Wednesday, June 30, 2010

TVD's 4th of July Party/Vinyl Giveaway: The Big Boom with Fort Knox Five, Sunday, 7/4 at U Street Music Hall!

It’s the FOURTH OF JULY !!

Time to really give our motherland a big HIGH FIVE! and show our respects by consuming an obscene amount of grilled meat and booze while sweating our *balls* off and haphazardly shooting flames into all directions!! God Bless America!

This Sunday night after your daytime festivities, come celebrate with the funkiest line-up of DC’s favorite homegrown reggae/funk/DJ artists at DC’s newest [and now favorite] music venue, U Street Music Hall!

Fort Knox Five, See-I, and Nappy Riddem will all be performing with live bands along with DJ sets by Rex Riddem, JonH and Raskal and some very, very rad visual projections by John Bowen of Video Killers and Empresarios.

The new single, "Shift" by Fort Knox Five featuring the legendary Afrika Bambaataa saw its inception over Inauguration Weekend, carrying with it a revolutionary and progressive vibe, is the perfect anthem for the Fourth. "Shift" has also recently seen a cascade of stellar remixes including a dubstep mix by Sub Swara, a electro-house/breaks mix by Malente as well as others.

The show starts at 9pm so that means you still have time to have the whole day to waste before ending the holiday on a funky [and always happy] note.

Capital Hemp, who have just opened a NEW LOCATION in Chinatown/Gallery Place, are just one of the many local artists sponsoring The Big Boom. Expect a Capital Hemp bio-fuel exhibit outside as well as info about Americans For Safe Access.

Come to the show! Save some money (tix are $10 each) and cop some tickets below! The Vinyl District has TWO PAIRS to giveaway! Not only that but we are also giving out TWO double gate fold vinyl of Fort Knox Five's "Radio Free DC" sent directly to your door!


TO WIN: In the comments section, let us know why YOU love America! Is it the hipsters? Our reality TV?? The fact that Arnold Schwarzenegger can be Governor?? Let us knowww and please include a) if you'd want Tix or Vinyl! and b) your EMAIL! (winners notified Saturday evening!)

RSVP/Invite yo friends right here!
Buy tix in advance right here!

TVD First Date | Grand Vanity

Discovering the joys of vinyl has mostly been a personal pursuit in my adult life. For in childhood, vinyl played a limited role in my household. The story goes that my Father saw the future a little too early, and transferred all of his records onto cassette tape. Gone were many beautifully kept examples of albums by the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Santana, Supertramp and Led Zeppelin. In their place was a rack of neatly labelled, but somehow much less attractive, BASF 90 minute cassettes. Obviously, today that rack of cassettes is worth thousands!!??

Therefore my early experiences with a turntable involved my Mother's somewhat pitiful collection of kids' records and cheap “6 Top Hits” cover version compilations from the '60s. It has to be said that there were a few gems amongst the junk, my favourite being a 1970 single by Michel Sardou which my Mother got on a French exchange trip. The song, “J'habite en France,” seemed a bizarrely perfect blend of the lyrics from Penny Lane with the music from Hello Goodbye performed in the mysteriously poetic French language, as though McCartney himself had been transported to a parallel French universe.


So... I had to play catch up on the delights of vinyl once I had gathered the means and desire to do so. This occurred when I started to visit local charity shops (that's English for thrift store) in Watford, Hertfordshire, and discovered a trove of audio treasures being practically given away. I couldn't believe my luck when I found ZZ Top's Eliminator being sold for a measly 50 English pence. And thus a new musical education ensued with the purchase of many many records by such artists as Yes, ELO, The Police, 10CC, Wings and Phil Collins. I must admit that searching through thrift store records isn't pure joy though, as I've leafed through WAY too many Barbra Streisand records, and I have no need for the countless Neil Diamond compilations one finds on every visit.

Now that my collection is ever expanding, I am firmly convinced that vinyl records are simply great. I love the physicality of having music stored on a tangible object, and indeed an object of some charm. A piece of vinyl is perfect because of it's imperfections, as though some degree of static and warp can improve a tune with mystical pops and hiss. Not only does a record sound superb, it looks like it means business, with a full square foot of pictorial splendour. I savour each occasion I can introduce a friend to some music by walking to my stereo console, pulling out a circular piece of long forgotten genius, fiddling with the turntable and wallowing in the glorious aural delight which comes only from vinyl.

Grand Vanity - Got a Nerve (Mp3)
Authorized for download!

