Tuesday, June 19, 2018

L.A.'s Squid Cult - stir dreams in "Baby Blue"

Baby Blue by L.A.'s Squid Cult feels like a story that might exist in the early 60's amid the big dreams and small minds of some Americana town. The indie rock is pushed through lush country folk rock filters. The divine guitar lead elevates the song more. The feeling is cinematic escapism. Dreamy and forlorn.

Squid Cult is Daniel Talton (guitar / vocals), Karter Mycroft (bass / keys), Csongor Erdélyi  (lead guitar) and Max Pretzer (drums / vocals).
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Robb Donker




Iuliano turns organic sounds into twisted dreamy apparitions on "Who Knows"

Living in Bangkok, Iuliano has had music coursing through his veins for what feels like forever. Born in Italy and forged on jazz, soul and progressive rock he played in clubs usually on keyboards backed by sequencers. He eventually made his way to the United States in Boston enrolled at the Berklee College of Music. Always a producer in his head his journey lead him later to produce all over Southeast Asia later managing a small label in Malaysia.

As his own artist he writes on guitar and piano. The track Who Knows floats on acoustic guitar, layers of vocals and organic sounds twisted and bent into dreamy apparitions. In the end it feels like a trip down the proverbial rabbit hole on a tropical island.
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Robb Donker


Are You Having Fun Yet- hear "Lads Prayer" from their album "Are You Having Fun Yet"

From Oslo Norway- Are You Having Fun Yet have just released their debut album of the same name.
Hearing the track Lads Prayer makes me want to hear the entire album and I will. Their sound is big and bright with soaring guitar lines and vocals mixed in with a kind of somberness too. I really like the drum sound, dreamy synth sounds, strident bass lines and when the guitar strikes on the downbeat happen it is heavenly.
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Robb Donker


Monday, June 18, 2018

Dave Sheinin's album "First Thing Tomorrow" is indie pop sweet and emotional - hear "Talking To Myself"

The track Talking To Myself from Dave Sheinin's debut album "First Thing Tomorrow" feels like post 90's rock filtered through 60's pop rock tones somewhere in between The Replacements and White Fence but with an overall softer side. Don't let "softer" dissuade you. The songs are earnest and emotional at their core. All this from a guy who has been covering baseball and writing feature stories for the Washington Post since 1999. The tracks throughout the album are earnest and full of catchy melodies.
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Robb Donker




Yip Yops create their own musical universe on "SHE"

Oh my... what can I say about the track SHE by Yip Yops who create their own unique musical universe in the Coachella Valley (California)? Instantly there is a feeling of 80's art pop pushed through more modern punk flavors. For some reason I thought about early Cure and Yazoo. I also thought about Interpol and New Order and Ziggy Stardust, not Bowie but Bowie's creation Ziggy Stardust. It is not that Yip Yops sound like Bowie but SHE is kind of drenched in a glam thing and is highly postured music. What I mean by that is that you can almost see front man Ison Van Winkle's artistic movements. The vocal performance has a highly art pop / art punk posture to it. It feels like a glam rock carnival in town. It is tightly dressed up and so very cool.

Yip Yops is lead singer and guitarist Ison Van Winkle, drummer Ross Murakami, bassist Jacob Gutierrez and keyboardist / vocalist Mari Brossfield.  Barely out of high school, the quartet are creating an enduring fan base and have done their thing on stages at Cali festivals like Coachella, Chinatown Summer Nights and Echo Park Rising. They just finished a tour supporting Lauren Ruth Ward. Awwww, the future looks bright.

-Robb Donker


Hear Basement Revolver's beautiful anthemic waltz "Baby"

Hamilton, Ontario's Basement Revolver must be starry eyed dreamers. They have to be to be able to conceive, to write, to feel, to perform their latest beautiful, anthemic waltz Baby.  The song is compressed full of sounds and emotions. Vocalist / guitarist Chrisy Hurn's vocal performance feels somber and tortured, yes, but there is also a touch of defeat that brews under the surface which makes the tone even sadder.  I love how the drums played by Brandon Munro also have a somber touch in between the eruptions of emotion. Nimal Agalawatte's bass ( and synth) pushes a dramatic bottom on this track. Baby's melodies will bury inside your head and heart. Basement Revolver's debut album "Heavy Eyes" drops August 24th (2018).

