Category Archives: Exclusive Premiere Stream

TVD Premiere: Kelly Finnigan, “Santa’s Watching You”

Kelly Finnigan has always added classic soul to his sound and does so in his original new Christmas release next month, A Joyful Sound on Colemine Records. But he brings a whole new menace to the holiday with his second single from the set, which amplifies the familiar warning, “You better watch out, you better not cry” into the sizzling “Santa’s Watching You,” which we’re happy to premiere today at The Vinyl District.

“This song came to me like all good ideas, by accident,” Finnigan tells us. “I was deep in making this record and thinking a lot about Christmas music pretty consistently. I was sitting around, hanging out listening to some different records. A great gospel tune by The Sacred Four came on called ‘Somebody’s Watching You.’ In that instant, I realized that somebody else watches people too.” So the jolly North Pole denizen turns into somewhat of an NSA super spy in the hands of the soulful Bay Area singer, producer and songwriter.

If the funky feel of “Santa’s Watching You” has the easy camaraderie of an office Christmas party, it’s because he’s enlisted musicians from the esteemed Ohio label, headquartered upstairs from the Plaid Room Records in downtown Loveland, a shop definitely worth a stop to vinyl lovers in the Cincinnati area.

Backing Finnigan alongside label head Terry Cole is Plaid Room Records employee Henry Allen. It also features Jimmy James, guitarist for the Delvon Lamar Organ Trio, and no less than the Harlem Gospel Travelers on backing vocals. That meant some widespread geographic contributions to the album, Finnigan says, with “drums and bass in Ohio, guitar in Seattle, organ, percussion and vocals at my place with some additional background vocals by the Harlem Gospel Travelers in New York.”

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TVD LP Premiere:
Kate Tucker,
Practical Sadness

Kate Tucker has been making things her way for ten years now and her new album, Practical Sadness is the natural evolution of an artist weathering the inevitabilities of survival on the roller coaster of love and loss, and all the mundane moments in between.

“There’s no such thing as tomorrow and there’s not much left of today, you know all this joy and sorrow is gonna slip away…” she sings in the deliciously nostalgic “Dying on the Dance Floor.” If this sounds a touch morbid, by the time she gets through verse two, we see a little bit of bright shining light: “It’s high time I got my shades on, and who knows if it will last, but the future’s looking brighter than the past.” As far as this record is concerned, we’d agree.

Tucker made Practical Sadness her self-described “toughest year yet,” but she ended up with a record that is actually not at all heavy, partly due to the nature in which it was recorded. Low on cash and emotional energy, she decided the only way to lay down anything at all was to think like Lou Reed.

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TVD Premiere: Jack the Radio, Badlands

“Growing up I always looked at vinyl and a record player as a hub or focal point in our home. It was a social spot in our house for friends and family to gather and enjoy each other’s company and share music. It had purpose. Like you’d go to the refrigerator for food, you’d go to the record player for music.

Listening to a record is also an experience. There is something very soothing and valuable to stepping through the process of gently taking vinyl out of the sleeve, seeing the grooves, placing the needle down, and studying an album cover and liner notes while you listen. A lot of that is lost today with personal mobile devices being the primary listening method for a lot of people—which is a big reason we wanted to press Badlands on vinyl.”
George Hage

North Carolina quintet Jack the Radio deliver dynamic roots rock on new LP Badlands.

We have the pleasure of premiering an exclusive stream of the full album ahead of its release date on October 20th. The 12 song LP is a powerful mix of swampy, country rock and soaring, indie sensibilities, providing a balance of tough yet heartfelt musical vibes. Think Spoon meets Springsteen at the mechanical bull championship. Their effortless genre-hopping between bluesy, Southern pop and hard-edged Americana has mass appeal written all over it, positioning them alongside stadium mainstays such as Mumford & Sons and Kings of Leon.

Jack the Radio is pressing a limited run of bone white and electric blue vinyl for the Badlands release, and has also collaborated with a local North Carolina brewing company on the Jack the Radio Badland Black Rye IPA to celebrate the record—both of which is sure to give a taste of the band’s freewheeling spirit.

Jack the Radio Official | Facebook | Twitter

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TVD Premiere: Pete Lanctot & The Stray Dogs, “The Only Love
I Know”

“‘The Only Love I Know’ comes from the tradition of the country waltzes of Hank Williams, Ernest Tubb, and Bob Wills—using a traditional instrumentation of guitar, fiddle, upright bass, and drums with backing vocals from Danni Nicholls.

Musically the song is sweet and sentimental, but it becomes less and less clear throughout the song whether the narrator is referring to a long time love, a past love, or a love that was never was. Like many of the songs on No Sign of Love or Farewell, ‘The Only Love I Know’ reworks a traditional American musical form to create a story and sound that is new and modern.”
Pete Lanctot

Pete Lanctot and The Stray Dogs preach the gospel of true Americana.

