The Vinyl Skyway
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The Vinyl Skyway


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"the Vinyl Skyway (self-titled) 2004 Review"

If the brain behind this thing was actually named Vinyl Skyway, he'd have been hitting for the cycle (band, album, label, web site, front man). As it was, Michael Hayes must have figured he had enough going for himself with the Vinyl Skyway without overplaying his hand with that particular pop de plume. And he was right. Hayes and his Vinyl Skyway compadres effortlessly channel Jayhawks/Clem Snide shimmery pop Americana with killer dashes of CSN harmonies and the sensitivity and humor of a couple of generations of Wainwrights. Hayes' considerable instrumental talents and arrangement skills are evenly matched by his songwriting abilities as evidenced by the dusty pop lope of "Shine," the sublime twang of "Elvis Costello" and the Beatles-up-the-country bluster of "Philistine." It's not easy to make something that's both original and familiar, but Hayes has managed that feat with the Vinyl Skyway. And all without changing his name.
- Amplifier Magazine

"Best Local Albums of 2004"

Listening to 2004

LET’S GET THE CAVEAT out of the way, shall we? Bigger and certainly more commercially lucrative events in pop happened — the Pixies reunion (cha-ching!); U2 reasserting themselves yet again as Beatles-like patriarchs of pop (cha-ching! cha-ching!); Lindsay Lohan’s feud with Hilary Duff (sadly, too many cha-chings to count). But those of you who, obviously, have the impeccable taste or good fortune to read this space regularly know that there’s a difference between hip and popular, between what’s cutting-edge and what’s sliced and diced for mainstream consumption.

Much like this ?ne publication, we’ve always preferred building a wagon of our own design and pulling it in intriguing new directions, rather than jumping on it long after somebody else’s butt has already warmed the seat. So it’s a safe bet that nobody we rave about will ever get caught lip-synching lamely and doing an Elaine full-body dry-heave on Saturday Night Live. We think that’s a good thing.

In short, we believe in championing actual, real music played by actual, real people and turning readers — and, most important, ourselves — on to new sounds that deserve to be heard (what the hell else is there?).

There was a lot to like in 2004 on both the national and local fronts, so in an exercise in both self-indulgence and public service, we bring you our annual, entirely subjective Top Ten Plus Three (call it a Baker’s Dozen) list, organized alphabetically. The best part? You can use this page as a post-holiday shopping list when you return that Laura Ashley tea-cozy from Grandma and march your asses to your local indie-record store to blow next month’s rent on the good stuff. Dig in.


1) Jake Brennan & the Confidence Men, Love and Bombs (Yep Roc). A brash, broad talent arrives with a barroom’s worth of tunes about tough love and tougher luck. This is what Elvis Costello would’ve sounded like if he’d fronted the Georgia Satellites and hadn’t gone all pseudo-classical on us. A career-making record.

2) Baby Strange, Put Out (Primary Voltage). A British rock sneer with a glitter veneer and a lap-steel smear of country? Hell, it worked for the Stones back in the day.

3) Cracktorch, Tonight the City (Declassi?ed). On which Cracktorch singer-guitarist Marc Schleicher follows his other band Quintaine Americana’s local classic, Dark Thirty (which had followed Cracktorch’s local classic, Cracktorch . . . Is Not the Problem), with — guess what? — another local classic. Roaring, righteous rock that doesn’t just roll on muscle-car wheels — it steamrolls like the Sox over the Cards.

4) Dear Leader, All I Ever Wanted Was Tonight (Lunch). The singular voice of ex–Sheila Divine frontman Aaron Perrino rings epically clear, loud, and proud to show off his new crack crew. Sharp-tongued rants about culture vultures, young hearts, and life’s disappointments give him something to sing about.

5) The Douglas Fir, When This Wears Off (Dark Years). A night swoon, a ?eeting daydream, a stolen glance through the gauze of ?rst impressions and the haze of last night’s chardonnay — this is the intoxicating spell cast by the Douglas Fir: a tempest of desire crashing blissfully into the tumult of electric guitars and echo chambers. Powerfully mysterious, mysteriously powerful.

6) The Explosion, Black Tape (Virgin). Boston punk upstarts ink major-label deal and record blazing punk album that ?res salvos of spite and malice and reminds you why they got signed in the ?rst place. What a refreshing concept.

