Sunday, March 31, 2019

Deer Fellow's romantic stir of "You Came Along"

Deer Fellow is an indie soul / folk outfit out of Austin, Texas and their latest offering You Came Along stirs romance and broken hearts amid the vocal harmonies, violins, keys and electric guitar. Matthew Salois'  expressive vocal performance supported by Alyssa Kelly's graceful lilt is center stage.

-
Robb Donker



Saturday, March 30, 2019

Iuliano's swirling progressive sounds on "Help Me (featuring Stefano Lenzi)

























The track Help Me (feat. Stefano Lenzi) from Iuliano's debut EP "Hidden Roots" swells with percussive waves of sounds, instruments and layer vocals on top of up front nylon stringed acoustic guitar. The emotions painted with the music feels chill but as slow burns become roaring fires, the cacophony of sounds can feel harried and combative. 
-
Robb Donker



PRESS NOTES:


"I started this project as a testament," says Iuliano. "If something happened to me tomorrow, I would want to have something to represent me. All of the music that I have done up until this point has been just a compromise." 
Born in Italy, Iuliano inherited both his mother's inclinations toward culture and his father's affinity for economics. Beginning his studies on piano, Iuliano --who was a fan of progressive rock, jazz and soul -- played in clubs, his keyboards augmented by sequenced backing tracks. 
He tells that a dream sparked a dramatic journey. "I dreamed that I was in a classroom, and horn players were performing one of my arrangements," he recalls. He made this dream come true in the United States when he moved to Boston, MA to enroll at Berklee College of Music. "It was like everything that had been explained to me could now be applied – the concepts became bright and clear." 
With his engineering and arranging expertise finely-tuned, Iuliano gravitated to the role of a producer. Having previously visited Thailand on holiday, he started collaborating and producing in all Southeast Asia. After a four-year experience in Malaysia where he directed a small label, he chose to launch his solo career as a world citizen. 
While the guitar is a prominent instrument on Hidden Roots, it is not the instrument Iuliano is really familiar with, but the one he utilizes to write songs. "It was a deliberate peculiar choice made precisely because of not being a guitar player. This push me to explore ideas until I find something interesting, and then I free style the melody," he notes. "I begin with an accessible melody, but then introduce the listener to different scenarios that evolve from the original idea." While the intricate backing vocals on the project are a study in harmonic sophistication, the lead vocals are rendered in a poignant falsetto. "I use a smaller voice to increase the sense of dynamics and details," he explains. 
While Iuliano always begins with a concept, he prefers to realize his muse serendipitously. "Accidents are a very big deal in music, but you have to be able to hear them," he reveals. "Some people might take them as a mistake, but most of them will lead you, one way or another, to an interesting place. Normally, these are the places that I like to wander." 
Having spent so much time arranging and producing for others, Iuliano's personal vision as an artist comes full cycle with Hidden Roots."It's the sound that I've heard my whole life, together in one place," he notes. "Everybody has a limit – sometime the wrong side of the limit keeps you from making music, but if you can go around it, it becomes a point of power. You can express yourself through your limits. It makes you different from other artists and it becomes your point of strength."




"That Great Feeling" by Brad Byrd rides a euphoric wave from the "Phases" album

























That Great Feeling by Brad Byrd is a classic sounding folk rocker that casts a wide universal net. It goes down easy, feels comfortable like a big hug from those who care about you. It's big reverb washed sound, driving beat and cool knowing vocals feels Tom Petty-esque. Byrd's euphoric message is "about life's fleeting highs and learning to cherish them as they come, for they're never quite permanent." 

Byrd is based out of Los Angeles and That Great Feeling is from his upcoming album "Phases" that drops on May 3rd (2019).

-
Robb Donker


Fever Days' - alt pop dance wave track "I See Through It" jams

Fever Days based in Newcastle-upo-Tyne (UK) offer their second single release I See Through It which is a blistering upbeat alt pop track with new wave tendencies and deep synth dance grooves. You cannot stand still listening to this.

-
Robb Donker

PRESS NOTES:
Based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and making their live debut at Evolution Emerging Festival, Fever Days’ sound combines elements of New Wave and lo-fi Alt-Pop, sitting somewhere between Graham Coxon, Cloud Nothings and The Futureheads. Despite only one release to date, which landed on one of Spotify’s coveted ‘Fresh Finds’ playlists, the band have created something of a buzz locally following appearances at Meet The North Festival and tour support slots with Jordan Allen, Our Girl, and Spring King.