Find Grand Vanity on their Website | Facebook | Twitter

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

TVD Video Premiere: Red Wire Black Wire - "Post-Apocalyptic Love Song"

We're pleased to debut (for the first time anywhere) Red Wire Black Wire's very "Omega Man"-esque "Post-Apocalyptic Love Song" which is an unreleased B-side from the Brooklyn band's "Breathing Fire" 7".

We've also got four copies of Red Wire Black Wire's new CD "Robots & Roses" to give away in exchange for your comments to this post.

Weigh in on the video with a contact email address and you're automatically entered to win a CD copy of "R&R." We'll accept your feedback until next Tuesday (7/5) and award four winners a copy of the CD then!

Red Wire Black Wire - Breathing Fire (Mp3)
Authorized for download!

TVD: Bonzai!

I believe I've had three copies of Japan's 'best-of' 'Exorcizing Ghosts' over the years. Some things you can't put your finger on and some things one needn't touch, but I've been wed to the intangibles of this LP since 1984 and its well-loved physical status reveals as much.

So, I was a bit gutted to hear the news that Japan bassist Mick Karn is suffering from what seems to be terminal cancer - although just last weekend I heard that perhaps the prognosis might not be as dire.

As many working musicians can attest however, medical insurance is rarely a given and in Karn's case doesn't exist. Recently however, having been officially diagnosed in Cyprus where he resides, he's now become eligible for some level of government funded care.

Karn's longtime friend Midge Ure is in the early stages of assembling a benefit concert to raise funds for Mick and his family and at Karn's official web page, donations are being accepted via Paypal to assist with his rising medical bills.

Amidst a week when we're pondering who cares for who and who benefits from what, I'll be making a donation. And I hope you will as well.

Japan - Swing (Mp3)
Japan - Gentlemen Take Polaroids (Mp3)
Japan - Ghosts (Mp3)
Japan - Still Life in Mobile Homes (Mp3)
Japan - Methods of Dance (Mp3)

TVD's Twitter Music Monday for 6/28/10

You guys. I have GOT to tell you about the Eric Clapton conspiracy. It’s a little complicated, so bear with me.

This week, I discovered my new favorite toy: wordle. Wordle allows anyone to make pretty, formattable word clouds out of any chunk of text. I was originally using it to word-cloud old diary entries, but quit when the most-used words were “Why????,” the names of ex boyfriends, and entirely too many adverbs (like “entirely”).

Wordle is also pretty great for analyzing Twitter hashtag trends, as long as you are a computer genius like I am. After painstakingly stripping today’s #musicmonday tweets to their most basic, recommendiest cores (what up “find and replace”?), I was able to create this majestic cloud:

Most of this is pretty unsurprising. There are topical appearances: Lady Gaga is generally a big deal on the Internet, but especially this week thanks to a just-released Rolling Stone cover and some rowdy baseball antics. Drake is all over the damn place these days, and was at Sunday night’s BET awards. Monday was the anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death, so “MJ,” “King [of pop]” and other Jackson-love tweets are easy to explain. Eminem just released “Recovery,” and it’s gotten plenty of buzz.

There are also perpetual favorites: Justin Bieber is the indomitable Prince of Twitter, thanks to the legions of terrifying tween girls who want to make out with him without entirely knowing what “making out” entails. And John Mayer is well loved by the Twitter universe for his scatological overshares and on-again-off-again relationship with tabloid-friendly starlets and, like, technology in general.

But then, right up there with the Biebers and the Gagas and the MJs you see: Eric Clapton. I mean, Eric Clapton is great. I frickin’ LOVE “Layla.” There are many colorful, entertaining stories associated with his personal life. Yet I can see no reason for his Twitter dominance.

So, detective work. First: all these Clapton tweets are coming from the same four usernames. TheVideoDJ, amandajones4321, wendyyoung333, and MISSBLIP2 are responsible for every Clapton tweet on Monday. If profile pictures are to be believed, amandajones4321 and wendyyoung333 are both busty, attractive young women and The VideoDJ and MISSBLIP2 both have cheesy taste in clipart. wendyyoung333 seems to post sports videos as well as music videos; the other three seem only to post about music. And while they all post some links to contemporary favorites, there’s an awful lot of Eric Clapton and James Taylor.

The VideoDJ links resolve to a concert tickets website. Ditto amandajones4321 and wendyyoung333. This particular concert tickets website also seems to provide advice about how to overcome insomnia, how to stop snoring, and where to apply for scholarships. Apparently they have a wide range of expertise. That said, Eric Clapton is on tour, and these people are clearly trying to sell tickets. Mystery solved.

