Saturday, January 20, 2018

Review: L.A. Law : LAW & ORDER - Gap Dream and Jessie Jones Collab Is An Addictive Mix.

When Star Cup, the first track off of L.A. Law's Law & Order album, starts with it's percolating synth arpeggios the Net Flix show "Stranger Things" came to mind. Then the solid bass groove kicks in and finally a sultry vocal with sax like sounds and the whole thing shifts into something alluring but also somehow into something retro and even soulful and geekish all at the same time. In fact, Star Cup could be the song that Napoleon Dynamite dances into the next talent show. The blend of genres and social cultures is not wacky but smart and that is just the beginning of this trippy album.

L.A. Law is a collaboration between Gap Dream (Gabe Fulvimar) and Jessie Jones. I haven't seen Gap dream since I saw them live way back in 2014 at Burgerama 3 and Jessie since her Feeding People days well before her shift from indie / psych rock to her solo psych pop rock of her well received 2015 self titled album. Jessie has always possessed an intimate earthy vocals sound mining a myriad of styles that always have a blues / folk / garden rock center. Gap Dream mines synth laden shiny almost retro meets futuristic pop like Kraftwerk meets Giorgio Moroder meets Devo meets the Beach Boys.

A seemingly oil and water mix works so well. It turns out that whatever genre Jessie steps into her intimate vocals  still shines bringing a magnetic presence to L.A. Law.  In songs like Breakman and Teknomancer her self harmonies can feel like an Andalusian / Post Apocalyptic blend cut with disco pixie dust. Shivers and Hiatus feel more casio-fied and fun making me think of hovering vehicles and rainbow cast roller skating at the same time. Gap Dreams makes the music potent and interesting and while Jessie sounds more emotionally aloof than I have heard her before that kind of distance makes sense.

Dracula's Rib is a stand out, so much so it ends to quickly. To me the beat feels the most live in an almost Phil Selway sort of way and all the disparate electronic parts a askew in such a cool way. Jessie's vocal spread, dissonant with a barbiturate cloudy coolness is the glue that holds all these trippy sounds together. It is my current addiction. Athena's Grease feels like a weird proto punk late 70's concoction in a good way. Happy Alteration recalls the dance punk of Glass Spells.

The very last track, Tunnel Vision feels like a futuristic German indie flick starring a 28 year old Rutger Hauer, nuff said. I don't know if the L.A. Law collab will bear more multicolored fruit but I hope so. In any event Law and Order is an alluring sonic sci-fi-ish romp and a hell of a lot more fun than than Luc Besson's Valerian flick.
Robb Donker 


Monday, January 8, 2018

"Prague Spring" by Willie Breeding featuring Caitlin Rose Plays Like A Romantic Dime Store Novel

Featuring guest vocals from Caitlin Rose, Nashville's Willie Breeding's new track "Prague Spring" stirs cinematic images in your head supported by stately strings and Breeding's and Rose's earnest vocal harmonies that embrace you when the music gets quiet. 

Written by Breeding and Rose (with a last line by Breeding's wife) the song plays like an indie folk minuet or a dime store novel read wearing trenchcoats in a foggy European cafe. I am not sure if the song at it's core is fictional, factual or a blend of both but it appears to have personal ties to Breeding's wife. He explains: "One night in Prague, 1962, the son of the Italian ambassador met an actress they called, “The Czech Bridgette Bardot”.  Their adventures were like a black and white noir. Bullets were drunk out of martini glasses. Official diplomatic vehicles were stolen.  14 years later, my wife was born"

Breeding's debut album "Big Sky" will drop early this year.
Robb Donker

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Jessie Jo Stark's "Deadly Doll" (LIVE) Darkly Sweet Hallucinogenic Candy

Jessie Jo Stark's latest "Deadly Doll" performed live is staged and produced with a lush soft touch by Jason Lytle (Grandaddy, Band of Horses). There are elements that pop up in my mind as I swayed to this lullaby. Hints of Lana Del Rey, hints of that sultry James Bond gone bad soundtrack vibe too. Stark co-wrote with Chris Garcia (Lana Del Rey, Demi Lovato) and I like this "side" of her.

