Wednesday, August 31, 2016


Currently in the throes of a new love affair (musically speaking) I am writing a review of Agnes Obel's new album "Citizen of Glass" which deftly bends every genre of music that it blends together from third stream classical expermental to flourishes of jazz and blues
 to dark goth but until I post it listen to the latest offering "Golden Green" below. Enjoy.
-Robb Donker

LOS ANGELES, CA - WEDNESDAY, August 31, 2016 -- "Golden Green," the new single from Agnes Obel, is now available to stream and as an instant grat with pre-orders of her upcoming album, Citizen Of Glass, set for an October 21 release on Play It Again Sam/[PIAS].  The album, which will be available as a digital download, CD with lyric booklet, and on 180g black vinyl LP + download code in a gatefold sleeve, can be pre-ordered now from 

"Golden Green" is the second single from Obel's new album, following "Familiar," described as "hauntingly beautiful," "a pointillist, arpeggiating, strings-flecked stunner," and "ASMR-worthy," by the UK's The SunThe Sunday Times, and The Guardian, respectively.

Obel is a talented, smart and self-determined young woman who wrote, performed, produced and mixed Citizen of Glass, an album that deals with the willingness to be open, to be honest, to be glass.

The Denmark-born, Berlin-based Obel is a headliner in Europe, has sold more than a million copies of her last two releases, accumulated more than 250 million track streams worldwide, and received glowing reviews here in North America - and she is one of film director David Lynch's favorite artists.  Her music is powerful and emotional, hauntingly beautiful.  Obel will tour North America in 2017.

Golden Green
All I have or should
want to be but never could
it's coming at, it's coming at, it's coming at my heart
To spoil my soul with fire

All my eyes can see 
is born out of your imagery
it's coming at, it's coming at, it's coming at my heart

Tell me who you really love
Tell me who you really love
Tell me who you really love
Who are you to take over my mind
with your eyes on me
All for you I am climbing the sky
of golden green

Angel green and blue
I'm gonna leave my mind with you
It's coming at, it's coming at, it's coming at my heart
I know, I see, I wanna be just free
I know, it craves, it's running through my veins
To spoil my soul with fire

Tell me who you really love
Tell me who you really love
Who are you to take over my mind
With your eyes on me
All for you I am climbing the sky
of golden green


"[She blends] pop melodies with classical precision and an air of elegance
bordering on art songs."  - Boston Globe
"...absolutely sublime." - KCRW
"Agnes Obel's sparse, haunting songs shine brightly..."  - Village Voice
"Stunning...mesmerizing...ethereal soundscapes."  - WXPN/The Key
"Agnes Obel's atmospheric chamber pop held an audience spellbound..."  Seattle Times
"A fully-realized and confident artistic vision from an exciting young voice." - WNYC's "Soundcheck"

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Vomitface Full Length "Hooray For Me" Holds Up A Dirty Broken Mirror For You To Gaze Into

Within the stalking fray of Fat Witch off of Vomitface's new full length Hooray For Me (on Help Yourself Records) which was just released yesterday there is the line "my disgusting skin and bones, my breath clogged inside your nose" sung with a healthy dose of self hate by Jared Micah (which soon erupts into full blown white padded cell screaming) and in It's Me the imagery the band paints of standing water in a sink slowly boils over into a pure sense of unease as Micah despondently sings "when I'm in Hell I'll save you a seat but next to me unfortunately" while the music spits and sputters around him until the vacant stare sound peters out.

All the songs on Hooray For Me painted with an ultra low heavy sub sonic wash of dirty disjointed guitar, bass and drums play out like pained stories on the dark (self loathing) side of the human condition. The sonic sense from the unease of being human itself to - relationships destined to be broken to - already being severely broken but trying to be better, trying to be normal. Comparisons to Nirvana, Mudhoney and the Pixies are inevitable although Vomitface as grungy infected as they are strike a different chord although I must admit that I was feeling the wee ghost of Nirvana on two tracks that (for better or worse) are back to back, Slow Learner (a sledge hammer of a song that inspires an old fashioned circle pit) and Dramamine (one of the more chill songs on the album with a chorus melody with self harmonies that do feel Cobain-esque) and, by the way, this album was recorded by the one and only Steve Albini.