MISSBLIP2, on the other hand, just posts Grooveshark links—they go straight to a streaming version of the song, rather than to a commercial website. There doesn’t seem to be any motivation for her perpetual music tweets besides a sincere joy in music. That said, she also runs a Twitter-based fan page for George Lopez (“the best comedian ever”).

Role #mmodel: “richmandoo: I'm doing #musicmonday cos I'm super bored on a bus.” I hate to break this to you, buddy, but…you’re doing it wrong. It helps to, you know, include some music in your #musicmonday tweets.

My #musicmonday pick: “Layla” by…no just kidding. I cannot stop listening to “40 Day Dream,” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. It’s getting to be a problem.

Monday, June 28, 2010

TVD: Bonzai!

Right, the tree (via the exclamation.)

It's said that the bonsai tree will on average outlive us all—to the point in its existence where it may have a handful of meticulous caretakers over the course of its lifetime—which lead me to thinking this we care for it, or it for us?

Despite the resurgence in enthusiasm for vinyl and the plethora of acts again releasing music in the format, 95% of my vinyl purchases are pre-owned. Of the 26 LPs I bought this weekend up at Joe's Record Paradise, all of them had previous owners who unfortunately left several of their names scrawled is less than desirable locations. (Kitty Jones, I'm looking at you.)

I spent some time afterward at home scraping off price stickers, replacing inner sleeves when needed, and rebagging the LPs with new clear, Mylar sleeves. It might sound like a chore, but it's an oddly centering endeavor.

This week, for whatever reason, tracks from a few LPs that have tended to me and remain a constant over the years.

The Vapors - Spring Collection (Mp3)
The Vapors - Sixty Second Interval (Mp3)
The Vapors - Waiting for the Weekend (Mp3)
The Vapors - Letter from Hiro (Mp3)
The Vapors - Here Comes the Judge (live) (Mp3)

TVD Summer Vinyl Giveaway | Electric Tickle Machine "Blew it Again" which we relive the spontaneity of a record purchased on a whim with, "I dunno...I just liked the cover."

Right, transparent me.

But NYC's Electric Tickle Machine are not just the sum of an eye-catching LP cover but a combo with an inspired rock and roll wallop who this past Friday appeared at Shea Stadium as part of the Northside Festival.

Their debut LP 'Blew it Again' is out tomorrow on vinyl but we have two today to offer on a delightful and sticky NSFW Monday.

Enter to win in the comments to this post with a tale of a record purchased on a lark on the strength of the cover alone and we'll choose two winners for a copy of the LP. Remember to leave us a contact email address and we'll close this one on Friday, 7/2. On a whim.

Electric Tickle Machine - Part of Me (Mp3)
Electric Tickle Machine - Honest Injun (Mp3)
Authorized for download!

Friday, June 25, 2010

TVD's The Idelic Hour with Jon Sidel

Idelic Papa Daddy O | Spending Father’s Day with both my kids got me thinking about being a “papa.” One of the first words out of 23 month old Jonah was “rocking.” Amazingly this kid is already practicing his windmills!

My hip teenager daughter Zoe is often in the car helping me click away at the i-pod, compiling songs for my Idelic playlist. When it comes to making the scene Zoe is on the dance floor with LCD, MIA and Edward Sharpe but when it comes to requests she is really about the “oldies.” She seems to go for anything on
Specialty Records, go figure!

The weekend left feeling warm and loose but then I came down with a wicked 24 hour flu bug. Thank god my recovery was quick—it left me “extra loose” and grateful for the health of family and friends. A simple thought to inspire this playlist with some cool daddy swagger, soul, and a couple new bands that are filling my cup of late.

xosidealer | @sidelic

The Idelic Hour [6/25/2010] (Mp3, 84Mg)

TVD's Etxe Records Label Spotlight

We'd like to thanks the folks from Etxe Records for hanging out with us this week and remind you get on over to Comet Ping Pong tomorrow night (6/26) for the Fangs Out LP release show with Exte's newest signing, Night and the City rounding out the bill.

And hey...we've still got some free vinyl to give away including the new Fangs Out. Whaddaya waiting for? —Ed.

Taking into account the art of constructing sounds, one can examine what is involved within those favorite tracks. … from the wiring of this piece to that piece to create the desired sweet sound. I love looking at pedal boards, amps, the kits. I am a total gear junkie... and my demons are happily fed. Luckily I find the time to manage the most amazing community instrument shop, Vintage City, in Toledo Ohio. Vintage City is a used and new gear store and I have seen some brilliant pieces come through.

