Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Russian Baths - Brooklyn Noise Rock - Heavy Truths Not For The Faint Of Heart

Out on Good Eye Records - Brooklyn's Russian Baths produce biting noise rock. The depth of chaos is formidable and I found the sounds and insanity in the vocal performance to be at once exhilarating and anxiety producing. It is not for the faint of the heart. It is like a horror flick at times making your pulse race but the pay off is all worth it.

Hear / feel two tracks, Slenderman and What's Your Basement off their forthcoming EP Penance dropping officially February 23rd. This is a band that I want to see live next time I head up to the Big Apple. Russian Baths are Luke Koz (guitar, vox), Jess Rees (guitar, keys, vox) and joined by Evan Gill Smith (bass) and Jeff Widner (drums).

About What's Your Basement the band shared: "There was a man in Amstetten who hid a family with his daughter in a basement for 24 years. He said he always knew it wasn't right but allowed it to become a normal occurence. Rationalization is very problematic."

Dark stuff, indeed and so true. Us humans as creatures have a way of making the abnormal normal and history is full of exampes of dark, horrible things happening as a result. Hmmm? The song seems absolutely relevant today.
Robb Donker

The track premiered on Decibel Magazine where the band shared, “There was a man in Amstetten who hid a family with his daughter in a basement for 24 years. He said he always knew it wasn’t right, but allowed it to become a normal occurrence. Rationalization is very problematic.”

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Ty Segall’s "Freedom’s Goblin" — A Heavy Homage Pie That Might Leave You Hungry For It’s Core Ingredients

Indie rocker, post punk /punker, garden rocker, art rocker er, um, amazing musical shape shifter Ty Segall has been putting out material since around 2007 as himself or as part or parcel of several other bands or incarnations (Epsilons, Fuzz, Goggs, Party Fowl, The Perverts, Sic Alps, The Traditional Fools just to name a few…whew!) and has put out such a stunning amount of work that it is almost mandatory to write the word “prolific” in any piece about him. While I knew about Ty and heard his music early on I would say that I didn’t get deeply into him until 2010’s infectious Melted album. The first time I saw him play live was in 2011 at the Echoplex in L.A. while writing for L.A. Record. I remember the show also featured Tijuana Panthers and Monotonix (from Israel) but Ty was the one who blew me away. Afterward I met him and his then girlfriend and bass player Denée. Cool people. A year later I believe I was the first person (and blogger) who shot and published a video of Ty and Charles Moothart’s side project FUZZ as they played a surprise set at the SMELL in L.A.
Through the years Ty has never ceased to impress in studio as well as live having shot him and his incarnations for my blog (American Pancake) countless times at multiple Burgerama shows, FYF fests and more. Of all the artists who have come out of San Francisco and Burgerama-esque circles he has been a constant force of nature who always kills it. Everyone with musical cred and import, the KEXP’s and NPR’s of the musicsphere are enamored with not only his music and work ethic but the purity of his artistic visions. And for good reason, while he may play a scoundrel and maybe even a slobbering pervert ie Emotional Mugger as an incarnation, Ty Segall is not one to lose control and kick a photographer in the face. He is adept at his art and adept at being charming too.
Since Girlfriend off of Melted made my jaw drop to the floor with it’s Thee Oh Sees feral-osity, Ty has put out 10 albums (if you include the White Fence collab Hair and Mikal Cronin collab Reverse Shark Attack), performed killer performances on Conan and those exquisitely amazing KEXP performances AND married his girlfriend Denée. During this time his vocal performance has become less distorted and way more British sounding and his musical prowess has become sharper. This grinding trajectory has lead him to a stunning and audacious double album.
Freedom’s Goblin contains 19 songs that gleefully mine iconic classic rock flavors in big and subtle ways (but mostly big). The super fun first track Fanny Dog (an ode to Ty’s dog) is joyous and edgy mining Beatle-esque guitar lines ala Abbey Road. The sinfully cool proto punk meets disco Despoiler of Cadaverfeels like a song the Talking Heads / Tom Tom Club never wrote. The scissor sharp downbeats of And Goodnight literally conjuers images of Neil Young and Crazy Horse jamming inches from your face. The Brit rock 60’s lilt of Cry, Cry, Cry has you tapping your Beatle boot toes and My Lady’s On Fire is sprinkled with T-Rex glitter. Talkin 3 feels exactly like the neurotic jazz punk hearted wrung out chaos of James Chance and the Contortions. 5ft Tall posseses the musical D.N.A and prog chops of a cadre of The Who songs.
I could go on and these similarities do not sound or feel like rip offs (for the most part) but loving homages but because these songs bathed in these iconic styles are packed tight back to back the total effect can feel a little bit like iconic rock muzak or like original songs made to sound like famous songs by famous bands in a made for TV move about so and such fictional bands as a front for the real thing. Do you know what I mean?? I know that was confusing.
In the end, each of these individual stunning creations plays better apart from the rest then together as a collection of songs. I have a long history with Ty Segall. I respect him so much. Freedom’s Goblin is by any measure a stunning piece of work, a great double album. Is it a mile stone for Ty, his masterwork? In my opinion probably not but that will come again as it has in the past. For an album to be brilliant it begs to be heard multiple times after the first listen. This, for me, was the case with 2010’s Melted, 2011’s Goodbye Bread, 2012’s Twins, 2014’s Manipulator and 2016’s Emotional Mugger just to name a few. After hearing Freedom’s Goblin and loving it, my immediate reaction was to pull out my music collection (both digitally and on vinyl) to satiate my need for Neil Young and Crazy Horse, selected T-Rex cuts, The Who By Numbers album and “They Came In Through The Bathroom Window” by John, Paul, George and Ringo.
— Robb Donker

