Saturday, December 15, 2018

Alto Key's "Whisper In The Mist" feels like a movie about heartbreak yet to be made

Alto Key is the musical alter ego / musical project of British indie folk artist Keian Barton. Listening to his latest offering, Whisper In The Mist with it's exquisitely deep string arrangements amping up the drama and emotional weight, embracing Barton's intimate vocal performance that glides into falsettos. Barton composes at his home in London piecing together his songs with help from musicians from all over. In the end Whisper In The Mist feels like a film yet to be made. Alto Key's first EP, "Animals" is available on all digital platforms.

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Robb Donker


Mount Ehinger's monstrous blues rock hybrid sounds on "Incubator Jones"

Mount Ehinger, the musical project of one man musical mission Trey Smith based out of Atlanta, Georgia produces big panoramic rock sounds. On the track Incubator Jones, the groove and shifting progs suggest a kind of funkadelicious twist on classic big blues rock sounds. I could feel a bit of 70's Led Zep or Red Dirt in the bones of this song fleshed out with a kind of patina of more indie rock tones (a bit) from bands like Arctic Monkeys or even Queens Of The Stone Age. Besides the utterly sexy grooves here, Trey has a killer voice for this gritty, organic genre. The big sound that Trey achieves gets in your head and has that kind of filmic sound. Mr Smith get your stuff in front of someone who specializes in commercial vehicles, commercials for Levis and Range Rover or Jeep. Take a page from Hanni El Khatib. Cool stuff. 
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Robb Donker


"Altitude" by Dead Sullivan from one of my favorite albums released this year "Season"

Altitude by Dead Sullivan (the musical project / moniker of Boone Patrello) feels like a transformation of some sort. Emotionally drenched with sad textures in a dreamy shoe gazey way but always coming back to earth on guitar picking and a melodic bass line. The song is from Boone's latest offering, the 13 track album called "Season" and is perched between bendy Tropical punk folks songs with orchestral sweep like Kyle or the beautifully trippy Tire that shape shifts into psychedelic places or the avant garde (even by Dead Sullivan standards) or Due that almost has a Thom Yorke-ian daydreamy quality and, of course, the amazing track Drive (that I wrote about here). Boone continues to make awe inspiring dense beautifully odd songs that sit like askew shadow 

boxes of what is inside his head.  

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Robb Donker  

"Season" written & recorded in Denton, TX from April 2017-June 2018 
Mastered by Nathan Navarro & Boone Patrello


"Laugh Now, Cry Later" by Los Shadows an intoxicating party blend of surf punk, Chicano rock and more

The track Laugh Now, Cry Later by Los Shadows (who churns out melodic guitar driven rock / blending in Surf punk, funk, tropicalia, Chicano rock, post punk sounds) pulsates on Latin rhythms. The tight guitar lines move around a deep cut groove of bass and drums, guiro sounds, timbales breaks and psychedelic flavors too. It feels like an intoxicating party and dance of cultures. Band members Andy Saldana (El Sancho), Pepe (El Guapo), Mark Bullard and Xavier Prieto are based out of sunny San Diego, California. 
Rad.

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Robb Donker


Sunday, December 9, 2018

Kills Birds - feral punk / garage / grunge / psyche rock fury of "Worthy Girl"























Kills Birds is the musical project fronted by Bosnian-Canadian (L.A. based) film maker / director Nina Ljeti (Memoria) and the song Worthy Girl is a brain bursting bit of feral punk / garage / grunge / psyche rock exquisite in it's raw and brazen aesthetic. Vocally, Ljeti brings to mind a dizzy blend of Elena Tonra (Daughter), Sadie Dupuis (Speedy Ortiz), Karen O (Yeah Yeah Yeahs) and Deanna Petcoff  all stirred together with bath salts (insert rim shot). I feel bad not mentioning the rest of the band by name but, sadly, there is not a lot of info on the Kills Birds Facebook page. Sonically Worthy Girl has such a potent yet spartan big fucking rock sound- the aesthetic dangerous and possessed. I LOVE this song and cannot stop listening to it.

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Robb Donker

Loverman's wanderlust dreams catch fire on "Blue Blood Baby" from the "Wings Of Desire" album

Blue Blood Baby by the indie rock outfit Loverman instantly has a sense of unbridled urgency starting with guitar lines that feel like sparklers going off. When the drum beat, bass and subdued keys drop in seconds later and Sasha Papadin's blue collar vocals, husky and serious command attention there is a heavy dense fog of wanderlust in the air. The sense of movement both physically and emotionally is felt in spades. The song is so cinematic that you feel the story hard here. The track is from the debut album "Wings Of Desire", the title paying homage to Wim Wender's 1987 film about an angel who give us his wings in order to experience life and love as a human being accepting mortality as the price. 

