Sunday, December 16, 2018

The somber "Castle Pines" by Castle Pines, a moving tear stained love letter

As you feel the somber tone of the track Castle Pines you can almost feel the acidic taste of death in the back of your mouth. The death of loved ones, of dreams, of neighborhoods, of friendships, of hope and of youth and all the mix of emotions that those tender years encapsulate. The cadence is straight forward, guitar slides become a mantric rhythm. The song slowly, every so slowly burns and quietly erupts into a cacophony of emotions. The song is from the "Por Vida" album, it feels like it's opus. It is based off the real street in Corona California where the band took their name from. It contains personal revelations and reflections on America, it's youth and tragedies like 911, the death of siblings, mothers' depression, poverty and as excerpted (and coalesced) from the band's statements "is about the existential dread and coming of age in the turbulence of modern America."

Castle Pines is a four piece alt rock band and a family of sorts. Members include Leandro Barrientos (vocalist, guitar) and Ricky Garvey (lead guitarist), Sterling Fairfield (percussionist) and Jesse Briseno (bassist). I have fallen in love with their passion and work ethic and their music since March of this year and have written about them 3 times prior, here, here and here, all the way moved by their story. I hope you can read those blogposts as it will reveal more about them and their recent struggles, near death experiences and unending love for each other. There are rumors (or more than such) that their latest last offering, the album "Por Vida" might be their swan song or, at least, that they are taking a step back to heal their wounds, count their many blessing, and just rest for awhile. They have stated for now that they will refrain from touring, playing and that says to me that they will not stop making music. A group of creatives like this need to create so I have a keen sense that they will be gracing the world with songs for years to come. 

Grab yourself a drink of your choice, turn off the lights and push play on the wistful Official Video of Castle Pines (by Castle Pines) Directed, Filmed and Edited by Cody Flores.


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Robb Donker






From the bands Facebook Page


Young Hunting feeling too much in the complex pop of "Every Living Thing" from the upcoming album "True Believers"

The song Every Living Thing from L.A. based Young Hunting disarms you right away, at least it did me. It, in fact, stunned me and gave me goosebumps. From the onset it sounds so goddamn beautiful and tender with an almost 60's kind of Western pop sound. The organ sounds grabbed me, as did the gentle vocal performance. It felt like a slow dance and then surprisingly the cadence and tone shift into this smart, charming kind of dreamy pop song, the words still smiling and the song still shining like bright eyed teenagers swaying back and forth and clapping along on a classic black and white American Bandstand. The lush switch up did feel a bit askew but in a good, complex sort of way. It suddenly made the song feel like an acidic view, like gazing through those vintage family photo albums with frayed edges. I could feel irony and sadness discoloring the technicolor of the song. The lyrics contain bittersweet passages that reveal somber inspiration.  Hari Rex shared: 

“Each morning I look in the mirror and tell myself 'You picked the wrong day to feel pain.' Death is coming, he’s bringing his friends. They’re taking a Carnival cruise, harvesting the oceans of all life, then on to the flooding coasts. Their suitcases are packed with pestilence and genocide. No time for your own personal heartache, no time to be selfish, just let it eat away at you while you watch the latest viral video of children starving. Dislike. The weight is overwhelming, and the silence is staggering. I walk around in a stupor, helpless in this nightmare. I was recently diagnosed with crippling empathy, [the] doctor said I need to mind my own business. What a wonderful world.”

I have often thought along the same lines. Maybe we all do. About the crushing disparity of peoples lives in the world. 

Young Hunting is a five piece band centered around the songwriting prowess of Hari Rex and IIya Mxx who first met in 2007 and shared a love of classic California 60's and 70's pop and Nick Cave, Jason Molina and Can. Some of their sounds might sparkle but the lush dream pop falls away to darker gothic folk strains too. Over the last few years, members of the band toured with other artists including The Pharcyde and soul legend Syl Johnson. In the mean time, in Los Angeles, Hari and Ilya wrote new songs, which were (over time) recorded with Patrick Taylor (bass) and Miles Senzaki (drums) and mixed at Grandma’s Dojo in Koreatown. These songs became the album "True Believers" described by the band as "A psych-soul dream for the lovelorn" and from this first peak, first listen it sounds like an apt description. 

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Robb Donker

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Alto Key's "Whisper In The Mist" feels like a movie about heartbreak yet to be made

Alto Key is the musical alter ego / musical project of British indie folk artist Keian Barton. Listening to his latest offering, Whisper In The Mist with it's exquisitely deep string arrangements amping up the drama and emotional weight, embracing Barton's intimate vocal performance that glides into falsettos. Barton composes at his home in London piecing together his songs with help from musicians from all over. In the end Whisper In The Mist feels like a film yet to be made. Alto Key's first EP, "Animals" is available on all digital platforms.