Vomitface is a 3 piece outfit and Albini did an excellent job of not over producing. The sound is just the way it should be stark and in your face. I specifically thought of Albini's hand when I listened to Chew Toy whose lyric "Hooray For Me" became the album's name. I have to say that it sounds subdued on this record. I have heard the song performed live and here it is slower, less ballsy. Now to be fair it is common that bands play their songs faster live but if it was Albini's decision to slow it down  then (in my humble opinion) it was a mistake. Yes, even God's make mistakes. Still Chew Toy as presented on the album is a great song. It is a sardonic, self deprecating course in self help gone bad. The groove is killer and the chorus immersive.

I think that Vomitface could put a twisted spin on any normal event. It is a healthy exercise to look at what we call living and ask why. I get that sense in Senior Pictures where the self gradulatory practice of portraying ourselves in a photographic image is skewered. It is a prudently relevant song in the selfie decade. Wait has gotten an unplugged vibe (no that is not a Nirvana mind flash or maybe it is?). The most playful track is If Then. Jared Micah's vocal performance feels more out there in a kind of declarative, kind of burlesque way. He spews the lyrics like a huckster but obvious entertainer. The song is off kilter and as possibly sick as your average high desert carnie.  Et Cetera feels like the most hyper track. In fact this time signature twister swings in spots in an almost indie pop way, I said almost and I like the clever lyrical spins like "suck it up soliloquist... grind your teeth, clench your fist." If there is one song that is appropriate for toddlers (now go with me on this) it is Eastern Bloc Party. There is something genteel, charming in Micah's performance. To be sure there is plenty of nihilism but it is coated with a perfect amount of Eddie Haskell-esque kiss assness.

The core of Vomitface is Jared Micah (vocals, guitar) and Preetma Singh (drums) and while bassist Keller McDivitt played on previous EP's and tours, Angela Phillips played bass on Hooray For Me.
Any select group of people hearing this album will think of some iconic grunge bands, they will, there is no way of getting around that and some won't be able to get past that but who cares. Those kinds of people are stuck. Just listen to this album take it in, absorb it fully and I can't imagine that it will not get under your skin in a good way. Revel in the smartly sardonic lyrics that hold a mirror up to the human condition and thoroughly toxic sound that will gloriously tweak your synapses. Then go take a shower.

Notes: It's all good man but essentials are Fat Witch, Eastern Bloc Party, Chew Toy, Slow Learner, Senior Pictures.

Robb Donker

The debut LP from Toronto rock trio (recently re-located from NYC) Vomitface is due out on August 26, 2016 on Help Yourself Records. Recorded and mixed by Steve Albini.

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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Glass Spells New Self Titled Album with It's Hazy Synth Flooded Nostalgic Sound Is Rapturously Fun

I have been enjoying the blendo punk disco hybrid sound of Glass Spells for a few years. As present as the band is especially when performing live it has always felt like their sound doesn't exist in the now but, instead, percolates in both the past and the future at the same time. Their self titled album just dropped and as Away From Space carried me to a different plane of dark vast star ships and mysterious planets I immediately had a sharp tinge of nostalgia and coolness too. It is hard to explain but the runaway beat of Rebellion and the heavy bass that ping pongs from low to high notes and back again of Curse Machine feels like 80's new wave re-imagined. Like flipping through Polaroids there are the ghosts of Interpol, Duran Duran, The Human League, New Order or Siouxsie and the Banshees in the synth flooded thumping majesty of Danger Streets.

Glass Spells sound is so fucking badass while dipping into a sweet comfort of what was before. It is the kind of hazing nostalgic tone I felt while deeply involved with the Netflix runaway hit "Stranger Things". The Duffer Brothers are you listening?? In fact, watch scenes from the series, turn off the sound and play Danger Streets or Rebellion (the line "Slay the monsters" is perfect) and it all fits like a glove. All of the sudden I am hearing Glass Spells in a different way. Without Your Laws feels like a full on proto punk attack existing in 1979 (or maybe 2079) and Young Fun with it's stalking cadence that falls away to the abandon of an intoxicated rave.

When it comes to the public embracing a sound timing is everything. Glass Spells sound feels super relevant right now at least for those who get what is happening. Get it. It is so on point and so rapturously fun.

