Monday, May 30, 2016

The Jesus Cup and Me

A video posted by Robb Donker (@americanrobb) on

The Jesus Cup and Me

The particular coffee cup know as the esteemed "Jesus Cup" in our household belongs to my wife. I don't know where it came from but from the looks of it and the fact that we do not frequent so called religious stores of any sort, it probably was purchased at a dollar store in California, most likely Anaheim, California. My wife adores this cup for some reason. I mean, it is not her favorite coffee cup or mug but it is up there way up there. I think it was replaced by the Waffle House mug we purchased locally as we moved to Georgia roughly 20 months ago.

Now don't get me wrong, the Waffle House mug does not hold a revered place in her heart because she loves the Waffle House. Quite the contrary, she and I agree wholeheartedly that the Waffle House diners might be the worst eateries every created if not in the world at least in the United States. We absolutely despise just about everything about them and especially their God awful food. No, the reason she love that Waffle House mug is the absolutely perfect shape of it. Unlike the stark simple lines of the Jesus Cup, the WH mug has curves. It slightly swoops out at the top forming a nice round surface for your lips to rest against and the base is similarly shaped. Along with an overall more dense build and stout shape it is heads and shoulders above the Jesus Cup in terms of it's design value. It's build keeps your coffee warmer longer and it feels so comforting in your hand. And that shape makes the drinking experience just plain lovely.

Prior to the Waffle House cup she absolutely adored the Jesus cup. For the longest time I thought that it was because she is somewhat religious and believes in God but come to find out that it was really her favorite cup because of it's "cupness" not the image of Jesus on it. Now that didn't stop me from commandeering the cup. I took special glee in taking it and bringing it to work just so she would get annoyed. Plus displaying the Jesus Cup to my fellow employees despite the fact that I do not and have never believed in a god of any sort is my admittedly immature way of being ironic, of making fun of religion and the Christian faith in general.

You might of figured out by now that I can be sort of an asshole. Not in a big way but I do possess that kind of bitter older guy assholeness some of the time.  In the end, I now pretty much own this Jesus Cup and I love it. Jesus and I are best coffee buddies.
Robb Donker

Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Iconic DIY Punk / Indie / Experimental Club - "The Smell" Set for Demolition ??? Say It Isn't So.

Every music lover who is into seeing live performances whether it be indie, punk, heavy metal, rap or hip hop has seen their favorite venue close down. For bands / artists who play these special places it might even be a harder blow as one more venue that they can play simple goes away. While I never called one particular club my hang out place, as a musician whose band played around in the fertile period of 79 to the mid 80's I lamented the death of the original Madame Wongs, the Starwood and Gazzarri's, all clubs we played. For others before and after "my" timeline collective hearts broke at the demise of venues like RKCNDY in Seattle, or Bookies in Detroit, or Rathskeller in Boston, or The Cukoo's Nest in Costa Mesa, California or Radiotron in LA, or Cardis in Houston, Texas or The Fillmore in San Francisco and The Fillmore East in NYC, or the Lounge Ax in Chicago and, of course, the iconic CBGB's in Manhattan's East Village.

And there are so many more venues I can mention. So many more. That is the thing about music venues. They almost certainly have a life expectancy. Business wise it is a difficult road and the more the music veers away from the norm, veers to what some in society consider fringe music that appeals to the fringe members in society the more bumpy that road becomes. There is pressure from police agencies, neighbors, fire marshals and other governmental agencies. The kind of person who keeps these kinds of venues open and alive most generally do it for the love of the scene, the love of music. One such passionate soul is the heart and soul of LA's iconic punk / indie club the Smell, Jim Smith.

Yesterday, Saturday the 28th (of May) he posted a disturbing pic, namely a city notice of Demolition for The Smell and, in fact, will effect every building on the same block. According to LAist, Smith learned about the demolition on Friday night. "I suppose the signs have been there for many years, but I've suspected something like this was coming when our building was sold a year ago. I plan to do whatever I can to fight or delay this, " Smith told LAist.

