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)

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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)