Tuesday, August 31, 2010

TVD Previews the next Story/Stereo with John Davis

It's Day #2 of our Story/Stereo event in advance of Friday night's unique confluence of words and music at Bethesda's Writer's Center.

It's also Day #2 with Story/Stereo's musical guest for the evening, John Davis, who returns with the first five random tracks off his ipod—and musings upon each:

Velocity GirlThe All-Consumer
I first got into punk and indie culture as a teenager, like most reading this blog did. I was also an extremely partisan D.C. fan. I ferociously loved and advocated for nearly all music that was made in the D.C. area with a certain blindness. Looking back, a lot of that music hasn’t stood up for me but more than a fair share has. Fugazi, certainly. Tsunami’s “Deep End,” Unrest’s “Perfect Teeth,” The Nation of Ulysses/Cupid Car Club and a handful of others. Velocity Girl was near the top of the list for bands I loved back then and, happily, most of their output still sounds great to me. The early singles (which I’m hoping are being rediscovered by all of the people who have flocked to the Black Tambourine reissue) and their first record, “Copacetic,” are unimpeachable. The first time I saw VG live was a little late in the game, relatively speaking. “Copacetic” had been out for a few months but, still grappling with the concept of “school nights,” it was hard for me to get out to see bands during most of my early high school sentence unless they played on a weekend. Finally, by senior year, I was generally able to get around at will. In September of ’93, I saw Velocity Girl and Tsunami play a show together in The Tavern, a bar at American University. An incredible show, it remains one of the best I’ve ever seen. Later that fall, I went to a house in Temple Hills, MD, where Velocity Girl practiced, to interview them for my new fanzine. My clear memory was that, save guitarist Archie Moore, they were unbearably snarky and clearly disinterested in talking to me. Archie was game and tried to answer my mediocre questions as best as he could but the interview was a relative bust. Still, the day was salvaged when they let me watch them play a few of the new songs from their yet-to-be-recorded second album (1994’s “Simpatico”). I took pictures which, regrettably, didn’t turn out. “Simpatico,” the album from which “The All-Consumer” is drawn from, proved to be the record that brought Velocity Girl a limited form of indie/alternative stardom. It still mostly stands up to my ears and is loaded down with excellent songs that were able to be catchy without being too cloying. I think people who didn’t grow up with this band might be a bit turned off by some of the squeaky-clean elements that emerged when the band stopped cloaking its tunes in fuzz (the sonic difference between “Copacetic” and “Simpatico” is dramatic) but I think and hope that this band will endure.

The Byrds – Why (Single Version)
This is the single version of “Why,” one of David Crosby’s last notable tunes for the Byrds before Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman took a drive up to Laurel Canyon and gave Crosby the boot. A b-side to “Eight Miles High” from the spring of ’66, “Why” shares its single-mate’s affection for the volcanic solos of John Coltrane but also adds a raga element, purportedly due to Crosby’s affection for the music of Ravi Shankar. Certainly, by 1966, pop music has undergone some radical changes. In 1962, number one hits were had by Shelley Fabares, Chubby Checker and Bobby Vinton (no offense to the Polish Prince – I’m a huge fan). By 1966, we’re talking about “Paint It, Black,” “Paperback Writer” and “Sunshine Superman.” So, it’s no surprise that the visionaries in The Byrds were pushing things even further. Their album from the summer of ’66, “Fifth Dimension,” is my favorite Byrds record. “Why” is a bit of a footnote since it didn’t come out on an album until 1967’s “Younger Than Yesterday” and in the form of a fairly different recording. That makes it all the more notable to me, though, since a song of this quality being able to get lost in a group’s canon strikes me as a pretty profound testament.

Astrud GilbertoTristeza
Speaking of high school, when I was 17, my girlfriend and I used to hang out at her aunt’s house often during the summer. Her aunt was well off and had this amazing house that was lifted straight out of 1964. Naturally, the cool jazz of The Dave Brubeck Quartet and the breezy bossa nova of Stan Getz and the Gilbertos frequently wafted through the house and the yard. There was a pool in the back and it wasn’t unusual to float there in the languid July heat while “Three To Get Ready” or “Corcovado” murmured quietly from the screened-in porch. I’m pretty certain that period will always be a strong memory for me. It’s funny how you know you wouldn’t want to be the person you were at a certain time (Christ, I know I sure wouldn’t want to be who I was at 17 again), yet some aspects from that period still exert such a strong pull of bittersweet memory, despite themselves. I suppose there isn’t a more appropriate music to evoke those feelings than the sweet, sad sounds of Gilberto, Getz, Baker, Brubeck, Desmond, Pepper, et al. “Tristeza” is a fairly upbeat song for the idiom but is still full of the wistful regret that makes this music eternally relevant.

