Category Archives: The TVD Storefront

Luna Shadows,
The TVD First Date

“When I was a little girl, I used to sit in my parents’ basement alone for hours with my mom’s childhood record collection on repeat, spinning on her old yellow travel player. I remember deciding which record to listen to by which sticker I liked the best. With such a method in place, I ended up looping the pink stickered “Put Your Hand In The Hand” by Ocean quite a bit, as my affinity for pink and pop songs knew no bounds.”

“It wasn’t long before the dark blue stickered single “Ben” by a young Michael Jackson made it into heavy rotation. I remember thinking that the vocalist was a girl, but my mom euphemistically relayed to me that it was actually a sonic snapshot of the biggest pop star of all time approaching puberty, singing about a pet rat. I remember picking up the needle and starting this one over and over, singing along until I knew every word, imagining a cartoonishly cute pet rat. I didn’t own any pets, so even a pet rat was really appealing at the time.

These are not only my earliest memories of vinyl but also some of my earliest memories of music. Sharing a vocal range with a young MJ in my quiet basement was one of my first attempts at imitation singing. Maybe it’s a bit surface level to choose a song by its sticker, but I actually still pick vinyl by its artwork to this day. For me personally, the vinyl experience is perhaps even half visual. Watching a record spin is a hypnotic and meditative activity for me.

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Graded on a Curve:
King Gizzard and
the Lizard Wizard,
Nonagon Infinity

Look, I’ve only got about 10 minutes to write this review, because I just got a brand new chainsaw and I’m itching to use it on our too-big-for-our-kitchen table, so pay attention. These preternaturally prolific (they released 5 studio LPs in 2017 alone) Aussie shapeshifters have one of the dumbest monikers I’ve ever had the misfortune of running across, but don’t let it deter you from checking out their music.

King Gizzard is a difficult band to pigeonhole. AllMusic proclaimed the band’s 2016 LP Nonagon Infinity “maybe the best psych-metal-jazz-prog album ever,” which should give you some notion of these eclectic Australians’ genre-blending proclivities. They’ve also been labeled a garage rock band, but I’ll be damned if this stuff came out of a garage on my street. A garage with a rocket to Venus parked in it maybe, because this shit is strictly interplanetary.

Me, I’m inclined to file King Gizzard under Krautrock for Kangaroos, because they seem to embody many of the more groovy sounds of Baader-Meinhof era West Germany–the motorik propulsion of Neu! and Kraftwerk, the experimental jazz impulses of Can, and the stark weirdness of Amon Düül II. Drummers Eric Moore and Michael Cavanaugh break the speed limit throughout, vocalist Stu Mackenzie somehow manages to sound both excitable and robotic, and the band’s three guitarists conjure up static storms of hair-raising psychedelic electricity. Ambrose Kenny-Smith’s harmonica and organ provide both grit and coloration.

The album’s title is appropriate. Like the best of Neu! or Kraftwerk this is Autobahn Muzik, designed to put you in the fast lane on an endless superhighway to eternity. Mackenzie has described Nonagon Infinity as a “never-ending album,” with the closing track “linking straight back into the top of the opener like a sonic Mobius strip.” Songs meld seamlessly into one another–I still can’t hear the transition from “Robot Stop” to “Big Fig Wasp” and I’ve listened to the LP dozens of times–and the overall effect is mesmeric.

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TVD Premiere: Craig Irving, “Heart”

Born and raised in the Scottish Highlands, Craig Irving spent his formative years lending guitar and vocals to some of Scotland’s top folk acts. Irving has embarked on several worldwide tours with sextet Gaelic band Mànran while his work with the Scottish folk trio Talisk has received a BBC Radio 2 Folk Award.

Striking out on his own seems like a natural progression for the young songwriter whose lulling debut track, “Heart,” feels like the work of savvy and seasoned artist. The Vinyl District is pleased to premiere the single, which owes as much to American heartland rock and modern pop rock as it does to traditional Celtic influences.

Irving has an earnest and highly personalized style, which complements the ringing, guitar-driven vibe of the instrumental portions, culminating in a hook that is both deeply felt and instantly hummable. “Heart” is set to arrive via Spotify on May 31st and will be followed by further promising singles, slated for the latter half of 2019.

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Graded on a Curve:
G. Calvin Weston &
The Phoenix Orchestra,
Dust and Ash

The Philadelphia-born drummer G. Calvin Weston is probably best-known for his work with James “Blood” Ulmer and as a member of Ornette Coleman’s Prime Time, though along with releasing numerous records as a leader he’s also played in the Lounge Lizards and with Marc Ribot. His latest and third for 577 Records pairs him with the Phoenix Orchestra, and it’s as jazzy-funky an affair as one might expect, but with some added treats, including dual violins (plus viola and cello), Weston blowing a little pocket trumpet, and even some vocals courtesy of Kayle Brecher. Vinyl lovers with a hankering for robust fusioneering have reason to rejoice; Dust and Ash is out on wax May 24.

