms will have a full colour outer sleeve with printed inner sleeves; Local Hero will have a full colour outer sleeve with a facsimile of the original artwork. The massively successful Brothers In Arms was Dire Straits’ fifth studio album. It went on to be one of the biggest-selling releases in recording history, with ten-times platinum status in the UK (the first record ever to achieve such status) and nine-times platinum in the US.

Volbeat reissuing debut album ‘The Strength/The Sound/The Songs’ on vinyl: Volbeat has announced a 15th anniversary vinyl reissue of the band’s 2005 debut album, The Strength/The Sound/The Songs. The package will be released on a trio of different color options, including a glow-in-the-dark green exclusive to indie record stores, on March 26. The Strength/The Sound/The Songs provided the first glimpse at Volbeat’s unique combination of hard rock and metal with rockabilly. It brought the Danish rockers attention in Europe, but only received a limited U.S. release. Volbeat’s sound eventually made its way stateside beginning with their fourth studio effort, 2010’s Beyond Hell/Above Heaven, and the band’s remained a rock radio mainstay ever since. Volbeat’s most recent album is 2019’s Rewind, Replay, Rebound.

Pixies leader Black Francis sets out vinyl reissue series: A total of 12 albums from Black Francis will be released throughout 2021 on coloured vinyl – with The Cult Of Ray and Oddballs set for launch in February. Pixies frontman Black Francis will reissue 12 of his albums on coloured vinyl throughout the course of 2021. Nine of the records have never been released on vinyl before, with the Frank Black-stamped The Cult Of Ray and Oddballs the first pair to hit store shelves on February 12. Those will be followed on April 16 by Francis Black Francis, Honeycomb and Fast Man Raider Man, with Bluefinger and Live At The Hotel Utah Saloon arriving on July 2. September 3 will see Svn Fngrs and Live in Nijmegen reissued, with the collection concluding with NonStopErotik, The Golem and Paley & Francis on November 27. All 12 are being reissued by Demon Records. Francis says: “Salutations from the Twilight Zone, and if you think I mean the 1960s sci-fi television programme, you are correct – I am quite literally inside of a 1960s sci-fi TV programme. And in that context, Demon have allowed me to correct certain anachronisms in my published works and are releasing some for the first time on vinyl.”

Jazz Corner: Vinyl and The Rebirth of The Long-Playing Record: The 12” vinyl became a standard vehicle for recorded music: A friend called the other day, in pre-COVID-19 times that is, and said he had a bottle of South African wine which would go perfectly with jazz heard on vinyl. Could he bring the bottle over? Could we have a vinyl jazz listening session? A really good idea, sirjee! Now my friend is very well-traveled and is a man of eclectic taste. He has been to several jazz festivals around the world and has an impressive collection of jazz. But that is almost a totally digital collection with plenty of compact discs and hard drives. We had a great session of listening to jazz on vinyl, and he was right: That wine was well paired with the jazz that evening. Maybe a mellow red goes well with Bill Evans, Miles Davis and Ella Fitzgerald. The experiment is certainly worth repeating soon!

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TVD Radar: All These Perfect Crosses, comic book based on the
lyrics of Craig Finn in stores 3/3

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Savannah, GA comic book retailer Neighborhood Comics has announced All These Perfect Crosses, the first comic book release from its publishing imprint.

The All These Perfect Crosses comic combines the lyrics of singer/songwriter Craig Finn (The Hold Steady) interpreted by the artistic talents of comic book creator Andrew Greenstone. All These Perfect Crosses arrives in-stores March 3 in two formats, a traditional comic book and hardcover deluxe edition graphic novel with bonus material, and is available for preorder now. The work was commissioned by Finn’s label, Partisan Records, after seeing Greenstone’s Instagram pictorial review of Craig Finn and the Uptown Controllers’ 2019 performance at Los Angeles’ Bootleg Theater.

To celebrate the comic book’s release, Finn and Greenstone will join in conversation on March 3 at 9PM EST on Neighborhood Comics’ YouTube and Facebook channels. “As an artist, you are trying to connect with an audience who understands and appreciates the work, says Finn. “To have another artist use his talent and interpretation to create a new and vibrant look at these stories is a true major thrill for me. And I thank you all for joining Andrew and myself here in these pages.”

