Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Sara Rachele's stunning love letter "Allelu (I Found You)" from her "Scorpio Moon" album

I start to write this little track review with some trepidation as it seems to me that I will not have the right words to describe the latest offering from Sara Rachele in Allelu (I Found You) from her new album "Scorpio Moon"- an ambitious "live-to-tape" vision were she had the great opportunity to record with members of the Dap-Kings as well as Binky Griptite and other members of Amy Winehouse and Sharon Jones' former backing band in conjunction with Atlanta based keyboardist Spencer Garn (as co-producer) and multi-instrumentalist Kris Sampson. In the end, though it is the songwriting talents of Rachele that spin all the lovely spiderwebs and it is her voice that makes you feel every emotion she spills out. 

For me, Allelu (I Found You) marries her perfect melody with her vocal aesthetic. Rachelle possesses a voice with an authentic kind of western / country / roots meets folk meets rock meet blues tone that feels not only pure but is full of character.. full of character. It is a lovely voice full of bruises and bruises healed and it has the ability to nestle itself deep inside your heart. A voice that can make you close your eyes and feel it all. The musical combo that embraces this song and Rachelle's story is perfectly felt, crafted, played with graceful bass, drums (aww those drums), guitar and keys / organs (beautiful). 

Sara Rachele hails from Decatur, Georgia and haunts Atlanta and New York.  "Scorpio Moon" is out via Angrygal.

Robb Donker

Monday, June 17, 2019

Don't Resist - Resistance is Futile - Succumb to the Funky Bad Ass-ery of Cobra Fantastic and their album "Tales From Planet 9"

Cobra Fantastic is a "Zappa-meets-P-Funk-meets-Sun-Ra Monster Robot Groove Machine" from another planet... well not exactly another planet but they are from France. Their descriptor is spot on and their album "Tales From Planet 9" jams in amazing ways. The songs are injected with whimsy and nutty, fun diversions but when the jamming starts (for example on the fun and freakingly musically dense track My Heart is Like a Giant Robot) it is so intense that you can feel the blood in your veins start to heat up.

The slice and dice horn work on Let It Slide shakes you awake and the sultry cadence moves around you as blistering guitar work accompanies the vox by vocal provocateur "Big Daddy Fantastic." Funky and bad ass, bad ass and funky. Damn.

Cobra Fantastic is:

Big Daddy Fantastic (alias David Garlitz) : guitar & vocals
AliSunshine Fantastic (aka Alison Young) : vocals
Saralicious Fantastic (aka Sarah-Lane Roberts) : vocals
The Fantastic Merrywoodweatherson (alias Josiah Woodson) : trumpet
Prezident Fantastic (aka David Prez) : tenor sax
Thumpasaurus Fantastic (alias Simon Tailleu) : bass
Karlitos el Fantástico (known among humans as Karl Jannuska) : drums 

Don't Resist - Resistance is Futile - Succumb to the Funky Bad Ass-ery of Cobra Fantastic and their album "Tales From Planet 9"


Robb Donker

Sunday, June 16, 2019

"Hopeless" by Opeongo and from his debut LP "Miasma" is a wailing wall of sound

Hopeless by Opeongo, the musical namesake of 26 year old singer-songwriter Keegan Trumpour immediately pulls you into this exquisite emotional fray. The cadence is formidable. The downbeat driven mid-tempo thumper of bass, drums, dramatic guitar licks and organ stirs and moves you. It feels like gospel infused blues rock pushed through art rock filters and while the swelling background vocals and horns amp up the spirits, it is Trumpour's unique high register and passionate vox that keep your feet planted and head bobbing. Trumpour's aesthetic, his vocal character pushes his voice and phrases to the nth degree and you can feel pain at the top of your throat just listening to his gritty wail. Wow, just wow. There is nothing more to say. 

Robb Donker

picture courtesy of Connie Tsang


Opeongo is the moniker of 26-year-old singer/songwriter Keegan Trumpour. Originally from Midland ON, Keegan now resides in the city of Toronto.
Keegan is currently in the midst of releasing Opeongo’s debut LP “Miasma” recorded with producer/multi-instrumentalist Aaron Goldstein at Baldwin Street Sound. It features appearances by such noteworthy musicians as Daniel Romano, Aaron Goldstein, Aaron Comeau, Carleigh Aikins, and Arif Mirabdolbaghi. The record was mixed by the talented Christopher Stringer, and was mastered by Grammy-nominated Philip Shaw Bova.         
The songs from this record are largely characterized by their elaborate lyricism, the content of which deals with the struggles of mental health within the realms of these modern times, and the external and internal influences on such a thing. These songs were written through a period of immense change, change signified by moving from a small town to a large city, change signified by heartache, and change signified in the recognition of the times before us.  

