Monthly Archives: January 2022

Graded on a Curve:
Pink Floyd,
The Dark Side of
the Moon

Celebrating Nick Mason on his 78th birthday.Ed.

Back in the day–and I’m talking very back in the day–Pink Floyd’s 1973 stoner masterpiece The Dark Side of the Moon played from behind the door of every pot smoke-filled room in my college dormitory. I say this with authority because I was in every one of the those dorm rooms, which meant I heard The Dark Side of the Moon a lot. And by that I mean I heard it to death, and by the time I got booted out of that dorm for smoking pot in dorm rooms I hated The Dark Side of the Moon so much I vowed to never listen to it again. And for decades I kept that vow.

But you know how it goes. One day your curiosity gets the better of you. You think you’ve thrown The Dark Side of the Moon out with the bong water when one day you wake up and decide to give The Dark Side of the Moon another listen. This is what is commonly called failing to learn from experience. But in the case of The Dark Side of the Moon I was pleasantly surprised. I would hardly call our reunion a joyful one; it was more like running into an old friend you’d grown tired of only to discover he wasn’t the bore you remembered. Indeed, with the exceptions of “Money” and “Time” (both of which had continued to annoy me thanks to incessant radio play over the years), our reunion was actually cordial.

The Dark Side of the Moon, which was produced by the band and engineered by wizard behind the control panel Alan Parsons, is very much a “studio as band member” affair. Gone were the days when Pink Floyd, as guitarist and Syd Barrett replacement David Gilmour put it, went in for “the psychedelic noodling stuff.” Plenty of fans weren’t particularly pleased to discover there would be no more fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants LPs along the lines of 1971’s Meddle, but The Dark Side of the Moon attracted a slew of new fans and made the guys in the band rich and famous. “Money” indeed.

The Dark Side of the Moon is Head Muzak so potent you can actually smell the reefer, which brings us to the LP’s second track “Breathe (In the Air ”), which is good for a contact high due to its “beanbag chair paralysis” ambience. “On the Run,” on the other hand, employs a bubbly synthesizer and what sounds like a guy running through an airport, which I suppose is Pink Floyd’s commentary on the soulless hustle bustle of modern life.

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TVD Radar: Forbidden Beat: Perspectives on Punk Drumming in stores 2/8

VIA PRESS RELEASE | On February 8th, Forbidden Beat: Perspectives on Punk Drumming will be available for purchase everywhere books are sold and is currently available for pre-order. It’s a book about punk rock, as told from the perspective of those behind the kit. Whether they’re self-taught bashers or technical wizards, drummers are the thrashing, crashing heart of our favorite punk bands.

In Forbidden Beat, some of today’s most respected writers and musicians explore the history of punk percussion with personal essays, interviews and lists featuring their favorite players and biggest influences. From ’60s garage rock and proto-punk to ’70s New York and London, ’80s hardcore and D-beat to ’90s pop punk and beyond, Forbidden Beat is an uptempo ode to six decades of punk rock drumming.

The list of contributors is a diverse collection of musicians and writers that includes: Lori Barbero (Babes in Toyland), Phanie Diaz (Fea), Bon Von Wheelie (Girl Trouble), Laura Bethita Neptuna (The Neptunas), Tre Cool (Green Day), Mike Watt (Minutemen), Jon Wurster (Bob Mould, Superchunk), Rat Scabies (The Damned) and many others. Full list below.

“Niche you say? We like Niche. In the weeds. Talking shop. This is a deep dive into an overlooked sport. A history lesson on the evolution of punk drumming from the source. From Rat Scabies to Discharge to Lori Barbero, most of my heroes are now trapped together between these covers.” —Brendan Canty, Fugazi and The Messthetics

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Graded on a Curve: New in Stores for January 2022, Part Four

Part four of the TVD Record Store Club’s look at the new and reissued releases presently in stores for January 2022. Part one is here, part two is here, and part three is here.