Modern Moxie's "Til I'm A Ghost" percolates in interesting power pop / indie rock ways

When you hear Til I'm A Ghost by Modern Moxie you want to read in between the lines and, while all song interpretations might just tell you more about yourself than the intent of the song, you just feel like their are big stories inside Madison Lucas' brain that you want to pick through. The song shifts in sometimes askew ways but always feeling kind of 1978 proto pop blended with contemporary indie rock / power pop tones. The musical sounds and arcs are vast here with many surprises. The rock chops are potent and so sonically satisfying. Love the guitar lines that work around the vocal melodies. Fuck yes. Cool beans. 

Til I'm A Ghost is from Modern Moxie's debut LP "Claw Your Way Out" dropping on vinyl and digital platforms in June (2019). They hail from Charlotte, North Carolina. 

-
Robb Donker




King Commoner's EP "The Heart's Electric" drops today. Hear "Nothing Left To Hide"

King Commoner's EP "The Heart's Electric" drops today (hit for all digital links) and the track Nothing Left To Hide is an expansive entree to his sound that mixes electronic elements with Americana alt-country / alt folk tones. 

Based in East L.A. King Commoner worked with drummer Emily Dolan Davies (Tricky, Brian Ferry) and Grammy-winning Capitol Records engineer Evren G√∂knar on "The Heart's Electric", and is currently mixing a second album "Paper Crown" for Summer 2019. His new band is gigging throughout California.

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Robb Donker



"Backseat Drivers" by King Ibis is delicious

Perth (Aus) band King Ibis cut cool grooves on the cool and inviting track Backseat Drivers. Lead vocalist / guitarist and songwriter Nadene Burchell has a dynamically fluid vocal performance and a knack for bouncy cool melodies. The guitar notes pulsate as if under water and then cut a decisive syncopated groove while the bass and drums push a solid framework. The chorus falls away into pretty and potent indie rock with R & B and light jazz flavors. What a delicious track.

King Ibis is Nadene Burchell (Songwriter) : Vocals // guitar
Samantha Goddard : Bass
Matthew Oakley : Backing vocals // lead guitar
John Mcandrew : Drums

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Robb Donker


Freedom Fry's - Official Lyric Video for "Glory Days"

Glory Days by California's Freedom Fry is a wistful piece of garden rock pie or call it alt folk or indie folk. It moves at a wanderlust clip as a soundtrack for memories of "induced abuse" and parties with Jack Daniels. 

Of the song the musical outfit shares:

 "Glory Days" is track two on the Glory Days EP. This is a song about living your best life and amassing a bunch of great stories so that when you're old you can gather the grandkids around and tell them about all the crazy stuff you did. The chorus lyrics are "Jack Daniels and me, Are gonna throw a big party, Invite the kids, Tell 'em stories from our glory days." The footage in the lyric video is from our tour with Stromae a few years back.

Freedom Fry is the French and American duo of  Marie Seyrat and Bruce Driscoll currently based out of Los Angeles. 
-
Robb Donker



"Marching Song" by Izzy Heltai feel like a sad finality

Marching Song by indie folk singer-songwriter Izzy Heltai is a spartan folk expose that moves like a slow heavy walk as teary as a sad finality. A walk away from someone or something. An ending. A broken conclusion. There are elements of hope too but even those feel fractured. Heltai carries emotions in his vocal performance and strums on his guitar as dashes of horns and piano fill in the spaces.

Izzy Heltai is based out of Northampton, Massachusetts and his songs about universal truths are often inspired by the natural beauty of Western Massachusetts. 

-
Robb Donker 


PRESS NOTES:
At 22-years-old, Izzy has already garnered a local loyal following in the New England Area. His debut EP “Sweet Apathy” was accompanied by a sold-out release show at the Historic Club Passim in Cambridge, MA, in January 2018, and Izzy continues to play other esteemed venues in the area, including Mass Moca, The Dreamaway Lodge and the Parlor room. He was also a recipient of a 2019 Club Passim Iguana Fund Grant for his forthcoming record.
In the summer of 2018, Izzy was named a finalist in Kerville Folk Festival’s New Folk Songwriting competition in Kerville, TX, and in 2017 was included in Falcon Ridge Folk Festival’s Grassy Hill Emerging Artist Showcase in Hillsdale, NY. He has performed at both regionally and nationally acclaimed festivals such as Ossipee Valley Music Festival in Cornish, ME and Freshgrass Bluegrass Festival at Mass MoCa in North Adams, MA, three years in a row.