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Robb Donker


Mount Ehinger's monstrous blues rock hybrid sounds on "Incubator Jones"

Mount Ehinger, the musical project of one man musical mission Trey Smith based out of Atlanta, Georgia produces big panoramic rock sounds. On the track Incubator Jones, the groove and shifting progs suggest a kind of funkadelicious twist on classic big blues rock sounds. I could feel a bit of 70's Led Zep or Red Dirt in the bones of this song fleshed out with a kind of patina of more indie rock tones (a bit) from bands like Arctic Monkeys or even Queens Of The Stone Age. Besides the utterly sexy grooves here, Trey has a killer voice for this gritty, organic genre. The big sound that Trey achieves gets in your head and has that kind of filmic sound. Mr Smith get your stuff in front of someone who specializes in commercial vehicles, commercials for Levis and Range Rover or Jeep. Take a page from Hanni El Khatib. Cool stuff. 
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Robb Donker


"Altitude" by Dead Sullivan from one of my favorite albums released this year "Season"

Altitude by Dead Sullivan (the musical project / moniker of Boone Patrello) feels like a transformation of some sort. Emotionally drenched with sad textures in a dreamy shoe gazey way but always coming back to earth on guitar picking and a melodic bass line. The song is from Boone's latest offering, the 13 track album called "Season" and is perched between bendy Tropical punk folks songs with orchestral sweep like Kyle or the beautifully trippy Tire that shape shifts into psychedelic places or the avant garde (even by Dead Sullivan standards) or Due that almost has a Thom Yorke-ian daydreamy quality and, of course, the amazing track Drive (that I wrote about here). Boone continues to make awe inspiring dense beautifully odd songs that sit like askew shadow 

boxes of what is inside his head.  

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Robb Donker  

"Season" written & recorded in Denton, TX from April 2017-June 2018 
Mastered by Nathan Navarro & Boone Patrello


"Laugh Now, Cry Later" by Los Shadows an intoxicating party blend of surf punk, Chicano rock and more

The track Laugh Now, Cry Later by Los Shadows (who churns out melodic guitar driven rock / blending in Surf punk, funk, tropicalia, Chicano rock, post punk sounds) pulsates on Latin rhythms. The tight guitar lines move around a deep cut groove of bass and drums, guiro sounds, timbales breaks and psychedelic flavors too. It feels like an intoxicating party and dance of cultures. Band members Andy Saldana (El Sancho), Pepe (El Guapo), Mark Bullard and Xavier Prieto are based out of sunny San Diego, California. 
Rad.

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Robb Donker


Sunday, December 9, 2018

Kills Birds - feral punk / garage / grunge / psyche rock fury of "Worthy Girl"























Kills Birds is the musical project fronted by Bosnian-Canadian (L.A. based) film maker / director Nina Ljeti (Memoria) and the song Worthy Girl is a brain bursting bit of feral punk / garage / grunge / psyche rock exquisite in it's raw and brazen aesthetic. Vocally, Ljeti brings to mind a dizzy blend of Elena Tonra (Daughter), Sadie Dupuis (Speedy Ortiz), Karen O (Yeah Yeah Yeahs) and Deanna Petcoff  all stirred together with bath salts (insert rim shot). I feel bad not mentioning the rest of the band by name but, sadly, there is not a lot of info on the Kills Birds Facebook page. Sonically Worthy Girl has such a potent yet spartan big fucking rock sound- the aesthetic dangerous and possessed. I LOVE this song and cannot stop listening to it.

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Robb Donker

Loverman's wanderlust dreams catch fire on "Blue Blood Baby" from the "Wings Of Desire" album

Blue Blood Baby by the indie rock outfit Loverman instantly has a sense of unbridled urgency starting with guitar lines that feel like sparklers going off. When the drum beat, bass and subdued keys drop in seconds later and Sasha Papadin's blue collar vocals, husky and serious command attention there is a heavy dense fog of wanderlust in the air. The sense of movement both physically and emotionally is felt in spades. The song is so cinematic that you feel the story hard here. The track is from the debut album "Wings Of Desire", the title paying homage to Wim Wender's 1987 film about an angel who give us his wings in order to experience life and love as a human being accepting mortality as the price. 

Loverman's center is Sasha Papadin (keys, vocals) and his long time collaborators Jake Studer (guitar) and Kieran Maloney (drums). They hail from Sonoma, California and the musical stories they tell is the hard stuff of life full of love, heartbreak. Papadin, a songwriter and singer for a number of bands including 1955 who alongside The Raveonettes and Blonde Redhead were part of the iconic Northern California rock scene. Life can, of course, knock you down and after the sudden death of his father in 2016 Papadin left the stage and retreated to the recording studio in the back of his furniture workshop and struggled to write. Steeping himself and finding some solace in albums by Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits and Damon Albarn he traded his guitar for piano exploring themes of mortality and love. 

