Saturday, June 29, 2019

Singer-songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist JCCalvet bends time and emotions on the cinematic "Half Asleep"

Half Alseep by JCCalvet feels like a morning sunrise, like synapses in the brain starting to fire off, sleep wiped from the eyes as life's seconds, minutes sweep and swirl into hours and days. Beginning with what sounds like the heavy buttons of an analog tape machine, the song is less than 3 minutes but as if time is bending and condensed, all the swirling emotions seriously make the song feel half that time. Before you know it, it is over. Aesthetically, it is moments of intimacy blooming into an almost hyper reality of orchestrated beauty and dramatic moments. Half Asleep was written and recorded in Boston, Massachusetts. Press notes reveal that:

'The lyrics refer to everyday scenes which can make us so easily recall a dormant mournful past. The production features live recording to tape as well as heavy sampling and programming in an unusual, highly organic manner.'

In the end Half Asleep almost feels like condensed moments of one's life revealed in a truly cinematic way. From the EP, "Resize The Universe"- multi-disciplined Venezuelan artist JCCalvet makes life feel more beautiful.

Robb Donker


JCCalvet is a genre-bending scientist of the word and sound. After graduating Berklee College of Music and a brief run as an audio engineer in NYC, he realized that his true intentions lied in becoming an artist and sharing his inner tones with the world. His songwriting caught Berklee faculty and Grammy-nominated producer Enrique Gonzalez Müller's eye, and the two of them soon started working on what would become JCCalvet's first single - Resize the Universe.

Also a visionary producer, engineer and multi-instrumentalist, JCCalvet has enjoyed success producing Mexican singer Paulina Parga, singing backing vocals on Latin Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Claudia Prieto's EP, and engineering on recordings by greats such as Anthony Jackson, Becca Stevens and Binky Griptite.
While having enjoyed past lives as an orchestra violinist, sideman as a guitarist and pianist, session backing-vocalist and guitarist, and full-time audio tracking engineer, JCCalvet has accumulated hundreds upon hundreds of songs, the best of which are about to inescapably see the light of day. Being originally from Caracas, Venezuela, his roots allow him to be proficient in Spanish songwriting as well, allowing for a profound flexibility into the latin singer-songwriter genre.
As a life-long music maker and producer, he is always in the search of surpassing the boundaries that current music-making technologies have to offer. His visionary, no-looking-back method of creation, has earned admiration and faith from his peers and fans alike.
JCCalvet's new EP, "Resize the Universe" will be released in April, and will feature a collection of new songs that have been brewing for a long time. With topics about the universe, humanity, love, time and lack thereof (of all of the above), he seeks not only for the listener to comprehend him, but for them to be one step closer to comprehending themselves.

Gemini Sun's jagged punk slacker trip of "I'll Get Round To It" is the sonic narcotic I need

Wow, wow, wow. From the onset, the track I'll Get Round To it by Gemini Sun made me think of Pavement and Lou Reed at the same time. It may be the jangly guitars, proto punkish seemingly free form attitude and Samuel Dooks kind of smirky "I don't give a fuck" vocal performance and while I am sure he gives a fuck, you can almost see his eyes gazing upward in thought as he reflects on the words. The tone is sardonic but deep and in that regard it has that kind of acerbic Stephen Malkmus thing going for it. When the musical break happens there is some sweet proggy inspired things happening, sudden descending chords that dart in in surprising ways and the spartan yet super energetic jammy quality appeals to me. So, so fucking good. As their press notes reveal :

Songwriter and singer, Sam, says the track is 'a turbulent slacker trip through the bewilderment of life in the modern age.'

They releases a home recorded "Polyhedrap" EP with Crocodile Records London in 2017 and have been building up their audience since then via live shows.  ​I'll Get Around to It is their first single recorded as a full band and was produced by ​Toby Kidd (​ Hatcham Social, Amy Studt) at ​Bark Studios (Flowers, Go-Kart Mozart) in north east London.

Gemini Sun cite Dorchester as their hometown.

Robb Donker

Get ready to head bang with Browsing Collection's - "Oh No" heavy metal infused punk filtered girl power

Some people want to swim in seas of sadness while listening to Thom Yorke or politically navel gaze with the equally intoxicating and madening diatribes of Morrissey but when you just want to head bang to heavy metal drenched youthful rock then there is Sweden's Browsing Collection. The track Oh No marries punk rock bravado through power pop filters. The song chops heavy chords with anthemic melodies. 