Thursday, March 28, 2019

"Mirth Drive" by Sabel feels like a beautifully sad soundtrack to a moving movie

























Mirth Drive, the second single off of Sabel's debut EP feels like a sad languid soundtrack to a moving movie about the ups and downs of love, life and how you transform during the journey. The folk strains feel classic and the supporting pedal steel sounds and heavy beat carry you away but it is Sabel's vocal performance that digs deep into your heart. Her soft and heavy tones, the lilt of her voice and the tilt of her melodies are lovely and affecting. 

-
Robb Donker

Press Notes:


Formally known as Isabella Rose, Sabel is currently attending her senior year in the Creative American Music program at the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music. She began studying piano at age 4, and first picked up a guitar in eighth grade. Since high school she has written, recorded, and performed a wide variety of music. Along with her love of writing comes her love of performing. First starting with solo performances, Isabella has played at many well-known venues such as The Bitter End, Rockwood Music Hall, The Stephen Talkhouse, City Winery and many more, as well as opening for America’s Got Talent winner, Grace Vanderwaal. Recently, she booked and performed two headline dates at The Turning Point, NY with her newly formed all-female backup band.
Influenced by a wide variety of artists and genres, her repertoire is a mixture of deep, heartfelt ballads, uplifting sweet feel-good songs, and powerful alternative rock jams-each one staying true to herself and her vision.



Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Jon Wiilde has got you in his "Arms"- a hazy psyche rock dream

Arms by singer songwriter / multi-instrumentalist Jon Wiilde is so dreamy. The percussive bass and drum groove with such a captivating snare sound moves the track while delicious Fender Rhodes sounds and Wiilde's effected voice emotes in a barbiturate wash. Their are layers of sounds synth repeats and dissipation all aligned into this heavenly psychedelic hum that makes you float off the ground, "duh, nuh, nuh, nuh....nuh."

Wiilde is based out of Sacramento, California and Arms is off his upcoming EP "Listen To This Record Alone." Check out the Official Music Video.

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Robb Donker




Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The post hypnotic world of "Gilgamesh" by Nature's Neighbor is a stunning

Gilgamesh by Nature's Neighbor is utterly hypnotic in it's over-reaching scope. The sound, aesthetic... ? What can I say, the track orbits in a Pink Floyd-ian way, it swims and plays in seas of Radiohead, Miles Davis, Super Furry Animals, Airbag and The Alan Parson's Project. At 9 minutes long, Gilgamesh might seem like the epicenter of the "Ur" album, a vast album of alter egos of shoegaze, psychedelia, prog rock, indie rock and experimental chamber pop. 

Nature's Neighbor hails from Chicago and is more than a band but more like an art collective bringing together the talents of Seth Engel (Options), Nnamdi Ogbonnaya, Sen Morimoto and others as curated and conducted by the artistic heart and mind of Mike Walker.

-
Robb Donker

Organised Scum's track "Fotograph" is a mirror for the soul or, at least, a selfie for the soul

Organised Scum's track Fotograph is a cagey pop punk affair with an air of mystery deep hooks. The bass is cool and dances about as muted guitar strains hang in the air and vocals laced with a stoic cool caveat, ‘Simon is aware my name is not the same as the photograph. Found it in the lane somewhere in the deep dark heart of the broken path’.

The London based band is Tom Duggins (vox, guitar), Sean Canty (drums) and Tom Williams (bass) and the sounds I have heard before and posted about had a harried punk edge with spurts of social commentary and while Fotograph is more subdued  (I actually thought of 80's icons like Joe Jackson and Hall and Oates) it has a pressing message. Of the track, lead singer Tom Duggins says:

"Fotograph is about the unending documentation of our own lives. The self-surveillance that we all take part in. It's also about the pure sensation of image in the world today. Because we by products online before we've seen the IRL, and people use dating apps to decide whether or not to give someone the time of day on the basis of a static photo- it's almost as if the photo precedes everything else. The constant exchange of images becomes it's own separate reality, one which seems more sanitary and risk-free than real life but you don't have to look far to see the casualties. Whether it's a rise in eating disorders or a general negative impact on people's mental health- this supposedly fun thing is fucked up in all sorts of dire ways."