It seems New York is experiencing another country/folk revival, perhaps not as revolutionary as the East Village boom during the ’60s, but noteworthy nonetheless. One of the most authentic voices in this happening scene belongs to Pete Lanctot whose song “The Only Love I Know” is premiering here, exclusively.

Lanctot’s lilting and bittersweet delivery is a perfect counterweight to the weeping production of the song. Female harmonies join in to nail the warm sentiment of the chorus and fiddles rise up when the words die down to blanket the track in a sweet serenity. It is both ethereal and earthbound, reminding one of the spacious magic of true American traditional music. Pete’s new album, No Sign Of Love or Farewell is available for preorder now.

Pete Lanctot & The Stray Dogs Official | Facebook | Twitter

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Graded on a Curve:
The Smoking Trees,

The Smoking Trees are a duo of decidedly psychedelic disposition hailing from the West Coast berg of Los Angeles. Formed in 2001 and whittled down from a five piece, over a decade elapsed before the arrival of their full-length debut. Thankfully its follow-up required a shorter gestation period; druggy but approachable and sunshiny with undercurrents of strangeness, TST improves substantially on its predecessor. It’s out on LP/CD/digital July 10 via Ample Play.

Martin Nunez and Al Rivera are the two halves comprising The Smoking Trees. Their bio portrays Nunez as something of a mastermind, which is appropriate considering his nickname is Sir Psych; producer and home recorder, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter, psychedelia expert and professed record collector, it’s all discernible upon soaking up their 2012’s Acetates.

On the other side of this yin-yang is an ex-punk. Rivera aka L.A.AL was part of the burgeoning East L.A. punk scene, cutting albums in the late-‘90s with groups Dial 69 and Homesick. L.A.AL underwent a musical transformation after meeting Sir Psych, and it shouldn’t be a bit difficult to suss out the new direction; mention of The Left Banke, The Zombies, and “Defecting Grey” by The Pretty Things should clarify the scenario, however.

At an earlier point named Velvet Tuesday & the Good Smells, The Smoking Trees initially functioned as a pleasurable sideline, Al continuing to play in his prior band as Sir Psych worked as a hip-hop producer and as part of his own crew Forensics. But recording persisted, Nunez credited with production, drums, vocals, keys, bass, and psychedelics as Rivera lent guitar, bass, percussion, and vocals.

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Nalani & Sarina,
The TVD First Date and Premiere of the new EP “Scattered World”

“I guess you could call us ‘old souls.'”

“Even though we’re only 21, there’s been a record player in our family’s living room our entire lives and we were still using cassettes into the 2010s, although mostly for recording lessons and/ or new songs.

A couple of years back, we finally stumbled upon the albums that went with the turntable; classics by artists like Carole King, Paul Simon, and Judy Collins and we were hooked. We began venturing out to local record stores, our favorite being the Princeton Record Exchange in Princeton, NJ, and found some really cool records including Herbie Hancock and James Taylor.

Soon, friends and fans found out about our new obsession and began buying us LPs by our all-time favorites such as Ray Charles and Sam & Dave. And our “vinyl obsession” was most recently fully satisfied when our dear friend and legendary music critic Dave Marsh invited us to help him “clean out” some of his storage space. Boy, did we make a killing! A bunch of classics—Elvis, Bruce, B.B., Dylan, Jackson Browne albums as well as a number of box sets, including the legendary Phil Spector box.

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Hints: The TVD First Date and Exclusive Premiere Album Stream

“People are quick to notice the ’80s UK/Britpop influences in our music, which is absolutely there, but there’s some less-than-expected DNA bubbling under the surface that is harder for people to detect.”

“Despite turning into record nerds and object fetishists in our 20s, our early experiences with vinyl were mostly relegated to seeing our parents’ collections boxed up and maybe getting to rifle through them once they heard us playing the Doors. One majorly treasured find from one of these digs was a folded up poster of Michael Jackson and E.T. holding hands, wedged between Carly Simon’s Greatest Hits and Donovan’s Gift From A Flower to A Garden. Breathtaking. I hung the Richard Avedon portraits from the White Album on my bedroom wall, while giving Pet Shop Boys’ Please another go-round on the cassette player and drifting even further away from my peers.” —Wyeth, bass

“Nina Persson of the Cardigans was my teenage crush. Before the Romeo and Juliette soundtrack and “Lovefool,” there was “Carnival,” a single off of Life. I must have caught the video on a tape-recorded version of 120 Minutes my buddy Scotty Walsh would make and then watch religiously.”

