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August 2014
Vinyl Thief
""Fathoms"
"
mp3

In high school, my friend Craig Lee took it upon himself to educate me on what to do when I got high, which was: take a 311 CD and play it through Windows media player, and set the visualization to “Ambience.” With those days behind me (and a few subsequent years lost devil-sticking for tips as I followed 311 tours) I had long forgotten that particular use for Windows until I listened to Vinyl Thief’s debut album, “Fathoms.”

 

Released July 22nd, “Fathoms” listens like an entity. Granted, all albums vary song to song, and this one is no different, but few pluck the same rubber band in your brain and sustain it throughout it the duration. Fewer still can be so closely likened to getting lost watching a pixelated visualization of music on your ’01 Dell, wondering:“Whoa, how did they know to do that?”

 

Vinyl Thief is a synth driven powerhouse of a band that has been gathering acclaim since the release of their “Rebel Hill” EP in 2012. The group has essentially come of age playing together, from their high school inception to logging hours of practice in a church-sanctuary-turned-rehearsal space to perfect the sound and rapport that makes Vinyl Thief extraordinary. There are not many bands with such an expert handle on their sound.

 

There are a few anchors in Vinyl Thief that make them so listenable. Their synthesizers are going to do something beautiful. Grayson Proctor’s vocals are going to run through an impressive range without ever sounding forced or theatrical. And every song is going to reliably blow your mind in some way. It might be on a smaller scale, like when the guitar breaks the silence after the bridge in “London” with what I can only imagine a swoon would sound like. Or it could be big, like when the track “Rebel Hill” finally reaches a crescendo after a series of goosebump-inducing change-ups. The band has a knack for zig-ing when a zag is expected, going soft instead of loud, or even bigger when they’re already turned up.

 

Vinyl Thief is one of the best examples of the modern face of Nashville music, where already talented musicians go through great pains to learn their craft and the business around it. This is a band that is one sync away from national exposure. Be prepared to hear much more Vinyl Thief after Apple or Toyota licenses one of their tracks. Considering that “Fathoms” is a collection of their best material meticulously recorded and lovingly presented like a bowl of all-red jelly beans ready for the grabbing, this is only a matter of time. –Terra James-Jura

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The Paranormals Make Official Debut With "American Spirit" EP

The Paranormals Make Official Debut With "American Spirit" EP

Last week, three childhood friends from Alabama released their first official collection of songs to the the public. Available on the typical digital platforms (Amazon, iTunes, Spotify), American Spirit, the new EP from The Paranormals, is anything but mundane and may be one of the most exciting debuts Nashville has seen this summer.

"All three of us were raised in the Birmingham area. I think we probably all met in the sixth grade, if I remember correctly," says guitarist Jarrod Randall. Like most musicians, Randall, lead singer David Sutton, and bassist Heath Hendricks played the customary game of musical chairs with other bands before reuniting and forming The Paranormals. "It's definitely not a rare case by any means, but growing up where we did and being into the same stuff, that's made what we have today so great. Heath was the best man in my wedding. David is my brother-in-law." And their tight-knit nature translates seamlessly to their sound. While many musicians flirt with the thin line between "talented" and "overdeveloped," each member of The Paranormals carries their weight in a skillful and unique way without falling victim to sounding too polished.

In a surprise Phil Collins/Don Henley-esque twist, the lead singer of The Paranormals also spends all of his time behind the drums, which can bring a rare and tricky element to live shows. "It was challenging at first-- you have to figure out how to write with that in mind. But now it just happens. Some shows, I'll turn around and [Sutton] is sweating like a pig and I just smile, thinking, 'Man you are doing all the work here.' It's a challenge to make sure the energy translates when your front man is behind the kit. But we wouldn't have it any other way," says Randall.

American Spirit was recorded over the course of one weekend, and the EP's title track was finished live and in just one take. In keeping with the band's family-friendly vibe, Rick Sutton, David's father, made a trip to the studio to play slide guitar for the song. "I'm glad that [song] is on there because it shows kind of a basis for the vibe that all our songs come out of," adds Randall. With less than 30 hours to record the EP, the time crunch played a definitive role in the result of American Spirit. Working with just a small window of time, the band had no chance to over-think or elaborate. The result is immaculate. "Being a three-piece, we didn't want the recording to sound like a five-piece."

When asked about his band, Randall says, "Our band is the real us, you know? Like, how long we've known each other and being family. Nothing is pieced together or forced. And we've had great support from our friends, but we've tried to avoid Kickstarter, etc. on purpose for this EP. Because we wanted it to really just come from us. Then whether someone digs it or not lies solely on if they dig it, no other motive or obligation."

Between defining their sound and recording songs in one take, The Paranormals make creating great music look easy. Sweaty Southern rock has rarely sounded so thoughtful, and in their two years together as a band, The Paranormals have carved out a niche most musicians spend their entire careers trying to create.

The official release party for American Spirit will take place at The End on August 25th. Lulu Mae, Gnarly Charlies, and Cory Taylor Cox round out the bill. We will see you there. -- Brianne Turner

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