Author Archives: Mike Olinger

TVD Premiere: Genuine Leather, “Feel It” / “My Life Is In Your Hands”

Spearheaded by Austin-based song man Chris Galis, indie rock outfit Genuine Leather blend Texas barroom crunch with Beatlesque seventh chord bliss.

Originally formed as a studio project, Galis had to hustle up a sextet of Austin virtuosos once his debut tracks caught on with local promoters. 2 EPs, 3 LPs, and dozens of B-Sides later, the band is now releasing a retrospective of their work entitled 2011-2019 Demos, Singles and Live.

It’s a stunning album, full of little innovative garage rock nuggets that chart the creative trajectory of the band. Topping off the thoughtfully compiled collection is a pair of new, unreleased tracks that we are thrilled to premiere at TVD today.

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TVD Premiere: Craig Irving, “Heart”

Born and raised in the Scottish Highlands, Craig Irving spent his formative years lending guitar and vocals to some of Scotland’s top folk acts. Irving has embarked on several worldwide tours with sextet Gaelic band Mànran while his work with the Scottish folk trio Talisk has received a BBC Radio 2 Folk Award.

Striking out on his own seems like a natural progression for the young songwriter whose lulling debut track, “Heart,” feels like the work of savvy and seasoned artist. The Vinyl District is pleased to premiere the single, which owes as much to American heartland rock and modern pop rock as it does to traditional Celtic influences.

Irving has an earnest and highly personalized style, which complements the ringing, guitar-driven vibe of the instrumental portions, culminating in a hook that is both deeply felt and instantly hummable. “Heart” is set to arrive via Spotify on May 31st and will be followed by further promising singles, slated for the latter half of 2019.

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Needle Drop: Scary Hours, Live to Serve

NJ-based acoustic punk outfit Scary Hours, who coined their name from an old Wu-Tang song, imbue their jangly tunes with a biting satirical edge. The band’s acoustic pop punk and filtered lens radiates the confrontational ethos of hardcore—a bit like a Bukowski-esque version of Bright Eyes, or possibly a pissed off Plain White T’s high on Ritalin.

One click on the hilariously bleak opening couplet of “The Real Disease” and you will know what you’re in for—smart, misanthropic songwriting, delivered over jangly power chords. The wily “Pretty Bird” features another brilliant bout of self-defeating wisdom, as lead-singer Ryan Struck rattles off such gems as, “I’m gonna try to be pro-life and at the same time be pro-gun / and I’ll blow all your f*cking heads off while I judge the unfit moms.”

Scary Hours’ debut LP, Live to Serve, is chock full of these worldly realizations which both shock and amaze. The 10 song set arrived in stores last week and is available to stream via Soundcloud or Spotify.

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Needle Drop: Meiko, “Gimme Gimme”

A lot has happened since indie pop songstress Meiko burst onto the scene with her quirky 2008 pop gem “Boys With Girlfriends.”

After partnering with MySpace Records and Concord Music Group for the first decade of her career, the singer-songwriter has gone fully independent, self-funding her innovative new record In Your Dreams, so she could retain complete creative control. Recorded with producer Justin Glasco, the former drummer for The Lone Bellow, In Your Dreams is a glistening piece of alterna-pop that begs for repeat listens.

The lead-off single, “Gimme Gimme,” is a song that explores Meiko’s obsession with consumer culture. Daily online purchases, and dreams of orders and deliveries have become an intrinsic part of how we operate in our modern world, but it has never been so beautifully lampooned…until now. Set on a bed of jangly power chords and bright beats, Meiko romanticizes the pull of merchandise titans like Amazon who provide us with a myriad of distractions to satiate our ego’s desires.

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TVD Premiere: Alejandra O’Leary, “Undone”

PHOTO: ANNEMIE TONKEN | Portland, Maine-based Alejandra O’Leary is known for her eclectic musical palate, oscillating between soulful indie pop and blistering ’90s-era shoegaze. Her blatant disregard for genre distinctions could possibly be attributed to her multicultural lineage, which admittedly broke down any preconceived ideas of conformity that might have clouded her varied and dynamic creative undertakings.

The Vinyl District is pleased to premiere her newest single, “Undone,” which falls within the jangly indie pop shades of O’Leary’s diverse musical spectrum. The chorus even feels like a dead ringer for an iPhone commercial or other handy household entertainment system, though I highly doubt that was her intention. It’s clearly a love song that is soaked in childhood nostalgia, sung with an innocent swagger which feels akin to the early work of Cyndi Lauper, with a touch of The Breeders.

