vrijdag 31 mei 2013

Shimmer & glow. Douglas Firs

You can listen to 'Pretty legs and things to do' here.

Voor de tweede keer dit jaar ben ik voor een nog relatief onbekende muzikant of band in het rootssegment in België terecht gekomen. Na TMGS een aantal weken geleden wist onlangs Douglas Firs me te verrassen. Een ijzersterke minuut in De Wereld Draait Door een aantal weken geleden was de trigger, maar na beluistering van het hele album van de band rond Gertjan Van Hellemont was ik echt helemaal om. Gertjan Van Hellemont was de afgelopen jaren al te zien en horen als de gitarist van The Bony King Of Nowhere, maar met Douglas Firs treedt hij definitief uit de schaduw van één van de beste singer-songwriters die België rijk is. Shimmer & Glow past voor een belangrijk deel in het hokje Americana, maar bestrijkt binnen dit hokje een breed palet. Alt-country domineert op het debuut van Douglas Firs, maar ook met blues, folk en rock kan de band rond Gertjan Van Hellemont uitstekend uit de voeten. Shimmer & Glow is een wat weemoedig klinkende plaat. Van Hellemont maakt van zijn hart geen moordkuil en vertolkt zijn teksten steevast op melancholische en soms bijna getergde wijze. Bij beluistering van Shimmer & Glow moest ik meerdere malen denken aan Heartbreaker van Ryan Adams; een groter compliment kan ik Douglas Firs nauwelijks maken. Net als Ryan Adams laat Douglas Firs zich nadrukkelijk inspireren door Neil Young, Gram Parsons en Townes van Zandt, maar de band heeft gelukkig ook een eigen geluid dat past binnen de heerlijk eigenwijze tradities van de Belgische popmuziek en verkent bovendien net wat vaker het grensvlak tussen alt-country en blues. Douglas Firs raakt hierbij niet alleen aan alle hierboven genoemde namen, maar ook aan de muziek van landgenoten Isbells, Fleet Foxes en Lowell George om maar eens een paar aanvullende namen te noemen. Shimmer & Glow is een lekker gevarieerde plaat, maar de uitwerking van de songs is zonder uitzondering prachtig. Dit wordt doorgetrokken tot aan het fraaie artwork, dat werd verzorgd door niemand minder dan Neal Casal (die we weer kennen van ... precies, Ryan Adams). In alle songs op Shimmer & Glow domineren de weemoedige zang van Gertjan Van Hellemont en zijn gloedvolle gitaarspel, maar ook de rest van de instrumentatie is steeds smaakvol en effectief. Steeds weer weet de band te verrassen met songs die net wat beter zijn dan die van de concurrentie en steeds weer blijkt dat deze songs ook nog eens beschikken over de nodige groeipotentie. Gertjan Van Hellemont wist met één minuut DWDD al flink wat indruk te maken, maar na beluistering van alle 11 de tracks op de plaat is deze indruk onuitwisbaar. Het aantal geweldige platen van eigen bodem is dit jaar wederom opvallend hoog, maar in België kunnen ze er ook wat van. Verplichte kost voor iedere liefhebber van Americana.

Erwin Zijleman

You can order Shimmer & glow here


donderdag 30 mei 2013

Between places. Young Dreams

Je kunt hier luisteren naar 'First day of something'.

Aan de winter lijkt hier al geen einde te komen, maar in het hoge Noorden regeert koning winter over het algemeen nog een stuk langer en met een aanzienlijk minder prettig regime. De meeste platen uit Scandinavië die tussen pakweg oktober en april worden uitgebracht zijn dan ook stemmig, donker en vaak zelfs bijna deprimerend.  De Noorse band Young Dreams moet hier voor de afwisseling eens niets van weten en komt met een uiterst zonnige plaat op de proppen. Met name de eerste tracks op Between Places doen denken aan The Beach Boys in hun beste jaren en dat is muziek die bijna alleen maar geassocieerd kan worden met zon en zee.  De vergelijking met The Beach Boys dringt zich vooral op vanwege de zonnige en bedwelmende klanken en vooral de fraaie harmonieën, maar gelukkig is Young Dreams voor de afwisseling eens geen band die haar uiterste best doet om het werk van de Californiërs nauwgezet te reproduceren. Young Dreams combineert op haar debuut aan de Beach Boys herinnerende klanken en vocalen met een flinke dosis elektronica die zo lijkt weggelopen uit de jaren 80 en 90 en voegt hier nog een vleugje donkere postpunk aan toe (het blijven immers Scandinaviërs). Het is een intrigerende combinatie van invloeden die werkelijk fantastisch uitpakt.  De mooiste omschrijving komt zoals zo vaak van AllMusic.com: "The album sometimes amazingly sounds as if the Zombies had reunited in 1980 for an album produced by the Buggles' Trevor Horn, resulting in a joyful, 50-minute orgasm of chamber pop jubilation". Daar kom ik met geen mogelijkheid overheen, maar er is echt geen woord van gelogen. Ik zou het liefst van de daken schreeuwen hoe fantastisch deze plaat is en iedere keer als ik Between Places hoor wordt de drang om dit ook daadwerkelijk te doen sterker en lastiger te onderdrukken. Young Dreams slaagt er op Between Places in om bijna onverenigbare genres met elkaar te verbinden en weet haar unieke geluid ook nog eens te verpakken in briljante popliedjes, die niet alleen de fantasie blijven prikkelen, maar je ook nog eens ongelooflijk gelukkig maken. Bij beluistering van Between Places overheerst heel even de verbazing, maar vervolgens overheerst gelukzaligheid die je nooit meer kwijt wilt raken.  Ondanks het feit dat het recept steeds ongeveer gelijk is, is Between Places een opvallend rijke plaat, zeker wanneer je je bedenkt dat het hier gaat om een debuut. De ene keer overheerst de 60s psychedelica, de andere keer de elektronica. Soms is het heerlijk ingetogen, maar ook een stevige beat gaat Young Dreams niet uit de weg. Een band die een droomdebuut als Between Places weet te produceren kan alleen maar heel groot worden, maar ik concentreer me deze keer maar eens op het hier en nu. In het hier en nu heeft het Noorse Young Dreams met Between Places een debuut afgeleverd van een niveau dat je maar zeer zelden tegen komt. Laat het buiten maar vriezen. Binnen is het met Between Places al lang zomer. En wat voor zomer!

