Author Archives: Shannon Pilgrim

TVD Vinyl Giveaway: Sharkmuffin, Tsuki

Sharkmuffin, the duo of Tarra Thiessen and Natalie Kirch, released their sophomore LP Tsuki in early May before hitting the road for a UK tour. The Brooklynites accurately describe their genre as “opti-mystic glam-grunge” and plan to one day serve cocktails and ice cream from the world’s first punk-rock brunch truck. (Sign us up.) 

Tsuki is equal parts angsty and danceable, the soundtrack to your 2017 punk-rock summer. The distortion-riddled, wailing vocals combined with thrumming basslines throughout the record harken back to ‘90s riot grrrl with a dash of White Blood Cells-era White Stripes.

The opening line of the album sets the tone, “Don’t worry about shit, let’s just go have a fun time!” and “Space Glow” hits the ground running from there. The deadpan and desperate “I Wanna Be You” leads into “Atama,” an unsettling track that marks the midway point of Tsuki. “Leather Gloves” and “Puppy Love” are each highpoints of the album, both tenacious and gritty.

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TVD Premiere: Tara Williamson, “Messenger”

Tara Williamson is set to release her debut EP, “Evolution One,” later this month and we’re pleased to reveal “Messenger,” its first single.

Williamson has been working towards this debut for quite some time. She pursued a career in music early on but could not find her footing as an artist until moving to Austin in 2012. Williamson has been a player in Austin’s music scene ever since, having honed her sound while performing throughout the country as a backing vocalist for its famous soul/pop group The Nightowls.

She stayed with The Nightowls for over three years as they rose from local to national notoriety, performing at Austin City Limits, SXSW, and completing two US tours. “Evolution One” will pay homage to the music community in Williamson’s adopted home of Austin, drawing inspiration both in writing and performance style from many local musicians.

“Messenger” is a sample of this Austin inspiration—a delightful mixture of old west and indie-pop. The wailing, spaghetti-western style guitar is balanced by Williamson’s smooth, jazzy vocals. Like any good pop track, “Messenger” grows on you the more you hear it, and the final echoes of “please don’t shoot me,” in reference to the titular messenger, seem to linger long after the song’s end. If this track is any indication, “Evolution One” is bound to be a substantial debut for the burgeoning artist.

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TVD Premiere: Dakota Blue, “Lavalike” EP

PHOTO: PRISCILLA MARS | Following some delay, emerging singer, guitarist, and visual artist Dakota Blue has released “Lavalike,” an intriguing five-track EP.

Each of the tracks on “Lavalike” were written, played, and produced by Blue, an LA native. The music videos for singles “Blueprints” and “Distant Disco” were released in late 2016, offering a preview of the experimental EP. “Blueprints” is a soothing track with a gauzy, blue hazed video, while “Distant Disco” is a psych-pop instrumental with an acid-tinged video to accompany it. Blue’s vocals are reminiscent of the mellow, early ’90s alt sound that launched Beck’s career, while much of the instrumentals harken back to ’70s prog rock. The combination creates a surprisingly fresh sounding, understated EP.

“The State of Things” kicks off the EP with dark, heavy, and sultry tones which are heard throughout each of the tracks. This tone is lifted slightly halfway through by the jangly, yet still pessimistic “Tropical Dust,” only to be dropped to its lowest by the end of the EP with “Shadows In Paradise.”

“Lavalike” is a dreary day soundtrack in the best possible way; a work that is both thought-provoking and entrancing.

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TVD Vinyl Giveaway:
Old Crow Medicine Show, Best Of

When Americana string band Old Crow Medicine Show began busking on street corners, America’s grunge era was winding down and O.C.M.S. began to usher in a resurgence of folk rock. They have since toured the world, released five studio albums, and have been featured in the 2012 documentary Big Easy Express about their tour with Mumford & Sons and Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros. Old Crow Medicine Show have helped to breathe new life into the folk genre, and the band is releasing a 14-song compilation of some of their most memorable hits, Best Of, which arrives in stores today February 10, 2017—and we have a vinyl copy to give away.

While their studio career began in 2004, the Grand Ole Opry members have been delivering energetic performances for almost 20 years. Since being discovered by folk icon Doc Watson, Old Crow Medicine Show has won two Grammy awards (“Best Folk Album” and “Best Long Form Music Video”) and received the RIAA’s Platinum certification for their single “Wagon Wheel.”

“Wagon Wheel” has been a staple cover song for acoustic musicians since its release, and reached a new level of notoriety in 2013 when Darius Rucker’s version topped the country charts. The song was written by frontman Ketch Secor and was based on an unreleased demo recorded by Bob Dylan who agreed to be credited as a co-author of the song, having written the chorus and melody over 30 years before the official release of Old Crow Medicine Show’s single. “Wagon Wheel” is, of course, included on Best Of.

