Friday, December 28, 2012

Wide Streets - "Laughing In The Jungle" - Damn Fresh!

There is something about Wide Streets that sounds so damn fresh. It takes me back to that creatively ripe period when art rock and progressive punk converged in the mid to late 70's. This was the time of The Talking Heads, Suburban Lawns, The Buzzcocks, XTC, Gang of Four and Television (just to name a few).

 "Laughing in the Jungle" is their latest album containing 8 bi-polar tracks that can feel on one hand like free form improvisation and on the other hand like super tight and highly crafted compositions. Transit of Venus jams and shifts all over the place consisting of a lot of dramatic breaks as Jet Elfman's melody can feel more like a tirade. The guitar rhythm break is so very cool. My Own Grave vacillates between a rather sweet vocal melody that mirrors the guitar line and more powerful guitar breaks. The chorus really lifts off nicely and ultimately drops into a crunchy syncopated drum and guitar jag. Jet Elfman's vocals on this one (and some others) made me think of a very young David Byrne. The Catskills literally makes you want to run down the street and find others to join you. It is both edgy in it's construction and emotionally sweet in it's melodies. Stingray Ballet that has some really trippy guitar work that moves the song into so many color of sound and emotion. Kudos to the jammy bass work on this track as well. Strange Pilgrims and Little Soldier (great song) has this early British Mod thing going on and the spartan whimsy of Children's Crusade feels glammy like early Bowie.

There is so much to love on "Laughing in the Jungle"- this is one of my favorite discoveries this year (2012)-

Robb Donker

Wide Streets Bandcamp
Wide Streets Facebook

Monday, December 17, 2012

Bloody Death Skull - Reimagine "Pyscho"

When I first listened to Jack Kittel's recording of Psycho it gave me the creeps! The subject matter is so damn dark. There is something about it being presented in the country genre that makes it even more disturbing. Bloody Death Skull's version rides a sidewalk chalk line between Americana roots music and a kind of musical infantilism. Sung in tandem with Gerard Olson, Daiana Feuer's vocal performance with all it's wide eyed naivety and whimsy feels tender and almost makes you forget the evil set deep in the bones of the serial killer lyrics. As fun as the video is, I would of loved to see it go really dark. Any budding video directors listening? In any event, please do check out all of Bloody Death Skull's "tin pan Dali" recordings.
Robb Donker

Courtesy of Bloody Death Skull:

The song "You Think I'm Psycho Don't You, Mama?" is based on a true story. Blind Texan country singer Leon Payne wrote the song he called "Psycho" after reading about a local murderer by the name of Charles Whitman. In 1966 Whitman strangled his mother to death, stabbed his wife, then took his Marine corps sniper rifle to the top of the University of Texas Library tower and killed sixteen random people before the police gunned Whitman down. Turns out that Whitman had a deadly brain tumor he didn't know about. In the weeks prior to his murder spree, he experienced frequent headaches and nausea, but he had no idea what was really going on, and the tumor supposedly drove him crazy killer. On the day he purchased his rifle, Whitman also bought a can of Spam.

"Psycho" has been recorded by Elvis Costello, Jack Kittel, George Jones, and Eddie Noack. A version of it by Teddy Thompson appears in the movie, Psycho. Get Bloody Death Skull's version at

Video by Daiana Feuer and Chris Hajek.

Upcoming shows in Los Angeles:
October 26 at Echo Country Outpost 
with Jo Cool (Amanda Jo Williams), Emily Lacy, Sloppy Jo (Donna from Tommy Santee Klaws)
October 30 at Los Globos 
with Fancy Space People, Babes, Cabeza De Vaca Arcestra, DJ Sun Araw
Nov 8 at Echoplex
for L.A. Folk Fest Murder Ballads tribute show

More Bloody Death Skull:
"Wreck My Body":
"Princess Martinique":

Listen to many songs:
Bloody Death Skull: "We write and record simultaneously, usually."

Check out Bloody Death Skull's "Our First Tape," recorded on a haunted tape recorder:

Full lyrics to Leon Payne’s masterpiece (courtesy of those wonderful folks at PopKrazy )–

Can Mary fry some fish, Mama
I’m as hungry as can be
Oh lord, how I wish, Mama
You could stop the baby cryin’ ’cause my head is killing me
I saw my ex again last night, Mama
She was at the dance at Miller’s store
She was with that Jackie White, Mama
I killed them both, and they’re buried under Jacob’s sycamore
You think I’m psycho, don’t you, Mama
I didn’t mean to break your cup
You think I’m psycho, don’t you, Mama
You better let ‘em lock me up
Oh, don’t hand me Johnny’s pup, Mama
As I might squeeze him too tight
I’m havin’ crazy dreams again, Mama
So let me tell you ’bout last night
I woke up in Johnny’s room, Mama
Standing right there by his bed
With my hands around his throat, Mama
Wishing both of us were dead
You think I’m psycho don’t you, Mama
I just killed Johnny’s pup
You think I’m psycho don’t you, Mama
You’d better let ‘em lock me up
Oh, you recall that little girl, Mama
I believe her name was Betty Clark
Oh, don’t tell me that she’s dead, Mama
‘Cause I just saw her in the park
We were sitting on a bench, Mama
Thinking of a game to play
Seems I was holding a wrench, Mama
Then my mind just walked away
You think I’m psycho don’t you, Mama
I didn’t mean to break your cup
You think I’m psycho don’t you, Mama
Mama why don’t you get up?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Flying Lotus - Tiny Tortures Video - Some Trippy Ass Shit

 If you like surreal trippy ass videos set to surreal trippy ass sounds then the video for Tiny Tortures by Flying Lotus (electronic composer Steven Ellison) off of his latest album "Until The Quiet Comes"- NICE to see Elijah Wood as well.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Heyward Howkins - Single "Praline Country" - stream and free download

American Pancake reviewed the amazing Heyward Howkins stellar debut album "The Hale and Hearty"debut back in May. HH has his new single Praline Country for stream and free download. Please check it out as well as the aforementioned album if you have not already.

