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.

-
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."

-
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. 

-
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.

-
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"

-
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. 

-
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.

-
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. 

-
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. 

-
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. 

-
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.

-
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. 

-
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."

-
Robb Donker


ALBUM Review - Bat Zuppel - "Mirror /Rorrim" - the psych rock Gods must be smiling


Bat Zuppel are up to their tricks again. They just released a full multi-dimensional album called "Mirror/Rorrim" (brilliant title) and it is like stepping into den of wide eyed rock wonder that might be the other side of that rabbit hole that Alice ventured into. The reflective sounds all have dreamy, trippy psych rock guitars, fantastic double guitar lines and leads that veer off in blue rock tone but in more proggy ways. The opener Deja Vu with an almost sneering British snarl and it's declarative finger in the chest vocal melody feels punk theatrical and pure. The guitar break (or is that keys) is so amazingly deep and lovely really and at this point my mind is shifting as I listen. It is immediately clear the Bat Zuppel is not swimming in creatively shallow waters at all. She Has A Light is prog punk like a runaway train (part Pere Ubu meets Thee Oh Sees or Buzzcocks) and yet it diverts from the lust to a love affair of sounds before bloody moshing again. Passing Of A Dream is just so heavenly in it's seductive double lead and double vocal sway. Magic Mirror with it's almost 70's Brit rock tones mines some of the retro textures that Ty Segall has adopted in recent albums but for some reason it feels even more earnest here. Agent B is full fucking fledged mosh worthy and a perfect song after MM.

The musical set piece of the album just might be Suspicion. It is delicious in execution feeling almost like a psych rock opera with thick bass / guitar lines postured in a art punk sort of way. Holy hell is all I can say about this song. The rock god will be smiling when they hear Suspicion. The track My Prophecy is simply insane in the best possible way. The cadence of Love Machine with its potent "da duh" "da duh" downbeats departs from the previous songs a bit as it feels more power punk poppish with Glam tendencies. I love the arc of the song as it moves into interesting places. Resistance drives the punk tones even further but leaves room for some proggy blistering guitar lines. Take A Bow feels like full rock art theater with red curtains and maybe even flame machines on stage. The melodies fall into pursed lips glam land and I actually thought of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (the band not the album). Amazing work on this song and some of the guitar stuff made me think of the awesome Bill Nelson from Be Bop Deluxe (does anyone remember?). Hypnotizer is this cagey punk spiked song with cool forays into an almost tropical jazz punk type of thing and listen for one band members opinion at the end, love it. The last track, Critter feels like the perfect ending. A short blustery psych rock smack on the lips.

Let's get real. As a lowly blogger inundated with what feels like a buh zillion submissions I intended to review just one song on the album but literally could not stop listening from start to finish. Mirror / Rorrim is a total unadulterated glorious surprise. A true stunning inspired piece of work and while the Pitchfork Media's of the world waste their breath on the Greta Van Sheets of the world I am honored to bring this review to anyone who reads my humble shittly little blog. Mirror /Rorrim is saturated with that feeling, that sound of 4 guys playing music, creating art and hitting that ignitable "hot as the sun" feeling in your brain when all players are creating art in sync, purely and on point and are creatively killing it. It is a heady place to be and this album is full of these moments. The psyche rock flavored with punk and prog rock made me think of artists like Built To Spill, Pere Ubu, the Buzzcocks, Thee Oh Sees, T-Rex, Bowie, Be Bop Deluxe all coalesced into Bat Zuppel themselves. I have not interviewed  Matt, Zach, Gordy and Spencer who hail from Pittsburgh, PA but if the opportunity arises we will have to talk influences.

Stunning album, beautiful surprise. Go purchase it please- Support art.

-
Robb Donker




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Glasgow, Scotland's Dear Tenement soar on the intimate and anthemic "Whole"




















Whole, the first track off of Dear Tenement's forthcoming debut EP, feels purely wrought. It is both intimate and big sounding building to a crescendo amidst upfront guitars, a passionate vocal performance, full drums and bass and a kind of Farfisa-esque organ line that sort of anchors the track in a small kind of way. That brilliant decision to use that organ sound instead of using walls of synths or strings makes the song feel real and earnest and yet in the end Whole feels inspired in an anthemic "hold lighters to the sky" sort of way just the same (as it should be). 

The Glasgow, Scotland 5 piece rockers plan on dropping their debut EP early in 2019.

