Thursday, February 28, 2019

"Sweetheart" by VEDA is a poised and pretty first crush of a song

























VEDA is the goth-pop project of Birmingham (UK) based multi-instrumentalist Dominic Antonio Sepúlveda and the track Sweetheart feels poised and pretty like it could of existed in the 1980's somewhere between the Cure, Flock of Seagulls and Haircut 100. Pumped full of energy fueled with lo-fi hyper real drum machines, jangly guitars, power pop casiotone keyboards and love struck vocals, Sweetheart feels like a first crush. 

-
Robb Donker

Veda has supported groups such as Furfanu, White Fang and Lusts, gaining support from BBC Introducing and Richer Unsigned. 2018 saw VEDA tour the UK and EU extensively, with debut shows in Paris and Luxembourg City. With a brand new EP set to be released early this year and a string of live dates booked, 2019 will be remembered for generations to come as the year of GOTH BOII.  



"Waiting For You" by psyche rock tripsters The EYYES won't let you look away

Like a slow barbiturate drip and the impending dark haunting dreams to come the track Waiting For You by L.A. psyche rock duo The EYYES blends ambient tones, intimate acoustic sounds, ominous synth drones and haunting vocals. What is particularly stunning is the bridge that feels so cinematic. The high pitched synth chords that could be the accompaniment to a 1930's German Expressionistic silent film, dripping water sounds, and bottom heavy drones is so artistically askew, dark yet beautifully captivating.  David Lynch meets Robert Wiene in a parallel universe. 

-
Robb Donker



Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Bent Antenna stirs up proto / retro psychedelic rock tones on "The Party's Over"





























The Party's Over by Bent Antenna has classic rock bones, a delicious vocal performance and cool vibes. It rides on a drum beat that snaps despite a chill cadence, with heavy build ups that repeat again and again stirring 70's garden rock tones swaying like slow motion head banging with elements of power pop and folk psyche rock. When the tambourine comes in and glorious party becomes more upbeat you can't help but smile. Yeah, this band, song is just fucking cool.

-
Robb Donker

Bent Antenna was formed in 2018 in Madison, WI by Matt Earley and CA Grooms. Matt had been writing and recording by himself as "The Delicate Delegate" for a few years, but was missing collaboration with other musicians. CA was spending time making visual art, recording other bands in his studio, and writing his own songs. After meeting through a mutual friend they decided to try making music together and began playing shows as Bent Antenna switching off on guitar and drums as a two-piece. 
  • In July of 2018 Bent Antenna opened for Lou Barlow introducing them to a larger crowd that had never seen them. In the crowd was bassist Lisa Marine (Noah John, Tiny Band) who approached them about teaming up. They rounded out the new ensemble with former Killdozer drummer Dan Hobson and began fleshing out their sound. Expanding the group has allowed them to focus on the layered guitars and harmonies that define their sound. And there was much rejoicing.

"Space" by L.A. based shoegazers Wild Signals is vast, deep and oh so dreamy

The dreamy track Space by L.A, based shoegazers Wild Signals orbits on cyclical guitar notes and transient chords that hang in space. The vocal performance is equally dreamy framed by pearls of sounds and cagey drum and bass rhythms. Dynamically rich, it is an embracing dreamy rock sound, hard and soft, big yet intimate.

-
Robb Donker

Wild Signals was formed in 2017 by vocalists/guitarists Noël Brydebell and Nicole Ridgely, drummer Josh Renkow, and bassist Ben Keysaer. Mixing intricate layers of Post Rock with haunting melodies reminiscent of '90s Dream Pop, the result is a perpetual wave of texture and sound.

Diana Wolfpack second single "Jane Russell" is a bombshell of a song


























Diana Wolfpack's second single Jane Russell is kind of like the 50's bombshell it is named after, brash, sassy and sultry. Fueled with a strident gritty vocal performance and driving big guitar sounds, the raw rocker feels passionate and celebratory. Comprised of veterans of the Liverpool (England) music scene, Diana Wolfpack is centered around James Kirk, Giovanni Furrugia and Tom Hood. Jane Russel was recorded at the end of 2018 (the year of the band's birth) at Whitewood Studios in Liverpool with producer Daniel Woodward. 