Album Review: Rattled Minds by God Equals Genocide will renew your faith in punk once more.

On Rattled Minds - God Equals Genocide generate a slew of  punk songs that are as provocative as their name. Punk is now an umbrella term that encompasses a lot of different genres having been watered down since the 80's, so much so, that Good Charlotte (and similar such crappola) was referred to in the mass media as punk... (excuse me, I just threw up in my mouth a little bit) and while, I will not turn this review into a 13 hour debate on what punk music is and what it is not, let's just say that the ten songs God Equals Genocide pumps out on their debut full length record sound like "authentic" punk to me.  Danny from Pangea, Adrian from Cheeto Champ and Daryl from Birdstrike have managed to straddle, successfully, the fine line between fully inspired diatribes on personal, social and political issues and paying homage (subconsciously or overtly) to iconic bands like The Ramones, X, Social Distortion, The Dead Kennedys, The Sex Pistols, The Rezillos and X Ray Spex all the while creating their own sound.

Stand out songs for me are: Give It Up Front which is such a catchy pogo worthy head banger. Adrian and Danny's voices in unison are so damn tasty. Wasting Time with lyrics that every working man or woman can appreciate is an anthem for the ages. You're Different cooly plays with it's time signatures, swapping a charging beat to a furious double time and back again between verse and chorus. Why is just gnarly with a touch of psychedelia. Give Me A Break is probably the most mainstream sounding to me and despite the use of "fuckin" and at under a minute, could be a soundtrack for a Butterfinger commercial (seriously). A Place pulsates with a surf garage beat and half step chords. Walk Away is a song that pushes itself to the edge and then edges out further. The lyrics are as equally vague as they are poetic, "The big blue building welcomes you in.. just sign your name here and your life can re-begin." and "Too much, can't think, don't want, you've got stories, I know when to walk away."

Rattled Minds by God Equals Genocide has a lot going for it. The songs feel like they are played and sung with wild abandon. They are glorious in their trashy sound yet underneath they feel thoughtful and well crafted at the same time. The Album CD (for review) is equally constructed with care offering up pics and lyrics in this nice little booklet. Rattled Minds is also available on glorious vinyl. Go buy it. Crank it up and renew your faith in punk once more.

God Equals Genocide - Rattled Minds - LP on Razorcake / Dirt Cult, CD on Ghostbot Records
GEG is Danny, Adrian, and Daryl
Recorded by Andrew Schubert on November 2011
Mixed by Andrew Schubert and GEG
Mastered by Nik Karpen
Cover Photos by Todd Taylor

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

"Sports" EP by Speedy Ortiz - Full of Crooked Smiles and Clenched Fists

SPORTS, the latest EP by Speedy Ortiz has 5 potent songs that smile at you, (however sardonically) one minute and seconds later, bitch slap you up side your head. Songwriter, vocalist, guitarist Sadie Dupuis' songs have the bitter edge of one too many emotional back stabbings which makes for magnificently bipolar-esque guitar changes and provocative lyrics. In "Indoor Soccer" Sadie sings "Massive machete... that shit is getting heavy... though you knew me, don't know me now" and "Don't you let down my good friends, don't fuck with my friends" and by her tone, I suggest that you do not. That being said, Sadie, vocally, also has emotional tenderness buried under her bite which provides a very cool contrast to the musical vibe which still boils over into a melting pot of Pavement, Nirvana and Helium (grunge) like indie rock. "Basketball" is one of those songs you want to drive fast to. "Curling" (one of the more down tempo tracks) has a sad arc to the guitar lines and vocal melody full of loss and heavy doses of self respect.."a little after you said that I deserved it all... well, honey, I've got the house.... I've got the dog and I'm wakin' up mornings and showing up on time for my job... so don't bother to call me." This song is full of insightful emotional gems that we can all relate to and it doesn't hurt that those words are cradled in a delicious heavy and beautiful music bed. "Silver Spring" with it's guitar lines often mirroring the vocal line simply soars into a heavy rock jam (the guitar break is awesome).

Have you ever been in a crazy situation but everyone around you is acting like everything is completely normal?? This is what "Suck Buddies" sounds like. It is a tasty head banging psycho trip and I love it. In fact, I love all these songs. You can grab a free download of "Silver Spring" from the Speedy Ortiz Bandcamp page. Enjoy.

- Adler Bloom

Speedy Ortiz:
Sadie Dupuis: guitars, vocals, pedal organ
Matt Robidoux: guitars
Darl Ferm: bass, handclaps
Mike Falcone: drums, piano

Speedy Ortiz Bandcamp

Speedy Ortiz Facebook

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Honeymilk- "It Might Be" - has got a teen heart

The debut single, "It Might Be" by the Swedish band Honeymilk feels like the stuff adolescence is made of. Obviously that is a totally subjective thing but all I can say is that it could be an updated theme song to the 90's Nickelodeon show "The Adventures of Pete and Pete"- Sung with nary a hint of a Swedish accent, it soars like hundreds of teenage hearts bursting apart.

You can download this cool song here:

Honeymilk Facebook

Video: Living Things - "Fake it Baby, Fake it" - directed by Floria Sigismondi

Living Things "Fake it Baby, Fake it (La Dame Nature)" from Living Things on Vimeo.

Living Things "Fake it Baby, Fake it (La Dame Nature)" as directed by Floria Sigismondi, starts with a sexy french femme fatale doing the horizontal bebop with one of the Berlin brothers (and maybe another) with her painted toe nails caressing a poster of James Dean all the while smoking cigarettes. Shot is in beautiful black and white, the bedroom antics give way to a Living Things crunchy rock and roll party and brotherly love turning into brothers in battle. The ending is cute. Bosh, Ives and Lillian not surprisingly can act as well as they can rock.