Perhaps as equally revealing as dissecting the actual music and analyzing the gear used is the traveling around and meeting the wonderful network of inspiring musicians. There is nothing like watching them cast their art out into the world right in front of you, and then being able to share the stage and do the same. This interpersonal and communal connection is my favorite part of playing music.

When I am not managing Vintage City, all my other free time is dedicated to Fangs Out, being a two-piece band that I am in with Mark Peterson. In just under 2 years, we were able to travel fairly widely and play with some wonderful people. There really are too many talented bands to even name but here is a short list.

Girl Loves Distortion sister Etxe band from DC blew my mind when we were able to play with them in Toledo. Also on that bill was Hotchacha - a four-piece from Cleveland who sounds are so delectable and have an equally engaging live performance where you can’t look away… one of the hottest bands ever.

Also from Cleveland are Filmstrip a super tasty 3 piece, your ears will eat the sounds and be happy, Freedom which will blow your face off in the nice shiny distorted stereo sort of way. Phantods from Columbus combine different styles with a very entertaining result. We are Hex, a four-piece from Indianapolis rips up super thick sounds that will pleasure your ears and body. They just put out a sweet limited split cassette with Hotchacha.

Also there are some inspiring bands and people in my home town, my buddy Jeff Loose is in lots of awesome bands and also makes super solo tracks, also he was the reason that I started playing drums. and The Forest, Sinker, Sangsara, Dub Starlings, Fairly Handsome BandThe Faux Pas are some of my favorites that I get the honor of watching, that are all from Toledo and are all doing completely different, and very lovely things. Bastardguest a solo artist, who I had the pleasure writing music with for a few years in a former band Bullet Teeth, creates sounds will make your ears and eyes bleed tears of joy,

True Widow, a three-piece from Dallas, will shake your bones with their low rumble and wicked sounds. This list could go on and on, last but not least, I want to mention Canja Rave. They are a duo from Brazil and feel like Fangs Out’s sister band from another mama. Canja Rave generate a wonderful wall of sound for a two-piece, and even though it’s in a different language they make you feel what they are saying with their sonic textures and moods.

This passage is just a quick snapshot of the growing network of artists that I love to watch and learn from at every show. Being engaged in this network drives me to make more music and inspires me to create it differently…and I am looking forward to expanding the community of like-minded artists.

—Samantha Wandtk, Fangs Out

Fangs Out - Black Market (Mp3)
Fangs Out - Polished Place (Mp3)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

TVD 24-Hour Ticket Giveaway | Olivia Mancini w/ No Second Troy, Friday (6/25) at Iota

Earlier in the week I got to thinking that after last week's four ticket giveaway contests, how could we go this week with well, ...none? Something seemed a bit off, if you ask me.

Happily our friend Olivia Mancini came to our rescue with a pair of tickets for her show this coming Friday night at Iota in Arlington with No Second Troy.

So, Olivia, what's the scoop?

"Olivia Mancini and No Second Troy last played together in February of 2009 (I looked it up) and while I couldn't remember the date, I do remember the night as A+ and Awesome. Apparently, if you put in one part "the Mates" and one part "No Second Troy," you come out with "boundless energy," in the words of one enthusiastic local blogger.

I'm expecting a similar chemical reaction on Friday. We'll be presenting another star-studded lineup, featuring the stalwart Kristin Forbes on bass; Sammy Ponzar of the Andalusians and Impossible Hair on drums; Jarrett Nicolay of My New Mixtape and Virginia Coalition on guitar; and my lil' sis', Julia, on backing vocals and killer tambourine."

Sufficiently sold? As mentioned, we have a pair of tickets for tomorrow night's show—but you have to act fast! Submit your plea for the tickets in the comments to this post—with a contact email address!—and we'll choose one winner tomorrow at noon to see the show on us and Olivia.

Make 'em good - and post 'em quickly!

Olivia Mancini & The Mates - The Strangest Things (Mp3)
Olivia Mancini & The Mates - You Right Now (Mp3)
No Second Troy - The Black and White Movie (Mp3)
No Second Troy - Surfacing (Mp3)
Authorized for download!

TVD's Etxe Records Label Spotlight

When you hear a truly great record, you automatically wish you'd made it. My first listen to Wire's "154" came about 20+ years after its initial release, but nonetheless had an enormous impact on me, and my first thought upon hearing it was, "I wish I'd made that." It was a complete departure from the band I'd listened to on the punk classic "Pink Flag", which had already changed punk music for me, and their sophomore album "Chairs Missing." No one I knew really had even heard of Wire, let alone "154" so to discover this album was a huge change.