-
Robb Donker

PRESS NOTES:

Dear Tenement frontman Gordy Clarke has a wealth of experience working with a range of artists including Sufjan Stevens. Gordy recently played with Paul Russell's Human Pyramids and shortly after the release of the album 'Home' in Dec 2017, the pair began the blueprint for Dear Tenement's debut EP.
Adding to this band's experience is both the drummer (Rory Clark) and guitarist (Tom Brogan) from Glasgow 5-piece 'The Low Miffs' who before disbanding, recorded and toured with Malcolm Ross (Joseph K/Orange Juice/Aztec Camera). Dear Tenement's final addition is Liam Thomas; frontman, guitarist and songwriter for Jack Butler, whose extremely well received debut album 'Fit the Paradigm' earned album of the Month on BBC Introducing.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Gary Mictian's purely produced rock radio sound on "Ritual" pushes all the pleasure buttons (from "The Dream State" EP)

Ritual by Auckland, New Zealand based pop rocker Gary Mictian pushes pleasure buttons  with a purely produced 70's / 80's American rock radio style riding on chunky guitar rhythms, a runaway beat, synth swells, (prog, jazz, rock) pop guitar leads and walls of vocal harmonies. The pop rockness jams and hardly ever lets up. Of the track Mictian says, "Ritual is a song that capitalizes on loneliness post relationship breakdown. I found myself in this space more and more, so I realized that’s all a part of the healing process, and grew more comfortable with it."

"Ritual" is first single from The Dream State, and is available in all stores from Friday 26th October.

-
Robb Donker



Sunday, November 18, 2018

Whisperhawk - big psyche blues rock diatribe of "Good Guy With A Gun" is timely and deadly cool

Good Guy With A Gun by Utah based Whisperhawk the solo project of singer / songwriter Michael Gross is a slick bottom bass rocker with big sounds and big empty spaces filled by Gross's kind of sultry slow burn rock postured vocal performance and sweet psyche blues rock guitar licks. The pushed diatribe of the song, the penchant for an American man (or woman) to be armed to the hilt as a kind of pure blood red right and American unification at any cost ("give me a machine gun") is timely and chilling at the same time. 

Good Guy With A Gun is from the recently released full length "Larks" album. 

-
Robb Donker



The Arthur Brothers - stirred up art rock gospel "Flawless"

The track Flawless by The Arthur Brothers begins as if it is being played through one lone broken vintage speaker and the effect feels like a distant memory. When the song shifts into it's fully realized modern sound it feels like a passionate hymn or gospel. The stacked acoustic guitars, layered vocals, tom heavy drums, bass, electric guitars, droning accordions, percussion and piano create a wall of life changing sounds that feel like their declarations are a matter of life or death. The result is dramatic and earnestly theatrical.

The Arthur Brothers are UK biological brothers Matt and Danny Arthur and producer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist J.C Wright. ‘Flawless’ is out on ClearLight Records

-

Robb Donker



Saturday, November 17, 2018

"Javelin Fade" by Daniel Isaiah feels like something between a hymn and a hidden conversation between secret lovers

The terribly intimate sadly beautiful Javelin Fade by Daniel Isaiah feels like something between a hymn and a late night hidden conversation between secret lovers on top of the phone beneath bed blankets. Isaiah's vocal performance so upfront creeps seductively into your brain like propaganda. It is mesmerizing and the upfront nature of the production, drums way upfront, vox, and other synth sounds, bass, what sounds like pedal steel guitars even fade up in volume or fade back in such a dreamy way. The melodies shine too and in the end the whole production feels so moving while at the same time feeling like a psyche art rock piece. The theatrical artifice with drum snare rolls that sound like thunder amps up the dreaminess and art rock feel. Wow. 

Javelin Fade is the lead single from Isaiah's upcoming album "Only One Left". The album was started in 2016 and as the press notes indicate: 


The creation of this album was book-ended by the saddest and happiest events in Daniel's life; he started writing it during the last weeks of his mother's life, and the album was mastered the day before his wedding. In between, Isaiah travelled for nine months – to Turkey, Greece, Italy, England, France and The Netherlands – taking with him a Nord synthesizer that he used to compose most of the album.
Only One Left is an album of endings and beginnings, rooted in Isaiah's native Montreal, but also the countries where he travelled, a drifter in unfamiliar places as an outsider looking in. The music itself signals a new phase in the career of this artist – ever searching and deeply committed to the old craft of songwriting and experimenting with new forms of musical expression.