7) Juliana Hat?eld, In Exile Deo (Zoe/Rounder). The ?rst 20 guitar-stoked seconds of "Get in Line" had us right where Juliana wanted us: Right. Down. There. The next dozen songs — some of the best and freshest of her decade-plus career — extended her remarkable streak of reversing the rock-and-roll-aging process.

8) Mittens, Mittens (Man With a Gun). The aural equivalent of Pop Rocks — sparkly and snappy, with a dash of sour sprinkled into the crunchy sweetness. Longer-lasting satisfaction, too.

9) Paul Rishell & Annie Raines, Goin’ Home (Tone-Cool/Artemis). Effortlessly encyclopedic blues mastery by a duo who aren’t merely ambassadors of the blues, but living, breathing practitioners and worthy keepers of the ?ame.

10) Skating Club, The Unfound Sound (Kimchee). The third Skating Club outing of Aubrey Anderson, formerly of Difference Engine, just might be his best yet. Here he mines the meditative territory staked out by the likes of Red House Painters and Idaho with the kind of exquisite grace and epic sweep that got him compared to those dudes in the ?rst place.

11) Tarbox Ramblers, A Fix Back East (Rounder). A dark ride to a dark side where ancient hell hounds lurk and bad habits breathe like dangerous demons, promising salvation but rarely delivering on the pledge. Watch out for those incisors, Michael.

12) Vinyl Skyway, The Vinyl Skyway (Vinyl Skyway). Like the life lessons learned from the Pernice Broth - Stuff at Night/Phoenix, Jonathan Perry

"Time to Put the Top Down"

Time to put the top down
A new beginning, a new album, and a summery pop sound. Things are finally looking sunny for the Vinyl Skyway.
By Jonathan Perry, Boston Globe Correspondent | December 22, 2006

CAMBRIDGE -- When he was a child, his family called him a "walking mood," and it was true then as it is now. In fact, the dark clouds have always hung heavy around Vinyl Skyway singer-songwriter Michael Hayes's shoulders, starting when he lost his mother to cancer at age 6. When he was 17, he lost a best friend to drug addiction. Then, a decade later, just as his country-tinged pop band, Lemonpeeler , had released a promising album that marked a bright new start, Hayes's father died. Lemonpeeler broke up soon thereafter.

No wonder, then, that back when Hayes's brother made him a mix tape called "Strum and Bum," filled with melancholic songs about grief and failure from the likes of the Smiths and Paul Westerberg, he identified, and powerfully.

"I still have that tape," Hayes recalls over a beer at a Harvard Square watering hole. "I looked death in the face at an early age, so there was always that sad side -- I think I went through a lot as a kid. I didn't get started writing songs until I was 26, 27, but as I went along, I got better, and it was an outlet."

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.

Like Vinyl Skyway's 2004 self-titled debut, "From Telegraph Hill" is not the tedious, navel-gazing product of a self-obsessed "tortured" artist, or the doom-and-gloom pontificating of a barfly left too long in the lounge. It's lush, summery music in the vein of the Thrills, the Pernice Brothers, or Lindsey Buckingham-era Fleetwood Mac, with ambrosial harmonies, gleaming guitar hooks, and melodies so creamy and opulent that you barely realize you're humming along to one colossal bummer after another.

The lilting opening track, "Hangin' On," for instance, is about Hayes's cousin, who was attacked and beaten within an inch of his life. ( He has since recovered.) "He walked out of a bar and somebody hit him over the head with a lead pipe. His brains were basically on the sidewalk," Hayes says. "My cousin's a brilliant guy, plays chess, writes. Likes to drink and has a mouth, and fools around with women. I guess he fooled around with some guy's girlfriend, and the guy was linked to organized crime in Chicago. The crime's never been solved."

The song has some of the most sweetly stacked Beach Boys-esque harmonies you're likely to hear. Ditto for Hayes's favorite track, "Deadly," a slice of sumptuous pop he says he wrote to cope with the alienation and anger he felt the day President George W. Bush was reelected to a second term.

"I think there's a classic element to their music that's just there," says Camp Street Studios engineer Adam Taylor, who helped mix the album. "[Hayes] is a very intelligent writer, and he understands harmonies and melodies, and that's a lost art. Those sound like simple things, but that's not always the case."