-
Robb Donker



Monday, March 25, 2019

"I Quit" by Porlolo is a cool indie rocker with alt folk bones and a rockabilly heart

I Quit by Porlolo is a cool country-fied indie rocker with alt folk bones and a rockabilly heart. Singer songwriter Erin Roberts wrote this song the week before quitting her job and recorded it the day after. Roberts is based out of Denver, Colorado and her musical project Porlolo was formed in 2002 with guitarist Tom Mohr. Current lineup includes Ben DeSoto on drums and Anna Morsett on bass.

Her voice has grace and grit and the guitar driven song rocks. 

-
Robb Donker


Calan Mai's - "Friend Of A Friend" has an effortless endless well of love (Official Video)

Calan Mai's latest offering Friend Of A Friend with it's gospel tinged piano phrasings, clean pop groove and embracing vocal performance feels like comforting words from a friend. Touches of organ and almost rap graced vocal timing shapeshift the song again and then it feels like a full-fledged alt folk meets honky-tonk ballad. It is a lot of things effortlessly woven into one very earnest tapestry of sounds full of love. See the official video below.

-
Robb Donker 


PRESS NOTES:


Hailing from Australia's Gold Coast (a small town in Queensland), Calan Mai began making music at age 13, compelled by a friend who’d recently learned to play guitar. “His house was going to be torn down and replaced with a resort, which always happens on the Gold Coast,” he remembers. “I was drawing all over his bedroom walls—those symbols from the cover of Led Zeppelin IV. We’d been listening to the album all summer. It just struck me out of nowhere. I thought, ‘We should start a band. All I gotta do is learn the guitar.’”
Calan Mai debuted with an acoustic demo of ‘We’ve Got Love’ which soon found its way onto a number of college radio stations across the U.S, as well as Triple J & BBC Introducing and Radio 6. Moving with a group of fellow musicians to spend 2 years in Manchester, the buzz from 'We've Got Love' and subsequent early releases led to opening for Band of Horses at Albert Hall, as well as performances with Will Johnson & Frances.
At first listen, Calan Mai’s music resembles carefree folk-pop—bright melodies, major chord strumming, soaring vocals delivered with warmth and ease. But on closer observation, his wry humor and full-hearted sincerity tells a deeper story. “I take great solace in laughing at myself and smiling into the past because life’s a bit easier that way. Humor is a method of letting the listener into your experience—a counterpoint they can recognize and latch onto, like a shared cigarette or a wink across the table. I just want people to see their own struggles in mine and feel a little less alone.”


Drakes Island's "Only Passing Through" carries the weight

On Drakes Island's track Only Passing Through (from the upcoming EP of the same name) guitar notes float and echo in space as mournful vocals drop the words. The open space is as important as the filled spaces and guitar leads and swells, shifting drums and potent bass lines build up the emotional weight. You get lost in it all and even feel a little drained after it is all over. 

Drakes Island are based out of Plymouth (UK) and are Fergus Tanner (vocals, guitar), Jamie Yost (lead guitar), Olly Parker (bass), and Matthew Gordon Price (drums).

-
Robb Donker


Sunday, March 24, 2019

Air Quotes' orchestral commentary "Spanish Class Fantasies" longs for bygone days

Air Quotes are an orchestral rock outfit with an emphasis on orchestra. I mean their Facebook page lists the band members as Mattan Cohen, Preston Walker, Michelle Saddic, Thomas Peaslee, Mike Diggs and (drum roll) several orchestras. They are based out of Los Angeles and their latest offering Spanish Class Fantasies is as beautifully wrought as a George Gershwin song and full of adroit melodies and cleverly charming lyrics held up by embracing strings and horn sections. 

Spanish Class Fantasies is about a time when "nothing was a disappointment because everything was a possibility."
Featuring a 27 piece orchestra, recorded in a dry stage at Angel Studios, London.
-
Robb Donker

"Down / Heights" by Cohenovich feels like a dream theater full of beautiful anxiety

There is something buried in the beautiful dream pop of  Down / Heights by Israeli Cohenovich. It is this tension built into the mellotron sounds full of anxiety, or hurt, or want riding on the razor sharp synth drones. Guitar lines mirror the sadness of the vocal melodies. A fever dream or a soundtrack for a life altering happening. 