Kitty Wells – Dust On The Bible
When it comes to Kitty Wells, I’m mainly a fan of her slightly later work. The 50s recordings, like this one, have a tinny, sub-Hank Williams quality that I find kind of irritating. The squareness and piety of this song also manage to include a touch of hectoring that pretty completes the trifecta of displeasure. Probably time to pull this song from the iPod. If we’re talking Kitty Wells, I love her Jim Reeves tribute album or some of her tunes like “Heaven Says Hello” or “As Long As I Live” or “The True and Lasting Kind.” Those songs’ll rend your soul, if you ask me. So, skip this one and go a little deeper.

Paul Williams – Do You Really Have a Heart
Paul Williams is probably best known to people for his ubiquity on 70s television (“The Love Boat” and its ilk) or for his role in “The Planet Of The Apes.” When it comes to movie roles, I wish he was best known for his turn in “Phantom Of The Paradise,” one of my favorite movies of the 70s. Brian De Palma’s rock and roll movie goes into some strange, strange places. The music itself in the movie isn’t that great but the colors and the sass and verve of the film make it a must-see for anyone who liked “The Apple” or “Rocky Horror.” All of that said, Paul Williams was also quite a songwriter. He and Roger Nichols co-wrote a bunch of hits for the likes of the Carpenters and Three Dog Night. Later, Williams gave us “The Rainbow Connection.” In 1970, Williams was still trying to cut it as a singing star in his own right and he released an album called “Someday Man.” The definition of a buried musical treasure, there are so many great songs on this record that it’s hard to believe it was a stiff. I’ve already written about my love of the title track elsewhere but if you haven’t heard it, make it happen. I’d call it a perfect song. “Do You Really Have a Heart” is nearly as good. Williams’ voice is this funny little woebegone thing. The music is an odd yet effortless mix of jauntiness and melancholy, a sensation that runs throughout the entire album. None of Williams’ other records come anywhere close to the “Someday Man” LP and it wasn’t long before he was a Hollywood Square but it’s rare for an artist to hit his mark as fully as Williams did on this song and this record.

Velocity GirlThe All-Consumer (Mp3)
Paul Williams – Do You Really Have a Heart (Mp3)

TVD Class of '71 | The Chi-Lites, "(For God's Sake) Give More Power To The People

(Before we begin, a bit of explanation again about what we do here. We reach into the racks behind us and pull out a vintage slice of vinyl from the '70s. The records aren't meant to represent the best of a particular year. They're simply interesting records, so let's listen to them again together. On to the grooves!)

Much of what I know about about soul music comes from listening first to AM radio in the early ’70s, then FM radio for the rest of the decade. That left me with a wide but sometimes shallow pool of knowledge. I'm working on it, even now.

I plead guilty as charged when it comes to the Chi-Lites. I long knew this Chicago soul group for only its radio hits, those smooth, gentle love songs—“Have You Seen Her” from 1971 and “Oh Girl” from 1972.

Then, a couple of years ago, I heard “(For God’s Sake) Give More Power To The People” and was taken to school again.

It's a funky, nasty protest song featuring Creadel “Red” Jones’ deep bass voice. I'd thought the Chi-Lites, were just that—lite—and man, was I wrong.

That tune—off the 1971 album of the same name—is done along the lines of the harder-edge stuff done by the Temptations for producer Norman Whitfield at the time, and oh, how I dug those Temptations.

Another of today's tunes, "We Are Neighbors," brings to mind an only slightly gentler "Psychedelic Shack."

(And, yes, just in case you haven't heard the sweet, timeless "Have You Seen Her" in a while ...)

The liner notes suggest you “stoke up your stereo and treat yourself to a generous helping” of the Chi-Lites. So please do.

The Chi-Lites - (For God’s Sake) Give More Power To The People (Mp3)
The Chi-Lites - We Are Neighbors (Mp3)

The Chi-Lites - Have You Seen Her (Mp3)

Buy (For God’s Sake) Give More Power To The People here.

TVD's Twitter Music Monday for 8/31/10

Kanye West is all over
#musicmonday. I want Kanye West to go away.

Can that be all? Am I done for the week?

My frustration with Kanye has grown in direct correlation with his most recent ascendance. If you drew a graph with my Kanye frustration on one axis and Kanye’s popularity post-2009 on the other, it would be a straight line with a slope of positive one. Y=X.