NEW RELEASE PICKS: Wadada Leo Smith, Henry Kaiser & Alex Varty, Pacifica Koral Reef (577) As guitarist and music journalist Alex Varty points out in his excellent accompanying text for this CD, trumpeter-composer-teacher Wadada Leo Smith and guitarist-composer Henry Kaiser have been friends for a long time, since the mid-1970s, in fact. And Varty, a Canadian resident of British Columbia, has been acquainted with Smith and Kaiser for nearly as long. While the specifics of these relationships doubtlessly impacted the shape of Pacifica Koral Reef, which consists of one 55-minute piece for two guitars and trumpet, surely discipline, dedication, and sheer talent were equally as important in making this delightful recording a reality. There was a graphic score (Smith’s) learned and honed over several sessions, and there is so much to recommend; the atypical instrumental configuration, sustained passages of heightened interaction and abstract beauty, a touch of the blues, and Vardy’s impressive acoustic soloing in the opening moments. Smith and Kaiser’s distinctive styles are in full effect. A

Tyler Mitchell featuring Marshall Allen, Dancing Shadows (Mahakala) Both Mitchell and Allen are associated with the music of Sun Ra, the latter famously so; other than the bandleader himself, Allen is likely the highest-profile member of the Arkestra. Bassist Mitchell joined the band in 1985 for a stint and then reupped after Allen became musical director, but he’s also played with Art Taylor, Shirley Horn, and Jon Hendricks, so he can do it inside and outside. The cover kinda insinuates that Dancing Shadows is a duo session, but no, it’s actually a sextet, with Mitchell on bass, Allen on alto sax and EVI, Chris Hemmingway on tenor sax, Nicoletta Manzini on alto sax, Wayne Smith on drums, and Elson Nascimento on percussion. The album they’ve made is a wonderfully wild affair, offering a dozen selections focusing on compositions by Allen and Sun Ra, but that also means there is an ass-ton of tangible swing in the mix. All the horns are blowing shit hot and with melodious twists and turns, the drums-percussion is cracking large, and the bass is big in the mix, as it should be. And the EVI is a welcome addition. A

Maya Shenfeld, In Free Fall (Thrill Jockey) This is the debut solo record for Shenfeld, a Berlin-based composer whose method, as detailed in her Bandcamp bio, is focused upon “exploring the space between modes of musical production used in experimental, classical, and popular music.” And so appropriately, In Free Fall roams around stylistically, beginning in a horn-saturated, tangibly Minimalist zone with “Cataphora” (and mirrored somewhat in closer “Anaphora”), then engaging with analog synths in “Body, Electric,” and after that delving into a more distorted soundscape with “Voyager.” While Shenfeld resides in Berlin, her use of electronics eludes expectations, as in “Mountain Larkspur,” where she reworks the choral singing of the Bethanien Youth Choir (executed in collaboration with James Ginzberg of labelmates Emptyset). Furthermore, Shenfeld’s approach to ambient avoids cliché as her melodic inclinations can become appealingly tense (borderline cinematic). That Shenfeld partook in a residency with Caterina Barbieri makes sense, as their approaches are complementary. A-

REISSUE/ARCHIVAL PICK: The Innocence Mission, Now the Day Is Over (Badman) Lancaster, PA’s The Innocence Mission, an alt-folk trio featuring Karen Peris (vocals, guitar, keyboards, more), her husband Don Peris (guitar), and Mike Bitts (bass), released their debut full-length in 1989; this is their seventh out of a grand total of 12, released by Badman in 2004 and making its vinyl debut here. With one exception, Now the Day Is Over is a covers album, specifically focused upon standards and traditional songs that Karen Peris sang as lullabies to her children; we’re talking “Stay Awake” from Mary Poppins, “Over the Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz, “What a Wonderful World,” and “Moon River,” but also Chopin’s “Prelude in A,” Beethoven’s “Sonata No. 8” (these last two technically not lullabies, as they are played solo on guitar) and even the gospel hymn “It Is Well With My Soul.” In less assured hands, this sort of gentle and sweet endeavor would rapidly wear out its welcome, but there is an ease to The Innocence Mission’s sensitivity, a lack of straining for the beautiful, that solidifies the record’s appeal. A-

