Saturday, December 24, 2016

Altar Eagles - "Skeletal" Brings That Vibe In Spades -

Altar Eagles' Skeletal starts with a heavy bass and drum bottom. It is a foundation that is dripping with cool and then the hooky almost circular guitar line pulls you in further. This intoxicating mix isn't what ultimately defines the track, it is Erik Alcock's voice and snarling melody. It is decidedly more poppy then, let's say, experimental but the interweaving production is masterful. By the end it is a heady swirling production of synths, climbing bass lines with a kind of emotional-indie rock vibe. Great seductive tune brought to you by I Can't Wait For Summer.

Now based out of L.A. Alcock's musical journey started in his native Toronto, Canada where he miraculously landed a job with EMI Canada at 17 years old. Quitting school to be in the biz he has hit those low spots and incredible highs. A section from his bio:

Upon turning pro, young Erik dropped out of school and got kicked out of his house. For the next two years, he lived like a refugee in a room in a jam space with a bathroom down the hall, surviving on a steady diet of drugs and rice and beans--mostly drugs. While the experience was not all that conducive to his songwriting, Erik was able to develop his chops by playing with all kinds of musicians, since he was always in the space. 

His quality of life improved substantially when he joined a band and spent the next few years living like a vagabond on tour constantly. A serendipitous encounter occurred following a show, when Erik's partner in the songwriting team, The New Royales, Grammy winning Producer DJ Khalil had asked Erik if he had ever considered writing hooks for other artists. He did so and has credits with the likes of Eminem, Kanye West, Pink and a host of others, which led to having the theme for  Mission Impossible 4, the Call of Duty video game, and Jake Gyllenhall's movie "Southpaw."

Robb Donker

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Brooklyn Based Erin Pellnat's EP "Dream In Color" Is As Rich As A Box Of Old Polaroids

Brooklyn based Erin Pellnat's EP Dream In Color is a strange little animal. I mean it has songs that kind of have a bossa nova jazz feel, kind of art rock tones, kind of retro art folk in that Warhol factory sort f way, kind of medieval chamber tones, kind of Irish folkish or, well, you catch my drift. It is the drift, in fact, the "sort of" or "kind of like" elements that make the sounds on this records so interesting. This sense of blending styles and decades of music really make it a kind of time machine too.

The track Forever Kisses has such a kind of 60's staid quality emotionally grounded by Pellnat's pure vocal performance. The drums, the old school measured strums and is that an accordion?? The aesthetic is charming and could be taken as kind of corny if it weren't done so earnestly. The staging here feels like it could be a track in a Sergio Leone movie. I really love the feel here. In a similar way, Stay has a very elegant folk tone. Pellnat perfectly pronounced story telling harkins back to classic folk. The violin and percussive feel again time travels you back to some uncharted western territory or hills of green in Ireland. The thematic feel here is so dense, so rich with imagery. Dream in Color feels a bit more funky, more mysterious but still seems to exist in another time. While I actually thought of 60's icons like Nico and Judy Collins even, Pellnat's voice reminds me a bit of Cecillia Della Peruti (Gothic Tropic) and Leslie Feist (Feist).

Just when I thought I had the aesthetic here figured out my ears encountered Blue Skies and Happiness which percolates with a free smooth jazz vibe. Again Pellnat's vocals shine here. Perfectly controlled and so adult. Yes I know that sounds funny but there is a maturity beyond her years here. And a maturity in the compositions which makes sense as the songs were composed by Erin's father Christopher Pellnat. It turns out that Dream In Color is a family affair.

Erin is singer songwriter who fronts the band Caretaker while her father Christopher (a long time musician and songwriter) is currently the electric guitar player in the Poughkeepsie, New York based band Warp/The Weft. I am not sure whose decision it was to come together, daughter and father, for this project or if it just happened. In the end the reasons don't matter because the results are so beautiful and interesting. One can only hope that the Pellnat's will do some live shows together as well.

Robb Donker

Christmas Cheer! from the Tijuana Panthers-- rendition of the Kinks Father Christmas!!

OH YES- I am filled with Christmas cheer now after hearing Tijuana Panthers rendition of the Kinks Father Christmas!!
Robb Donker

Stream + Buy "Father Christmas" now:

Tijuana Panthers "Father Christmas" out now on Bandcamp:

directed shot edited : jbrother
ig: jbrotherdotcom 
fb: jbrother 

(c) 2016 Innovative Leisure

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Vienna Based Bruch- Official Video for To My Sanity from the Lottery LP on Cut Surface Records

I am currently checking out Vienna based Bruch (aka Philipp Hanich) recently released LP Lottery on Cut Surface Records and mesmerized at the varied 13 songs that bend and blend punk and gothic dark folk and sounds that are hard to define. What is not hard to define is Bruch's evocative vocal style that instantly sucks you into his stories. Deep and haunting there is a beautiful allure to his drawl.

While I am simmering in Lottery I implore you to check out the video for a track off the album named To My Sanity. It is a eerie and stunning slow dance in some other world. Great stuff Philipp.

Robb Donker

Friday, December 9, 2016

Office Christmas Party Tonight (30 degrees BRR) Shows: Lovely Bad Things - Dec 10th (So Cal) , Museyroom - Dec 10th (NYC) and The Welcome Home - Dec 9th (Tonight) in Athens, Ga

For me this weekend kicks of with the office Christmas Party. It will be outside and inside with outside temps at around 30 degrees so I will be nestled next to the fire pit in between saying embarrassing things and spouting off some karaoke. While I look forward to a night of mild debauchery I wanted to share three shows well worth catching in Los Angeles, NYC and Athens, Georgia.

