Sunday, June 16, 2019

"Hopeless" by Opeongo and from his debut LP "Miasma" is a wailing wall of sound

Hopeless by Opeongo, the musical namesake of 26 year old singer-songwriter Keegan Trumpour immediately pulls you into this exquisite emotional fray. The cadence is formidable. The downbeat driven mid-tempo thumper of bass, drums, dramatic guitar licks and organ stirs and moves you. It feels like gospel infused blues rock pushed through art rock filters and while the swelling background vocals and horns amp up the spirits, it is Trumpour's unique high register and passionate vox that keep your feet planted and head bobbing. Trumpour's aesthetic, his vocal character pushes his voice and phrases to the nth degree and you can feel pain at the top of your throat just listening to his gritty wail. Wow, just wow. There is nothing more to say. 

Robb Donker

picture courtesy of Connie Tsang


Opeongo is the moniker of 26-year-old singer/songwriter Keegan Trumpour. Originally from Midland ON, Keegan now resides in the city of Toronto.
Keegan is currently in the midst of releasing Opeongo’s debut LP “Miasma” recorded with producer/multi-instrumentalist Aaron Goldstein at Baldwin Street Sound. It features appearances by such noteworthy musicians as Daniel Romano, Aaron Goldstein, Aaron Comeau, Carleigh Aikins, and Arif Mirabdolbaghi. The record was mixed by the talented Christopher Stringer, and was mastered by Grammy-nominated Philip Shaw Bova.         
The songs from this record are largely characterized by their elaborate lyricism, the content of which deals with the struggles of mental health within the realms of these modern times, and the external and internal influences on such a thing. These songs were written through a period of immense change, change signified by moving from a small town to a large city, change signified by heartache, and change signified in the recognition of the times before us.  

Richy Mitch & The Coal Miners mine dreamy garden rock / alt folk tones on "A Moment"

A Moment by Richy Mitch & The Coal Miners, a folk / alt rock band based out of Colorado is a vast, dreamy piece of garden rock from their upcoming third album "Subliming". From the onset, with deep alt folk and Americana rock tones, the cadence, musical sweep and heavenly vocal performance made me think of foggy banks in Northern California and iconic organic garden rock bands like Big Star or The Band.  

Robb Donker


Richy Mitch & The Coal Miners are an independent folk/alt rock band based in Colorado consisting of longtime friends Mitch "eat a whole package of grapes in a single day" Cutts, Nic "Richy Mitch" Haughn, Jakob "Cashew" Ervin, and Ryan "Yung Craigslist" Lavallee. The self-taught band was informally founded in 2015 after Nic & Mitch got way too good at guitar hero and decided to start learning real instruments.
The band began writing their debut album RMCM in late 2016 and released the project upon their high school graduation in May 2017 after recording the album in a closet. In February 2018, their efforts continued to come to life with the release of their sophomore album Solstice. Solstice was overseen by the band's manager, Duncan Ervin, who has been called the musical visionary of the 21st century as well as the goodest boy in the world. Currently, the band members are preparing to release their third album, Subliming, which slaps harder than a navy seal on a quest for vengeance (a study at Harvard Princeton Yale University confirmed this using science).


PREMIERE: Enbers' dreamy alt folk "Just Dogs" feels as cinematic as the title. From the EP "10 Years"

Enbers is the musical moniker of one Nicholas Bryant who writes evocative folk tinged songs with his voice and his 1950's Martin D 18. On the track Just Dogs, that voice quivering in a stark, vulnerable and compelling way reveals stories and mysteries you want to fall into. The sound, the aesthetic is spartan on one hand but also produced with cinematic, dreamy flair by Bryants cohort, Producer Alex Koska who beautifully crafts a kind of orchestrated folk with dark and light tones that suggest pasts and presents.  

Enbers hails from Stauton, Virginia and Just Dogs is from the EP, "10 Years" just released on June 10th (2019).

Robb Donker

The Harmaleighs' beautiful sway on "Don't Panic" has dark undercurrents from the upcoming "She Won't Make Sense"

The song Don't Panic by Nashville's The Harmaleighs feels (to me) like a song for the times we live in. The beautiful sway of the song belies the undercurrent of darker feelings that run throughout their upcoming album "She Won't Make Sense" which is a concept album about mental illness, "specifically band member Haley Grant's deeply personal journey through anxiety, depression and mania." 

Of the track Haley says:

"I was in a constant state of worry. My relationship was falling apart, my friend group was changing, my career path was unclear and my mind was fucked. It felt like every aspect of my life was in complete and utter turmoil all at the same time. 'Don't Panic' was written in my bathroom at 3:30 am about trying to calm myself down but being fearful that panic was actually fueling my creativity. It made me question whether or not I should be seeking help or letting this type of fear run its course because it was allowing me to write these songs that I am so proud of. The last line of the chorus 'but what if that's all I'm good at' comes from me being scared I'll be unable to write if I am mentally stable." 

It takes courage to bleed on a song. To put it all out there and the thought that being mentally stable might shut off the inspirational faucet for her music is a heavy one. I mean, there does seem to be some truth to the tortured artist but then artists as talented as The Harmaleighs will undoubtedly always have fodder for their art whether the demons they reveal or chase are in the microcosm or macrocosm. There is certainly a lot to stress over out in the world and there lies the rub. I have thought for a long time that too much information bombarding our brains are shutting off the hope filled pleasure centers and we are slowly losing our minds, all of us, to worry, self doubt, feelings of not being enough and other negative thoughts. 

