Friday, January 30, 2015

Echo Courts - "Ice Cream Social" Melts In Your Mouth- Captivating Stories in Contrasting Styles

Echo Court's sound is steeped in such an embraced romance that they feel more like eruptions of emotions than well crafted songs. The deep well of feelings comes through in the cadence of the lyrics that stand alone as beautiful poems. As you listen to their latest work "Ice Cream Social" there is a decidedly tonal shift between the swaying cool indie rock of songs like I've Been Down, Transient Pleasures and Mary and the more tattered and torn reveal of Fast Ellie, Pistol and Candy Nova. This partition of styles and attitude does not hinder the impact of this collection of songs. It, instead, give it a wonderful contrast, a push and pull, a dark and light (or less dark) due to the split singing and lyrical duties of Kelly Fahey and Jacob Dardin. Kelly tells his stories on the first three songs I refer to and Jacob on the last three.

In I've Been Down (for example) Kelly's vocal delivery feels like a man deep in thought but with muted emotions (at least on the outside). When he sings, "I know I'm wrong but by now your so far gone... I can't picture you holding the hand of someone new...What should I do?" the feeling is hurt but cool. Stay cool as to not show the pain. The music is bright and sparkly but cool too. In this way, Kelly's triad of songs has deep down inside that "Smiths" thing happening in some small way.. the cold proper Morrissey thing deep down somewhere, not in the sound at all but in attitude. In fact, Kelly's vocal attack soars in a wonderful way.  The progression and stirring musical chaos at the end of the song is dreamy. Kelly's songs have as much a current indie sound as that 60's influenced early 80's Brit Pop / post punk sound. This is no more apparent in Mary that jams with that "Mersey beat" feel.

In contrast, Jacob's tone as on the evocative Fast Ellie feels like earnest Americana Folk with an almost 50's sock hop torture ballad tone stirred in. Emotions are stripped bare and laid out on the table with it's fair share of stoic barbs as he sings, "She takes pride in her tracking skills...She likes the hunt.... And baby Jesus gave you good looks but tonight that's not enough." For me, it is instantly captivating. The blunt nature of the storytelling, the music swelling with pure melodrama and desire culminates into a cinematic climax. In a similar, but more vast way, Pistol has dynamic dashes of hope (false and otherwise), "All those secrets that you keep... your mouth is a faucet... it's empty, it leaks." There is a lost in a carnival feel. Jacob's songs have a touch of Springsteen and a heavier touch of Father John Misty (whom I love).

I have focused so much on the two singers / storytellers and failed to mention the stellar musicianship by all as well as the production flourishes. It all works utterly and completely. I can listen to "Ice Cream Social" on repeat a dozen times and feel more each and every time in the nuanced performances. The funny thing is that each time the stories get bigger too.
Robb Donker

Gilded Brute - Byzantium Hounds Serves up Purest Rock- Drink the Kool-Aid

I reported on Gilded Brute aka Johnny Falx in early January. His bedroom recordings found their way to my ears and I felt in love with his sonic oasis. It was a smattering of is songs, nothing more but his blend of almost arena rock prowess demanded a more focused approach. Thankfully he has culled 9 songs into an album entitled "Byzantium Hounds." 

Whether it is the fuzzy half step romance of If You'll Remember Me, the dissonant head banging of Thus Spoke The Coward or the progressive glammy rock of Sun Invincible he has single-handedly created songs that trade pretense for pure rock. Chainsaw Smile feels as much like gothic rock as it does dreamy noise post punk rock. I thought of Thurston Moore's current incarnation Chelsea Light Moving while losing myself in this track's the dense guitar sound. And when it comes to Gilded Brute, dense guitars is the name of the game. 

Don't underestimate the sheer power of rock, of walls of guitars so loud that the sonic assault strips away all your pain, mounting bills, jaded love affairs, brow beating bosses until all that remains is rock heaven and you are the God with the golden guitar pic. Somewhere in Greece, Falx holds sway over his own rock dominion and he is the total creator. It can feel totally retro. When he sings "Flames, flames in the sky" in Flames in The Sky (of course) if you have not given yourself up to Falx's world, if you have not swallowed the Kool-Aid the tone could be considered somewhat kitschy in that Sam Flax vein and I don't mean that in any dismissive way. Flax's take on modern music like his 80's drenched Fire Doesn't Burn Itself is addictive. So much so it graces the Grand Theft Auto Soundtrack. Gilded Brute / Johnny Falx's music in a similar way feels purest retro. Both artists don't play it campy, they keep it real and at least in Falx's case the songs hold emotional weight. 

