Monday, October 23, 2017

Fever High Premieres "Good Advice (ft. Jeff Goldblum)" at Interview Magazine Adam Schlesinger-produced Album FHNY out 11/10

YES, it's come to this-
Robb Donker 

On November 10th, Brooklyn's FEVER HIGH will release their long-awaited full length album, FHNY, which expands further on the danceable, retro-tinged sound that The Guardian described as "iridescent and infectious." Today Interview Magazine premiered the album's second single "Good Advice (ft. Jeff Goldblum)," which they called a "fizzy blast of electro-pop."

The duo - multi-instrumentalists Reni Lane and Anna Nordeen - made their debut with last year's critically acclaimed All Work EP. They found fans in places like NPR MusicBitch Media, and Nerdist, who said who said "if it doesn't make you flex your butt cheeks and swing your hips wildly from side to side, then you should probably consult a physician." 

Reni explains of the Jeff Goldblum connection, “I knew Jeff through our mutual friend Vincent D’Onofrio. We bonded over our mutual love of jazz piano and stayed in touch. When we sent him ‘Good Advice’ and asked him to improvise something, to my delight he sent us an 8 minute rant of hilarious anecdotes about bad advice he’d been given in his career.”
FHNY continues the band's collaboration with Adam Schlesinger (Fountains Of Wayne, Ivy) who also produced the All Work EP. Reni says, "After releasing All Work, we entered a new stage where we really honed our sound, lyrics, and mood... the new batch of songs takes everything to the next level." Adds Anna, "We want to sing about things we really feel and have fun at the same time."
New songs like “Spy” and “These Boys” find FEVER HIGH exploring new rhythmic territory while maintaining their flair for melodic hooks and lyrical playfulness. 
After releasing the All Work EP, FEVER HIGH began to play live, with Adam and drummer Brad Wentworth joining Anna and Reni onstage for a run of club shows, as well as a string of dates supporting synthpop pioneers Book Of Love. They found radio support from influential stations like Los Angeles' KCRW and Austin's KUTX, and their songs showed up in numerous films and TV shows, including the CW comedy Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Netlfix’s To The Bone, and three songs in the 2017 film Fun Mom Dinner.
FEVER HIGH will tour in support of FHNY, starting with a record release show at NYC’s BERLIN on Oct 26th. More dates to follow.
1. Spy
2. Casting My Spell
3. All Work
4. You Rub Her the Wrong Way
5. Tantalized
6. These Boys
7. Spit It Out
8. That's So Typical
9. Good Advice
10. One of the Guys
11. In the Basement

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

BURST REVIEW: The Randy Spike Conspiracy - Teenage Cancer

Meet Randy Spke from the Randy Spike Conspiracy. He is a one man band out of Long Island, New York who just released an album on Itunes and Bandcamp called Teenage Cancer. It is of the lo-fi indie variety, kind of punkish in that Burger Records vein. He mines some similar tones, progs in that punk milieu but listening longer and deeper there is a rich streak of wit and engaging vocal melodies that suck you in.

The titles spark interest. Like Becky With The Good Weed, My Girlfried Works for the CIA or Britany Spears Will Have Her Revenge On Long Island. The tracks are fun. Current Favs Dead Apples, Strange and Gotta Be run deeper blending in emotional angst. Gotta Be maybe the sleeper on this collection. Slow and heartfelt and even simply moving.

Not sure if Randy plans on supporting his music with live performances but my hope is that he gets some other players and puts this music out there on stage. The stage of any kind is were this kind of music flourishes. Do it Randy.

Check out his music.
Robb Donker

Monday, October 16, 2017

Project Diary: Thin Ice : Donker, Whimsy with a Dark Center, faint shades of Modest Mouse and Wes Anderson Soundtracks

NOTE: Every Monday I will post an insight into my music project as Donker until I get a Donker page up somewhere. 

THIN ICE- "Shooting columns in the sky"

I have always wanted to write a song with hand claps as part of percussive engine but never had until now. The cadence of what would become Thin Ice was part of the song from the very beginning as I dinked around on the guitar and after a folk C chord I highlighted the G note 3 times. At that moment I instantly knew that 3 hand claps would coincide with those G notes. Sometimes it is the little things that create the tone and atmosphere of a particular song and this was the case. In my mind the tone felt a bit whimsical like a mellow Modest Mouse song (oh only if it were that brilliant) and faintly resembles a song that could be in a Wes Anderson movie (I would die and go to heaven).

There are some references to Georgia where I relocated to from California a little over 3 years ago. I went from multi laned roads and freeways to a lot of two lane roads with some of the craziest ass drivers in the world. There are also trees raising to the heavens right next to our house and when storms come they sway like large hammers. I tell friends and family in the Golden state that I will be killed by either a crazy GA driver or a tree will fall on me and squash me like a bug. There is a line in the song about just that.

