donderdag 31 mei 2012

Live in the QBus, Girlyman with Glossy Jesus


You can listen to 'Nothing left' by Girlyman here
or listen to 'White and blue' by Glossy Jesus here.

This one goes out to my new music friend Marc from Seattle. Here's the story on Girlyman as promised. Stay in touch!

Maybe I should apologize upfront for a few things I’m going to write, but this is what happened to me on this Tuesday evening and expresses just how utterly surprised I was. So indulge me on this. As happens so often  to me in the QBus, I had no idea where I was going to. I’d been working till 20.55 and decided to go at the last moment. Enough time left to prepare the rest of the work on the train on Wednesday.

Glossy Jesus was already playing when I arrived. Several weeks back I’d seen the band sound checking and heard a few pretty good songs in the background while enjoying a beer. The show was pretty good. The band has some more than average songs on the repertoire and some pretty good singing. Most songs are more or less in the same tempo though and that could have been a problem for me if the show had been longer. This half hour was very much okay, with one or two songs that go way beyond nice. In other words a great band to warm the audience up in their own right.

And then Girlyman took to the stage. Two girls, two guys, some appearing younger than others. From a distance I stood wondering when the drummer, clad in a fine suit, shirt and tie, stern glasses and a mop of curls, like it has come into vogue with soccer players who don't trend with mohawks, was going to shave for the first time. Looking at the bunch of cds the band had released through the years, I suspected a new rhythm section or hired hands for this tour. Within the first chorus of the first song it became clear that the QBus audience, not a big turn out this time I’m afraid, was going to be in for a treat. Heavenly singing, three part harmonies and subtle playing was going to be our prize for the evening. The two girls and the guy sang so incredibly well together, that every so often this magical moment appeared, when the different harmonies seem to blend into oneness, a sort of ringing tone overriding the individually sung notes. The first songs reminded me of gospel, soul, Simon & Garfunkel, seventies bands specializing in close harmony, a singer-songwriter with harmonies.

Girlyman by Wo.
Every song instruments were changed between the three in front. Guitar, bass, mandolin, banjo, electric guitar. If there were keyboards involved Nate handled duties. JJ plays drums and does not sing. Then one of the girls told a story about a terrible phase in her life and on the side of this said that drummer JJ was her partner. Okay, I thought, isn’t JJ a bit young?, but also so they are playing longer together than I thought. I had started to like the way JJ was drumming. Every part of his body drums along. It looks very mathematical, as every movement is accentuated somehow individually. I know only one other drummer, the ex-drummer of Zita Swoon, who drums this way. One big bodily flow of stops and starts, while flawlessly keeping the rhythm. Truly fascinating to see. To complete the picture. Doris is this very pretty Japanese girl and Ty a slightly tough looking lady with boots, shirt and tie, while keyboardplayer/singer Nate’s dream is to have sung in The Andrew Sisters.
Songs are introduced, but also a lot of tuning strings was involved as not all songs were in standard tuning. Nate behind his keyboard does not have this challenge, so he invented one for himself: to compose a song on the spot. Girlyman apparently even has a cd with just these songs. In one there came an impromptu “In the US every child is allowed to drive a car”, starting with the cue “canal”, as Leiden has a lot of them. I couldn’t help but quip that “they are not allowed to drink in bars” and the song was picked up from there. The fun thing is that drummer JJ picks up the rhythm, the two tuning ladies chime in and the first contours of a song start happening in front of our eyes. Twice!


Girlyman by Wo.
It happened during one of the tunings. Drummer JJ took of his coat and turned out to be a she! Life is full of surprises and best be taken as they come. Boyishwoman could have been the name of the band also. Another surprise was when Ingrid Elisabeth was called on stage. Ingrid plays with the band Coyote Grace, but tours with Girlyman through Europe as driver, cd salesperson, sometimes bass player and tapdancer. Almost certainly I can state here that the QBus had its première of tapdancing. With Ingrid being a very girl girl, there was another contrast on stage. But back to the music. All through the show Girlyman kept me spellbound, greatly enjoying their music from up close, as I had moved very close to the stage, not wanting to miss a thing. Despite all the stories above, this is what shines through most, this beautiful music. These great songs and fantastic singing.

It all ended with a version of ‘Staying alive’, including fancy, synchronized hand waving and pirouette drumming at the end! As far as I’m concerned Girlyman could have played for another hour or two. I was totally mesmerized by the singing and the songs. The pure power and joy of singing and playing songs is what the band gave the audience. Pure admiration was given in return. I don’t think there was one person in the venue that will not bring a friend next time. Girlyman deserves to be heard. Those that were there, can say they saw the first show on the continent. A great big wow! from,

Wo.

They have four more shows in NL 1 - 5 June.

You can buy Traces by Glossy Jesus here

You can buy Supernova by Girlyman here
 

woensdag 30 mei 2012

Bloom. Beach House

Je kunt hier naar 'Lazuli' van Bloom luisteren terwijl je de recensie leest.