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Saturday Morning- Round UP-- Giddy UP- New Music - Drips and Drabs: Rosie Tucker, Andy K. Leland, Tiny Fighter

It has been a week of getting back in the groove after last weeks business trip in Vegas (day job). I pretty much find the Vegas strip to be highly annoying and fatigueing. The constant drone of casino noise in the hotels, the crazy cost to eat there and the zombies trying to have a great time just don't look all that happy. Maybe it is all the hard earned cash they lost. Since coming back I have tried to religiously send the new Donker album out to Blogs and such which is really weird. I love making music but pushing my music on others has always made me uncomfortable but I do know that if I want to eventually find my music in film or maybe have a successful artist perform one of my songs it is something I have to do. Just gotta do it. This has introduced me to services like Submithub which I am not really sure about but am using or shall I say, testing the waters.

Rejection. I have received numerous "rejection" emails for multiple songs. I also know this is part of any creative endeavor that you want to market. Being on this side of the submission process has made me think of me as "music blogger" being behind the submission desk. I don't know if American Pancake would ever be part of the Submithub process because I like to take my time and get to know some of those who submit and AP has never been the typical blog playing typical music. AP also feels free and happy to post about bands that don't sound perfectly crafted, perfectly shiny and clean.

But enough praddle. This morning I wanted to share some cool sounds.

Rosie Tucker's new track Spinster Cycle is wonderfully indie poppy in a good way. She has a facility for lyrics that hold hands and sway together with wit, humor and sad hard truths. The twists and turns bathed in a winked kind of sarchasm bops along within her punchy sounds and melodies. A lot of her sounds fall into that singer-songwriter, folk, indie thang but her sound can be hard to pinpoint (more reason to love her) - I do think of Aimee Mann a bit in songs like (the Wolfy Collab) This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things and last years Fault Lines. Oh and she rocks the bass in Gypsum too.

Andy K. Leland is from the Eastern part of Italy. As Andrea Marcellini and as ex-bassist and main songwriter of the alt-rock band My Cruel Goro he is putting out some very stripped down lo-fi sounds on his own as Andy K. Leland. The funny thing is that for me being primarily accustomed to your standard common "American" or "American English" accent I find some of Andy's lyrics in-decipherable. This is due to his 100% Italian roots as well as his strong Northern English accent from time spent in the UK somewhere between Manchester and Leeds. His accent maybe a hybrid of sorts but his melodies and emotional tones come through loud and clear. Despite the fact that I cannot make out some of the words I like the sounds I am hearing and that is most important to me. Check out a track from his Happy Daze EP (sub titles, uh I mean... lyrics available).

I like musical duos and I like the name Tiny Fighter. They are an indie pop duo who hooked up in Stockholm in 2017. The Australian / Swedish duo craft shiny sounds. Clean well crafted songs. Those of you who follow American Pancake probably know that I usually gravitate to sounds that are more raw and disjointed and askew but still I gravitated to their debut single New Century. I want to go on a morning run and have it in my head. Check out the video below--

Robb Donker

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Review: L.A. Law : LAW & ORDER - Gap Dream and Jessie Jones Collab Is An Addictive Mix.