-
Robb Donker



Johnny Bubblegum gets groovy and psychedelic on "Flowers Bloomed"

Johnny Bubblegum is a 25 year old multi- instrumentalist from Washington D.C. area and his track Flowers Bloomed feels groovy and psychedelic. I feel retro vibes happening and images of flower power and people of all colors around a psyche folk rocker on electric guitar and in some ways I thought of some of John Lennon's later solo work. All cool. Check out Johnny's Bandcamp.

-
Robb Donker




Tuesday, February 26, 2019

"Im Park Und IM Café" by Berlin based Die Wände is a proggy juggernaut of post punk goodness

Im Park Und IM Café by three piece German indie post punk outfit Die Wände is a proggy juggernaut of a song. Cascading guitar sounds spiral around cagey drum patterns and powerful bass lines. Recorded (along with other songs) in the spring of 2018 (under the project / band girlie that had formed in 2013 while the trio were studying at the Art University in Berlin)  the mostly live music sessions hammered out in seven days in the attic of an empty farmhouse in Prinzhofte, a municipality just outside of Demenhorst (Germany).

The band: Carsten von Postel, Jann Petersen and Mathias Wolff and friends from the Flennen Collective - Alexander Günther (Molde) and Julius Berger (Go Lamborghini Go) who were commissioned to record the songs slept on air mattresses in the midst of microphoned amplifiers and drums. Vocal recordings and overdubs were made in the following weeks in a rehearsal room in Berlin-Lichtenberg, recorded by Christian Ramisch (NOJ), which is surrounded by communist-era blocks of flats. No longer girlie (which by the way released EP's and Cassettes and received well deserved accolades from 2014 to 2016) the band changes its name to Die Wände. The debut album "Im Flausch" will be released 8th March 2019 on vinyl and digitally by Späti Palace.  


-
Robb Donker



Monday, February 25, 2019

"Softie" by dreamy duo Wy shines like a mid 80's Glitter ball of new wave




























The track Softie by the dreamy Swedish duo Wy has a lovely kind of mid 80's glitter ball new wave atmosphere. It is a piece of heart broken Saturday nights or being stood up for the high school prom in a John Hughes film. It is infectious and sad and glorious and in the very best way it could of been a Cyndi Lauper song with Spandau Ballet as the backing band. 

-
Robb Donker

PRESS NOTES:
Longtime lovers Ebba and Michel formed Wy in 2015 after several years of playing in bands together. Their guitar-driven pop is dreamy and melancholic and with Ebba's distinctive voice they manage to cut through the noise and latch on to your soul.
Their debut EP "Never Was" have recieved international praise and the follow up singles have been picked up by both national and international radio. With their ever growing online fanbase and an unique artistic approach Wy has proven themselves to be a sad force to be reckoned with.
On their debut album "Okay" Wy are wearing their hearts on their sleeves. The 10-track LP contains mellow anthems about self-doubt, social anxiety and the search for happiness. Like true masters of sad pop, Wy's music can make you cry while still letting the sun peek though the window.


Sunday, February 24, 2019

Sweden's The Grand New Wrong pushes power pop tones through big grunge rock filters on "My Only Friend"

Sweden's The Grand New Wrong, on their latest track My Only Friend, pushes power pop tones through garage rock / grunge rock filters. The result is a big and brash almost 70's Brit pop meets 90's Seattle grunge rock sound. It is deliciously heavy and lush, thoroughly guitar driven full throttle rock with hints of blues rock in between the (guitar) lines.

The band hails from Alingsås / Göteborg and band mates Josef Andrén, Björn Granat, Sebastian Johammar and Emil Ardané pull inspiration from iconic band's like The Beatles, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Nirvana, Screaming Trees, Alice in Chains, Quasi and Sleater-Kinney. New album "Smooch" out now.

-
Robb Donker

"Strike Up A Match" - elegant art rock painting from Mechanical Pterodactyl

Strike Up A Match by art rock outfit Mechanical Pterodactyl and centered around multi-instrumentalist / producer Yen Nguyen is a deeply dramatic fall into art rock artifices and dreamy sounds steeped in a surreal haze of romance. Nguyen's vocals, passionate and torn are eventually counterpoised by Jenny Lee's tender and yet equally artistically framed vocals. There is a self awareness to the performances here as if a story is being told on a stage in front of people. I love this aesthetic, the theatricality that flows through this entire song. 