Robb Donker

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

James Corden Gets The Best Birthday Present Ever- Sings "Nothing Compares 2U" With Coldplay at the Rose Bowl

As I watched James Corden perform Prince's Nothing Compares 2U with Coldplay in front of a massive, massive crowd at the Rose Bowl a couple things popped in my mind:

1. At this special moment James officially has eclipsed Jimmy.

2. When Chris Martin lovingly interjected Jame's name in the lyrics it made the song a bit cheeky and goes against my standing rule that you do not ever change the lyrics when you cover a song.

3. Who are the (as of the time of this posting) 356 mother fuckers on Youtube who gave this video a thumbs down (hmmm, could be die hard Prince fans I suppose).

4. James Corden is one hell of a sexy fat man.

Check out the video below and I hope you enjoy it as much as I have. Happy Birthday James!
Robb Donker

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Mozes and The Firstborn - Official Video for "Crawl" Gets Cinematic On You

Mozes and the Firstborn's new track "Crawl" has this big rock ballad sound and for whatever reason I thought of Oasis a bit and of Tired Pony and of Howard Hughes by Ride and during the chorus the melody faintly reminded me of Hurt by Nine Inch Nails. Sound and production wise it swings wide and should appeal to a wide demographic. This can always be a blessing and a curse in the indie world but I wish them the best of luck.

Now the video which I must say is top notch film making seems to be a morality play (or not) that breaks down to the basic credo of all 80's slasher movies: If you are young and have sex you will die. Again, this video is so well shot and acted although the male love interest is a bit creepy (serial killer vibe) but for me the imagery enhances the imagery not really the song. Mozes and the Firstborn themselves have a lot of charm and I like seeing them more in their videos. Awww but what do I know.

Great track though- and if it brings a wider audience to Mozes and the Firstborn then that is all that really matters because they deserve it.
Robb Donker

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Mendez -"Phone Records" Stark, Weird, Beautiful Stories Recorded via Cellphone in a West Village Tenement

The plaintiff Try from Mendez's Phone Records album available on cassette from Some Weird Sin Records is a tiny slow waltz. It feels immediate and intimate, is stark and beautiful and as perfectly spontaneously poised and unrehearsed sounding as Gregory Mendez's deep choking breathes between phrases. I could only guess what the poetry, what the story of the song is about but, to me, it feels like it is about feeling the death of something, anything so you can move on.  Sister has this kind of voguish 60's psychedelic groove with a lovely stair stepping melody. Control creates a lot of layered emotional tensions with soaring vocals.

One of the pleasures of Phone Records is not knowing which songs are those in embryo and which ones are born and fully realized. Gum Trash feels like it might be a kind of immediate creation that was sewn up quickly. I may be wrong on this but that raw feeling hinged on the acoustic guitar lines that are the glue of this song feel like they are drawn out of pure inspiration that was glossed up a bit.  Mendez as singer songwriter clearly puts himself out there, exorcises demons and that is the best kind of writing. In Daddy which is maybe the most expansive song on this album there is this wonderful sense of wanderlust, of city views soaring past a train window. The bulk of the song feels like an epic emotional crescendo of a personal family story,

Stained Glass Boys has this amazing lush cool vibe. The deep pearly bottom of the song combined with the hushed drone of sound and reflective lyrics shows another side of Mendez. The aesthetic is more British sleek with an almost Morrissey aloofness. Hangover also has a measure of cool or a cigarette dangling from pursed lips. It also has a smart pop sense softening the edge. A beautiful and sardonic ode to minimum wage I Won't Be Home For Christmas with it's dense vocal presentation pulls you in close by the shirt collar but ends too soon. The most strange and cheeky track The Drug Trafficker's Daughter with these kind of orchestral electric guitar lines feels like a twisted love story. It is a trip or a drug trip. I don't know.

Phone Records is an amazing piece of work even more so when you fully realize that all these songs were essentially recorded on a smartphone. There are obviously other artists who have shared songs that were recorded and even produced via cell phone but Mendez's treatment of this device seems less to do with novelty than necessity and emotional readiness. I applaud the fact that he followed through producing an entire album done in this way. He reflects on the chronology of Phone Records:

"I owe most everything to the mid-late 2000s Philadelphia music scene, where I came of age as a songwriter. I played in a few bands and played solo shows and recorded quite a number of songs but in my late teens and early twenties had a lot of trouble keeping anything together.  I would busk on the streets between crappy jobs and moved back and forth between Philly and New York for years, even spending a few months in the hellhole that is Harrisburg, PA working at an auto recycling factory. I crashed on many friends' couches. In the fall of 2015 on a whim i moved once again to New York City to stay on my Aunt's couch.  I quit doing all drugs and within a few months had a decent paying job and a girlfriend.  I got my first ever smartphone in 2015 and immediately started recording one song a week in my girlfriend's (who is now my wife) bathroom in a small West Village tenement.  I tracked bass, drums, and electric guitars ion random practice rooms at The Sweatshop practice space in Brooklyn.  These are some of those songs."  

