Monday, July 16, 2018

The Little Miss - chasing the "American Dream"

There is something strange about The Little Miss (the moniker of Hayley Johnson) or maybe to be more clear something strange about her music. Her aesthetic on American Dream which is this kind of 60's folk / country and western meets the American songbook (or something like that) is done with such an earnest tone it is hard to discern if she is embracing that time or shooting barbs at it. Her vocal presentation is engaging but again pulls in retro tones. It is the kind of yearning for simpler times although from a Geo-political aspect, from a Civil Rights aspect those times were not so rosy and let's not even get into how women fared. There was darkness behind some of those white picket fences and part of me thinks that The Little Miss taps into the irony of it all. It is that kind of parallel shift that would make it feel right at home in a Wes Anderson movie or even as a song in Handmaid's Tale to punctuate the utter horror presented. Maybe I am looking way too deeply. I do love her sound and aesthetic so much. Maybe I should just enjoy The Little Miss's  American Dream. In it she is still, after all, chasing freedom.

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Robb Donker


Sunday, July 15, 2018

Lauren O'Connell- big bite on "In On The Joke" from the "Details" album

Lauren O'Connell is based out of San Francisco by way of Rochester, New York and her band's brand of alternative country pushes indie rock buttons and it has bite. On the song In On The Joke she sings, "If I told you I thought you were the son of God...you would spit in my face with a wink and a nod... let everybody know how you shrugged it off.... but holy shit how good you would look on a cross." The song's big down beats have a 90's post rock vibe and coupled with the smart sardonic words I thought of the band Miracle Mile a bit. This is my first introduction to Lauren O'Connell and I cannot wait to dive deeper into her artistry which is rounded out by band members Olivia Lee and Lauren Grubb. 

In On The Joke is from the 2018 album "Details".

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Robb Donker


Pastis - indie rock with 80's Brit punk pop flavors on "Amazon"

























Pastis hails from Helsinki, Finland. Their indie rock sound brings to mind 60's Brit pop, 80's New wave / Brit punk pop and 90's post punk all kind of blended together. Last year they released the well received EP "Four Stories" and are set to release their debut full length this fall. Check out the track- Amazon. Pastis is Markus Nymalm (guitar, vox), Emil Inberg (guitar), Sakari Palmroos (guitar), Henrik Vuoksenmaa (bass) and Kelle Valkama (drums).
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Robb Donker

Out of Norway: Teddy and The Love Gang- explosively cool "Island Universe" from the EP "Kid Forest- Sanctuary"

























Some of the music coming out of Norway lately makes we want to move there for a while to be absorbed in the post punk indie scene over there. I just need to buy some warmer clothes. Take for instance, Teddy and The Love Gang and the track Island Universe which is from their 4 track EP "Kid Forest - Sanctuary." At barely over 3 minutes it wastes no time. It is a full frontal attack of post punk sounds with falsetto vox backing up the over modulated front vox, snappy lead licks and synth melodies that will plaster a big smile on your face. Love this track. Teddy and the Love Gang consider what they do as "weird pop" and are Erlend Kartvedt, Trym Westbye Syversen, "Teddy" and Theo Saenger who says about the track that he found inspiration from a sentence of Aldous Huxley's essay, 'Doors of Perception' : "every person is their own island universe."

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Robb Donker


NEEDSHES - exuberant big rocker - "Time To See"


























The latest from NEEDSHES, Time To See is a big exuberant rocker hinged on singer-songwriter Otabek Salamov's (Beck) smoothly cool and emotional vocal performance. Salamov moves effortlessly into brilliant falsettos while Ivan Petukhov's staccato riffs create runaway rhythms and Alexey Manakhov pushes heavy drum patterns. The song has got strong indie rock pop hooks although I wish it would of veered off into a deep bridge and was just a longer song. It seems to end all too soon. In the end it still gets under your skin and you want to sing along.

The boys hail from the city of Tashkent, Uzbekistan and it is clear by Salamov's flawless English that he has been in large part influenced by American and Brit pop artists. Time To See makes me think a bit of if Coldplay, the Killers and Muse had a baby and I mean that in a good way. Other inspirations Salamov cite (besides the 3 aforementioned) are U2, David Bowie, A-Ha, Jack White, Red Hot Chile Peppers and Nirvana.

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Robb Donker


George Hadfield:: Hear the synthy, funky, deep groove title track off of the "Brenda" album

I don't think any one will ever write a song called Robbert. Minneapolis songwriter / multi-instrumentalist George Hadfield has, in fact, written an album entitled "Brenda" and the title track is an R & B, groovy pop, electronic synthy hybrid that is thoroughly engaging in all it's cagey post punk funkadeliciousness. Truly... no lie.

