Sunday, February 22, 2015

Violent Mae - Bootleg Video for "Long Hard Wait" - Rated Mature - Beautiful, Dark Dreams

From the moment the down trodden beats and forlorn guitar strains seep into your senses, Violent Mae's "Long Hard Wait" sets a beautifully sad atmosphere and then (through this fog) Becky Kessler's sultry broken vocal performance give you a cold chill. Her tone is closed eyed intimacy and lost chances but when Floyd Kellogg's drum beat starts you feel a single ember of hope start to glow. From there the song's progression glides into surprising places, pretty sparkles of guitar work that feel all id and dreamy, emotionally and musically spontaneous. Set against the slow motion dark comedic surrealism of Vincent Gallo's 1998 indie film Buffalo 66, the song twists even darker.

"Long Hard Wait" is from Violent Mae's self titled debut album that is being reissued by The Telegraph Recording Company. The duo based out of Hartford, Connecticut plans on releasing their second album this year.

Rated Mature for Sexual Themes and Violence.
Experience before the lawyers catch wind.
Robb Donker

VIOLENT MAE (Becky Kessler & Floyd Kellogg) was never intended to be a band. Becky asked Floyd to record and produce her first solo album, and as soon as they hit the studio, chemistry and dynamics between the two sparked the evolution of an artistic partnership. Their full-length debut record was released at the end of 2013. Becky, a songwriter, singer and guitar player, calls the Outer Banks of North Carolina home, where she finally settled as a teenager after moving every year or so, mostly around the Southeast U.S., to 11 different places. A few years ago, a friend invited her to live and work on an organic farm in Connecticut, where she soon met Floyd, a multi-instrumentalist, engineer and producer. The two began recording at Casa de Warrenton Studio in Hartford, expanding Becky’s songs with Floyd’s arrangements and parts. They ultimately formed VIOLENT MAE after making a record, playing all the instruments on it and being invited to perform one of their first live sets as the opening act for Nels Cline and Julian Lage. Paste recently listed VIOLENT MAE as one of 10 Connecticut bands you should listen to now. At the 2013 Connecticut Music Awards, VIOLENT MAE won Best New Band, and editors at The Deli Magazine named the duo one of New England’s Top Ten Emerging Artists. The band tours nationally more than ever, playing alongside acts such as Courtney Barnett, Jessica Lea Mayfield, Cymbals Eat Guitars and Marissa Nadler. VIOLENT MAE is reissuing their self-titled debut record with The Telegraph Record Company out of New London, Connecticut, including a full national college radio campaign through Never Better. Two new music videos for the songs “Long Hard Wait” and “Right Here” will accompany that campaign. In the meantime, the duo is working on completing their second full-length record, due for release later in 2015.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Regal Peaches - Self Titled EP is Beautiful (starring Hannibal Buress and Lemley the Polar Bear)

The Regal Peaches out of LA just released their self titled EP. To say that the tightly woven pop songs are ebullient is a massive understatement. They are jammy as hell, progressive in spots, quirky for sure, and non-pretentiously upbeat. Their is a wide eyed fun to them. They are part well crafted hyper activity and part Elks Club bar band after copious amounts of Yuenglings. The thing is this, some of the mild mannered zany slant has (to me) an almost sitcom theme song quality. Let me be clear, this is not necessarily a bad thing, in fact the songs are full of catchy melodies, emotionally large, dig their happy nails into you and beg repeated listening (I cannot stop listening to Beautiful).

So, instead of a traditional review. Let's imagine if each of these songs were sitcom theme songs. What would the sitcoms be.....?

1. "Blame It On The Weather" coming this fall on ABC stars Fred Armisen about a guy in Boston, Mass who wakes up to find that the ugly thrift store sweater has fused permanently to his body and hilarity ensues.

2. "Chicago Typewriter" on HBO. A zany comedy starring Jack White and Jack Black as two Chicago Suns sports writers in 1964.

3. "Shiny Suns" on FOX. A romantic comedy starring Naomi Watts as a 46 year old nuclear physicist who falls head over heals for 36 Justin Long who is a produce manager at the local Publix.

4. "Standing In Line" coming this fall on CBS. Drama about the trials and tribulations of the 70's rock band Standing In Line as they battle record companies and drug addiction starring Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, Chris Parnell and Luke Wilson as "fudge boy"-

5. "Beautiful" coming this fall on NBC. An inspiring, heartwarming story of the bipolar polar bear Lemley and his hilarious caretaker Stanley played by Hannibal Buress.

