Sunday, May 26, 2019

Old Flame's - blues rock hybrid "Smoke Show" stirs in iconic sounds heavy on storytelling

Smoke Show by Old Flame (based out of Northampton, MA) starts with a kinetic percussive energy stirring in so many emotional and musical genres. There is a kind of romantic Americana rock / 70's-ish blues rock thing happening but with Emma Ayres compelling vocal performance there is also an art rock theatricality pushed by an almost 60's chamber pop vibe. This blend is drenched with story telling too and I love that. The vibe (to me) almost hearkens back to vast big rock sound of songs like Blondie's doo-wop punk of Union City Blues or the garden rock of Free Money by Patti Smith. 

Old Flame is Emma Ayres (Vocals), Sam Perry (Guitar), Nate Mondschein (Bass), Ken Birchall (Drums) and Hannah Rose (Synth & Wurli). Their debut full length "Young And In Debt" just dropped on May 11th.

Robb Donker


Old Flame is born in the Western-MA DIY scene, spinning grit and honey rasp vocals into an art rock nostalgia with a shoegaze afterglow. In the words of ‘Ear To The Ground Music’: "Love this sound, retro and brand new all at the same time. Toes the line of vintage & psych rock. Addictively good." Your crush is Emma Ayres (Emma June), Sam Perry (Dios Trio), Ken Birchall (Eric Culberson band), Hannah Rose (Sodada), and Nate Mondschein (Trot Fox). Since forming in 2017, Old Flame has been nominated by The Deli Magazine as “New England Artist of the Month,” and released two EPs “Wolf In The Heather,” lauded by The Valley Advocate for its “acid-tongued lyrics that rail against corporate capitalism and capture the spirit of proto-punk in a bottle; a rollicking anarchistic flair for damning it all to hell,” and “Hush Money,” “...evoking  the intensity of The Bends and OK Computer-era Radiohead with lead vocalist singing with ethereal subtlety that’s reminiscent of Stevie Nicks from Fleetwood Mac.” You can’t get enough.

"Silver Fish Eat Serotonin" personal reflections on Sad Sundays and lo-fi bedroom pop interludes

On this long Memorial Day weekend it is a big push to get the foundational stuff for the new site, PizzandFries in place. I had started it on one platform and decided it needed to be create correctly from the ground up so while that makes me far behind where I planned on being at this particular time, it is for the best. PizzandFries will be a sister site to American Pancake. Less driven by track reviews (although they will be there) and more driven by Press Notes in an effort to give an added avenue to artists that don't fit in my small focused AP box. AP has always been my personal and musical driven site for artists that appeal to me. Artists that push avant garde tones in all types of genres or that have such a unique voice creatively speaking. That is a tough, specific place to be for any artist and it occurs to me that so many other artists that I pass on are really great but do not fall into my little tiny view of what is so captivating. And to be truthful, I have odd tastes. I mean I still put "Punch Drunk Love" in my favorite movie of all times category and who does that. So, PizzandFries will serve another purpose. More on all the purposes it is intended to serve soon.

Last night I created some experimental pop, avant garde (a little) bedroom pop unexpectedly. I hadn't planned on it but felt that creative compulsion fueled by some simple keyboard meanderings. Dropped them in Reaper and turned them into a dissonant drone while you could still hear the subtle key note shifts. Tossed some D-tuned, capo'd acoustic guitar and instantly penned some stream of consciousness words. The melody was impromptu and quick and the odd little song or maybe it should be called an interlude because that is ultimately what it sounds like is named Silver Fish Eat Serotonin. It feels to me like a lullaby or a kiss goodbye to someone who has departed. I know, sad stuff. It feels apt for a Sad Sunday.

I have had this thing with Sundays. They sometimes feel like the saddest day of the week. Maybe it is because a full work week lies ahead and while I do appreciate and like my day job a ton, it is the simple act of having to work for a company, for someone else that ultimately touches on my deep seated issues of self reliance and doing things my way. When you work for anyone else you have to follow rules and practises after all. Not long ago for several Sundays in a row, as if my psychological clock was set to a panic alarm on Sunday mornings. I am not prone to deep depressions but during this period it felt like I was spiralling downward. That ended but not after some serious consequences.

Looking to work hard at pushing all personal and artistic projects. During this time I may be asking for a lot of support from you all. Letting you know ahead of time because I have trouble asking for help. Hey... if you are needing help in your personal life or your artistic life do not keep it all inside. Tell, ask, hug someone.

Take care--

Saturday, May 25, 2019

The black leather intoxicated rock sound of Animal Waves' "Lately So Lonely" pushes hard memories

Animal Waves' track Lately So Lonely is from the onset a trippy rock affair. The intro pushes avant garde art rock buttons instantly and then it falls head first into such a dense rock club sound. That kind of post punk, art rock motif with a heavy metal / grunge heart. Over modulated dissonance and black leather intoxicated vocal sound with a glam heart somewhere between T-Rex and Queens Of The Stone Age. For me it feels like a 1989 smoke filled night at The Whiskey A Go Go in Hollywood... old times. 