Saturday December 10- Lovely Bad Things at the Hi-Hat Highland Park , California

Lovely Bad Things- the once foursome has been a fivesome with the addition of the bearded wonder Wesley. This mean less live guitar swapping but a more dense power pop punk sound and more guitar intricacies weaved into the melodies. Last reported show of 2016 playing new songs off their upcoming 2017 album - Teenage Grownups release on Burger Records. At the Hi Hat in Highland Park with Susan, Caterwall and Whaja Dew-
get tix here: Hi Hat Tix

Friday December 9th - Museyroom at the Mercury Lounge- NYC

Museyroom pack a lot of trippy psychedilia for a 3 piece band. Hubbed out of NYC with familial tentacles streching to Philadelphia their proggy ambient sound will make your mind drift off to interesting places. Check out their latest LP Pearly Whites. I love the Mercury Lounge, cheap drinks and cool bands like Museyroom. Sean Mcverry also performs.

Saturday December 10th- The Welcome Home at the 40 Watt - Athens, Georgia

The Welcome Home plays to a home audience at the legendary 40 Watt. Their EP, A Land Outside of This has a folk heart with a vast lush indie pop sound. Stories set to music. They play with Mosaic. Don't miss this show. More info here: 40 Watt

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The World Lost John Lennon 36 Years Ago Today.

The World Lost John Lennon 36 Years Ago Today.

I remember being so stunned upon hearing the news that John Lennon had been murdered outside his apartment building in New York. I drove around a bit aimlessly and finally found myself at my girlfriend's parent's house. She met me on the front lawn. We embraced and I cried in her arms. It is the first time I had cried about the loss of someone I actually did not know personally. His incredible impact as a songwriter, musician, activist, fashion icon and more obviously had seeped deeply into my heart. The tragedy also focused on the danger of celebrity, of how those creative bright stars unfortunately can attract deeply sick individuals. By the way, I married that girlfriend, we had three amazing kids and we are still together. All you need is love is right. 

Rest in Peace John-

Robb Donker

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Haunting Of Bloody Death Skull by Bloody Death Skull - Gothic Americana Doo Wop Experimental Pop is Weird and Wonderful

From time to time I like to venture into that strange type of art that shuns convention and Bloody Death Skull is always wonderfully weird. In a previous review of their music I referred to their sound as "tin pan Dali" recordings. Previous works were purposely lo-fi and like a good found footage horror movie the noise and grain in the songs enhanced the abstract sounds. On the Haunting of Bloody Death Skull, an all too brief EP, the band has stepped up their sound giving the askew whimsy a more beautiful sheen.

Betsy's Back has a surf punk shuffle and I thought of Julie Ruin while listening. The guitar jams but it rushes through it's paces and ends too soon. Bloody Death Skulls' cover of Leon Payne's Psycho originally released by Eddie Noack in 1968 and covered in all manner of permutations by Jack Kittel, Elvis Costello and the Attractions, Beasts of Bourbon and in terms of emotional arcs eclipses all of them. While previous versions seem to hinge on the staid country cadence, Bloody Death Skull turns the extremely dark perversely comical lyrics into a melodramatic celebration. The upturn ratchets up the strange tone.

The next track Carpool is charming and sweet minus the abstract tone that is almost always in the bones of any BDS song so it itself  becomes the weird song on the album. The 4th and final track Gloom is less "Psycho Beach Party" and more like a Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western. It feels big and dramatic and when Daiana Feuer sings the opening line "Welcome to my gloom I just got a house here it came recommended for the view and a bed that swallows you whole, it's a black hole down to the floor" and I am mesmerized. While this strange evocative tale still has it's Hammer Horror vibe it's vast production is a dazzling step up for BDS and it is soooo bloody great.

Robb Donker

Monday, November 28, 2016

Sara Rachele: "1971 Javelin" - Single with "Sad Song" Showcase That Voice

In  terms of music we live in interesting times. The wealth of music out there is sometimes overwhelming especially if you write about music for a blog as small as AP. There is a lot of music that just doesn't make my ears perk up. Besides song structure, overall feel and that oftentimes undefinable thing that touches me, pierces the cynical exterior you don't often hear an artist with that voice. Sara Rachelle has that voice in spades.

Listening to Sad Song, the B side from her recent 7" Digital Single I was stunned by the breadth and scope of her vocal performance. She has an iconic sound really and by that I mean she has an old soul residing somewhere inside her. Amidst the rolling picking that made me think a little bit of REM my mind flashed on Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton, and Stevie Nicks all blended together. Sara is originally from Decatur, Georgia but her musical journey has taken her to Manhattan's East Village.

The A side of the single is the evocative 1971 Javelin. The retro sound feels real. The aesthetic with the organs and sultry tone has Shindig written all over it but in the same way that Tarantino can infuse his glorious B-movie exploitation into a story that takes place now, 1971 Javelin blends "today" seamlessly in. The upfront electric guitar with it's deliciously heavy harmonics, heavy bass and overall upfront grit has a touch of Dead Weather-ness making the track feel custom and cool without a touch of nostalgia as campiness.