Alex Scally en Victoria Legrand duiken precies zes jaar geleden voor het eerst op als Beach House. Het titelloze debuut van het tweetal uit Baltimore krijgt uiterst lovende kritieken en levert Beach House direct een cultstatus op. Deze wordt verder uitgebouwd met het in 2008 verschenen Devotion, waarna de band met het in 2010 verschenen Teen Dream opeens lijkt verzekerd van de steun van een breed publiek en serieus mee doet in de jaarlijstjes over 2010. Persoonlijk vond ik Teen Dream uiteindelijk de mooiste plaat van 2010, waardoor ik met bijzonder hoge verwachtingen heb uitgekeken naar de nieuwe plaat van het tweetal. Bloom ligt deze week in de winkel en is inmiddels al een week of wat mijn favoriete plaat van het moment. Waar het geluid van Beach House zes jaar geleden nog vreemd in de oren klonk, is Bloom direct een warm bad. Op haar nieuwe plaat gaat Beach House verder waar het twee jaar geleden met Teen Dream is gestopt. Wonderschone gitaarlijnen die herinneren aan de hoogtijdagen van de dreampop, bezwerende en soms bijna bombastische elektronische klankentapijten, inventieve en soms wat tegendraadse percussie en de unieke stem van Victoria Legrand bepalen nog altijd het geluid van het tweetal uit Baltimore. Het was met name de stem van Victoria Legrand waar ik bij beluistering van het debuut van Beach House enorm aan moest wennen, maar inmiddels vind ik de hier en daar aan Nico herinnerende vocalen (al vind ik de stem van Victoria Legrand veel aangenamer en heeft ze bovendien een aanmerkelijk groter bereik) absoluut het sterkste wapen van de band. Bloom sluit zoals gezegd naadloos aan op Teen Dream, maar toch is het niet meer van hetzelfde. De gitaarlijnen zijn nog mooier, de wolken elektronica nog dreigender en de stem van Victoria Legrand is nog indringender en bezwerender dan op de vorige platen van Beach House. De songs lijken ook aan complexiteit te hebben gewonnen en klinken bovendien net wat donkerder, maar aan de andere kant is Bloom ook een heerlijke plaat die je direct weet te betoveren. Ondanks het feit dat Beach House geen nieuwe wegen in slaat op haar nieuwe plaat en ook de variatie op Bloom op het eerste gehoor niet heel erg groot is, is het wederom een plaat die blijft verrassen en groeien. De muziek van Beach House is nog altijd de wat onwaarschijnlijke mix van Mazzy Star, Galaxie 500, Lush, Low, Nico en de Cocteau Twins, maar inmiddels heeft de band ook een duidelijk eigen geluid dat inmiddels ook anderen inspireert (vorige week nog Lower Dens). Het is muziek die de fantasie eindeloos blijft prikkelen, waardoor Bloom uiteindelijk een veel afwisselendere plaat is dan je op het eerste gehoor zult vermoeden, met name omdat de instrumentatie steeds net wat anders is, zeker wanneer de plaat vordert. Voor de wat meer visueel ingestelde lezer laat Bloom zich beluisteren zoals het cd hoesje zicht laat bekijken. In eerste instantie zie je slechts een paar stippen, het volgende moment dansen ze voor je ogen, ben je compleet gehypnotiseerd en zie je steeds weer andere dingen. Na een aantal keer horen ben je compleet in de ban van Bloom en weet je dat Beach House met Bloom een plaat heeft gemaakt die dit jaar meedoet om de ereplaatsen in de jaarlijstjes. Valt daar iets op af te dingen? Nee, wat mij betreft niet. Ik durf niet te voorspellen dat niemand hier nog over heen gaat dit jaar, maar het is wel een bijna onneembare horde die Beach House met Bloom heeft neergezet. Wereldplaat nummer vier op rij. Ongelooflijk knap. Punt.

Erwin Zijleman

Meer lezen van Erwin? Klik hier 

Bestel Bloom hier hier

of hier

 

dinsdag 29 mei 2012

Het draailierfestival in Marolles


Foto Marolles, Wil
Verbaasd, verrast en verrukt was ik over het optreden van de muziekanten van de nostaligische draailieren.
 
Ik moet toegeven dat ik de enige van het gezelschap was die NOOIT van draailieren gehoord had, laat staan beluisterd.

Tijdens onze vakantie was ik op bezoek bij vrienden in Marolles. Via pamfletten her en der geplakt, werden we op de 21st juni naar de Montenoison gelokt,  een berg met een prachtig klein oud kerkje erop. En natuurlijk ook een bijbehorende begraafplaats. Want ook in Frankrijk is er niemand onsterfelijk.
Dansen op muziek van de draailier, foto Wil


Door de plaatstelijke 'buurtvereniging' was er een  picknick georganiseerd - maar wel zelf je lekkernijen meenemen -  opgeluisterd door de leden van de École de musique de Haute-Nievre. Ik heb een stukje van de muziek opgenomen met mijn foto-camera maar helaas via dit medium niet te beluisteren.

Foto Marolles, Wil
Het was een prachtige avond  waar jong en oud zichtbaar genoot van de klanken , de sfeer en de harmonie. Zelfs een moeder en dochtertje 'draaiden' een dansje. (zie foto ) .Het was alsof de tijd even stilstond: een Monet-achtig tafereel. Veel mooier dan ik het in woorden kan uitdrukken.

Wil

maandag 28 mei 2012

New wild everywhere. Great Lake Swimmers

You can listen to a New wild everywhere's title track here.

Great Lake Swimmers is a band from Canada, formed around singer-songwriter Tony Dekker. New wild everywhere is their 5th album of which I missed every single one, with the exception of there former album Lost channels (2009) which I may have heard once. I guess it didn't gel and slipped of my iPod again without much listening to it. Not so with this album. New wild everywhere is in medium rotation and will remain there for a while also.

The folk music of Great Lake Swimmers gets a very pleasant pop injection in several songs. In these songs Dekker clearly is working on his songs to knead them into the perfect song. The title track is a beautiful example of this feat. A heavenly melody and a great chorus are woven into a strong foundation. Most songs of the band are intricate and delicate. At the basis is an acoustic guitar around which the songs are built. Beware, this is no music for late nights though. On the other hand it may well assist insomniacs fall asleep for a little while. Don't play the album in the background also. It'll be over before you know it and you may even wonder whether you've played an album at all. A disqualification?

No, not at all. Great Lake Swimmers have come up with an album that are in the top of their league. And not all songs are so quiet. 'Changes with the wind' is its version of rock. Drums, mid-tempo an electric guitar and a violin that plays lead lines, instead of the electric guitar.

