Tuesday, February 27, 2018

"Sorry (Thoughts and Prayers)" moving and strident sounds shaped by stories of gun violence by RoseAnn Fino

"and if you're so scared of your fellow man, you always keep a pistol by your right hand then don't say that you're sorry when another kid dies...."

Singer Songwriter RoseAnn Fino possesses an activist's heart and you can hear this tone in the passion of her vocal performance. She began writing Sorry (Thoughts and Prayers) in 2012 after the Trayvon Martin murder. She says: 

 "I couldn’t wrap my head around how a 17 year old boy unarmed could be shot down in the street and his killer could walk free. I would start writing the song and then put the guitar down, not quite sure I had the words or the authority to write a song about such a heartbreaking topic. Shooting after shooting, whether it be in a nightclub or a school or sometimes even the police, drove me to finish this song. We live in a country that continually breaks the hearts of parents with senseless gun violence. We are in such fear of each other, we don’t look at who is profiting off of our blood. I wrote this song as a plea for change. We don’t have to live like this"

Sorry feels classic and timeless hinged on folk / country guitar supported by violin and subtle swelling organs and RoseAnn's blistering vocals. I could write about the all to relevant lyrics but it is just better that you listen and feel this emotional song and shout it from the rooftops.
Robb Donker


RoseAnn Fino grew up in a small farmhouse in the Hudson Valley that always had Dylan or Springsteen blaring. Her parents, avid music fans, began taking her to nightclubs and concert halls as soon as she could walk. When she turned five her father put a guitar in her hands. A kiss on the head from Patti Smith when she was eight, a pick from Bob Dylan's steel guitar player when she was ten, these moments shaped her and gave her a drive to become a performer herself.

Fino moved to New York City when she was just seventeen. There she began writing her own tunes about booze-fueled nights and tongue in cheek love. She studied writing and music performance at Hunter College. A plucky, awkwardly dressed country girl, she began shakily playing her songs at open mics. Soon she began to find her voice: a mix of city punk with country/americana roots. Though, it wasn't until she went into the studio with producer Aaron L. Hurwitz (Professor Louie-The Band) to record her debut album in 2013 that it all started to come together. Featured on the recording is the legendary group Professor Louie & The Crowmatix with guitarist John Platania (Van Morrison). With the album, which was released on Woodstock Records, she was able to solidify her expressive singing and distinctive style. 

In 2015, she went back into the studio, this time Atomic Sound Studios in Brooklyn, with a bunch of her friends and recorded her EP "Out From Under" in one day. Deciding to take a different approach, this time she co-produced the album with her musical companion and beloved bandmate Ryan Shapiro.  This EP was released in September 2015 with a follow up EP "Airing of Grievances" released in the spring of 2016 using the same formula. 

In 2017, she began a concert series called "Not My President-A Monthly Show of Resistance." Each month, at venues all over the city, she hosts an event to raise money for different nonprofits. These events have been featured in BRIC, Time Out New York, AXS, and more.

Marble Teeth : One man Lo-Fi Bedroom Pop Out of Central Illinois - "Happy Enough" from the self titled Pretty / Somber EP

Happy Enough is a spartan Lo-Fi bedroom pop song from Marble Teeth's self titled EP. Marble Teeth is Caleb Jefson from Decatur, Illinois crafting simple cool songs about a seemingly simple life with simple intentions but in between the lines there are deeper strains that feel somber and in the crescendos in tracks like the forlorn Window and the kind of party jazzy Terms Of Service even some hope. Still putting the fleeting hopeful feelings aside a lot of the tracks do feel full of puppy dog stares and a certain fatality of one's condition. The tone, I get... hope you do too. In Bedroom amid pretty guitar picking and dreamy ooohs building on oneself the album ends in a big beautifully sad tired sigh.
Robb Donker

Hhoogg- Improvisational Space rock mixes dreams, funk and prog-rock- "Space Wilderness"

Hhoogg- performs improvisational space rock out of Boston, Mass-

Check out the track:

In SPACE WILDERNESS the band creates some dreamy landscapes with a lot of funk meets prog-rock tones. 

Monday, February 26, 2018

"In the Dark" debut single by The Caracals - indie rock with surf punk vibes from Orange County

Darkness can be a lot of things. In reality it can be scary but it can also be freeing. In it's absolute form it can feel vast and limitless. A perfect place to get lost and to make changes in your life.

