woensdag 31 oktober 2012

Flesh + blood. Roxy Music

You can listen to 'Oh yeah' here.

In 1972 Roxy Music recorded its first album. To celebrate this a luxury box set was released containing all the original studio albums and some extra goodies. Erwin Zijleman takes us through Roxy Music's albums one by one. This week's turn is 1980's Flesh + blood.


Wat voor Manifesto geldt, geldt ook voor het in 1980 verschenen Flesh + Blood; volgens de critici met afstand de slechtste plaat van de band. Zelf koester ik Flesh + Blood al decennia lang als een plaat vol goede herinneringen en memorabele songs. Ik geef direct toe dat het avontuur op Flesh + Blood schittert door afwezigheid, maar Flesh + Blood bevat wel flink wat hele goede songs, waaronder prachtsingles als Oh Yeah, Same Old Scene en Over You en hiernaast acceptabele covers van songs van Wilson Pickett en The Byrds. Flesh & Blood is een blauwdruk voor de succesvolle platen van Spandau Ballet uit de jaren 80, maar heeft ook zeker indruk gehad op in artistiek opzicht interessantere platen uit de jaren 80 (waarbij wederom de naam van Japan bij me op komt). Flesh + Blood is binnen het oeuvre van Roxy Music zeker geen onmisbare plaat, maar het is wel een plaat met een beperkt aantal memorabele songs en bovendien een plaat met werkelijk uitstekende vocalen. Omdat op de overige bandleden op Flesh + Blood werden gereduceerd tot leden van de begeleidingsband van Bryan Ferry, was de toekomst van de band na Flesh + Blood uiterst onzeker, maar Roxy Music zou nog één keer terug slaan. En hoe.

Erwin Zijleman


You can order Flesh + blood here


and here

dinsdag 30 oktober 2012

Checkerboard Lounge. Muddy Waters & The Rolling Stones

You can listen to 'Baby please don't go' here.

Another release by The Rolling Stones. The band is really digging into its archives in the past few years. New songs are hard to come by, but fans are treated to some real goodies. (Read an overview up to this spring here.) Except the BBC sessions which are still not released for whatever reason. I had a tape somewhere in the 80ties, with great blues covers, never on record, from a radio show. And after I wrote the concept text to this DVD review, the band has even performed live for the first time in five years,

Checkerboard Lounge was Buddy Guy's blues club in southside Chicago. The date is 22 November 1981 and the audience is in for a treat. Whether they know it or not. On stage we see Muddy Waters' band working up a steam with pianist Lovey Lee singing a blues classic to a pumping grove. Exactly the way one expects a good blues outfit to do. The music is propelled forward by the stompin' rhythm. Some nice and fine soloing going on. Then the old master is called on stage, straps on his guitar, sits down on a stool and shows us how its done. An older gentleman, gracefully and with a lot of pleasure playing the songs he's been playing for 30 years. In front of him is a long row of tables and chairs empty, which is strange as the club seems to be packed. And its small and tight. Centre spot reservations?

Muddy shows the audience how slide is played his style. Pure sex, there's no other word for it. We see a sixty six year old man explode into a violent attack of his guitar neck and snares. Screamin' and howlin' in stark contrast to his further, stylish appearance.

During 'Baby please don't go' people move into the empty spots and all of a sudden it's clear who the seats are reserved for. Hardly able to get to their seats the whole Stones entourage moves in, with the exception of the rhythm section. Getting their coats off is a major challenge. It's not for long or Mick Jagger is invited on stage, at first not understanding, but a verse later he's there, desperately trying to adapt his voice to the not fitting key the songs are played in. Keith Richards and Ronny Wood follow. One of Muddy's band's guitarists leaves the stage. Where Jagger usually has a whole arena to run around in, now he has the spot he's standing in, that's it. And it's clearly hard for him to perform in, restricted and confined. Richards is just doing the blues rounds, completely happy in the back ground at some stage playing closely to the rhythm section. The drummer is packed away so far behind everything that we can't even see him most of the time. When asked by Muddy to play a solo, Keith plays this dry sounding meticulously tight solo before stepping back again. Where a blues show man I had never heard of before, Lefty Dizz, tries to grab all the attention (and playing a little sloppy at times), Richards is in the back happy and content.

If there is one political message in this dvd it is in the blatant way Muddy and Mick propagate free marijuana smoking in 'Champagne & reefer'. Quite clear that Muddy does not mind changing the law on that. I may be mistaken but he may be holding one up too.

If the anecdote is true, we may never know, but when the Stones came to Chess to record an EP in 1964, there was a man painting the walls. Muddy Waters. Although it has been denied over and over recently, it may be true as blues was not popular in the U.S. in 1964. Bands like The Rolling Stones brought it back in that year. 17 Years later they paid tribute to one of the greatest electric bluesman and my all time favourite, McKinley Morganfield, a.k.a. Muddy "Mississippi" Waters. He has the centre spot, he calls the shots, playing his music accompanied by four members of the at that time 'Greatest rock and roll band in the world'. Yes, four, as is explained below.

Checkerboard Lounge is a footnote in the Stones' history, probably a, late, highlight for Muddy and friends and great fun to watch how the Stones play with Muddy Waters and band, making music they started out with 20 years before. We see what it was, with the improvising, mistakes, one gets when everything is spontaneous or at least near so, but a monument it is, 31 years down the road. As a bonus we get to hear and see Ian Stewart play his favourite music as he replaces Lovey Lee on piano. Another treat as Stu was always in the back ground. Not so on Checkerboard lounge.

Wo.

You can order Checkerboard lounge here


or here


maandag 29 oktober 2012

Charmer. Aimee Mann

You can listen to 'Charmer' here.

At first listen of the title song opening Charmer I thought straight away: "Been there, done that". Boy, am I glad that I turned that notion down and gave Charmer a second, third, etc., chance. Aimee Mann's voice is so dominant to her sound, that I almost forgot to listen beyond her familiar introduction, like what happened to me with '@#%*! Smilers', her previous album.

Aimee Mann is around as recording artist for 30 years. Starting off in punk outfit The Young Snakes in Boston, to new wave band Til' Tuesday and solo since the early 1990s. As most people I was introduced to her through 'Magnolia', the epic movie, which featured several of her songs, followed by 'Bachelor No.2'.  I really liked 'The forgotten arm' (2005) and lost track some what as 2008's '@#%*! Smilers' was just a little less to her previous effort and a long spell set in.

Back in 2012 'Charmer' grew upon me more and more. The lushly arranged album is everything the title promises, a total charmer. And unlike what she sings in the title song, there is absolutely no need to hate herself. This album gives her every right to be very proud of her latest effort. The songs were put on tape with a keen eye for detail and elements that it takes to make them more special.

Mann has a somewhat (now ageing) girlish voice that can slide off towards sounding as if she's bored. If her songs are not perfect this for me becomes a hindrance to continue listening. 'Crazy town' is a song that easily could have gone wrong, but doesn't. Also for this reason I'm happy to hear that she seems to play more with the ranges of her voice, like in 'Soon enough' where her voice goes deeper and higher, which sounds very appealing. The same in 'Living a lie', her duet with The Shins' James Mercer. Another pearl that Aimee Mann gave us as a gift.

Most songs on Charmer are melodically very strong. Not that they are necessarily up beat. Far from it. Most songs have a melancholy edge, a tristesse in them, which is a natural element of how Aimee Mann's voice sounds. In 'Gumby' this is off set and underscored by the tempo and musical embellishments at the same time. Which is a feat to achieve.