Loverman's center is Sasha Papadin (keys, vocals) and his long time collaborators Jake Studer (guitar) and Kieran Maloney (drums). They hail from Sonoma, California and the musical stories they tell is the hard stuff of life full of love, heartbreak. Papadin, a songwriter and singer for a number of bands including 1955 who alongside The Raveonettes and Blonde Redhead were part of the iconic Northern California rock scene. Life can, of course, knock you down and after the sudden death of his father in 2016 Papadin left the stage and retreated to the recording studio in the back of his furniture workshop and struggled to write. Steeping himself and finding some solace in albums by Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits and Damon Albarn he traded his guitar for piano exploring themes of mortality and love. 

Being a songwriter like many creative, personal matters can be a lonely endeavor. It can also, especially at the darkest of times, be an utterly healing, life saving embrace. The kind of embrace that can rip your heart out at the same time pulling you from the clutches of despair. "Wings Of Desire" may be described as music for fans of dreamy, uptempo indie rock in the vein of War on Drugs and features production from Grammy winner Mark Lawson (Arcade Fire, Timber Timbre).

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Robb Donker 


"Restoration" by Cote - counterpoised spartan sounds and a revealing voice

Restoration by Cote, the musical moniker / musical project of Brooklyn based singer-songwriter Taryn Randall is a track that boldly places her voice front and center free of electronic affectations. The presentation simple and framed with a spartan array of guitars, some picking and some flourishing in lovely counterpoised notes that (while building to lush crescendos) are blended in elegantly and stay back. The aesthetic hearkens back to the kind of dreamy pop you might associate with the 60's folk pop. Beautiful and intimate Randall's melodies push forward and ease back like conflicted remembrances. 

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Robb Donker



Spooky Cigarette's blendo / ska / two tone / post punk "In Due Time" as free as spring reverb

In Due Time by Spooky Cigarette fills my brain with so many images and my heart with so many feelings. It is as free and happy as a vintage Silvertone spring reverb and the vocal performance and overall aesthetic that blends 80's new wave / ska / two tone sounds is lush, cool and pretty dreamy. These guys hail from San Diego, California and make me want to put on tapered slacks and creepers. I would love to see them live. 

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Robb Donker



Saturday, December 8, 2018

Wwoman pushes all the right Polaroid buttons on the psyche dance vibe of "You Will Fill My Head"

Wwoman is the musical, experimental musings of Pittsburgh based artist Gi Smee and the track You Will Fill My Head creates such a curious vibe. It is not only dreamy and cuts a cool dance groove and almost instantly made my mouth curl up into a smile but it also sounds utterly outer worldly in a kind of Alice in Wonderland on drugs sort of way. I think part of this is the sonic tapestry Smee is able to paint in with his bedroom pop, the retro tones that push those Polaroid buttons in your brain. I love his sound and aesthetic. It is on my emotional playlist.
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Robb Donker


Friday, December 7, 2018

Pete Shelley Rest In Peace. So utterly sad to hear of this man's passing

































So sad to hear of Pete Shelley's passing at only 63 from an apparent heart attack. The Buzzcocks are such a stellar band in every way imaginable. I remember the first song I ever heard by them so many years ago "Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've) and how the sound and structure, the feral Brit Punk nature and especially Shelley's vocals absolutely floored me. It was love at first hear, sight and everything and it led me into other Brit Punk and Mod bands like Gang Of Four and The Jam. The Buzzcocks almost instant success was destined. No band sounding this good would not, could not make a huge, huge impact on the musical landscape as a whole.

There are too many words, too many songs, too many recollections to coalesce here. I am not that great a writer. There are so many wonderful well written tributes on NPR and elsewhere that will educate, enlighten you if you are somehow not a Buzzcocks / Pete Shelley fan. So I will just leave by sharing a video of some young unknown band playing a little gig somewhere, playing their hearts out covering "Ever Fallen In Love". This for me is a lovely tribute because Shelley and the Buzzcocks have left an unimaginable large impression on music, art and an untold amount of young people's hearts and minds as a point of focus and inspiration. Rest In Peace Mr. Pete Shelley. My condolences to all your loved ones, friends and family. Rock on. 

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Robb Donker