Monday, January 16, 2017

Hear "An Answer For Everything" - from Tim Kasher's Upcoming 3rd Solo Album "No Resolution"

Tim Kasher is a man who seems to have a boundless well of creativity and the energy to bring his visions to life so we can all enjoy them. Over the last 2 decades with his bands Cursive and The Good Life and as a solo artist he has produced 17 LPs and EPs. Play the Kevin Bacon Six Degrees of separation and his associations include Bright Eyes, Commander Venus, Lullaby for the Working Class, Mayday, Okkervill River and his first (band incarnation) Slowdown Virginia.

Kasher's third solo album No Resolution released from 15 Passenger (the new label founded and run by Cursive) will be released March 3rd. The press notes reveal a captivating soundtrack:

No Resolution is the natural continuation of Tim Kasher’s constantly evolving body of work. It is his most cinematic creation, a moving and cathartic collection of soundscapes that feels more like a suite of movements than a standard pop album, complete with instrumental breaks conjoining the nine songs. Fittingly, the 15 pieces will be featured in Kasher’s directorial debut film of the same name, which he also wrote, to be released later this year. Across the album’s strong story the characters – an engaged couple on the brink of a break up – grapple with the specific and the broad, including the restlessness of adulthood and smothering external pressures; relationships in various states of transition and the walls built within them; distrust, indecision, and despair; and the existential anxiety that drives a deep need to leave a mark on the world.
Filled with lush arrangements, No Resolution is some of the most beautiful and finely orchestral music from Kasher, yet it is also his most subdued and understated work. The string arrangements that dominate the album don’t simply hang in the background or accent the pretty melodies, they move the songs forward and force out the melodies as guitars do in traditional hard rock music. There is also a warm sophistication to No Resolution, with its fluid vibraphone tones, and also exhibits Kasher’s deft pop hand, with sudden horn blasts and dynamic shifts.

I so look forward to hearing the full album but for now Kasher has released the song An Answer For Everything a beautifully wistful and ultimately sad relationship song. Enjoy it below.

Robb Donker

Monday, January 9, 2017

Hatchet Baby and the Dead Mouse (Stories from the Basement)

originally posted at Medium
Hatchet Baby and the Dead Mouse
There is something about inhabiting the “50” decade. You start re-evaluating things. Not just your purpose or place in life but just things in general. You start making your dreaded bucket list. If you are a parent you may be wondering when that child in college will graduate and eventually move out or you might be terribly missing the kids who did exit the house hold off to find themselves in places far away.
In my case I am the one who moved away from my homeland of California out to the foreign woods of Georgia. While I still have one child slaying dragons in college to hug and hold, the other two are building lives back home brick by brick. Having cut out a sliver of the music writer pie in Cali along with connections galore to music venues and festivals the move to thisplace has set my feet in middle aged cement. I still write for my ever growing passion / music blog American Pancake but as of late my creative interests have been pulled at every turn back to song writing, back to playing and recording. Putting myself out there.
Oddly enough I find myself not writing about personal passions or stories, no I am way to insecure about revealing myself to others in that sort of real way. While I had thoughts of being a pure Dadaist type of composer by twisting my songs into musical puzzles I find I am too conventional to really do that. I have adopted a pure stream of consciousness style of lyric writing / imagining and amazingly enough while they may of not meant anything to me when I thought of the words, those words do serve as poetic license itself to bring meaning to those who hear them. Creating an aesthetic and words on the fly have made for some interesting song titles. Two come to mind that “Hatchet Baby” and “Dead Mouse”. The words “hatchet baby” literally fell from my lips as I played the strange drop d chords. “Dead Mouse” came to be from a self deprecating joke and not coalesced from the process of playing guitar but the words to the song were completely stream of consciousness stuff.
What is interesting to me is that upon closer reflection some of these stream of consciousness songs do seem to have meaning to me and about me after all. It is like my subconscious mind unwittingly has revealed itself. Take for example the song “Dead Mouse”. The phrase came to be when I joked about my beard looking the color of a dead mouse after I had tried dying out the gray. It was funny and I just thought it should be the title of a song. Weeks went by and then one day while writing a guitar section words sputtered out all at once.
I can’t sleep… I can’t dream… standing at the edge of the forest, the edge of the forest….
he’s mocking me…. with his shiny eyes… and bucktooth grin he’s waiting for the surprise
dead mouse is coming…. the dead mouse is coming… he’s staring at me
I can’t feel… I can’t touch… my tooth is burning but my eyes are numb, my eyes are numb
standing alone… in the hidden room… trying not to look at him and he is looking all too soon
dead mouse is coming…. the dead mouse is coming… he’s staring at me
Now someone who I know who is a talented writer of poetry took her stab at interpreting the song before she knew it was basically floral jibberish. She ascertained that the “Dead mouse” represented death or fear of death or growing older. Whoah. And that not being able to “feel” / “touch” represented not seeing the “dead mouse”. Again, Whoah.
I thought these theories were nothing more than just that until I realized that I was after all dying the gray out of my beard. And, yes when my father passed away and my mortality slapped me squarely across the jaw I did feel utterly numb and, in a way, have had a dulled numb sensation ever since. Maybe it is a cold hard fact that anything you imagine, anything that falls from your lips at a purely creative moment is about something and those somethings are about you pure and simple.
I am listening to “Dead Mouse” in an entirely different way and I just cannot imagine what “Hatchet Baby” might be about. For now I am afraid to look.
-Robb Donker