Hayes credits his Vinyl Skyway comrades with bringing those sounds to fruition. In a twist of fate that's been a rare lucky break for Hayes, he's now got two of the three members of Lemonpeeler back onboard as charter members of Vinyl Skyway.

"It's really a reincarnation of Lemonpeeler," says Hayes, who patched things up with his old friends when Lemonpeeler reunited for a show last year. "Andy [Santospago] and I did the first Vinyl Skyway album, and we're proud of it. But it was mostly friends and hired guns trying to have a good time hanging out, playing in our kitchen on Sundays, and if we got a gig, great. But I missed Lemonpeeler. When I play with those guys, there's a chemistry there that doesn't exist with a lot of other people I've played with."

Lemonpeeler had originally collapsed under a crushing weight of personal turmoil and emotional upheaval. (In addition to Hayes's dad passing away, Pevitts went through a divorce, while Hardy's parents split up, and guitarist Jim Eddy -- now back as an ancillary member of Vinyl Skyway and also living on the West Coast -- became a parent.) Eventually, tempers flared, agendas changed, and accusations flew. "Now those wounds have healed," says a tranquil Hayes, all too familiar with the cycles of grief and recovery. "I think it's made us all stronger as a band. We're moving forward." - The Boston Globe

"Review of "From Telegraph Hill""

"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, the sort that would have would have shown up on those recent critics' best-of lists if it hadn't come out at the tail-end of the year." -Stuart Monroe, (Globe Sidekick 01/02/07) - The Boston Globe

""From Telegraph Hill" Review"

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/ 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 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.
- Amplifier Magazine

""From Telegraph Hill" 5 Star Review"

Vinyl Skyway - From Telegraph Hill
(Independently released CD, Pop)
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+++) - Babysue

""From Telegraph Hill" Review"

Sometimes a band's name manages to capture and distill the essence of the band into an easily understood idea, and The Vinyl Skyway has just such a name. On their new release, From Telegraph Hill, The Vinyl Skyway have composed a collection of songs that seem to reside somewhere in the ether above us. Floating, gliding, and lush, their sound truly symbolizes what a vinyl skyway would sound like if it were to exist.
Drifting towards the realm of dream pop, The Vinyl Skyway has taken up residency in a soundscape that has been touched upon by such iconic bands as The Beatles and Pink Floyd, though their more permanent neighbors in this ethereal sphere might be bands such as Lush and the Cocteau Twins. Their sound is at times dreamy, haunting, and joyful, and always carefully crafted. From richly layered textures to luxuriant harmonies and all the way up to the hooky melodies, the songs on From Telegraph Hill are captivating on multiple levels.
Opening with a sustained organ chord and floating guitar line, "Hangin' On" introduces the album by ushering the listener directly into the heart of The Vinyl Skyway's aerial home. The strumming of acoustic guitar kicks in to keep the listener somewhat grounded, but the lofty vocal lines prevent things from becoming mundane or rootsy. The subsequent tracks follow a similar formula, despite subtle instrumental changes, such the grooving drumbeat in "Don't You Like It?," the melancholy piano line in "Kitchen," or the distorted guitar chords in "D.I.A. Reprise."
Even as the ingredients of their music coalesce largely from the fringe, the end result is a sound that has all the keys to pop success - memorable melodies, pleasing harmonies, and accessible lyrics all presented in easily digestible portions, including three fun little instrumentals, each running less than a minute. The Vinyl Skyway seems to have captured a feeling that can satisfy both the indie and pop realms, which isn't an easy task. (TVS Records)
-Brian McGrath - Northeast Performer

""From Telegraph Hill" Review"

15-song CD
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 “Down” 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

"David Bash Top 100 Albums"

David Bash's Favorites of 2006
(BAND NOTE: he heard "From Telegraph Hill" during the last week of the year, but officially this album is an '07 release)

David Bash knows his rock and roll. As a long time music journalist and the creative force behind the International Pop Overthrow festivals, he lives and breaths rock and roll. So every year I like to post his "Best of" list for the year because it is always a handy thing to have when trying to decide on which CDs to buy this week. Check it out and take notes. I interviewed David last year so if you are not aware of the man you can read the interview here.

