Wednesday, December 9, 2009

TVD's Simple Aesthetics

They say there are rarely any ‘re-do’s in life. You live with your decisions and deal with the consequences. Count the losses, grim up, and move on. Fake a smile ‘til you’re not faking any longer.

That is, until ebay.

Back in ‘84 I sold my entire comic collection. Hundreds and hundreds of well worn compatriots were dashed off for what I recall to be a mere $85. Muscle men in colored spandex making way for the fairer sex, I’m guessing. I needed to look sharp, man.

Yet, like the flicking of your tongue over a tooth that’s been extracted, their absence was quite tangible over the years. Absences have shapes, y’see and the chasm was growing deeper and wider.

Fast forward to a glorious ebay rating of 824—chunks of my collection often replaced in one sweet, sweet auction win. (“You’ve been outbid by repressedchildhood751...”)

Actually, I have more comics—thousands more, than I do records. And I have a shit-TON of records.

TVD’s simple aesthetic #3: The scent of ink on paper.

The Libertines - Time For Heroes (Mp3)
John Lennon - Working Class Hero (Mp3)
Rick Springfield - Comic Book Heroes (Mp3)
Suede - Heroine [Live, 2003] (Mp3)
The Stranglers - No More Heroes (Mp3)

TVD First Date with | Bombadil

This summer I received a decorated envelope that gave me that picked for the team feeling. Inside was the latest album, Tarpits in Canyonlands, from a North Carolina-based band called Bombadil. My first listen through the album felt like a hearty four-season long jaunt through a foreign land where men wear fedoras and drive wagons and women spend the days tending fields with their children tied firmly to their backs. Funnily enough, the band claims one of its inspirations came from a trip taken along "the so-called World's Most Dangerous Road in Bolivia." TVD caught up with Bombadil member Bryan recently to get the low down on the band (comprised of members Daniel (bass/piano/saxophone/vocals/songwriter), James (drums/vocals/songwriter), Stuart (piano/trumpet/vocals/songwriter) and Bryan (guitar/vocals/songwriter) and what they're currently up to.

TVD: So first off- how did you get started?
Bryan: Though we didn't realize the irony at the time, one starting point for the band was on a trip down the so-called World's Most Dangerous Road in Bolivia. Daniel and I were debating whether the Rolling Stones or Pink Floyd was a better live band. We decided to start making recordings and one thing led to another. Our first show as 'Bombadil' happened in March 2005 in our university's dining hall.

TVD: How would you describe your sound?
A friend once called it arena folk, and that's probably not too far off. I'd say all of our songs are rooted in folk music, or at least the concept behind folk music -- we start by trying to tell stories about the unusual circumstances we find ourselves in as human beings...about how we relate to each other, about our expectations, about the eccentricities that we all have, about what happens next. At the end of the day, we're just trying to make music we would like to hear.

TVD: Your band is based in North Carolina—what, if any, influence does the Tarheel State have on the music you create and how you perform?
One of the great parts about living in the Triangle [the region of North Carolina that is anchored by the cities of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill] is that there's a quality local show playing just about every night. There's always someone with good ideas, good songs, good chops, or just good old-fashioned charisma playing practically in your backyard. It's a great place to learn, to get inspired, and to have a good time.

TVD: Your first LP, A Buzz A Buzz, came out two years ago, and your most recent LP, Tarpits in Canyonlands, was released this past summer. I've noticed a more refined and polished sound on Tarpits but you have managed to maintain the dichotomous sounds of playfulness and solemness heard on the first album- do you feel with this new album a need to evolve a little or are you just exploring and expanding on the sounds your fans associate you with?
One big change we were able to make with Tarpits was setting aside a nice chunk of time to work on the thing. When we recorded Buzz we were all juggling day jobs, plus touring on most weekends. When we went into record Tarpits, we had left the dayjobs behind. We carved out a solid month to hone all the arrangements and practice beforehand, and then we had three straight weeks in the studio really focus on making a record.

The extra shows and endless hours in the car since recording the first disc also meant we'd gotten a little better at our instruments and knew better how to communicate with each other. It also helped that Scott Solter is a completely brilliant engineer. I think the playful solemnness you mention will probably always be part of who we are as a band, but musically, we'll always be looking for new alleys or passageways to wander upon.

TVD: I know that Daniel was diagnosed with tendinitis which halted tour plans for a while—any updates?
Back in 2007, Daniel started feeling pain in his wrists after playing. Over the next year and a half, it progressed and became a bigger and bigger problem until he realized in May of this year that he would have to completely stop playing — indefinitely. He's made some progress since then, but it looks like he still has a ways to go before be able to perform. So as of yet, no shows are scheduled. But we're still writing new tunes and plotting out how and when to make the next release.

Although there is no tour in the works yet, the band just recently released a new video for its song So Many Ways To Die , and their albums are all available online to keep your pallate wet until such time when they are able to roll through your town.