For your information: 

The "Brenda" album is something you want to hear. Listen to Wolf below as well.  Here are some details about the album:

All songs written, produced and recorded by George, Hadfield, Danny O'Brien, Garrett Neal, Stefon "Bionik" Taylor.

George Hadfield (vox, bass, synthesizers, drum machines),
Garrett Neal (synthesizers)
Alexander Young (drums), John Hadfield (piano an trumpet). 
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Robb Donker 



Danny Downing- "Memories Survive" from the album "When The Lights Go Down"

From the 2018 album "When The Lights Go Down" - the track Memories Survive is a vast indie rock ballad that erupts with harder rock flourishes to tell the story.

Singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist Danny Downing hails from Saskatoon, Canada and grew up listening to all kinds of music from the Beatles to Nirvana and also steeped himself in the poetry of Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost and Robert Finch.

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Robb Donker

NOTE: As of the writing of this post the album is available on Itunes but look for it on other digital platforms as well.


Saturday, July 14, 2018

Rudy De Anda stirs it up in "Helado"

I first met Rudy De Anda in 2013 as he fronted his band Wild Pack of Canaries a post punk hybrid prog band shoving experimental cross cultural sounds into tight spaces.

Orbiting in and around Long Beach haunts and over the years working with luminary Isaiah "Ikey" Owens (Mars Volta, Jack White) as well as LB local Jonny Bell at Jazz Cats studio (Crystal Antlers, Hanni El Khatib, Day Wave) and (in true DIY fashion) has been part of a Los Angeles artist group called Qvolé Collective (Chicano Batman, Cutty Flam and more) representing progressive Latin music.

His current release Helado cuts a deep dreamy Latin groove with De Anda's chill crafted guitar licks dancing about. You have synthesizer swirls courtesy of Bardo Martinez of Chicano Batman, percussion by Edgar "Meshlee" Modesto of Byepongo and guest vocals by Gemma Castro. 

Rudy De Anda has created such varied and stellar sounds in his different incarnations that I couldn't help to include Visions of Plumerias from his vastly interesting 2015 album "Ostranenie" as well as an interview with Wild Pack of Canaries.

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Robb Donker





Naivesign: "Lazy Sunday Afternoon" from the EP "Synesthesia" will wake you up






















Pop outfit out of Seoul, South Korea called Naivesign will surely make you get up and dance around. I know it had that effect on me. Check out Lazy Sunday Afternoon from the "Synesthesia" EP

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Robb Donker

"My Blue Heart" by Coyle Girelli pushes black and white images of cool and darkness

Listen to Coyle Girelli's My Blue Heart and for a couple of minutes you are transported to black and white images, sharp creases in slacks and skirts, healthy cigarettes, chewing gum and turbulent times put away neatly behind white picket fences. You may think of Roy Orbison and maybe even Elvis Presley a bit but there is a tinge of darkness in this song that makes it feel more dangerous.  

My Blue Heart is the second single from Girelli's debut solo album called "Love Kills". It is a big departure from the post punk sounds Girelli fronts in The Chevin (Yorkshire, England).

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Robb Donker





Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Kill Joy - potent alt folk pushed through post punk filters - on the EP "Sex Comedy"

Kill Joy hails from Washington DC via Auckland, New Zealand and the track Valentine's Day from her just released EP "Sex Comedy" is an acoustic indie rocker built around potent acoustic guitar poised right on top of the microphone so closely that it becomes both instrumentation and percussion (and I love that). Even though there is jangly electric guitar and added beats it is that aggressive acoustic guitar and Kill Joy's evocative vocals that propel the track forward from the very start. K-Joy's influences are noted as Joni Mitchell and Sheryl Crow and while that is perfectly fair, to me I would say Joni Mitchell and Fiona Apple. In fact, I feel a strong Apple vibe on the track Not So Well and lyrically there is even that twist the knife aesthetic.  The vocals on this EP with support by her own background vox are so exquisitely engaging. I love this woman's voice so much and love her singing style. Turn the track Sun up loud, as loud as you can take it. Acoustic or not, it is the EP's heavy kind of post punk rocker. Kill Joy's vocal flourishes sound so damn good because they are dripping with emotion. The only thing wrong with "Sex Comedy" is that is so short. It does, though serve as this kind of sonic appetizer leaving you so hungry for more of this woman's art.  Well done.

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Robb Donker


UK- Superego -- release single "Sleep" and it is dense and delicious

Midlands, UK based four piece Superego just released their single Sleep. It has a big rock audacity with post punk postures and an Albini like grunge heaviness in it's groove. Cam Potts' vocal performance is over modulated cool punk croons with poppy indie rock tendencies. Superego is rounded out by Tom Richards, Luke Joseph Harley and Samuel Beckingham.  Rock on.