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt Between places hier


of hier bestellen


woensdag 29 mei 2013

Ride on the train. Hollis Brown

You can listen to 'Ride on the train' here.

Schrijf maar alvast op als één van de grote ontdekkingen van 2013: Hollis Brown. Hollis Brown is een band uit New York, die met Ride On The Train een werkelijk fenomenaal debuut heeft afgeleverd. Bij beluistering van de openingstrack (en tevens titeltrack) van de plaat, merk je direct dat de muziek van de band maar heel lastig is te weerstaan (ik was zelf binnen een minuut compleet verkocht) en dat gevoel wordt eigenlijk alleen maar sterker. Hollis Brown citeert op haar debuut rijkelijk uit een aantal decennia popmuziek en nodigt hierbij nadrukkelijk uit tot het noemen van grote namen. Tot dusver pikt iedereen er zijn eigen namen uit, dus dat doe ik ook maar. Wat te denken van het lijstje: Lynyrd Skynyrd, Rolling Stones, Neil Young, Tom Petty, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Buffalo Springfield. Het is een vrij willekeurige selectie, maar je hoort ze allemaal terug in de muziek van de vier jonge honden uit New York. Countryrock domineert op Ride On The Train en het is vooral countryrock uit de jaren 70. Op één of andere manier slaagt Hollis Brown er echter in om een stap verder te gaan dan het reproduceren van het glorieuze geluid van weleer. Ride On The Train is absoluut niet vies van retro (kijk ook maar eens naar de hoes), maar combineert de invloeden uit het verre verleden op eigenzinnige wijze met invloeden van veel recentere datum. Het levert een serie perfecte popliedjes op, die voorlopig alleen nog maar aan kracht zullen winnen. Het zijn popliedjes die de ene keer stevig rocken, maar de andere keer net zo makkelijk verleiden met een met popinvloeden verrijkte ballad. Hollis Brown komt uit New York, maar de muzikale invloeden die de band in haar muziek verwerkt komen vooral uit het Zuiden van de Verenigde Staten, waarbij het viertal moeiteloos schakelt tussen de zonnige pop van de Westcoast en de met gospel doorspekte Southern Rock uit Mississippi en Alabama. Het klinkt allemaal fantastisch door de heerlijke gitaren, de perfect opgenomen ritmesectie en de verrassend doorleefde zang vol soul en blues (zanger Mike Montali is absoluut een groot talent), maar het zijn de geweldige songs die de muziek van Hollis Brown echt bijzonder maken. Hollis Brown betovert op haar debuut met songs waarvan je na één keer horen zielsveel houdt en het gaat hierbij zeker niet om vluchtige lentevlinders. Ride On The Train heeft alles wat nodig is om uit te groeien tot een klassieker. Of het zover komt zal de tijd moeten leren, maar een droomdebuut kan ik het nu al wel noemen. Na alle lof uit de Verenigde Staten was ik heel even sceptisch, maar inmiddels ben ook ik volledige overtuigd van de kwaliteiten van deze grootse band in de dop. Wat een plaat!

Erwin Zijleman

You can order Ride on the train here


or here


dinsdag 28 mei 2013

Indigo meadow. The Black Angels

You can listen to 'Indigo meadow' here.

What is it with favourite bands' new albums that they often disappoint at first listen? This happened to me with Indigo meadow. A few weeks back The Black Angels gave fans the chance to stream the new album for a peek listen. I was so disappointed that I stopped at the third song. Luckily for me, I did not give up after that experience. It wasn't before the fourth listen though that my appreciation of the album really started to change.

Indigo meadow is slowly growing on me. Where 'Phosphene dream' caught me directly between the ears, it took the new album a bit longer. The change started with hearing 'Don't play with guns' again. This catchy song, also the first single of the album, settled into my brain, repeating itself over and over there. It has all these psychedelic fun parts and sounds. The high organ notes, the surf guitar lone notes and above all the fun melody. It made me give the rest of the songs a new chance.