Stark says, "At the time, I felt like 'Deadly Doll' was my alter ego. It still is, depending on my mood. Lyrically, you can interpret it many different ways. I love combining these spooky elements and soft, eerie country tones into a beautiful anthem. The song got me through a tough time. I hope it does the same for listeners."

Stark's look in the video feels like something between Sean Young's Rachel from Blade Runner and a 1940's Jazz torch song singer. The skeleton bones suits on the band feel a bit much but who cares about that, the song is like dark sweet hallucinogenic candy.

Robb Donker

Sunday, December 31, 2017

HAPPY NEW YEAR- American Pancake PODCAST: Age Of Dinosaurs Premiere and Track Talk and Reflections on 2017

A Special Podcast Tonight for New Years Eve--  Those of you who are not dancing the night away at parties can here all the tracks from my new album AGE OF DINOSAURS as well as hear my reflections on the tracks themselves, creative tech talk and reflections on the very rocky, temultuous year that was 2017. On both a macro and personal level it has been a rough tough year full of big highs and very low lows to say the least.

I hope you listen below and email me at or and share your views on music, the album and your take on 2017. Love you all for your continued support of my shitty little blog. The slowly growing podcast and my musical projects. I plan on continueing all three.

Robb Donker

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from a Frenetic Me

MERRY CHRISTMAS !! Yeah, I know typical me running late. So busy this year with all things and busy in my head with things. Christmas was both weird and wonderful this year. Glad we got to #facetime with family back home but when are they going to invent Hugtime? Get working on that #apple . producing the album has been a bear just because the learning curve is constant and steep. Oh man, all I can say is #hpf or #highpassfilter that has saved me. HOPE you had a lovely holiday. One week to go before #2018 !! THE Age of Dinosaurs #album will come out this year! I swear! Gonna do a special #podcast this week too!! Shout out to Matt for a heavy creative assist on this project! Miss you Lauren, Taylor and Diana so much and see you soon!! #newmusic #merrychristmas #happyholidays #late #nevertoolate #dreams #singersongwriter #musicblogger #art #film #filmscoring #doit #diy #artrock #subpop #review #psychrock
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 MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY HOLIDAYS!! I hope you had a wonderful time spending this time with your loved ones in any way you could whether it be by traveling to see them or through Face Time. It has been the busiest month and week between a heavy work load at work to all the running around we had to do like car shopping after the accident that totalled our car and sent Cheryl to the hospital. We dealing with insurance companies (bleh) and she dealing with recovery and doctor visits. Also the planning for next year. New arrivals and changes. Missing loved ones in Cali and writing, recording, producing has made my mind both excited and exhausted. So many things to learn, so many questions yet to be unanswered. Crazy up and down life. Glad to be alive and living it. The Age of Dinosaurs EP that has turned to an Album WILL be released this year! Also a year ending podcast coming up this week. Thanks to Matt D for the heavy creative assit on the project, thanks to HPF (ha) and learning curves. Thanks to Cheryl and Alyssa for putting up with me. Miss Lauren, Taylor and Diana (see you soon next year!)- 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Beach Riot- NEW TRACK: "She's A Hurricane" - Strap Yourself Down and Listen

I am in the need of some potent rock and roll and Beach Riot out of Brighton and London came into my view just in time. They just released a track called She's A Hurricane and while the buzz about their sound, the banter about their inspirations mentions bands like Sleater Kinney, Pavement and even QOTSA, on this track in particular I think of the potent rock and roll DNA of old school Husker Du and new sounds of METZ ( listen to Drained Lake). Apart from comparisons the potent point is that I can feel the unbridled passionate kickass rock in Beach Riot's bones, in their musical DNA and that has me incredibly intrigued. Such a cool sound, so very riot-teously cool.

