Sunday, September 30, 2018

Ur Tajgan vast beautiful shoe gaze-ish "Desert" - You will want to put it on repeat






























Desert by Swedish indie rockers Ur Tajgan is a beautiful vast sound scape of a song blending elements of indie rock, shoe gaze, psychedelia and dream pop in a stirring big, big way. The guitar lines that often times mirror the reverb washed vocals hook you in and the long extended drumming with rolls galore throughout are exquisitely uplifting. Love the aesthetic here and it invaded my head and heart in such a big cinematic way that after it ended I had to push play again (and again). I want to hear see this song performed live in a big way.

-
Robb Donker


Selected PRESS NOTES:
Ur Tajgan released the first single "Helios" in 2017 as a presentation of the new project. The band has been inspired by everything from Punk to Jazz, but what they created has been influenced mainly by alternative rock, post rock, shoegaze, indie, and psychedelia. The music has basically been experimental and investigative in its structure and consisted mostly of melodic soundscapes combined with clear rhythms.
Ur Tajgan has done a number of gigs in the North of Sweden and in Stockholm during the past year, and has spent a lot of time working on a their sound and overall concept. During the coming months the band will release four new songs of which "Desert" is the first. 




https://open.spotify.com/track/57pvM9fJA335ogH8I4AyIr


The all embracing sound of "Phoenix" by Neon Saturdays (Official Video)





























Latvian Indie pop band Neon Saturdays has an all embracing sound. Influenced by 80's and 90's pop rock aesthetics and current indie artists they create anthems big and small with a sense of hope and brighter days. On the track Phoenix from their second studio album "Freaks In The Ocean" (dropping on November 9th) the feeling is rock pop with positive vibes about each of us being "the change" in the world. To some of the more cynical minds (maybe me included) it may seem Pollyanna during these dark political and troubled days around the world but I see the value in songs that shine like beacons especially as messages of hope to young people who need to orbit around positive messages. 

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Robb Donker

"Bloodshot Eyes" by Boston based Helenor is a super dreamy marriage of 808's, slide guitar and that voice

Bloodshot Eyes by Helenor (the moniker for Boston based visual artist David DiAngelis) starts off in an unpredictable way. It sputters and pops on lead guitar seemingly about to veer into an erratic lead and then suddenly it falls into this kind of dreamy whirlwind of slide guitars and beats and as Diangelis puts it "it's a marriage of 808's + Slide Guitars." About it's meaning he adds "This song is inspired by the current state of empathy / politics in this country (USA). Lyrically running with the idea that hate can settle in a rug like dust and isn't visible until it's shaken up to only then be dealt with."

I have to say that I am totally enamored with the sound on this song and while the production shines in an abstract way, at it's core, it is the melodies that shine through. This track would work just as well with two guitars, slapping the beat on a bucket and DiAngelis's evocative vocals. When he hits the higher registers and adds that passionate strain it is heavenly. DiAngelis provides vocals, electric guitar, bass, slide guitar, acoustic guitar, synth and Fender Rhodes. Drums were provided by Seth Kasper (Mass Gothic, Christopher Owens, Hooray for Earth, Wild Light, Air Traffic Controller) and also co-produced. I love this. Love it a lot. 

Robb Donker

https://www.helenorhelenor.com/

Selected Press Notes:
The debut LP “Something Twice” was produced and recorded at DiAngelis's home studio over the greater part of 2017.  Full LP scheduled for release Fall 2018.


The multi-layered "Buried Behind Monet" by L.A.'s The Lavender Scare

The song Buried Behind Monet by L.A. (Ca) based The Lavender Scare has many musical and emotional layers. The prose has intimate reflections as well as more broad social and political commentary (some easier to decipher and some too abstract to necessarily make out) but in the end the words and sounds lie bare like a musical Rorschach test. The band is centered around James Delos Reyes and Luis Servin who formed the musical outfit in 2016 after years of following Radiohead on tour together. Lead singer Reyes deftly blends in political commentary and satire into his personal lyrics of his experience being gay and growing up in the Evangelical Church. Songs like "Non-Denominational Heretic" and "Drag for a Queen" spin down rabbit holes with lyrical sharp edges that are easy to swallow within the song's themselves playing like a hybrid blend of indie rock, art pop, glam and baroque pop. The Lavender Scare are (appropriately) James Delos Reyes (guitar/piano), Luis Servin(guitar), Diego Alulema (drums) and Dominic Martinez (bass).

