Wednesday, September 30, 2009

TVD First Date with | Post Post

I swear I missed my calling in life—I should have been a band or talent scout or a label rep. I can practically tell you at note two or three if I’m going to be into something and better yet—if YOU are going to be into something. It’s a gift. You’re welcome.

You might be asking yourself then why so many more or less ‘established’ acts have graced our Wednesday ‘First Date’ feature which was initiated under the pretense of introducing brand new talent–fresh from the 15th rehearsal or the warm demo.

Well, honestly, that plan didn’t pan out because frankly what’s graced the in-box on average has, crap.

As Bob Lefsetz wrote a few days back, “Today’s artists are built in a day. They buy a Mac, fire up GarageBand and record a track, post it on MySpace, immediately e-mail you an MP3, insist you pay attention. Whereas it used to be much harder to make it. You had to practice, play endless gigs, fight for a chance to get a deal. Where it still might take you multiple albums to break through...”

And he’s right, but he left out one thing in this passage: you have to have the innate TALENT to merit that second or third listen. You HAVE to be good and reveal a hint that perhaps yes, maybe one day you’ll be GREAT. That you’ll transcend.

Which is why I’m pleased as punch to introduce you to Post Post, three young women from PA who mine a very clever 80’s, Rough Trade-y, early Cure meets Tegan & Sara by way of Glasvegas vibe. (Got that?) Alan McGee would be a fan.

The band embodies that rare ember of promise and potential that so infrequently makes an appearance. The knowing world-weariness of front person Michelle Zauner’s vocals are a breath of long, long-forgotten air. Marry Post Post with the right producer (John Leckie – do you read TVD?) and big things are upon them. (Got that all you 9-5, AR and promotion people and publicists who I KNOW read us daily?)

Post Post open for Vivian Girls in December and might just blow away the headliners. Til then Michelle, Post Post’s resident vinyl enthusiast takes a trip down memory lane for us ...via her record collection:

"I never really thought of it before but looking through my vinyl milk crate, my collection sort of reminds me of a graveyard of past significant others, albums are headstones and track listings are epitaphs. I guess this isn’t the best metaphor. I certainly visit my collection far too often and further, visit it happily (though there is certainly mourning involved, particularly when I confront Randy Newman’s “Something New Under the Sun,” or Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' “No More Shall We Part.”) Also I don’t have nearly enough exes to be represented by albums/“headstones.”

I guess what I meant to allude to was the fact that there is something very magical about vinyl. It’s easier to place your memories in their sleeves, because there’s just something so damn romantic about still listening to vinyl in this day and age, sort of like writing letters, there’s no better way to improve your day then finding a real letter in your mail box, especially a good one. There’s almost a more tangible experience that comes with the music. It’s more meaningful. Even the act of putting a record on involves a sort of ritualistic practice, you can’t just throw it in a CD player and press play, or more appropriately, search your itunes and double click on the title. A person has to care about music in order to have patience with vinyl, especially in these times. They have to slip it gently out of the cover, hold it by its corners (because god forbid you scratch it), bulls-eye it onto the turntable, aim the needle at one of the five deeper grooves and let it softly go. And then, that satisfying scratch crackle congratulates you, you’ve earned your right to listen to music.

And in this way I relate “Songs of Leonard Cohen” with loneliness, “Harvest” with falling in love and Jesus and the Mary Chain’s “Psycho Candy” with great sex. But only are these relations/experiences really prominent when I think of them as pieces of vinyl, because the physical object actually embodies these things. I don’t know if this is making any sense.

All I know is that if I were to be asked one of those if-your-house-were-on-fire-what-would-you-bring questions, or, fittingly when our drummer Casey called me and told me that our basement in which I was storing all my stuff for the summer had flooded, the only thing I could ask was, are my records ok? (They were, thanks Casey.) Because collecting records is kind of like a life long scavenger hunt, it’s not only that the objects are meaningful, it’s also the way you can look back at the way you got them, what situations you played them in, what you were into then, what hip local record store you got them in, and constantly trying to find that pesky piece of rare vinyl that’s (gasp!) not even available on ebay. That being said, if anyone happens to find a vinyl copy of Irma Thomas’ “Sweet Soul Queen of New Orleans,” please try and contact me."

Post Post - The Auction (Part II) (Mp3)
Post Post - Wolf (Mp3)
Post Post - Sober (Mp3)

TVD Previews the next Story/Stereo with special guests Bluebrain

TVD’s thrilled to present a preview of the next Story/Stereo event being held this Friday night (10/2) at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda. “Story/Stereo is a modest cultural experiment in cross-media collaboration,” co-curator Chad Clark of Beauty Pill told us two weeks back when the series unfolded with Roofwalkers, who were the evening's first musical guest and who were featured in this blog’s special week-long event heralding the initial Story/Stereo outing.

The Writer's Center selected some excellent emerging poets, essayists, and novelists to read from recent works, and Chad and fellow curator Matt Byars from The Caribbean selected some excellent, interesting DC bands to play a set.