Richy Mitch & The Coal Miners mine dreamy garden rock / alt folk tones on "A Moment"

A Moment by Richy Mitch & The Coal Miners, a folk / alt rock band based out of Colorado is a vast, dreamy piece of garden rock from their upcoming third album "Subliming". From the onset, with deep alt folk and Americana rock tones, the cadence, musical sweep and heavenly vocal performance made me think of foggy banks in Northern California and iconic organic garden rock bands like Big Star or The Band.  

Robb Donker


Richy Mitch & The Coal Miners are an independent folk/alt rock band based in Colorado consisting of longtime friends Mitch "eat a whole package of grapes in a single day" Cutts, Nic "Richy Mitch" Haughn, Jakob "Cashew" Ervin, and Ryan "Yung Craigslist" Lavallee. The self-taught band was informally founded in 2015 after Nic & Mitch got way too good at guitar hero and decided to start learning real instruments.
The band began writing their debut album RMCM in late 2016 and released the project upon their high school graduation in May 2017 after recording the album in a closet. In February 2018, their efforts continued to come to life with the release of their sophomore album Solstice. Solstice was overseen by the band's manager, Duncan Ervin, who has been called the musical visionary of the 21st century as well as the goodest boy in the world. Currently, the band members are preparing to release their third album, Subliming, which slaps harder than a navy seal on a quest for vengeance (a study at Harvard Princeton Yale University confirmed this using science).


PREMIERE: Enbers' dreamy alt folk "Just Dogs" feels as cinematic as the title. From the EP "10 Years"

Enbers is the musical moniker of one Nicholas Bryant who writes evocative folk tinged songs with his voice and his 1950's Martin D 18. On the track Just Dogs, that voice quivering in a stark, vulnerable and compelling way reveals stories and mysteries you want to fall into. The sound, the aesthetic is spartan on one hand but also produced with cinematic, dreamy flair by Bryants cohort, Producer Alex Koska who beautifully crafts a kind of orchestrated folk with dark and light tones that suggest pasts and presents.  

Enbers hails from Stauton, Virginia and Just Dogs is from the EP, "10 Years" just released on June 10th (2019).

Robb Donker

The Harmaleighs' beautiful sway on "Don't Panic" has dark undercurrents from the upcoming "She Won't Make Sense"

The song Don't Panic by Nashville's The Harmaleighs feels (to me) like a song for the times we live in. The beautiful sway of the song belies the undercurrent of darker feelings that run throughout their upcoming album "She Won't Make Sense" which is a concept album about mental illness, "specifically band member Haley Grant's deeply personal journey through anxiety, depression and mania." 

Of the track Haley says:

"I was in a constant state of worry. My relationship was falling apart, my friend group was changing, my career path was unclear and my mind was fucked. It felt like every aspect of my life was in complete and utter turmoil all at the same time. 'Don't Panic' was written in my bathroom at 3:30 am about trying to calm myself down but being fearful that panic was actually fueling my creativity. It made me question whether or not I should be seeking help or letting this type of fear run its course because it was allowing me to write these songs that I am so proud of. The last line of the chorus 'but what if that's all I'm good at' comes from me being scared I'll be unable to write if I am mentally stable." 

It takes courage to bleed on a song. To put it all out there and the thought that being mentally stable might shut off the inspirational faucet for her music is a heavy one. I mean, there does seem to be some truth to the tortured artist but then artists as talented as The Harmaleighs will undoubtedly always have fodder for their art whether the demons they reveal or chase are in the microcosm or macrocosm. There is certainly a lot to stress over out in the world and there lies the rub. I have thought for a long time that too much information bombarding our brains are shutting off the hope filled pleasure centers and we are slowly losing our minds, all of us, to worry, self doubt, feelings of not being enough and other negative thoughts. 

They want us to be like that you know. We are all easier to control that way. I will get off my soap box. 

I am a bit new to The Harmaleighs and delving into their music. Amazing, emotionally wrought stuff. I love it. 

The Harmaleighs are Haley Grant (Lead vox, guitar) and Kaylee Jasperson (bass, harmonies)

"She Won't Make Sense" is dropping on August 2nd with the ability to pre-order NOW.

Robb Donker

Saturday, June 15, 2019

The Hugs' effervescent pop rocker "Love You To Death" feels like a hug

Love You To Death by Portland's The Hugs sounds like a song by a band called The Hugs. It is power poppy and cool and effervescent. The band is unabashedly upbeat indie rockers who (on this song) stay in that middle of the road place and that is ok. If they haven't already, they might be more likely to be featured in the pages of Nylon or Seventeen Magazine more so than Rolling Stone but that is fine. Even for a jaded, cynical old rock critic like me I get their sound and like it. After all I was young and optimistic once upon a time. 

Love You To Death is the title track from The Hugs new pop-rock record. 