It’s interesting to note that “Undone” and its corresponding LP, EVEREST (due in stores on June 7th), were recorded in a spontaneous session whereby Alejandra intentionally withheld chord charts or demos from her band until the last minute. This was in order to insure the material did not feel labored over. “The improvisatory spirit keeps things fresh and thrilling” Alejandra attests. “I find it to be the most enchanting way to create music.”

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TVD Video Premiere: Noelle Tannen,
“Ride U Slo”

NYC-based jazz lark Noelle Tannen is back with another soulful gem to follow up last year’s lauded single, “Proof.”

It’s clear that Tannen is keen to imbue her work with socially pressing issues such as gender equality and political transparency, exploring what it means to exist as a female in the modern world. “Ride U Slo” is a bit more ambiguous in nature, less of a statement and more of a perfect example of her theatrical synthesis of genres, bouncing from low slung neo soul to retro horn-laden funk.

Tannen delicately harps on the benefits of taking a blooming romance one step at a time but never seems to lose the lusty emotional thread which keeps things hot and engaging. The sweaty, tongue in cheek video, directed and edited by Mary Glen Fredrick, depicts a hilariously defective group workout routine and is a perfect accompaniment to the zesty single.

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Needle Drop: King Lear, “Death in a Field”

Queens-based songwriter/producer Matt Longo, aka Thin Lear, produces gorgeous astral folk that evokes the restless expansiveness of ’70’s-era studio obsessives.

On his latest single, “Death in a Field,” Longo sings of the life hereafter or perhaps the choices one makes before incarnating, sending his haunting falsetto careening through a psychedelic tangle of rootsy instruments. Reflecting on the track, Longo reveals, “I just really liked the concept of someone nearing the end of their life, and thinking about being reborn, being a baby again, and looking forward to experiencing life for the first time.”

“Death in a Field” is a lovely intro into the mystical world of Lear’s new record Wooden Cave, which was written and recorded in relative isolation, as the artist worked with a collective of idiosyncratic musicians. The resulting recordings are rich with unique musical nuance, conjuring up the insular worlds of Astral Weeks-era Van Morrison, Tim Buckley, and Shuggie Otis.

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TVD Premiere: The
Y Axes, “Get Away”

San Francisco-based indie outfit The Y Axes specialize in punk pop-tinged synth rock that recalls the early work of The Bangles as well as modern acts like Uffie. Their combination of muscular riffs and effervescent vocals have captured the attention of talking point outlets like Consequence of Sound, adding some national vindication to the systematic strides they’re making in the Bay Area live scene.

TVD is pleased to bring you the premiere of their newest track, “Get Away,” a thought-provoking slice of pop rock, pulled from their forthcoming LP No Waves, due in stores June 7th. Speaking on the inception of the song, lead-singer Alexi Belchere reflects, “‘Get Away’ was our attempt at writing a fun banger, so naturally our intentions were self-sabotaged and I wound up writing lyrics about what happens when you stop suppressing emotions.”

“The song talks about what we do to survive—turning up our headphones to block out thoughts, holding out for when everything gets better. Eventually this either breaks us or get released when we stop ‘pretending everything is ok.'”

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TVD Video Premiere: Paul Doffing,
“In Your Eyes”

American singer-songwriter and environmental advocate Paul Doffing deals in the kind of hushed, purposeful folk songs that made Iron and Wine a household name. His aching acoustic ballads often pose large, cosmic questions which he endeavors to resolve unpretentiously, creating compelling prose which reveals the inner working of his heart.

TVD is pleased to bring you the lead-off single and video from Doffing’s forthcoming LP, Running in the Dark, which is possibly the most introspective of his now 4-album-strong catalog. Paul’s touring schedule, consisting of epic bicycle expeditions, his guitar in tow, has taken him across 22 U.S. states and 7 countries.

But instead of creating a flashy, cosmopolitan collection of songs, Paul has used his outward experiences to sink deeper into his dharma, using his broad wold perspective to paint intimate pictures with sincerity and substance.

Running in the Dark arrives in stores on May 14th.

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TVD Premiere:
Eli Greenhoe,
“Katie’s Song”

Sounding like a suburban version of Dylan’s “Visions of Johanna,” Eli Greenhoe’s “Katie’s Song” indirectly exposes the object of his affection by concentrating on the oddball details surrounding her. It’s a kind of free-associative rhapsody that allows the listener to glean a deeper insight than a standard love song might denote.

Although this is Greenhoe’s debut as a songwriter, the songs that comprise his forthcoming full-length, That Time When It Rained, have been in his mind and performed in some or fashion since his days studying music at LaGuardia High School.