The album can be compared to one of my favourite Americana albums Hazeldine's 'Digging you up'. Jeffry Richard's dominant lead guitar is what is missing with Great Lake Swimmers. Solo's are mainly acoustic, violin, banjo, acoustic guitar. Roger McGuinn and through him The Byrds come to mind, although Dekker's voice is sweeter. McGuinn's ex-colleague Gene Clark scores good also. 'Easy come, easy go' is very The Byrds like.

A great feature of Great Lake Swimmers is the harmonising between Toni Dekker and violinist-singer Miranda Mulholland. Scarlet Riviera and Emmylou Harris for the price of one. In both instances Mulholland is more in the background than the two ladies that lent their powers to Bob Dylan's 'Desire', but then New wild everywhere is more mellow as a whole. Still she distinctly puts her stamp on this album and lifts to a higher plain as a whole.

Moving to the end the mellowness of the album takes away the will to listen further a little. This points to the fact that just a little more variation would have been welcome. Still, before that moment enough has come by to enjoy. The best way to circumvent this fact, is starting the album somewhere in the middle. It's not that the songs at the end are less in quality. 'Quiet your mind' is quite beautiful. The album ends in French, remembering us of the fact that Canada is a to-language country (perhaps more even), very down-sized and small, in style.

New wild everywhere is everything but new or wild for that matter. It's as still as the real wild can be, the outback, the wilderness, the great wide open, everything we do not have in our small country. It's modest jewel to cherish and play when you feel like a moment of rest in your hectic everyday life.

Wo.

You can order New wild everywhere here

or here

zaterdag 26 mei 2012

Hein's hoekje, deel 3: Bevrijdingspop Haarlem 2012


Luister naar 'Happy Jack' van Rilan and the Bombardiers here

Hein is net 11, speelt coole riffs op gitaar, schrijft voor de schoolkrant en nu ook voor WoNo Magazine. Hier is zijn verslag over Bevrijdingspop 2012.

Zaterdag 5 mei, Bevrijdingspop 2012 Haarlem:
Het was net als vorig jaar geweldig. Weer met de leukste bands en zangers. Zoals Gers Pardoel. Maar helaas wij waren per ongeluk op het verkeerde podium. Maar wel Nick&Simon gezien. En ook De Jeugd Van Tegenwoordig. Man die maken er een feestje van zeg. Ook kwamen Will and the People. Maar toen gingen wij weg want mijn Broer Guus en ik hadden HONGER. Dus gingen we thuis Pizza eten (lekker).  Maar mijn andere broer Joost die was al thuis dus konden we meteen eten.

Dit was Hein de Haan en ik hoop dat jullie het leuk vonden!!!!!!

vrijdag 25 mei 2012

Larry and his Flask and the encore show at the Q-Bus

You can listen to a Larry and his Flask song here.


Can a band that made an impression for a lifetime just over two weeks before repeat this? In short are they as good as I thought after having been swept from my feet by a musical storm of epic proportions? There were two major differences: the first I had expectations and secondly I now knew the songs. And thirdly it was at least 10 degrees Celsius warmer this Wednesday.

Let's not keep the suspension up unnecessarily. Yes, Larry and his Flask are as good as I thought and maybe even better. They played ever so tight. No matter how great the gymnastics of the rhythm section, including the acoustic guitar, they hold everything together, so everything else with strings (or horns) can excel and make the music sound like Larry and his Flask.

The amount of energy that is hurled at the audience is tremendous. Litres of body fluids are lost, drinking a necessity to stay on their feet. And the band gets it back from a grateful audience. Everyone concerned had a good time. In that sense the gig was better than the first. There was more interaction and response vice versa. The name of the band is obviously spreading as there were more people than the first time and not just the same with a few friends. Maybe because it was so warm they played slightly less "wild" or maybe because they had the Q-Bus in their back pocket. Thus they seemed to play slightly better that the first time. A little more music a little less antics. It only made them better.

Again I enjoyed the excellent lead guitar playing by Ian Cook, the stage presence of the brothers Marshall and Dallin Bulkley, and the string magic from Andrew Carew and Kirk Skatvold and their horns as well. Again I noticed how good the members sing together. It should be a great surprise if this band does not fill the Paradiso within a year. They have the stage presence, the energy and the songs.

Because of a technical difficulty we got to hear a new song. A great ballad, that they recently recorded for an EP. Everyone went of stage, leaving Cook to sing and play guitar with the unfortunate Bulkley to fix his gear. One by one the members came back on stage to add another instrument to the song, starting with the trombone. A great and intimate effect. The fact that they muster a great ballad as well, shows the potential of Larry and his Flask. Beyond the punk rock fuelled Americana there are six guys who can really play well and know how to compose great songs.

Again the advise: when they're in your neighbourhood go and see them. It may well be that you are one of those few that can say: "I was there, when Larry and his Flask played" fill in your local pub or concert hall. Hell, they may even be busking on your street corner for the last time.

Thanks for the music, again, guys (and the deliciously cold beer at the end). Expect an interview with Larry and his Flask on WoNo Magazine's blog soon.

One thing though. I've discovered a band rule. No more than four beards in the band at the same time!

Wo.

You can buy All that we know here

or here

Out of the game. Rufus Wainwright

You can listen to a song from the album while listening here.