Grant Calvin Weston’s connection to Ornette Coleman’s Prime Time is undeniably a major feather in the artist’s proverbial cap, though back in the day (i.e. the late ’80s) I’ll admit to being more struck with his work on James “Blood” Ulmer’s first two records, especially 1980’s classic Are You Glad To Be In America? This is partially because Coleman’s two earlier electric band outings, ’76’s Dancing in Your Head and ’78’s Body Meta, had already nailed me but good; the saxophonist’s ’80s albums featuring Weston weren’t just more of the same, but they can be evaluated as something of a refinement.

On the other hand, Ulmer’s second and third albums, both of which I’d heard before his ’78 debut for Artist House Tales of Captain Black (which featured Coleman and Weston’s Philly-based friend and future Prime Time cohort, bassist Jamaaladeen Tacuma), were upon introduction both striking affairs. Over time the impact hasn’t lessened by much.

Are You Glad To Be In America? offers the selection “Jazz is the Teacher (Funk is the Preacher)”; its title is a decent summation of Weston’s mode of operation across the decades. To expand a bit, he’s drummed with all three members of Medeski Martin & Wood, contributed to the work of techno artist Tricky, and along with Tacuma, taken it far outside in trio with the late Brit avant guitarist Derek Bailey. A fine recent example of his aptitude with improvisational fire and power groove would be his work in the Young Philadelphians alongside guitarist-leader Marc Ribot, Tacuma, and guitarist Mary Halvorson.

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TVD Live Shots: Foals
at the Bataclan, 5/13

PARIS, FRANCE | There’s something incredibly unique about Foals. If you ask one hundred different people how to describe their music, you’ll get 100 different answers. How many bands can say that—in a good way that is? I’ve seen these guys live three times now and this is the best they’ve ever been—one thousand fucking percent. Maybe it’s the intimacy of the venue? Perhaps the fact that the buzz on these guys never seems to die? Or maybe it’s just that from start to finish the band delivers a punch to the gut that channels perfectly into controlled chaos.

Foals have figured out a way to masterfully combine the best of synth pop, new wave, and post-punk into a universally appealing sound. Back that up with a cutting edge light show and a frontman who spends an equal amount of time crowd surfing and diving off balconies than he does actually on stage singing, and you have arguably the hottest band in the UK.

Touring in support of part one of their hotly anticipated fifth and sixth studio albums, Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1 and Part 2 (Part 1 was released in March while the latter will release in September) Foals played a more intimate venue than what most fans are used to.

These guys also have a different rule for photographers. While the industry standard for almost every show is the first three songs, no flash, Foals break the trend by only allowing photographers to shoot during the last three songs. (The most accepted reason being that musicians look their best during the first three songs, although there’s also a story that Springsteen came up with the rule in the ’70s because the photographers were becoming increasingly distracting.)

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TVD Radar: Game Of Thrones, Season 8 OST vinyl coming to stores

VIA PRESS RELEASE | WaterTower Music has released Game of Thrones (Music from the HBO Series) Season 8 – the soundtrack from the final season of the award-winning HBO series.

The album features music by Emmy® Award-winning and Grammy® Award-nominated composer Ramin Djawadi (Westworld, Iron Man, Jack Ryan, Pacific Rim), and is available for sale digitally and for streaming today, with a Double CD release scheduled for July 19 and a vinyl release later this year. Among the album’s 32 tracks, fans will find Djawadi’s 9-minute opus “The Night King,” as well as an instrumental version of the emotional ballad “Jenny of Oldstones.” “The Night King” theme debuted during a pivotal moment in the epic battle episode “The Long Night.”

“The Night King” went viral immediately after premiering on the show and dominated a top two spot on Billboard’s Top TV Songs chart for the month of April 2019 with 2.2 million streams. Within days, “The Night King” reached the top 4 most downloaded songs on iTunes and the top 18 most watched videos on YouTube and dropped the jaws of audiences and critics alike. Nerdist described the song as “a series highlight…Djawadi’s finest on the show,” while Indiewire proclaimed that Djawadi “really outdid himself here with the soaring, searching score that gave the episode its own unique flavor while also selling its most emotional beats.”

