TVD Washington, DC

TVD Live: David Rawlings at the Lincoln Theatre, 12/6

PHOTOS: RICHIE DOWNS | David Rawlings and his band takes to the empty stage as they would if they were around during the end of the Industrial Revolution 150 years ago or more. At the Lincoln Theatre in Washington last Wednesday, with two guys in big hats and two women in long cotton dresses, they rather resembled a rural string band that could have assembled on anybody’s porch a century ago or more, picking out music, interlocking rhythms, and singing harmonies about many of the same kinds of concerns. Americana indeed.

Rawlings may first have come to notice as the backing guitarist for his partner Gillian Welch, who, happily, is also part of the his band. But here, the smiling, good-natured Rawlings is front and center. His voice is OK at best; his songs often simple constructions. What jumps out, and what brings the audience, are his guitar solos.

He had a few guitars on hand, but mostly used one mighty mahogany 1935 Epiphone Olympic, with a sprucewood arched top. It seemed a tiny instrument – less than 14 inches wide — for all he brought out of it. With a tone midway between the high, bright sound of a mandolin and the deeper tones of a more conventional guitar, he flatpicks his way into a superhighway of inventive melody with one turn inspiring the next, faster and faster, but never losing its soul or appeal.

Applause greeted nearly every solo and the rest of the band rose to join his musicality. Guitarist Willie Watson, formerly of the Old Crow Medicine Show actually has a better voice (but is self-effacingly ineffective on bongos the one time he tried). Fiddler Brittany Haas of Boston bluegrass band Crooked Still who is often heard on Prairie Home Companion, often sounds, like Rawlings, as if she’s playing more than one instrument, the approach is so full and musical. Welch, of course, keeps the rhythm locked down on acoustic guitar and bolsters the harmonies throughout. And a couple of times, thankfully, was featured on some of her own songs, from “Wayside/Back in Time” to “Look at Miss Ohio.”

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Radar: Alvin Lee
& Co., Live At The Academy Of Music 1975 in stores now

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Unearthed live music from the late, great English singer and guitarist Alvin Lee has finally been mastered and released: Alvin Lee & Co. Live At The Academy Of Music, New York 1975 is out now on Rainman Records. Famously known for his band Ten Years After’s galvanizing performance of “I’m Going Home” at Woodstock, Alvin Lee left that band in 1973 to pursue his own artistic vision and quickly found success as a solo artist.

Now, for the first time, a January 18, 1975 show recorded at New York City’s Academy Of Music (which would later become the Palladium) has been mastered and properly released. The show was recorded on a (then) state-of-the-art 16-track, but only a few songs were ever heard, via the “King Biscuit Flower Hour.” In 2012, Lee discovered the masters in his personal archives and set out to transfer and professionally mix the concert. Lee passed away in 2013 before the music could be released, but his wife Evi carefully oversaw this project (released October 27).

The result is a collection of jazzy, funky, and mellow performances; 13 selected tracks played by a world-class band made up of talented musicians at their peak with Alvin leading expertly through tasteful guitar work and outstanding vocals. The band included Ian Wallace – drums and Mel Collins – sax & flute (both ex-King Crimson), two former members of Stone The Crows (Ronnie Leahy – keyboards, and Steve Thomson – bass), as well as Brother James – percussion, and backing vocalists Donnie Perkins and Juanita Franklin.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Sonic Youth,
Confusion Is Sex

Let me just begin this review by saying this about this album: It annoys my cat. He likes to hang out on my desk, but whenever I put this album on he flees the room. And that should tell you something. Painkiller, Pig Destroyer, Killdozer—he can stomach them all. Hell, he has even sat steadfast through the horrorshow that is Foreigner.

But Confusion Is SexSonic Youth’s 1983 LP debut—unsettles him. Hell, it unsettles me. And I can only imagine it unsettles everybody, including the legendary NYC art noise poseurs who produced it. Which makes me wonder, what’s the point?