Being a songwriter like many creative, personal matters can be a lonely endeavor. It can also, especially at the darkest of times, be an utterly healing, life saving embrace. The kind of embrace that can rip your heart out at the same time pulling you from the clutches of despair. "Wings Of Desire" may be described as music for fans of dreamy, uptempo indie rock in the vein of War on Drugs and features production from Grammy winner Mark Lawson (Arcade Fire, Timber Timbre).

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Robb Donker 


"Restoration" by Cote - counterpoised spartan sounds and a revealing voice

Restoration by Cote, the musical moniker / musical project of Brooklyn based singer-songwriter Taryn Randall is a track that boldly places her voice front and center free of electronic affectations. The presentation simple and framed with a spartan array of guitars, some picking and some flourishing in lovely counterpoised notes that (while building to lush crescendos) are blended in elegantly and stay back. The aesthetic hearkens back to the kind of dreamy pop you might associate with the 60's folk pop. Beautiful and intimate Randall's melodies push forward and ease back like conflicted remembrances. 

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Robb Donker



Spooky Cigarette's blendo / ska / two tone / post punk "In Due Time" as free as spring reverb

In Due Time by Spooky Cigarette fills my brain with so many images and my heart with so many feelings. It is as free and happy as a vintage Silvertone spring reverb and the vocal performance and overall aesthetic that blends 80's new wave / ska / two tone sounds is lush, cool and pretty dreamy. These guys hail from San Diego, California and make me want to put on tapered slacks and creepers. I would love to see them live. 

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Robb Donker



Saturday, December 8, 2018

Wwoman pushes all the right Polaroid buttons on the psyche dance vibe of "You Will Fill My Head"

Wwoman is the musical, experimental musings of Pittsburgh based artist Gi Smee and the track You Will Fill My Head creates such a curious vibe. It is not only dreamy and cuts a cool dance groove and almost instantly made my mouth curl up into a smile but it also sounds utterly outer worldly in a kind of Alice in Wonderland on drugs sort of way. I think part of this is the sonic tapestry Smee is able to paint in with his bedroom pop, the retro tones that push those Polaroid buttons in your brain. I love his sound and aesthetic. It is on my emotional playlist.
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Robb Donker


Friday, December 7, 2018

Pete Shelley Rest In Peace. So utterly sad to hear of this man's passing

































So sad to hear of Pete Shelley's passing at only 63 from an apparent heart attack. The Buzzcocks are such a stellar band in every way imaginable. I remember the first song I ever heard by them so many years ago "Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've) and how the sound and structure, the feral Brit Punk nature and especially Shelley's vocals absolutely floored me. It was love at first hear, sight and everything and it led me into other Brit Punk and Mod bands like Gang Of Four and The Jam. The Buzzcocks almost instant success was destined. No band sounding this good would not, could not make a huge, huge impact on the musical landscape as a whole.

There are too many words, too many songs, too many recollections to coalesce here. I am not that great a writer. There are so many wonderful well written tributes on NPR and elsewhere that will educate, enlighten you if you are somehow not a Buzzcocks / Pete Shelley fan. So I will just leave by sharing a video of some young unknown band playing a little gig somewhere, playing their hearts out covering "Ever Fallen In Love". This for me is a lovely tribute because Shelley and the Buzzcocks have left an unimaginable large impression on music, art and an untold amount of young people's hearts and minds as a point of focus and inspiration. Rest In Peace Mr. Pete Shelley. My condolences to all your loved ones, friends and family. Rock on. 

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Robb Donker


Thursday, December 6, 2018

Girl As Wave sleep walking dreams on "Another Life" from the EP "Poison Vines and Nectar"

When you hear Another Life from Girl As Wave (the project of New York based singer-songwriter Marci Elizabeth) you get the sense of a wide eyed walk through dreamy colorful places, buzzing, being high either on intoxicants or something else. The "wave" in Girl As Wave is a good descriptor as there is a decidedly 80's-esque new wave feel here along with an almost 60's Warhol aesthetic attributable to producer / multi-instrumentalist Jimmy Deer who she collaborates with shifting from years of solo minimalist indie folk. Another Life is from the recently released debut EP, "Poison Vines and Nectar."

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Robb Donker



Wednesday, December 5, 2018

No, Drens is NOT a So Cal surf punk band- hear the breakadelicious "Yellow Teeth"

Drens is a 4 piece surf punk band from Dortmund / Cologne, Germany but they should be a Burger Records band in Southern California. I mean that is where they belong. Not to compare the two but their infectious, raucous punk sound reminds me (a bit) of Together Pangea or should I say Pangea (early Together Pangea). Drens' latest offering Yellow Teeth conjures up crowded house parties and small sweaty clubs full of crowd surfing and moshing galore. I like. I like it a lot. 
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Robb Donker


Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Sad Adults' musical project "How To Be Afraid" spans from Brooklyn to Galway, Ireland - hear "Soft Approach"

Soft Approach by Sad Adults, the musical project of Steve Hunt (based out of Galway, Ireland by way of Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn- NYC) is a musical shadow box peering into possible ghosts or self reflections of what has been or is about to be. Fictional, real or both these thoughts set to music, demons shown the light of day are all personal and feel like cathartic sonic exercises or exposes. 