Bombadil - Sad Birthday (Mp3)
Bombadil - Honeymoon (Mp3)
Bombadil - Reasons (Mp3)
Bombadil - Oto The Bear (Mp3)

TVD would like to remind you to: Do Different, ThinkIndie

We're back again with another guest blog from our buddies at This week we're gonna get a little more involved in how ThinkIndie works with the great stores around the US and how we're trying to help bridge the gap between vinyl and digital with a new "format" that we have on the site.

Currently, the digital side of ThinkIndie has 48 stores represented by two store coalitions, CIMS and AIMS. We will be expanding to represent more and more stores as we move into 2010. We wanted to start it off with a tight group of stores until we worked out any kinks, since downloads were uncharted waters for brick and mortar stores. We couldn't just jump in head first without knowing how deep the water really is. We give each store its own page on the site, with a description and photo, as well as letting each store pick albums to feature.

The great part of this is that each store is an "affiliate" of the site so anyone that comes to the ThinkIndie digital site from a link on a store's website or social sites gets locked into that store and a percentage of every purchase they make goes right back to that store. That means buying digital files online now directly benefits your favorite record store. It's something we've been working on for almost 5 years now because we wanted something the customers of the stores would enjoy and make sure the stores were taken care of. Like Tony said in last week's blog, we come from record stores and want to make this digital site just that, a record store. It's how REAL record stores do digital.

Now about that "format" I was talking about earlier. It's something we like to call the Mp33.3 as it's just that, an Mp3 made directly from an LP. Yeah, they have players out there that will plug into your computer via USB, but those players don't cost 70k. You read that right, the turntable we use to make our files cost 70k, the drive alone is 10k. We don't mess around when it comes to quality for our customers—we went with the highest quality Mp3 we could right off the bat. We've only done a few so far (Cheyenne Mize & Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Rachel Grimes, Phantom Family Halo). Each one of these titles were released on limited run vinyl.

Our goal is to get those type of releases that have only been released as vinyl pieces to be done up as Mp33.3 files. Now you may be saying to yourself, "Why not just make Mp3 files from the original masters rather than rip them from vinyl?" Good question, but we feel it's best to keep with the "vinyl only" concept of the release to keep those pops and crackles in the audio of the Mp3. The files just sound warmer when they are recorded off an LP and converted to digital rather than trying to add that warmth in a studio with an audio program. On top of that, the way in which audio is mastered is different for CD/Mp3 than it is for vinyl so the band/producers would have to go back and master a copy for digital. Give one of 'em a listen and see how nice these recordings sound, lughole stimulation is always guaranteed.

So there ya go, a little more info about how and your favorite local indie record stores are working together to not only keep record stores alive and well, but to bring in a new way of shopping for those who do enjoy the digital side of life.

Shrinebuilder - S/T
This band has been talked about for a few years now, but they just released their first album. Band features Wino (Hidden Hand/Saint Vitus/Spirit Caravan/The Obsessed), Al Cisneros (Sleep/Om), Scott Kelly (Neurosis/Tribes Of Neurot) and Dale Crover (Melvins). With a lineup like this, you know it's going to be brutal. Another one of my favorite albums to have come out this year.

Reverend Horton Heat - Laughin & Cryin With The Reverend Horton Heat
It has been five years since the good ol' Reverend graced us with any new music and the wait was well worth it. Laughin & Cryin is a little more country than rock n roll but it's still got the wild feel that ever RHH album has. Song like "Ain't No Saguaro In Texas," "Please Don't Take The Baby To The Liquor Store" and "Just Let Me Hold My Paycheck" are obvious that the Rev and company are still having lots of fun playing music. This is the first album with with "new" drummer Paul Simmons who has played on almost every Legendary Shack Shakers albums. I call em "new" cause he's been playing with the band since around 2006 so he's not so new anymore.

Manchester Orchestra - Mean Everything To Nothing
We have a very special exclusive release that just came out this week. It's the newest Manchester Orchestra album, but it also comes with seven bonus tracks that was recorded at Park Ave in Orlando, FL on June 4th, 2009. This is another example of how Think Indie is working with all the stores out there to provide cool items for fans. If you're not a fan of digital downloads you can always go to one of the stores featured on the digital site and buy the album to get a download card for the bonus tracks.

Various Artists - Warp20 (Chosen) & Warp20 (Recreated)
Warp Records out of the UK just celebrated it's 20th anniversary. One of the ways they celebrated was with 2 compilations from different artists on the label. The first was Warp20 (Chosen) which features 10 songs that were chosen by fans on the Warp website. The next 14 tracks on the release were chosen by Warp co-founder Steve Beckett as his favorite tracks to have been released by Warp Artists. The other comp that was released was Warp20 (Recreated) which features current and past artist from the Warp roster remixing and covering other Warp artists. It's a really cool release and it's quite nice to hear these songs you've know for a while in a completely different way.