Loving this record.
Robb Donker

Pic courtesy of Instagram:
1971 Javelin the 7’’ single out Oct 7, via Angrygal Records.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

"All Night" by Lily Virginia Sweeps You Away

As of late I have been caught up in my own stuff. That is to say, writing and recording demos, an increased busy day job schedule and reading and writing about the election results have made my life increasingly dense pulling me away from what I do here at American Pancake which is sharing my thoughts on artists that I find interesting and hopefully turning you on to music that you have not heard before. Nice to share again.

The wildly talented Lily Virginia is based out of Brooklyn and recently released a video for All Night a track off her upcoming audio/visual album Play Me Twice which has / will be released one music video at a time. The latest All Night coalesces a subtly diverse blends of sounds and emotions. The music sways, dances, feels playful, sultry. It feels like it has R and B bones pushed through a indie alt pop filter. It sock hops, slow dances and embraces all the while Lily gives the vocal performance a kind of tortured tone on the verge of love or heartbreak.

Great, great stuff I am so glad I came out of my hole to listen to it. I look forward to delving into Lily's art.

Go to Lily's site to see the other videos (4  more) with more videos to come.

Robb Donker

NOTES: The ‘Play Me Twice Podcast’ is an interactive experiment and modern liner notes for the album.  As each music video come out, fans are encouraged to ask questions about the making of the song via social media or texting Lily Virginia’s music phone directly at +1-917-746-0723.  The podcast episodes also feature interviews with other independent artists on the meaning for them of making and releasing music while living a musical life today.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

"A Cat is an Angel that Poops in a Box"- Whiskers R We With Kristin Wiig - SNL

Kristin Wiig returned to host SNL and played one of those twisted cat ladies with Kate Mckinnon.
One of the funniest skits of the night. So when the republic is crumbling around us put down the protest sign and laugh your ass off. We all have to refuel now don't we?

Robb Donker

Monday, November 21, 2016

Album Review: Critica by Lightmusic - Take A Walk On The Wild Side

While a lot of abstract psych rock bands build a solid framework to construct their abstract musical architecture on. On the album Critica, 3 piece Lightmusic start with a framework that is not only askew and leaning from the get go but it is ever changing as well. This gives their songs a free form quality. Everything essentially sounds improvisational. Guitarist Micah Lewis spews forth lyrics that feel like torrid rants some that can feel quite manic. Whether the rants bend toward lewd sensuality or some breed of strident social commentary the effect can feel like slam poetry at times and at other times like the insane stream of consciousness that babbles out of that one homeless guy in the neighborhood whose mind inhabits some other place.

Wherever Micah and Lightmusic take you it feels trippy like a fluid Dali-esque painting. Take the storytelling of Blue Room that puts you in a trance. It is part Twilight Zone and part Pere Ubu meets the Minutemen. The musical diversions are so meaty. Inside The Heart cuts a smooth groove with splashes of crystal clear guitar Micah spinning lyrical webs. Don't try to figure out context or meaning just float with it. Girlfriend's Dream has a comical undertow at first and then the brash groove cuts in with so many strange layers. It is a fun house mirror of a song. Reach For My Love balances between R and B fusion and underground rap really. It feels totally improvised but in such a wonderful way. Oddly enough in it's abstract improv I counted at least 12 sections that would in and of themselves make incredible indie pop rock progs. To Answer Your Question almost seems to flirt with Mid-Eastern melodies or maybe not. Maybe it is what I am conjuring up. The soundscape on this song did make me think of sweeping dunes of sand turned fire red as dusk. Tenderly, the first track on the album feels like a warm up of sorts for things to come.

Lightmusic's aesthetic is out there and might not be for everyone. I knew this when I reviewed their Remain Unshared EP way back in 2011 which was thoroughly engaging like Critica is today. It is not populist music in anyway. I guess that is why it is so damn interesting. Listening to this kind of music is why I find myself listening to improvisations by John Coltrane. This kind of music goes in every which way. The verse verse chorus verse chorus bridge chorus pattern is non existent. Besides Micah Lewis on guitar and vocals you have Stevie Kugelberg on bass and Zach Mabry on drums. They lay down such amazing sounds. The musicality on this record is beautifully insane. Listen to Critica when you want to get out of those loops in your head and you will have an interesting artful journey.

Out on Porch Party Records.

Robb Donker

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Swedish Art Pop Provocateur Ms. Henrik Drops Debut LP "Fake and Copy" - Slick Back Your Hair, Put on Your Lipstick and Listen

Swedish art-pop / indie electronica provocateur Ms. Henrik is due to drop his debut LP entitled Fake and Copy on November 18th on Birds Records. The album is full of synth hooks, deep grooves and an ever changing tapestry of flavors. Never Put Your Guns Down has a kind of elegant new wave vibe ala Martin Fry (of ABC) while the instrumental Copy What I think (40B) veers into a deep dance punk groove. Speaking of punk the strange and engaging When Mike Watt Lost D. Boon with it's heavy vocoder sound floats around different genres all the way while hinging on the dark sad chorus of the Minutemen's founding father loss of his best friend D.Boon.