In the Dark is the debut single by "The Caracals" released on all streaming platforms on Feb 23. The track was mastered by Brian Lucey (Arctic Monkeys, The Black Keys). It features members of Hanni El Khatib and was recorded by Johnny Bell of Jazzcats studios. It starts with bright though somber acoustic and voice and then gives way to a head bobbing kind of surf punk vibe with running bass lines and choppy guitar downbeats. So very cool and engaging-- I can't wait to hear more.
Robb Donker

The Caracals is a band hailing from Orange County, CA. They have an eclectic approach to their blend of garage and indie rock with a gritty feel. The sound of the band is inspired by the gritty, fuzzy yet melodic sounds of artists the likes of The Last Shadow Puppets or The Black Keys. The idea is to craft exciting down-to-earth tracks that are filled to the brims with chunky guitar riffs, energetic vocals and steady rhythm sections with a retro feel. The Caracals set out to reformulate the indie rock sound, while embracing other influences, such as 60s surf, with a contemporary twist.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

"Slow" by Aaron and Julia- indie folk out of Victoria, Canada- tender trepidation in this little masterpiece

Aaron and Julia are an indie folk duo out of Victoria, Canada.

Both are students and while only time will tell if music becomes a full time endeavor it certainly doesn't stop them from beautifully rendering a small lovely masterpiece of sonic emotion called Slow.

Love the earnest timbre of the vocal performances and the melodies that fall so gently, tenderly but with some trepidation in the same way that new love is discovered.

Robb Donker

Weekend Flashback ::::: Coco Columbia - "Coveted Creatures" hybrid progressive indie pop

Coco Columbia looks like she might exist on another plane of existence like some alien human hybrid and her music mirrors her personal aesthetic mixing indie pop and jazz tones into a proggy electronic meets organic blend of sounds. She is from Portland, Oregon and describes her sound as ADHD pop (smile).

HEAR:: Coveted Creatures from 2016's stunning "When The Birds Begin To Walk" album
Robb Donker

Weekend Flashback ::::::: LeQube - "Hungry To Disagree" off their "SIDE A" EP

LeQube out of Fortworth, Texas - alternative rock- 

HEAR- Hungry To Disagree
off of their first EP (2015) titled "Side A"

Band Members
Joshua Braun
Matthew Williams
Garrett Peltier
Addison White

Waister- "Left Hand" from the Album "The Clouds That Airplanes Make" - shoe gazey sounds out of Portland

Vacuum all the sound out of a space and replace it with Waister and you will hear a haze of droning bass and guitar cascades of sound, faraway voices and a big echo of drums and all the pearly lead lines and writing words in the  lovely mud.

Out of Portland, Oregon-

from the album "The Clouds That Airplanes Make"

THEN check out the album on Bandcamp

thoughts: I thought about Dinosaur Jr a bit while listening--

Robb Donker

Brooklyn's Casual Male - EP called "EP" - hear "Time, Wasted" and more

Out of Brooklyn- Casual Male's EP is simply called "EP" -  hear their single Time, Wasted and then dig deeper--

Robb Donker

Tim Lappin - Vocals, Bass, Keys, Guitars 
Kirk Schoenherr- Guitar 
Dave Burnett - Drums, Percussion 
Nathan V Terry - Additional Vocals 
Grant Zubritsky - Synths 
Martin Crane - Synths 

Songs by Tim Lappin 

From Denmark: Rainbrother ::: "Black Chemicals" Love this track

From Denmark: Rainbrother ::: Black Chemicals

When you hear the upfront acoustic progression of Black Chemicals mirrored by bass it feels strangely like Southern Americana. The amble feels like the Mississippi river of days gone by but there is no Southern drawl when the sweet vocals performance steps up. The high register floats above the lush organic sounds and turns full bodied. Yeah, these guys are from Denmark. Who would of thought that(?)

Love this track
Robb Donker

After an eventful 2017 Denmark-based Rainbrother is ready with new material made in cooperation with Danger Mouse’s right hand Kennie Takahashi. Now the single ’Black Chemicals’ is released.

Last year Rainbrother released the critically acclaimed debut album ’Tales From the Drought’ mixed by Devendra Banhart-producer Noah Georgeson. Along with airplay on Danish P6 and P3 the album and a couple of live videos gave the group a ticket to SXSW and SPOT Festival, paving the way for frequent touring in their native Denmark and the UK.

