TVD Washington, DC

TVD Live Shots:
PJ Harvey at Wolf
Trap, 7/21

Friday evening Wolf Trap’s Filene Center played host to one of the UK’s most prolific and eclectic indie artists, PJ Harvey, who in tandem with her nine-piece band of musicians took the stage with no opener to set a mood, but a dramatic one it would become.

PJ Harvey is no stranger to on-stage theatrics, but seeing her poised and repetitive motions live is an experience all its own. Her stage presence is beyond commanding, leading her backing band in every sense—feeling every note with moves set against a thundering bass drum.

This is particularly the case in songs such as “Down by the Water” and her set opener, “Chain of Keys.” It feels as if we’re privy to a story unfolding which adds a heightened dimension to the flow of the evening, as was the case with “The Ministry of Defense.” I swear I got goosebumps as every musician on stage chimed in for the chorus’s beautiful melodies for one of the most dramatic shows I’ve seen in many years.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Radar: Steve Howe Anthology 2 arrives in stores 8/11

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Legendary guitarist Steve Howe will add a second volume to his Anthology series this summer with an upcoming collection that highlights his key contributions to groups like Yes and Asia, while also rounding up his numerous collaborations with musicians like Paul Sutin and Oliver Wakeman.

On July 21, Rhino will release Anthology 2: Groups and Collaborations as a physical three-CD set designed by Roger Dean and digital equivalent. The collection spans more than 50 years of Howe’s prolific career with 56 tracks that mix hits with a generous selection of unreleased recordings, including several with Keith West, who was Howe’s bandmate in Tomorrow and The In Crowd.

Starting with his work in the mid-Sixties, the collection opens with songs that Howe recorded during brief tenures with bands like The Syndicats (“Maybellene,” 1964), The In Crowd (“Blow Up,” 1967), Tomorrow (“Revolution,” 1968), and Bodast (“Nothing To Cry For,” 1969).

As you would expect, Anthology 2 is packed with many of Howe’s memorable contributions to Yes and Asia, two of the world’s most successful progressive-rock bands. Hits like Yes’s “Roundabout” and Asia’s “Heat Of The Moment” are featured along with rarities like “Montreux’s Theme,” a song Yes recorded during sessions for Going for the One (1977), and “Masquerade” a previously unreleased tune by Asia.

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The TVD Storefront

Mark Bryan,
The TVD First Date

“My first memories of listening to music on vinyl are from my Father’s old wall mount stereo with speakers on the sides, and in the middle, an AM/FM radio / 8-track player, with a turntable that had a sliding, wooden door cover. He had these amazing ’50s compilation records, and The Beatles’ greatest hits 1962-1966 with the lads looking over the balcony and the red trim around the cover.”

“That was as good as it got in those days, and I’m so thankful that it remains pretty great, even amid new technology. The streaming era doesn’t encourage listening to full-length albums. In fact I don’t think Pandora even offers that experience. I still love putting on a record, hearing the crackle leading into the first song, and then switching sides when it’s time. It’s nostalgic, but the listening quality is still really high, and if you like artwork, the vinyl format is unrivaled.

I purchased my first vinyl when I was about 12, through the Columbia House Record Club. ¢.99 for 12 albums, and then you had to buy one per month for the next year at regular price. I remember starting out with the entire Led Zep. collection, Foreigner Double Vision, Elton John’s Greatest Hits Volume 2, and Van Halen I, all of which I still listen to today.

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UK Artist of the Week: Stephen McLaren

The world is a pretty weird place right now—both the US and UK are dealing with some difficult challenges, and no matter your opinion one thing is for certain, there’s some great music emerging as a result. One example of this is Scotland’s Stephen McLaren and his new single “No More (Say Yes),” which is why he’s our UK Artist of The Week.

“No More (Say Yes)” is a politically charged song written in support of the ongoing campaign for Scottish independence. Stephen combines these tough subject matters with new wave inspired electro-rock to create something truly anthemic and thought-provoking. The rest of McLaren’s forthcoming album We Used To Go Raving, in stores 29th September 2017, follows in a similar vein filled with ’80s nostalgia and silent nods toward Ian Curtis’ genius.

Stephen McLaren is no stranger to the music industry having already received critical acclaim as part of the Edinburgh-based band Collar Up. Now, McLaren is preparing to go it alone and mesmerize listeners with his own unique blend of electronica and rock.

We Used To Go Raving is out 29th September 2017 via Errant Media.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Victoria Williams
& the Loose Band,
Town Hall 1995

In 1993 Victoria Williams gained a wide audience through Sweet Relief, a star-studded covers disc intended to aid in paying her mounting medical bills related to multiple sclerosis. In ’94 she hooked up with a gaggle of high-profile help to cut Loose, which stands as her best-known studio album, and a year later she took the songs out on tour with the Loose Band. Recordings were made, and earlier in 2017 Fire Records put Town Hall 1995 on vinyl for Record Store Day. Copies of the LP are still available, and on July 28 it’s out on compact disc and digital.