Apart from the throw back aspect, the tone feels as much like retro rock as it feels current as this sound is being reinvented by the indie world everyday. The thick guitar rock and busy bass lines coupled with a thrashing walls of intense sound makes me think of Be Bop Deluxe, Dinosaur Jr, My Bloody Valentine and Diarrhea Planet blended into one. Rock on Johnny Falx aka Gilded Brute. The future looks bright.
Robb Donker

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Bacon Fudge's Self Titled Album On Yippee Ki Yay Records - RAW - UNPROCESSED - NON CONTAMINATED GARAGE PUNK

Bacon Fudge churn out dirty blasting punk that fully encases you. The sound feels cavernous like you are in a hot sweaty brick building moshing away. The boot stomp of Low Run with double timed chunky ass bass barrels over you. Jay Birds still flails away wildly but seems more dancy like a more punkier White Fence. The lo-fi garage rock of Freeze with it's Black Sabbath-esque prog screams embryonic punk even down to the cymbals that sound like they may of been pulled out of the trash. Falling Down is equally (sonically) rough around the edges in the very best way.  It feels like the Kinks after a 5 day drug binge.

It Turns Slow feels like a 60's rock memory put through a Ramone-ish meets the Dead Kennedys filter. Charlie leans heavily in the Brit Punk arena. The fury on Oh My Mind which pulls the DNA from too many old school punks to mention is a train running off it's track. Perched smack dab in the middle of this maelstrom is Breathe which is surprisingly whimsical and twisted. It sounds like a drug infused lost track from some imaginary album made by a time machine transported Ty Segall and The Beatles.

Bacon Fudge's garage punk feels so raw that it feels pure, non contaminated, unprocessed, uncensored and about as real as you can get. Oh, and did I mention that Ben, Thomas and Willy are French? Yeah, this is Parisian Punk folks.

Yippee Ki Yay Records out of San Antonio, Texas kind of curated tracks from the bands past EP over the last couple of years and released the self titled cassette back in June of last year. It is worth hearing and supporting.
Robb Donker

Monday, January 26, 2015

Forth Wanderers : Debut "Tough Love" Is Easy to Fall In Love With

"Tough Love" the debut full length album from Montclair, New Jersey's Forth Wanderers is a delicious record. When you listen to a lot of new indie music like I do, it is easy to not only become jaded but also to become really hungry for some sonic fulfillment that makes your creative soul feel satiated. Ben Guteri's guitar progressions (with those great vacant style picking that rely as much on the space between the notes than the notes themselves) are so rock lush and thick while still full of great nuanced playing. The progressions contain those half step surprises too which lends itself to Ava Trilling's lovely vocal melodies and lyrics that sometimes explore the caustic or sad parts of relationships. Trilling's voice navigates the songs with a kind of sad tone underneath. Her vocal style / delivery is sometimes tinged (and sometimes drenched) in an almost monotone styled apathy which only amps up the ennui. In this way, I thought a bit of Alice Costelloe but Forth Wanderers is no Big Deal. Guteri's music filled to the brim with tasty bass bottom fills courtesy of Noah Schifrin, Duke Greene's skilled guitar work and Zach Lorelli's excellent drum take. The musicality here is really dense with every stair stepping guitar lick twisting into a double time thing or sudden break only to have the songs flirt with different time signatures. This wonderful dynamism is wonderfully rendered in the title track "Tough Love".

Trilling's sad vocal delivery and melodies that can push phrases out is the perfect contraposition for all the musical plushness. Even on a song like Sleeper that has a more mellow feel and falls way to only 2 or 3 elements at a time in spots get really dense. The guitars work beautifully off each other, one pearly and spot on and the other straining into this lovely dissonance all supporting equally wonderful vocals. Selfish takes harmonics and falling thick bass lines into this dreamy tight fisted declaration song and Trilling's vocals shine once more.

Song's like Painting of Blue and Come Clean in some indefinable way feel like they have sprung from grungey rock remnants. Dinosaur Jr and Speedy Ortiz flashed in my mind. Blondes Have More Fun chases itself. It is a very cool jammy track that gives away to an almost Cranberries-esque soar. In the track Fuck, Trilling vacillates between clear defiance in her voice to an "oh well" acceptance while the song kind of shuffles merrily along.

