Monday, February 20, 2017

Altar Eagles (Erick Alcock) - "What Are You Coming To" - A Dreamy Spring Reverb Laden Carnival Ride

Altar Eagles ( Erick Alcock) newest offering is called "What Are You Coming To" and it infects your musical brain quickly. It is chunky and oh so dreamy like being stuck in a huge spring reverb laden carnival ride. While it possesses it's own sound it had me thinking of MGMT's incredible debut Oracular Spectacular and that is always a good (great) thing.

About the song Alcock says:

"'What Are You Coming To?' is a song about hindsight. Basically about looking back on a relationship and trying to own up to your own mistakes while realizing you don’t even recognize the person that you thought you knew so well. Kinda like that line about listening when people tell you who they are, but in this case you didn’t. All past tense."

"What Are You Coming To" is indie pop perfect really. Love the vocals, the in the room sound of the drums and that ever so hooky bass / synth line. Alcock as a member of  The New Royales have had his talented hands in songs for Eminem, Kanye West, Pink and more leading to several Grammy wins as well as the theme for Mission Impossible 4, the Call of Duty video game and Jake Gyllenhall's movie Southpaw.

Check it out below- and when will the Altar Eagles album come out. I am waiting-

Robb Donker

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Lunch Ladies- "Love Is Overrated" -- Sweeping and Sad and so easy to relate to-- LOVE this track

Wow, what can I say about the Lunch Ladies track "Love Is Overrated" except that it came to me just in time. Navigating through my email box some of the music was just not doing it for me and then this band and this song pulled me out of the musical funk I was in. Yes, a rather weird name for a band but this outfit out of New Jersey that consists of Matt Whitley (vocals, guitar), Cynthia Rittenbach (vocals, bass), Matt Ramiz (vocals, guitar) and Peter Gargano (drums) gleefully takes you to other places. I suggest you play this track at your desk at work at the end of a hard day.

"Love Is Overrated" a single off their forthcoming album Down On Sunset Strip is a dynamic dreamy sweeping song. It has an emotional arc as it kind of ambles then takes off then sways again. The sound is a glitter ball of lights at a high school dance, broken hearts and the one that got away or you never even got. So eager to hear the entire album which drops officially March 10th via Good Eye Records.

"Love is overrated, love is overrated and I'm happy in my room" - who cannot relate to this.
Robb Donker


Lunch Ladies links:

Lunch Ladies tour dates:

2/15 - Shea Stadium - Brooklyn, NY
3/9 - The Footlight - Ridgewood, NY
3/10 - The J House - New Brunswick, NJ (release show)
3/11 - Falafull House - Philadelphia, PA
3/26 - The Saint - Asbury Park, NJ
4/14 - Brighton Bar - Long Branch, NJ

Down on Sunset Strip tracklist:

01: Sunshine
02: You’re Not There
03: Love Is Overrated
04: Sad Jeans
05: Lazy
06: Bumming Too Much
07: Pick Yourself Up

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Review: Mercy EP- by Mercy - Post Modern Soaked in Absinthe and the "Evil Baby" Video Playfully Skewers Trump

The presidency of Donald Trump has heralded a new age of political activism on all fronts. Activism and protests have always spilled over into all forms of media from protest songs to razor sharp barbs on SNL.

There is a provocatively fun song on the Mercy EP  (a stellar collaboration between Brooklyn singer songwriters Mercy Weiss and Christopher Pelnat) that serves as Trump protest commentary but before I get to that, let's talk about the EP.

The 5 song EP is a mixture of post modern dare I say hipster nostalgia sometimes pushed through a kind of baroque pop filter. Mercy's voice is coarsely sultry and transports you an alternative universe somewhere between a 1940's speakeasy and 1970's Studio 54. The track  Ice Cream could be a song made in the Warhol factory in the 60's. It is a sticky sweet sexy come on song. Love Dust feels more in that aforementioned baroque pop tone sprinkled with trippy sounds. It is a song soaked in Absinthe. It is kind of haunting too. It could of been in the soundtrack in Anna Biller's era bending "The Love Witch".  Lioness appropriately stalks. It is Cotton Club stuff and fully embraces that era and tone. A Torrent is a duet with Pelnat and feels like a fable. It's kind of majestic military march cadence also has a slight Spaghetti Western tone and I love that. The last song on the EP takes us back to the beginning of this review.

The track Evil Baby is coy and playful with  totally wah wahhed out guitar lines. It moves quickly and it's refrain- "I know what you are get out of the house. You're Evil Baby" works perfectly adapted to it's video that skewers Trump with a fair amount of levity. I mean trade house with White House and it is perfect social commentary.