Taking it all in at this moment in time, I have the inclination to write here that in my opinion Charmer is Aimee Mann's best album to date. I like it as a whole, which was not the case with any previous of her albums. The variations in the vocal melodies, the arrangements of the songs, Aimee Mann's vocal presentation all stick out. At 52 she is at the top of her game, there's just no denying the fact. Charmer is an album which you may need to check out, not want to, NEED TO!

Wo.

You can order Charmer here


or here


zondag 28 oktober 2012

Thick as thieves. Larkin Poe

Je kunt hier luisteren naar 'Play on'.

Megan en Rebecca Lovell debuteerden vorig jaar, na het uiteen vallen van The Lovell Sisters (zus Jessica ging haar eigen weg), als Larkin Poe. Het duo deed dit met een viertal mini cd’s die allemaal de titel hadden van een van de seizoenen en fraai werden gebundeld in het boxje Band For All Seasons (Klik hier) Vergeleken met de behoorlijk traditionele muziek van The Lovell Sisters, liet Larkin Poe op Band For All Seasons een wat lichtvoetiger geluid horen en dat beviel me eigenlijk wel. Dat de twee zusjes Lovell nog veel meer in hun mars hebben laten ze horen op hun volgende mini-cd (de cd klokt 25 minuten) Thick As Thieves. Vergeleken met Band For All Seasons klinkt Thick As Thieves nog een stuk minder traditioneel. Megan en Rebecca Lovell zijn de afgelopen jaren opgeschoven van het maken van traditionele muziek met hier en daar wat invloeden uit de pop en rock naar het maken van veelzijdige pop- en rockmuziek met hier en daar wat traditionele invloeden. Thick As Thieves klinkt wat soulvoller dan de muziek op Spring, Summer, Autumn en Winter, maar ligt verder in het verlengde van de muziek die Larkin Poe ons vorig jaar voorschotelde. Dat betekent dat er wederom veel valt te genieten, met name van de fantastische stemmen en de continu voor kippenvel zorgende harmonieën van de zusjes Lovell en van het hier en daar opduikende muzikale vuurwerk. De purist zal misschien beweren dat Thick As Thieves vlees noch vis is, maar persoonlijk ben ik zeer onder de indruk van de razend knappe wijze waarop Megan en Rebecca Lovell uiteenlopende genres als bluegrass, folk, jazz, blues, country , rock en soul aan elkaar weten te smeden in popliedjes die zowel aanstekelijk als oorspronkelijk klinken en niet alleen qua stijl maar ook qua tempo flink variëren. De zusjes Lovell beschikken niet alleen over fantastische stemmen en kunnen prima uit de voeten op meerdere instrumenten (gitaar, mandoline, viool, dobro lap steel), maar zijn het afgelopen jaar ook flink gegroeid als songwriter (mogelijk hebben ze iets opgepikt van oude meester Elvis Costello met wie ze het afgelopen jaar toerden). Thick As Thieves staat vol met popliedjes die direct aangenaam en urgent klinken, maar stuk voor stuk ook in staat lijken om uit te groeien tot memorabele popliedjes. Megan en Rebecca zijn nog piepjong, maar schudden in een jaar tijd vijf mini-cd’s van hoog niveau uit de mouw. Dat belooft wat voor de toekomst. Voor de snelle beslisser is er tijdelijk een bonus-DVD met een Noorse concertregistratie, die laat zien en vooral horen dat de dames ook live een aardig potje kunnen spelen. Het maakt Thick As Thieves nog net wat mooier en indrukwekkender.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt Thick as thieves hier bestellen


of hier

  

zaterdag 27 oktober 2012

Songs of patience. Alberta Cross

You can listen to 'Lay down' here.

A few years back I read the review of Alberta Cross' début album and had it jotted a mental note to have a listen to it. Somehow I never got around to it, until quite recently I listened to 'Broken side of time' for the first time and instantly liking it. To my pleasant surprise the band released a second album, Songs of patience, fairly soon after. I found myself playing it more and more and liking what I heard.

Alberta Cross, the band name is supposed to be an anagram, so if you feel like it, tell us what you've found, is a duo that started in London in the U.K., but migrated to Brooklyn, N.Y. Singer guitarist Petter Ericson Stakee is a Swede, Thomas Wolfers, the bass player comes from London. Others help them out to make a band sound. The music they make is the louder variation of pop music. Some songs could have been sung by Mika as well as Oasis. A song like 'Lay down' would work for both acts. It shows the uncanny pop feel Alberta Cross brings to its music and still stay credible, as 'Lay down' is an almost epic song.

Songs of patience is an apt title for the album. There is no haste, no aggression. A sort of hippyness without the psychedelia. As such memories of 2004's 'Self help serenade' of U.S. band Marjorie Fare come to mind, but also The Verve. The few photos I saw of the band portray two hippies and the album cover is as weird as covers can come. What it does not do however, is lose itself in psychedelia. Alberta Cross presents songs that are mostly in the mid tempo range, that are well crafted and worked out with an eye for details. If you listen attentively you can hear all sorts of ear candy pop up over the basis of the songs. When 'Magnolia' appears to become to one sided, a chorus comes in changing the mood of the song, making it interesting again. The band knows what it's doing. After the quiet 'Magnolia', the drums and bass kick in hard in 'Money for the weekend'. A very Britpop, almost punky kind of song with attitude to go. As not all songs are kept quiet until the end. 'Wait' explodes near the end in distorted guitars, lead lines and general hard playing. The variations give Songs of patience something attractive to listen to at every stop. 12 Songs long.

I'm filing Alberta Cross under Britpop I've decided. There are enough elements of Oasis, Supergrass, etc. to justify as much. Added is some inklings folk, Donovan style and keyboards that give a few songs a 60ties feel. Stakee's singing is Britpop with the long, broad sounding emphasis on the vowels. So with 'Baby' by Tribes (click here), I have found a second pleasant addition to the Britpop family this year. Songs of patience shows that there are paths left to explore for a genre that has was declared dead and buried for some years now.

Wo.

You can order Songs of patience here


or here


vrijdag 26 oktober 2012

Wovenhand in Paradiso te Amsterdam – 25 September 2012

You can listen to 'Maize' here.

Ik kan kort zijn (maar zal dat niet doen, zit contractueel aan een minimum aantal woorden per recensie): dit was een zeer heftig concert, zeker hard genoeg om mij te bekoren. De stevige percussie van Ordy Garrison, gecombineerd met zware baspartijen van Gregory Garcia Jr (knappe knul met donker lang haar en Indian look door rode hoofddoek), en stevig gitaarspel van Chuck French (de laatste twee zijn nieuw in de band en medeverantwoordelijk voor de compactheid en power die ik eerder bij Wovenhand miste) zijn voor mij de perfecte ondersteuning voor de wonderlijke stem, het gebruik van zijn Gretsch en aparte songteksten van de in 1968 te Colorado geboren David Eugene.