Robb Donker

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Strap your seatbelt on and listen to "Why Now" by Algorhythm for a trippy musically high ride

Algorhythm is a progressive rock meets jazz fusion band based out of Montreal, Canada and they are here to rock your face off in blendo rockish, jazzy ways and while they can get chill when they want to, on the track Why Now, it feels like a double sided Redbull and Vodka after one too many pixies sticks. The opening feels mystical but that doesn't last long. The song charges forth in an incredibly fast rush of licks while founder, songwriter, keyboardist and vocalist Alexander Lioubimenko directs the action like a kind of jazz cabaret provocateur. The song takes wonderful diversions that allow you to catch your breath. During the musical / drum and bass break you start to chill and smile and imagine you are in some other world (maybe a version of Hell) where you are served drinks with umbrellas as you float on top of this tightly wound dense drink of music. It is such a trippy musically high ride.

Robb Donker

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Modern Monet sing about love and stars on "Hollywood" and it is beautiful

L.A. based folkish troubadours Modern Monet wax poetic about west coast dreams on Hollywood but it really is just a love song between two dreamers. The imagery of stars in the sidewalk and broken dreams are laced throughout but cemented within the performance is such a tender marriage of voices. Modern Monet is Jackson Singleton and Monet Makohoniuk (often accompanied by cello player, Jean Paul Barjon).

Beautiful stuff.

Robb Donker

Monday, June 10, 2019

Mabes and the beautifully home grown "Saint" is perfect

Mabes with her beautiful home grown folk voice seemingly effortlessly tells her story on the track Saint. Every second is perfectly wrought and shouldn't be tampered with and maybe it is perfect because she wrote this song when she was 15. Everything is perfect in all it's imperfection when you are 15. 

Mabes hails from Billericay, England. 

Robb Donker

UK singer-songwriter Josh Herring build lovely tensions and twists up chamber pop tones on "Down The Wire" - sweet

The track Down The Wire by singer songwriter Josh Herring from Birmingham, UK, with it's contemplative up beat piano strokes and slightly twisted horns builds an anxious feeling like you are being tied to a chair with ropes of melodies that turn around you again and again. The chamber pop strains feel at once lush but askew too. I thought of a calmer version of the charming yet crazy aesthetic of Man Man and I also thought of  Rufus Wainwright or maybe something in between. In any event I really like Herring's tones and writing style. Awesome. 

Robb Donker

Derek Senn's indie rocker "Have A Nice Day" feels like a vast runaway song from the album "How Could A Man"

Have A Nice Day by singer songwriter rocker Derek Senn based out of San Luis Obispo, California moves at a runaway clip, the vast urgent sound with "oooooooooh"s intact has a true sense of wanderlust, of an ongoing journey, of physical and emotional places visited. There is almost an out of breath urgency to Senn's vocal performance too. It feels direct and passionate with even a tinge of desperation as if one has to move fast to live that ever fleeting life. I like the character in Senn's delivery and the lyrics that feel real and personal. The wanderlust indie rock feel here makes sense considering Senn doesn't just dip his toe in life's adventures but dives in whether traveling the world or becoming a family man. 

Have A Nice Day is from his 12 track full length album "How Could A Man" out now on Bandcamp and other platforms. 

Robb Donker


Derek Senn has been at it for a while now, honing his songwriting craft and sharing his musings with the world. His travels have taken him far and wide, from a yearlong foreign exchange in Quito, Ecuador, to a six-month bicycle trip through western South America, to a three-month foray to track down a girl in Argentina he fancied. Several of his songs refer to these adventures, though more recently, they address the world—and children—he’s created with that girl (turns out she fancied him too). The navigation of the quotidian trials and travails of family life imbue his songs now: child-rearing, putting food on the table, yelling at the dog. 
Derek and his wife formed a punk rock duo called The Wedding Industrial Complex, but sometime around 2009, she tossed her drumsticks into the crowd for the last time and called it a day. Since then, Derek has released three critically acclaimed solo albums. His most recent offering, "How Could A Man,” is groovy and catchy; the lyrics are funny and heartfelt (often in the same song) and wholly original. “How Could A Man” is his most realized album to date, and the title track is a love song for the ages. 

Sunday, June 9, 2019

"Entwine" by singer-songwriter John Lowell Anderson carries emotional resonance throughout

The track Entwine by San Clemente, California singer-songwriter / composer John Lowell Anderson is one that from the onset feels comfortable and intimate. As someone who is asked to review music I some times am not easy to please. It is both a blessing and a curse to listen to a lot of music because as a whole human beings all have a familiarity with popular sounds and it seeps into their creative process. Consequently you will hear a lot of the same progressions and even melodies. It is something that you expect in certain genres like the blues for example. There are blues patterns that are almost a staple of that genre and an accepted musical trope to build off of. So while I want to be surprised and my creative and emotional self be pushed and pulled in new and interesting directions I can revel in comfortable sounds as long as there is heart and earnest emotions on the surface or buried in between the lines. 

Anderson's soul saturates this track from the onset. You can hear it in the hesitant cadence of the guitar and the emotional resonance of his words. The emotions puddle and rest at the end of each resting phrase. The mantric cadence builds as drums, bass and piano overtake empty spaces is beautiful. The sound builds and makes your heart swell. This feels like a classic born. 