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Robb Donker


Sunday, June 17, 2018

The Compensators- Love Drags- pushes early rock circa tones (65 to 75)

The Compensators' track Love Drags does not.... drag that is, in fact, it does quite the opposite. The band hails from Brooklyn and the tones, the attitude, feels like R & B infused rock circa 65 to 75. Think old school rockers like Spencer Davis Group or Mitch Ryder kind of smushed together with modern retro roots rockers like the Black Keys. It is a cool rock sounds with pop sensibilities.

Check it out-- rumor has it that a full album is in the works-

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Robb Donker


Norway's Izakaya Heartbeat dense post punk on the track "Descend"

From Norway: Izakaya Heartbeat's track Descend from their upcoming third full length "Subterranean Sunset" is an ultra dense post punk rocker with layered guitars and jubilant melody lines twisted askew. I though of the Pixies and Unknown Mortal Orchestra kind of smushed together. It plays well as a sunny pseudo soundtrack for friends on a collective high about something, some victory. That is what it feels like to me.

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Robb Donker


Saturday, June 16, 2018

Get lost in Ratnang Singh's "The War"

The title track from New Delhi singer- songwriter Ratnang Singh's album "The War" burns slowly and then catches fire. The sound is mysterious floating on Singh's evocative vocal performance and acoustic guitar while deep heavy sultry bass / drums provide the grit. Add keys and electric guitar sounds filtered through an almost surfy spring vibrato and you have an atmosphere that is both lush and beautiful to get lost in.

The album is available on Bandcamp and streaming on Spotify.
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Robb Donker


"Electrical" by Los Angeles' The Pretty Flowers breaks through

The track Electrical by L.A. band The Pretty Flowers immediately has a breaking through feel. A sense of punching walls or the sky or your chest and letting frustration go by championing all the defiance you can muster to break through something. The heaviness with post 90's rock guitars and hopeful cries wraps around you like intoxicated friends there to help out with whatever is troubling you. I really love this tone and think you will as well.

The Pretty Flowers are Noah Green, Sam Tiger, Jake Gideon and Sean Johnson and Electrical is from the "Where Trains Crash" album.
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Robb Donker

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Isak Thomas and The Stoop Boys on the EP "Harvard Ave" spin soulful sounds on "The B-Line"

Isak Thomas and The Stoop Boys is the moniker of singer-songwriter Isak Kotecki and a collection of Boston based musicians. On their EP "Harvard Ave" they cut deep grooves blending flavors of R&B and soul and alt folk but all in an earthy way pushing their aesthetic through filters feeling like something out of the American songbook. You can feel touches of jazz, gospel and porch blues peppered throughout.

On the track The B-Line Isak trades crooning lines with Madeleine Rosenthal and the spaces in between beats hold as much sway as the lilt of the guitar, the spicy bass and chill drums. The result is sultry, cool and embracing.

Check out the treasures on "Harvard Ave"as the collection of songs take you on what feels like a cinematic trip. The last track Blue Skies Below is dreamy, stark, somewhat sad and sprinkled with everlasting hope like a good lived life itself.

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Robb Donker


Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Arbour Season - the topography of emotion - "Leaving Delaware"

























Husband and wife Shane and Emily Anderson create beautiful alt folk inspired by people and places they encounter on their travels from their RV home. Based out of Tampa Florida and Oshawa, Ontario (Canada) and Fredericktown, Missouri their sound is shaped by the topography around them.
In Leaving Delaware there are somber revelations told in beautiful harmony as mountains call to them.

-Robb Donker

Monday, June 4, 2018

Dear Japan - there is an air of mystery in this experimental art pop- hear Kushiro

Listen to the eerily beautiful Kushiro by Dear Japan and you may see melodramatic imagery. The song plays like a TV novella from various countries with over the shoulder wide eyed sad stares, betrayal, unrequited love and revenge. At least that is what I felt, saw in my mind. There is an almost a B-movie aesthetic to me as well and a harsh industrial mixed in the experimental pop thing happening too but all in a good provocative way.

There is some mystery surrounding this outfit from Hamburg and California but I am liking what I am hearing. Keep it coming guys.
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Robb Donker



Paper Citizen feels deceptively deep in a good way- hear "History"

History by Boston based Paper Citizen with it's sprightly played guitar and kind of mellow dramatic production full of salsa beatified cadences pulled apart with rich string sounds feels kind of  like tropical punk pushed through jazz filters. Then take Claire Gohst's perfectly poised vocals dressed up with classic tones, part American musical meets indie pop. It is a dizzy heady mix. The collective number of nuances add up in a big way and in the end History feels deceptively deep. The almost hyper reality of the string sounds made me think of Kishi Bashi a bit. The clean progressively built guitar rhythms made me think of St. Vincent. A lot going on. Where the hell are my jazz pants?

