Monday, May 22, 2017


PODCAST #4 is up and despite that I left the "s" off of cigarette and should of written "The Black Tambourines" so while I get things wrong I hope I get enough things right when I post these podcasts. It is super hard to get listeners and I know it will take months, even years to build up a sizable base of listeners if that is even possible but I hope anyone who listens get something out of the show.

This week the show felt somber and reflective at times. Of course this had to do with the untimely death of Chris Cornell. I think it also had to do with the current state in the world and the feeling that "idiocracy" is fully here in the White House.

I am trying hard to secure interviews with a whole bunch of people who for now will remain nameless because I think that eventually that will be the direction of the podcast. Like half interview, half music. Thanks to those of you who have been so kind to message or text me and give me love and support. AND special thanks to Jack Bacon of Tuckshop Community Radio. I love, really love contributing to his show each and every week.
Robb Donker

Wall of Ears - Video for Floating Off The Line and Their "Hello Beautiful Nothing" West Coast Tour

When I first heard the name Wall Of Ears I thought of Wall Of Vodoo (Mexican Radio) the late 70's / 80's L.A. band whose front man, Stan Ridgeway, had roots in the film scoring business. Sonically these two musical outfits have nothing in common except the fact that they possess the ability to make great music.

Wall of Ears are out of Seattle and the thick psychedelic pop stew is cooked up by CW Lott. The aesthetic is soundscapes that sway and move in a lush sort of way. An immersive sound with beautiful flourishes that can border on eerie and are abstract and are kind of mind bending and can flow into sultry flavors. It is a dance of sorts and Wall of Ears are not afraid to mix it up. CW Lott's voice is perfect as the provocateur and he slides nicely into full falsettos. It would be hard for me to put any past band or artist on them as a descriptor but when I heard that song Mind Moves I thought of Mac DeMarco mixed with Roxy Music mixed with Tame Impala mixed with the Beach Boys. Yeah, weird huh(?)

They are supporting their "Hello Beautiful Nothing" release that drops June 16th with a West Coast Tour (can't believe they are playing the Dollhouse in Anaheim, CA.) and if you are able you MUST go see them. You will not be disappointed.  Check out the video for Floating Off The Line -

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Why? Chris Cornell Dead at 52. He Will Be Missed

Chris Cornell dies at 52 while on tour. Amid the shock and sadness one wonders why and how (?) but it is too soon to know any details. He possessed a great voice and I loved his work with Soundgarden and Audioslave. From all accounts a truly lovely family man.

Brian Bumbery, Cornell's representative released this statement:

"Chris Cornell passed away late last night in Detroit, Michigan. His wife Vicky and family were shocked to learn of his sudden and unexpected passing and they will be working closely with the medical examiner to determine the cause of death. They would like to thank his fans for their continuous love and loyalty and ask that their privacy be respected at this time."

And we will...

RIP Chris Cornell-
Robb Donker

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

American Pancake Radioshow / Podcast #3 - Featuring an Interview with Thomas Marolda of "The Toms", Jack Bacon from Tuckshop and Cool Music

Podcast #3 features an extensive interview with Thomas Marolda and a great, great contribution by Jack Bacon of Tuckshop Community Radio. Love that guy and hope to get out to London soon enough and buy him a beer or ale or something(?)  Check it out below. If you enjoy it please be sure and share it around on Facebook and Tumblr and everywhere. The more listeners I get then the easier it will be to encourage other interesting people to come on board to be interviewed.

Thanks for all your support-
Robb Donker

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Gianna Gianna Brings Out the Straight Razor in "Carnal Jazz Cry", "Crown" and "Anvil Chorus / Orange"

Photo by Ryan Bussard

As one part of the sibling trio BLOK who since 2008 blended hip hop, underground rap and an avant-garde art punk aesthetic garnering OC Music Awards and spreads in Spin (USA) and Nylon (Japan) as well as sharing stages with Peaches, Major Lazer, Yelawolf, Reggie Watts, Andrew WK and more- Gianna Gianna has cut her own path as well as a poet and solo artist. 

The statuesque avant-garde provocateur is often an art piece herself and I don't just mean on stage where her ebb and flow of explosiveness and steely stare can make you freeze in your tracks. Even entering a room and not necessarily being the center of attention you might find your eyes just automatically drawing to her. Her anti-pastiche style of dress blends eras and her look feels like 1950's Italian glamour, meets 80's urban, meets Blade Runner. As with all avant-garde laced music / art I admit I don't always get it. Seeing and hearing Gianna Gianna pushing envelopes has, for me, it's share of WTF moments. 