Het oeuvre van Rufus Wainwright beslaat inmiddels zo’n 14 jaar en is een imposant allegaartje geworden. Hoewel ik zeker niet vies ben van zwaar aangezette arrangementen, sloeg Rufus Wainwright wat mij betreft wat te vaak door in de richting van een overdaad aan bombast, waardoor ik me over het algemeen beperk tot het uit de kast trekken van zijn titelloze debuut uit 1998 of het prachtige Poses uit 2001. Persoonlijk keek ik daarom met hoge verwachtingen uit naar de man’s nieuwe plaat, die door niemand minder dan Mark Ronson (uiteindelijk toch vooral bekend van Amy Winehouse’s Back To Black) zou worden geproduceerd. Deze week verschijnt Out Of The Game en zien we naast Mark Ronson ook onder andere zus Martha, leden van Wilco, de soulband The Dap-Kings (bekend van Sharon Jones en de al eerder genoemde Amy Winehouse), Sean Lennon en Yeah Yeah Yeahs gitarist Nick Zinner opduiken. Out Of The Game wordt gepromoot als de popplaat of zelfs de dance plaat van Rufus Wainwright, maar dat valt gelukkig reuze mee. Out Of The Game is een stuk minder bombastisch dan de vorige platen van Rufus Wainwright, maar dat vind ik persoonlijk alleen maar goed nieuws. Ook het feit dat Rufus Wainwright zijn fascinatie voor Judy Garland heeft verruild voor inspiratie uit het werk van met name Elton John (70s) en David Bowie (met name Young Americans) heeft wat mij betreft alleen maar positieve invloed op de kwaliteit van de nieuwe plaat van Rufus Wainwright. Mark Ronson heeft Out Of The Game voorzien van een lekker klinkend geluid met vooral invloeden uit de pop en de soul. Het is een geluid dat prima past bij de bijzondere en uit duizenden herkenbare stem van Rufus Wainwright, die overigens zijn eigen identiteit heeft behouden op Out Of The Game. Out Of The Game klinkt daarom als een Rufus Wainwright plaat en niet als een Mark Ronson plaat en ook dat is goed nieuws. Hoewel Out Of The Game een stuk minder bombastisch klinkt dan platen als Want One en Want Two, blijft de muziek van Rufus Wainwright geïnspireerd door barok en romantiek. Out Of The Game is wat minder uitbundig versierd met klassiek aandoende tierelantijntjes, maar met name door de toegevoegde blazers en vrouwelijke vocalen klinkt de plaat lekker vol. Out Of The Game is zoals gezegd beïnvloed door  de 70s pop en rock van onder andere David Bowie, Billy Joel en Elton John en dat blijkt wederom (ook zijn eerste twee platen waren flink geïnspireerd door muziek uit de jaren 70) een genre waarin Rufus Wainwright uitstekend uit de voeten kan. Zoals het Rufus Wainwright betaamt kleurt hij  ondanks de strakke productionele kaders van Mark Ronson niet alleen maar binnen de lijntjes, maar laat hij de songs op Out Of The Game af en toe voorzichtig ontsporen. De ene keer door een bak elektronica of flirts met 70s disco, de andere keer door een flinke dosis pathos en melancholie. Out Of The Game kabbelt hierdoor het ene moment buitengewoon aangenaam voort en zet je het volgende moment op het puntje van je stoel. Liefhebbers van de bijzonder theatrale platen van Rufus Wainwright zullen waarschijnlijk even moeten slikken bij beluistering van Out Of The Game, maar een ieder die net als ik intens heeft terug verlangd naar de eerste twee platen van Rufus Wainwright, vindt op Out Of The Game veel van zijn of haar gading, wat overigens niet betekent dat Out Of The Game direct aansluit op Poses of het debuut van Wainwright. Ik heb er in ieder geval weer een Rufus Wainwright plaat bij die de komende dagen, weken, maanden en jaren nog heel vaak voorbij gaat komen.

Erwin Zijleman

Meer lezen van Erwin? Klik hier

You can order the album here  
or 

donderdag 24 mei 2012

Blunderbuss. Jack White

In a review for WoNo Magazine some years back I wondered what The White Stripes would sound like with a full band. The songs on the albums 'Elephant' and "Icky thumb' simply burst at the seams of the duo format. The albums only barely refrained from turning green. It seemed to me that Jack White had run full on into the limits of his band. The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather were band efforts and now there is 'Blunderbuss'. As a Dutch citizen I can be sort proud that the title is derived from the Dutch word "Donderbus". (You can listen to 'Sixteen saltines' here.)

Blunderbuss is everything but a new The White Stripes album without Meg White. Jack White is far beyond anything his former band ever did. Of course he can't change his voice, but for the rest there are several songs that could never have made a The White Stripes record. Too many instruments in there and unreproducible on stage, as The White Stripes.

Anno 2012 Jack White can be called a rock veteran. Making records since the late nineties and attracting major attention to his songs since the beginning of this millennium and even scoring hit singles and albums Jack White has become a household name. His songs are covered by different sort of artists. Even sung in football (the European kind) stadiums when a team has scored. (I won't mentioned what Dutch fans sing when playing a German team on the melody of the famous 'Seven nation army' riff.) He produces records for other artists, assists artists through his record label Third Men Records and is asked to write theme songs for movies. In other words Jack White is up with the greats.

Having said that it's time to look at the merits of Blunderbuss itself. I could be very short on that one: A great album!, but I won't be that short. The album offers a variety of styles and moods that show the skills and great abilities of Jack White's song writing. The guy simply knows how to write a song and to present it in an interesting way as well. From an almost jazzy, 'Take five' like, 'Take me with you when you go', including a country fiddle over the jazz sound, to the full out distorted rock 'Sixteen saltines'. Which is a great song by the way. All the way up with 'Fell in love with a girl' and 'Steady as she goes'. Blunderbuss offers something for everyone's taste.

So by allowing all sorts of different instruments and players on board, Jack managed to spread his wings and grow into the butterfly he really is. No restraints left, he is able to serve us the riff driven 'Freedom at 21', without histrionics and take the mood down with 'Love interruption'. The acoustic guitar plays a larger role than ever before, backed by warm (electric) piano sounds and country influences from his home town Nashville, Tennessee. Title song 'Blunderbuss' is a very good example of the new approach. In this song The White Stripes' version is imaginable the most (i.e. loads of wild drumming and guitar eruptions, just try it in your mind), but what we hear is a beautiful "small" song.