Art for art’s sake would be the short answer. Because this is certainly not art for pleasure’s sake or anybody else’s. I know a lot of pain junkies who listen to all manner of free-form atonal jazz skronk, but I do not know a single person who likes this album for the simple reason that Sonic Youth does not want anyone to like this album. It’s a classic example of taking a good thing too far.

Sonic Youth make a few concessions to such things as actual songs, but not many. And even on the songs that don’t grate, the vocals do. Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore have one thing in common—they cannot sing. And I do not mean they cannot sing in the traditional “Look at me, I’m Frank Sinatra” sense. What I mean to say is they appear to have an aversion to singing. At least on Confusion Is Sex, they seem to be going out of their way to flunk an audition.

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TVD Washington, DC

Play Something Good with John Foster

The Vinyl District’s Play Something Good is a weekly radio show broadcast from Washington, DC.

Featuring a mix of songs from today to the 00s/90s/80s/70s/60s and giving you liberal doses of indie, psych, dub, post punk, americana, shoegaze, and a few genres we haven’t even thought up clever names for just yet. The only rule is that the music has to be good. Pretty simple.

Hosted by John Foster, world-renowned designer and author (and occasional record label A+R man), don’t be surprised to hear quick excursions and interviews on album packaging, food, books, and general nonsense about the music industry, as he gets you from Jamie xx to Liquid Liquid and from Courtney Barnett to The Replacements. The only thing you can be sure of is that he will never ever play Mac DeMarco. Never. Ever.

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The TVD Record Store Club

Graded on a Curve:
The Best of 2017’s Reissues, Part Two

Picking up where we left off yesterday, the international focus continues. You can find them all for purchase from our friends at Discogs at the links below, or at your local mom and pop, indie record shops via The Vinyl District Record Store Locator app—free for your iPhone here, free for your Android here.

5. V/A, Even a Tree Can Shed Tears: Japanese Folk & Rock 1969-1973 (Light in the Attic) + Hiroshi Yoshimura, Music for Nine Post Cards (Empire of Signs) In the notes for Even a Tree Can Shed Tears, set co-producer Yosuke Kitazawa observes that Japan’s global pop exports have been rather small. Regarding pop I can’t disagree, but in overall musical terms I’d argue that Japan’s impact has been significant. Bluntly, I can go hardly a day without some Japanese band or artist entering my consciousness, if not landing upon my turntable.

Like another of Even a Tree Can Shed Tears’ producers Jake Orrall, much of my initial interest in the country’s music came through noise, experimentation, and heavy rock, and it’s an inclination I maintain. That doesn’t mean the more folk-derived sounds collected here aren’t appealing; I love when things take a turn for the psychedelic, but even the Laurel Canyon-esque moments go down easy. Joni is a big influence here, but so is Dylan, and this is the type of comp that inspires binge buys of the represented artist’s full albums. I’m familiar with a few already, but frankly, I’m going to need a longer shelf.

Empire of Signs is a label co-founded by Maxwell August Croy (of the Root Strata label) and Spencer Doran (of Visible Cloaks), and it’s being distributed by Light in the Attic. Croy and Doran’s inaugural release brings wider exposer to Yoshimura, a pioneer in Japanese ambient music. Music for Nine Post Cards was his 1982 debut (he passed in 2003), and it’s been reissued numerous times, but this is its first release outside Japan and its first time on vinyl since initial release, executed in cooperation with the artist’s widow Yoko Yoshimura.

Beginning as a conceptual artist, Yoshimura’s musical side developed as part of the Japanese post-Fluxus scene, with his sound creations intended to soundtrack activities (fashion shows) and objects (from houses to train stations to perfume). Indeed, Music for Nine Post Cards’ original incarnation was as a demo tape intended for play inside the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art. If you’re thinking Eno, well yeah, but this LP, played on a keyboard and Fender Rhodes, is distinct. Empire of Signs’ promo text states he strived for serenity as an ideal, but the album is also very pretty and melodically engaging.