Phone Records by Mendez is a compelling blend of introspection and artistry. As I listened to these varied stories I thought of artists like Elliot Smith, Lou Reed, Conor Oberst and Leonard Cohen. Do yourself a favor and listen to these songs. If you love what you hear I hope that you would purchase this special cassette or digital files. I think you will visit them often.
Robb Donker

(photo attributed to Stephen Yang)

Echo Park Rising DAY 4 for the Diehards- From Blistering Country Tinged Rock of Down and Outlaws to the Punk Hard Meatbodies and Dutch Party, Lovely Bad Things, Wyatt Blair, Melted, Sheer, Flying Hair, Moaning, The Tyde and MORE

DAY 4 of the One and ONLY Echo Park Rising 2016 runs the gamut from country rock leanings at Cosmic Vinyl and all out mosh worthy grungy punk at the Echoplex and everything in between. This day is for the diehards who are going to savagely grab onto the last musical moments of freedom before they have to slither into work on Monday. I must say that since moving away from California which will always be my home that Echo Park Rising is one of the happenings in So Cal that I miss very much and it is a model for artistic expression that should be replicated in communities all across the country.  Free music pulling people who might otherwise not know a area of the city and all that city has to offer in terms of restaurants, shops, record stores and more is a win win for everyone involved. Echo Park Rising is rad and important. As always, whomever you choose to see today YOU will have a great time but here are my picks for DAY 4 with an unabashedly happy shout out to an intense block of sound for bands I know and love and who kill it every time (at the Echoplex - see poster below):

The Tyde at 4:40 at The Echo Stage as well as The Sloths at 5:30, Beam Bums at 6:20 and Wyatt Blair at 8 PM. On the Echoplex Stage : The Eleventh Frequency at 4:40, Barrow at 5 PM, Melted at 8 PM, Lovely Bad Things at 8:50, Flying Hair at 9:40 and Meat Bodies at 10:30.

On the Cosmic Vinyl stage- drown your sorrows with Patrolled by Radar at 4 PM and rock with Down and Outlaws at 6 and Nocona at 8 PM. Be sure and catch Moaning at 3:15 on the Little Joy Cocktails stage as well as Vug Arakas at 4:45 and Dead Dawn at 7 PM. Bodegas at 2:30, Jamie Allensworth at 5:30 and The Kidneys at 6:15 on the Lost Knight stage. At Lost Room: The Echo and the Sound at 5 PM, Ultra Violent Rays at 5:45 and Dutch Party at 6:30. Lot 1: The Red Pears early at 12:45 and Sheer at 3 PM.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

DAY 3- SAT 20TH - ECHO PARK RISING 2016- Our Picks- Adult Books, Moon Honey, The Weirdos, Ivory Deville, Bleached, Yoko and the Oh No's, Green Gerry, Bloody Death Skull, Criminal Hygiene, La Luz and MORE

Holy shit, you Echo Park Risers must be waking up with mushy brains with the sheer mental and emotional overload from all the many varied creative assaults on your heart and head not to mention the punch to the stomach from those of you who ate and partied too much or not enough. I mean that's the way it goes right at these kinds of all day beautiful affairs. You attack it with wild abandon at the cost of your stomach or you indulge in every fucking thing.

Cast any sensory and bodily damage aside because it is time for DAY 3. It is time to chill out with Drug Cabin, trip out with Globelamp, spaz out with The Weirdos, chug with Criminal Hygiene, dance with Bleached, headbang with Flames of Durga, dance (with drink in hand) with Green Gerry, dance until exhausted to Them Howling Bones, stare with quizzical wonderment at Bloody Death Skull and mosh to Adult Books and much, much more. You, my friends, have a full fucking day!