The Living Things Official Site

Saturday, November 24, 2012

EP Review- The Van Goghs - Escape of The Jellyfish

Escape of the Jellyfish, the latest EP by Chicago based The Van Goghs is like a wonderful musical maze. Each song takes you on surprising detours. You can hear elements of alternative rock, Ska, folk, indie, psychedelia and 60's British Mod all done up with a progressive pop mentality. Penquino is a party of sounds with a thick vocal harmony throughout and the sound moves effortlessly from a Brit rock jam to a dreamy mellotron-ish ending. The abrupt change does not feel so. It feels right, though you do feel a bit like Alice falling down the rabbit hole. Daring musical departures like this make the songs on this EP so damn good. A Big Bang Conversation is appropriately named. It starts off with a crunchy bad ass dirty guitar riff and then becomes a little bit more poppy. It is full of musical breaks and really tasty guitar lead breaks that  have a late 70's garden rock feel. The second track Higher to the Sun with it's stair stepping guitar sounds, swelling organ, Keith Moon-ish drumming and clean vocals is unabashedly upbeat power pop and then it ramps down beautifully into almost discordant guitar sounds.

Just when you think The Van Goghs are solidly moving at 60 miles an hour you hear the lovely Our Best Plans. With it's airy guitar picking, haunting melodica, dreamy slide guitar and plaintive vocal harmonies it feels like the foggy banked tree lines in Big Sur. It inhabits that same classic dream folk space as Led Zep's Going to California. Besides the masterful musicianship and songwriting presented, Escape of the Jellyfish is also well recorded and produced. It has a really nice EQ- great bottom end sounds and no annoying bits of misplaced mid-range. This polish in production and ability to craft really good songs  is evident throughout this EP but maybe most apparent in the shape shifting Dots in Space and Time. It is the last track and feels very much like an amalgam of all before. It has it's own musical arc that can feel as progressive as a Mars Volta song one second and then as drug induced trippy as the Doors. The vocals (like the instrumentation) feels more strained and edgy than most of the other songs. It is a amazing ending to my formal introduction to The Van Goghs.

I look forward to following this band on their journey and hope to see them live someday.

Robb Donker

The Van Goghs Facebook

The Van Goghs Escape of the Jellyfish

The Great Malarkey- "Live is a Punk Cabaret my friends"

From Dalston in North London, The Great Malarkey have been called folk punk or gypsy punk. Whatever you call them, they make some marvelous music that is as vibrant as their individual personalities. Fronted by Alex Ware on (vocals/guitar/uke), they are Aidan Banks (fiddle/backing vocals), Owen Evans (banjo/ guitar/trombone/backing vocals), Alex Newton (trumpet/vocals), Jason Nash (accordian), Jake Appleby (bass), and Joni Belaruski (drums).

The Great Malarkey Facebook

Friday, November 23, 2012

Album Review: The Creeping Ivies- STAY WILD- stays true.

The Creeping Ivies from Dundee, Scotland have a track on their upcoming LP Stay Wild called Rock N Roll Ghost. It is stripped down 50's rock and roll done up punk. Think Gene Vincent and his Blue Caps, The Cramps, Patty Smith and X-Ray Spex all ground up to make this delicious punk sausage. Never mind the fucking worse analogy I have ever commited to print (I am going on too many hours without any sleep)- The Creeping Ivies are super cool and fun to boot. The Ghost Train video (from their previous EP) is dripping with it (cool that is) and Becca Bomb not only can belt out her vocal chops (complete with punk Ono yelps), and play a mean surf punk guitar- she is easy on the eyes. Actually Duncan Destruction is nice to look at as well.

While Rock N Roll Ghost is one of my favorite tracks on Stay Wild (I don't know why, it just speaks to me) all the songs possess a sort of punk purity. I like the fact that The Creeping Ivies kept it simple, didn't seem to do any over-dubs or add a guest bass player. Quite the contrary, it is the kind of balls out garage punk rock that could very well exist in 1978 at CBGB's. The tones, overall sound, the fact that the guitar is pulled back in favor of Becca's vox makes this record sound super retro. Songs like Buzzbomb and Madhouse Blues keep the punk progs simple but driving as hell. Spinning and the Ramones like Bop Like That feel like spazzy punk sock hop songs. The World (my favorite track) feels a bit more expansive than the rest, like a tortured anthemic love or anti-love song. The final title track Stay Wild is totally infectious, especially the chorus that has this beautifully rad break (that oddly enough makes me think of the more punk pop sound of King Tuff).

So glad I found the Creeping Ivies and so sad that they are so far away. I would love to see them live. Are you listening Becca and Duncan??? Please get your asses over here to the states real soon!

Robb Donker

Dillon - Thirteen Thirtyfive LIVE - Bare Vocal and Piano

Dillon - Thirteen Thirtyfive from Gilson Munhoz Andreazzi on Vimeo.
Dillon forgoes the laptop electronica for a stripped down piano and vocal performance of Thirteen Thirtyfive from her recent This Silence Kills album.

Kurt Vile - Baby's Arms

Great Kurt Vile song- from his fourth studio album Smoke Ring For My Halo- Baby's Arms has got a superbly dreamy sound and been compared in tone to Van Morrison's Astral Weeks. - Robb Donker

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - Same Love- featuring Mary Lambert - Gay and Hetero Love Forever


What an amazing song and video. It made me wonder how many people may of come out of the closet around the Thanksgiving table. Spread peace, love and understanding everywhere you can. - Robb

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

LIVE Review: Cold Specks at The Getty - Los Angeles. November 17th, 2012

Cold Specks at the Harold M. Williams Auditorium at the Getty Museum, Los Angeles, November 17th 2012

Slowly plodding along with a river of cars through a sudden California down pour, I was doing my best to not be late to see Cold Specks at the Harold M. Williams Auditorium situated at the world famous Getty Museum in Los Angeles. As everyone knows, Southern Californians do not handle wet streets very well, freeways even less well but luck was on my side and I made it in time. I had seen Al Spx (Cold Specks) months earlier at the Troubadour. She performed solo and the crowd packed in close for a moving and intimate performance. This time around it was Cold Specks with a 6 piece back up band. The auditorium with it's super wide stage, stylish set design and amphitheater seating is not the way I like to see a band. First of all the intruments spanned almost the width of the stage. For the players it was like eating dinner at a really long table and trying to communicate. I love when band members can be so close that they can really interact not only musically but physically if they care to. Another unfortunate thing at the Getty was having to stay seated.