Na enkele jaren bekend te zijn met de muziek van Sixteen Horsepower, (lees David Eugene Edwards, lees Wovenhand) werd het tijd om een live optreden bij te wonen. Prachtige locatie natuurlijk, Paradiso. Maar deze locatie zorgde even voor de herinnering aan een ander optreden, van de wijlen Chris Whitley. En waarom dan wel? Omdat Chris evenals Eugene zowel met een stevige band kon spelen alsook op de rustiger meer solo-achtige tour en het rustige optreden van Chris (door velen bejubeld) was voor mij een afknapper. Dus met enige reserve toog ik naar Paradiso om Wovenhand, voor mij de slow uitvoering van Sixteen Horsepower (what’s in a name?) te gaan meebeleven. Ik moet wel zeggen dat de meest recente cd, The Laughing Stalk, bij mij reeds de nodige positieve verwachting had geschapen.
Na een opwarmronde door Herrek, waar ik niet te veel over zal schrijven, aan mij niet geheel en al besteed op een enkel nummer na, maar dit kan zijn doordat ik hun, waarschijnlijk zelfgeschreven, nummers niet kende, werd de volgestroomde zaal overdonderd door een muur van geluid. Dit was te danken aan de nummers van bovengenoemde nieuwe cd, zoals ‘Glistening Black’ (ja, ja, hier werd voor mij in de percussie, een soort trance drumming, de Indiaanse afkomst van David Eugene hoorbaar), ‘Closer’ (mooi, mooi, mooi……), ‘Maize’ (zie plaatje op cd hoesje, prachtig verzorgd, songteksten, ziet er goed uit), ‘In the Temple’ en ‘King o King’.
Ergens halverwege het optreden gebeurde dan toch even waar ik bang voor was: David Eugene pakt zijn banjo en Gregory en Chuck slaan de armen over elkaar en gaan het plafond bestuderen. Voor de liefhebbers geweldig natuurlijk, maar niet mijn genre, wel leuk voor degenen die de nieuwste cd nog niet kenden en waarschijnlijk hoogst verbaasd zijn geweest over de nieuwe wending van Wovenhand.
Ook om te zien was dit optreden zeer aantrekkelijk. David Eugene, ditmaal staand en met hoed op, supergeconcentreerd, in trance bijna en de eveneens sterk gefocuste gitaristen en drummer vormen een mooie eenheid, waar de intensiteit voelbaar van is. Recht voor het podium gaat iemand volledig uit zijn dak, met zijn armen deze intensiteit onderstrepend.
Wanneer de avond na een optreden van bijna anderhalf uur wordt afgesloten met een fragiel ingezet maar bikkelhard eindigend ‘As Wool’, wil ik maar één ding, dat Wovenhand door blijft spelen, zijn ritme, klanken en beat over de zaal uit blijft storten, maar we weten allemaal hoe het afloopt met dit soort wensen. Blijft over een visuele toegift: Gregory loopt op Chuck af voor een high five en omhelzing, great!
Het publiek is het met me eens: wildenthousiast wordt geapplaudisseerd, schoorvoetend verdwijnt men richting garderobe en uitgang, een perfecte avond.
ReginA

You can order The Laughing stalk here


or here

donderdag 25 oktober 2012

Manifesto. Roxy Music

In 1972 Roxy Music released its first album, now seen as one of the best debut albums ever. To celebrate this occasion all the band's albums were released in a cd box containing all studio albums. Erwin Zijlemans leads us through them one album at a time. This week his opinion on Manifesto, the 1979 come back, 6th studio album of the band.

You can listen to 'Angel eyes' here

In 1979 verscheen Manifesto. Op Manifesto koos Roxy Music definitief voor een wat meer mainstream popgeluid en de plaat werd dan ook gekraakt door de critici. In mijn eigen geheugen stond Manifesto ook gerangschikt onder de draken van platen, maar bij de hernieuwde kennismaking valt de plaat me erg mee en ben ik bij vlagen zelfs onder de indruk van de zesde plaat van de band. Op Manifesto flirt Roxy Music opzichtig met het solowerk van Bryan Ferry en is het bovendien niet vies van impulsen uit de disco, maar Manifesto is zeker geen slechte plaat. Singles Dance Away en Angel Eyes hebben de tand des tijd eigenlijk heel goed doorstaan, terwijl het titelnummer veel mooier is dan ik me kon herinneren. Manifesto staat in de boeken als een aalgladde plaat, maar de plaat heeft toch ook zeker zijn avontuurlijke momenten (zo had Trash niet misstaan op de Berlijnse trilogie van David Bowie en lijkt Stronger Through The Years als twee druppels water op de muziek waarmee Japan pas in de jaren 80 opzien zou baren). Natuurlijk is Manifesto niet zo goed als de meesterwerken van de band, maar een ieder die van mening is dat Roxy Music na Siren alleen nog maar troep maakte, moet wat mij betreft nog maar eens gaan luisteren naar Manifesto.

Erwin Zijleman

You can order Manifesto here


or here

woensdag 24 oktober 2012

Haagse Iconen in het Paard: Hallo Venray, Gruppo Sportivo en Urban Heroes


Hallo Venray, foto HareD
Het Paard van Troje bestaat 40 jaar en dat wordt onder andere gevierd met een reeks bijzondere concerten. Het begon met een dag gratis concerten van diverse Haagse groepen uit verleden, heden en toekomst op zaterdag 19 oktober. Ik werd vooral getriggerd door het aftrap door Hallo Venray, de band die aan het begin van de jaren negentig furore maakten, onder andere met een optreden op Pinkpop waarbij zanger Henk Koorn opkwam op een pogostick gekleed in netkousen. Maar dat was natuurlijk slechts bijzaak. Het ging om de muziek, het album ‘The More I Laugh, the Hornier Due Gets’ uit 1992 was een hoogtepunt, gevolgd door de apart uitgebrachte CD van de 2-meter sessie ( klik hier). Het goede nieuws is dat dit album binnenkort opnieuw wordt uitgebracht en dat de band, die nooit echt is gestopt maar wel in de vergetelheid is geraakt, met die plaat gaat touren. De bezoekers van de middag kregen die show al bijna volledig voorgeschoteld. Wat mij vooral opviel was de kwaliteit van de muzikanten: die mannen kunnen echt goed spelen. De nummers zaten strak in elkaar, waren nog even aansprekend en de solo’s voegden echt iets toe aan het optreden. De nasale stem van Koorn is ook nog steeds opmerkelijk aanstekelijk. Kortom: een lekker concert en Hallo Venray blijft een absolute aanrader.



Gruppo Sportivo, foto HareD
 Gruppo Sportivo is wat mij betreft zo’n band waarvan je weet dat ie bestaat, dat ze in het verleden hits hebben gehad (natuurlijk zeker ‘Hey Girl’) en waarvan frontman Hans Vandenburg te pas en te onpas op TV West verschijnt, maar waarin je je verder ook niet verdiept. Dus des te leuker eigenlijk om ze nu eens live aan het werk te kunnen zien. Wat ik niet wist bijvoorbeeld was dat Herman Brood’s achtergrondkoor de Bombita’s (Lies Schilp en Inge Bonthond), hun carrières bij Gruppo waren begonnen en sinds jaar en dag ook met hen mee zijn blijven doen, zo ook in het Paard. Ze hadden er grote lol in met z’n allen. De muziek was aanstekelijk, vrolijk en prima uitgevoerd en er was humor en relativering in de praatjes tussen de nummers door. Al met al een geslaagd optreden. In december staat de groep in Diligentia als onderdeel van hun theatertour ter ere van het 35-jarig bestaan. Opmerkelijk was dat de zaal helemaal volstroomde voor dit optreden. Er waren nogal wat vijftigers en zestigers die hun jeugdherinneringen kwamen herbeleven, met mijn 41 haalde ik de gemiddelde leeftijd in ieder geval flink omlaag. Conclusie: Gruppo Sportivo kan je er wel bij hebben op een feestje, leuk!