The Smell has without question been the hub of punk / indie /experimental bands ostensibly run by Smith and a devoted crop of volunteers. Birthed in 1998 in North Hollywood, the venue moved to it's current location in 2000. Bands / artists who have been Smell regulars include Abe Vigoda, Ancestors, Barr, Carla Bozulich, Captain Ahab, David Scott Stone, Hawnay Troof, Health, Lavender Diamond, Laco$te, Lucky Dragons, The Mae Shi, Mika Miko, No Age, Pocahaunted, Silver Daggers, Thrones, Upsilon Acruxand, and XBXRX.

The wonderful thing about the Smell is that it is an all ages venue and that since it's inception has become a formidable stepping stone venue. I mean if you play the Smell there is this great indie cred that comes along with it. The kind of cred honed out of the DIY passion that birthed it, watched it take it's first wobbly steps and grow up into the free spirited scrappy teenager it is.

If the lights go out at the Smell it will be sad as this venue is so special and totally one of a kind. If the building goes away, my deepest hope is that it Smith will somehow be able to relocate it somewhere else. For this to be possible he will have to muster up a lot of things and an army of volunteers. And if it is just time for the Smell to end, there is no shame in that either as it has been the brightest of spots for new music in LA for the last 18 years.

Robb Donker

VIDEO: Mumblr - "Three Leg Down" and the Single: "Microwave" from Upcoming "The Never Ending Get Down" album out 6/10 on Fleeting Youth Records

I posted up about the Philadelphia 4some Mumblr back in 2014 upon the release of their debut full length "Full of Snakes" (see review here: Mumblr's "Full Of Snakes" is Full of Sonic Gems") which was full of grunge rockish / punk / garage rock songs and while I found some of the progs a bit derivative of other bands it was the songwriting that shined through in a really big way. The aesthetic on that record felt like candid social commentary on their world and their town and I really love that. There are some truly stand out material on that record (go listen to it).

The "Three Leg Dog" video and the single "Microwave" shows yet another diverse side to their sound, feeling more art rockish / prog proto punkish to me. Sounds they touched on on their 2015 EP "Super! Premium! Deluxe!" Their new full length, The Never Ending Get Down drops on 6/10 on Fleeting Youth Records. I love what I am hearing and really look forward to hearing all the songs.

Lead singer/guitarist Nick Morrison on the album:

This album was very different for us musically. We were trying to break the punk/emo rock pattern that a lot of our older albums adhered to so we spent a lot of time pushing ourselves as players. This is also the first album our drummer Scott didn't produce. We met some great guys who run a killer studio in Philly called Sex Dungeon and they helped us develop our intentions in a very positive way. We knew we wanted to record the album totally live, which we had only done once before, so we spent weeks drilling the songs to make sure that everybody knew their roles for each track.

Most of the songs were based off of dreams I had so, for me, the writing process was like trying to record what happened in your dream after you've woken up. You get bits and pieces of the narrative and maybe a glimpse at some of the characters but you can never quite capture the visceral particulars or the vivid, surreal elements. That's what makes a dream a unique experience. So most of the record is very blue. It's kind of lethargic and the lyrics don't ever really complete a linear thought. There's no narrative and no real reason. They sort of just exist. So you can apply your own meanings and interpret them as you wish.

Robb Donker

4 Years Ago Before Pangea became Together Pangea....

4 years ago before Pangea became Together Pangea, the creative and fun loving team of Tony and Gabe shot the band performing some songs with Matt and Kyle from Audacity. The extra guitar power give the performances the six string umph of Diarrhea Planet-esque proportions. Very cool and something to keep in your personal time capsule. Check out another Pangea / Audacity performance and many more cool vids at

NOTE: I posted up about this back in 2012 but in a different way which included comments on the then new "Pangea" EP "Killer Dreams" you can check that out here

AND for those of you who don't know- Tony (Infante) and Gabe (Diaz) along with Alex Faciane and Nick Gil had a band of their own named Heroes and Heroines and while they seem to have been silent for a while they released 3 killer singles. You should check them out-