All these petty complaints of mine shed away when Al walked center stage to a silent packed house. Her performance started a capella. Then she moved slowly to her guitar and her fellow musicians would walk in from the translucent partitions when they suited the songs. Al's vocal performance with or without a band always makes you take a step back and your jaw drop open a bit. Not only is she a great singer, her voice has a richness to it. The specific way she annunciates and phrases her words brings a sense of command to her performance. It is hard to describe but the tone in her voice while earnest also has a theatricality to it that simply demands your attention and you are happy to give it.

 As fundamentally grounded and heartfelt as Cold Speck's songs are, her fellow musicians seemed to approach their specific contributions with a gracious reverence. Pete Robert's ability to slowly make his guitar swell with legato lead lines and attacking rhythms was amazing to hear and fun to see. Chris Cundy on woodwinds, had an arsenal of instruments but his contra bass with it's almost earth shattering low notes added a tremendous amount of drama. Sarah Jone's backing vocals along with the vocal pipes of Drummer Rob Ellis and Thomas Greene on piano stirred the musical pot on the amazing Holland. Ellis also shined on backing vox on Elephant Head, a song that Al carries almost single handedly on her narrow shoulders until Cundy's low tones swell giving way to a full inspired chorus by all involved.

Cold Specks songs, especially in the pristine setting at the Getty felt so heavenly as to be hypnotically soothing to the point that the audience would sit quietly in unison for a few beats before even thinking to applause. When Greene started the opening piano strain to Winter Solstice it felt like a dash of goosebumps on my skin. The band filled in the constant build of emotion and the song soared. The Mark felt appropriately dour and moving with Robert's singing the low vocal accompaniment. Amidst all these songs that can feel as heavy as a lead medallion around your neck, Al did have reveal her sense of humor as she did her own doom soul version of the theme to "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air" and her revelation that a new song was about a sexual relationship with Satan got a smattering of applause and some whoops. It was exciting to hear Hector live. It is one of my favorite songs on "I Predict A Great Expulsion" and it's cadence and energy still reminds me of a sister to some song on Radiohead's "Rainbows" album. Steady rumbled like a church battle cry. The bluesy When the City Lights Dim, one of the songs that Al performs without her guitar shows that she can do more mainstream material. Lay Me Down, emotionally wrought and bare was mesmerizing.  Probably one of Cold Specks better known songs is the provocative Blank Maps and she and her band did not disappoint. It, like the entire Getty show was pretty damn stunning and yes, Cold Specks has made me into a Goddamn believer.

Robb Donker

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Manhattan Murder Mystery - "Honda Prius" - SLAB CITY

Manhattan Murder Mystery - "Honda Prius" - Directed by Mike James. MMM's distressed lyrics are perfectly set in the uncontrolled artistic and nihilistic waste bucket that is Slab City. Enjoy "Honda Prius" and then check out the VICE piece on Slab below.



Saturday, November 17, 2012

Twin Steps- Punk, 50's Croon, 60's Soul in a Blender

Meet Drew, Nick and Jonathan- collectively known as Twin Steps (bassist Brian Hobson has been added since the segment was shot) . Their sample based sound has flavors of post punk, retro 50's / 60's swoon croon tear jerkers, and 60's /70's soul that makes you want to sway, rock out and even slow dance in your socks. Besides the interesting blendo music they make, they really like to connect with their audience at live shows. Looking forward to seeing them live. They are based out of Oakland but a little birdie told me that they might be doing some shows here locally (in So Cal) so I will be sure and keep you updated on that!

The Re-Arranger is a tasty blend of R and B, Doo-wop, and post punk- I even hear this kind of glam thing happening way down below like an undercurrent of Bowieness swimming below the Midnighter-ish soul.
I like this a lot.

Twin Steps Bandcamp Twin Steps Facebook

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Being There - The Radio: Dreamy visions of days before...

UK Indie-Rock band- Being There conjures up late 80's day dreams with synth sounds and runaway beats that harken back to The Cure and are on par with contemporary bands like The Pains of Being Pure At Heart. Listen  and dance in your socks.

Their Album Breaking Away drops on January 29th!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

MATH THE BAND = the sound in Honey Boo Boo's Brain (?)

If the synapses firing in Honey Boo Boo's brain after gorging on copious amounts of Go Go juice made music it would sound like Math The Band. The strain of synth punk they pump out is so mind numbingly frenetic they could very well be called Meth The Band. But drug jokes aside, their music does kind of run around you like a spastic out of control cousin. They revel in vintage synths, hand made electronics, broken guitars and drums, and video game systems as musical instruments. Their own description for their sound is apt: 8 bit punk or Nintendo Rock. All this craziness is the brain child of Kevin Steinhauser who started Math in 2003. Justine Mainville joined in 2007. Check out some of their live performances and you will see how infectious their music can be or maybe contagious is more like it. Coming to a venue near YOU- check out the dates nabbed from their site. (Why on earth do I have the urge to turn down the sound during The Walking Dead and play Math The Band really loud????)


Thursday, November 15 TWIN PEAKS: THE BEGINNING resoundtracked by Silent Drape Runners

Thursday, November 15
resoundtracked by Silent Drape Runners

There's a bucolic little town called Twin Peaks, where nothing is as it seems and even the cherry pie carries secrets. Laura Palmer was found by the river wrapped in plastic. WHO DID IT?