Waar ik nog nooit van had gehoord was de new wave band Urban Heroes, die in het begin van de jaren tachtig echter enkele bescheiden hits hadden en kort geleden een nieuw album hebben uitgebracht, getiteld ‘Back in Town’. Tja, ik vond er eigenlijk niet veel aan. De zanger gedroeg zich als een slechte imitatie van Barry Hay, maar miste duidelijk charisma en zangkwaliteiten. De muziek was ronduit saai. De meeste songs begonnen stevig en veelbelovend, maar duurde en duurde maar. Een beetje teveel jaren zeventig naar mijn smaak, die nummers van acht minuten of langer, zonder dat er iets gebeurd. Na drie kwartier vond ik het wel mooi geweest…..

Maar was het een mooie middag in het Paard. De jubileumserie Haagse Iconen wordt op 31 oktober afgesloten, onder andere met optredens van Barry Hay Flying V’s en Di-rect (voor tickets: www.paard.nl)  

HareD

dinsdag 23 oktober 2012

I bet on sky. Dinosaur Jr.

You can listen to 'Watch the corners' here.

Dinosaur Jr. is around for many a year. When I was in college the band made its first albums and I missed them all in ignorant bliss. When other bands from around the scene in Boston broke in the early 90ties I noticed them. I think I have every single Buffalo Tom album e.g. Only with previous effort 'Farm' I picked up Dinosaur Jr. and liked what I heard. So here's my second ever review.

Dinosaur Jr. is a reference to dinosaur Sr., Neil Young's moniker after punk broke and he effortlessly became a part of the punk movement with a part of 'Rust never sleeps' and 'Live rust'. Jr. only listened to the harder parts of Sr. as I bet on sky is a rock album with gritty guitars and hooked rhythms. J. Mascis' voice goes well with the sound of the guitars. He does not appear to have loads of volume in his voice, but carries the melodies in his own characteristic way. The singing is basic, at best an invitation to step into the song. Not the big advertising billboard of the band. Still pleasant to listen to.

Most songs are stepping stones to let a guitar rip at some point. 'Watch the corner' has this great guitar solo that is released at the end of the song. The kind that stops right on time, because you want it to last for ever. The way the songs are arranged pose a problem for the stage. Dinosaur Jr. is a trio outfit, but has guitars for at least a double setting. Drummer Murph is a hard hitter, filling every nook an cranny of the sound with hard and fast pumping rhythms. This way he lays a foundation that the songs are built on. The same goes for Lou Barlow's bass. J. Mascis lays down a few rhythm tracks on guitar, loud and fast, over which he sings, solos and plays lead lines. A few songs have this 'Like a hurricane' keyboards floating all over the rest of the song. This way a massive wall of sound is created that makes up Dinosaur Jr.'s sound. This would be hard to bear for me if there weren't songs shining through this massive wall. In most cases they do. It's J. Mascis' voice that makes the difference. The somewhat drawling way of singing gives most songs the air they need. Not much else does.

The quality of the songs are at a seldom heard constant level. Some faster, some slower, but all songs have elements of interest that keep me interested and these great, howling solos where J. Mascis lets it all go out. If he isn't much of a talker (see Wikipedia), he speaks volumes through his guitar. Especially on the album ender 'See it on your side'. An ear-bleeder when played live, I bet on that.

Two songs on the album are by Lou Barlow. 'Rude' is a bit more up-beat country-ish rocker. That could have been on the repertoire of Dutch band Johan. I love the song. The double solo in the middle is great fun. 'Rude' is a very pleasant variation in Mascis's wall of gravely sounds. While Barlow's 'Recognition' is a QOTSA light, holds a surprise in the form of the acoustic break followed by another good solo and also provides I bet on sky with a bit more light.

I bet on sky is one of the better albums of 2012 so far. The heavy sound holds enough melodies, excitement and tension. A lot is going on and several solos are great. If you're into the heavier stuff I bet on sky is definitely an album to check out.

Wo.

You can order I bet on sky here


or here


maandag 22 oktober 2012

De langste adem

Muziek moet als nieuw leven in ons klinken. Smaken verschillen, maar we willen allen dat hemelse bereiken. Liefst iets nieuws horen of voelen. Laten we zeggen een vertrouwd gevoel. Wat? Dat kan van alles zijn. Waarbij een oud zeeman met grijze baard, en een bebloede lap voor het ene oog. Zojuist heeft hij op het dek een touw op vakkundige wijze een zeemansknoop met een lus vervaardig, waar menig nek omheen kan, dat kraakt aan de houten galg, aan een kalme zee, met enige voortvluchtige vogels.

Voor de meesten geldt genegenheid, bepaalde eigen geilheid met muzikale klanken vanuit elke richting, dat voelbaar is tot in de ziel.

Let wel. Hoe meer men tegen de laatste adem zit, hoe gelukkig en hoopvoller en onzin wij in deze hoedanigheid ons bestaan zien. Een mens kan beter Dood zijn! Daar kan geen muziekstuk, toneelvoorstelling of wat dan ook tegenop. Het levensritme wordt meer en meer opgevoerd.

Liefst van rechtse politiek. Immers de dixieland muziek moet te allen tijde worden aangehoord door hen, die het goed hebben en graag in stand willen houden tegen alle conventies in. Niet alleen de schoorsteen moet roken en de sigaar moet goed smaken. Terug naar de muziek die het liefst live moet klinken. We hebben kunnen genieten in de alom bekende Q-Bus, muziekhuis in Leiden.

Terwijl de oude zeeman zit te kijken door de lus naar de blauwe hemel valt hij langzaam in slaap. Althans, hij zoemt even weg, en hoort zachtjes de natuur klinken. In zijn hoofd ziet hij een eenhoorn die op de schone maagd loopt en zijn hoorn in haar schoot legt. Passie en vreugde dat moet blijven klinken door menige sing en songwriter.


Marcel R. van der Kwaak

zaterdag 20 oktober 2012

Shields. Grizzly Bear

You can listen to 'Sleeping ute' here.

It took some courage for me to start reviewing this album. Not having liked 'Veckatimest', despite all the clamour in the press, is one. The complex songs and weird rhythms just didn't land. Shield basically got the review: "Brilliant, but more of the same". That was two. And then I listened anyway and was intrigued, by the utterly brilliant, but hard to understand songs. That's three. What was I to write on the Shield? That's four.

This music will never endear itself to me. For this it is too complex, too far out, sometimes even too weird. Still, I was fascinated and slowly drawn into the songs, the structure, the weirdness and started to reckonise structures, melodies and beauty. Shields holds pure, but at times well hidden, beauty. Let me start there. Having listened to the album several times in different circumstances, I know that I truly like it and discover something new each time I put it on. My starting point for getting a grip on the music, is the vocals. Where in most songs the singing and the voice are the icing on the cake, with Grizzly Bear it seems the other way around. The melody of the vocals is the foundation which the rest is held up by. The point from which the great experiment starts. (And in a song like 'What's wrong' even that anchor is hoisted.) As if after a song is finished everything is stripped away except for the vocal melody and then built up again, layer by layer. A song construct.