-
Robb Donker



"Frosty Mountain" by Atlanta's Kindred Hollow is alternative folk that rocks in progressive ways

Kindred Hollow from Atlanta, Georgia feel (to me) like an alt folk anomaly. The title of the track Frosty Mountain while viewing a pic of the band in all their country demure aesthetic would prepare you for an acoustic based intimate country song ala Dolly Parton or folk rock (pop) of the (much played out sound of the) Lumineers but no. Frosty Mountain is not your average alt folk song or even folk rock song. Frosty Mountain, in fact, sounds like the kind of song that Hayley Williams (Paramore) might pen if she was an alt folk rock artist. Kindred Hollow presents this alt folk rock song as a kind of prog alt folk rock song. From the onset there is that bit of dissonance in the syncopated guitar rhythm. Then behind Katie Morgan's formidable crystal clear vox there is some stunning guitar work that if played full on electric and dirtied up would sound like prog rock personified. The attack from the drums, bass lines and somber violins veer the song into dark almost goth rock places. Yes, mommy, we are no longer in your average folk rock Kansas or Georgia anymore. Frosty Mountain is a refreshing departure from a lot of alt folk musical tropes (like that overused work boots thumping on floor boards or kick drum thump that so many folk bands are so enamored with). Rock on guys. Kindred Hollow are Johnny Morgan (guitar, vox) Taylor Ronnie (guitar, vox), Katie Morgan (vocals), Shaun-Ray Peart (Guitars) and Jared Przybysz (bass, keys).

Frosty Mountain is from the band's "Stories You'll Tell" album. Written by Katie Morgan- additional players include Nic Guptill on drums and strings by Peyton Rushing.

-
Robb Donker


"Circuits" by TV ME feels like a psychedelic animated movie.

Steeping myself in a lot of guitar-centric music (lately) then hearing a track like Circuits by TV ME, a recording project of Liverpool (UK) native Thomas McConnell is quietly blowing my mind. From the onset the synth do this weirdly cool twist on the end of the notes followed by a deep groove (beat) and while a lot of electronic based artists would filter in waves of sound (yes that happens later) McConnell goes for a very power pop-ish organic sounding piano double time chord progression. Doing this within the confines of this ambient, reverb laden track is quite brilliant as are his melodies, McConnell's vocal sound (intimate but filtered in a trippy way) and the arc of the song feels like an animated movie. I don't know if there is a guitar in there somewhere (I think not) but I don't care. Loving the blend of pop meets ambient wave, meets psychedelia in this wonderfully produced bit of musical animated cinema.

-
Robb Donker

Selected Press Notes:
. ‘Circuits’ is TV ME’s first new track since February’s EP ‘A Broadcast From TV ME’, which was released to critical acclaim, with support from the likes of Clash, Louder Than War, The Skinny and BBC 6Music.
“[C]osmic pop that gleams with energy, all oddball melodies and whimsical texture.” (Clash)


Saturday, September 29, 2018

"Shift" by Fidelity Project by So Cal singer songwriter Brian Hall - beautiful questions asked

The song Shift by Fidelity Project, the songwriting project of native Southern Californian singer / songwriter Brian Hall is from the "Out From Under" EP and while all songs might just tell us more about ourselves than those who authored them, Shift feels (to me) like a much needed exhale after a long journey. The vast uplifting melodies, acoustic rhythms, synths, guitar lines and harmonies coalesced into alt folk orchestrations makes me think of drives up the California coast and off the lips on 5 foot waves (but that is just me). You might feel or see something else but the sounds are beautiful and (yes) somber like a life lived.

-
Robb Donker


Ian McFarland- free and easy alt folk belie a darker story on "Up And Down"

























Up And Down by L.A. singer songwriter Ian McFarland has classic folk bones but framed in indie pop sounds. The light and free melodies belie the story behind the song. Ian explains:

"Up And Down" is intended to be relate-able to daily highs and lows people face. "Up And Down" is meant to be an easy listening track and to help keep positive through adversary.
I wrote "Up And Down" after a close encounter with death which involved myself breaking every bone from my lumbar system to my sternum. After making a full recovery months later I decided to only focus on things that were important to me. I then moved to Spain to study music production for four months before moving to Los Angeles to pursuing a career in music. "Up And Down" recorded in my one bedroom in Los Angeles; Eric Deluca (bass) Ryan Melone (engineer) Ian McFarland (everything else)

All Ian's music can be found on streaming services (3 EPs and 2 singles).
Next two singles are after this one drops on the 25th are "Santa Fe" Oct. 5th and "Tell A Lie' Oct 25th.