The heart of Paper Citizen is singer songwriter Claire Gohst (vocals, guitar, violins) and featuring Francesca Impastato (drums), Filipe Antunes (bass), Jacob Aviner (guitar), Bill Dunphy (guitar), Abram Lembono (keys, synths).

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Robb Donker




Sunday, June 3, 2018

Nothing For Breakfast - "Better Than Anything" from a whisper to a scream- engaging art pop

After you hear Better Than Anything by Italy's own Nothing For Breakfast you will find yourself chanting "I don't wanna go, I don't wanna go, I don't wanna go" every chance you get. Like if my wife mentions us going to visit her friend Darla I will step on the beat right away and sing it "I don't wanna go, I don't wanna go" with a smile on my face.

The indie pop hooks are deep on this track and the official super trippy video is equally engaging art pop. Nothing For Breakfast is Jonathan Shackelford (lead vocals, guitar), Samuele Cangi (synths, guitars, backing vocals), Simone Laureana (bass, synths), Francesco Cangi (drums, electric drums).
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Robb Donker

Talena Bricker - Pacific Northwest chilly sad alt folk - the "Drowning" EP and the Official video ("Drowning)

Pacific Northwest native Talena Bricker released her debut EP "Drowning" early this year. The title track is a chilly, sad alt folk song with a chorus that ascends on acoustic guitar, spartan piano, vast vocals and string sounds. Beautiful and hauntingly sad. The official video for Drowning shot in black and white plays real instead of dreamy which makes it sadder still.

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Robb Donker



Tom Leeb's latest "Go On", tender romances and a Live Performance in a beautiful old church in the south of France

French singer / actor Tom Leeb possesses a voice laced with romance and R&B tones on Go On. Already having amassed a huge following on digital platforms and YouTube after the release of his first single Are We Too Late you can see him perform Go On as a live acoustic session filmed in a beautiful old church in the south of France.
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Robb Donker


Niki Moss pushes all the right buttons on the track "Soylent Green"

























"Soylent green is people!"  Ok, now that I got that out of the way. Coming to us from Portugal, the track Soylent Green from Niki Moss, the moniker for Miguel Vilhena, a multi-instrumentalist, producer, lead vocalist for the psychedelic rock band Savana and founder for the record label Pontiaq is so sickly crafted that it is hard, so very hard to believe this is all one talented guy. Thematically, aesthetically it is part kind of indie pop pushed through slight tropical punk flavors and then metamorphosizes into electronic pop pushed through a faint tone of trip hop. Very faint like the trip hop is a puff of perfume and Moss just walked through it. How ever you want to describe it, it is cool and fun and makes me want to meet Vilhena, sit at his feet and see how he does what he does.

Soylent Green is the first single of what will be Niki Moss' debut album to be released later this year (2018).
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Robb Donker


Saturday, June 2, 2018

L.A. Based The Years - "Fell Asleep Dreaming" post punk meets post rock

L. A. based The Years is the musical project / collaboration of Cecil Campanaro (of Terraplane Sun) and Brian Stanley (of The Diamond Light). The track Fell Asleep Dreaming is drenched with a cool 80's post punk meets 90's post rock vibe. Spartan production blows up with droning synth sounds and washed out vox. Love this sound. 
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Robb Donker


Beard Bates - "Lions Sheep Birds" from the album "The World Blown"

Beard Bates has a voice that you notice right away. It is not only the low sultry register but the road worn rough around the edges tone bleeding through.  The first single from the upcoming album "The World is Blown" (dropping Sept 7th, 2018) is the evocative Lions Sheep Birds.  The sparse production only enhances that voice cut with pain. 
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Robb Donker


Freedom Fry- French American Indie Pop- "Cold Blooded Heart" and "Classic" from Debut Album

Freedom Fry is Parisian Marie Seyrat and Michigan Native Bruce Driscoll who currently create their musical aesthetic together in Los Angeles. Besides the songs they both have a hand in their look / wardrobe, album cover designs and tone of their music videos. All this and they are married too. These are people who care deeply about their craft.

The single from their debut album "Classic" is called Cold Blooded Heart and from the first few moments the lyrical story moves fast creating imagery flickering in your mind like sunlight through tree branches. The sound is classic and earnest folk and the pair go for a lean almost 60's or 70's pop feel and I love that.
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Robb Donker



John Paul Grigsby - "Home" from the "Nothing Is New" Album

The track Home by John Paul Grigsby shines with a sort of classic 60's / 70's elegant rock vibe. The tones made me think of the Beatles meets Badfinger pushing through Bowie filters even.