Mechanical Pterodactyl are based out of Melbourne via Canberra (Australia) and are Yen Nguyen on vox, guitars, synths, sampler, drums and percussion with Jenny Lee on vox and keys, along with Munro Melano on vox, keys and synths and, lastly, Jimmy Annand on guitars. 

Strike Up A Match is the first single from Mechanical Pterodactyl’s second full-length album "Timelapse" which was written and produced all by Nguyen over a period of seven years.

-
Robb Donker



Saturday, February 23, 2019

"Secondhand Church" by Lantern by Sea is an inspired indie rocker

The latest offering from Lantern by Sea is called Secondhand Church. It feels big and yet intimate. It is an indie rocker that charges forth on big downbeats and dramatic drop outs where vocals hold sway. In this way, the elements of gospel work so well, inspirational ascending chorus and playing your hearts out to the sky. 

Press Notes reveal that this is the third released song from the Provo, Utah based band that formed only a year ago. They’ve quickly risen on the local scene from playing at clubs to being invited to play on the Bonanza Campout Main Event Stage, headline at local venues, and perform alongside other top bands from Utah at the Rooftop Concert Series in Provo, Utah where notable bands have played such as Imagine Dragons, The Moth & The Flame, and Neon Trees.

Lantern by Sea are Porter and Tate Smith, Josh Alvey and Dalan Davenport.


-
Robb Donker


Stray Fossa's latest "Swells" cuts a dreamy groove again and again

Swells by Charlottesville (VA) three piece garage pop / indie rock outfit Stray Fossa is dreamy and, in my mind, makes a great soundtrack for surfing at Sunset and likely some other kind of ethereal happening in your mind. Self recorded and produced in their living room studio the intro guitar / synth swell was sampled into the end of the song to give it an endless cyclical nature when played on repeat like an ongoing wave of sounds or as the song says "these swells come and go."

Stray Fossa are Nick Evans, Will Evans, Zach Blount.

-
Robb Donker


Thursday, February 21, 2019

The effervescent "Rudy" by Tender Glue rides on wanderlust rails

The track Rudy by Tender Glue shuffles and vibrates on dancing guitar lines with slightly overlapping notes creating a lovely tension. It feels like a song full of wanderlust and Polaroid travels. Tender Glue is Tom Gluewicki whose vocal performance feels passionate and maybe slightly pained but soars covered with an emotional patina. 

He was born and raised in Poland, moving to New York in 2002. At age 12 he fixed a broken guitar that his brother brought home. Tom recalls, "When I was in Poland, probably 12 years old, my brother was confronted by a group of gypsies. He was holding a brand new ADIDAS soccer ball and was hassled to trade it with a broken guitar. He brought the guitar home and I was excited because I always wanted to learn how to play guitar. I took the guitar and tried fixing it by taping the neck with duck tape because duck tape works for everything. [smiles] But one day I came home and I found out that my mother had thrown it away and I even went to the garbage container to look for it, but I couldn’t find it. After that, it stayed in the back of my mind that it was something that I would eventually get into."

At age 17 his family immigrated to the United States ending up in the Bushwick / Ridgewood area of New York. It wasn't until age 23 when Tom purchased a guitar at Target of all places. It was a Christmas gift to himself. 

-
Robb Donker

PRESS NOTES:

On September 25th, 2015, Tender Glue released his debut EP titled, “Wait For Steady Light”. After several years of creating original music, this album is a culmination of raw recordings, composed with minimal equipment, using the resources Tom had in his home. Full length album "Steady Light", which was a continuation of the EP, was released year later on August 26th, 2016.
The latest album titled "Closet Leftovers", was released on September 28th, 2018 on Tom's record label called Don't Label Me Records. The first four singles from the album were released between February to June of 2018. "Closet Leftovers" was recorded and produced by Tom in his studio apartment closet after he moved from Brooklyn to Manhattan more than a year ago.



Monday, February 18, 2019

The curious titled "Wind Telephone" by Bruce Enloe calls back to 70's rock

The curious titled track Wind Telephone by singer songwriter Bruce Enloe who hails from Ontario, Canada (by way of San Francisco by way of Austin Texas) is a free and breezy pop song that for me has a decidedly late 60's / 70's rock feel. I thought of Nazz (Tod Rundgren's original band) almost immediately and of more contemporary artists like The Sleepy Jackson.