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Robb Donker



Monday, July 9, 2018

Swedish post punk indie rockers and "2:42" from the "Cult" EP

Swedish post punk rockers Eldoradio's track 2:42 from their mini album "Cult" clocks in at a mere 2 minutes and 27 seconds and the boys don't waste one second of it. Unrelenting beat, stair stepping progs and the guitar lines that starts off the chorus are so incredibly drenched in youthful passion. The vox have a perfect punk art posture, "paranoia's got a hold and it's choking me" and "I don't know what I'm running from." You can feel the bodies pushed against each other moshing against the stage in some small club as the dense sound penetrates the air. 

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Robb Donker


Ocean Potion - pushing sounds you want to hear in "In The Grass" (Official Video)

























In The Grass by Ocean Potion (Canada) has synth sounds that feel other worldly and whispery self aware vox that feel almost child like, dreamy sounds pushing vintage sci-fi buttons which itself is just so fascinating (I love old imaginings of the future). The kind of drums / bass / guitar / spacey synth sounds as a sort of twisted orchestra is magnetic. The result, to me feels like something between MGMT and /or Unknown Mortal Orchestra and /or Flaming Lips and / or  Caandides but thoroughly in the end their own self.... (want to make that clear). 

I am in love with this song and Ocean Potion's aesthetic here. OP is a new band made up of a member from Yukon Blonde and a member of fellow Canadian rock band Zeus. The official video for In The Grass is a trip. Most likely mined public domain footage (or PSA) and I have so many questions to ask about it but for now I will just keep that all to myself and enjoy Ocean Potion's sounds.

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Robb Donker




Sunday, July 8, 2018

Kimono Drag Queen - cranks up the psychedelic volume on "Acid Reign"

Kimono Drag Queens. I have to say, don't like the name. I don't know why but putting those words / concepts together (?), well... that is just a hell of a lot going on in my brain. Does the name try to hard, maybe... (that's just me) but in the end a band name is just a fucking band name. Actually not as important as one might think because the name becomes what the music is, what the music makes you feel.

So KDQ is a seven (yes, seven) piece alternative rock outfit from Sydney, Australia and the track Acid Reign is a gem. It cooks on a guitar / bass hook with streams of psychedelic lines crisscrossing over the sounds. When it slows down it feels extra trippy and you can feel a think coat of hallucinogens hanging in the air like a Doors song but it only lingers in this multi-colored haze for awhile until that beautiful metal / meets deep blues rock riff cranks up again. The song trades off between trippy and cranking. The guitar sounds are deliciously heavy and dense. There is a sense of post punk metal mania that is just incredibly fun and engaging. The sounds pay homage to some great gods of rock in the same way that (let's say) a Ty Segall mines some of the best of those riffs but still puts his own spin on the milieu (like on Emotional Mugger). I feel that happening here to and I absolutely love it. The only negative thing I could say about Acid Reign is that it feels too short. I like to bask in this kind of sound a lot longer. What the hell... that is what the repeat button is for.

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Robb Donker


The Ruralists - "The Birth Of Birds" alt folk on high and "Ghost"

Ghost by The Ruralists begs for your faith. Like a fighter beaten down, Luke Hawley and the boys crawl to the top of the mountain again and again until finally reaching the top. Their brand of Americana folk rock has a reverent tone as the song reaches crescendos multiple times, first small then bigger and then so explosive that you are ready to give yourself up to the sound. Hawley's vocal performance is raw and passionate with Mid-Western tones. I thought of classic garden rock / American roots rock bands like The Band (though born in Toronto / Ontario, Canada) as Ghost wrapped around me.

The Ruralists are based out of Sioux Center, Iowa and their debut album, "The Birth Of Birds" is available on all platforms. They are Luke Hawley (guitar / vox), Ben Lappenga (eletric guitar), Laremy De Vries (electric guitar), Jake Miller (bass) and Titus Landagent (drums).

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Robb Donker

Find out more about The Ruralists here: www.fullyruralized.com


Maps Of - New York collaboration on "Maps Of The Invisible City" art rock from alt folk footings

All The Right Sounds by New York based Maps Of feels like colors of sound cast from a prism twisting on a string. Pearly crisscrossing guitars, rapid elusive bass lines, changing time signatures, raw alt folkish vox that will fall head first into jammy proggy bursts of sound. The turn from alt folk footings to more art rock flavors happens throughout the seven track album "Maps Of The Invisible City." These different approaches is what makes the record so engaging. Different artistic visions coalesced into one by three artists. Maps Of centers around singer songwriter Nick Perlman (lead vox / guitar) and his collaboration with Andy Porta (drums) and Seth Nicholson (bass). Fall into the emotional musical fray of All The Right Sounds and Anything At all and then discover the rest.