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 12/13/17

Where to get Vinyl Records in Kuwait: The first shop I went into had a large pile of records piled up in the corner of the shop. So I sat down on the floor and started going through them one by one. Anything that was remotely interesting I put on the side. By the time I was done I had found around 14 potential records which I ended up reducing down to 10…The buying process though wasn’t so easy. The shop was originally closed (it’s always closed whenever I visit) but the basement janitor has the key. So I had him open up the shop for me and after I chose the records I wanted, he had to take pictures of each one and send them to the owner.

10 Best Vinyl Record Stores in Singapore For A Throwback To Before Spotify Was A Thing: With Spotify, Apple Music, and Youtube, we have a world of music quite literally at our fingertips. But for vinyl enthusiasts and aficionados of analog audio, there’s something more satisfying about the experience of buying an LP, slipping the shiny new record out of its sleeve, placing it on a turntable, and gently dropping the needle – a far more elaborate ritual than hitting “shuffle” on iTunes. There’s no logical reason to buy vinyl over digital downloads – it’s a purely emotional experience. If you’re looking to get acquainted with the magic of analog music, here are ten record stores where you can indulge your vintage fetishism and crate dive for that limited edition marble green Joy Division LP – or Taylor Swift’s Reputation, if that’s how you roll.

Sam the Record Man sign lights up Yonge Dundas Square, Iconic signage will be a fixture this holiday season. The Sam the Record Man sign is back in action. It was lit up Friday evening overlooking Yonge-Dundas square. The 15-metre by 11-metre neon turntables on the sign spun and flashed “That’s Entertainment” at 5 p.m. The sign will stay illuminated through the holiday season until January 3. Last week, Ryerson University, which owns the sign, installed it atop 277 Victoria St., the Toronto Public Health building. City council approved a proposal in 2014 to reinstall the sign. Restoration of it began last year. The sign was removed 10 years ago, when the flagship store at Yonge St. and Gould St., which sold vinyl records, closed. The closure marked the end of the record store chain, which was established in 1937.

Remembering Ross ‘Skip’ Kolhonen: No music played at Salem’s venerable vinyl shop, The Record Exchange, on Friday morning. Longtime employees Paul Bazylinski and Barrence Whitfield, sorted through records mechanically, just trying to get through the day. Just a week ago, their beloved manager and friend, Ross “Skip” Kolhonen, 43-year owner and founder of the store, died of heart disease complications. He was 71. “It’s hard,” said Bazylinski. “He passed last week, and the funeral’s this week, and so it’s sort of like this odd week in between. And a lot of people coming in to reminisce — sharing their sympathy and condolences, but also telling these great stories … He was such a joyful guy that you’re crying and laughing at the same time sometimes.” Bazylinski first met Kolhonen in the late ’70s, in his old store on Lafayette Street. He called him “the warmest guy,” and remembered how he liked to connect through music.

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TVD Washington, DC

TVD Live: Joe Henry at Jammin’ Java, 12/5

A saving grace of not exactly being a household name is the ability of fans to hear the music of someone like Joe Henry in such an intimate setting as Jammin’ Java, a strip mall oasis in a Virginia suburb outside of DC.

A hushed crowd of 100 or so is perfectly suited to the nuanced chamber-folk with a jazz flourish that Henry produces with his fine LA band. Henry’s deep voice matches his brainy songs that often march to deliberate beats. Still quite youthful at 57, he began the show Tuesday solo, deconstructing one of his most enduring, enigmatic tunes, “Trampoline.”

Then he was joined by his longtime band that includes Patrick Warren on keyboards, David Pilch on bass, the inventive Jay Bellerose on drums and percussion, and Henry’s son Levon on tenor saxophone and alto clarinet – an expressive instrument that snaked its way into a lot of songs, providing the perfect mournful undertone.

Another Henry who wasn’t a relation — jazz saxophonist Vincent Henry — sat in for a few songs and he and the younger horn man seemed to have a good time playing off of one another. It was a trip to watch Bellerose work — for some songs he’d have both sticks in one hand handling the set, while the other was reserved for tambourine. He knew when to build and when to hang back. There was nothing standard about his approach.

