Thursday, November 16, 2017

Blog Diary: "Golden" Live: An Affirmation Song Pretty Good To Brush Your Teeth To

Oh fuck, I did not want to get up this morning for the normal reasons. Tons of stress at work, behind on those things others are depending on. Those spreadsheets, finding a car so we don't have to rack up bills on the rental, getting to that podcast and mixing and mastering AND finish recording tracks for my EP, AGE OF DINOSAURS that is due out in a month from now.  All that and my heart is full of thoughts about my loved ones some who are nearly 3000 miles away.

It is funny. Some moves in your life don't seem pivotal at the time you are making them but looking back at certain periods you think maybe that those precise decisions were like shifting a Jenga puzzle and those shifts result into things crashing down. Things that effect others. I guess I feel this in a cosmic sense not in a "I am shit an to blame" sort of way.

Heres to building the Jenga puzzle back up with care and compassion and consideration.

Cheers-
Robb


Monday, November 13, 2017

Album Review: Los Doggies : "Ear Op" Proggy Indie Rock Will Move You


























When Los Doggies aren't expounding on their fashion (see Facebook vid) they are crafting proggy indie rock somewhere in New York. The three piece band latest release is called Ear Op available on 12" vinyl and digitally via Bandcamp and is their first studio effort with local producer, Kevin McMahon (Titus Andronicus, Swans) in upstate Gardiner pounding out sounds in a crusty old barnyard of a studio with a "reverb silo" out back. The EP is inspired by / about in large part Evan Stormo's childhood ear tube operations. He plays plays drums and sings in Los Doggies along with brother Jesse who mans guitar / vocals) and Matt Ross who drives the bass. The three have been making music for a decade.

As I listened to Ear Op with it's both frenetic and kinetic style with syncopated edges that seem to intricately shift in and out of beats in a progressive personal way I thought of bands like Pavement and Built to Spill. The sound is dramatic and freewheeling. The track S'Long is intensely jammy. There is a lead section with ride cymbals highlighting the way that is exquisitely tight (as is the entire track). This song like others seems to meander in an improvisational sort of way and it is cool to follow the boys find their way if that is indeed what is happening.

The title track Ear Op has thick jubilant bloodstreams flowing through it and in this case it is fun to know the back story on the EP and this song and put the lyrical puzzle pieces together. The guitar sounds are bright but attacking and just work so well with the vocal performance. Often times the Stormo brothers sing together and it seems to me to be a part of their sound, a really good part. Los Doggies do not go for conventional compositional styles, don't expect verse verse- chorus- verse- chorus bridge yada yada. Their sense of building songs feels more like a trek down a road and they take you on the adventure. Love the fun sense of this track.


The track Baetyl has an almost majestic air. There is a sense of 70's rock twisted into the proggy indie. It is a good time to describe the general sound on this album. It is pretty stark, big but not over produced. The approach is minimalistic which for me is so KEY here. I mean Los Doggies is a three piece band so when Baetyl explodes into a delicious lead break I appreciate just hearing heavy ass bass and drums holding those notes up on display. NO need for an overdubbed rhythm guitar here. Producer Kevin McMahon makes it heavy as hell but bright too. Great sound here.

There is something about As It Were So that feels somber and uplifting too. The vocal melody style like getting words out before someone shuts the door on you in contrast to the mid tempo open beat works so well. Midway the song becomes quiet only to cry out musically deepening any wounds in such a heavy lovely way.  Would love to hear this track live. It would be such an amazing emotional closer as it is on this album.
-
Robb Donker



Thursday, November 9, 2017

Improvisational Songwriting: Dipping Into The Jibberish Of The Creative Mind




















As a songwriter I routinely utilize improvisational sessions to sort of jumpstart the creative process. This always involves sequestering myself away in my basement where I record. I have a busy schedule which for me kind of helps stimulate the ideas that eventually become the fodder for my music. I personally thrive on the urgency of having to create within a fixed time. For me that time is usually late at night during the work week and the fact that I do not have the luxury to write or play for hours and hours seems to distill my creativity into a kind of furious compression of feelings and thoughts. I am someone who needs a reason to do something and oftentimes I will force myself and maybe trick myself into just being able to write a minute of music so I can post an improv on Instagram. This forces my creative hand and usually some piece of music do happen and more times than not results in full fledged songs.