Browsing Collection is Moa Kenngren (Lead guitar, vocals), Carro Karlsson (drums), Mimi Brander (vocals, ryythm guitar) and Nora Lenngren (bass, vocals)

Robb Donker

Matt York's folk rock descent "Going Crazy" digs deep

Matt York hails from Boston, Massachusetts and the track Going Crazy from his recently released "Bruisable Heart" album is a wistful (albeit brief) wanderlustful folk song that holds sad dark meanings deep in the picking chords and dramatic strums. At first listen it feels like a song about broken love but the more you listen there are passages of words that suggest it may be about ones heart not being able to feel love. Maybe we all have those self doubts and feel crazy in that way. York sings with an every man's tone, like the guy next door telling you his woes over a beer in the backyard. It is inviting and real and this time all too short a visit. 

Robb Donker


Friday, June 28, 2019

"Blackout At The Kindergarten" is a big song about the small and big things about growing up- by Carnival Kid

Oh, sweet jesus, how I love the heavy sound of Carnival Kid's big indie rock track "Blackout At The Kindergarten" that kind of swings for the fences. On one hand it feel anthemic but on the other the heaviness can push deep inside you and feel intimate. Later in the song after all the tumultuous indie rock fury, the palm muted electric guitar transforms into a seriously beautiful bit of acoustic music and the vocal melody repeats the loveliness of one phrase over and over again. It is the kind of surprise ending that elicits goosebumps in the wee early hours of the morning and maybe even a tear.

Carnival Kid is the indie /alternative solo project of Christian Stezycki out of Germany and "Blackout At The Kindergarten" (streaming on Spotify) is his second single as a solo artist. Of the song he shares:

"This is my second single as a solo artist and it deals with all the stuff you go through becoming an adult/father/responsible person. It's trying to capture the feeling of being overworked while hoping for the ones you love to help you out in some kind of way while knowing that they have pretty much the same problems getting along."

Oh, and one more thing. Play this song loud.


Robb Donker

Thursday, June 27, 2019

"Birthdayland" by London's Chernobyl Sunshine Club sweeps you up in it's lush, sad, romantic arms

Birthdayland by London's Chernobyl Sunshine Club is a sweeping jaugernaut of a chamber pop song drenched in a lush sad sound. The cadence is waltz like and when everything drops out to reveal the spartan pretty core you feel that sway even more touching that sadness with a romantic hug. As their press note reveal the band is inspired by video game soundtracks and film scores and that makes sense when you hear their full tilt cinimatic sound. It feels lovely, yet a bit dark at the same time. 

Robb Donker


After a break working on new tracks we're back with a new line up and cinematic live sound. Birthdayland will be the first single of 2019 we some more coming out later in the year.

Chernobyl Sunshine Club are Londoners whose cinematic Indie/Alt Folk, inspired by video game soundtracks and film scores, is a euphoric blend of beats and riffs that unashamedly borrows from rock, metal and jazz and even classical music. Originators and musical explorers, Chernobyl Sunshine Club set out to prove that when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. 
Chernobyl Sunshine Club formed in late 2016, hit the London club scene and recorded their debut single, 'When Death Was A Boy (2017)' . Frequently playlisted in the UK and US, it was followed up by single 'Pelagius (2018)' which earned support from Tom Robinson on BBC 6 music among others. 

The drunken carnival ride that is "The Weather" by Drooligan

The Weather by Drooligan feels like a drunken carnival ride. There is a wonderful almost "caberet on high" tone with a wide eyed full arm sweep stagey vocal performance. The kind of farfisa-esque upbeat to downbeat ska cadence coupled with that kind of tongue and cheek performance made me think a bit of the bands Madness (One Step Beyond) and Space (Neighborhood and Female of The Species) who I really love.  Drooligan is Dave Greenbrown, Hannah Bungard and David Jarman and never, ever lose your English accents when you sing, yeah...