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Robb Donker



Yolanda's EP "What Vision" feels like Polaroid dreams (featured) "No Great Shakes" and "Drivver_New Waltz"

No Great Shakes, the second track on Yolanda's EP entitled "What Vision" has such a big scope for somethings that feels so incredibly intimate. The melody beautifully sways as images dance by a car window as the beat moves with a wanderlust heart. The song rides on organic acoustic guitar but there are vast sounds (some ambient) that turn the affair into what feels like a somber dream but one with beauty and feelings of better times in these sonic images of the past. The vox are awash in the sound but not buried too much. This almost noise rockish vocal aspect runs throughout "What Vision" giving the songs a kind of retro vibe, like looking at old Polaroids. Goldtimes is a runaway song, upbeat and dreamy with lovely bass lines. It would be perfect gracing surfing footage. Drivver, New Waltz is jammy standout with a post punk feel and kind of surf guitar sounds. Part Pixies and Lou Reed. Cool and Cinematic. Fetch crackles and bends time. It feels like experimental bedroom pop.

There is more on this vastly cool collection of songs that began as the primitive laptop recordings of Nicholas Abraham created during "a particularly sleepless four years spent working 80 hour weeks at LA County Hospital" that you need to discover on your own. Loving this.
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Robb Donker

YOLANDA website here with links to music. Available on streaming sites and as a 10" Vinyl.
https://www.yolandaband.com/
PRESS NOTES EXCERPT:
The record benefited from scattered contributions from an assortment of other musicians, artists, and friends including formative stints in Todd Dahlhoff’s Angeleno Heights miniature ivy-covered ‘submarine’ studio & Paul Oldham’s steamy garage. The project’s namesake, Yolanda, is after a once tiny palm-sized white cat adopted by Nicholas and his wife while visiting a friend in Havana, Cuba. Shortly after she made her triumphant arrival to California, producer Chris Coady (Grizzly Bear, Beach House, TV On The Radio, Yeah Yeah Yeahs) jumped on board to mix the project after Nicholas sent him the tracks on a whim and What Vision was born. Out on all digital platforms and pristine 10” vinyl.


Saturday, July 7, 2018

Lennard Rubra's proggy tropical punk flavors on the "Escapismo Primaverile" EP make me feel alive

The Escapismo Primaverile EP by Lennard Rubra from Emilia-Romagna, Italy is full of jammy exuberant indie pop tones feeling like tropical punk with free proggy diversions tossed in for good measure. The track Telemachia sparkles with pearly sticcatto guitar and upside bass lines dancing along. Really loving the drunken dance feel of Pina Bausch. Urano feels a bit like Telemachia's sister but there are proto punk tones throughout. La Stagione tiptoes around in a elegant punk way. The sounds throughout feel a bit like Mac DeMarco twisted about with proto punkish vibes ala Television blended in nicely. Cool stuff.

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Robb Donker



Timi Temple - OFFICIAL Video for "Young Man, Old Boy"




















In the song Young Man, Old Boy, Timi Temple is navigating growing older as he matures into his 20's. The Sydney local crafts indie rock smartly blending in post punk psychedelia and deep infectious pop hooks too. Temple is cultivated fans of all ages with strong Spotify presence (11K monthly) and support from Australia's Triple J and FBI Radio as well as the OFFICIAL video for Young Man, Old Boy added to the MTV Australia play list. Don't worry Timi Temple, your future looks bright.

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Robb Donker



"The Photograph" by JF Robitaille and Lail Arad was just meant to be

The song The Photograph by singer songwriters JF Robitaille (Canada) and Lail Arad (UK) is a magical blend of words and music that feels like an all too brief encounter of what could have been or what simply was,  perfectly frozen in time. Robitaille wrote the music which has an almost 60's Phil Spector-esque sway and Arad the lyrics full of charm and romantic leanings. Maybe the song is a testament to what is supposed to be. Just like the pairing of Robitaille and Arad itself.

The two acclaimed artists co-headlined an Italian tour in 2016  and found the next logical step was collaborating and recording together. They spent a winter in Montreal penning songs together and playing a month long residency at the iconic Society Club in London. Eventually this culminated in a 42 date tour in 2017 spanning across 8 countries from Italy to India resulting in a sold out London show and live radio sessions for Loose Ends (BBC Radio 4), Robert Elms (BBC London) and John Kennedy (Radio X). Some things are just meant to be.

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Robb Donker




Toronto art-pop band - Goosebump and the cross time song "She Don't Say Goodbye" from their self titled album

The track She Don't Say Goodbye by Toronto art-pop band Goosebump and from their 2018 self titled 9 track album "Goosebump" could have existed in the 1980's. There is the romantic new wave sway of bands like Bryan Ferry and ABC and the vocal performance is postured in that smartly dressed Brit funk sort of way as well. Goosebump has Paul Erlichman and Neil Rankin at it's creative core with Mike Duffield on drums, Kirsten Dahlin Nolan on keys, Ruhee Dewji on sax, Kristina Koshi on Flute and Lee Rose on violin.

