zaterdag 31 mei 2014

Every day is judgement day. Blind Willies

Last year the Blind Willies played on a bill with Glossy Jesus and TMGS at the Q-Bus in Leiden. Re-reading my review, the band rather left me behind in confusion what to make of its show. "From ecstasy to boredom within two songs and back", that sounds like quite a feat. Recently singer Alexey Wajchman reached out to us announcing Blind Willies' new album. Here's is our review.

Every day is judgement day is a fifteen song, 57 minutes long album preceded by the single 'Big city'. The video was shot mostly in Amsterdam. Because of that element the song reminded me a lot of 'Big city' by Dutch singer Tol Hansse, a major hit in 1978 in NL. Not so much musically, although both songs are not your everyday sort of pop song, and certainly not lyrically. Where Hansse wrote a comical song about people you could (and can) run into in a big city, Blind Willies is always serious. 'Big city' is one of the lighter songs on this album, with a few moments of extreme beauty and subtlety tucked in. The first band that comes to mind listening to Every day is judgement day is 16 Horsepower. Blind Willies also has this devil on my tail quality in this collection of songs. 'Dig a hole' is one of the best examples of this. The slide guitar, the rhythm and the trumpet make the song sound hounded. Steely Dan is another reference. Blind Willies is not afraid of putting some jazzy elements into its music. Listen to 'Potential bag' and you hear the more acoustic version of a song like 'Kid Charlemagne' or 'Any world (that I'm welcome to)'. And an observant listener can find three signature notes from there 'Goldfinger' as well.

The title song at heart is a blues, again like some of Steely Dan's songs are. It shows a blues can be played on a piano riff and a cello as well. 'Every day is judgement day' becomes convincing when Blind Willies shows its great use of dynamics in the song and not just because an electric guitar kicks in hard at one point (although I would not be surprise if its a violin through a distortion pedal).

Musically the band is hard to place. American folk rock is the name associated with the band, but listening to this album the music goes way beyond folk (rock). There is a faint hint of klezmer/eastern European music. In such there is a faint link to Gogol Bordello or Kaizers Orchestra and De Kift. There is some some straight rock infused into the mix, like there is some jazz and blues as already mentioned. It seems to me more a complete melting pot of influences an American artist is exposed to in the U.S., with the clear exception of rap, dance and pure country. For the rest a lot can be found in the music of Blind Willies. The band name is a homage to blues singers from the 1920s and 30s with "Blind" before their name. That gives away the foundation of all.

Blind Willies is around since 2007 as a duo, releasing two album since 2008. Since 2011 Blind Willies is a band consisting of Alexei Wajchman (voice and guitars), Misha Khalikulov (cello), Daniel Riera (flute, bass), Max Miller-Loran (keys, trumpet) and Alex Nash (drums). Every day is judgement day is the band's second album as well, making four in total under the name Blind Willies.

Every day is judgement day is an adventure of an album. Each song is a story with a lot of lyrics. In that sense I would not be surprised if Wajchman comes up with a novel in the future, like Richmond Fontaine's Willy Vlautin. The extremely cynical 'Cremo tango' is a shocker of a song. "Ladies and, gentlemen, this way for the gas" to a background of sunshine, tango's being played and a few people apparently having a good time as well. "42 Jews" continues in this vain, although more covert. Just a counting down number of oppressed people, death and "the righteous men". The lyrics are as intense as the music. A great song! Every day is judgement day does become lighter and more personal as well, somewhere down the album, but attests to past and present major wrongs in a strong, committed way and can be called a protest or political album.

Musically it is an adventure as well. Remembering the way I was swung back and forth that evening in Q-Bus Leiden, I'm rather surprised by the constant level of quality on Every day is judgement day. No matter how diverse the songs are from a musical perspective, all are good in their own way. A lot of different things happen and different sounds come by. From extremely subtle 'The possible world' to the more exuberant 'Big city' or the very intense '42 Jews', Blind Willies is able to give most of its songs a unique musical stamp. Warm organs, screeching or subtle strings, a fine piano or a raging electric guitar, all is possible on this album. 'Big city' is linked to below, which is kind of a shame, as it is not representative, in sound, not quality, for the rest of this album. So look up the rest yourself, as the album is released today.

One point of critique? If I'm forced to name one, it is that I would have been happy with a 12 song album. Every day is judgement day is a few songs too long to keep my full attention. 'Steal away' doesn't manage that when I'm nearly 50 minutes on the way. Perhaps also just a little too much Paul Simon solo to my taste? That is all, so I would not let myself be put off by this critique, dear reader. Every day is judgement day is an album that begs checking out.

Wo.

You can listen to 'Big city' here.

vrijdag 30 mei 2014

For ever. Eriksson Delcroix

Eriksson Delcroix is een Belgisch duo dat wordt gevormd door Bjorn Eriksson en Nathalie Delcroix. Laatstgenoemde maakt deel uit van de Vlaamse folkband Laïs; eerstgenoemde timmerde kort aan de weg met zijn, wat onderschatte, band Maxon Blewitt, maakte hiernaast deel uit van Zita Swoon en de band van Admiral Freebee en was bovendien de man achter de soundtrack bij de film The Broken Circle Breakdown. Op deze soundtrack maakte Bjorn Eriksson geen geheim van zijn liefde voor country en bluegrass en zorgde hij in België voor een bluegrass revival die herinneringen opriep aan de door de soundtrack bij de Coen Brothers film O Brother, Where Art Thou? getriggerde revival in de eerste jaren van het huidige millennium. Met For Ever hebben Bjorn Eriksson en Nathalie Delcroix als Eriksson Delcroix een prachtige plaat afgeleverd. Ook op For Ever domineren de invloeden uit de Amerikaanse rootsmuziek, al zijn ze wat diverser dan op de vorig jaar zo geprezen soundtrack. Ook For Ever grijpt terug op oude bluegrass en country en op stokoude folk uit de Appalachen, maar Eriksson en Delcroix zijn ook niet vies van wat moderner klinkende alt-country en verrassen bovendien zo nu en dan met verrassende uitstapjes buiten de gebaande rootspaden (bijvoorbeeld met subtiel ingezette elektronica). For Ever is in muzikaal opzicht een opvallende plaat. Er wordt hoorbaar ontspannen gemusiceerd, maar het veelkleurige klankentapijt op de plaat is van hoog niveau en met name het snarenwerk (luister vooral naar de pedal steel en de banjo) zet je keer op keer op het puntje van je stoel. Ook in vocaal opzicht leveren Bjorn Eriksson en Nathalie Delcroix een uitstekende prestatie en dit geldt zowel voor de lead vocalen (waarvoor de twee elkaar afwisselen) als voor de momenten waarop de stemmen van de twee bijna perfect samen smelten. Vanwege de liefde voor country kom je zeker op deze momenten al snel uit bij legendarische duo’s als Nancy Sinatra en Lee Hazlewood of natuurlijk Emmylou Harris en Gram Parsons, maar meer dan vele anderen die zich hebben laten inspireren door een van deze illustere tweetallen, geven Bjorn Eriksson en Nathalie Delcroix een eigenzinnige eigen draai aan de invloeden van weleer en raakt het tweetal ook aan de prachtplaten van Gillian Welch. For Ever bevat een aantal eigen songs en een aantal covers, die in kwalitatief opzicht niet voor elkaar onder doen. In een aantal songs ontbreken de vocalen, maar waar dit meestal opvullertjes zijn, dragen ze op For Ever bij aan de dynamiek op de plaat. For Ever is overigens geen vrolijke plaat. De meeste songs zijn donker gekleurd en een deel van de teksten is zelfs gitzwart, wat de plaat een bijzondere sfeer geeft, zeker wanneer in de muziek de zin door breekt. De concurrentie in het rootssegment is momenteel moordend, maar platen van het niveau van For Ever van Eriksson Delcroix zijn zeldzaam. For Ever is gemaakt met liefde voor Amerikaanse rootsmuziek, maar laat zich niet in het keurslijf van de genres dwingen. Dat is knap. We kunnen als Nederlanders natuurlijk stikjaloers zijn op deze Belgische prachtplaat, maar we kunnen de plaat ook omarmen zoals bij onze Zuiderburen momenteel gebeurt. En terecht.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt hier naar 'Walking' luisteren.

