Sunday, January 25, 2015

Bacon Fudge's Self Titled Album On Yippee Ki Yay Records - RAW - UNPROCESSED - NON CONTAMINATED GARAGE PUNK

Bacon Fudge churn out dirty blasting punk that fully encases you. The sound feels cavernous like you are in a hot sweaty brick building moshing away. The boot stomp of Low Run with double timed chunky ass bass barrels over you. Jay Birds still flails away wildly but seems more dancy like a more punkier White Fence. The lo-fi garage rock of Freeze with it's Black Sabbath-esque prog screams embryonic punk even down to the cymbals that sound like they may of been pulled out of the trash. Falling Down is equally (sonically) rough around the edges in the very best way.  It feels like the Kinks after a 5 day drug binge.

It Turns Slow feels like a 60's rock memory put through a Ramone-ish meets the Dead Kennedys filter. Charlie leans heavily in the Brit Punk arena. The fury on Oh My Mind which pulls the DNA from too many old school punks to mention is a train running off it's track. Perched smack dab in the middle of this maelstrom is Breathe which is surprisingly whimsical and twisted. It sounds like a drug infused lost track from some imaginary album made by a time machine transported Ty Segall and The Beatles.

Bacon Fudge's garage punk feels so raw that it feels pure, non contaminated, unprocessed, uncensored and about as real as you can get. Oh, and did I mention that Ben, Thomas and Willy are French? Yeah, this is Parisian Punk folks.

Yippee Ki Yay Records out of San Antonio, Texas kind of curated tracks from the bands past EP over the last couple of years and released the self titled cassette back in June of last year. It is worth hearing and supporting.
Robb Donker

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Forth Wanderers : Debut "Tough Love" Is Easy to Fall In Love With

"Tough Love" the debut full length album from Montclair, New Jersey's Forth Wanderers is a delicious record. When you listen to a lot of new indie music like I do, it is easy to not only become jaded but also to become really hungry for some sonic fulfillment that makes your creative soul feel satiated. Ben Guteri's guitar progressions (with those great vacant style picking that rely as much on the space between the notes than the notes themselves) are so rock lush and thick while still full of great nuanced playing. The progressions contain those half step surprises too which lends itself to Ava Trilling's lovely vocal melodies and lyrics that sometimes explore the caustic or sad parts of relationships. Trilling's voice navigates the songs with a kind of sad tone underneath. Her vocal style / delivery is sometimes tinged (and sometimes drenched) in an almost monotone styled apathy which only amps up the ennui. In this way, I thought a bit of Alice Costelloe but Forth Wanderers is no Big Deal. Guteri's music filled to the brim with tasty bass bottom fills courtesy of Noah Schifrin, Duke Greene's skilled guitar work and Zach Lorelli's excellent drum take. The musicality here is really dense with every stair stepping guitar lick twisting into a double time thing or sudden break only to have the songs flirt with different time signatures. This wonderful dynamism is wonderfully rendered in the title track "Tough Love".

Trilling's sad vocal delivery and melodies that can push phrases out is the perfect contraposition for all the musical plushness. Even on a song like Sleeper that has a more mellow feel and falls way to only 2 or 3 elements at a time in spots get really dense. The guitars work beautifully off each other, one pearly and spot on and the other straining into this lovely dissonance all supporting equally wonderful vocals. Selfish takes harmonics and falling thick bass lines into this dreamy tight fisted declaration song and Trilling's vocals shine once more.

Song's like Painting of Blue and Come Clean in some indefinable way feel like they have sprung from grungey rock remnants. Dinosaur Jr and Speedy Ortiz flashed in my mind. Blondes Have More Fun chases itself. It is a very cool jammy track that gives away to an almost Cranberries-esque soar. In the track Fuck, Trilling vacillates between clear defiance in her voice to an "oh well" acceptance while the song kind of shuffles merrily along.