The rock pop early 70's sound is earmarked by softer melodies, earnest presentation and almost always some inspired subconscious or overt lineage push pin to push pin with yarn mapped out connection to the Beatles in some way. And I hear some of that with Enloe. His latest album, "A Perfect Cliché" that dropped in January of this year and was co-produced ,by Ben Mullin and Brad Sucks) calls back to his eclectic art rock roots and is described as a 'fake concept album', complete with a nonsense narrative, his own art design, and music that combines indie rock, pop & folk, with dashes of electronica, psych and noise.

-
Robb Donker


Saturday, February 16, 2019

Laveda are perfectly poised on their lo-fi dream pop affair "Dream. Sleep"

Dream. Sleep by Laveda starts with what sounds like a cassette player's play button being pushed. The clunky tactile sound gives way to a dreamy Lo-Fi Dreamy pop affair punctuated by a runaway beat, deliciously active bass line, double time guitar flourishes, droning synths and cooing female vox filtered through a hazy wash. The result is totally infectious and a total throwback to 80's new wave and 90's shoegaze tones. There is so much to pull you into the fray here, popping hooked filled synths and an industrial electronic jagged sound near the end that crescendos the song until it ends with that cassette player's switch being pushed again. The effect acts as a time machine or remembrance and I love it. I love the entire aesthetic here.

Laveda was founded in 2017 in Albany, New York and is Ali Genevich and Jake Brooks. There songs have morphed, taken shape from singer songwriter styles to the evocative sound they have now. Their Spotify debut "If Only", recently released under Soave Records of The Netherlands, was written by Laveda and morphed by artists Conki (Poland) & Nexeri (Russia) to create a Chill House/Dance track. Laveda has been focused on further developing their own style out of Brooklyn NY. They plan to release their first record in Spring of 2019.

-

Robb Donker




Friday, February 15, 2019

La Loye and the pure beautiful heaviness of "To Live Underwater"

The track To Live Underwater by La Loye (the Netherlands) appropriately floats on stair stepping guitar notes pure and sleepy and singer songwriter Lieke Heusinkveld's tender vocal performance. The subtlety of everything that is happening makes the song sound like a simply beautiful lullaby but there is so much lushness here, so much instrumentation that feels almost too polite to not step up front too much. The melodies enhanced by the intimacy of Lieke's voice (often times held up by graceful what sounds like organ strains and acoustic guitar) are so beautifully intimate and sometimes heartbreaking. Water like love, like life can be pristine, pure, an essence you swim, drift through but you can be crushed by it's weight too or suffocated by it. To Live Underwater is a dreamy affecting stunner of a song. 
-
Robb Donker

 

Thursday, February 14, 2019

"Den Sista Resan" by Errka Petersson featuring Sara Öberg is a sweeping post rock affair

Den Sista Resan from Swedish Hammond organ player and music producer Errka Peterssons' debut album "Silverhöken" and featuring Sara Öberg is a sweeping orchestral post rock affair that veers into almost 70's chamber pop tones. Featuring a syncopated piano bed full of down beats punctuated by drum highlights and droning violin sounds, the vocal melodies sung in tandem riding on ethereal words, (translated) "Weightless on our escapade, We're never coming back....You and I, we turn the page...We're always going to be endlessly free."

-
Robb Donker


ATREM hovers and then beautifully crashes on it's dreamy organic and synthetic "Slicer"

Ryuichi Shima and Yusuke Kamiura as ATREM (Japan) create instrumental landscapes incorporating organic and electronic sounds built and programmed in and around loops that sometimes seem to burst out, recoil and turn inside out. The track Slicer is floats on beautiful ambient tones and vocals turned into keyboard notes until if falls deeply into a chaotic stew of industrial electronica.


Robb Donker


"Tiger Owl" by Drew Pinchotti- a song for the starry eyed among us

Singer songwriter Drew Pinchotti based out of Chippewa, Pennyslvania crafts a big unabashedly inspired ballad, a gratitude song really written for a friend who needed strength. Tiger Owl has stars in it's eyes and, if not so earnest, might feel over melodramatic or even filled with orchestral fluff but the production filled with whimsy and an almost baroque pop sense of wonder is the real deal. A song for all the starry eyed among us. 