I am so moved and impressed with Javelin Fade. I can't wait to dive into what is sure to be an emotional deep album in "Only One Left."

-
Robb Donker



Friday, November 16, 2018

Hydromag cuts a beautifully sad deep groove eulogy on "P.J.R"

P.J.R  by Hydromag (the project of Falmouth (UK) based producer and multi instrumentalist Josh Best Shaw) instantly cuts a cool deep groove with airy guitar flavors, a gut punch bass and dreamy synth lines on top of potent beats. The music breathes to cradle cool vocal harmonies that feel languid and have a sense of forlorn romance. The beauty and coolness belie the inspirational reason for the song which was penned in memory of a Shaw's close relative who took their own life. Of the track he says, "It was not easy task to write this song, it took a lot out of me and I spent far longer on it than any other song I’ve written. I’m still not sure that I’m fully happy with it, but it was a good way to address the issues I had locked away."

P.J.R is from Hydromag's forthcoming "This Is Fleeting" EP.

-
Robb Donker



Thursday, November 15, 2018

The Family Knife out of Dublin, Ireland and the hazy dreamscape of "Golden Soundz"

Golden Soundz by The Family Knife feels dreamy with stacked vocal harmonies and guitars creating this ghostly fog of sonic images. I really don't know anything about these brothers from Dublin, Ireland. They seem to like to be kind of hidden right now. That is alright. Just keep making music.

-
Robb Donker

The Family Knife are a band from Dublin, Ireland. Purveyors of sometimes hopeful tunes, tinged with sadness. Brothers. And competing heirs to the Knife Family dynasty. 'The Family Knife' is a collection of 12 organic and electronic driven tracks, influenced by everyone from Deerhunter and Yo La Tengo, to Stereolab and The Beta Band.

"Oh Dead On Oh Love" by Lisa Papineau - instantly pretty moves deep inside - hear, feel, see (official video)


























The track Oh Dead On Oh Love, the first single / video and title track from Lisa Papineau's 4th solo full length due out Feb. 15th (2019) is instantly pretty as pearly guitar and comforting bass lines float like blown bubbles in the air. When Lisa's voice comes in with a declarative wide eyed performance it feels intimate but artistic like something between bedroom confessions and a full on Broadway musical. The theatricality of the vocal performance, this aesthetic doesn't break down or dissipate the emotion which can happen some times but instead makes it more so in a sort of whimsical magical way. The effect feels pained but elegant, sweet but fractured. I can't wait to hear the album.

Again, the album Oh Dead On Oh Love is due to drop on Feb 15th, 2019. The official video conceived and made by artist Betsy Kenyon recently premiered on Parade.

From the artist:

After fleshing out the world of the album, Papineau was able, to her great joy and contentment, to collaborate with many longtime musical partners: Tyler Bates, Jam Da Silva, Juan Alderete, Matthew Embree, and Koool G Murder to name a few. The album artwork is by renowned visual artist Andrea Mastrovito, who also provided the cover for her album Red Trees. “It is always a bit frightening for me each time I crawl out from the rock I’ve been hiding under, holding on a little too tight to my fistful of songs... but the experience of once again working with people I love, people who are hysterically fun but whose drive and creativity also push me, makes the coming together of everything on this record a true gift.”

-
Robb Donker





Wednesday, November 14, 2018

"Intimidated" by talker is a perfect grunge pop song that feels like a big beginning

The track Intimidated by talker the moniker for singer-songwriter / musician Celeste Tauchar (Tauchar- talker, get it?) is a lesson in pop economy. I mean every second is used to full effect. Starting as what feels like an alt folk rocker and building on nice acoustic rhythms and youthful indie pop tones the song shifts into garage rock guitars and Tauchar showing her vocal chops. Once the "grunge pop" strains and fist in the air rock motif begins it sadly ends. Again a smart pop economy perfectly suited for the young. Intimidated is a super catchy and commercial song that will undoubtedly drive Tauchar places. At 23 she has a great character to her vocal performance and emotes with a deep well of feelings. I (respectfully) can't wait to hear her fully let go to the point of not sounding so so perfect.

-
Robb Donker



Tuesday, November 13, 2018

"Dead Inside" by Younger Hunger has a smile behind the cool goth post punk pop tones. From the self titled album dropping December 7th.