Robb Donker

Lauren Ruth Ward is possessed by the truth in the indie rocker "We Are Grown Ups"

photo courtesy of  Angela Izzo

The latest offereing from Lauren Ruth Ward, We Are Grown Ups is a full on indie rocker with new wave-esque / folk rock frameworks. I thought instantly of 80's college rock ala the amazing R.E.M pushed through feral Patti Smith filters. The song grabs you by the collar, pushes you around and give you nice hugs too. It doesn't hurt that Lauren Ruth Ward writes such amazing musical prose and possesses an instrument in her voice that translates her truth in a big way. I love her gritty soulful ballsy sound and character that speaks to a life lived and lessons learned. Fuck yes. 

The band is Lauren Ruth Ward and Eduardo Rivera and they are based out of Baltimore, Maryland. 

Robb Donker

"Wanna Be A Woman" by Angela Aux is a beautiful fluffy piece of inspired folk rock drenched pop for the ages

Wanna Be A Woman by Angela Aux (based out of Germany) is a beautiful fluffy piece of inspired pop with tinges of tropical punk sounds and maybe late 60's chamber pop. It is free and easy, with lovely horns, harmonies, acoustic guitars, bass, drums all married in this wonderful folk rock (garden rock) sway. Put Aux's easy pushed vox and you have something for the ages. It does sound timeless and it feels so embracing.

I love that it sound kind of like a Mentos commercial and a lovely tribute song at a funeral at the same time. And I love that it is a song that American VP Mike Pence would love until he listened closely...

Rock on Angela Aux.

Robb Donker


angela aux is a bird on a wire. in future days he could have been a sailor either/or a cook. mainly he's up for folk, krautrock and experimental music, somewhere among parties all tomorrows never got to know. when the ship comes around he'll be counting speech bubbles somewhere out in the forcefields. who could win a rabbit while living on a dirty road all of his life? we need someone or something new: the fear of error is error itself.

Phourist and The Photons' big ballad "Tired Of My Medication" leaves you wanting more

The sweet and salty Tired Of My Medication by the dream inducing Phourist and the Photons off of the latest album "We're All Born Screaming" is a emotional and cagey big ballad steeped in acoustic piano and singer-songwriter Nick Phourist Hill's evocative vocal performance. Hill's vox that feel wide eyed and harried are dramatic and ride on top of raw feelings (at least that is what I am feeling). Hill's performance is anything but understated... he not only wears his heart on his sleeve but wears it like a heavy wool overcoat. Once the song ends... once the runaway melodies slow down to a soft landing you not only want to hear it again but you intently want to know the back story and that says a lot. 

Phourist and the Photons are based out of Louisville, Kentucky and are Nick Pourist Hill (vocals, piano, songwriting), Justin Perez (bass - other), Andrew Critchlow (guitar) and Scott Boice (drums, percussion).

Robb Donker


Phourist and The Photons is known for its non-linear songcraft which includes winding musical passages, and adventurous arrangements flanking undeniable pop-rock hooks. Previously, the quartet has issued one album, but We're All Born Screaming represents the first album of the band’s current and stable lineup. Phourist and the Photons is Nick Phourist Hill, vocals, piano, guitar, songwriting; Justin Perez, bass, various other musical contributions; and Andrew Critchelow guitar, textures; and Scott Boice, drums, percussion.
Though he prefers to keep his artistic intentions close to his vest, Nick does reveal his thoughts surrounding the band’s name. “I like that it has a nerdy sci-fi vibe, and an old school ‘Buddy Holly & The Crickets’ thing to it. I also love a good alliteration,” he says.
We're All Born Screaming offers forth a user-friendly edition of Phourist and the Photons. Here, the band’s prog-rock tendencies are tempered by sharp pop tunesmithing, and the tunes are more viscerally emotive. The nine-song album traverses intimate piano ballads, atmospheric acoustic singer-songwriter territory, dreamy indie rock, and brawny blues riffage.
Nick is optimistic about the future of Phourist and The Photons because the band has an upcoming tour booked for spring 2019, a new record written, and, finally, a stable lineup. On what has finally solidified band personnel Nick shares: “We all have the same Myers Briggs personality, INFP. We almost changed the name of the band to that!”

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Angry Saints heavy rock drenched with goth, grunge and a bold vocal performance on "Ship of Fever" from the "Nothing New In The Human Zoo" album

Angry Saints are based out of Madrid (Spain) and the track Ship Of Fever from their "Nothing New In The Human Zoo" album is a mid tempo bold alt rocker that has deep jagged guitar chops and a gritty deep dark vocal performance. The sound is both post punk and kind of gothy garden rock- I thought of a heady blend of Nick Cave, Frank Black and the Catholics, a tinge of the Pixies and even Neil Young. Love the powerful kind of alt dark folk rock elements within all the heaviness. The Angry Saints hail from Australia, England and Spain. I am looking forward to delving into the entire album. 