Blunderbuss is an album that deserves to be listened to and judged on its own merit. Even if you don't do that; it comes up trumps both ways. Jack White has taken another very interesting step in his career and there's no predicting what comes next. As long as he writes songs like 'Hypocritical kiss'', the incredibly poppy 'Hip (eponymous) poor boy' or 'Weep themselves to sleep' I'll be right there, listening to great music and becoming a bigger fan with each album. This one should attract a whole range of new fans, blunderbuss style.

Wo.

You can order Blunderbusshere or here

woensdag 23 mei 2012

Interview with Ward Harrison of the Hackensaw Boys


by Wout de Natris

Copyright WoNo Magazine 2012


Listen to my personal favourite song by Hackensaw Boys while reading here


As of Friday 24 May the band with its origins in Charlotsville, Virginia is touring The Netherlands and quite some other EU countries for about a month. Maybe their biggest effort to conquer the Old World, as they call it, to date. You can find info on all gigs here. As I am a fan of the band ever since seeing them perform in 2004 I thought it a good thing to give them some extra exposure over the coming weeks on WoNo Magazine's blog. Recently their last two EPs were reviewed, now an interview with singer/guitarist Ward Harrison. Up next will be an interview with returning member of the first hour David Sickmen and a review of one of the shows. But first Ward Harrison.

Last year when you guys were over there was one major difference with the past: a drummer. How did this come about?

It started in the studio. We started embellishing some songs with extra percussion: cymbal hits and brushes on a snare, stuff like that. Well somehow, that morphed into us putting together a small trap kit for a few numbers. When it came to playing live, we started to incorporate the kit into older songs. It was fun to tinker around with it for a bit, but now we've gone back to just the charismo. (See a picture of ex-Hackensaw Boys Jason Neuhardt's charismo on Wikipedia here.)

Can we expect more changes in the future?

We've got a few surprises up our sleeves. 

The Hackensaw Boys play traditional music. The way it is played hints at other influences. What is the background of the members musically?

I think we do more than just hint at other styles. 

There are four composers in the band. How do you decide who’s songs make it on a record?

Everybody gets an opportunity to have his song on a Hackensaw Boys record. The only incidences I can think where a song was pulled from being released was because the song writer wasn't 100% satisfied, preferring to give the song a little more attention. Wanting to tinker with it.  

The Hackensaw Boys is a band that I meet on a regular basis. With hindsight I can pinpoint moments in conversations with members that I can say, that’s when someone had to choose between making music and another career. How hard is it to be a Hackensaw Boy?

It is anything but BUT difficult being a Hackensaw Boy. Look, the fellas in the Hackensaw Boys right now are the ones that have chosen to make the band at least one of their careers. This sort of lifestyle can be easier for some than others, I suppose. Nobody in the original line up planned for it have 12 members, I don't think. It just happened very quickly that way. Some have peeled away, others have come on board. I think I can speak for the others when I say that everyone here now wants to play music as much as possible.  

Looking over the years I conclude that the band is bigger than its members. Was it set up from the outset more as a collective of changing musicians than as a band in a traditional sense?  

Not exactly, although it certainly seems to have evolved into that.  

When someone leaves the band, do you already have a replacement in mind? Or does this go about in a different way?

Well, clearly not all departing members have been replaced. Sometimes we just had to adjust without that instrument, you know? I cannot think of one instance in which there has been a replacement in mind before someone ever left the band. We have just been fortunate to know good people who love the tradition of music that we do. 

To go back to the music. The vocals are often multi-layered harmonies. How does the band work on creating them?

By trial and error, by accident, by repair. We try to make joyful noises, yes. 

The songs the band plays are very diverse. What are your personal favourites on the repertoire?

I guess I love to play the up-tempo, rave-up numbers the best, though they were a little more enjoyable when I was younger and more spry.  

Your songs seem somewhat more reflective that others’. Is this a coincidence or is there a form of division in the band on song writing?

Well, I think we all have places we call home, musically. I like to compare it to The Band. When I was first getting into them it was fun to listen to the songs and try to figure out who was singing what. After a while, you start to recognize the songwriting/singing styles of each member, but it always sounds like The Band, you know? It may be true what you say though, my songs being a touch tender and heart-achey. 

You joined the band circa five years ago. What did you do musically before the Hackensaw Boys?

I was playing in a country-ish rock and roll band with a guy named Heath Haynes, but he decided to ply his trade in Nashville, Tennessee, so that left me musically unemployed and ultimately available to join the Hackensaw Boys when asked. Much earlier, though, long before the Hackensaw Boys existed, David Sickmen and I played in a punk rock band called Pieboy in the early 90s in Harrisonburg, VA.  

Who influenced you most as a songwriter?

Wow. I'm just going to have to start throwing names out: Paul Westerburg, Townes Van Zant, David Lee Roth, George Jones, Bad Brains, and that guy that wrote Guy On A Buffalo.  

What are your favourite artists and albums?

Start with the aforementioned artists and add any and everything from Sun Records, Stax, Chess....  DC punk of the 80s Dischord era, toss that around with some Stones, Beatles, Dylan, don't skimp on the Louvins and the Everlys, finish with a generous dressing of Nuggets era Garage/60s psychedelia and you've prepared one of my favorite salad.
As far as old time/traditional music goes the guitar playing of Ma Carter got me walking around the chord, incorporating a little melody. Doc Watson and Norman Blake have been influential. And certainly lots of Clarence White.  

Now David Sickman has rejoined the band, who is going to play what instruments this time around?

We're still working on that. David and I are both playing guitar, but with very different styles and tone, and we are passing around the mandolin a bit. Ben, our new bass player is also a bad-ass guitar player so that gives me more opportunity to play up-right, which I love. I'm not sure if anyone else does, though. 