"Tough Love" is an easy album to fall in love with. Strong emotional songs with proggy post rock tendencies, airy melodies and dynamics galore makes for a tightly wrapped indie rock package topped off with a small nihilistic punk bow. New Jersey has always been a fertile breeding ground for diverse music and Forth Wanderers may be it's latest great spawn.
Robb Donker

Melted's "25 Years" Makes My Brain Happy- from upcoming Burger Records Release

The first time I heard Melted was last year and it was live. While I didn't say it, I remember thinking "Holy Fuck" because the happy synapses in my brain were firing like safe and sane fireworks that were MacGyver-ed into the "don't blow your fingers off" kind. Besides the pure punk sound that is instantly addictive, they put on a live show deserving of their songs that are full of jagged guitar lines and full thrust drum and bass anarchistic punk attacks in that Vandals / Circle Jerks vein tempered with the cynical (even semi humorous) vocal slap of a band like the Dickies. But comparisons thrown aside they are their own  cool thing, standing on formidable punk leather clad shoulders yes but feeling fresh and new and alive.

Burger Records in all their indie wisdom will release Melted on cassette and while I cannot wait to hear it, you and I can (at least) hear the single called "25 Years" and it begs to be replayed over and over again. Those happy synapses in my brain are screaming "Holy Fuckity Fuck" all over again!
Robb Donker

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

New Track - "Vale" by Ploy - Electronic Duo Makes a Dreamy Synth Bed

Ploy (Gil Wojcik and Justin Victoria) is an electronic duo based out of Washington DC. Their spanking brand new dreamy track Vale bathes your brain in cool blue synths but maybe the single thing that shines the most are the smooth vocals that hook you in right away. Performed with a sultry cadence that blends r and b and hip hop styles, the vibe goes down super easy and by the time the track is over you want to hear it again.
Robb Donker

Monday, January 19, 2015

New Kid on the Block "Shaky Knees" 2015 Music Fest in Atlanta- Out Bangs Coachella and Bonnaroo

There is something about being the new kid on the block. Maybe you strive just that much harder. That seems to be the case for the Shaky Knees Festival taking place this May 8th, 9th and 10th at Central Park in Atlanta, Georgia. This year the festival turns only 3 years old and the buzz on-line (and the street) is that Shaky Knees' line up has outdone both this year's Bonnaroo and Coachella. Free from the left field choices like Billy Joel at Bonnaroo and Steely Dan at Coachella, some of the buzz around the Shaky Knees has to do with the lack of EDM and or DJ infused acts that makes those who yearn for acts where "people actually play instruments" jumping for joy.

NOW one can argue line ups until they are blue in the face and one can defend Joel and the Dan as great choices (or not) so before things get heated and even if you like the Coachella or Bonnaroo line up more you must acknowledge that pound for pound, dollar for dollar that Shaky Knees wins hands down. Tickets for Coachella start in that $400 plus range, Bonnaroo is in that $300 plus range and Shaky Knees, the new kid on the festival block with a killer line up for only $200 plus.

For me, for my tastes, Shaky Knees takes the top spot no matter what the cost. The breadth and scope of the acts feel more cohesive. The acts are varied but not so varied as to cause one to scratch their head and say "what the fuck?"

Get your Shaky Knees tix here: Tix / Early Bird Tix

Robb Donker

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Christian Lee Hutson - They're All Gonna Hate Me "Official Video" - "swelling with pearly guitars and Christian's beautiful sad vocals"

Yeah, those scarily "too happy" people that float out there in the world tell you to not wallow in your sadness and who could disagree with that. I certainly don't but at those times when the universe takes a little dump on your life it is good, healthy even to feel it, express it in your art, emotionally digest it, learn from it and move on. A lot of the best art, sonic or otherwise, comes from pain. Christian Lee Hutson artfully exercises his demons like no other. His music (sometimes a sad reflection in a smudged mirror) is so artfully wrought that it pushes alll the right emotional buttons. It doesn't hurt that he has a voice sanded rough with so much character and feeling. The more I hear his music the more I want to have a beer with the guy and offer him a thankful pat on the back for his utterly cool, great songs.