From there all little details started to fall into place. The sound experiments and treatments. Of course most are totally anachronistic, daubed in purple psychedelic fluid projections, but most songs have these charming melodies, giving them that little extra that makes the songs stand out. The Black Angles have this over Jacco Gardner, who colours between the lines a little too much to my taste. The Black Angels do not. The band goes all out given half the chance, 'War on holiday'. Listening to Indigo meadow yet again I know exactly the difference. Jacco Gardner has smoked a joint once, but never inhaled, where The Black Angels show that, no matter how much fun mind expansion can be, there is a dangerous side to taking drugs. There are rough patches in the music, harsh lines, reminding us of the darker side of psychedelia. "The Peter Green/Syd Barrett effect".

'Love me forever' may start with a Roger McGuinn Rickenbacker guitar sound, the organ and rhythm make it part of this 1967 trip. The chorus shakes the listener awake from transcendental meditation into the here and now with a heavily treated guitar sound, after which even more fun things happen. The Black Angels clearly had several ideas for this song. Lucky for us they share them. If not all, at least a lot.

'Broken soldier' has this jump-like rhythm compared to the heavy 'War on holiday' that precedes it. 'Broken soldier may hold a message to modern day extremists. "Will you be the same when this is over?" No, is the answer. This may show either hope or despair, depending which view you take. There are too many "broken soldiers", and quite confused as I may add, in the last few years. That is for sure.

All in all Indigo meadow has less an effect on me than 'Phosphene dream' had. That is the fate of most records following the, in this case my, debut record of a band. Listening up closer Indigo meadow is a more than satisfying new album by The Black Angels. The variation in songs and the trippy addiction of songs like 'Always maybe' ensures my devoted attention.

Wo.

You can order Indigo meadow here


or here


maandag 27 mei 2013

Interview met Atlantic Attraction for WoNo Magazine’s blog post


Interview by Wout de Natris



© WoNo Magazine 2013


Recently Atlantic Attraction made the pages of this blog with a post on the new EP release party, followed by a review of 'Home' itself. We decided to follow this up with an interview. Here's what the band has to say to our questions.


As not all readers may be familiar with Atlantic Attraction, how would you like to introduce yourself?
We (Kevin, Arend, Joris & Sibren) are a guitar-rock band from Leiden, Holland. We started the band around three years back and have played over 150 live show. We just release our debut EP in April and are currently preparing for the upcoming festival summer.

There is a story behind the band name, I understand and what made you want to identify yourself with this brand?
Well, the name is derived from the album ‘Plans’ by Death Cab For Cutie. This album was released by record label ‘Atlantic Records’ and we wanted a connection between our band name and this specific album. Mostly because listening to this album was the main reason for us to play the music that we play now.

The band is together for a few years now. How did you meet?
Originally we were all in different bands before we started Atlantic Attraction. The four of us were close friends from back in high school and most of the former bands fell apart right before we decided that we had to join forces and start this band together.

The songs on ‘Home’ all have intricate arrangements between the guitar parts, bass and drums. How is a typical Atlantic Attraction song arranged and who is responsible for what?
Most of the times Kevin come to the rehearsal room with a general idea. If we all like it, we start to make it into an Atlantic Attraction song. Sometimes the song is written in one or two days, but ‘Another One Saved’ took almost 30 rehearsal sessions before we all agreed on the song.

What comes first the music or the lyrics?
Always music. We start with the lyrics when the music part of the songs is finished. We find it important that the lyrics have the same feel as the music. The music might still change after the lyrics are made, but for some reason we all stick to this way of working.

In my review of ‘Home’ I mentioned several possible influences, but who are your favorite artists and in which ways do they find themselves into your music?
The inspiration sources changed over the years. When we started our biggest inspiration sources were Death Cab For Cutie and Two Door Cinema Club. They changed over the years to bands like The Boxer Rebellion, Editors and The National.  We do not like copying others' music, but we do let others influence out music. So we normally start of by saying, Lets write a … Song this time, or can be have a feel as they have in a … song.

If each of you were allowed to play one cover during a show, what would the song be?
Kevin: Pamela, by Toto
Joris:  The Gospel of Goro Andachi, by The Boxer Rebellion
Arend:  Purple Rain, by Prince
Sibren:  Two Weeks, by Grizzly Bear

I read somewhere that you entered a Kensington competition. What is your motivation to do so?
We had the chance of playing as the supporting band in Kensington’s show at Tivoli. As we know the guys, we thought it would be a fun competition to enter.

In the title song you sing “this is your house, this is not our home”, a lyric about alienation and blaming others, or in other words, and this is my interpretation, not taking one’s life in one’s own hands. What is the message in ‘Home’?
Joris wrote the lyrics to this song. He was quiet frustrated at the time. He was living in an apartment in The Hague. When his college friends moved out, he asked his girlfriend to move in with him. She started changing all his favorite things about his house and after a while he had the feeling it was not his house anymore, but somebody else’s. 

The chorus of ‘Pigs might fly’ touches on achieving the unachievable. Does Atlantic Attraction try to aim for the highest achievable?
Most definitely! We always aim high and we believe that this is the reason that we accomplished what we currently have.