Are there plans for a new album?

Plans are free, but recording a record costs money. So, yes.  

This upcoming European tour is very extensive. A great offensive at conquering Europe?

You got it. 

Sent from my Steam-punked '52 Underwood.


You can order Hackensaw Boys albums here: 
Love What You Do
Keep It Simple

dinsdag 22 mei 2012

Adventures in your own backyard. Patrick Watson

Bijna drie jaar na Wooden Arms komt de Canadese singer-songwriter Patrick Watson eindelijk met een nieuwe plaat. Met Wooden Arms en het in 2006 verschenen Close To Paradise wist Watson zowel de critici als een grote groep muziekliefhebbers aan zich te binden. Hierdoor zijn de verwachtingen met betrekking tot zijn nieuwe plaat Adventures In Your Own Backyard bijna onrealistisch hooggespannen, maar na één keer horen durf ik al wel te concluderen dat Patrick Watson deze verwachtingen met gemak waar gaat maken. Adventures In Your Own Backyard opent met klassiek aandoende pianoklanken en ijle zang, maar aan het eind van de song zorgen strijkers en Mexicaanse trompetten alsnog voor een flinke uitbarsting. De prachtige en vaak bijzonder rijke orkestratie is wat mij betreft hetgeen dat het meest opvalt bij eerste beluistering van Adventures In Your Own Backyard. In de meeste tracks wordt flink uitgepakt, maar hiertegenover staan altijd bijzonder ingetogen en zelfs bijna breekbare passages, wat de plaat flink wat dynamiek geeft. Watson kiest hierbij gelukkig voor steeds andere vormen. De ene keer grijpt hij naar strijkers, de volgende keer naar rammelende percussie of scherpe gitaarlijnen, maar de trukendoos blijft ook wel eens dicht. Ook de stem van Patrick Watson is op Adventures In Your Own Backyard zeer veelzijdig. Zijn stem is in het verleden vooral vergeleken met die van Jeff Buckley, Antony Hegarty en Nick Drake, maar inmiddels heeft Patrick Watson toch vooral een eigen geluid. Watson kan op Adventures In Your Own Backyard zachtjes fluisteren, maar ook flink uithalen, waarbij hij ook de hoge noten fraai weet te raken. Vergeleken met de vorige twee platen laat Adventures In Your Own Backyard de nodige groei horen. Watson heeft de tijd genomen voor zijn vierde plaat (zijn in 2003 verschenen debuut Just Another Ordinary Day werd nauwelijks opgemerkt) en dat is een wijs besluit. Vrijwel alle songs op de nieuwe plaat van Patrick Watson zitten ongelooflijk knap in elkaar en verrassen keer op keer door de bijzondere arrangementen en tempowisselingen. Patrick Watson zoekt op Adventures In Your Own Backyard nadrukkelijk de grenzen op met songs die beginnen bij sobere en intieme folk, maar meer dan eens eindigen bij klassieke muziek, filmmuziek of zelfs bijna kitsch. In tegenstelling als veel van zijn soortgenoten weet Patrick Watson de orkestratie echter goed te doseren. Van overdaad is op Adventures In Your Own Backyard vrijwel nergens sprake, waardoor de schoonheid domineert. Adventures In Your Own Backyard is uiteindelijk niet alleen een plaat vol muzikale hoogstandjes, maar het is ook nog eens een plaat die op de achtergrond heerlijk voortkabbelt, wat gezien alle creatieve uitbarstingen een prestatie van formaat is. Patrick Watson overtreft hierdoor met Adventures In Your Own Backyard zijn vorige twee platen en dat is knap. Heel knap. Schrijf maar alvast op voor de jaarlijstjes.

Erwin Zijleman

Meer lezen van Erwin? Klik hier


You can buy this record at Amazon here
  Buy at bol.com here

maandag 21 mei 2012

i.m. Robin Gibb, 1949-2012

This morning news came that Robin Gibb passed away. Not much later 'Nights on Broadway' was on the radio and I was back in 1976. The umptieth hit of the Bee Gees was soul, what we were soon to call disco, and at the same time so fantastically good. A guilty pleasure par excellence. To my mind this describes The Bee Gees best for me: a guilty pleasure. Their music was very popular, but not exactly hip, perhaps comparable best in The Netherlands to The Cats: all hits, but not exactly The Beatles or The Stones, was it?

When I was in primary school they were all over the place. Hit after hit after hit. Then disappeared for a while in the first half of the seventies, reappearing as a disco act and scoring major hits again in the Saturday night fever and Grease John Travolta craze, assuring the band hits for more than a decade to come. Robin Gibb co-wrote this string of hits encompassing four decades, including five number ones, with his brother Barry and twin brother, the late Maurice and had one solo number 1, 'Saved by the bell', in 1969 as well.

Dutch TV show 1968
Allow me to take you back to an evening somewhere in 1968 perhaps 69 when a tv special of 25 minutes around the Bee Gees was broadcast on Dutch television during the prime time for children, between 19.00 and 20.00 hours. Five guys (yes five, as Vince Melouney and Colin Peterson were still members) play-backing their hits. Don't ask me what they sang. As a best guess: 'Spicks and specks', 'Massachussetts', 'World' and 'Words' (which I can never remember both for whatever reason. It's one or the other.), 'New York mining disaster 1941', 'To love somebody', 'Holiday' and 'I've gotta get a message to you'. I was allowed to stay up, saw them sing all these songs and was a fan, definitely. I remember hippy clothing, i.e. shirts with flowers or tie dye on them, bell bottomed trousers and long hair. Everything I was not allowed to have for a few other years. For what memories are worth, see the picture I've encountered on the Dutch version of Wikipedia.) What I probably didn't notice how incredibly clean-shaven these young men were.