The five rainbrothers also found time to drive their equipment out to an old farmhouse in the Danish countryside where they isolated themselves for two weeks and recorded a number of frontman Bjarke Bendtsen’s new songs.
The group now releases the first of those tracks ’Black Chemicals’ which is about the dark side of falling in love, a shady place where demons and sneaky chemicals suddenly shoot out from the unknown and get the upper hand.
On the single cover and in the upcoming music video for this song Rainbrother has allied with a black Great Dane. About this choice Bjarke explains: ’The song is about all the beautiful and scary stuff that breaks loose inside of you when you love and want to be loved, about the big black animal that walks its own ways, defies all reason.’

Just like the other songs from last summer’s session ‘Black Chemicals‘ has been through the mixing console of L.A. producer Kennie Takahashi who has worked with the likes of Beck, Black Keys and Danger Mouse. If Rainbrother fans notice a move from the softer alt-folk influenced sound of the debut album towards a sharper and more hardhitting sound on this new track it isn‘t a coincidence.

MANUEL SALDAÑA - Garage rock from Spain - "What's Up"


I don't know anything about this guy except he is from Spain and I like the garage rock sound he is putting out on What's Up.
Robb Donker

The beautifully commanding indie folk from Australian Born In October - "Free of Heart" from their "Running In Bare Feet" EP

Free of Heart by Australian indie/ folk duo Born In October is from their debut EP "Running In Bare Feet" just released yesterday on Feb 24th (on Bandcamp).

Born In October are bonafide city boy Matt Thomson (vocals, guitar) and bonafide country girl Rachel Webster (vocals, guitar, ukulele and tambourine) and, yes, they were both born in October.

Absolutely love their sound. The delicacies are heard throughout Free of Heart. Matt's vocal performance feels commanding in that Moody Blues sort of way and Rachel's voice has the natural lilt that feels so earnest. Both don't sound overly trained and I mean that in the best of ways. Their voices have character and you need that to tell their emotional stories.
Robb Donker

Matt Adey - "Broken Wing" strikes youthful chords of hope

I joked with Matt that his song Broken Wing sounds like an ABBA song and it kind of does but I meant it as a total compliment. It feels universal in it's appeal. It has that constant beat and in fact utilizes an 808 drum machine with a live kit. Then there is that electronic sound, synth and string blend which almost makes it feel fantastical (don't worry that is a word). It does soar. It harkins back to the whimsical and surreal aesthetic (Neverending Story anyone?) and it just touches youthful chords that you want to strike in this age of cynism and so many bad things in the news each and every day. Chords of hope. Matt's voice is classic. This track features Richard Ashcroft's band and is produced by Chris Potter (the Verve- Urban Hymes, Rolling Stones). Find Matt on Spotify.
Robb Donker

Lyrically, it is the 'get back on the horse' and 'get up on your feet' story that we can all relate to: “ I just want you to fly " and " You are not your Broken Wing " blast out as the chorus. It's saying that it is ok to be hurt as the struggle to continue is far more important. 
Matt has played all over the U.K and the U.S with a residency at the infamous Troubadour and recently finished a successful U.S solo tour. 
He has featured on the no.1 U.S dance album for Armin Van Burren in 2015 and continues to write for Armada music. 

Reno Royale - beautiful orchestrations this morning - Listen to: "Somewhere Near Los Molinos"

Reno Royale is a studio indie band and they use the studio to full effect in this track called Somewhere Near Los Molinos- borrowing a line from the song they are not "overplayed and over rated"-- hear the sheer elegance of this track based in dancing cadences and beautiful orchestration centered around acoustic guitar sounds and stellar harmonies.
Robb Donker

Saturday, February 24, 2018

From Kate Renegade's "New Unquiet Life" album- hear "Bow and Arrow"

Kate Renegades's "New Unquiet Life" album drops in May of 2018 but we already get to hear the rocker Bow and Arrow.

Out of Chicago the post punk guitars and heavy swagger is in full force. Kate's voice is just as full bodied and biting but can get tender when it needs to be.
Robb Donker


Kate Renegade plays heavy pop / rock and roll out of Chicago. Their newest songs are a deft mix of vintage rock storytelling à la The Replacements or The Pretenders, with a contemporary, visionary sound that smolders at its edges.
The sometimes soft, sometimes fierce vocals of frontwoman Steph Maieritsch impart an unapologetic intimacy, while the contributions of bandmates Noah Vandercook, Eric Unger, and Bix Trash help create finely-crafted pieces that combine assured pop instincts with a true rock grit. Or, as the Chicago Tribune put it: “deep lyrics and tightly-constructed instrumentation packed into a few minutes.”
The band met in 2015, and played numerous shows around the Chicago area under their former band name, Nest. After embarking on a midwest tour and developing new material, they were reborn as Kate Renegade- a name that more accurately reflects their music: fierce and focused, heavy and melodic, tough and emotive.
Kate Renegade has just finished recording with Steve Albini at Electrical Audio, and plans to release its new album in the spring of 2018, and support the release with live shows near and far. As Maieritsch sings in the new song Theories of Forgetting, “I was never one to watch silently, the queen can see the future as a memory.” Maieritsch and Kate Renegade have something to say, and they will say it with heart, intelligence, and a refined intensity reminiscent of the highest stars in the rock’n’roll night sky.

