Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Melbourne's Bollard - shape shifting "En Bloc" from the "Trawlers" Album

























Most songs move in straight lines but En Bloc by Melbourne, Australia's Bollard traverse maze like turns, moves in reverse and turns inside out. Jagged guitar that tightrope on dissonant lines amid proggy bass and drums while the vocal performance feels like proto punk spoken word. It is like the punk bravado of Gang Of Four with the unpredictability of Pere Ubu. En Bloc is from their recently released debut album "Trawlers" - a self described hybrid collection of post grunge meets free jazz.
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Robb Donker


Hiding Behind Sound - "One Last One" from her upcoming "Words Escape" album

The song One Last One has a lyric "so into the wound we poured the salt". It is a bittersweet song about the emotional distance that can exist between the intimacy of a relationship. There are other passages of words that feel so utterly real written by veteran New York drummer Sammi Niss amid indie rock sounds percolating on drum beats. Her moniker is Hiding Behind Sound and her debut album drop May 14th. Entitled "Words Escape" it was written and recorded before, during and after her treatment for stage IV non-Hodgkins lymphoma in the spring of 2015.
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Robb Donker

PRESS NOTES:
Hiding Behind Sound is the psychologically accurate songwriting and recording alias of the veteran New York drummer Sammi Niss, a fixture on the Hudson valley music scene and a founding member of the bands Battle Ave., American Film History, and Frankie and His Fingers. Sammi has toured and recorded with Laura Stevenson, Matt Pond PA, Pelican Movement, and many others. 

Co-produced with Kevin McMahon (Titus Andronicus, Real Estate, Widowspeak), 'Words Escape' was performed almost entirely by Sammi. The hurt cool of the songwriting and the unvarnished vocals suggest the influence of Jeff Tweedy and the Velvet Underground; the lavish guitar arrangements and tidal dynamics belong more to the tradition of Radiohead and post-rock. She just calls it “space twang.”


The People The Poet- stories of life - "Kids On The Corner"

UK's The People The Poet move minds and hearts with the stories contained in their songs. When you listen to Kids On The Corner from their latest album "A Short Obsession With Time" you feel the weight of youth in tough streets in an epic way. Like life the song feels sad, gritty but has rays of hope shining through.

The album speaks about the rebellious side of being a kid and the struggles of growing up and about how time marches on and how we all must deal with this progression.

The bands says of the album: "One day you’re counting down the new year on New Year’s Eve, then you’re counting down the months and days until you’re first child. You count on your parents, family and friends until one day some of them are gone and you find yourself counting the days and years since they left. The album comes to the conclusion that in seizing the moment each day, all will be good in the end."
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Robb Donker

PRESS NOTES:
The People The Poet (South Wales, UK) self-released their critically acclaimed debut concept album "The Narrator", inspired by real life stories sent into the band by their fans in 2013. The Narrator was produced by Todd Campbell, Gil Norton (on the tracks Sing & Molly
Drove Me Away) and Pete Miles (On the track Not For Now). Successful tours with Straight Lines and Deaf Havana followed in 2014 which also included Summer festival appearances at Latitude
Festival (handpicked by BBC Radio 1 DJ Huw Stephens), Hay Festival and Swn Festival. 2014 also saw the band get picked to become one of twelve artists to join the BBC Horizons 12 music scheme. The Narrator was nominated for the Welsh Music Prize and the year finished off with live sessions at BBC Maida Vale Studios.




The Pretty and the Chaos of "Build" by "Science for Giants"

Science For Giants is a two piece rock outfit out of Garland, Texas. The track Build from their art rock eclectic "Food For Hands" has Pink Floydian / Beatle-esque prettiness and Pere Ubu chaos all pushed through a kind of proggy jazz punk filter. Cool stuff like a complex dream that you wake up from saying wtf?
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Robb Donker

NOTE: "Food For Hands" is performed by Jacob Price, Mason Hartung and Ryan Dahir.


Sunday, April 22, 2018

FAST FIVE: Jeremy and the Harlequins, Galapaghost, Electrockrat, Darth Nater, Sheeps

New York rockers Jeremy and the Harlequins latest single California Rock bristles with retro rock tones paying homage to Chuck Berry, Little Richard and early Beach Boys. Jeremy Fury says "The song is about my favorite time capsule, Los Angeles. Contrary to New York where a bank or cupcake shop will have replaced a mom and pop shop by the time you finish listening to this track, one thing I've come to love about LA is its Groundhog's Day-like permanence. Prior to moving to New York, I lived in Echo Park and then Downtown LA for almost three years. This tune is reflective tale.” 





Galapaghost is the solo project of Casey Chandler from Woodstock, New York and the track The American Dream (One Nightmare at a Time) speaks about becoming disillusioned with America after having lived abroad in Europe for two years. The track is off his latest album entitled "Pulse" which was recorded, mixed totally self produced with a friend of his in Italy last summer in just 15 days. Remarkable.




Blacktop Queen - first single "Desert" from upcoming EP

Los Angeles indie rock outfit Blacktop Queen is drummer Nate Lotz (Halsey and Ryan Adams) and vocalist Evan Ambrose.  A fixture in the local LA scene and selling out iconic venues the pair set off to produce an EP. The track Desert is their first new single from the ashes of the creative process.