This week’s special guests are Bluebrain and Chad’s sent us his thoughts on the brothers Holladay:

"Bluebrain's music is electric, serrated, often abstract, always texture-fixated. Upon first listening, you will detect a decidedly futurist bent. However, under the veneer of hallucinogenic, technological treatments, there is storytelling and communication. Each song is a vista unto itself and they often highlight this with a video component to their performances. The word "multimedia" is a little banal, but it applies here.

The band is a duo of brothers Ryan and Hays Holladay. Bluebrain was borne in 2008 from the ashes of their respected and recently disbanded group, The Epochs. The Epochs were a clever, mischievous, and inventive pop band who I became acquainted with through my studio work. They were clients who impressed me enough to invite them to open for Beauty Pill, where upon they proceeded to blow us away and, frankly, embarrass us as headliners. Bluebrain's aesthetic extends outward from The Epochs, but has a distinctly different feel and perhaps a darker, more erotic persona.

We are honored to have them."


Bluebrain is with us for the rest of the week and thumbing through their own record collection. Ryan’s found a gem to get us started:

Scott Walker - 4
Generally speaking, the way I listen to music is that I cycle through the records I love, changing it up every week or so. I'll get on, say, a Modeselektor kick or something will make me want to listen to all my Stones records and I'll be gushing about it to everyone until the phase passes. I add new music to the rotation but it does get a bit tiring looking for new things to love, in my opinion, without recharging your batteries with music you know gets you every time. With that in mind, I am sharing with you Scott Walker's '4' for no other reason than I've been listening to it non-stop as of late. Last weekend I saw a documentary called '30 Century Man', which chronicles his rise to popdom with the Walker Brothers trio through his retreat into obscurity to the recording of his most recent, critically acclaimed record, 'The Drift'. 

I first heard of Scott Walker when a friend of mine in college, with whom I discovered most music and kept virtually no secrets about what it was each of us were listening to, asked me the question "Which Scott Walker album is your favorite?" To which I replied, "Who's Scott Walker?" He looked at me with equal parts disbelief and excitement. "You're about to dive into a new world, my friend." He was right. That's what's gratifying about discovering artists from the past, you can go through an entire catalogue without the tedium of waiting for the artist to do something new. I got all four of his numbered records and listened through chronologically. I didn't quite understand it. Here's the thing: when you're introduced to a new artist or collection of music, generally after one listen you can sort of tell what branch of the music history tree this sprouted from, and it helps make sense of what exactly you are listening to. This guy seemed to have come from something I had no interest in exploring. If you're reading this and have never heard Scott Walker, you might be thinking his music is a difficult listen; experimental, abstract, abrasive. It is none of these things. What makes it jarring at first listen is that it's closest relatives musically seem to be artists that missed the cool boat so long ago they haven't got a chance of becoming hip today. Someone described him to me as sounding like "Tom Jones if Tom Jones were a genius". While this is a bit of a stretch, you wouldn't be wrong to think this man was marketed by his label as a crooner, as something of a Neil Diamond before there was Neil Diamond. And to some extent this is true. Part of what led to his slow decline in popularity after the Walker Brothers was the inability to sell him correctly to any audience. I don't think anyone knew what to make of him and, today, I think many new listeners don't either. 

There's a good chance that anyone reading this blog is already quite familiar with his work, but perhaps one person will happen upon this and be compelled to give it a shot. I urge you to get past those elements of his work that may cause you to make a premature judgement. You may have heard people sing like he does and, most likely, they've used the style to sing terrible lounge music or some derivative, but soon you will not only get past these associations, you will love his voice. It really is one of the most expressive I've heard and, fortunately, his lyrics paint such incredible pictures and tell such eleborate stories that you'll be happy to have such a strong baritone as the narrator. 

It wasn't until '4' that I really understood this music, though. There is no doubt in my mind this is his masterpiece. In some ways I wish I'd started with this one as I think I'd more quickly understand the earlier LP's. It's an album that starts off on the ground level and steadily rises in intensity to the point where, by the end, you feel as if this may be the last thing he ever records. (For a while it was. The record bombed and he went into hiding for a many years.) And while it is not without its missteps (certainly there are lyrical mistakes, but when you are as bold with words as he is there's bound to be cringe-worthy moments) this record is, I believe, one of the most overlooked albums of pretty much any era. The string arrangements and song structures are in a league unto themselves. But unlike many great records, you probably won't come upon this playing at a bar then stop dead in your tracks to ask someone what you're hearing. More likely it will go in one ear and out the other as background music, possibly mistaken as something you've heard before. No, Scott Walker probably won't come to you. With this artist, he's not gonna come halfway; you'll have to meet this music where it's at. 