Airships On The Water is Solo Project of Take Shapes Drummer Russel Hensley

Airships On The Water is the solo project of Take Shapes drummer Russel Hensley and the track When You're Caught and from album "Beneath A Thousand Branches" while much more than just a vehicle to show off the tastiest of drumming still does that.

The pearly sounds feel like tentative steps around fragile things of beauty that have to be steeped around while the bass hold a mannerly cadence of an almost majestic minuet. Yes it sounds a bit math rockish in repose but it also has storytelling lines to follow.
Robb Donker

Place yourself in Tiger Darrow's "Hands"

Place yourself in Tiger Darrow's Hands and you will feel the ebb and flow of her emotional storytelling. Your breath may mirror the rush and lull of her lyrical cadence. Her voice sounds perfect for this kind of musical wrap all done up with beautiful bows. Deep grooves and pop hooks in this one.
Robb Donker

Tiger Darrow is a pop singer/songwriter hailing from Brooklyn. Influenced by the likes of Lana Del Rey and others, Tiger makes heartfelt alternative pop music. In the past, she has opened for the Zoe Keating, Edie Brickell, Erykah Badu, and others. On her new single "Hands," Tiger tells the story of a broken family life from the point of view of a child. "Hands" alludes to a bad childhood circumstance and music's cathartic relationship to those emotions. The song was co written and produced by Lars Söderberg.

The Titos Out of Atlanta-- LISTEN, LISTEN to this track IDWTBA (I Don't Want To Be Alone) The Vocals alone are worth the price of admission

The Titos are from Atlanta and churn out densely cool blues rock with such killer vocals. On the track IDWTBA (I Don't Want To Be Alone) it just jams in every way- feeling so ernest, real and unpretentious. Check yourself at the door and turn this up!
Robb Donker

Alex Lotito- Guitar and Vox 
Ian Mastrogiacamo- Bass and Vox 
Daniel Kirslis- Organ 
Zack Falls- Drums

"Candy Hearts" by Hugh Hart - Americana Rock and Roll

Hugh Hart lives in Los Angeles by way of Chicago and on the track Candy Hearts he churns out this really cool roots rock and roll thing in that kind of early Elvis Costello sort of way.

Really dig this song. Yeah, I still say "dig" - check it out you will dig it too.
Robb Donker

Hear "Damned If You Do" by The Boy Jones- and definitely read his poster

All I know about The Boy Jones is what is splattered on his own poster about him.

It is full of humor and charm and describes accurately about the things he sings about like songs about love, hope, fear, pain, marijuana, polygamy, perserverance, isolation and whatever else the human condition can offer that day. Fuck. I like this guy already and I truly love the artistic aesthetic on the song Damned If You Do especially because it doesn't feel or sound like an aesthetic or at least a thought out kind of sound. It just sounds, I imagine like Weston Pietrobon.
Robb Donker

Einleit - (Jun Suzuki) Electronic Pop Noire- track: Colourblind

Out of Paris: Einleit is the self-described electronic pop noire project led by Jun Suzuki, half French / half Japanese former opera singer.

The track Colourblind has deep indie pop grooves but it also veers into elements of dance and industrial pop sounds too.

Check out the official video below-
Robb Donker

Labasheeda- punk forward sounds from the Neatherlands- Hear "Head"

Head from the Changing Lights Album by the Netherlands' Labesheeda is just so punk forward. Just no denying the reality of that statement. The entire album is solidly constructed with such a raw penetrating sound. Singer, guitarist, violinist Saskia Van Der Giessen push and pulls hard and soft and everywhere in between.
Robb Donker

There are many sides to James-- hear "Jimmy" by "Jimmy"

There are many sides to James...

The happy piano and performance feels kind of like caberet, kind of spacey and all artistically wrought and crafted but with some cracks in the make up.

