Author Archives: Mike Olinger

Needle Drop: YJY, “Summer Lifeguard”

New Jersey based quartet bring morbid garage vibes to surf rock.

YJY don’t mind misdirecting listeners with their newest single “Summer Lifeguard.” Golden tremolo guitar lines collide with crash pad guitars and morbid punk lyrics to create a potpourri of summertime nostalgia.

The track is one part Beach Boys and one part Real Estate with a dash of Pixies—a distinct and subversive sound that is already cultivating a diehard fan base. The single drop comes paired with the announcement of the forthcoming release of their sophomore EP, “The Same Noise.” out August 19th via Sniffling Indie Kids.

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TVD Video Premiere: Loser’s Way Home,
“Place of No Return”

Loser’s Way Home communicate from beyond the grave with video for “Place of No Return.”

The Arizona-based quartet’s sonically adventurous Americana has a refined quality about it that transcends the rough edges often associated with other indie folk acts. Multiform harmonies and adept fingerpicking support their often elaborate storytelling that ranges from biblical first person narratives to unrequited love songs told by ghosts from beyond the veil.

The melodious and melancholy “Place of No Return” is one such tale which principle songwriter Randall Downs describes as “a fictional song about an individual living in a haunted house.” The twist here is that unlike most otherworldly visitations, this particular entity is not interested in haunting its new friend, preferring to strike up therapeutic conversations about the past. “The apparition has terminal nostalgia,” Downs reflects. “He is always regaling the resident with songs of his glory years.”

The video for “Place of No Return” was shot in their home state of Memphis by the band’s good friend Zach Seal. The song will be available on their new EP, “Love Songs for the Rest of Us,” due out July 22nd.

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TVD Premiere: Colton Kayser, “Save My Soul”

“I was flitting from job to job when I wrote this song, and I felt kind of stuck. I think I just needed to reset my situation, and this song was the first step for me to do that. I quit all the jobs I was working, took all of the money I saved, and made this record. I think sometimes people get so entrenched in their current situation, that they fail to realize they can change things anytime they want. It’s just taking that first step that’s tough, and once you do it, the rest is easy.”
Colton Kayser

Today we have the pleasure of premiering Colton Kayser’s newest single “Save My Soul” from his upcoming LP Place To Settle. The single’s nostalgic, worn out blues is beautifully captured by the swirling B3 organ and pristine vocal which walks along some well plotted guitar chords.

The themes of “hometown burnout” are treated with a compassionate sense of self-reliance, avoiding the venomous, no-accountability diatribes that Dylan imbues his kiss-offs with. And it is here where Kayser separates himself from the current pack of alt country troubadours—avoiding a put-on self-importance by adding a genuine sweetness and likability to his contemporary songwriting.

Place To Settle is out July 30th and can be pre-ordered through his website.

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TVD Premiere:
Kim Killspeed, “Inside”

“‘Inside’ is about hating work and quitting my job to rock on. It’s about having faith in yourself to go and pursue what’s in your head, in your dreams, even if it’s against societal norms. I actually wrote it for a heavy metal band that I was auditioning for a few years ago.

I’m not very heavy metal. Meeting Jeff Martin, I was so worried about looking like a big amateur! But he was very engaged in the music and very supportive, especially whilst we were tracking the vocals. I felt the most comfortable I’ve ever been whilst singing. He is the epitome of someone who lives and breathes music. If I’ve learnt anything, it’s that the dream is real and to keep pursuing it.”
Candy Cunningham

Aussie quintet Kim Killspeed go “Inside” for inspiration.

We have the pleasure of premiering the newest single from the Sydney-based rockers whose anticipated EP “Second Skin” is due out later this year. “Inside” finds the band reigning in their messy blues gravitas for a more streamlined approach and hook-driven sound.

The new direction might possibly have to do with producer Jeff Martin of The Tea Party whose signature jangly, open tuned stamp is written all over it. That said, the band’s distinct characteristics are still warmly accounted for—particularly Andie Davies’ and Bruce Stephens’ muscular guitar lines and Candy Cunningham’s earthy songwriting which prods the listener to throw caution to the wind and pursue the impassioned voices in their head.

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Needle Drop: Corbu, “Polygon Forest”

Brooklynite Jonathan Graves, aka Corbu, invites you into his Crayola dream.

“Polygon Forest” is a perfect name for the kind of neo-psych synth pop this New York outfit is capable of. Their outlandish imagery is part and parcel with the visual nature of the group who have included a coloring book in the liner notes of their newest LP, Crayon Soul.

To add to the psychedelic haze, Corbou recruited acid rock stereophile Dave Fridmann (The Flaming Lips, Tame Impala, MGMT) to mix the band’s self-produced 12 song set. The resulting recordings are arresting in their innovative soundscapes while remaining dreamlike, as to induce feelings of stoned exploration. Their new self-titled album is slated for release in early August.

