Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The post hypnotic world of "Gilgamesh" by Nature's Neighbor is a stunning

Gilgamesh by Nature's Neighbor is utterly hypnotic in it's over-reaching scope. The sound, aesthetic... ? What can I say, the track orbits in a Pink Floyd-ian way, it swims and plays in seas of Radiohead, Miles Davis, Super Furry Animals, Airbag and The Alan Parson's Project. At 9 minutes long, Gilgamesh might seem like the epicenter of the "Ur" album, a vast album of alter egos of shoegaze, psychedelia, prog rock, indie rock and experimental chamber pop. 

Nature's Neighbor hails from Chicago and is more than a band but more like an art collective bringing together the talents of Seth Engel (Options), Nnamdi Ogbonnaya, Sen Morimoto and others as curated and conducted by the artistic heart and mind of Mike Walker.

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Robb Donker

Organised Scum's track "Fotograph" is a mirror for the soul or, at least, a selfie for the soul

Organised Scum's track Fotograph is a cagey pop punk affair with an air of mystery deep hooks. The bass is cool and dances about as muted guitar strains hang in the air and vocals laced with a stoic cool caveat, ‘Simon is aware my name is not the same as the photograph. Found it in the lane somewhere in the deep dark heart of the broken path’.

The London based band is Tom Duggins (vox, guitar), Sean Canty (drums) and Tom Williams (bass) and the sounds I have heard before and posted about had a harried punk edge with spurts of social commentary and while Fotograph is more subdued  (I actually thought of 80's icons like Joe Jackson and Hall and Oates) it has a pressing message. Of the track, lead singer Tom Duggins says:

"Fotograph is about the unending documentation of our own lives. The self-surveillance that we all take part in. It's also about the pure sensation of image in the world today. Because we by products online before we've seen the IRL, and people use dating apps to decide whether or not to give someone the time of day on the basis of a static photo- it's almost as if the photo precedes everything else. The constant exchange of images becomes it's own separate reality, one which seems more sanitary and risk-free than real life but you don't have to look far to see the casualties. Whether it's a rise in eating disorders or a general negative impact on people's mental health- this supposedly fun thing is fucked up in all sorts of dire ways."

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Robb Donker



Monday, March 25, 2019

"I Quit" by Porlolo is a cool indie rocker with alt folk bones and a rockabilly heart

I Quit by Porlolo is a cool country-fied indie rocker with alt folk bones and a rockabilly heart. Singer songwriter Erin Roberts wrote this song the week before quitting her job and recorded it the day after. Roberts is based out of Denver, Colorado and her musical project Porlolo was formed in 2002 with guitarist Tom Mohr. Current lineup includes Ben DeSoto on drums and Anna Morsett on bass.

Her voice has grace and grit and the guitar driven song rocks. 

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Robb Donker


Calan Mai's - "Friend Of A Friend" has an effortless endless well of love (Official Video)

Calan Mai's latest offering Friend Of A Friend with it's gospel tinged piano phrasings, clean pop groove and embracing vocal performance feels like comforting words from a friend. Touches of organ and almost rap graced vocal timing shapeshift the song again and then it feels like a full-fledged alt folk meets honky-tonk ballad. It is a lot of things effortlessly woven into one very earnest tapestry of sounds full of love. See the official video below.

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Robb Donker 


PRESS NOTES:


Hailing from Australia's Gold Coast (a small town in Queensland), Calan Mai began making music at age 13, compelled by a friend who’d recently learned to play guitar. “His house was going to be torn down and replaced with a resort, which always happens on the Gold Coast,” he remembers. “I was drawing all over his bedroom walls—those symbols from the cover of Led Zeppelin IV. We’d been listening to the album all summer. It just struck me out of nowhere. I thought, ‘We should start a band. All I gotta do is learn the guitar.’”
Calan Mai debuted with an acoustic demo of ‘We’ve Got Love’ which soon found its way onto a number of college radio stations across the U.S, as well as Triple J & BBC Introducing and Radio 6. Moving with a group of fellow musicians to spend 2 years in Manchester, the buzz from 'We've Got Love' and subsequent early releases led to opening for Band of Horses at Albert Hall, as well as performances with Will Johnson & Frances.
At first listen, Calan Mai’s music resembles carefree folk-pop—bright melodies, major chord strumming, soaring vocals delivered with warmth and ease. But on closer observation, his wry humor and full-hearted sincerity tells a deeper story. “I take great solace in laughing at myself and smiling into the past because life’s a bit easier that way. Humor is a method of letting the listener into your experience—a counterpoint they can recognize and latch onto, like a shared cigarette or a wink across the table. I just want people to see their own struggles in mine and feel a little less alone.”


Drakes Island's "Only Passing Through" carries the weight

On Drakes Island's track Only Passing Through (from the upcoming EP of the same name) guitar notes float and echo in space as mournful vocals drop the words. The open space is as important as the filled spaces and guitar leads and swells, shifting drums and potent bass lines build up the emotional weight. You get lost in it all and even feel a little drained after it is all over. 

Drakes Island are based out of Plymouth (UK) and are Fergus Tanner (vocals, guitar), Jamie Yost (lead guitar), Olly Parker (bass), and Matthew Gordon Price (drums).