Brooklyn based electronic duoSilent Drape Runnerswill resoundtrack the first episode of "Twin Peaks" live. Join us in a world of mystery and deception.
Strip away the veneer of respectable gentility to expose seething undercurrents of illicit passion, greed, jealousy and intrigue in a population of
unusual characters. Try and resist the enchantment of Kyle MacLachlan's chin.

Freshen up your Twin Peaks expertise.
See some excerpts from previous performances of "Twin Peaks: The Beginning."
Listen to more Silent Drape Runners music.

Silent Drape Runners will also DJ an eerie dance party after the show.

This event is taking place at Echo Country Outpost, 1770 Glendale Blvd, 90026.

$5 at the door. 9pm. Thursday, November 15.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Interview: Crystal Antler's Jonny Bell on Sax, Drugs and Rock and Roll

Photo courtesy of David Uzzardi

Every time I see Jonny Bell, the soft spoken founder/ bassist / lead singer of Crystal Antlers he has a look of contentment on his face and set deep in his eyes there seems to be a mixture of mischief and knowing. It is like he it thinking ahead of even better days to come. This quiet optimism has served him and his band well as they have steadily built a growing fan base locally and across the globe. Their ever evolving punk / avant-garde pop / psychedelic rock sound always feels startlingly fresh. Crystal Antlers have been working on a new record in their recently completed recording studio and Bell has has also been wearing the producer hat for other artists. On November 17th Crystal Antlers returns to Mexico for the first time since 2010 to headline the All My Friends Music Festival and this Thursday on the 15th they play a pre-AMFMF show at the Glasshouse in Pomona. I got a chance to throw Jonny some questions. 
Interview by Robb Donker 

The last time I saw you guys perform, it was at the Moon Block Party in Pomona (CA). It was also the first time I saw you without Cora and Damien. You guys sounded incredible but it felt weird like having your uncle show up at Thanksgiving with a new girl friend in tow. How has the change been reflected in the new songs (new record)?

The lineup of the band (Except for Kevin & me) has changed on average about every 6 months since we began, it's nothing new. Currently we've got our pals JP Bendzinski and occasionally Ikey Owens playing keys and Damian still plays sometimes too. They all play in different bands (Wild Pack of Canaries, Jack White, and Four Letter Words respectively) so it's really more like your uncle showing up to Thanksgiving with a younger hotter woman and they're both now swingers.

I am pretty jealous that you built your own recording studio off your house. Did you decide to go all digital or do you have analog capabilities as well? 

I've got the latest digital stuff and a several analog tape machines for all you dinosaurs out there  (like myself). 'Bout to buy another tape machine too.....

 Have you recorded songs in your bath robe?

I wish, but sadly the most casual I've gotten is basketball shorts. I don't even own a bathrobe. I thought about stealing one from the 4 Seasons in Houston when we were there last month...How much do you think they'd charge you for that? 

I wouldn't have a clue but I bet it would be more than the cost of the room!
You recently co-produced Feeding People's "Island Universe" with Hanni El Khatib. How does producing other people songs compare to working on Crystal Antler's music? 

Every artist is different. With Feeding People, it reminded me of what it must have been like for other producers dealing with me a few years ago. Louis (FP's guitar player)  was pretty stubborn at times, but we burned off steam by doing yardwork. It was exciting to record a band that raw coming straight from the garage.

Do you have any other projects in the works (with other artists)?

The new CA record of course. Just finished mixing a record for a band called Telephone Lovers. Totally different from anything else i've worked on recently. The record sounds straight out of the 70's a-la Nick Lowe/ Rockpile/ Ramones/ KISS...Look for it soon

PS: just like Bowie, I end up playing sax somewhere on every record I work on. 

So I looked up "Psychedelic Rock" on Wikipedia which as you know is the gospel for all truth on the internet if not the universe and it says:
Psychedelic rock is a style of rock music that is inspired or influenced by psychedelic culture and attempts to replicate and enhance the mind-altering experiences of psychedelic drugs.
(what the fuck?)

Anyone can edit Wikipedia you know?

This is true but many people call your style of music psychedelic so the question is:  Is Crystal Antlers trying to either replicate what it feels like to be stoned or enhance people's high???

Mind altering YES, drugs not so much -although I would endorse a good hit of acid for everyone at least once. I'd like to believe that our music could affect your mind so severely that you'd be reduced to the psyche of an infant, but I just don't think that's possible these days. Maybe on the next record...

Labels put aside, I just think you all make fantastic trippy sounding rock.  

Gracias, getting rid of the labels is what it's all about. Lick my decals off baby!  

Part of making music at least as a kind of vocation is selling and marketing to your audience and building an audience and NOT only building an audience but building a loyal following who really care about you enough to support you artistically and financially. Amanda Palmer who has really adopted the DIY philosophy for years in terms of acquiring her own venues and self marketing has been really touting the notion that there should be no such thing as "illegal downloading" as a legal construct anyways. She offers her music for whatever you can afford to pay and encourages people to share the hell out of it.

What do you think of this concept?

I think a lot of people have been doing that same thing and feeling that way for years. ART + COMMERCE =? This all depends on how you define what it is that you are doing. I'd like to think that what we do is art, whether it appears that way or not. We're motivated by creativity and the excitement of doing something new. We certainly appreciate when people are willing to pay us for playing/recording music, but it has no real bearing on what we do. I'm not opposed to creating music specifically for making money though, but in my mind it's a completely separate thing. Making music for commercial use is how I was able to build the studio. 
 Pretty soon musicians will have to give it all away and make money on merch and such--
You could have Crystal Antlers lunchboxes or something.... any ideas???

 We'll make anything that the people want!...once I made a white crystal antlers sweat suit that we gave away at the LA RECORD Xmas party.

(random questions alert!) 
Sweet! Um.... If you had a submarine. What color would it be??

It'd be a B-427 Russian sub. BLACK.

There are some cool shows on TV right now. I have a major thing going for Dexter and The Walking Dead.  Do you all have any shows you are addicted to??