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TVD Vinyl Giveaway: The Haunting Of Hill House OST

We’ve long been fans and cheerleaders for the work of Waxwork Records. What they bring to the table with each release from the label is never short of stunning both in package design and the vinyl itself—and now we’ve got one up for grabs to award to one of you: The Haunting Of Hill House Music From The Netflix Horror Series By The Newton Brothers. First however, some official background:

Waxwork Records is proud to present The Haunting Of Hill House Music From The Netflix Horror Series By The Newton Brothers. Originally a 1959 gothic horror novel written by American author Shirley Jackson, The Haunting Of Hill House is a multi-episode Netflix horror series directed by Mike Flanagan (Hush, Gerald’s Game) and starring Carla Gugino (Sin City, Wayward Pines) and Henry Thomas (E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial).

The plot centers around The Crain family which consists of a mother, father, and five children who temporarily move into the Hill House mansion in 1992. The intention is to renovate the sprawling home and then sell it for a profit in effort to build their very own dream house. Soon after moving into Hill House, they begin to experience increasing paranormal activity that results in a tragic loss and the family fleeing from the house. 26 years later, the Crain siblings and their estranged father reunite after a new tragedy, and they are all forced to confront how their time in Hill House affected each of them.

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Graded on a Curve: Various Artists,
Sad About The Times

Described by Anthology Recordings as “an exploration of North American 70s FM covering folk, soft rock, West Coast jangle, power pop and late night jams,” the 2LP compilation Sad About the Times is something of a revelation, going deep into the realms of obscure musical hopefuls while maintaining a higher level of listenability than a mind should reasonably expect. Assembled by Eddy Current Suppression Ring’s Mikey Young and Anthology’s founder and head of A&R Keith Abrahamsson, the set’s 21 cuts blend a melancholic, often singer-songwriter air, regularly touching upon the difficulties of human interaction and amour in particular, with sharp and occasionally excellent playing. It’s out now.

Although it emerged as an alternative, by the 1970s FM radio was pretty firmly ensconced as a rotator of popular music. However, as Anthology’s promotional writing for this release points out, playlists and format constraints were not yet rigid, which meant that songs by unfamiliar artists regularly hit the airwaves; if they stirred-up a strong response in listeners (or maybe just struck the fancy of a DJ) these tunes would likely get a few more spins (at least), but if the opposite proved true the vinyl was destined to be filed away and forgotten.

That is, until wax stack excavators (like Mikey Young and Keith Abrahamsson) put together a well-considered overview of their time spent. Sad About the Times is devoid of chart action but is all the better for it, because the hits of yesteryear aren’t difficult to soak up in the here and now. Much more interesting is this collection’s alternate history of popularity; Anthology’s claim that all these tracks could have been hits isn’t an overstatement, but even better, the results avoid the hackneyed moves or the outright obnoxiousness that can result when musicians are desperately striving for chart success.

The release’s presiding lyrical concerns, when combined with crucial stylistic range, surely assists in helping this stuff to go down so easy. The opening title track from the group West effectively drives home a downtrodden ambience, though the words never falter into the annoyingly sensitive, in part because the thoughts expressed get mingled with a blend of sunshine folk and budding soft rock introspection. Notably, the song is culled from a ’69 LP.

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TVD Radar: Craft Latino celebrates Antonio Aguilar’s centennial with 100-song playlist

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Craft Latino proudly pays tribute today to one of Mexico’s greatest stars, Antonio Aguilar, on what would have been his 100th birthday, with the release of Antonio Aguilar Centenario: Colección de la Familia—a 100-song playlist curated by his son Pepe Aguilar and family.

Available on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube and other streaming platforms, the career-spanning playlist includes the Aguilar family’s personal favorites from Don Antonio’s extensive catalog, including his biggest hits (“Albur de Amor,” “Un Puño de Tierra”) as well as songs made popular by his iconic films (“Heraclio Bernal,” “Caballo Prieto Azabache”). Listeners will enjoy a variety of styles like rancheras (Mexican folk songs), corridos (storytelling ballads), tambora (a style of banda music from Aguilar’s home state of Zacatecas) and the popular mariachi.

Colección de la Familia will kick off an exciting year for fans of Antonio Aguilar. Additionally, in celebration of the artist’s centennial, Craft Latino is working closely with members of Don Antonio’s talented family on a historic, one-of-a-kind homage to the Mexican legend. This cutting-edge project—to be announced in the coming months—will artfully blend the past with the present, including several new recordings as well as fresh video content, and feature members of the Aguilar Dynasty paying tribute to the man that started it all and his remarkable legacy.