They want us to be like that you know. We are all easier to control that way. I will get off my soap box. 

I am a bit new to The Harmaleighs and delving into their music. Amazing, emotionally wrought stuff. I love it. 

The Harmaleighs are Haley Grant (Lead vox, guitar) and Kaylee Jasperson (bass, harmonies)

"She Won't Make Sense" is dropping on August 2nd with the ability to pre-order NOW.

Robb Donker

Saturday, June 15, 2019

The Hugs' effervescent pop rocker "Love You To Death" feels like a hug

Love You To Death by Portland's The Hugs sounds like a song by a band called The Hugs. It is power poppy and cool and effervescent. The band is unabashedly upbeat indie rockers who (on this song) stay in that middle of the road place and that is ok. If they haven't already, they might be more likely to be featured in the pages of Nylon or Seventeen Magazine more so than Rolling Stone but that is fine. Even for a jaded, cynical old rock critic like me I get their sound and like it. After all I was young and optimistic once upon a time. 

Love You To Death is the title track from The Hugs new pop-rock record. 

Robb Donker

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Strap your seatbelt on and listen to "Why Now" by Algorhythm for a trippy musically high ride

Algorhythm is a progressive rock meets jazz fusion band based out of Montreal, Canada and they are here to rock your face off in blendo rockish, jazzy ways and while they can get chill when they want to, on the track Why Now, it feels like a double sided Redbull and Vodka after one too many pixies sticks. The opening feels mystical but that doesn't last long. The song charges forth in an incredibly fast rush of licks while founder, songwriter, keyboardist and vocalist Alexander Lioubimenko directs the action like a kind of jazz cabaret provocateur. The song takes wonderful diversions that allow you to catch your breath. During the musical / drum and bass break you start to chill and smile and imagine you are in some other world (maybe a version of Hell) where you are served drinks with umbrellas as you float on top of this tightly wound dense drink of music. It is such a trippy musically high ride.

Robb Donker

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Modern Monet sing about love and stars on "Hollywood" and it is beautiful

L.A. based folkish troubadours Modern Monet wax poetic about west coast dreams on Hollywood but it really is just a love song between two dreamers. The imagery of stars in the sidewalk and broken dreams are laced throughout but cemented within the performance is such a tender marriage of voices. Modern Monet is Jackson Singleton and Monet Makohoniuk (often accompanied by cello player, Jean Paul Barjon).

Beautiful stuff.

Robb Donker

Monday, June 10, 2019

Mabes and the beautifully home grown "Saint" is perfect

Mabes with her beautiful home grown folk voice seemingly effortlessly tells her story on the track Saint. Every second is perfectly wrought and shouldn't be tampered with and maybe it is perfect because she wrote this song when she was 15. Everything is perfect in all it's imperfection when you are 15. 

Mabes hails from Billericay, England. 

Robb Donker

UK singer-songwriter Josh Herring build lovely tensions and twists up chamber pop tones on "Down The Wire" - sweet

The track Down The Wire by singer songwriter Josh Herring from Birmingham, UK, with it's contemplative up beat piano strokes and slightly twisted horns builds an anxious feeling like you are being tied to a chair with ropes of melodies that turn around you again and again. The chamber pop strains feel at once lush but askew too. I thought of a calmer version of the charming yet crazy aesthetic of Man Man and I also thought of  Rufus Wainwright or maybe something in between. In any event I really like Herring's tones and writing style. Awesome. 

Robb Donker

Derek Senn's indie rocker "Have A Nice Day" feels like a vast runaway song from the album "How Could A Man"

Have A Nice Day by singer songwriter rocker Derek Senn based out of San Luis Obispo, California moves at a runaway clip, the vast urgent sound with "oooooooooh"s intact has a true sense of wanderlust, of an ongoing journey, of physical and emotional places visited. There is almost an out of breath urgency to Senn's vocal performance too. It feels direct and passionate with even a tinge of desperation as if one has to move fast to live that ever fleeting life. I like the character in Senn's delivery and the lyrics that feel real and personal. The wanderlust indie rock feel here makes sense considering Senn doesn't just dip his toe in life's adventures but dives in whether traveling the world or becoming a family man. 

Have A Nice Day is from his 12 track full length album "How Could A Man" out now on Bandcamp and other platforms. 

Robb Donker


Derek Senn has been at it for a while now, honing his songwriting craft and sharing his musings with the world. His travels have taken him far and wide, from a yearlong foreign exchange in Quito, Ecuador, to a six-month bicycle trip through western South America, to a three-month foray to track down a girl in Argentina he fancied. Several of his songs refer to these adventures, though more recently, they address the world—and children—he’s created with that girl (turns out she fancied him too). The navigation of the quotidian trials and travails of family life imbue his songs now: child-rearing, putting food on the table, yelling at the dog. 
Derek and his wife formed a punk rock duo called The Wedding Industrial Complex, but sometime around 2009, she tossed her drumsticks into the crowd for the last time and called it a day. Since then, Derek has released three critically acclaimed solo albums. His most recent offering, "How Could A Man,” is groovy and catchy; the lyrics are funny and heartfelt (often in the same song) and wholly original. “How Could A Man” is his most realized album to date, and the title track is a love song for the ages.