Animal Waves, now based out of Los Angeles are Robert Davis (Guitar, Vox), Charles Salvaggio (Bass) and Matt Zavorski (Drums).

Robb Donker

Animal Waves was born out of the creative collaboration of Robert Davis and Nathaniel Cox. Hailing from Carbondale, IL, Robert had the blues and rock & roll being hurled at his ears from an early age.  The moment a guitar landed in his hands he was immediately hooked and never looked back.  Though his guitar has done the singing for most of his musical journey, including opportunities to play/ record with heroes like Slash and an energetic stint with Lauryn Hill, Robert felt the urge to have his voice heard.  Teaming up with longtime friend and writing partner Nathaniel Cox, together they crafted a batch of fuzzed out, straight ahead rock tunes that have something to say about the state of affairs of the people "without forgetting how to party".

Friday, May 24, 2019

The Millennial Club's glitter ball romance wave of "MI" from their EP "She's So Insane"

The Millennial Club's track MI from their recently released EP "She's So Insane" conjures up young love, heartbreak, longing and glitter balls at a high school dance. There is something in the synth sounds that feel steeped in the new wave tones of the 80's, of soundtracks to a John Hughes film starring Molly Ringwald but there are 90's R & B grooves too and current tugs at the heart. It is not just a one note kind of song, it changes shape with an evocative piano break that feels so embracing and cinematic. When it falls back into the staccato rhythms and groove you really feel the 80's tones again. I love it. The song then shifts again with tender moments as Andres Owens' vocal performance gets even more intimate. This track breaks like a romantic wave, tender deep grooves and lovely revelations. 

You can stream the new EP "She's So Insane HERE.

Robb Donker


So-Cal based The Millennial Club is an indie pop and R&B outfit who at a very young age, have managed to blend dance-inspired 80’s pop, beat-driven 90’s R&B, and emotional love-centered lyricism to mold their unique Southern California sound. The group was formed when singer/guitarist Andres Owens was joined by bassist/keyboardist Jared Ortiz in late 2016, later adding guitarist/saxophonist Jake Stevenson and drummer Tyler Kamei. They find inspiration in a wide range of artists including Coldplay, Bombay Bicycle Club, St. Lucia, and The 1975. To date, the band has opened for Charlotte Lawrence and Katelyn Tarver and has played House of Blues Anaheim, The Satellite, The Study, FIESTAS Music & Arts Festival, and Summerlands Festival.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

"Losing It All" by Heele feels like iconic rock pushing all the right guitar buttons

Losing It All by Heele, the alternative project of Michael Henss, a singer songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer based in New Haven, Connecticut. Losing It All cuts a deep groove and (to me) has a decidedly 80's new wave (pop rock) vibe with kind of proggy tendencies and a romantic wave tone. I thought of the iconic Tears For Fears even though Henss pumps some bigger rock sounds into the mix pushing a big guitar break that is heavy and lush. The hooks are a plenty. 

Henss currently plays drums with the band Hellrazor and played drums (previously) with the band Dead Wives. He has been working on the Heele project since 2015 while working as a music educator, television composer and freelance audio engineer. 

Robb Donker

While the world is collapsing feel "Pendulum" swing by Josh Warren

As a music fan and one who write about music I oftentimes swim in post punk seas and look through avant garde prisms but sometimes, sometimes you just have to grab someone you love or someone who is hurting as much as you and slow dance while the world is collapsing around you. 

The track Pendulum by Nashville singer songwriter / composer Josh Warren and from his upcoming album entitled, "There's Room Enough for All of Us", is a sweetly swaying slow dance of a song with a nice groove and endearing vocal performance. The album is a collection of 15 songs (8 instrumentals and 7 lyric based tracks). Pendulum swings in some classic light R & B / blues / jazz tones but brings in some indie pop (even tropical punk vibes) along as well. Cool. Now, find a dance partner and wait, wait for the saxophone. 

Robb Donker

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

"Which Way" by Will Fox is an utterly beautiful surprise

Which Way by Will Fox starts out simple and kind of sweet. That beginning is deceptive because as the song progresses, it musically and emotionally becomes more dense and complex stirring up sweeping passages of a kind of pop with avant garde leanings. The very synthetic keys combined with the facile guitar work feels cool and proggy and kind of proto punkish and then these pop drenched harmonies will splash over it all. Fox's vocal performance / style is endearing too. He sounds inward and a bit tortured. Oh and the end, wow, the end of the song is an utter beautiful surprise.

Love the aesthetic here. 