donderdag 29 mei 2014

I don't understand them at all. Traumahelikopter

Wow! I could suffice with just that word, were it not that I am supposed to write more, as a person who chose to review I don't understand at all. Traumahelikopter has made a giant step forward with its new and second album. Melodically it is ways ahead of debut album 'Traumahelikopter'. The band sawed off the hardest edges of its sound and came up with a garage rock album that is simply irresistible. From the very first listen I was totally sold.

Traumahelikopter featured thrice before on the blog. Previously I wrote about 'Traumahelikopter' and saw the band play a blistering live show at Waterpop in Wateringen in the previous summer and there was the covert mention with a link to 'DWDD' showing the effect of Traumahelikopter's music on former politician Gerdi Verbeet. All in 2013 and already there is a new album. An album that ought to open up many an avenue for Traumahelikopter here in The Netherlands and far beyond, avenues as wide as the Champs Elysée.

Traumahelikopter is a trio playing in a non-traditional trio setting. Daan van Dalen and Mark Lada on guitar and vocals and Roel van Merlot on drums. Not just a bass is missing, also the bass drum. That makes the sound of Traumahelikopter different from most other bands as you will find. The surprise to me and especially live, is that I do not miss these instruments for one bit.

I don't understand them at all kicks off as poppy as unexpected. 'Alone' is a pop song, with a sweet beginning, a sweet vocal and a gravelly sounding guitar that kicks in during the choruses. And then there are layers of overdubs of guitars in the instrumental part, that are feedbacking, distorted, flanged and what else only God knows. This way 'Alone' slowly turns into a garagerock song with an enormous hit potential, in another dimension. Song 2, yes, this is intended, called 'Kids' kicks ass. The band is injected with a chilli pepper or two and drives the song into a murderously high tempo and a fiery guitar solo or two. Iggy & the Stooges' 'Raw power' comes very much to mind here. An extremely punky rock song. 'Last night I dreamed I killed myself' is the third killer song Traumahelikopter presents its listeners with. By that time I start noticing that the way of drumming is very much alike rockabilly, bands like The Straycats. The sound is very similar and recognisable. The song ends with loud buzzing from an amp.

This high level is not kept up during the whole album. That would have made it the perfect garage rock album. So let us focus on the next total gem. 'Every time I close my eyes' is a surf rocker with an up beat melody over a down beat subject. The dark guitar sound with loads of reverb dominates this song, but also has a very punky country solo as well. The end seems a nod to Australian rockers The Living End's 'Prisoner of society'.

The tempo on I don't understand them at all is relentless. 'Always being followed' flies out off the corner, it's so fast. This is a pure punk rock song. Nothing more nor less. 'These days' takes the foot off the pedal finally. In this 60s pop rocker a piano is introduced to the sound. Adding something special to the whole. The song is in English, but has a very big reference to über hippie Armand. His 'Ben ik te min' shines through in the way of singing in one part of 'These days', before the song takes a small The Beatles turn to return to the rock part. Another band that Traumahelikopter's members must have heard at their grandparents' birthday parties is The Outsiders. The same snotty attitude and the ''Monkey on their back". The monkey here is mostly about getting away from something or someone. Being in a spot and/or situation the singer does not want to be. One thing is for sure, Traumahelikopter may sing it's a loser and a fuck up, evidence shows that they are very wrong.

Lets take the intro to 'I don't want to spend the rest of my time with you'. By that time I've sort of melted. Were it not for the fierce pounding behind it, I could have been in the early 60s listening to a Phil Spector intro with three girls waiting to start singing any moment. No, this is really Traumahelikopter expending it's musical references by seven mile boot steps at a time. 'No hope' is a song that is different from the others and still totally works. The full out punk and anger of 'Shithole in C' is another highlight. Have you counted along here?

I don't know what is in the water in Groningen, but it must be something like loads of melodies, 60s pop and rock, a snuff of The Straycats and a few drops of good old punk(rock). It wasn't me, I promise. The fun thing is, that Traumahelikopter has surprised me and not a little. I don't understand them at all is, as I already wrote, not the perfect album, but a leap forward any band should and would wish to make within a year's time from its debut album. Traumahelikopter is another Dutch band that came up with a nothing but a fantastic album. The list is getting rather long this year.

After the bluesy and slower 'Wandering around', that has a The White Stripes reference, there's only one thing to it. Put 'Alone' on again, but not before we heard 'Wandering around' explode to a Traumahelikopter measure for size. XXL.

Wo.

You can listen to 'Alone' here.

woensdag 28 mei 2014

Suspended (EP). Catie King

Recently I reviewed James Thrasher's excellent EP 'Life of seas' that I found on Noisetrade and promised to pay some more attention to music I found on the website. This new instalment is on the EP called Suspended by Catie King. Another set of music that is very much worthwhile to check out. Catie King presents her six song collection with a lot of confidence. Ranging from fierce U.S. kind of rockers, to contemplative singer-songwriter, King gets away with it all.

Catie King is a musician from Raleigh in North Carolina who wears 'her heart on a sleeve" as she writes herself. She debuted with 'Catch and release' in 2010, followed by Suspended in 2013. On Suspended the music is straightforward. Catie King gives you what you hear. No surprises, rock that sometimes creeps toward boy pop bands, but leaves that thin line just in time. This kind of rock goes back for over 30 years in the U.S. and sounds very familiar. It's Catie King's voice that I particularly like in the songs. It's like Alanah Miles in 'Black velvet' or Pat Benatar in 'Love is a battlefield'. A wall of guitar sound with strong rhythmic support or the laid back rock of Bruce Hornsby. It can all be found on Suspended.

Where things get surprising is in the third song. 'Come what may' is a slow singer-songwriter, contemplative song that shows that Catie King is more than a rock chick with an 80s inclination. Leonard Cohen like guitar picking is coupled to a song of love and dedication. The song changes into a rock ballad later on. This only makes the impact higher. 'Come what may' is a beautiful song. 'One day at a time' goes even a bit deeper, with some country overtones and all.

Suspended starts with a muted acoustic guitar. 'Lay you down' is the correct song to open Suspended as it is the hybrid between what is on offer. There are clear rock sounds, but the tempo is low and leaves enough room for beautiful interplay between the lead guitar and keyboards, with over that Catie King's voice. A voice that is deep for a woman, with volume and depth that can be combined with passion and subtle emotions. A winner in other words.