"Tough Love" is an easy album to fall in love with. Strong emotional songs with proggy post rock tendencies, airy melodies and dynamics galore makes for a tightly wrapped indie rock package topped off with a small nihilistic punk bow. New Jersey has always been a fertile breeding ground for diverse music and Forth Wanderers may be it's latest great spawn.
Robb Donker

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Melted's "25 Years" Makes My Brain Happy- from upcoming Burger Records Release

The first time I heard Melted was last year and it was live. While I didn't say it, I remember thinking "Holy Fuck" because the happy synapses in my brain were firing like safe and sane fireworks that were MacGyver-ed into the "don't blow your fingers off" kind. Besides the pure punk sound that is instantly addictive, they put on a live show deserving of their songs that are full of jagged guitar lines and full thrust drum and bass anarchistic punk attacks in that Vandals / Circle Jerks vein tempered with the cynical (even semi humorous) vocal slap of a band like the Dickies. But comparisons thrown aside they are their own  cool thing, standing on formidable punk leather clad shoulders yes but feeling fresh and new and alive.

Burger Records in all their indie wisdom will release Melted on cassette and while I cannot wait to hear it, you and I can (at least) hear the single called "25 Years" and it begs to be replayed over and over again. Those happy synapses in my brain are screaming "Holy Fuckity Fuck" all over again!
Robb Donker

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

New Track - "Vale" by Ploy - Electronic Duo Makes a Dreamy Synth Bed

Ploy (Gil Wojcik and Justin Victoria) is an electronic duo based out of Washington DC. Their spanking brand new dreamy track Vale bathes your brain in cool blue synths but maybe the single thing that shines the most are the smooth vocals that hook you in right away. Performed with a sultry cadence that blends r and b and hip hop styles, the vibe goes down super easy and by the time the track is over you want to hear it again.
Robb Donker

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Christian Lee Hutson - They're All Gonna Hate Me "Official Video" - "swelling with pearly guitars and Christian's beautiful sad vocals"

Yeah, those scarily "too happy" people that float out there in the world tell you to not wallow in your sadness and who could disagree with that. I certainly don't but at those times when the universe takes a little dump on your life it is good, healthy even to feel it, express it in your art, emotionally digest it, learn from it and move on. A lot of the best art, sonic or otherwise, comes from pain. Christian Lee Hutson artfully exercises his demons like no other. His music (sometimes a sad reflection in a smudged mirror) is so artfully wrought that it pushes alll the right emotional buttons. It doesn't hurt that he has a voice sanded rough with so much character and feeling. The more I hear his music the more I want to have a beer with the guy and offer him a thankful pat on the back for his utterly cool, great songs.

They're All Gonna Hate Me from the onset is swelling with pearly guitars and Christian's beautiful sad vocals. The stair stepping guitar line sounds comfortably 1990's Radioheadesque. The percussive touches that sound like something being dragged on rocks is pretty (rustically so) as are the distant voices. Amazing production. Love the hell out of this song.

Hutson's album "Yeah, Okay I know" is available on his bandcamp page here full of equally engaging songs. Check it out and if you love it as I do, purchase it and support and love great music.


Robb Donker

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Enjoy - "Punk Planet" on Chud - If These Were Twisted TV Theme Songs I would Want to See Those Shows

As The Garden, twin brothers Wyatt and Fletcher Shears churn out a unique brand of art punk. To hear them puts a huge smile on my face and raises an eyebrow but to see them live is a totally adrenaline filled, joyous experience. As headliners I feel an anticipatory buzz deep in my veins well before they hit the stage. As part of an indie festival they are surely desert, the ultimate sugar high. Their sonic ice cream is a blend of sounds that (to me) feels rooted in late 70's early 80's proto punk. It is a collision of subversive flavors folded in on itself made up of prog, punk, art rock, industrial fusion with a funk chaser. Throw in influential artists like Material, ESG, Joy Division, Devo, The Normal and push liquefy.