Robb Donker

Pangea (featuring Audacity) - No Feelin' from Tony and Gabe on Vimeo.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

OSHEAGA Festival Musique Et Arts - JULY 29-31 at Parc Jean-Drapeau, Montreal - Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lana Del Rey, Death Cab For Cutie, M83 and MORE- Tickets going fast

Ok. All I want to know is when am I going to win the fucking Lottery so I can quite my job and just become a professional rad music festival goer! This one looks like a winner and seeing Radiohead in Montreal would be very cool because undoubtedly Thom would introduce some songs in French thus making the performance feel or so cosmopolitan.

INFO here sweet people:

This Morning I woke Up Feeling Like Fidlar

Woke up feeling like a Fidlar song this morning so I thought I would drag out the videos that I shot of them (last year) at Shaky Knees and a cool vid from way back in 2013 at Burgerama. Having seen and shot them many times in California I gotta say that I was ill prepared for the packed audience who stuffed into one of the smaller stages at Shaky Knees. And clearly it was not people just getting out of the sun. The crowd knew the band and the songs.

I guess living in California basically my entire life gave me a kind of myopic view of the LA bands that I followed. Bands like Fidlar are such an intrinsic part of the So Cal scene that I never really thought of their impact in areas outside of California even though they have toured so extensively around the world. In fact, I would say that of all the bands at Shaky Knees they were one of the top 8 in terms of audience participation and just getting them emotionally up and moving. Been living in Georgia for almost 21 months and still missing that California music scene.

Enjoy people.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Radiohead : A Moon Shaped Pool - A Musical Wake Full Of Fond Remembrances And Emotional Eulogies

The latest artistry from Radiohead, "A Moon Shaped Pool" feels (to me) more like a collection of deeply heartfelt songs than a single focused album. This does not mean that it doesn't feel like a whole thing or that it isn't a cohesive project but because it does mix in some older material including True Love Waits that originated in 1995 it almost feels like a farewell of sorts. You also have Burn The Witch from the Hail to The Thief sessions, The Numbers (formerly Silent Spring) and Desert Island Disk (that both oddly have a Led Zeppelin-ish garden rock quality to it) performed live last year, Present Tense performed at the 2009 Latitude Fest and Identikit and Ful Stop performed during their 2012 tour.

The glue that holds the brand new material with the older songs is a thoroughly engrossing palette of sounds and an aesthetic that, even for Radiohead, veers so very somber and utterly introspective. It is as if we are all at a musical wake of sorts and fondly remembering passages of time with a heavy patina of loss drenched over every memory. Some writers are wondering if this album is Radiohead's final farewell, others including myself have the feeling that this dark and sad tone has more to do with the fact that Thom Yorke and his wife / partner Rachel Owen of 23 years separated last year. This, of course could be me projecting but nonetheless I haven't heard Thom sound quite this emotionally bare.

Daydreaming built on one sad piano line that stair steps downward with an occasional rise. Every second is deeply emotional. Yorke who more often than not comes up with lyrics that feel from another planet actually utters common phrases like "point of no return" and "the damage is done" but massages the words in such a way that they hold his own original emotional weight. The sounds push and pull and the feeling is desperate and forlorn until the build up succumbs to electronic sounding snores.

Deck Darks feels like it could be tied to Ok Computer. It has that proggy 90's post rock tone. A beautiful almost foggy beginning with spartan piano giving away to full on awe. Lyrically it almost feels like a wide world alien abduction. Beautiful bass work throughout with a wonderfully controlled tone on the many guitar sounds.

Glass Eyes feels very much like an orchestrated inner conversation and could grace an emotional stage play. With lush piano and swelling strings evoking loss, sadness and uncertainty.

Ful Stop has always felt Kraftwerk-esque gone beserk. The droning sounds and endless beat and Thom's words can invade your head and put you in a trance if you let it. When it jams it feels so relentless.