Once I start playing and set myself on a chord structure and tempo my self imposed rules are simple: power through with melody and words or sounds even and just keep going from verse to chorus to verse and if I feel adventurous a bridge as well. It is a funny and tenuous exercise that feels as much as making up a spur of the moment story like I used to do when my kids were small or telling an entertaining thing that happened over a weekend to friends. The music dictates the atmosphere which in turn dictates the emotional tone of the melody and improv lyrics and when successful wonderfully builds on itself.

If the made up words moves in one direction those words trigger the path of the lyrical content in my mind and because I want it to make melodic sense and lyrical sense and I am recording the live performance there is that sense of instant creation of kind of bullshitting too in that "I meant to do that" sort of way. By the way, in improvisational songwriting you must, MUST, record at all times because the creations are so fleeting that you can easily lose them. I also try to shoot them on video if possible because more than once I have written and recorded songs that I cannot figure out weeks later. I am not one to write chord structures down and simply recording the improv with a camera can save you hours and hours of frustration later.

Songwriting and Live performing on the fly results in a fair amount of jibberish too. I am fine with that as the melody and sounds of words made up or not is what fuels the emotional edges of the song. Once the song is created and whether it contains musical deadends or sentences or words that make no sense whatsoever it can serve as a template for a finished composition. It is funny how the jibberish contained in some of my improvs sound like a foreign language. I have to admit that part of me wants to create an album of improv songs with no editing whatsoever. The jibberish will become part of the art form.

 In the song "Pieces" which I improved back in October the fervent pace of the guitar progression to me lent itself to a kind of internal dialog like someone talking to one self, an introspection that could veer into neurosis. The resulting improv flowed the whole way through. Sometimes this is not the case and I will stop and jot down the lyrics as I go. The cadence like a train just kept going and one passage of words or sounds built on itself.

One of the constants in my songwriting seems to be finding oneself, emotional and passionate connections and battling ordeals in life, overcoming pain and such so it is no wonder that the first line "You said you caught a scientific mind" would be followed by "of the romantic kind" as the edgy guitar dictated the tone and romance and passion and the vocal cadence of "scientific" and "romantic" seemed to fit like puzzle pieces.

"You're coming in a controversy" exited my lips without thinking and to be quite honest, "coming" at the time in my mind was sexual as in "cumming" and the following passage, "the look cannot shake a modest thing" inexpicably followed without thought. The sense of opposites, the explicitness of cumming bookended with modesty is interesting. The nature of saying all these words on the fly makes me wonder about the subconscious and conscious mind.

I could venture a guess on where the direction and words come from but something are too private to share. Nevertheless improvisational writing can feel at times like laying on a therapist's couch and spilling your guts. Sometimes the song can move and out run the mind and this is where the jibberish part of improv enters the picture. When words will not do, fake words, sounds have to stand in for the real actors to play the parts later. Also, syntax and grammar take a back seat and in the same way that I will trade dead on on key singing for passiong and feeling, grammar is less important to me then the tonal sounds of words and phrases and how those sounds may (or may not) convey emotional feeling and more importantly emotional cues. My ultimate goal in songwriting is not to display my emotions as much as pushing buttons in those who listen to my songs and making them feel things.

The improved song can exist as an exercise to fuel creativity or to fuel the end product itself. The lyrics and melodies can be massaged and honed. The jibberish can be turned into real poetry or can stand as an advante garde structure itself. Even a foreign word or set of words can make you feel something.

Below you can listen to a live raw performance of "Pieces". The short song is a rare example of a totally improved piece of music from start to finish with not one word or phrase jotted down prior to the performance. Totally off the cuff full of flaws, sounds and made up words, bad grammar and all. It is quite possibly a little car wreck of a song that I hope you will feel the need to crane your neck and check out as you drive by. I haven't decided if it is one of my improvs that I will dress up with real words and such or if I will track record with the jibberish intact. I may not even track record or develop. Maybe it is what it is and nothing more.

The EP - AGE OF DINOSAURS by Donker
Drops on December 15th.

