• AP Album Review

    Doubt Aplomb: Earnest Goodbye
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    Wide Streets: A Past Hatred of the Future
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    PIXIES: Indie Cindy
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    Crystal Antlers: Nothing is Real
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    Tiger Face: On The Beach

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Fleeting Youth Records Release 33 Track Garage, Punk, Post Punk, Shoe Gaze and more compilation: BLOOMING

Fleeting Youth Records' (a Record and Tape Label out of Austin Texas) latest release is Blooming, a fierce compilation album of alternative rock with varying blends of indie, garage, punk, post punk, noise rock and power pop. The label chose from 110 submissions finally coalescing the potent batch into a heady 33 tracks from 33 bands from the US, UK, Canada, Brazil, Chile, Australia and the Netherlands. As Fleeting Youth puts it: Blooming is: 90 plus minutes of pure fuzz-rock bliss. We wholeheartedly agree. This is a must have compilation.

Available digitally and on cassette here.

St. Vincent Overcomes Movie Conventions with Solid Writing and Subtle Character Studies. One of the Top 5 Best Movies This Year.

On the surface St.Vincent as a movie should not work. It is full of movie conventions. You have the old curmudgeon, the overly wise kid, the mom done wrong by a man and starting over and the prostitute / stripper who deep down inside has a heart that while it may not be made of gold is, at least, gold plated. St. Vincent works maybe for the things it doesn't have. There are no explosions. No protracted comic fights. No chase scenes. No histrionics really, of any kind. When characters have emotional high and lows they are handled in a real earnest way. Nothing is over the top. No hyper sense of reality here. And wonders among wonders, the people portrayed on the middle to lower economic rung don't live in a house or apartment that in reality would be well beyond their means.

The true brilliance of St.Vincent is that it proves that it is not the basic plot line (or twist on one) that is as important to the telling of a story as how well the characters that inhabit that story are written and writer / director Theodore Melfi has written characters that we care about and whom we can relate to. We have all known kids who seem to be wise beyond their year. We all know single mom's who struggle everyday to make that dollar while at the same time try to raise a kid or kids. And, unfortunately, we all have had tragedy befall us to only have a heaping of more hardship hit us when we are down.

The style of the movie can can feel a bit all over the place. Tonally parts of it feel like a 70's movie (think Bob Rafelson's "Five Easy Pieces") and at other times it feels like a self conscious indie flick (think: more than one Wes Anderson movie) but the shifts don't feel so startling as to pull yourself out of the movie, in fact, some of the superb songs (especially those by Wilco front man Jeff Tweedy) seem to advance the story and draw out the emotional tugs just right. When the Bill Murray's character of Vincent comes to the aid of young Oliver (played wonderfully by newcomer Jaeden Lieberher)  who is being bullied and who he is "baby sitting" the scene (again) feels like a retread but the dialog is not. That dialog delivered by Murray (as only he can) elevates the scene. I could go on and on but it cannot be emphasized enough that Melfi has crafted a film built on words that contain truths and these emotional truths bond together the characters in this movie and those of us who are responsive to these emotional truths.

Besides Murray's perfectly balance performance, Melissa McCarthy proves that less is more. Like Robin Williams, she has always been able to give both broad and subtle comedic and dramatic performances that can touch you and make you laugh. In St. Vincent, she (like her character) feels like she is on that razor thin verge of laughing and crying. A great performance. The young actor Jaeden Lieberher in this, his debut movie outing, (without question) kills it. The true surprise for me is Naomi Watts as the Russian pregnant prostitute / stripper who doesn't let her baby bump slow her down. "Daka" makes Vincent seem politically correct. Watts provides the only true comic relief but still manages to imbue Daka with emotional depth. Chris O'Dowd plays the affable Catholic school teacher and every time he is on the screen you just wish you had a teacher like him growing up. Terrence Howard is not on the screen often but gives weight to his bad guy role.

St.Vincent is a must see. It is really a pleasure to see what some may call a rather unoriginal storyline told in such a uniquely endearing and ultimately original way. After all, most of our lives are not all that original but we as individuals are and we all have our own stories to tell full of tragedies and personal victories. This might be St.Vincent's most important lesson.

Robb Donker

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Album Review: Devo to release: "Miracle Witness Hour"- SPUDS Rejoice and Step into The Time Machine

 I can still remember when Devo appeared on Saturday Night Live way back on October 14th, 1978. I hadn't heard or seen anything like them. I felt like my brain had been pulled out of my skull, twisted, wrung out and left to air dry. At the time, I thought they were so weird but so potent as well. The rest is history. Months earlier David Bowie and Iggy Pop championed Devo and their zeal for their sound and art performance definitely helped Devo secure a recording deal with Warner Bros. Records. To this day, they stand alone as one of the most unique art punk / art new wave / avant-pop bands of all time. Their place in the history of music, music videos and live performance is set in stone.