Grigsby is a Denver based musician and film maker and is currently touring as the bassist for Gregory Alan Isakov. His life as a session player has afforded him the opportunity to work with iconic musicians but "Nothing Is New" is his first album release with his own original music.
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Robb Donker

Legpuppy: The Lunatic Collective twist the 9 to 5 Office crowd in "Meds and Beer"



















Legpuppy is a self described South London Lunatic Performers Collective and their track Meds and Beer lampoons the 9 to 5 crowd who work in offices and talk sports and sex lives around the water cooler. Despite the clowning around, the track has some good new wave-ish / electropunk bones created by Darren Laurence, Claire Jones, Rich Bass, Voi Vang, Booby and Hugo Bamboo. 
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Robb Donker

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New Zealand's Makeshift Parachutes and "King Eeyore's Xanax Party"

New Zealand's Makeshift Parachutes and their track King Eeyore's Xanax Party (yes seriously that is the name) sounds like the song track for a Stranger Things dance party taking place in Baltimore, Maryland. I know that Stranger Things takes place in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana and not Baltimore but that doesn't matter. Stranger Things does take place in the 1980's and King Eeyore's Xanas Party does have that 80's synth thing happening and it sounds a bit surreal so just go with me on this.

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Robb Donker

The surprising track debut single "Lucid" from Pool Surfers

The track Lucid is a lush dreamy track from an indie rock band from the Inland Empire (California) called Pool Surfers. Produced with a classic rock meets pop sound I can honestly say that the song surprised me coming from a band called Pool Surfers. I was expecting thrasher punk rock and get this kind of blendo rock with almost light jazz undertones. Dreamy as fuck.
Love this. Produced by Bob Curtin (Private Island, Sleeptalk, Hush), it is the first single from their upcoming album.

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Robb Donker


Your Dream Coat from Brooklyn - "People Like You" is a rare thing

Your Dream Coat's debut single People Like You feels like it starts with some trepidation like the first step on the long path across a crowded dance floor to ask that one person to dance or the measured feel of your fingers on your guitar strings finding that first position before that first strum during an important show. Maybe I am just sensing it but it doesn't matter because after one breath in, the song finds it's stride right away. Soon you are falling headfirst into a somber but earnest indie rock song pushed through kind of Brit pop filters. The vocal performance is intimate, upfront, starkly real and present... and free of sonic filters or reverb even. The result is something truly romantic and embracing. Rare these day. A gem to hold close to your heart.

Your Dream Coat hails from Brooklyn, NY and are Alain Paradis, Paige Jordan, Miguel Gallego.
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Robb Donker


ZXO - "Silver Parade" might be the most beautiful thing you hear today

ZXO refers to their psychedelic beautiful sound as "cosmic molasses" and while I can live with that when you listen to Silver Parade it feels to me more like a cosmic sunrise. Their music is sweet, yes, but doesn't move with the lava creep of molasses it, instead, glows like a tiny ember with subtle nuances and tender poetry until the glow becomes larger and larger and this shining light encompasses everything.

ZXO is Ryan Brewer, Garrick Nelson, Gabe Gerhardt and Teddy Lerch.

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Robb Donker


Friday, June 1, 2018

Vacation Forever swims in punk meets noise rock meets pop musical void - hear "I Changed My Life For You"

Vacation Forever is the moniker for Swedish artist, painter, model, songwriter Zacharias Zachrisson. The track I Changed My Life For You pumps along like a The Oh Sees song but feels more in the pop meets noise rock void in some kind of  musical space. Simple, spartan but it simply jams. You get easily pulled into the fray. I thought of the So Cal Orange County band the Cosmonauts too just a little bit. This track is easy to like and I look forward to hearing more. I am hoping Zachrisson has more flavors to swim around in... I am thinking he does.
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Robb Donker


Melting Order out of Italy and the synthy pop steps of "Walk Slow"

From Italy- Melting Order makes musical experiments with different flavors. Walk Slow gets in your head ambling by with synthy pop steps. 
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Robb Donker




Thursday, May 31, 2018

Point Cove and the strange yet wonderful "I Am The Edison Phonograph"

Point Cove is the moniker for Edward Mackay who has made music spanning many genres from Gaelic to heavy rock. Originally from the Isle of Lewis, now based in Gourock, Scotland, he takes musical influences from the likes of Lemon Jelly, The Avalanches, Florence and the Machine, Hans Zimmer and Ólafur Arnalds to name a few. Using computer programs to create original instrumental music, vocals from various vintage spoken recordings are later added on top.