The comic is released in conjunction with the digital and streaming debut of All These Perfect Crosses, Craig Finn’s 2020 Record Store Day double vinyl LP. The first single from the release, “Calvary Court,” is streaming today. The full album will be available on all major digital platforms on February 26.

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TVD Radar: Gene Russell, Talk to My Lady reissue in stores 2/26

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Keyboardist Gene Russell was the in-house producer of the Black Jazz Label and its creative helm.

In between acting as producer on all of the Black Jazz label releases, keyboardist Gene Russell also cut two fine albums for the imprint, of which this is the second, released in 1973. Judging by the quality of their respective solo outings for the label, the fact that Russell’s band includes bassist Henry Franklin and guitarist Calvin Keys bodes very well for the quality of this LP.

And indeed, Talk to My Lady represents a sterling stylistic leap for Russell from his New Direction album, which was the first release issued on Black Jazz; here, he’s leading an electric band instead of the basic piano trio format found on the former record, and playing a number of original, soul jazz compositions like “Get Down” and the title tune.

As for the covers, both “Me and Mrs. Jones” and “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” are heartfelt renditions given a little extra bounce by Russell’s ivory tickling and Franklin’s expressive bass playing in particular, while the version of “My Favorite Things” goes way out beyond what John Coltrane played on his original Atlantic studio version. It’s hard to go wrong with a Black Jazz album and you won’t on this one from the label’s creative helm.

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Josh Hoyer,
The TVD First Date

“For me, the best vinyl albums are the ones recorded mostly in one room with minor overdubs, if any. The records feature real instruments, not synthesizers.”

“The pairing of vinyl with a crackling amplifier, the organ swell of a Leslie, the tines of a Rhodes, the footwork and steel coming through an acoustic piano, the clack and thump of drums, the sound of a natural reverb on horns and voices, is right and harmonious.

I love listening to jazz on vinyl. Everything just seems to BE there. One of my favorite recordings is Duke Ellington and John Coltrane’s version of “In A Sentimental Mood” and on an LP it is sublime. With vinyl, you can almost simulate sitting in the room when the music was recorded.

Playing Robert Johnson’s King of The Delta Blues Singers on LP can completely transport you. The warble and moan of Johnson’s singing comes dancing off the player, and the vinyl seems to be able to emit the stifling heat and sweet air of the south. You can see the sweat coming off his brow, kicking up dust from the floorboards. Magic.

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Graded on a Curve:
Martin Gore,
“The Third Chimpanzee”

Songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Martin Gore is best known as a founding member of Depeche Mode, with that electronic pop juggernaut’s most recent album Spirit released in March 2017. In the years since Depeche Mode’s 1980 formation, Gore has peppered his career trajectory with a few solo releases (though he did skip over the 1990s). His newest is “The Third Chimpanzee” EP, a five-song set out January 29 via Mute as a download, on compact disc, and on limited 12-inch azure blue vinyl with a sleeve featuring a commissioned painting by noted capuchin monkey artist Pockets Warhol.

The release of “The Third Chimpanzee” EP brings symmetry to Martin Gore’s solo output, which began in 1989 with the “Counterfeit e.p.” That set consisted of six cover songs, with its full-length follow-up of 11 versions Counterfeit² not emerging until 2003. Then, 12 more years elapsed before his next LP MG arrived. For that one, the 16 tracks were all Gore originals, and all were completed sans vocals.

“The Third Chimpanzee” is also comprised of Gore’s instrumental compositions, which in turn allows for his non-Depeche Mode activities to be grouped into the distinct halves of early and mid-career vocal covers and later instrumental originals, at least if one excludes the “MG Remix EP” from 2015 (which in addition to four remixes of tracks from that album featured two Gore originals) and his 2012 LP Ssss as half of VCMG alongside Depeche Mode cofounder (and the first to depart the band) Vince Clarke.

Of Gore’s two solo periods, the cover material has is pleasures (as interpretations often do) but it’s really the later stuff that’s more rewarding, partly for how it both solidifies and deepens the man’s abilities by extending them beyond the sphere of his main gig. Not that the departure is radical, but MG did allow Gore to delve into somewhat darker and harsher regions, while also engaging with melodies in ways that are distinct (if not wholly unique) from his songwriting in Depeche Mode.

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