Wednesday, September 29, 2010

TVD Takeover | The Posies' 'BLOOD/CANDY' Vinyl Giveaway

As I mentioned on Monday, we’re delighted to have The Posies here with us all week blogging away mercilessly—especially since this week is the release week for the eagerly anticipated new LP, BLOOD/CANDY. (Officially on store shelves September 28th.)

Those of you who follow us with rapt attention know that for every ‘takeover’ week here at TVD, we’ve got a contest running in tandem – and this week’s can't be any more obvious.

We’ve got two copies of the aforementioned BLOOD/CANDY on vinyl to ship out to two winners in exchange for your comment to this post. Pen your Posies-related missive to us and the band in the aptly named Comments Box and the two that strike the perfect chord will each have the new LP shipped off to him or her.

We’ll choose both winners this coming Friday (10/1) and remember to leave us a contact email address, ok?

The Posies - Licenses to Hide (Mp3)
Approved for download!

Ticket Giveaway! | Mariage Blanc, Friday (10/1) at Velvet Lounge

I'm rarely afforded the opportunity to see live music these days. It simply ain't happening—despite the number of tickets we give away to shows here at TVD, which—all blessing and a curse-like—keeps me most evenings glued to the Mac. Right, right - there are exceptions but normally the concerns are for your evening plans.

But I did have the opportunity to catch Pittsburgh, PA's Mariage Blanc last summer on a four-way bill we promoted that week and with having heard just one track, the joyous 'Whatever You Say I Am,' (very Pernice Brothers) I was taken with the band immediately, chatted them up, told 'em they needed to get back on the blog—and that moment's here in the form of a pair of tickets to Friday's show at Velvet Lounge with Foreign Press and Janel and Anthony.

You've got 48 hours to win this pair by telling us in the comments to this post, what band you saw live for the very first time that simply blew you away. Should be easy, right?

We'll choose our winner at noon on Friday, 10/1 and remember to leave us a contact email address with your insightful entry.

Remember, we've teamed up with ReadysetDC for all of our ticket giveaways so you can enter to win either here at TVD or at ReadysetDC.

Mariage Blanc - Whatever You Say I Am (Mp3)
Mariage Blanc - Move On (Mp3)
Approved for download!

TVD Takeover | The Posies

It's Day #3 of The Posies' Vinyl District Takeover and Jon Auer checks in from Spain:

Happy Birthday To Me, Spanish Style
Ok…(deep breath)

Right from the start I’ll have to admit his isn’t going to be what I intended to submit for my first entry to The Vinyl District. Indeed, I’ll confess to loftier goals and more complex aspirations, that I was psyched to be asked to contribute to TVD this week…really. And then…. well….Como se dice? Let’s put it this way: Life may indeed be what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans but you’d think I might’ve respected the good ole’ laws of physics a bit more in this particular case. Read: time travel doesn’t exist as far as my currently hung-over brain is aware, though I do believe I tried to go back in time in my dreams last night and compose a blog entry “for the ages”, a real stunner …something even Anthony Bourdain would be jealous of. Naturally, in my alpha state, I’d just about completed my blogosphere “masterpiece” when the wake up call from the extremely grumpy Spaniard working the front desk came, just in time to watch my dream dissolve. Apparently he didn’t like having to get out of bed at sunrise any more than I did. Thanks, hombre…

But I digress. Let’s just say three parts travel from the US to Spain plus three parts first show of The Posies’ European tour last night divided by six parts procrastination multiplied by my birthday equals yours truly furiously typing in a hotel room in Murcia scant hours before my deadline, thanking heavens for time zones. So, in lieu of a more fruitful course of action, to paraphrase Milli Vanilli, I’m going to cut myself a little slack on my special day and “Blame It On The Spain.”

How lucky is it for me that the Spanish just happen love vinyl? Very. Adding it up, I’ve averaged at least two visits a year to this impassioned land since 1993 and almost everywhere you can think of going you’re bound to find amazing rock and roll bars playing a majority of vinyl from dusk until dawn and in most cases even dawn the next day. Some of the best times I’ve had here have been taking turns with DJs playing great music until no one in the room can lift a glass, keep an eye open, or hear anymore….even on a Sunday, like at a place in Yecla I played solo in 1999 called The Happy House and ESPECIALLY on a Monday like at the superlative bar Louie Louie in Madrid, a place everyone who loves rock and roll should experience at least twice. I still have a stack of 45s, including the original “Black is Black” by Los Bravos, given to me there one epic evening by the legendary Spanish musician/promoter Kike Turmix, a man who was larger than life in many ways. That’s the kind of thing that happened at Louie Louie and I feel fortunate to have shared those moments with him.

