I always love discovering relatively unknown, homegrown bands that have an unparalleled passion for the music they create. It’s refreshing to step into their own little utopian corner of the musical world, where everything is exactly as it should be. Such was the case when I stumbled upon Vinyl Thief, a five-piece electro-rock group coming straight out of Nashville, Tennessee. Everything from the music itself to the album artwork to the earnest blogging on Nashville’s top foodie hotspots screams out that this is a band that is passionate about the simple things in life. This is an attitude that is reflected in their music as well.
For a group based out of the country music capital of the United States, they are certainly breaking the mold. Vinyl Thief’s Rebel Hill is grungy, yet lighthearted. It’s soulful, but carefree. It’s lo-fi indie rock with an electro twist. This type of music has been rising in popularity in recent years as garage bands have discovered the use of electronics. As lead vocalist Grayson Proctor puts it, “In the past, people always equated Nashville with cowboy hats and rodeos. That’s all starting to change with new bands that aren’t afraid to take risks.”
Rebel Hill is an EP containing three new songs from the band. Despite featuring only twelve minutes of music, the EP certainly packs a memorable punch. Starting with “Faces,” Vinyl Thief quickly establishes their presence as a tightly-knit indie rock group. A solid effort, but nothing that is particularly distinguishing. As the track progresses, however, we hear their fully-developed sound come out – a sound which brings to mind a cross between The Strokes and Passion Pit. It’s impressive, to say the least.
The intrigue builds with “Pipes,” the second track off the record. We gain a much more comprehensive picture of the characteristics of their sound, which now includes ’80s synth pads and experimental percussion. The chord progressions and melodies are catchy, the instrumentation is novel, and the mood is relaxing. A simple combination, but it’s all that you really need to create feel-good music. Grayson Proctor effortlessly switches between his mid-range and falsetto vocal registers as he cuts through the quasi-psychedelic orchestration of the song.
Closing out Rebel Hill with the title track, the band once again has a surprise for listeners: an upbeat composition predominantly in 5/8 time. For readers who aren’t familiar with music theory, being in 5/8 time means that there are five divisions within each measure, or five pulses in each phrase, whereas most songs are in 4/4 time, with four beats or pulses in each measure. In “Rebel Hill,” the verses are in 5/8, while the choruses bring it back to 4/4 time. This technique of changing time signatures multiple times in a song is something that is relatively unheard of in this style of music, and it definitely helps the band to stand out from the crowd. Overall, the musicianship on this final track is quite masterful.
Vinyl Thief, with less than 3,000 fans on their Facebook page, is still a fairly underground band, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that soon changes. They’ve been active on the road recently, touring through much of the United States in the past couple of months. I should also point out that the Rebel Hill EP is available on their website for FREE, with the option of providing a donation. How cool is that? There is now absolutely no reason for you not to check this band out. Their music will certainly not disappoint.