What influences you most while writing lyrics?
This sounds a bit cliché, but it’s the situations that we come across during our daily lives, movies we see and stories we hear.

The artwork on stage and the album are eye-catchers. What can you tell us about the artist?
The artist is Jonat Deelstra. He is a very talented artist form Amsterdam. We especially like him because of all his drawings tell stories by themselves.

In general a lot of attention is given to presentation around the music. How important is this to the band?
We like to believe that a show is a full package. Of course music is number one, but people that come to our shows want to see and experience more than what they can hear on a CD.

The band released a new EP, ‘Home’, recently, is asked to play at Werfpop this summer. Where do you want to be say two years from now?
In two years we would really love to play at Lowlands Festival. Also we would like to play more outside of the Netherlands and be able to play music as a fulltime job.

What can we expect from you in the near future?
We are currently working on material for our debut album, so currently we won’t be playing as much live shows as before. But after the summer we’ll be touring again in All of The Netherlands and hopefully outside as well.

zondag 26 mei 2013

The messenger. Johnny Marr

You can listen to 'The messenger' here.

Johnny Marr is, of course, THE Johnny Marr of 80s outfit The Smiths. The band I could never hear more than three songs in a row of before wanting to choke Morrissey. The whining, the feeling sorry for him self kind of voice. In the background all this guitar playing was going. All these notes played around the chords as if there was no tomorrow. 25 Years down the line Johnny Marr surprised me with his great fun, rocky, poppy album, with everything from New Order at its poppiest to Supergrass on board. Yes, surprised, as I almost left this album for what it was. An album by an artist from a band long ago that I never really liked. A few great singles accepted. (I'll admit that dancing to 'Panic' and 'Big mouth ..' was a joy.) Let's go into The messenger.

My first impression of The Messenger is that it is a versatile album. Mostly up beat with lots of detail to melody and an extra playful guitar part here and there. At the same I never had the idea that a singer "was missing" on the album. Johnny Marr is a singer in his own right. The music is set solidly into his formative years. The right mix between rock, pop and punk is found added with circa 1980 new wave, including The Edge like guitar playing. This results in a fun song like 'I want the heartbeat' in which it all comes together. Where many bands and singers in the 80s forgot that a good song also needs a strong melody, the reason why I'm no 80s fan in general, Johnny Marr embraced the best of both worlds on The Messenger.

The impressions after this showed me that my first impression was right. I started hearing more and more playful guitar lines, flying in and out of songs adding to the mix. The solid accompaniment that gives all the songs the right basis for Marr to excel in his playing. And that Marr is able to play with different moods. 'Say demesne' is this moody rock ballad, creating a lot of tension in the holding back way of playing, making it one of the best songs of the album. It reminds me a little of Simple Minds in its hey day, but the bombast is discarded, making it a better song than almost any song by the Glaswegians. When 'Say demesne' ends with a beautiful guitar solo, I was sold. Great song! Followed by some great riffing in 'Sun & moon'. Again showing the diversity of The messenger.

Music wise Marr may have released this album 20 years plus too late. On the other hand we are offered this music in 2013, which is as much of a surprise to me as it is pleasant. The way "free" is sung in 'European me' is so much fun, running extended over a few notes. Very well found. Just one example of the many hidden treasures on The messenger. The 80s organ in a rocker like 'Sun & moon' is another one. I'm sure that if you give The messenger a chance, you will find your own little treasures hidden inside the album.

AD 2013 Johnny Marr has become more of rock guitarist than a The Smiths one. His playing is more straightforward and in your face, while at the same time also more inventive, as a lot is going on at the same. The intro to 'Locked down' has all these guitar parts, including a 'Heroes' extended note and convinces all the way. 'Locked down' may not be the best song on The messenger and then that brilliant bridge comes by twice. Pure craftsmanship.

John Martin Maher may turn 50 later this year, he released a solo album, his first after all these years, that puts him on the map in his own right. With no one to hide behind he came up with the right songs and the right way to play them. For fans of The Smiths, New Order and all with a love for melodic guitar playing in songs that are a perfect mix of all that what makes rock music so much fun to listen to.

Wo.


You can order The messenger here


or here

zaterdag 25 mei 2013

Comedown machine. The Strokes

You can listen to '80s comedown machine' here.

WTF? The Strokes do Aha? ‘One way trigger’ may sound way cooler than ‘Take on me’, but WTF, The Strokes go 80s disco? Morten and his pals may be able to start a law suit, because the keyboard riff comes so dangerously close, that I would give it a try. The song scared the hell out off me while listening to Comedown machine for the first time and this album contains much more disco.

Having the first seven songs of ‘Is this it?’ in mind, the songs that I compare all else The Strokes songs to, that are classic The Strokes. Song eight is where the career of The Strokes started to nose dive. As far as I’m concerned. A few isolated good songs is what remains of a fine start, with ‘Angles’ at the deepest end. I could not find a single song I liked on that album. And how surprised I was that, yes, here it comes, I like Comedown machine as a whole. In large parts the latest effort of The Strokes is what a good rock album should be. Varied and rocking and rolling. For all else The Strokes have a sense of urgency again in important parts of Comedown machine.

