Leo Pastel – “Whoah/Distance” Soul Step Records REVIEW

When most people hear the word ‘indie’, these days they automatically assume it’s a genre. Not only is this one of my pet peeves, but it’s a disservice to every independent artist. An indie Metal band is going to sound a lot different than an indie Gospel artist. So why use a cover-all word to shoehorn them into this make-shift genre? To me, indie is aesthetic. First and foremost it means the artist doesn’t answer to a major label or corporation but secondly, the indie artist stays true to his or herself. This is what drew me into Leo Pastel’s vinyl debut Whoah/Distance. 

With so much punk and rock n’ roll coming my way at 50Thirdand3rd, I rarely get the opportunity to cover the unsung genres of indie like Hip-Hop and R&B.

It’s not that I’m not a fan, it’s just a couple of sub-genres that aren’t getting the exposure they deserve in the DIY scene. It’s pretty common to see a garage rock outfit putting out a vinyl single on 7″ but Hip-Hop unfairly sits on Soundcloud. No disrespect to the digital format, but there’s something about vinyl that feels official and important. A lot of time, labor, and money goes into making a physical release that can’t be played in a car or on a phone. Dropping the needle on a record and hearing Leo Pastel just feels right. This is an artist made for this format.

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Part of what makes “Whoah” so interesting is the fact that it’s hard to peg as a single genre. It has the smooth drum and bass found on releases by Solange, but there are layers of instrumentation not out of place on alternative rock records. Vocally, both “Whoah” and “Distance” feature an indescribable vulnerability rarely heard in this style.

Once again proving indie is an aesthetic, Leo Pastel defies genre tropes and records music oozing with authenticity.

I may not be an expert on Hip-Hop but I grew up listening to Soul and R&B. When I hear both of these tracks I get the same satisfaction as hearing Stevie Wonder or Raphael Saadiq. But the wild thing about Leo Pastel is he has only been releasing music for less than 2 years! It blows my mind how an artist this young and so new on the scene can even create something so clear and focused, much less recorded in a home studio!

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Woah/Distance has found a home on Soul Step Records. At this point, are you even surprised? Soul Step is one of the leaders in the indie world. Instead of churning out guaranteed hits for a single market, Soul Step colors outside the box and works with artists ahead of the curve.

Be it rock, synth-pop, country, and soul, if it’s good Soul Step has already heard it and probably working on a vinyl release!

Despite not know too much about the background of the artist, this Soul Step Records release has made me a fan of Leo Pastel. He is recording the kind of music that’s bigger than Soundcloud or a Spotify playlist. This is an artist who should be playing Coachella or Pitchfork Music Festival. Leo Pastel is meant for vinyl and I have a feeling this release is the start of something that can only get bigger.

Follow Leo Pastel on Twitter.

Purchase Whoah/Distance exclusively on vinyl at Soul Step Records.

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Aaron The Audiophile

Son, brother, uncle, musician. I enjoy music of all genres, shapes and sizes, preferably the good kind.

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