Soft Approach stands next to other such personal expressions on the album "How To Be Afraid" and as Hunt reveals: (the album was) "Inspired by status anxiety, substance abuse (mine and others), depression (mine and others), heartbreak, body dysmorphia, geographical antidotes to psychic trauma, friendship, Bob Mould's Workbook and Ryan Adams' Love is Hell."

The aesthetic on Soft Approach feels the kind of late night story you would hear on late night radio with Hunt talking, his voice transistorized as the music escalates and erupts with aggro lyrics and kind of grunge rock tones. Hunt conceived many of the albums songs in Brooklyn eventually going back to Ireland to fully realize the song with two of his oldest friends adding their musical talents. 

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Robb Donker



Monday, December 3, 2018

The genre bending alternative rock of Frog and their infectious diatribe "American"

























(photo courtesy of Andrew Piccone)

The track American from NYC (Astoria, Queens) alternative rock band Frog immediately grabs your attention. By the way, I start off with the generic descriptor "alternative rock band" because their sound casts so many genres that in the end saying one or two might negate the others. The jangly guitars, spartan garage rock / porch punk tones, kind of countrified vocal performance and proto punk intensity blended in my brain with all synapses firing and in the end alternative rock just has to do for now. For some reason my reaction on first listen to this song made me think of Buddy Holly's full tilt shift from Country and Western to Rock and Roll and how his early fan base might of reacted to that shift. Infinitely interested in Frog and their Americana alt rock sound (with weird tendencies) and I am in "search mode" for all they have done. Their press notes mention the term "broken pop" and it's seems apt in a way but just not enough to describe their feral nature. 

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Robb Donker


PRESS NOTES:
Hailing from ‘The Swamp’ in Queens, NYC, acclaimed cult guitar band Frog return with Whatever We Probably Already Had It, the follow up to their lauded 2015 sleeper hit Kind of Blah. A frantic collection of emotional garage rock, wyrd Americana and broken power pop. Their music has previously found support at Gold Flake Paint, DIY Mag, Drowned in Sound, CLASH Music, TLOBF, The Skinny, London in Stereo, The Grey Estates, Various Small Flames, the BBC and many more. Their 2018 Kings of Blah tour documentary film is out now



Sunday, December 2, 2018

Simon D. James' dark orchestral pop of "My Everything"

My Everything by UK pop / rock auteur Simon D. James feels like dark orchestral rock with darkly equal part drama and an almost kind of avant garde psychedelia. While it has a deeply produced pop tones there are nuanced (and not so nuanced) departures into dissonant rings of sound that break off right before they become to harsh. Cinematic and richly drawn, My Everything is heavy on atmosphere and makes you want to hear more from James. 

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Robb Donker

PRESS NOTES:

Recorded on 2” tape at Greenmount Studios, one of Leeds’ best kept secrets located in the catacombs of a church, My Everything is a spectral, hymn-like track which remains overwhelmingly powerful, even after repeated listens.
Born from musical stock (his dad, Brendon, recorded 70s hit, Gimme Some), Simon D. James has sought inspiration for his music whilst travelling the world.
Likened to The National and Broken Social Scene, Simon D. James’ individual interpretation of what the term “indie singer-songwriter” can mean, re-invents it as a powerful force which transcends scenes and trends and reinforces his claims as one of the most alluring musicians around.
In the Summer of 2018 Simon released his debut EP ‘Dream From a Long forgotten Dream’, which includes the singles ‘Dearest Lovely World’ and 'In The Fileds'


Chives Viria's "Fragment Peach" a beautiful sonic narcotic to stir up your dreams

The trancy track Fragment Peach by Oakland based singer songwriter / multi-instrumentalist Chives Viria is built on a triad of notes E, C#, G# eventually diverting but always coming back and the spartan, heavy dreaminess is brilliant in it's sonic execution. Guitar lines bend with multi-textures, big back in the warehouse drums, and ambient ghosts float about. Add Viria's cool reflective vocal performance and you have a beautiful sonic narcotic to stir up your dreams.

