Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Glass Spells- "Rebellion" Is Angular, Leather Slick and Wearing Tight Peg Legged Pants.

I remember back in 2012 when Anthony and Suz as the crux of Therapist (AZ) used to blow my mind with a potent blend of dance punk birthed from only a bed of hyper bass and drums (provided by Luis) for Suz's vocal cries. The sound was unique and felt dangerously alive. At a certain point they became Glass Spells (LA) and filled their sound out more with Synths (Michael) and a new drummer (Mallory). In one post I referred to their sound as electronic punk and hybrid disco that feels like a dream from the future. I think that description still fits. Their latest track, Rebellion is such a fun trip. Again there is something that feels retro and futuristic / spacey at the same time. The aesthetic feels as fresh as late 70's proto art punk was at that amazingly flourishing time. The synth lines, thumping bass and fervent drums push the right buttons as Suz's punk prosey vocal performance is gritty but crazy fun as well. Everything feels angular, leather slick and wearing tight peg legged pants. Awesome.
Robb Donker

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Winter - "All The Things You Do" (Official Video) is to die for.

I shot Winter performing in Pomona, California back in 2014 and while I watched Samira describe the impetus for the song "Alligator" it was immediately clear that she was one of those rays of sunlight, of positive vibes in the world. You know, there are rays of light and rays of darkness and a million gradations in between. Samira has a presence that feels down to earth and positive. She puts her heartfelt emotions and experiences into her music. At that time she had only been living in Los Angeles for (I believe) a little over a year. She moved from Boston to LA (instead of New York) in 2013 and "Alligator" is about that move, about friendships, love and the journey that is life.

Rays of light tend to attract and Winter soon became part of the LA scene and released their first full length "Supreme Blue Dream" on Lolipop Records early last year. Winter's "All The Things You Do" released late last year (digitally via Burger Records) is a dreamy shoegazey slow dance of a song with a chorus that peppers goose bumps on your skin. If the evocative verses that have a tinge of minor chord Demarconess (yes that is an adjective I just made up) is the beach at sunset slow dance then the big lush chorus is the midnight kiss. The atmosphere of this track is so beautiful and the sounds are so well rendered. Just a bit past the 2 and a half minute mark there is a little musical break and the bass lines are to die for. Actually everything single second of "All the Things You Do" is to die for. Great song. Check out the video on Burger TV below.
Robb Donker

Winter is:
Samira Winter (guitar, vocals) 
Matt Hogan (guitar) 
David Yorr (bass)
Garren Orr (drums)

Monday, February 1, 2016

East L.A.'s The Pocket Rockets - New Single "The End" Feels Like Only The Beginning

The Pocket Rockets out of East L.A. just dropped their latest single "The End" off their upcoming album tentatively scheduled for a May /June release date. The song was produced and recorded by Jon Siebels and mastered by Brian Lucey (The Black Keys and Arctic Monkeys).

"The End" explodes from the very beginning with a heavy bass / drum groove as Ralph Blanco's vocals evoke a cool edge. The vocal performance and musical breaks feel like a kind of The Doors meets the Drums meets early Strokes and is that a punkified homage to "Black Magic Woman"???. The energy and dynamics of this track kill and beg for repeated listens. In the end, "The End" feels like only the beginning.  I am so looking forward to hearing the new album.

The Pocket Rockets are:
Ralph Blanco - Bass Guitar & Vocals
Lyndon Miller - Guitar
Christepher Magallon - Drumset & Percussion
Robb Donker

Friday, January 29, 2016

Robbie Cavanagh's "Which Way to New York" New Single and Official Video is Full of Wanderlust and Beautiful Sadness

Robbie Cavanagh's latest track "Which Way to New York" is instantly captivating. The Manchester (U.K) singer songwriter possesses a tender folk style that erupts with movement and a vocal tone with a deep well of emotion. It feels like wanderlust and a soul that has seen it's share of heartache. As I listened intently to "Which Way to New York" certain artists came to mind like The Milk Carton Kids, Damien Rice, Paul Simon and even Kurt Vile.