Blessed Are The Bald Men turns dark and  pokes at the politics of greed and drugs all the while having a celebratory chorus that almost has a heady KajaGoogoo vibe. I really love this track.  Cut Down On Everyone has a beautifully sultry Bryan Ferry sway and a smart melody. Henrik pushes his vocal performance so nicely and it is less effected than on other tracks. So good.  Fake What You Feel has that majestic 80's new wave tone. It feels like super pop really. Lush and tortured.
Ms. Henrik with a dramatic androgynous look sporting red lipstick and flaunting one hell of a cool hair style is the kind of artist who would undoubtedly make Mike Pence squirm. All the more reason to embrace Ms. Henrik. Check out Like Lovers Do and dance your ass off.
Robb Donker

Sunday, November 13, 2016

In Light Of The Trump Win Dave Chappelle's Opening Monologue Was Smart, Hilarious and Awe Inspiring. The Master Is Back.

Dave Chappelle's monologue was equal parts subversion and hilarity. Near the end he got serious recounting a recent invitation to the White House to attend a party put on by BET. While I will not ruin the story telling I can tell you it was awe inspiring. Chappelle is without a doubt the master of his craft and he has been away way too long. See this amazing monologue below.
Robb Donker

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Son of a Bitch Pulls It Off. Trump Wins. Clinton Concedes and It Feels Like Bizarro Land.

I am staring at my computer screen a bit stunned. I mean as the Election night wore on it was apparent that Hillary Clinton was in serious trouble but seeing the breaking news that Donald Trump actually pulled it off and seeing his acceptance speech as President Elect was absolutely surreal. My immediate thoughts:

Trumps speech was surprisingly positive. His venom switch was off. He seemed like a man who might just raise to the level of the office and be more compassionate. I don't know. Remember this is a man who catered to angry white voters and even racist KKK groups who he actually said he didn't know anything about. Can he change his stripes? Are his stripes real? Will he build bridges instead of that fucking wall?? I hope so.

Hilary Clinton LOST this election. She just doesn't connect with people. She feels (maybe is) one of the 1 percent-ers who she tried to distance herself from during the election. She has a long history of hobnobbing with Wallstreet. She was, in fact, painted with that brush by Bernie Sanders and that thick coat of paint stuck. It stuck because she could not wash it off. Even Bernie's plea for his supporters to support her felt false. She also carried the awful baggage packed up with a bow by her husband Bill Clinton who while President supported the 1994 Crime Bill that incarcerated low level drug users at an alarming rate and his enactment of the Riegle Neal Interstate Banking Bill which was the first move in a series of acts that deregulated the financial industry signaled an attack on the poor and a love for the money makers for Wall Street. Her support of the Iraq war also left a bad taste in liberals mouths. She was just wrong in so many ways and on so many levels. As much as the idea of the first woman president makes me happy her carrying that mantle would of ultimately been sad. 

The Democratic Party has become this bloated elitist machine tied to Wall Street just like the Republican Party and it sucks. They have lost their way. They need to find their grass roots. I thought they found it in Bernie Sanders but they rejected him. Poor Bernie.

The two party system sucks. Maybe Trump is a third party in a way. Republicans don't really like him and Democrats hate him. Maybe some angel will whisper in his ear, cast a spell and actually make him a centrist who is a positive influence. Maybe I watch to many Hallmark movies during this time of the year.

My head hurts and I need to tap out.

Robb Donker

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Election: 2:18 AM and Still Too Close To Call. Trump Win Likely. Democrats Don't Be Too Sad.

2:18 AM and Still Too Close To Call. Democrats Don't Be Too Sad.

For those of you Democrats who are sad today know this. Donald Trump's stunning performance 
in this election is not a mandate for him or his policies but a turn away from politics as usual, 
from the Washington establishment, from huge political machines and from the Clinton legacy. 
When the democratic party and voters turned away from Bernie Sanders I knew deep down 
inside that the democratic party was in trouble. In order to win, we all knew that Clinton had 
to capture the young vote, the women's vote in mass and the black vote. She under performed 
across the board and rightly so. These voting blocks seemed to be just that for Hillary, categories 
of the population to be pandered to too little too late. 

Hillary Clinton seemed to much like her opponent. Bill Clinton's support of the 1994 Crime Bill 
that incarcerated low level drug users at an alarming rate and his enactment of the Riegle Neal 
Interstate Banking Bill which was the first move in a series of acts that deregulated the financial 
industry signaled an attack on the poor and a love for the money makers for Wall Street. 
Hillary Clinton carried this baggage and she deserved to carry it. 

If Trump does indeed win (and it looks like this is going to be the case) it could signal a 
paradigm shift on the way elections are won and who wins elections. Certainly the idea of 
a "citizen" President is positive. The sense that a non career politician can rise to be the leader 
of the United States of America is heartening. Trump's win also signals a deep seated disdain 
for the Federal Government itself and the size of government. Also positives but Trump's win 
also is directly tied to social media. At no other time in history could this happen. 

So you put up a disliked opponent up against a Washington outsider at a time when people 
want a change and this is what you get and make no mistake about it, the dislike for Clinton will
be key in Trump’s win because those who cannot stomach to vote for Clinton voted for Jill Stein
and Gary Johnson who actually performed quite well in some key states. If indeed Trump wins 
then we are stuck with him for the next four years. Many of my liberal friends are sad but I hope 
you don't stay sad for long. It is likely that Trump's rhetoric will be ratcheted down considerably. 
Maybe.... just maybe he will build bridges more than walls. Yeah I know.... 
what the f*ck, I guess I am just an optimist at heart. 

At any rate at 2 in the morning Eastern time it is still too close to call. This has turned into
a nail biter and my fingers are bleeding.