Robb Donker


Three technicolour disco miscreants beating electro-pop bangers out of a dusty old clubland organ.
In late 2017, Dave Greenbrown, Hannah Bungard and David Jarman went exploring through the abandoned rooms of a social club in York. After kicking in the door of the old committee room and climbing over boxes of moulding Victorian photographs, they found...
Well, they didn’t know what it was.
Something that looked like the lovechild of a keyboard and a minibar.
They dragged it over to a socket, plugged it in and started pressing buttons.
Without anyone realising, Drooligan were having their first band practice.
Since discovering the organ, Dave, Bungard and Jarman have spent thousands of joyful hours mastering the 1984 Kawai X-430 and its racks of built-in synthesisers. Expect three colourful and immature nutcases dancing, grinning and singing songs about umbrellas, superstition, the seaside and Anne Bronte. As well as the odd feminist anthem for the single and proud.
What you can hear now is three people squeezing every last possible drop out of one organ. Beats, basslines, synths, melodies, drum fills, handclaps and clicks. One drooligan plays one end, one drooligan plays the other, and whoever's free gets up in your face. The resulting manic electro-fairground disco-poetry is Drooligan.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

ANIMA - Thom Yorke's much anticipated solo album is out tomorrow- See Zane Lowe's insightful interview with the man.

Anima comes out TOMORROW... awwww, yes. All I have to say for now. Happy. Gleeful. 

Zane Lowe conducted a very sweet and insightful interview. See interview excerpt below followed by concert dates:

ANIMA Tracklisting
Thom Yorke: 2019 Tour
2nd – Cologne, Germany – Palladium
3rd – Frankfurt, Germany – Jahrhunderthalle
4th – Montreux, Switzerland – Montreux Jazz Festival
6th – Ewijk, Netherlands – Down The Rabbit Hole Festival
7th – Paris, France – Philharmonie de Paris, Days Off Festival
8th – Paris, France – Philharmonie de Paris, Days Off Festival
11th – Bilbao, Spain – BBK Live Festival
13th – Lisbon, Portugal – NOS Alive Festival
16th – Barolo, Italy – Collisioni Festival
17th – Codroipo, Italy – Villa Manin
18th – Ferrara, Italy – Piazza Castello
20th – Perugia, Italy – Arena Santa Giuliana, Umbria Jazz Festival
21st – Rome, Italy – Roma Summer Fest, Cavea
26th – Yuzawa-Cho, Japan – Fuji Rock Festival
28th – Seoul, South Korea – Olympic Hall
26th – Laval, Quebec – Place Bell
27th – Toronto – Scotiabank Arena
28th – Pittsburgh – Stage AE
30th – Columbus – Express Live!
4th – Austin – Austin City Limits Music Festival – Zilker Park
6th – Atlanta – Fox Theatre
9th – New Orleans – Mahalia Jackson Theatre for the Performing Arts
11th – Austin – Austin City Limits Music Festival – Zilker Park
18th – Berkeley – Greek Theatre
20th – Seattle – Paramount Theatre
21st – Vancouver – Orpheum
22nd – Portland – The Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
25th – Santa Barbara – Santa Barbara Bowl
26th – Las Vegas – The Chelsea at the Cosmopolitan
29th – Los Angeles – Greek Theatre

LP 's powerhouse indie pop of "Shaken"- Currently on Tour in support of the "Heart To Mouth" Album

Shaken by LP is a blast of indie pop and when you hear it you will soon find out that the blast is really LP's vocal performance and that her voice will transform any song into something special. Her powerful register, full of grit and vigor, is all by itself a powerful instrument to be reckoned with and within the vocally more subdued moments of Shaken (there are some) you can feel her utmost vulnerability and broken tenderness too. I have yet to delve fully into her music, into her new album "Heart To Mouth" and I hope that she takes full advantage of being able to sell songs with her tender side too because powerhouse singers sometimes forget to do that.

Her look is as striking as her voice with a sense of androgyny which I always find interesting and cool. I actually thought of Marc Bolan a bit when I saw her pics (and a young Nicole Kidman). LP is from L.A. and is currently on tour (Europe) in support of her "Heart To Mouth" album so do yourself a favor and check her out live.