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Robb Donker


"Confirmation Bias" by Brooklyn rockers Sleeping Tongues is a song for today's divisive times

Confirmation Bias by Brooklyn rockers Sleeping Tongues is a big bold rocker played with garage rock abandon, psyche rock flavors pushed through proto punk rock filters. Singer-songwriter / multi-instrumentalist Craig Kepen's vocal performance jack hammers the opening line "I am offended by the words that you are saying. You must not say them because they are offending me!" in an audacious kind of art punk way which only adds to the almost feral proto punk feel. While the meaning of the song is relevant at any given time in American (and world) history there may not be a more relevant time than now when political lines are drawn sometimes spilling blood and the divisions between us seem to be growing at an alarming rate. 

Of the song, the band says: 

"The track is in regards to political/ideological tribalism we're seeing in the United States. People surrounding themselves in an echo chamber of like minded thinkers and information outlets that cater to their beliefs. It's not taking any sides, but just commenting on the polarization and rise of tribalism we're seeing. I think it's dangerous, because your average person who may have a less "all or nothing" view of controversial subjects, are too afraid to to speak for fear of being demonized / bullied by one side or the other. There's historical precedents to what we're currently seeing in the United States, and they usually don't end well. There's a lot of shouting, name calling, and shaming rather than intelligent civil discourse. I think a lot of this is caused by confirmation bias."

Sleeping Tongues is: Craig Kepen (Songwriting, Vocals, Guitar/Bass/Instruments), Alex Chung (Drums/Percussion), Chris Castellano (Guitar) and Evan Ignatz (Keyboards, Bass).

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Robb Donker


Thursday, November 29, 2018

No Reception - punk grrrl power on "Can't Be Fixed" from the "See Through" EP

No Reception is the musical moniker of Claire Julian who deftly plays all instruments on her "See Through" EP. On the track Can't Be Fixed, this singer-songwriter from Rye, New York pushes punk / power pop / tones out so well while telling personal stories. From the opening prog (like a sped up Ball and Chain ala from Social Distortion) to the sing songy melodies to the proto punk lead break the aesthetic is a cool blend of girl infused surf punk, proto punk and riot grrrl (on the fringe) aesthetics all the while at it's core also possessing this alt punk folk acoustic guitar heart.

Can't Be Fixed follows the release of the single Time To Kill (song and video). The EP "See Through" is streaming on Spotify.

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Robb Donker



Monkey Trap's punk meets power pop aesthetic on "Ride"

The track Ride by West Philadelphia'a Monkey Trap is an over modulated garage rocker packed tightly with sounds. From Johnny Vitale's (guitar, vox) vocal performance that sizzles somewhere between Justin Warfield and Julian Casablancas, post punk toned bass and drums by Joe Sileo (bass) and Malhar Singh (drums) and strident guitar lead lines played with wild abandon by Jacob Hershman there is a deep lo-fi well here with an almost "I don't give a fuck" aesthetic that absolutely works on this track. Producer Robert Armatas does a commendable job of not polishing up the sound too much. Love the kind of feral nature here, the ferocity of play,  breaking of sonic rules which give this track a very cool punk meets power pop sound . I absolutely love the background vocals, they might actually (along with other things) make this song. This one will be in my head for a long time. 

-
Robb Donker

PRESS NOTES:

Born in the same sweaty Philadelphia basement scene that bred Dr. Dog and Low Cut Connie, Monkey Trap formed in 2017. The band plays an intricate blend of indie punk and folk, which can be traced back to lead singer/rhythm guitarist Johnny Vitale’s dormroom demos. To help give his tracks life, Vitale enlisted drummer/synth programmer Malhar Singh, bassist/vocalist Joe Sileo, and lead guitarist Jacob Hershmann. The new lineup yielded the aggressive, yet nuanced sound that Monkey Trap is recognized for. The band then built up their stage show under the name Pico, headlining a string of concerts hosted by Vitale’s own booking agency, Penn Records.
In the summer of 2017 the group released a couple of teaser singles, their first venture into distributing music beyond the live stage. After spending the rest of 2017 and early 2018 writing, the band released their debut album Content is Chronic in October 2018, under the moniker Monkey Trap. Teaming up with producer/engineer Robert Armatas, Content is Chronic displays an effortless blend of early metal, 80’s new wave, dance rock, and classic 60's pop.


Monday, November 26, 2018

Moscow Apartment swings and sways against sunset skies in "Orange"

The track Orange by Moscow Apartment swings and sways on vocal harmonies and carefree beats and light jazzy horns and jammy bass lines. It feels like a departure from the 15 and 16 year old Canadian wunder kidz who oftentimes write and perform indie pop / alt folk diatribes containing youthful feminist declarations with wise and strong messages well beyond their young years. They skillfully speak for many their age not afraid to express pain and doubt with their light punk bravado too. 

About Orange: "'Orange' is about the weird twilight zone feeling. This happens sometimes at sunset but when things suddenly don’t feel real and you feel like everything around you is a movie."