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TVD Premiere: Jordan Burchel, “Blesh”

Sprung from a common mispronunciation, “Blesh” is the second single from Jordan Burchel’s forthcoming sophomore album, Vowel Sounds.

Burchel became, in his words, “sort of fascinated” with the idea that people often say“blesh you” as opposed to “bless you” and the garbled phrase led way to a song in which he addresses a part of himself more concerned with appearance, “I’m almost certainly talking to a crappier version of myself who is more ruled by ego and is self-righteous.”

“Blesh”’s soliloquy is a cut from Vowel Sounds, set to be released to stream, download, and purchase—on vinyl—December 16. Featured last month on TVD’s Press Play, the Florida-based singer/ songwriter recorded for over a year in various storage units and spare bedrooms.

The album grapples with authenticity and individuality within the digital age and was written, composed, played, sung, and produced by Burchel, with help from Chris Hillman of Morningbell and Sam Moss, formerly of Hundred Waters.

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TVD Video Premiere: matt pond PA, “Whoa”

PHOTO: SEAN HANSEN | “‘Whoa’ sparked from the memory of sledding in northern New Hampshire. The biting cold and the purest love of a red-faced girl with frozen snot on her philtrum.”

“We went to Iceland to unearth that same purity, searching for true beauty. We blasted through the countryside in a flimsy hire car. From city to sea, geyser to glacier. Every moment was mindblowing. The bright green and black lava fields, the tempestuous sea at Vik, racing bikes down the streets of Reykjavik, jumping in the ocean at Jökulsárlón, emerging from a pitch-black cavern into a field filled with ponies.

Adventures are strange beasts. If they’re true-hearted, then there’s no time for sentience. Second guesses, sarcasm, and social media all vanish with the mist in the midst of a proper quest.” —Matt Pond

Fully titled “Whoa (Thirteen and Sledding With Kerry in Northern New Hampshire),” the track on matt pond PA’s newest album is a jaunty celebration with a video to match.

An album inspired by his upbringing in snowy New Hampshire, aptly named Winter Lives, contains songs fit to listen to curled up by the fire as well as those for romping through the snow. “Whoa” is a song for the latter—and the video will have you packing your bags for Iceland where it was filmed. The clip features Matt Pond and his right-hand man Chris Hansen exploring lavish landscapes and quirky cities, with cinematography that makes the music video feel like a 4-minute Icelandic documentary.

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TVD Vinyl Giveaway: The Diary of a Teenage Girl OST & Movie Poster

Although the title may suggest otherwise, The Diary of a Teenage Girl is far from a typical teen film.

After a controversial but well-received premiere at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, the movie hit theatres in a limited release Friday, August 7. Starring Kristin Wiig in a role far from her goofy SNL days and Alexander Skarsgard of True Blood fame, the movie is based closely on an autobiographical graphic novel.

Diary follows a 15-year old Minnie, played by British up-and-comer Bel Powley, who loses her virginity to her reckless mother’s 35-year-old boyfriend. Despite this central plot point, the film is far from a Lolita trope, told from the perspective of the witty and curious Minnie.

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TVD Live: Brandon Flowers at Echostage, 7/29

PHOTOS: TOREY MUNDKOWSKY | On Wednesday night, one of the more high-energy rock concerts currently touring came through DC. Brandon Flowers belted out a fun, hour and a half set at Echostage that had the crowd buzzing well after the show ended.

Brandon Flowers achieved notoriety as the lead singer and keyboardist for the Las Vegas rock band The Killers, whose success began with their debut album which reached triple platinum status and has continued in the decade since. The band made it clear that Flowers’s first solo album, Flamingo in 2010, was a project in addition to The Killers, not a departure.

While Flamingo was a successful release, Flowers really found his footing as a solo artist with his second album released earlier this year, The Desired Effect. The credits feature Bruce Hornsby, Tony Levin, and other notable musicians who add a dimension that was lacking from the first album. Over half of the songs on the LP are potential singles, and he showcased many of them during his set.

Flowers displayed his Vegas roots as he hopped on stage and donned a shimmering gold suit jacket, bowed to his audience, and ripped into the first track from The Desired Effect, “Dreams Come True.” Flowers’ accompaniment, which included two backup singers, a small brass section, along with the standard guitar-bass-keyboard-drum set up, was shrouded in smoke and shadows, allowing Brandon’s high energy showmanship to run the night.

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TVD Live Shots: Interpol at Echostage, 7/28

PHOTOS: RICHIE DOWNS | Nestled on a seedy DC street is one of the area’s biggest clubs, Echostage. Generally a spot known for EDM, there has recently been an uptick in rock shows circulating through. On Tuesday night, Interpol lit up the mega club ripping through their set as one of the best rock bands to come to DC this summer. The band members do not put on a big spectacle in the performance. Clad in all black, the focus is drawn to the music as opposed to the musicians, yet they managed to put on an energetic and electric show.

