Author Archives: Mike Olinger

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
PHOTO: ADAM KREMER

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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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TVD Premiere: There’s Talk, “In Your Hands”

“This track is the first that the full band has recorded together, which is really exciting. Together we get pretty explorational, and I can tell they’re shooting in the dark a bit, and then we start reining things in for the song.

I’m a big proponent of referencing lyric intention when informing sounds. The song was written about a child trying to comprehend the pains of someone struggling with mental illness, so the effects we use try to emulate that feeling.”
Olivia Lee

San Francisco art pop trio There’s Talk deliver majestic electronic folk.

We have the pleasure of premiering the outfit’s new single “In Your Hands” from their upcoming EP, set for release in early 2016. This time out the band’s spearhead, Olivia Lee, has skewed the haunting sparsity of their debut for more eclectic influences including shoegaze, electronica, ’90s rock, and doom.

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TVD Video Premiere: Alphanaut, “Electricity”

“The song ‘Electricity’ was written by my co-producing partner Fox Scarlett back in 2005. The track sat on his shelf for three years until becoming a flagship tune for live shows with his own band, The Tail.”

“I heard ‘Electricity’ when I met Fox back in 2008 when we began working together on The Lunar Age and Out of Orbit, and immediately fell in love with it. I knew I had to cover the song, but it never had the right home until I began writing Meanwhile Back on Earth. We played around with several different directions for ‘Electricity,’ all of which I hope to release at some point, but finally settled on the ’90s inspired neo-soul groove for the album.

During the recording sessions I was lucky enough to meet vocalist Angie Whitney who recorded with The Spinners. She brought in that beautifully silky voice of hers, which really elevated the track to a whole new level.

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TVD Premiere: Jordan Okrend, “Empty Space”

Mellifluous singer-songwriter Jordan Okrend fills “Empty Space” with colorful fusion.

We have the pleasure of premiering the newest single from the NYC musician whose latest EP, “The World Keeps Turning,” drew inevitable comparisons to the soulful side of John Mayer due to its intoxicating fusion of rock and blues.

This time Jordan skews that combo in favor of a more jazzy approach which pays off handsomely in its seductive groove and late night contemplative lyricism.

Okrend has some powerful musical bravado—possibly gleaned from his time at Berklee—but he is also mellow and authentic, providing his eclectic tunes with the emotional grit and heft to engage both smaller audiences—and populated festivals.

Jordan Okrend Official | Facebook | Twitter

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TVD Premiere: Mormor, “Live For Nothing” EP

“‘Live for Nothing’ is not totally nihilistic. It’s about the purpose that a certain kind of nihilism releases. I hope people who are trying to connect with something will listen to my music and get something from it. To the kids!” Mormor

Toronto indie rocker Mormor comes out swinging with “Live For Nothing” EP.

With a knack for meshing big synth pop melodies with aching ambience, Mormor delivers a standout release which we have the pleasure of exclusively premiering on The Vinyl District.

There is not a lot of known info on the mysterious artist with the cryptic name except that he comes from the thriving Toronto music scene and can sing the pants off an eclectic array of songs. His production is crisp and features a variety of instruments and unexpected changes while his voice remains as versatile as his home town.

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Needle Drop: Foxtails Brigade, “Far Away and Long Ago”

Bay Area orchestral indie-pop quintet Foxtails Brigade drops decadent music video. Complimented by a lavish single-take, “Far Away and Long Ago” excels as an avant-pop masterpiece.

Foxtail Brigade has been cultivating their unique fairytale aesthetic since their inception and the band has clearly found their footing on this track—eliciting the warped cabaret of a Jon Brion soundtrack while offering the compelling dynamics associated with indie art rock bands like Little Red Lung.

If you’re in California for the holidays, don’t miss Foxtails Brigade’s unique live show as they will be performing in Oakland and Monterey this November.
PHOTO: RIKI FELDMANN

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TVD Video Premiere: Marlowe Grey, “Midnight In Brooklyn”

“The track speaks to those moments where one is out and seemingly having a good time, basking in the glory of spontaneity, great company, and varied substances. It explores, particularly, when we have had enough. What happens in those moments?”

“Anyone who has been there, on the edge of ‘too much,’ knows it can go either way, as it likely has for all of us at some point. Do regrets follow the lack of responsibility? Does the fearlessness translate into accomplishment come sunrise? Was or is it worth it? I guess that’s subjective.

However, for me, us New Yorkers are very lucky to live here in this great city. And I can personally tell you from experience…there is nothing better, than being out and about when it’s ‘Midnight In Brooklyn.’”
Anthony Pietro

Eclectic indie rockers Marlowe Grey debut video for “Midnight In Brooklyn.”

Today we have the pleasure of premiering the band’s atmospheric visuals exclusively on The Vinyl District. The subtle storytelling is played against an eerie and foreign soundscape made up of wiry guitars, distorted vocals, and a haunting flute.

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Needle Drop:
Ensemble Mik Nawooj, “C.R.E.A.M.”

Contemporary composer JooWan Kim’s 10-piece chamber orchestra channels early Wu-Tang and Snoop Dogg.

The modern mashup may have found its live counterpart in Ensemble Mik Nawooj. The Oakland-based orchestra is putting its classical chops to work on the golden age of hip hop, re-imaging essential cuts like “C.R.E.A.M.” through the lens of Bach. Kim creates with the firmly held belief “This is the future of hip-hop, America’s newest great indigenous music.”

“C.R.E.A.M.” and four other reworks appear on their Golden Fetus Records release, Ensemble Mik Nawooj: A Hip-Hop Orchestra. The group will make their Los Angeles debut on October 29th at The Mint; an evening that promises a fleshed out, forward thinking approach to hip hop in an intimate setting.

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