Author Archives: Kelly Kettering

TVD’s 10 Weeks of Record Store Day Vinyl Giveaways: VCMG, Ssss

As we are now in the year of 2012, and most acts from the 1980s are considered outdated; everything from the over-permed hair to the parachute pants to the New Wave-style music seems a little past its prime.

But a few rare musicians have managed to translate their musical talents into a new sound, and Martin Gore and Vince Clarke of Depeche Mode/Erasure, are two of them.

These two electronic entities have been working on individual projects and had very little contact for over thirty years, but they have now reunited and are creating music as VCMG. Both written and produced by Gore and Clarke, VCMG’s debut album Ssss contains ten tracks of excellent minimalist dance music that is clearly inspired by techno beats and electronica.

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Posted in The TVD Storefront | 17 Comments

TVD Live: The Black Keys at the Verizon Center, 3/9

Readers, I have a confession: I have a Black Keys bias.

As a born-and-bred Ohioan, I have been a fan of these native Akronites for a good number of years now and have been rooting for them to do well. (I certainly can’t root for any Ohio sports teams; the Browns, Bengals, Reds, and Indians have all been in a perpetual “rebuilding year” since before my birth.) With their recent Rolling Stone magazine cover and now with this arena tour, which brought them to the Verizon Center last Friday, it appears Dan Auerbach and Pat Carney have in fact “made it.”

As is the case with fashion, music, or any kind of art, we the fans tend to like things that aren’t completely original ideas but in fact a fresh take on something old. That is a concept that the Black Keys have mastered with their fuzz heavy, guitar-driven, Midwest rock and roll. While their music is entirely derived on past epics like Led Zeppelin, The Who, and The Stones, a Black Keys song is still very much theirs, and theirs alone.

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Slow Club:
The TVD Interview

Most people spend Valentine’s Day with loved ones, but this past February 14th, I spent it at DC9 with indie pop duo Slow Club as I sat down for an interview with the male counterpart of the group, Charles Watson.

At only twenty-three, Charles (and lead singer Rebecca) have accomplished quite a bit. With 2009’s breakout album Yeah So the band got on the map and followed it up with 2011’s Paradise. Already, the group has toured across the U.S. and Europe and has had songs in commercials for Ritz crackers and Lay’s potato chips, as well as TV shows like Gossip Girl and Chuck.

Although these natives of Sheffield, England may have only first released an album in 2009, they first started playing music together over seven years ago as school mates. Like many indie rock audiophiles my age, they were influenced early-on by Conor Oberst and Bright Eyes.

“I really like Digital Ash actually; I’ve heard him talk about it saying it was kind of a joke,” Watson explained. “But the songs are actually amazing. And the lyrics, of course. He is such an amazing songwriter.”

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Ryan Little of
Bad Friend Records:
The TVD Interview

Despite the name of their brand new record label, Tommy Siegel and Ryan Little are anything but bad friends. Two pals that have known each other since their middle school days in the suburbs of Richmond, VA, Siegel and Little have begun their own record label after realizing their lack of options when it came to putting out their own bands’ releases.

A DC resident and a writer for the Washington City Paper, I spoke to Little about his origins, his band, his record collection, and these, the early stages of Bad Friend Records.

How did you first meet Tommy? When did you begin to collaborate musically?

We went to the same neighborhood pool when we were kids. His sister and I were both on the swim team, so I guess that was the first time we ever really hung out, at the pool. And, he was a year younger than me, but we also went to the same school. In high school we ate lunch together and maybe played music together once or twice.

We didn’t really keep in touch through college very much, but at the very end of college, or after college, my band Tereu Tereu played a show with his band Jukebox The Ghost on one of their very first tours, and then after that, we just started talking more on Gchat about releases. Jukebox The Ghost and Tereu Tereu each wanted to put out a record on our own, and neither of us found labels for either of those projects that worked for us, so we thought, well, why don’t we just start our own? And there is also a long-standing project that Tommy and I are working on, involving a banjo, so, one day the banjo pop record will come out. I don’t know when, he’s touring all the damn time, but we’ve recorded two songs for it, so someday!