Robb Donker

"The Fellowship" by Benedikt based out of Norway feels lovely yet dark, dark yet enlightening, enlightening yet...

The Fellowship by Benedikt based out of Norway feels intimate but also feels a bit sideways and dark when off kilter tones and an almost industrial barrage of sounds push against your eardrums. The production give the beautiful sounding track something that could possibly make the complex poetic lyrics sardonic, at least that is how the production twisted the emotions in my head. Interesting, unique and lovely at the same time. Blenedikt as a musical project grew out of Hans Olav Settems' solo project at the time growing eventually into a 9 piece indie folk collective that has been working on their debut album since 2013. The members are spread all across Norway making for a slow yet ever so steady creative process. 

The debut album "Communal Work" is "about destructive friendships and realizing you're not young and promising anymore. It's like Britney Spear's I'm Not a Girl, Not yet a Woman but with banjos."

Robb Donker

The mind bending "Read A Book" from Erin Vadala and her brother Charles Vadala and their band full length "Tell Me I'm Wrong"

When I first heard the surprising and artistically audacious Read A Book by Erin Vadala and her brother Charles Vadala and their band, (yes, that is literally the "band" of this musical project) I was quite stunned. I mean the song starts off with some kind of art rock toned piano but moments in Erin's vocal performance pushes though lyrics that feels like something between satire or a metaphorical manifesto or both. To top off those dizzying emotions- as the piano, drumwork, flute led orchestrated art rock / prog / jazz improv and Erin's incredible pipes kicked in, the song mind fucks you further pushing spectacular extremely beautiful yet over the top melodies into a whirlwind of tones. It erupts, transforms into a cacophony of sounds. To me, the lyrics, that heretofore felt audacious take a step back and become a mantric device and the orchestration of sounds and vocal performance becomes the thing.... until in ends.... "I said fuck all this fucking shit."

I still haven't quite figured out the song's meaning or aesthetic but it is... is a wild interesting ride from such young talented people. Based out of Boston, Erin Vadala and her brother Charles Vadala and their band have recently released a 12 track full length album called "Tell Me I'm Wrong" up on Bandcamp. Like Read A Book, the album contains songs that run down rabbit holes like the effervescent jazz / rock proggy Dolly which feels like a kind of complex emotionally torn version of a Bond film chamber pop theme or the dissonant turned Gray Seas which feels like baroque pop pushed through horror pop filters (I thought of Amanda Palmer a bit) or the almost jazz pop meets Broadway-esque (turned on it's head) Three Questions. Down the rabbit hole alright-- bloody vive la diffĂ©rence Kudos. 

Robb Donker


At 17 years old, Erin Vadala’s stunning compositions dance around the boundaries of genre. She started as a solo-artist, but the project took new form when joined by her brother, Charles Vadala, who provides colorful piano playing and string arrangements. Together they sought out the final pieces to their band: violins, drums, and bass. The electric and dynamic chemistry among the band members creates an excitement for both the performers and audience simultaneously. Though they are in their early stages as a band, they have extensive education and experience as musicians and performers, and have dazzled audiences at house shows, community events and small venues. 

"1-800-Mum-Dad" by Melbourne's Lupine feels trippy and a bit crazy (smiling)

1-800-Mum-Dad by Lupine sounds a little crazy. Maybe it is the stacatto guitar riff that seems to move forward and then backward or the retro synth organ sound that could be straight out of a horror pop song or Thomas James' vocals that glide into lush falsettos and feels deliciously proto punk / art rockish or maybe it is that "thing" that I can't quite place my finger on. Whatever it is I love this interesting blend of sounds and their off kilter aesthetic. 

Lupine is from north east Melbourne starting as a solo project of the aforementioned singer-songwriter / guitarist Thomas James. The other song shape makers are Dean Tosis on bass, Lily Sawenko on keys, Tom Putland on guitar and Jake Leahy on drums and adding his production talents. 

Robb Donker

"Mirage" by Galapaghost is a cathartic synth dream homage to a life loss

Mirage by Galapaghost, the solo musical project of singer-songwriter / producer Casey Chandler is a intimate heavy, heavy reflection of pain and loss that floats by in slightly over 2 minutes. The sparkly shiny elements of the song that feel like a groovy mystical dream belie the sad inspiration behind the track as offered by Casey, 

"This song is about the sudden death of my father, who was struck by a car and killed in a parking lot while walking into Walmart back in October. I named the song mirage because it was such a surreal experience losing my Dad that quickly and for such a ridiculous reason. I wanted the song to be sad, but also uplifting as well. I didn't want too many lyrics either and wanted to really express my feelings through the music rather than the words. Written, recorded and mixed by myself at home."

I love how the song feels like a journey, the music has a cinematic post rock feel and like Casey's fathers life ends much too quickly. Our condolences. 

