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 goo.gl/kQ1hKz-
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

Robert De Niro Calls Out Trump With Righteous Indignation and Passion and It Is Something To Behold

We live in interesting times. I mean, to me, the fact that Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton are the front runners in the 2016 American Presidential Race is kind of stunning, very surreal. I am not really a Clinton supporter but the fact that someone as ill equipped as Donald Trump could, in fact, possibly become President is comedic and shockingly sad.

It might be a clear indication that the Republican Party has lost it's heart, soul and mind. Maybe it is a temporary form of insanity and it is probably good in the long run because their policies have been fractured a long time ago. It is funny, over time and within the long lens of history Ronald Reagan really was a fairly moderate republican and based on my readings of his policies and his public comments while President and after leaving office I am quite sure that he would (if somehow magically alive today) not vote for Donald Trump.

Another person who will not vote for Trump is Robert De Niro. On Twitter De Niro calls him out with righteous indignation and passion launching into him in possibly the only way a man like Trump would understand and it is something to behold.

You go Bobby D!

Robb Donker

Robert De Niro on Donald Trump: 'He's a punk, he's a dog, he's a pig ...' #TrumpTapes

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Dumb Numbers 2 - by Dumb Numbers - Stunningly Heavy, Trippy, and Oddly Beautiful

Dumb Numbers makes some stunningly heavy and trippy sounds. Often times the vocal performances are pushed back in the mix and through a heady mix of filters turning the atmosphere even darker, nosier and strangely majestic as well. The project of Australian musician Adam Harding features a rotating cast of friends and contributors. The second release entitled "Dumb Numbers 2" just dropped August 19th and the players include Lou Barlow (Dinosaur Jr. / Sebadoh), David Yow (Jesus Lizard), Dale Crover (Melvins), Murph (Dinosaur Jr.), Bobb Bruno (Best Coast), and more.

Sometimes when I listen to an album for the first time I head straight to the middle so in this case I pushed play on track 4: Essence - Existence. Controlled chaos would be an understatement. All guitars are gushing out bending walls of sustained fuzz and droning howling waves.  The plodding power felt like a massive machine that cuts through rock and metal. The drums fills and sometimes spastic beat is crazy good and let me say right now that this album is a drum-centric album. Sometimes as a musician I admire songs because of melody and over all sound and sometimes I love songs because they would be so much damn fun to play. Both reasons apply here and all the songs on Dumb Numbers 2 would be so fun to play. Mantra is equally alluring and abrasive and full of massive drum fills. It is noisey and laden with feedback. The vocals feel like they are front masked, that is to say they sound like back masked vocals run in reverse. It feels like Satanic rockers being self indulgent and just making noise and yet it is compelling. Finally the noise subsides and all you have are chanting that sounds demonic. Very weird.

Now other songs feel, quite frankly more like songs. Will You Earn A Star is full frontal heavy indie rock with almost gothic majestic lyrics. Again kick ass drumming. Some times the rock prog flows into the descending A to G to F heard in so many heavy metal songs like the end of Stairway to Heaven. Girl On The Screen plays so much more mellow and dreamy with a softly soothing vocal melody still awash, filtered through a gauzy sound. Unbury the Hatchet has a touch of Black Sabbath meets Iron Maiden meets Vast (kind of) and more- there is a band at the tip of my tongue on this song but I just couldn't remember. Stirred into this song is psychedelic sounds, goth metal sounds again with such cool proggy drumming.

The heaviness is never ending on this record and then you hear No one which shows such a different side to this project / band. Currently my favorite track on this record the beginning feels like flashes of memories like blinding sunlight through tree branches. Because there is so many opposing sounds and instruments it feels like a myriad of memories then all of the sudden the tone shifts to an organ and bass guitar which then falls away to keys and cool beautiful vocals "No one can hurt you...." -  Now mind you, heretofore all the vocal performances were more guttural, more abrasive and now the tone is more straightforward although it is still awash in reverb. Accompanied by a cello, light fender Roads-ish keys and big drums this song feels so fucking cinematic but with a decidedly abstract and almost creepy tone. It is sultry and scary. I thought of a naked Isabella Rossellini being terrorized by Dennis Hopper in David Lynch's Blue Velvet.

Wonder Why feels like a noise rock ballad almost. Dreamy and pretty. The drums are tom tom heavy but when the snare fills come they sound like gun fire. Such a cool song. There is (believe it or not) something very Moody Blues about it. The final track Sometimes There's No Next Time feels like a closer of sorts, moody as hell and feeling like peering around corners I could see credits rolling. As it builds there is a kind of chorale majesty until it is taken over by only drums and then discomforting synth sounds like scratchy radio transmissions.

Dumb Numbers 2 is full of sonic turmoil and even though it is a collection of songs it almost doesn't feel like it. It feels like waves of emotion, like unexpected rains or hurtful memories, tears at a funeral or a heavy metal church to save or destroy your soul.

Robb Donker

(you can here the entire album here)

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Del Caesar's - Rock Aesthetic Bucks Normal Conventions By Just Rocking On EP2- Hear "Like They Always Say"

There is something in Brooklyn based Del Caesar's sound that feels like a cut of American rock pie maybe with pecans in it. There is that time when rockabilly kind of shifted and absorbed tinges of soul, blues rock, country and tones out of the UK. This alchemy of music coalesced into a particular roots rock sound forming Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison and even Neil Diamond. Later that same slice of Americana rock would push the sound of Marshall Crenshaw and the 80's indie tones of bands like the Smithereens, The Gin Blossoms and the underrated Willie Nile. I can here certain comfortable degrees in Del Caesar's sound on their new upcoming release EP2. Sure the sound is more current but that same straight rock heart is at the foundation of their sound, at least to my ears.

Like They Always Say cuts a cool groove that crosses garage rock genres. Eric Arikian bass is so hooky. I love Aaron Lloyd Barr's vocal performance which has a controlled chaos to it. The song jams without hopping on indie trends. Lie To Me- sways in a Brit rock way, the opening with the frenetic Keith Moonish drums courtesy of Ben Reynolds lifts the pretty chill rocker nicely. I'll Bet with it's southern / folk rock undercurrent and Never Be Alone with it's 60's rock bones might feel the most retro sounding. There is something in the guitar lines, bass and drum grooves and vocal attack that is classic as they come while still rocking furiously. Nowadays a lot of garage rock / indie bands are interjecting so much of the fuck you / get stoned /  attitude in their songs that it has become kind of formulaic making Del Caesar's straight rock sounds so fresh.

EP2 drops on November 11th via Reheated Spaghetti.

Robb Donker