Antonio Aguilar (1919 – 2007) shone across multiple mediums as a beloved actor, singer, producer, screenwriter and equestrian. Fondly known as “El Charro de México” (Mexico’s Horseman), Aguilar began his career in the early ’50s and would go on to make 167 films and record more than 150 albums, selling a staggering 25 million copies during his five-decade-long career. Often compared to American actors like Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, and Ronald Reagan, Aguilar starred in films about rural heroes and revolutionaries during the Golden Age of Mexican cinema. In 1969, he also appeared in an American Western, The Undefeated, alongside John Wayne and Rock Hudson.

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Needle Drop: Scary Hours, Live to Serve

NJ-based acoustic punk outfit Scary Hours, who coined their name from an old Wu-Tang song, imbue their jangly tunes with a biting satirical edge. The band’s acoustic pop punk and filtered lens radiates the confrontational ethos of hardcore—a bit like a Bukowski-esque version of Bright Eyes, or possibly a pissed off Plain White T’s high on Ritalin.

One click on the hilariously bleak opening couplet of “The Real Disease” and you will know what you’re in for—smart, misanthropic songwriting, delivered over jangly power chords. The wily “Pretty Bird” features another brilliant bout of self-defeating wisdom, as lead-singer Ryan Struck rattles off such gems as, “I’m gonna try to be pro-life and at the same time be pro-gun / and I’ll blow all your f*cking heads off while I judge the unfit moms.”

Scary Hours’ debut LP, Live to Serve, is chock full of these worldly realizations which both shock and amaze. The 10 song set arrived in stores last week and is available to stream via Soundcloud or Spotify.

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Graded on a Curve: Aerosmith,
Toys in the Attic

Back in the day I went back on forth on Boston Very Baked Beans like a yoyo–liked ‘em in high school, loathed ‘em in college, then did what any sane person would do and put ‘em out of mind altogether. “Dude (Looks Like a Lady)” didn’t exactly make me want to keep abreast of what Aerosmith was up to.

First year in the dorms at Shippensburg College Aerosmith were inescapable, what with my floor’s resident dope dealers Sheesh and Shrooms cranking the Toxic Twins around the clock, and I’ll never forget the day in the dining hall I warned ‘em Aerosmith would rot their brains, and if they really wanted to improve their minds they’d switch to Frank Zappa! Who at the time, if I recall correctly, was producing such IQ-raising fare as “Crew Slut” and “Wet T-Shirt Nite”!

Yeah, I was full of shit for sure. Because like ‘em or not, Aerosmith were on to something. Steven Tyler, Joe Perry and the boys fused the New York Dolls’ glam-rock sleaze with Led Zeppelin’s sonic bombast to produce a brand new kinda high-stepping boogie strut. Aerosmith translated the leer into sound, brought David Johansen’s trash raunch aesthetic to the unwashed masses, and gleefully knocked the blues topsy-turvy, tossing in a whole bunch of dirty limericks in the process.

Theirs was garage rock of a sort, but the garage had a supercharged 1964 Pontiac GTO in it. Fact is Aerosmith boogied faster than almost any machine on the streets back in 1975. Punk was considered the fleetest thing on wheels at the time, but the title track of Toys in the Attic crosses the finish line before anything on Never Mind the Bollocks, and it came out a year and a half earlier! And Tyler’s nursery rhymes for adults are anything but dumb–anybody who can fit poor Paul Getty’s ear into a lyric is A-OK by me.

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TVD Radar: Ghostbusters 35th anniversary vinyl reissue in stores 7/19

VIA PRESS RELEASE | In honor of the 35th anniversary of Ghostbusters’ 1984 theatrical debut, Sony Music announces a special reissue of Ghostbusters (Original Motion Picture Score) with music by legendary film composer Elmer Bernstein (The Magnificent Seven, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Age of Innocence).

Available now to preorder, the anniversary edition arrives in digital formats for the very first time (in both standard and high resolutions) and on CD Friday, June 7 and on vinyl Friday, July 19. The collection features music from the iconic blockbuster, newly mixed and remastered from the score’s original multi-tracks, as well as new artwork, commentary from Elmer Bernstein’s son, Peter, and four previously unreleased tracks. Of the 35th anniversary edition, Peter Bernstein, son of the late Elmer Bernstein, says, “As one of the original orchestrators on Ghostbusters, it has been very satisfying and also very moving to work on this soundtrack release 35 years down the road. It is a great movie with great music and we had a whole lot of fun creating it. I am very pleased to see it released in its original form.”

With a star-studded cast, Ghostbusters follows four men on a mission to save the world. Fired from university research jobs, Doctors Venkman, Stantz and Spengler set up shop as “Ghostbusters,” hiring Zeddemore and, together, ridding Manhattan of bizarre apparitions. But even the spirit exterminators are severely tested when beautiful Dana Barrett and her nerdy neighbor Louis Tully become possessed by demons living in their building. Soon every spook in the city is loose and our heroes face their supreme challenge at a rooftop demonic shrine. If you want your spirits raised, who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!

