Author Archives: Mike Olinger

TVD Premiere: Hanford Reach, “Asunder”

Brooklyn based neo-shoegazers Hanford Reach create swirling waves of post-punk psychedelia that reflect the anxious nature of our modern times.

The duo of Chris Sherman and Leah Cinnamon have become known for their anxiety-ridden lyrics and dreamy compositions which are punctuated by drone-like guitar arpeggios and hypnotic synths. Today TVD has the pleasure of premiering their newest single “Asunder,” which embodies the best of their drone-like psych sensibilities.

Reflecting on the track, Sherman comments, “‘Asunder’ is about anxieties that leave you feeling scattered in a few different directions, but learning the need to stay in the moment to take yourself away from that mindset. The EP as a whole deals with lingering memories and the process of moving past them.”

The “Nathalie” EP arrives in stores January 28th.

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TVD Premiere:
Aaron David Gleason,
“Bright Lights”

Brimming with technicolor funk, Aaron David Gleason’s ode to the city of dreams is an incendiary slice of electro pop that channels the early work of Lenny Kravitz.

Gleason has been a fixture in the rock community for over a decade, chewed up and spit out by the machine, only to become more grounded in his own convictions. Freed from the shackles of his former label, Aaron is dropping a deluge of unreleased material in the form of a massive, four-album collection spanning each and every vibrant chapter of his musical career.

Today we have the pleasure of premiering “Bright Lights” off the self-aware manifesto This is Aaron David Gleason. The album is chock full of diverse entries, including this weed-laced disco groove, which is punctuated by a “blood on the mic” vocal from Gleason. While remaining cool and upbeat, his performance belies a deeper dissatisfaction with the subject matter.

Reflecting on the soulless nature of his time in LA, Aaron says, “‘Bright Lights’ is a bluesy little tale of chasing the limelight. I was living in Silver Lake, and I could see the bright lights of downtown where I would venture out every night. That’s what this song is about—the feast of lust that is L.A., and how utterly disposable we all can be here after that lust is satiated. I moved to New York shortly thereafter.”

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Needle Drop: HOLY WOW, “Hey Dragon”

Industrial electro rockers HOLY WOW hail from NYC and specialize in the kind of Gothic pop that made household names out of The Jesus and Mary Chain and Echo and the Bunnymen.

Their newest single, “Hey Dragon,” is a stadium-primed barn burner that rides a relentless bass groove into a full on Rolling Stones, gospel-tinged climax. The blissed out, fuzz-driven undertones and buzzsaw riffs are a perfect match for lead singer Dmitry Wild’s dynamic vocals which oscillate from Lou Reed-like speak singing to Brandon Flowers-esque rock operatics.

“Hey Dragon” is off the forthcoming debut, Modern Ancient Man, which marks the first time Mr. Wild has taken the leadership role among the prolific line of bands he’s been associated with. The new skin seems to suit him well, as the whole LP is laced with a sweet spot swagger that continues to impress after repeat listens.

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Needle Drop: Violet Sands, “Gone”

Brooklyn-based trio Violet Sands are relatively new to the scene, but their artful electro-pop musings feel crafted by the steady hand of a master.

Spearheaded by guitarist Derek Muro and vocalist Deidre Muro, the band has come to be known by their synthesis of shoegazey riffs and electo-chillwave production. Their newest single, “Gone,” is a dreamy slice of synth pop that isn’t in a rush to prove itself, revealing it’s power through dynamic shifts in arrangement and world-weary lyricism.

Derek shares, “‘Gone’ is about losing your way in life, being confused and still pressing on despite the temptations of escapism. It’s trying to be comfortable in face of the unknown. We started the song as part of our album HOTEL in Los Angeles immediately before I moved back to New York. The song definitely has a quality of a big life move embedded in it.”

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Needle Drop: The Camino Side Project, (s/t)

The enchanting new release from multi-instrumentalist Paul Farran aka The Camino Side Project has us feeling bitten by the travel bug.

The product of an extensive world journey, of movement & music is an intoxicating blend of jangling folk, blues, prog rock, Leonard Cohen-esque Zen wisdom, and lovely world instrumentation. Farran’s exquisite collaborations conjure moody, evocative soundscapes, while his deeply inquisitive lyrics prod at the deeper questions life poses, especially when you’re on a life changing trip across the earth with your wife and children.

The LP is a transformative exploration of life and family, documenting his clan’s travels across 4 continents, 11 countries and 14 studios over 18 months. It is imbued with a deep love of companionship and music that spans the four corners of the earth—a deeply personal artistic statement that manages to reflect all the contrast and beauty one would expect from such an extensive, ambitious an often-arduous journey.

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Needle Drop: Harms,
“Car Outside”

Harms is the brainchild of Jake Harms who took a hiatus from his other band, What Moon Things, to create the highly personal debut album Aquarium. His emotionally loaded, forlorn musings evoke late ’80s gothic rock, particularly the work of The Cure and Echo and the Bunnymen.