The accompanying video (see below) directed by Jessica Fox and shot / edited by Tom Rout adds more emotional punch to the song. The single will be released by Great Beyond Records. Those of you lucky enough to be in Robbie's neck of the woods can see him (with full band) at the Castle Hotel in Manchester on February the 2nd.

Robb Donker

The Castle Hotel, Manchester.
Tuesday 2nd February.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Kirsten Izer - Ramps Up Amps Up The Emotional Weight In Her Latest Track - "UP"

The new bedroom recording by Kirsten Izer entitled "Up" is a bittersweet blend of guitars, synth and beats that is simply perfect in it's emotional execution. Izer not only wrote and produced the track but self filmed, directed and edited the video. I first featured Kirsten back in August (see here) and at that time I heard, felt the core of her talent and expected big things for her. After that she posted some material that in my humble opinion felt a little derivative and in the surfy indie framework. It still showed promise but I got the sense that this young artist was finding her way.

To be clear, in whatever style she expresses herself Izer does put her heart out there but on this latest track "Up" she digs deep. The strength of her writing and her exquisite self awareness and ability to emote vulnerability and youthful confusion and ennui is what makes this track really special. I love everything about it. Kirsten Izer has and will continue to have a myriad of wavelengths to her music but for me she hit the exact right spectrum on this track. When "Up" begins (from a sonic standpoint) I thought of classic Cyndi Lauper. Cherry Glazerr also popped in my mind a couple of times for whatever reason. It may be the abstract feel here and there but it is Izer solely who crafts the emotional weight. To call the song a love song would not be wrong but it certainly is not one in a traditional sense. As Izer paints pictures of tenderly bolstering her love and her love's struggle to find himself the lyrics create imagery in your mind, "we go dancing in our old shoes.... rusty rhinestones held together by some glue"  and  "I forgot my money and you forgot your job but it's ok honey" or "you see the man you want to be.... that's all that matters to me".  There are too many emotional gems like that to share but I would only ruin your listening experience.

Amazing track that I truly hope catches fire. I want to add that the guitar sounds and musical break (brief lead guitar) is awesome and perfectly matches the emotional wave of the song. Kirsten Izer you should be very proud of this one. One more thing Kirsten, if you are reading this: The song is so good that is feels short, I mean I can listen to it on replay a dozen times. While I would not encourage you to lengthen it I would hope that you explore building the musical break up live- I think the emotional crescendo made even bigger would be rad. Love this song.
Robb Donker

Album Review: Pattie Boyds- "Your Better Half" - Trippy Rock Theater from Tel Aviv

There is a particular kind of alternative rock that has the kind of theatricality that can, on one hand, feel kind of operatic and on the other is interestingly poised in a kind of glam meets cabaret sort of way. The elements to the sound are hard to describe or even put your finger on it. For me, it is the way the vocal performance sounds, the tendency for the lyrics to be dramatic and the guitar lines to be super rockish but also elegant in technique. The Beatles pushed that envelope from time to time, as did early Radiohead. You definitely here this element to Muse's sound a lot. Other bands that swim in this artistic dense pool are Wires On Fire, Mini Mansions, and Queens of the Stone Age especially on their "Like Clockwork" album.

Pattie Boyds are 4 very talented guys out of Tel Aviv, Israel who dive deep in this pool. Their current album "Your Better Half" feels like a blend of 90's rock with that semi glam / art rock tone of the aforementioned bands. Very cool stuff. The tracks shift from cagey and progressive rock to these amazing and trippy slower songs as well. I let the entire album play as I chilled out and as an album it feels cool and cohesive. Jesus is a thick staccato drenched rocker that plays like a kind of bitter "fuck off" song. Plastic Toys within the proggy rock has a punk / glam flair. Spider Web twists and turns with heavy guitar lines and the vocal performance kind of winks at you as well. Forward with it's varied time signatures evades description. It feels like a cool three act play really. Lottie kind of stalks in it's rock operatic tone. It is that kind of wide sweep of the hand arena rocker. Only When I'm Blue is lush and sexy.

While the boys can jam there are some very cool slow burners that pull you in instantly. Bugs is super trippy and then explodes in the end. Suburbia is a psychedelic slow waltz. Tuna Cans is a self obsessed slow chase of a song that has a Radiohead-esque feel. The longer the song plays you feel like you are falling further in a fable. Love this track. Cat Woman also meanders in the most lovely and lush way.