Fletcher and Wyatt like the creative offspring they are have too much creativity to contain into on artistic outfit. Fletcher paints new synth sounds as PUZZLE and CHUD Records has just released Wyatt's incarnation as Enjoy on cassette. The result is a 10 track album entitled Punk Planet. It is available on pre-order at

So, you may wonder (?) what does Enjoy sound like?? As with any good music worth hearing it is not all that easy to describe and that is a great thing for people like me who like unusual sounds. Part of that Garden feel (in terms of fusing so many proto-punk sounds) is still there but Wyatt tempers the sound down with 80's pop and tropical punk sprinkles. Even though Enjoy sounds nothing like The Drums or Roxy Music or Abe Vigoda or Haircut 100  they flashed in my mind but then so did Sponge Bob Square Pants, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Fred Astaire. I guess it is because the head bopping tone can feel almost like twisted TV theme songs and if they were I would definitely want to see those shows.

On tracks like Bittersweet, Your Company and The Relaxer,  musical melodies dart, stop, slow down, rush from one point to another while Wyatt's vocals playing the affable party host. The result is a hyper sense of reality. Everything feels artfully skewed. The musicality is solid, it is proggy while playing with funk, post disco and tropical punk sounds. The Walk is cagey and funky sweet (I thought funky Talking Heads for a split second or their off shoot The Tom Tom Club). The punk funk Real Struggles playfully pushes the tempo shifts to the extreme. California & Texas flows from a new waves Drums-ish sound to a travel commercial. Punk Planet is appropriately dancy and spacey. Cool track full of wah, wahs and a super tight drum break.

Maybe the signature track,  I've Got The World In My Pocket, feels the most like The Garden if the Garden was pushed through a sitcom strainer. Even though it is hard to discern if the song's tone is true or ironic it is the ultimate punk party song and at slightly over two minutes long feels like a super charged life affirming vitamin pill.

In the end, Punk Planet hooks you in with seemingly free form fun catchy tunes that after repeated listens keep you around for the twisted atmosphere and solid musicality. Add this release to your sonic collection and you will cherish it.
Robb Donker

The Garden

Wyatt and Fletcher Shears

Friday, January 16, 2015

FIDLAR- "If It Makes You Happy" (Cheryl Crow Cover) - Might Be the Best Cover Ever Created - Pet Sounds Meets Marilyn Manson

Covers, especially of popular or iconic songs can be a tricky thing. Do it too well and you are just essentially a cover band but reinvent it and you are an artist. In the pantheon of artistic reinterpretations of popular songs, FIDLAR's take on Cheryl Crow's 1996 Smash "If It Makes You Happy" is easily one of the best covers every recorded. For one thing it starts deceptively sweet, so sweet, in fact that you wonder if this is even FIDLAR at all. I mean is that really Zach softly cooing the verses or is it Max, Brandon?? The whispy echoes and the upfront pearly guitars feel dreamy as Hell.

Of course, this is FIDLAR and Hell is the operative word as the switch is flipped on the chorus and the dream becomes heavy and caustic. Twisted, yes, but still back behind the fray there lies a dreamy underbelly of really nice tones that shift back into the sweetness. The dissonant guitar is brilliant. The result feels schizophrenic. The most pop of pop songs turns into Pet Sounds meets Marilyn Manson. Fucking brilliant Fidlar. This will go down in musical history as one of the best covers ever created.

Robb Donker

words to live by:

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Madam West - "Not Pictured" EP - A Trippy Love Affair

Home from Madam West's EP "Not Pictured" is a trippy love affair of a song. Wrapped around a ukulele and Todd Martino's wonderfully subtle dreamy keys, Mike McDearmon's drums (jammy and perfectly disjointed at times) propel the song and mirror the colors in Sophie Chernin's vocal performance like a mood ring. I have never seen Madam West perform live but I imagine that Chernin sings with her eyes closed feeling every nuanced emotion of the song she is emoting. Smoothly delivered, she moves from coos to wails in a jazzy meets soul sort of way with tinges of psychedelia that can veer into dissonance as she does in The End. Coupled with the keys that navigate into that 7th chord realm as well gives The End a funky retro feel. The downbeats and drug haze falling keys feel to me like late 70's East Coast proto-punk.

The full charge funky assault of Darlin is so damn happy. It is a pure declaration type of a song with thick keys blending jazz flavors with an indie rock heart. The soulful dour tone of October is absolutely beautiful and moving. Chernin's vocals are stripped down bare. Intimate and real. The drums and keys fall into place with full emotion and the spartan arrangement thankfully leaves space for all three performers to shine. Totally lovely track.