Dead Inside by three piece Younger Hunger percolates on thick percussive sounds dipped in goth post punk tones and framed in this kind of aloof proto punk sort of way all the while being a pop song, well a "haunt pop" song as the trio describes their sound. The production is catchy and the vocal performance is come on sultry and poised with a smile behind the cool. Younger Hunger is Tony Davia, Lou Connor and Lauren Potts who solidified their musical outfit status after a night of playing Nintendo 64 and drinking milkshakes in Long Beach, California.

About Dead Inside, Davia says:

 "We were all at this party and I was having a bad night. So we all left to go hang out at our studio and play some N64. We ended up jamming and that's when we wrote the hook over an old cowbell loop. We wanted all of the synth tones to sound like Street Fighter II style arcade sounds to commemorate the night. The whole thing came together really quickly, and it does a good job of representing our EP."

Their debut EP "Younger Hunger" (pre-order) will drop on December 7th. Produced by Adam Castilla (The Colourist) and mastered by Joe LaPorta (David Bowie, The Weeknd, Beach House), the group takes inspiration from artists such as The Teenagers, The Smiths, and MGMT. 


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Robb Donker


Monday, November 12, 2018

Draag's "Your Better Half Is Dead" from the "Nontoxic Process" EP - unabashed pop pulled inside out lies between Pretty In Pink and Twin Peaks

Los Angeles based Draag began as a kind of reawakening of songwriter / musician Adrian Acosta (in 2013) delving into songs he recorded on a dual tape deck karaoke machine when he was only 10 years old. Fast forward about to 2017 after many musical self discoveries and Draag expanded to a 5 piece band. While dreams of a full length album were diverted by illness and other personal challenges the band's EP "Nontoxic Process" became "an answer to everything artificially driven and a need to feel something other than sickness." 

The track Your Better Half Is Dead riding on pearly guitar lines while waves of dissonant synth drones tug at the sweetness pulling it off balance. The vox melodies have a romantic forlorn new wave tone. I mean this song falls somewhere in between a soundtrack of Pretty In Pink and Twin Peaks, unabashed pop pulled inside out in an off kilter sort of way. The last vocal hush leaves the romance intact though. For me the vox are a bit buried in the haze but I guess that is part of the allure, noise pop with the lyrical heart to be discovered. Draag in the end are terribly romantic albeit sad. Just listen to the albums devastatingly haunting goosebumps inducing Tired Like Before. At over 6 minutes long you don't have to hear every word to be deeply touched to tears. Other songs drive on cool dynamic beats like Lavender Hole which again feels to me to be in that mid 80's new wave pocket (Psychedelic Furs meets the Cranberries). Sorry (Dispensa) is a heady and terribly cool beautiful blend of new wave sounds with a big grungy post punk guitar driven chorus and breaks that feel oddly interruptive in a machine takes over kind of way. The EP "Nontoxic Process" is not to be missed, NOT to be missed. 

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Robb Donker



Sunday, November 11, 2018

Oxen's tropical punk flavors on the totally infectious pop of "Postpone"




































photo courtesy of Fredrik Stål

Postpone by Swedish the indie pop outfit Oxen with it's tropical punk flavor pushed through 80's new wave filters that brings to mind Culture Club, Bow Wow Wow, Abe Vigoda and current indie pop meets punk acts like The Drums and Vampire Weekend (but not.) In the end Oxen stand on their own in a cool, cool way. 

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Robb Donker


PRESS NOTES:


Oxen is a journey of intense foosball-games and striving towards the perfect song. Oxen started out, as every great story, of boredom. Two childhood friends trying to make something extraordinary out of the ordinary. In a quirky studio on a demolition lease, located in a Stockholm suburb called Årstaberg, Erik and Stefan began writing what would become their first singles ‘Only Forever’ and ‘Luck’. In the same space as where Mando Diao recorded “Bring ‘Em In”, the friends met daily to write whatever music they felt like, one day being inspired by Beatles and the other by MGMT. Their first two singles quickly reached 200k respectively 100k streams on Spotify followed by some festival gigs in Sweden as well as club gigs in London. Following their initial EP-release they started to write and record their new album ‘Postpone & Forget’ in the mythical Svenska Grammofonstudion in Gothenburg together with up-and-coming producer György Barocsai. During 2018 the band has released two singles ‘Limbo’ and ‘Soulmate’ and are about to drop two more before their debut album is released in the end of November. Until then Oxen will do a brief tour in Germany and continue to look for the perfect song.