On December 1st, the Futurismo Label is releasing Devo's Miracle Witness Hour. For music aficionados this is pretty amazing stuff. Recorded in 1977 at a biker bar turned dive bar called the Eagle Street Saloon in Cleveland, Ohio it is like stepping into a time machine. As I listened to all these songs I tried to imagine what the crowd was thinking hearing such trippy songs. I also try to imagine these "songs of the future" set against the dive bar setting which is a trip in and of itself. The live recordings shine and Devo kills it. Some of the crowd response feels tentative at first but ultimately they get it and show their enthusiasm.

This special remastered release also boasts cool packaging. The outer sleeve comes die cut revealing the box-fold reversible cover inner sleeve containing a second sleeve full of rare images as well as brand new liner notes by Devo founding member Gerald Casale. The vinyl is pressed on heavyweight 180 G colored vinyl with free dnld and the record is also available on Die-cut Digipak CD format.

Tracks: Be Stiff, Uncontrollable Urge, Mongoloid, Timing X Soo Bawls, Polyvinyl Chloride, Jocko Homo, Huboon Stomp, Praying Hands, Secret Agent Man and Smart Patrol Mr. DNA.
A must have!
Robb Donker

Praise the lord! We must repeat D-E-V-O
DEVO Online:

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

STREAM- Zola Blood's Meridian EP (Pond Life Songs)

"A genuine triumph that’ll take serious topping" Fake DIY

"Tantalizing" - The Fader

"The sort of music we imagine they'd play on the moon" - Breaking More Waves

Zola Blood Meridian EP (Pond Life Songs)
Zola Blood, the latest act to emerge from the much-loved and revered Pond Life Songs, announced their arrival this July with the release of the hugely ambitious tracks Grace and MeridianThe latter premièred on The Fader and positioned them as The Hype Machine's # 1 most blogged about artist in late August.
Two months into their online existence, their soundcloud had clocked up more than 230,000 soundcloud plays and the band had been back by NME, Fake DIY, Q, XFM, The Independent, Lauren Laverne, Jo Whiley and many more. Their debut show at The Shacklewell Arms also sold out in a week of tickets becoming available online.
Developed over a year in a windowless Hackney Wick studio, Zola Blood’s sound is minimal and textured, with intricate arrangements and meticulous attention to detail. The Meridian EP serves up waves of ambient electronica and bubbling synths, interspersed with reverberating guitars and delicate vocals that draw you into a nocturnal soundscape of soulful rumination.
On the Meridian EPZola Blood display both a fervent appreciation of the subtleties of electronic music and a loyal bond to melody and songwriting. The band’s distinctive sound is a testament to Pond Life’s passion for bold and inventive new music.
After a 22-year hiatus, the label synonymous with Talk Talk’s 1991 album Laughing Stock have hit the ground running as their newest singing positions themselves as one of the most exciting new bands around.
Zola Blood was born in October last year and are Matt (vocals/guitar), Ed (Synth), Sam (drums) and Rob (guitar).

Monday, October 20, 2014

Day 88 in Flowery Branch, GA.- "Cups" by TOW3RS - Dining Room Table - Cute Little Kids and Dogs

It is day 88 today. That is an official 88 days since I set my feet on Georgia ground having moved from Southern California where I have lived for basically my entire life. If you are are new to American Pancake, you can read about that transition here-Farewell to My California Family: Departing Words and Melt Down From a Music Blogger in Exile.

As of late, it has been tough. Homesick is the operative word. While I wear the bravest of faces, I  miss the familiarity, places, friends, acquaintances, my brothers and sisters. The ability to roll out of bed on a Saturday morning and have a dozen places to get a breakfast burrito. Most of all, I miss my two kids. I miss them tremendously.

Since we have been in this pretty cool home in Flowery Branch we have not populated it with much furniture partly because our monetary focus has been on other things. This pretty much empty house has in and of itself made me feel less at home (I think). I am happy to report that I am typing this on our new table. New to us but second hand. We found it on Craigslist and from the back and forth emails with the seller I got a sense that he is a good guy. It may seem odd but that is important to me. Also, from the pictures I viewed, the dining room set just seemed to fit us and fit the house.