"We basically recorded an entire EP, and made a trip to Joshua Tree with hopes of finishing it," says drummer Nate Lotz. "It was during that trip that we realized we hadn't made the music that was a true representation of us. We scrapped the entire EP and wrote a song about losing your soul. Blacktop Queen found its soul in the DESERT."
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Robb Donker

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Blaire's shoe gazey sounds pushed through punk filters on "Smiling"

From Australia's Gold Coast, Blaire creates shoe gazey sounds pushed through a punk filter. The track Smiling is overflowing with the exuberance and folly of youth when you hold hands and jump off cliffs together not know if the waters below hold danger or not.

"'Smiling is about being really into something, when you know deep down it's probably killing you," says Blaire's lead guitarist and vocalist, Ben Stagg.
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Robb Donker

Yvette Nacer- "Who We Were Before" pristine through a sad haziness

Yvette Nacer's Who We Were Before with it's pure sound feels like pristine 60's pop. The musical and emotional cues are subtle and real. Nothing is overplayed or over dramatic but instead just simply beautiful filtered through a sad haziness. Penned by Yvette and Gustavo Galindo.

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Robb Donker

PRESS NOTES: 

Cuban-American artist Yvette Nacer has been immersed in a musically diverse world that established her early on as a rare kind of singer/musician that is comfortable in a multitude of genres. Armed with a versatile voice, a unique lyrical perspective, and a raw, unfettered talent that weaves itself effortlessly into her, songs, Yvette Nacer has performed alongside some of the industry's biggest names including Jason Mraz, Ne-Yo, Weclef Jean, Gloria Estefan, Engelbert Humperdink, All-4-One and Justin Bieber among others.
Although her songs have been heard on a variety of films and TV shows, Siruis XM and various features, Yvette Nacer's talent is not just limited to music. The multifaceted artist is also an award winning actress, having landed such coveted roles as Cha Cha in Fox's star-studded cast of Grease: LiveVanessa in the 1st National Broadway tour of In The Heights, and Kiki in the beloved Emmy Award-Winning TV series The Fresh Beat Band, to name a few.


Sleepy Gaucho and the runaway "Sleepless" from the album "Another Time"

Experimental folk rock out of Madison, Wisconsin. Now that doesn't sound weird to me at all. Wherever it emanates from Sleepy Gaucho, the moniker / project of singer songwriter Andy Goitia speaks to me. The track Sleepless (from his album "Another Time") bristles with a sound that feels a bit like late 70's Laurel Canyon garden / psyche rock. The organ drone and what sounds like a jamming Fender Rhodes and walking bass providing the runaway bottomless groove that speaks of late nights in cool, maybe decadent bars and night spots in equally cool and decadent cities.
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Robb Donker

Numb.er - track "A Memory Stained" from the "Goodbye" album

Numb.er is the band / project of L.A. photog and visual artist Jeff Fribourg. When I first listened to the track A Memory Stained there is a thick synth and bass prog that made me think of the Cars but Numb.er veers darker. Plush droning synths and high on the neck bass notes dropping dangerously low with filtered vocals make me feel a homage to 80's synth rock stalwarts like Gary Numan, Cabaret Voltaire, and Killing Joke all blended together (whether it is there or not).  Influences aside, it is evocative stuff that creates a dark brooding aesthetic. Love this stuff. The new album "Goodbye" drops on May 25th. Cool.
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Robb Donker

PRESS NOTES:

Fribourg developed his love affair with synthesizers -- and his open-minded approach to music -- as a founding member of LA psych-kraut favorites Froth. However, it was only with the creation of Numb.er that he was able to fully explore his eclectic musical inclinations. Combining elements of punk, shoegaze and post-punk, the project never commits to a singular worldview, allowing Fribourg’s vision to go anywhere without sounding ironic or forced.

With the release of Goodbye, Numb.er offers a genre-defying sonic document that finds them maximizing the creative potential of the studio while always remaining true to their dynamic and arresting live sound. Mixed and mastered by Mikey Young of Total Control, Numb.er takes a carefully orchestrated approach to chaos and adds Fribourg’s own subtle knack for memorable hooks and soft, melodic passages.

Family And Friends- Jubilant Sound- "Peaches"


























Peaches by Family and Friends is full of dense sounds and all inclusive emotions dripping from every sonic element. The sound on this track is jammy and big riding on tom toms, pearly potent guitar lines and rushed waves of vocals. The aesthetic is part indie rock and part alt folk. I can feel intentional or unintentional bows to bands like Of Monsters and Men but also a nod to bands like Japandroids in the sense that this band has a furious passion. Hmmm, maybe Japandroids as a Gospel band (I'm kidding).
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Robb Donker

PRESS NOTES: 


Hailing from the musical mecca of Athens, Georgia and built on the idea that the sum is greater than the individual parts, Family And Friends has steadily gained a loyal following with their spirited live performances and “good music, good people” mantra since releasing their 2015 EP XOXO. Their new highly anticipated album Felix Culpa, produced by Chicago-turned- L.A. auteur Brad Wood and due out June 8th, is nothing less than an epic coming-of-age tale with a massive sound that amplifies their former indie-folk roots onto a technicolor, Cinemascope screen.
The forthcoming album title, which loosely translates to “blessed mistake," illustrates the notion that while we may continue to search for some semblance of meaning, the fact that we are here at all deserves to be celebrated, and Family And Friends intends to do just that. Felix Culpa focuses on a precipice of life’s journey, as we begin the quest for existential meaning and come to terms with the fact that people, relationships, and seemingly universal truths are more complicated than we perhaps realize. 