A lot of fables have a dark center and the center, the bridge of Thin Ice has one too. It may or may not contain a revenge fantasy and it may or may not have a very personal angle. I will leave it at that. Early on my friend Matt who lives out west felt the vibe of the song perfectly and his use of string sounds and an incredible Ebow guitar lead during the bridge twisted the sound and atmosphere once more. He elevated the sound and once again found the vision that was in my head. A lot of the time Matt and I are at once on the same wavelength but also shape each others sounds and I am so blessed to have him as a collaborator on my music. Like my debut album Dying Star he is all over key songs in the upcoming EP Age of Dinosaurs. Matt did most of the work on Thin Ice in California but also provided some sounds while living in Washington State where he lives now. I keep thinking that he will have to get used to those tall trees and roads shrouded in fog too.

I have ideas about the video for Thin Ice and it involves a lot of panels like a children's book. In discussion with a talented artist and I hope it comes to be. Too early to tell but wanted to share the song. Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom seemed to fit in a strange or at least servicable sort of way until that happens. I appreciate you all listening.


Saturday, October 7, 2017

Fader and Ezra Marcus Owe Anthony Fantano A Big Fat Apology - See Fantano's Response to Fader's Hit Piece

Fader published a "Hit Piece" on Anthony Fantano, no not because of the content on The Needle Drop where his music reviews have blown up in recent years so much so that I suppose it was time for someone to take shots at Fantano. The writer Ezra Marcus pretty much iviscerated Fantano as a sort of  Alt-Right song and dance man and even one with racist leanings. WHAT?? Anthony Fantano??  The same Fantano who supported Bernie Sanders and who by any stretch of the imagination is about as conservative as Larry Sanders(??) Ezra's well written scalpel sliced and diced chosen excerpts from Fantano's other now defunct YouTube Channel "thatistheplan" which did swim in dark territory, in the meme culture, dark satire and dark comedy. Not for the squeamish for sure but Ezra seems (in the article) to carefully show only the ghosts in the dark with out any context and even put pointy white hats with swastikas on them.

Clearly Ezra's article, dare I say, treads heavily and his balancing act steps off the razor blade into slander. It is the kind of stuff that could cost Fantano listeners, viewers and sponsors. Because of what I know or seem to know about Fantano I was more than interested in his "response" video. In it, he clearly points out the inconsistencies and species point made by Ezra and Fader. But is the cat that is not really a cat out of the bag? AV Club, Noisy and other publications basically republished the hit piece. Lazy journalism.

Let me be clear. I know Fantano from The Needle Drop and I am not into the kind of content from thatistheplan that can only now be seen in Fantano's rearviewmirror but the point is this: Ezra clearly is not a dumb young man, he is obviously a writer trying to set the blogasphere a blaze and poised to do so having been so super prolific for a guy his age. His Fader piece as the do-gooder who shines a light and exposed the roaches seems to indicate that he, at least, thinks he has a moral compass. But is his compass pointing due north if he involves himself with such shoddy journalism?

I truly feel bad for Fantano. There is just too much evidence to suggest that he is NOT what Ezra is suggesting. Posted below is a link to the hit piece and Fantano's response. Fantano supporters are suggesting he sue Fader and Ezra for slander. I cannot see this happening and hell, it would probably be a big waste of time. On the positive note this article was, after all, just published in Fader. There is that.

In the end Fantano by publishing his response on the Needle Drop does what he does best and that is to dissect and express his opinion in a concise passionate manner. Ezra hopefully will mature as a writer and as a person. He owes Fantano an apology and I hope he is man enough to deliver it publicly.  Hell, maybe the guys should get a drink somewhere and talk it out.

Robb Donker


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Helen Culver - EP Seven Year Glitch - Part Silk and Part Barbed Wire

Seven Year Glitch (see what she did there?) is the latest dark synth stirred EP from London's Helen Culver. The sounds are cagey and spartan. On the lush Selfish Lover the groove provided by a deep buzzy synth bass and beats stalks. The track lyrical content is delicious. A sort of tug of war from the "text book things" (sexually) to "I've made all the right noises in all the right places" to "It's my turn to be a selfish lover" and more.  On Drink By Myself the beat feels in slow motion, the head bop cadence feels dub steppish on a bong. I wanted a seriously good rapper to paint his words on this one. Very cool like driving down Hollywood Blvd on a Friday night. Culver coos vocals "you're a really nice man and you're trying to make me laugh but it doesn't take me long to zone out of every paragraph" and later, "I don't think we'll tell our kids we met at the hotel bar" but it doesn't get that far as Helen wants to drink by herself. Helen slowy sends daggers out.