Don't have cable so I watch P. Allen Smith's Garden home on PBS every Saturday morning.

Top 5 rock records or songs of all time-??

ROCK N ROLL - Vanilla Fudge
JAILBREAK - Thin Lizzy
PERE UBU - Dub Housing
JUNKYARD -Birthday Party
LICK MY DECALS OFF - Captain Beefheart

Top non rock records or songs of all time

The Black Saint and The Sinner Lady - Mingus

Frank Sinatra
Black Flag 
Deep Purple

Viva and AMFMF Presents:
Crystal Antlers with The Lovely Bad Things, Pangea, San Pedro El Cortez and Late Nite Owl
at ON NOVEMBER 15th at The Glasshouse in Pomona, California- 200 W. Second St.

And ON November 17th at the Casa De La Cultura in Tijuana B.C. Mexico
Crystal Antlers, Chelsea Wolfe, Helado Negro, Los Macuanos, ambiente, Maniquie Lazer, Maria Y Jose, The Lovey Bad Things, Fax, Pangea, Lorelle Meets The Obsolete, Via Aerea, Mock the Zuma and MORE

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Movie Review: Skyfall Swings Both Ways

In Skyfall, we see Bond, the usual blue eyed man of steel transformed into a tin soldier with blood shot eyes. This deconstruction of the Bond mythos (as written by John Logan, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade) is surprising but only brings more emotional gravitas to the Bond franchise. The movie starts with guns drawn as Bond (Daniel Craig)  finds a bloody scene and an Agent Ronson near death in a ramshackle apartment in Turkey. M (Judy Dench) monitors and directs Bond through his ear-piece. A laptop sits on a table with the hard-drive torn out of it. A hard-drive that contains the identity of a hundred plus MI6 agents and were they are stationed. It is a perilous predicament. In this dour opening as Bond attends to the dieing agent (placing direct pressure on his gunshot would) M tells him to leave him, to go after the hard-drive. There is a defiant spark of bitterness in Bond's baby blues but the dutiful soldier complies.

A spectacular chase scene ensues as Bond and rookie operative Eve (Naomie Harris). After foot, car, motorcycle chases and a tasty set piece involving an earth moving machine and Volkswagen Beetles a wounded Bond ends up on top of a cargo train in hand to hand combat with the enemy operative. As the embattled agents are about to round a bend on a bridge and as rookie Eve is looking down the scope of her high powered rifle, M tells her to "take the shot". It is a fatal call as Eve hits Bond instead. He plummets off the train falling to his "death" in a river below. All this in the first several minutes before the beautifully artistic title sequence with Adele singing the Skyfall theme.

Of course, Bond is not dead but his obituary written by M signals his emotional and spiritual death. He has had enough of being human fodder. He decides to stay dead and revels in his own alcoholic fueled pitty party only deciding to resurrect himself after the MI6 headquarters (M's office to be precise) is bombed.  Bond is an emotional and physical wreck and has to be certified as fit for duty. Craig looks super fit but also more lean than before, his face looking gaunt and his eyes distant and bloodshot. No Bond film has showed the agent so flawed, so totally ill equipped to serve her Majesty's Secret Service as he is physically and psychologically scrutinized. The knowledge that he is going to meet his nemesis Silva (as wonderfully played by Javier Bardem), in essence, handicapped ratchets up the danger.

Bond (and we) are introduced to new MI6 head played by Ralph Fiennes and the new Q who now resembles a hipster / computer geek played by Ben Whishaw and, of course, the evil Silva who provides us with a tour-de-force introduction. Bardem's performance played with charm on the surface and a truly unsettling psychosis underneath is incredible to watch. While exploring the ins and outs of the plot would reveal too much, Bond does dispatch his enemies and have sexual exploits in some wonderful locales as to be expected but Skyfall's strength is that it swings both ways. It is, as you would expect, an espionage tale but during the last third of the film it essentially becomes an old fashioned Peckinpah-ish western. Besides the thoughtful script, the decision to have Oscar winning director Sam Mendes take control was a master stroke. As he demonstrated in American Beauty and The Road to Perdition his camera movements don't get in the way of the drama or action. His classic style of film making (minus recent conventions like shaky cams and super quick edits) truly serves this more dramatic internal Bond script. Mendes kicked it out of the ball park, in fact, everyone involved with Skyfall did.

Skyfall (like no other Bond film before) puts a more human face on our hero and sense of self sacrifice on the shadow world of spies and insurgents. At one point Bond does something he has never done in any other Bond film. It is about time. I can't wait to see it again.

Robb Donker

2012 | 143 min. | Rated PG-13
Official Site:
Director: Sam Mendes
Cast: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, Javier Bardem, Helen McCrory, Ben Whishaw, Santi Scinelli, Naomie Harris, Albert Finney and Ola Rapace



Photo courtesy of David Uzzardi

Viva and AMFMF Presents:
Crystal Antlers with The Lovely Bad Things, Pangea, San Pedro El Cortez and Late Nite Owl
at The Glasshouse in Pomona, California- 200 W. Second St.

TICKET GIVEAWAY!!!   American Pancake will be giving away 2 pairs of tickets!!
Is it easy to win? Yeah, pretty easy. All you have to do is share this post on Twitter (be sure and email us at with your name and twitter name).

OR retweet ours:

You can also LIKE us on Facebook and share our giveaway post: AP Facebook

Don't miss this SHOW! Crystal Antlers simply kicks ass- on top of that- you have 4 other bands who all kick ass (of varying degrees)-- Plus the people at Glasshouse shows are just so NICE!

The giveaway absolutely ends at 12 noon PST on November 14th. Winners will be notified by email, twitter or Facebook direct message, or text (if you want us to text you don't forget to give us your phone number)

FACEBOOK Event Page: here

Crystal Antlers are an evolving sound of punk, avant-garde pop, and experimental formed in 2006 in Long Beach California. They have released 2 full-length albums, an EP and numerous singles, 7″s, and cassettes. Crystal Antlers have held strong to a DIY ethic, self releasing and hand making/packaging all but 2 records, which were released by the legendary Touch & Go Records. They’ve supported themselves & their music with years of heavy touring and constant shows at home in Southern California.