154 toes the line of the avant-garde and pop. It challenges the listener, which is one thing I always find very appealing in an album. Most people want a smooth album of hits, songs with formula, and Wire completely threw that out the window. 154 contains some beautiful and catchy pop songs (the single for the album was "Map Ref. 41 N 93 W", but most would recognize "The 15th" - probably because of the shitty Fischerspooner cover) and totally dark, damaged soundscapes which borderline noise ("The Other Window", "Once Is Enough"), yet they made them work together. It's a full album effort, not a cluster of hit tracks. While the album differs from previous releases, it is unmistakeably the same interesting group. No band wants to become stagnant, and Wire never did.

It was became apparent to me how the album starting influencing my songwriting. Songs starting coming together that I never would have thought would work before. Exploring instruments I’d never considered using became a favorite way of attempting new tracks. I started writing lyrics that weren’t blatant in their messages, but just as personal and meaningful all the same. I always tried to further my interest in music, and my own work, but this felt like a natural progression. “154” simply overtook my brain.

For being such an incredible album, it always seemed strange to me that Wire never achieved much success. It’s very easy to hear its influence on a number of artists, some mainstream and many very small. Of course, thirty years after the fact, critics laud their efforts, but the band and their albums always stayed under the radar. It’s quite a testament to them that something like “154” continues to be influential, interesting, and timeless for those who seek it.

—Mark Peterson, Fangs Out

Wire - Blessed State (Mp3)
Wire - On Returning (Mp3)
Wire - The 15th (Mp3)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

TVD First Date | Sveta Bout

Photo: Stephanie Bassos

I told myself once I finish music school in Boston, move back to NY, and get an apartment in Manhattan to call my own, I am buying a record player.

I did just that. Apartment- Check; Record player- Check; Records…umm in progress? I only have 6 records to my name, but tens of thousands of cds and cassette tapes. It seems I am doing things in an order completely opposite than I should be, working backwards in time through the progress of recording media.

Music has always been a scenery thing to me. You should be able to listen to something and picture your own perfect music video without there ever being one. That reason alone is why I decided its time to go back and start collecting vinyl. You can feel it all, the room, the era, the vibe, the players, the equipment, the mistakes - that perfect piece of time captured in the engraved grooves on this big plastic disc.

When I told my parents I bought a record player they were so excited! "We will go back to Odessa this summer and bring you back all of our records" my father told me. As much as I love my heritage and Soviet background I wasn't to keen on getting back classic Russian pop of their generation. But have no fear the BEATLES are here! Apparently, my parents were big fans, it seems they own everything that would typically be in an American record collection from the same era. Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, The Who, Sam Cooke, Smokey Robinson, Rolling Stones…and so much more.

Whats music today without the music of yesterday. Give me some Chopin on vinyl, yah I'll listen to it. I love taking from all parts of the world, all different time periods. Listening to the "pop" music of any era.

I look forward to helping my collection of vinyl grow, but most importantly just my collection of music. All sound has a purpose, and I love exploring them. When I decided to record I knew I wanted it to be as raw as possible. Now, I'll listen to my own tracks and am instantly brought back to that great studio, to those extremely talented musicians, to that moment of creation. Some tracks you can even hear the cracking of the chairs from the string players, and I wouldn't want to change that for anything. That is something that only vinyl can offer, this unique ability to transport the listener into the studio and hear the music as it sounded in that room on that day.

Vinyl offers the juxtaposition of an ephemeral moment that can be listened to over and over again while hearing nuances of each instrument every time. You can hear each musician on the album playing with depth and feeling while trying to listen and coexist within the room and not what would have to mix well. They played till it was as perfect as it could be…no need to press a button and manufacture a sound.

Don't get me wrong, there's a time and place of all of that, it's just not what I'm trying to create. I want people to listen to my music and be transformed to a scene where you watch toys come to life when all the customers have left the store at night. Whimsical Alt Indie Pop, whatever you'd like to call it. Taking those rich elements of thirties to late-forties composition, combining it with a just a flavor of the current.

I listen to newly-released vinyl of bands today, and the way it captures both the organic air of the past as well as the new sounds of today is just incredible. It just transforms itself through speakers and is simply magical. The warmth of vinyl is something that the laptop speakers playing mp3s can't even imagine.