Known for monotone vocals and heavy, staccato basslines, Interpol has been a staple in the American alt-rock scene for 15 years. Founded in New York in 1997, they are touring the US and Europe this summer to promote their fifth album, El Pintor. This is the band’s first tour without founding member, bassist Carlos Dengler, and although his decision to split from the band left a hole in the album, the performance showed no sign of the loss.

Ever-serious frontman Paul Banks whirred through the hour and a half set to an increasingly excited crowd that went from head bobbing to all out jumping around. Songs from their 2004 album Antics, including “Evil” and “Slow Hands,” were undeniably the cause of most excitement, but the crowd remained relatively enthusiastic for the lesser known songs too.

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TVD Ticket and Vinyl Giveaway: Ezra Furman in the city and venue of your choice and the new LP, Perpetual Motion People

Guitarist and singer Ezra Furman is truly compelling. Most often seen performing in a dress and cherry red lipstick, his energetic, gritty, and brutally honest songs have generated a rapidly growing fanbase. Furman is a true rock ‘n’ roller who puts on thrilling, high-energy performances that shake the house.

Formerly of four piece indie-rock band Ezra Furman and the Harpoons, he is currently backed by The Boyfriends, who feature saxophonist Tim Sandusky, producer of each of Furman’s three solo albums. The first of these, The Year of No Returning, was done without a label, instead using a Kickstarter campaign to fund the recording and release.

Now signed with Bella Union, Furman released his third solo album, Perpetual Motion People, earlier this month. Of this album’s concept, Furman said, “I’ve always viewed the idea of truth itself as something wobbly, always slipping out of our grasp. That’s what the songs are about: a head that is haunted, a society I cannot join, a lover who is perpetually in the act of leaving. A central idea is the fugitive or runaway, in a hideout built in the midst of an unfriendly or alienated world.”

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TVD Vinyl Giveaway: Air, The Virgin Suicides 15th Anniversary Deluxe Box Set Edition

In 2000, Sofia Coppola made her directorial feature-film debut with The Virgin Suicides. The movie, based closely on a novel of the same name, received critical acclaim and garnered a cult fan base.

It was also French duo Air’s first foray into film scoring, but the majority of the music that they had recorded was left on the editing room floor, and the official soundtrack for the film only features two songs by the band. Now, 15 years later, Air is releasing a deluxe edition of their original score to the film, including previously unreleased tracks and live performances.

The Virgin Suicides was the electronica duo’s first score for a film, but they went on to work with Coppola again in 2003 for Lost in Translation and three years later for Marie Antoinette, both of which were well-received soundtracks. In each of these films, Air managed to strengthen and reinforce the scenes they scored, while preserving their original tone and texture.

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TVD Live: Best Coast at the 9:30 Club, 6/16

PHOTOS: RICHIE DOWNS | On the heels of the release of their third studio album, Best Coast took over the east coast Tuesday night as they played to a sold-out crowd at DC’s 9:30 Club. It was a familiar setting for the band who was there for the third time as headliners for a packed house, as front-woman Bethany Cosentino pointed out about halfway through the show.

Technically a duo, they were accompanied by a drummer, bassist, and additional guitarist for the live show, because it seems Bobb Bruno has yet to master playing all of these instruments simultaneously. While both members of the duo have versatile musical backgrounds, they seem to have found a groove within their surf-rock sound.

Although on the recorded tracks the vocals are usually layered beneath reverb, there were no such effects for the live show. However, Bethany’s vocals were strong enough to carry the songs without any issue. They definitely brought their A-game to the 9:30 Club, but with a casual attitude crafted by years of playing festivals and headlining shows.

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TVD Vinyl Giveaway:
Mew, + –

When Danish indie-rockers Mew released their long-awaited sixth album at the end of April many fans were unsure of what to expect. Although a return from a six-year hiatus can be difficult, with their progressive new album and a well-received set at SXSW, Mew has proven they’re back with a vengeance. 

+- (as in “plus minus”), released on April 28, 2015 in North America, features the band’s original line up—Jonas Bjerre (vocals), Bo Madsen (guitar), Johan Wohlert (bass), and Silas Utke Graae Jorgensen (drums). With this new release, Mew continues its penchant for enigmatic album titles. Their previous outing in 2009, No More Stories Are Told Today, I’m Sorry They Washed Away//No More Stories, The World is Grey, I’m Tired, Let’s Wash Away, reveled in ambition.

The new music on ” +- ” soars. It’s alive, it’s vibrant and spacious. Its skewed pop sensibilities coupled with an ever-expansive musical backdrop denotes the extremities of Mew’s creative DNA, showing once more a band treading its own unique path. The album was recorded in Copenhagen, produced by Grammy-nominated Michael Beinhorn (Hole, Soundgarden, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Violent Femmes) and Mew with mixing duties undertaken by Rich Costey. “+- ” also features an appearance from Bloc Party guitarist Russell Lissack on “My Complications,” a song he co-wrote that came to fruition having met Mew on a U.S. tour some years ago.

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