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In rotation: 1/27/22

Cambridge, UK | A love letter to Andy’s Records where 90s kids in Cambridge spent far too much money: Countless hours could be spent in one of Cambridge’s finest record shops. With the renewed interest in the classic record shop in recent years, coupled with the vinyl revival which has seen increased sales of vinyl records, there’ll likely be many people looking for a local outlet to contribute to this resurgence. It’s therefore a shame that music lovers moving to the county during this new wave never got to experience the joys of Andy’s Records. Along with Parrot Records and Jay’s Records and Tapes, Andy’s Records was a firm part of a thriving aspect of Cambridge’s shopping offerings. So many Cambridge kids in the 90s would spend all of their pocket money at the beloved shop. CambridgeshireLive readers over the years have lamented the loss of Andy’s Records, with one person saying “Mill Road was never the same once Andy’s Records went”. Others say their teen years were spent at this shop.

Kearney, NE | CDs and vinyl hit the right note for Buffalo Records: More buyers are coming around to an old way of listening to music, according to one Central Nebraska record store. Outside the street, on the bricks, you’ll find a black and white sign for a record store, but once you take a step inside, things are not so colorless. “Things like Pink Floyd. These are brand new seals of those records and a new copy if you wanted to start fresh with one of those.” Buffalo Records Co-Owner Bryce Jensen said his business offers a different take to buying music. “You pick out a record, you take it and put it on the turntable and you sit down and spend some time with it.” The store features records from all genres of music including rock, funk and soul. Jensen said records bring sort of a classic feel when listening to music. “I think that’s something that a lot of people are enjoying and in the last several years, it’s really surged a lot with people getting nostalgic for older music and in times that were different and better than they are right now.”

Grand Rapids, MI | Grand Rapids Public Library launches vinyl collection: Vinyl records are being added to the Grand Rapids Public Library collection at the West Side and Main Libraries. “We had been exploring adding vinyl to our collection for some time and we saw this as an opportunity to create an experience,” remarked Jen VanderHeide GRPL’s Collection Services Coordinator. “These new spaces are relaxing spots to listen to vinyl, leisurely browse, and discuss great music.” According to the library, both the West Side and Main Libraries have stations for visitors to listen to albums and use turntables. Additionally, patrons can borrow portable record players and check out up to five records at one time. “This is a great way to explore new music without the investment,” continued VanderHeide. “Whether you prefer your music on vinyl, CD, or streaming, GRPL has thousands of titles to borrow for free.”

Kolkata, IN | From Indus Creed and Susmit Bose to Arinjoy Trio, A New Record Label is Bringing Indian Rock to Vinyl: Kolkata’s Free School Street Records is founded by Aveek Chatterjee and Rajiv Pandey and have partnered with Manu Trivedi in Mumbai. To say that Kolkata resident and entrepreneur Aveek Chatterjee is a vinyl collector would be an understatement. He owns over a thousand LPs, some of which he inherited from his parents’ collection. “We had a vintage Garrard record changer made in the U.K. in 1975. It could stack up to seven 45s and it was fun to watch them drop one by one from the changer and the forward & return functions of the tone arm,” he told The Revolver Club in an interview. Although Chatterjee got swept up in the cassette tape and CD waves through the Eighties and Nineties, he continued to build his record collection. After all, Kolkata had its share of marketplaces for vinyl collectors. The most notable one through the ages was Free School Street, a locale that Chatterjee frequented and credits as responsible for shaping his love for music.

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TVD Live Shots: IDLES at Brixton Academy, 1/19

If for some reason you’ve been holding out on embracing the idea that IDLES are the best thing to happen to the punk since The Clash, it’s time you let your guard down and believe the hype.