Check out the strange yet wonderful I Am The Edison Phonograph.

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Robb Donker




Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Money & King - "70's Psych Americana" - hear "Draw Me A Line" from the "There Are So Many Ways To Be Alone" Album

Upon hearing the track Draw Me A Line by Brooklyn's Money & King I couldn't help but think of The Kink's 1970 album "Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround Part One" (Strangers, Lola).

Money & King describe the sound on their sophomore album "There Are So Many Ways To Be Alone" as 70's Psych Americana and "Americana" is key as the country meets folk meets roots rock is apparent and such an engaging aspect of their sound. It is the sound you can here in certain incarnations of Kink's Brit rock or the Canadian Americans late 60's / 70/s iconic group, The Band. It is a sound or tone that I personally refer to as "garden rock" and while the guitar twang is not always necessarily  present in this sound, there is a certain lilt to the earnest vocal performances in roots music that makes it Americana and real. You hear that heavily here.

The wonderfully Draw Me A Line serves up all that with the guitar twangs too as well as a wealth of country-fied (or fried) harmonicas, sweet guitar jams, vocal harmonies, waltz like cadence, organ and intricate counterpoised almost walls of guitar and mandolin picking. It is all so amazingly melodic and lovely and a sound I have always loved. Country folk elegance created by guitarist James Sparber and drummer Brandon Goldstein splitting songwriting and lead vocalist duties. Bassist John Loggins on bass and harmonies, Jeff Mensch on guitar and twang, Brady Bagger on piano and organ and James Sweitzer on guitar and mandolin leads.
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Robb Donker

Check out the bands Facebook link here to find out more about the album "There Are So Many Ways To Be Alone" dropping June 1 (2018).

Bat Zuppel and their giant punkified psyche garage rock sound- hear "The Witch" from the "Dylar" album

























There is a sound at the beginning of the pile driving The Witch by Pittsburgh 4 piece rock outfit Bat Zuppel which signals that I might already like what these guys put out. It is a kind of John Dwyer-esque (The Oh Sees) lead short little slide punctuated by a kind of spring reverb. It almost sounds like a slip of the finger even though it is purposeful. After that all the punkified grungy heaviness ensues with big chunky downbeats, heavier than Heaven drums and glorious lead lines that veer though big blues rock / garden rock tones too. The lead lines are a big part of this song and as I listened a huge smile formed on my face and would not leave. I especially love the progression that comes in "duh duh duh duh" which (ok go with me) sounds kind of funky and made me think of Cameo (yes that Cameo) "Word Up".  Bat Zuppel's vocals are like bleeding in the throat vocals. The kind of "scream until you need a Chloraseptic treatment" vocals. The song is so noise rockish that you get lost in it easily and at over 7 minutes it is a heavy punk psyche rock blissful kind of thing. The Witch is from the recently released "Dylar" studio album (their second) which you need to check out.
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Robb Donker




Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Sophia Danai spins a web and a story on "Come Thru"

Come Thru by the multi-layered and talented singer-songwriter Sophia Danai pushes so many buttons in your brain. The pleasure centers are all firing when you revel in Danai passionate vocal performance which is both sweet and acidic but it is not only her vocal chops that will have you glassy eyed and feeling kind of high but the very cool musical maze that she navigates her voice around. The production blends so many sonic elements together. There are sounds that feel like vintage recordings, pearly keys of synths, electronic shifted vox that feel like memories bending.  All these interesting sounds feel like emotional cues to the story being told or referenced. A story of heart break, betrayal and maybe a touch of revenge or comeuppance and surely female empowerment. It is such a stellar passion play of a song and Danai's gritty soulful vocal performance sells it oh so well. Hailing from Vancouver, British Columbia, her vocal aesthetic has been likened to a blend of Nina Simone, Billy Holiday and Portishead and it is an apt description (I only wish I would of come up with it).
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Robb Donker



Above The Moon - blistering indie rock with serious 90's post punk bones in "Fight The Sea" from their "Patterns You Create" EP

The track Fight The Sea from Above the Moon's EP "Patterns You Create" is a blistering indie rock track with 90's post punk bones. Kate Griffin on vocals and guitar has a smooth but strident vocal style supported by a tightly wound wall of sound with Shawn Murpy on lead, Chris Mangin on bass and John Gramuglia on drums. The band hails from Madison, New Jersey and have been making music together since 2016.
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Robb Donker

