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

Monday, November 28, 2016

Sara Rachele: "1971 Javelin" - Single with "Sad Song" Showcase That Voice

In  terms of music we live in interesting times. The wealth of music out there is sometimes overwhelming especially if you write about music for a blog as small as AP. There is a lot of music that just doesn't make my ears perk up. Besides song structure, overall feel and that oftentimes undefinable thing that touches me, pierces the cynical exterior you don't often hear an artist with that voice. Sara Rachelle has that voice in spades.

Listening to Sad Song, the B side from her recent 7" Digital Single I was stunned by the breadth and scope of her vocal performance. She has an iconic sound really and by that I mean she has an old soul residing somewhere inside her. Amidst the rolling picking that made me think a little bit of REM my mind flashed on Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton, and Stevie Nicks all blended together. Sara is originally from Decatur, Georgia but her musical journey has taken her to Manhattan's East Village.

The A side of the single is the evocative 1971 Javelin. The retro sound feels real. The aesthetic with the organs and sultry tone has Shindig written all over it but in the same way that Tarantino can infuse his glorious B-movie exploitation into a story that takes place now, 1971 Javelin blends "today" seamlessly in. The upfront electric guitar with it's deliciously heavy harmonics, heavy bass and overall upfront grit has a touch of Dead Weather-ness making the track feel custom and cool without a touch of nostalgia as campiness.

Loving this record.
Robb Donker

Pic courtesy of Instagram:
1971 Javelin the 7’’ single out Oct 7, via Angrygal Records.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

"All Night" by Lily Virginia Sweeps You Away

As of late I have been caught up in my own stuff. That is to say, writing and recording demos, an increased busy day job schedule and reading and writing about the election results have made my life increasingly dense pulling me away from what I do here at American Pancake which is sharing my thoughts on artists that I find interesting and hopefully turning you on to music that you have not heard before. Nice to share again.

The wildly talented Lily Virginia is based out of Brooklyn and recently released a video for All Night a track off her upcoming audio/visual album Play Me Twice which has / will be released one music video at a time. The latest All Night coalesces a subtly diverse blends of sounds and emotions. The music sways, dances, feels playful, sultry. It feels like it has R and B bones pushed through a indie alt pop filter. It sock hops, slow dances and embraces all the while Lily gives the vocal performance a kind of tortured tone on the verge of love or heartbreak.

Great, great stuff I am so glad I came out of my hole to listen to it. I look forward to delving into Lily's art.

Go to Lily's site to see the other videos (4  more) with more videos to come.

Robb Donker

NOTES: The ‘Play Me Twice Podcast’ is an interactive experiment and modern liner notes for the album.  As each music video come out, fans are encouraged to ask questions about the making of the song via social media or texting Lily Virginia’s music phone directly at +1-917-746-0723.  The podcast episodes also feature interviews with other independent artists on the meaning for them of making and releasing music while living a musical life today.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

"A Cat is an Angel that Poops in a Box"- Whiskers R We With Kristin Wiig - SNL

Kristin Wiig returned to host SNL and played one of those twisted cat ladies with Kate Mckinnon.
One of the funniest skits of the night. So when the republic is crumbling around us put down the protest sign and laugh your ass off. We all have to refuel now don't we?

Robb Donker

Monday, November 21, 2016

Album Review: Critica by Lightmusic - Take A Walk On The Wild Side

While a lot of abstract psych rock bands build a solid framework to construct their abstract musical architecture on. On the album Critica, 3 piece Lightmusic start with a framework that is not only askew and leaning from the get go but it is ever changing as well. This gives their songs a free form quality. Everything essentially sounds improvisational. Guitarist Micah Lewis spews forth lyrics that feel like torrid rants some that can feel quite manic. Whether the rants bend toward lewd sensuality or some breed of strident social commentary the effect can feel like slam poetry at times and at other times like the insane stream of consciousness that babbles out of that one homeless guy in the neighborhood whose mind inhabits some other place.

Wherever Micah and Lightmusic take you it feels trippy like a fluid Dali-esque painting. Take the storytelling of Blue Room that puts you in a trance. It is part Twilight Zone and part Pere Ubu meets the Minutemen. The musical diversions are so meaty. Inside The Heart cuts a smooth groove with splashes of crystal clear guitar Micah spinning lyrical webs. Don't try to figure out context or meaning just float with it. Girlfriend's Dream has a comical undertow at first and then the brash groove cuts in with so many strange layers. It is a fun house mirror of a song. Reach For My Love balances between R and B fusion and underground rap really. It feels totally improvised but in such a wonderful way. Oddly enough in it's abstract improv I counted at least 12 sections that would in and of themselves make incredible indie pop rock progs. To Answer Your Question almost seems to flirt with Mid-Eastern melodies or maybe not. Maybe it is what I am conjuring up. The soundscape on this song did make me think of sweeping dunes of sand turned fire red as dusk. Tenderly, the first track on the album feels like a warm up of sorts for things to come.