-
Robb Donker




"Too Late" by Distant Mountains contains dramatic mini-crescendos, evocative storytelling and a WTF moment

Too Late by Distant Mountains starts with dramatic droning synths and them begins to gallop with acoustic rhythms and a wanderlust beat as the story is told with harmonious vox. And I do mean  a story, the words are as intimate as they are vague and it makes you lean in to absorb them. The song dares to stop and start, the dynamic sweep with tender vocals and mini-crescendos is so inviting and then at the end, a WTF thing happens. All of the sudden the tempo changes and a kind of mellotron on high sound befitting of a fable which then shifts into big power chords leaves you almost dazed and confused. It is a lovely musical turn and, sadly, most songs are lacking any surprises. 

The surprising and evocative Too Late is from Distant Mountain's first full length called "Stationed Lockstep" self engineered and self produced at Light Rail Studios in San Francisco is out now (released digitally and on vinyl on March 1st of this year).

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Robb Donker




"Under The Moon" by Black Hole Bears' indie rock dances cool and jazzy


























Under the Moon by Black Hole Bears out of Denton, Texas is a smooth slow dance of a song that might have more to do with the jazz croon of a 1950's Bobby Darin than the tropical punk of a Mac DeMarco or The Buttertones but both elements of both genres are at the core of this 4 piece band. Within the homage to what has come before is a fresh approach and wonderful lyrics and great lyrics are hard to find. Black Hole Bears have been together since 2017 and recently released their self titled debut EP. Cool stuff. 

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Robb Donker






Saturday, March 23, 2019

"Please Bring Me To Safety" by Yes We Mystic - art rock on high and doppelgangers






























Please Bring Me to Safety by indie art rockers Yes We Mystic is instantly progressively drawn and drawing outside the lines. There are elements that veer into overarching dramatics (but in a good way) blending prog rock, avant garde and indie rock tones that almost spill into emo in that theater of rock sort of way. Looking at things within the artifice of theater translated in wild ways on their latest album "Ten Seated Indians" where music and art and theater blended so much so that the idea of doppelgangers arose. Curious and brilliant like the band's music itself. Delve into the notes below.

Yes We Mystic is Adam Fuhr (guitar, vocals), Keegan Steele (synthesizer, mandolin, vocals), Jodi Plenert (keyboards, cello, bass guitar, vocals), Jensen Fridfinnson (violin, synthesizer, guitar), Jordon Ottenson (drum kit, electronic drums).

-
Robb Donker


PRESS NOTES:

“It’s about memory, it’s about false memory and different ways in which we can remember the same event, see the same event, distort the same event in our mind and how it can change who we are. That’s what the album is about lyrically, and how it was made sonically as well; we tried to cloud the origins of what you’re hearing in the instruments,” says vocalist and guitarist Adam Fuhr.
To help accomplish this, the band created a massive art project in tandem with the recording of the album, which includes five more band members who make up an alternate version of Yes We Mystic. They will do interviews, have their own photoshoots and they will perform; the other Yes We Mystic is, essentially, a dual face of the band.
“In music, in art, what the creator asserts is true becomes true to some extent in the context of that art. Our question is, how far can this be pushed?” explains Fuhr.
The creation of Ten Seated Figures was different for the band in more ways than one; Yes We Mystic signed to DevilDuck records in 2018, which has given them more resources to execute big plans they’ve had in the works for years. In addition, Ten Seated Figures also marks Fuhr’s debut as a producer.
In the studio, Fuhr had to learn how to produce and engineer as the band was writing the record; many moments on the album were captured as they were conceived. And though Fuhr took the helm as producer, the band flew to Montreal to have the record mixed by beloved producer/engineer Marcus Paquin, who has worked with indie-music royalty such as Arcade Fire, The National, and Hey Rosetta!.  
Ten Seated Figures is the culmination of a years-long creative burst; one that embraces the band’s designation as “art-pop transformers” but also turns things on their head; one that holds surprises for listeners and will make them question much of what they see and hear; one that has produced Yes We Mystic’s best work to date.

"M.Bison" by Fax Machine experimental art punk that pops and whirrrrs

The musical project FAX Machine is a bit of a mystery. The man (or musical outfit or band) is based out of Newcastle upon Tyne (UK) and his track M.Bison, from the Rain single was released on the 1st of March and is from the forthcoming "Soup"album dropping April 1st on his own TreeTrunk label. 