They're All Gonna Hate Me from the onset is swelling with pearly guitars and Christian's beautiful sad vocals. The stair stepping guitar line sounds comfortably 1990's Radioheadesque. The percussive touches that sound like something being dragged on rocks is pretty (rustically so) as are the distant voices. Amazing production. Love the hell out of this song.

Hutson's album "Yeah, Okay I know" is available on his bandcamp page here full of equally engaging songs. Check it out and if you love it as I do, purchase it and support and love great music.


Robb Donker

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Enjoy - "Punk Planet" on Chud - If These Were Twisted TV Theme Songs I would Want to See Those Shows

As The Garden, twin brothers Wyatt and Fletcher Shears churn out a unique brand of art punk. To hear them puts a huge smile on my face and raises an eyebrow but to see them live is a totally adrenaline filled, joyous experience. As headliners I feel an anticipatory buzz deep in my veins well before they hit the stage. As part of an indie festival they are surely desert, the ultimate sugar high. Their sonic ice cream is a blend of sounds that (to me) feels rooted in late 70's early 80's proto punk. It is a collision of subversive flavors folded in on itself made up of prog, punk, art rock, industrial fusion with a funk chaser. Throw in influential artists like Material, ESG, Joy Division, Devo, The Normal and push liquefy.

Fletcher and Wyatt like the creative offspring they are have too much creativity to contain into on artistic outfit. Fletcher paints new synth sounds as PUZZLE and CHUD Records has just released Wyatt's incarnation as Enjoy on cassette. The result is a 10 track album entitled Punk Planet. It is available on pre-order at

So, you may wonder (?) what does Enjoy sound like?? As with any good music worth hearing it is not all that easy to describe and that is a great thing for people like me who like unusual sounds. Part of that Garden feel (in terms of fusing so many proto-punk sounds) is still there but Wyatt tempers the sound down with 80's pop and tropical punk sprinkles. Even though Enjoy sounds nothing like The Drums or Roxy Music or Abe Vigoda or Haircut 100  they flashed in my mind but then so did Sponge Bob Square Pants, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Fred Astaire. I guess it is because the head bopping tone can feel almost like twisted TV theme songs and if they were I would definitely want to see those shows.

On tracks like Bittersweet, Your Company and The Relaxer,  musical melodies dart, stop, slow down, rush from one point to another while Wyatt's vocals playing the affable party host. The result is a hyper sense of reality. Everything feels artfully skewed. The musicality is solid, it is proggy while playing with funk, post disco and tropical punk sounds. The Walk is cagey and funky sweet (I thought funky Talking Heads for a split second or their off shoot The Tom Tom Club). The punk funk Real Struggles playfully pushes the tempo shifts to the extreme. California & Texas flows from a new waves Drums-ish sound to a travel commercial. Punk Planet is appropriately dancy and spacey. Cool track full of wah, wahs and a super tight drum break.

Maybe the signature track,  I've Got The World In My Pocket, feels the most like The Garden if the Garden was pushed through a sitcom strainer. Even though it is hard to discern if the song's tone is true or ironic it is the ultimate punk party song and at slightly over two minutes long feels like a super charged life affirming vitamin pill.

In the end, Punk Planet hooks you in with seemingly free form fun catchy tunes that after repeated listens keep you around for the twisted atmosphere and solid musicality. Add this release to your sonic collection and you will cherish it.
Robb Donker

The Garden

Wyatt and Fletcher Shears

Friday, January 16, 2015

FIDLAR- "If It Makes You Happy" (Cheryl Crow Cover) - Might Be the Best Cover Ever Created - Pet Sounds Meets Marilyn Manson

Covers, especially of popular or iconic songs can be a tricky thing. Do it too well and you are just essentially a cover band but reinvent it and you are an artist. In the pantheon of artistic reinterpretations of popular songs, FIDLAR's take on Cheryl Crow's 1996 Smash "If It Makes You Happy" is easily one of the best covers every recorded. For one thing it starts deceptively sweet, so sweet, in fact that you wonder if this is even FIDLAR at all. I mean is that really Zach softly cooing the verses or is it Max, Brandon?? The whispy echoes and the upfront pearly guitars feel dreamy as Hell.