Band Members


Pride Month is here and it's bringing out the best of queer music, and so is LP with this outstandingly powerful track. Conveying the pain of seeing your former lover with a new person, and reminiscent of the theme of queer anthem "Dancing on My Own" by Robyn, "Shaken" breaks the mold with LP's fiery feelings and melodic acrobatics.  
LP recently talked to Ones To Watch on her experience of being gay in the music industry. She explains, "Being gay has definitely been a challenge in that people in the industry can sometimes think that defines you." 
LP is a sensation - one whose defining characteristic is her exemplary music that displays her diversity of talent and passion. The anthemic "Shaken" is a powerful cry, an honest plea and a cathartic release. LP delivers on this gripping track with musical highs and lows, following the dynamics of experiencing the heartbreak that accompanies a breakup. New fans will feel like they're alongside LP, holding her hand as she pours her heart out.
This knockout star may not be new to the music scene but she is set to become the biggest breakout of 2019. LP's single "Girls Go Wild" from the Heart to Mouth album just hit #1 in Italy and will continue to break charts around the world.  

Tour Dates 
Istanbul, Turkey - Uniq Istanbul - 6/15
Izmir, Turkey - Izmir Festival - 6/17
Ankara, Turkey - Odtu Grass Amphitheatre - 6/18
2700 Blagoevgr, Bulgaria - Francofolies Blagoevgrad - 6/21
Athens, Greece - Rockwave Festival - 6/22 
Zagreb, Croatia - INmusic Festival - 6/26
Bratislava, Slovakia - NTC Aegon Arena - 6/27
Sopron, Hungary - Volt Festival - 6/28
Vilnius, Lithuania - Sunset Festival Lithuania - 6/30
Sigulda, Latvia - Sunset Festival Latvia - 7/2
Haapsalu, Estonia - Sunset Festival Estonia - 7/3
Gdynia, Poland - Open'er Festival- 7/5
Ewijk, Netherlands - Down The Rabbit Hole - 7/7
Antwerp, Belgium - Openluchttheater - 7/10
Stuttgart, Germany - Jazz Open Stuttgart - 7/12
Venezia, VE, Italy - Home Festival - 7/13
Barcelona, Spain - Festival Jardins De Pedralbes - 7/15

Monday, June 24, 2019

Kai Orion creates an organic distillery of experimental sounds that feels trippy and timeless- hear "Tiny World"

Tiny World by Kai Orion built on an engine of percussive flute puffs, bass grooves, deep organ swells, cagey guitar, almost calypso side shifts falls away into big eruptions of psyche rock pushed up front by Orion's full throated big vox. His vocal performance is at once self aware but also seasoned and confident in it's earnest approach. The whole aesthetic feels like a kind of world blend distilled into this kind of forever classic garden rock. Like something that would of felt perfectly in place at the original Woodstock right before or after Ritchie Havens' organically amazing set. 

Currently based out of Washington, DC and originally from Maryland, Kai Orion pushes the experimental side of things working with frequent collaborators, zack be, alexander gallows, mike hauser and the radiographers.

Robb Donker


Kai Orion’s ability to marry wildly inventive ideas with accessible, intelligent songwriting has earned him praise throughout his young career. His debut found-sound pop album “Pots & Pans” was called “without question, the most ambitious record of 2015” by the Frederick News Post, and in 2014 he won a nationwide cover contest held by indie rock band The National for his cover of their song “I Need My Girl,” using kitchen objects to accompany his voice. That video was featured on The National’s website for several months. Whether he’s playing a lawnmower or a flute, it’s the sincerity of Orion’s music that sets him apart.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Just bleeds on "Meek" (Seasonal Depression Version)

Meek (Seasonal Depression Version) by So Cal's Just starts with harmonics and bass notes and then a transient beat that a guitar progression builds around. It is a sign of things to come, a slow burn of desolation, of sad vocals and forlorn harmonies. To me, it kind of feels like a grungey lullaby, sadcore art floating in a sea of sadness. This is after all the "seasonal depression version" or so they say but there are some words spoken between the lines, some glimmers of hope that you can feel in the smattering of inspired guitar strikes at the end that finally turns into a (somewhat) hopeful eruption. 

"This is a reworking of an older song. This song is about my mom and her resilience to keep living life, despite her husband stepping out and abandoning his family. This song features Janey Reich, one of Orange County's best vocalists and local musicians (of the bands Layman and Telstar)."

From the "Just To Come" EP.

Robb Donker


Just is the vehicle for songs written by Southern Californian musician Garrett La Bonte. Started initially in 2012 as an ambient/instrumental project, the moniker now hosts songs in a variety of styles, including traditional vocal pieces with instrumental accompaniment. While La Bonte and his songs are constant, the lineup is an ever-changing cast of musicians and artists from his local community.
The songs of Just are for the most part inspired by the quiet, sparse music La Bonte grew up hearing from his older siblings’ bedrooms. Writing songs akin to these memories is a way to get in touch with the past and bring that memorable sound into a modern format. But really, these are simply songs written in a quieter state of mind.