Robb Donker
American Pancake

The 2016 Sh*t Show is Almost Over. After Today's Historic Election Americans Can Proudly Exit The Voting Booth and Take a Collective Shower

So  here we sit on the precipice holding our collective breath. Who will win... Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. Obviously this is Hillary's election to lose, if indeed that happens. She has the most to lose, a legacy as the first women president. The Donald really wins either way. Win or lose he will (to his supporters and) in his mind have fought the good fight in a system that was rigged against him. He will have become one of those disenfranchised Americans who was stomped down by the proverbial system that he appeals to the most. Just think if by some dark miracle Trump pulls it off he will be the first president who appeared in Home Alone and WWE Wrestling ran the Miss Universe Pageant and who has not released his tax returns.  Now, truth be told, I don't know if there are other past candidates have not released their tax returns but I certainly can't think of any.

Anyway, Trump does things his way. As someone recently said to me, "He is one brash muther fuc....." and speaking of mothers we have Hillary Clinton. Now I am not a fan of this woman but I must say that she hasn't been touting the woman card as much as she could of during the election and while there are some celebs and organizations who hinge a lot of her character on the fact that she is a woman and more importantly a woman, Hillary seems to want to firmly win on her ability to face off toe to toe with men. Now, when I do think of the mother thing I think of mothering and the thought of that kind of mothering on a governmental level is what causes me concern. We don't need a smothering mother of a President. We need to cut those governmental apron strings. Still Luis CK and Katy Perry and other celebs celebrate her woman and mother hood. Maybe this strategy will work on all the millennials out there. Millennials after all are staying a home longer and having mom do their laundry for them.

This election season more than most has splattered a huge black spot on the two party system. On one hand we watched the republican party literally implode in front of us. They are now so fractured and unfocused that they will have to become something else entirely and move more toward the center. That is a good thing. The democratic party did not fair well either. The infighting and wonky electoral machine that helped cement Bernie Sanders demise seemed to pervert democratic ideals. The democratic party more than any other time in history seems to have gone the way of big money party politics. They need to find their grass roots again. While it seems that the republican party may of lost their heart a long time ago the democratic party has surely lost it's soul. And once again, the system, yes, the system has kept the alternative parties firmly at arm's length like the kids at the children's table at Thanksgiving.

When I talk to most people they tell me they are voting against one of the candidates and not for the other one. This is damn sad. Many of you will cast a vote for Trump because you don't want "crooked Hillary" for the next 4 years and vice versa many of you are begrudgingly casting a vote for Hillary because you don't want a megalomaniac in office. I almost see Trump and Clinton as the same person. They both definitely know how to milk the system. They both exist in a rarefied place of power surrounded by "advisers" to their right and sycophants to their left. They both feel like hucksters, they both feel like politics as usual and they both feel like they are wanting the presidency for the wrong reasons. Those who seem more pure of heart like Bernie Sanders or Jill Stein of the Green Party have been summarily cast aside by the media. Media after all hates purity and self sacrifice and ideas... they just like all this shit. Well, this shit show is about to end and we will all get by and get along despite who is supposedly leading us. While most of America will cast their vote and then feel like taking a shower to rinse all this muck off there are some of you who will cast a vote for somebody they believe in, for ideals. I applaud you and give you a pat on the back for at least voting your conscious (whoever you cast your vote for).

Robb Donker

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

See Decorum- "Near Gone" - Video Is their visual homage to the Smashing Pumpkin's Disarm Video

Three piece NYC post punk outfit Decorum has good bones. They flaunt a post punk sound that makes my mind flash on The Smiths, Interpol and New Order while retaining their own sound. Their beats have a chaotic touch and the girl guy vocals keep it all so interesting. I am new to them but am enjoying delving into their sound. Check out their homage to the visual style of The Smashing Pumpkins Disarm video with their video for Near Gone.
Robb Donker

D E C O R U M — N E A R G O N E from Decorum on Vimeo.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Bootblacks and Liste Noire FALL TOUR DATES !! Post Punk Flavors You Long For

Bootblacks & Liste Noire Going On Fall Tour
Bootblacks: 'Veins' LP
Liste Noire: 'Brace' LP
BootblacksNYC post-punk three-piece Bootblacks just returned from their third European tour in support of their recently released album “Veins,” on French label Manic Depression Records. Now they will finish touring the album with their first show in Canada, and East and West Coast dates, before returning to the studio to record their next release at the legendary Avatar Studios. East Coast shows include a Halloween party with fellow New Yorkers Xeno & Oaklander.

Recent European tour mates Liste Noire from Berlin (formerly Velvet Condom) will be making their US debut and joining them for the tour.

Since the group’s founding in 2010, the Bootblacks sound has been described as a balance of contradictions: both pensive and buoyant, referential and modern. Fitting, as the Bootblacks name is derived from novelist William Burroughs’ description of the dark underbelly of glitzy New York City.

Singer Panther MacDonald lists an eclectic set of influences: Depeche Mode, New Order, Simple Minds, Echo and the Bunnymen, Joy Division, early U2, as well as the Beatles and David Bowie for lyrical inspiration.

With the completion of “Veins,” the musical journey for Bootblacks is just beginning.

“We’re dedicated musicians,” MacDonald says. “We love touring, we love playing live, and we love recording. For us, it’s not about the vanity of it. There’s a real love of making music.”