Robb Donker

The Facts As WE Know them as told by Casey Chandler (Press Notes):

I am Casey Chandler and Galapaghost is my solo project. I have no label, manager or band, so I produce all of my music myself. When I can afford it, I fly to Italy to record with my Italian brother from another mother, Federico. I hail from the small hippie town of Woodstock, NY. I toured Europe and North America with John Grant for 6 months in 2010, which included a prestigious slot on Later...With Jools Holland. I have released four albums. My first two albums were released on a small Italian label called Lady Lovely. I self-released my 3rd album I Never Arrived in 2016 and it already has over 2 million streams on Spotify and many rave reviews from Paste Magazine, Substream Magazine, The Big Takeover, AXS and many others. My 4th album 'Pulse' was self-released in January 2018. It received rave reviews from Alternative Nation, Huffington Post, Your EDM and many others. My 5th album 'Sootie' was released in August 2018.
I now live in Austin, TX where I continue to write music and play frequent shows. My music was recently featured in the major Italian film Il Ragazzo Invisibile. It was directed by Oscar winning director Gabriele Salvatores. Salvatores also commissioned me to write a title song for the movie, which was featured on the official soundtrack. The movie was released in many countries and won many awards including a David Di Donatello award (the Italian Oscars). Netflix Italy also used my music for a promotional video for 13 Reasons Why.

Wasteful by Helenor feels upbeat with indie rock meets alt folk leanings and a bit of sadness beneath it all

The environmentally sane Wasteful by Helenor, the musical alter ego of Boston based visual artist David DiAngelis is an upbeat indie rock song with synth wrappings, an alt folk underbelly, art rock flourishes and some very cool twists and turns riding on DiAngelis soaring vox that feel free and easy despite being kind of painted with a multi-colored patina of sadness. The production keeps your attention from the onset. I love the sparkly guitars, heavy beat and wishful thinking tones. Wasteful is the latest and final single from Helenor's upcoming debut full length "Something Twice" due to drop on August 30th of this year and the limited edition vinyl is available for pre-sale now. 

Robb Donker

Thursday, June 6, 2019

The Moonjacks feral locomotive punk of "Bummer"

Bummer, the title track off of The Moonjacks upcoming EP dropping on June 19th is utterly raw punk in that Surf Curse / Fidlar vein but it feels sonically bigger like maybe if The Oh Sees were surf punk teens. I like the live house party sound and the "ooooooooh ooooh oooooh" that glues it all together. Rad. 

The three piece The Moonjacks are based in California (not sure where exactly) but I look forward to delving into their "Bummer" EP.

Robb Donker

Revolvers' pop subversive rocker "Rubbing Shoulders With The Devil" has dark twists and winks

Revolvers' pop subversive rocker Rubbing Shoulders With The Devil has a dark side to the cagey rhythms and vocal harmonies that contain twists and winks. The guitar breaks contain big hooks and the chorus with stepped up melodies that kind of chase themselves are infectious. Thurling's vocal style feels a bit art rockish and self aware... but not to theatrical as to feel false. 

“We all grew up listening to our parents’s music, Bowie, Stones, Zeppelin, The Beatles. My home as a young boy was full of vinyl records and music playing all the time.” Thurling stated.  
“But we also love guitar driven pop and rock from the late 90’s to today. Our music fuses these two generations of music together. You can hear elements of The Strokes, Radiohead, Arctic Monkeys and Catfish melding together with some bluesy 70’s guitar riffs”.
The video for Rubbing Shoulders With The Devil has winks and smiles in between the simply bad ass music aesthetic. Video Directed by Bradley Davies of Yosemite Bear Productions. Music Produced by George Apsion of Kore Studios. Revolvers are based out of London (England).
Robb Donker

"Cement Hands" by Oakland based Shutups is a shot of punk adrenaline.

Cement Hands by Oakland based indie / punk two piece band Shutups is a shot of punk adrenaline. The guitar hook itself cuts such a funky proto punkish groove that it widens your eyes instantly. Singer-songwriter / guitarist Hadley possesses a vocal style drenched with an insane wink while also feeling a bit tortured (in the best possible way). The chorus with drum breaks, courtesy of Mia, accenting the deep guitar cuts along with the vocal gymnastics is so delicious. The sound feels like strident post punk, art punk with grunge elements. Fuck I love their sound. 

"Cement Hands, which offers forth a push-and-pull between catchy synth-coated hooks and trapezoidal indie rock riffage. Its title is a tip of the hat to Mia’s childhood nickname, given to her by her mother in response to Mia’s unintentionally strong sibling punches. Within the song is a metaphor that a lover could brutally crush your heart with his or her cement hands."

The band has released four EPs and their upcoming debut full length "Every Day I'm Less Zen is out this summer. 

Robb Donker

Monday, June 3, 2019

Carnival Kid's post punk energy drink called "Magic Trick"

Magic Trick from Carnival Kid (the indie / alternative solo project of Christian Stezycki) based out of Erfurt, Germany is an effervescent piece of post punk with power pop leanings. The chords form their own back melody you can hum too while Christian's vocal melodies flow on top. The feeling is exuberant and up and the overall tone made me think of Yuck, circa 2011 when Daniel Blumberg was still in the band. I am really liking the aesthetic here.