Of course, this is FIDLAR and Hell is the operative word as the switch is flipped on the chorus and the dream becomes heavy and caustic. Twisted, yes, but still back behind the fray there lies a dreamy underbelly of really nice tones that shift back into the sweetness. The dissonant guitar is brilliant. The result feels schizophrenic. The most pop of pop songs turns into Pet Sounds meets Marilyn Manson. Fucking brilliant Fidlar. This will go down in musical history as one of the best covers ever created.

Robb Donker

words to live by:

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Madam West - "Not Pictured" EP - A Trippy Love Affair

Home from Madam West's EP "Not Pictured" is a trippy love affair of a song. Wrapped around a ukulele and Todd Martino's wonderfully subtle dreamy keys, Mike McDearmon's drums (jammy and perfectly disjointed at times) propel the song and mirror the colors in Sophie Chernin's vocal performance like a mood ring. I have never seen Madam West perform live but I imagine that Chernin sings with her eyes closed feeling every nuanced emotion of the song she is emoting. Smoothly delivered, she moves from coos to wails in a jazzy meets soul sort of way with tinges of psychedelia that can veer into dissonance as she does in The End. Coupled with the keys that navigate into that 7th chord realm as well gives The End a funky retro feel. The downbeats and drug haze falling keys feel to me like late 70's East Coast proto-punk.

The full charge funky assault of Darlin is so damn happy. It is a pure declaration type of a song with thick keys blending jazz flavors with an indie rock heart. The soulful dour tone of October is absolutely beautiful and moving. Chernin's vocals are stripped down bare. Intimate and real. The drums and keys fall into place with full emotion and the spartan arrangement thankfully leaves space for all three performers to shine. Totally lovely track.

Madam West is based out of Brooklyn, New York and playfully describe their music as psyche-soul gaze / misanthropic pop: wistful compositions with several synths, some totally legal software, potted plants, a ukulele, a drum set and a couple of guitars. They are all that and more. I love the free form tones. The jazz and soul flavors. Lots of colors here to revel in.
Robb Donker

BØRNS “10,000 Emerald Pools” PREMIERES ON VEVO

“10,000 Emerald Pools” is featured on BØRNS’ debut EP Candy which is available now on Interscope Records. 

“The entire Candy EP is a fluffy, sharply constructed debut that turns influences by groups like Passion Pit and MGMT into a poptimistic burst of color. –, Five Artists To Watch Jan. 2015

“a genre-mashing work that simply hits all the right notes.” – Hilly Dilly

“A debut single that’s love at first listen and then some...“10,000 Emerald Pools”...soaks up the cosmic rays of a thousand suns and channels [them] into a solar-powered summer anthem for any season.” – Neon Gold

BØRNS will join MisterWives on tour next month

Feb 26 Philadelphia, PA  Union Transfer
Feb 27 Pittsburgh, PA  Club AE
Feb  28  Columbus, OH  Newport Music Hall
Mar 1   Detroit, MI  The Shelter
Mar 3   Chicago, IL  Lincoln Hall – SOLD OUT
Mar 4  Madison, WI  High Noon Saloon
Mar 6  Minneapolis, MN  Triple Rock Social Club
Mar 7  Kansas City, MO  Record Bar – SOLD OUT
Mar 9  Denver, CO  Bluebird Theater
Mar 10  Salt Lake City, UT  Kilby Court
Mar 12  San Francisco, CA  The Independent – SOLD OUT
Mar 13  West Hollywood, CA  The Troubadour –SOLD OUT
Mar 14  Santa Ana, CA  The Observatory- SOLD OUT
Mar 21 Dallas, TX  House of Blues – Cambridge Room
Mar 22  Houston, TX  Fitzgerald’s
Mar 24  Nashville, TN  The High Watt
Mar 25  Atlanta, GA  The Loft
Mar 27  Washington DC  U Street Music Hall –SOLD OUT
Mar 28 Washington DC  U Street Music Hall
Mar 31  New York, NY  Bowery Ballroom – SOLD OUT
Apr 1  Boston, MA  Paradise Rock Club 

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