The psych rock punk hybrid of Pancho and The Wizards - hear "Rot" from the EP "Cemetary"

Pancho and The Wizards out of San Luis Obispo, Calfornia are a kind of psych rock punk hybrid and their EP "Cemetary" is a slice and dice collection of alternative rock that is sometimes hard to pin down. It definitely is not classic punk but pulls in big metal sounds on top of their punk aesthetic like on the track Mausoleum. Then there is Reoccurring Cave that almost feels like a version of Black Sabbath meets surf punk. Dumpster Fire pushes a bit more garage rock / 90's college rock tones. 

And then there is the track Rot, a blistering 3 minutes of punk blending in all the aforementioned sounds. Cool. Oh, and kudos to the musicianship on this album and the vocal performance. I feel more good things coming from this band (or are they a punk collective??-- look at all the past members on their Bandcamp). 

Robb Donker

Queens' (NY) Hoax blend so many elements into the romance wave that is "Could"

Could by  Queens' (NY) Hoax feels like super charged romance wave with elements of soul, R & B, and indie pop rock tones. Centered around Mike Raj and Frantz Cesar, whose self described "empathy pop" draws influences from 60's pop, 70's Motown and alternative rhythm and blues. The members of the band are a mix of Indian, Puerto Rican, Haitian, Ecuadorian, Irish and Italion roots bringing in fashionable styles pushed by a strong DIY mentality and art meets humanity aesthetic. 

Robb Donker


HOAX will be releasing "Could", the first episode in a series of stories exploring the human condition of BEING on the debut album, via KIDinaKORNER (UMG/Interscope). Throughout the album release cycle, supplementary content for every song can be found on the album website. 

Hullo and his effervescent punk Tropical "Cold In The Sky" feel free and easy

19 year old Newfoundland born singer-songwriter. musician Nicholas Bendzsa as Hullo and on the effervescent track Cold In The Sky mines an almost kind of casiofied lounge / tropical punk sound. The song opens up with lite jazzy motifs and nice pretty guitar lines. The bridge falls into some lovely sort of Mac DeMarco tones. 

I have a hard fast rule that if an indie pop song could also double as a Mentos commercial that I instantly like it. And Cold In The Sky hits that mark for me (I am not joking). Cool.

Robb Donker


Hullo is the moniker for 19-year-old Newfoundland born musician, Nicholas Bendzsa. Echoing the relaxing energy of groups like Men I Trust and Homeshake, Hullo is an expression of honest emotion, sarcasm and anxiety, creating an individual blend of introspective, dreamy pop music. 

Elliah Heifetz and his grounding folk sound on "I'm Over Here" from his debut EP "New Folk Songs"

Look at that face. This is Elliah Heifetz and the track I'm Over Here feels like a folk diorama. It is loaded with the kind of classic folk tropes that feel comforting (in the best way) but is also chalked full of fresh sincere emotional revelations and poetry. Heifetz guitar lines are so heavily expressive as is his evocative vocals that flow from gritty low reassurances to high register falsettos that feels so tenderly embracing. Acclaimed singer-songwriter (and Broadway star) Jane Bruce's beautiful harmony adds another depth of emotion. 

The folk feels classic and real and so needed during these sometimes bipolar and uncertain times. Heifetz aesthetic makes you feel grounded at least for a while. 

Robb Donker


ELLIAH HEIFETZ is a first-generation American singer-songwriter born to political refugees. After writing musicals and pop songs with premier Broadway & Hollywood talent, Elliah turned to his first love—folk music—to sing his own story. In 2018, he released his first 2 songs, and made it onto TIDAL's "Best in Rising Folk/Country 2018." This year, a critically-acclaimed string of singles lead up to the May release of his debut EP, "New Folk Songs”; tracks have already accrued over 300k cumulative streams.