Liste NoireA decade ago, Alice Gift and Oberst Panizza founded their first synth outfit VELVET CONDOM in France and gained cult status in the European underground scene. Their song KALTER LIPPENSTIFT is still a burns dancefloors around the globe and is a hit on youtube with more than 600.000 views.

A few years later they moved to Berlin, the capital of Europe’s club scene and electronic music, and joined forces with the Swedish musician Kali. Together they formed LISTE NOIRE to create a new fusion of cold dance, dreamy guitars and drama. Stunning tracks like TIME IS YOUR CRIME or LEVIATHAN are exemplary of their unique style.

After touring Europe this spring and summer they now play their first American tour along with New Yorker friends Bootblacks - kicking off in Montreal on October 28th. Gigs in NYC, Portland, San Francisco and L.A. are also on the schedule.

 will charm all compatriots of European synth-wave and bizarre pop. Their sassy performance leaves no one untouched. Every gig on the upcoming tour will be a bracing rendez-vous with the preachers of Disco Noir.

New Album ‚Brace’ (CD) out on October 28th. Label: No Em Blanc
10/28 Montreal – Casa del Popolo
10/29 Brooklyn – The Gateway (Halloween Show)
11/02 NYC – Nothing Changes
11/04 Portland – The High Water Mark
11/05 San Francisco – The Hemlock Tavern
11/06 Los Angeles - Complex
Links: Bootblacks
Website - Facebook - Instagram - Bandcamp - Soundcloud - Twitter

Links: Liste Noire

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

AT the Earl In Atlanta - Tonight! - Mean Jeans, Melted, The Hotels and Tired Magic -It's A Workaday World But Time To Party

Mean Jeans 


Just chatted with Justin from Melted on Facebook Message as they are gearing to play in Atlanta as they are touring all over. They have 7 people shoved in their 8 seat van. Melted, their homie (who shall remain nameless) and the 3 members of Mean Jeans who will share van duties for a few more shows. It is a Tuesday, a workday true but fuck it and head out and see these killer bands. Melted and Mean Jeans do not disappoint.  (Melted pic courtesy of Joanna Bautista)
Robb Donker

Dog, Paper, Submarine - "Trouble On Earth" Has The Kinetic Energy Of A Thousand Kids Hopped Up On Pixie Stix and Sweet Drinks

The video for Sponge Boy by Dog, Paper, Submarine and off the album "Trouble On Earth" should be a B-horror movie about a swarm of hyper elementary schoolers who after consuming copious amounts or Pixie Stix and sweet pop drinks descend on a town of adults sucking them dry of any energy that is not youthful, spontaneous and immediate eventually turning into a massive Sponge Boy at least that is what I imagined why listening to this jack hammer of a song. I mean, seriously, this song might be the dividing line between youth and more staid "responsible" adulthood, kind of like skateboarding I suppose. It seriously jams. In fact all the songs do on this album.

Maybe even more surprising is that Dog, Paper, Submarine is based out of Sweden. I know that is very stereotypical of me and maybe I thought of them as an American band just based on their sound which to me really centers on that kind of indie rock period of the mid 80's and 90's.. Bands like Weezer, The Orb, Miracle Legion, Pavement, Presidents of the United States, The Breeders, The Smithereens, Sabadoh and I'll break my time frame by including Devo as well. Sure Dog, Paper, Submarine are totally guitar centric in comparison to the bucketheads but they possess some of the same cheeky, fun, comic book quality of bands like Devo.

Changing is one of those songs that has this kind of dadaism stream of lyrics (or not) while the music is switched to full on rock. Love the sounds during the breaks, the bass lines and guitar sounds are so damn inviting while Martin Månsson Sjöstrand spews the vocals with a bit of a synical snarl but somber tones too. Champ has a Beatle bounce amidst the fury and the stacked harmonies are really lush. View From The Sidewalk has a choppy rhythm and big rock chorus. The sway of Popgun made me feel the Smithereens and dream of the 80's and where I was at my life at the time (also playing in bands). Kids In The Sinister Spin is delicious with a Breeders vibe. Sunday Night Riff is the most mellow track sounds all New wavish and folk rockish with proggy tendencies. 

Man, I love this album. It successfully evokes a unique time in indie music while retaining a fresh sound too. "Trouble On Earth" will be on my best albums of 2016 list. I implore you to check it out (below) and support this band. Remember they are called Dog, Paper, Submarine out of Sweeden and are respectively Martin Månsson Sjöstrand (vocals and guitar), Emil Engblom (bass) and Carolina Carlbom (drums and vocals).  The album is out on Small Bear Records. 

Robb Donker

Friday, October 21, 2016

Mainland- Debut "Permission" Will Stir Up Your Heart and Clench Your Fist

Brooklyn based Mainland's new track Permission Slip is like an injection of defiance. I mean truthfully I was couch potato-ing it after a long day at work and this track made me want to burst out, run down the hill and confront my crazy lady neighbor who burns the leaves and grass so much that it makes my place smell like an ash tray. Ok, I didn't do that but the important thing is that Mainland gave me the musical shove. I think if I listen to it enough I may grow some balls. The run away beat and snarl in the lyrics with a tinge of somber made me think of early Drums, The Killers and the Buttertones all smooshed into one. Pushing play again.
Robb Donker

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Teeth and Tongue Eat It Up On "Turn, Turn, Turn" (Official Video) and Perform A Classic Smiths Song