Monday, May 28, 2018

"Black Rabbit" by Cedric Warner Sparkman lives in it's own Glam Galaxy

The track Black Rabbit by Cedric Warner Sparkman has a long production arc, in fact, it was percolating in Sparkman's head over five years ago and in true avant garde fashion the last third of the song was written first with creative co-hort Jason S. Matuskiewicz in April of 2013. The poetry contained in the song stems from improvisational streams and has more to do with words sounding good together than necessarily meaning anything although in my mind all lyrics mean something to someone. A full three years later the first section took shape at the behest of the electric drum kit that Sparkman had sitting around. Ultimately, the framework was glam... mindful or subconscious nods to Bowie and T-Rex opting for a more spartan spatial sound than tons of layering.

There is a decidedly live club sound. Sparkman's vocal performance has proto punk tones and there is an appropriate 80's artifice to the vocal posturing. The song is dressed up with peg leg pants and glitter dashed on faces. 
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Robb Donker



Tetra and the flavorful "Weekend" off the "Chill Chill Mega Chill" album

From the upcoming album "Chill Chill Mega Chill" the Philly, PA indie rock band Tetra is sharing the track Weekend. They describe their sound as psychedelic jazz rock. When I first hear Weekend I felt a kind of The Buttertones vibe. I really hate to even raise comparisons when I talk about a band but that kind of retro post punk (in that sock hop punk vein) is there blended in with a kind of artful vocal posturing and proggy pop sensibility too. So much to like here and looking forward to hearing more.

Tetra is Zachary (guitar and vocals), Sam (bass), Tyler (guitar) and Tyler (drums).
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Robb Donker 


Jethro Pickett sings of "Lorelei" from the "France" album

Jethro Pickett has wanderlust in his heart (or so it seems). His latest album "France" was written and recorded between Dublin, London and his Yikesville studio in Melbourne. His sound is alt folk filtered through a kind of 60's toned psychedelia with retro Brit pop sounds too. Classic and beautiful but with indie rock bones. The four piece band that backs him when playing live is the wonderful Avant Gardai which sounds like it could be the name of the next Wes Anderson film.

Listen to the somber strains of Lorelei and moments after the song begins the chord ascends in an elegant and later the progression stair steps down. The song opens up and turns on a dime and becomes intimate. It soars as a lovely musical break embraces you. The glue that holds all this together is, of course, Jethro Picketts earnest somewhat sad vocal performance that is right there over our shoulders.

Visit the JP website. It is chalked full of goodies. "France" is available on vinyl, CD and digital platforms.
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Robb Donker


Sunday, May 27, 2018

Jason S. Matuskiewicz - a tender core but heavy pop bones in "Live Without You"

Live Without You from Jason S. Matuskiewicz's latest EP "Blue Velvet Couch" has a tender even somber core but also has heavy, heavy pop bones. Jason swings for the fences on the stirring chorus that almost begs you too hold a cigarette lighter high above your head or at least the light on your phone. Jason embraces pop sounds on the other tracks as well but at the center of all the songs are a lot of heart expressed in their melodies and Jason's battle scarred vocal performances.
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Robb Donker



Velodrome and the Official Video for "His Physique" - a blend of baroque pop, art punk and a knowing wink of the eye

His Physique by Velodrome, the experimental rock project of UK based Queer DIY artist, singer-songwriter, guitarist, bassist and drummer Katherine Christie Evans feels like something between proto punk, baroque pop and retro sock hop punk or maybe all of that blended together. Like Evans herself the song is multi faceted and gender bending. An artful exercise in coping and commenting on gender roles and stereotypes and more. For me the song is trippy sounding and while on the lo-fi side of things has that brewing experimentalism of early 70's punk that makes it so very interesting. Evans is the former bass player for Feminist punk witches Dream Nails, and toured Europe and the UK with them in 2017, performing alongside bands including LA outfit Cherry Glazerr, and punk-pop anarcuties, Charmpit. Recently Velodrome has performed live at venues including DIY collective space Chunk in Leeds with Esper Scout and Kermes; at Rough Trade with Dream Nails and Liines; at The Good Ship with Suggested Friends and Colour of Spring; and at Loud Women Fest 2017 with Petrol Girls and Grace Savage. 