-
Robb Donker

PRESS NOTES:

23 year old Ian McFarland is a multi-instrumentalist who’s influences are Mac DeMarco, Tame Imapala, and Wavves. Ian started making music at 10 years old when he was given a casio piano for his birthday. Ian is currently working on two EPs one which features him as the sole performer and one with his new L.A. based group.

Don Babylon- intoxicated garage rock of "Lose Sometimes" from the beautifully brash "Foul" album





























The song Lose Sometimes from Don Babylon's latest album "Foul" is big brash rock steeped in both classic rock, garage rock, and post punk tones (is that a homage to Cream I am hearing?) Lead vocalist and guitarist Aubrey Neeley has the ferocity of Iggy Pop on one hand and on the other the intoxicated swagger of Jim Morrison. I dig his vocal performance a lot on Lose Sometimes but he can shape shift a bit too. He can get post punk croony like on the tropical punkish track Bedsheets or hits tones in between folk and country rock on the Americana roots rock of Hopeless Man. Drummer David Gaither keeps heavy (love that) hands throughout and bottom heavy bassist (and second vocalist) Leland Bickford always cuts the deepest grooves and both rock on the roman numeral rich tracks Mean Streets II and Mach III (which feels like a heavier Drums song). This was not meant to be an album review but suffice it to say "Foul" is a great piece of work. Don Babylon is based out of Philadelphia, PA by way of Richmond, Virginia.

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Robb Donker

Altopalo's lush piece of cinematic dream pop called "Glow"

The track Glow by New York based band Altopalo is a lush piece of intimate indie pop pushed through a kind of experimental R n B wash. The result is dreamy, seductive and cinematic. A foursome comprised of singer Rahm Silverglade (a solo artist on Terrible Records), guitarist Mike Haldeman (Moses Sumney's Band) and filling out the rhytmn section is Jesse Bielenberg and Dillon Treacy. Glow is from their debut album "Frozenthere" out on Semedi Records and also contains their previous single Mono that Pitchfork called "a masterclass in atmospheric release."

-
Robb Donker

The dreamy bedroom pop of Fauvely and "Savannah" from the "Tides" album

























The track Savannah by Fauvely, the dream pop project of Chicago based singer-songwriter guitarist Sophie Brochu feels like the kind of bedroom pop that writes itself at 3 am when those feelings just have to come out and as such feels intimate and tenderly sad. Crafted with emotional guitar sounds it also feels passionate, powerful and done up in a big way could fill up a stadium or night sky for that matter. It would be cool to hear Brochu's emotive sound in a good sized venue but then an intimate club would be fine as well and maybe the acoustics would be closer to her bedroom. Loving the sound. Savannah is the second single from her sophomore release "Tides." 

Says Brochu:


"Savannah was the first song I wrote for the album. I started messing with a guitar chord progression and over a few days, a melody began to form. I always write lyrics in a stream-of-conscious style, forming words to fit the music. I found myself singing the line "Do you remember Moon River? I used to live by Savannah's water" and I knew I had a story to tell about my hometown. An abstract story of grief and time and memory. I wanted to transport the listener to the salty marshes of Savannah's coast, and demonstrate my relationship to this haunted place that's revered for its beauty. 
There was something really cathartic about the writing process. I don't think it necessarily comes through in the music, but writing these songs forced me to examine a place from a distance (my home in Chicago), and through this lens, I romanticized it a bit, and it took on a dreamier version, where what I imagined became more prominent than what was real."

-
Robb Donker

VanDeRocker and the post punk barbiturate like haze of "Driftwood"

Driftwood by L.A.'s (by way of Austin, Texas) VanDeRocker and from her desert psych rock album, "Point Defiance" rides on a heavy bass that feels like 90's grunge until dreamy harmonies arise amid pearly guitars that float in seductively. The post punk psychedelia filtered through a barbiturate haze made me think of the Pixies. This song could be 30 minutes long and I would not get tired of it but instead just be swept up in the fog. 

VanDeRocker is the indie rock / eletro-pop project of a one Adreinne VanDeRocker who grew up in Austin within a Dutch-American family of classical musicians. Honed early on on Piano she gravitated to guitars and songwriting and now we have all this. Currently haunting the clubs in L.A / Echo Park and beyond and recording with talented folks. I want to hear more and I want to see her and her band mates live someday. Tot ziens VanDeRocker.