“Car Outside” is the kind of unrequited love song that feels so unbearably lonely, it becomes comforting. Jake’s dire indie pop yarns are spun out over a hypnotic, tape saturated back beat, couched in a bed of jangling, angular acoustic guitars. The sound is pressurized yet languid, making me feel the album’s title, Aquarium, is more of an overall mood than a physical reference to a particular location.

“In the end, as an artist, I’m always hoping that people accept my broken shit and that it resonates and makes people feel closer to the vulnerable parts of themselves,” Harms reflects. Indeed, the vulnerability of his tunes makes for a perfect self-reflective soundtrack and offers an incredibly insightful glimpse into a much less-guarded artistic vision then we are used to hearing from the indie rock world.

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TVD Video Premiere: Katie Barbato,
“Magical Ending”

“I wrote ‘Magical Ending’ about the search for happiness in life and what it means to me. After taking a hard look at myself and the world around me, I realized that it is not this fairytale ending I was searching for. I was looking for the moment I would arrive, and found that it is in the journey where my greatest joy comes from. There is a small light even in the darkness and that is my love I keep giving to the world. I can go on pretending and ignoring who I really am or I can realize that the magic is all around me now.”
Katie Barbato

Katie Barbato is always surprising us with her whimsical folk rock reveries. There seems to be a never-ending fount of sophisticated, melodic riches to be discovered on her newest EP, “The Art of Falling,” and we love how unselfconscious, bizarre, and vibrant her new music video is.

“It was fun to conceptualize themes related to magic that appear in fairy tales and mythology—but give them a tacky, cheesy, violent, and playful green-screen twist. The style of the video and the style of the song are somewhat incongruent, which is what Katie wanted, so it was fun to work within that paradigm,” the video’s director Max Margulies tells TVD.

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Needle Drop:
The Native Sibling,
“How to Win”

Seattle-based brother and sister folk duo The Native Sibling craft impeccable folk pop that breaks the mold.

It seems the duo has deconstructed their sound since their 2014 album, Letters Kept to Ourselves, which showcased the bands rustic vocal blend, finding its way to over a million listeners on Spotify and landing positive nods from the likes of iTunes and Daytrotter. Their newest single, “How to Win,” still makes use of their charming harmonies, but finds new life in minor key melodies and offbeat vocal interplay.

The video for “How to Win” is a perfect accompaniment to the track, bathing the duo in the noirish light of an underground studio as they perform for each other. It’s well-balanced, unpretentious, and delicate. Much like the source material.

“How to Win” is from the forthcoming album Hammer is Heart, due in stores early next year.

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TVD Premiere: Little Person, “I’m Happy to
Be With You”

Mellow NYC-based quartet Little Person specialize in a whimsical blend of sedated indie rock that falls somewhere between Courtney Barnett and The Shins.

Today, we have the pleasure of premiering the twin brother fronted band’s newest single “I’m Happy to Be With You.” It’s a deceptively simple number that is brimming with melodic sophistication and evocative imagery. “We dance through the living room,” sings Nicky Weinbach while brother Max joins in harmony, “Dreaming like stars who have conquered the moon.” Before long the simple arrangement has been caked in tape echo and wind sound effects, demanding a second listen to fully absorb the loveliness that proceeds the decay.

Both Weinbach brothers started their careers in musical theater, still putting on a throwback-style variety show from time to time, but it was their mutual love of classic 1960s pop records that led them down their current path. “I’m Happy to Be With You” is the follow-up single to their acclaimed EP “I Feel Fine.”

The band’s Nicky Weinbach details, “At the time of the song’s inception, Max had left to teach English in Paris for a year while I stayed at home in Los Angeles, having forfeited the opportunity to attend acting school, also in Paris, due to financial constraints. When I dropped Max off at the airport and said goodbye for the year, the idea for ‘I’m Happy to Be With You’ was born. It’s perfect for the pre-Thanksgiving season and might speak especially to those who are away from their families for the holidays.”

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TVD Premiere: Les Gruff and the Billy Goat, “Two Steppin”

Rural punks Les Gruff and the Billy Goat give the barn-burning shuffle a modern facelift with the tongue-in-cheek narrative “Two Steppin.”

This might have not been the exact intention of this Mississippi river band, but their no-fuss approach, steeped in blues and bluegrass, is filtered through the lens of band spearhead Billy Croghan who can’t seem to help imbuing the well-worn formula with his rustic charm. It’s not just the hilariously unhinged narrative that brings the track up-to-date, but the way the band’s groove feels completely off-the-cuff and more importantly, off the rails at times.

David Roach (bass guitar), Sean Kamery (fiddle), Nigel Solomon (electric guitar), and Ed Daugs (drums) all respectively hold down the steam train of a track while Croghan not only trades wily solos with lead guitar counterpart, Tony Compton, but also swaps corner of the mouth banter that feels anything but premeditated. Their authentic brand of chemistry has made them one of the most compelling original live bands to catch in St. Louis and the band has quickly cultivated a dedicated following, spreading the twangy gospel of good times through heavy and constant tours across the South and Midwest.