The rock winner is the title song. 'Suspended' has it all. Great melody, great lead guitar, great vocals and a warm organ, pumping rhythm section. The sort of song we hear on the radio. So how does Catie King get herself on the radio?

Suspended is not my favourite EP from Noisetrade so far. That honour stays with Morgan Mecaskey's 'Righteous kind', but it settles quite nicely behind this EP. Another gem from Noisetrade in other words is let loose on the world.

Wo.

You can listen to and download Suspended here:

http://noisetrade.com/catiekingmusic/suspended-ep

dinsdag 27 mei 2014

Haul away! Liz Green

O, Devotion! van de Britse singer-songwriter Liz Green was drie jaar geleden een hele bijzondere plaat. Op haar debuut verenigde Liz Green stokoude muziek uit de Amerikaanse Appalachen met al even antieke muziek uit de Amerikaanse en Europese nachtclubs uit de jaren 30 van de vorige eeuw. Liz Green deed hierbij niet haar best om de muziek uit vervlogen tijden nauwgezet te reproduceren, maar vermengde alle invloeden tot een bijzonder eigen geluid, dat vervolgens uniek werd door haar bijzondere, soms wat onvaste, maar altijd bijzonder emotievolle stem. O, Devotion! was zo’n debuut waar je helemaal stuk van was of waar je niets van moest hebben en dat geldt waarschijnlijk ook voor opvolger Haul Away!. De cover van Haul Away! ziet er, zeker vergeleken met de cover van het debuut van Liz Green, opvallend modern uit, maar in muzikaal opzicht is er eigenlijk niet zo gek veel veranderd, waardoor de frisse en kleurige cover eigenlijk niet zo goed past bij de muziek. Liz Green maakt nog altijd muziek die is verankerd in het verre verleden en zingt nog altijd op unieke wijze. Haul Away! laat goed horen dat Liz Green dit keer een iets ruimer budget had voor het opnemen van haar plaat. De tweede van Liz Green klinkt een stuk beter dan zijn voorganger, maar dit is gelukkig niet ten koste gegaan van de rauwe emotie waar de muziek van Liz Green het voor een belangrijk deel van moet hebben. De instrumentatie op Haul Away! is uiterst subtiel en bijzonder stemmig. Liz Green heeft soms genoeg aan een pingelende piano en vormt vervolgens met haar stem warmte en emotie toe. In muzikaal opzicht hebben invloeden uit antieke nachtclub jazz aan terrein gewonnen en dit bevalt me eigenlijk wel. Mede door de prachtige instrumentatie (met een volop op de voorgrond tredende piano en prachtig subtiele blazers) voelt Haul Away! aan als een warm bad. Waar Liz Green op haar debuut nog wel wat kil kon klinken is Haul Away! een heerlijk warmbloedige plaat vol gloedvolle songs. De instrumentatie op Haul Away! is veel mooier dan die op zijn voorganger, maar Liz Green is ook beter gaan zingen, waarbij ze haar unieke geluid gelukkig heeft behouden. Haul Away! laat bovendien veel betere songs horen dan O, Devotion!. Bij beluistering van alle elf songs op de tweede plaat van Liz Green zit je op het puntje van je stoel en vraag je je steeds weer af welke kant het op zal gaan. Liz Green maakt nog altijd muziek waar je heel warm van wordt of die je helemaal koud laat. Persoonlijk behoor ik inmiddels heel duidelijk tot het eerste kamp. Liz Green verraste drie jaar geleden met een mooi en bijzonder debuut, maar schaart zich met deze tweede plaat tussen de weinige vrouwelijke singer-songwriters met een volkomen uniek eigen geluid. Dat is knap. Heel knap zelfs.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt hier luisteren naar 'Where the river don't flow'.

maandag 26 mei 2014

Eagulls. Eagulls

And now for a nice portion of noise. I'm not planning to spend a lot of words on the debut album by this band from Leeds in the UK. Because it's not necessary. Mark Goldsworthy (guitar), Henry Ruddel (drums), Liam Matthews (guitar), Tom Kelly (bass), and George Mitchell (vocals) together lay down a great rock foundation, that we can call post-punk, as in 1979 or just rock. Mitchell's singing has that sneer in it that goes with the doom period, mixed straight down the middle midst of everything going on around him. Eagulls more or less copies the sound of the days when the heavens were about to fall down on us and when I started to lose my interest in new bands. All were just so glum, with no ray of light left anywhere or went into the synthesizer pop realm, enough for me to lose interest nearly totally. It wasn't until Nirvana that I was revived musically.

Eagulls may sound like the Echo & the Bunnymens of this world, there is a main difference. Eagulls have taken something else into account also: a song takes a melody to succeed. This is exactly what the band delivers on Eagulls. Great guitar riffs and melodies over fiercely pounding drums, bass and rhythm guitar. The lead guitar and the voice both know what an interesting melody sounds like and deliver. Something a lot of post punk late 70s, early 80s bands forgot all about.

In this vain Eagulls pounds away for 10 songs straight. The quality is nearly one straight line from 1 to 10. I think this about says it all. Fans of punk, rock, The Jam, Oasis with an extra pepper added and even The Velvet Underground, all ought to know enough by now. Eagulls produced a great and fun debut album.

Wo.

you can listen to 'Tough luck' here.

zondag 25 mei 2014

The soul of all natural things. Linda Perhacs

And now for something completely different, to quote the catch phrase of some up start British comedians in the late 60s, that will be doing something the completely the same quite soon in London. The quote is appropriate as Linda Perhacs released her previous, and only, album till now in the heyday of Monty Python's Flying Circus and in 2014 has come up with a new album. It is also appropriate as I do not often review albums that come from a new age sort of musical background. Still I am writing right now, so something must be good.

Listening to the album I would have given Linda Perhacs an English background, but I found out she is from the U.S. The pastoral atmosphere had me completely fooled. A soundtrack to France's queen Marie Antoinette playing the little shepherdess with her courtesans in the back garden of Versailles The soul of all natural things could have been. Instead  The soul of all natural things is a new release on the Asthematic Kitty Records label of which some releases have featured before on this blog.

Linda Perhacs released her first, and as said, only, album in 1970. It was called 'Parallelograms' in 1970. According to Wikipedia it has to be put into the corner of the psychedelic folk. I haven't heard the album yet, but will before I publish this post. The album was hardly noticed in 1970, but gained fame under collectors and was re-released twice in the 00s. In the second half of the previous decade this led to Perhacs singing on a few songs of modern psychfolk acts like Devandra Banhardt. This information makes the release of a new album not so strange as it may at first look. Also the fact that another collector's favorite Vashti Bunyan traveled the same route before can be taken into account. The album was recorded in 2012 and 2013 under two producers, Fernando Perdomo and Chris Price.

All this does not say anything about the quality of The soul of all natural things, although some hints have been given. The album has nothing to do with the whole psychedelic movement active today. Linda Perhacs has been given the chance to shine in an environment that is a temple of unhasting. The comment I made on new age is not so far beside the point. Putting on The soul of all natural things allows for several moments of total relaxation. It may even be possible to meditate on most songs. 'Prisms of glass' is this intricate song of languorous sounds and Perhacs' voice that intertwines with itself singing different lines through and around themselves, with Gregorian like chants behind them, creating an intricate game of lyrics and singing. The mood comes close to what Enya did in the 80s on a song like 'Orinoco flow'.

