Author Archives: Mike Olinger

TVD Premiere: R.W. Roldan, “Big Skies”

Singer-songwriter R.W. Roldan has lived in California most of his life, cultivating his own brand of West Coast Americana, and his sweeping lyrics paint an authentically haunting panorama of a Los Angeles that is all but gone.

There’s certainly a Once Upon A Time…in Hollywood vibe to his latest single “Big Skies,” which affectionately name checks LA institutions like the Ventura Freeway and the Wax Museum. But his holistic reverence for the West extends beyond the 21st century. It’s clear that he was feeling the nostalgic pangs of the wild cowboy days slipping away when he arrived in the city as a child, born to an outlaw biker father and 16-year-old mother. “There ain’t no prairies for me to roam upon,” he solemnly concludes as he chugs on his six string. “There ain’t no big skies to show us where God lives…”

In a clever twist, Roldan concedes that the closest he’ll get to the celestial stars is by looking down at the handprints on Hollywood Boulevard. These days he’s content to get a job at the Wax Museum so he can hang out with the soap impressions of his childhood heroes, Roy Rogers and Trigger.

“Big Skies” is a bittersweet, poignant ballad that reveals R.W.’s whimsical soul and is a perfect introduction to his LP, Can You Feel This, due in stores tomorrow August 17.

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Needle Drop: FerrariLover,
“Endless Seconds”

San Diego-based, LGB ambient guitarist FerrariLover creates diaphanous and compelling overtures, rife with exquisite sonic designs.

Her otherworldly compositions sit somewhere between the scores of 1950s film noir and the brainy mise-en-scène of Phillip Glass. These are not obvious or easily digestible songs, more like breadcrumbs that lead us along a hidden path into FerrariLover’s inner world.

“Endless Seconds” was shot out in the Las Vegas desert, which is a perfect backdrop for the song’s expansive pallet of shadowy twang. The spacious landscape reflects the dynamic nature of the song—you can choose to wade in the eerie, open-ended atmospherics of it all, or pick out a specific cloud cluster to focus on. But like the time-lapse footage, the object of your attention will quickly morph into something completely new as dissonant chords settle and find harmony within the malleable aural pallet.

FerrariLover’s forthcoming LP, Exotic Legend, arrives in stores August 23rd.

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Needle Drop: Bug Martin, Gutterball

Philadelphia-based roots man Bug Martin’s twangy alt-folk stylings put a modern twist on classic dust bowl Americana. His tales of hapless love and drunken wisdom pour out like smooth whiskey around the campfire, warming ones bones by the sheer authenticity of his candor.

Whether it’s on the glowing jangle of opener “Bartender” or the venomous anti-religion saga “Hypocrites Rag,” Bug is able to share his worldly insight with humor and grace. He tells the story of the everyman, the regular folks who deal with life’s struggles in the most American of ways.

Haunting pedal steel sounds and twinkling banjo strums accompany Bug’s earnest croon as he makes his way through 10 memorable tracks that probe the aches and pains of the Western psyche, making ol’ timey folk and blues feel as vital as ever.

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Needle Drop: Terrane, “Circles”

It’s probably a fair statement to say Terrane is something of an anomaly in the current climate, where an artist’s persona and public image is valued above their creativity.

Terrane’s work has, against contemporary logic, been rapidly gaining traction for its beautiful fusing of dreamlike cinematics and raw emotion, whilst the artist has remained hush about who he is and where he came from.

His newest single, “Circles,” is an expansive piece of world pop which strikes a balance, walking the tightrope between organic and electronic composition. His subdued melodies drift in and out of earshot over richly emotive soundscapes before static drenched wires crackle and beaming harmonies are pulled into sharp focus.

The man remains a mystery but his music becomes more and more personable, conveying the urgency of raw emotions caught in the moment and the distorted memory of stories and connections made, lost and only half remembered in a haze of dial-up era discord.

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Needle Drop: Parrot Dream, “Woven”

Brooklyn-based Parrot Dream create sprawling, nostalgic indie rock that falls somewhere between Belle and Sebastian and Bat For Lashes. Originally formed in Chile by vocalist Christina Hansen Appel and guitarist Gonzalo Guerrero, the duo relocated to NYC in 2013 and quickly began making strides amassing more than half a million streams on Spotify.

Oscillating between uplifting and elegiac, Parrot Dream’s newest single “Woven” draws the listener into deep, kaleidoscopic pools of sound, with Appel’s siren song riding on Guerrero’s glistening riffs. There is tact and precision in the song’s sonic structure, but Parrot Dream manages to steer towards an impressionistic output.

“Woven” was originally intended to accompany their last LP, Light Goes, but was left off and retooled for their newest three-song set, “Light Goes: B-Sides.”

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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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