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Best Songs of 2016 !!! Our Favs Part 1, 2 and 3

It is that time of the year boys and girls when I list my favorite songs of 2016. Well, actually, it is well past that time as I procrastinated again and again. Due to multiple writing projects and a super busy work load at my day job I have kind of neglected my blogging as of late. So I had the brilliant idea to vlog my list of favorite 50 songs instead of writing the list. I mean that would be easier, wouldn't it. Not so much as it turns out. The rendering process was slow, I talk to much and after I uploaded the 3 part project I was hit with copyright infringement claims.

It is sad when someone can't even comment on music and play a snipet of what they are reviewing. I mean this is the normal course of business for tons of people doing movie reviews is it not?? Well, I have had to mute a few reviews but have decided to finish what I started even if it is 2017.

The list is just a bunch of songs. There is not countdown to number one AND in fact, number 5 is not in my mind better than number 20. In an effort to be free form and random, numbers were assigned randomly and the 3 groups of songs were put together with an online random number generator.

I hope that you enjoy the list. Check it out and if you have time please check out all 3 videos. I promise to not talk so much next time.

Robb Donker

Best 50 Songs Of 2016 (Our Favs) Full List- Note that they appear over 3 videos in a haphazard order and the placement in the list was picked randomly.

2. Radiohead - The Numbers: Jonny, Thom & a CR78 :
3. Ty Segall - California Hills :
4. Jeff Rosenstock - To Be A Ghost :
5. Nick Cave - I Need You :
6. Cherry Glazerr- Told You I'd Be With The Guys :
7. Diarrhea Planet - Lie Down:
10. Phantogram - You Don't Get Me High Anymore :
12. Sarah Bethe Nelson - Paying:
13. Dog, Paper, Submarine - Spongeboy :
14. Glass Spells - Away From Space :
16. Red Hot Chili Peppers - Bare Necessities:
17. Yeasayer- Gerson's Whistle:
18. Kishi Bashi- Hey Big Star:
19. Murena Murena - Le Van's Wife:
21. Jenny Besetzt- Dorothy Everything's Fine:
22. Lily Virginia- All Night :
25. Gileah Taylor- Jon Of The Four Track Heart:
31. Agnes Obel-  It's Happening Again:
33. Vomitface- Senior Pictures:
39. Dumb Numbers- No One:
40. Robbie Cavanagh- Which Way To New York:
41. Summer Flake- Look How Far We've Come:
43. Matthew Logan Vasquez- Personal:
45. Seabreeze Diner- Anna Belle:
46. Sunflower Bean- Easier Said:
49. Petite Meller- Milk Bath:

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Altar Eagles - "Skeletal" Brings That Vibe In Spades -

Altar Eagles' Skeletal starts with a heavy bass and drum bottom. It is a foundation that is dripping with cool and then the hooky almost circular guitar line pulls you in further. This intoxicating mix isn't what ultimately defines the track, it is Erik Alcock's voice and snarling melody. It is decidedly more poppy then, let's say, experimental but the interweaving production is masterful. By the end it is a heady swirling production of synths, climbing bass lines with a kind of emotional-indie rock vibe. Great seductive tune brought to you by I Can't Wait For Summer.