Scott Walker - On Your Own Again (Mp3)
Scott Walker - Duchess (Mp3)

TVD Previews The Washington, DC Record Fair, Sunday (10/4) at Comet Ping Pong

As we've been flogging all week, The Washington, DC Record fair returns this Sunday (10/4) at Comet Ping Pong. Monday's post has all the crucial details and if you're on Facebook, you can RSVP and join the conversation here.

Now, would it hurt you 25 dealers who will be in attendance to bring some of these vinyl gems to the fair? My wallet wants to introduce itself to you.

Blue Cheer - Out Of Focus (Mp3)
Keith Levene - I'm Looking For Something (Mp3)
Idlewild - Little Discourage (Mp3)
Thecocknbullkid - On My Own (Mp3)
Bent - Beautiful Otherness (Mp3)

(Image courtesy DCist photographer Jeff Martin from the last DC Record Fair. Thanks guys!)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

TVD Previews the next Story/Stereo with Bluebrain

On Thursday, September 24th, 2009, a crowd of people gathered with boomboxes in Dupont Circle in Washington, DC to partake in Bluebrain's composition, Cakeblood. The duo composed the 36-minute piece and mixed down each track to a separate cassette to be distributed amongst the participants.

As a prelude to the next installment of Story/Stereo, starting tomorrow, Bluebrain sets its sights on ...The Vinyl District.

TVD Previews The Washington, DC Record Fair, Sunday (10/4) at Comet Ping Pong

Allow me to offer a brief apology to DC’s independent record shops: I haven’t graced your doorways in a while. I’m ashamed and I apologize.

Oh, it’s not for not wanting to, or should I say needing to. It’s a balm to my psyche to be thumbing through your stacks of sheathed LPs.

It’s that, we’ve been planning the 3rd installment of The Washington DC Record Fair this coming Sunday at Comet Ping Pong, I’ve felt the need to keep my wallet close by my side. I mean, I know what we have planned and the expectations for my bank account are grand, indeed.

So, Red Onion, Som, Smash, Crooked Beat...I love you – I really do. But I’ll be speed dating with 25 vendors from all across the East Coast on Sunday.

Like the dirty, filthy, vinyl whore that I am.

In the meantime, I’m looking for a cheap hookup with these on vinyl. Show me the goods.

999 - Emergency (Mp3)
Life Without Buildings - The Leanover (Mp3)
Flamin' Groovies - Shake Some Action (Mp3)
Eddie & the Hot Rods - Do Anything You Wanna Do (Mp3)
Robert Wyatt - The Wind Of Change (Mp3)

(Image courtesy DCist photographer Jeff Martin from the last DC Record Fair. Thanks guys!)

Monday, September 28, 2009

It's a TVD 24-Hour Ticket Giveaway! | Jupiter One, Wednesday (9/30) at Constitution Hall w/Regina Spektor

As we mentioned last week in our First Date feature with Jupiter One, they're here this Wednesday as openers for Regina Spektor at Constitution Hall—and we just got our hands on a pair of tickets for one lucky concertgoer!

We need to award these tickets by the end of the day TOMORROW so there's no time to ponder your wittiest response. Just get at us in the comments to this post (with contact info - important!) and we'll get at you with the tickets.

For those of you following us on Twitter we'll accept a direct message there or a general @VinylDistrict 'Gimme those tickets!'

Now, snap to it - time's a wastin'.

TVD Previews The Washington, DC Record Fair, Sunday (10/4) at Comet Ping Pong

Som Records, DC Soul Recordings, and this very blog are proud to present our THIRD Washington, DC Record Fair which arrives this coming Sunday!

We've got 25 dealers (at last count) from up and down the East Coast—which simply translates to: crates and crates AND crates of vinyl.

We've got cocktails and great food courtesy of our wonderful hosts Comet Ping Ping. We've got DJs galore including Animal Collective's Geologist. We've got Mingering Mike signing his original poster for the event.

And well, you've got me to help you carry your vinyl to the car. (I'm a giver.)

All this week we'll be teasing the show with some stuff you should expect to see and hear at the venue. Like, plenty of talk about music and bands that have shaped your life, such as our friend Frank's love for the King.

Crimson, that is.

"I have been listening to the varied “flavors” of King Crimson now for almost 40 years. If you are a fan, you’ve no doubt heard the band referred to as “thinking man’s metal” – but even as I realize they have been at once characterized as bombastic art rock (Court of the Crimson King) and obscure sonic meandering music (Thrak) I do not dwell on labeling them. The band disbanded and re-formed several time since 1969, but for me, they were always there… a sort of eccentric hum in the background (and sometimes foreground, as with Red) that spans most of my adult life, so far.

I’d have to say that for me, Red embodies all that I love about King Crimson. My original vinyl has long since vanished into the haze, but in the mid-eighties I re-purchased the “re-mastered” vinyl version and I still give it a spin every now and again. I also own most of the King Crimson library of sound on CD or digital forms. Red has it all – jazz elements, Fripp’s meandering sonic episodes, John Wetton’s bass and vocals, Bill Bruford’s rhythm and a melancholy sound that stirs me just as a good classical piece of music like Rachmaninov’s 2nd symphony does.