Madam West is based out of Brooklyn, New York and playfully describe their music as psyche-soul gaze / misanthropic pop: wistful compositions with several synths, some totally legal software, potted plants, a ukulele, a drum set and a couple of guitars. They are all that and more. I love the free form tones. The jazz and soul flavors. Lots of colors here to revel in.
Robb Donker

BØRNS “10,000 Emerald Pools” PREMIERES ON VEVO

“10,000 Emerald Pools” is featured on BØRNS’ debut EP Candy which is available now on Interscope Records. 

“The entire Candy EP is a fluffy, sharply constructed debut that turns influences by groups like Passion Pit and MGMT into a poptimistic burst of color. –, Five Artists To Watch Jan. 2015

“a genre-mashing work that simply hits all the right notes.” – Hilly Dilly

“A debut single that’s love at first listen and then some...“10,000 Emerald Pools”...soaks up the cosmic rays of a thousand suns and channels [them] into a solar-powered summer anthem for any season.” – Neon Gold

BØRNS will join MisterWives on tour next month

Feb 26 Philadelphia, PA  Union Transfer
Feb 27 Pittsburgh, PA  Club AE
Feb  28  Columbus, OH  Newport Music Hall
Mar 1   Detroit, MI  The Shelter
Mar 3   Chicago, IL  Lincoln Hall – SOLD OUT
Mar 4  Madison, WI  High Noon Saloon
Mar 6  Minneapolis, MN  Triple Rock Social Club
Mar 7  Kansas City, MO  Record Bar – SOLD OUT
Mar 9  Denver, CO  Bluebird Theater
Mar 10  Salt Lake City, UT  Kilby Court
Mar 12  San Francisco, CA  The Independent – SOLD OUT
Mar 13  West Hollywood, CA  The Troubadour –SOLD OUT
Mar 14  Santa Ana, CA  The Observatory- SOLD OUT
Mar 21 Dallas, TX  House of Blues – Cambridge Room
Mar 22  Houston, TX  Fitzgerald’s
Mar 24  Nashville, TN  The High Watt
Mar 25  Atlanta, GA  The Loft
Mar 27  Washington DC  U Street Music Hall –SOLD OUT
Mar 28 Washington DC  U Street Music Hall
Mar 31  New York, NY  Bowery Ballroom – SOLD OUT
Apr 1  Boston, MA  Paradise Rock Club 

# # #

Monday, January 12, 2015

Rain, Rain Go Away- Hear "Boots Dry" by Tommy Santee Klaws from 'Into The Brine"

I am currently in Flowery Branch, Georgia and it has been raining a lot lately. Besides the leaky soft top on my 92 Miata I have been trying to keep dry myself. Good to keep your boots dry as well so this song by the always engaging, emotionally stirring Tommy Santee Klaws from the "Into The Brine" album seems appropriate. Check out "Boots Dry" and the rest of this collection of sonic art pieces.
Robb Donker

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Taste Sir Kn8’s Quantum Physics- the flavor is an intersection of physics and philosophy

photo by Michael Busse

Taste Sir Kn8’s Quantum Physics
the flavor is an intersection of physics and philosophy
by Marissa Mireles

The Avocado is a delicious fruit that has many vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids that make your skin healthy, elastic, and shiny. The avocado grows in beautiful places and in general is a pretty beautiful fruit. This fun, filling, and tasty Earth creation will be extinct in the next fifty years, or less, it is truly dependent on how much we deplete the ozone layer in the next fifteen years. The Avocado is also, probably in more importance (due to the fact that maybe we can just save the seeds and grow more later) is Sir Kn8’s new single.

Who is Sir Kn8? What does the 8 mean? Well, firstly, just as his name implies, Sir Kn8 is a gentleman of the Universe’s court. He is a handsome and daring Word Wizard, much like little King Arthur but better, of course, for he not only rides into the night to protect our gentle souls by performing educational tech-sex sets at dives (see Sir Kn8 perform and you will understand the definition of tech-sex) but also jumps on his electric steed in the day and brings back the Grecian idea of a teacher, like a musical rendition of Plato or Socrates. he is a prolific speaker inciting the youth to learn things they usually would not give a fuck about if it were not for his blessed delivery and inspiring ability to wrap words together like a balloon animal. And I think the 8 stands for infinity, for energy is never lost only transferred.