Robb Donker

"Look Back" from "Distant Mountains" out of San Francisco

LOOK BACK- from Distant Mountains - feels vast and sweeping. Sweet sounds-

Robb Donker

New single from SF based trio Distant Mountains.
Vocals/Guitars/Piano - Scott Lord
Bass/Synth/Vocals - Paul McCorkle
Drums/Percussion/Vocals - Ben Manning
Engineered by Rob Shelton @ Tiny Telephone San Francisco
Mixed by Brian Howell
Mastered by Golden Mastering

The Bobby Lees- porch blues punk - "Jitterbug Perfume" from the "Beauty Pageant: album

Listen to Jitterbug Perfume (from the Beauty Pageant album) while driving down a desolate road in rural Georgia and you might get freaked out a bit and if a deer darts out in front of you then you might shit your pants. This is because this track by The Bobby Lees is at once very cool and retro chic but also kind of haunting and dare I say dangerous sounding, even so edgy as to be creepy in the Rob Zombie sort of way.

However you feel it- the sound is captivating as shit. Call it punk blues, or skiffle punk or whatever I love the girl / boy vocals and the punk X Billy Zoom frozen smile aesthetic.
Robb Donker

Put on a white dinner Jacket, tight pants, grab a martini and listen to "Origami Heart" by Hollowlove

The track Origami Heart by Hollowlove feels kind of retro like the romantic new wave of Bryan Ferry / Roxy Music circa 79 to 87-- but not. The synths feel a bit more shifty, spartan and askiew. Still the allure is here. Slick back your hair, put on a dinner jacket with skinny pants and dance with a martini.
Robb Donker-


Hollowlove is moody electropop from Vancouver Canada. 

Hollowlove producer Keith Gillard and vocalist/illustrator Ryan Slemko have collaborated since 1999. Until 2009, as Fidgital, their eclectic (schizophrenic) releases appeared frequently on international electronic and dance charts. They were joined for their live shows by percussion-ninja Craig Burdes, and Brian Rex Barry on bass. In 2004 the group was honoured with a Canadian Independent Music Award.

Mike Green- personal stories about first crushes and more - "Always"

Always by Mike Green percolates on sweet guitar picking lines as his voice holds sway telling a personal story of a first crush turned into much more. I spend a lot of time in tougher musical genres but you never get tired of honest lovely storytelling. 
Robb Donker


Mike Green is an American singer, songwriter, guitarist, and producer. Since graduating from Berklee College of Music in 2009, Green has garnered attention in the music industry, having performed for artists such as Mick Jagger, John C. Reilly, Wyclef Jean, Maroon 5, Jamie Cullum, and more. Green could easily be labeled a "young veteran" in today's music scene. He has had music placed in film and television shows, performed in 30+ countries with international events band The Phly Boyz, as well as provided session guitar and vocal work for many LA-based musicians with world-class credits. Although his style has been compared to artists like John Mayer, Dave Matthews and Coldplay, Green has found a way to plate his sound differently. His music is a dish of versatility, garnished with powerful choruses and moody grooves. In 2018, his single “Always” is a promising first installment from an artist who clearly has the writing, playing, and singing chops to get the material out of his heart and into a song.

Ryan Dunlap - "Miss Oklahoma" and "All In" on Spotify

Country tinged indie folk sung with a crisp biting vocals Ryan Dunlap plays clubs telling his stories and has a lot of his tracks up on Spotify--

Essential tracks:
Miss Oklahoma
All In
Robb Donker

Friday, February 23, 2018

Blushing from Austin - Dream pop / Shoe gaze Squared - Hear the "Weak" EP

The track Hidden Places from the "Weak" EP by Austin Texas's dream pop / shoe gaze band Blushing is not only appropriately dreamy but full of melodically rich centers. It veers into tones that feel kind of surf punky in spots too then explodes in to shoegazey heaven. Blushing also pushes heavy pop elements and I actually thought of the Cranberries a bit during parts of this luscious track.

I know a lot of bands as a music writer and many musicians say a band is really like a marriage so to complicate things further Blushing is comprised of two husband and wife combinations. I guess that is like marriage squared.

Check out the track below and some more about Blushing via press notes.
Robb Donker

Blushing is an Austin, TX based dream pop / shoegaze quartet comprised of two husband and wife pairs that originated in the summer of 2015 when Michelle shared a few songs with long time friend Christina that she had been writing on guitar. A friendship quickly became a musical partnership as Christina, a classically trained vocalist, picked up a bass and together they evolved those rough songs into fully formed compositions. They then enlisted the talents of their spouses, Jake on drums, Noe on lead guitar and shortly after self-released their debut EP "Tether" in January of 2017.
Energized by positive reception, a growing fan base and a grip of new songs they headed back into the studio as soon as possible. They recorded their follow-up EP “Weak” at Bad Wolf Recordings in Austin, TX. The album encompasses influences from all of the bands they collectively share a deep affection for such as Lush, Cocteau Twins, The Sundays, etc. “Weak” will be released digitally, on cassette and 12” vinyl January 26th 2018 on Austin Town Hall Records. Vinyl pre-order available now via their Bandcamp.