Out of Dublin- Motions' "Waiting To Tell You"

Waiting to Tell You by Motions has chill spartan moments but big lush sounds with walls of transient guitars too (love the guitar sound). I am feeling a post rock late 80's new romantic / new wave dance things happening too. Out of Dublin and formed by Tom Daly and Dave Nulty, Motions has recently released their debut EP "The Late Night Calls".
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Robb Donker

PRESS NOTES:
Following a string of singles from their debut “Back To Where I Begun” to “All I’ve Ever Known,” which earned global airplay in the U.S, Ireland, Germany & Australia, the band have recently released their debut EP 'Late Night Calls'. “The Late Night Calls EP” was produced and mixed by Philip Magee. They headline the Workmans Club on Friday April 27th.


Neon Cactus- "Beauty and Self Destruction" from "Beneath the Noise"

Neon Cactus is the alter ego / project of singer songwriter / multi-instrumentalist Tom Bruss. When I listen to the track Beauty and Self Destruction from his soon to be released "Beneath the Noise" album with it's syncopated guitar rhythms and pop drenched chorus filtered through funk undertones I thought of new wavish pop 80's sounds of bands like Simple Minds and later Tears For Fears.

Bruss wrote and recorded the debut album over a two year span in Bristol.
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Robb Donker

Portolo - "I Don't Want To Lose You" from the "Awards" EP dropping April 27

Portolo is the alter ego / project of Erin Roberts.  Her track "I Don't Want To Lose You" feels like an inviting piece of apple pie in a cool diner in the wooded North West.  She has wanderlust in her heart canvassing the areas of Denver, Gunnison, Eugene and Fort Collins drawing inspiration from her locales and those she meets along the way.
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Robb Donker


PRESS NOTES:

Porlolo releases Awards EP on April 27, produced and engineered by James Barone (Beach House). Players include Tom Mohr, Anna Morsett (The Still Tide, Brent Cowles), Jake Miller (Esmé Patterson, The Still Tide, Brent Cowles), James Barone (Beach House), and Pat Meese (Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats).


Rainbrother's "Rio Rita" will transport you




















Rio Rita by Denmark based Rainbrother has such a lush sound hinged on a vocal performance embracing a harmony done in such a way that the two voices feel like one wrapped up by dreamy sounds and potent yet totally trippy lead guitar work. Love this track.
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Robb Donker

PRESS NOTES:

After an eventful 2017 Denmark-based Rainbrother is ready with new material made in cooperation with Danger Mouse’s right hand Kennie Takahashi. Following a sold out Denmark tour with Nelson Can a new single ’Rio Rita’ is now released.

Last year Rainbrother released the critically acclaimed debut album Tales From the Drought which gave the group a lot of Danish radio airplay and a ticket to SXSW Festival, SPOT Festival, English festivals like Wilderness and Bestival along with frequent touring in their native Denmark and the UK. The five rainbrothers also found time to drive their equipment out to an old farmhouse in the Danish countryside where they isolated themselves for two weeks and recorded a number of frontman Bjarke Bendtsen’s new songs.

The group now releases ’Rio Rita’ from last summer's session, a dark slow-grooving song that takes the listener down a quiet but unpredictable river. Or as lead-singer Bjarke puts it: "It is the kind of song you would like to dissappear in, when your heart is too full of love to understand anything and you just want to lie down on a foggy river bank and watch the leaves grow backwards." Just like the other songs from last summer’s session ‘Rio Rita‘ has been through the mixing console of L.A. producer Kennie Takahashi who has worked with the likes of Beck, Black Keys and Danger Mouse.


Power Outage does not deter the First Ever- American Pancake Song Analysis of "Vessels" by And Then We Lived Forever






















Often times I can be found at my kitchen table with ear buds on and a big smile on my face as I let a particularly creative piece of music wrap around my brain and flow down to my heart. At these moments I want to share the feeling and sometimes there might not be like minded people around. Art, after all is such a personal thing. Tastes vary and while one person might find something so damn delicious it may give someone else what tantamounts to food poisoning. So I thought I might try my hand as posting a song analysis of a song I recently covered on American Pancake.  I don't consider this type of thing really a straight song review and in order for it to work it is important for me to do something that I usually don't like to do.  It is dependent on me talking over a song.

This very first attempt was a bit hampered by my less than smooth delivery (Anthony Fantano I am not) and a power outage. I hope you find it interesting and I hope you follow the links to the song and an amazing artist. If you want to hear more of these, let me know and if you want to spread the word I would so appreciate if you share the video.