The beginning of “The Avocado” is like a dream. A sunny day with birds singing and clouds hanging lazily in the sky barely swimming an inch in the horizon. It reminds me a little of Slim Shady but happier, positive, and educational. It is probably only the fact that Sir Kn8 is so great at saying a lot in a short period of time and using conversational rhythmic vocal patterns throughout so you feel he is talking to you. I think I will need another month to listen to this song to hear all the varying words, analogies, symbolism, and musical elements that are present in the song before I will know everything and then reach Nirvana. According to Sir Kn8 it is about “the ten "Categories" of Classical logic -- an examination of the ten things you can say about that fruit”. “Yes Please” is the B side and is a more raw, electric, zingy song. A little quippy and found to use more gripping vernacular, it is very passionate and reminds me of what a trip on mushrooms would be like with Willy Wonka and Einstein where they are arguing the need for G force on a subterranean island.

According to Sir Kn8’s bio, the past few years he has performed frequently in Brooklyn and the NY area (Silent Barn, Paper Box, Radio Bushwick, Muchmores, Brooklyn Wildlife Summer Festival 2014, to name a few), often in collaboration with fellow Show and Smell member Slop Wop as Slop Wop & Sir KN8, receiving enthusiastic write-ups from Brooklyn-based blogs (1.21 Gigiwatts, Pretext Social Club, Dingus) for their curious interweave of intricate rap, catchy melody and acrobatic beats, driven by drum machines and analog synth. In this capacity Sir KN8 has shared stages with the likes of Hemlock Ernst (Samuel Herring of Future Islands) and Mike Busse (formerly of Chronic Future and Future Lords.)

In a conversation with Sir KN8 on his musical approach, he said “In general, among my chief interests with this analogue is how it can be understood analytically (in scholarship) but also creatively (in performance), as you might imagine.” To hear this from an American rapper is ironically music to my ears. I do not think anyone else is like Sir Kn8 at all and anyone who enjoys good, fun, exciting, educational music need not look further than finding a Sir KN8 show or buying a single of bandcamp and letting the rest run its natural course. Last year his video "Makin' Bread", a recipe rap for a rustic Italian loaf, was an official selection at the Silver Sound Music Video Film Festival and Band Battle, and received the distinction "Most Instructional." He is one of the children that survived and is living within his human creativity to express really cool theories and I am sure there is much more to come.

Hear the first two singles here:

The rest of the album will be available Mid Jan 2015.

Upcoming Shows:

1/18 Quantum Electro Flavor Dynamics Record Release Show @ Nola, Darling (Chelsea, Manhattan)

1/23 @ The Cat Farm (Bushwick, Brooklyn)

"Hollywood" by Drug Cabin (On JAM IN THE VAN)- "feels like tight leather pants walking down Sunset Blvd"

I was first introduced to Drug Cabin when I saw them live and shot video of them performing "The One I Love" at an FYF show in Pomona, California. After that I reviewed their self titled album starting off the piece like this:

Drug Cabin's self titled album is brimming with folkish dreamy indie pop songs that embrace you with beautiful melodies laced with a full range of emotions, all that connect with you. Much of this connection hinges on Nathan Thelen's (Pretty Girls Make Graves and Moonrats) superb songwriting and vocal performances that are as laid back as they are earnest. 

Those words are still true as I watched the 3 songs Drug Cabin perfectly perform on Jam In The Van recently in Torrance, California except the songs feel a whole lot less folkish. They cut some deep grooves that blends rock and even funk vibes.

In the track "Hollywood" there is something within the melodies and sultry tones that feels very much like 1976. In a flash I thought of "Breakdown" by Tom Petty for some reason. Is it the Fender Rhodes sound of the keys or the atmosphere that feels like tight leather pants walking down Sunset Blvd? Whatever it is, in my mind, it is delicious. A sonic Polaroid casting imagery of days past. This song would feel at home in a period piece like Inherent Vice or hopefully some future piece of cinema. Love the sound. Check it out as well as the other songs that the always amazing Jam In The Van features and if you feel like it, check out the video I shot way back when.

Have a lovely day-
Robb Donker

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Power of Rock - Gilded Brute - "If You'll Remember Me" - "Thus Spoke The Coward" - "Sun Invincible"

Don't underestimate the sheer power of rock, of walls of guitars so loud that the sonic assault strips away all your pain, mounting bills, jaded love affairs, brow beating bosses until all that remains is rock heaven and you are the God with the golden guitar pic. Somewhere in Greece, Falx aka Gilded Brute holds sway over his rock dominion and he is the total creator. Whether it is the fuzzy half step romance of "If You'll Remember Me", the dissonant head banging "Thus Spoke The Coward" or the progressive glammy rock of "Sun Invincible" he has single-handedly created songs that trade pretense for pure rock.