‘80’s comedown machine’ is the song that shows the world how good The Strokes can be. It’s to the point, harsh, full of balled energy, punky, raw edged an above all singer Julian Casablancas sneers in his loudest voice, distortion on, leading his band to the edge. This is the naked essence of The Strokes. All else is irrelevant.

Life is good when it has pleasant surprises. 'Comedown machine' is such a surprise. The more I play it the more fun it becomes. I even start to appreciate the vibe of 'One way trigger'. On this album The Strokes has found a mix between its old self and what they want to be now in 2013 in a convincing way. The influence of Julian Casablancas seems very large, especially in songs like '50 50'. This beautiful little drop of a song has a distinct 60s flavour, but convinces totally, despite the fact that it has little to do with songs The Strokes are usually associated with. The mix of the relaxed voice and instruments with the driving muted guitar notes works quite well. The vulnerability Casablancas shows in '50 50' and 'Slow animals' is as convincing as his snarling old self in '80s comedown machine'.

Comedown machine is an album in which the guitar is not necessarily the main instrument. Keyboards are all over the place, in an 80s synthpop kind of way. With Julian Casablancas aiming to sing as high as the brothers Gibb in their second heyday. This took a little getting used to, but once that was behind me things changed. The main difference for me, I found, is that most songs on Comedown machine agree with me melodically, where most songs from song 8 on 'Is this it?' onwards did not. Simply to hooky, to devoid of beauty. Forced, if you ask me. There are enough moments in which Albert Hammond Jr and Nick Valensi are allowed to go all out on this new album or show themselves in creative ways and the rhythm section can really pound it out. This leads me to an important conclusion.

Comedown machine is The Strokes' best record since 'Is this it?' Twelve years down the line the band finally delivers its promise. That is a long time, too long to ever be relevant again and probably not everyone is as broad-minded as I am with Comedown machine. It is time to realise that The Strokes was not the band we hoped it'd be in 2001. So embrace what they are in 2013. A band that knows how to write and play some superb, but varied songs in a different format then we expected.

Wo.

You can order Comedown machine here


or here


vrijdag 24 mei 2013

The kitchen recordings series 2. iET

Je kunt hier kijken naar beelden van de release party.

iET is het alter ego van de Nederlandse singer-songwriter Lisa van Viegen. Na de goed ontvangen debuut EP The Kitchen Recordings Series 1, die aan het eind van 2011 verscheen, komt iET nu op de proppen met een volwaardig debuut, dat de titel The Kitchen Recordings Series 2 heeft gekregen. Het tweede deel van de Kitchen Recordings Series is een ambitieuze plaat, waarop iET samenwerkt met maar liefst acht getalenteerde zangeressen, die ik om niemand te kort te doen alle acht ga noemen: Elle, Esperanzah, Janne Schra, Lilian Hak, Mary Davis Jr., Shirma Rouse, Stevie Ann en Szjerdene. Deze zangeressen, waarvan er een aantal bekend en een aantal onbekend zullen zijn, duiken één voor één samen met iET op en het resultaat is zonder uitzondering prachtig. Met zoveel mooie stemmen op een plaat kan het al bijna niet meer mis gaan, maar de vocale kwaliteiten zijn zeker niet het enige sterke punt van The Kitchen Recordings Series 2. iET voorziet al haar songs van een stemmige en opvallende instrumentatie waarin flink wat instrumenten worden gebruikt. Omdat iET gebruik maakt van een breed palet aan akoestische instrumenten (waaronder een trompet en een contrabas) en ook de stemmen als instrument worden gebruikt, schiet haar geluid meerdere kanten op. De ene keer folky, de andere keer jazzy of soulvol, maar altijd wonderschoon en heel bijzonder. Het uitnodigen van zoveel andere zangeressen leek me op voorhand een enorm risico, maar ondanks de steeds weer anders klinkende stemmen is The Kitchen Recordings Series 2 absoluut een eenheid. iET heeft een plaat gemaakt die onmiddellijk tot de verbeelding spreekt, maar pas wanneer je de plaat een flink aantal keren hebt gehoord lijken alle fraaie details een keer aan de oppervlakte te zijn gekomen en is de plaat nog een flink stuk door gegroeid. Janne Schra, Lilian Hak en Stevie Ann kende ik al en behoren ook op deze plaat tot mijn favorieten, maar ook de andere vijf zangeressen op de plaat hebben me in positieve zin verrast. Hiernaast verdient iET zelf natuurlijk alle lof en respect voor een gedurfde plaat, die maar mooier en mooier wordt. The Kitchen Recordings Series 2 is een ideale plaat voor late avonden en zondagochtenden, maar de vooral dromerige en sfeervolle klanken doen het ook op andere momenten uitstekend. iET heeft met The Kitchen Recordings Series 2 een plaat gemaakt die als je het mij vraagt zijn gelijke niet kent. Het is een plaat die niet alleen in conceptueel opzicht, maar ook in kwalitatief opzicht heel veel indruk maakt. iET heeft hierdoor niet alleen één van de meest bijzondere platen van het moment gemaakt, maar ook één van de mooiste en beste platen van het moment. Ga dat snel horen en ga net zo genadeloos voor de bijl als ik.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt The kitchen recordings series 2 hier


of hier bestellen


donderdag 23 mei 2013

Long view. Kate Tucker and the Sons of Sweden

You can listen to and download Long view here.