Past the singing it's a free for all. Sound scapes of synthesizers, stretched guitar notes, small embellishments in the form of a piano note, the treatment instruments receive, intricately haunted string melodies, reluctant rhythms, a few horn notes. Everything's possible. Despite the fact that musically the bands are fairly unrelated, Shields reminds me most of Steely Dan. The way the songs seem to be constructions of music and the way complex songs appear totally fluent. Not an instrument nor note is used without an idea and clear effect behind it. Each note has an effect on the atmosphere of a song. In the final song, 'Sun in your eyes', even in the singing. The other influence is past 1965 The Beatles. The anything is possible vibe that surrounds Shields. The main differences being that Grizzly Bear is not jazz influenced (Steely Dan) and not trying to find the perfect pop song (The Beatles). For this the band is too left of centre. And some Arcade Fire, like in 'A simple answer' where it's the most obvious.

From Grizzly Bear's side of the universe the band does reach for perfection. Nothing but, I'd say. The desolation of 'Half gate' is impressive. From the cellos starting the song to the driving guitar and modestly pumping piano, to rolling drums the song is being pushed towards the (at first small) variations. Don't forget to notice the bass notes in the second verse. If anything we have an indie pearl here that appears to go on and on in ever changing instruments.

With only ten songs the album is over before I know it, having undergone an alternative rollercoaster of songs, moods and musical adventure. If anything, I may have to listen to 'Veckatimest' again and see if I had clay in my ears or something back in 2009. Shield is a treasure trove of musical adventure, that a lover of a little more alternative music could spend hours in, lost in discoveries and wonder to finally having to admit that Shields is a great pop album, well disguised, but pure pop. To my surprise, that's what I concluded. Brilliant, pure pop.

Wo.

You can order Shields here


or here


vrijdag 19 oktober 2012

Celebration day. Led Zeppelin

You can listen to 'Celebration day' here.

It was somewhere in 1968 that session guitarist and The Yardbirds bass and guitar player Jimmy Page found himself more or less alone in The Yardbirds with a contractual tour to go on. So he hired some musicians to play. This went so well that they changed the band's name to The New Yardbirds toured the U.S. and decided to go on under the name Led Zeppelin. Recorded an album, released ´Good times bad times´ in the spring of 1969 as a single and the rest is history. It was one big rollercoaster of rockstardom till John Bonham´s body gave out. In 2007 the band did one last gig in London´s O2 dome with Jason Bonham as drummer. Yes, John´s son. The movie was exclusively premièred in 10 Dutch theatres at the same time: Wednesday 17 October 2012 at 21.00 hours. The main hall of this theatre was packed and WoNo Magazine was there.

'Celebration day' is the title of the show Led Zeppeling played  on 10 December 2007 in a sold out O2 Arena in London and the title of the movie the band releases of the one-off event. The experience in the movie theater was near overwhelming. Larger than life the performance the band gave was captured on film and gloriously displayed. The performance itself only deserves the description near perfect. The band rocked hard. Fuelled by Jason Bonham's fantastic and extremely powerful drumming, the three original members showed the world once more and for a final time (never say never, but it certainly looks like it) that Led Zeppelin was and is one of the world's best rock outfits.

Led Zeppelin managed to stay away from a major pitfall: hiring all sorts of back ground singers, other musicians and/or bringing in guests. What you get to see is Led Zeppelin, three musicians and a singer. Just like of old John Paul Jones switches from bass to keyboards, Jimmy Page may use loads of effects and a octaver and like his dad Jason Bonham sings a little backing vocals. That's it. We saw Led Zeppelin as it is and was. Nothing else.

Led Zeppeling has at least four faces. 1. The rock fuelled blues monster (or blues filled rock monster). 2. The grove and riff driven rock monster. 3. An experimental folk band. 4. A classic hard rock band. Three of four aspects were incorporated in the show. Folk, except for the intro part of 'Stairway to heaven' wasn't present. The other three in abundance. It was hard sitting still in a theater seat, as there was enough to want to dance to. Stop starters like 'Nobody's fault but mine' or 'Trampled underfoot' just beg for moving. They groove so good.

Kicking off with first single 'Good times bad times' the setlist was near perfect. Near perfect as the leaving out of 'Immigrant song' and to a lesser degree 'Heartbreaker', is unforgivable. The very last show and no 'Immigrant song'? Sorry guys! For the rest I sat in awe. Robert Plant's voiced has aged, yes, but tremendously gracefully to a slightly deeper region. He led the band through all hits and major album tracks and left the centre stage to leave room for others. Jimmy Page showed what playing rock guitar is like. All the different styles, the bowing in 'Dazed and confused', the theramin combined with wah wah guitar sounds, he played them meticoulously. His face no longer lent itself for rock poses in 2007, his playing gave him every right to do so any way. Granddad giving the world a lesson.

Photo from screen, Wo.

If 'Celebration day' gave away one secret (in as far it ever was one if you listened to Led Zeppelin), it is how important John Paul Jones was to the band's sound. Next to being a great bass player, allowing Jimmy Page to take off half of the time, he gives colour to all the songs involving keyboards, playing bass pedals at the same time. It was a delight watching him play.

What is wrong between Page and Jones I don't know, but I seldom saw someone on stage so conciously ignoring his colleague from the first to the last second of the show. Turning his head away, turning his back, each time contact was sought by Jones. He was even excluded from the final embrace on stage. This is a stain to the movie and the show itself, but the only one. Director Dick Carruthers did a great job capturing a great rock band of the past on film in its final farewell in honour of Ahmet Ertegun, the famous Atlantic Records chief, who signed Led Zeppelin in 1969, who died in 2006.

Photo from screen, Wo.
My personal favourites came by. ´No quarter´, ´Since I been loving you´, ´Stairway´, ´Whole lotta love´ and a fantastic version of 'Kashmir'. It all ended with the song whose title says it all: ´Rock and roll´. Song by song one thing became clear to me. We were previewing a monument, a monument that people are able to watch for ever. One that will only let the legend grow. This is and was it. Led Zeppelin is huge and will remain so. The cap stone of the pyramid, sealing Led Zeppelin's career, is called ´Celebration day´. There's nothing left to add and they know it. This was it, folks. And those who happened to have been in the O2 Arena, well what can I say?

Wo.

You can make a reservation to buy Celebration day here


or here


donderdag 18 oktober 2012

Viva! Roxy Music

In 2012 it's 40 years ago that Roxy Music released its first album. To celebrate this a box set containing all studio albums and other goodies was released. In WoNo Magazine's blog the albums are held up to the light one by one. Regular contributor Erwin Zijleman does an excellent job here. As the only live album officially released during Roxy Music's recording career is not a part of the box set, Wo. is taking over review duties.So what is his opinion of the Viva! Roxy Music in 2012?

You can listen to 'Both ends burning', of course in the live version, here.

It's only 36 years ago that I bought this album at a sale with the money earned from my first real summer job. I knew four Roxy Music songs at the time. 'Love is the drug' had become a major hit in 1976, 'Virginia plane', 'Pyjamarama' as singles and I had 'Both ends burning' and perhaps 'Out of the blue' on a cassette tape. Was I in for a surprise! Long experimental songs like 'The bogus man' and 'In every dream homes a heartache'. I did not quite know what hit me, didn't have a notion what these songs were about and only had the vaguest idea of the tension that was built up in these songs. Through the years I liked the album better and better, but at a certain moment it disappeared in this huge stack of records, as old records tend to do. So, where am I with Viva! Roxy Music in 2012?

