Sunday, June 16, 2019

PREMIERE: Enbers' dreamy alt folk "Just Dogs" feels as cinematic as the title. From the EP "10 Years"

Enbers is the musical moniker of one Nicholas Bryant who writes evocative folk tinged songs with his voice and his 1950's Martin D 18. On the track Just Dogs, that voice quivering in a stark, vulnerable and compelling way reveals stories and mysteries you want to fall into. The sound, the aesthetic is spartan on one hand but also produced with cinematic, dreamy flair by Bryants cohort, Producer Alex Koska who beautifully crafts a kind of orchestrated folk with dark and light tones that suggest pasts and presents.  

Enbers hails from Stauton, Virginia and Just Dogs is from the EP, "10 Years" just released on June 10th (2019).

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Robb Donker




The Harmaleighs' beautiful sway on "Don't Panic" has dark undercurrents from the upcoming "She Won't Make Sense"





































The song Don't Panic by Nashville's The Harmaleighs feels (to me) like a song for the times we live in. The beautiful sway of the song belies the undercurrent of darker feelings that run throughout their upcoming album "She Won't Make Sense" which is a concept album about mental illness, "specifically band member Haley Grant's deeply personal journey through anxiety, depression and mania." 

Of the track Haley says:

"I was in a constant state of worry. My relationship was falling apart, my friend group was changing, my career path was unclear and my mind was fucked. It felt like every aspect of my life was in complete and utter turmoil all at the same time. 'Don't Panic' was written in my bathroom at 3:30 am about trying to calm myself down but being fearful that panic was actually fueling my creativity. It made me question whether or not I should be seeking help or letting this type of fear run its course because it was allowing me to write these songs that I am so proud of. The last line of the chorus 'but what if that's all I'm good at' comes from me being scared I'll be unable to write if I am mentally stable." 

It takes courage to bleed on a song. To put it all out there and the thought that being mentally stable might shut off the inspirational faucet for her music is a heavy one. I mean, there does seem to be some truth to the tortured artist but then artists as talented as The Harmaleighs will undoubtedly always have fodder for their art whether the demons they reveal or chase are in the microcosm or macrocosm. There is certainly a lot to stress over out in the world and there lies the rub. I have thought for a long time that too much information bombarding our brains are shutting off the hope filled pleasure centers and we are slowly losing our minds, all of us, to worry, self doubt, feelings of not being enough and other negative thoughts. 

They want us to be like that you know. We are all easier to control that way. I will get off my soap box. 

I am a bit new to The Harmaleighs and delving into their music. Amazing, emotionally wrought stuff. I love it. 

The Harmaleighs are Haley Grant (Lead vox, guitar) and Kaylee Jasperson (bass, harmonies)

"She Won't Make Sense" is dropping on August 2nd with the ability to pre-order NOW.

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Robb Donker



Saturday, June 15, 2019

The Hugs' effervescent pop rocker "Love You To Death" feels like a hug

Love You To Death by Portland's The Hugs sounds like a song by a band called The Hugs. It is power poppy and cool and effervescent. The band is unabashedly upbeat indie rockers who (on this song) stay in that middle of the road place and that is ok. If they haven't already, they might be more likely to be featured in the pages of Nylon or Seventeen Magazine more so than Rolling Stone but that is fine. Even for a jaded, cynical old rock critic like me I get their sound and like it. After all I was young and optimistic once upon a time. 

Love You To Death is the title track from The Hugs new pop-rock record. 

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Robb Donker


Thursday, June 13, 2019

Strap your seatbelt on and listen to "Why Now" by Algorhythm for a trippy musically high ride




































Algorhythm is a progressive rock meets jazz fusion band based out of Montreal, Canada and they are here to rock your face off in blendo rockish, jazzy ways and while they can get chill when they want to, on the track Why Now, it feels like a double sided Redbull and Vodka after one too many pixies sticks. The opening feels mystical but that doesn't last long. The song charges forth in an incredibly fast rush of licks while founder, songwriter, keyboardist and vocalist Alexander Lioubimenko directs the action like a kind of jazz cabaret provocateur. The song takes wonderful diversions that allow you to catch your breath. During the musical / drum and bass break you start to chill and smile and imagine you are in some other world (maybe a version of Hell) where you are served drinks with umbrellas as you float on top of this tightly wound dense drink of music. It is such a trippy musically high ride.

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Robb Donker



Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Modern Monet sing about love and stars on "Hollywood" and it is beautiful



























L.A. based folkish troubadours Modern Monet wax poetic about west coast dreams on Hollywood but it really is just a love song between two dreamers. The imagery of stars in the sidewalk and broken dreams are laced throughout but cemented within the performance is such a tender marriage of voices. Modern Monet is Jackson Singleton and Monet Makohoniuk (often accompanied by cello player, Jean Paul Barjon).

Beautiful stuff.