So, before we sample the King, it’s a good idea to list the various members of the band over the years (in no particular order): Robert Fripp, Peter Giles, Michael Giles, Greg Lake, Tony Levin, Bill Bruford, Adrian Belew, Michael Giles, John Wetton, Trey Gunn, Ian McDonald, Peter Sinfield, Mel Collins, Gordon Haskell, Ian Wallace, Boz Burrell, Jamie Muir, Davis Cross, Rick Kemp, Pat Mastelotto, Gavin Harrison, Mel Collins, and Andy McCulloch.

The current lineup consists of Robert Fripp (founding member), Adrian Belew, Tony Levin, Pat Mastelotto, and Gavin Harrison. I cannot begin to sample all that I love about the various permutations of King Crimson (Three of a Perfect Pair got me through some particularly rough personal periods) but I hope that these five songs either bring back memories for you, dear listener, or introduce you to a whole new library of astounding, at times frustrating, and absolutely essential King Crimson."

King Crimson - Red (Mp3)
King Crimson - One More Red Nightmare (Mp3)
King Crimson - Starless (Mp3)
King Crimson - Dinosaur (Mp3)

(Image courtesy DCist photographer Jeff Martin from the last DC Record Fair. Thanks guys!)

TVD's The Screening Processs with Jeffrey Everett of El Jefe Design

I first met Strawberryluna when we were exhibiting together at the The University of Maryland gallery show Sweet put on by John Shipman. After flipping through her work and making nervous chit-chat I ended up not getting anything. It was not because I couldn't find anything it was because I could not make up my mind what to get. Strawberryluna is one of those great poster makers where everything she does is awesome and you want to just roll around on the floor with her posters because the are so beautiful, lush, and fun. You can get a chance to be puzzle over what to get when she sells her wares at The Crafty Bastards Fair on October 3rd in Washington, DC. 

(PS. I will be there as well selling posters. Look for the brand new banner that screams EL JEFE DESIGN!)

Allison, but all of my work goes under the moniker strawberryluna. It’s just a name that I made up when I was first starting out because I liked the sound of it.
I’m in Pittsburgh, PA. I’ve always been a late bloomer, so age is sort of weirdly abstract to me, and I’ll leave it at that.
When and how did you get started doing posters:
I had been printing small art prints at a weekly open studio night and a promoter saw a few and asked if I wanted to try doing posters for bands. Without thinking, I said yes, so I did my first poster in March of 2006 for a venue in Philly for the band Garbage. Once the reality of doing a real poster for a big band hit me, I was a wreck about it from start to finish. I was just feeling really out of my element, but at the same time I really wanted to do that poster. Despite the nervous sweats and feeling like I was winging it, I agreed to do more. And more, and more. And here I am today, doing posters for bands full time.

What's your favorite thing about being a designer in your city or town? The most challenging?
Definitely being a poster artist in a city like Pittsburgh is challenging! We have only a few good shows a month that come through here, Which is insane as Pittsburgh is perfectly located between more common tour stops like Cleveland, Buffalo, Philadelphia, Columbus, DC, Baltimore, New York and Boston. So, part of the challenge is just based on the number of bands that play here. But another aspect is that while there are poster aficionados galore and an incredible print making studio open to the public here, the venues are about 10 years behind the poster scene and often show no interest in having posters made to promote their shows and/or give to their booked bands. It’s kinda weird to have to chase down the venue owners or managers when I’ve done posters through the band in order to make sure they have some posters for promotion, and yet, it’s quite common too. “Posters” must be some long-lost slang for “voodoo” in Pittsburgh and only a handful of venues still know it. I tend to do most of my poster work for other cities, though I’d love for that to change. My favorite thing about getting to do a poster for a show here in Pittsburgh is going to that show, that’s always so rad, especially when I get to meet the band that I’ve been working for. It usually ends up being very fun and friendly.