To be honest, not much has changed through the years. Viva! is a tremendously exiting live album, that gives a good impression of what it must have been like. There may be overdubs, but small mistakes in Brian Ferry's singing, the absolutely shrill harmonies in 'Both ends burning' can all be heard. So not everything was polished away in the recording studio. The songs I liked most, still stand out as fabulous rock songs. 'Out of the blue' and 'Both ends burning' rock so good. Especially the latter song. Andy McKay is soloing his heart out, Phil Manzanera plays a mean rhythm guitar and gets to solo as well, the bass runs I just love and Eddy Jobson lays down these synth carpets pasting the whole song over, while leaning back when the saxophone kicks in again. And let's not forget the great rhythm of the drums. This song must have been loads of fun to play.

The tension in a song like 'Chance meeting' is very well done. Slow, deliberate, almost mean. It makes the mind wonder what happens really. The let go comes when 'Both ends burning' kicks in (at least on record). 'If there is something' is another song that I've always liked.The very bluesy structure is loosely played out. Mazanera's guitar reminded me of some soloing on 'David live' another album I bought at the time. But there is another superstar on 'If there was something': Eddie Jobson, who replaced Brian Eno just two years before Viva! was recorded gets to play his electric violin. This gives the song a very distinct character.

'In every dream homes a heartache' is another song which did not really go well with me at this young age. When I hear it now, it is such an exiting song. The tension is almost tangible, at times it seems like it's going to snap. Relentless, with all the strange noises in the back ground, distorted echo's. The guitar and drums that kick in every four bars and let off again, like dog on a leash snapping and ceasing. The text goes totally weird of course, "My breath is inside you", go figure out where this leads to. And then it rips and rips good. This song is so well built and played out. Tingles down my spine!

Viva! ends with one of Roxy's singles, the up tempo 'Do the strand'. A great song to end a show with, I suppose. Fast, extremely danceable and still Roxy Music enough to be credible as an arty song.

Summing up, Viva! Roxy Music totally holds up all these years later. The album shows a band at the peak of its might, despite the fact that the core members abandoned the mother ship for circa four years. What changed for me is that I appreciate the album as a whole more. Including 'The bogus man', which is plainly a great track. If Viva! proves anything, it is what a mistake Brian Ferry made. 'Let's stick together' is great fun, but this is where he peeked as an artist and writer, stimulated by band members with loads of creativity themselves. Pure shame.

Wo.

You can order Viva! Roxy Music here


or here


woensdag 17 oktober 2012

Enjoy it while it lasts. Spector

You can listen to 'Friday night, don't let it ever end' here.

This spring I liked Spector's single 'Chevy thunder' so much that I wrote a blog post on the song. The contribution ended with the question whether the band would be a one-day-fly? Listening to Enjoy it while it lasts I'm feeling merrier by the song and decided to just do what Spector gives advice on here: enjoy it while it lasts.

This album sits chock-full with pop goodies layered with a certain gloom. Not so much from the music, but from the full voice of Fred MacPherson. His voice reminds me of early 80ties bands and Editors, but luckily for me musically the band leaves that doom and gloom end of the world as we know it far behind it. The title Enjoy it while it lasts may suggest that the end is nigh, but if it is, it is the dancing on a volcano variety. Spector excels in fun, danceable songs that invite the listener to move and sing at the same time. 'What you wanted' has these great fun call and respond singing, where the band shows it can find a melody where one's hidden in a song to most.

Spector can not be accused of originality. The band takes some very well trodden pop paths. The Kooks, Razorlight, Editors, some of the U.K's most popular bands in recent years come by, but I happen to think this band's better. They have the better melodies and seem happier with what they do. The biggest influence are The Killers, I'd say. And again I have already played this album more often that 'Battle born'. Like The Killers keyboards play an important role on Enjoy it while it lasts. What Spector adds is a splash of hardly disguised disco in several songs. The Petshop Boys as influence? This gives its songs this extra pop element which is missing in the songs of the bands mentioned above. And it's not as if the guitars don't play a role on Enjoy it while it lasts. They are all over the place in tight rhythm, delicious licks and great lead melodies.

And then this thought hit me. One of my absolute favourite tracks of the 00s is 'Mon amour' by Swedish band The Plan. Spector leaves out the total madness in the singer's voice, but has that pop feel down to perfection in 'Chevy thunder'. (The wordplay with 'Taking my own life" is well done textually btw.) But what about the rest of the album?

There are several songs that I just love on enjoy it while it lasts.The above mentioned 'Friday night ..' is a great popsong. (And video by the way. Decadence, bright colours, beautiful stills, very arty and still party? Yes, dear reader, it is.) Twenty nothing has a 'Candy' like drive and a great refrain and 'Upset boulevard' has the same energy a my favourite. 'No adventure' is this slow, delayed song, almost crawling into my ears, but with this exquisite melody and keys. I totally love it. "We are to old to die young", they sing. Welcome to the club, boys and enjoy the rest while it lasts! And then 'Celestine' still is coming up. What a chorus!

Most songs are well arranged, the harmonies are in all the right places, the fun is as high as on 'Employment' by Kaiser Chiefs. Do I need to go on? It looks like Enjoy it while it lasts is one of the most perfect pop albums of 2012, one that may well grow into one of my really, truly favourite albums. Well done, Spector! The title comes from a reference about piracy and illegal downloading: "Enjoy it while it lasts".

Of course 'Chevy thunder' is the best song on the album. Spector may never make a better song, in my opinion that is. What surprised me is that there are several songs that come close.

Wo.

You can order Enjoy it while it lasts here


or here

dinsdag 16 oktober 2012

Life: The movie. The Walkabouts

You can listen to a recorded radio show on KEXP from 2012 here,

Seattle based The Walkabouts went into something like hibernation in 2005, after the tour following their album 'Acetylene'. Singer and songwriter Chris Eckman lived in Slovenia's capitol Ljubljana while the rest of the band went back to Seattle. Eckman recorded many things, but nothing for his band. After 17 years of records the band seemed to die a silent death, just a memory of all these great albums in the nineties that were pounded out at tremendous speed. The fans were surprised by a great new album in 2011, 'Travels in the dustland' (read the review here). The band returned to great form here. 2012 came with another surprise, a tour and a dvd of the 2005 tour. Over three hours of film. A tour documentary, as non-descript as they usually come. All video's the band released in the first ten years of its recording career. Interviews with the members and a concert tour. Of course this is what it is all about when buying a dvd.

Through the years I've seen The Walkabouts many a time. There were so many great shows. One even with a small symphony orchestra on the 'Nightbirds' tour. A lot of nerves on stage that night in the Paradiso (and some very loud talking people, not willing to stop, while all this delicate music was being performed). On dvd we are presented with a show from Prague, in a small venue with the band on a surprisingly large stage for such a small venue. I suppose that this shows the tragic decline of the band's popularity in the 00s. From main stage in the club circuit, to the smaller venues. The big break did not come in the second half of the 90s, when it should have.

The Prague show presents The Walkabouts in true form. There is the light and the shade in the songs, in the tempo, in the approach to a song and in the solo performance: does Carla Torgerson or Chris Eckman sing? The beauty or the beast? The Walkabouts is a band that is able to play incredibly soft and delicate music and rock beyond full out at ear splitting levels. Both sides are presented in this Prague show. The show even ends with a Buzzcocks cover. 'Something's going wrong again' is truly punked. The documentary section shows bass player Michael Wells joining in the chorus at the end. Is it suggested that he picked the song? If so, in an indirect way. Covers are not new to the band. Remember 'Like a hurricane' any one? But then the band also released two albums filled with covers and interpretations.