As I have said before, whoever you see today you are going to have a great day! Here are my picks for DAY 3:
At the Echo Patio: CB Brand at 2 PM, Ivory Deville at 7PM and Drug Cabin at 9 PM. Yoko and the Oh Nos at 3:30 PM, Billy Changer at 5:50 and Globelamp at 6:40 PM at The Echo. Catch The Tissues at 3:25 at the Echoplex along with Magic Bronson at 2:40 PM, The Molochs at 7:30 and the Weirdos at 9:10. At the Cosmic Vinyl stage at 8PM see Sam Morrow. On the Liberty Stage you got Criminal Hygiene at 3:40, Swimm at 5:20, Feels at 6:10, La Luz at 7:50 and Bleached at 8:50. On the Little Joy Cocktails stage - Flames of Durga at 7 PM. See Mars and the Massacre at 4 PM on the Lost Knight stage as well as Green Gerry at 7:45, Wet and Reckless at 9:15 and The Blank Tapes at 11:30. On the Lot 1 Cafe stage- Ablebody goes on at 3 PM, Polartropica at 4, Name the Band at 7 and Hammered Satin at 10 PM. You can see Them Howling Bones at 4 PM on the Short Stop stage. At Spacedust, Black Sea plays at 6:15 and Golden Animals at 7:45. Catch Bloody Death Skull at 6:30 and So Many Wizards at 9:45 at the Stories Book and Cafe. At Taix see Brit Manor at 6:15, Cellars at 8:15, Moon Honey at 9:15 and Adult Books at 11:15.
Robb Donker

 cb brand 2pm

Ivory Deville 7pm

drug cabin 9pm

 billy changer

globelamp 640

magic bronson 240

 the tissues 325

the molochs 730


criminal hygiene 340

swimm 520

feels 610

la luz 750

bleached 850

mars and the massacre 4pm

green gerry 745

wet and reckless 915pm

theblanktapes 1130pm

ablebody 3pm

name the band 7pm

hammered satin 10

them howling bones 4pm

golden animals 745pm

bloody death skull 630pm

so many wizards 945pm

moon honey 915 pm

adult books 1115 pm

Friday, August 19, 2016

Echo Park Rising - DAY 2 American Pancake PICKS-- for you Echo Park Risers- Rudy De Anda, Chicano Batman, Winter, Mating Ritual, So Pitted, Colleen Green, Bloodboy, Walter, Thee Commons, Batwings Catwings MORE

So now that all you Echo Park Risers have had one day of this expansive music extravaganza under your collective belts I am sure you have gotten the lay of the land down a bit. You know which bar to head into to chill for a drink, where to eat, how best to navigate from the Echo down to Loli-Pop Records to catch the buzz or what is the most efficient way to snake over to Taix by foot or when to succumb to a late night Uber call. You got it down and you are getting your mind in the indie fray and with each passing day of killer bands you will be in this glorious head space of fun and even inspiration. I truly believe that whomever you see perform will be a great time but I do want to offer my picks for Friday, August 19th DAY 2 of Echo Park Rising.

Hope you can check out Walter at 4:40 PM- So Pitted  at 5:30 and Chastity Belt at 6:20 (The Echo) - Mating Ritual at 7 PM  and Dear Boy at 9:30 both the Echoplex. Winter at 5:05 PM, Thee Commons at 7:50  PM and Chicano Batman at 8:50 all at the Liberty Stage.  On the Lost Knight stage - Bedbugs at 8 PM as well as The Knitts at 9:30 PM. Check out Maxie Dean at 10:15 on the Lost Room stage along with Miles Tackett at 11 PM. On the Spacedust stage - Pipe Dreams at 4:45 PM, The Blank Tapes at 7:45 and Rudy De Anda at 8:30 PM. Casandra Violet at 9 PM on the Semi Tropic stage. At Taix: Bloodboy at 9:10, Roses at 10 PM and Collen Green at 11 PM. And at Lot 1 stage : Young Lovers at 7 PM, Batwings Catwings at 8 PM and Cutty Flam at 10 PM.



Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Echo Park Rising - Thursday Picks- Aug 18: The Eleventh Frequency, Pocket Rockets, The Regrettes, Sad Girl, The Fights, The Vivids, Egrets on Ergots

Oh how I loved to go to Echo Park Rising. I remember finding parking was always as hard as hell but once you snaked a spot you were literally in indie heaven and able to see tons of bands for free. Most of the venues are inside, some outside and in a few you could even grab up some free eats and drinks. Now I don't know if these perks will be available this year but the line up is amazingly huge and awesome and while traversing between venues will might get you a little sweaty and provide a good burn going in your thighs, in the end it will be all worth it. You might even make friends and you will certainly find some new musical addictions. I truly believe that whomever you see perform will be a great time but I do want to offer my picks for Thursday, August 18th.

Hope you can check out The Eleventh Frequency at 6 PM (Lot 1 Cafe) - The Pocket Rockets at 7 PM (Lot 1 Cafe) - or at the Echoplex, The Regrettes at 5:50 PM, Sad Girl at 6:40 PM and The Frights at 7:30 PM and at the Short Stop: The Vivids at 8 PM and Egrets on Ergot at 9 PM

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Most Epic Part of The Wrecking Ball ATL Festival: Deerhunter's Bradford Cox Going Off

There were a whole lot of magical moments at this years Wrecking Ball ATL Fest held this past Saturday and Sunday (Aug. 13-14) and each and every special moment was automatically magnified by 100 because the iconic Masquerade, the home of the WBF will soon be reduced to a pile of rubble (at least most of it will be). In fact, last I heard the tentative plan was to relocate to the new expansive building at 1421 Fairmont Ave this coming weekend.

The plan is to eventually put up a residential / mixed use development while retaining some of the historic elements (or a wall or two) of the historic Dupre Excelsior Mill built in the 1890's. The new configuration like the Ponce Market across the way should be just the sort of place that appeals to the upwardly mobile and mostly white hipster set.

Now again, this very last hurrah for the Masquerade and the large lawn that accompanied the largest stages of the festival was full of killer performances and probably 75% of the acts eluded to the sad fact that the Masquerade would be no more.

Among all these special moments my favorite part of the entire festival was the roughly 1 minute and 42 seconds coming from Georgia's own Deerhunter and I don't mean the music as awesome as it was. The most epic part of the entire festival was Bradford Cox making some off the cuff remarks about the Masquerade's demise. His biting often sardonic commentary was not only about the demise of an iconic neighborhood club but of the cause of it's demise too. His diatribe skewered gentrification and each and everyone of us who gleefully participates in this practice despite whomever this blockbusting affects. After reflecting on some of the killer acts he saw at the Masquerade and the fact that this was the first time Deerhunter played at this venue (sort of) he said:

"Yeah neighborhoods change man, shit changes and everybody's thinking 'What's happened to my neighborhood?'  Well, it's not your neighborhood. it's not my neighborhood, it's not the Masquerade's neighborhood. It's not the families who lived here before that got pushed out so we could come in in the 70's or the families that got pushed out so those people could come in before that.

It's an endless draining cesspool. And that's just... American life. Venture capitalism, commodity fascism. The BeltLine.... Welcome to it. Welcome to the Fucking BeltLine. Goodbye Masquerade! Hello BeltLine! Hello Apple store! Yeah, hello Google fiber.

C'mon, don't forget that Coca Cola built this fucking city. You owe all of your presence here to corporations. Bow down to them right now and drink their feted cum. Take a Big gulp and then go on your Iphone and Tweet about it."

(Great more in depth and heavy article here : "With Gentrification, Black People are becoming Outsiders in their Own Communities" by David Love)

Monday, August 15, 2016

Jeff Rosenstock - "Nausea" at The Wrecking Ball Fest in Atlanta 8/14/16 Turns Into A Joyful Sing-a-long

The 2016 Wrecking Ball Fest in Atlanta as a rock fest was a mixed bag BUT one thing is for sure, the line up was pretty awesome. After shooting and enjoying Dinosaur Jr on the big outside stage in pretty oppressive heat I headed over to see the remainder of Jeff Rosenstock's set. He was playing on a small outdoor stage in the shade of the iconic Masquerade building itself. His final song was "Nausea" from his 2015 album "We Cool" that erupted into a full on sing-a long. 

I hadn't seen him before and I must say I was  blown away by his energy and infectious smile. The man puts on a great live show and the band (basically) Antarctigo Vespucci another side project of Jeff and Chris Farren of Fake Problems is so damn solid. Wish I was able to see the entire set. 