Tiger Owl will be on Pinchotti's upcoming debut EP "Million First Times"

-
Robb Donker


Swine Tax's punk foray "Hold Your Own" has bark and bite

Swine Tax's track Hold Your Own is punk foray into the chaos of living in today's world where our economic conditions and happiness sometimes seems to be controlled by puppet masters. The strident guitar driven progs amplified by punchy bass and drums are all wrapped around each other in the best possibly way. At times, I thought of the most fervent Pixies' songs like Something Against You. The vocal performance feels fevered with tones of confusion and biting cynicism. Press Notes indicate that the song is a commentary on precarious employment and endemic loneliness within the U.K and that is the thing with Swine Tax, these boys incorporate their personal views about societal issues and how those issues trickles down on the common man, stuff all that angst into their music combining their potent sound with pile driving musicality and a wink and snarl vocal performance. Their punk diatribes carry the tradition of the genre battering against social and political constructs. Whatever this Tyneside trio (Vince, TK and Charlie) are putting out I want to hear and feel it. 

Following a home-town headline show at Star and Shadow cinema on March 22 nd, Swine Tax will begin their European tour in April 2019; this will culminate on April 20 th at Motel Mozaique Festival, Rotterdam.
Further dates to be announced shortly.
Swine Tax are currently working on new material for release in the spring of 2019.

-
Robb Donker


Saturday, February 9, 2019

"Evil Parts" by Kerchief is crafty post punk with deep grooves and proggy hooks

Evil Parts by 3 piece alt rock outfit Kerchief cuts a deep groove of post punk flavors with equally deep pop hooks. At it's core, the Tennessee based Kerchief is propelled by singer songwriter Britt Hill whose rock compositions are dynamic and densely crafted with cagey jagged rock progs that stair step, skipping steps along the way. Her vox blending sometimes in unison with her male counterpart is cool and sometimes askew in the best possible way. 

After ending her previous band, Vanity Theft, Hill started the then solo project Kerchief in 2014 with a self produced "Demonstrations" EP and a debut full length called "Machines And Animals" in 2015. Shows and touring followed with a rotating cast of back up musicians and two more EPs ("Corner House" 2016 and "Rinse" 2018) blending in electronic elements. Fast forward to 2019 and Kerchief is returning with their sophomore LP, "Fluke" on March 1st with the addition of brothers Tommy and Trevor Nicholson on bass and drums.

-
Robb Donker



Solar Estates - tender moments on "Shape"
























Shape by Solar Estates is a dreamy indie rock affair filtered through a kind of shoe gaze meets alt country meets alt folk tones. It feels sweet and tender leaving the space to swell up with big soft crescendos of sound, droning synths and trancy guitar lines. The bass and drums anchor the song while keeping it moving rock steady as singer Aric Jeffries waxes poetic with a tender grounded vocal performance. 

-
Robb Donker

Solar Estates is a genre-bending indie band born out of the bustling and self-determining music scene in Chico, California. From shoegazing alt-country to atmospheric guitar pop, the band’s interest in genre is broad yet grounded in good songwriting and the prominent, frenetic styling of vocalist Aric Jeffries. Listen if you’re a fan of Hovvdy, Big Thief, boygenius, (Sandy) Alex G, The Hotelier, Sun Kil Moon, The Microphones, Slowdive, and Low.

Earthquake Lights' gravitational pull of major triads and minor extensions on "Moonlight"
























The sultry track Moonlight by NYC's indie rock / chamber pop quintet Earthquake Lights is a moody somber affair full of jazz tones spilling major triads with minor extensions creating spaces that feel like steps that float in mid air before coming down to earth. Within the jazz flavors exist dreamy synth tones with hints of R&B and even ambient (dream) pop feels. Comprised of college grads who back in 2010 /2011 would slip into their Alma Mater's music building to practice and compose. On keys and singing lead, Myles Rodenhouse; the drummer, Stephen Helms; playing electric bass, James DiGorlamo; on rhythm guitar and backing vocals, Cam Underhill; and on lead guitar, Evan Douaihy.

Their musical journey and hard work has found them with musical successes tied to commercials and TV shows and leading them to recording their debut full-length, "Distress Signals". The band recruits some Broadway musicians to play brass parts. Soon enough, Earthquake Lights find themselves at world-famous Abbey Road Studios recording strings with a professional orchestra. A dream come true but dreams don't just happen, they are made by offering emotional art that people want to orbit around. Listening to Moonlight I can feel Earthquake Light's gravitational pull.