One of the things that I find good to see, is the confidence of Terry Mueller. Where in the mid-90s from a distance she looked insecure and made small mistakes, in 2005 she is the band's drummer laying down the rhythms and leading the band through the songs. With the return of Michael Wells the band was back to the line-up that nearly brought them a break through. Glenn Slater plays these great keyboard parts that add to the songs' moods. Sometime like a footpath for the rest to walk on, at other times he's like the wind at storm's speed, taking over the song. Front persons Chris & Carla play guitar and share leads. Chris' solo are very Neil Young influenced, one note, within a chord. Very seldom like real solos, but fascinating and with loads of power. Just what a The Walkabouts song needs. Carla sometimes doesn't seem to pick strings at all, so intricate is her finger picking. Still we hear these beautiful melodic lines.

The dvd is very basic. Just cameras showing a band play. Nothing fancy, like The Walkabouts is. It is all about the songs. They tell the story, as every The Walkabouts song invariably does, like 'Jack Candy' about a drug dealer with a bad ending coming. The dvd does not add to the experience, but is invaluable to the true fan. We get to see the band up close, the interaction, while hearing this bunch of great songs. Life: The movie is a treat, that I truly enjoyed watching. The Walkabouts were one of my favourite if not the favourite band of the 90s. What this dvd shows is a confirmation of something that I nearly forgot in 00s, The Walkabouts is a very, very great band that should have been playing headlining festivals today, but isn't.

For people who haven't got acquanted with the band, go check them out. They are the best in folk rock. From the most delicate songs you've ever heard, to a ferocious beast and back on one album. This is what The Walkabouts offer you in a one-packet deal with great melodies. It doesn't come better people!, says,

Wo.

You can order The Walkabouts: The movie here


or here

maandag 15 oktober 2012

The Rolling Stones announce ...

In our story on The Rolling Stones we speculated on what 2012 would bring (read here). It looks like all answers have been given.

50 years The Rolling Stones brought:

- pictures in front of the Marquee club, 50 years after the first gig;
- a fancy picture book so heavy that it kills;
- a greatest hits album is announced called 'Grrr!' to be released on 9-11-12;
- a gorilla with tongue and lips logo;
- a new single Called 'Doom and gloom' was released last Thursday;

- 18 October the documentary film 'Crossfire hurricane' will be released;
- and, yes, for those who like to travel click here before it's too late, to see this:

Photo from The Rolling Stones website


The Stones are to play two shows in London late November and two in Newark mid December.

So concluding. Again the masterminds of The Stones marketing team did a great job at working towards occasions, building it up step by step. Well done! And now get into the studio and start writing and recording new songs!!!!!!

Wo.

You can make a reservation to order Grrr! here

Een schrijver in een gesloten inrichting


Door de ijver van zijn krankzinnigheid is de schrijver Koenraad voor een tijdje opgesloten. Zijn werkelijkheid was al maanden verbleekt door de zware medicamenten. Alles wat hij dacht mee te maken, was vaak niet wat geleek te gebeuren. Of toch wel, hij wist het totaal niet meer. In een licht blauw dragend uniform zit hij alleen in zijn kamer. Met half gesloten ogen ziet hij de meeuwen boven de duinrand cirkelen. Deze inrichting ligt aan de rand van een bos in een duingebied. En dient als doel om doorgedraaide kunstenaars hulp te bieden. De gehele dag speelt er vreemdsoortig, maar soepel klinkende muziek door het gebouw om zo de medicamenten beter te kunnen laten inwerken. Het verplegend personeel heeft als doelstelling, dat de kunstenaar na langdurige behandeling weer verder kan met het bedrijven van de kunst. Ik wil het met u hebben over die ene man. Koenraad. Bij elk boek dat van hem uitgeven werd kwam veel commotie los. Niet alleen bij het lezerspubliek maar ook bij enkele critici. Nu zit deze man aan een tafel met een pen in de hand tekeningen te maken, die hij ooit in letters en in prachtige volzinnen aan het papier toevertrouwde. Hij was trots op zijn werk, wat veel inspanning vergde. Toen na een boekpresentatie bij hem de stoppen doorsloegen en hij één van de critici te lijf ging. Van het verplegend personeel kon hij slechts van één iemand alles velen. Ze was zijn mentor in alle opzichten. En zonder het tegen hem te durven zeggen zijn grootste bewonderaarster. Bij de eerste ontmoeting voelden zij zich sterk tot elkaar aangetrokken. Zuster Cora, een vijftien jaar jongere aantrekkelijke vrouw.  In alle opzichten geschikt en was voor velen als een zorgzame moeder. Het was voor Koenraad een zegen. Die hij als zijn zeldzame beschermengel beschouwde. Als Koenraad diep in de nacht onrustig door zijn kamer marcheerde kwam zuster Cora langs. En zong zij op zijn bed zittend. Streelde door zijn haar. Totdat hij zijn eigenzinnige werkelijkheid in dromen kon waarmaken. Zelfs wanneer zuster Cora geen dienst had ging zij naar de inrichting om voor Koenraad te zorgen. Ze gingen samen vaak wandelen in het bos, terwijl Koenraad haar verhalen vertelde. Tijdens een wandeling op een warme zomerse zondagdag middag bleven zij staan bij een hoogduin met in het riet een verscholen bunker. Ze kropen naar binnen. Zuster Cora had van thuis een fles van de beste kwaliteit sterke drank meegenomen waar Koenraad zoveel van hield. Ze had geen glazen meegenomen en dronken om beurten uit de fles. Doordat het de laatste dagen zo ontzettend warm weer was, was het in de bunker aangenaam. Toen de fles half leeg was, streelde ze elkaar hartstochtelijk. En kusten ze elkaar of het de laatste was vlak na een galgenmaal hangend in een strop. “Laten we gaan zwemmen”, fluisterde zuster Cora in zijn oor.

De twee kleden zich helemaal uit en liepen hand in hand over een leeg strand naar de zee. Voordat ze de zee ingingen keek Koenraad naar de lachende zuster Cora. In zijn lichaam ging het bloed in stroomversnelling. De voor de liefde bestemde hormonen vloeide door zijn gehele lichaam dat hem deed rillen. Ze liepen door de golven van de zee tot aan een zeebank. “Het is hier heerlijk”, gilde zuster Cora. In een hevige omstrengeling. Bij Koenraad ontwaakte spookachtige stemmen in zijn hoofd.

Hij raakte in paniek en hoorde hoe zuster Cora tegen hem sprak. “Ik heb je te pakken!” Hij keek verward over het lege strand, terwijl hij zuster Cora om de hals kneep. Het geluid van de schaterende zuster Cora sloeg als een echo tegen de duinrand terug. Slijm en maagzuur spoten door haar luchtpijp langs haar mondhoeken naar buiten. Terwijl zij langzaam een rood gezicht vertoonde en de ogen uit haar oogkassen vielen, voelde haar gezicht koud aan. Hoorde Koenraad ineens zuster Cora zingen. Ontving hij een prijs met veel gejuich uit het publiek. Koenraad was voor lange tijd een verloren ziel op aarde.

Marcel R. van der Kwaak

zondag 14 oktober 2012

III. Sunday Sun

You can listen to 'Sunday Sun' here.