As a singer songwriter Culver does double duty as lyricist and as she says "making noise" and Liam Alexander produces the tracks tightly. Ctrl-Alt-Delete has a sweeping deep groove. The track is cool, exotic and feels both retro and futuristic at the same time. Culver's vocal performance on these tracks and specifically this track is at once sultry but aloof too. It is as if she keeps you at arms length as a matter of control and empowerment. She may want you but doesn't need you. Ctrl-Alt-Delete is my favorite track with the most sweeping and dynamic production arcs on the EP. I love the heavy handed walk into battle synths on this one.

On Red Light there is an almost Mid-Eastern tone. Once again Helen is speaking to the need and desire to raised standards in terms of "relationships", of having fine cuisine as opposed to fast food. At least that is my interpretation. In the end Seven Year Glitch is about self empowerment, not standing for anything that is subpar or emotionally cheap and who wants that. Helen Culver says it with dark grooves, clenched fists, sexy hip sways and maybe a taste of blood from biting ones tongue.

Robb Donker

Helen Culver Bandcamp      Facebook

Monday, September 25, 2017

OPINION: The New England Patriots Acted Like True Patriots Yesterday As Did Many Other NFL Teams In Reaction To President Trump’s Statement.

My heart swelled up with pride when the NFL in mass supported free speech, self determination and the American way yesterday in reaction to President Trump’s statement at a political rally in Alabama where he stridently raised a finger and said:
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He’s fired. He’s fired,’” Trump said. “Wouldn’t you love it? Some owner’s going to do that. He’s going to say, ‘That guy who disrespects our flag, he’s fired.’ And that owner … — they’re friends of mine, many of them — they’ll be the most popular person for a week in this country.”
Many teams including coaching staff and even some owners locked arms in solidarity. Even players who stood placed their hands on the shoulders of those who decided to kneal. “Decided” is the operative word here. America like no other country in the world is about the individual, about individual rights, individual freedom as opposed to the “group think” mentality of (let’s say) North Korea. Don’t think for a minute that anyone not saluting or standing when they are supposed to in that country would be tolerated. In deep contrast, individual rights, free speech, protest is the sinew that constitutionally holds America together.

Group Thinkers

Hand in hand with group think is pier pressure. Mob mentality is not far away and that is why I reveled in delight when San Francisco 49ers player Colin Kaepernick “took a knee” last year to protest the oppression of people of color after the wake of numerous police involved shooting involving people of color. His reason for protesting is important but even more important is that in this country he has the right to do so. In doing so he opened up a virulent strain of hate. Hate is often times a by product of group think. It creeps up and spreads like a cancer. Hate can muddle your mind, your thought processes too and cloud your perception. The hateful crowd only sees what it wants to see, what the group sees. That crowd saw Kaepernick’s protest as a slap in the face of the flag, the country and even the armed forces who put their very lives on the line in conflicts around the world while Kaepernick’s protest was / is about social justice. I argue that Kaepernick’s protest was not against the flag or country at all but instead an attempt to make this country better. It was a patriotic stance really, a defiant one. Being a patriot and having a healthy does of difiance has always gone hand in hand. This concept is hard for group thinkers to understand.
While many of those who wanted Kaepernick’s head say that politics should not be injected into a sports game, President Trump in an attempt to stoke up his supporters injected politics into sports, into private business in a big, big way. It struck me as odd. He is a business man. Most business owners do not want governmental interference and here he was telling NFL business owners what to do. Maybe President Trump was counting on the power of group thinking. He does like to play to the crowd and whip them up in any way he can. Whipping up crowds tends to turn off their brains as group think takes over. Yes, solidarity is a powerful tool and can be positive but their is a tipping point when things go south. When it tips into the aforementioned mob mentality, when the mob rules then atrocities happen. Blind obidience can lead to lynchings, to genocide.

President Trump Makes Kaepernick A Winner

In the end, I always champion the right to protest and the peaceful protester. Colin Kaepernick is the embodiment of a true American, a patriot and I couldn’t understand for the longest time why more NFL players did not support him. Why weren’t there more “think for yourself-ers”? President Trump inadvertantly opened the floodgates and in doing so has fused Kaepernick into a pivotal free speech icon.
I applaud all those NFL players, staff and owners who took a stand yesterday. It was the American thing to do.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

London Electro-Pop Outfit Crooked Teeth's Release "Mirrors" And Yet Unreleased Songs Portend A Stunning Debut

The mainstays, the meat and potatoes of rock and roll are guitars, drums, bass and vocals from the heart and soul. Obviously and orchestra of instruments stimulate that heart and soul and when the Mellotron and Moog synthesizers arose in the 60's minds were blown. The critical mass of synthesizers in popular music was and may always be the 80's and since then there are bursts of synth based bands now and then. Amid the guitar fueled indie bands, the sometimes over saturationg of the same thing those synth bands can feel like the circus is coming to town. Electronic strains, synth dreams and robotic beats can still, if done right, feel like the future and nostalgia as one at the very same moment. There is something particularly trancy and sinisterly cool. If done right there is a deep tone of romance and hope too. When it is done right it can feel like pop gone awry in a good way. The 3 piece band that call themselves "Crooked Teeth" out of London get is so right.