Do you consider yourself a poster DESIGNER or a poster ILLUSTRATOR? what is the difference?
Oooooh, the dreaded question! For those that aren’t familiar with this potential division between designers and illustrators, it’s a big one in the poster scene. Amazing that there is a “poster scene” and that it’s big enough to contain scandal and drama, right? It’s true and true. I think of myself more as a designer, rather than an illustrator, even though I illustrate, if that makes sense. I definitely piece together my art and imagery for my posters, rather than sit down and draw out the entire layout all at once. I think that aspect makes me more of a designer. Even if it’s just layering textures and shapes to build an image, it’s not quite the same as “Hey, I just grabbed a pencil and did this drawing that I am going to put text over to make a poster!” It’s just a completely different approach, but a somewhat subtle one, really at the end of the day. To me, that’s the major difference between the two, though I’m sure another poster artist would have a different criteria and answer.
Describe Your Creative Process:
Well, it really depends. A lot of times I do super simple, fairly small pencil sketches, not at all like the typical sketchy-sketch sort of rough looking drawing associated with the word “sketch” at all. When I do those, I might scan that into Illustrator, or I might just re-draw the line work in Illustrator, if I think that I can do so without ruining what I liked about the sketch initially. However, it’s just as likely for me to piece bits and parts together from the outset in Illustrator, and then use my small Wacom to draw elements as well. Often I am just trying to recreate what I saw in a flash, which is how I see a lot of the things that I want do as posters or prints. I’ll just be minding my own business, trying to sleep, driving, doing dishes, whatever usually involves not being able to jot down an idea, when a fully finished piece just flashes and explodes in my head, and then it’s a scramble to try and get it all down. I’m probably successful about 15% of the time on a good day.
What has been your favorite piece you have done (gig poster or art print):
It sounds weird, but most times when I have finished printing a poster or art print, I’ve spent so much time with the design and production that I am done looking at it for a while. It’s almost like taking a long road trip with your extended family. It was a great time, but you are happy for some space when it’s over. That said, I’m still happy to look at my first Seasons art print (Winter 2008), which was originally an illustration for the 2nd Iron & Wine poster, I’m a sucker for overprints, teal & brown, and I love snowy, cold daylight. So, considering I’ve designed and printed that piece twice and still feel happy with it, I’d have to nominate that print as my current favorite.
Group(s) you wish you could do a poster for:
(Current): I’ve been super lucky to have worked for a bunch of bands that were once on my dream list, a few of the ones I have yet to work with are: Radiohead, Fleet Foxes, and Phoenix. Any of those gigs would put me on Cloud 9. (Historic): Billie Holliday, Heavenly, and The Stranglers all would have been awesome bands to make a poster for.
You do wonderful gig posters but also stellar art prints such as your animal alphabet series. Do you find a benefit of doing one or other more? Did one naturally lead to the other?
Dang! Thanks. It’s a funny little line to tread doing both rock posters for bands and art prints for…whomever, particularly the alphabet series. I find that although they could seem like 2 different product lines in branding terms, because I don’t approach them that way, and I don’t keep those sorts of rigid walls in my head about my work (nor could I if I tried) that my poster work seems to feed my art prints and vice versa. Art prints get attention to my posters, and my posters bring a set of people into my art prints. This is especially true with the alphabet prints in a funny way. I’ve found that the sorts of people who like screenprinted posters are also people who appreciate hand printed and handmade work. Moreover, a lot of them know people who are having kids or are having children of their own, so in a way, the alphabet print series is a more kid-friendly extension of that aesthetic. Even though, a lot of grown-ups buy the alphabet prints for themselves or for their significant other. And, even the alphabet prints have a lot in common with a rock poster in terms of function and constraints, since both have a problem to solve and involve adding text to complete the design. It’s funny though, I started out with screenprinting by doing purely art prints, and yet I find them to be the most daunting to work on, since there are no constraints for function for them other than to look good (hopefully) and be expressive of something that I was interested in at a certain moment in time. So, while art prints got me noticed and therefore into doing posters, I find them to be the hardest to work on still.

You do all your own printing. What is your printing space like and how did you learn to screen print properly?
I’m currently working out of the same studio space where I learned to screenprint, AIR (Artists’ Image Resource), a community print studio in Pittsburgh. It’s a big, rambling shared space studio where every day is Anything Can Happen Day in terms of what’s going on, who is working, and where the heck is the emulsion?! It has it’s ups and downs, like any workspace, but one of the big upsides has been almost always having other experienced printmakers around to help troubleshoot issues that invariably come up when screenprinting by hand. I was originally taught the basics of the process by Mike Budai, an amazing printmaker and poster artist, with further insanely helpful advice and smart tips from he and artist Heather White while working at a weekly open studio night where mistakes were natural, but also a necessary part of the learning process. Screenprinting is absolutely one of those processes where, as frustrating as this may be, making mistakes is a HUGE part of learning what works and why. I can’t even imagine having tried to learn this form of printmaking on my own in an information vacuum. All of that said, I just started renting a very small studio space and am working on outfitting that for printing too, just to have a place to keep all of my screens, paper, inks, and gear that is not my living room, dining room and spare bedroom. My husband is stoked. We haven’t seen the surface of the dining room table for well over a year.
Do you enjoy printing or designing/illustrating more?
I love them both! Really, my printmaking life is made up of 2 equal, heavy-duty parts. I work hard on a design, and then I get to work all over again on the printmaking part. Printing at this point is so second nature and I tend to find it to me almost Zen-like, where my body is working while my mind is skipping along elsewhere. I’ve been watching a lot of movies and old television series while printing this year, which has been really fun. I still, and imagine that I always will, find the design and illustration portion of my work still really challenging and exciting. I won’t say it’s always fun, because it can be frustrating, but I think that lately, this is where I am enjoying myself slightly more. But, ask me again in 6 months and I’ll bet that I’ll have changed my mind again.
How long does it take for you to get ready for a show like The Crafty Bastards Fair?
Technically ready for the actual show day itself, probably about 3-4 days of all day packing and organizing my stock and all of the items required to set up a tent and make it into a pretty and working show booth. In terms of the things that I sell though, I start ramping up my output anywhere from 1-2 months before a show just to make sure that I have lots of fresh new work. Crafty Bastards actually comes at the end of what I call “carny season”, since I’ve been doing shows almost non-stop since March, which makes me feel like a traveling carnival barker. This is a good thing! So, one could say that I’ve been making work all year to get ready for something like Crafty Bastards as I definitely schedule my output all year long to make sure that I always have enough stock for shows.
This is your first Crafty Bastard Fair in Washington, DC. Is there thing or anyone you are excited to see?
Since this is my first Crafty Bastards show I’m really looking forward to seeing how the Fair looks, for one. I’ve heard such great things about the whole day from lots of crafters that I know who’ve done it in the past. And, this year I’m lucky enough to be included in the event with a good number of my crafty-world friends, all of whom I’m really excited to see again! We love DC and I spent a summer there when I was in high school, so it always feels like a second home city to me.