To date, I am not on vinyl. One day I will be, but right now a CD, or iTunes download has to suffice. I just ask, please listen through good quality speakers! So much sparkle is lost when you don't hear things properly, and a lot of effort went into making sure my recordings trigger the memories, sensations and imagination of my listeners.

I really can't see myself doing anything else in life, so whether it's live, radio, digital, tape, or vinyl, thank you all for continuing to so enthusiastically support the arts.

Sveta Bout - From Me... (Mp3)
Sveta Bout - Oh, These Bones (Mp3)

Find Sveta on: Myspace | Facebook | Twitter

TVD Summer Vinyl Giveaway | The Middle East (s/t)

For years I probably spent and inordinate amount of time brooding - and I still do now, if I'm being honest. Y'know...late nights, red wine. Thinking disguised as staring at the wall.

And I had a patch of records there on the shelf that were the perfect soundtrack. Pensive and thoughtful orchestrations of melancholy all of which now have deep, deep grooves from overplaying.

I also think the readers of this here daily drivel are kindred spirits in a way. You'd have to be to tune into a vinyl blog day in and day out. Intrinsically here at this location, the medium is the message but the music is the messenger.

Which brings me to Aussies, The Middle East whose self titled LP deserves a solid spot among the vinyl I'd spin on those starry evenings.

If my sensibilities are correct, and I believe they are, you want this record. . . and we've got two copies to give away.

Your task? Download the Mp3s below, pour a glass of wine, have a listen, and simply opine in the comments to this post—whatever moves you to move us to send one your way.

We'll give you a week to suitably inspire and will close this one on Wednesday, 6/30. Don't forget to leave us a contact email address between pours.

The Middle East - Blood (Mp3)
The Middle East - Lonely (Mp3)
The Middle East - The Darkest Side (Mp3)
Authorized for download!

TVD Fresh Track | New from Cocknbullkid

Anita, aka Cocknbullkid's 7" 'On My Own' spent an inordinate amount of time on the turntable last year here at TVD HQ. Somewhere between Morrissey meets Lady Gaga, the track had a unique charm and a sly lyrical directness seldom heard in my opinion, all set to a hypnotic pulsing low-fi groove.

Then...silence. Where'd she go?

Well, she's been holed up recording her first full length LP and we've been sent a self-titled teaser track for your right-clicking pleasure. We think she onto something...

Cocknbullkid - Cocknbullkid (Mp3)
Authorized for download!

TVD's Etxe Records Label Spotlight

I enjoy listening to music.

I assume since you are reading this blog that you also enjoy listening to music.

If you are at all like me then you also prefer listening to your music in vinyl format.

Over the past few years I have had more and more conversations about the merits of listening to music in what I consider it’s purist form: vinyl. I won’t get into all the technical aspects of analog vs. digitally recorded or altered music. Most listeners could really care less about how a record was recorded (that’s for musicians, engineers, producers, critics, bloggers, and audiophiles to debate); they simply want to listen to something that sounds “pleasurable to their ear.”

Some of these conversations have started because I have matching 45 record spindle adapter tattoos . Most people think they are those saucer-like pellets that used to shoot out of toy guns or I am a DJ. Neither is true. Example exchange:

“What are those tattoos?”

“It’s a 45 adaptor. You know, those old, smaller records, the disc you put in the center to place it on the turntable. ”

Blank stare.

In the day of instant-everything, iEverythings, and attention spans of a fish, the vinyl-listening music fan has been relegated to a subculture. The mp3 listening public looks at us as throwbacks, “hipsters” who think we’re too cool for digital music, or out of touch with the realities of new music distribution methods (which change about as often as Neil Young changes genres). I usually respond to these things with one or more of the following statements:

Statement A: I think that music sounds much warmer, fuller, and richer when I listen to it on vinyl. If you don’t believe me, put on Sonny Rollin’s 'Horn Culture' and then listen to that same recording on CD or mp3. Tell me you don’t hear a difference between the bass tones and fullness of his horn on the vinyl version vs. the digital one.

Statement B: I come from a youth where the highly anticipated release of your favorite band’s album was a yearly ritual. Couldn’t wait to see the new cover, the recognizable band logo, the artwork on the inside sleeve of a double album, illustrations, wild photographs, and album credits. And you did this while listening to the entire record; sometimes six times in a row, sometimes sixteen times in a row. Side one ended and the first act was done. How would the second act open? What about a grand medley to end the second side of the album? Artists recorded albums to be listened to as just that, Long Playing music. You don’t buy a book and only read the fifth chapter, you don’t only watch one scene from a movie. What I wonder is when someone says, “well, I don’t want to download the entire album because I only like the one song I heard.” Ummm, well, how do you know you won’t enjoy the rest of the song? Chances are, you will.

