Author Archives: Ryan Orvis

TVD Video Premiere: The Archive,
“Julia Dear”

New York’s The Archive have been working on their debut for the better part of the last two years, and the effort has finally paid off.

Great Low Down is a strong collection of tunes owing equal debt to U.K. modern rock and whiskey-soaked Americana. Twin guitars crunch like Crazy Horse, and vocalist John Epperly belts with a confidence recalling a pre-fame Bono or less maladjusted Thom Yorke.

We are pleased to present the world premiere video for “Julia Dear.” The complete album will be available for purchase on November 2, but eager listeners can preview three additional tracks now via Soundcloud.

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TVD Recommends:
The Orwells at CMJ,

We know how tough it can be to decide which shows to see at CMJ. Sometimes the band you really want to check out is playing on the other side of town – but you’re three drinks into a bar tab, two long city blocks from the subway, and fresh out of cash for a cab ride.

Luckily, Chicago’s The Orwells are playing five shows this week, so you will have multiple opportunities to catch their fuzzy, tuneful garage rock.

The band is currently working on the follow-up to this year’s Remember When, trying to finish high school, and plotting a move to Los Angeles. Bask in the soft glow of the Internet as you watch the following clip, then check out the full itinerary below for The Orwells in NYC!

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TVD Live: Firewater at Bootleg Theater, 9/28

Firewater satisfied true believers and likely roped in some new converts last Friday in Los Angeles. Bandleader Tod A appeared invigorated by his recent time living abroad, treating the audience to a fun and cathartic experience.

The Bootleg Theater was an ideal venue for the band’s drunken carnival act. Removed from the gaudiness of Hollywood and the self-conscious cool of Silver Lake, it felt more like a raucous house party than a nightclub. Quality beers flowed from the bar near the stage, while the crowd responded heartily to onstage cues by dancing, shouting, or jumping up and down in place.

An impressive six-piece band tore through a set of old and new material. Trombone and hand percussion helped bring each song to life, giving the performance a cinematic feel. Selections ran the gamut from the wounded fury of “I Still Love You Judas” to the celebratory satire of “Ex-Millionaire Mambo.”

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The TVD Interview

Since forming Firewater in 1995, bandleader Tod A has steered a revolving lineup of musicians through a dense tapestry of styles including klezmer, ska, circus music, and good old-fashioned punk rock. Each album has found the band fearlessly embracing a different set of cultural references, anchored by the singer’s acerbic lyrical observations and raspy howl.

In 2005, Tod put his money where his mouth was and left U.S. soil for an extended series of travels throughout Southeast Asia and the Middle East. The resultant album The Golden Hour (2007) found the music of Firewater evolving even further away from its post-punk roots, soaking in the sounds of traditional Turkish folk music and Bollywood soundtracks.

The latest Firewater release, International Orange!, continues down the winding path carved out by The Golden Hour. Introspective moments like “Feeling No Pain” brush up against frenetic dance numbers like “Ex-Millionaire Mambo,” resulting in an eclectic musical experience that defies categorization (although it’s tempting to invent a ridiculous genre tag like “world-core”).

We spoke with Tod from his home in Turkey as he prepared to embark upon a U.S. tour to promote International Orange!.

How is life in Istanbul?

Well, for me personally it’s OK, but there are some journalists in jail…

It’s an interesting place to be. For the last three and a half years, I lived between Indonesia and Cambodia. I really got into living in the jungle and away from cities. I didn’t particularly want to move back to a city, but this is actually a pretty cool city to be in. Life brought me here.

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TVD Live: FYF Fest at L.A. State Historic Park, 9/1 – 9/2

Since 2004, FYF (we’ll drop the redundant second “Fest” now) has steadily grown from a Sunset Blvd. traffic jam to a legitimate outdoor festival that rivals Coachella in terms of fun, sun, and indie cred. It may not be large enough to draw headliners like Prince and Radiohead, but the smaller size and downtown location at L.A. State Historic Park means less hassle getting in and out, so the audience can spend more time having fun and enjoying the show.

Memorial Day weekend saw FYF stretch out into a two-day festival for the first time since moving downtown in 2009. Headliners included reformed Swedish post-hardcore heroes Refused, U.K. DJs Simian Mobile Disco and Gold Panda, nu-wave popsters The Faint, and Norwegian macho men Turbonegro.

In addition to the beer gardens and food courts, festival-goers wanting to rest their ears could check out the organizations and merchants hawking their wares at the Vendor Village. Several local record stores were on hand, including Origami Vinyl, who packed up their entire shop and brought it to the festival.

