It’s been about two years since we’ve heard from psych-rock band the Vacant Lots . And the last we did, it wasn’t particularly pleasant, as front man Jared Artaud  was dissing Burlington in an interview with music website Rock Edition, saying he was “continually disappointed” by music in the Queen City. To which the scene collectively responded, “Thank you, Jared, for your honest assessment of our community. We appreciate your opinions and your right to express them. However, we respectfully disagree. Best of luck in your future endeavors!”
Nah. The town’s response was far more succinct, consisting of roughly two words by my count. (I’ll let you guess which two.) My own response in these pages was a little more long-winded and, I’d like to think, diplomatic. But it had essentially the same gist.
Since then, and perhaps unsurprisingly, TVL have played nary a show in the town where the band got its start. But that’s not to say they haven’t been busy.
In a recent email to 7D, Artaud writes that he and original drummer Brian McFadyen have been touring a bunch lately and have released a pair of singles, including one on the Reverberation Appreciation Society — a label offshoot of the Austin Psych Fest, which TVL played again this year — and another on Sonic Cathedral in the UK. He adds that TVL have just finished mixing and mastering the band’s “official” debut album, which should be released later this year. That’s pretty cool news. Though it does make me wonder why I bothered reviewing their first three albums, since they apparently weren’t official. Oh, well. Perhaps that will be explained in the documentary that Austin filmmaker Bret Zausmer  is doing on the band.
Anyway, TVL are playing their first Burlington show in two years at Signal Kitchen this Thursday, August 8, with Montréal’s Elephant Stone , who are, in critical parlance, totally fucking awesome.
After TVL’s time away from the Burlington stage, it will certainly be interesting to see how they’re received. On one hand, they are still a good band and, for a while, were among the most widely respected acts in town. On the other hand, Artaud has burned some bridges in a city he once claimed was on the verge of an artistic revolution. On yet another hand, the band’s most recent single, “6 AM,” is a pretty cool example of modern, minimalist psych rock. But if we can count one more hand, Artaud has a reputation as a bit of a dick.
That’s a lot of hands. And I don’t think I’ve felt this conflicted about someone’s return since Johnny Damon came back to Fenway Park in a Yankees uniform.
So here’s hoping everyone involved can simply let bygones be bygones and enjoy some good music from a talented band in a town that is anything but disappointing. That, or everybody starts kung fu fighting. Either way, it’s gonna be entertaining.
Meanwhile, in Huntington…
One of these years, I swear I’m going to make it to the Valley Stage Music Festival  at Blackbird Swale. But it won’t be this year, which is a shame, since it’s arguably the best lineup in the folk-centric festival’s eight-year history. And that’s saying something, since previous fests have seen the likes of Robbie Fulks, Darol Anger, Mike & Ruthy and the Defibulators, among many others, grace the renewable-energy-powered stage.
Perhaps you’ve already read the interview with Joy Kills Sorrow front woman Emma Beaton . JKS are actually co-headlining the festival alongside another up-and-coming acoustic band, the Stray Birds . The latter band’s self-titled 2012 record was a gem that the good folks at NPR Music dubbed “one of the finest debuts of the year.” If there’s one thing NPR Music knows, it’s good folk music.
But wait, there’s more!
Rounding out the day’s lineup is a pair of excellent local acts, bluegrass supergroup the Modern Grass Quintet  and indie-folk darlings the DuPont Brothers  — one of my personal favorite local bands. Oh, and fiddle ace Katie Trautz  (Wooden Dinosaur, Mayfly) will both open and close the festival with Appalachian fiddle tunes, which is pretty nifty.
For more info on the Valley Stage Music Festival, check out valleystage.net .
Local electro-pop auteur tooth ache.  — aka Alexandria Hall — is preparing to release a rerecorded and reproduced version of her debut record, Flash & Yearn. The album, which will be released on vinyl by Feeding Tube Records, won’t hit out eager ears until September 3. However, in the meantime, Ms. ache. has been working on a trio of videos to release as singles. She’ll premiere the first, “Matador” — which, BTW, features strippers and bowling and livestock, oh my! — at a show at the BCA Center in Burlington this Saturday, August 10, alongside Michael Collins, David Greenberg and Maui.
Happy birthday, Sarah Stickle ! The local songwriter — and genuine ginger! — turns 21 on Tuesday, August 13, and celebrates with a special birthday show at Radio Bean. Turning of legal drinking age is certainly a special occasion. But here’s a word of advice, Sarah: Wait until after your set to begin, ahem, celebrating in earnest.
Speaking of birthdays, you might have noticed that seemingly every bar in Burlington was blaring Grateful Dead last Thursday evening. That’s because August 1 is the late Jerry Garcia’s birthday. I’m guessing that this Friday, local watering holes will have a similarly heady feel, since August 9 is the 18th anniversary of Garcia’s death. However, discerning Deadheads will undoubtedly flock to Nectar’s that night as local Dead acolytes Blues for Breakfast  present their annual tribute to Garcia, “Jerryfest.”
Local comedians Will Betts and Chicky Winkelman recently debuted their new podcast, “The 14th State,”  which is essentially just the two comics talking about whatever happens to be on their minds. And it’s pretty funny. For example, the first episode is an in-depth discussion of Ken Picard’s recent Asian massage parlor story in Seven Days. Suffice it to say, the comedians take a decidedly different angle on the story. Subsequent episodes have featured guests, including local comedian and actress Natalie Miller and film director David Metzger, interviews that both contain slightly fewer references to hand jobs. Check it out at 14thstatepodcast.com  or on iTunes.
Last but not least, this just in: Elvis Costello . Flynn MainStage. November 2. That is all.
A peek at what was on my iPod, turntable, eight-track player, etc., this week.
Belle & Sebastian, The Third Eye Centre
Sarah Lee Guthrie / Johnny Irion ,
Future Bible Heroes, Partygoing
Jackson Scott, Melbourne