I am a lifelong contrarian, an “I decided in kindergarten that I didn’t like pizza because it was everyone’s favorite food and I continued to insist that I didn’t like pizza until college when I realized pizza is actually both delicious and necessary” contrarian, and pop music was an early target of my obstinacy. I haaaaaaated Ace of Base. And Mariah Carey. I actually Sharpie-markered a t-shirt at camp one year that read “I like Manson, not Hanson”—I was super popular at that camp dance, I’ll tell you what. So now you know how old I am, and also that it’s possible I’m fed up with Kanye because I am easily fed up with the things that everyone else likes.

It’s possible, though, that Kanye West is actually really freaking annoying.

We all know that in September of 2009, Kanye wreaked major havoc on the MTV Music Video Awards and the world of internet memes when he interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech to proclaim that Beyoncé was more deserving of the award at issue. He was appropriately criticized and responded with appropriate chagrin and while his outburst was classless and distasteful, forgiveness requires that the forgiver acknowledge that an action was wrong, so yeah he was wrong, I suppose I forgive him and most of the rest of the world appears to have done the same.

But then there’s his internet presence. Kanye West’s two official websites give me the fantods. I’m exploring them for the first time as I write this column, and I find them impossible to navigate, overly full of pop-up media, and devoid of useful information. I know that complaining about a website makes me a grumpy “get off my porch” person and that the law of the Internet clearly states that anything someone hates, someone else loves (I’m looking at you, Foursquare Twitter update haters—just ignore that particular Tweet from me, ok?), but I crave function as well as form and fail to find the former (that'd be function, not form, despite the word "form" being in "former") in these two (2) official websites.

Also, I fail to find the allcaps shouty text that the Internet has led me to believe dominates Kanye’s blog. Whither the allcaps? All I’m seeing are Interpol videos (what? why?) and obscene pictures of expensive cars, houses, and women.

Mostly, though: Twitter. Kanye joined Twitter earlier this month, and Twitter feeds everywhere were immediately filled with folks retweeting Mr. West’s odder 140-characters-or-fewer communiqués. Retweets don’t really do this Twitter feed justice, though, because the true oddity lies in the juxtaposition. Only on Kanye’s Twitter feed will you see “Do you know where to find marble conference tables? I'm looking to have a conference... not until I get the table though” followed immediately by “Yo why people gotta make they internet passwords so damn complicated???” And only a celebrity of Kanye’s profile could so completely blow up the internet by announcing the release of a new song every Friday until Christmas.

OH my GOD is that annoying. Not only is Kanye not going to go away, he’s going to recur every Friday until Christmas. He’s like a chronosynclastically infundibulated Twitter specter who will haunt my feed with terrible hip-hop for the rest of the year.

I realize I have made it through this entire column merely complaining, without really explaining why I find Kanye annoying. I think it’s a lot of things: his apparent revelry in being a tastemaker, the fact that he seem to think adding one non-hip hop artist to a song makes his music indie or underground, the perpetual God talk mixed with the crassest commercialism…and this: “Have you ever had sex with a pharaoh? I put the pussy in a sarcophagus.” That is an actual line from today’s #musicmonday favorite, “Monster,” which Kanye dropped on Friday and which features Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Bon Iver, and Nicki Minaj. WHY DO PEOPLE LISTEN TO THIS NONSENSE?

My #musicmonday pick: Listen to this nonsense instead, if you want something to dance to that involves indie darlings: War Again, by Balkan Beat Box

Note: Yes I referenced both David Foster Wallace and Kurt Vonnegut in a post about being a contrarian. WHATEVER. Some things get stuck in your consciousness, you know?

Monday, August 30, 2010

TVD Previews the next Story/Stereo with John Davis

Story/Stereo, the brilliant (and
free!) evening of both words and music at Bethesda's Writer's Center returns for a new season on September 3rd and we're delighted to be joined here all week by the musical guest on the program, John Davis.

John will be performing tracks
on Friday night spanning his career to date. It's being called, appropriately enough, "John Davis plays John Davis." Expect to hear material from Title Tracks, Georgie James, and Q and Not U.

In advance of the evening, we've asked John to pull the curtain back a bit on his well of inspiration and rattle off the first five tracks that make their appearance on random shuffle on his ipod. Now, those of you who've been reading the blog for a while know that we ran a similar feature a little while back with uh, shall we say, 'revealing' results—both good and well, ...bad. We're much more optimistic in regard to John's taste level.

So, without further ado, all this week John Davis (and his ipod) are your guest DJs on The Vinyl District. —Ed.