My apologies as this video had some interruptions. My Lumix must of been overheated from being in the sun all day- (old cam) and it was freaking out. I still wanted to post this up because it is so much fun.

After you view the video - Check out his bandcamp:

Monday, August 8, 2016

Seabreeze Diner - 5 Track EP "For Use With Care" Is Carefree Indie Pop That Explodes In Your Mouth

The first track Anna Belle on Seabreeze Diner's latest EP "For Use With Care" has so much unbridled energy stuffed into it that it can't help but pump happy adrenaline into your heart. The double time drums and cascading guitar licks give way to a carefree indie pop explosion. Even as the song jams with a joyful lead guitar and exuberant lyrics the song does this lovely break slowing down into a more introspective moment only to explode and take off again. It is this kind of emotional dynamic tone that speaks to Seabreeze Diner's pop brilliance.

Other tracks like Above Ground and Hold My Own adopt a kind of sock hop punk jag borrowing tones from late 50's or early 60's tortured love pop songs all the while feeling jammy. The track Arkansas swings into another indie pop tone with the inspired sparkly guitar work shown in Anna Belle. The lovely melodies in the chorus are pretty lush and the pop hooks are plentiful. The musical break and time signature change and build up is glorious stuff. Great track that I would love to see it performed live. Wasted Summer swings and will inspire head bopping and dancing. It slyly seems to end and then kind of resurfaces in a stripped down acoustic version at the end as if this might be the first rendition that inspired the full on electric version.

"For Use With Care" is bright indie pop and these North Carolina boys do it well. Anna Belle and Arkansas are the stand out tracks for me. Songs for me are little plays that connect with me or do not and while all these song connected with me the musical and lyrical melodies on those tracks feel like they have a back story more than the other songs. In a way they feel a bit deeper and more personal. Overall the entire EP has a lot to offer and I hope you listen to it repeatedly.
Robb Donker

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Outside (B-side version) by Shallow Halls Is Embryonic Garage Rock That Feels Punk / Proto and In It's Own Way Perfect

photo by Joanna Bautista 

The wonderful thing about social media is how you can effortlessly stumble upon musical gems.
Shallow Halls is from Santa Fe Springs, California a pretty small city roughly 9 square miles plopped about 20 miles or so south of LA. It's borders reach out to Whittier, Pico Rivera and La Mirada. I grew up in East Whittier, a stone's throw away and worked in SFS for well over 10 years. It is full of industry. I remember frequenting McMaster Carr and the kind of iconic Oxman's Surplus that people think is in La Mirada but it is not. Santa Fe Springs sounds like a tourist destination. I mean it has the word "Springs" in it's name but for the young there is not a hell of a lot to do there and thus it is the perfect place to fuel garage rock.

When I first heard the track "Outside" (B Side Version) despite the spartan sound I thought of Thee Oh Sees. Maybe it was the pumping drive of the bass and drums or the Dwyer-esque guitar squeaks and sure the sound is smaller but I love the tones. The proto punk feel is royally solidified by the caterwaul vocals that have this retro punk posture. I always, always love these kind of vocals that hinge on that weird kind of dramatics that harkin back to that new wave punk aesthetic that is occupied by singers like Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys) or Stan Ridgway (Wall of Voodoo).  Yes "Outside" is embryonic stuff by a young band and in that rawness feels perfect to me. Great track and full of promise. The kind of promise often times stewed in hot sweaty garages in suburbia. Shallow Halls is George, Diego and Gary. That is all I know and I want to hear more.
Robb Donker

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Be A Passionate Volunteer Yourself and Go To The "Save The Smell Fest" All Ages - 8/6 This Saturday- Secret Downtown LA Location

The iconic DIY all ages punk / experimental / indie venue known as The Smell has a devoted army of fans and followers who have been doing their best to fuel the fight to keep the Smell alive after it was announced (back in May) that it is scheduled to be demolished for the property to (more than likely) become a parking structure. The venue has been ostensibly maintained by primary owner Jim Smith since the late 90's and once the shock of the bad news wore off, the plans to save The Smell began.

There is an online petition and a Go Fund Me page that to date has earned $23K so far. There have been fund raising shows but maybe none as exciting as the Save The Smell Fest which features an amazing line up of Smell alumni like No Age, Surf Curse, Kim The Created, Audacity, Lovely Bad Things, Heller Keller, So Many Wizards, Post Life, Wyatt Blair and much more. This show also promises a surprise guest of epic proportions (ok maybe I added that part) to be announced the day of the show and will be held at a kind of secret location too which is so DIY in and of itself.