Cheers
Robb Donker


Friday, April 20, 2018

Elliah Heifetz - "You Shall Be A Blessing" full of tears and truth


























When I listen to Elliah Heifetz's tender (yet heart wrenching) You Shall Be A Blessing it feels particular relevant to me right now at this moment. It feels to me to be about letting someone go but hoping they keep in touch even in small ways and letting them know that if they need help or love or anything that they can come back at any time. In the next several weeks I will probably come back to this song many times and the last guitar strum will end with me looking in the distance with watery eyes.
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Robb Donker

PRESS NOTES: 

Following up the grassroots success of debut single "Simona" (20k+ streams in its first month), Elliah Heifetz offers the plainspoken yet poetic "You Shall Be a Blessing." Calloused and acoustic, Heifetz shines light on a rarely-covered moment in break up song—coming to terms with it all. The title comes from the Old Testament, when God tells Abraham to uproot his family and leave his old world behind, assuring him: "You shall be a blessing." Recorded at the Silent Barn shortly before closing.

 Elliah Heifetz​ ​is a first-generation American folk rock singer with a story to tell.​ Born to Soviet refugees living on food stamps, Heifetz learned to channel his experiences through poetry and music, studying literature at Yale. He soon began writing music for New York stages and major label pop projects, winning international awards and working with Hollywood and Broadway talent. Now, with the upcoming release of the ​Heaven On My Mind​ EP, he's finally singing for himself—writing music that only a Jewish child of immigrants with a weather-worn voice and a mysterious passion for folk music could sing. Because what's more American than that?


The Funky Delicious Power of Young Jack- "Move"

When I first heard / felt the funky-delicious groove of Move by UK's Young Jack I silently prayed that Taylor Swift would never do a version of it.... never ever.  Move is on fire from the very beginning. A sonic eruption of bass, guitar, horns.... yes bloody horns and Luke Bowe's commanding vocals. My only complaint is that the track ends much too soon. I wanted more horns and jams.
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Robb Donker


PRESS NOTES: Born out of a collective of musicians & creatives from Kingston-Upon-Hull, UK.
Young Jack are Luke Bowe (lead vocals/guitar), Danny Higgins (guitar/vocals), Ben Morrod (Bass) & Jack Allbones (Drums) along with The Horny Brass (aka Paolo Nutini’s Horns of Thunder). Born of Irish & America roots, Luke & Danny grew up together making music in Danny’s room, with a huge canvas of Bob Marley looking over them & getting inspired by a wide range of artists from Funkadelic & The Brothers Johnson to Carole King & Kraftwork. At 14 they bought fake IDs & soon found themselves getting down to Prince in the mosh-pit when he played Leeds. Enter Warren Records’ Stew Baxter (also the drummer in Life) & things start to take shape with Young Jack rehearsing at the back of legendary Hull venue The Adelphi. Meanwhile, local graffiti pioneer Pinkie, who back in the day was interviewed by indie soothsayer John Peel no less, was creating Young Jack’s visual representation with his vibrant imagery.


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Skin Mag - coastal breezes and shedding creative skin in the shed - hear "Tonight Show"


























Long Beach, California has produced a lot of great bands and Skin Mag is no exception. Rumor has it that this 5 piece band write and record all their music in a shed. Hey, it could be a luxury shed but I don't know any of the intimate details. The band formed in 2016 by singer / guitarist Shane Barton, bassist Davis Stewart, multi instrumentalists Noah Kurtz and Jack Nugent and drummer Devin Stewart. The track Tonight Show, a dreamy indie pop song with fluid lines of sound with cool downbeats. The dynamism feels blended and tightly compressed. There is a sweet wow factor and an intoxicated high to the sound. Maybe it is the coastal breeze that induces this transient vibe when they are not in the shed.
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Robb Donker


Take a jammy vacation on "This Way" by Water Slice

This Way by Water Slice (Patrick Phillips formerly of Brainstorm) is a jammy psyche pop tune with deep grooves. Phillips writes these tropical dream songs in Los Angeles and I don't know if they serve as visionary vacations of the mind or just fortify the chill coolness that still exists in So Cal.
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Robb Donker

Recorded at Frog Sound by Chris Lynch and Adam Rasmussen
Mixed by Ingmar Carlson
Mastered by Dale Becker
Patrick Phillips - Guitar, Bass, Keys, Vocals
Teddy Briggs - Drums, Vocals
Chris Lynch - Vocals
Adam Rasmussen - Keys
Dusty Ineman - Congas
Music and Lyrics by Patrick Phillips





Darwin Champagne and Brady Miller and "Slow Motion" from the "Lover Boy" EP

























Darwin Champagne and Brady Miller share Slow Motion the lead single off their new EP "Lover Boy".  The alternative track blends post rock, funk, synth pop into a lush sultry mix. The vocals feel inward, self aware and a bit sad. I love the aesthetic and the surprising lead guitar work.

Of the track Darwin says:

Written and recorded at Red Light Studios, Brady and I had known each other vaguely in passing through mutual friends. When we found out we both made music, we went into the studio together, ordered a pizza, and made something different than we ever had before.