Environments “The Psychologically Ultimate Seashore”
Kind of dumb to have this one come up first when I press shuffle on my mp3 player but the shuffle logic has its own sense of humor. If you’ve combed through thrift stores for LPs, you’re probably familiar with the “Environments” series of soundscape LPs. Very much a product of the 70s, you had one side of an LP with, say, a 25-minute thunderstorm. The other side would be a creaking boat adrift on the sea, as you do. Sometimes they got deep, like “Tintinnabulation” (from Environments 2), which essentially sounds like a Buddha Box that you can’t modify. My personal favorite, as I’m sure you’re wondering, is “Gentle Rain In a Pine Forest.” Make of that what you will. That said, “The Psychologically Ultimate Seashore” is pretty good, too, though 31-minute tracks should not be coming up in shuffle, especially first. Also unclear is what renders this recording “psychologically ultimate.” Still, I can listen to stuff like this ALL day.

Link Wray“Deuces Wild”
Raw, guttural music from an early D.C. musical legend. If we’re naming restaurants after Marvin Gaye here, I think we need something for Link, too. For more on Link's story, read Mark Opsasnick’s interesting overview of the early rock scene in the D.C.-area, “Capitol Rock.” I had no idea P.G. County was such a hotbed. As for “Deuces Wild,” it’s not as well-known as “Rumble,” of course, but it’s a fierce, feral slice of instrumental badness and a good way to start the day.

This is from “Up,” R.E.M.’s first record without founding drummer Bill Berry (from ’98, I think). Coming off the absurd winning streak that this band ran, essentially, from its inception in the early 80s up through the mid-90s (although 1994’s “Monster” was the first sign that trouble was afoot), “Up” was a disappointment at the time. The loss of Berry was palpable and the record is overlong, certainly. There are some highlights, however (“Daysleeper,” “Lotus” and “Suspicion,” for starters) and the somber vibe is sometimes appealing. Still, when my old Georgie James bandmate Laura Burhenn told me that “Up” was her favorite R.E.M. record, it led to great consternation on my part.

Booker T. And The MGs"Something"
This is from Booker T and The MGs' stupendous record, “McLemore Avenue,” their collection of covers of songs from The Beatles’ “Abbey Road.” I can only imagine how flattered The Beatles must have been to have their tunes covered by musicians the caliber of the MGs. No joke, this band and this record are outstanding. It was a huge thrill to traverse the real McLemore Ave in Memphis the couple of times I’ve been lucky enough to pass through town and check out the Stax Museum that stands on the site. If you’ve never been, please do go. I touched Isaac Hayes’ car there!

Marek Grechuta – "Gdziekolwiek"
I can’t tell you how great this song is. It’s a bit like Scott Walker or “Odessa”-era Bee Gees but nowhere near the drama. Grechuta was a Polish singer-songwriter who had a voice that really haunts me. It’s not especially striking in any obvious way but it’s evocative, for sure, and it transcends the fact that I can’t decipher a word (he sings in his native language). Plaintive and direct, Grechuta’s voice and this song will always remain with me. Like his fellow countryman Andrzej Wajda’s films, there’s a deep current of sadness running through Grechuta’s music but also a resolve and a clarity that keep things from dissolving into the maudlin.

Link Wray - Deuces Wild (Mp3)
R.E.M. - Lotus (Mp3)
Booker T. And The MGs - Something (Mp3)

TVD Ticket Giveaway | Hot Hot Heat, Friday (9/3) at the Rock and Roll Hotel w/22-20s and Hey Rosetta!

Perhaps it's just me. It's Monday at 3PM and already I'm pining away for Friday, 5PM. Of a long, three-day weekend.

Well, no. I'm of course it's not just me.

And like a carrot at the end of a woefully long stick, we've got a bit of an incentive to trudge through the five day work week in the form of a pair of tickets to check out
Hot Hot Heat on Friday (9/3) at the Rock and Roll Hotel.

Touring in support of this summer's new release, 'Future Breeds' an LP Alternate Press spoke of as, "[An] album . . so wondrous, it feels like all of the universe's mediocrity was taken away via some sort of aesthetic rapture.”

Friday can't come soon enough, hm?

As mentioned, we've got a pair of tickets to see the band in exchange for your rapturous entry in the comments to this post. Sell us on the idea of giving you the tickets and the best of the bunch bangs down Friday's door with these in hand.

We'll choose a winner at 5PM this coming Thursday and remember to leave us a contact email address - ok? Seriously.


Hot Hot Heat - Goddess on the Prairie (Mp3)
Approved for download!

TVD's Press Play

It's our weekly Music Monday recap of the tracks the folks in the press offices want you to be hearing. We post - you decide.