In the wake of recent Aussie indie gifts like Tame Impala and Courtney Barnett Melbourne's based, New Zealand born singer songwriter Jess Cornelius has been making waves too. Teeth and Tongue has been her incarnation since around 2008 not only in solo performances but with collaborative work with her band members. While she provides the songwriting skills, vocals, keys and guitar, (currently) Damian Sullivan provides bass, James Harvey on drums, Marc Regueiro-Mckelvie on guitar and Jade Mcinally on backing vocals and keys. They have just released their 4th album entitled "Give Up On Your Health" on Remote Control Records which I look forward to delving into. Expect a review soon enough but for now check out the video for Turn, Turn, Turn which might turn your stomach a bit but the track is oh so delicious.  I love the tight groove, synths and the sweet attack on the lead guitar flourishes that are so damn hooky and of course Jess's amazing vocal performance. This track just jams so incredibly well. After you come down from this high check out the bands take on a classic Smiths track.
Robb Donker

Monday, October 17, 2016

Happy Monday - Hear A Delish Cover of Air Supply's: "Lost In Love" by Me Montana Casio

With the Presidential run on high gear there is so much venom spewing from both sides that you just feel like taking a shower after hearing and seeing it all play out. In an effort to get a rest from it all I am giving you a special chocolate chip cookie with milk for dipping.

Luke from Roosterhead who I have posted about before (see) put out a cover of Air Supply's "Lost In Love" for a project in the works. His moniker here is Me Montana Casio and the take on the track involves guitars and a bevy of old Casios. What can be better than that?  I like the aesthetic here and I hope he continues to do both covers and originals in this style. So for all you hopeless and slightly bent romantics.
Robb Donker

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Men I Trust Perform "Lauren" Live And It Sounds Oh Sooo Good (AND FREE DNLD)

Men I Trust is an indie dance band from Quebec City (Canada). In this live performance of Lauren that they recorded near their home you won't believe how incredibly lush they sound in the middle of a desolate road with a portable keyboard (and drum machine), acoustic guitar and those beautiful harmonies. Stay around until the end to hear the high five "Yo" hand slap. Also you can get a free dnld of the studio version here
Robb Donker

Monday, October 10, 2016

Album Review: Magana - "Golden Tongue" EP - A Cosmically Bright Debut

As someone who writes about music when I am exposed to something new I sometimes wonder if my reaction to said music is not only about it (itself) but also how it falls within all the other music that has invaded my heart and head in recent days and weeks. As of late I have written about the abstract art of Agnes Obel, the immediate and ferocious punk of XURS, the dreamy and stunningly heavy noise art rock of Dumb Numbers and the almost musical reawakening of the iconic Pixies. I  suppose I have a fairly eclectic taste in music and that brings me to Brooklyn based musician and photographer Jeni Magana who as Magana is about to release her debut EP entitled Golden Tongue via South London / South Florida's Audio Antihero Records.

Magana's aesthetic blends elements from all those aforementioned artists or respective genres of music. First and foremost there is an art rock element to her sound which I like a lot. Like Agnes Obel whose thoroughly dreamy /fantasy vibe seems to be part of her DNA, Magana has that sense too, that sense of drama and of theater. It is the way she poises her voice in her songs. It is what Bowie did and St. Vincent does. There is a staged quality, a dramatic flair. It is that gaze at the stage lights vibe. Now this is not to negate the deep emotional tug that you feel when you listen to her vocal performance. That is there too. The blend of theater and emotional intimacy is alluring to say the least. Now while I will always love the theatrical part of rock music I equally love the opposite. That is why I love proto punk and punk so much. Like the aforementioned XURS whose take is immediate raw fury and the Pixies whose artistry which has always been a byproduct of their performance but not planned or staged. While Magana has that theatrical art rock sensibility I sense a punk heart as well. Now onto her all too brief collection of songs on "Golden Tongue"-

Track 2: Inches Apart with it's electric guitar picking feels so intimate. The guitar has a hollow sound but with a faint distortion. When I hear picking on an electric the result is so different than on an acoustic. There is always the promise of an explosion. Even if it doesn't occur, that tension is there. Magana's vocal performance is everything you want it to be. She phrases her words in her own way as she sings, "You were born with thicker skin..... and I am only oxygen.... Whispering, darling please don't stay... because you can leave but I won't wait." Ouch, wow.  By the way, the guitar doesn't erupt or explode but it doesn't matter, the emotional beautiful damage has already been done.

Track 1: Get It Right has a sparse though dynamic sound with Magana's voice with that has that on top of the mic over modulated sound. The drums sound / feel textured and punchy as played by Jonathan Smith (from The Can't Tells) who also recorded all the songs at Galaxy Smith Studios. The song almost shuffles, with cool down beats. Again I thought a bit of St. Vincent and oddly enough Aimee Mann for some reason. Very cool fluid song.

Track 4: The title track Golden Tongue finds Morgana sounding more rhythmic and straight indie rock. I thought of Aurora and Warpaint (a bit). Loving the grit in her vocal performance and the rushed passages in the vocal melody. The bigger crescendos feel very cool although the song seems to end abruptly. Better to leave them wanting more I suppose and I do.

Track 3: The World Doesn't Know yet shows another musical facet. A bit more whimsy. The guitar up fanning feels very keyboard like and the song has an almost sweeping tone. This could be a theme song on the next Bond film. It has that kind of statuesque tone.

