Author Archives: Mike Olinger

TVD Premiere: Alex
Haas / Bill Laswell,
“Hard to Believe”

The NYC duo of Alex Haas and Bill Laswell came to be after both men bonded over a shared love of ’90s Trip Hop, the majority of which bubbled out of the UK after the tsunami of creativity set off by Massive Attack and Portishead.

Their love for this niche genre is understandable, but it’s an interesting choice being that they’ve both dialed in some of the biggest marquee rock acts of the past half-century. Their resumes read like a music nerd’s bucket list, checking off sessions for David Bowie, The Ramones, Prince, Brian Eno, U2, and Eric Clapton. Bill Laswell’s has put inimitable stamp on nearly 3,000 recording projects by such artists as Mick Jagger, Yoko Ono, Iggy Pop, Laurie Anderson, Brian Eno, Bootsy Collins, Nine Inch Nails, Motorhead, Peter Gabriel, and Blur.

Clearly they have learned to apply their craft to more obtuse, electronic based music, choosing to create an instrumental album that reflects the organized chaos and urban flux of their native NYC.

Today, TVD is pleased to present their lead-off single “Hard to Believe” from the forthcoming LP Smoke and Glass. It’s a meditative composition that boasts a gritty horn arrangement, rumbling synths, and scattershot beat. The combo of instruments is restrained yet sonically rich, resulting in a well-calibrated slice of jazzy electronica, halfway between Tricky and Miles Davis.

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Needle Drop: Carriers, “Make It Right”

PHOTO: MICHAEL WILSON | Cincinnati, Ohio sextet Carriers create lush indie rock, carried by the timeless songwriting of band spearhead Curt Kiser.

The group’s newest single, “Make It Right,” is a glistening slice of indie rock that owes as much to the positive vibes of ’80s Queen as it does to modern bands like The National and The War on Drugs. The track is lifted from the band’s newest LP, Now Is The Time For Loving Me, Yourself & Everyone Else, which expounds on the single’s self-reflective quality, boasting an array of well-conceived tracks that take stock of life, death, relationships, and general gratitude for all existence has to offer.

As Kiser details, “Overall it’s about appreciating what we have and remaining present, while still being able to have an honest perspective of the past and our future. I’ve personally found a lot of peace in just working hard and staying focused on what I’ve got going on, trusting, rather than being consumed with striving. This recording process has taught me a lot about patience. Life will continue to teach me to have more. I’m just trying to accept what happens and handle it the best I can.”

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Needle Drop: Touch the Buffalo, “Heart is For”

DC-based upstarts Touch the Buffalo cook up BBQ-ready summer rock that toes the line between indie dance vibes with ’90s grunge and grit, eliciting some serious Nirvana meets Blind Melon vibes.

The band’s newest single, “Heart is For,” comes equipped with an addictive melodic blast of entangled lyrics and spidery riffs that just might induce fits of uncontrolled dancing.

The trio has honed their chops over the past few years as an opener for some notable acts such as Good Charlotte, Gin Blossoms, Sugar Ray—bands who they’ve clearly derived their unique style from. Their recordings don’t deviate from their dialed-in live show, resulting in lean songs that are built on a solid foundation of guitar, bass, and drums. Touch The Buffalo’s forthcoming EP is due out this summer.

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TVD Premiere: Katrina Parker, “Stars”

LA-based Katrina Parker was born to sing, with the kind of angelic intonation that brings to mind LeAnn Rimes, Tammy Wynette, and Patsy Cline. It’s the kind of singing you can’t keep a secret, so it’s no wonder Parker ended up as a semi-finalist on The Voice.

While the wide recognition brought her a huge fanbase and glowing nods from LA Weekly and Rolling Stone, the “painfully shy” Parker felt buried beneath the trappings of post-reality TV and cut ties from that world completely. A demi-decade later, and after some serious self-reflection, she’s releasing new music that’s true to her Southern roots—the kind of vibe she cultivated growing up, belting from her grandma’s porch, bathing in the natural reverb of rustic North Carolina.

TVD is pleased to premiere her lead-off single “Stars,” which is the first inkling of her new direction. It’s a spacious, luminous ballad that straddles the line between Laurel Canyon-style country and Top 40 pop. Parker’s voice is placed front and center in the bright mix, striking both a conversational and anthemic tone as her emotive songwriting navigates the big, melodic hooks, conjuring up deeply romantic ode to LA.

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Needle Drop: Andy Kong, “Westfalia”

Blending influences across genres and decades, Cali-based singer-songwriter Andy Kong produces an evocative blend of Americana and electronica.