Despite the fact that the names of bands get stranger and stranger the music some of these bands produce, is quite excellent. This certainly goes for the songs on Long view, the Noisetrade sampler Kate Tucker and "her Sons" released through this website. Pop songs on the verge of pop, rock, folk and new wave come by that sound very pleasing to my ears.

Kate Tucker and the Sons of Sweden is a Seattle based band. At least it was in the incarnation for most of this Noisetrade sampler. Since 2012 Kate Tucker operates with a new band under the same name that will release a new album called 'The Shape, The Color, The Feel' soon. Long view is a compilation of a few new songs, songs played live and the whole debut album called 'Kate Tucker & the Sons of Sweden'.

Long view caught my attention at first listen and has not let go since. It has this relaxed pop music on it with a female singer singing with this light, fleeting voice, that is very appealing. There is a danger that Kate Tucker's singing becomes to thin, but she shies away from this in a perfect way. The way the music is mixed always makes sure that she can sing from her strength.

Long view offers true beauty. 'On the radio' is this luxuriously mid-tempo song, played and sung in this dragging way, like the song comes just behind the rhythm. A trick Kate Tucker and Sons have down to near perfection. 'The first day of the year' tells all: "I think every song should be slow". Making notes last longer or falling in to the next word just a little later than expected. The mood is slowly added to by mixing in an organ from very soft to normal and by that time a piano is playing some chords or a few notes. Background vocals fall into and out of the song. Despite the fact that hardly anything changes, this song is so beautiful and interesting. Just very well played and produced.

Some comparisons. Several songs take off where REM's 'Everybody hurts' stopped. There is a little The Cranberries in there in the way Kate Tucker sings. The ballads of Madrugada come to mind, thinking away the deep voice of Sivert Høyem and the electric guitars of Robert Burås. And more than once I'm reminded of Hazeldine. So what Kate Tucker and the Sons of Sweden plays are the better ballads with here and there a modest but distinct edge, like in the live version of 'Everything went down', in which electric guitars are allowed into the mix or the guitar work in 'Hangover', which goes into the better Coldplay, U2 atmospheres. This is a side to band that I also like, so certainly interesting to see them live someday, should they come this way.

Long view undoubtedly is put on Noisetrade.com for only a short while, profit while the fun lasts dear reader!, to tease us into buying the upcoming new album, 'The shape, the color, the feel'. Going by Long view, it will be interesting to learn more of Kate Tucker and the new Sons of Sweden. Yes, I'm teased, says

Wo.


dinsdag 21 mei 2013

Ray Manzarek, in memoriam

Just before leaving for the airport I read on Twitter that Ray Manzarek has passed away. Ray Manzarek was responsible for that fabulous and unique organ sound of sixties rock band The Doors. Of course The Doors is all about Jim Morrison, the legend, the icon, the tragically deceased member of the 27 club. Just look at the sleeve picture to the left. It says it all, even in 1966.

But where would Morrison have been without the unique sound created by Manzarek, the compositional skills of Robbie Krieger and the unique rhythms, for a rock band, supplied by John Densmore?

Ray Manzarek played his role of hippie to the very end. His image was being an uber hippie, with vague sentences spoken as if high all the time. Seeing Manzarek on tv the past years was slightly annoying. Come on, we've all come away from that Ray. But this seems to be who he was or wanted to be. So let me tell you my The Doors story.

I discovered the Veronica Top 40 in October 1968. Around this time 'Light my fire' became a small hit for the second time. I'm sure I remember it from then. Early 1969 'Touch me' became a hit and I remember my cousin, Tineke G. for WoNo Magazine readers, had 'Hello, I love you' on 7" single. I'm sure I've missed 'Love her madly' but remember 'Riders on the storm' and 'Mosquito'. That Jim Morrison died? I'm just not sure there. In those years The Doors remained a single band to me, somewhere in the background.

It wasn't until I was sitting with my cassette player connected to the radio, late '75 or early '76, that KRO dj Theo Stokkink played a lot of Doors songs during 'The story of The Doors' one hour radio show and I learned that there was more this band and most importantly that I truly, really liked these songs. That tape was played a lot. I still remember several songs that were on it: 'Break on through', 'People are strange', 'Texas radio', several singles of course.

It took a few more years before I had the money to buy the elpees. A world opened itself. My favorites were and are, 'The Doors', 'Strange ways' and 'L.A. woman'. Especially the last one is The Doors' true masterpiece. Everything seems to have come together while the band was falling apart.

Somewhere in the early 80s the band slowly moved to the background. Only to be revived with the Oliver Stone induced comeback of the band. Thanks to the movie 'Light my fire' became a small hit for the third time. Never a big one, although I can't imagine why. This classic has everything a hit takes: a signature intro, a great melody, memorable lyrics and the intro that is repeated. In 1991 I really started to listen to The Doors, learning to play the songs on guitar. Only later on my previous band played a lot of Doors songs after the addition of a keyboard player. Playing 'Love me two times', 'Love her madly' or 'Roadhouse blues' was so much fun.