There are no “hits” to be found, just consistently pulverizing live shows, unapologetic, direct hits to pop culture, and blatant political statements wrapped in a tornado of fury. These unlikely heroes for a post-Brexit, Covid-exhausted, lampooned government are everything the world needs right now—five dudes from Bristol taking over the world doing what seemingly comes very naturally to them. It’s a magnificent journey to watch.

You know a band will continue their tear through the current over-sanitized music scene when they keep delivering and avoiding any hype going to their heads. In November, IDLES released their brand new album Crawler, their fourth in as many years and the follow-up to their first number one, 2019’s Ultra Mono. Theirs is no overnight success as the band formed in Bristol back in 2009, so they’ve paid their dues.

While the new album takes a bit of getting used to once you see the songs live, with many of them seeing their debut this night at Brixton, you get it immediately. Interestingly enough, their most successful album was the least represented in the set. Does this mean the band is testing the audience? Either way, with every show for the foreseeable future completely sold out across the globe, it doesn’t matter.

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TVD Radar: The Jazz Butcher, The Highest In The Land in stores 2/4

VIA PRESS RELEASE | It’s not often that an artist gets to do a Bowie by consciously carving their personal epitaph into the grooves of their final LP. The Highest in the Land is that rarity of an album, and it could not have been made by a more brilliantly poetic and fearlessly sarcastic writer than Pat Fish, also known as The Jazz Butcher.

“My hair’s all wrong / My time ain’t long / Fishy go to Heaven, get along, get along,” he sings, to a ticking-clock beat in “Time,” rhyming its title with “a one-way ticket to a pit of Council lime” in just one of many existentially charged moments on a record whose songs were written throughout the last seven years of Fish’s life before his untimely passing in October, aged only 63.

“Self-knowledge, urgency,” he wrote as a comment to this song in his private notes to the album’s producer Lee Russell, “He’d been around the block and knew he was on the last lap.” “We had closure,” Russell remembers, “We had worked together for three months, and then on the last day I drove him home. And for the first time we hugged and said goodbye, and that was it.”

Recent years have seen a long overdue re-appreciation of The Jazz Butcher catalogue, all the way back to that astonishing 11- album run of the first 13 years of their career, now celebrated and handily compiled in a series of box-sets after decades of shameful neglect.

Founded in Oxford in 1982 by Pat Fish and prodigious guitarist Max Eider, the band that would become synonymous with its leader embodied an anti-rockist, semi-ironically jazz-conscious indie aesthetic before the word had even been invented. In a world of po-faced poseurs this “Southern Mark Smith” proved that it was possible to be both smart and funny, erudite and unpretentious, the latter sadly to the detriment of his fame.

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Graded on a Curve:
The Dave Clark Five, Glad All Over

The Dave Clark Five were one of the most successful and acclaimed bands of the British Invasion of the 1960s. Unlike The Beatles and many others of that time and place, however, they were not from Liverpool. The group was from Tottenham, in north London. Their big, booming, stomping, brassy and infectious sound propelled them to seven top-ten UK singles and eight top-ten US singles.

The DC5’s unique sound centered around Clark’s pounding drums, Mike Smith’s full-throated voice and wide-ranging keyboard styles, and Denis Payton’s honking sax. The group was rounded out by guitarist Lenny Davidson and bassist Rick Huxley. Huxley also played harmonica and all four members, other than Smith, supplied bracing backing vocals. Unlike most of the groups of the British Invasion, their sound did not center around guitars. They were the first British group after The Beatles to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show and they were inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2008.

The group disbanded in 1970, but Dave Clark, who was the group’s manager and producer, has always curated the group’s legacy with aplomb. Among his many other activities through the years are acquiring the rights to the seminal British music television show Ready Steady Go! and, in the 1980s, he wrote and produced the 1986 theatrical musical Time.

There have been excellent collections of the group’s music on CD and vinyl, but the latest reissue is the best yet. The group’s debut U.S. album Glad All Over, originally released in 1964 and one of four albums released by the group in the U.S. that year, has been reissued on white vinyl in glorious mono, from the original master tapes from BMG.