Their relase Mirrors is so lush and infectious fueled by pumping synth engines and dreamy drones of sound. Robert Armstrong's vocals are incredibly cool and yet drenched with an almost aloof sense of sadness. This song kills because it exists in that vacuum of time when your heart is either going to swell with love or be broken into a million pieces whether in a highschool gym shaking under a glitter ball or under the lamplight of a seaside pier in the embrace of middle age. Cool stuff.

As engaging as this track is I am blessed to have heard some yet unreleased tracks. One that is rumoured to be named "Sand and Stone" in it's emotional complexity is just drop dead gorgeous. It does everything right in such an utterly understated way. The lyrics are wistful and cinematic. Seeing as these UK boys sing about the "American Dream" I wonder if it is with derision or a sense of glory or something in between. However you take it, the result lyrically but more importanly melodically is very moving:  "Bless these walls with pace, you bless the American Dream for you. Blistered by the screen, salute the lone star’s what you do boy. Southern by demand, you god speed your John Glenn for you boy. Hit and hope in hell, you bless the American Dream for you boy."

The track Oh Toronto Nearly Done feels more chill and cagey. There is a sense of wanderlust tool. Of travel and movement. The track Lungs has an uplifting new romantic wave come over you.

Yes, the circus has come to town and it is grand.
Robb Donker

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

American Pancake Podcast #9 - F.U. IRMA Edition - Brunch, Flesh World, Adult Books, Phoebe Bridgers, Bauhaus, and Much More

As Tropical Storm Irma reaches it's tentacles into Georgia- I podcast under an umbrella and the AP sunroom and bring you incredible music while watching huge trees swaying and shaking like they are angrily animated. Thanks to Jack Bacon from Tuckshop Community Radio and Hoxton FM for turning me on to Brunch. They are so awesome I play not one but two of the songs off their "Useless" album. Also kudos to the track Motion Sickness by Phoebe Bridgers whose trajectory is at a sharp angle to the top. Her lyrics have always been so special and pointed really. Rosetta out of Philadelphia make their sludgy metal space rock so incredibly beautiful. I share one track of my Dying Star album up on Bandcamp expound on Bauhaus and struggle with the possessive of Buzzcocks. There is the total surprise track Glow Buddy by Lovely Bad Things and the incredible super cool Flesh World out of San Francisco. And more-- you gotta check it out and make me happy.
What else would make me happy is if you donate to help the poor people who are suffering from this natural disaster.
Robb Donker

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Warp / The Weft Hold A Mystical Swagger In Their Tales On The Album "Mapping The Absence"

The Warp / The Weft out of Poughkeepsie, New York twist old folk and old world frames creating their own earnest kind of chamber rock tableaus. Their is a definite homage to old styles via classic progs and licks in the same way that standard blue licks remain constant to some degree in all blues song but it is the way they torque and twist the aesthetic down coalescing it into an almost heavy metal gothic theater. Theater is the key word as Shane Murphy's commanding, trembling vocal performance holds sway squeezing all the storytelling out of the songs. His performance feels like it is at a full tilt leaning over the footlights and staring into your eyes. The performances, the songs have a tone that feels fable-esque even when they rock out. Step into the fog and check out Briars and if a chill runs up your back step further and check out the entire album. My guess is that the bands mystical swagger will wrap around you soon enough.
Robb Donker

Saturday, September 9, 2017

GGOOLLDD : "Excelsior Springs" Lush Synth Pop Will Embrace You

GGOOLLDD : "Excelsior Springs"

I am going to start this track review off with my strong impersonation of the "get off my porch" old man. God you should see this, it is so good.
IMPRESSION:  "Kids today with their rock and roll names. How the fuck do you say GGOOLLDD?? Whatever happened to good solid names like the Everly Brothers or the Rolling Stones!! Now those were rock band names but what the hell is a GGOOLLDD and if you pronounce it GOLD then double what the fuck!"

Thank you, thank you and I am sorry you missed the shaking pointing hand. GGOOLLDD is a 4 piece band out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Their new single Excelsior Springs is a silky smooth electronic pop track propelled on lush groove of bass and synth flows and ambient noises that bring winter melting ice to mind amidst airy dance moves. Margaret Butlers vocals have an embracing quality with a romantic underbelly. The aesthetic here feels sweet but also love struck or torn like some scene out of a highschool dance in a 80's John Hughes flick with moments of sad reflection and arms outstretched to fly. Very cool track out on Roll Call Records. Check out the band on tour.

Robb Donker