Montreal's Everett Bird's "Bucket Of Dark Meat" is a twist of dreaminess of Revolver meets Pink Floyd meets a thousand daiseys

Everett Bird (Everett, Liam, Mikey and Booty aka Splat) are out of Montreal, Canada and want you to hear their single Bucket Of Dark Meat from their upcoming debut album (yet untitled). The track moves so well on top of attacking synths, fluid bass lines and shuffling drums that gives way to dreaminess and almost Revolver meets Pink Floyd-esque vox. The musical changes are many and oh so very cool and dreamy. LOVE this track.
Robb Donker

Alex Rand's mind and time bending "My Mettle Changes" experimental pop

From the upcoming EP "Sundial" the track My Mettle Changes moves and metamorphosizes from indie pop cagey beats ala Atoms of Peace to giving way to industrial symphonic flourishes that seems to make time and space bend ala Drab Majesty if they were on barbiturates. And then.... all musical hell breaks loose and heaven too. It is this push and pull that is alluring and mind shifting. All these fever dreams are created by Montreal based songwriter and producer Alex Rand who likes to craft a diverse array of experimental pop sounds. A former member, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist for art pop outfit Look Vibrant, his debut EP called "Sundial" crafted with former band mate Matthew Murphy will be released soon through Indianapolis based label Jurassic Pop.
Robb Donker

Gareth Inkster- "Misfire" - a beautifully somber mirror "chemical's misfiring deep in my mind"

Gareth Inkster's moving track Misfire from the upcoming 7 track album "Last Year" asks tough questions. When he waxes poetic about his own life, about himself and about his deep connections with others that might be showing deeper cracks you feel universal questions and (finally) when during the evocative bridge that gives away to beautifully moving orchestrations he asks "is there something wrong with me" you may feel tears on your soul and they may be your own. Misfire is beautifully somber and feels (in the end) like a stunning mirror.
Robb Donker

Transport yourself to "New Mexico" by The Western Front

From the "Between The Moon" EP transport yourself to New Mexico and the quiet intoxicated slumber of The Western Front's three piece sound. Pearly guitars, long haired dreams in a sleepy town and cool beets at night and maybe something a little stronger on Saturday nights.

The Western Front exist with no overt pomp and circumstance and I mean that in the best possible way. They are hubbed out of Austin Texas by way of of Iowa City and feature members of Tomar and the FCs and the Wandering Bears. The self described genre is rock pop soul country. The band members are David Earl on keys, guitar, recording- Mitch Fischels on bass guitar and Drew Fischels on guitar and vocals. The album also features Paul Kresowik on drums and Tony Rincon on pedal steel.  Get back to New Mexico below as well as the entirety of "Between The Moon"-

Robb Donker

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Beerwine King- single "Dusty Valley" chug it down

Beerwine King out of Oakland and their single Dusty Valley from their Treason Album chugs along so heavily as the vox have a kind of psychedlic flowery sway. The guitar breaks are big with punchy drums and noise rock overtones. The downbeats feel at once familiar like that one beer at that one spot that looks over the city lights with that one person on that one fantastic day. -

Robb Donker

The Echo Bombs - "Pistachio Pudding" is chunky fun

The track Pistachio Pudding by Phoenix Arizona's The Echo Bombs is like a punk movie as directed by Joel and Ethan Coen after they were beat up by Steven Spielberg and Ron Howard high on bath salts. Contraty to popular belief, punk is grand theater and from the sounds of it The Echo Bombs are the finest of actors. This track brought to mind bands as diverse as The Dead Kennedy's, No Parents, Melted and early Pangea (before they became Together Pangea). Cool stuff.
Robb Donker

Pistachio Pudding is the first single off of their upcoming sophomore album "Pleb" due to drop in April of this year (2018).

"Honest" by New Zealand's "The Leers" Has got a deep groove and deep pop hooks too

Love the groove and vibe in this track Honest by The Leers.
Robb Donker

The Leers are a new band from Mt. Maunganui, New Zealand that sounds like The Arctic Monkeys meets The Glass Animals and present "Honest" single from their U.S debuted EP Time It Takes that released on January 12th, 2018.