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Robb Donker

A Scene From Jaws - "You" is darkly sweet post punk with proto punk tones

From Ireland, the band A Scene from JAWS (don't you love this name?) kind of coalesced in the vibrant Cork city music scene. The track You made me think of the quirky new wave coolness of Boston, Mass's Human Sexual Response (circa early 80's). There is something about ASFJ's sound that possesses the same slighly cynical, dark but smart proto punk / art punk aesthetic.

PRESS NOTES: Formed while frontman and songwriter Declan Hyland was in film school, his background in cinema brings a tight narrative structure to his songwriting. His songs harness the power of ten-year collaborator Shane Whelan, whose EDM basslines give the music direction ad energy. Hyland enlisted the help of his partner, Kay Finan, whose improvisational synth sound adds a distinctly moody atmosphere. Their shows mix the giddy haze of a dance club with the fast pace and dark humour of a midnight horror film. The album pending release features jazz drummer Ian Murphy, and their upcoming tour lineup includes funk guitarist Stephen Springall and Math-Rock drummer Eoin Hayes.
Their upcoming album features a number of pop songs alongside some moody deeper cuts, recorded at WhiteWell Studios with producer Ciaran O’Shea in Cork and in the legendary Funkhaus in Berlin.

the resolute but sad sound of Heartblanch: "Alive" from the "Day One" EP

Heartblanch hail from the Ukraine and their track Alive off of their "Day One" EP rides on it's downbeat, active bass beat and forlorn lead lines. The vocal performance pushed through far away filters feels resolute but sad. This aesthetic serves the band well in tracks like Skies of Ash and Keep Your Hope.
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Robb Donker

Monday, April 16, 2018

Hear the cinematic "Pelagius" by London's Chernobyl Sunshine Club

























Chernobyl Sunshine Club are a 5 piece alt folk/indie outfit out of London and their second single Pelagius feels like a vast spaghetti western with tribal drums and kind of surf punk guitar strains. The cinematic comparison is so appropriate because as the song builds on itself you start to see images in your mind carried by dreamy sad melodies.
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Robb Donker


Sunday, April 15, 2018

Mild Wild- the track Chain-Link Fence and the legend that is the Tascam Portastudio

Mild Wild. Not much to say about as there is not much info on this artist except that he records on a Tascam Portastudio. This fact makes my heart swell at least a little bit because what musician has not dabbled with this machine in their creative trajectory and, in fact, even musicians coming up now are discovering this Tascam machine and ping ponging. Sometimes it is good to step back.

This track is called Chain-Link Fence with washed out sounds, reverse elements and almost every element run though a reverb pedal.

check it out--

Robb Donker



Sabiyha single "Five Months" from her "Hollow Bones" EP

London based singer-songwriter Sabiyha's latest single Five Months is at once beautiful but filled with tension and pain between every evocative vocal phrasing. It is this ability to translate hurt and hope in the same lyric and her unique vocal styling that seizes you by the throat and punches you in the gut at the same time.  Sabiyha's aesthetic is not for the faint of heart because you will be moved and possibly transported to past pains in your own life but, wow, her sounds and the emotions they hold are something to behold. Her EP, "Hollow Bones" drops April 20th.
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Robb Donker

PRESS NOTES:

‘Five Months’ was written just after the end of a long relationship, where Sabiyha felt she’d begun to change ‘aspects of myself and held myself back to fit into his world.’ Having been told that he’d been thinking about ending the relationship for the past five months, this sentiment stuck with Sabiyha and she channelled all her frustration into songwriting. The track is powerfully relatable as Sabiyha sings of bending over backwards to save her fleeting relationship through effortless lyrical poetry, ‘just perspiration from trying too hard’. Juxtaposing fragility with great courage, producer Andrew David James expertly mirrors the concluding chapter of this story as hopeful brass melodies swim beneath Sabiyha’s vocal, just as it’s on the edge of breaking. The writing on ‘Five Months’ is as bare as it comes, but with an underlying sense of personal growth and coming to terms with her feelings, Sabiyha’s music is always so much more than just the sum of its parts.


Aussie dream punk by SCK CHX- hear "Monday" from the EP "Downward Dog"

From Sydney Australia - dreamy punk called Monday by 3 piece SCK CHX from the debut 8 track EP "Downward Dog".


FAST Five: Khaylan, Ali George, That Gum You Like, Jack R. Reilly, Moon Loves Honey


























UK: Khaylan's track Dancer feels rock operatic. Featuring art rock touches and dramatic flair Khaylan's rock vocal chops are formidable with two parts grit and one part elegance.





Ali George recorded Times Of Hunger simply on a Zoom H2N but the spartan song and it's simple earnest emotion shines though. George's vocal performance goes down so easy and feels like an embrace. This Uk artist in some ways reminds me of old school Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam) and that is a great thing. Times of Hunger is from Ali George's latest album "The Old Innocence",
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Robb Donker




That Gum You Like from Brazil- make dreamy shoe gazey sounds bathed in electronica. Hear Biography- 





Jack R. Reilly resides in Australia and his track A Set Of Reasons is an upfront rock ballad that builds slowly at first and erupts into a rock choir of sorts with cinematic flare. At least that is what it feels like to me.
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Robb Donker



Official Video for Glass Mountain's "Ghosts"





