“I bummed a ride to Newbury Comics, fingered through the C section, and there she was, my Scandinavian confection. While my relationship with Nina was surface and fleeting, it was the triads, arpeggiated chords, thick tones, jangle and rhythm I fell in love with … listen to “Rise and Shine” and you’ll hear what I mean. Nina’s always my girl but guitarist—Peter Svensson—is the one who’s been with me all these years.” —Garrett, vocals, guitar

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TVD Premiere: Olin & The Moon, Every One You Know

LA-based brothers David and Travis LaBrel, who operate under the banner Olin & The Moon, offer up a compelling take on Americana with their full length Every One You Know.

We have the pleasure of premiering a full stream of Olin & The Moon’s new album which was self-produced. Its follow-up is to be assisted by heavyweights Ryan Adams and Mike Viola and recorded at Adams’ infamous PAX-AM studios.

David and Travis weave their close-knit harmonies into the stellar accompaniment of drummer Marshall Vore, Brian McGuiness on pedal steel and banjo, and Kyle Vicioso on bass.

There is a vintage feel to the overall sound of the album that plays like a well-worn soundtrack to a Spring road trip. But just when you begin to feel the colors run with sleepy nostalgia, the welcome crunch of country guitar brings you back to experience the LaBrel brothers’ wide open choral arrangements and down home lyrics.

Olin & The Moon Official | Facebook | Twitter

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Graded on a Curve: Cornershop,
Hold On It’s Easy

In 1994, after announcing their presence with a pair of EPs, the UK combo Cornershop released Hold On It Hurts. Eventual chart breakouts, that debut full-length instead positioned them as part of the burgeoning Riot Grrl movement. A shade over twenty years since, they reflect on the milestone not by giving it a souped-up anniversary repressing but by reimagining it as an Easy Listening album. On the surface Hold On It’s Easy might seem a joke taken to a confounding extreme; it’s actually just the latest savvy maneuver from a consistently smart band, out on vinyl/digital February 2nd via Ample Play.

1997’s “Brimful of Asha” and its corresponding long-player When I Was Born for the 7th Time raised Cornershop’s profile on both sides of the pond, but it also served as an indicator of significant stylistic development and effectively marked the end of their formative phase, an era that found them initially crafting rough-hewn guitar-based post-punk and fruitfully joining it with the influence of Indian music.

The early rumblings of the Brothers Tjinder and Avtar Singh, Ben Ayers, and David Chambers culminated in the arrival of Hold On It Hurts, a scrappy affair blending sturdy punk knowledge (the opening track from their “Lock, Stock & Double-Barrel” EP is titled “England’s Dreaming”) with a decided contemporary relevance. To elaborate, it was issued by Wiiija Records, a UK indie spanning back to the late-‘80s that gained prominence throughout the next decade partially in association with Riot Grrl.

Wiiija released/licensed items from Skinned Teen, Huggy Bear, Frumpies, Free Kitten, Bikini Kill, and indeed Cornershop, who are described by Ample Play in connection to Hold on It’s Easy as the only all male band to be a part of the whole Riot Grrl explosion. And listening again to Hold On It Hurts, an LP of fleeting melodicism, inspired stabs of post-punk, the aforementioned Indian elements (to blossom on When I Was Born for the 7th Time) and bursts of squalling feedback, Ample Play’s claim is easy to believe.

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Graded on a Curve:
The Young Sinclairs, This is the Young Sinclairs,

Roanoke, VA’s The Young Sinclairs have been busy; according to reliable reports, since forming in 2005 they’ve issued two LPs, seven CDs, three 7-inches, two cassettes, and made numerous compilation appearances. On 10/13 the Ample Play label is releasing the band’s latest This is the Young Sinclairs. It finds the quintet continuing to sharpen an already well-honed blend of ‘60s-derived garage-based melodiousness across 15 strong tracks.

The Young Sinclairs’ success rests upon two main attributes. The first is consistency of songwriting, with the majority of the outfit’s tunes penned by multi-instrumentalist Samuel J. Lunsford. The second comes via engineer John Thompson’s all analogue execution, a maneuver bringing their recordings meticulous vitality.

It’s hot but not overcooked, and if there’s a third agent in the Sinclairs’ good fortune, it’s that the band is completely at ease in a cloak of assorted influences. The sound is profoundly ‘60s, but unlike many acts attached to a retro sensibility, these guys aren’t striving too intensely to sell a package. Conversely, a lack of neurosis is on display, the group seemingly unconcerned with being perceived as trying too hard and subsequently not trying hard enough.

Various similar entities emit vibes more colorful, a few are even downright flamboyant, but ultimately most inhabit a two-dimensional realm. The Young Sinclairs instead produce an immersive 3D experience. In addition to Lunsford and Thompson, they consist of bassist-guitarist-vocalist Daniel Cundiff, drummer Joe Lunsford (Samuel’s bro, taking over the chair vacated by Thompson, who now plays the six-string), and bassist-guitarist Kyle Harris, whom some will know by his work in the Athens, GA to Texas to Richmond, VA band The Diamond Center.

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