Identikit plays like a stream of consciousness, heavy on bass, percussion and guitar work that is so compelling. The big swell of sounds and opposing voices is so dramatic. The sense of emptiness inherent in humankind which is an ongoing theme in Radiohead songs is heavy here.

As a complete piece of work, A Moon Shaped Pool feels part opera, part smoky rock (jazz) fusion club and part camp fire songs. Tinker Tailor Soldier Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief with dashes of abstract textures, dream like sense of paranoia takes your head into a dozen places (at least). It can feel scarily bloated too. You go from this mysterious fluidly large tone to the final track True Love Waits and you run from crazily askew to starkly real.

I have always deeply loved True Love Waits over the years but this version here is a total devastating heart breaker. The piano lines feel lost and looking for each other while the same time clumsily stepping on each other's feet. The cadence feels lost too. Thom stretches out the phrasings as if each line is a mournful plea. When he passionately asks "Just Don't Leave" and the piano ends with it's sustain, the pain is as real as the answer.

In the end, A Moon Shaped Pool might just be that. A stunning end to something remarkable. Only time will tell.

Robb Donker

Secret Arcade- These Tracks / Videos from "Quarter Century" Will Elevate You - "Suspect" and "Fall For Me"

Full disclosure: Found a sweet submission in my email from Planetary Group (thanks Kyle) concerning Secret Arcade which is the music moniker of Babak Govan who according to his Facebook is a fiction writer and a Portland, Oregon transplant. It is funny, I don't know anything about his writing or if that is his sole occupation. I don't know if he works as a manager at Dennys for his real job or if he is a top software designer. I don't know even know if Babak Govan is his real name. What I do know is that he is a pretty snappy dresser and as Secret Arcade he released his debut album Quarter Century on April 26th. I also know that the two tracks from that project as videos are truly engaging.

Suspect hooked me in right away and it's not only because I (in a past life) dreamed of being a member of Depeche Mode and Flock of Seagulls. The electronic sounds and guitar lines pulsating around Babak's icy vocal delivery works on every level. Great sounds that at once are deeply embedded in that 80's futuristic vibe and the future itself. I think it feels sci fi and thus kind of timeless. Great track- check out the video below.

Fall For Me is equally cool but in a more beautiful way. The sweet sway while still feeling a bit electronic in tone is really closer to having a blues heart. It is a slow dance in a church and hinged on that gravelly Babak vocal that veers a bit into Nick Cave, no.... Nick Cave in space. There is something in the tone, the organ that feels spacey and ties nicely with Suspect.

Nice stuff Mr. Govan-

Robb Donker


Thursday, May 19, 2016

Criminal Hygiene - Lovely Bad Things - Vug Arakas - DJ Justin Gage AT Resident May 19th TONIGHT -












TONIGHT at Resident

Need I say more??  Great bands that I know and love- go see them and bring your party face.


Sunday, May 15, 2016

Dabble's Live Session of "Robin's Dream Sequence" Is Tender and Immersive Dream Pop

Photo courtesy of Erick Turcios

L.A.'s Dabble have always injected a tender vibe in their indie pop but their latest album veers a bit more avant garde and dreamy in such a good way. Check out the Live Session of "Robin's Dream Sequence" below in celebration of their Burger Records Cassette Release: -

I love this track and in some ways it feels kind of Radiohead-esque. Maybe it is the stellar drumming which does, dare I say, have a kind of Phil Selway ease and voracity to them. I don't know, I just love the tones and textures on this song so much.
Robb Donker

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Radiohead and Paul Thomas Anderson Form A Potent Emotional Drug In "Daydreaming"

Daydreaming the luscious tease and second single of what will be Radiohead's latest album is embodied in an appropriately dreamy music video directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. As you all probably know Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood has scored Anderson's films like Inherent Vice, The Master and There Will Be Blood.