Like most people, I guess, I passed on checking out Victoria Williams’ debut Happy Come Home when it was released by Geffen in 1987, and did the same when Swing the Statue! trickled into store racks via an ailing Rough Trade in 1990; the label’s (temporary) demise through bankruptcy insured a lack of promotion when the artist really could’ve used it, but through a variety of activities (playing with Giant Sand, acting in Gus Van Sant’s Even Cowgirls Get the Blues) she continued plugging away into the early ’90s, prior to the diagnosis of MS delivering a severe setback.

Today, it’s common knowledge that Williams triumphed over the disorder, but upon Sweet Relief’s emergence in 1993 matters weren’t so certain. Celeb benefits regularly ooze a self-satisfaction that can breed a lack of urgency and listener cynicism, but the motivation behind Sweet Relief felt right, even if the performers assembled, which included alternative heavyweights Pearl Jam, Soul Asylum, and Evan Dando, varying strains of alt-country in Lucinda Williams, Giant Sand, and The Jayhawks, and the aging cool of Lou Reed, ranged in one’s personal esteem.

This fact only reinforces the worth of Williams’ songwriting, which flowered even further on her breakthrough album Loose; released by Mammoth in the afterglow of Sweet Relief, the label also rescued Swing the Statue! from consumer purgatory during the same period. As stated above, akin to the almost ludicrous lineup producer Anton Fier assembled for her debut, Loose is loaded with guests; amongst a mess of session cats, there’s half of R.E.M., Dave Pirner, the Tower of Power Horns, Rose Stone, and arrangements by Van Dyke Parks, who also assisted on her debut.

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 7/25/17

Why Vinyl’s Boom Is Over, As purists complain about low quality and high prices, vinyl sales taper off; Gillian Welch and David Rawlings cut their own records: Old LPs were cut from analog tapes—that’s why they sound so high quality. But the majority of today’s new and re-issued vinyl albums—around 80% or more, several experts estimate—start from digital files, even lower-quality CDs. These digital files are often loud and harsh-sounding, optimized for ear-buds, not living rooms. So the new vinyl LP is sometimes inferior to what a consumer hears on a CD. “They’re re-issuing [old albums] and not using the original tapes” to save time and money, says Michael Fremer, editor of and one of America’s leading audio authorities. “They have the tapes. They could take them out and have it done right—by a good engineer. They don’t.”

Pasadena, Whittier bookstores, record sellers are enjoying a Millennial-led resurgence in sales: Young people are leading to the retro trend, experts say. David Sax, who wrote “The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter,” said millennials, who grew up on digital technology, crave products offering a tactile experience. They also might just be bored with looking at screens, Sax said. “For many of them, especially as they get younger, digital technology is not anything new and magical — it is kind of the norm,” Sax said. “Analog is a choice.”

Vinyl makes comeback in suburban Melbourne: Australia will again make vinyl music with the nation’s first modern record press on track to open after a production hiatus of more than 30 years. The new plant is due to start operations in the Melbourne’s northern suburbs early next year and will double as an event space, hosting launches and other musical acts. “We want to make great records, support the Australian music scene and have fun along the way,” Program Records spokesman Steve Lynch said.

Putting The Record Straight: Of all comebacks, none is as son­orous as this. Veteran ‘vinylhead’ Jaydeep Joy aka Jazzy Joe, hums a happy tune as his fingers flip through the scores of rec­ords lining the racks at Radio and Gramophone House, New Delhi. And one can imagine long-haired youths from long back dancing to the tune of Aao Twist Kare, as he lays the newly pressed record of Bhoot Bangla on the turntable, placing the needle gently into the groove. Jaydeep is not alone in being ent­hralled by the scratchy perfection of Long Playing or LP records.

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TVD Washington, DC

TVD Live: Steve Earle and The Dukes with
The Mastersons at the Birchmere, 7/18

PHOTOS: RICHIE DOWNS | It’s a brash move to close out a show on one of the hottest days in the DC metro area with a song called “Christmas in Washington,” but Steve Earle’s career has been one of brash moves.

He started his generous show at The Birchmere in Alexandria, VA., Tuesday with a handful of songs from an album that’s only been out a month, beginning with its title track, “So You Wanna be an Outlaw.” The collection followed an all blues and a lighter approach with Shawn Colvin on a duet album, he returned to ringing outlaw country, inspired by old Waylon Jennings and a couple of songs he had written for TV’s Nashville.

Backed by a stomping version of the Dukes that was sweetened by pedal steel and fiddle, he eventually brought in those early career anthems like “Guitar Town” and “The Galway Girl” (its bagpipe sounds courtesy of the keyboards). The Christmas song was less about the season and more about the chorus, “”Come back Woody Guthrie, come back to us now.” He had just lead a singalong “This Land is Your Land,” with its own new Trump Tower verse and Guthrie’s spirit was hanging in the air.