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Robb Donker


Meaney And The Misfits - lovely folk weariness on "Mind Over Matter"

The UK's Meaney and the Misfits is the band / project centered around singer-songwriter Peter Meaney's storytelling. From the "Batten Down The Hatches" EP, the track Mind Over Matter is a study in opposites. You have the lovely lilting melodies and earnest folk approach with Meaney's beaten and worn vocal performance. It all works. It is lovely, hopeful but hard too, just like life itself. Leah Hart's somber harmonies and solo vox cast more reflections to revel in. 

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Robb Donker

Caelo - big alt rock sound with proggy tendencies on "How Does It Feel"

























Three piece alternative rockers Caelo out of Cape Town, South Africa and the track How Does It Feel from their "Wait For You" EP pushes proggy buttons and big rock sounds. From the onset the ultra tight production shows off their musicality and dynamic play, big downbeats and an even bigger pre-chorus. The chorus smartly plays like a building crescendo. Very interesting and engaging. So much to love on this track.
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Robb Donker




Official Video for Into The Ark's - "Caroline" off the "Valencia" EP

From Into The Ark's latest "Valencia" EP the beautiful track Caroline holds the boy's trademark heartfelt vocal performances at it's core.  Dane Lloyd and Taylor Jones hail from Blackwood, Wales. Since meeting 7 years ago their journey from busking in Cardiff to old school touring out of a van all over the UK to last years appearance on The Voice UK, the boys have built up a loyal following. Caroline, the second song from the "Valencia" EP was recorded in Valencia, Spain. The track is stripped down, moves with a lovely slow dance cadence, possesses beautiful harmonies and deep indie pop hooks. Just lovely. Into The Ark recently played 20 dates in the US, returning to the UK and Europe for 25 more dates.

The "Valencia" EP is available here: https://ita.lnk.to/ValenciaEP

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Robb Donker



Gabrielle Marlena deep personal revelations on her EP "Easier Love"

























Easier Love, the title track of her new EP (like all the songs on this collection) feels less like an alt folk song than a confessional, like passages in a diary or intimate text messages between her and those who are close to her or not close anymore. These intimate revelations or what feels like intimate secrets is what gives her songs on "Easier Love" the emotional gravitas. It is like we are voyeurs to her pain and hopes of better days. Stylistically her vocal style is dynamic. Pretty with passion she can run away with so many words until they stall like a plane going into a death dive and then her vox will slow down and sustain in spots. Sometimes (to me) the dense word play can be overwhelming but then sometimes one has to get it all out, right? Gabrielle can slow down though like on the almost gospel painted Road Thoughts which she still injects with emotional charged admonishments, little intimate images that made goosebumps skate across my skin.

Evocative and compelling, full of small and large devastation. Gabrielle Marlena is based out of Brooklyn, New York.

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Robb Donker



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Evelyn Drach mines ancestral memories in "Leopard In The Sun"

Evelyn Drach is a London based musician and storyteller of Transylvanian descent and while I will resist the urge to comment on her last name I will say that her track Leopard In The Sun has been haunting my dreams. Thankfully those dreams have not stepped over the razor thin line of nightmares.

Leopard In The Sun does feel haunting. While Drach sings in a kind of possessed sort of way her words scowling in muted ecstasy as guitars and percussive rhythms float along the whole while crackles and pops like broken old film reels give the song an ancient ghostly tone. The guitar / musical tones complete with scratchy violins feel somewhere between goth rock, industrial rock, baroque pop and horror punk.

Evelyn Drach considers herself a voyeur. She explores abandoned buildings and travels vast distances in search of buried stories, drawing from ancestral memories. It sounds to me like she is not content to wade in the shallows of life but instead dives deep.

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Robb Donker

Will be released on 10th July on Spotify, Amazon, iTunes through AWAL. First release was 4th June 'Never Let Me Go' & 'Follow Me' now available online.

Babe Parade - hear the deeply groovy "Good Time" from the "Fortune" EP

Babe Parade hails from L.A. and Good Time is off the band's EP entitled "Fortune" which is loosely based on the Greek myth, Pygmalion. The song is written from the perspective of a sculptor who wishes his creation could come to life so they can live happily ever after together. 

Good Time rides on a super deep bass groove and sparkly tropical punkish guitar and indie pop melodies. 