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Robb Donker



Denmark's Vivid - post punk twangy vox and grunge ghosts on "Unreal"



















Vivid are a three piece post punk outfit out of Denmark and while details are sketchy thus far their track Unreal has a cool sound with vocals that at first were hard to discern as male or female which made me think of L.A.'s Silversun Pickups (a good thing) and within the twangy (male) vocal and guitar rhythm there is a hint of a Nirvana-esque tone too. Very interesting. I am liking this a lot. 

-
Robb Donker


The Dreamy "Tokyo Street Lights" by Stevie Zita

I don't know much about singer songwriter Stevie Zita out of Canada except that his song Tokyo Street Lights is dreamy and fluffy and when I close my eyes I feel like I am floating. It is way more indie pop than the sort of tropical punkish tones of a Mac DeMarco but it has that vibe and if I extend the courtesy to this man by assuming that all his songs are this inviting then he would be the kind of artist I would want to bask in the sonic glow of at some indie festival somewhere before Metz came on and melted off my face. Loving Stevie's aesthetic here. Loving it and currently floating.

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Robb Donker

Southern post punk by Commander Keen - pummels you into submission on "Dying In The South"

























Commander Keen is a three piece rock band out of Cookeville, Tennesee and their defiant alternative rock sound pummels you into submission but in a really good way. To say that their sound is muscular would be an understatement. Their sound is garage rockish but not in a messy way, just big and powerful with proggy licks, super tight post punk tones and a punk heart. On the track Dying In The South (the title track of their latest album), front man Blake Marlow (guitar, vox) chews the lyrics and spits them out as he is "just looking for my lost dog... is he home???"  The big lead lines and bigger voice is audaciously cool and catchy. The band is rounded out by Matt Billings (bass guitar) and Zach Ramsey (drums). "Dying In The South" (the album) is available on vinyl though their Bandcamp page and on digital platforms.

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Robb Donker

Frisco's The Spiral Electric - big blendo head banging rocker "No Bridge Left Unburned"


























The first single No Bridge Left Unburned from The Spiral Electric's upcoming double vinyl LP has big rock riffs and is (let's say) a head banger of a song. The crashing down beats give way to uncaged drums and an incredibly active rock bass becoming spartan for the vox to ride over until the next huge eruption of jammy rock sounds. It is this quiet / loud formula that give this track such a formidable and cool aesthetic. Within their sound there are elements of prog rock, psychedelia, classic blues rock and punk rock tones as well especially in the wailing guitar. The Spiral Electric hail from San Francisco and are Clay Andrews (vox, guitar, keyboards, percussion), Nicolas Percey (Lead guitar), Michael Summers (bass) and Matias Drago (drums). They have recorded two EPs at Skylab Studio in Los Angeles and Joshua Tree with producer Tommy Dietrick-- "Upon Your Shore" (released April 2015) and "Ask The Sky" (released December 2016), and are recording a new double-LP at Wiggle Room Studio in Los Angeles with new members Michael Summers (bass) and Matias Drago (drums), and producer Steve Kille (Dead Meadow / Xemu Records).

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Robb Donker


"Magic" by Mac Murray's EP "Civil War" is a passionate alt rocker

On the song Magic by Uk artist Mac Murray opens with a hooky guitar lick and just like that you find yourself falling headfirst into the energy. You cannot underestimate a good guitar lick, I guess it is the glue that holds Magic together but the entire song demands attention. There is a passionate fury to it, from the screaming guitar leads, bass and drum attack and Murray's wailing vocals. On his latest EP "Civil War" (crafted after the birth of his first son) explores going solo after being in bands in the local music scene of the shipbuilding town of Barrow-in-Furness since his teenage years. On this project Murray worked with recording engineer, producer and co-writer Jamie Bragg and drummer James Carling. 

"Civil War" is Available on Bandcamp and Spotify

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Robb Donker


Friday, September 28, 2018

"Sewer Cap" by the alt folk outfit Jailbox takes beautiful breaths

The song Sewer Cap by Jailbox is a dense piece of alt folk. From the get go the melodies flood out swept up in deep wells of acoustic guitar, piano, string sounds and beautiful harmonies in an out of breath pace sort of way. The feeling is that of being overwhelmed, the strings veer into dissonant places and flickers of piano keys bring in tension. The song does take much needed  breaths and at these moments there is a respite that feels like a beautiful sigh. 

Jailbox hail from Perryville, Missouri (USA) and is currently based out of St. Louis. Sewer Cap is the 3rd single released thus far this year. 