My wife and I traveled a full hour and a half to a town called McDonough. William's house was set off the beaten path as they say in an area with vast land around each property. The country house had wrap around porches and a cool rustic look. The fence that enclosed the main front and back areas had two wide gates. William saw me pull up and beckoned me around to the side gate. We were welcomed by his cute little girls and two equally cute dogs. One was a beagle and one a lab / basset hound mix. Meeting  this nice guy and his kids (however briefly) was a sweet gift. It was one of those idyllic moments that pulled me back to when my kids were that age. Of how much I enjoyed it but maybe didn't relish it like I should have. It made me want to relive those feelings again.

What was once this other family's dining room set now graces our dining room and it feel nice to sit on it's quite comfortable chair and sip my cup of coffee and type. Another thing to have this morning is a "Cup of Curiosity" which is a passage in Tow3rs' track Cups. His new album TL:DR drops on November 11th. I think curiosity is key in life. A genuine curiosity about people helps us all in be more understanding. I know it helps pull me out of the doldrums too. Enjoy the track and your day.
Robb Donker

Saturday, October 18, 2014

REVIEW: Self Titled EP by The Pocket Rockets - Deceptively Deep

As I listened to the Pocket Rockets self titled EP three things became abundantly clear. 1) Hate the name. 2) Each song became progressively better. 3) I am smiling.

This three piece outfit hail from East Los Angeles. While most people would put their sound under that general indie umbrella, to me, their is a lot more that is happening under the surface. The sound leans more power pop than punk but not so much as to sound too shiny. The music has soul and a live feel as well. They possess that hard to define quality that leans to that early 80s new wave / rock /  post punk sound of bands like Dramarama and The Dead Milkmen or the more contemporary The Drums. Some songs like "Somewhere We Can Be Alone" have an R & B heart. In this respect, Pocket Rockets also kind of remind me of The So So Glos although they have a decidedly different sound. Maybe The So So Glos stuck in a blender with Echo and the Bunnymen. Yeah, like I said a lot going on.

The Pocket Rockets are Ralph Blanco (vocals / bass) - Lyndon Miller (Guitar) and Chris Magallon (Drums). Rumor has it that it was recorded in Chris's bedroom. It was produced by Jon Siebels of Eve 6, Monsters Are Waiting, and Flybys. All the tracks shine but none more than the shimmy shaking MDNGHT. The boys weave together a dynamic track with a deep Motown groove with post punk guitar and bouncy melodies. Who Are We is sultry post punk with a touch of 80's Brit pop. Love it. If there is a "drive down Whittier Blvd in LA during the heat of summer" song it is Somewhere We Can Be Alone.

Cool songs with classic bones. I only wish I knew about the Pocket Rockets when I lived in the LA area. I am looking forward to hearing more and you should be too.
Robb Donker

"Golden Apple" Official Video by Spottiswoode and His Enemies - "A Dark Seduction"

"Golden Apple" by Spottiswoode and His Enemies is a song full of dark shadows and a sense of mystery. The ambiance floats on an accordion bed and a super catchy guitar riff that is counter played by an equally cool base line and an almost nonchalant drum pattern. The musical tone that might be described as an almost drug hazey Doors-ish sound meets hippie beach goth is fully cemented by the provocative lyrics sung by Spottiswoode with that gorgeous voice that I first wrote about a couple of years ago (see here).

"Feel the moon running through your blood... soon, soon we'll be free my love" is but one line that suggests something unearthly going on or not. Other lines hint at a lover's rendezvous or a grand escape from something nefarious or maybe even a more morbid final grand escape . The Official video feeling retro and a bit psychedelic was shot at St. John's Lutheran Church in Greenwich Village with British Council Archive footage rolling in the background. "Golden Apple" is an engaging dark seduction. Loving this sound.
Robb Donker 

Golden Apple is from this year's (2014) English Dream Album
Spottiswoode and His Enemies Official Site

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Whiskey Bitches Announce CMJ Schedule -

Whiskey Bitches had a busy summer. The band released their second EP, Never Enough, and two music videos--Cookies via Impose Magazine and Disaster via Pancakes + Whiskey

Now they're heading into CMJ with a full schedule.