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TVD Radar: The Deviants, The Deviants #3 ‘nun’s habit’ vinyl in stores 6/14

VIA PRESS RELEASE | The Deviants were the closest thing the ‘60s British rock scene had to The Mothers of Invention, with a Stooges-like fondness for fuzz guitar freakouts thrown in. And playing the Frank Zappa role as lyricist, singer, and provocateur was Mick Farren, one of the most intriguing figures to emerge from the UK underground.

Farren actually had a much longer and distinguished career as a writer than he did as a musician. He penned a total of 23 novels and 11 works of non-fiction, all of them redolent of his unique sensibility (his 1976 article “The Titanic Sails at Dawn” for New Musical Express predicted the rise of punk rock). And on the music side, he never did anything that wasn’t extreme, collaborating with Lemmy of Hawkwind and Motörhead and Wayne Kramer of the MC5 among others residing on the cutting and bleeding edge of rock and roll.

1969’s Deviants III was the third and last record he cut with his band The Deviants (the other members went on to form Pink Fairies); despite the strains in the band and Farren’s later panning of its quality, it’s regarded in some quarters as a masterpiece, capturing the dark side of the end of the ‘60s with such songs as “Billy the Monster” and “The People’s Suite.”

Farren collapsed while playing on stage with a re-formed version of The Deviants in 2013 and died soon thereafter.

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Freekbass, The TVD
First Date and Premiere of “R U Ready” and Vinyl Giveaway

“Vinyl, and the whole album experience, has always been an analogue fantasy for me. The warm tones you get from the needle in the grooves was something lost in the digital and CD realm. Then there is the cover art, a tangible connection you can hold in your hands, making the listening experience more fantastical, bringing you into the artists’ world they have created.”

“My parents always had vinyl around the house while I was growing up. My father was a big Joe Cocker fan. I remember the Mad Dogs & Englishmen album cover like it was yesterday. I was always confused, because I would hear Cocker’s version of “She Came In Through The Bathroom Window” and sometimes I would hear The Beatles version. I didn’t understand how there could be two versions of the same song.

Now, this might sound strange, but as much as I remember how the record sounded and looked, I also remember the smell: the combination of the cardboard-cover mixed with vinyl scent of the album. It was an all part of immersive experience for this kid.

When got older, I would go to second-hand/thrift stores a lot. Partially for financial reasons and partially for the cool finds. As much as music was everything to me, I never bought a lot of recorded music growing up. If I ever had the extra money, I was spending it on music gear (bass strings, cables, amp and guitar repairs, etc).

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Graded on a Curve:
Billy Squier,
Don’t Say No

Back in the day my pals and I hated this MTV “video star” so much we dubbed him Billy Squealer, but in his brilliant and very off-kilter contribution to rock literature Stairway to Hell: The 500 Best Heavy Metal Albums in the Universe Chuck Eddy puts Billy Squier’s 1981 LP Don’t Say No at No. 67, a ranking so disconcertingly high I had to wonder: Is the guy insane? Or are my ears for shit?

Only one way to find out–I had my girlfriend tie me to a chair, then put Don’t Say No on constant repeat. Fourteen hours later she came back, and found me babbling on about how Billy Squier was a hierophant of unapprehended inspiration and one of the unacknowledged legislators of the world.

“Who are you channeling?” she asked, patently concerned for my mental health. “Algernon Charles Swinbure? Jim Dandy Mangrum? I told you this was a bad idea. The album’s a goddamn loaded gun, and I’m going to hide it someplace where you can’t hurt yourself with it.”

“Don’t you dare,” I hissed. “Billy Squier’s a fucking wizard and a true star. Just listen to “My Kinda Lover.” It’s like Led Zeppelin and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band had a baby! And… and… and “The Stroke” is a stroke of Gary Glitter Stomp Rock Genius and the best Suzi Quatro song I’ve ever heard in my life!”

A couple of days (and a whole shit of mood stabilizers) later, my feelings about Squier and Don’t Say No are a bit more… measured. I’m not going to sit here and tell you Squier’s some big musical genius because he ain’t–he’s just one helluva human synthesizer. On Don’t So No he updates Led Zeppelin for the MTV Era, giving Plant and Page a Power Pop gloss (shoulda started a band called Def Zeppelin!) while leaving himself just another wiggle room–unlike, say, the musical jaybirds in Whitesnake or Greta Van Fleet–to escape arrest on charges of being a craven LZ tribute act.

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