BOSTON GLOBE cover feature (Arts Section)

Great artists create beauty from catastrophe, and writing pop songs -- ravishingly lovely ones that seem to effortlessly glide, soar, and transcend whatever tragedies inspired them -- is something that Michael Hayes does supremely well. You can decide for yourself when Hayes and his band, Vinyl Skyway, play the Lizard Lounge tonight to celebrate the release of their second album, "From Telegraph Hill, " the title of which refers to the band's bicoastal locales. Hayes, lead guitarist Andy Santospago, and keyboardist Dave Lieb all live around Boston, while drummer Booth Hardy and bassist Rob Pevitts both live in San Francisco. - Jonathan Perry (link to full story here)

BOSTON GLOBE review (Sidekick Weekly)

With its sophomore release, semi-local band the Vinyl Skyway (three of its members live in Boston, two in San Francisco) has coalesced into a pure-pop reconstitution of the band it grew out of, the alt-country group Lemonpeeler. Hints of that predecessor's rootsy fare can be found here and there, but at its heart, this is a headphone record of exquisitely crafted pop -- principal songwriter Michael Hayes has an apparently limitless capacity for melody and hook -- by turns breezy and shimmering ("Lovely Day" ), Beatles es que ("Sleepwalking" ), ornate and lush ("Hangin' On" ), and stripped-down and minor-key melancholy ("Mary Ann" ). "From Telegraph Hill" has the air of a breakthrough record. (Stuart Monroe, Sidekick, January, 2007)

METRONOME (Boston)

Lushly crafted pop songs filled with bounding harmonies and layered instrumentation soar from The Vinyl Skyway's latest album "From Telegraph Hill". Exhibiting the same ethereal qualities as early Pink Floyd, drummer Booth Hardy, singer-guitarist Michael Hayes, keyboardist Dave Lieb, bassist Rob Pevitts and lead guitarist Andy Santospago engage their collective talents into high gear to deliver one of the finest sounding local album's of the year. You won't find any filler on this 15-song undertaking either. Just superbly written and played songs that will invade your senses like a good drug. Sit back and enjoy!

THREE IMAGINARY GIRLS

One of my favorite Boston releases of the year so far, The Vinyl Skyway's From Telegraph Hill blends alt-country and retro-riffic indie pop in such a way that the songs seem at once groundbreaking and familiar. Hooks and vocal harmonies are expertly placed and well-executed; lyrics are poetic; and sequencing is crafty and inspired. Take track two for example: Anyone who's made a mix tape knows the importance of track two. It's the big BLAMMO of a song that knocks the listener off their feet after track one has eased them in. (See High Fidelity for further explanation.) This album soars past average, thanks to extremely robust songs. The Vinyl Skyway, which grew out of alt-country act Lemonpeeler, takes the basic ingredients from The Beatles' cookbook, stirs them up, adds in lots of "oohs" and "ahhs" and some "ba ba bas," sweetens it with lap steel and Wurlitzer and bakes it up into a dish that's complex and full flavored. Cooking metaphors aside, this is just a hell of a record.

THE NOISE (Boston)

A Boston-San Francisco band offers here a retro feast: a lush and highly melodic collection with elements of stuff like Beatles, Left Banke, Harper’s Bizarre, and The Merry-Go-Round (a good deal of this reminds me of Emitt Rhodes, if only in its melodic precocity). A song like “Shuttlecocks” could have come out during that period in the late 1960s when, for a brief moment, rock took a melodic turn and looked ready to aim for something more artistic and enduring. Like, y’know, jazz. We all know what happened next—prog rock took this bent as far as it could go and eventually collapsed under the weight of its own pretensions, then punk happened. The most ambitious song is “Deadly” (reprised as the final track, “D.I.A”): it has a telepathic guitar line and an irresistible vocal hook and the sound of a stone classic. The band is nothing if not versatile, however; the opening track, “Hangin’ On” is a full-court press of harmony vocals and rippling guitar, and “Don’t You Like It” is an uptempo love song replete with gnarly guitar solo, while a song like “Lovely Day” showcases a more introspective and acoustic side.   
(Francis DiMenno, THE NOISE / Boston / March 2007 and one of writer's top ten of the year)

AMPLIFIER

In the same way that Joe Pernice translates his passionate love of the Bee Gees and Jimmy Webb through his exquisitely breathy baroque pop, Michael Hayes applies a similar Beatles/Hollies ethic to his gorgeous and buzzy pop/alt.country songs. The band’s 2004 eponymous debut was more a collaboration between Hayes and guitarist Andy Santospago featuring a loose collective of musical accompaniment, and hewed closer to alt.country side of their influences. On Vinyl Skyway’s sophomore effort, From Telegraph Hill, Hayes and Santospago are joined by bassist Rob Pevitts and drummer Booth Hardy - Hayes’ bandmates in the late, lamented Lemonpeeler - and keyboardist Dave Lieb, resulting in a shift to the poppier end of their spectrum. There’s still plenty of Gary Louris/Eef Barzelay whisper twang on From Telegraph Hill (“Shuttlecocks,” “Lovely Day”), but it’s tempered with perfect crystalline touches of McCartney’s sprightly Beatles (“Where?”, “Kitchen”) and Nash’s harmonic Hollies (“Hangin’ On,” “Don’t You Like It?”). And the Pernice reference is no sidelong glance, as the all too brief “Sleepwalking” and “Everlong” sound like outtakes from Joe’s last sessions. The Vinyl Skyway’s triumph on From Telegraph Hill is in channeling their swinging pop intuition and Hayes’ incisive and bittersweet lyrical outlook into an infectious and satisfying set of songs that grow with each successive spin.

BABYSUE

Superb free-flowing melodic pop in the vein of some of the greatest 1990s guitar pop bands like Gigolo Aunts and early Teenage Fanclub. This band's debut 2004 impressed many folks around the globe...but From Telegraph Hill is sure to make an even sharper impression. The fellows in Vinyl Skyway have really refined and focused their sound in a short amount of time...and can now compete with just about any pop band on the planet. These songs are smart and instantly catchy...and chock full of perfect harmonies. Rarely have we heard a self-released album that sounds this professional. With the release of this CD, the guys in Vinyl Skyway have paved a solid foundation for what will (hopefully) be a long and rewarding career. Killer cuts include "Hangin' On," "Don't You Like It?", "Lovely Day," and "Solilequy."

Recommended. (Rating: 5+++)

 

 

 

METRONOME (TOP 5, April, 2007)

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