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Robb Donker


Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Little Miss - stripped bare on "Take Me, Too" feels like a folk hymn

Take Me, Too by The Little Miss (moniker of singer songwriter Hayley Johnson) is an emotional folk ballad that, at times, feels like a gospel hymn. Spartan, forged on a somber organ and Johnson's earthy vocal tones. Take Me, Too is from her forthcoming "American Dream" EP and, of the ballad, she says- 

"I wrote 'Take Me, Too' shortly after moving to Los Angeles to pursue music. The weight of my pursuit was crushing. I knew two people, I couldn't find a steady job and I didn't know where to begin. More than anything, I wanted to jump ahead to the place in my story that said, 'and she lived happily ever after.' I didn't want to do the leg work, stumble through awkward open mic nights or do anything that challenged me or my sense of self. This month, it'll be five years since I moved and I'm so grateful for the fact that I couldn't jump ahead. So, while I had wanted more than anything to wish my time away, I'm so glad now that I couldn't."

The Little Miss sometimes crafts music with a blend of her acerbic wit twisting in a wink and smile with social commentary (hidden or revealed) but Take Me, Too feels to me to be utterly raw with little window dressing and I love that. 

-
Robb Donker 


Carter Vail's indie alt folk rush - "Silent Movies"

Singer songwriter / producer Carter Vail's (from Miami via New York) latest single Silent Movies feels like a rush. Tied to a runaway beat and pushed rhythms the whole song has a run away or run to something out of breath aesthetic as Vail tells his story.  However you define Vail's sound whether alt folk or indie rock tinged with Americana / country roots he is at his core a story teller. His poetic licence imbues his descriptions with cinematic flair. "wasn't much of an actor...  was I much of anything at all..."  I beg to differ.

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Robb Donker


Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Rhys Bloodjoy - and the cold wave psychedelia noise rock of "Poly Brown"

The song Polly Brown by Rhys Bloodjoy (UK) blends punk, industrial rock, electronica and psychedelia into driving alternative rocker. Rhys is a "one man noise machine" crafting his songs with loops and reverb washed vox and electronic ambiance. The result feels as much now as futuristic and at the same time proto punk-ish like it could of been created in some smoke filled Berlin club in 1978. Cool stuff indeed.

-
Robb Donker

PRESS NOTES:

The Manchester Evening News as “lo-fi brilliance”, the Bloodjoy experience was born in the underground scene in 2013, Rhys has gained in strength and stature, honing his sound to create soundscapes that result in electrifying live performances. Backseat Mafia confirm this when they say, “he’s not just one to watch, he’s one to absorb.”
The journey so far saw Bloodjoy release his AA debut single ‘Broken Window/Scandinavian Girlfriend’ on DIY label Sister 9 Recordings in December 2015. This sold out 7” blood red vinyl single was mastered by Sonic Boom.
Shortly after a successful 10 date tour of Spain First EP Psyche Attack Theories was also released by Sister 9 in December 2016. The EP came in the form of a limited edition download digipak, complete with unique artwork and lyrical content. The concept behind the EP was regarding the fact that unseen, dark forces can play havoc on the human psyche, it was lauded as “brilliantly dark and raucously noisy”.
Love Is a Fucked up Goddess – Part One was Rhys’ second EP released on Eggs in Aspic on limited edition cassette which sold out almost instantly. The release received critical acclaim and was praised as “a shadowy tapestry that’s all at once darkly set and kaleidoscopically mesmeric’.
The end of 2016 saw Rhys retreat into the Spanish mountains, before returning this Spring with Love Is a Fucked up Goddess – Part Two released via Eggs in Aspic and completes the dark duo; this release also sold out.
This brings us up to date and confirms the announcement of the vinyl release of Love Is a Fucked up Goddess – Parts II & I, which features both EPs in full and additional bonus tracks. It is set for release on Sister9 for Friday 21st September, to coincide with the new incarnation of Bloodjoy which will appear for the first time in his spiritual home of Manchester at The Psych Weekender on Sunday 15th.
From the hypnotic, pulsating vibes of ‘Silver Lips’, through to the menacing darkness that exudes from ‘A Banshee’s Lament’ this collection of tracks has something to suit every palette and will attract a new audience into the world of Bloodjoy as well as honour the faithful. Lead single ‘Polly Brown’ will propel the release, with its characteristic onslaught of sound that instantly leaves you breathless and compelled.

Monday, September 24, 2018

"Miscellaneous People" an emotionally complex, sonically dense piece of alt folk - by Kwolek

Kwolek lives in Boulder, Colorado by way of New Jersey.  The song Miscellaneous People is a powerful piece of alt folk densely produced which only makes it feel more harried, more passionate and maybe even more confused. Emotionally complex and dense it soars, takes off and would grace any playlist and make it better. 