Band Members
Matt Bidois
Jack Furniss
Jacob Buchan
James Kippenberger

Swerve - out of L.A. -- "Lose Control" mines classic gold

Hearing the track Lose Control by indie rockers Swerve made me think of late 70's / 80's iconic L.A rock ala The Plimsouls and similar such bands like The Knack or the Nerves. It was a pristine time for this kind of rock that was like indie rock now but referred to as new wave. Swerve has some of those touches and in Lose Control you hear those earmarks. Clean guitar strains, upfront clean yet gritty vox and the double time snare beat popping up during the chorus. It is a sound that give me fond memories. -
Robb Donker

Press release stuff down below:

Swerve is a four-piece indie rock band based in Los Angeles, CA. Crafting melodic, guitar-driven tunes, singer-songwriter Gregory Mahdesian leads the band with a vision of staying true to the foundations of alt-rock. Together with local musicians Ryan Berti on guitar, Brandon Duncan on bass, and Mark Gardner on drums, Swerve creates songs reminiscent of the Britpop and Grunge movements with a modern sensibility and a healthy dose of their Californian personalities. Swerve made their official debut last fall with a self-titled EP release which lent to rave reviews; “the band has quickly created a memorable sound,” describes PureVolume. Swerve is currently performing locally while recording a second EP, expected for release by the end of this year.

SWOLL's Self Titled Album Has An Immersive Sway- Dense Dreams With Ocean Deep Grooves - Read my words and hear : "Slow"

One of the best things about being a music blogger is finding little presents in your email box. A sonic piece of candy that just tastes so sweet. Today it is a self titled album by SWOLL the synthalicious bottom heavy thoroughly engaging electronic project of Matt Dowling who has played bass for a bevy of DC bands over the last ten years like Deleted Scenes, the Effects, Paperhaus, Joy Buttons and more. 

One of the most difficult thing for an artist to do is to define themselves with a sound. As a singer songwriter myself it can be frustrating creating songs with somewhat varied styles and NOT always a cohesive sound. SWOLL does not have this problem at least on this collection of songs. For the most part the sound is a stunning mix of heavy and light and over-modulation and drone is an entrancing way. I listened to the album all the way through and here are my immediate thoughts.

Back To You: It has such an immersive sway. It feels like a hyper slow dance under an umbrella of a million disco ball lights. Kind of somber but lovely too. In the end it feels like a tear stained love story. 
Shake is cagey but happy with such a heavy bottom end set off with high synth down beats amid an ocean deep groove.
Settle Up The Road might be the records novelty song but still brilliant and fun.
Budge feels emotionally wrought and wrung out. The over modulated sound vocally and instrumentally work against each other like arguments over a backyard fence. Conflicts of sound give it drama. 
Stars: The longest track at 4:48 oddly made me think of Peter Gabriel ("if looks could kill it probably will" or something like that) and as such has a serious gravitas about it. It has a wicked bass line but feels a little soap boxy.
Snow: For me it pushes the over-modulated vox one click too far but the chorus is undeniably catchy and pop infused. 
You've Gone Away is the most carefree and youthful sounding track on the record. It is it's sonic smile and will grow on me forever. Love this track. 
Stranger: That deep voice is back lie on Settle Up the Road. My apologies but this feels like the throw away track on this record.
Slow: The plodding beat and a downbeat as dour as breaths that are hard to take. It feels incredibly sad and mysterious and feels like a tapestry for a thousand gray sad movies.

Final take: SWOLL is a collection of dense and trippy songs fused with emotions and lovely melodies. The vox and instrumentation almost feel as one as they are glued together in a haze of sonic grit. Dreamy stuff that push retro buttons in your brain.
Robb Donker

SWOLL drops on March 9, 2018 on Blight Records 
(the label has threatened to cut my balls off and kidnap my first born if I share most of the tracks but I can share one....... so enjoy

Andrew Ryan: "Caladiums" and "City Lights" from the album "Across Currents" - Settle in and take a listen.

When Andrew Ryan tells his stories in songs like Caladiums and City Lights, two truly evocative spartan folk / garden rock tracks from his debut album entitled "Across Currents" his voice feels down turned or turned inward remembering lost hopes and dreams. Ryan a successful St.Louis based producer has worked on albums for Oh Caledonia, Casey Reeves, and Drug the Kids. A graduate of the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences, he later interned with Steve Albini at his Chicago studio, Electric Audio. As musician and songwriter, Ryan mines deeply personal stories into his alt country / folk / indie rock songs. The 12 song album written and mixed by Ryan was later cut to vinyl by six time Grammy award winning producer, Jeff Powell and is available up on his Bandcamp page.