I truly hope these "bedroom" recordings (I use the term loosely) find their way to a Bandcamp page, are culled into album form and find a wider audience. Sonically the tone feels as much like retro rock as current as this sound is being reinvented by the indie world. The thick guitar rock and busy bass lines coupled with a thrashing walls of intense sound makes me think of Be Bop Deluxe, Dinosaur Jr, My Bloody Valentine and Diarrhea Planet blended into one (with Tzatziki sauce of course).

Check out the Gilded Brute Soundcloud page (for more songs). If you are an independent label, you better sign him quickly. If you are a rock music fan and his flavor appeals to you, let him know.

Robb Donker

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Grinning Ghosts - "Yesterday Tomorrow" - Punk for the Millennials - Post Grad Debt and that Deviant Penis (?)

Over the last few years, writers have referred to the "millennials" as the lost generation. I think that is utter bullshit but this generation (born between 1982 - 2004) have been talked about a whole lot usually by baby boomers who really don't have anything really definitive to say about them except that the gen X'ers (or is it Y'ers) will nomadically move from job to job (and maybe person to person), are more liberal in terms of gender roles and will incur unprecedented amounts of post college debt.

Apart from the fact that people make way too many generalizations about all groups, as I listened to The Grinning Ghosts latest 15 track album entitled "Yesterday Tomorrow" I, too, thought about this generation as the songs contained therein feel like perfect milennial punk. Peppered in the songs are references to some of those aforementioned gen X hallmarks.

A while back I reviewed GG's Demo EP and thankfully those 4 songs are on this collection including my previous fav Duller Than Death. About that track I referenced early Kinks and I can hear that tone / influence on other wonderful tracks like Save Me From My Twenties, Summers Calling Sue, and Rum Dumb Diddely Doo. The first track Pictures of A Parking Lot set the tone for the rest of the album. Bridled with a Japandroids type of energy the song is indie punk with a folk heart. There is true poetry in the story telling and a sense of sad youthful romance in the lyrics. The whole album in total looks at dark night stars and longs for questions. The mid-temp sock hop punk of Have a Fun Day and flat footed power punk of Joan's Already Dead at once celebrates punk's forever misanthropic youth but pisses on that old cliche as well.

All these songs, some more than others, engage you musically and lyrically but there are two songs that elevate this collection. Losers For Free is the perfect anthem for today's youth. It is a smart diatribe on all those who are or know they will be drowning in a putrid sea of post Grad debt with a head full of smarts that may not help them find a job. Laced with humor and scads of references to philosophers and historical dates of note, Losers For Free seems to tear down your parents conventions (any parents conventions). The chorus is catchy in a Ramones sort of way and you WILL be singing along.  The second stand out song (among many) is Ecstatic Turnescence. Interestingly peppered with humor for the literate, it is thinking man's punk. It is also (most likely) the only song referencing phallometry.

Yeah, I change my mind. Maybe the millennial generation really is lost after all. It doesn't matter we all are from time to time but at least they have The Grinning Ghosts to show them the way out.

Robb Donker

Friday, January 2, 2015

"Monster" by Christian Lee Hutson - An American Tragedy

Monster the final track from Christian Lee Hutson's latest album "Yeah Okay, I know" feels like an American tragedy. It's breathtakingly sad tone and depressive underbelly is part melodrama and part so crushingly real that it made me want to wrap myself up in a warm blanket and coddle myself in a fetal position on the couch. I have a thing for sadly moving music and Monster is just that times 2 and that oddly enough makes me happy.