Robb Donker

Sunday, February 8, 2015

AP Review: We Are The West - "Regards" - Beautiful Scars

When you listen to the 3 intimately rendered folk songs on "Regards" by We Are The West you might be surprised to find out how they were crafted. Brett Hool and John Kibler recorded the songs live in Sebastopol, California away from home tucked in a small room keeping clear of the rain falling outside. When they listened to the recordings later they decided to call musicians of note, their friends, to contribute their artistry to the songs. And so they did with wonderful results.

When you listen to the title tracked Regards you can feel the earnest live touches. The guitar slides, buzzes and ambient noise (is that faint rain in the background?) all perfectly imperfect. What you also hear is such a heartfelt tender vocal performance that it pours directly into your heart. Thankfully, the after touches like Jesse Olsen Bay on pump organ and Beth on cymbals are so wonderfully placed. All the contributors put such a tender embrace on their performances and that is what makes them each special.

The Thin Red Line written by the duos close friend Michael Bush moves in unexpected ways, is truly lovely and maybe the most vast track of the three. The cadence has a vagabond heart, lyrics get dark and Dina Maccabee's emotional violin lines working off the vocal performance creates drama and tension. The opening track Hold On, at first, feels like a traditional Americana folk befitting of a porch concert and then skews into a darkly dreamy place with sad accordion played by Marie Abe. Elizabeth Goodfellow's background vox and percussion combined with the broken vocal performance turns the first simple folk song into something emotionally dissonant and complex.

Brett and John refer to this EP as an aural postcard and if you extend that analogy it makes you wonder from what emotional place it was sent (and why.)  It is at once so beautiful and moving but also so scarred and beautifully sad as the cold rain falling in the background.
Robb Donker

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Natalie McCool - "PINS" Cuts a Deep Indie Pop Groove

I wish I could dance. I can move about, spaz out when required but dance, not a lick. If I could dance I would want to do an amazing interpretive dance to Natalie McCool's track Pins from her forthcoming EP, recorded and produced with David Berger from the band Outfit. McCool's intimate vocal performance floats over electronic percussive sounds as her harmonies solidify the rhythm. The melodies entice movement from those who can dance and those who cannot. It pushes and pulls, gets small and big creating a deep dynamic groove.
Robb Donker

Charlie Cunningham - EP "Breather" drops March 9th and European Tour Dates

Charlie Cunningham's track Own Speed off the upcoming Breather EP starts off with a mournful acoustic guitar rhythm until it is slowly swallowed up by Cunningham's lush, dense vocal wash. The tone is broken and sad but deep in his voice there are seeds of hope that blossom as the song ebbs and flows into your soul.
Robb Donker

Taken from the forthcoming Breather EP, released on March 9th via in the UK in Europe.

Charlie Cunningham live:
12/02 – Mahogany Music Club @ Kings Head Member's Club, London
20/02 – Roundhouse, London (Roundhouse Rising)
24/02 – Theater der Wohngemeinschaft, Köln (SOLD OUT)
26/02 – Haldern Pop Bar, Rees
27/02 – Nochtspeicher, Hamburg (UPGRADED)
28/02 – Mehlhose, Erfurt
01/03 – Privatclub, Berlin
02/03 – Ampere, Munich
27/03 – Hall For Cornwall, Truro (w/ Stornoway)
05/09 – End Of The Road Festival, Dorset, UK

Butch Walker's - Afraid of Ghosts Album drops - Produced by Ryan Adams - Official Video for Bed On Fire

Butch Walker's new album, Afraid of Ghosts drops on Lojinx and as produced by Ryan Adams (with special guests Johnny Depp and Bob Mould) promises gritty reflections of love and death and everything in between. Check out the official video for Bed On Fire.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Drug Cabin - "California" Official Song of The Golden State (?)

The cool sonic wash of Drug Cabin's track California off their current album "Yard Work" is so lushly languid that it makes you feel like you are levitating. The ambling beat, pedal steel embrace and dream inducing vocals stir your brain into a soft chill wave, a contact high. You can't help but ease into it, close your eyes and think of LA backyard parties or clandestine beach fire pits at the Bolsa Chica cliffs. This should be the official song of the Golden State. Enjoy the love. Full review of Yard Work soon.
Robb Donker

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Melted- "Old Lady Avenue" (Official Music Video) is Pure Punk Fun

The Official Video for Melted's track Old Lady Avenue (and brought to you by Burger Records) finds the boys goofing around at your local Golf and Stuff and thrashing hard at a skate board shop. The arcade blitz, lazer tag and some serious golf chops all shot in a frenetic style that is matched by the punk ethos of the song with extra helpings of delicious noise stuck to it like cheese soaked nachos. How can you not love Melted?
Robb Donker

Monday, February 2, 2015

AP- Review: Passenger Peru - Light Places - Even Outshines Last Year's Debut - Free Stream / DNLD of "The Best Way To Drown"