Glass Mountain hubbed out of Bradford, UK has got a big dreamy sound that rides on driving bass beats, sustained guitars and a cool postured vocal performance. See the video for Ghosts from the 'Wow & Flutter' EP - out now and available on deluxe 12" Translucent Red vinyl / CD / art print bundle - http://www.glassmountainband.com. The video looks amazing shot entirely on Super 8 cine film by Ady Cousins in Lister Park in Bradford. Film processed, edited and graded by Ady Cousins.
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Robb Donker



Somehow- Official Video for "While The Days Go By"

I wrote about Somehow, an indie pop outfit out of Paris centered around DIY multi-instrumentalist Erwan Pépiot  (vocals, guitar, bass, drums, keyboard) and Aurélie Tremblay (vocals, cello) back in February

Check out the official video for While The Days Go By released last year. The song moves along like a hundred memories on percolating bass and beat, with dancing synths while Erwan's vox hold the  emotional sway close with Aurélie's harmonies . Yes, I am now still discovering more about this artist.
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Robb Donker


Saturday, April 14, 2018

Figurehead just graduated high school and just released their second EP- hear "Ear To Lend"

From Fremantle, Western Australia the guys in the band Figurehead (Matt, Josh, Chet and Ross) just graduated from high school and just released their second EP entitled "All Worthwhile" (Spotify Link).

The track Ear To Lend feels like post punk indie rock 90's-ish fare but fresh and so good. I thought of bands like Dinosaur Jr (lite) and even Miracle Mile.
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Robb

Sims Volour : wake up and be a "Rebel"

Sims Volour is a guitarist, songwriter and graphic artist out of Belle Glade, Florida and his song Rebel spoke to me. There are not a lot of rebels that you meet in your day to day existence and I am not talking about those revolutionary movements that change the world and shift societies. I am just talking about those rebels in everyday life who challenge the status quo at work or in the creative endeavors they swim in whether it is music or film or whatever.

I love rebels and maybe, truth be told, want to be more of one so, yeah that is why this song spoke to me. Rebel with it's jazz infused sounds is inviting but also carries some deep lines amid the sweet guitar work:

 "you know I jam with the Buddha and I groove with the savior... and Mo said life is a dream and death is the wake up so wake up and be a rebel, rebel, rebel today... a revolutionary I say... I say....

And:

"we're just well behaved monkeys in a one horse town... always getting high to just to keep from coming down... "

Hell yes, wake the fuck up and be a rebel.
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Robb Donker




Rivvrs "Let It Die" homespun rock

The track Let It Die feels like homespun blues rock rattling some barn wood floors in an old Church porch off the beaten path in rural Georgia or Tennessee or Alabama. Rivvrs is the moniker for Brandon Zahursky out of San Fran and his songs have appeared in a slew of projects, in films, TV shows and commercials such as About A Boy, Bates Motel, When We First Met, Reebok ads and much more.

As Rivvrs his sound feels organic, deeply emotional but there is also something comfortable about it like mac and cheese. It is distinctly Americana rock filtered through indie folk and blues tones. Zahursky as singer songwriter drives the songs with his stories but it is his gritty yet smooth vocal performance that fuels it all.
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Robb Donker



Friday, April 13, 2018

"Soul Sigh" by New Jersey's Simple Man has 1 stark problem

Soul Sigh by New Jersey's Simple Man has one stark problem. The track is simply too short. The song starts with a beat and strummed chords moving into a chill yet evocative prose thrown down by frontman singer songwriter rapper Yaakov Kafka until it expands into this vast and beautiful groovy vibe. The refrain "sould sigh so high" sinks in like a mantra and then the guitar work by Eli Weiss is just cool and divine. I love the effect on the guitar.  There are other sounds shifting around provided by bassist Clayton McIntyre, acoustic guitarist Tamir Tusia and drummer Pat Mooney. The track ultimately feels like a blend of hip-hop and indie rock pushed through some jazzy and proggy filters. It floats you away but ends too short making you fall back down to earth. Cool stuff. I need to listen to this again for the 5th time in a row.
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Robb Donker


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Thursday, April 12, 2018

"Shimmer Me Pink" by Boyish Charm

The track Shimmer Me Pink by Boyish Charm should only be played on a basketball court during a high school dance while a disco ball casts a million shards of light flickering across two star crossed lovers embraced in a slow dance.

Well a guy can dream can't he?

From New Orleans, Louisiana: Ryan and Alex craft 80's like synth pop and it is lush and so so good.

From the "Reaching For Love" EP.
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Robb Donker



The Head- garden rocker "Don't Know Why"

Listen to Don't Know Why by Atlanta rockers The Head and you will be lulled into garden rock tones while pulled into the embrace of  bassist Mike Shaw's introspective tender vocal performance. Rounding out the band are Jacob Morrel on Guitar and Jack Shaw on drums.