Tickets are only $25 and can be purchased here.  ($35 day of show)

The Smell has succeeded for so long because of passionate volunteers. Be a volunteer, plop down 25 bucks- see a totally killer line up and feel good.

Robb Donker


"Tender Madness" New Album By Jenny Besetzt - Has A Moody New Wavish Post Punk Power

Just let The Rabbit from Jenny Besetzt's latest work "Tender Madness" slowly wash over you in the wee early morning hours when you are most alone and you might just feel your body get lighter and lift off. The droning wall of synths and dense vocals rise gradually and seem to dance in and out of time with the music building into this truly dramatic sonic mantra. It is the last track on the album and such a great closer for the songs that came before.

Other tracks are more crushing in their sound, take for example Lunar Talks that has a chunky power to it with soft edges provided by vocalist / guitarist John Wollaber. Or the equally, driving Restlessness Memorialized that flies by at a fast clip held up with airy guitars and (again) that drone of bass, drums and synths. These songs like the title track Tender Madness has that kind of romantic post punk sound of Joy Division. I also thought of 80's (Los Angeles /Long Beach, California's) Abecedarians and The National.

The bright guitar intro of Authorless Speech that gives away to hyper drumming and heavy bass does take you into straight away into that kind of new wave head space, to that late late 70's early 80's British sound and throughout the ever moody and cool Black As Night in which Wollaber possesses a kind of sultry posture like Matt Berninger (The National) who in turn seems to sometimes be channeling Jim Morrison (The Doors). I can kind of feel that Morrison influence deep down in Jenny Besetzt's Dorothy Everything's Fine which has so many exquisite slow burn moments. The chorale aspect of Kanizsa Triangle yet shows another side of this multifaceted band. It serves as this trippy interlude until the eruption of the aforementioned Lunar Talks.

In the end "Tender Madness" is such an apt title for an album that effortlessly shifts it's tone from song to song all the while holding the band's aesthetic in it's hands. Anytime you play in that vast kind of shoe gazey 80's post punk sound you can lose your emotional grip on your audience if the sound is too foggy but Jenny Besetzt walks this tightrope well. Also, Wollaber adds intimacy to the brooding nature of this kind of performance. I always think that bands with a dense sound have to be careful of not burying the lead vocal (especially live) and I don't hear that here.

Listen, feel Tender Madness with a discerning ear and open heart and it will certainly provide imagery and introspection. Stream the album below.

Robb Donker

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Rebel Light - "A Hundred Summer Days" EP Walks A Shiny Pop Tightrope That Leaves You Smiling

The Rebel Light from LA unabashedly celebrate the endless summer days of California. Their EP, A Hundred Summer Days is dropping via Dualtone Music August 5th.

The track Where Did All The Love Go tightropes spectacularly close to the pop / disco of classic 70's Euro-Pop like ABBA and today's indie dance pop like Tame Impala. Other songs on the EP, like Afterlife hits a beautiful chord with sweet melodies drenched with a thick vocal sound. Before you cast it off as too middle of the road you get lost in the vast embracing sound. I don't mind when artists cast a wide inclusive net when it is this warm. Hard To Believe with it's luscious bass line puts a big wide smile on my face. The sound is full tilt indie pop and it works because it is crafted so earnestly. The track Summer Haze is so poppy and bright that it could be the theme to a soda pop commercial full of brightly dressed dancers. It has the spirit, the guts of a Beach Boys tune. This song will pierce any jaded heart and fill it with California sunshine. The horns at the end are so beautiful.

Strangers which feels like the quintessential Rebel Light track too has a retro 60's shiny sheen. When I first posted about this track early this year I likened it to the Shins with a heavy dose of The Lovin Spoonful or The Mamas and the Pappas. The dreamy pop here with a lot of "ba ba baaa baaa baaa baa ba's" (like all their songs) is not approached in any kind of tongue and cheek or self aware retro sort of way but done up with a down to earth footprint and that gives it it's emotional pull. True, maybe The Rebel Light focus on the bright light instead of the dark but at times like these it might be the kind of thing we need to immerse ourselves in on a regular basis.

Full EP pre-order available here.