After Crystal Antlers second full-length album Two-Way Mirror was released in summer 2011, they hit the road once again, wrapping up with a tour of the US alongside Wu Lyf. Artist Raymond Pettibon provided the artwork for Two-Way Mirror, and Organist/Producer/Collaborator Ikey Owens (Mars Volta, Jack White) joined with the band on the tours in support of the album.

At the beginning of 2012, Crystal Antlers completed construction on their recording studio where the band has been working relentlessly on it’s next record, slated for release in late fall. For the recordings, the band is stripped down to a trio, as it began (Andrew King – Guitar, Jonny Bell –Bass/Vocals, Kevin Stuart –Drums). The new music and direction reflects the simplicity of the core lineup and showcases Crystal Antlers in an even more raw way than heard before, drawing you in with a strange accessibility, which for this band, could be the most experimental move yet.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Holland Elektro - Big Mouth - Perversely Potent Guitars

From the Netherlands (that is close to my heart)- Holland Elektro throw down some hot and steamy guitar beds in Big Mouth -This band plays all guitar heavy instrumentals:

Eric Lensink guitarist and founder of HE says: 

‘I have always been wild about rock guitar intro’s, and always felt they were too short. Most of the time I even regretted the singer to start doing his thing...! So why not play a good riff longer, spin it out and skip the vocals ? Automatically you will leave the classic song structure of verse and chorus: it’s more like playing tracks, like in dance music. We try to achieve the same hypnotic effect as in trance and techno.’

(ABOVE) Check out the perversely sick guitar and imagery in the Big Mouth video directed by Hugo Goudswaard-


Friday, November 9, 2012

YOU ME US - Siren - Indie Folk from Northhampton

You Me Us are Jasmine Burns and Morton Piercewright from Northhampton, Britain. Their single Siren is admittedly lo-fi folk recorded live in a living room. This mean you can hear the occasional guitar string stumble or the tiniest bit of off pitch vocals. It also means that you hear something quite human, honest and stunning. Morton sings the first refrain followed by Jasmine. Both voices with a sad undertow are terribly affecting but it is at around 2:30 when those voices come together that your jaw drops open. Their harmonies are so lovely, their singing feels so heart achingly personal that emotions well up inside you. Feelings like falling in love or having love fall utterly apart. I look so forward to hearing more from YOU ME US.
Robb Donker

YOU ME US Facebook: here

Diamond Version- EP2 – OUT NOVEMBER 26th via 12” December 4th via Digital Download

Poised on the cusp between infinite loops of sound ( Mission Statement ) and  pulsating electronic bass beats and Nintendo sounds on steroids ( Empowering Change ) Diamond Version creates a deep sonar assault that can be both hypnotic and unsettling. It does quite literally feel like a brainwash. I can also see how crowd potent this sonic blast can be. Decide for yourself.
Robb Donker American Pancake

EP2 – OUT NOVEMBER 26th via 12”
December 4th via Digital Download
“a shining example of borderless digital creativity”
– Juno
unashamedly dancefloor-friendly”
– The 405
Diamond Version will release EP2 on 12” on November 26th and via Digital Download on December 4th.
DIAMOND VERSION: Website| Twitter

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Retweet and WIN tix to see Crystal Antlers, Lovely Bad Things, Pangea and MORE at the Glasshouse - Nov. 15th

I bet you could stand to save $20- IF SO, then go ahead and win a pair of tickets to see Crystal Antlers, the Lovely Bad Things, Pangea, San Pedro El Cortez and Late Nite Howl-
JUST click on the pic above and retweet and you are eligible.Winners will be announced Nov 14th at noon PST.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Liars performing "Brats" LIVE!!

This is the story of Liars crawling into an attack to perform “Brats”, the latest single off of their sixth studio release WIXIW. If you had to have anyone crawling around in your attic shaking out the cobwebs, might as well be these boys. Exploding with sound it is Aaron, Angus and Julian doing what they do best—cultivating the bizarre and embracing their music with abandon.
Special special love for everyone at Into The Woods.

“Fascinating turns of change have always been Liars' sole consistency, and in that respect, I hope they stay the same forever."
Photo Credit: Zen Sekizawa
Liars recently released remixes of  “Brats" on a 12” on October 16th. This is the first in a series of three albums to be released on vinyl all promoting singles off of WIXIW.
BRATS (album version)
BRATS - David Scott Stone remix
BRATS - Cadence Weapon remix
BRATS – Vessel remix
Liars - Angus Andrew, Aaron Hemphill and Julian Gross – also announce details of the re-release of three of their albums on vinyl. The band’s first three albums, They Threw Us In A Trench & Put A Monument On Top, They Were Wrong, So We Drowned and Drum’s Not Dead are reissued on 180g vinyl and a limited edition 7” featuring unreleased live recordings of ‘WIXIW’ and ‘Pillars Were Hollow And Filled With Candy So We Tore Them Down’ is available free, while stocks last, when you purchase from the band’s official shop:
Angus Andrew explains the album title WIXIW’wish you’ is a familiar and universal sentiment of longing and hope, but when misspelt becomes uniquely shrouded and difficult to interpret, which in many ways is representative of our music and the songs we wrote for this album”.
WIXIW is Liars’ sixth studio album and the follow up to 2010’s critically lauded Sisterworld, which garnered an 8.1 Pitchfork rating and Best New Music. The album, with artwork designed by John Wiese, is available on CD, deluxe vinyl (with CD) and digital. The limited edition wax-dipped silk-screened vinyl made by Liars themselves is now sold out. 
Recorded in LA, self-produced by the band with additional production from Mute boss Daniel Miller and mixed by Tom Biller, the album is hard to shake, tough to pin down, and impossible to get out of one’s head even after an initial listen. Simultaneously the most accessible and most challenging release from these iconoclasts, it is both a summation of Liars’ work up to now, and a complete break from anything you’d ever heard the band do previously.
“If we aren’t confusing people, it’s not us,”
“If we aren’t confusing ourselves with what we do, then we’ve failed.”
-Angus Andrews
“It's an album that creeps you out even as it sucks you in."
“In essence, it’s a dark pop masterpiece." 
For Liars, it embodies what they do best — saying one thing and then doing another. And on WIXIW, everything is in its right place."
WIXIW” is Liars' "electronic" record, and a darn good one at that.”
WIXIW cements Liars as the kind of band that can do whatever they want, and it’s always going to be worth paying attention to.”