The Head will touring the Southeast and opening up for The Brian Jonestown Massacre on 3 dates. See Below:



April 27: Hardywood Park Craft Brewery in Richmond, VA
May 2: The Orpheum in Tampa, Florida with The Brian Jonestown Massacre
May 3: The Social in Orlando, Florida with The Brian Jonestown Massacre
May 5: Cannery Ballroom, Nashville, Tenn with The Brian Jonestown Massacre


Learn more here http://www.theheadmusic.com/

There is something amiss in Pageant Dove's neighborhood in "Still Water"

Pageant Dove out of Stamford, Connecticut makes music, writes songs with artistic grooves that fit together albeit sometimes uneasily just like the two words that comprise her musical moniker. I don't mean that her sound is disjointed, quite the contrary her songs have an elegance to them but buried deep in between her wide eyed vocal delivery and pointed prose there are layers and layers of emotions. In between mischievous twists of sounds there is something that feels like deeply dark commentary.

The track Still Water sparkles instantly with pretty orchestration turned inside out with evocative. provocative lyrics that let you know that something is seriously amiss, askew in this story. The result is some relationship shot through a fun house mirror.
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Robb Donker


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Luke De-Sciscio's - Stop Motion Short Film to "The Sky Exhaled" is whimsical and mildly mad

UK folk singer - songwriter Luke De-Sciscio's just released his latest labor of love, a stop animation short film set to The Sky Exhaled and (slowly transitioning to) Vivid Love from his beautifully moving 2016 album Gossamer Rose.

De-Sciscio possesses a keen hand crafting detailed whimsical drawings that move in imaginative ways. The jumpy cut and pasted style only adds to the charm. Luke explains the process and mild madness of this creative craving: 

So on the first day of this year I decided it was time to try pushing myself in a new direction. Acting, somewhat naively, on a dream - I set myself a month aside to visually bring to life a track of mine in the form of a stop motion animation.

I would hand draw each scene and then, with my shitty old phone taped up to a tripod, incrementally move each aspect, or ...draw another bird further into its flight - or ...well whatever really. Much back ache. Much ''just 10 more's.''

With no experience to speak of, this was very much a learning on the go type situation, a month of long days melted away, the deadline jumped to ''End of February'' then ''End of March'' - then the inevitable despair that sort of rears it's ugly head when you start questioning if it wouldn't just be easier to cut your losses and give up... these intense 3 months we're a microcosm of any creative journey. But then the end was in sight.




Oranj Son - synth-post punk trio and "Radio Wires"

On the track Radio Wires by Ellesmere Port synth-post punk trio Oranj Son you feel the musical D.N.A of late 70's early 80's bands like Joy Division, New Order and The Jesus and Mary Chain so much so that you could imagine these boys playing at Eric's Club in Liverpool.
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Robb Donker

"Windshield" by New Orleans' Montague - a dense storm of a song

Windshield - by New Orleans' Montague has classic rock bones. The basic prog drives the song like a mantra. It is the haunting keys, drums that seem to flood in over themselves, ambient synth sounds, lead guitar and James Rivard's vocal performance that transform those bare bones into a dense storm of a song.

Montague is: James Rivard (vocals, guitar, keys), Kelly Courville (guitar), Kevin Francis (bass), Ethan Kramer (drums). Their debut album "Blood Orange" is out now.
https://www.montague.band/



Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Lindsay Kay's "Invited" is a crystal clear affirmation

Invited by Lindsay Kay is the perfect lullaby to be played for little wee beautiful babies. It is after all an ode to the love and respect of our bodies and minds and personal space. It can, may, will inspire conversations and debates although it really shouldn't as it is simply a crystal clear affirmation set to beautiful music and melody.
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Robb Donker

PRESS NOTES:  
Lindsay Kay releases the first single from her new project "For The Feminine By The Feminine"- it's called "Invited" and it's about consent in all its forms. The Feminine project is for all those folks who identify as feminine, or who want to be in touch with their feminine sensibilities. All the lyrics, production, mixing/mastering, artwork and marketing team identify as feminine and Lindsay plans to keep it that way.

Originally from Canada, Lindsay is a graduate of Berklee College of Music where she studied Jazz Composition and Performance - and while jazz is an important part of her life - she's been drawn to the folk side of things. Her love of folk has taken her to Europe where she traveled among the European capitals for artist residencies. She's painted, taught music and began to create this project.


Eastward and the multi dimensional "Z-A" from the "Dream Of Hawaii" album

The track Z-A from Australia's Eastward's debut album "Dream Of Hawaii" rolls trippily along with what sounds like bending tape rolls of sound on top of acoustic guitar and askew synths amid an organic beat. The result feels earthbound yet another dimension creeping in all at the same time. Dreamy and groovy as in nice groove too. When you think it is going to chill it gets space funky. So cool.
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Robb Donker







Monday, April 9, 2018

Inside One Bloggers Head. Submissions - What do I Look For and Why Do I Reject Songs


















Over the last two months American Pancake has published posts about 225 individual songs by 223 individual artists or bands. During this same time 509 songs were rejected. Any time a song is formally rejected a reason is stated and it is always done in a way to try to impart some kind of constructive criticism. It probably goes without saying that a fair amount of the material that was rejected may find a home on another blog although I would like to think that AP probably has a lower rejection rate than most not because we are less opinionated than other blogs but because I truly believe that many other blogs filter through songs and bands and reject them for other reasons than what their material sounds like. I don't know this to be true but I get the sense that certain blogs also filter out artists or bands who may not perform live or who may not have over 50 likes on their Facebook page. If this is the case they, of course, have the right to do so. I, in fact, prefer artists who perform live but don't hold it against them if they do not. Understand that if a blog's sole purpose is to increase ad revenue then it doesn't increase their chances to do so by covering little known artists who don't but those figurative butts in their seats.