In just a few months, three EPs. Each released for free over a short period of time. That sounds like a marketing plan, to draw a lot of attention to this new band from The Netherlands. As far as I'm concerned they succeeded. Speaking with singer-songwriter Dennis Kolen recently, he said the following on Sunday Sun: "These guys are totally going to make it. They have the songs, the voices, the harmonies". There's only one thing for me to do here: totally agree with him.

III is more held back than I and II. The eclectic melodies and the sheer exuberance of singing is missing here. Despite the fact that the tempo is faster than almost all songs of the teeth gluing sweetness of Bread's songs, this is what I arrive at, U.S. balladry. The songs have a more serious undertone, that makes it harder to endear to at first listen. Putting it on again and again, proves that I'm going to appreciate III also. Quality is all over the place

'You light up the sky' starts with this honky tonk sounding piano (and ends with it). A bit corny start, but again Sunday Sun finds a way to give the song a twist, several even, in which the voices blend and melt together in a superb way.

It is in the sixth song that the EP really gets under way. A Roger McGuinn Rickenbacker sound and The Byrds singing that lifts 'Sing' off the ground. Seven miles high is my first guess. There are so many different sounding voices in this small, delicate song, that it is a treat to listen to.

Sometimes I need to be honest. III is not the best EP of the three. I and II contain more fun songs. Pure pop is dominant, the more serious songs are sort of shielded there. That makes it harder to get used to III than to its two predecessors. At the same time quality does not hide itself. Sunday Sun shows another side of itself and does this with a truck load of confidence. This band has everything going for itself. It's up to the world to discover true beauty, as that is the only appropriate words for Sunday Sun's music: "True beauty".

Wo.

P.S. And just after posting  I realized something. Singing 'Ordinary love' I was reminded by another Dutch band that split up at the end of 2009, as I started humming 'Pergola'. Vacating the Dutch pop crown voluntary. "Johan is dead. Long live Sunday Sun"!

You can download III for free till Friday 26 October 2012 for free here.

After this date order it at the same link and buy I and II as well. And don't forget to check out the tour dates over the coming weeks on the same website.

zaterdag 13 oktober 2012

The joy of singing. The Greater Good live in the Q-Bus


On Thursday 11 October 2012 it was a very special night in the Q-Bus in Leiden. Three singer-songwriters stepped up on stage to bring the unfortunately very small audience a night of beautiful, enraptured singing. L.A. based Shane Alexander, Dennis Kolen from Rotterdam and New Yorker Eugene Ruffolo blended their voices and guitars until they seemed one. Like a three headed vocal chord.

Dennis Kolen. Foto Wo.
Accompanied by modest playing by bass player Wietze Zeedijk and keyboard player Ferry Lagendijk the whole focus lay on harmonising. Listening to the songs of The Greater Good for the first time, only one reference popped up the whole time: Crosby, Stills & Nash. The uncanny way in which the voices resonated in fairly complex sounding songs.Just like CS&N's first album doesn't have songs that go down easy on first listen. This is what happened in the Q-Bus also. I was listening in awe at what was happening, as the singing looked so effortless.

Shane and Wietze, Foto Wo.
Further in to the performance, each singer took three leads thus dividing their contribution to the album, it was possible to make distinctions. Dennis Kolen puts the most effort into his performance, perhaps has to work hardest. Shane Alexander plays with his voice. In a higher register, but with depth also, warm and able to weave his voice in and out of the melody with ease. And it was just like Eugene Ruffolo wasn't there, but I'm sure he was the glue putting it all together, like David Crosby did. Also singing with ease, solo and in harmony and playing guitar in a very delicate way, almost as if he didn't touch the strings, but every time there was this intricate melody or notes played between the other two.

Eugene Ruffolo. Foto Wo.
Each had small stories to tell, also to mask the time it takes to switch to another exotic tuning. There was even a story by Shane Alexander on the Wikipedia site on guitar tunings. It all contributed to make the atmosphere more intimate. I perfectly understand that every artist works to have a packed venue, but as an audience it is a privilege to be so up close and enjoy the show in (almost) perfect silence and dedication.

Each of the three performers did a solo spot of two songs from their own albums. As I wrote on Dennis and Shane in WoNo Magazine before, I will focus on Eugene Ruffolo. The modesty with which he presented himself struck me most, while at the same time singing two beautiful, delicate songs with total conviction and confidence made me very much interested to hear more from him in the future. Ruffolo's voice is very pleasant, while at the same time his fingers play bass, melody and lead at the same time accompanying his voice. A true singer-songwriter.

Thr Greater Good. Foto Wo.
The three came back for an encore of Neil Young's 'Tell me why', song 10 on the album and the great sing along 'I shall be released'. And yes, we got to sing along and my higher harmony fitted quiet nicely in the back ground, thank you. With one more song the evening came to an end. There will be more on Dennis Kolen soon on this blog and be on the look out for Shane Alexander's new album early in 2013 (with a beautiful cover!, which I got to see). Let's hope that The Greater Good will get a follow up in the next few years as this is about as good as it gets where singing is concerned. True beauty!

Wo.



You can order The Greater Good on vinyl here.


or on cd here

vrijdag 12 oktober 2012

Siren. Roxy Music

In 1972 Roxy Music's debut album was released. This is celebrated with a box set containing all the band's studio albums and some other goodies. WoNoBloG takes you through the albums one week at a time, This week album #5, 1975's Siren.

You can listen to 'Love is the drug' here.

Het in 1975 verschenen Siren, met dit keer Jerry Hall als verleidelijke zeemeermin op de hoes, wordt gemaakt in dezelfde bezetting als op Stranded en Country Life, maar het is Bryan Ferry die dit keer aan alle touwtjes trekt. Ferry heeft inmiddels twee succesvolle soloplaten op zijn naam staan en neemt steeds meer afstand van de wat meer experimentele of arty kant van de band. Opener Love Is The Drug doet het uitstekend als single, maar had net zo makkelijk op een van de soloplaten van Bryan Ferry kunnen staan. Siren wordt ten tijde van de release gekraakt en afgeschilderd als een Bryan Ferry soloplaat, maar eerlijk gezegd valt de plaat me nu alleszins mee. Siren mist misschien het avontuur van zijn voorgangers, maar bevat met tracks als Both Ends Burning, Just Another High en Sentimental Fool toch ook een aantal Roxy Music klassiekers. Siren is lang niet zo goed als zijn voorgangers en echt een heel stuk minder dan Country Life, maar een slechte plaat is het zeker niet. De machtsgreep van Bryan Ferry bleef echter niet zonder gevolgen. Roxy Music ging na Siren nog op tournee, wat resulteerde in de prima live-plaat Viva!, maar kwam hierna in zwaar weer terecht. De echte opvolger van Siren zou uiteindelijk pas in 1979 verschijnen. Hierover meer in een volgend artikel waarin de resterende platen uit The Complete Studio Recordings van Roxy Music aan bod komen.

Na haar vijfde soloplaat, Siren uit 1975, ging het helemaal mis met Roxy Music. Door de machtsgreep van Bryan Ferry, die door zijn steeds succesvollere solocarrière zijn wil kon opleggen aan de andere bandsleden, waren de verhoudingen binnen de band behoorlijk verslechterd en leek het uit elkaar vallen van de band een kwestie van tijd. In 1976 verscheen nog de prima live-plaat Viva! (deze had als extraatje zeker niet misstaan in de box-set), maar hierna volgde een lange periode van stilte.

Erwin Zijleman

You can order Siren here


or here