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TVD Live: Ryan Adams at the Strathmore, 1/24

Joan Jett said it long before I did, but it is a phrase that is worth repeating: I love rock ‘n’ roll. Thus, I spend a fair amount of my free time in cramped clubs and bars watching guys and gals rock out as they sing, scream, sweat, swear, spit, and swig beers on-stage.

Although these “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” shows are nearly a guarantee of a good time, the most expressive and personal performances are often stripped down to just a musician, a spotlight, and his acoustic guitar. On Tuesday, I had the pleasure of experiencing such a performance by Ryan Adams at the Strathmore in Bethesda.

The Strathmore auditorium is so large I had to squint to properly see Ryan and his guitar handiwork, but the sound quality within those spacious wooden walls was so well done, I could tell each audience member felt like Adams was playing directly to him or her for their own private show.

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Posted in TVD Washington, DC | 1 Comment

TVD Recommends: Bluebrain’s (Final) Boombox Walk

When I think of synchronized music playing in the middle of the street, I think of Fred Astaire “Dancing in the Rain” or that one scene from this movie. DC duo Ryan and Hays Holladay of Bluebrain have been assembling crowds to make their music ring out on the town in real life with their two Boombox walks. If you have never been to one before, now is the time as the third (and final) Boombox Walk is this Saturday, January 14th at 3 pm.

The first Boombox Walk two years ago encouraged participants to bring their cassette boomboxes to Dupont Circle with each person given a cassette with a different section from the same piece of music to play in tandem, creating one large symphony of song. This year, things will be shaken up a bit.

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TVD Live: Drive-By Truckers with Lucero
at 9:30 Club, 12/29

To cap off 2011, the Alabama country band Drive-By Truckers had the pleasure of performing three headlining nights at the 9:30 Club on December 29th, 30th, and 31st.

Properly kicking off night #1 as their first headlining act was Lucero, the Memphis country/rock band with a weakness for Jameson, motorcycles and the high-heeled women who love the same.

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Posted in TVD Washington, DC | 11 Comments

TVD Ticket Giveaway: Drive-By Truckers
with Lucero at the 9:30 Club, 12/29 (SOLD OUT)

With 2011 coming to a close, the 9:30 Club is delivering an extra-special treat for their final show(s) of the year: A three day stint with the Drive-By Truckers, coming to the club with a different opener each night!

Today we have the chance for you to win tickets to the SOLD OUT opening night on December 29th with Lucero.

Drive-By Truckers is an Alabama-based alternative country band that have been together since 1996, with over a dozen albums to their name. This band isn’t a flash in the pan; they know how to create a good country song, and they know how to make it well, including the songs from their new album this year, Go Go Boots.

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Posted in TVD Washington, DC | 8 Comments

TVD Live: WOODS with Purling Hiss at the Rock and Roll Hotel, 12/17

Despite the low-fi label that has been attached to the musical descriptions of both WOODS and Purling Hiss, neither band had anything but high energy and a lively rock ‘n roll spirit emanating from them last Saturday when they performed at the Rock & Roll Hotel on H Street.

WOODS created their rock ‘n roll ambience with more of a classic ’60s vibe. Long, delicate tracks created a trance-like state that seemed to borrow from both the sitar days of The Beatles and the “Soul Meets Body” era of Death Cab For Cutie. The communal hippie mentality also extended to their instrumentation as the drummer, bassist, and tape effects technician all rotated instruments and stage locations for nearly every song. Lead singer Jeremy Earl did maintain his position on guitar and firmly held his position stage left, however.

WOODS – Christmas Time is Here

Towards the end of WOODS’ set, I thought I was imagining it, but no—they were even burning incense on stage! The smell wafted through the audience as they played their last few vibrating tracks, the guitars creating a gentle reverb that echoed through the audience.

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TVD Live: Black Cobra with Zoroaster at the Black Cat, 12/15

I wasn’t fortunate enough to be able to catch the first opening act of this show, but as soon as I walked in to the back room of the Black Cat on Thursday night, I was overtaken with low end bass and bright green lazers as the sludge metal band Zoroaster overtook the tiny stage and enthusiastic crowd that was present.

The slow drone of the music formed dissonant echoes, and the front row of eager fans started to headbang in near-unison as if they were worshipping the band on-stage. It wasn’t clear just how rhythmic all of this was until the power abruptly went out mid-song, and each audience member shook their head and looked around as if they had just awoken from a trance. The situation was quickly resolved, however, and as the band lept back into their song, the crowd cheered and threw up devil horns, swiftly resuming their worship of the underworld.