Blood Red Shoes - Light It Up (Mp3)
The Fumes - Automobile (Mp3)
One eskimO - Amazing (New Mix) (Mp3)
Women - Eyesore (Mp3)
Lou Barlow - Gravitate (Mp3)
Working For A Nuclear Free City - Silent Times (Mp3)
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros - Janglin (RAC Mix) (Mp3)
Kelli Scarr - Break Up (Mp3)
Revolver - Luke Mike & John (Demo) (Mp3)
Trumans Water - 5-7-10 Split (Mp3)
All approved for download!

Our pick of the week:
Diego Garcia - You Were Never There (Mp3)
Approved for download!

Friday, August 27, 2010

TVD's Idelic Hour with Jon Sidel

Greetings from Laurel Canyon!

I woke this morning trying to reflect on what seems to be the “summer that never happened?” Well, it feels that way here, snuggled in our canyon. Still today I’m comforted by the fact that somewhere in the world there are people having a great time experiencing rock n roll together.

This week’s Idelic Hour is actually part two of my salute all of you who are packed your knapsack and made it to one of 2010’s summer rock festivals. As I write, many of you are waking up on a muddy field at Reading or Leeds. This week’s playlist features songs by killer live acts that hit 2010 summer stages and a couple that “blew minds” many summers ago.

Push play, hug your neighbor, have a blast.

idelicsounds.com | @sidelic

The Idelic Hit of the Week:
Wild Nothing - Summer Holiday (Mp3)

TVD | Spiritual Malaise

Ghost Aurora

All of the apostles, the fortune tellers, all of those committed
to the origins of reason or faith—each is now lost in the hum

of her or his own deepening meditation. What could be the purpose
of those songs the troubadour from Avignon brought us in his leather bag?

What could be the meaning of the carvings of green falcons along
the gourd-like back of his lute? What could be more useful than a loving

principle lifted slowly out of particles, like the frond of a morning fern
uncurling? Take up your coat; take up the morning. This is what it means

to lure the phantom out of the dark, until she lifts us into the space of song.

—David St. John

Thin Lizzy - The Rocker (Mp3)
Queen - Dead On Time (Mp3)
Alice Cooper - No More Mister Nice Guy (Mp3)
Van Halen - Dance The Night Away (Mp3)
Judas Priest - Living After Midnight (Mp3)

TVD's The Ardent Sessions Presents: Rainy Day Manual

"For years it was just the building across from the little shop with the great gyros.

It’s funny how perspective can drastically change even though our surroundings don’t change much at all. As my musical talents and tastes grew so grew the way I looked at the brick building that housed Ardent Studios. I spent a long time looking in from the outside as a musician in Memphis, but as our band grew and as our sound melded I found myself bumping into Ardent a little more each year. I remember seeing Jason Gillespie at one of our shows in November of 2006. I could tell there was something about that guy but it was until a full two years later that the seed was germinated. I suppose things that are meant to be will stick around one another without always understanding why.

After forging a synergistic relationship with two sound engineers from Ardent we were set to record a 5 song EP and begin building the foundation of our relationship with the studio as well. As a musician it’s a very special moment pulling into the Ardent parking lot for business purposes. It’s a fairly inconspicuous building (like most great places in Memphis). You can see a kiddy pool or two in the adjacent houses that back up to Ardent and it’s shaded by a heavy canopy of Midtown trees that makes it blend in to the neighboring buildings.

Opening the door is a different experience though. It’s still just as cozy but the history and spirit of the building really come in focus as you pass by gold record after gold record. Movements of soul, rock, grunge and everything in between have come through Ardent and it’s an honest pleasure just to be invited in the building. That’s why when Rachel contacted us about playing an Ardent Session I got the same giddy feeling I did the first time pulling in the parking lot.

I really can’t imagine a more comfortable studio situation. The staff is passionate about music from top to bottom and the standards of quality are set very high. To be able to invite all our friends inside was even better than just experiencing it by ourselves. I can’t recall a single person not having a big smile on their face that night. I couldn’t help but think about the great artists that had been in the spot I was standing while we went through our set. I can highly advise anyone that’s a fellow musician or fan of music to check out the next Ardent Session. Whether it’s a local act or someone national coming through, you’re going to have an unforgettable experience. The music is palpable in Ardent Studios. Oh and the place across the street has great gyros.

We actually don't have any physical copies of CD's or records at this time. We've sold all our EP CD's and our new album won't be finished until November or December. But if you go to rainydaymanual.com you guys can download a high quality digital copy of our EP Vox a Copia for absolutely free.