In the official video for His Physique which Evans directs as well, she becomes different male protagonists from Sir Lancelot, to Narcissus, to a gay monk in a monastery, Buddy Holly, to Kirk Hammett of Metallica all with a sense of artful flair and a wink in her eye.
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Robb Donker


ATM out of Sweden- their love for trashy indie R & B and the track "One Touch"

























The track One Touch is the first record of Swedish producers / songwriters Henrik Jonzon and Per Eklund who collectively have writen and produced global artist like Sigrid (No), Alesssia Cara (US), Rebecca and Fiona (SE) and Killian & Jo (DE). The have a love for trashy indie R & B and as ATM strike chords together. One Touch goes down easy with a beat everyone can shimy and shake too. The vocal performance is a "friend" out of London who for now wants to remain nameless which is kind of driving me crazy because she sounds so familiar. Her comely performance is flawless. Of ATM as a project / musical entity the boys say:

“This project is dedicated to the joy and spontaneity that music is, can and should be. We’re here to create a space of limitless possibilities, ideas, collaborations and friendships. One of our good friends from London lent her badass vocals to ‘One Touch’, and we plan on collaborating with a variety of interesting musicians and artists as we go. For a lot of people ATM obviously stands for ‘at the moment’, and our one and only plan is to do what we feel like in the moment. Our neon blue camel logo is as random as our minds, and that randomness and playful vibe will hopefully also be reflected in our sound and in the choice of collaborators.”
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Robb Donker



The big stoner rock sound of Hot Knives: Bushwick, heavy metal and that guy. Hear "Dank Zappa"

In talking about Hot Knives and their track Dank Zappa (off their Static Bloom EP) I could mention that they come from the neighborhoods in Bushwick (Brooklyn, NY) or that they possess that heavy metal infused punk with touches of stoner rock, Hendrix, Sabbath, Dead Meadow in that distilled kind of Ty Segall / The Oh Sees way but really to describe Hot Knives Sound you just need to look at the intoxicated smile of this guy: 


He is either Tom or Joe or Alex and how could you not like this guy. 
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Robb Donker


Private Victories- romance, devastation and pop collide on "Strong Enough"

Private Victories is the moniker of L.A. singer-songwriter Grant Carey and on the track Strong Enough he emotionally cuts himself open and bleeds. The refrain, "Am I strong enough" is so exquisitely relatable to every man and woman who has ever been through the hardest of times. The vocal melodies and sprite chord progressions in and of themselves (if you do not include the lyrics) have a cool vibe and while containing some somber sounds there is an almost sing songy thing happening too. The "da duh da duh da"  remind me of (dare I say) the catchy quality of a romantic fueled sitcom jingle. This comfortable romantic pop quality offset with a deeply heartbroken vocal performance and lyrical content is such an interesting emotional counterpoint. Carey reveals that the lyrics are imbued with the thoughts of someone battling depression sedated by the pain of societal traumas such as gun violence and homophobia. This somber pop song digs and runs oh so deep. Private Victories min LP "Among The Changes" will be out soon.
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Robb Donker


Bad Flamingo will ride up on you and rob you blind- hear "Running From The Lawman"

Bad Flamingo dress in all black and they wear cool Zorro type masks. They keep their identities hidden. The track Running From The Lawman is spartan but dripping with cool sounds amid a pursed lips bass line, static drum beat with timbales in the background, pearly keys and guitars that feel like something like surf guitar with Spanish tones filtered through hazy psychedelia. The vocal performance is whispery straining into over modulation, seductive and sultry. The entire sound begs, begs.... fucking begs any music blogger to use the overused phrase "Spaghetti Western" but I am not going to succumb to something so utterly cliche. Aw fuck, I did now.... didn't I.
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Robb Donker


Saturday, May 26, 2018

The progressive folk / Americana escapism of Baerd- hear "Crete"

























The track Crete by Boston progressive folk / Americana band Baerd is melodically lush in an orchestral sort of way. Well beyond the vocal melodies supported by harmonies pushing degrees of chromatic buttons there is both avant garde and pop sensibilities in the production arc. The dynamism and artful flow of musical and emotional lines feels like a musical stage play and rises to such a sense of free form escapism that it sounds as if Brian Wilson (Pet Sounds 1966) and George Gershwin (Rhapsody in Blue 1924) got together to stir things up.... and then the surprising summer rain storm abruptly stops.