“Christmas in Washington” was written on another disappointing election 20 years earlier: The Democrats rehearsed getting into gear for four more years / Things not gettin’ worse / Republicans drink whiskey neat and thanked their lucky stars.

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TVD Chicago

TVD Live Shots: James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt at Wrigley Field, 7/17

I’m starting to forget that baseball is actually played at Wrigley Field because it’s becoming one of my favorite concert destinations. One week ago James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt took to the stage at Chicago’s historic ballpark for a night of easy listening nostalgia.

Bonnie Raitt opened the evening with a fun set and some surprise covers—notably, the Talking Heads’ “Burning Down the House” and INXS’ “Need You Tonight.” But the emotional highlight came during her stunning version of “Angel from Montgomery,” a song that’s not just special to me but, she noted, her as well. In between songs she took in the sights, “I hope wherever my folks are they’re digging this view right now.” She also expressed her gratitude to James Taylor, a lifelong friend, before he joined her on stage for “Thing Called Love.” “It’s an astonishing thing to be here tonight and on this tour,” she remarked.

James Taylor kicked off his headlining set with crowd pleaser “Carolina in My Mind.” His demeanor suggests that he’s the nicest, most considerate, wonderful man on the planet. Seriously, if you couldn’t tell by listening to his songs, you can tell by watching his interactions with his band and the crowd.

He’s funny too. During “Sunny Skies” home videos and photos of James with his dog (who he later described as having a “potato body”) ran across the monitors. He explained, “If you run out of sexy you gotta go cute,” to a roar of laughter from the crowd. The set carried on with one hit after another from his deep catalog of music, culminating in another duet with Bonnie (“You Can Close Your Eyes”) to conclude the evening. It was a memorable summer night at Wrigley—one that I won’t forget.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Radar: Superchunk to reissue debut on vinyl, in stores 8/25

VIA PRESS RELEASE | On August 25, Superchunk will reissue their self-titled album on vinyl for the first time since its initial release, and on Merge for the very first time. The remastered LP features updated artwork and includes an 11” × 17” replica of an early Chunk show flyer, with photos and notes from the band on the reverse.

Both CD and LP include a digital download of Clambakes Vol 9: Other Music From Unshowered Grumblers – Live in NYC 1990, a show recorded at CBGB just four days after the album was released. The first 250 LP orders will receive the album on vibrant opaque orange vinyl, and both CD and LP orders will include a large foldout poster of the woodcut used on the cover art, while supplies last. In addition, all pre-orders will be entered into a random drawing to win one of 25 original doodles by Laura Ballance! Pre-order Superchunk now on CD and limited-edition orange vinyl in the Merge store, where this release, along with the entire Superchunk catalog, is on sale for 10% off through July 25!

Mac shared his memories of these early days of Superchunk: “When I listen to our first album now, other than cringing at some clams and the vocals and the juvenile attitude of the whole thing… what was I angry about? You’ll have to ask 21-year-old me because in my memory, we were having fun. I hear the accumulation of our influences, which I suppose is normal for a first album—weaving all the things you loved up to that point into your own first thing. The Buzzcocks, Hüsker Dü, Dinosaur Jr, and Sonic Youth are all right there and what we were listening to.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve: Coulson, Dean, McGuinness, Flint,
Lo & Behold

You know what I miss? The days when I didn’t know jack shit about music. This adolescent would catch a ride to the J.G. McCrory Store—part of a once mighty but long-gone chain of five and dimes—in nearby Hanover, Pennsylvania to spend what little money he had on albums by artists he’d never heard of pulled from McCrory’s legendary cut-out bins. Sure I got burnt—some of the albums I goggled at there I haven’t seen since, so fly-by-night dubious were the contents therein—but once in a while I would return home with a real treasure.

I didn’t find Coulson, Dean, McGuinness, Flint’s 1972 album Lo & Behold back then, but it has all of the glorious hallmarks of a serendipitous discovery purchased on pure whim at that ghostly McCrory’s on Hanover’s main drag a thousand years ago. Who are these guys? Don’t ask me. (Okay, so it turns out Tom McGuinness once played bass and guitar with Manfred Mann—who produced Lo & Behold—and Hughie Flint once played drums for John Mayall. As for Dennis Coulson (the band’s lead singer) and Dixie Dean (on bass), they were journeymen just like McGuinness and Flint. The most interesting thing I can think to say about this band is that Neil Innes—one of the brilliant minds behind the Bonzo Dog Band—played piano with them for a short while.)

But on Lo & Behold CDMF makes up for what they lack in name recognition by pulling off one hell of a coup. Lo & Behold is an album of Dylan covers, most of them dating to Dylan’s incredibly fecund sojourn with the Band at the rented house they called Big Pink in West Saugerties, New York in 1967. Dylan and the Band produced some of the finest American music ever made during Dylan’s famed period as rock’s greatest recluse, and Coulson, Dean, McGuinness, Flint work real magic on Lo & Behold, which anybody interested in hearing musical alchemy at work should seek out.

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