"Endless Wave" with it's dreamer than dreamy melodies is from Tidal Life's album "Do Answers Come In Dreams"

Endless Wave by Tidal Life appropriately moves along on pearly guitar notes that float in the air while others push them along like currents. Maybe it is just because surfing was such a huge part of my past life that the verse progression has me imagining long lines on 6 foot long walls at Trestles but this is not a surfing song. In fact, what feels like the bridge (but instead is a linear shift, the song becoming something else) with it's dreamier than dreamy melodies, big wall of synths and talk of starlight and aliens feels spacey and psychedelic. I love, love the melodies here and the big sound and those drums, those drum rolls make me smile.

Endless Wave is the fourth track on Tidal Life's first full length album "Do Answers Come in Dreams that just came out in May (2019).

Robb Donker  


Tidal Life is an indie-rock/dream-pop band based in Philadelphia, PA. Founded by John Sweeney in his dorm room at Johns Hopkins University in 2014, the Tidal Life project quickly expanded to include Infinity Tree bandmate Mark Savidge and the support of multi-instrumentalist and producer Ian Pritchard (Bot Garden, Poison Oak, For Everest).
Sweeney released a solo experiment, Night Drives, under the band name in 2014, and in 2017, Tidal Life released King of Nowhere, its debut E.P., which featured contributions from Sweeney, Savidge, and Pritchard. The group released its first full-length album, Do Answers Come in Dreams, on May 30, 2019.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Baby FuzZ stirs do wop tropical punk dreams in the trippy "Mr. Blu" - See the Official Video

The dream inducing sonic provocateur Baby FuzZ pushes genres in the trippy Mr.Blu is the last leg of a video trilogy. The song stirs 50's do wop flavors (ala The Platters' Only You tones) and dramatic art rock eruptions all the while floating in some tinges of Hawaiian lounge music. When I first heard Mr. Blu I did think a bit of Sparks as both share a kind other worldly art motif so I was glad to find out that Baby FuzZ (in a recent interview) cites the Mael brothers as an influence. 

The video for Mr. Blu (in collaboration with Director / Writer / Producer Nesto) is equally artistically out there as noted in Press Notes: 

The final music video in the impressive Baby FuzZ / Nesto music video trilogy is "Mr. Blu". It's the story of a bad emo retirement home magician who stumbles across the ability to grant the retirees their wildest wishes. What starts as a brutal cafeteria turns into a chaotic dreamworld filled with Easter bunnies, Marlboro men, ballerinas, and medieval knights. All the while, the magician sinks deeper into his depressed self. He can make everyone happy except for himself. As with other Baby FuzZ videos, hidden meanings abound, and with "Mr. Blu", it's hard to ignore an allegory addressing the life and mental health issues of an entertainer.

Baby FuzZ never ceases to entertain.

Robb Donker

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Cats On The Beach - is what I need to hear right now- "My Heart Is In The Sea" (Video Re-run)

A blasty blast from the past- London based Cats On The Beach mine 80's tones and trumpet filled indie / power pop sounds on My Heart Is In The Sea (2013) and it sounds so good (again).

Robb Donker

London based Pushpin twist and turn progressive art rock motifs on "Sea Song"

Kingston and London (UK) based Pushpin twist and turn progressive art rock motifs on Sea Song. Elegant trancy passages transform into deep indie rock eruptions and back again. The push and pull of sounds feels dramatic and beautiful. My mind flashed on Radiohead and Sigur Ros and more. Pushpin formed at university launching officially only in October of 2018. The band gigs around London and have gotten airplay on the BBC. Pushpin are Lucas Chebib, Adam Holmes, Arther Robijns and Ed Willey.

Robb Donker

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Sara Rachele's stunning love letter "Allelu (I Found You)" from her "Scorpio Moon" album

I start to write this little track review with some trepidation as it seems to me that I will not have the right words to describe the latest offering from Sara Rachele in Allelu (I Found You) from her new album "Scorpio Moon"- an ambitious "live-to-tape" vision were she had the great opportunity to record with members of the Dap-Kings as well as Binky Griptite and other members of Amy Winehouse and Sharon Jones' former backing band in conjunction with Atlanta based keyboardist Spencer Garn (as co-producer) and multi-instrumentalist Kris Sampson. In the end, though it is the songwriting talents of Rachele that spin all the lovely spiderwebs and it is her voice that makes you feel every emotion she spills out. 