Henry said he was reluctant to use a gig as a way to promote new product — “and yet,” he added, before going into the first of what would be nine of the 11 cuts from Thrum, his 14th solo album, released in late October.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Radar: Country Joe & The Fish, The Wave of Electrical Sound box set in stores 1/26

VIA PRESS RELEASE | 1967 marked an era of creative expression, political rebellion and experimentation, climaxing in The Summer of Love; and no other location on Earth was quite as synonymous with this period as San Francisco, the center of the counterculture movement. Perhaps one of the best musical representations of this time, place and environment came from a rock band across the Bay, who married progressive protest with groundbreaking, experimental music: Country Joe & the Fish.

In that one year, the Berkeley musicians rose to prominence, releasing two albums which would go on to influence some of the biggest psychedelic acts of the decade: their debut LP, Electric Music for the Mind and Body, and I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-To-Die. Craft Recordings, the Catalog Division of Concord Music, is proud to celebrate the band’s prolific year with a limited-edition, deluxe vinyl box set, The Wave of Electrical Sound, as well as standalone, high-end LP reissues, both due out January 26th, 2018, while a remastered digital collection, offering both albums as well as two exclusive bonus tracks, hits digital retailers and streaming services.

Limited to 2,000 copies worldwide, the deluxe 4-LP box set, The Wave of Electrical Sound, will offer both mono and stereo versions of Electric Music for the Mind and Body and I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-To-Die. All four remastered LPs will be pressed on audiophile quality, 180-gram vinyl, and housed in old-school-style, tip-on jackets – the mono Electric Music for the Mind and Body LP will feature rare, alternate cover artwork, while the other titles will be in replicas of their original packaging.

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TVD UK

Needle Drop: East of My Youth, “Go Home”

We’ve previously featured East of My Youth as our Artist of the Week and it’ll be no surprise why after you hear their latest corker of a tune. “Go Home” is another stunning slice of electro-pop underscoring that the Nordics really do do it best.

East of My Youth’s “Go Home” opens slowly with Thelma Marín Jónsdóttir’s smooth, sultry vocals leading the way. Underneath are Herdís Stefánsdóttir’s percolating MicroKorg synth sounds, a funky bass line, and mellow electronic beats that carry the track. This may be a bit of a slow burner but trust us, roll with it. As the layers within the track reveal themselves, the listener is transported into another world where only these pulsating, mesmerizing beats matter.

Thelma and Herdís are without a doubt, a force to be reckoned with. Not only do these Icelandic talents have unique style, their music feels extremely personal, yet completely current and relatable at once. 2018 may well be a big year for them, so watch this space…

“Go Home” is in stores now.

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TVD UK

UK Artist of the Week:
The Little Kicks

This week’s Artist of the Week are Scottish indie rockers The Little Kicks. The band released their latest album, Shake Off Your Troubles, earlier this year and they’re back with a fourth single from said release, “Bang The Drum Slowly.”

At first listen you’d be forgiven for thinking this is just another noughties indie rock remake, but we urge you to listen closer and enjoy. The Little Kicks definitely have an element of fellow Scots Franz Ferdinand about them, but they also incorporate glitchy electronic beats and fuzzy guitar that separate them from the masses.

“Bang The Drum Slowly” is brilliantly catchy from the offset with lead singer Steven Milne’s crisp, sharp vocal taking full control. Milne explains, “The themes of the record would be a feeling of happiness, gratitude, and to be thankful with what you have and not take things for granted. Furthermore, not to let others get you down or let anyone put you in your place.”

The Little Kicks have been core players in the Scottish music scene for some time and have already supported a number of huge bands including The Maccabees and Maximo Park. With “Bang The Drum Slowly,” The Little Kicks hope the rest of the UK (and beyond) will take note of their eclectic indie pop sound.

“Bang The Drum Slowly” is in stores now via Loosen Up Records.

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