Several years back I gave my son a Greatest hits album. It took him a few year though, but one day he told me: "Yes, this is a good album". Another fan gained.

In 2013 The Doors have again moved to the background of listening, but everytime I hear a song, I prick up my ears. At this moment I'm listening the debut elpee on Spotify in an hotel room far away from home. It has the same effect as always: Man, this is good. Here, just at this moment Ray Manzarek's signature intro kicks in. The very right timing to end this contribution. Rest in peace Mr. Manzarek and thank you for the outstanding music.

Wo.

Blues night out: Trampled Under Foot, Q-Bus Leiden

You can listen to and buy 'Wrong side of the blues' here.

"Everything is gonna be allright this morning, Whoa!" Trampled Under Foot is a three piece family blues band from Kansas, Missouri that has it all down. Terrifically tight and so much fun. My body went back and forth and from left to right in the different tempos of the blues. TUF is all about the Schebelen family. Danielle plays bass and guitar and sings, Kris drums and Nick plays guitar and sings. Like their parents did some years back, the Schnebelen trio plays the blues as it should be played.

Trump card is Danielle, who has this great raspy voice able to show all sorts of emotions. From happy to extremely sad. She's no Janis Joplin, which is quite healthy by the way, but sang us these slowed down blues ballads that Janis or Aretha Franklin could have sung. Danielle Schnebelen showed the Q-Bus audience what she really got. Evoking a great pain from somewhere deep inside, hurt beyond believe or jealous like no one has felt ever before. She gave it all in those songs. Where Nick shows his ability to play so extremely subtle, with all the big and little notes in all the right places. Great, great, intense beauty was shared with us lucky ones.

TUF excels in several blues styles. Up tempo, ballads, shuffles, Texas shuffles, boogie and Bob Dylan. (Yes, I coincidentally wore the right t-shirt.) The band plays originals and covers. 'I'm in the mood' came by, a song from a band called Southern Harmony, ol' Bob like I already said, 'Don't think twice'. Nick plays all these different styles. He may not be the new Jimi Hendrix or Stevie Ray Vaughn, perhaps not even my guitar teacher of old, Frank van Veen, but Nick Schnabelen has all these chops down without pyrotechnics. Just clean good old guitar playing, without one single effect. Just his two hands, guitar, toggle switch and amp. All these beautiful sounds were brought forward.

Nick also did a one man band country blues slide act in which Muddy Waters and Led Zeppelin came together in his songs. Third member Kris sits in the background keeping things together and let it rip in a good old-fashioned drumsolo. I could not keep from watching his left hand as all these drum rolls came from that while the right hand work on the accents. How long will he keep this up?, I wondered. So supple. Danielle also plays bass in a great way. From functional to great lead notes. It all just sticks out

A blues band a day keeps the rain away? If only, the getting wet part tonight was more than worth it. Trampled Under Foot is a great blues band with a great singer. Watch out for its new album 'Badlands' that is released on 9 July.

Wo.

maandag 20 mei 2013

California sounds. Stevie Ann

Je kunt hier naar 'Dirty feelings' luisteren.

In de lente van 2005 was Stéphanie Struijk uit het Limburgse Roggel 18 jaar oud en vol ambitie. Na een jaar op de Tilburgse Rockademie wist ze heel zeker dat ze haar brood wilde gaan verdienen met het maken van muziek en volop bezig met het opnemen van haar debuutalbum. Dit album verscheen in de herfst van 2005 en sloeg, geholpen door heel veel steun van de media (waaronder met name 3FM), in als een bom. Heel veel optredens (waaronder optredens op Pinkpop) en nog twee uitstekende cd’s verder, is Stéphanie Struijk zo ongeveer het beste dat Nederland op singer-songwriter gebied te bieden heeft. Dat het nog veel beter kan bewijst ze met haar vierde studioplaat, die deze week is verschenen. Stéphanie Struijk kennen we natuurlijk veel beter als Stevie Ann en na Away From Here (2005), Closer To The Heart (2007) en Light Up (2010) is California Sounds haar vierde studioplaat. California Sounds is een vlag die de lading uitstekend dekt, want de plaat werd niet alleen opgenomen in het zonnige Californië, maar ademt ook in alle songs de staat aan de Zuidwest kust van de Verenigde Staten. De zonnige klanken vormen een flink contrast met de nieuwe ijstijd die hier lijkt begonnen, maar aan de andere kant zorgt de plaat ook voor de verwarmende zonnestralen die we hier zo hard nodig hebben. Het is niet de keer dat Stevie Ann uitwijkt naar de Verenigde Staten voor het opnemen van een plaat, want ook voorganger Light Up werd in Los Angeles opgenomen. Stevie Ann werkt dit keer niet met topproducer Mitchell Froom, maar met de net wat minder bekende Susan Sandberg (die werkte met onder andere Brian Setzer en Steve Wynn, maar ook zelf een aantal prima platen op haar naam heeft staan). Susan Sandberg trommelde flink wat gerenommeerde sessiemuzikanten op, waardoor California Sounds klinkt als een klok. Voor het schrijven van haar songs vertrouwde Stevie Ann dit keer op de hulp van anderen (vooral Susan Sandberg), waardoor haar songs vooral veelkleuriger zijn geworden. Wanneer je California Sounds vergelijkt met Away From Here hoor je een wereld van verschil. De nieuwe plaat van Stevie Ann klinkt niet alleen veel mooier en veelzijdiger, maar bevat ook beter songs en laat vooral ook een totaal andere zangeres horen. De soms nog wat schuchtere Stevie Ann van haar debuut heeft op California Sounds plaats gemaakt voor een zangeres die durft te schitteren en dit vervolgens ook vol overgave doet (luister vooral eens naar de ballads op de plaat). De ene keer met net wat meer soul, de andere keer wat meer folky of met een flinke dosis Westcoast pop. Platen van het niveau van California Sounds zijn in Californië al redelijk zeldzaam, maar in Nederland acteert Stevie Ann inmiddels op eenzame hoogte. Ik denk dat zelfs Stéphanie Struijk uit het Limburgse Roggel dat 8 jaar geleden niet had durven dromen.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt California sounds hier bestellen.