This 5 track EP is a trippy wash of styles embracing the post modern vintage sensibility that has been embraced by a lot of people especially millennials. The songs are smart and cheeky and that absolutely coquettish vocal performance will have you screaming for Mercy. Did I really just write that? My silly comments aside go purchase this EP. It is a one of a kind.
Robb Donker

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Matthew Squires "Tambaleo" Is His Most Ambition Album Yet- A Masterwork To Be Treasured In This Life Or After

Matthew Squires popped up on my radar screen back in 2011 and I have been reporting on him ever since. At that time he was "Matthew Squires and the Learning Disorders" and while he is now just Matthew Squires his penchant for writing lyrics that twist social conventions and ask big spiritual questions is still a large part of his allure along with the sardonic words that spill from his lips like ice cubes from a pitcher of ice tea on a hot day. His words are many. While a singer like Thom Yorke may uncomfortably stretch out a sentence, a word or a syllable, Matthew packs them in with the artistic deft of a beat poet or rapper framing his questions in a very diverse bed of music.

He crafted his current album "Tambaleo" over a two year period with a host of talented musicians splitting his time between a Buddhist monastic community in East Texas and creating the material for the album. While I do not know Squires influences to me his songs inhabit this space between progressive indie with an alternative folk tone. I thought of a psych rock Dr. Dog but on some of his more jammy rock tracks like Grace's Drum and Dead or Dying I thought of Neil Young, not folk Neil but rock Neil. These songs still ask important questions but the rock guitar flourishes are head banging and infections (especially on Dead or Dying).

On the track Shining which feels like ambling through a psychedelic forest. the musical break down at one point (like the band is rolling down a flight of stairs) is brilliant. The song swells and then gets chill as Squires sings, "the voice of God comes muffled through a beat up radio, it sounds a bit like Elvis... Presley not Costello".  Hosanna is a beautiful swaying folk orchestral piece in a Kishi Bashi sort of way. Squires lyrics spin in many directions. He sings of meth heads, deep roots of time and "only one path for our world" as the mantra-ish chorus "Hosanna" embraces you it asks questions about the material world and that other world. He says the song is bout "pretending  you have something to say" and at one point says "if you be my Jesus I'll be your Crucifixion". It is heady evocative stuff and taken out of context can stir so many questions. Is he skewing "other" religions or all of them?

Debt Song for me is the most indie post rock track and in fact the bouncy tone, pretty guitar work battling the edgy guitar work, and somewhat silly meets serious feels so 1985.  I thought of Miracle Legion for whatever reason. Squires mentions Manhattan and sings, "and I saw the hole that those fuckers put in our sky" an obvious 911 reference. The song is cagey and will take me days to decipher lyrically. The music is almost always surprising like the startling and quite amazing tempo change that happens during Shape Of Your Heart. When the shift happens from a very upbeat jagged psych rocking tone it is so goddamn beautiful and trippy. Squires hooks you with perfectly placed drums and touches of glam and Beatle-esque watercolors as it almost veers into Mott The Hoople ballad-ish emotional tones. So so good.

Speaking of ballads. There is a great ballad on this record that feels classic but earnest. Forget about a manipulative pop ballad like Lady Gaga's Million Reasons. If you want one for the ages listen to Bird Song. In fact, Lady Gaga should record this song. In the track Silent Worlds there is the concept of the space between notes, "some will call it God... others will call it boring" and I find it so intriguing even for someone like me who early on classified myself as an agnostic and now consider myself an atheist. Despite my inclinations all the spiritual questions and talk of life, an after life and maybe even a before life is a philosophical pool I like to float in.

"Tambaleo" is Matthew Squires 7th studio album and his most cohesive work yet. It should be listened to all at once, all 15 songs because the album very much feels like one solid masterwork. The poetry and dynamic sounds from song to song connect up like chapters from the same glorious book. The lyrical content can be baffling but is always interesting, word puzzles to be put together over time. As someone who write songs I understand that some lyrics just happen from the pull of the music and may not mean anything at all to the one who writes them but all lyrics do mean something to those who yearn to listen to them. In this way lyrics have a thousand meaning to a thousand people and that might be at play here. Whatever is the case, Tambaleo is an album to be treasured in this life or after.

Robb Donker

You can stream Tambaleo on Spotify or download for any price you'd like from Matthew Squires Bandcamp Page.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

New Single "Light" from Hite's Upcoming Debut Album "Light Of A Strange Day"

The new single "Light" from Hite's (Julia Easterlin) upcoming debut alum "Light Of A Strange Day" dropping this March is as dreamy as it is commanding. Easterlin voices her storytelling with a measure of strong wisdom, wistfulness and sensual allure. The wash of sounds swell and pull back and swell again. It has a beautiful strength. In the upcoming weeks I will experience the album's other diversionary tales.  
Robb Donker

march 2017, six degrees records) hite, along with producer shahzad Ismaily (lou reed, marc ribot, sam amidon, etc.), brings to light a collection of new work john schaefer of npr/wnyc  calls, "at once lovely and unsettling... a striking debut.”