Robb Donker


(From Carnival Kid's Facebook)

The 11th of November, eleven minutes past 11 o’clock in the morning, sees the beginning of carnival season in Germany. Many people, including myself, don’t really care about this. But the 11th of November 2009, at 9 past 11 A.M., my son saw the light of day. Children born on this day are called “Faschingskinder” in Germany - carnival kids. And since this event changed basically every aspect of my life, including my perception, writing and interpretation of music, I felt it to be a pretty perfect name for a solo project. Carnival also includes the idea of hiding behind a mask, which I am kind of doing in a linguistic sense when I am writing and singing in English (or when I’m writing this pseudo-international text). The kid-part of the name might give a hint to all the struggles you go through in your thirties, but I guess I better leave that to interpretation. And if this description made you laugh your ass off since it’s so cheesy, then that’s also some kind of carnival I suppose...

"Insomnia Arpeggio" by Hollywise is a metronomic song to listen to in the middle of the night

Insomnia Arpeggio by Hollywise moves on a constant drumbeat, floating synth lines, upbeat rhythms and kind of sad emotionally monotone vocals. It feels kind of wide eyed like a constant clock ticking while your body cannot calm itself into sleep. It is a feeling I am familiar with and even though Insomnia Areggio floats along in such a chill way you can feel the anxiety between the spaces. 

Hollywise is a "a long haired twenty year old making songs about girls and feelings" based out of Indianapolis, Indiana. 

Robb Donker

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Rasha Jay's "High Dive" the title track from her new album is a cool rock track with killer vox

Alternative blues / rock singer-songwriter Rasha Jay cites her influences from such diverse artists as Prince, Big Mama Thornton, Stone Temple Pilots, Bessie Smith, Jimi Hendrix, Anita Baker, Smashing Pumpkins and The Foo Fighters. 

Her latest offering High Dive starts with Jays evocative vox in what feels like a mid conversation intrusion. The smart rock motif rides on double time keys and formidable rock chops, guitar driven with cool notes floating while the bass and drums lay down a head bobbing groove. Throughout the tight rock motif, Jay's killer vox is at the center of it all. She possesses  a powerful organic rock / alt pop sound within her vocal character. Kudos to the music production. When the track shifts into a kind of lush proggy guitar lead outro, the groove stays in your head long after the song ends. 

Rasha Jay is hails from Owings, Maryland and has toured in New York, London and Washington, DC. High Dive is the title track from her forthcoming EP.

Robb Donker


Taken from her forthcoming EP, High Dive, “Red Coat” is a slowly burning track which emerges from Portishead-like atmospherics to take on an insistent drum beat and a grinding guitar riff, all whilst Rasha’s reassuringly strong vocals keep the audience on their toes. Rasha’s music is not political but touches upon the human condition in all its guises, from the abrasiveness of Red Coat as well as the vulnerable and more unguarded aspects of Love Enough. Her music and lyrics are about keeping the raw power of her music completely pure and projecting it to audiences of all kinds.

Rasha Jay’s voice has the ability to both move and inspire. Having grown up in the small town of Owings, Maryland, she is an example to anyone wanting to make music that no matter where you’re from or what your musical tastes are that you should trust yourself and have the confidence to both write and sing with your own voice. 

"Crushed Velvet" by It's Butter is a free form alt pop blend of rock, jazz and R &B flavors

Crushed Velvet by So Cal based alt rock / alt pop band It's Butter is a pop blend of rock, jazz, R & B and even tropical punk flavors. The expressions lyrical and otherwise by "raised valley girl" Britta Raci and "Columbian spice" Diego Patino is funny, acerbic, dreamy and bipolar and charmingly honest all in a good way. It all feels tightly wound, free form, kind of improvisational and freeing too whether it is or not and I love the feeling that the song can go in many directions and maybe live it does. Ostensibly a duo, East-Coast native Johnnie Gilmore, has been laying down the bass grooves for the band.


Robb Donker


It’s Butter is a Southern California based alt-rock band creating happy music for anxious people. 
The blend of pop, rock, and r&b is put together by born-and-raised valley girl, Britta Raci, and Colombian spice, Diego Patino. In 2016, their self-titled EP introduced the band’s honest lyricism, catchy choruses, and unique drum grooves. As the band’s momentum grew, the group soon began playing DIY festivals, and found themselves opening for artists like Louis Cole and Genevieve Artadi of Knower. As of 2019, East-Coast native Johnnie Gilmore, has been tastefully laying down the bass grooves for the band.
The group’s follow-up single, “Forty Four” revealed the band’s love for neo-soul, while showcasing sassy, in-your-face verses, as well as an emotional chorus. The recording of “Forty Four” recently landed the band with a DownBeat Magazine Award for “Most Outstanding Performance.” Summing up the message of “Forty Four” would be equivalent to summing up the message of the band in one simple message: Words are just words, and people still talk. So why are you scared?