-
Robb Donker

PRESS NOTES:   Kwolek lives in Boulder, Colorado, but grew up in New Jersey. He takes forever to write, record and mix songs in his little apartment.
Masks is his 4th solo record. His previous record, Overlord, and his debut, A Simple Story Simply Told, are on all the channels, but his second album, Punch, is super secret - you have to ask for it. He used to be in the band Lima Research Society. He is inspired by world cinema, music that causes friction, and the struggle to be a better human.


Bike Thiefs pounds in your head like punk Pop Rocks on "Destination Wedding"


























The song Destination Wedding by Bike Thiefs from Mississauga, On (Can) is an instant burst of unadulterated crunchy guitar driven rock like punk Pop Rocks in your mouth after a huge swig of soda pop. Lead vocalist Marko Woloshyn (guitar) has a kind of talking singing style like a guy getting in your face at a loud party. The strident sounds made me think of something between Chelsea Light Moving and Metz. Kris Pandeirada provides the big bottom bass and Andrew Fasken kills on the drums. Loving this sound, (damn it) it ends way too soon.

-
Robb Donker


PRESS NOTES:

The lyrics from “Destination Wedding” are about a house party that I went to a couple years ago. I was the outlier with a then-girlfriend, and was desperately trying to appease a group of acquaintances that weren’t really into making new friends. And like an episode of Curb your Enthusiasm, i dug myself into a hole and managed to say several wrong things.

I ended up with a group of people who had known each other for years, haven’t really ventured outside of their high school peer group and weren’t ready to have me grandfather my way into their communal experiences or nostalgia. I tried to pretend to be into real estate, computer games and Jimmy Eat World. It was a mess.




Sunday, September 23, 2018

UK's The Hannah Barberas - mod-ified punk pop on "Slow Cooked"

Slow Cooked by UK's The Hannah Barberas and from the EP "Go Go Hannah Barberas" moves on laid back power pop lines and vintage proto punk / Brit pop (even Mod) tones. The pulse of the bass line even made me think of The Jam a bit. The Hannah Barberas are: Damien (guitar and vocals), Lucy (vocals),  Doug (bass) and Matthew (drums and vocals).

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Robb Donker

Like a dreamy folk blessed mantra - "Holding Pattern" by Suzy Callahan

The dreamy folk blessed Holding Pattern by Suzy Callahan's latest album "Magic" is lush and genuinely patterned in a kind of mantra sort of way. She hails from Maryland and Calahan's songs have been featured on NPR, and appeared on KCRW and TLC's "Breaking Amish."

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Robb Donker 

Canada's Colour Picture Book twist up blues rock infused with prog-funk rock tones on "This Time Around"

























Canada's Colour Picture Book twist up blues rock infused with prog-funk rock tones. For an authentic 7" single they recorded totally with analog machines as front man, singer, guitarist Adam Webster says "I wanted the band to be live off the floor, all in the same room. I wanted the sound to be an analog signal every step of the way, right down to the lacquer cutting head." The track This Time Around (coupled with Amsterdam) brings together all the talents of Adam as well as Matt Webster (bass) and Max Roach (drums, organ, piano) as a tight cohesive free flowing jam band. The musical break with Adam's potent guitar work, tight rhythm section and organ flourishes is feels like blues funk rock bliss.

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Robb Donker




Valid Light - dense folk rock reflections on "A Work Of Reflection in the Age of Mechanical Sentimentalism"

Valid Light is the current musical project of Gregory W. Dyson based out of Philadelphia and the song A Work Of Reflection in the Age of Mechanical Sentimentalism asks as many questions (at least to me) as the long winded titles. One thing that strikes me instantly is Dyson's vocal performance. It is different, it has folk sinew to the sound as well as a kind of slight southern drawl (very slight) and a high register uniqueness. His voice feels, sounds authentic and within the musical framework that has a dense folk rock / indie rock sound I thought of Neil Young kind of twisted and blended with The War On Drugs. 

In another time in rural Connecticut Dyson fronted a folk rock band called Hanging Hills. Of A Work Of Reflection in the Age of Mechanical Sentimentalism he says,

 "This song is about missing an old band that broke up. Years later, picking up an acoustic guitar in your bedroom, sitting down and revisiting the songs, and feeling nostalgic for the places and experiences writing those songs led you to. It was self-recorded at my home in Philadelphia, and I played all the instruments, and drew the album art."

