Monday, November 2, 2009

It's Nicole Atkins' Vinyl District

As I’ve mentioned quite a few times in the past, I grew up not in DC but at the Jersey Shore, NJ. In a town called Neptune to be exact—in a tiny enclave of this tiny enclave called Shark River Hills.

Just like our guest blogger all week, Nicole Atkins.

And while we’re huge fans of her here at TVD HQ, it’s not because she’s our hometown girl, but because she’s making music that’s head and shoulders above SO, so many these days.

Find out yourself when she plays The Rock and Roll Hotel this Friday night, 11/6. (...and more on that tomorrow.)

I guess there’s something in the water in NJ, right Nicole?


I had a friend while I was going to college at UNCC named Daniel Coston. He was a rock photographer and an encyclopedia. We'd sit at this little diner down there called the Penguin and over a plate of fried pickles and ranch talk for hours about bands. I'd take in everything he said like a sponge.

Right before I graduated he was telling me about a band from NYC called Television and how he was excited for their reunion at the Pop Overthrow Festival. I'd never heard of the band before (thinking of that time now makes me laugh) but they sounded like nothing I've ever heard before. We went to his house and he threw Marquee Moon on his turn table and it felt like my entire world opened up.

A week later I graduated and moved back home to Neptune, NJ with my folks. My room was the same as it was 5 years before, but I realized that that shitty little Sony plastic jambox I had had a record player in it. I went to our locals, the Soundwave in Manasquan (RIP) and Silvertunes in Belmar (RIP) and just spent hours talking with the owners and pouring over the plastic boxes underneath the CD bins. It went from "Hey you got any Television?" to them saying "Sure, if you like that you might like...."

All of my friends had either moved away or were at grad school. I'd just started writing my own songs. And so became my love affair with vinyl.

Bands like Circus Maximus, Love, Can, Otis Redding, and Leonard Cohen became my companions while I whiled away in solitude at my folks house writing my first record. Or mini record as I called it back then. During this time I took a job writing a small music column for a local magazine whose content was mostly about where the $2 Bud Light specials were and which coverband was playing where.

We'd get sent CDs from record labels. Mostly buttrock and forgettable singer/songwriters. Sometimes I'd find a couple of gems in the batch but most of the time I'd take the stacks of CDs and trade it in for store credit at Soundwave to buy vinyl. As my collection grew so did the people I was meeting locally at the time. Sitting on the floor of my room at my parents house listening to different albums with my new friends became the new Friday night hang.

Soon as the summer was closing out, I'd finished around 9 of my own songs and moved part time to NYC. From Monday through Wednesday I'd split my time playing open mics, playing songs with other artists in Tompkins Square Park, and drinking cheap beer at the Library on Avenue A listening to Television on the jukebox.

A month after that I would record that first "mini" album at this great little vintage studio in Red Bank, NJ called Retromedia. The Studio owner John Noll, randomly emailed Richard Lloyd of Televison to come down and play on a couple of my songs. All of this within less than a year. Its really strange how things come full circle.

Thanks Daniel.

Nicole Atkins - The Tower (Live at Stone Pony) (Mp3)
Television - Marquee Moon (Mp3)
Leonard Cohen - So Long Marianne (Mp3)
Otis Redding - Hard to Handle (Mp3)
Love - Andmoreagain (Mp3)

1 comment:

Alex said...

Hey Nicole,

I briefly dated a girl from Neptune, NJ -- but she was completely nuts (and I haven't thought of her in years).

You've got a great sound and an amazing voice -- congrats on the record!