Listening now to these songs in order to get in the mood for this in memoriam, I notice that they all are fairly guitarless songs. Certainly not rock or blues based. Keyboards and loads of strings. And that is what sets Bee Gees songs so far apart from what was the common form of that day. They created a universe of their own with a large audience of fans which are in there till this day. What I also notice is that they only started discovering true harmonising on the 1970, more hippy infused, 'Lonely days'. It is also their most The Beatles/John Lennon inspired song. It's on this hit single that there is a first inkling on what's to come later in that decade: 'Staying alive' is the best, totally faulty record ever off course. They found the (even) higher registers of their voices and made a billion probably.

Despite the fact that after the demise of Maurice the band pensioned itself off, although there were recent rumours of Barry and Robin working together, nothing they could have done would have mattered to their legacy. That is firmly in place, schmalzy ballads or not. Bee Gees are a part of the sixties and seventies pop pantheon.

Thank you for the music, Robin.

Wo.

What's your Bee Gees story? Share it in a reaction on WoNoBloG.

Buy Bee Gees' Their greatest hits at bol.com here
or Bee Gees Number Ones on Amazon

zondag 20 mei 2012

Tim Christensen and the Damn Crystals live in Paard van Troje, with Divera

If Tim Christensen made something clear in het Paard as part of his new tour of The Netherlands following his Tim Christensen and the Damn Crystals album (review here), it is that he has the songs to play, the flair to play them and the band with him that can stroke as well as growl. Within a song too. The only thing that I do not get is: Why does this guy still play in the small seized part of a venue that isn't even three quarters filled instead of the main stage?

Christensen started out with the first song of his new album, the ca. 10 minutes long title song 'The damn crystals'. The song laid bare all his intentions for the evening, changing the mood from rock to mellow and ending with intense, full-out rocking. Including great harmonies, counter melodies, inventive drumming, great bass playing and the keyboards that lay a sound carpet for the rest of the band to play on. The Damn Crystals have become a band, instead of a touring outfit. In part responsible for what they play on stage, instead of playing what they're told to play. I won't go so far as to claim they played better than on the 'Superior tour' of 2009-10, but it may just make a difference in looseness, in the way they're involved and responsible.

From 'The damn crystals' onward we were taken on a trip through Christensen's solo career. With a few of the great rockers on his reportoir like 'Jump the gun' and 'Isolation here I come'. When the band walks off stage and Tim's just there with his acoustic guitar, playing 'Never be one until we are two' enrapturing the audience into complete silence, we get another glimpse of how good this guy is. Intricate, clear guitar playing, with a beautiful soft voice, singing about true love. Only one man springs to mind: Paul McCartney. Tim even has his 'Helter skelter' in the full out version of 'Whispering at the top of my lungs,' 'Screaming at the top of my lungs'. Even the bouncing rhythm is in place. Christensen has everything between singer-songwriter to hardrocker down to a T, lending his music great variety and changes of mood that he takes his fans along with.

Listening to the songs from his four solo albums to date, it is clear that Christensen is building a great oeuvre. The songs of his new album blended perfectly with the old(er) songs. 'Superiour' and 'Surprise me', 'Wiser' and 'India', with 'The damn crystals' out there in an uber category. We were treated to a show without one single dip, which I knew would end at some point, but which I hoped would go on forever. Tim Christensen and the Damn Crystals are one of the best bands pop music has on offer these days. Plain, pure ear candy.

Looking around me in the somewhere over half filled hall, I noticed a few things. The audience had hardly any youth. Most that were there were there with parents and lot of 40 even 50 plus people. Whole categories were missing. Where Dutch bands like Blaudzun and Go Back To The Zoo manage to lure all sorts to a concert, Tim Christensen doesn't (yet). At least over here. So, let him play at DWDD a couple of times! He has been on the radio, but not enough. So spread the word and if you haven't listened to him yet, do yourself a favour and start doing so.

It all ended in a sonic storm. A completely new experience. Not just the whoomp of the bass drum or bass rattling my innards, no, the legs of my trousers were blowing in the sonic wind. Was I glad to be wearing the slightest of ear protection possible without losing too much of the quality of the mix.

Divera is Vera van der Poel, a Dutch singer-songwriter who is active in the music scene of Amsterdam for some years, She has a beautiful voice which remains crystal clear when she takes it into upwards regions and also has a playfully lower range. Some songs were quite beautiful, others somewhat nondescript. She managed to keep the audience under her spell for a few songs, until she started to fight with her sampler, which refused work. From that moment on the spell was broken, which she never really got back. She should have improvised on the spot and play another song. With a grand finale of a song, she got some of what she lost back, which does her performance credit. It makes me wonder what her songs would sound like with a band. Maybe a next time. You can listen to her new single here.

Wo.

And here's a sign of recognition: "Wow, wow, wow, wow". Giel Beelen after the live rendition of 'Happy ever after". Nothing to add there.

You can order the album here
You can order Superiour here
You can order Love and taboo by Divera here

zaterdag 19 mei 2012

Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose. Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves Of Destiny

Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose van Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves Of Destiny heb ik inmiddels toch al wel een maand of twee in huis, maar nog steeds weet ik niet wat ik er van moet vinden. Dat heb ik met meer platen, maar er zijn er niet veel die me constant heen en weer slingeren tussen de etiketten "meesterwerk" en "bloedirritant". In eerste instantie was ik vol lof over het debuut van de Britse muzikante. Beth Jeans Houghton en haar band The Hooves Of Destiny laten zich op Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose met geen mogelijkheid in een hokje duwen en combineren de meest uiteenlopende stijlen in behoorlijk ongrijpbare muziek. Vanwege het grote bereik van Beth Jeans Houghton, haar hoge uithalen en de overvolle en steeds weer verrassende arrangementen ligt de vergelijking met de muziek van Kate Bush voor de hand, maar de oriëntatie van Beth Jeans Houghton is nog breder. Wanneer ze kiest voor bijna klassiek aandoende songs schuift ze op in de richting van My Brightest Diamond, wanneer ze kiest voor wat eigentijdsere songs vol elektronica ligt de vergelijking met Florence & The Machine voor de hand, maar Beth Jeans Houghton is ook niet vies van Americana, bombastische barokpop of Britse musicalpop en het liefst doet ze alles tegelijken voegt ze er nog wat Afrikaanse invloeden aan toe ook. Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose is een behoorlijk overweldigende plaat met volle arrangementen, een heel arsenaal aan instrumenten en heel veel goede ideeën. Het is echter ook een plaat met mooie popliedjes en hele indrukwekkende vocalen. In eerste instantie was ik vooral onder de indruk van alle pracht en praal op Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose, maar na een paar keer horen ging alle overdaad wat in de weg zitten. Inmiddels ben ik gewend aan de soms wat te volle arrangementen en hoor ik weer vooral de schoonheid van de muziek van Beth Jeans Houghton en The Hooves Of Destiny. Nog steeds kan ik niet veel grip krijgen op de plaat en zijn er momenten dat ik het echt teveel van het goede vind, maar hiertegenover staan steeds meer momenten van een bijna ongekende schoonheid. Beth Jeans Houghton toont op haar debuut heel veel lef. Hierdoor slaat ze de plank wel eens mis, maar nog veel vaker komt haar muziek aan als een goed gecamoufleerde rechtse directe. Na twee maanden twijfel durf ik me inmiddels wel uit te spreken over het debuut van de Britse. Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose is een debuut dat van de eerste tot de laatste seconde opzien baart en je keer op keer weet te verrassen en te vermaken. In een tijd waarin steeds meer jonge muzikanten kiezen voor het serveren van hapklare brokken, komt Beth Jeans Houghton op de proppen met enorm zware, maar uiteindelijk bijzonder smakelijke kost. Een van de meest opvallende debuten van 2012? Waarschijnlijk wel. Een van de beste debuten van 2012? Het zou me niet verbazen.

Erwin Zijleman

Meer lezen van Erwin. Klik dan hier.

vrijdag 18 mei 2012

All that we know. Larry and his Flask

That Larry and his Flask can cook up a storm on stage I know first hand since a couple of weeks. That they cook up a storm on this blog as well, I know since the review of  the Q-Bus gig was published. Their fans have visited this blog the best by far. All this activity. Let's match that with a review of their latest record, All that we know.

The first listen taught me two things: Larry and his Flask manages to catch the energy of its performance on tape, with the main difference that most lyrics now can be understood better; I'm going to play this record more often. Just listen how opening song 'Land of the f(r)ee' plays out. This up-tempo song with traditional instruments in the forefront is split open in the middle with a great jazz-like solo. Through the whole song some great harmonizing takes place. Shouts and hollers in the background seem to goad the band forward, like a cattle heard driven over the mighty plains of the U.S. of A. As if they need it!

A great sleeve by the way. It reminds me of my 'Grapes of wrath' and 'Tortilla flat' copies, book covers of the Penguin classic issued somewhere in the first half of the 80ties. We see a withered, bearded man. Perhaps a fisherman. Looking at us through one blackened, thus heavily accented, tired and slightly desperate eye. It shows some clear urgency, translating the music into paint.

Comparisons for this music galore. If we think away the prominent drum and electric guitar we run straight into the realm of The Hackensaw Boys. No one I know comes closer. There are enough differences, but mainly that the tempo never really goes down as it does with The Hackensaw Boys. Not that all songs are in hurricane mode. 'No life' is a quiet song for Larry and his Flask and further down the record there is a real ballad 'End of an era' and even more so with 'Slow it down'. On the other hand they even sound slightly like Green Day in some songs, with 'American idiot' turned into 'Manifest destiny'. If Billie Joe c.s. would allow mandolins in their songs, bingo. (And then this song changes into a suite and then a polka like piano exercise. Full of surprises these guys. Hey!) What Dropkick Murphys does for Irish folk, Larry and his Flask does for americana, pick it up by the shoulders, shake it violently around, kick its butt and let it loose on humanity. Punk is in the way songs are played, not in the instruments used. This band proves this on nearly every song.

What I seemed to take away from the Q-Bus, but could have been disguised in the storm, is confirmed in truckloads on All that we know: Larry and his Flask writes memorable songs that are worthwhile listening to outside of the stage context. What is a real shame though, is that a lyric that I heard live as "If fishes were horses" turned out to be "If wishes were horses". I would have loved to hear what these fishes would have done for the beggars in "Beggars will ride". The song is as good on record as on stage with even a accordion added to the fun. It has a punk like rolling rhythm laced with a melody that is instantly singable. The album did not just convince me. My girlfriend said after the show: "Are you buying the record? I don't think I need to hear this at home". She changed her mind since.

And then the song 'Ebb and flow' still has to come. This beautiful song graces the middle of the album. Beautifully sung, full of energy that is spread round this song with a great dynamic. This makes it extremely exciting to listen to as well. The way the band deploys instruments is shown again here. All of a sudden the copper shows up. (I remember how surprised I was during the gig. Where is this coming from?) In the instrumental choir part of the song, it is made clear for once and for all how great the melody of the chorus is. The cheers at the end are well deserved.

Slowly it dawns on me that All that we know is not just a good album, it is one of the very best releases in 2012 so far. (Damn, it was released in 2011, but not to me, okay?) To think that this is all that Larry and his Flask knows today. I can't wait to find out what the band knows tomorrow and the day after. As the band has the energy with the songs to boot, it may be going a long way, far beyond the Q-Bus, but hey, I was there. And so can you, perhaps for the last time in such a small venue on Wednesday 23 May 2012.

Wo.

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