Favorite Albums of 2006

1. Chris Brown-Now That You're Fed (Self-Released)
2. The Nines-Calling Distance Stations (Self-Released
3. Mellowmen-Tomorrow's Sound Today (Self-Released)
4. The Green And Yellow TV-Sinister Barrier (Records Records)
5. The Winnerys-Daily Urban Times (Rainbow Quartz)
6. Roger Manning-Solid State Warrior (Pony Canyon)
7. The Mayflowers-Pop A Doodle Doo? (Wizzard In Vinyl)
8. The Sexies-Midnight Raving Angels (Self-Released)
9. Nigel Clark-21st Century Man (Hijack)
10. The Anderson Council-The Fall Parade (Groove Disques)
11. The Junior League-Catchy (Self-Released)
12. Linus of Hollywood-Triangle (Franklin Castle)
13. Nelson Bragg-Day Into Night (Side B Music)
14. Marykate O’Neil-1-800-Bankrupt (Self-Released)
15. The Feeling-Twelve Stops and Home (Universal)
16. The Adored-A New Language (V2)
17. Evan Hillhouse-Evan Hillhouse (Striped Rock)
18. Blue Cartoon-September Songs (Aardvark)
19. The Capitol Years-Dance Away The Terror (Park The Van)
20. Household Names-Picture In My Head (Self-Released)
21. Monkeeman-Monkeeman (El Muto)
22. The Corner Laughers-Tomb of Leopards (Sandbox)
23. The Handcuffs-Model for a Revolution (OOFL)
24. The Now People-The Last Great 20th Century Love Affair (Bird Song)
25. The Skies of America-Shine (National Recorder)
26. Vanilla-Vanilla (Charlatan)
27. The Vinyl Skyway-From Telegraph Hill (Self-Released)
28. The Higher State-From ‘Round Here (Teen Sound)
29. Cheap Trick-Rockford (Big 3)
30. Shy Nobleman-Beautiful Life (Noble Tunes)
31. The Bees (U.S.)-High Society (Self –Released)
32. Feel-Steps To Reach A Human (West American)
33. Silver Sun-Dad’s Weird Dream (Excellent)
34. Ed James-…In The 21st Century (Jam)
35. The Lightyears-Mission Creep (Self-Released)
36. L.E.O.-Alpacas Orgling (Cheap Lullaby)
37. The Tearaways-Beat Yer Own Mersey (Fried)
38. Bowling for Soup-The Great Burrito Extortion Case (Zomba)
39. Beagle Hat-Magical Hat (Marquis Inc)
40. The Ronelles-Hotel (Neon Tetra)
41. Daniel Saturn-Lakehill Soccer Association (Self-Released)
42. Supraluxe-Supraluxe (Self-Released)
43. Deleted Waveform Gatherings-Complicated View (Big Dipper)
44. The Royal Purple-Transcendental Medication (Umbrella)
45. The Ladies & Gentlemen –Ladies and Gentlemen… (Self-Released)
46. The Martial Arts-Your Sinclair (Groover)
47. The Pipettes-We Are The Pipettes (Memphis Industries)
48. AlternativA-A Night in Starlight (Alternative Light)
49. Fresh Mowed Lawn-Fresh Mowed Lawn (Not Lame)
50. Semion-Help Me I Work In An Office (Self-Released)
51. Swims-Ride Of The Blueberry Winter (Prison Jazz)
52. Cloud 11-Sweet Happy Life (Kool Kat Musik)
53. The Oohs-Llama Lamp (Oohszone Layer Records)
54. Rainy Day Saints-Diamond Star Highway (Get Hip)
55. The Hazey Janes-Hotel Radio (Measured)
56. Peter Murray-Ants and Angels (Junction Triangle)
57. Stingray Green-Hard Numbers (Self-Released)
58. The Innocents-Pop Factory (Zip)
59. Solo-SoloPeople (Excelsior)
60. The Safes-Well Well Well (O’Brother’s)
61. Wisely-Parador (Not Lame)
62. The Silver Lining- Well-Dressed Blues (Self-Released)
63. The Scheme-Sunset on a Daydream (Sodapop)
64. The Wallstones-Pleasure and Pain (Mariann)
65. Caddy-Go Slow (Jasrac)
66. The Bellyachers-200 Lucky Feet Move The Dragon (Craftphonic)
67. Phamous Phaces-Spider Ball (Bink!)
68. Phil Angotti-East Side Soul (Jam)
69. The Naomi Star-Sunshine Girl (Pleides)
70. The Goldbergs-Hooks, Lines, & Sinkers (Self-Released)
71. The Loud Family and Anton Barbeau-What If It Works? (125)
72. Edmund’s Crown-Regrets of a Company Man (Self-Released)
73. Jaimie Vernon-Time Enough At Last (Bullseye)
74. Twinklehead-Twinklehead (Division)
75. Lolas-Doctor Apache (Wizzard In Vinyl)
76. Puffy AmiYumi-Splurge… (Tofu)
77. Drake Bell-It’s Only Time (Universal Motown)
78. The Men-Return (Self-Released)
79. Peter Berry & the Shake Set-Wildberry Shake! (Teen Sound)
80. The Sheers-Goodbye World (Self-Released)
81. The Sails-The Sails (Rainbow Quartz)
82. Marty Rudnick-More Songs About Cars And Girls (Sandbox)
83. Dog Age-Reefy Seadragon (Rainbow Quartz)
84. The Vinyltones-Memoirs of a Songbook (Self-Released)
85. PoP is ArT-Epiphany (Self-Released)
86. Magneto-Resistance Is Futile (Popboomerang)
87. - Rock N Roll Report