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TVD Premiere: Carly
Van Skaik, “Behind The Velvet Curtain”

Carly Van Skaik’s firsthand tales of shadowy Tinseltown noir seem tailored for the silver screen and have already garnered song placements in several network shows including Shameless and The Magicians. Her single “Behind The Velvet Curtain” continues mining this moody vein, shedding light on the figurative Oz who pulls the puppet strings behind the religious hierarchies of the world.

Carly asserts “Behind The Velvet Curtain’ is about being wrongly persecuted and the overall hypocrisy of organized religion. “I grew up with my dad and his boyfriend in a very conservative religious community until about the age of 10 and witnessed a lot of hate and judgment toward my family because of who he was.”

“Meanwhile those same people would turn around and preach love and acceptance inside church doors. You see this kind of behavior all over the world. People killing each other over different interpretations of one scripture, people denying gay marriage licenses because it goes again their religious beliefs.”

The Carly Van Skaik EP is due out tomorrow March 24th, the same week “Blue Diamond Eyes” will air on subsequent episode of The Magicians.

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Needle Drop: Dan Lipton, “Dark Water”

Dan Lipton pulls celestial ballad from hangover haze.

Lipton’s rustic arrangements are all at once contemporary and powerful, yet steadily indicative of other masters of the singer-songwriting genre. His raspy quiver recalls Ray LaMontagne while the agile break in his voice conjures up the late Jeff Buckley. “Dark Water” was supposedly conceived while Dan nursed a hangover as he travelled the above ground ferries that run across Brooklyn looking out toward the sea.

There is something infinitely real about the overall vibe of Lipton’s words, set against the tympanic thrust of a hoop drum and tambourine. We experience the weariness, sense the blanket of stars above us, and almost taste the stale alcohol from previous nights’ soul crushing revelry.

“Dark Water” is taken from Dan Lipton’s full-length release, Breathing In which is in stores now.

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Needle Drop: Stone Cold Fox, “Change My Mind”

Stone Cold Fox deliver fever dream of psych disco.

Brooklyn quintet Stone Cold Fox laboriously hone their often spontaneous sounding tracks, emerging with a psychedelic form of disco that is swimming in punchy echo. It is often difficult for the five members to get a song through the birth canal, but ultimately rewarding for their die-hard fans who have come to rely on their quality output.

According to the band, “Change My Mind’ was “rewritten, revised, re-arranged so many times we lost track. We lost perspective so many times, we almost gave up on it. But we believed in the core of the song and forced ourselves to stick with it. Some songs take a day to write—everything comes together and it pours out. And other songs take years of piecemeal, with half mumbled phone recordings, acid synth jam sessions, and hours of studio time. This one was definitely the latter.”

Stone Cold Fox’s EP, “Tunnel Vision” is due in stores this spring.

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Needle Drop: Parlour Tricks “Broken Hearts/ Bone”

Parlour Tricks finds beauty in the mundane with pop-driven gem, “Broken Hearts/Bone.”

There is a lot that can go down within a 5-minute run to the local quickie mart, especially if there’s luxurious indie pop playing over the loudspeaker. And if the airwaves belong to the NY-based Parlour Tricks, things are bound to get messy.

If you’re thinking a bass grinding soundtrack might behoove acting on your animal urges in the popcorn aisle, think again. Parlour Tricks need only to lay down their honey dipped harmonies over finger snaps and twinkling piano for these Sunday shoppers to lose their minds.

The band is on tour throughout March.

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Needle Drop: Thirsty, “God Bless America”

Jonesing for some Rolling Stones? Perhaps a pinch of Lou Reed? A little three minute, three chord rock ‘n’ roll with no fancy additives? Well, look no further than London’s newest export, Thirsty.

A collaboration between The Quireboys spearhead Guy Bailey, Russian poet Irina D, and an assortment of venerated English rockers, Thirsty came to life early last year after the aforementioned players began an impromptu jam session and bonded over their punk/arthouse sensibilities.

Aping old school rhythm and blues may be all the rage for young indie rockers but this kind of appropriation often ends up as little more than a homage and rarely expands on the tried-and-true format. Gritty, off-the-cuff and beautifully authentic; Thirsty captures the imagery of their native London while throwing a rose towards the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll, coloring outside the lines all the while.

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Needle Drop: YJY, “Amelia”

Emerging ambient indie rockers YJY flex noise pop muscle in “Amelia” video.

The New Jersey natives released their debut EP, “Couch Surfin USA.” in mid-2015 to local acclaim and a Top Emerging Artist nod from The Deli. While tracking their sophomore follow-up at Converse Rubber Tracks studio in Brooklyn, the band found time to shoot a video for Couch Surfin’s glorious single, “Amelia.”