-
Robb Donker



Cold Engines' "Show You Crazy" shape shifts in delicious ways

Cold Engines' Show You Crazy is a shapeshifter of a song that moves from cool groove driven dance pop sounds to big post rock guitar-centric tones back to indie pop grooves until all the sounds converge into one. Like a magician's misdirection the shifts are seamless and invisible. The cards up their sleeves comprised of serious players inspired by R&B, Soul and Rock and Roll in their most purest forms and a soul tinged vocal performance.

At the core is David Drouin (guitar, vocals) and Aaron Zaroulis (drums, vocals) of The Brew accompanied by Eric Reingold (bass, vocals) and Geoff Pilkington (drums). 

Look for their most ambitious record to date "Kiss My Heart" - (2019).

-
Robb Donker



"Hard On Yourself" by Nick Bowen- organic and raw feels like a romance that is broken and torn

Hard On Yourself by singer-songwriter Nick Bowen feels organic and raw hinging on a vocal performance straining with blood and tears. Feeling like a live performance in a big room their is a sense of romance that is broken and torn but something to be salvaged. 

Bowen hails from Webster, New York and is signed to Exquisite Noise Records. His self titled album dropped on January 22nd (2019).

-
Robb Donker


"Jigsaw Melody" by The Donnis Trio winks and smiles hinged on that voice

Jigsaw Melody by the Donnis Trio is a blend of shifting styles distilled from jazz, honky-tonk, indie pop, rock, folk, blues and a kind of 70's chamber pop tone all hinged on Nate Donnis' sultry baritone voice that feels like a well built vintage guitar full of rustic sounds and so many stories to tell. The character in his voice feels road worn but wiser for all the battles and bruises encountered.

Nate's voice (with his guitar) and along with Phil Woodring (drums) and Denis Sluka (bass) has received over 25 million plays on Pandora radio and music from their albums has been placed in shows like Skins (UK), Breaking Amish, 90210, MTV, and more.

Jigsaw Melody is from the album "A Beautiful Life" that drops March 1st (2019). 

-
Robb Donker


Holden Laurence's "Shadows Of Old Love" is a pure rock rendezvous

Shadows Of Old Love by Holden Laurence stirs up retro flavors. The cleanly wrought rock sound he creates with Mitchell Kiminas, Michael O'Brien and Mark Porostoski has a pure sound free from any decade's musical tropes. This makes it feel like an indie pop / rock classic. A soundtrack for a rendezvous with that someone. 

-
Robb Donker



"Turn Into Blue" by The Technicolors - post punk blend swirling in the universe

























Turn Into Blue by Los Angeles based (by way of Phoenix, Arizona) The Technicolors is a sultry, cool fall into indie rock filtered through a kind of post punk haze further filtered through 90's post rock and 80's new wave tones. The blend is so exquisitely wrought some of the guitar flourishes feel proggy too. It moves so well, dramatically really and Brennan Smiley's vocals (that effortlessly slide into dreamy falsettos) is clean and dirty in the best way. Oddly enough or maybe not, I flashed on some very diverse bands as I listened from Superchunk to Spoon to Muse to Radiohead to The Flaming Lips even and mind you The Technicolors don't sound like any of these artists specifically but there are moments that swirl around that make me think the band may share some of the creative stuff that these artists are made of. Stuff in the universe and listening to The Technicolors' stuff on Spotify I find them to be a band creating their own universe or solar system in the least. Smiling. Cool stuff. 

The Technicolors are (the aforementioned) Brennan Smiley (lead vocals, guitar), Sean Silverman (guitar, keys, backing vocals), Nico (bass guitar), and Austin Scates (drums, percussion). 

Part of the new "Techni-trax single series", Turn Into Blue is the first single from The Technicolors in the new year. The song was produced by Jon Joseph.

-
Robb Donker





Friday, February 8, 2019

"Can't Go On Like This" is a beautiful folk rock remembrance by Native Harrow

Can't Go On Like This by Native Harrow, the musical moniker of Devin Tuel is a potent folk rocker with old bones. There is a sense of Americana, of 60's protest songs, or people of all colors making something happen, of Joni Mitchell and Sandy Denny. From Upstate New York, Tuel reflects on her journey from former ballerina and classically trained singer to the performer and singer-songwriter she is now. The now reflected in her latest album, "Happier Now" of which Tuel says, 

“This record is about becoming your own advocate. Realizing that maybe you are different in several or a myriad of ways and that that is okay. And further, it is about me becoming a grown woman.” 