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Robb Donker



Sunday, November 25, 2018

"Never In The Same Worlds" by post punk shapeshifters Moontwin is a definitive work

As Moontwin, singer songwriter Maple Bee (Melanie Garside) and XRaydio founder Zac Kuzmanov continue their long distance musical romance shaping sounds and pushing post punk buttons while being over 1700 miles apart. Their latest called Never In The Same Worlds might just be an ode to their interesting dynamic as they compose from places between London and Bulgaria. Not afraid to paint with different colors NITSW pulsates with dark drum beats and big room indie rock tones. Synth arpeggios and lush walls of dramatic guitars hold sway as the vox that exquisitely blend Maple Bee's and Zac vox into an almost industrial punk vocal affectation pull you in close. The guitar lines are sinfully, sinfully delicious. These two creatives continue to put out darkly cool material. Zac was diagnosed with a degenerative muscular disorder losing the use of his hands but he still finds ways to record, mix and edit their musical and visual creations. Amazing. 

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Robb Donker


The track "Josh" by Sky Harps is a beautiful mystery

The track Josh by an alternative solo project from Perth, Australia called Sky Harps is a beautiful mystery just like Sky Harps itself. The track possesses dreamy guitar picking and an emotional vocal performance at it's core. Synth strings, staccato bass and drum machine beats follow. It is whimsical and pretty and lies somewhere between 80's high school movie dreams and 90's college radio which in my book is a wonderful place to be. Bedroom pop, I love bedroom pop.

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Robb Donker


Amsterdam rockers Jagd mine proto punk, new wave and punk pop flavors in punchy ways on "Luxaflex"

























The track Luxaflex from Amsterdam 4 piece indie rockers Jagd is a shape shifting full charge indie rocker with a proto punk heart and 80's new wave bones resulting in a dynamic punk pop song. The beginning with crazy counter poised guitars and Nanne vd Linden's wide eyed vocals performance that (at first) is full of whimsy, then all hell breaks loose with punk musical attacks as Linden erupts into strident snarling vox. Later the musical break shifts into something heavy but tinged with heartbreak too like the feeling of running to or away from something and ultimately being alone gazing at the night sky. The song does get back to it's punk fury. In the end Luxaflex covers a lot of emotional territory in such unique ways. The rest of the band is Luuk Meijer (bass), Jos Neering (guitar) and Timo Mes (drums).

Luxaflex is the first single from the just released  EP "Maudlin"

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Robb Donker





"Freedom" by Ontario rockers Freudz Couch has classic rock bones fleshed out with grunge and psyche rock

The track Freedom by Freudz Couch is a full fledged rocker with classic bones stirring in garden rock / grunge rock tones and glittery specks of psychedelia. There are background fists in the air "Hey!!" that feels like blue collar Americana rock tones with heavy drums and blistering bass lines but surprisingly the song throws down a musical break that shifts into elegant art rock lead lines. It is a sweet departure adding to the song's story arc. 

Freudz Couch hails from Sudbury, Ontario, Canada and are Nik Paparo (drums), Vince Therrien (bass), Don Fournier (guitar) and Patrick Veinot (vocals). Their journey runs deep all the way from 1993 to 2003 to their recent rebirth. Check out the Press Notes below for the details.

-
Robb Donker

PRESS NOTES:


Biography
Freudz Couch toured, recorded and released 3 indie albums and multiple EP's and singles between 1993-2003 that found their way on radio throughout the world as well as a Canadian Indie Motion Picture titled River Rats.

An unlikely reunion took place in 2016 with a commitment to write and record new music for the upcoming May 2017 EP release which will include 5 new songs, 3 of which have already been released as singles.

The 3 new singles 'Marfha', 'Darkness' and the Phil Collins cover of 'I Don't Care Anymore' are accompanied by videos found on YouTube. These, as well as all previously released Freudz Couch music can be downloaded at Apple Music/iTunes/Spotify/cdbaby and everywhere else dowloadable music is available.
Nik Paparo - Drums
Vince Therrien - Bass Guitar
Don Fournier - Guitar
Patrick Veinot - Vocals

Jason Davis - Bass (1991-1994)
Pat Boudreault, Aaron Walsh and Grant Dans - Bass (1994-1996)



Kat Skills - 808 style beat driven torch song "Gold" sparkles and shines even in the open spaces

















From the Netherlands - Kat Skills, the enticing collaboration between singer songwriter DeLouise and Producer / multi-instrumentalist Ingmar Spaaij release their first single Gold which rides on an 808 style beat, cool sub toned bass and sparse yet sultry guitars and, of course, DeLouise's comely vocal performance. The spartan framework makes use of the open spaces as evocative vocals hang in the air. 