For me, Allelu (I Found You) marries her perfect melody with her vocal aesthetic. Rachelle possesses a voice with an authentic kind of western / country / roots meets folk meets rock meet blues tone that feels not only pure but is full of character.. full of character. It is a lovely voice full of bruises and bruises healed and it has the ability to nestle itself deep inside your heart. A voice that can make you close your eyes and feel it all. The musical combo that embraces this song and Rachelle's story is perfectly felt, crafted, played with graceful bass, drums (aww those drums), guitar and keys / organs (beautiful). 

Sara Rachele hails from Decatur, Georgia and haunts Atlanta and New York.  "Scorpio Moon" is out via Angrygal.

Robb Donker

Monday, June 17, 2019

Don't Resist - Resistance is Futile - Succumb to the Funky Bad Ass-ery of Cobra Fantastic and their album "Tales From Planet 9"

Cobra Fantastic is a "Zappa-meets-P-Funk-meets-Sun-Ra Monster Robot Groove Machine" from another planet... well not exactly another planet but they are from France. Their descriptor is spot on and their album "Tales From Planet 9" jams in amazing ways. The songs are injected with whimsy and nutty, fun diversions but when the jamming starts (for example on the fun and freakingly musically dense track My Heart is Like a Giant Robot) it is so intense that you can feel the blood in your veins start to heat up.

The slice and dice horn work on Let It Slide shakes you awake and the sultry cadence moves around you as blistering guitar work accompanies the vox by vocal provocateur "Big Daddy Fantastic." Funky and bad ass, bad ass and funky. Damn.

Cobra Fantastic is:

Big Daddy Fantastic (alias David Garlitz) : guitar & vocals
AliSunshine Fantastic (aka Alison Young) : vocals
Saralicious Fantastic (aka Sarah-Lane Roberts) : vocals
The Fantastic Merrywoodweatherson (alias Josiah Woodson) : trumpet
Prezident Fantastic (aka David Prez) : tenor sax
Thumpasaurus Fantastic (alias Simon Tailleu) : bass
Karlitos el Fantástico (known among humans as Karl Jannuska) : drums 

Don't Resist - Resistance is Futile - Succumb to the Funky Bad Ass-ery of Cobra Fantastic and their album "Tales From Planet 9"


Robb Donker

Sunday, June 16, 2019

"Hopeless" by Opeongo and from his debut LP "Miasma" is a wailing wall of sound

Hopeless by Opeongo, the musical namesake of 26 year old singer-songwriter Keegan Trumpour immediately pulls you into this exquisite emotional fray. The cadence is formidable. The downbeat driven mid-tempo thumper of bass, drums, dramatic guitar licks and organ stirs and moves you. It feels like gospel infused blues rock pushed through art rock filters and while the swelling background vocals and horns amp up the spirits, it is Trumpour's unique high register and passionate vox that keep your feet planted and head bobbing. Trumpour's aesthetic, his vocal character pushes his voice and phrases to the nth degree and you can feel pain at the top of your throat just listening to his gritty wail. Wow, just wow. There is nothing more to say. 

Robb Donker

picture courtesy of Connie Tsang


Opeongo is the moniker of 26-year-old singer/songwriter Keegan Trumpour. Originally from Midland ON, Keegan now resides in the city of Toronto.
Keegan is currently in the midst of releasing Opeongo’s debut LP “Miasma” recorded with producer/multi-instrumentalist Aaron Goldstein at Baldwin Street Sound. It features appearances by such noteworthy musicians as Daniel Romano, Aaron Goldstein, Aaron Comeau, Carleigh Aikins, and Arif Mirabdolbaghi. The record was mixed by the talented Christopher Stringer, and was mastered by Grammy-nominated Philip Shaw Bova.         
The songs from this record are largely characterized by their elaborate lyricism, the content of which deals with the struggles of mental health within the realms of these modern times, and the external and internal influences on such a thing. These songs were written through a period of immense change, change signified by moving from a small town to a large city, change signified by heartache, and change signified in the recognition of the times before us.  

Richy Mitch & The Coal Miners mine dreamy garden rock / alt folk tones on "A Moment"

A Moment by Richy Mitch & The Coal Miners, a folk / alt rock band based out of Colorado is a vast, dreamy piece of garden rock from their upcoming third album "Subliming". From the onset, with deep alt folk and Americana rock tones, the cadence, musical sweep and heavenly vocal performance made me think of foggy banks in Northern California and iconic organic garden rock bands like Big Star or The Band.  