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Album Review- EXANIMATE by Geronimo! - Loud and Luscious

Exanimate, the sophomore full length album from Chicago 3 piece rockers Geronimo! is head bangingly great. It doesn't try to straddle any garage rock fence or step into beach goth or lo fi or punk. It is balls out rock unabashedly flaunting classic progs on songs like Natural Feeling that feels like arena rock ala Bullet The Blue Sky by U2 (except harder edged). What is stunning is that while all these songs have big rock at their core they also stray effortlessly into that progressive vein. Downtown Pulse with it's double time beat, and dynamic guitar breaks is one such song and Fluxxed is so sweeping in scope, dreamy, industrial, both pristine and raw as it turns and changes shape multiple times. It turns classic rock inside out (think Mars Volta or Porcupine Tree). Kelly Johnson on guitar and lead vocals, Ben Grigg on Keys and Matt Schwerin are not only skilled players but they know how to coax both lush and thick powerful sounds out of their instruments. You do not miss the bass guitar as Grigg's creates a sonic often times dirty bass wall of sound with his synth complimented by Schwerin's heavy handed drumming. Johnson also has the right amount of scream to his guitar work and melodic vox. Every good rock record has a song or songs that induce speeding in your car. The two on Exanimate would have to be Electric Heart and Love Conduit. Both feel like chase songs and are powerful, loose and jammy.

Amidst the runaway prog rock songs, there are two slow tempo songs that left me speechless. The stirring Please Come Over is symphonic lullaby as it rolls and swells around a dreamy guitar picked rhythm. Ultra dense flourishes of vocal and musical sounds atop a steady and powerful drumbeat swell and then swell some more. The result is haunting, psychedelic and maybe even mournful. Crushtapher Robin has no resemblance to the whimsical character the name may be derived from. It is an instrumental powerhouse, all bluster and thunder- the breaks with the discordant lead lines are bad ass. Less hipster, more headbanger, Exanimate bathes in the light of power chord rock Godliness while also lurking in the dreamy shadows of progressive and psychedelic music. Rock that is loud and luscious. What more could you ask for more?

Robb Donker

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Album Review- Restraint by Orca Team

Orca Team (Dwayne Cullen- drums, Jessica B.- guitar, Leif Anders- Bass and vocals) hail from Seattle Washington so you would think that their songs are dampened at least a little bit by the Northwest rain and fog but this is not the case at all. Whether it is the surfy bass bounce in Night Moves and Michael that cooks and shimy shakes like a 60's Beach Blanket Bingo movie or the beautiful translucent guitar work in Ocean Ghost and I've Been Crying All Day that steps into full fledged tear jerker status, Orca's post punk /mod sound brings to mind music from the late 50's to the late 60's. It is a musical foundation that many bands like to mine but while bands like Shannon and The Clams or Hunx and His Punx (who I am big fans of) infuse their sound with a wink and a punk smile, Orca Team's sound feels more direct. Both approaches work. Ander's vocals for the most part are sung cleanly, no strident snarl or screams here. He instead infuses his melodies with a tender sometimes sad tone. Orca Team also has a decidedly Brit feel. The compositions are tightly wound, all the pieces fitting perfectly together. The ninth track - If (one of my favorites) cooks like a Jam song. It absolutely kicks ass as does Restraint.
Robb Donker

Friday, November 2, 2012

Review and Photos: Halloween Babylon with Bleached covering Misfits & Ramones. Hunx as Gayracula, Heaven. Wed, October 31, 2012-

The Echo and Blundertown Present: Halloween Babylon with Bleached covering Misfits & Ramones. Hunx as Gayracula, Heaven. Wed, October 31, 2012-

 Review and Photos by Michelle Halac

Heaven, Hunx, and Bleached all in one night make for the craziest Halloween I’ve ever had.  Set at the Echo; a crowd was dressed to impress in over the top costumes.  “What if you didn’t have a costume?”, NO WORRIES!  Not only was there a black metal face painting booth, but also a kissing booth, and costume and booty shaking contests.

The first band up was Heaven who made their debut at the Halloween Babylon.  With popular DJ/ Illustrator/ Producer Franki Chan on drums- this band definitely set the mood with their moody and groovy tunes.  Next came up was the quick booty shaking contest; with people nervous to go on stage at first, the contest quickly turned into a full on twerk party on stage.  Afterwards the crowd quickly got over excited to see Hunx of Hunx and his Punx perform as GAYRACULA.  He started his set off with his new hit single “I Vant to Suck Your Cock” which had everyone screaming, dancing, and singing along with joy. The rest of the set was electric with Hunx classics and a few covers.  Finally came Bleached; who really charged everyone up with Misfits and Ramones covers (with vocal support from Blaque Chris), as well as two songs of their own to end the show.  When Bleached goes on; all hell breaks loose.  Instantly the Echo crowd broke into mosh pits, and crowd surfers dove from the stage; a full on punk Halloween dance party.  As everyone exited the Echo after Bleached, all that was seen were worn out partiers with sweaty face paint and torn costumes; visible that it was the perfect way to celebrate Halloween.

(click on pic to open viewer)