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TVD Radar: The Steve Keene Art Book for pre-order now, in stores 6/14

VIA PRESS RELEASE | There may be many great rock photographers but only one rock n’ roll painter: Steve Keene. Think you don’t own any of Steve Keene’s artwork? If you’re a fan of Pavement, The Apples in stereo, Silver Jews or Bonnie “Prince” Billy, you do.

One of Brooklyn’s most beloved sons, Steve Keene is a legend amongst music fans as much for his cheery, automated style as for his everyman prices of just $5 – $10 each. After a 30+ year career producing over 300,000 paintings, Keene is a pop culture icon and this June heralds the first published collection of his work: The Steve Keene Art Book.

Though perhaps best-known for his deep ties to the ’90s indie rock scene, Keene has chosen to immortalize some of the greatest names in rock/pop music including David Bowie, The Beach Boys, Johnny Cash, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Roxy Music, The Clash, Patti Smith, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and The Beastie Boys. But the heart of his work will always belong to indie rock artists like Pavement, Bonnie Prince Billy, The Arcade Fire, Minor Threat, Husker Du, and Joy Division.

“I consider myself as more of an installation artist,” confides Keene. “If people see fewer than, like, 800 of my paintings at one time, I think they don’t get it.” For someone operating outside of the traditional art world, Keene has shown his work at some of its most prestigious galleries, museums and fairs including Frieze New York, the Institute of Contemporary Art (LA), Marlborough Gallery (NY), Museum Goch (Germany), and the Linden Centre for Contemporary Art (Melbourne). The book was born from a 2016 exhibition at legendary artist Shepard Fairey’s own Subliminal Projects gallery in Los Angeles.

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Graded on a Curve:
Life Between Islands, Soundsystem Culture: Black Musical Expression in the UK 1973–2006

Released in tandem and sharing a title with the Tate Britain art museum’s exhibition that’s showing now through April 3, Life Between Islands is the latest deep-dive compilation from the Soul Jazz label. Smartly assembled on 3LP and 2CD, the set is subtitled Soundsystem Culture – Black Musical Expression in the UK 1973–2006, with its contents exploring the impact of Caribbean sound systems on a wide variety of Black British musical styles. While reggae is dominant in the scheme, spanning from mucho lovers rock to Rasta to dub to dancehall, there are hybridizations and dalliances with jazz, R&B, hip-hop, techno, and pop. It all coheres into an illuminating listen that’s due in stores on January 28.

The stylistic range heard on Life Between Islands plays no small part in the collection’s success, but more important is that the music, inspired by Caribbean innovations but created in the UK, evinces not a trace of the watered-down, even as a significant percentage of the selections flirt with the pop sphere. Also, numerous musicians included are of Caribbean ancestry, which helps, but there is a consistent current of sensitivity on display throughout the sequence. Ultimately, Life Between Islands is about inspired extensions and continued innovations rather than shallow co-opting.

It helps that all six sides contain at least one absolute gem, so let’s get right to it. Black Slate set the proceedings in motion with “Sticks Man,” a solid dose of roots reggae that was released as a single in 1976. Formed in London in ’72, Black Slate didn’t get a LP out until the cusp of the ’80s, but then they persisted in releasing a bunch and are apparently still extant. That they were chosen to back up visiting Jamaicans is not a bit surprising.

Lovers rock singer Dee Sharp is next with “Rising to the Top,” a 1983 single that’s relationship to then contemporary R&B stylings is unsurprising given that it’s a cover of “Risin’ to the Top,” which was released in ’82 by Keni Burke of the Chicago group The Five Stairsteps. Amid the electro squiggles and the outro saxophone solo, the reggae groove is refined and somewhat restrained, but it’s still felt, and that’s alright.