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Robb Donker


Reema and her reimagining of The Kinks "Sunny Afternoon" will surprise you




















Reinterpreting a classic The Kinks song, namely the 1966 "Sunny Afternoon" is a daring thing to do. The Kinks are one of my favorite iconic bands ever and if you take the purest approach you just don't mess with their work. London native, Berlin based new folk artist Reema (Sarah Reema Kaydar) doesn't only mess with it but she messes with it so much so that it is not until the Ray Davies bouncy melodies (now crooned into long sustains) seeped into my brain that I recognized it. The first reaction was "what the...." but that was only a primal protective punch for a band who inspires me. The second reaction was much more interesting and real because I truly love Reema's inspired and minimalist interpretation and in some odd way this version brings out the lyrics in a different way, revealing them with new emotional connections. Davies' dour lyrics were poised like a honky-tonk drinking song / dark comedy. Reema's version pulls out the cheeky "wink", the self aware "life is not fair" tone (so fuck it) so what felt sort of happy in the original now sounds somber and what seemed like simple declarations now feel more like complex questions really. 

Reema's voice is incredibly controlled and beautiful. She has this in her D.N.A. I suppose. Her mother worked alongside Brian Eno and Roxy Music. Reema grew up around powerful female artists and singers like Joni Mitchell and Stevie Nicks. How, where and when she found her voice and way of looking at things is unknown to me but her approach to this classic speaks volumes. In the end it is an amazing reimagining. I wonder what Ray Davies thinks of it?

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Robb Donker


Nick Ferrio and the inspired "How Will I Know" rides on a wanderlust beat from the "Have A Nice Day" Album

How Will I Know by singer songwriter Nick Ferrio (and from his upcoming album "Have A Nice Day") is a sprite indie rocker riding on a runaway wanderlusty beat while guitar lines mirror Ferrio's melodic bounce. His vocal performance feels like Americana amped up alt folk but in an inspired way, the cadence and pop is full of hope and fun even. The album is deeply personal reflecting on Ferrio being a new parent, his mental health and life on the road as a touring musician. Of the track, How Will I Know, he says, 

"‘How Will I Know’ is a philosophical song; it’s about my relationship with music and thinking about why I’m drawn to make it, especially in today’s day and age, with the music industry changing. We’ve all heard over and over again about how the music industry is in the pits and how culturally music isn’t as valuable as it once was. I guess the nagging question in this song is, is music still worth something? The answer to that is yes. Music has the power to transform, to give meaning, to create connection, to make change. Ultimately, music is powerful. And because of that, music will survive whatever happens to the music industry."

Nick Ferrio is based out of Canada and "Have A Nice Day" drops on September 28th.

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Robb Donker


Saturday, September 22, 2018

Lac Belot's abstract alt folk art pop orchestrations on "Friendly Beast" from the upcoming "Abracadabra!" album

The song Friendly Beast from Finnish Lac Belot's upcoming debut album "Abracadabra!" casts evocative imagery in one's mind (at least mine) that are both whimsical, beautiful and somewhat dark depending on how you fill out the metaphors in your way. It is a heady blend of alt folk and full on art pop orchestrations making it both specifically intimate and vast at the same time. This artistic largeness lifts you up in a spacey way and one which makes me want to dive fully into the album (whether it is a collection of songs or a conceptual art piece). 

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Robb Donker


The Memoirs from Nottingham (UK) and the plush but raw alt rock sound on "Fear On The Rise"

Nottingham (UK) five piece alt rockers The Memoirs have a dense rock sound with thick guitar lines and an evocative seasoned vocal performance that belie their young age. The sounds on Fear On The Rise feels like post punk pushed through raw garage rock filters. The tight rhythms, bass and drums hold sway while vox and lead guitars swirl around. The gritty edge on the vox with deep resonant tones spans different musical decades and made me think of some kind of twisted blend of Jim Morrison, Morrisey and Julian Casablancas. Really loving the energy and passion here. 

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Robb Donker


Christen Kwame is giving it all away on "Heartache" (Official Video)






































When you listen to pop soul strains of Heartache by South London's Christen Kwame you can feel hearts breaking and fluttering (of all genders). Produced in both a spartan and lavish way, Kwame's voice vacillates between bold passion, intimate croons and a kind of aloof coolness. Such a great voice. When the song crescendos into deep (and dark) strings, backing vocals and Kwame's soulful cries the song almost feels operatic. Great first impression and a sense of wonderful things to come.  