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Robb Donker

"King Of Worms" by Deer Venom and Joel Paton feels like goth / grunge folk

King of Worms, the new single by Seattle based Deer Venom (the post punk solo project of Mario Barbetta) is a collaboration with another Seattle songwriter Joel Paton. By the sounds they have crafted together, deep haunting vocals riding on a spartan beat, acoustic guitars and electric sonic ambience (by way of synths or guitars) it is a clear and present sign that these two passionate writers should collab again and again. It feels like a kind of Neil Young-ian affair pushed through a kind of goth / grunge folk filters. 

PRESS NOTES: 

Deer Venom is the name of a Seattle-based post-punk solo project by Mario Barbetta. Deer Venom is dark, poppy stoner-punk, with some darker new-wave elements and occasional sparkly glam edge. Deer Venom was founded by multi-instrumentalist Mario Barbetta in his basement in 2010. From Fall of 2013 through Spring of 2017 Deer Venom was a 3 piece. The band played a number of shows in the Seattle area (see show review -http://www.liveeyetv.org/2017/01/listen-deer-venom-not-today/ In the Summer of 2017 Mario recorded the first official Deer Venom release with hired gun drummer Mike Stone - a 4-song self-titled ep which came out Jan 26, 2018.



Gon Von Zola - twists and turns post punk / blues rock soul sounds on "LDN LPZ" (Official Video)

LDN LPZ by Gon Von Zola a London based "3rd culture kid" with German, Swedish, Estonian and Indian roots is a post punk twist and turn on a classic blues / soul rock prog done up in a kind of art rock way. First listen, I thought of Arctic Monkeys and on the periphery even Queens Of The Stone Age. Love the aesthetic and GVZ's vocal presentation. Check out the Official Video below.

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Robb Donker

Vital Press Notes:

Of the song, Gon says,
"LDN LPZ is about the pros and cons of moving to London and focusing entirely on my music. It's about the financial instability of being an artist in the capital, the discomfort, the worries, the challenges, the brilliant music and romantic encounters. It's about my original hometown Leipzig's beautiful drifters, artsy environments, open air raves, low rents, and an easy life. The song also celebrates youth, and the freedom to travel, live and find love anywhere we like." 

Formerly known under his stage name The Budda Cakes, Gon has been championed by the likes of NME, Time Out, Uncut, BBC 6 to name a few, and has also supported Lykke Li, RiD, Kate Nash and Mystery Jets.


Fascinations Grand Chorus - deep injection 100% pure 60's pop sound - "Until I Found You"

Until I Found You by Jersey City, New Jersey's Fascinations Grand Chorus is so exquisitely drenched in a 60's pure pop sound free from modern post punk filters. Unabashedly honed and recorded faithfully with analog equipment to capture those beautiful imperfections and utilizing the techniques of Joe Meek and Phil Spector (minus maybe a large plate reverb set up). Stephanie and Andrew who were known songwriter rivals in the local NJ scene came together by their love of of The Misfits, 1910 Fruitgum Company and vintage arcade games. When I first heard their sound, their aesthetic I felt a kind of hybrid feeling of Summer Twins and Dante Elephante. Capturing a classic sound is not as easy as it might appear but the two succeed even live. I plan on swimming in their sounds forever. 

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Robb Donker



Ball Pit Witch's comely ode to technology's addictions on "Putting Off Sleep"

Putting Off Sleep by Ball Pit Witch from Cardiff (UK) is a sultry stripped bare slow dance of a song with a stand out vocal performance. From the trippingly wrought cool stair stepping melodies that would normally evoke odes to a flesh and blood infatuation or love Putting Off Sleep instead waxes romantically over the Internet's (and all forms of media's) regular cascading come on's that keep us sleepily up at night. The opiates of the masses, right? 

In the end Putting Off Sleep still manages to coyly and beautifully put us in a love forlorn headspace just by BPW's evocative and purely sweet voice. He, after all, creates his beautiful creations in his bedroom and he does it so well. 

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Robb Donker

"Wastin' Time" by The Mercy Stone leaves you wanting more (in a good way)






















Wastin' Time by The Mercy Stone, a 12 piece ensemble founded by composer / guitarist Scott Grady (in 2016) is a dreamy rhythmic kind of garden rock affair with progressive tendencies built on layers of vocal harmonies with melodies that sort of chase each other. The song surprisingly ends with a single embrace of cello and strings in such a way that you are left wanting more, much more. Grady's desire to fuse together a neo classical concert stage sound that a "rock" audience would get into amassed accomplished musicians from all over to create a hybrid of classical, rock, pop, raggae, metal, funk, psychedelic and varied world music elements too. 