When you hear the almost robotic over modulated harmonies, the kaleidoscope of industrial percussion and hand claps, lost radio signals and the layered oscillating chaos of House Squares on Passenger Peru's sophomore album "Light Places" it is a clear indication that you are not in Kansas anymore. In fact the tone on this vastly creative and beautifully askew album may suggest that you are in a parallel universe or maybe just in a particularly strange section of Brooklyn, that section located deep inside the brain grooves of Justin Stivers (vocals, guitar, bass, synth, drums, drum machines) and Justin Gonzales (vocals, guitar, synth, piano, samples). Passenger Peru's 2014 debut self titled album was clearly the best head trip of last year. A super inner fever dream of an album that traversed so many sounds from noise rock, post rock and more in an experimental way. It is one of those albums that leaves you grasping for descriptive straws. I recently described Memory Garden off that debut as Simon and Garfunkel pushed through a Flaming Lips/ Animal Collective / Modest Mouse filter. Sure, Passenger Peru's sound can be hard to describe but that is always the best kind of music (to me).

"Light Places" is equally as vast in tone but maybe takes even more chances, it is maybe more out of focus too but that is where the allure lies. A good marriage is hard to find and I can only surmise that Justin and Justin are the kind of musical couple who finish each other's sentences because the audacious creative curve balls thrown out on "Light Places" feel like they came out of one mind. On one hand it has a totally spacey nature like it is coming from an Alien planet but deep within the out of the world sounds, the robotic industrial beats you can feel a totally earth bound feel too. In the experimental psychedelic stew there are jazz flavors, funk and even Andalusian /Arabic tones sprinkled in as well.

Friends Don't Call deceptively builds slowly into a kind of beautiful anger. It is lush, thick and eventually explodes in an spacey anthemic way. The line: "the price that your worth will be deducted from birth" stands out in The Best Way To Drown, a kind of full charged rocker with a rebel streak. Like some of Muse's work it as a freedom fighter tone like it is hiding in dark places from an omnipresent enemy. The bass riffs, the walls of sound are delicious, the words a bit battle scarred, "here come the waves over the mountainside, wash me away, wash away all our lives."

There is something about Placeholder, maybe the downbeat of the keys or the ascending build up that made me think of the Beatles Yellow Submarine (that is if the acid drops went much to far) and faint touches of Radiohead's Ok Computer as well. One Time Daisy Fee feels like a drug hazy post punk song with a big wet kiss of glam all over it. Flashes of T.Rex and even Be Bop Deluxe stirred in my brain as I enjoyed it. It is a glorious happy mess of a song (in a good way) with whimsical musical breaks.

If all the songs on "Light Places" were movies then Break My Neck is it's play. There is a gallant over arching tone in the performance like a dramatic Freddy Mercury stance. Failing Art School starts with a clearing of the throat and falls head first into a beautiful counter-play of acoustic guitars. The cadence and melodies feel like medieval chamber music eventually falling further into a sort of sonic bedlam full of disjointed sounds and a sampled voice. Middle eastern melodies (to some degree) find their way in the other worldly Better Than The Movies. The appropriate entitled Impossible Mathematics introduce a free form tone in the experimental fog of this album. It moves from light to dark. It flirts with light jazz, funk and heavy metal progs. It shifts it's shape and to me it sounds like it might of been written on the fly. Nothing wrong with that if that is the case. The more straight forward arena noise rock tone of Crimson Area Rug (dare I say) feels a tiny bit out of place on this album only because it is much less musically askew than the rest. On Company Time is so lovely and forlorn and would feel so perfect in an equally complexly sad Wes Anderson movie.

"Light Places" by Passenger Peru is too good, too unique, to cast more comparisons it's way. All you really need to know is that it sounds like one of those albums that the old school major labels would not release. Those types of albums are some of my favorite kinds and I cherish them. The last song is a short spartan ending credit called Pretty Lil' Paintin'. Coiled up in the pretty strumming is broken heart wincing anger and self loathing. At first is feels like an odd little track because of it's dour nature and placement but it ends up being one of the albums bright spots because it ends just as it is building and, in so doing, leaves you wanting more. A lot more.You yearn to hear the rest of the song, the rest of the torrid story. Hmmm??? Maybe on album number three.
Robb Donker

Light Places is out February 24th. You can pre-order here.

Passenger Peru - "Light Places" Track Listing:

1: House Squares
2: Friends Don't Call
3: The Best Way to Drown
4: Placeholder
5: One Time Daisy Fee
6: Break My Neck
7: Failing Art School
8: Better Than The Movies
9: Impossible Mathematics
10: Crimson Area Rug
11: On Company Time
12: Pretty Lil' Paintin'