When Star Cup, the first track off of L.A. Law's Law & Order album, starts with it's percolating synth arpeggios the Net Flix show "Stranger Things" came to mind. Then the solid bass groove kicks in and finally a sultry vocal with sax like sounds and the whole thing shifts into something alluring but also somehow into something retro and even soulful and geekish all at the same time. In fact, Star Cup could be the song that Napoleon Dynamite dances into the next talent show. The blend of genres and social cultures is not wacky but smart and that is just the beginning of this trippy album.

L.A. Law is a collaboration between Gap Dream (Gabe Fulvimar) and Jessie Jones. I haven't seen Gap dream since I saw them live way back in 2014 at Burgerama 3 and Jessie since her Feeding People days well before her shift from indie / psych rock to her solo psych pop rock of her well received 2015 self titled album. Jessie has always possessed an intimate earthy vocals sound mining a myriad of styles that always have a blues / folk / garden rock center. Gap Dream mines synth laden shiny almost retro meets futuristic pop like Kraftwerk meets Giorgio Moroder meets Devo meets the Beach Boys.

A seemingly oil and water mix works so well. It turns out that whatever genre Jessie steps into her intimate vocals  still shines bringing a magnetic presence to L.A. Law.  In songs like Breakman and Teknomancer her self harmonies can feel like an Andalusian / Post Apocalyptic blend cut with disco pixie dust. Shivers and Hiatus feel more casio-fied and fun making me think of hovering vehicles and rainbow cast roller skating at the same time. Gap Dreams makes the music potent and interesting and while Jessie sounds more emotionally aloof than I have heard her before that kind of distance makes sense.

Dracula's Rib is a stand out, so much so it ends to quickly. To me the beat feels the most live in an almost Phil Selway sort of way and all the disparate electronic parts a askew in such a cool way. Jessie's vocal spread, dissonant with a barbiturate cloudy coolness is the glue that holds all these trippy sounds together. It is my current addiction. Athena's Grease feels like a weird proto punk late 70's concoction in a good way. Happy Alteration recalls the dance punk of Glass Spells.

The very last track, Tunnel Vision feels like a futuristic German indie flick starring a 28 year old Rutger Hauer, nuff said. I don't know if the L.A. Law collab will bear more multicolored fruit but I hope so. In any event Law and Order is an alluring sonic sci-fi-ish romp and a hell of a lot more fun than than Luc Besson's Valerian flick.
Robb Donker 


Monday, January 8, 2018

"Prague Spring" by Willie Breeding featuring Caitlin Rose Plays Like A Romantic Dime Store Novel

Featuring guest vocals from Caitlin Rose, Nashville's Willie Breeding's new track "Prague Spring" stirs cinematic images in your head supported by stately strings and Breeding's and Rose's earnest vocal harmonies that embrace you when the music gets quiet. 

Written by Breeding and Rose (with a last line by Breeding's wife) the song plays like an indie folk minuet or a dime store novel read wearing trenchcoats in a foggy European cafe. I am not sure if the song at it's core is fictional, factual or a blend of both but it appears to have personal ties to Breeding's wife. He explains: "One night in Prague, 1962, the son of the Italian ambassador met an actress they called, “The Czech Bridgette Bardot”.  Their adventures were like a black and white noir. Bullets were drunk out of martini glasses. Official diplomatic vehicles were stolen.  14 years later, my wife was born"

Breeding's debut album "Big Sky" will drop early this year.
Robb Donker

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Jessie Jo Stark's "Deadly Doll" (LIVE) Darkly Sweet Hallucinogenic Candy

Jessie Jo Stark's latest "Deadly Doll" performed live is staged and produced with a lush soft touch by Jason Lytle (Grandaddy, Band of Horses). There are elements that pop up in my mind as I swayed to this lullaby. Hints of Lana Del Rey, hints of that sultry James Bond gone bad soundtrack vibe too. Stark co-wrote with Chris Garcia (Lana Del Rey, Demi Lovato) and I like this "side" of her.

Stark says, "At the time, I felt like 'Deadly Doll' was my alter ego. It still is, depending on my mood. Lyrically, you can interpret it many different ways. I love combining these spooky elements and soft, eerie country tones into a beautiful anthem. The song got me through a tough time. I hope it does the same for listeners."

Stark's look in the video feels like something between Sean Young's Rachel from Blade Runner and a 1940's Jazz torch song singer. The skeleton bones suits on the band feel a bit much but who cares about that, the song is like dark sweet hallucinogenic candy.

Robb Donker