Photo: David Burlacu

Wednesday, 10/22
12pm - Pancakes + Whiskey Official Acoustic CMJ Showcase
The Delancey Rooftop (168 Delancey, Manhattan)

Canon Logic, Adios Ghost, Rocket & The Ghost, The Teen Age, Frances Cone, Everest Cale, Whiskey Bitches
Facebook event

8pm - What Blog!? Official CMJ Showcase
The Rock Shop (249 4th Ave, BK)

Miniboone, Johnny Lewis, Mount Sharp, TIGER! SHIT! TIGER! TIGER! Whiskey Bitches, Kid In The Attic
Facebook event

Thursday, 10/23

1:30pm -
NYCTaper Showcase
Cake Shop (152 Ludlow St, Manhattan)

Purling Hiss, Mainland, Amanda X, Rivergazer, The Kickback, The Prettiots, Whiskey Bitches, Beach Day
Facebook event

10:30pm – Don Pedro CMJ Showcase
Don Pedro (90 Manhattan Ave, BK)

Whiskey Bitches, Faux Ferocious, Sun Voyager, Penicillin Baby, The Rizzos
Facebook event

Saturday, 10/25

2:30pm - Kick Out The CMJ Showcase
Knitting Factory (361 Metropolitan Ave, BK)
*Special Guest*, The Bottom Dollars, The Nuclears, Jeremy & The Harlequins, Whiskey Bitches, Sylvana Joyce & The Moment, We Are Stations
Facebook event
8pm- Bread + Circuses Official CMJ Showcase
Paper Box (17 Meadow St, BK)

The Living Kills, Bikini Carwash, Room Full of Strangers, Easy Peasy, Me Chinese, Bliss Blood and Al Street, Old Monk, Whiskey Bitches
Show info

Photo: David Burlacu

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

My Perfect Medicine - Manuka Piglet: "Dorothy" : A Trippy Sad Joy

I am in the courtship phase with Manuka Piglet, a self described folk pop band from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Their Album "Brain-Damaged Toon Underworld" has had me in it's off kilter embrace for a couple of weeks. I cannot stop listening to it and a full review of this mind bending affair is percolating in my brain but for now I want to focus, tease you with track 3 Dorothy. It is the weepy song on the album. It feeds my sadness and my thirst for that sort of detached poetry that makes you want to curl in the fetal position and cry your guts out. It also goes from that kind of Radiohead-ish 90's depression to a hyper-kinetic happy feet kind of askew joy. It is bipolar. It pulls you from the depths to the surface of whatever life you are stuck with or have created for yourself.

I love the ride it provides and the askew lyrical content that walks a tightrope between pathos and silliness. Absolutely love this song.
Robb Donker

"hold your head up high and cry instead of
existing as a washed up painting
and you'll be watched by millions in this twisted lucid
dream yourself away to a better place this evening" 

"softly sitter skip the next phase
volunteer to roll me upside down
and i see me an orphanelli
for i seem to caught inside this nightmare"  

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

LA Natives, Northern American, Head East for Official CMJ Debut

Northern American Head to New York City for Official CMJ Performance

You can go ahead and thank Northern American for songs like the shimmering “Record Forever” to go with your ice-cold beer beside the pool and the bluesy “Don’t Be a Star” to go down with that warm whiskey as you look over L.A.’s nightscape. - Buzzbands.LA 
Press Release

West coast quartet Northern American is heading east to New York City for their CMJ Music Marathon debut. In addition to the band’s official CMJ performance at Alphabet Lounge on October 21st, the band will be featured on Siren Sounds’ official showcase at Williamsburg’s famed venue, Spike Hill, Friday, October 24th at 9:15 p.m. sponsored by Sixpoint Brewery.

Fresh off the successful release of the band’s latest track “Elysian,”Northern American has much to celebrate with an upcoming video and highly anticipated full album (January 2015, Heist or Hit Records).

Northern American delivers smooth, atmospheric rock that feels like a breezy summer night in Hollywood hills overlooking the bright city.

“We don’t get into the city grind, we’re more in tune with nature,” reveals singer/guitarist Nate Paul. The band’s concerns may not lie with Tinseltown but Los Angeles is buried deep within the band’s genetic make-up. More in keeping with the laid back tones of fellow California dwellers Mazzy Star, Jonathan Wilson, or contemporary peers Local Natives and Autolux, Los Angeles is a major influence on the band’s sound. Shot through with shimmering sun-kissed melodies of reverb-laden guitar, the band’s lyrics are set within the city’s ethereal, green hills landscape surrounding the bustling city lights.

While most artists have their own roles to play within their band, Northern American is a fully
collaborative project with all band members contributing lyrics, melody, and rhythm to the final product. This creative process allows for a more organic sound that truly reflects Northern American as a band.

Northern American is Nate Paul (vocals/guitar), Shane Alch (keys), Augusto Vega (bass), and Bruno Calenda (drums).