Relief from the stifling heat on Saturday came in the form of misting stations set up throughout the park. There were also girls in short-shorts spraying people with mist guns (although it’s possible that the heat made us imagine that).

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Touch Vinyl opens
in West L.A.

Westside vinyl fanatics will no longer have to make the arduous trek across town to buy new releases. Touch Vinyl specializes in new and used records, with a focus on independent labels. Their grand opening July 1st doubles as a benefit for breast cancer charity Beats for Boobs.

The store will host a full roster of live acts throughout the day, including Alicia Murphy, One High Five, Nacosta, Eyes Lips Eyes, and The Health Club. We spoke with owner Sebastian Mathews as he prepared for opening week.

What inspired you to open a record store?

I only got into vinyl two and a half years ago. I was a complete digital kid before that – I worked at the Apple store, and have collected just about every Apple product there is. Randall Cooley at Optimal Enchantment got me into my first turntable, a Pro-Ject 1.3. I started collecting, and it became an addiction very quickly.

I went on a trip to Scandinavia, and every city I went to in Iceland, Denmark, and Sweden – the people aren’t particularly warm, but if you go to the record stores you immediately find this community, and it’s a universal language. I really dug the stores there. They all had different feels and catered to specific communities. I also liked that you could have three or four record stores on the same block. They served different types of listeners and had different vibes. My favorites were the homey ones where if you stuck around for a while, you’d be talking music eventually, and getting an espresso from the owner.

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Backspin: Two Classic Stereolab Records Revisited

Stereolab’s early mixture of motorik beats and Velvet Underground drones came to fruition on two albums originally released in the early 1990s: Transient Random-Noise Bursts with Announcements and Mars Audiac Quintet. These titles are the subject of new highly anticipated reissues due June 26 on the mysterious “1972” label distributed by Midheaven/Revolver.

On Transient Random-Noise Bursts (1993), Stereolab took NEU’s “Hallogallo” a step further by merging it with a delightfully breezy pop song, then demolishing the whole thing “Sister Ray”-style. This experiment yielded the indie-prog classic “Jenny Ondioline” (the video below omits most of the song’s 18-minute run time).

The rest of the album is an equally compelling mix of overdriven synths, organs, and guitars, soothed only by the cool charm of Laetitia Sadier’s detached vocals.

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Backspin: Rediscovering Medicine

L.A.’s answer to the U.K. shoegaze craze of the early ’90s was Medicine. While perhaps best remembered by some as the band who appeared onscreen in The Crow, they deserve to be celebrated for their music: a mélange of danceable pop songs smothered in sheets of ear-splitting guitars.

Brad Laner served time in numerous punk and new wave bands like Debt of Nature and Steaming Coils before a three-year stint playing drums for Savage Republic. He formed Medicine in 1991 after running his guitar into a cassette 4-track recorder, amplifying the distorted signal, and realizing he had struck upon a unique sound.

Captured Tracks has reprinted the first two Medicine albums as part of their Shoegaze Archives series. Shot Forth Self Living (1992) and The Buried Life (1993) are both available as double LP sets with attractive gatefold sleeves. Also included are CD booklets and download codes for the digital files. Both albums have a fourth side containing bonus tracks; in addition, each comes with a 19-track companion album filled with demos and alternate mixes.

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TVD Recommends: Dante Vs. Zombies
at The Satellite, 5/4

Don’t expect to stand silently judging with folded arms when Dante Vs. Zombies take the stage.

Former Starlite Desperation frontman Dante White-Aliano heads a posse of musicians recruited from Jail Weddings, The Like, and The Detroit Cobras (among others) on a mission to “assassinate assumptions about music no longer being fun or universal.”

The group is embarking on a brief tour of California this week with Dirty Ghosts, stopping in at The Satellite on Friday to pay respects to their hometown. Other dates include San Diego on May 2, Pomona May 3, and San Francisco on May 5.

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TVD Live: Pulp at Fox Theater Pomona, 4/19

Of all the bands to climb the U.K. charts during the heyday of the “Britpop” phenomenon, Pulp may have aged the best.

Unlike some of their peers, they never got popular enough in the U.S. to be irritating. They went on hiatus in 2001, but their fan base grew larger in their absence. Packed with cultural satire and memorable hooks, albums like Different Class (1995) seemed only to resonate more over time.