After you listen to "Which Way" check out Fox's site here:

Robb Donker


Like many before him in the canon, Will Fox is a vagabond. Born in Houston, TX, raised in London, Paris, and the American South, Fox spent his adolescence moving around, practicing, and playing. His travels even took him to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where he studied Bossa Nova, expanding his craft. Back stateside, destined to operate a gristmill near his hometown in the Shenandoah Valley, Fox instead moved to Los Angeles to become a troubadour. After his stint as a member of the now-defunct LA-darlings Los Angeles Police Department, Fox turned his attention to his own pursuits, calling on a community of friends including Greta Morgan (Springtime Carnivore) and Tim Keen (Ought) to help bring his compositions to life. 
In his songs you'll hear his lifetime's array of influences compounded from the intricate fingerpicking of Nick Drake and Leo Kottke, to the romantic croon of Chris Bell. From the songwriting deities themselves like Neil Young or George Harrison, to modern heroes like Cass McCombs or The Clientele. 
Will Fox’s debut EP Cosmic Dusting was released last year through Twosyllable Records via cassette and all digital platforms.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Stoffs' "Call of The Spring" is a shape changing prog rocker

Call of The Spring by The Stoffs, an indie rock project of Indianapolis based musician Eric Stoff is a kind of jagged puzzle piece of proggy indie rock set pieces. In three and a half minutes a metamorphosis takes place from delicate tightly wound frameworks beneath pretty vocal melodies with proggy musical breaks to a full blown out (different) song entirely. The shift is dramatic and kind of perplexing but in a good way. Indie rock heavy, pretty and pretty complex. 

Press Notes below detail, Stoff's journey to his ambitious album "Little Flock" that you can stream at his website here:


Robb Donker


The Stoffs is the indie rock project of Indianapolis-based musician Eric Stoff.
Eric and his wife Brooke had a turbulent year in 2017. They welcomed their first daughter into the world, experienced unprecedented success in their business, and Eric achieved a life goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon.
From an outside perspective, it was the best year of their lives. But the Stoffs also experienced financial stress, strained relationships, and the unique weight of caring for a newborn child.
Eric spent the entirety of 2018 writing, recording, and meticulously crafting “Little Flock” in his home. He said it was healing for him as he worked his way through postpartum depression, and it helped him make sense of chaotic previous year.
“Making this record helped me realign my identity on this side of fatherhood,” Eric said. “It made me explore what parts of my relationships - with my creator, my wife, my child and future children. What changed? What stayed the same?”
Released on New Year’s Day 2019, “Little Flock,” details a universal tug-of-war between desperation and hope.

Saint Kodiak pushes and punches on "Like It Is"

Like It Is by Scandinavia based singer songwriter Saint Kodiak rides on a punchy folk engine forever moving forward to it's conclusion. This formidable movement, full of wanderlust and wide eyed stares to the horizon, feels so vast. The vocal performance propelled by cool guitar lines feels passionate but not overly forced, just real and earnest. The folk sway made me think a bit of Kevin Morby. Really like the aesthetic and big sound here. This is the last single before an upcoming album. 

Of the album Kodiak says, "Sometimes we need to thank whoever gives us a slap in the face. My new single is a celebration of the ones who dare to push someone else if that someone else is stagnating and can't see it himself. It is a song about necessary pain. That is why I - in my new single LIKE IT IS - thank the person who sets my house on fire - if that house has become like a jail."

Robb Donker

Chorus Grant's dark experimental folk presence on "Lives"

Chorus Grant is the musical moniker of Kristian Finne (Denmark) and his first song in five years, Lives feels like dark beautiful experimental folk. The song changes shape many times in deceptive ways. At the onset there are little clues that the song will metamorphosize and once the song falls into Grant's deep almost reticent breath the song seems to walk into a dreamworld inhabited by ghosts, some dark and light from the past. The song still holds onto it's kind of light chamber pop tones but is forever changed. Interesting and superbly complex.

Robb Donker


Denmark’s Chorus Grant is back with first new song in 5 years - a folk-rock chamber music mutant called “Lives”

Since the release of 2014’s Space, Kristian Finne aka Chorus Grant has released two records and toured with acclaimed duo Cancer consisting of Nikolaj Manuel Vonsild of When Saints Go Machine and Kristian. This past year however, Kristian has focused solely on writing a new solo album as Chorus Grant. The new album revolves thematically around transitions of life, and the liminal space between the old and the new- the “what was” and the “what will be”.
Compositionally working on his own take on a new Nordic sound, Kristian found what he calls "the melancholic major" and the harmonic qualities of this tone inhabits the new songs and leads to the core of emotional life.
Music and songwriting is my most trusted friend. It helps me to understand life and give voice to ponderings that can’t not be articulated in normal conversation. I’ve felt an urgency to write these songs that deal with transition and transformation- floating mid-air between an old and a new life. My hope is that my coming record will resonate with others and serve as a mirror where people can unravel their own lives and find comfort that no one is alone when facing fundamental change.”
The video for “Lives” is made by rising star painter and visual artist Jakob Steen in his studio located in an industrial area of Copenhagen. The friendship and kinship between Kristian and Jakob has previously manifested itself in visuals for the songs "O Everyone" and "Godplans" from before mentioned Space. On "Lives", Steen stages Chorus Grant in a locked setting that leaves no other option than to communicate with eyes, face and voice.
Appearing on the recording is Sebastian Rochford(Polar Bear, Patti Smith etc.) ondrums, Adi Zukanovic (IRAH) on organ and keyboard, Karen Guastavino plays the recorder and baritone saxophone and Mads Brinch plays bass. "Lives" is composed and written by Kristian Finne who also plays guitar and sings.