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Robb Donker


Saturday, November 24, 2018

Christopher Pellnat mines world folk tones and 60's pop folk motifs from different decades on "Lift Off"

Ode to Olivia Rhodes is a dreamy alt folk affair by Christopher Pellnat, a singer songwriter from Hudson New York. On his "Lift Off" album he tells stories that can feel like age old sea shanties (Waiting all Night and Dystopia Is Over) on one hand and on the other veer into a diverse blendo style. One second mining calypso flavors and easily shifting into a kind of 60's pop pushed through light jazz and folk rock filters (Do It Again Like You Like It and There's Gonna Be Some Healing).  On many there is a sense of vintage Americana Blue Collar soap box 60's folk sounds even if the songs might swing more in the microcosm like on the mindfully cool and quirky I Saw Everything and Everything Was Enough and the free spirited You Left The Gate Swinging. There is a kind of sultry folk thing happening on  You're So Beautiful Making Your Escape and a kind of personal reflective folk quality ala Paul Simon meets 60's pop complete with swinging finger snaps on  Sacred Truths And Lies. "Lift Off" is an album that will grow on you. The musical arcs presented on what feels like simple compositions (take Dystopia Is Over for example) run deep as the tales Pellnat lures you in with a kind of Steam Punk allure turn over in your mind and apply as metaphors galore about life, love and battles against the many monsters out there in the great big scary world.

In between his solo musical projects, Pellnat plays electric guitar in the band The Warp / The Weft.

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Robb Donker





Thursday, November 22, 2018

Castle Pines shapes pain with hope, loneliness and isolation into inspired guitar rock on "March Mellow"

























March Mellow by Castle Pines starts off with a plaintive accordion (or Melodica) sound on top of ambient noises and then gives way to heavy bottom bass and drums, pearly guitar and Leandro Barrientos' wistful vocal performance. The sonic landscape of the song, from the vocal melodies that feel like late night heavy but fond recollections to the counterpoised guitar lines, pregnant pauses and absolutely dreamy musical break that deconstructs and rebuilds with stair stepping guitars, slow burn drums and bass into this lovely (chills on your skin) diorama of sound. You will see images and feel emotions (your own obviously) probably some dark and sad but hopeful as well. When the vocals come in to finish out the song it feels like something between heartbreak and acceptance. 

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Robb Donker

From Press NOTES:

Isolation and loneliness are the core themes of the new song ‘March Mellow’ by Castle Pines. Inspired by seeing Castle Pines drummer Sterling Fairfield spend months in the hospital and almost dying because of Crohn’s Disease, singer and lyricist Leandro Barrientos took their history together, beginning in garages and punk rock venues and expanded that into an abstract narrative reflecting a persons identity as they become older and irrelevant.  


and:


There is a concrete reference to the music venue the band grew up in Corona, CA the now defunct “Showcase Theater” where the band spent the majority of its youth watching bands and formulating their own musical tastes. It is to this promising past of vibrant art that the band now seethes with melancholic appreciation and longing. With the hospitalization of Sterling the band looked to these times as bastions of hope for a better tomorrow.


https://cpporvida.com/new-blog/crohnsdisease




Tuesday, November 20, 2018

The musical chaos of "LION" by Dirt Hand feel like darkly burning camp fire stories

The track LION by Australian Dirt Hand, the solo musical project of Arun Roberts feels like experimental goth folk to me. The pulsating brass swells that feel like some kind of growing shifting musical organism are glued together by stalking beats creating an inspired and fully textured tentative tightrope for Roberts' deep growling storytelling. Roberts whose artistically drawn vocals (a bit like Alex Ebert pushed through Nick Cave filters) feel wildly played like a story teller around a campfire intent on scaring the children just enough to make them fully feel alive. His physical countenance: large, long and sinewy actually matches his vocal presence. 

Roberts as Dirt Hand likes to create his hand crafted visions in improvisational experimental ways. He loves weaving around live played mistakes and hates metronomes. Like free jazz, his gothic neo folk interpretations are alive in the moment. He likes to let the players be fresh and on edge and still figuring things while they are playing / recording. The horns on LION did remind me a bit of the brass styles in Radiohead's The National Anthem (not directly in sound but in temperament) and while that "organized chaos" was inspired by jazz musician Charles Mingus, from what I can tell Robert's is content for each performance of LION to take on an entirely different direction. In essence creating unorganized chaos or just chaos, a tightrope indeed. Hmmm? Wow. 

LION is the first single from the upcoming second DIRT HAND  EP "The Thorn Variations".

"LION came about very quickly and has refused to leave me alone ever since. I wrote it one day shortly after my uncle had finally succumbed to the myriad cancers plaguing his body and life. He was a dear man and role model and I could only liken his passing to the defeat of a mighty lion by a gust of wind. This is its second recorded appearance. It is a song that stands up to constant redressing and reinvention, more than any other song I’ve written. I quite like that about it. It is like my own private jazz standard. For this recording I provided each player with a unique rhythm and asked them to base their part on that rhythm.The result was a kind of euphoric rhythm soup."

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Robb Donker