I remember years ago when I first saw the 1929 short Un Chien Andalou directed by now surrealist darling Luis Bunuel with conceptual help from Salvador Dali. The short 16 minute film that opens with the infamous eye slicing scene and then is followed by a series of unrelated imagery. The result is total weirdness because each scene are out of context to something larger or maybe not. Some are shot with a sense of beauty but contain disturbing things. In short, Un Chien Andalou has plenty of WTF moments. Bunuel and Dali were trying really trying to skewer surrealism and challenge the French elitist avant-garde mindset of the day but in the end the class of people they were trying to give the artistic "fuck you" to embraced the film. To this day I still wonder whose hand that was the woman was poking with the stick (?). Surrealists always seem to have a penchant for the grotesque and I won't even begin to skim the surface of Alejandro Jodorowsky.

Gianna Gianna's video's and musical artwork does, to me, have many musical eye slicing moments and while she doesn't dabble that much in the grotesque there is a feral nature to her movements offset by her red blooded beauty and raw eroticism. The sounds and prose perplex me in that "mommy, we are not in Kansas anymore" and in many of her art / vision / sound pieces I do get the sense that there are feminist and anti-feminist themes and maybe even a challenging of the feminist bourgeoisie. Oh, and yes, plenty of WTF moments. What does it all mean?  Maybe it doesn't really matter because music and all art is more of a Rorschach test for our creative soul now isn't it?

In the end it is best not to talk about the avant-garde but just to show it.
Check it out below-
Robb Donker

Saturday, May 6, 2017

American Pancake Podcast / Radio Show #2 - Interview with Wyatt Blair (The Broken Hearts / Loli-Pop Records), Contribution from Jack Bacon from Tuckshop Community Radio and GREAT MUSIC

The American Pancake Podcast / Radioshow #2 is up early!! So while the podcast usually posts on Tuesday nights I am posting this Saturday because I will be traveling most of the week. On this podcast I interview co-founder of Loli-Pop Records and multi-talented musician Wyatt Blair and find out about his obsession with Thin Lizzy and his new incarnation The Broken Hearts. This podcast also features the first contribution from Jack Bacon of Tuckshop Community Radio out of London.

Enjoy and let me know what you think of the show.
Cotillon, Fidlar, Fruit Bats, The Broken Hearts, Interview with Wyatt Blair, The Toms, Magic Potion (contribution by Jack of Tuckshop Community Radio) and Radiohead

Friday, May 5, 2017

IN RETROSPECT: 2011'S "Two - Way Mirror" Album by Crystal Antlers - A Complex Twisted Pretzel of Psych Rock


As I have been curating songs for the American Pancake Podcast I have been delving into some old albums which made me then delve into some old reviews. Sometimes it is fun to re-post past reviews because every time I do I get emails from readers who have discovered an older album and thus open themselves up to new sounds which ping pongs them to another band and so on and so forth. Back in 2011 when Crystal Antlers' sophomore album Two Way Mirror came out the reviews were mixed. Pitchfork had some nice things to say and some snide things to say as always and gave it a 7 which in Pitchfork's world is not bad. Alex Young over at Consequence of Sound gave the album a startling D which is utterly baffling and in my mind that nullifies Alex's opinion of any album or song. In fact, if he suggested a place to get a pizza I probably would not go there. In any event, every opinion is valid but my opinion is that both blogs got it wrong. I don't do number ratings or any kind of ratings because to me they are kind of high school but in point of reference Two Way Mirror is an A- / 8.5. So there. Now I kind of feel like I am in high school again. - Robb Donker

Originally Posted July 17, 2011

Burnt Pixels Debut "The Hollow Down By The Flare" Is A Dreamy Stylistically Diverse Bit Of Soul Searching

The Hollow Down By The Flare is the debut album by London based dynamic duo Burnt Pixels. It is a remarkable piece of work hand crafted over a year's time by Ian Brzozowski and Ben Hooper friends for 15 years whose paths have musically crossed in various bands the most notable being 23 Frames. You could call these songs bedroom recordings but you wouldn't know it listening to the 13 tracks that stylistically feels cohesive despite displaying a wide array of flavors. All of them are art pieces painted with layers of guitar sounds over solid bass and drum foundations. Whether it be sustained sounds or staccato licks or pearly rhythm embellishments it is Ian's and Ben's ability to strike the right balance that makes this album so damn captivating. The songs overall feel like a blend of noise and art rock pushed through various filters resulting in a rich tapestry of sounds.