Other songs come a little closer to Suzanne Vega. 'Immunity' e.g. is more rhythm based and one of the wilder songs on The soul of all natural things. Wilder only by comparison that is. Strangely enough in some songs I hear the influence of Steely Dan as well. A completely stripped down version of Steely Dan, but the influence is there in the way a song like 'Daybreak' is approached. Jazzy and meticulously played and arranged, but with a minimum of effects. Most of the album is produced in a way that makes the music sound full with a minimum of instruments. Chanting voices and atmospheric sounds are broadly allocated in the mix, with notes of an acoustic guitar and some voices come into the foreground. 'Freely'  is another winner on this album. A song in which everything seems to fall into its right place.

For those who want to give the album a chance, the opening and title track is all you have to try. If this speaks to you it is worthwhile to proceed. If it doesn't there is hardly any need to listen to other songs. 'The soul of all natural things' is a beautiful track that tells all about what is coming next. It has several elements of Enya Celtic folk, new age instrumentation and a pastoral quietness that has all but disappeared in modern society. The soothing voice of Linda Perhacs, that despite that she must be 60 something, has something of a young woman in it. The sort of song to close my eyes on and dream away. That is the effect The soul of all natural things has on me. Not an album for all moments, but certainly the album for that sort of moments. Linda Perhacs has produced an album that is more than welcome at those moments.

Also beware. Someone decided that we need preaching to also towards the end of the album. By that time I'm in the forgiving mood. What needs to be heard, needs to be heard in the final minutes.

Wo.

You can listen to 'The soul of all natural things' here.

zaterdag 24 mei 2014

The cautionary tales of Mark Oliver Everett. Eels

The man with the wild hair, wild beard and glasses that may have been his grandfather's is back with a new album. An album that everyone before me has said to be totally dark. Well, there is not a lot to laugh on The cautionary tales. That is for sure. Another something I noticed is that E is starting to become the Louis Armstrong of our day. His voice gets more gravelly by the album. Now I know from a first hand recollection that Armstrong could hardly talk beyond a whisper circa 1957. I don't think that is the case for a man called E.

The cautionary tales is a good album. That is the first statement to make, I think. Having listened to the album several times, it is easy to say so. The cautionary tales is in nothing like last year's 'Wonderful glorious', which was a much more exuberant album, with several good old rocking songs on it. All that exuberance has been thrown out of the studio for The cautionary tales. Most songs are stripped down to the bare minimum. Now there are a lot of violins on the album. That seems to contradict my stripping down statement, but doesn't if there isn't a lot more than a violin or some violins and concert bells or a xylophone or whatever it's called accompanying an acoustic guitar. There can also be a chamber orchestra setting. E sings over a nearly empty and very softly toned background. Sings about things that have gone wrong is his life or choices that preferably could/should have been made differently.

Thematically there's nothing new as this is not Eels' first bleak album. For some people the world is just blacker than others and we all have to try and get to the other side as good and well as possible.The cautionary tales actually starts of with a piece of instrumental chamber music, that oddly enough reminds me of a Kaizers Orchestra song, 'Mr. Kaizer, Hans Constanse og meg'. The mood set by 'Where I'm at', is simply continued throughout the whole album. E starts the album with "Woke up lost, in a world I didn't know". Still dreaming, an unknown bed or room or worse: total estrangement from life? Need I say more on the mood?

It is by listening more carefully that I noticed that not all is black here. There definitely are rays of light. The mandolin in 'Parallels' gives the song some lightness. Like the singing of E in 'Lockdown hurricane''. The song may be sung with resignation, but also with compassion and care. Something which is reflected in the warm sound of the electric piano, the cello and the chord changes. And someone who who is able to come up with such a level of warmth in his feelings and emotions is not totally despondent and focussed only on himself. These elements make 'Lockdown hurricane' a beautiful and warm song as well as a tremendous asset to The cautionary tales. Perhaps a strange thought, but I'm really wondering what this song would have sounded like in a version by Frank Sinatra. Not that I'm a particular fan, but a song like 'It was a very good year' comes to mind here.

Eels keeps up this level of songs easily. 'A swallow in the sun' is of such delicate beauty (the abrupt ending is the only minor point here). 'Series of misunderstandings' is another song that was stripped to the bone. A double tracked voice, concert bells and loads of atmosphere. It is at this point that I start to realise that The cautionary tale is not just any Eels album, but a very good one. My favourites so far were 'Beautiful freak', okay, okay, who doesn't?, and 'Wonderful, glorious'. The first and the next to last. The cautionary tale is settling itself between these two and the question is going to be where it will wind up.

So putting everything in perspective after listening to Eels' latest effort often and intensely, there's only one conclusion possible. Eels has come up with one of its best albums to date, with the potential to be my favourite Eels album. To my ears The cautionary tales of Mark Oliver Everett reaches down to a level that Eels had not reached before. Something called beauty, which wasn't there in his work in my opinion. A lot of other things, but not beauty.

Wo.

You can listen to 'Agatha Chang' here.

vrijdag 23 mei 2014

Someday, the moon will be gold. Kalle Mattson

Voor minder bekend of zelfs miskend talent in het rootssegment reizen we deze week af naar het hoge noorden. Kalle Wainio is afkomstig uit het Canadese Sault Ste. Marie, maar opereert al een aantal jaren vanuit Ottawa. Vanuit de Canadese hoofdstad maakt hij al een aantal jaren platen onder de naam Kalle Mattson, maar deze zijn me eerlijk gezegd allemaal ontgaan. Zijn laatste plaat, Someday, The Moon Will Be Gold is me zeker niet ontgaan. Nadat ik hooguit een minuut van de plaat had gehoord, wist ik dat dit zo’n zeldzame plaat is waarvoor een BLOG als de krenten uit de pop/WoNo Magazine bestaat. Someday, The Moon Will Be Gold opent groots en meeslepend en klinkt alsof Springsteen en zijn E-Street band de Mariachi trompetten van Calexico hebben ingehuurd. An American Dream is zo’n song waar je onmiddellijk verliefd op wordt, maar Kalle Mattson weet ook direct te verrassen door moeiteloos te schakelen tussen bombast en intimiteit en overtuigt bovendien met een stem die in het begin op van alles, maar uiteindelijk op niets lijkt. Na zo’n geweldige openingstrack kan de rest van de plaat eigenlijk alleen maar tegenvallen, maar dit gaat niet op voor Someday, The Moon Will Be Gold. Na de grootse opener keert Kalle Mattson terug met een uiterst ingetogen folksong die imponeert, ruimschoots voordat de fraaie gitaarlijnen en de intense zang gezelschap krijgen van blazers (trompet en de fameuze flügelhorn) en andere instrumenten. Ook in de tracks die volgen combineert Kalle Mattson ingetogen songs met een fascinerende en vrijwel zonder uitzondering wonderschone instrumentatie. Hierin kunnen de opvallende blazers een hoofdrol opeisen, maar Someday, The Moon Will Be Gold valt ook op door bijna hypnotiserend drumwerk (dat doet denken aan de platen en producties van Daniel Lanois) en door bijzonder fraai gitaarwerk dat varieert van sober en ingetogen tot vol en uitbundig. Door de hele bijzondere instrumentatie en het gemak waarmee Kalle Mattson schakelt tussen genres, is Someday, The Moon Will Be Gold geen typische rootsplaat. In een aantal tracks doet de muziek van de Canadees nadrukkelijk denken aan een band als Beirut, maar Kalle Mattson is ook niet vies van pure powerpop of stevige rock en schuurt vanwege de dynamiek en de experimenten ook tegen een band als Wilco aan, terwijl de songs waarin de wolkeloze blauwe lucht domineert juist weer wat hebben van Fleet Foxes. Someday, The Moon Will Be Gold volgt op het overlijden van de moeder van Kalle Mattson, waardoor de plaat een melancholische ondertoon heeft. Desondanks word ik iedere keer weer heel vrolijk van een plaat die eigenlijk alleen maar beter wordt. Het blijft tot dusver redelijk stil rond Kalle Mattson, maar een ieder die naar Someday, The Moon Will Be Gold luistert, kan alleen maar concluderen dat we hier te maken hebben met een groot talent en een plaat van een bijna zeldzame kwaliteit en schoonheid.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt hier naar 'A love song to the city' luisteren