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Robb Donker



Monday, June 10, 2019

Mabes and the beautifully home grown "Saint" is perfect

Mabes with her beautiful home grown folk voice seemingly effortlessly tells her story on the track Saint. Every second is perfectly wrought and shouldn't be tampered with and maybe it is perfect because she wrote this song when she was 15. Everything is perfect in all it's imperfection when you are 15. 

Mabes hails from Billericay, England. 

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Robb Donker


UK singer-songwriter Josh Herring build lovely tensions and twists up chamber pop tones on "Down The Wire" - sweet

























The track Down The Wire by singer songwriter Josh Herring from Birmingham, UK, with it's contemplative up beat piano strokes and slightly twisted horns builds an anxious feeling like you are being tied to a chair with ropes of melodies that turn around you again and again. The chamber pop strains feel at once lush but askew too. I thought of a calmer version of the charming yet crazy aesthetic of Man Man and I also thought of  Rufus Wainwright or maybe something in between. In any event I really like Herring's tones and writing style. Awesome. 


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Robb Donker



Derek Senn's indie rocker "Have A Nice Day" feels like a vast runaway song from the album "How Could A Man"




























Have A Nice Day by singer songwriter rocker Derek Senn based out of San Luis Obispo, California moves at a runaway clip, the vast urgent sound with "oooooooooh"s intact has a true sense of wanderlust, of an ongoing journey, of physical and emotional places visited. There is almost an out of breath urgency to Senn's vocal performance too. It feels direct and passionate with even a tinge of desperation as if one has to move fast to live that ever fleeting life. I like the character in Senn's delivery and the lyrics that feel real and personal. The wanderlust indie rock feel here makes sense considering Senn doesn't just dip his toe in life's adventures but dives in whether traveling the world or becoming a family man. 

Have A Nice Day is from his 12 track full length album "How Could A Man" out now on Bandcamp and other platforms. 

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Robb Donker

THE FACTS AS WE KNOW THEM- PRESS NOTES;


Derek Senn has been at it for a while now, honing his songwriting craft and sharing his musings with the world. His travels have taken him far and wide, from a yearlong foreign exchange in Quito, Ecuador, to a six-month bicycle trip through western South America, to a three-month foray to track down a girl in Argentina he fancied. Several of his songs refer to these adventures, though more recently, they address the world—and children—he’s created with that girl (turns out she fancied him too). The navigation of the quotidian trials and travails of family life imbue his songs now: child-rearing, putting food on the table, yelling at the dog. 
Derek and his wife formed a punk rock duo called The Wedding Industrial Complex, but sometime around 2009, she tossed her drumsticks into the crowd for the last time and called it a day. Since then, Derek has released three critically acclaimed solo albums. His most recent offering, "How Could A Man,” is groovy and catchy; the lyrics are funny and heartfelt (often in the same song) and wholly original. “How Could A Man” is his most realized album to date, and the title track is a love song for the ages. 
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Sunday, June 9, 2019

"Entwine" by singer-songwriter John Lowell Anderson carries emotional resonance throughout





































The track Entwine by San Clemente, California singer-songwriter / composer John Lowell Anderson is one that from the onset feels comfortable and intimate. As someone who is asked to review music I some times am not easy to please. It is both a blessing and a curse to listen to a lot of music because as a whole human beings all have a familiarity with popular sounds and it seeps into their creative process. Consequently you will hear a lot of the same progressions and even melodies. It is something that you expect in certain genres like the blues for example. There are blues patterns that are almost a staple of that genre and an accepted musical trope to build off of. So while I want to be surprised and my creative and emotional self be pushed and pulled in new and interesting directions I can revel in comfortable sounds as long as there is heart and earnest emotions on the surface or buried in between the lines. 

Anderson's soul saturates this track from the onset. You can hear it in the hesitant cadence of the guitar and the emotional resonance of his words. The emotions puddle and rest at the end of each resting phrase. The mantric cadence builds as drums, bass and piano overtake empty spaces is beautiful. The sound builds and makes your heart swell. This feels like a classic born. 

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Robb Donker




Lauren Ruth Ward is possessed by the truth in the indie rocker "We Are Grown Ups"




































photo courtesy of  Angela Izzo

The latest offereing from Lauren Ruth Ward, We Are Grown Ups is a full on indie rocker with new wave-esque / folk rock frameworks. I thought instantly of 80's college rock ala the amazing R.E.M pushed through feral Patti Smith filters. The song grabs you by the collar, pushes you around and give you nice hugs too. It doesn't hurt that Lauren Ruth Ward writes such amazing musical prose and possesses an instrument in her voice that translates her truth in a big way. I love her gritty soulful ballsy sound and character that speaks to a life lived and lessons learned. Fuck yes. 

The band is Lauren Ruth Ward and Eduardo Rivera and they are based out of Baltimore, Maryland. 

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Robb Donker