 Upcoming work:
I’ve spent most of the summer and early fall working on a book cover project for a new Young Adult title called Sisters Red, written by Jackson Pearce and published by Little, Brown & Co. I have a bunch of art prints that I’m dying to get cracking on, and I am going to be working on the cover art for a major band’s newest record, but that one is still under wraps. It’s going to be a busy fall!
Parting advice:
Always trust your instincts. Always. After that, if you want to try something, do it. Why not? Keep an open door policy in your mind every day and when even the smallest opportunity presents itself, try to take full advantage of it. You really never know where something seemingly small can lead. I feel like every bit of “luck” that I’ve had stemmed from a magical combination of hard work, risk taking, and saying yes whenever things feel right.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

It's a TVD Autographed Vinyl Giveaway! | Smokey Robinson's 'Time Flies When You're Having Fun'

Autumn’s arrived and very soon the evening chill will seep through the window panes and you’ll hanker for someone to cuddle up with and get warm. Might we suggest the one and only Smokey Robinson?

Celebrating 50 years in the music industry, Smokey kicks off our random Fall Vinyl Giveaways with his new release ‘Time Flies When You’re Having Fun’ featuring appearances by Joss Stone, Carlos Santana, and India.Arie.

For this first Fall giveaway we’ve got TWO copies of ‘Time Flies...’ for two lucky winners. Smokey’s in top form on this new one, having recorded live in the studio with his stellar backing band which adds an element of warmth and immediacy to all the tracks on this set.

From a design standpoint, the LP sleeve itself is a knockout too. Shepard Fairy’s Studio One (the folks behind the iconic Obama ‘Hope’ image) have outdone themselves for Mr. Robinson. The 11 tracks span two 180-gram vinyl LPs which are housed in a gorgeous gatefold sleeve—and Smokey’s personally signed the cover of both LPs for TVD.

So, sing us a love song to the Motown legend in the comments (with contact info – important!) and he or she in the 50 States who croons the sweetest will win the LPs. We’ll choose two winners next Monday (9/28) so get to penning those notes!

Friday, September 25, 2009

TVD Parting Shots

On Fridays a while back, we’d do a post called ‘Fridays @ Random’ which was largely housekeeping info for the readers of the blog. And...I dunno. For some reason that stopped, but I’ve got some items of that variety that I thought I’d mention today.

Firstly, if you visit us just once a day (and what’s up with that?) you’ll sometimes see the same post at the top of the blog which may have you thinking that there were no new posts that day. Perish the thought. These are normally contests we’re running that we’d like to keep under your nose for a bit, so remember to scroll down beneath those giveaways for the undoubtedly brilliant content ( that we foist upon you daily.

Didja know that our daily 5 Mp3s and the Friday 10 are sequenced for your listening pleasure? Download ‘em all, kick back, and let us take you away. Like a Calgon bath.

So, we spent the entire week talking about ghosts which, we know, is well in advance of Halloween. See, we’re making sure YOUR playlists are timely when the holiday arrives. Thank us with candy.

Or backrubs.

(Preferably the latter.)

Spoon - The Ghost of You Lingers (Mp3)
Juliette Commagere - Your Ghost (Mp3)
Here We Go Magic - Ghost List (Mp3)
Jellyfish - The Ghost at Number One (Live; Acoustic) (Mp3)
The Psychedelic Furs - The Ghost In You (Mp3)
Fiction Factory - Ghost of Love (Mp3)
Man Man - Banana Ghost (Mp3)
Reign Ghost - Southern Hemisphere Blues (Mp3)
The Specials - Ghost Town (Mp3)
The White Stripes - Walking With A Ghost (Mp3)

TVD Save The Date:

If you're on Facebook, join in on the conversation here.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

TVD Recommends | And Party Every Day: The Inside Story of Casablanca Records

...and we've got an exclusive preview before the book hits the shelves in early October:

“Even in the bacchanal of 1970s Los Angeles, the drug and promotional excesses of Casablanca Records stood out. In a period when cocaine use was probably at its peak in the music business, Casablanca set the pace...”