We've got a Kickstarter going to raise the money to mix the album with Jason G and Mike W from Ardent and we're almost done tracking the album. With promotion of the kickstarter at our next few shows (Sept 19th at Neil's w/ Mobley) we'll ideally get the bulk of our kickstarter funds and be ready to mix, master, print and plan a tour. We haven't decided on a venue for the CD release yet but it's going to be an extravaganza of a party for sure.
—Chris Faulkner

Thursday, August 26, 2010

TVD Fresh Track | New from Pete Yorn

Photo: Jim Wright

We've got the brand new single, "Velcro Shoes" from Pete Yorn off his upcoming self-titled album produced by Frank Black. The album will be available everywhere on Sept. 28 on Vagrant, and the iTunes pre-order with bonus track will begin Sept. 7. Pete will be playing The Roxy in LA on Sept 27, NYC's Bowery Ballroom on Oct. 5 and Austin City Limits in Oct. 9.

Asked about working with Pete, Frank notes, "We headed down a path of realization I stripped Pete down a whole bunch. We battled in the best sort of way. I tried to get the session into a fearless and raw place, and to his artistic credit Pete took his songwriting to a fearless and raw place. This listener will find his or herself sitting right next to Pete on the couch. And the record totally rocks out."

Pete Yorn - Velcro Shoes (Mp3)
Pete Yorn - Precious Stone (Mp3)
Approved for download!

TVD Cubicle Theatre

...and it's a promo film from one of our fine advertisers, Furnace Manufacturing.

We're pretty certain that if you're watching it here (where's vinyl's king) you'll find it rather interesting.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

TVD First Date | Jenny Wilson

It's our very first Q & A 'First Date' and it's also the debut of a new contributor to TVD, Leah Henry. —Ed.

She is huge in Sweden. Now, Jenny Wilson is ready for the US.

Jenny Wilson, founder of
First Floor Power, who began her solo career in 2004, took the New York City stage twice last month. During our introduction Jenny acknowledged that her New York shows went well, the first at Union on Tuesday July 13th and the second at Pianos on Wednesday July 14th. When asked specifically about the performances Jenny says, “It was something completely new, solo, without my band, fun, very different.”

Jenny Wilson’s self-released second solo album Hardships! had its debut in the United States yesterday, August 24th.

What songs do you think they liked best?
The audience…well, I think the most popular is ‘Like a Fading Rainbow’ it’s getting some play here, and a lot through YouTube. And the next one would be ‘Only Here for the Fight’, since they can go online and download it for free.

How important is it to make it in America, is that your goal?
Very important – if you make it in America, you’re big. It is just one part of my goal, I want to spread my music, there are so many amazing bands in America - I would like to be a part of that scene.

I thoroughly enjoyed Hardships!. It felt like pop-R&B-spiritual, how would you describe this album?
Well, I would describe it like that; a mixture between new and old R&B, soul, and electronic stuff too. I wanted it to be as organic and rhythmic as possible.

I know you have a song entitled Hardships but why did you choose to name the album ‘Hardships!’ as well?
The theme is struggle, motherhood, fighting, and I am describing motherhood from a battlefield perspective. It sounds powerful to me. I am not sure what it means to you [being American] but, that was my aim. I had a lot of different working titles and this was one of the later entries.

Fun seems important in your music, how important is that in this album?
When I make them, I try to grab the feeling. I want to surprise myself, how can I describe this... I want to challenge myself, with lyrics as well. I don’t want to feel secure; I want to go out where I haven’t been before. In this album I touch on some dark topics and I add fun.

You mentioned producing earlier, and you currently run Gold Medal Recordings, how has that changed you as a musician?
To run a label… it was more… I started it to have sole control over the product. I am not ‘the business’, I am not an enthusiastic label manager, I hate all of that shit. I am a true artist. I try to do it myself as much as I can. I don’t want be a part of some major label and get lost. It’s not important to have a lot of people around, if I have to describe my idea to five different people, it doesn’t work. I try it. I decide. And I get the results. I want my music to be brave, personal.

Who/what are you listening to right now?
I am listening to a lot of Wu Tang Clan, mostly the 90's records with ODB and RZA – the dark landscape of hip hop, gospel. Also - African music from Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Mali. I love the rhythms.

Which Swedish artists are you listening to at the moment?
Oh! Have you heard of El Perro Del Mar?

No, I haven’t...
Well she is amazing, just amazing

Pop, it’s just great.

I must admit I am a big Jens Lekman fan. As Jenny corrected my terrible pronunciation of his last name (Lek-Mon) she goes on to tell me about how she toured with Jens in 2005 and how she believes him to be a brilliant artist

This is an odd curiosity question but, do you prefer one side of your face?

Good question! I noticed that I do that, which side do I turn to again?

You have your left side to the camera.
And I don’t know why, I have this really beautiful scar on the right side of my face. After Hardships!... I will show it.