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Robb Donker



Friday, July 6, 2018

Olivia Awbrey puts a lot in her politically charged indie / psyche / folk / punk music-- hear "Don't Be Alarmed"

























Portland based indie / psyche / folk / punk poet Olivia Awbrey's latest single "Don't Be Alarmed" is an exuberant dish of post punk pie with a lot of flavors. The guitar attacks screech, the cadence runs away, Awbrey's vox feel clear and laid back, the musical breaks have indie rock and punk flourishes. At one point I thought of the Pixies and at another moment I thought of Juliana Hatfield.  The song has a wide array of textures and in the end the aesthetic feels like (politically active) folk punk to me. Descriptions are just that and what is important is how this track makes you feel. Listen, feel it. I think you will like it. 

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Robb Donker



Miss You by Percy Falls out of Austin is simply beautiful artful folk

Miss You by Americana folk group Percy Falls out of Austin, Texas is a simple love song built on lilting melodies that would be as home on a Broadway stage as they would be on a country porch. There is something particularly artful and cinematic in the loveliness here and maybe that is why a number of Percy Falls music has graced a number of indie films and documentaries including "Critical Eleven" (out of Indonesia) to "To Joey With Love" here in the US.

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Robb Donker


Holden Laurence- "Indian Summer" perfect for cool summer nights

























Holden Laurence is an indie / alternative artist based out of Cleveland, Ohio and his new single Indian Summer is an all inclusive indie pop tune whose sparkly production cuts a big summer mellow rock path spanning from 1978 to now.
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Robb Donker



Big Band - big punk sound on the album "Options" - featured "Look Away" and "Itch"

Big Band is from Brooklyn, New York and they just released their album "Options" produced by Connor Hanwick from the Drums.
The single Look Away has a big punk hazy guitar sound with a shifty drunken beat and Chris D'Alessandro's delicious lumbering vocals.

While this is not an album review. Holy hell, as I peruse through the other songs there is so much to love. The aesthetic modulates somewhere between The Dead Kennedys and She Wants Revenge. Yes, I know that is a wide spectrum of sound. A lot happening on this record. I mean I need to share Itch too. Me and this record are going to get intimate later.

Big Band is the aforementioned Chris D'Alessandro (guitar, vox), Pele Uriel (bass, synth, guitar) and Joseph Bellantuono (synth, guitar bass).

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Robb Donker


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Thursday, July 5, 2018

Berlin Dream Pop Songstress Laura Carbone stirs you with "Lullaby"

The song Lullaby by Berlin dream pop songstress Laura Carbone is a sultry vast road ballad with surf guitar and Spaghetti western flavors. The atmosphere feels like the stuff of pulpy 50's Dime store novels with the cadence of a jukebox slow dance. Stylistically I thought of Wicked Game by Chris Isaak and a hint of Jesse Jo Stark. Whatever Lullaby stirs inside you it will lull you into a dreamy state in such a cool way. 

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Robb Donker


The Amber Unit - 2018 "Fear No Giant" Album is worth the wait - hear "Nebula" and "Brother"

Switzerland's The Amber Unit has been in the musical fray for two decades. Their last album "While You Started A Revolution - We Started Love in 2011 left critics and audiences wanting more. Six years have past and Nebula from their 2018 album "Fear No Giant" seems appropriate. As ambient noises and transient guitar layers fill your senses heavy bass and drums drive the song forward. Victor Hofstetter's sultry self aware vocal performance pulls you fully in. The theme of rebuilding is the mantra for a band who are made up of survivors.

The Amber Unit is Victor Hofstetter (vocals / guitar), Stevie Fiedler (guitar /keys), Yves Neuhaus (guitar, violin /keys), Emanuel Speiser (drums) and Christoph Meneghetti (bass / guitar).

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Robb Donker

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Wednesday, July 4, 2018

The Classic Hunt's "The Lyrids" EP will leave a mark on you





























The Classic Hunt is a five piece alternative rock band based out of Philadelphia and their four track EP "The Lyrids" (despite it's brevity) leaves a mark. Whether that mark is a bruise or a heightened sense of being alive after having a brush with death I think you will feel something. That something might be laced with confusion, joy and even disgust. The lyrics stream out of Tyler Hayduk's plastique lips in a pushed beat poetry sort of way. Besides the proggy musicality of the songs, the poetically obtuse yet deeply aware lyrics, it is Hayduk's singing style that pulls you into the fray right away. Oddly enough or maybe not odd at all I thought of Bob Dylan, Van Morrison and Jello Biafra (the Dead Kennedys) or a blend thereof. Musically, the Classic Hunt plays with tones that are all over the place. The alt rock umbrella turned upside down holds folk, psychedelic rock, blues, post punk all blended in a dreamy meets proggy way. I swear that on the provocative track Back To Life I taste a hint of zydeco even.  The song feels like wanderlust on high, like a dizzy night of being seriously fucked up on strong intoxicants and being lost or maybe found. I couldn't help think of Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs and Van Morrison's Into The Mystic all at once. And while the beauty of the latter is traded for kissed obscenities on Back to Life there is a lot of beauty had too. The story rides and soars with a dense production and the rock flourishes are so damn moving. Let me say on a serious note that the refrain "I'm dying to fuck you back to life" left me torn and curious. Every possible alliteration aside within the context of the song it's meaning is up to you to interpret but references to Narcissus and more lead me to believe that it is a line said in the mirror and that the counter position of death and life is the point itself. In the end it is a desperately sad lyric.