zondag 19 mei 2013

Eurovision Song Contest 2013

You can listen to 'Only teardrops' here.

Being at a birthday of family made me look at and listen to the European Song Contest for the first time since I do not know when. In the 70s I was stuck to the tv, like everyone else of my generation that grew up with two channels. We saw Vicky Leandros win, Anne-Marie David, ABBA, Teach-In, but after that it slowly becomes a blur and not much later a total no-go zone. The music was not to my taste, so why watch? In the past ten years I saw headlines complaining on the east-Europeans supporting each other to victories with horrendous show songs of no quality. Blissfully it all went past me, including the Dutch delegation that never reached finals any more. (People, as Doe Maar sang in 1982: "There's a button on your TV!) So here I am in 2013. The first birthday I was at for years also in which we watched tv. What conclusions did I arrive at?

A show is a show. The Swedish organisation knows how to make a show. The Malmö Arena was packed and the visuals were all well done. Some corny tries at humor aside, the show part was flawless. Directed well and aimed at presenting a huge party to the audience and viewers. No complaints there.

The first entry, by France, surprised me. This lady, Amadine Bourgeois, rocked pretty hard and I found myself appreciating the song to some extend. I've heard better songs like this one about hell (l'enfer), but she rocked in music and voice. Looking back this may have been my winner, although it is hard to pick out one song of 27.

Straight away I noticed a big difference with let's say 1980: the entries could have been play-backing. The huge orchestra with a national conductor per song in front of it had been let go and replaced by a tape or cd. Just singing and backing vocals, nothing else. If there were instruments on stage, some were bands, it was all playback. Another major difference was the show element. All the dancing, the gimmicks, etc.. There was a lot that had nothing to do with singing, but with show. 1800 drummer boys, small stage elevators enveloped by endlessly long dresses, Japanese drumming, a giant carrying the singer, nothing was too weird. Azerbaijan was best. The caged image to the singer was very well thought out and executed. The spider man got the girl, that was surprising. I'm sure that if the Greek Gogol Bordello-like entry had had an inflatable boat to do some crowd surfing in, it would have become second. Almost all hated this song, but I thought it pretty good. A combination of traditional Greek music with punkrock, sheer fun.

The bottom was reached with Romania. I suppose this is what people call camp, but a castrato singing opera over a modernised disco beat is what I call plain stupid, especially wearing a Dracula cape and being elevated on stage, long cape and all, in the same way as the fellow Romanians from Moldavia. The only thing I could do to save myself was scream back at the tv screen.

What I also noticed is that the countries accused of gimmicks had some real European songcontest songs. Ukraine, Russia, Azerbaidjan, Estonia, all had serious entries and what I call European Song Contest songs. What we call in the Netherlands neither fish nor meat, but well sung. There were some modern dance influenced songs, like Germany, Denmark. The last one, as we know now, won. Denmark delivered a diddle, a catchy melody, but absolutely nothing worth memorising or spending more than a second on. Some did "power ballads". The Scorpions found out that they ought to be very popular in Armenia. (Better send System of a Down next year.) In Italy the songs haven't changed in thirty years. Zucchero must be happy. Finland was still bringing political messages. This time pro gay marriage.

In the scoring was some matchfixing if I ever saw one. If things were only as obvious in football... The scoring never really got exciting. Denmark got on top and never really was in danger. Clearly it is possible to predict the winner. As my son said, they better hire these bookmakers than the current research agencies predicting political outcomes.

And Anouk? When I heard the song for the first time I thought: this will make the final. 'Birds' is a special song, a weird one, but not a good one. It is impossible to memorise, hard to sing along with and infinitesimally sad. But 'Birds' has quality and is a daring entry. The ninth place was well deserved. Anouk sang well, with a slight quiver in the second line, but after she that relaxed, seemed sure of her self and she looked happy to be there. I found that she is able to smile. Didn't know that, actually. 'Birds' stood out, but was not a winner. Anouk is more famous in Europe now, with a somewhat a-typical song for her. She looked pretty, authentic and carried this song that could be on the repertoire of someone like Frank Sinatra very well. I like some of her rock tracks a lot better.

So, you just learned of my unsuspected tv adventure. Don't expect reports in the coming years though.

Wo.