M.Bison is art punk, experimental pop stuff. Music turned inside out and then laid sideways. I like it. 

-
Robb Donker




London based GFE and the wistful "70s Gone" (OFFICIAL VIDEO)


























70s Gone by London based post punk band GFE moves like late night road trips to unknown parts of your mind and life. Singer / guitarist Matt Fletcher's vox with a a cool kind of fatalistic drawl is drenched with bits of sad but with determination too making the song engaging, yet wistful like that box of Polaroids lost and found in the basement. GFE is made up of Fletcher and bassist Tom Beal who met one at the Royal Oak pub in East London when Tom was in the band Splashh and Matt was working on a solo EP. The pair got chatting at the bar and discovered they were both musicians that shared a love of Wire & Spiritualized. 70s Gone is their debut single. Check out the video below.

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Robb Donker





Friday, March 22, 2019

"Serpentina" is decadently heavy and cool from Sharkmuffin's sc-fi concept EP "Gamma Gardening"






































Serpentina, from the Brooklyn punk trio Sharkmuffin feels trippy cool. It's shifting drum rhythms, snaking bass lines, spaghetti western meets surf punk guitar lines and brazen reverb washed vox are wild and decadently cool. The track is from their latest "Gamma Gardening" EP, a sci-fi concept album based around the Serpentina (herself), as:

"a space dominatrix with a day job as receptionist for a gene editing lab and her new “designer baby,” Sharkmuffin have built a world that explores the dystopian future, in both it’s most colorful and darkest turns. There’s sex, snakes, and plenty of sci-fi intrigue, inspired by workplace boredom and a fear for a genetically altered future of super babies." 

Really? Really. An Artfully intriguing concept. Me thinks Sharkmuffin should get together with artist Craig Gleason on this. NPR once described the bands sounds as "glam grunge" which I think is pretty right on although (maybe) a simplification. Their punk sound blend in proto punk tones, 60's almost Phil Spector-esque "Wall of Sound' tones, post rock neo psychedelic elements and, yes, grunge and garage rock and surf music. A heady brew that might just have to be described as "Sharkmuffin".

Sharkmuffin isTarra Thiessen (guitar/vocals) and Natalie Kirch (bass/vocals). "Gamma Gardening" finds the duo joined by frequent collaborator turned full fledge Sharkmuffin, Jordyn Blakely (drums/vocals). All three handle the songwriting influenced by The Shangri-Las, Nirvana, Broadcast and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. "Gamma Gardening" drops April 5th via Exploding In Sound Records. 

-
Robb Donker

Thursday, March 21, 2019

SONG PREMIERE: "The Chicago Board Of Trade" by Spelling Reform feels darkly sweet and cinematic
























The Chicago Board of Trade by Philadelphia indie rocker / power poppers Spelling Reform snaps like the theme song of a 90's movie of the same name as directed by Joel and Ethan Cohen. The movie would have dark comedic elements, a semi comical death or two and a bruised and battered central romance. The song with it's sad core sway, 70's pop rock tones, a (sort of naive) tender vocal performance, dramatic downbeats and big rock crescendos feels like Ben Folds Five, Weezer, They Might Be Giants and Tod Rundgren pushed through Unknown Mortal Orchestra filters. 

The Chicago Board of Trade is from the band's second full length album entitled "Stay Inside" and, of the song, lead singer and songwriter (guitarist) Dan Wisniewski says: 

“There’s a joy in reliving specific thoughts and feelings, and there’s a sadness in realizing how common those seemingly unique memories can be."

On the album, the band, rounded out by drummer Mark Rybaltowski, bassist Tom Howley and keyboardist Jim Gannon hammer out longer songs with more choruses and much more synthesizer.

"Stay Inside" drops April 5th (2019).

-
Robb Donker


Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Red Steppes' evocative "Leonine" feels like a beautiful journey


























Leonine, the debut single from Red Steppes' 10 track album "Arcs", feels like a musical diorama of tangible places and trancy feelings. California singer songwriter and visual artist Nika Alla States writes in such a poetic way turning feelings, perceptions into rich descriptions: 

"fire my brood and bloom in canyons, blow the glass, and bend the steel. but I'll be true to you, my rude companion. I've known the shape of smoke, and I am hopeful still. The summer is waning and I'm here to get my fill"

She flirts with her melodic cadence, her vocal harmonies dancing amid upfront electric guitar with supporting background instrumentation but she keeps it spartan and intimate. In the end, with the percolating percussive sounds, Leonine feels like a journey. Cool and beautiful minimalist pop / avant garde folk. 