I suppose the death defying stop is unmistakeably daring and maybe a mistake in and of itself but I can forgive it because of what came before but it is a personal point of contention I hope to discuss with singer-songwriter / guitarist Isaiah Beard someday. Rounding out Baerd you have Paul "Papabear" Johnson (drummer / arranger), Ben "Flapjack" Knorr (bango), Maxfield Anderson (mandolin), Victor "Ol Blue" Pacek (double bass), John Blanda (keyboardist), Ariel Loud (arranger / sax player) and Mariana Forjaz Secca (singer / arranger).


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Robb Donker


Hungry Lake and their big psychedelic folk rock sound cuts a big swath in "Out of Line"

Hungry Lake are out of Toronto and their track Out Of Line from their upcoming album of the same name has a vast big indie rock sound for a self described psychedelic folk rock band. The bottom heavy groove is cut deep and guitar sounds ebb and flow and crescendo in big walls of sound and ambiance. There are touches of California garden rock and as I listened to the cool double guitar lead breaks I thought of surfing in Northern California amid big breaks and fog rolling in at Big Sur. The dimension to the sound is so amazing.
-Robb Donker

PRESS NOTES:

Hungry Lake are a psychedelic folk-rock band from Toronto. Meeting at Seneca’s Independent Music Program in 2008, founding members Joe Thomas and Ryan Webb formed the Lake’s first incarnation.  The band’s songwriting has grown more progressive in recent years with the addition of drummer Josh Park and bassist/keyboardist Greg Markov.  Focusing on arrangements and recording, the four cut their teeth on their self released debut album The Overpass (2015), followed by two EPs Raccoon (2017) and Out of Line (Spring 2018).  Swirling guitars and enormous walls of sound are met with folk sensibilities to bring Hungry Lake’s sad stadium rock to the stage with force.  Plans for 2018 see the band embarking on a national tour to bring their upcoming full-length album New Destruction (Fall 2018) to festivals and smaller communities with an intense and dynamic live show.  


"The Becoming" by Toronto's Isla Craig feels like performance art

When I listen to The Becoming by multi-dimensional vocalist and songwriter Isla Craig I feel like I am listening to performance art. It is not only the stalking synth bass lines or the transient pearly key sounds but the density of her layered harmonies and lead vocal performance where she stretches out her phrases in a self aware deeply introspective way. The result is immersive and creates an intense eagerness to see Isala live. Where are you performing Isla?

She currently haunts Toronto, ON and her kind of avant garde trance like creations whic beg to be described but are hard to put in a box or category. Besides being a solo artist she is an active collaborator in the Toronto art scene and has worked on projects with Fucked Up and Owen Pallett and is a past member of U.S. Girls.
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Robb Donker


River Fury- "Why (You Don't Mean It)" from the Debut Album "Five Year Plan"


The track Why (You Don't Mean It) from London's River Fury from their upcoming debut album "Five Year Plan" is a blistery potent rock song that drives in a straight line until it jumps head first into cool proggy diversions. The beat changes throughout and the raw dynamism keep things so utterly engaging. The vocal performance is both sultry and bruised. Love this track and look forward to hearing the entire album.
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Robb Donker

NOTES: 
Riverfury:
London based (Melbourne grown), River Fury are Patric Nutton (vox/guitars), Dan Howe (vox/guitars), Callum Hayes (bass/vox), Andrew Gallop (drums)




Amy Guess - dodges a bullet in "Never Come Back"

The track Never Come Back by Canadian born singer-songwriter Amy Guess feels like night runs at old dark haunts. The low drawls of almost western rock guitars amid electronic sounds feel mysterious like you need to run away from something (or someone) and not look back. The framework is cinematic but at the center is Guess' vocal performance that runs the gamut from low (dead serious) and sultry to higher registers of emotion and passion.

At 12 years her family moved to Las Vegas, a world away from Calgary. The years would find her later in cover bands and even as a singing gondolier at the Venetian Hotel while in high school. Of her current craft Guess says,  “I like peeling back layers that you don’t even know are there, to unlock something real. When I’m singing or writing, It goes deep. You’re letting out your deepest most private and sometimes darkest stories and emotions, even though it’s a healing experience, it can be heavy letting those things out.”

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Robb Donker



The Mason District - Full charge rocker "Lose Your Mind"

The Mason District from Cleveland Ohio are an indie rock band comprised of Tom Tobias (lead vox and guitar), Maria Petti (bass and vocals) and Colin Nutter (drums) and their track Lose Your Mind is a liberating rocker with dramatic turns and double time passages that feel like running full charge at something.

The three met at an open mic and became friends and band mates. Lose Your Mind is from the bands second EP "The Blue Room PT. 1".
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Robb Donker