Lac Belot and the wanderlustful art pop of "Unspectacular" from the "Abracadabra" album (out now)

From the Abracadabra album out on Solina Records, Lac Belot's (Helsinki, Finland) wanderlusful art pop track Unspectacular with it's vast orchestral sound anchored by Belot's wise beyond years vocal style is a song on the move. Just listening to it's heartfelt evocations you can almost feel scenery speeding by on the periphery. 

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Robb Donker



Frederick The Younger's sonic Polaroid on the hazy muted love of "Everybody Wants To Take You For A Ride"

I don't know why some forms of art feel tied to past decades but I do know that the track Everybody Wants to Take You for A Ride by Louisville, Kentucky indie rockers Frederick The Younger has (for me) a decidedly 60's / 70's sound. It is something about the composition itself and maybe lead vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Jenni Cochran's vocal style that feels part aloof and fatalistically dour in that "I really don't give a shit when I die as long as I really live" sort of way and while Everybody Wants to Take You for A Ride is (for the band) a slower departure even on their more cagey and upbeat songs they simply possess that pivotal older sound. Very organic, very blues rock based pushed through a bit of psyche / hippie rock which I have always referred to garden rock. Frederick The Younger's aesthetic feels like a sonic Polaroid, cool and groovy and earnest. Much Love.

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Robb Donker

PRESS NOTES:

Hailing from Cleveland, Ohio, singer and multi-instrumentalist Jenni Cochran grew up loving music. Going as far back as third grade, Cochran had a fire to write songs. Years later, while living in Vietnam, Cochran knew that she had to keep following music, that she needed her adventures to continue.
Growing up in Louisville, Aaron Craker learned to play guitar and keyboard at an early age. Eventually forming the band Dr. Vitamin, so named for his grandfather who discovered vitamin’s A and D, Craker dedicated himself to his craft. Running into Cochran at an improv acting group, the two hit it off and have stuck around since.
The rest was history. They spent time together. They wrote some songs, then a record, and then a few more. They worked with some friends before finding their drummer Dave Givan in 2015. Jake Hellman came in just last summer to carry the bottom end on bass, and brought a new found energy to the group. The band is their bond, formed on rock and roll through the lens of psychedelic garage pop, the Kinks or Beatles modernized with the hint of Western music teasing at the edges. 
There is an earnestness to their newest songs that rings true, the kind of sincerity born from experience. These songs feel alive and well-lived, tragic, beautiful, and contemplative, all with a solid hook. Frederick the Younger will haunt your memories, lodging themselves into your brain and refusing to let go. They will hold your hand and dance, and talk to you afterwards. These are the friends you didn’t know you had, singing to you in the dark, and guiding you to the light.



Cathedrals' track "Just A Game" is a beautiful dreamy sonic landscape carrying mesmerizing vocals

Cathedrals' track Just A Game might just be a game changer for the two talented artists Brodie Jenkins and Johnny Hwin whose disparate journeys coalesced as fate and a mutual friend brought them together at an art collective in San Francisco. Ironically, the two attended the same college at the same time but never met. They both had successes apart but together is where the magic happens. Listen to Just A Game to get the essence of Brodie's remarkable instrument (her voice) with self described folk roots and a gothic heart and Johnny a self taught keyboardist with an organic ability to create captivating beats and with an never ending string of ideas. They both draw inspiration from Swedish pop, nineties trip-hop, indie dreamwave and pitch-black trap stewing up a heady blend. Performing live they incorporate Mitchell Wilcox on drums and Jonathan Hererra on bass and synths.
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Robb Donker


The lo-fi sadcore alt folk of Trainwreck Department sprinkles hopeful sounds in the somber on "Sea Plus Bees"

Trainwreck Department. I like this name for a band or musical project and in this case it is the home recording project of prolific Danish songwriter Jacob Faurholt who also releases albums under the moniker Crystal Shipss. The track Sea Plus Bees has an alt folk vibe with psyche tones and an almost child like whimsy but it feels like the aesthetic might be pollyanna as irony, as commentary. Whatever is the case the lo-fi sadcore approach is appealing. I am going to keep my ears and eyes open for more from Jacob. 
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Robb Donker