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Robb Donker


Sunday, March 24, 2019

Air Quotes' orchestral commentary "Spanish Class Fantasies" longs for bygone days

Air Quotes are an orchestral rock outfit with an emphasis on orchestra. I mean their Facebook page lists the band members as Mattan Cohen, Preston Walker, Michelle Saddic, Thomas Peaslee, Mike Diggs and (drum roll) several orchestras. They are based out of Los Angeles and their latest offering Spanish Class Fantasies is as beautifully wrought as a George Gershwin song and full of adroit melodies and cleverly charming lyrics held up by embracing strings and horn sections. 

Spanish Class Fantasies is about a time when "nothing was a disappointment because everything was a possibility."
Featuring a 27 piece orchestra, recorded in a dry stage at Angel Studios, London.
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Robb Donker

"Down / Heights" by Cohenovich feels like a dream theater full of beautiful anxiety

There is something buried in the beautiful dream pop of  Down / Heights by Israeli Cohenovich. It is this tension built into the mellotron sounds full of anxiety, or hurt, or want riding on the razor sharp synth drones. Guitar lines mirror the sadness of the vocal melodies. A fever dream or a soundtrack for a life altering happening. 

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Robb Donker




"Too Late" by Distant Mountains contains dramatic mini-crescendos, evocative storytelling and a WTF moment

Too Late by Distant Mountains starts with dramatic droning synths and them begins to gallop with acoustic rhythms and a wanderlust beat as the story is told with harmonious vox. And I do mean  a story, the words are as intimate as they are vague and it makes you lean in to absorb them. The song dares to stop and start, the dynamic sweep with tender vocals and mini-crescendos is so inviting and then at the end, a WTF thing happens. All of the sudden the tempo changes and a kind of mellotron on high sound befitting of a fable which then shifts into big power chords leaves you almost dazed and confused. It is a lovely musical turn and, sadly, most songs are lacking any surprises. 

The surprising and evocative Too Late is from Distant Mountain's first full length called "Stationed Lockstep" self engineered and self produced at Light Rail Studios in San Francisco is out now (released digitally and on vinyl on March 1st of this year).

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Robb Donker




"Under The Moon" by Black Hole Bears' indie rock dances cool and jazzy


























Under the Moon by Black Hole Bears out of Denton, Texas is a smooth slow dance of a song that might have more to do with the jazz croon of a 1950's Bobby Darin than the tropical punk of a Mac DeMarco or The Buttertones but both elements of both genres are at the core of this 4 piece band. Within the homage to what has come before is a fresh approach and wonderful lyrics and great lyrics are hard to find. Black Hole Bears have been together since 2017 and recently released their self titled debut EP. Cool stuff. 

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Robb Donker






Saturday, March 23, 2019

"Please Bring Me To Safety" by Yes We Mystic - art rock on high and doppelgangers






























Please Bring Me to Safety by indie art rockers Yes We Mystic is instantly progressively drawn and drawing outside the lines. There are elements that veer into overarching dramatics (but in a good way) blending prog rock, avant garde and indie rock tones that almost spill into emo in that theater of rock sort of way. Looking at things within the artifice of theater translated in wild ways on their latest album "Ten Seated Indians" where music and art and theater blended so much so that the idea of doppelgangers arose. Curious and brilliant like the band's music itself. Delve into the notes below.

Yes We Mystic is Adam Fuhr (guitar, vocals), Keegan Steele (synthesizer, mandolin, vocals), Jodi Plenert (keyboards, cello, bass guitar, vocals), Jensen Fridfinnson (violin, synthesizer, guitar), Jordon Ottenson (drum kit, electronic drums).

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Robb Donker


PRESS NOTES:

“It’s about memory, it’s about false memory and different ways in which we can remember the same event, see the same event, distort the same event in our mind and how it can change who we are. That’s what the album is about lyrically, and how it was made sonically as well; we tried to cloud the origins of what you’re hearing in the instruments,” says vocalist and guitarist Adam Fuhr.
To help accomplish this, the band created a massive art project in tandem with the recording of the album, which includes five more band members who make up an alternate version of Yes We Mystic. They will do interviews, have their own photoshoots and they will perform; the other Yes We Mystic is, essentially, a dual face of the band.
“In music, in art, what the creator asserts is true becomes true to some extent in the context of that art. Our question is, how far can this be pushed?” explains Fuhr.
The creation of Ten Seated Figures was different for the band in more ways than one; Yes We Mystic signed to DevilDuck records in 2018, which has given them more resources to execute big plans they’ve had in the works for years. In addition, Ten Seated Figures also marks Fuhr’s debut as a producer.
In the studio, Fuhr had to learn how to produce and engineer as the band was writing the record; many moments on the album were captured as they were conceived. And though Fuhr took the helm as producer, the band flew to Montreal to have the record mixed by beloved producer/engineer Marcus Paquin, who has worked with indie-music royalty such as Arcade Fire, The National, and Hey Rosetta!.  
Ten Seated Figures is the culmination of a years-long creative burst; one that embraces the band’s designation as “art-pop transformers” but also turns things on their head; one that holds surprises for listeners and will make them question much of what they see and hear; one that has produced Yes We Mystic’s best work to date.