Now based out of L.A. Alcock's musical journey started in his native Toronto, Canada where he miraculously landed a job with EMI Canada at 17 years old. Quitting school to be in the biz he has hit those low spots and incredible highs. A section from his bio:

Upon turning pro, young Erik dropped out of school and got kicked out of his house. For the next two years, he lived like a refugee in a room in a jam space with a bathroom down the hall, surviving on a steady diet of drugs and rice and beans--mostly drugs. While the experience was not all that conducive to his songwriting, Erik was able to develop his chops by playing with all kinds of musicians, since he was always in the space. 

His quality of life improved substantially when he joined a band and spent the next few years living like a vagabond on tour constantly. A serendipitous encounter occurred following a show, when Erik's partner in the songwriting team, The New Royales, Grammy winning Producer DJ Khalil had asked Erik if he had ever considered writing hooks for other artists. He did so and has credits with the likes of Eminem, Kanye West, Pink and a host of others, which led to having the theme for  Mission Impossible 4, the Call of Duty video game, and Jake Gyllenhall's movie "Southpaw."

Robb Donker

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Brooklyn Based Erin Pellnat's EP "Dream In Color" Is As Rich As A Box Of Old Polaroids

Brooklyn based Erin Pellnat's EP Dream In Color is a strange little animal. I mean it has songs that kind of have a bossa nova jazz feel, kind of art rock tones, kind of retro art folk in that Warhol factory sort f way, kind of medieval chamber tones, kind of Irish folkish or, well, you catch my drift. It is the drift, in fact, the "sort of" or "kind of like" elements that make the sounds on this records so interesting. This sense of blending styles and decades of music really make it a kind of time machine too.

The track Forever Kisses has such a kind of 60's staid quality emotionally grounded by Pellnat's pure vocal performance. The drums, the old school measured strums and is that an accordion?? The aesthetic is charming and could be taken as kind of corny if it weren't done so earnestly. The staging here feels like it could be a track in a Sergio Leone movie. I really love the feel here. In a similar way, Stay has a very elegant folk tone. Pellnat perfectly pronounced story telling harkins back to classic folk. The violin and percussive feel again time travels you back to some uncharted western territory or hills of green in Ireland. The thematic feel here is so dense, so rich with imagery. Dream in Color feels a bit more funky, more mysterious but still seems to exist in another time. While I actually thought of 60's icons like Nico and Judy Collins even, Pellnat's voice reminds me a bit of Cecillia Della Peruti (Gothic Tropic) and Leslie Feist (Feist).

Just when I thought I had the aesthetic here figured out my ears encountered Blue Skies and Happiness which percolates with a free smooth jazz vibe. Again Pellnat's vocals shine here. Perfectly controlled and so adult. Yes I know that sounds funny but there is a maturity beyond her years here. And a maturity in the compositions which makes sense as the songs were composed by Erin's father Christopher Pellnat. It turns out that Dream In Color is a family affair.

Erin is singer songwriter who fronts the band Caretaker while her father Christopher (a long time musician and songwriter) is currently the electric guitar player in the Poughkeepsie, New York based band Warp/The Weft. I am not sure whose decision it was to come together, daughter and father, for this project or if it just happened. In the end the reasons don't matter because the results are so beautiful and interesting. One can only hope that the Pellnat's will do some live shows together as well.

Robb Donker

Christmas Cheer! from the Tijuana Panthers-- rendition of the Kinks Father Christmas!!

OH YES- I am filled with Christmas cheer now after hearing Tijuana Panthers rendition of the Kinks Father Christmas!!
Robb Donker

Stream + Buy "Father Christmas" now:

Tijuana Panthers "Father Christmas" out now on Bandcamp:

directed shot edited : jbrother
ig: jbrotherdotcom 
fb: jbrother 

(c) 2016 Innovative Leisure

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Vienna Based Bruch- Official Video for To My Sanity from the Lottery LP on Cut Surface Records

I am currently checking out Vienna based Bruch (aka Philipp Hanich) recently released LP Lottery on Cut Surface Records and mesmerized at the varied 13 songs that bend and blend punk and gothic dark folk and sounds that are hard to define. What is not hard to define is Bruch's evocative vocal style that instantly sucks you into his stories. Deep and haunting there is a beautiful allure to his drawl.

While I am simmering in Lottery I implore you to check out the video for a track off the album named To My Sanity. It is a eerie and stunning slow dance in some other world. Great stuff Philipp.