Settle in and take a listen.
Robb Donker

EL Mar- Hear "New Life" Off of the forthcoming "Walking With Dogs" EP

EL Mar is singer  songwriter Joey Primero and coincidentally when I heard her the first track called New Life from the forthcoming EP "Walking With Dogs" (due to drop this spring) I thought of the 1990 Concrete Blonde's Joey off of their stellar "Bloodletting" album. Joey Primero and Johnette Napolitano vocal performances are vastly different but they both possess truly captivating voices that seem to carry the weight of their emotional experiences full of yearning, love, hope and pain. 

Penned after Primero left a career as a music publicist, New Life does have a touch that 90's post rock tone especially with the clean yet chunky guitar sound and beautiful crafted chorus that melodically draws on classic almost 70's rock heavy folk rock flavors. As El Mar Joey is surrounded by a collective of NYC based musicians and garnered much love from Billboard, Paste Magazine, Impose Magazine and more after live shows supporting their well received debut 2015 album Try To Forget. Thoroughly loving New Life and so looking forward to hearing more from El Mar.

Robb Donker

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Somehow- from "Hidden Memories" - "Someday" and "Meaningless Thoughts In Dark Times" - Parisian Indie Pop

Somehow is an indie pop outfit out of Paris centered around DIY multi-instrumentalist Erwan Pépiot  (vocals, guitar, bass, drums, keyboard) and Aurélie Tremblay (vocals, cello). When I listened to the single Someday from their full length album "Hidden Memories" out on Toolong Records I was taken aback from Erwan's vocal performance which (to me) felt like a blend of Matt Berninger of The National and Morrissey of The Smiths. The song itself also feels Smith-ish in terms of melodic cadence (a bit) and it's kind of free form almost improvisational sounding lyrics. When I hear a band whose inspirations whether intentional or not feel so there it can be a double edged sword that rides the line between lovely homage and copy cat-ness. Luckily with Somehow their sound which also brings to mind Joy Division does not feel heavy handed but quite natural. However you "find" Somehow's spartan sound to be it has gotten under my skin. 

Listen to Someday and Meaningless Thoughts In Dark Times to feel the breadth and scope of Somehow. Then listen to the rest of the album.
Robb Donker

Taste the Lo-fi Goodness of "Cake" by Zack Brooks

Oh c'mon "you've taken the cake and eaten it to so reap what you bake... and let them eat you"- this refrain (in the track Cake) is one of the tasty lyrical pieces of candy that you will happily ingest. There are other references to social media to the economy to, uh, the Branch Davidians (?) and while some of the vocal gymnastics may just be that... cool rhymes and connections it doesn't really matter as it all feels so interesting. It really doesn't matter what it means anyway but what meaning we as listeners place on it, on any song really.

I do wonder how some religiosos would interpret "Flaming Lips versus the flaming cross" -

Cake is by Zack Brooks and produced by Bier Music.
In Zack's own words:

I was born in East Lansing, Michigan and moved out to California when I was 5. I grew up listening to a lot of J Dilla, Modest Mouse, and early 90's rap/indie rock. When I started making music, I wanted to find a nice marriage between the gritty rawness of sampled hip hop beats and the instrumentality of early indie rock music. I started producing my own stuff in college and I've also had a long working relationship with Bier Music founder Bobby Bier (as well as a kick-ass friendship!). I really hope you enjoy my stuff as much as I enjoy making it.

Follies and Vices - "Statuesque" - Indie Hip Hop (Pop) And more

Follies and Vices are by their own definition an indie hip hop duo from Seattle. I guess that's a pretty good description but from a peak into their sonic psyche from their single Statuesque their aesthetic runs deeper than that description. The track has a kind of weird punk bravado in that The Garden kind of way but pop tentacles like (ok go with me) Twenty One Pilots but waaaay less emo-ish. I get the sense that Rob Auerbach and Tanner Houghton don't take themselves that serious but take the making of their music seriously.

Statuesque has got a deep groove too- hoping that these guys will have a back up band live as opposed to performing to recorded tracks. That would be sweet. I really like the last third when the song gets kind of crowd loud and anthemic and then kinda sweet. Robb and Tanner now live in Echo Park area of Los Angeles so look out for them if you live in that wonderful neck of the woods. Statuesque drops on Spotify and all digital platforms MARCH 1st.
Robb Donker