Beach Riot are Rory O'Connor (guitar/vocals), Cami Menditeguy (guitar/vocals), Jim Faulkner (bass/vocals) and Jonny Ross (drums) on Killing Moon Records.

She's A Hurricane by Beach Riot available to Stream or Download Everywhere

-Robb Donker

Monday, December 4, 2017

Monday Morning Find: Franz Kline (Wasted) by MOONMOUTH

Some times Mondays feel heavy. For me this has to do with my workweek which entails my busy "day job" as well as those projects that inhabit my life right now. I have my ongoing blog of course and a kind of haphazard podcast schedule that has yet to settle into any discernable groove really and then my music projects. So, yes, today... this morning... right this very moment feels very heavy. So heavy that it almost feels like I cannot breathe without sighing.

Even though American Pancake is by any stretch a tiny blog in the blogosphere I do receive tons of submissions and like too many packages thrown against ones door it is difficult to make my way through it all. Every now and then I find wonderful music other surprising ways and today I found MOONMOUTH through instagram. Instagram is one of my favorite ways to find interesting music because it is not thrown at me or filtered through PR people. It is just there to be found and enjoyed.

So MOONMOUTH hails out of Charlotte, North Carolina and I know absolutely nothing about them which is kinda of refreshing too. From their Bandcamp I could surmise that they are a duo and possible write together but my Spidey Sense is tingling singer-songwriter. Whatever the incarnation is I am liking the track Franz Kline (Wasted) a whole lot. The sound is bright indie pop which has served to lighten my heavy load this morning. Check it out-
Robb Donker

U2 on SNL - "American Soul" and "Get Out Of Your Own Way" - Timeless Music But Not In a Good Way

Bono and U2 have a love / hate relationship with America. I do too and I have that same relationship with U2. While Kendrick Lamar and the video emblazoned behind the band elevated the song American Soul, overall it felt like posturing, like the swagger was not backed up by any potent sounds. Some of the progs and tone hinted at the muscular rock of a band like Queens Of The Stone Age but fell short quickly. In fact, the Edge's lack of guitar bluster (and lead work) really helped kill a song like this. It all felt too orchestrated and safe and while I do applaud the message of the song (best delivered by the lyrics not the song overall) maybe the purview of middle aged muscular rock should be left to Josh Homme and the boys.

Get Out Of Your Own Way felt more like your standard U2 fare and therein lies the problem. Both tracks could of been on past U2 albums and in that sense are timeless U2 songs but not in a good way. They are sadly forgetable and get lost in that U2 haze. A band that has been around this long will either settle into it's own groove or say fuck you all and let loose. I prefer the latter. Word on the street is that these two songs may be the worst on their 14th album Songs Of Experience. I hope that is true.
Robb Donker

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Diary POST- Sleep Studies, Ozark and Sea-Glass Johnny by Nic Coolidge off the Labrador Album

These next few weeks are going to be a bit crazy. I have to master 5 songs, two of which are not completed yet and am concerned I cannot make it. If the EP has to have only 4 songs on it I am content with that too (not really). I also have been having trouble sleeping and when I do sleep it is restless. Ozark, that great Netflix show will be filming right next to my house soon which will be a trip really and I am supposed to sleep at this sleep study facility so they can see why my sleep is so irratic. To be honest I would love to cancel though and do it next week.

I tend to walk around playing my guitar and writing sometimes when I cannot sleep. Not exactly sleep walking or sleep walking and playing but it seems to help calm me. Not much time or energy for the blog or the podcast so I have to hit those things hard soon. Things will be much clearer at least for a while after December 15th. "December".... just writing it feels wrong. Is it winter already? I cannot believe that this year has soared by. In many ways, personal ways it has been a harsh year.

Listining to the Labrador album by Nic Coolidge lately. What a voice. He is from Providence, Rhode Island but apparently splits his life / time between the US and Prague. He crafts intimate folk songs but to me they feel like stories told on a porch or around a fire.

I am hanging in there and hanging on. Hope you all are too.
Check in with me from time to time-

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.