The more I listen to Pattie Boyds I get the sense that these guys need to open up for Muse. Now that would be a concert that would take you off to faraway futuristic places and rock your face off.
Robb Donker

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Rebel Light's - Deep Groove Shiny Pop of "Strangers"

The Rebel Light, a trio from Los Angeles, has been crafting their sound since 2013 all the while infusing their indie rock with a sort of retro 60's pop sheen. Think the Shins with a heavy sunny dose of The Lovin Spoonful or even the Mamas and the Papas. Their latest track "Strangers" is sparkly dreamy pop with a deep groove supporting a lot of "ba ba baaa baaa baaa baaa ba's" but not in a tongue and cheek or self aware retro sort of way. The thing I love about the Rebel Light is that their shiny pop approach is truly earnest and down to earth. This particular track also happens to have an absolutely gorgeous bass line.

The video as directed by Spencer Hord cuts scattered remembrances via vintage styled shots and present day. The tone feels like relationships in different degrees of decay and or growth. The Rebel Light have always taken a DIY approach to their own promotion and all that work has paid off as "Strangers" has been added to the Sirius XM Alt Nation playlist. Cool.
Robb Donker

Friday, January 22, 2016

PRIMAVERA SOUND 2016 in Barcelona Might Just Have The Best Line Up Of All Time- EPIC Does Not Begin To Describe....

Primavera Sound 2016 (June 1 -5) in Barcelona is going to be EPIC. Primavera Sound is a music festival I have only attended in my dreams. For those of you who are fortunate to attend the 5 day event (of all events) you will have a lot of tough decisions to make. Scheduled are Radiohead, LCD Soundsystem, Sigor Ros, PJ Harvey, Tame Impala, The Last Shadow Puppets, Brian Wilson, Beach House, Suede, Beirut, Animal Collective, Pusha T, Action Bronson, Explosions In The Sky, Moderat, John Carpenter, Vince Staples, Drive Like Jehu, Deerhunter, Dinosaur Jr., Richard Hawley, Thee Oh Sees, Titus Andronicus, MudHoney and MORE MORE MORE.

OMG- What a stellar line up and when you dig deeper is just gets better and better.....

Robb Donker

Learn More Here: http://www.primaverasound.com/

Monday, January 18, 2016

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day - Hear and Read His "I Have a Dream Speech" in it's Entirety.

Black American civil rights leader Martin Luther King (1929 - 1968) addresses crowds during the March On Washington at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC, where he gave his 'I Have A Dream' speech.

NOTE: Often times when you hear the stirring "I have a Dream" speech you only hear a portion of it. Click the link down below and hear the entire speech as you read the words below.


I Have a Dream
delivered 28 August 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.
But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.
We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.
The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.

We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: "For Whites Only." We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest -- quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.
Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.
With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day -- this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning:
My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride,
From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.
And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.
Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.
Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.
Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that:
Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.
From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

                Free at last! Free at last!
                Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Bruce Springsteen's Heartfelt Tribute to David Bowie - "Rebel Rebel"

NOTE: I was really moved by Springsteen's brief words that served as a heartfelt tribute to David Bowie and, what the hell (?), his version of "Rebel Rebel" kicked ass. I heard about the video from Stereogum's Twitter feed so let's give credit where credit is due.

Reprinted from Stereogum:

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band kicked off their North American tour in support of the new The Ties That Bind: The River Collection box set last night. After running through the 1980 double album The River in its entirety, the band performed a few other songs, and they opened their encore with a cover of David Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel” in tribute to the late icon. “I wanna take a moment and just note the passing of our good friend David Bowie,” Springsteen said before the performance. “I don’t know if people know it, but he supported our music way, way back in the very very beginning. 1973, he rang me up and I visited him down in Philly while he was making the Young Americans record. And he covered some of my music, “It’s Hard To Be A Saint In The City” and “Growin’ Up’,” and he was a big supporter of ours. Particularly when I took the Greyhound bus, that’s how early it was. Anyway, we’re thinking of him.” Watch below.