“You stupid fucking idiot!”

I was pissed. I was so pissed I was shaking. I was on the phone with Bill Wardlow, the head of Billboard magazine’s chart department, holder of one of the most powerful positions in the music business. I had just called him a stupid fucking idiot. And I wasn’t even close to being done.

“You can’t do that! We had an agreement! I don’t care if their record is selling better than ours—that has nothing to do with it! Give them No. 1 next week. We discussed this yesterday, and you told me we would have No. 1! You have to change it back. I already told Neil that we would be No. 1.”

I wasn’t just pissed, I was scared. I had promised to deliver Billboard’s No. 1 album in the country to Casablanca, and now a done deal had been yanked from me—from us—at the eleventh hour.

I was intimately familiar with all the steps that had to be taken to get the top album in the country, and screaming at the head of Billboard’s chart department was way, way down the list. Yet it was a step I was taking. I knew that they weren’t going to let out the chart information for another two hours. They could still change it. I wasn’t going to stop screaming until they went to press.

“I couldn’t care less if Al Coury already knows about the numbers! Did he pay you off in cash? I helped you out where no one else could, and this is how you pay me back? You are a complete asshole to put me in this position!”

People were beginning to congregate outside my office to watch the meltdown. Neil Bogart walked in through our adjoining office door, clearly surprised at my outburst, and attempted to talk me off the ledge. No one had ever heard me yell with such venom and hatred. And they certainly had never heard me yell at Bill Wardlow.

Bill had promised me that our three-disc soundtrack LP for Thank God It’s Friday would be No. 1. Now he was reneging and giving the top slot to Saturday Night Fever. In truth, Saturday Night Fever deserved it. It was outselling us ten to one—easily—and I knew it. RSO, the label that had released Saturday Night Fever, shared a distributor with Casablanca, and I had access to their sales figures. The movie was doing much bigger box office than ours, too, but I didn’t care. Not only did I want to end Saturday Night’s impressive twenty-plus-week run at No. 1, but I also wanted the image enhancement that went along with being No. 1 and the increased sales for our picture and album.

For the past two years, I had had control over the Billboard charts and was able to significantly affect the positions of our records to help establish a perception that our company, Casablanca Records, and our artists—among them, KISS, Donna Summer, the Village People, and Parliament—were the hottest in the music industry. I was not going to accept a broken promise. This guy had screwed with the charts for years and years, and now he was screwing with me.

Casablanca was our child. We gave birth to it, we nurtured it, we fought many battles to keep it alive, and to have someone not give it the respect I felt it deserved was unacceptable. But this story begins long before I even knew who Bill Wardlow was, when Neil Bogart was not king of the hottest label in the record biz but just Neil Bogart, my second cousin from Brooklyn.

For additional information and to preorder your copy, visit the official site.

TVD Ghost Notes

"FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD will release a new compilation 'Frankie Say Greatest' on November 2nd to mark the 25th anniversary of the original release of their classic album 'Welcome To The Pleasuredome'. The CD/DVD release will feature all the band's hits plus new remixes of 'Relax','Two Tribes' and 'Power of Love' and original remixes."

...twenty five years now. Huh. I AM a ghost.

Robert Palmer - Johnny And Mary (Mp3)
The Dig - She's Going To Kill That Boy (Mp3)
Cabinessence - One Day (Or Another) (Mp3)
Auteurs - Subculture (Mp3)
The Style Council - Changing Of The Guard (Mp3)

TVD Call for Warm Bodies

(Man, I've waited a long time to type that headline.)

Our friend Paul Michel is shooting a video this coming Saturday (9/26) at Saki in Adams Morgan for the track 'Surround Me' and he needs some happy brunch-goers to act as background extras.

"We need warm bodies dressed to the nines (suits for gents, dresses for girls) to show up at Saki in Adams Morgan at 10am," Paul told us earlier in the week. "We're gonna have some champagne and Jameson's to start the Saturday brunching off right."

Not bad, huh? Here's the link to the Facebook invite where you can RSVP.

Paul Michel - Surround Me (Mp3)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

TVD First Date with | Jupiter One

Jupiter One pay a visit to Washington, DC next Wednesday (9/30) in support of their new release ‘Sunshower’ as openers for the wonderful Regina Spektor at Constitution Hall.

After speaking to Jupiter One’s Zac Colwell this week, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the band flipping through the bins of vinyl at any one of the shops advertised over there to the left while they're here...

"When I was growing up in South Austin, past the suburbs and before the pastures, my whole world was my parents' record collection. As soon as I could operate the turntable I was choosing my favorites: Fleetwood Mac "Heroes Are Hard to Find", Hugh Masakela "Is Alive And Well at the Whiskey", Cannonball Adderley "74 Miles Away", Stevie Wonder "Talking Book", The Uranium Savages, Ravel's "Daphnis et Chloe", etc. and on and on and on. 