As someone who reviews music on an almost daily basis I thought it might be interesting or helpful to give my general reasons why I write about a song or band and why I may reject them. Also, do blogs (in the end) make a difference?

SMOKE AND MIRRORS

I don't think there has ever been a time in history when more people are marketing themselves as musicians, singers and songwriters as well as writers who write about them. There is certainly no definable line in the sand really, no certification. It is the day of be who you want to be and label yourself as such. Because of this ability to self publish there is an inordinate amount of content. There are no gatekeepers when it comes to recorded music / materials. Even a small blog like American Pancake receives a tangible amount of submissions and not only from artists who no one has heard of but from artists on labels and on the rise. Sometimes it feels like lesser known bands are literally begging to be heard.

In my humble opinion blogs of all sizes do serve a purpose. Now, I always argue that blogs are also basically unnecessary too.  I mean in previous decades when the Rolling Stone Magazines of the world ruled the day there was a true need for music writers to educate us about bands on the rise and more importantly to use their words to describe them and their music. Nowadays, anyone can hear any artist they want and make up their own mind as to what they like and who they want to support. I also feel that bands don't need blog support as much as they think they do. I like to tell artists that they need to focus more on their craft and playing live as much as possible so they can build that following. Once they do that, blogs and people of all sorts will find them. I also talk to bands that spend more time courting blogs than labels. That is fine if you do not want to be part of a label but if you do then go directly to the source. A label may care if you have a following but they will likely not care so much if this or that blog gave your album a positive review unless it is a major blog like the Pitchforks of the world. They will care less if American Pancake loves that album.

One thing about blogs, smaller blogs like American Pancake. I believe that AP does disseminate good information on the songs we cover and that a whole lot of people find out about new and exciting and really talented artists via our coverage. I am proud of that fact but I think the more important function AP and blogs our size serve is to support art and artists period. I feel that the articles we publish do more to prop up the artist than anything else and I think that is wildly important. A band that shall remain nameless wrote me and told me point blank that if it weren't for our positive review they would of thrown in the towel. If all we do is to pat an artist on their back and encourage them that what they do means something then that in and of itself is so important.

WHY DOES A BLOG'S "Bent" MATTER?

Oftentimes as I am rejecting a song for review or publication and feeling really shitty about it I remember why it is so important that I stick to my artistic guns. As a curator of music it is important to me for the music I pick to overall have a certain aesthetic. My taste is all I have as an editor and in the event that I become involved with advising shows or festivals or national outlets on artists I want my bent to be a known commodity that people and other business interests can count on.

The Element Of Surprise or What Makes For a Great Submission.

The subheading gives it away. When it comes to submissions the most important single element is to surprise me. Having a unique song or sound seems obvious but you wouldn't believe how many songs and artists sound the same and how many productions sound the same. You must understand that the deck is stacked against you. Instead of your average guy on the street judging your songs you as artists are sending your songs to bloggers who listen to a crazy amount of music and as such are hearing hundreds of songs weekly with similar progressions, the same breaks, sometimes the same rhymes and similar themes. In this sea of sameness all bloggers are really looking for is something different, for some surprising turn or twist or original lyrical take. Another element that makes all the difference in the world is a lead singer with an expressive style, one who feels the emotional tone of the song and conveys it. And first and foremost I will always gravitate towards a singer with character over vocal chops. 

The Biggest Reason I Reject a Submission. 

As already stated I (and I assume all bloggers) look for truly original material, that goes without saying but what really draws a quick swift rejection are bands that sound so very close to well established artists. Below is a list of the most copied bands that I encounter.

1. Arctic Monkey's

2. Of Monsters and Men (I don't want to hear people exuberantly yell "Hey" anymore please)

3. Young the Giant

4. Panic At The Disco

5. Bon Iver

6. Fall Out Boy (and Blink 182)

7. Queens Of The Stone Age

8. The Black Keys / Jack White / Hanni El Khatib

Now, don't get me wrong. Every artist will sometimes wear their inspirations on their sleeve and you can certainly feel the ghosts of Sonic Youth and David Bowie and Talking Heads and Radiohead and The Pixies and such or more contemporary nods to Lorde or Lana Del Rey or Ty Segall or whomever but when you inadvertently take the same progressions or melodies or god forbid poach singing styles then that has to be respectfully called out. Within a lack of originality comes other indicators like lyrics so typical that you can finish every other line having never heard the song. Sterile singing is another problem for me. That kind of singing that is spot on key but lacks little or no emotional grit or tug. That kind of singing that sounds like mediocre Broadway. A bad drummer is another indicator. When a drummer is hitting sticks together and not holding any groove it can literally kill a song.

I hope this look into what makes me smile or frown when I listen to submissions has been semi interesting and/ or amusing or even helpful. In the end, remember that a rejection from a blog is not that important. It is more important to cultivate your fan base and your creative vision than care about what a blog thinks. Keep expressing yourself and following your dreams.
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Robb Donker