-
Robb Donker






Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Big Changes Ahead For Bülow : Hear Her Debut Single "Not A Love Song"






















Megan Bülow, a 17 year old singer from the Netherlands has just released her first single Not A Love Song from her EP "Damaged Vol. 1"-  

2018 will herald a year of change. Graduating from highschool. Moving to Canada and fully devoting herself to music. She posseses a disarming voice, pop smarts and besides Not A Love Song I am really liking the track Lines. The melody (to me) feels like driving down the California coastline with the top down. 

https://www.bulowmusic.com/

-
Robb Donker



Clip of Lines on Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/BulowOfficial/videos/298790723940037/

Monday, November 6, 2017

Larry David on SNL: "I consistently strive to be a good Jewish representative."






















At one point during his SNL monologue Larry David says "I consistently strive to be a good Jewish representative" and then adding "When people see me I want them to say 'Oh there goes a FINE Jew for you!" His brilliant jab at racism was a series of punchlines related to the Weinstein sexual abuse and rape charges and Larry noticing at his utter shock and dismay that many of the predators were Jewish.

The monologue which some people are calling offensive is text book Davide, offensive, daring and funny if you get it. If you are a Larry David fan. I am. You may not be but the criticism out there seems to me to be misplaced. David's humor hinges on the uncomfortable and the nature of the male psyche. A lot of the criticism being leveled at David relates to his so called "concentration camp" joke and it occurs to me that more words on social media will be spilled on decrying this comedic bit than actual Holocaust deniers.
-
Robb Donker


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

C'mon Guys Help Your Sister Out - Lydia Night of the Regrettes Attacked By Woman at the Growlers Six Festival

Let's get to the point. Some asshole apparently abused other concert goers and climbed on stage and violently pushed down Lydia Night of the Regrettes in the middle of a song at the Growler's Six Festival. Who knows why. It is so unfortunate and I really feel for Lydia. It nust of been really scary especially at these uncertain times. I am also so very shocked at the seemingly slow motion reaction of not only security but of Lydia's bandmates. Hey, I understand. Many musicians are not the agressive type, they are (as a whole) lovers not fighters but seeing them stand almost motionless during this crazy attack made my mind go numb. A band should be like a family and family members protect each other.

Feely better Lydia!
-
Robb Donker



Responding on Instagram, Night wrote: “Being a performer is one of the most vulnerable things you can do. The last thing I want to worry about during a performance is being in danger in any way. The stage should always feel like a safe space for self expression and art. Yesterday, someone invaded my safe space in an aggressive manner and that is absolutely not okay. Thank you for all of your concern and love. I am still pretty shocked about what went down, but I will be totally fine. I did not know the girl who attacked me. I was told she was on a lot of drugs and mistook me for someone else. Love you all and I’ll see you next month on the east coast.”



Sunday, October 29, 2017

Sego - The Track Sucker / Saint Has a Lot of Levels to Enjoy


































As the story goes, singer / guitarist Spencer Peterson had planned on writing songs for other artists but that didn't happen. He met Thomas Carroll who was drumming in another band at a kind of battle of the bands thing in Provo, Utah where they were from. Shortly after that the two headed off to California. At some point their band became just a duo and while I am not clear if Sego was the full band that became two or if the two became Sego. Whatever the origin story is I do know that I am infinitely happy that Spencer and Thomas found each other. My introduction to Sego was the track Sucker / Saint and the attraction was immediate like the first time I saw Scarlet Johannsson on screen.

Push play on Sucker / Saint and the beginning feels like 60's Detroit rock with Southern rock guitars finding their way. Once Spencer's vox come in it feels earthy and masculine. Still tinged with an almost Woodstockian late 60's jag it stirs in pychedelic strains meets massive motor city down beats. When the "carry on, carry on" refrain start it is like Crosby, Still, Nash and Young. The track is a delicious time machine and sounds so fucking real and refreshing. Love this track from start to finish.