Find Jenny Wilson at her Official Website and Myspace

Jenny Wilson - Only Here for the Fight (Mp3)
Jenny Wilson - Hardships Gospel (Mp3)
Approved for download!

TVD | Spiritual Malaise

To be fair, I had a whole different theme in the works for this week and tried to grind it out through last Sunday's bout with the blues. It was gonna be killer too...I think. But the graphic wasn't coming together and the music seemed repetitive.

So I chucked it. Something like 4 hours of planning - trashed.

But if you look, you'll often find it, I think, when you can get outside of the moment and reflect.

Thus, ever so late Sunday evening, it came together - divine providence in up-ended inspiration - in mere minutes: spiritual malaise.

That's got to make you feel good, right?

Thin Lizzy - Saga of the Ageing Orphan (Mp3)
Boy Omega - Suffocation Street (Mp3)
David Bowie - Stay (Mp3)
Modern English - Blue Waves (Mp3)
Manic Street Preachers - S.Y.M.M. (Mp3)

TVD First Date | America Hearts

Taking a cue from our 'Lil Triggers' series, America Hearts' Jess Matthews finds a marriage this morning between music...and eye wear.

America Hearts play the Rock and Roll Hotel this Friday night (8/27) and the Sockets Records Showcase on Saturday (8/28) at Hexagon in Baltimore. —Ed.

"I got these goggles when I was about 17. I was a snowboard instructor during high school and most winter days I rode down a small Pennsylvania Mountain listening to Appetite for Destruction on my Walkman. I was not supposed to have that Guns n Roses tape, so it was recorded over a Ducktails Cassette.

My friend Susan gave me these sweet yellow shades when we went on a company-sponsored vacation to Mexico. Aside from people on free corporate trips, the all expenses paid resort was filled with honeymooners and older couples who seek out warm locations with free alcohol the way reptiles look for sunny rocks.

The lobby and surrounding pools played musak, including a surprising amount of Guns n Roses songs. A live reggae band played by the pool one day, while someone came around with a monkey you could have your picture taken with. In this picture, I am getting a drink at the pool bar during water aerobics.

When I was touring Europe with Edie Sedgwick, we had a very sweet driver from the Czech Republic named Ales. After the first few days, I asked Ales not to play metal, particularly the Czech blast-beat kind, before noon in the van. He was ok with that and played Czech Hip Hop, Monty Python, Tenacious D, and Hank Williams.

The music was accented by a woman’s voice from the GPS that gave him directions in Czech. By the time we arrived in Prague, we could all tell people to make a left at the next intersection. At the end of tour, Ales said he wanted me to have the sunglasses. When I said I couldn’t take them, he said, ‘C’mon! I’ll get another pair at the gas station in Brno!”

I bought these sunglasses in San Francisco and lost them somewhere in South Africa, which is where I’m driving in this photo. You can't go more than a few hours without hearing a Michael Jackson song on the radio there. You are just as likely to hear 'Heal the World' or 'Scream' as anything on Off the Wall or Thriller. Although I was prepared by seeing an African documentary on Michael Jackson on the flight over, I was still surprised to meet dogs named Michael and Jackson in sea-side lodges."
—Jess Matthews

Find America Hearts on their Official Website and Myspace

America Hearts - Heart (Live at the Black Cat) (Mp3)
America Hearts - Lost Now (Live at the Black Cat) (Mp3)
America Hearts - I Got a Job (Live at the Black Cat) (Mp3)
America Hearts - Sudden Husband (Live at the Black Cat) (Mp3)
Approved for download!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

TVD Ticket Giveaway | Antonia Bennett, Friday (8/27) at Wolf Trap w/Tony Bennett

Photo: Annette Navarro

It's perhaps easy to say "like father, like daughter" when one hears that
Antonia Bennett, Tony Bennett's daughter, is forging quite the career in her own right as a jazz vocalist. But whereas I always feel Tony embraces a song with a warm, welcoming bear hug, Antonia sidles up to a melody—insinuating her arching, breathy vocals ever so nuanced, yet romantic and warm. And knowing.

And within a week where we're pitching past life's travails, I found listening to Antonia's new 6-song EP 'Natural' in preparation for this ticket giveaway to be quite the breath of fresh air—a welcome vocal approach, reminiscent of Chet Baker's recordings with whom she shares a cover in "The Thrill Is Gone."

Using the American Songbook as her foundation, Antonia explains, “I take each of the songs that I do as a story, with a beginning, middle and end – like a monologue – and I try to do my best to tell that story,” says Antonia. "I grew up listening to the American Songbook, and a variety of artists singing those songs. Singing these songs is like a home-cooked meal, like comfort food, something that is a part of me. The way I grew up, if you were going to take a song that was done by many of the great artists, you should bring a piece of yourself into it. Interpretation is an art form.”