His newest single release, “Westfalia,” is a charming slice of indie pop that is an ideal addition to any wanderer’s road trip playlist. What makes it more impressive is that the dialed-in aesthetic of the song was created without any external input, produced from scratch by the youngster who clearly has a defined artistic vision for himself.

The breezy beat and mellifluous vocal mingle to create a unique and relaxing vibe that lands somewhere between James Blake and James Bay. According to Kong, “‘Westfalia’ is the exhilaration of driving with the windows down on a sunny day. The freedom of letting it all go. Or the simplicity of spending time just relaxing with friends.”

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Needle Drop: Chapell, Penultimate

NYC-based singer-songwriter Chapell produces tasteful and ambitious progressive pop rock that recalls R.E.M.’s mid-’90s output.

His newest LP, Penultimate, is a distinctly personal collection of material, charged with a sense of freedom and optimism and brimming with newly adorned sense of direction. Clearly, this is the dominating vibration now that the internet age’s hangover has dissipated. Sure, there is still plenty to be paranoid about (see the sucker punch of “I Am Zuck”) but more often we catch him ready to cut ties with the modern world and ride into the sunset, free of technological distortion.

Chapell’s crystal clear intonation makes his loaded content go down easy, often using buff melodic hooks to make deeper sentiments more accessible. The world-tinged “Sandinista” is a wonderful expose of the tragedies taking place in the tiny Central American country of Nicaragua, while the bittersweet “Catch Me” is an unnervingly catchy investigation into human character flaws. Chapell winds things down with the anthemic “If You Like It” which mixes edgy post punk guitars with powdery horn arrangements, revealing a sweetly paternal side to the songwriter.

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TVD Premiere: AstroLogical, “Symbiosis”

Vancouver-based producer Nate Drobner, aka AstroLogical, crafts dreamy electronica that navigates between jazz, soul/funk, ambient, and future-beat.

TVD is pleased to premiere the newest single, “Symbiosis,” which bops along to an elegant mix of glowing synths and hushed vocals. AstroLogical is clearly not out to hijack anyone’s attention, but here to provide a mellow escape for those looking for an evocative soundscape to accompany their morning coffee or evening cocktail. It’s a lush and unhurried production which lends itself to a magic hour listening session.

After releasing a number of solo instrumental hip-hop projects through the label Jellyfish Recordings in the early 2010s, Drobner began focusing his energy within the production duo Potatohead People; a collaborative project with his old friend Nick Wisdom, eventually getting noticed by Brooklyn-based record label Bastard Jazz. The label is now backing AstroLogical’s solo output, beginning with the debut EP “Private World,” due in stores June 21st.

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Needle Drop: Historian, Spiral Again

PHOTO: ANNA MARIA LOPEZ | The work of Los Angeles psych outfit Historian is moody, strange, and strikingly poignant.

Five releases in, it’s now clear that a Historian album is always a cohesive work where the sum is greater than the parts. Spiral Again is the newest edition to their catalog, and possibly the most personal and paired down release to date. Glowing organs have replaced the full blown orchestral arrangements which usually accompany the shamanistic poetry of band spearhead Chris Karman, resulting in a level of intimacy that previous records failed to capture.

Karman has a knack for turning a phrase, and his doomsday prophesies are often imbued with grace notes of beauty and hope. The music is couched in warm analog production, inviting the listener to melt away in the blissful repose of a man who is dealing with his worldly anxiety in the most elegant of ways. According to Karman, “Spiral Again is really my attempt at capturing the feeling I get, alone in the middle of the night. There’s an air of mystery, sadness, longing, and tinge of joy. It’s a fairly indescribable moment that I feel I was able to tap and sustain for an entire record.”

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Needle Drop: Nightcars, “Disappear”

Hailing from Madrid, Spain, alternative trio Nightcars craft a nostalgic mix of ’80s Top 40 and modern electro rock. The band name is derived from the song “Running with the Night” by Lionel Richie, which is clearly a touchstone for their smooth, moody, and melodic sound.

Nightcars’ latest single “Disappear,” is one of more uplifting cuts from their forthcoming and yet to be titled EP due in stores this year. Regarding the thematic nature of the track, band spearhead Nick Marchena remarks, “I think that all of us have had that urge to disappear like a ghost, even if it is for a little while.”

“The idea itself is attractive and fun, if we ignore responsibilities and the impact it can have on your loved ones. We all had some days that we want to drop it all, and for some of us, that idea in our heads comes in the form of a cheerful soundtrack.”

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Needle Drop: Thoughts, The Last Summer

Dynamic, Florida-based trio Thoughts literally just graduated high school and have perfectly captured the carefree, breezy vibe of the definitive summer before adulthood.