As my curiosity got me discoverying more about these guys on their Bandcamp it became apparent that Sego has a lot of sides. Their 2016 full length debut "Once Was Lost Now Just Hanging Around" has about as many flavors as a Sees Candies box (Engineer Amnesia is quietly blowing my mind). That, specific sound on Sucker / Saint is but one facet in their musical DNA. I have a lot to listen to and I hope you do too. For now check out Sucker / Saint below. Also check out Sego's latest video via the NPR Link HERE - my instagram about them below and below that a link to Sucker / Saint via their Bandcamp page. Enjoy boys and girls.
-
Robb Donker



Thursday, October 26, 2017

BLANK CITY RECORDS ANNOUNCES “SOME GHOULS EP” SPLIT HALLOWEEN RELEASE FEATURING TRUE GHOULS & SEA GHOULS Released On Strictly Limited Edition Vintage Medical X-Ray Pressing, Ghoulish Green Flexi & Digital Release On October 31st







































BLANK CITY RECORDS ANNOUNCES “SOME GHOULS EP” SPLIT HALLOWEEN RELEASE
FEATURING TRUE GHOULS & SEA GHOULS 
Split EP To Be Released On Strictly Limited Edition Vintage Medical X-Ray Pressing, Ghoulish Green Flexi & Digital Release On October 31st


Los Angeles-based X-Ray Record Label specialists, Blank City Records, will release its latest EP, Some Ghouls, featuring local Los Angeles “Rock’N’Roll Ghouls” True Ghouls and Sea Ghouls as a very limited edition split release pressing on used medical X-Rays, Ghoulish Green Flexi & Digital on Halloween October 31st 2017. Pre-order the digital version of the record now for only $1.99 at iTunes: http://apple.co/2zmckS7.   

True Ghouls is Lauren Andino, Derek Mabra and Wesley Thatcher. Friends playing respectively in their own shoegaze and darkwave bands in Brooklyn, circa 2010 they decided to combine forces in revisiting their teenage punk rock skateboarding roots to create True Ghouls. Now reunited in Los Angeles they are releasing a new witches cauldron concoction of skuzzy sludge rock to move your skeleton bones to in the track “Muscles And Bugs”.

Sea Ghouls formed in South Gate, CA in the spring of 2013. The group has been driven by a collective commitment to short memorable songs and raw production values. “We feel this is a direct reflection of our influences, a few of which include the Gun Club, Rolling Stones, Violent Femmes, Hank Williams, Lee Hazlewood, the Velvet Underground, and the Stooges,” says Sea Ghouls frontman Max Fields. “The songs ‘Warren’ and Sunday Afternoon’ were chosen for this release because they are the best representation of what we try to do as an ensemble.”

BCR003X X-Ray & BCR00F Flexi release info featuring two tracks – one from each band:


Release Title: Some Ghouls EP Digital Tracklisting:
1. True Ghouls - Muscles And Bugs
2. Sea Ghouls - Warren
3. Sea Ghouls - Sunday Afternoon

4. True Ghouls - Muscles And Bugs ("Empty Grave" Remix by IYEARA)

i. True Ghouls “Muscles And Bugs”
Music and lyrics written by True Ghouls.
Recorded & Produced by Travis Pavur & Aaron Zee at Golden Beat Recording studios.
Additional Production by Noah Harmon at Blank City Records in Los Angeles, CA.
Mixed & Mastered by Erik Wofford.

ii. Sea Ghouls “Warren”
Written, produced and mixed by Sea Ghouls.
Recorded by Alvin Gonzalez. 
Mastered by Erik Wofford.

The first 13 copies of the X-Ray edition of the release will come with a limited edition deluxe “13 of 13” Halloween treat bags of candy and Halloween goodies and special green ink artwork.
The physical release also comes with a dropcard featuring the full digital release of the EP that includes a remix of True Ghouls’ “Muscles And Bugs” by IYEARA, a new UK electronic three-piece formed by The Duke Spirit guitarist Toby Butler, producer Malcolm Carson, and singer Paul O'Keefe.








































Live Dates
True Ghouls and Sea Ghouls will be playing live as Blank City Records presents a special Halloween show at Harvard & Stone on “Devil’s Night’ Monday October 30th featuring special ghoulish guests, True Ghouls, Sea Ghouls and Dead Dawn PLUS all vinyl Blank City DJs.
Monday “Devil’s Night” October 30th 2017 - Blank City Records presents… @ Harvard And Stone, Los Angeles, CA. 8pm to 2am

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.
Tracklisting:
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