I think those of us who like lyrics that hold more questions than answers will be drawn to this material. For me the center point of the album is Catalina. The drama starts right away with a stalking, mysterious bass line, staid drums on edge and pearly guitar rhythms that stair step up and back. Hayduk sings in a more forceful way while background vox sound more haunting. The song feels like a slow building crescendo with beautiful musical breaks but all the while you feel the eruption about to happen. When it does with stirring layers or lead guitars it feels like art rock theater like some dreamy blend of Built To Spill and Pink Floyd. On the track Sunflower For Rye there are head nods (to me) to classic rock like Led Zeppelin cleverly crafted, blended with a kind of Pere Ubu vibe. Simply, undeniably trippy and so very tasty. The last song Star Vultures might be the most "accessible" to most as it traverses both prog rock with an anthemic orchestrated sound at least until the end musical break as the band jams out in a wonderful sonic milieu of funk, rock and blues.

The Lyrids EP by The Classic Hunt is not (as they say) for the faint of heart. For those of you that it strikes a chord with you will find a wealth of sounds here to revel in. Each time you listen you will hear other nuances of sound and fury. I love the musicality on this album and the potent rock guitar. The expressiveness of the sound and lead work is so impressive. And, of course, I love the lyrical diatribes by Hayduk that even on their own stand out as challenging poetry. As with any great piece of music wrought by a band of people The Classic Hunt's sum of it's part is what make this outfit shine. My sense (although I do not know) is that the poetic center is Tyler Hayduk and that the band as a whole cross threads all their artistic visions together. Of course I can be completely wrong but whatever the case is The Classic Hunt is Tyler Hayduk (keys, guitar, lead vox), Brendan Burke (guitar), Andrew Haff (guitar), Jude Alvarez (bass) and Aaron Wolf (drums).

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Robb Donker

NOTE: Be sure and go to the bandcamp page and to play the songs in the correct order.

Foil Of The Stars imaginings on "Tree Of Snails" hear "The Fall Away"

The Fall Away from Toronto based Foil Of The Stars' "Tree Of Snails" EP rides on a percussive bass and drums sonic mantra as layers of ambience drenched synths, guitars and dreamy vox flow in between the spaces. 
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Robb Donker


Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Good Coffee - psychedelic folk tales on "American Love" album (featured) track "Knife"


























Good Coffee is a psychedelic folk band originating from Duke University (NC) centered around singer-songwriter Cole Heathcott's folk tales. The debut single Knife from the "American Love" album has an ambling country folk vibe that feels like treks across the open country against deep orange sunsets. Lovely easy harmonies courtesy of Lena Farr-Morrissey adds to the story. According to the Good Coffee Bandcamp page they now are hubbed out of Las Vegas. I hope the bright lights don't blind their earnest organic southern sound.
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Robb Donker




Hypocrite In A Hippy Crypt twists styles on "The Locals" from the "Vegas Of Feelings" album

Hypocrite In A Hippy Crypt creates lo-fi bedroom pop out of San Diego, California. Born out of a dorm room in 2010 this lone songwriter, producer is about to release his fourth album entitled  "Vegas Of Feelings" and the first single The Locals is exuberant cool indie pop with surf punk tones. The shiny sounds that veer into a kind of 90's post rock sound meets 60's pop reminds me of The Squids a bit. Cool stuff.
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Robb Donker


Funny Face bares her soul in "The Undecided Ghosts Chaser"

Funny Face aka Fanny Segui hails from Salon de Provence, France and her full bodied voice that feels well worn and lived belies her young age. On the track The Undecided Ghosts Chaser she bridges a kind of classic 60's folk sound with an almost emotional muted vocal style that itself feels emotional as if her soul has been broken. In this way I thought of Nico a bit. The simple guitar lines and percussion feels right for this kind of theater. Love it.
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Robb Donker


London alt-pop artist .imp rides jubilant kinetic energy on "Lifedreamer"

.imp is the moniker for London based alt pop artist James Hargreaves. His latest track Lifedreamer sparkles on kinetic energy as drum beats blended with what feels like industrial squeaks and transient dreamy guitars carry Hargreaves introspective vocals. All at once the song falls away head first into a storm of jubilant tones heralded by horns, cadent drums and soaring vox.