Lightmusic's aesthetic is out there and might not be for everyone. I knew this when I reviewed their Remain Unshared EP way back in 2011 which was thoroughly engaging like Critica is today. It is not populist music in anyway. I guess that is why it is so damn interesting. Listening to this kind of music is why I find myself listening to improvisations by John Coltrane. This kind of music goes in every which way. The verse verse chorus verse chorus bridge chorus pattern is non existent. Besides Micah Lewis on guitar and vocals you have Stevie Kugelberg on bass and Zach Mabry on drums. They lay down such amazing sounds. The musicality on this record is beautifully insane. Listen to Critica when you want to get out of those loops in your head and you will have an interesting artful journey.

Out on Porch Party Records.

Robb Donker

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Swedish Art Pop Provocateur Ms. Henrik Drops Debut LP "Fake and Copy" - Slick Back Your Hair, Put on Your Lipstick and Listen

Swedish art-pop / indie electronica provocateur Ms. Henrik is due to drop his debut LP entitled Fake and Copy on November 18th on Birds Records. The album is full of synth hooks, deep grooves and an ever changing tapestry of flavors. Never Put Your Guns Down has a kind of elegant new wave vibe ala Martin Fry (of ABC) while the instrumental Copy What I think (40B) veers into a deep dance punk groove. Speaking of punk the strange and engaging When Mike Watt Lost D. Boon with it's heavy vocoder sound floats around different genres all the way while hinging on the dark sad chorus of the Minutemen's founding father loss of his best friend D.Boon.

Blessed Are The Bald Men turns dark and  pokes at the politics of greed and drugs all the while having a celebratory chorus that almost has a heady KajaGoogoo vibe. I really love this track.  Cut Down On Everyone has a beautifully sultry Bryan Ferry sway and a smart melody. Henrik pushes his vocal performance so nicely and it is less effected than on other tracks. So good.  Fake What You Feel has that majestic 80's new wave tone. It feels like super pop really. Lush and tortured.
Ms. Henrik with a dramatic androgynous look sporting red lipstick and flaunting one hell of a cool hair style is the kind of artist who would undoubtedly make Mike Pence squirm. All the more reason to embrace Ms. Henrik. Check out Like Lovers Do and dance your ass off.
Robb Donker

Sunday, November 13, 2016

In Light Of The Trump Win Dave Chappelle's Opening Monologue Was Smart, Hilarious and Awe Inspiring. The Master Is Back.

Dave Chappelle's monologue was equal parts subversion and hilarity. Near the end he got serious recounting a recent invitation to the White House to attend a party put on by BET. While I will not ruin the story telling I can tell you it was awe inspiring. Chappelle is without a doubt the master of his craft and he has been away way too long. See this amazing monologue below.
Robb Donker

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Son of a Bitch Pulls It Off. Trump Wins. Clinton Concedes and It Feels Like Bizarro Land.

I am staring at my computer screen a bit stunned. I mean as the Election night wore on it was apparent that Hillary Clinton was in serious trouble but seeing the breaking news that Donald Trump actually pulled it off and seeing his acceptance speech as President Elect was absolutely surreal. My immediate thoughts:

Trumps speech was surprisingly positive. His venom switch was off. He seemed like a man who might just raise to the level of the office and be more compassionate. I don't know. Remember this is a man who catered to angry white voters and even racist KKK groups who he actually said he didn't know anything about. Can he change his stripes? Are his stripes real? Will he build bridges instead of that fucking wall?? I hope so.

Hilary Clinton LOST this election. She just doesn't connect with people. She feels (maybe is) one of the 1 percent-ers who she tried to distance herself from during the election. She has a long history of hobnobbing with Wallstreet. She was, in fact, painted with that brush by Bernie Sanders and that thick coat of paint stuck. It stuck because she could not wash it off. Even Bernie's plea for his supporters to support her felt false. She also carried the awful baggage packed up with a bow by her husband Bill Clinton who while President supported the 1994 Crime Bill that incarcerated low level drug users at an alarming rate and his enactment of the Riegle Neal Interstate Banking Bill which was the first move in a series of acts that deregulated the financial industry signaled an attack on the poor and a love for the money makers for Wall Street. Her support of the Iraq war also left a bad taste in liberals mouths. She was just wrong in so many ways and on so many levels. As much as the idea of the first woman president makes me happy her carrying that mantle would of ultimately been sad. 

The Democratic Party has become this bloated elitist machine tied to Wall Street just like the Republican Party and it sucks. They have lost their way. They need to find their grass roots. I thought they found it in Bernie Sanders but they rejected him. Poor Bernie.

The two party system sucks. Maybe Trump is a third party in a way. Republicans don't really like him and Democrats hate him. Maybe some angel will whisper in his ear, cast a spell and actually make him a centrist who is a positive influence. Maybe I watch to many Hallmark movies during this time of the year.

My head hurts and I need to tap out.

Robb Donker