Once Zoroaster finished their set and a small break/beer re-fill had taken place, Black Cobra began to play. As I mentioned in my preview for this show, it is hard to believe that this band only comprises two members, as they filled the room with the vibrations of pummeling doom metal.

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TVD Live: Cricket Cemetary Showcase
at Galaxy Hut, 12/11

There are certainly merits to attending concerts in large theaters, or being one in 10,000 in the pulsating hum that is the crowd of a Bonnaroo or Lollapalooza. But sometimes, you need to be tightly packed into one small room to truly feel like you are experiencing a band and their art.

Such was the experience Sunday night at Galaxy Hut, as this small restaurant/bar held a second showcase of bands from the small DC label Cricket Cemetery. With the Maximum Capacity sign on the wall of the bar stating that no more than 66 people could fit in this venue, all tables and chairs had to be cleared out of the way so that there was plenty of standing room.

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Posted in TVD Washington, DC | 1 Comment

TVD Recommends:
Black Cobra at the
Black Cat, tonight!

Black Cobra is one of those bands that when you hear them play you think, “There are really only two members in this band?”

Formed in 2001, Black Cobra combines doom and sludge metal with a driving base in hardcore to create a sound that incorporates both fast riffs and slow drones. Signed to the record label Southern Lord, Black Cobra is in good company with bands like Grief, Wino and Sunn O))).

With the assistance of Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou and his Massachusetts studio, the band released their 4th album, Invernal, this year. Pummelling it down the throats of all that partake, the band has been touring across the country all year in promotion of the record.

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TVD Live: VNV Nation at the 9:30 Club, 12/6

There is something about conformity in music that gives me the heebie-jeebies.

I think this is because my mind likes to maintain the ideal that music comes from a completely unique place of right brain-derived creativity. Whether you are a musician or a fan, authenticity is often the name of the game.

We like to hear about band members meeting each other as kids in math class or at the local diner (Behind The Music, anyone?), jamming together in garages or small dive bars (The Beatles, Guns N Roses, Nirvana). We don’t like when record labels hold auditions and manufacture groups for prepubescent personality stereotypes (New Kids On The Block, O-Town, Milli Vanilli).

We appreciate a quality singing voice (Aretha Franklin) and disparage those that lip synch (Britney Spears, any girl/boy band, once again, Milli Vanilli).

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TVD Ticket Giveaway: VNV Nation at the 9:30 Club, 12/6

There is no doubt that people like a song with a catchy tune and a sing-along chorus, but almost just as often they need something to let loose and move to, something rhythmic and pulsating, that they can feel without thinking about it. (Granted, the music doesn’t always do all the work. There are often other, ahem, substances involved.)

But whether substances are involved are not, VNV Nation has been making excellently eurythmic dance beats for over fifteen years. Early albums of theirs were known to be on the harsh and intense side of electronica, but since their 1999 breakout release Empires, their sampling and synthesizing has been of a higher quality and better danceability.

Of course, listening to electronica is one thing, but experiencing it live is a whole other animal. If you are in the mood to feel the pulsation for yourself, enter to win a pair of tickets to VNV Nation’s performance at the 9:30 Club this Tuesday by telling us in the comments below what song is guaranteed to get you movin’ and groovin’ on the dance floor every time–electronica or otherwise!

Enter to win by 9 am on Tuesday. The chosen winner must respond via email by noon.

Posted in TVD Washington, DC | 3 Comments

TVD Ticket Giveaway: Tori Amos at DAR Constitution Hall, 12/5

Whether you are a long-time local fan of Tori Amos who may have been lucky to see an early performance of hers at a DC piano bar back in the eighties, or someone who was only recently introduced to her music, it’s a delight for all of the above that Tori Amos will be returning to her childhood stomping grounds this Monday with a performance at DAR Constitutional Hall.

Now in her late forties, Amos has quite the impressive resume with eight Grammy nominations and was named one of People magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People.” She has also survived years of record label changes and conflicts in the music industry, but her music has always gracefully shown through.

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Posted in TVD Washington, DC | 10 Comments

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