Robb Donker

Friday, December 9, 2016

Office Christmas Party Tonight (30 degrees BRR) Shows: Lovely Bad Things - Dec 10th (So Cal) , Museyroom - Dec 10th (NYC) and The Welcome Home - Dec 9th (Tonight) in Athens, Ga

For me this weekend kicks of with the office Christmas Party. It will be outside and inside with outside temps at around 30 degrees so I will be nestled next to the fire pit in between saying embarrassing things and spouting off some karaoke. While I look forward to a night of mild debauchery I wanted to share three shows well worth catching in Los Angeles, NYC and Athens, Georgia.

Saturday December 10- Lovely Bad Things at the Hi-Hat Highland Park , California

Lovely Bad Things- the once foursome has been a fivesome with the addition of the bearded wonder Wesley. This mean less live guitar swapping but a more dense power pop punk sound and more guitar intricacies weaved into the melodies. Last reported show of 2016 playing new songs off their upcoming 2017 album - Teenage Grownups release on Burger Records. At the Hi Hat in Highland Park with Susan, Caterwall and Whaja Dew-
get tix here: Hi Hat Tix

Friday December 9th - Museyroom at the Mercury Lounge- NYC

Museyroom pack a lot of trippy psychedilia for a 3 piece band. Hubbed out of NYC with familial tentacles streching to Philadelphia their proggy ambient sound will make your mind drift off to interesting places. Check out their latest LP Pearly Whites. I love the Mercury Lounge, cheap drinks and cool bands like Museyroom. Sean Mcverry also performs.

Saturday December 10th- The Welcome Home at the 40 Watt - Athens, Georgia

The Welcome Home plays to a home audience at the legendary 40 Watt. Their EP, A Land Outside of This has a folk heart with a vast lush indie pop sound. Stories set to music. They play with Mosaic. Don't miss this show. More info here: 40 Watt

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The World Lost John Lennon 36 Years Ago Today.

The World Lost John Lennon 36 Years Ago Today.

I remember being so stunned upon hearing the news that John Lennon had been murdered outside his apartment building in New York. I drove around a bit aimlessly and finally found myself at my girlfriend's parent's house. She met me on the front lawn. We embraced and I cried in her arms. It is the first time I had cried about the loss of someone I actually did not know personally. His incredible impact as a songwriter, musician, activist, fashion icon and more obviously had seeped deeply into my heart. The tragedy also focused on the danger of celebrity, of how those creative bright stars unfortunately can attract deeply sick individuals. By the way, I married that girlfriend, we had three amazing kids and we are still together. All you need is love is right. 

Rest in Peace John-

Robb Donker

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Haunting Of Bloody Death Skull by Bloody Death Skull - Gothic Americana Doo Wop Experimental Pop is Weird and Wonderful

From time to time I like to venture into that strange type of art that shuns convention and Bloody Death Skull is always wonderfully weird. In a previous review of their music I referred to their sound as "tin pan Dali" recordings. Previous works were purposely lo-fi and like a good found footage horror movie the noise and grain in the songs enhanced the abstract sounds. On the Haunting of Bloody Death Skull, an all too brief EP, the band has stepped up their sound giving the askew whimsy a more beautiful sheen.

Betsy's Back has a surf punk shuffle and I thought of Julie Ruin while listening. The guitar jams but it rushes through it's paces and ends too soon. Bloody Death Skulls' cover of Leon Payne's Psycho originally released by Eddie Noack in 1968 and covered in all manner of permutations by Jack Kittel, Elvis Costello and the Attractions, Beasts of Bourbon and in terms of emotional arcs eclipses all of them. While previous versions seem to hinge on the staid country cadence, Bloody Death Skull turns the extremely dark perversely comical lyrics into a melodramatic celebration. The upturn ratchets up the strange tone.

The next track Carpool is charming and sweet minus the abstract tone that is almost always in the bones of any BDS song so it itself  becomes the weird song on the album. The 4th and final track Gloom is less "Psycho Beach Party" and more like a Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western. It feels big and dramatic and when Daiana Feuer sings the opening line "Welcome to my gloom I just got a house here it came recommended for the view and a bed that swallows you whole, it's a black hole down to the floor" and I am mesmerized. While this strange evocative tale still has it's Hammer Horror vibe it's vast production is a dazzling step up for BDS and it is soooo bloody great.

Robb Donker