I don’t think iTunes even displays any artwork besides the cover!

Look, don’t get me wrong, I have an iPod, I listen to CD’s in my car, I rock iTunes at work, and I absolutely love the instant gratification of downloading and listening to a new music . I understand not everyone has record players—or systems equipped to handle a good record player. I understand the hassle of not being able to fast forward, rewind, or skip songs on vinyl. I understand buying records has also become more expensive (did I really just see the Beastie Boy’s 'Paul’s Boutique' on vinyl for $28 at a record store!?!?!), and I understand the benefits of being able to play an album straight through (for those of you that still listen to entire albums) without having to turn the record over. I won’t even address the skipping issue.

In the end all I am really saying is that for those of you that enjoy a delicious vinyl record on your turntable keep the analog alive, and for those of you who either “used to listen” to music on vinyl and now choose not to or those who never have, give it a try (again) and see how pleased you’ll be. There are still a few great local record shops and bands do still put out their music on vinyl. Just think, you can sit and study the covers and liner notes while listening.

—Steve Rubin is a member of Etxe's Girl Loves Distortion. He is currently performing around the DC area in his new project, Jackie & The Treehornes.

Girl Loves Distortion - Guarantees (Mp3)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

TVD's Etxe Records Vinyl Giveaway!

I'd like to take this opportunity to announce that no matter how much you beg us, we will simply not be offering tickets in a contest to Etxe Records' Fangs Out LP release show this coming Saturday night (6/26) at Comet Ping Pong (which also happens to feature Etxe's Night and the City.)

See, ...the show's free.

That's right—walk right in, order some of the best pizza in this fair city, and head to the back where the festivities will be occurring.

I'll repeat: it's free!

But we're nothing but givers here, and as Chris and Jenn mentioned in yesterday's intro to their Exte Records Label Spotlight, we've got a copy of Girl Loves Distortion's LP 'You Better Run, Your Highness' and Fangs Out's brand new LP 'Speech Shadowing' (which both include a full CD, I might add) for one lucky winner who sufficiently inspires us in the comments to this post.

Let us know why you deserve to be said lucky winner and the most convincing of the bunch will have these two LPs lovingly packed and shipped directly to your door.

We'll give you a full week to enter. Contest ends on Tuesday, 6/29. So, make 'em good and remember to leave us a contact email address!

Fangs Out - Politicouture (Mp3)

Girl Loves Distortion - Unidentified Fascist Operators (UFOs) (Mp3)
Authorized for download!

TVD's Etxe Records Label Spotlight

Day #2 of TVD's Exte Records Label Spotlight continues with a homage to music and cinema from Greg Svitil of Exte's newest band, Night and the City. —Ed.

"Wax and Celluloid (waxen celluloid)" | My living room shelves are laden with records and videos. Among my records are a substantial stack of recordings that were birthed either partly or wholly by cinema. Certain albums that regularly spend days-long uninterrupted periods on my turntable might never have crossed my horizon in the first place had it not been for a chance viewing of one of the celluloid counterparts that planted their seeds. Likewise, taking a glance across my video shelves, I count more than a few dozen movies that are solidly music-based. Many of the films that have more than modestly impacted my existence would possibly never have entered my consciousness at all, had it not been for some piece of music providing a curious gateway to a motion picture by means of a lyrical reference or some other nod.

Hilary & Jackie / Jacqueline du Pré & Daniel Barenboim "Elgar: Cello Concerto / Enigma Variations" (Columbia M 34530)
Legendary cellist Jacqueline du Pré died from multiple sclerosis at the age of 42 in 1987. She gave her final concerts fourteen years earlier, by which time she was already having difficulty playing her instrument and even with putting it in its case. The disease ravaged her body and rendered her deaf and mute. Two decades earlier, she was drawing the highest of praise for her playing. Her recording of Elgar's Cello Concerto in E Minor (conducted by her then-husband Daniel Barenboim) is so extraordinarily emotive that it is said to have driven Mstislav Rostropovich, one of the great cellists of all-time, to drop it from his repertoire altogether out of awe for du Pré .

This recording has soundtracked some fairly momentous occasions in my own life in recent years. I am largely ignorant of the world of latter-period romantic composers and their interpreters, and I most likely would never have heard a note of this music had it not been for a chance viewing of the movie Hilary and Jackie. The motion picture is based on the book 'A Genius in the Family,' written by du Pré's sister Hilary. Both the book and movie caused a stir among friends and family over sometimes unflattering depictions of both the living and the dead. Controversies aside, the film adaptation is overpowering, and features the matchless and magnificent Emily Watson as Jacqueline.