Inspired by the work of filmmaker Kenneth Anger, the video features some awesome and gratuitous hipster crotch shots via lead singer Steve Sachs as he lovingly details and buffs a bright orange 1974 Volkswagen Beetle. Groovy.

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TVD Video Premiere: Adam Lempel, “Berlin”

“So the song was actually inspired by the first time I went to Berlin on tour with my band, Weekends, in 2012.”

“We stayed for 3 days and it felt like the whole world was upside down. We went out every night until 11am and then slept ’til 5. The first night, we got there at midnight and then stayed up all night in this bar playing piano cause we had a radio show at the art school UDK at 7am. We showed up pretty jet-lagged and wasted and played in a tent in a classroom.

I actually heard the melody of this song being whistled from somewhere, but then I went outside and no one there was whistling. It was really strange. I heard this melodic fragment through the wall and then recorded myself singing it on my cell phone. To this day I still have no idea if I really heard it or if it was just in my head.”
Adam Lempel

Adam Lempel delivers expressive and exotic video for “Berlin.”

One part gypsy stomp, one part exuberant baroque party pop—“Berlin” is an exotic dose of the Baltimore-bred, Amsterdam-based producer’s newly christened solo work. While on tour with his previous noise rock band, Weekends, Lempel ended up in the hospital with pneumothorax—a hole in his lung. The brush with death cajoled him into the studio with the intention of capturing the music he always wanted to write.

We have the pleasure of premiering Lempel’s newest creation which features celebratory visuals from far off lands and an outstanding vocal performance by Amanda Glasser. Lampel’s new album, Still Life, is slated for release early this year.

Adam Lempel Official | Facebook | Twitter

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Needle Drop: Sonya Kitchell, “Mexico”

It’s been seven years since we heard a full album from Sonya Kitchell and, judging by this lavish single from her new LP, We Come Apart, the wait was well worth it.

“Mexico” is a moody reminder of Kitchell’s artistic power, plummeting out of the speakers with a seductive groove, buzzy bass line, and a robust vocal delivery.

The stark images that accompany the track thread its somber beauty into an intriguing little package which calls listeners to explore Kitchell’s full body of work.

We Come Apart is due out the 22nd of January.

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TVD Premiere: Cassandra Violet,
“Take My Time”

“I was listening to lots of bubblegum pop—and I wanted to try to write a pop song on my looping pedal about how boys waste my time. I didn’t really know how to create pop sounds without any synthesizers, so I used whatever I had lying around my apartment.”

“I started by banging on a mason jar with a drumstick, and that became the marching-band beat throughout the song. It ended up sounding like a dance-y drumline filtered through Paul Simon circa Graceland, a big mishmash of all of my influences rolled up into one weird part.”
Cassandra Violet

Los Angeles native Cassandra Violet premieres collage pop single “Take My Time.”

The Echo Park songstress, who cites Chaka Khan, Stevie Nicks, and Prince as influences, has a lot to offer on “Take My Time.” There are some retro, doo-wop undercurrents, flairs of hippie-chic dream folk, and an uninhibited vocal delivery that conjures up the early work of Regina Spektor.

It’s fantastically original music that is both playful and innovative while retaining a strong feminist angle. Cassandra’s upcoming 2016 EP, “Body & Mind,” is to be self-released on January 29 and will be supported by a small West Coast tour.

Cassandra Violet’s “Body & Mind” EP release party is Saturday, January 29 at LA’s The Lost Room.

Cassandra Violet Official | Facebook | Twitter

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TVD Video Premiere: Jemima Surrender, “Hammer and Peg”

“The video was made pretty organically (that means we didn’t have any ideas, hah!) but I knew I wanted the hammer and peg toy in it, although I normally don’t like literal videos.”

“The hammer and peg imagery is borrowed and twisted from the sweet little book Naive. Super by Erlend Loe. The main character uses it to find peace, ‘exquisite monotony,’ in the song though it’s more a metaphor for feeling beaten by the monotony of relationships and a constant need for validation.

That monotony is easy and safe, but empty at the same time. The song isn’t all doom and gloom though, it’s self-empowering, which is probably why the video is colourful with a lot of me in it! The cat decided she wanted to be in it so we didn’t really have a choice, otherwise she wees on our stuff.”
Millie Phipps

Bristol-based trio Jemima Surrender channels ’90s alt-rock in quirky video for “Hammer & Peg.”

We have the pleasure of premiering the video off the band’s debut, The Uninhabited World, which oozes casual charm and indie sensibility. The stark punk approach to their instrumentation enhances the subtle visual flow, while lead singer Millie Phipps’ cerebral lyricism comes to life when sung directly into the camera.

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