Jeni Magana was born in Bakersfield, California, grew up playing classical music on clarinet and upright bass before finding her way to the Berklee College in Boston where she began penning her own songs. Her musical journey lead her to New York. She was in a number of bands (Oh Odessa, Gina's Picture Show, Annie and the Beekeepers). She recorded commercial jingles and was a session and touring musician for the Dropkick Murphys. I imagine all that and, well, everything else in her life has lead to this beautiful emotionally wrought debut called Golden Tongue. I just have a strong sense that Magana is going places. I mean I could see her (right now) opening up for St. Vincent on her next tour. Yes that should happen. It feels right to me. After that I want to hear Magana's full length.
Robb Donker

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Saturday Share For All: Dog, Paper, Submarine - Magana - Apeman Spaceman - Big Jesus - Elliot - And Our Own Pixies Cover of "All I Think About Now"

Apeman Spaceman. I must say I liked the name immediately as I thought instantly of a Kinks / Bowie hybrid. They are a UK band, respectively Johnny Cooke on vocals/guitar, Rikki Mehta on Guitar (both founding members of post punk band- Dogs), Carl Dalemo on Bass (from Razorlight) and Ethan Kennedy on drums.

I am really liking their single "This Is A Low" which officially drops on November 4th on D.I.Y imprint Bin Party Records. Such a thick cool sound. The vocal performance made me flash on the later Jam records while the edge of the music has a kind of post rock celebratory tone of the Clash and (go with me on this) there is something in their sound that reminds me of The Black Lips if the Black Lips dare have a more polished sound (by the way I enjoy The Black Lips fucked up sound). Whomever they remind me of you have to check them out as "This Is A Low" has a cool vibe and sound. Upcoming gigs at the Urban Bar in Whitechapel on Oct. 13th and in Camden at The Monarch on Oct. 20th.
Robb Donker

NEXT: Magana

In  the coming days I will post a full review of the EP Golden Tongue by Magana (Brooklyn musician and photographer Jeni Magana) set to drop on October 28th via South London / South Florida's Audio Antihero Records. Magana's songs are emotionally rich with a lush sonic gaze that looks upward. A pretty stunning debut but for now you can hear one public offering from the EP below.
Robb Donker

NEXT: Big Jesus

The video for Atlanta's Big Jesus has the band driving across endless desert sands holding bright blue smoke flares and jamming in a non-descript building with metal roll up doors as the backdrop. The track Lock and Key from their recently released debut album "Oneiric" (meaning "of or relating to dreams") on Mascot Label Group / Mascot Records is indeed dreamy and big. In fact, to say it soars might be cliche but it does with massive down beats, awesome double guitar leads, staccato rhythms and thoroughly driving chunky bass and drums. Check it out and I hope to have thoughts on the entire album soon enough. They are touring all over from New Orleans to Frisco To St Louis to Boston and Dallas and all points in between. See tour schedule here.
Robb Donker

NEXT: American Pancake Basement Acoustic Cover of the Pixies - "All I Want Is Now"

Writing, even writing music reviews can be a lonely endeavor. Sometimes I stare at the screen until my mind darts in a thousand directions while listening to new material. Some of these diversions broaden my knowledge of music and some do not. Other times the obsession with a band or song drives me to want to play the song. First things come first and I have to figure out the song. That is what occurred when I reviewed the latest Pixies record Head Carrier (see my review here). That review eventually turned into a babbling Youtube review (see here) were I did an off the cuff rendition of the Paz Lenchantin sung All I Think About Now, played incorrectly may I add. It was just a corny way to start the video and end the video. After a few days of it being posted a viewer had some nice things to say about the review and my horrid performance and asked that I supply the tabs or chords to the song. I was kind of aghast that I didn't even really take the time to play it correctly so me being a people pleaser I set out to learn the song. In learning it I wanted to play and record it. I soon found out that this is not the kind of song that you can play just acoustically with no accompaniment and before you know it I was ping ponging tracks old school in an effort to track record it. I don't even have decent recording software or mics so I recorded it all on a Lumix digital camera and transferred it to video editing software. I like weird sounding stuff so I purposely over modulated the 5 tracks.

The result is below. A fellow music writer thought it sounded like early Wilco which was nice (thanks Sara) and another musician friend like the vocal tone (me stacking a sort of monotone vocal performance with a falsetto singing). I wanted it to sound kind of depressive, kind of emotionally mute. I am not sure if I succeeded but it certainly made me want to record more and I will though I will likely stick to original material (more on that later).  Hope you check it out and I am so grateful that I have this platform to share it with you all.
Robb Donker

NEXT: Elliot

Debuting on the New Swedish label ICEA (Icons Creating Evil Art) twenty two year old Swede Ellioth Axelsson as the moniker Elliot creates lo-fi songs with a retro feel pushed through an artful indie noisey dreamy filter. The new single Make Love To Me influenced heavily by the LA experimental pop scene  (Ariel Pink, John Maus) and French singer Soko feels like a pop souls 70's track if not for the sonic fuzz. All the over modulated tones creates for an abstract atmosphere on the fringe of darkness. Check it out. -
Robb Donker

NEXT: Dog, Paper, Submarine

The jagged proto punk attack that Dog, Paper, Submarine deliver on their album Trouble On Earth (Small Bear Records) rocks with the proggy abandon of heavy weights like the Pixies, Pavement, Sabadoh and Guided By Voices. Look out for my full review and believe you me there is so much to love here. Check out their bandcamp page below:
Robb Donker