-Robb Donker


PRESS NOTES:

Happier Now (out April 12 on Different Time Records), is a set of nine songs recorded and mixed by Alex Hall (JD McPherson, The Cactus Blossoms, Pokey LaFarge) at Chicago’s Reliable Recorders. The album was co-produced by Hall, Tuel, and her bandmate, multi-instrumentalist Stephen Harms.
Native Harrow cuts out clear and vibrant narratives on fear, love, the open road, ill-fated relationships, and coping with the state of the world. “I wanted to share that I made it out of my own thunderstorm. I had experienced the high peaks and very low valleys of my twenties. I saw more of the world on my own, got through challenges, reveled in true moments of triumph… but all the while the world around me was growing louder, wilder, and scarier. Music for me is a place to be soft. This album was my place to feel it all.”   

Happier Now’s nine songs were written during three back-to-back tours across North America supporting the band’s second album, Sorores. The album was recorded in just three days in March 2018 during what Tuel jokingly calls “downtime” in the middle of the grueling 108 date tour. Tuel approached the sessions like a musicians’ workshop, each morning beginning with the songwriter presenting her collaborators with the day’s material. The trio rehearsed and documented each song live on the floor, tracking as a band through each take. No click tracks, scratch tracks, or even headphones; just three musicians in a small room, captured with Hall’s collection of vintage mics and some subtle retro production techniques. Overdubs, including vocal harmonies, B3 organ, Rhodes, and the rare lead guitar were added to decorate these live performances.  The creative energy of the tightly-knit sessions spilled over into Tuel’s songwriting as well - she skipped lunch on the third and final day of recording to pen the road-weary “Hard To Take”. Four days after arriving in Chicago, Native Harrow was back on the road and Happier Now was complete.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Agouti stir up proggy psyche rock on "Dragons"

Dragons by Agouti, a San Francisco psych-rock band centered around singer songwriter Carmen Caruso stirs up dreamy musical concoctions that veer into progressive daydreams. I thought of prog rock bands like the iconic Yes within the guitar lead driven melodies and syncopated rhythms. 

-
Robb Donker



The Spiral Electric's trip fest on "The Final Moment"

There is a moment on the psyche rock track The Final Moment from San Fran's The Spiral Electric (about three and a half minutes in) when the music breaks down, "duh... duh.... duh... duh!" amid a fury of drums, screaming dirty guitar leads and organ synths. It feels like potent garden rock a la the original Woodstock with hippies tripping out in the mud and it is sooo good. 

-
Robb Donker

Press Notes:  

The Spiral Electric initially began in San Francisco as a psychedelic guitar duo consisting of Clay Andrews (vocals, keyboards, guitar) and Nicolas Percey (lead guitar), and has shifted through various lineups over the years, venturing through acid rock with flavours of surf, post-punk, British goth and indie, noise, drone, and stoner rock. Between 2012 and 2018, they have gathered a dedicated international following and toured up and down the US west coast from Seattle to Los Angeles and played festivals like the Desert Stars Festival in Pioneertown CA, Starry Nites Festival in Santa Barbara, Gathering of the Tribes Festival in San Francisco, CA, and the Portland Psych Fest in Portland, OR. 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).

"(Don't Give Up On ) Beautiful Things" by The Prefab Messiahs is a trip

(Don't Give Up On ) Beautiful Things is a 60's style psych acid tripping toned song from The Prefab Messiahs' latest foray into time travel rock called "Psychspolitation Today". The title of the album is both candid and twistingly true. I mean the sound on Beautiful Things is so perfectly psychedelic from the heavily effected vox to the harmonies and "la la la's" sang lovingly while walls of guitars march along. There is an electronic nod that updates the sound but pretty much the band goes for a perfect homage to the time.

This from a band who coalesced their sound lovingly in the early eighties and found a resurgence around 2015 smack dab in the middle of the Burger Record stew of bands and music built out of punk and sock hop punk like King Tuff, Tomorrow's Tulips, Shannon and the Clams, Ty Segall, White Fence and more who borrowed heavily from iconic proto rock and psych rock flavors. The Prefab Messiahs might not push the envelope as much as some but the lush hazy sound fits perfectly within a mix tape of Burger / Lolipop Records bands and sounds.