Simmering with nostalgia, The Last Summer is a joyous and soulful collection of songs that blend various musical strains into an impressively unique class of pop rock. TVD is pleased to present the new LP in its entirety for your listening pleasure.

Thoughts have been likened to lovechild of The Strokes and Jamiroquai, equal parts shimmering soul and indie grit, with rhapsodic reviews bubbling up from the blogosphere and a live show that’s created an avid following around their home turf. The band is currently planning a mini tour run in October through Philly, New York City, and Boston with plans to relocate from the Gulf Coast to Philly permanently by the end of the year. Be sure to stay connected with their show schedule and pick up the new LP to soak up the sunny nostalgic vibes forevermore.

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Needle Drop: Josh McGovern, “When
You’re Done”

Brighton singer/songwriter Josh McGovern is an expressive and moody character whose deep baritone and subdued delivery reminds us of early Nick Cave.

His latest single “When You’re Done” is a thoughtful and honest portrait of love, addressing the complexities of true romance. Josh is brave enough to not lean on anything other than his jangly guitar chops and a stirring melody, but the result is a heartfelt piece of alt-folk/Americana.

Regarding the new song Josh says, “’When You’re Done’ is an honest one, I think it’s going to have different meaning for everyone but for me it’s about the many faces of love and how relationships aren’t disposable and require work to last. I wanted to write a song people in real relationships could relate to.”

“When You’re Done” is Josh’s follow-up to his breakthrough 2017 single “Love Left Lost.”

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Needle Drop: Psychic Lines, Dance, Cartoon Skeleton

Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Philip Jacob—aka Psychic Lines—self produces a delectable blend of sparkling freak folk.

His nonchalant baritone paired with his unique, oddball pop sensibilities and soothing tremolo guitars makes for a refreshing listen that’s both intellectually stimulating and musically satiating, much like other slightly quirky, outcast songwriters such as Leonard Cohen and Stephin Merritt.

Speaking of bands like The Magnetic Fields and Timber Timbre, there seems to be a connective thread between their grounded yet experimental aesthetic and Psychic Lines’ indie pop. It’s the tension they both strike in their moody musings which always seem to be delivered with a good helping of heart-on-the-sleeve emotion and dare I say…heart?

Psychic Lines’ newest offering, Dance, Cartoon Skeleton, arrived in stores at the tail end of May and is definitely an album that should be savored from beginning to end.

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Needle Drop: The Last Bees, “True or False”

Milwaukee-based, retro pop aficionados The Last Bees have been making waves with their eerily authentic odes to the British Invasion. TVD is pleased to offer an exclusive download of their latest single “True or False”—an acerbic stab at The Beatles’ catalog, more Lennon and less McCartney, but still a clear melodic ode to the direction they were forging in the early ’60s.

Ian Ash, the bands spearhead, wrote the track in collaboration with veteran songwriter and Grammy winner Jim Peterick. Peterick, formerly of the band Survivor, is credited as a co-writer of dozens of hit songs, including “Eye of the Tiger,” so it certainly lends a stamp of approval to The Last Bees debut EP. The song’s chorus is a complex network of major and minor chords that weave in and out of the seamless melody, creating a nostalgic slice of ’60s pop.

It’s a joy to revel in the sticky, lo-fi abandon, but there is also something fresh about Ash’s retro appropriations. After all, countless bands have cited The Beatles as inspiration, but few have recaptured their early sound with the same attention to detail as The Last Bees.

“True or False” is available as a free download on Soundcloud and can also be grabbed directly here.

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TVD Premiere: Bus Stop Poets, “Blow”

Detroit-based outfit Bus Stop Poets pull from disparate threads of Motown’s storied past, oscillating from tight 3 piece to a full-blown sextet, complete with doo-wop, girl group harmonies.

One can pick up hints of other Big D luminaries like MC5, The Stooges, and The Raconteurs, but BSP seem less burdened by the confines of genre, choosing to step outside their comfort zone of pop rock to explore Americana and alt country.

TVD is pleased to premiere the band’s lead-off single, “Blow”—a gut punch of a lost love song from their forthcoming LP Leave it to the Kids. The single has a distinctly aboriginal feel, a bit like Crosby, Stills and Nash (Down Under), with a rich assortment of ace harmonies couching John Mabilia’s formidable vocals. These guys are clearly seasoned musicians with a clear artistic vision, and the songwriting has a lilting narrative quality that conjures up mid-70s Eagles.

Leave it to the Kids will arrive digitally in late July, followed by a limited vinyl pressing.

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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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