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Robb Donker 




"Be What You Want" by Nashville's Lasso Spells cast trippy images from the "Bohemian Mechanics" Album

Be What You Want by Nashville's Lasso Spells stirs up imagery of side winding rattle snakes, a dust laden 1970 Mercury Cougar kicking up dust on a desert plain, halter top girls dancing and a psyche rock band silhouetted against an intoxicating sunset. Brett Dudash's vocal performance is perfect for this aesthetic. He has a slight country tone inside his rocker suit. Love his vocal performance here. Other players are Teddy Nabozny, Eric Melto and Justin Lock. This is the kind of music I want to hear at a small club or house show. Love this. Be What You Want is from Lasso Spells' debut album "Bohemian Mechanics."

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Robb Donker



Alice Temple's stark, stripped down, sleek and raw come on in "Move Me"

Alice Temple's Move Me is stark, stripped down, sleek, raw and as such exquisitely sultry. Temple's closed eyes vocal performance is intensely inward and whatever she is drawing from she is feeling because it is part feral, part sexual desire, part longing and part pain. At least it is all that to me. Move Me is a case study how less is more when it comes to passion, raw passion in the musical arts. 

Move Me is from Temple's return album "The End" after decades of laying low musically. I can't wait to hear the entire album.

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Robb Donker


PRESS NOTES (excerpt)
A Londoner by birth, Alice Temple has done and been a variety of things in her life. She is notable for having been the first female UK and European BMX champion, was an ’80’s club kid staple alongside Boy George and London’s Blitz Kids, a top fashion model shot by the world’s finest such as Mario Testino and Bruce Weber and of course, an acclaimed musician.
Alice Temple began her music career with collaborator Eg White (Adele, Florence & The Machine, Kylie Minogue) at the age of twenty. Their project, Eg and Alice released only one critically-lauded album of elegant, romantic pop called '24 Years of Hunger' in 1991 (Q Magazine has named the album one of the Best of the 20th Century).

You won't hear a song like "Rhododendrons" by Johnny Conqueroo all year

The song Rhododendrons by Johnny Conqueroo is the type of song you don't hear anymore. Basically a muder ballad minus "ballad" it is a raucous, jammy, swamp bluesy rocker with psyche rock, surf punk leanings steeped in 50's porch / hillbilly rock. The thing is, it feels so fucking true to the sound which might have to do with how it and the other songs on their album "Haint" was recorded, namely in a vintage possibly ghost laden house in Kentucky built in the 1800's. Everything is earnest here and the vocal performance raw and mesmerizing. Per press notes:

Rhododendrons tells an Appalachian nightmare of sorts, twining together a story of men and women in a downward spiral, being falsely accused of crimes and knocking on the door of purgatory like a ball of barbed wire.

I couldn't of described it any better. Fuck.
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Robb Donker


Friday, September 21, 2018

Vishal Narang's pop experiment Airhead, DC and the trippy intoxicant "Honey-Colored Flame Blown Off My Candle"

The song Honey-Colored Flame Blown Off My Candle by Washington D.C. native Vishal Narang's experimental pop project, Airhead DC, instantly feels like an intoxicated walk down some one's yellow brick road. Narang's vocal performance along with the almost otherworldly synths feels all filtered through a surreal wash and while the electric guitar and beats that comes in firmly anchors it in some kind of punk reality it floats in some kind of ethereal place full of pink, purple and yellow hues. A song that moves trippily along. 

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Robb Donker



UK's The Arthur Brothers and the world building "Ninth"

The song Ninth by UK's The Arthur Brothers feels like poised art rock with intimate sounds that erupt into something big and dramatic. With  tom tom drums evoking something in between operatic rock and almost tribal punk vibes you can feel the ghost of goth rock bands like Tears For Fears or the world beat sounds of Peter Gabriel. This kind of sound can veer into melodrama or feel Broadway-ish if it becomes to self aware but the Arthur Brothers' earnest vocal performances keep that from happening. 

Their first single release, Ninth is the opening stage of the nine part musical adventure that will eventually be unveiled as The Arthur Brothers' debut album... 

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Robb Donker




Timi Temple eats "2PM For Breakfast" twisting up his indie surf psyche rock

The song 2PM For Breakfast by Sydney (AU) Timi Temple twists up indie surf psyche rock and pushes it through cagey 80's new wave filters with progressive rock lead breaks and occasional departures into dreamy pop sounds too (but not too long). Of the song Temple says, "This is my song about not living the 9-5, I just want everyone to be doing what they love most." Unfortunately, statistics show that most of us are not doing what we love the most (at least for our employment) but at least listening to Timi Temple takes the edge off. 

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Robb Donker