Greenhoe would go on to focus his attention into the classical composition world, but never lost his affinity for music in the folk tradition, which he revisits with such panache here.

Eli Greenhoe’s new album, That Time When It Rained arrives in stores on May 10th.

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Needle Drop: Dead Horse Beats, “Home Days”

Canadian multi-instrumentalist Patrick Wade aka Dead Horse Beats crafts lush, jazzy tracks that recall the early work of Jamiroquai.

Wade’s pristine production skills are in full effect on his newest single, “Home Days,” which glides along on a silky, synth laced beat that’s punctured by a variety of nuanced drum fills and delectable space funk flourishes.

“Home Days” is off his newest LP Inglaterra, which pushes further into the soulful sound he established on 2016’s “Bad Hopes” EP. Wade steps to mic more often on this outing, and has a lot more to say, which is great for us since his mellow vocals and vulnerable lyrics make his dope soundscapes all the more viable.

Inglaterra arrives in stores on May 24th.

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Needle Drop: Alexandra Raé, “Power to Me” EP

Dallas, Texas-based soul starling Alexandra Raé has an effortless knack for transposing the past into her modern compositions. Her spell-binding riffs on classic ’60s Motown make for enchanting songs that comb the revivalist infrastructures established by Amy Winehouse and Duffy a decade ago.

Raé’s debut EP, “Power to Me,” is her first artistic statement since she turned 21. Having newly flown the nest, she has a lot to say about adulthood and all the frustrating, confusing, and draining obstacles involved in growing up. While her original songwriting shines, Alexandra’s gorgeous vocal chops and ear for arrangement make it clear that this is an artist to watch.

The EP’s closer, a Beach Boys cover of “Don’t Worry Baby,” is where Raé shines with sophisticated harmonies that offset the shoegazey instrumental aspects, creating a truly original take on a modern classic.

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Needle Drop: William Russell Wallace, “Understanding”

SoCal based singer-songwriter William Russell Wallace crafts the kind of hard-hitting, poetically nuanced songs that immediately invite you into his world. The man we encounter in this place is in a reflective state, looking back at his young adult life with a sense of compassion and a tinge of regret.

Wallace fronted several other bands before striking out on his own, and lived the kind of life that revolved around drinking, drugs, and chasing women. This culminated in a car crash and, eventually, a stint in rehab, which is where he tracked the bones of “Understanding.”

The song is flush with beauty and pain, with a tasteful harmony to drive the heart-wrenching chorus home.

The official debut album from Wallace, Dirty Soul, arrives in stores on April 8th.

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TVD Premiere: Quiet Kids, “Quiet Kids” EP

Formed in 2014 in McAllen, TX by songwriter Andy Peña with bassist Devin Garcia, Quiet Kids have an innate knack for hallucinogenic indie pop. Their artfully crafted sound found resonance with other artists such as Angel Olsen, Mitski, and Miniature Tigers, who handed the newcomers support slots on their tours.

The Vinyl District is pleased to be premiering the band’s new, self-titled EP which is chock full of synth drenched, intelligently conceived indie rock. Their smart lyrics and tight-knit hooks make for an alluring listen that is both pleasurably broad in its strokes yet intensely personal.

Peña details, “People, places and things pull you in every direction, and it’s easy to please any and everyone. If we all just said what was on our minds we’d have much more of an understanding of who we are, and what we’re looking for… It’s only in the stability of my relationships that I realized I can write about whatever I feel. My art is me, and my family, and friends.”

“Quiet Kids” arrives in stores on March 29th.

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Needle Drop: Tom Wardle, “Jacqueline”

British singer-songwriter Tom Wardle creates plaintive and powerful country-rock, full of grit and golden-hued ’70s vibes.

The title-track from his gorgeous little 5 song EP, “Jacqueline,” is Wardle at his best, throwing his husky voice around like Rod Stewart in his heyday, milking his melodies over a jangly bed of drums and glowing organ. His soulful cry is suited for this kind of ballad, which reaches anthemic heights without losing the feeling of being grounded in reality. It’s no wonder that Tom has become fixture at high-end events around the globe with spins on the BBC and celebrity endorsements becoming a regular thing.

The “Jacqueline” EP arrived in stores this past February and features a set of impressive Americana-leaning gems and even a dip into reggae. All these tracks are worth a listen and provide a more upbeat approach than “Jacqueline,” and come across as raw, potent, and unprocessed. Wardle is one of the more promising crooners in recent years and it is clear that he knows how to play on his strengths, especially when given the space to serve the song in an intimate, slow burning way as he does on “Jacqueline.”

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