donderdag 22 mei 2014

Underneath the rainbows. Black Lips

If there ever was a storm called Black Lips, it has died and petered out to a friendly indie/garagy gust of wind that is refreshing and delicious to stand in. The guy standing in front is still trying to look mean, but the rest is your run of the mill neighbour wearing a leather jacket on his Saturday night out. The red glow reminds me of a The Romantics cover from long ago, but that cover was clearly a lot cleaner than this one. I faintly remember a previous album of Black Lips, 'Arabia mountain', which was a lot louder and more exuberant.

Black Lips is around for a while. Formed in 1999 in Atlanta, Georgia the band started its output with two singles in 2002, on the interestingly called record label Die Slaughterhaus. It's first album was released in 2003 and called like the band itself. Cole Alexander (vocals, guitar), Jared Swilley (vocals, bass) and Joe Bradley (vocals, drums) are around since day one, Ian Saint Pé (lead guitar) joined in 2004, after the original guitarist died in 2002 and his shorter term replacements had left the band.

Black Lips is a band that plays around with American music between 1956 and 1977. Listening to some of the songs it is clear that they could have been sung by The Shangri-Lahs or The Ronettes. With that comes the poppy side of punk in the form of Blondie and the attitude of The Velvet Underground and The Stooges. This all leads to very melodic songs that have these rough edges that disqualifies them instantly as hits, but qualifies them instantly as faves for the alternative rock scene. At least, that is the effect Underneath the rainbows has with me.

Underneath the rainbows is a lot darker than 'Arabia mountain'. That album has a poppier feel and a lighter 60s pop/rock/garage sound. Black Lips certainly has come up with a darker sounding album. With a darker form of psychedelia added to the mix, that reminds me of The Black Angels, without the trippy parts. If The Black Angels is on LSD, Black Lips is on heroin, where they were on laughing gas in 2011. The moods are totally different between the two bands. All sweetness is discarded. Even the 'Come out and play' reference to The Offspring gets a kick in the guts, as does the 'Teenage kicks'/'One way or another' chord progression in the song 'Dorner party'. After the "whoa" scream even Dave Davies gets a nod in the guitar solo.

The video to 'Boys in the wood' has everything in it to have it banned from any tv station in the U.S. and many other countries, but at the same time shouldn't be shocking any more either. But it's dark and shows many downsides to life, no matter how tongue in cheek it may have been made.

'Drive by buddy' opens Underneath the rainbows. It is a rocking song, with rockabilly undertones, that is as retro as retro comes where rock and roll is concerned. In that way Black Lips is a very straightforward band. Nothing excitingly new happening. Some punky elements are added in the way of singing, but when we really get down to it, we are talking about a loud form of country music here. This basis is there always at the heart of Underneath the rainbows.

Things change when we contemplate the attitude with which the music on this album is played. The snotty noses, cuts and bruises and dirty fingernails. Some snarls and an I-Don't-care-what-my-parents-think look on Black Lips' members' faces. Of course these guys may be parents themselves by now, so all this doesn't add up any more really.

This is the time to stop rationalising, because Black Lips has produced an album that for the most part is great fun to listen to. The punky garage rock is of the right sort, varied enough to keep grabbing my attention. Most songs are short statements with influences from Johnny Cash's first songs to The Undertones, from Toy Dolls to Ghetto Ways, even The Joe Jackson Band references can be found. It's all here. Where 'Boys in the wood' really stands out, because of the bluesy rhythm underneath this loud garage rock song with a great chorus.

The sound is dense also. Tightly packed where not a lot is allowed to escape from. Mean sounding guitars play the lead role on Underneath the rainbows, with some short, rapidly fired solo notes taking the front stage every once in a while. In the meantime watch out for that dirty little organ in the background. This certainly is a party element worth mentioning as long as you are on the look out for it. Surf sounds are not missing either. Lovers of some dirty rock and roll ought to know enough by now.

Black Lips has produced a fun album, that may not be in line with the age of its members, but who cares? The quality is what it should be and that is enough.

Wo.

You can listen to 'Boys in the wood' here. (A video that comes with a You Tube warning. Never seen such a warning pop up before, so go for it!)

woensdag 21 mei 2014

Roxy by proxy. Frank Zappa & the Mothers

In 1979 I bought my first Frank Zappa album. Basically because of a fantastic cover: 'Sheik yerbouti'. An album with such a great cover, just had to be a great album. I didn't listen beyond 'I have been in you' and decided to take it home. From there I started buying backwards (mind, Zappa's first albums were not available until the introduction of the cd). One of that albums was a double LP called 'Roxy & elsewhere'. A live album released in 1974. There are some great songs on it, but it was not my favorite. So you can imagine that I was not overly enthusiastic when I read that there was an album out called Roxy by proxy. Same band, same time, same venue? Of course being a, nowadays somewhat dormant, Zappa fan, I did take a listen. And, boy, was I in for a surprise.

Frank Zappa passed away over 20 years ago. The Zappa estate is releasing albums at nearly such a strict pace as Zappa himself did when alive. Endlessly rehashing songs or releasing live shows from one period or another. Roxy by proxy is another one in that long list. Basically it was the last Zappa band that had the name The Mothers, with George Duke on keyboards and vocals and the fantastic Ruth Underwood on percussion, later Genisis tour drummer Chester Thomson on drums, next to Ralph Humphries. Yes, that's two drummers and a percussionist. Horns and woodwinds. A medium big band that is.

After a long introduction the first surprise is let loose on an unsuspecting audience. A totally jazzy, relaxed version of 'Inca roads'. George Duke takes his time, the band does too. The guitar solo is not there, nor is the weird, out there ending. This is, I think, the main difference with the original album release and with most Zappa shows I've seen, the mood is so relaxed on this recording. Zappa holds the reigns, but not too tightly and lets the band enjoy itself. The same goes for the bluesy 'Penguin in bondage'. This version is just this little more loose and relaxed. For the intro and most of 'Inca roads' it's like a jazz club orchestra is playing music in the late, late or should I say early?, hours. Totally at ease and jamming for itself and no one else. Even the strict typical Zappa eruptions are loser. The electric piano solo of George Duke is excellent, just like the trombone solo of Bruce Fowler.