She goes on to say, “We wanted to find wonderful standards that haven’t been overdone. In fact, none of these have been in my show repertoire. I used to sing “Puttin’ On the Ritz” when I was a little kid on stage with my Dad. I grew up singing it and love it. And if you’ve ever seen Young Frankenstein, you gotta love it!”

So, convince yourself as we have a pair of tickets to see Ms. Bennett along with her legendary father at Wolf Trap, this coming Friday night, 8/27.

To win, simply leave a response in the comments to this post as to why you should be awarded the pair of tickets. We'll choose the most convincing response by 5PM Thursday evening, 8/26.

Remember to leave us a contact email address too!

TVD | Spiritual Malaise

There's the line in The Style Council track The Paris Match:

"I'm only sad in a natural way / And I enjoy sometimes feeling this way..."

...which seems like a narcissistic dip into Lake Me.

But what the hell.

Ian Gomm - Hold On (Mp3)
Jim Croce - Operator (Mp3)
King L - Two Cars Collide (Mp3)
Jeff Buckley - If You See Her, Say Hello (Mp3)
Queen - These Are The Days Of Our Lives (Mp3)

TVD's Twitter Music Monday

That's right - it's a rerun. Allyson's on vacation this week but she'll return next week to give ol' #MusicMonday the finger. Or the whole fist. Who knows. Enjoy this gem from the archives. —Ed.

Snoop Dogg
made a
True Blood-themed music video. Twitter is a-buzz: all day yesterday, Twits (alt: Tweeps) obediently retweeted the following:

@TrueBloodHBO: #MM #musicmonday "Oh Sookie" by @snoopdogg http://itsh.bo/ohsookie #trueblood

Let’s parse this. I’m unfamiliar both with True Blood and the oeuvre of Snoop Dogg, so I need to take things slow.

Snoop Dogg (proper noun): A West-coast rap icon, guided to ascendance in the mid-90s by Dr. Dre; Snoop’s real name (Cordozar Calvin Broadus) is empirically more awesome than his stage name. If you have ears and went into or past a school dance, a nightclub, or bar between 1994 and 2004, you have heard Gin and Juice or Drop it Like it’s Hot, two of Snoop’s inescapable hits.

True Blood (proper noun): An HBO drama based on Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse novels. Like every popular thing in the world, the show and the novels feature vampires.

Sookie Stackhouse (proper noun): The main character on True Blood, played by Anna Paquin, who, to me, will always be Rogue or that chick with the geese in Fly Away Home.

Fanfic (noun): Abbreviation of “fan fiction,” a genre of storytelling in which devoted fans write stories about their favorite fictional characters (and in which SHIT GETS WEIRD YO).

Snoop Dogg has created the music video version of fanfic about Sookie Stackhouse, using the True Blood set, and this music video is being promoted, on Twitter, by HBO.

Now that I know what’s happening, here are some thoughts on the video:

First, THE LICENSE PLATE HAS FANGS. Now I kind of want a car. To give it fangs.

Second, the whole backlit dance sequence looks an awful lot like the Sparkle Motion performance in Donnie Darko. I’d like to think that means this video contains fanfic-within-fanfic, but more likely the choreographer just got lazy. (I'd link to the Sparkle Motion dance, but the only video on YouTube has dumb 4chan captions with pedobear references Do not want.)

Third, is this song supposed to be…good? I don’t know hip hop well, but “I wanna do bad things to you,” and “You ever been to LA?” just seem lazy. I don’t hear a single clever line. Maybe this is just what happens when one listens to the Beastie Boys to the exclusion of everything else for a few months in high school, but I rather expect all such music to contain gems like “I got stories like J.D.’s got Salinger,” or “I got the girlies in the coop like the Colonel’s got chickens.”

Fourth, while we’re talking about lyrics and chickens: “I got a whole lotta eggs for her to eat, and these eggs come with a lot of cheese and grits.” Maybe I’ve got my anatomy wrong, but…I don’t think Snoop Dogg has eggs. I very much hope this is a reference to something that happens on the show, because otherwise this metaphor is unthinkably gross.

Role #mmodel: twimomof3: I am listening to "Total Eclipse of the Heart (Glee Cast Version) [feat. Jonathan Groff]" by Glee Cast ? http://bit.ly/c4jZgo #musicmonday. Of course you are, twimomof3.

My #musicmonday pick: Shadrach, the Beastie Boys song quoted above. I know every word, and for a while, I thought that meant I could rap.