Red Steppes is currently based in Brooklyn and "Arcs" drops on May 31st of this year.

-
Robb Donker




Tuesday, March 19, 2019

"Before" by Buffalo's Johnny & the Man Kids is a full charge cheeky lo-fi rocker


























Before by Johnny & the Man Kids out of Buffalo, New York is a full charge cheeky lo-fi indie rocker with a runaway beat and a catchy guitar melody that feels like a precocious kid's "na na naaas". The unbridled energy is infectious and John Marciniak's vox feels cool and croony. I thought a bit of a kind of blend of The Strokes, The Orwells and Together Pangea. The band is rounded out by brother Tyler Marciniak (bass), Andy Pszonak (guitar), and Alex Bogart (drums).

This is the first single from Johnny & the Man Kid's upcoming EP You Made Me Hurt, out 4.12.19

-
Robb Donker


Monday, March 18, 2019

Nip (UK) unfettered punk on the runaway "Bear Pit"

Bear Pit by punk provocateur Nip (UK) is a bit of a mystery but his sound on this track is steeped in such cool Brit punk tones. It feels at once fresh but old school too possessing potent bass and drums, sonic attacks of guitars that feel both punk and grunge at times and Nip's vox that are strident and wailing just like punk vox should be. -
Robb Donker



Sunday, March 17, 2019

The dark romantic wave of "Whatever and Ever" by NRVS LVRS (Nervous Lovers)


























NRVS LVRS (pronounced “Nervous Lovers”) is the dreamy darkwave project of husband & wife duo Andrew Gomez and Bevin Fernandez and the track Whatever and Ever feels like an 80's new wave time machine running on industrial drums and self aware artistically postured vocals. Everything feels a bit angular from the driving guitars and smashed synth notes. I thought of new wave artists like Gary Numan and the Human League and romance wave artists like Bryan Ferry (Roxy Music) and ABC. The San Francisco natives cite artists like Massive Attack, Can, and Kate Bush as influences while others have described their aesthetic on the fringes of electro-pop elements similar to that of The Knife, Bat for Lashes, or Crystal Castles. 

-
Robb Donker



Nashville indie duo The Hamaleighs and the jagged raw "Sorry I'm Busy"

"Sorry I'm Busy" by the Nashville indie duo The Harmaleighs, the musical moniker of Haley Grant and Kaylee Jasperson feels like a jagged raw power pop song. It vacillates between an edgy verse with harried vox that feel anxious and desperate to an even more harried, even manic chorus. It is one of those grab your head and scream at the top of your lungs type of songs and when the song mellows (but only for  seconds) you feel like you can breathe only to suffocate again.

The revelatory song is from their new full-length album "She Won’t Make Sense" that drops on August 2nd, 2019. A concept album about mental illness, specifically Haley’s deeply personal journey through anxiety, depression and mania.

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Robb Donker



"Mellow Yellow (Smoke Trees)" by T-Shirt Dream Party is like a brand new candy with a flavor you can't describe

Mellow Yellow (Smoke Trees) is a dynamic blendo shape shifter of a song by T-Shirt Dream Party, an indie / alternative outfit created by brothers Ben and Dan Dickson with lifelong friends Eggs (David Egbe) and Sam Powell, collectively known as Green Eggs and Sam. All are from the suburbia of Manchester (UK), between Stretford and The Tesco in Baguley.

The track has a dreamy groove feeling like a cross between tropical punk flavors and an almost 80's dance wave feel then it deftly shape shifts with some proggy elements and jazzy shapes. Eventually, it gets big with rock tones. Curious but tasty like a brand new candy.

-
Robb Donker


"Break My Heart and Let Me Go" by Matthew Pinder featuring Molly Bush is a beautiful cold reminder

Break My Heart and Let Me Go by Matthew Pinder and featuring Molly Bush is the kind of song that inspires and fractures your heart at the same time. Pinder's voice holds comfort but with pearls of pain and as the emotional cadence of the song shifts from verse to chorus, from hurt to a kind of resolute suffering it feels like a twist of the knife. The addition of a beautiful female voice, blending emotions and harmonies does soften the blow (thankfully) feeling like a passion play reminding us that these deep emotions are in the artifice of song. A cold reminder of how much love can hurt us in the end.  