Looking into the recording sessions, I found out that both albums were recorded in Los Angeles. The first, original one has songs on it from 8, 9 and 10 December 1973 (with overdubs and some songs from later on in 1974), the second, new, one has only recordings from 9 and 10 December. Is it possible that there is so much difference between evenings or even songs? It hardly seems credible. How many overdubs were put into the first Roxy? Does that have anything to do with it?

At the same time, Zappa has the band under a tight control. Complex arrangements are executed flawlessly, with several and very different instruments playing the exact same notes. Especially Ruth Underwood plays as if she has three brains or something. Not to forget as many hands as a Hindu goddess. Another thing I noticed while listening, is that many songs have elements in the instrumental parts that wound up in the album version of 'Inca roads' in 1975 on the album 'One size fits all'. ('Inca roads, for non-fans, was not on 'Roxy & elsewhere'.) Looked at superficially, too many songs of Zappa from the period sound like this, but on the other hand this is so good and so well played. What attracts me is that melodically most songs are alright and not just more or less complex rhythmic exercises. Even the guitar solos are good. Hear Zappa go off on 'RDNZL'. Way to go, Frank!

The different sides to Zappa come out on Roxy by proxy quite well. The cabaret/stand up comedian side of Zappa in some of the intros and the song 'Pinguin in bondage', as well as the avant garde/free jazz composer and director. The blues lover comes out every once in while. And finally of course Zappa the guitarist. The man who just loves playing endless solos. The good thing about Roxy by proxy is that everything seems to be in balance. Someone who was present at these shows, now over fourty years ago, must have had a great night.

Something to admire is that no matter how complex the music is, the musicians all play by heart. All the individual runs of notes. Improvising or playing note by note what Zappa composed? Who knows? All players have a great memory for music and have the ability to play under duress. Perhaps it is an explanation why most musicians left Zappa's band after a few years. Too demanding? Who knows, it's imaginable though.

What is good to realise, is that also Roxy by proxy is a construct of music played over two nights. Looking at the video below made me realise that nothing played there is on here, nor on the first Roxy. Both are constructed from the different songs and probably even versions available. This mix however is great and totally works for me. Food for Zappa fans Roxy by proxy certainly is.

Wo.

You can watch a video from the shows here.


dinsdag 20 mei 2014

The wild, the wilderness. Rina Mushonga

Er zijn tijden geweest dat je er bijna over struikelde, maar op de één of andere manier zijn ze op het moment heel schaars. Dat is gek, want is de lente niet het ultieme seizoen voor platen van meisjes met een gitaar? Ik krijg er de laatste weken als groot liefhebber bijna ontwenningsverschijnselen van, maar gelukkig duikt er opeens weer één op. En wat voor één. Met het predicaat ‘meisje met gitaar’ doe je Rina Mushonga overigens flink te kort. De momenteel vanuit Nederland opererende singer-songwriter met Nederlandse en Zimbabwaanse wortels (die overigens opgroeide in India, Zimbabwe en Londen), doet op haar debuut The Wild, The Wilderness veel meer dan het gemiddelde meisje met gitaar. Natuurlijk heeft ook Rina Mushonga haar voorbeelden. Dat zijn wat mij betreft met name Tracy Chapman, Joan Armatrading en Christine McVie (Fleetwood Mac). Met Tracy Chapman en Joan Armatrading deelt Rina Mushonga de ruwe emotie in haar songs en net als Christine McVie is Rina Mushonga in staat om popsongs te schrijven en te vertolken die na één keer horen memorabel zijn en je ook nog eens stevig bij de strot grijpen vanwege alle onderhuidse spanning en emotie. Rina Mushonga is echter om meerdere redenen geen doorsnee meisje met gitaar. The Wild, The Wilderness heeft een verrassend vol, meer band georiënteerd, geluid en het is een geluid dat makkelijk buiten de vaste kaders van de Amerikaanse singer-songwriter muziek treedt. Rina Mushonga vindt haar voorbeelden misschien vooral in de Verenigde Staten, maar ze is haar Afrikaanse wortels zeker niet vergeten en voegt op speelse en tegelijkertijd ook subtiele wijze Afrikaanse invloeden toe aan haar muziek. Rina Mushonga is bovendien een stuk getalenteerder dan het gemiddelde meisjes met gitaar. Haar gitaarspel heeft een bijzondere klank en dynamiek en klinkt heerlijk vol, terwijl haar stem meerdere kanten op kan. De songs van Rina Mushonga doen soms wel wat denken aan die van Tracy Chapman, maar haar stem heeft een aanmerkelijk groter bereik, waardoor Rina Mushonga ook kan opschuiven in de richting van de zoetgevooisde klanken van Christine McVie. Over Christine McVie gesproken: een aantal songs op The Wild, The Wilderness had met een beetje fantasie op Rumours, of beter nog Tusk, kunnen staan, maar hebben op hetzelfde moment een uniek eigen geluid. Ondanks mijn voorliefde voor meisjes met een gitaar, moet ik in alle eerlijkheid concluderen dat het gros ervan keurig binnen de lijntjes kleurt. Rina Mushonga doet dat zeker niet. Ze gebruikt andere kleuren dan de meest van haar collega’s en lijntjes zijn er om flink doorheen te kleuren. Het maakt van The Wild, The Wilderness een spannende en sprankelende plaat. Het is een plaat die de zomer laat beginnen in maart, maar het is ook een plaat die veel meer biedt dan zonnestralen. De songs van Rina Mushonga zitten bijzonder knap in elkaar en vertellen ook nog eens verhalen die er toe doen. Al met al kan ik The Wild, The Wilderness alleen maar binnenhalen als een sensationeel goed debuut. Dat het een debuut van eigen bodem is geeft de plaat nog veel meer glans, al moet ik ook concluderen dat Nederland veel te klein is voor een muzikant van het kaliber van Rina Mushonga.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt hier naar 'Eastern highlands' luisteren