-
Robb Donker



Sunday, February 3, 2019

"Around Here" from Helsinki indie rockers Pastis has got that rock and roll cred

Around Here from Helsinki indie rockers Pastis will likely make you smile seconds in. The energetic tom tom beat / pounding bass and guitar picking notes (with a serious hook) that seem to float around it all feels exquisitely free. The song soars like lovers running to each other enhanced by a lovely vocal performance. When the song give way to it's 50's rock and roll core with an almost Duane Eddy-esque guitar licks with batons passed to rockabilly and punk (think X's Billy Zoom) the essence of great rock and roll / new wave / power pop / punk comes clearly into view.

Around Here is from the band's latest album "Circles" (dropping this month).

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Robb Donker


Eoin Noonan's comforting indie rocker "Calling Me Names" is a keeper

Calling Me Names from Irish Artist in Vermont (USA) Eoin Noonan is a sweet indie rocker that glides effortlessly around you like the warmth of a hot chocolate on a fog shrouded day on the Portland coastline (but maybe that's just me). It might transport you to another place or memory. Noonan's vocals are comforting and the indie rock guitar hooks come in at the right moments. This is a song for the good times that will undoubtedly bring up good memories months or years from now when you push play again. 

Eoin Noonan - guitars, vocals, bass 
David Anderson - guitars 
Luke O’Kelly - drums 

Recorded by Eoin Noonan and David Anderson 
Mixed by David Anderson 
Mastered by Brian Lucey 

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Robb Donker



Deva- powerful battle scarred declarations on "Dear Ocean"

Dear Ocean by Deva (UK) is a powerful life affirming, heart breaking ode to survival (by any means necessary) and fuck you to the infliction that was foisted upon her. It is a big brash kind of Americana blues tinged porch rocker with a passionate vocal performance. Deva certainly has the pipes to belt out any song but it is the broken glass cut rawness tinged with scars and blood in her voice that is compelling. 

Deva was born in London to American parents and raised in Berkshire. Her sound is heavily influenced by both British and American culture and music. About the emotional rocker she shares: 

"Dear Ocean is a song about my relationship with living with Cystic Fibrosis. I've drawn a lot of inspiration from blues and vocal powerhouses. With this song, I want to reach out to anyone with or without chronic illnesses, who want to rock out."

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Robb Donker



Saturday, February 2, 2019

Mark Diamond mines the gifts in the universe on the lush pop of "Steady"

Los Angeles based (by way of Seattle, Washington) singer-songwriter Mark Diamond, on his debut single Steady, possesses a smooth self aware singing style and knack for solid grooved pop styles pushed through lush R & B filters.

Diamond believes in the twists and turns of hard work and luck and the gifts the universe has to offer. After getting kicked out of college his ascent into songwriting and music quickened.

The universe offered him a small piano room in his freshman dorm where he spent most of his time. 

“Sh*t started to get serious when I got kicked out of college. Right before I started tracking the last song on this live album I had been working on at the time, I got an email from university telling me basically don’t bother coming back next quarter or the next three after that one too.”

Equipped with a large number of finished tracks that he completed with talented writer and producer Richard Cracker the future is bright. 


 “I have never had more fun making music in my entire life. Music should make people feel good more than it makes them feel bad. Not necessarily ‘happy’ songs, but songs that make you feel better about life than when you started listening to it.”

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Robb Donker


"Eggshell" is a deep groove of experimental goodness by L.A. based Runner

Eggshell by slightly twisted LA. based indie folk rock outfit Runner glides along with earnest lyrics, a cool forlorn vocal performance and a deep groove surrounded by an askew sense and a variety of instrumentation from transient piano, what sounds like banjo plucking and synths turned inside out. The result shifts musical genres and just sound cooly embracing. At it's core Runner is Noah Weinman (guitarist for Worn-Tin and Natalie Green and trumpeter for DAISY) and Nate Lichtenberger (percussionist / FX for Thumpasaurus). They refer to their kind of experimental pop / folk 808 infused tunes as "Bandcamp songs for Soundcloud kids" and are assisted by bandmates Evan Rasch on Guitar, Dan Rasch on keys and Ben McPeek and Jordan Leicht on saxophones.

Eggshell is the first track off of Runner's upcoming EP, "Fan On" recorded and mixed in their garage and mastered by Warren Hildebrand (Alex G, Foxes in Fiction).

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Robb Donker