There were no categories or "genres", just "with words" or "without words". Many of these records have not been reissued on CD yet and so the only way I can hear this music that shaped my tastes is to visit home. When I see the covers, I remember the reverence I felt for these artifacts. They were important. Someone made these covers to look at, and so I stared at them for the length of the record. Every time.

As I got older I managed to get the record player to live in my room. I would fall asleep every night with the arm back so one side would repeat over and over and fill my dreams. I was tired in high school. A trip to the record store with friends was a ritual and we were sooooo cool for being into it.

Just now I played another Fleetwood Mac record and Grady Tate's "Windmills of My Mind" on the record player in the house. I loved that these thoughts were interrupted when I had to get up to flip the record. It demands the listener's attention. And never gives one more that can be digested."

Jupiter One - Flaming Arrow (Mp3)

TVD Recommends | Sonic Circuits 2009

The ninth annual DC Sonic Circuits Festival of Experimental Music kicked off last night and continues until Sunday at multiple venues.

Tonight's action involves two shows back to back:

At Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage will be a trio of local acts Nine Strings+Pilesar, Mind Over Matter Music Over Mind, and The Twenty-First Century Chamber Ensemble. That's a free show, beginning at 6pm.

The evening concludes at 9pm at the Velvet Lounge (915 U Street NW) with a program that ranges from insane noise to precision electronics and elegant compositions. $10 gets you in. Details:

Fern Knight is a quartet based in Philadelphia and DC led by cellist Margaret Ayre, and delivers a heady blend of progressive rock, pagan folk, 60's psych improv, and the new wave of British heavy metal. Imagine Pentangle with a flying V...

Swiss audio magician Luigi Archetti might be known to some as the guitarist behind latter-day krautrock pioneers Guru Guru. He's also done fantastic work as a sound installation designer and solo experimental musician. His recent release Transient Places is a wonderland of drones, textures, and deeply heavy minimalism.

Netherlands-based madman Odal cannot be described, it must be experienced. Peter Zincken's Odal project is a full-on assault of old-school noise with a physical presence that is uniquely.....Odal.

DC native Chester Hawkins (known to some blog readers as Intangible Arts) has been performing as Blue Sausage Infant since 1986. The sound of BSI can range from brutal noise to deep drones, heavy rhythms, and psychedelic walls of sound. The goal is to induce epic trance states and a vaguely paranoid kind of euphoria...

Twilight Memories of the Three Suns is a DC-based experimental collective that explores unique methods of sound creation, from amplified objects (bug zappers, building materials, heartbeats) to abused or altered instruments. Watching Twilight Memories in the act is as enlightening as hearing the resulting sounds.

The Sonic Circuits festival celebrates unexpected music in all its forms, and offers a unique chance to see some world-class examples here in DC. Check for further details.

TVD Ghost Notes

Most likely in a testament to some personal fortitude, I often find that I can look back on horrible experiences or times of duress...with some fondness.

I mean, it doesn’t happen right away, but the gamut of experience infuses me with an appreciation for a time of crisis, most often after some reasonable time has expired.

I can’t say why this is and I’m largely thinking (er, typing) out loud, but there you have it.

“A grace note is a kind of music notation used to denote several kinds of musical ornaments. When occurring by itself, a single grace note normally indicates the intention of either an appoggiatura or an acciaccatura. When they occur in groups, grace notes can be interpreted to indicate any of several different classes of ornamentation, depending on interpretation...

...The term grace note is sometimes colloquially used in a metaphorical sense to indicate concerns which are of secondary importance to that which is of primary concern. For example, in planning a banquet, one might consider the decision of the color of napkins to be used to be a 'grace note' in relation to deciding the courses that would be offered on the menu.”

Fossil - Josephine Baker (Mp3)
Vanilla Swingers - I'll Stay Next To You (Mp3)
The Finn Brothers - Disembodied Voices (Mp3)
The Pale Fountains - Just A Girl (Mp3)
The Police - Invisible Sun (Mp3)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

TVD Ghost Notes

I’m having conversations with my Dad lately despite the fact that he passed away three years ago last week. I imagine catching up and filling him in on world events and the like. On my mom and her health and the dog he adored that now lives with me.

It’s cruelly ironic that when he was actually around, sometimes weeks would go by before I’d pick up the phone for a hello. He’d say, ‘Where have you BEEN—I was worried!” And I’d say, “Oh, I’m FINE...why would you WORRY?!”

“When you’re a parent,” he’d say often, “you’ll understand.”

Well, I’m not. But I do now.

Modern English - Gathering Dust (Mp3)
Blanket of Secrecy - Remember Me And You (Mp3)
Tegan & Sara - Walking With A Ghost (Mp3)
Starling Electric - Black Ghost/Black Girl (Mp3)
The Longpigs - Over Our Bodies (Mp3)