Of the track Hargreaves says,

“The first section of the song was written while I was whacked out on morphine and recovering from surgery, so it has quite a dreamy feel. I'm a big believer in the interpretation of a lyric being down to the listener so I don't want to get too explicit in its meaning - but in essence it's about keeping positive in adversity while you're going through a difficult patch. When the trumpets kick in and the bigger musical section hits, that's about being where you want to be, doing just what you want to do - you've fought your battles and your demons and you’re ready for the joy and celebration that comes with that. For me that's being in the mountains - clean air, stunning scenery and so far removed from the grime of the city that is my day to day living. It was the only place I wanted to be when I was being fixed up and looked after by these amazing people in the NHS.”
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Robb Donker

Monday, July 2, 2018

Silverbacks - art rock pushed through proto punk filters on "Dunkirk"

























Oh hell yeah... the track Dunkirk by Dublin art punk rockers Silverbacks feels a bit like the proto punk / art rock out of New York's CBGB's or Hollywood's Whiskey A Go Go circa 1983. The big tom tom beat, dominant bass line, twisted Batman guitar lines and talky vox feel kind of like Television, Talking Heads, Butthole Surfers, Wall of Vodoo and Richard Hell all smooshed together and I love it.

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Robb Donker



Stalagmites from Salford, England- the proggy alternative rock on "Projectile Dysfunction"



















Three piece Stalagmites from Salford, England push progressive rock buttons on the cagey and dynamic Projectile Dysfunction. You can feel hyperactive post rock tones throughout. Drumming at a fast clip that switches up patterns along with an ultra tight bass line walking on top of it's own melodies and guitar screaming out on a tightrope of dissonance all the while Bradley Lynch's vox moves at an equally facile speed. The fact that he is the bass player is even more impressive. Alex Hardman supplies the guitar work and Daniel Jones the drums.


Sunday, July 1, 2018

Bears in Hazenmore - alternative rock from Saskatchewan, Treaty 4- "In Your Head" (official video)

Bears in Hazenmore are an alternative rock band based our of Regina, Saskatchewan, Treaty 4 which sounds so foreign to me. Yes, I have been to British Columbia a few times and actually the people up there were scarily friendly to us Californians. Anyway, Bears in Hazenmore is an interesting name and it's five members, Brady Frank (lead vox, guitar, keys), Dana Rempel (bass/ sax), Darnell Stewart (guitar), Tanner Wilhelm Hale (drums, vox) and Dalton Lam (trumpet) all have roots in Swift Current, Saskatchewan (I like saying and writing Saskatchewan). 

The track In Your Head from the 2018 "Atlas" album moves instantly riding on potent bass and drums and sharp, clean guitar lines. The dynamic breaks have a kind of elegant indie rock tone and while the song veers harder and rougher around the edges there is always a kind of orchestrated feels which grows more with the introduction of distant trumpet sounds. Brady Frank's lead vox have a passionate strain to them. 

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Robb Donker

PRESS NOTES:
The group released their debut Bears in Hazenmore EP in March 2014. The songs “Winter Air” and “These Northern Mountains” gained national recognition through CBC Music contests Rock Your Campus (2014 National Top 10) and Searchlight (2015 Provincial Top 10) respectively. The band released their second EP Airwaves in August 2015 and have toured across Canada extensively since then. 
After working together at a summer music camp in 2016, the group began an ongoing collaboration with Saskatchewan-based singer-songwriter Megan Nash. Bears arranges full-band parts for Nash’s music and performs as her backing band. The collective has toured throughout Canada, including spots at Gateway Festival in Bengough, Saskatchewan, Folk On The Rocks in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, and Halifax Pop Explosion in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Their worked together yielded Nash’s acclaimed album Seeker in September 2017. 


"Pain On Your Pillow"- collision of sound and emotions by Are You Having Fun Yet

Pain On Your Pillow by Norwegian alt pop trio Are You Having Fun Yet from their self titled album is a kind of dreamy lo-fi affair saturated with acoustic sounds and back of the room vocals giving it an acoustic shoe gazey tone. Female and male vocals hold sway and collide from time to time, intersecting, overlapping words and tones kind of like interpersonal relationships do.

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Robb Donker


London rocker Michael Jablonka and his delicious track "Flump"

If you don't know a flump is a British sweet made out of marshmallow as a twisted helix of pink, yellow, blue and white.











London rocker Michael Jablonka's track Flump is sweet as well. A big rocker, he lays down tasty progs sinfully fortified with big drums and bass. The big beat and guitar chops feel open as  Jablonka's vox step up. His vocal sound is cool, sultry and classic rock and when he gives way to big musical breaks it is heavenly and so bad ass pulling in hard rock, post punk, metal and grunge tones into the blender.
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Robb Donker