Les Gruff and the Billy Goat are gearing up to release their official self-titled album, due in stores December 8th.

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TVD NSFW Video Premiere: Smoota, “Ballbuster”

“This song is emblematic of one of the cores of my philosophy: we should celebrate all kinds of loving relationships, no matter how outside of the mainstream.”Smoota

According to the encyclopedia Encyclopedia Britannica, a ballbuster is: 1. a woman who is rough on a man and, 2. something that causes ejaculation. Blue-eyed soul man Smoota checks off both categories in his newest NSFW video.

The steamy visuals marry the 1960s New Wave European films from France, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia with the 1960s and ’70s American sexploitation movement. Like these films, “Ballbuster” feels tender and intimate, composed of Smoota and his pregnant dominatrix engaging in some sweet and often questionable bedroom endeavors to the tune of his ultra-smooth brand of R&B.

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TVD Premiere: Scarves, Dinner Dates for the End of Days

Math rock emo punks Scarves deliver Dinner Dates for the End of Days.

With their twangy riffs and kinetic songwriting, Seattle-based Scarves are primed to take the mantle of off-kilter indie darling. Their raw, authentic, and quirky rock evokes Modest Mouse, Yo La Tengo, and The Pixies, while painting a distinct seaport picture, unique to them.

The album was recorded downright punkishly with no click and mostly single takes. It’s a testament to the tightness of the band that the finished product sounds so lush and full of character. Frontwoman Niko Stathakopoulos owns these tracks with her singular sing-talk delivery, pinning esoteric and apocalyptic diatribes over the wily instrumentals. Her vocals are clearly a force of nature that resist any unnecessary embellishment, besides a honeyed children’s choir on standout muscle ballad “No Names.”

The excellent new LP, Dinner Dates for the End of Days arrives in stores via Good Eye Records September 28th—releasing digitally and on vinyl—including a limited “Green/Blue” Smoke color run. Let it be the last album you listen to before we all slip off into oblivion.

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Needle Drop:
Roan Yellowthorn,

Roan Yellowthorn release thoughtful, dream pop LP Indigo.

Roan Yellowthorn is the moniker of Jackie McLean, daughter of iconic folk and rock & roll artist Don McLean, whose deft melodic sensibilities were not lost on his indie darling offspring.

Mining a deep ’90s vein of gorgeous Lilith Fair acoustic pop, Roan Yellowthorn’s Indigo LP manages to be both charmingly retro and confessional. Hooks abound throughout the record, but McLean really breaks out on “Mark My Words” with a devilishly distorted jazz vocal that is as raw and truthful as anything her father ever sung.

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Needle Drop:
Katie Barbato,
“The Art of Falling”

The title track to Katie Barbato’s forthcoming EP is a warm and wistful ballad, sown in the highly melodic folk style of The Beatles.

The peace-loving Philly native has an innate knack for soaring major/ minor key transitions, imbued with timely, sweet-spot lyrics and supported with rich, cinematic accompaniment. Comparisons to Neko Case and Gillian Welch are perhaps a little too obvious here, as Katie seems to carve out her own niche as a folk rock formalist who creates from a deep well of experience.

Barbato explains, “To me, ‘The Art of Falling’ concept came from the desire to go through difficult times with grace and stamina. It is not about coming out on the other side the same as you were. After a fall, you are somewhere distantly familiar but full of possibility. Let the grief and sadness move through you, honor it, and stand up tall.”

The track is accompanied by a set of rustic visuals from director Dan Collins which extrapolate upon the passage of time, catching key moments from all four seasons. It’s a perfect bucolic match to Katie’s homespun Woodstock vibe, which we could all use a little more of in our lives.

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Needle Drop: Ghost X Gardens, “Concealed Little Weapon”

NY-based art rocker Adam Rushfield, aka Ghost X Gardens, brings a whole new meaning to the word alternative. This idiosyncratic artist has his fingers in several disparate genres, often pulling from prominent East Coast rock artists of the past five decades. One can easily draw a direct line from the freewheeling influence of Lou Reed to the searing riffs of Smashing Pumpkins, and further towards the modern neo-psychedelia of Grizzly Bear.

What makes his album even more eccentric is its contextual emphasis on the legendary Chelsea Hotel, which was Rushfield’s permanent residence for a year, at which time the strange guests and goings-on seeped into his recordings. He even weaved in fascinating, gin-soaked chats with the cross-dressing matriarch of the Hotel, Storme’ DeLarverie, a famed performer and MC at the Apollo, who is credited with throwing the first punch of the 1969 Stonewall Riots.

All the late-night recordings and bizarre lyrical fixation on the hotel might not connect with all music lovers, but certainly provides a charming and totally original view into one of New York’s most fabled institutions and a wildly experimental musical journey to boot. “Concealed Little Weapon” might be the most traditional song on the album, but works as an excellent entry point into the strange and macabre world of Ghost X Gardens.

Grab a free download of the song from the Soundcloud stream above.

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