Glory Nights by New York based Supercel is an intoxicating sultry ride

Glory Nights by Supercel based out of NYC from the onset cuts a deep spartan groove that grabs you on many levels. The bass melody and edgy drums cuts musical images so varied. It sounds proto punkish ala Talking Heads but when the retro synth it starts to veer toward horror pop sounds and when Paul Casanova high falsetto verse vox edge in there is a cool (yet dangerous) pop element. The pre-chorus bops in with keys mirroring the vocal melodies and the building, burning continues and growing like the smile on my face. When the guitar strains come in it is divine but when the bottom drops out and the catchy (Tom Tom club style) synth comes the musical circle is closed into some blendo indie rock / pop motif drenched in an old school kind of Roxy Music sultriness. This track feels simple but is actually complex and layered with Dance club, 80's ish new wave, proto punk, disco even. Still it feels organic and natural and not crafted to death.Wow. Read the press notes below and it all makes sense. Looking forward to hearing more. 

Robb Donker

The Facts As We Know It- Press Notes:

Wearing a mix of influences from soul and 70's concert rock to indie pop and psychedelia, Supercel stitches it together and weaves a tapestry all their own. Led by songwriter/guitarist and lead vocalist Paul Casanova whose credits range from the platinum selling Empire Records Soundtrack to live appearances with legends like Gloria Gaynor, and recording for artists such as Seattle's Black Ocean Temple, Finland's Peppina and Vermont's Kris Gruen, the band is made up of Sean Gaffney on keys and vocals, Jackson Tarricone on bass, Anthony Sabino on drums and guitarist Tom Stoerger.
With their recent song "High Water" released as part of the soundtrack and film "Monday" for director Robert Rodriguez's "Rebel Without a Crew" TV show, the band is currently set to release their debut full-length on July 19th on Brooklyn's Mother West label.

Title track of Crystal Cities new record, "Under the Cold Light" is inspirational indie rock meets chamber pop (Official Video)

Under the Cold Light of the Moon by Australia's Crystal Cities is a multifaceted single and title track of the band's new album. In one way it feels like a fast paced 80's influenced rocker, in another it feels like a cinematic kind of rock meets chamber pop song full of whimsy. It feels like a fable, like a soundtrack to Never Ending Story. In other ways it feels like heady blend of A Flock of Seagulls, The National and Abba... no I am quite serious and mean it in a good, good way. And in another way it is an inspirational multi generational anthem. Geoff Rana (vox, guitar) offers: 

"The song ‘Under the Cold Light of the Moon’ was inspired by the plight of young North Korean girl Park Yeon-mi who escaped North Korea in search of freedom. After watching her speech I penned the lyrics, interpreting her story.”

Robb Donker


From a Sydney garage to Abbey Road Studios in London, Australian dream rock band, Crystal Cities, have come a long way in just over 2 years.
In March of 2017 Crystal Cities released their critically acclaimed Debut EP, Who’s Gonna Save Us Now, receiving widespread attention across the globe from tastemakers like Indie Obsessive, The Revue, and EarToTheGround Music. The title track and lead single, ‘Who’s Gonna Save Us Now’ received over 2200 plays on their Triple j Unearthed page and reached number 1 on the Unearthed Overall Charts within a few days of its release. The EP also made waves on US College radio; it was the 19th most added new release on the NACC Radio 200 Chart and received airplay on coveted radio station, KEXP. All this was achieved despite the EP being recorded in the modest environment of their mate’s garage in Sydney!
Fast forward 2 years and the band have completed their debut albumUnder the Cold Light of the Moon, and inked arecords and publishing deal with global music company Audio Network. Audio Network is part of eOne’s group of Music and Live companies. Through this partnership the band were allowed the opportunity to record at the prestigious Abbey Road Studios, capturing the sounds of a string orchestra made up of London’s finest musicians. The exquisite lushness of the orchestra can be heard on the record’s title track and lead single, ‘Under the Cold Light of the Moon’.
"The song ‘Under the Cold Light of the Moon’ was inspired by the plight of young North Korean girl Park Yeon-mi who escaped North Korea in search of freedom. After watching her speech I penned the lyrics, interpreting her story.”
- Geoff Rana (vocals / guitar)
The album required a deft hand to weave the tapestry of loud distorted guitars and rich textural strings. Knowing the difficult task ahead of them, the band recruited world-renowned LA-based engineer Paul Lani (David Bowie, Prince, Megadeath) to mix the record. Together they sculpted a captivating reverb-drenched yet hard-hitting debut record that is impactful from the very first listen.
With a new cinematic sound and grandiose aesthetic, the band are more equipped than ever to make their mark on the global music landscape.
Crystal Cities are:
Geoff Rana - Vocals / Guitar
Jared King  - Bass / Vocals
Daniel Conte  - Drums / Percussion