Back to the moment at hand, I suppose I’m also lucky I’m not the only person in Spain right now who didn’t deliver what they’d intended. My birthday came at the stroke of midnight during our sold out show at Murcia’s own Sala Stereo last night and before the clock chimed twelve, September 28th was the worldwide release day of BLOOD/CANDY, the new Posies album, a record we just happened to make a large portion of in Spain earlier this year. The show was amazing but regrettably, even though much planning had gone into the imminent delivery of our latest on both CD and vinyl, the proverbial snafu occurred and a few hundred Spanish Posies fan weren’t able to buy our new record from us on the day of its release. Ouch. But hey – at least they wanted to, right?

Blame it on the Spain.

TVD Takeover | The Posies

Last April, in our run-up to Record Store Day, we spent several weeks with several record labels. One was Ardent Records, the offshoot label from our friends at Ardent Studios. Sadly, the timing was less than fortunate. Just a few weeks prior we lost Alex Chilton and with some last minute switches, we were able to include some well-penned tributes to the late Big Star singer who recorded those timeless, transcendent LPs within Ardent's walls.

We thought we'd revisit Ken's thoughts on Alex this morning in tandem with The Posies Vinyl District takeover.

When I was just starting out in my band The Posies, the first band I had that made records and toured, etcetera, back in 1988, we were introduced to the music of Big Star. People heard our early music and assumed, correctly, that we'd find the pure harmonies, heartbreaking sentiment, and mix of rock power and Byrds-like jangling bliss a great inspiration and sympathetic vibration to our own music. It was something of a revelation, one that has probably confounded thousands of listeners when they discover these records for the first time, "How could this band not have been hugely popular?”

And that, my friends, is where the dichotomy began.

Before Big Star, if the critics loved it, if it was quality, word got around, and artists who were influential artistically, like The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, the fucking Beatles, for fuck's sake, sold millions. There was crap too, also selling millions. The only band that didn't sell was The Shaggs.

Big Star was not part of a rebellion, like the punks would be soon after. They were a hot band in Memphis, with great songs, and a huge music machine (CBS) behind them. And they failed, spectacularly. It was a tree falling in the woods though - nobody knew the band, so no one knew what they were missing. But so began the idea that there were two worlds in music - the crapmosphere of the latest pop idols, and the quality control layer that was just for those in the know. Suddenly, the idea prevailed that the better a band was - the less likely it was to sell. And in fact, the ability to turn away listeners was a sign of quality. In many ways I agree. In many ways, Big Star has nothing to do with this argument.

I digress. Big Star became heroes because they satisfied every test for quality you could apply, but also they were the ultimate underdogs, a symbol of the unjust whims of popular taste. Something was wrong with the system and here was the proof. The star factory couldn't even makes stars out of Big Star.

I knew Alex first through this context and through his music. We were fans - fans enough to consider taking our first big budget from Geffen Records and spending it at Ardent Studios in Memphis where all of Big Star's albums (and albums we loved by the Replacements, REM, Led Zep, ZZ Top) were made. We eventually decided to stay in Seattle, but via his position as the company's A&R/PR/business gettin' guy, Big Star's Jody Stephens became a fan, a friend, and a friendly familiar face when we were at events like CMJ, South by Southwest, etc.

When some college kids from Missouri threw the dice and had the boldness to inquire if Big Star would reunite for their spring concert...and Alex said yes, Jody called us to fill in the missing posts formerly held by the late Chris Bell and the retired-from-music Andy Hummel. Our first rehearsal in Seattle was where we met Alex for the first time. At first a bit of a cipher, or perhaps a sphinx, he kept his words spare. But even in those first rehearsal days we were talking about Dostoevsky... and it seemed Alex wasn't like other musicians we had played with - more interested in their bongs or their thinly-supported intellectual aspirations, if not practices. Alex was disciplined, and curious, a formidable combo.

But Alex was more than a great intellect (he was widely read, widely interested, willing and able to discuss at length virtually any subject except Big Star). He was charming, challenging, spontaneous and generous. He proposed after a short time of Jon & me playing with Big Star that our contributions merited equal pay. He drove me around Memphis pointing out the housing project where Elvis had lived at one point. We played tennis and had dinners together in his frequent visits to Paris. He introduced me to the music of Faron Young, Rodd Keith, and more. Though he had a reputation for being difficult, the Alex that I have tour managed for the last decade has been the Alex of, “Yeah, cool...whatever. No problem.”

He didn't do interviews. He didn't have email. You had to call him to ask him a question. Isn't that more sociable? I think he thought so. And it is for that sociability, as well as that integrity, that stand out among the many things I will miss about Alex.