A Taste of Honey / The Smiths "Girlfriend in a Coma" 12" & "Louder than Bombs" LPx2 (Rough Trade RTT 197 / Rough Trade ROUGH 255)
The matrix grooves at the center The Smiths' 'Girlfriend in a Coma' 12" single contain the messages "EVERYBODY IS A FLASHER AT HEART" (side A) and "AND NEVER MORE SHALL BE SO" (side B). The b-sides are "I Keep Mine Hidden" (the final Smiths original ever recorded) and "Work is a Four-Letter Word" (a cover of an obscure Cilla Black song that, according to popular perception, was among the final straws that caused Johnny Marr to leave the band in 1987).

And who is that pensive woman on the cover? The Smiths are legendary for Morrissey's very deliberate choices of cover stars for their albums and singles; this woman in particular carries special weight in Smiths history. It's none other than Shelagh Delaney, who wrote the play "A Taste of Honey" at about the time that Morrissey was conceived.

Delaney was a teenager at the time, and the story centers around Jo, an adolescent girl whose life and emotions become increasingly complicated as the tale unfolds. "A Taste of Honey" was adapted for the screen by Tony Richardson in 1961. Both Delaney and Richardson are masters of depicting "life as it's lived," and the lines between what's horrible and what's humorous can be blurry, not unlike Morrissey's lyrics.

While being interviewed during the early days of the Smiths, Morrissey proclaimed Delaney to be responsible for "at least 50%" of his creative output. Sure enough, the first Smiths album and the early 12" singles are filled with Delaney's dialogue. From the early 80s until the late 90s, there are at least ten instances of the Mozzer tipping his hat to Ms. Shelagh, most elaborately with the song "This Night has Opened my Eyes," which is in itself a re-telling of "A Taste of Honey."

Shelagh Delaney also graces the cover of the "Louder than Bombs" compilation. I likely would have never discovered "A Taste of Honey" had it not been for its author staring at me through a cigarette on the cover of what I feel is the greatest compilation album ever assembled. Watching the film version repeatedly as a teenager gave me pause about where my priorities were and what I wanted to do with myself in the coming years. And while I've never been made pregnant by a sailor or had terrible rows over changing light bulbs, being a nineteen-year-old weirdo made it fairly easy to relate to A Taste of Honey as well as The Smiths' music.

Theremin / Clara Rockmore "The Art of the Theremin" (Delos DEL 25437)
A thereminist friend introduced me to this documentary on the history of the instrument and its inventor, Léon Theremin. This intriguing movie is loaded with performance footage of Clara Rockmore, possibly the most celebrated thereminist of all, and also explores her romance with Theremin. The body of music that makes up "The Art of the Theremin" (pieces by Rachmaninoff, Saint-Saëns, Tchaikovsky, and others) is striking in demonstrating Rockmore's technical virtuosity and the emotional depth in her playing.

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg / Michel Legrand "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" (Philips PCC 616)
Les Parapluies de Cherbourg was first recommended to me by one of my co-workers at Video Vault (legendary, and sadly recently deceased, video store in Alexandria that promised 'guaranteed worst movies in town') in the year 2000. Six years later, I finally sat down with this one-of-a-kind piece of cinema; more than a small portion of my outlook on the world changed on that evening.

Catherine Deneuve and Nino Castelnuovo are perfect. Jacques Demy brings his vision to life in vivid fairytale colors. The whole of the movie/valentine is wrapped up in Michel Legrand's score; every line of dialogue throughout Umbrellas is sung over his heartstring-pulling melodies and flawless arrangements. The soundtrack album is a gift in its own right. Of the several different pressings of the LP, my personal favorite is a lovely gatefold on deep blue board with pink text and a background pattern of dark blue umbrellas all across the front and back covers.

The cover centers in on a white-bordered photograph of Deneuve and Castelnuovo walking along a deserted street late at night. Open the gatefold, and you're greeted by Catherine in her yellow coat. A pink booklet containing the script in French with English translation is held to the center of the gatefold with a piece of dark-blue tape; behind it are two more stills from the movie. It's not every day that you see so much care put into the packaging of a body of music. Fortunately, there are still countless exceptions; Phil Elverum's packaging for Mount Eerie albums is consistently inventive and beautiful.