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In rotation: 1/26/22

Amarillo, TX | Exciting news in Amarillo. New store for collectors and music lovers. Records are back. They’re back in a big way. That’s what makes the news about a new(ish) store opening in Amarillo so exciting for collectors and music lovers. Amarillo’s Funky Little Record Store Has Big Plans For 2022 If you’re familiar with High Fidelity Records in Amarillo, you know that for a long time they’ve been located inside The Nat. Nothing wrong with that, but as a customer it always felt like the record shop had outgrown its space. There were several crates full of everything from classic Motown to current releases. According to an announcement made on social media, High Fidelity will be moving to a new location. They’re getting their own space. It looks like they’re getting their own building.

Winnipeg, CA | What one Winnipeg store is auctioning off to help teachers through the pandemic: A local Winnipeg store is hoping to do its part in helping out during the pandemic by auctioning off a piece of music history. Ray Giguere, the owner of Argy’s Records and Entertainment Shop, said he is auctioning off a bus shelter poster from the Meat Loaf concert that came to Winnipeg on Aug. 29, 1994. All the proceeds that are raised from this auction will go toward buying N95 masks for teachers. Giguere said the idea came to him after he learned that Meat Loaf passed away last week. “I was kind of thinking of turning a negative into a positive,” he said. He said he posted the idea he had online and immediately people started bidding on it. He added he chose getting masks for teachers because he has friends and family who work in the school system and he understands the struggles they have been facing. “I just thought it was good to give something back…it’s all about giving back.”

Terry Tolkin, Who Championed Alt-Rock at Elektra, Dies at 62: Legend has it Tolkin coined the term “alternative music” in the late 1970s. “It’s one of those claims that he didn’t necessarily deny,” says his friend Dean Wareham. Terry Tolkin, a former Elektra Records A&R executive who worked with influential bands including the Butthole Surfers, Stereolab and Luna, created the 1989 album The Bridge: A Tribute to Neil Young, starring Sonic Youth and the Pixies, and was a crucial figure in the development of “alternative music,” a phrase he was said to coin, died Friday at a New Orleans hospital. He was 62 and had been ill for months, to the point that his friend, Galaxie 500 frontman Dean Wareham, had posted rarities from his band Luna to raise money for Tolkin’s medical bills. “We were the artists, but he was the one who lived like a rock star, running up big restaurant tabs — getting limos, doing drugs, sleeping with lots of people,” Wareham tells Billboard. “More than we did, I think!”

Billie Eilish, Olivia Rodrigo, U2 Among Interscope 30th Anniversary Vinyl Series Dropping Via Livestream: Interscope Records is celebrating its 30th anniversary by releasing a limited-edition vinyl series featuring new artwork on classic albums for sale exclusively via livestream shopping platform NTWRK ( 2Pac, Billie Eilish, Dr. Dre, Eminem, Gwen Stefani, Juice WRLD, Kendrick Lamar, Lady Gaga, Mary J. Blige, MGK, Nine Inch Nails, No Doubt, Olivia Rodrigo, Selena Gomez, Snoop Dogg and U2 are among the musicians featured in the series of 57 albums that will go on sale January 27-31. The drop features 100 of each album with the reimagined artwork, each released with a numbered archival quality giclee printed cover and delivered via a custom Gucci box for a price tag of $2,500 as part of an Interscope-Gucci collab. Interscope and NTWRK will donate 100 percent of net profits from the project to the Iovine and Young Foundation, the organization founded by Interscope co-founder Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young, the music artist known professionally as Dr. Dre. The Foundation is currently building a school in South Los Angeles.

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New Release Section: Franz Ferdinand, “Curious”

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Franz Ferdinand have shared the video for “Curious,” a brand-new recording featured on Hits To The Head, their 20-track greatest hits collection which is released on Friday March 11th, 2022 on Domino.