Robb Donker


Richy Mitch & The Coal Miners are an independent folk/alt rock band based in Colorado consisting of longtime friends Mitch "eat a whole package of grapes in a single day" Cutts, Nic "Richy Mitch" Haughn, Jakob "Cashew" Ervin, and Ryan "Yung Craigslist" Lavallee. The self-taught band was informally founded in 2015 after Nic & Mitch got way too good at guitar hero and decided to start learning real instruments.
The band began writing their debut album RMCM in late 2016 and released the project upon their high school graduation in May 2017 after recording the album in a closet. In February 2018, their efforts continued to come to life with the release of their sophomore album Solstice. Solstice was overseen by the band's manager, Duncan Ervin, who has been called the musical visionary of the 21st century as well as the goodest boy in the world. Currently, the band members are preparing to release their third album, Subliming, which slaps harder than a navy seal on a quest for vengeance (a study at Harvard Princeton Yale University confirmed this using science).


PREMIERE: Enbers' dreamy alt folk "Just Dogs" feels as cinematic as the title. From the EP "10 Years"

Enbers is the musical moniker of one Nicholas Bryant who writes evocative folk tinged songs with his voice and his 1950's Martin D 18. On the track Just Dogs, that voice quivering in a stark, vulnerable and compelling way reveals stories and mysteries you want to fall into. The sound, the aesthetic is spartan on one hand but also produced with cinematic, dreamy flair by Bryants cohort, Producer Alex Koska who beautifully crafts a kind of orchestrated folk with dark and light tones that suggest pasts and presents.  

Enbers hails from Stauton, Virginia and Just Dogs is from the EP, "10 Years" just released on June 10th (2019).

Robb Donker

The Harmaleighs' beautiful sway on "Don't Panic" has dark undercurrents from the upcoming "She Won't Make Sense"

The song Don't Panic by Nashville's The Harmaleighs feels (to me) like a song for the times we live in. The beautiful sway of the song belies the undercurrent of darker feelings that run throughout their upcoming album "She Won't Make Sense" which is a concept album about mental illness, "specifically band member Haley Grant's deeply personal journey through anxiety, depression and mania." 

Of the track Haley says:

"I was in a constant state of worry. My relationship was falling apart, my friend group was changing, my career path was unclear and my mind was fucked. It felt like every aspect of my life was in complete and utter turmoil all at the same time. 'Don't Panic' was written in my bathroom at 3:30 am about trying to calm myself down but being fearful that panic was actually fueling my creativity. It made me question whether or not I should be seeking help or letting this type of fear run its course because it was allowing me to write these songs that I am so proud of. The last line of the chorus 'but what if that's all I'm good at' comes from me being scared I'll be unable to write if I am mentally stable." 

It takes courage to bleed on a song. To put it all out there and the thought that being mentally stable might shut off the inspirational faucet for her music is a heavy one. I mean, there does seem to be some truth to the tortured artist but then artists as talented as The Harmaleighs will undoubtedly always have fodder for their art whether the demons they reveal or chase are in the microcosm or macrocosm. There is certainly a lot to stress over out in the world and there lies the rub. I have thought for a long time that too much information bombarding our brains are shutting off the hope filled pleasure centers and we are slowly losing our minds, all of us, to worry, self doubt, feelings of not being enough and other negative thoughts. 

They want us to be like that you know. We are all easier to control that way. I will get off my soap box. 

I am a bit new to The Harmaleighs and delving into their music. Amazing, emotionally wrought stuff. I love it. 

The Harmaleighs are Haley Grant (Lead vox, guitar) and Kaylee Jasperson (bass, harmonies)

"She Won't Make Sense" is dropping on August 2nd with the ability to pre-order NOW.

Robb Donker

Saturday, June 15, 2019

The Hugs' effervescent pop rocker "Love You To Death" feels like a hug

Love You To Death by Portland's The Hugs sounds like a song by a band called The Hugs. It is power poppy and cool and effervescent. The band is unabashedly upbeat indie rockers who (on this song) stay in that middle of the road place and that is ok. If they haven't already, they might be more likely to be featured in the pages of Nylon or Seventeen Magazine more so than Rolling Stone but that is fine. Even for a jaded, cynical old rock critic like me I get their sound and like it. After all I was young and optimistic once upon a time. 

Love You To Death is the title track from The Hugs new pop-rock record. 

Robb Donker