The production, some nuanced and some quite dynamic is artfully done and bolsters the emotional impact. At the onset, Christian's vocals veer off center and sound canned a bit. The effect is detached as if the recording is old or the emotionally muted words are from a distant (past) phone call. When the tone shifts effortlessly to his crystal clear voice it feels so goddamn intimate. Enter the evocative vocals of Lizzie Eggert on the second verse (and chorus) and the song shifts to a dysfunctional relationship, of two "monsters" sharing their bed so to speak. As this intimate, tortured song erupts into full blown dramatics (or hysteria) it only sounds more beautifully sad. A truly lovely, unique and, yes, sad introduction to Hutson's work. Now that I have heard this stirring piece of work I look forward to hearing the rest of the album.
Robb Donker

AP Review: "No Man Is An Island" by Canyons - A Moody Monster

Canyon's current 5 track album "No Man Is An Island" is a moody monster. Apart from Cotillion that has smiles in it's modified indie meets Soca rhythms, sonically the album feel tumultuous and introspective. You cannot listen to the alternative post rock of Lapse without wondering what the back story is. With the cadence of a beaten man walking back into the fight the song builds on top of itself in a whirling fury of keys, guitars, forlorn vocals and frenetic drums.

On Double Exposure vocals are shared by keyboardist Maegen Chaplin and frontman guitarist / vocalist Jeremy Leasure. Heavy bass lines and in your face harmonics punctuate a free form sound full of dramatic downbeats. The fury here is more subdued but it is still there wrapped in some rather pretty vocal melodies. The ending musical passage feels alive and spirited like lovers running away together. The tonal shift works beautifully.

The biggest surprise on the album is Do As You'd Be Done By. As it starts with an almost Thom Yorkish keyboard tone, it give way to a lush sweeping feel that possesses the operatic (glam tinged) dream theater of Queens of the Stone Age (or Muse even) all the while feeling like Canyons. I love the emotional edge brought out by the music and Jeremy's vocal wails that feel like the torn broken emotional stuff that life is made of. Interestingly the last track, Human Pyramid, feels completely at home after Do As You'd Be Done By. It feels like the opera's final climax. Served well with Maegen and Jeremy sharing vocals again, it is big, emotionally wrought and spent. These last two songs as a single pairing together is sonic heaven.

Robb Donker

For a limited time "No Man Is An Island" can be downloaded for free

Thursday, January 1, 2015

"Notions" by Prins Obi Sticks the Sounds of "Escape From New York"- "Ziggy Stardust" - "Saturday Night Fever" - "The Point" through a Musical Blender

"Notions" is the first solo full length by Prins Obi (from the psychodelic rock outfit Baby Guru) and the result is a trippy engaging affair. Prins creates a dream theater of sorts from songs and concepts that have been percolating in his fertile musical brain for 10 years.

The 11 tracks here are something to behold. When I listen to a collection of songs in total, my hope is that the entirety of the sound (in the least) takes me on some sort of journey and (at the most) inspires ideas. "Notions" succeeds in doing both. I can tell you that it is best to listen to this album when you are in a non jaded kind of dreamy head space. Best to listen when you have a little time to breathe.

The songs themselves contain sounds that at first listen can feel sort of cheesy. I mean the synth drone on a few songs feel right out of the John Carpenter soundtracks for "Escape to New York" and "Halloween" but as counterpointed by Prins oftentimes lush and forlorn vocals it all works. As an album it almost feels like if you took Sci-Fi electronic rock ala Georgio Moroder meets Blade Runner and threw in Bowie art rock ala Ziggy Stardust and Nilsson (Sountrack from the Point) and mashed it all up. Bringing up more modern artists, it feels a bit like Foxygen meets Gap Dream but not. It is a bit cheeky and charming and ultimately pretty moving in a dreamy way.

The track The Warmest Colour (for example) has an almost "Saturday Night Fever" soundtrack warm up that gives away to a sweet pop song sprinkled with glam. The chorus transports you to such a lovely place.
Weekend Lovers also seduces you with it's simply pure tone that conjures up the space theater of Bowie. Robot love and hate inhabit the title track Notions. Total fun. Larry The King brings to mind "Devil's Haircut" by Beck. Prins as a storyteller is vague and poetic and I like that. In Couples which feels a bit like The Kinks (in an alternate universe). The Fender Rhodes key sound feels like a warm hug. The song warms up and warms up some more pulling you closer to the campfire.

Key to many of these songs are the earnest approach to the material. One of the most sincere tracks is Idolize You even though it's heartbeat feels like it comes from a Casio keyboard. This only lends to the sweetness. Prins wisely keeps the vocals stripped down with not a lot of production. Love this song. The most jammy track is Naked Dancers Union that jams and shifts between time signatures and tones from funky down beats to a glam ballad.

"Notions" in the end is a little mind blower of an album. It is a luscious chocolate Sundae sprinkled with peanuts and hallucinogens on a hot, humid summer day.

Robb Donker