Having previously shared “Billy Goodbye,” the other new track from the compilation, “Curious” was also produced by Alex Kapranos, Julian Corrie, and Stuart Price (Dua Lipa, Madonna, Pet Shop Boys) and is accompanied by a video directed by Andy Knowles. Talking about the track, Alex Kapranos said: “What’s the meaning behind the song? A meet-cute on the first page as tension enters left on a dark stage, but as our stars collide I’m curious: will you want me when you’ve got me? I’m a future seeker. Are we the future? I’m curious. I had this idea for the lyric—kind of the reverse of one of those life-flashing-before-your-mind as you die in a film scene, where the entire course of a relationship flashes before you the instant you fall in love with someone.”

He added about the video: “So, it’s a dance song we said later on when thinking about a video. And ‘we’ve always said we play dance music,’ said Bob, ‘so why don’t we dance in the video?’ So we gave Andy Knowles, our old pal—who was in Bob’s class at Art School and played with Franz Ferdinand in 2005/6—a shout and he was up for it. You can spot his cameo… and, yes, that is us actually dancing.”

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New Release Section: Chip Z’Nuff, “Heaven In A Bottle”

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Frontiers Music Srl is pleased to present the new solo album from Chip Z’Nuff, Perfectly Imperfect. Chip is, of course, well known for being one of the co-founders of popular Chicago rock band Enuff Z’Nuff. The first single and video from the album, “Heaven In A Bottle” is out today.

The songs for “Perfectly Imperfect” were written by Chip, except for “Heaven In A Bottle,” which is an older track written with former Enuff Z’Nuff vocalist Donnie Vie and ”Honaloochie Boogie,” which is a Mott The Hoople cover. The album includes guest appearances from Joel Hoekstra (Whitesnake, Trans-Siberian Orchestra), Steven Adler (Adler’s Appetite, ex-Guns ‘N Roses), Daxx Nielsen (Cheap Trick) and Daniel Hill (Enuff Z’Nuff). “All songs are written as I see the world through my rose-colored glasses. It’s my heroin letter to the new generation,” says Chip.

Chip Z’Nuff is an American singer, songwriter, bassist, producer, and radio personality. Having founded the popular glam rock band Enuff Z’Nuff in 1984 in the illustrious city of Chicago, the band saw its self-titled major label debut released in the summer of 1989. Chip has released over twenty albums with Enuff Z’Nuff, as well as having toured with the likes of notorious rock acts such as Missing Persons, Steven Adler, Cheap Trick, Poison, The Tragically Hip, Foreigner, Alice Cooper, REO Speedwagon, Ace Frehley, and others.

The Grammy-nominated artist has produced dozens of records throughout his robust career and had his music hailed by former late night television host David Letterman and the popular radio personality Howard Stern. In addition to writing, recording and touring with Enuff Z’Nuff, Chip also currently hosts The Monsters of Rock radio show on the Dash Radio Network playing the finest hits in hard rock and heavy metal to a collective audience of over 800,000.

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Graded on a Curve: Warren Zevon, A Quiet Normal Life: The Best of Warren Zevon

Remembering Warren Zevon, born on January 24 in 1947.Ed.

Warren Zevon was one of rock’s great crazy men. When drinking—and in general pursuing oblivion the way Ahab did a certain white whale—Zevon was notorious for vomiting off interior balconies at staid record company meet-and-greets and much, much, worse. He never went to the Troubadour with a Kotex affixed to his forehead like John Lennon, but his wife was once awakened by gunshots to discover Zevon had put three bullet holes in his head—on the cover of his Excitable Boy LP. Call it suicide by proxy—and a cry for help—but all Zevon had to say was, “It’s funny, isn’t it?”

Meanwhile Zevon was writing songs like “Mr. Bad Example,” which included the lines, “I like to have a good time/And I don’t care who gets hurt.” In short, he was a latter day Jerry Lee Lewis, only 500 times more literate. While Zevon shared The Killer’s love for guns, at least he never managed to shoot one of his own musicians in the chest with a .357 magnum, as Jerry Lee did at his own 41st birthday party.