maandag 19 mei 2014

Supernova. Ray LaMontagne

Je zou maar een debuut als Trouble maken. Ray LaMontagne hikt er inmiddels een jaar of tien tegenaan en voert keer op keer een ongelijke strijd. Till The Sun Turns Black uit 2006 en Gossip Grain uit 2008 waren objectief beschouwd prima platen, die absoluut nieuwe wegen in probeerden te slaan, maar aan de vergelijking met het tot een klassieker uitgegroeide debuut ontsnapten ze met geen mogelijkheid. Objectief bekeken waren de tweede en derde plaat van Ray LaMontagne misschien zelfs wel beter dan Trouble, maar tegen de magie van het debuut konden ze niet op. Vier jaar geleden gooide Ray LaMontagne het over een andere boeg. Voor het eerst werkte hij zonder topproducer Ethan Johns en koos hij samen met zijn band The Pariah Dogs voor een rauwer geluid op God Willin’ & The Creek Don’t Rise. Wederom een prima plaat (die zelfs een Grammy in de wacht wist te slepen), al vond ik dit keer Trouble echt een klasse beter. Na een pauze van vier jaar keert Ray LaMontagne terug met Supernova. De plaat werd geproduceerd door Black Keys voorman Dan Auerbach, die Ray LaMontagne heeft voorzien van een wat lastig te plaatsen geluid. Het is een geluid dat wat meer mainstream lijkt dan de muziek die we van Ray LaMontagne gewend zijn, maar Ray LaMontagne is niet opeens een popzanger geworden. Supernova klinkt vooral een stuk psychedelischer dan zijn voorgangers. In de openingstrack zweef je zo mee terug naar de jaren 60 en dat is een periode waarin Supernova lange tijd blijft hangen. Ik vond het in eerste instantie een verrassende keuze, want in de zweverige en bij vlagen behoorlijk galmende productie van Dan Auerbach is de stem van Ray LaMontagne een stuk minder imposant dan op zijn vorige platen. Supernova klinkt meer dan eens als een psychedelische plaat van The Kinks of als een vergeten plaat van The Zombies en dat verwacht je niet van een rootsmuzikant als Ray LaMontagne. Hetzelfde geldt voor een aantal van de aanstekelijke popliedjes op de plaat, die zo lijken weggelopen uit een top 40 uit de jaren 70 en maar moeilijk zijn te relateren aan Ray LaMontagne. Na een paar keer horen vond ik Supernova een leuke plaat, maar baalde ik er eigenlijk van dat Ray LaMontagne hem heeft gemaakt. Van Ray LaMontagne verwacht ik immers rootsy popmuziek met zang die uit de tenen komt en overloopt van emotie en melancholie. Een beangstigende ervaring, want sinds wanneer bepaal ik wat voor muziek Ray LaMontagne moet maken. Dat bepaalt hij natuurlijk gewoon zelf en dit keer heeft hij gekozen voor een luchtigere plaat met toegankelijkere songs en een flinke dosis psychedelica. Een andere Ray LaMontagne dan we gewend zijn, maar als je daar eenmaal overheen bent is Supernova een erg lekkere plaat, zeker als de zon een beetje gaat schijnen en aan het eind toch ook nog een prachtig rootsliedje voorbij komt. Conclusie: luister vooral zelf en oordeel zeker niet te snel.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt hier naar 'Supernova' luisteren.

zondag 18 mei 2014

Vincebus eruptum. Blue Cheer

In the past months we have started a series of reviews on albums from 1968-1969. This post is a part of that series which holds the like of Spooky Tooth, Chicago, Blood, Sweat & Tears and others. Today we add Vincebus eruptum by Blue Cheer.

When I was 8 years old, I had a friend called Peter. His ten year older brother bought records and had a tape recorder. One of Jan's singles was 'Summertime blues' by Blue Cheer. This was a song so wild and so heavy that I had never heard anything like it before. Not much later I found out that the song had even made it to the number 1 spot of the Veronica Top 40 that spring. Another major feature of Blue Cheer was the length of these guys' hair. All popstars had long hair and some front running older boys in the street had, but no one else. These guys had long! hair. Past their shoulders. The music was wild beyond imagination and the band members' hair was as well. For an 8 year old a winning combination.

'Summertime blues' remains up to this very second the only song I'd ever heard by Blue Cheer, as far as I'm consciously aware. That is being changed as I'm typing this sentence and Vincebus eruptum bursts out into a blues song called 'Rock me baby'. 'Summertime blues' remains a song that I think is great. Of course a cover version of early rocker Eddie Cochran's hit single, then a circa ten year old song. 'Summertime blues' is one of those covers that totally overshadows the original, almost beyond recognition. The first heavy metal hitsingle? Certainly a song cut by a power trio outblowing the Jimi Hendrix Experience's hitsingles. It is not only the power with which this version of the old rock and roll song is played, it's more like it's chewed up, swallowed, puked and spat out at the listener. The instrumental, experimental intermezzo was sort of unheard of in 1968. Another piece of evidence that everything went on record in those days.

Blue Cheer was unfortunate(?) in having scored its first and as it turned out only, hit with a cover. Not always a good start for a career in a time when originals started to become a key factor. Let's take a look into the band first and move on to take a closer look at Vincibus eruptum next.

Blue Cheer, apparently the name of an acid sort on the streets in San Francisco in the mid-sixties, was formed in 1967 in San Francisco by singer/bassist Dickie Peterson. From the beginning band members came and went. Peterson died in 2009, which was the end of an endless line up of Blue Cheers. The list of ex-members of the band that basically was a trio is so incredibly long. There is one other person that on and off was member through the years, drummer Paul Whaley. Guitarist Leigh Stephens completes the trio on this album (and only on the next 'Outside inside').

Looking back on Vincebus eruptum by 46 years, I have the impression that the opportunity to record an album arrived too soon for Blue Cheer. The band basically seems to have been a blues cover band in the process of collecting its own songs. Vincebus eruptum holds only 6 songs, 3 of which are covers. The last song 'Second time around' is a long jam in which Leigh Stephens is allowed to blow the top off his Marshall stack, but by then it has become quite clear to me that Stephens at the time had acquired one major trick and that he had exposed us to it in 'Summertime blues' the best: The long, distorted, quivering wail of the sound of his guitar in the famous lick and solo in the song comes back in each song. The start of 'Second time around' does bring something of the excitement of 'Summertime blues' to Vincebus eruptum, before the jam starts that is. And a drum solo on a record? Yeah, that used to be cool once. Nothing in between these two songs is really worthwhile mentioning.

What is harder to imagine in 2014 is the novelty of this sound in 1968. All I have to go on is my recollection of 'Summertime blues'. That was stunning to me, for years to come, but I was only 8 at the time. Let's take a closer look at the other songs anyway.

The blues of B.B. King's 'Rock me baby' is something which I've heard being played and sung better by many an average blues band and many professional ones as well. The song also falls apart in the solo. Everything's too thin and the end noise seems to miss something as well. The right chord? Dickie Peterson's voice is too thin for this sort of blues. Part of this has to do with the production which is not as good as it probably would have been if this was Blue Cheer's second record. There is an odd guitar overdub here or there, as is Dickie Peterson's voice at times. The basis however is the guitar on one side, the drums on the other. The voice in the middle and a far too clean and too soft bass somewhere in the background. On the whole the sound of the band does not give enough support to the song. This could have been better produced. Even in 1967. (It may have been enough for the simple record players youths had in 1968 though. I ought to take that into account.)

'Doctor please' is a sort of jam. A long song about drugs, it seems. "I need a pain killer, shot inside of me, but I ain't got no money". The guitar certainly echoes all this agony, but also mimics 'Summertime blues' too much. A lot of the tricks are the same. The song isn't that good as well. Dickie Peterson's song writing skills are not that good (yet?) it seems. There is an echo of Janis Joplin's way of singing and diction. Blue Cheer's members may have seen her rise to fame, coming from San Francisco.

'Out of focus' was the b-side to 'Summertime blues' and also a Peterson original. Blue Cheer does a very nice Jimi Hendrix here and there's an echo of The Small Faces as well. There's a central riff supporting the song. The best effort, for the sung start of 'Second time around'. 'Parchment's song', a Mose Allison cover, has the same aural problems. Also here the Leigh Stephens' guitar goes off into uncharted territories, again without support. That leaves a very empty space on this record.