Home recording and producing can be a daunting task. The ability to realize your own vision without a studio clock ticking or producer over your shoulder can be a blessing or a curse depending on your work ethic and ability to render the creative details that you want. Ian who penned all the songs, sang lead, played all the lead lines and 50% of the bass parts and Ben who played drums (the only instrument not played in the proverbial bedroom) 50% of the bass parts and added guitar and backing vocals managed to not lose sight of the end game. I take special pleasure in a project like this that has so much of the artists in the tracks. I have heard all too often true creative bright lights dulled by record producers. Now, onto some of the songs.

Joy Is Sinister is darkly cool with a running beat. The edgy guitar lines makes me think of a spy caper or a government gone bad. The title track The Hollow Down By The Flare is searingly wistful with sparkling guitar and sustain lifting you up on a mournful plane. Between The Devil and A Rock with an upfront sand paper-ish effect and proggy rock pattern has a touch of funk indie rock. Polite Fiction is cagey with a shimmery tropical punk gate and beautiful guitar work and vocal melodies. Nina Kulagina feels like post rock 80's pushed through a 60's Mersey Beat Mod filter and then pushed through a 70's psych rock filter. Interestingly New Colour with it's sense of wanderlust of train hopping and country sides (at least in my brain) had me thinking, oddly enough, of Van Morrison not in sound but emotional tone. Such a cool chill track.

Another surprisingly chill track is Vertical Achipelagos that has that same sense of movement propelled by acoustic guitars and dancing sounds with sweet melodies and (in my mind) I was cutting up small waves in the fog. As I mentioned before all these songs are Ian and Ben. One beautiful exception is Jane Ritchie's backing vocal performance on A Lie To Tell The Truth a dreamy affair that made me think of the band Ride although this veers a bit more abstract. Burnt Pixels display another side on The London Medicine which to me somewhere in the tones feels like Southern Goth meets 90's grunge in that drug laden Stone Temple Pilots way. Psychoplasmics is very cool art rock with swelling majesty in the vocal melodies that suggested a dramatic theatricality to the band. It could be the opening to an art rock opera.

Between A Hard Place and The Deep Blue Sea opens with what I think is a well known vintage broadcast TV key note and then transitions into Ian's vocals through a tinny filter like a radio transmission or old style phone. All the while there is dreamy guitar playing and evocative smooth bass runs and sustain notes. It is all dreamy and a bit surreal. It is Burnt Pixels falling down the rabbit hole. I will gladly follow them on the unique personal journeys they create.

Ian Brzozowski says that the title "The Hollow Down By The Flare" comes from Charles Dickens' last novel Our Mutual Friend (1864-65) referencing the characters Charley and Lizzie Hexam who cannot read so they stare into the fireplace for inspiration to inject into their stories. Ian expands:

"In the album and song, it's a metaphor for the creative spark, the source and nature of creative inspiration and expression. The album has a general theme of finding your way back to art and inspiration after becoming jaded by a lack of success, and realizing that it doesn't matter, that you need to do it for your own soul instead - that you thrive on it."

It sounds like Ian and Burnt Pixels are making music for the right reasons and we get to revel and benefit from them crafting such amazing songs. 
Robb Donker

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Howell Dawdy Asks Important Questions About: Iguanas

When I first listened to "Iguana" by Howell Dawdy I got really pissed off because it all seemed so stupid and so totally unnecessary but the more I listened my cynical cloak of pretentiousness started falling off me and I was like "Damn, these are important questions about Iguanas!"

I, in fact, have never heard of Howell Dawdy and all I can say is that "Iguana" made me smile and even laugh so for that I thank this strange, strange man.
Robb Donker

Monday, May 1, 2017

AMERICAN PANCAKE RADIO SHOW NUMBER 1: "Yellow Pills" - You Will Like This!

Please check out the very first true AMERICAN PANCAKE Radio Show podcast. I have been having a blast contributing to the Tuckshop Community Radio Show which airs weekly on Thursdays our of London and decided to start sharing my musical tastes, views and interviews on my own show.
First one is kinda rough but it will only get better and I just found out that Jack Bacon from Tuckshop will be contributing a song each and every week so I am so totally stoked and honored about that.
On and upward and if you are a band or solo artist or whatever let me know about your passion, your work, your music, your art and it might just end up on the show. I would also appreciate if you share the show link to your friends so I can build up an audience.

Thanks for the support-
Robb Donker