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Robb Donker

PRESS NOTES:


Seeking to find answers and slow the world down, Matthew Pinder is an artist that explores the mountain range of human emotions with a tender artistry that commonly threads throughout his music. The Bahamian singer-songwriter sings from his own experiences, never afraid to bare the raw honesty of life and use his music to tell the stories that often go untold.
With lyrics encompassing the fickleness of relationships, the depths of human longing, and the hope of new days to come, Pinder has created two albums of original music. His first studio EP, Too Young To Understand, released in March 2018 and established Pinder as a newcomer to watch in the saturated singer-songwriter landscape. Working with producer Chris Jacobie (Penny & Sparrow, Jarrod Dickenson, Duncan Fellows), Pinder developed his newest release and first full length record of original songs and stories spanning the lyrical and thematic range of upbeat tones about finding love, to heartbreaking ballads of seeking hope and understanding. The result, Give Me Some Time, showcases Pinder in an undeniably human way as he grapples with finding that balance between the heartbreak and hope of life. 


Charlie Lane reveals hard truths on "Faker"

Charlie Lane is a singer songwriter out of Melbourne (AUS) who has the ability to swim in many styles. Whether indie pop or cabaret or art pop with post punk leanings she always writes from the heart and spills her guts for everyone to see. Her music is in that sense, cathartic and inspirational. Her latest offering Faker, a dynamically rich indie rocker, is no exception. Of the track she reveals :

I wrote this at a time when I was in a relationship where the person was getting effected by my mental health, but didn’t fully understand it, nor wanted to. 
Didn’t understand what I have to go through and how much blame I actually put on myself, and how much you don’t actually mean to do what hurts them in the long run, but inevitably end up in a lonely as hell relationship. 
Therefore, you are always smiling to cover up the fact you are not happy at all. You are faking everything.


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Robb Donker

The Spiral Electric spin tie dye psyche rock dreams on "Wildflowers:
















The Spiral Electric began in San Francisco as a psychedelic guitar duo so it is no wonder that their latest offering Wildflowers feels like it could of existed in the hazy hippie lifestyle of Haight Ashbury in the 60's and while that neighborhood bordering the Golden Gate Bridge has since shifted from hippie to hipster, the Spiral Electric, now a 4 piece with it's original members Clay Andrews (vox, guitar, keyboards, percussion) and Nicolas Percey (Lead Guitar) adding Michael Summers (bass) and Matias Drago (drums), still hold true to the psyche 60's /70's rock sound adding post rock and post punk elements as well. 

Wildflowers rides on a 12 string acoustic with layered harmonies, evocative bass lines around shifting drum patterns and waves of guitars with punchy lead lines. It is at the center of their yet untitled double-LP produced by Steve Kille (Dead Meadow) & mastered by Howie Weinberg (Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Pixies), due 3/29.

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Robb Donker

Saturday, March 16, 2019

"Watch The Paint Dry" by Fort Gorgeous beautiful and magical feels like 70's chamber pop on high

Watch The Paint Dry by Fort Gorgeous is an enchanting whimsical creation. It is like 70's chamber pop on high. It has a beautiful embrace even though it has a sort of hyper sense of reality. Billy Libby is both the author and provocateur vocalizing in an artful self aware sort of way. A voice made for the stage, Libby's instrument is perfectly controlled and tugs at the heartstrings in a pure way as if he is singing a lullaby to children.  

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Robb Donker

PRESS NOTES:

The Bottom of the Sea—Libby’s first record as Fort Gorgeous—finds him adding a hi-fi pop sheen to the songwriting style he unveiled on previous solo releases The Little Bird and Pitter Patter. This cleaner, brighter, more dynamic sound comes courtesy of co-producers Gary Atturio (Psychic TV, Shapes in Calgary, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah) and Saul Simon MacWilliams (Ingrid Michaelson). Atturio and MacWilliams also played a variety of instruments on the record, rounding out a lineup that includes drummers Sarab Singh (Sara Bareilles) and Tim McCoy (Darwin Deez).

Fort Gorgeous’ The Bottom of the Sea will see its official release on May 4, 2018.