January, 2007: Vinyl Skyway "From Telegraph Hill"
February, 2005: contributor to Todd Thibaud "Northern Skies"
October, 2004: Vinyl Skyway (self-titled)
January, 2003: Lemonpeeler "The Woolly Sessions"
January, 2001: Lemonpeeler "The First Time"
October, 1998: Everything Else "7 song EP"
July, 1997: Michael Hayes "How it Feels"



The Vinyl Skyway's new album "From Telegraph Hill" is a grassroots effort that has been praised by local and national press outlets including the Boston Globe, who describe it as a "breakthrough record of exquisitely crafted pop." The band's lush sound is also lauded by Boston rock critic Jonathan Perry as "summery music in the vein of the Thrills, the Pernice Brothers, or Lindsey Buckingham-era Fleetwood Mac." For an unsigned band with very little in the way of marketing support or distribution, this is a remarkable release that features a melodic brand of rock emphasizing vocals with dense harmonies, gleaming guitar licks, and crafty original pop songs performed and put together impeccably well. Half of the album was mixed by Paul Q Kolderie (Hole, the Pixies, Morphine).

Since releasing "From Telegraph Hill" in January of this year, The Vinyl Skyway have performed shows in New York, San Francisco and home-base Cambridge, MA (where they completed a monthlong February residency at the Lizard Lounge). The group also shot a video for the single "Deadly" with the burgeoning San Francisco film director Lensci Angel. Recently runners-up in ZigZag's Band Competition, the Vinyl Skyway are eagerly planning a tour of the U.S. in the fall of 2007. They were recently selected to play and record with Baltic Recording Studio in Scandanavia (details forthcoming).

The Vinyl Skyway includes five members who reside in both Boston and San Francisco including lead singer/songwriter Michael Hayes, lead guitarist and songwriter Andy Santospago, drummer Booth Hardy (also of High Diving Horses and pictured above), bassist Rob Pevitts and keyboardist Dave Lieb (also of the Rudds). Most of the band met while cutting their teeth on alt-country pop stylings of Lemonpeeler (who perform infrequently with ancillary guitarist and singer-songwriter Jim Eddy).

The Vinyl Skyway was formed in 2003, giving way to a self-titled debut released a year later by the group's founders, Hayes and Santospago. It was called one of the year’s best local releases of 2004 (Boston Phoenix), earning airplay from the nationally respected show Morning Becomes Eclectic (Nic Harcourt) and featured on NPR's All Songs Considered. With a steady stream of support from new fans and critics alike, and a burgeoning college radio following in the U.S.A., "From Telegraph Hill" is earning a reputation as one of 2007's finest independent releases.

The Vinyl Skyway are crafting new material for their third release in 2008 (to be made available on USB Stick and vinyl). They are hoping to find label support and distribution for future endeavors.