The song itself built on an emotional piano riff seeps into your head slowly but fully until it carries you away. With the bendy, transient sounds that filter in like a series of thoughts, dreams the effect is like a cascade of memories or visions from the past and the future. Radiohead's ability to transport you like a mind altering musical hallucinogen is strong here. Amazingly the song builds, kind of folds in on itself and builds more and at 5 minutes in it gets even better with some beautiful orchestration.

Daydreaming is the kind of song that will undoubtedly inspire hundreds of film makers and other artists and dare I say, will end up in a future movie as this kind of wonderful piece of emotional soundscape that will only make that unnamed movie better.
Robb Donker

Friday, May 6, 2016

What is Thom Looking for? His Cell Phone? His Car? Sanity in the World? The Release of Radiohead's New Album?

A video posted by Radiohead (@radiohead) on
In Radioheads latest Instagram post Thom Yorke is looking for something. Having lost my cell phone, I know how he feels... maybe he lost his too. - Robb Donker

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Radiohead's "Burn The Witch" Is Not Full Of Musical Surprises But is The Perfect Cautionary Tale For Today- For Right Now

Burn The Witch doesn't have some of the weird angular musical shifts that I have come to expect from Radiohead and the lyrics are not obtuse or as poetic as usual. No, this feels more like middle of the road sounds, ominous yes, foreboding and a cautionary tale to be sure. Very cool stuff that may grow on me, but from a musical standpoint not the spike of Adrenalin that usually occurs when I hear a new Radiohead track but I suppose Thom and the boys may of wanted this to be more musically accessible to a lot of people because this song is about something.

Thom has always been politically active and astute and Burn The Witch is, after all, a song perfectly suited for today. There are scads of politicians and powerful entities burning witches in order to move us to act and not in a good way. People at their worst always react to "the other" with fear and as the song tells us to "abandon all reason" to "kill the messenger" as we are moved by a "low flying panic attack".

The killer come on brought on by those who seek power is illustrated like children's fare in the video for the song. Played visually in  a David and Goliath sort of way, it tells the story of a visitor to what seems like an idyllic little town and how he is lead to.... well you will find out. Spoiler alert: He does escape in time. Maybe we all can.
Robb Donker

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Watch This / Listen To This- Summer Flake - Shoot and Score Against "Let The Right One In"

The "Hello Friends" album by Melbourne's Summer Flake is a tantalizing mix of sounds that combine the indie layers of sock hop punk, surfish garage rock, 80's new wave and dreamy pop into their own emotional thing. Whatever you want to call it, it has chunky guitars, lush vox and music that makes you sway with friends. The edge yet beauty lends itself as a soundtrack for the 2008's Swedish Romantic Horror Film "Let The Right One In. You know how it goes, mute the video and then hit play and soon after that hit play on Summer Flakes' track Shoot And Score. Enjoy.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Watch This / Listen to This-- featuring Toronto's Indoor Voices - "So Smart" (White Flashes Remix) and Scenes from "Mr. Nobody"

Toronto Dream Pop Shoegazers Indoor Voices create songs / sounds that evoke the stuff that dreams are made of. Their music inspire the macro and microcosmic emotions of life. What better imagery to cast their sound upon than Jaco Van Dormael's 2009 Sci-fi drama and mind bender "Mr. Nobody" starring Jared Leto as Nemo Nobody, a 118 year old man who is the last mortal on Earth after the human race at large have achieved a quasi-immortality. You know the concept here (we hope) by now. Just mute the video, then push play on the Indoor Voices track below the So Smart (White Flashes Remix) then immediately push play on the video. Enjoy.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Watch This / Listen To This: "Woman" by Divino Nino and Clint Eastwood's "For A Few Dollars More"

"Woman" by Divino Nino has a sultry stalking cadence (or gallop) that churns like a torrid Spaghetti
Western. The atmospheric guitar, Farfisa organ and delicious bass is suited for the steely eyed glare of Clint Eastwood taking down enemies.  The concept is simple, after you mute the audio push play on the "For A Few Dollars More" video and then push play on "Woman" by Divino Nino and enjoy the melding of a killer scene and a killer track.