Pulp reformed last year to play a series of live shows in Europe, then gradually began adding U.S. dates, including two appearances at Coachella – their first in California since 1996. It was hardly a surprise when tickets for last Thursday’s show at the Fox Theater in Pomona sold out within minutes. By 5p.m. Thursday, people were already lined up in front of the theater, anxious to see the group perform outside of a festival setting.

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The TVD Interview

Los Angeles-based psychedelic cowboys Spindrift are taking a break from recording the follow-up to last year’s Classic Soundtracks Vol. 1., as they prepare to embark on a series of dates en route to the Austin Psych Fest. We spoke with bassist Henry Evans about the evolution of the band, their soundtrack work, and the story behind his mean double neck guitar.

Spindrift plays April 19 at Los Globos with Gram Rabbit and Sexywaterspiders.

Is the show this Thursday officially the beginning of the tour?

Yeah, that’s right. We built the tour around the Austin Psych Fest, which is put on by The Black Angels. They’re good friends of ours. We were on tour with them at the end of last year, and we said, “if you guys want us, we’d love to do it.”

We play the Psych Fest every other year it seems. That’s sort of how it works out. The first year we were there, and then skipped one, did one, skipped one, and now here we are again.

You just played in Ojai for the New Los Angeles Folk Festival.

Yes we did, and it was awesome. I think it was the first time any of us had been out there. It was so gorgeous. The show was a blast, everybody had a lot of fun. There were tons of people, and the bar (Deer Lodge) was really cool.

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TVD Live: Psychic TV
at the Echoplex, 2/26

It’s not always easy to know what to expect from a Psychic TV concert. The band has been many things over the course of its 30-odd year career. There was the early video art/noise collage phase in the ’80s, then there was the acid house techno phase in the ’90s. Earlier in this decade, more was heard about frontperson Genesis Breyer P-Orridge’s interest in body modification than about the music of his longest-running band.

Therefore, it comes as a pleasant surprise to learn that the latest incarnation of Psychic TV is one of the best psychedelic rock bands currently active.

We caught a portion of their set at SXSW last year, and it was intriguing enough to warrant a closer look. Did they really play a reverent cover of Funkadelic chestnut “Maggotbrain,” or had the Texas heat simply messed with our heads?

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David J:
The TVD Interview

David J. Haskins is primarily known to music fans as the former bassist for Bauhaus and Love and Rockets. In the past few years, he has made his mark in Los Angeles with a series of innovative cabaret-style theater productions. These have included such darkly glamorous subject matter as the Black Dahlia murders, and the life and tragic death of Warhol star Edie Sedgwick.

David’s new album Not Long for This World is a haunting collection of eulogies inspired in part by his recent theatrical work. The songs strike a perfect balance between humor and sadness, and include unique takes on compositions by Tom Waits, Bill Callahan, and Dennis Wilson. We spoke with David about the album and his upcoming revival of Silver for Gold: The Odyssey of Edie Sedgwick.

How long have you been working on the new album?

It goes back a few years. I didn’t go in, do one session, and focus on the record. Although I did do that towards the end when I realized I was making an album. The oldest track is this song for Elliot Smith, “Dagger in the Well,” which I wrote the day it was announced that he was dead. I recorded a basic version, with just acoustic guitar and vocal, the day after that. It just sat on the shelf. It was one of the last things that was finished for the album, because we added all the other instruments on top of that.

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TVD Live: Nilbog at Cinefamily, 10/26

Cinefamily has been celebrating both Halloween and their four-year anniversary with a month-long festival of horror movies and events at their home base, the Silent Movie Theater on Fairfax. Last Wednesday featured a rare musical performance by horror movie soundtrack cover band Nilbog.

In a city clogged with hopeful young bands vying for the spotlight, Nilbog has found a unique niche to pursue. Their mutual love for horror films of the 70s and 80s is apparent in the meticulous attention to detail these musicians display when performing the works of Goblin, Ennio Morricone, John Carpenter, and Giorgio Moroder.

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TVD Live: Clean Air Clear Stars Festival
at Pappy & Harriet’s,

Since 2005, the Clean Air Clear Stars Global Cooling Festival has drawn music fans out to the dusty plains of Pioneertown to enjoy a weekend of entertainment and revelry under the expansive desert skyline.

The purpose of the festival is to raise money for ecological charities, with proceeds this year set aside to benefit the Arbor Day Foundation. Bands from all over the world (but mainly California, Portland and England) showed up to perform over two days last weekend. We were on hand to join in the festivities and attempt to document the experience.

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