I’ve blown chunks at inappropriate moments and fired off guns in the house while drunk too, but I’m no Warren Zevon, who was a bona fide lyrical and songwriting genius. His second and third LPs (1976’s Warren Zevon and 1978’s Excitable Boy) established him as the only lyricist of the era who could hold a candle to Randy Newman, and the sheer insanity of his songs—it’s impossible to imagine anyone else writing about a walking headless mercenary seeking revenge on his killer, or a kid who builds a cage for himself from his girlfriend’s bones—left the competition in the dust.

Zevon may have kept bad company—one wonders what drew such a rabid wildebeest to the insipid likes of Jackson Browne and The Eagles—but their deleterious habits (like writing really shitty songs) fortunately didn’t rub off on him. But I’m wrong actually. As great as his songs are, they lack the rough edges that would have given them the raw immediacy to match his insane lyrics, and this has everything to do with his reliance on slick studio musicians and his equally slick rock star chums—them’s Don Henley and Glenn Frey singing harmony on “The French Inhaler,” and Jackson Browne and the loathsome J.D. Souther singing harmony on the great “Desperadoes Under The Eaves”—when making his albums.

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UK Artist of the Week: SHEAL

Canadian indie-folk songstress SHEAL sends shivers down our spine with the release of her delicately weaved new single “Noa’s Song,” out now. It’s the perfect winter warmer so, what are you waiting for? Start that fire, grab a glass of red, relax and enjoy…

Having a rough day? Well worry not, because SHEAL has the sadness soother for you. Her latest single “Noa’s Song” is a charmingly intricate slice of indie-folk that is bound to pull on your heartstrings.

Talking about the single, SHEAL explains, “It was inspired by the birth of my niece and completed after the birth of my first daughter. I sought to capture those intense and meaning-filled hours of giving birth, with lyrics that are about literally pushing through pain. Giving birth to my two daughters and becoming a mother has been an act of moving through fear towards love. Creating this album and putting my art out into the world has been exactly that too.”

Fans of the likes of First and Fenne Lily will feel at home here.

“Noa’s Song” is in stores now.

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Graded on a Curve:
Elena Setién,
Unfamiliar Minds

Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Elena Setién hails from the Basque region of Spain. With Unfamiliar Minds, she releases her fifth full-length, a collection of ten songs that evolved and cohered during the pandemic after an earlier group of pre-Covid compositions proved unsatisfying and were then set aside. With a new reality of solitude taking hold, Setién reoriented her approach after finding inspiration and a creative reset in the poetry of Emily Dickinson. But if distinguished by its intimacy, her latest is also striking in its depth. Vibrant and full of unexpected twists, the album is out January 28 on blue vinyl, compact disc, and digital through Thrill Jockey.

After being quite taken with Elena Setién’s 2019 album Another Kind of Revolution, I then proceeded to miss out on Mirande, her 2020 collab with Spanish musician-producer Xabier Erkizia and the group Grande Days, who are also from Spain. I missed out likely in part because Mirande was released not by Thrill Jockey but by Spanish label Forbidden Colours; indeed, it was in Thrill Jockey’s promotional text for Unfamiliar Minds that I was hipped to Mirande, a short 6-song affair (I’ve seen it listed as an EP) with lyrics in her native Basque language.

Setién sings in English on Unfamiliar Minds, with Dickinson’s poetry described as the springboard for this choice (please note that Another Kind of Revolution was also sung in English). Erkizia contributes electronics to the album and also co-arranged the songs, with Joseba Irazoki playing guitar on two tracks. Along with writing all the tracks, the rest of the instrumentation is by Setién, specifically keyboards, violin, and on the title track, guitar. All the vocals are Setién’s, as are the lyrics, save for “I Dwell in Possibility” and “In This Short Life,” where the words are Dickinson’s.

Unfamiliar Minds begins with “2020,” a slowly paced cut structured around Setién’s piano, a setting similar to the opening track on Another Kind of Revolution, except here, the mood is significantly more contemplative. Distant bird chirping presages the keyboard and the entrance of Setién’s subtly multitracked voice, alternately breathy and lilting, pretty yet substantive. Then, the strings come in.

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