Summing up, it may certainly be true from an historic point of view that there has been no or hardly any records like Vincebus eruptum released in January 1968, that does not necessarily make it a great album; and it doesn't. It also does not invite me to explore the rest of Blue Cheer's catalogue. Great single, meagre album. Blue Cheer just was not a very talented band. Still, it has reached a legendary spot because of one song and what a song that is. Blue Cheer had a career of 42 years, on and off, all based on one song. Hearing the rest, it was very fortunate it had that one hit.

Wo.

You can listen to 'Summertime blues' here.

zaterdag 17 mei 2014

Life of seas (EP). James Thrasher

It's been a while since I reviewed an album that I found on Noisetrade.com, simply because I hadn't visited the website for a while. To make amends in the coming weeks there will feature some albums from artists I found there recently.

The first one is an artist who advertises himself as a lover of God. So that's a new one on this blog. I already found out that Noisetrade is a place where several religion inspired albums are released. Some are toe-bendingly bad or irritating, because the message is so obvious (and the music below average). This is different for James Thrasher. His religion does not get in the way of making some very pleasant songs. Better, some of his songs are as intricate as the cover art of this EP. All small lines of ballpoint colours creating waves, air and clouds at sunset (or dawn). The fingerpicking patterns match the detailed cover. Not so much virtuosity as an accurateness reached through hard work and dedication. The string picking on 'Sabotage' match these lines completely. From coolness to warmth, changing moods. Where the electric guitar is the darkness coming in and the acoustic guitar the (fading) light that is leaving. It is especially in 'Sabotage' that James Thrasher shows what he is capable of and the highlight of Life of seas. That is not to take anything away from the other songs. 'Sabotage' is just Thrasher's most mature song and worked out the best, although opening song 'Ocean' comes close.

When listening to the other songs you will find that several are much barer. One instrument, a voice and background voices. The communality between all is that these songs are serious songs. Even when James Thrasher sings of his love for a girl in 'Hey girl'. Even when this love is played in an upbeat Jack Johnson style. Even when love is sung in a bare folk style, in 'As one', with just a mandoline (well, two. One left, one right), it is a serious matter. As far as I'm concerned this is what I like about James Thrasher. It gives Life of seas an edge that I enjoy listening to.

James Thrasher has what I would call a mature voice. It has depth, is dark in sound, has the possibility to enrich it with a layer of emotion and still is completely natural in sound. At the same time he would not really have to outdo himself to be the singer in a grunge band. Life of seas could not be further apart from grunge though. Listening to 'The quiet' it is possible to imagine him singing to me in the room. There is no distance between his voice and the listener. The same goes for the song opening Life of seas, 'Ocean'. The song starts very subdued. During the song James Thrasher gains confidence and volume. The playful lead guitar does the rest.

Life of seas is an album about relationships. An album about love and loving someone. If this album is written with one person in mind, this person can be quite happy and proud. Life of seas may only be a six song EP, the album is mature, took me through several moods and shows that James Thrasher is a singer-songwriter with potential. Worthwhile to check out and you can.

Wo.

You can listen to and download Life of seas here http://noisetrade.com/jamesthrasher/life-of-seas-ep

vrijdag 16 mei 2014

Cooking for De Kift

Dinner with De Kift.
Late March a tweet was sent into the world. Are there fans who would like to eat with De Kift? Eating turned out to imply the cooking as well. Being fans for over 15 years, my son and I decided to sign up and we found a matching date.

De Kift is rehearsing a new show that will be premièred at the Oerol festival on the Waddenzee island Terschelling in June. Twice a week fans come in to cook for the band in its rehearsal room and offices in Koog aan de Zaan. A building that may have been a factory owner's home right opposite the factory, as was usual around 1900. The band rehearses in a large garden shed, in which it also records most of its records. Something of a sacred ground for fans, looking at it this way. We even got a glimpse of how De Kift's cd covers are assembled, as usually they are works of art in their own right. Sorry, we didn't see the new one.

De Kift head quarters
De Kift is known for its complex music. A combination of strange rhythms and rhythm changes. At the same time it finds great melodies over these rhythms. Often influenced by eastern European sounds and brass bands. Underlying this all is a DYI punk attitude. The other half is the strong stage presence of Ferry Heijne. Reciting, even declamating lyrics before often great harmonies erupt vocally and/or by the brass section of De Kift. When the music has been taken care of in the traditional sense, De Kift comes up with the extra 50%. Anything that leads to tones can be used, instruments are switched at a stiff pace. We saw complex rhythms being created with bear and wine bottles, e.g. To top this all off, there is almost always a visual aspect to the stage. A drum bicycle, de Brik. So what is next in this show? For those good at adding up. Yes, there is 200% De Kift.

A fan never knows what to expect next. The new project can be a regular song cycle album, an
opera or a stage show with lots of music. 'Bidonville' is the last option.

Matthijs studying sequences.   
While the band was rehearsing, we started cooking in the small kitchen. In the meantime a film crew arrived, that was going to film the evening as part of a project about North Holland. Other people living in the building walked in and out the garden. Parcel delivery men were let in by us. What we learned is that the band has a taste for Belgian beers and German Weizenbier. Together we had dinner, Thai chicken pineapple and got to meet the band. After dinner we watched the rehearsal of the performance to be.

If something became clear, it's that being De Kift is hard work. The switching of instruments looks tiring from just standing in the audience. Here we saw how narrow escapes are made or that an intended switch is impossible to make in the time allowed. Solutions have to be found, pieces of music changed to make it work. Knowing exactly when to put down a tuba and switch to a zither, from guitar to drums or bass guitar to the glass organ. A piece of music is still missing here, spoken word that has to fit the length of music there. We saw the birth of a harmony contra vocal melody and the addition of the glass organ, just from experimenting a little. For those who don't know, counting is everything to make these rhythms work. To think that the whole visual aspect still has to be added and it is clear that De Kift still has a lot of work ahead of it before the show premières at Oerol. Two shows on most days for a whole week in the open air. In other words, my son and I saw a show coming alive in little steps at a time, while still a long way from perfection. Being De Kift is hard work.

Ferry Heijne.
We only heard part of the show, but already heard some great melodies. Knowing De Kift 'Bidonville' is going to be a great show. The album is scheduled for September after which the band will tour around the country and many a country in Europe. Thank you De Kift for allowing me this look into your kitchen. The literal part was my pleasure.

For fans of e.g. Tom Waits and Kaizers Orchestra check out this band!

Wo.

All photo's by Wo.

For more information on 'Bidonville' and De Kift see http://dekift.nl/

P.S. Here's the promo filmed during out presence, yes, yours truly is in it for 0.25 of a second:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrAGLh88f1U

donderdag 15 mei 2014

Rooms with walls and windows. Julie Byrne

Er zijn alleen al in de Verenigde Staten talloze meisjes met gitaar die met hun muziek de aandacht proberen te trekken van een groot publiek. De vijver zit momenteel zo vol dat erkenning voor de meeste vrouwelijke singer-songwriters uit zal blijven, maar Julie Byrne lijkt er met haar debuut Rooms With Walls And Windows aardig in te slagen om flink wat aandacht te trekken en heeft inmiddels zelfs bij het kritische Pitchfork een prima rapportcijfer weten af te dwingen (en dat is zeldzaam in dit genre). Zelf had ik ook aan één keer horen meer dan genoeg om te vallen voor de muzikale charmes van Julie Byrne, maar wat maakt haar muziek nu zo bijzonder? De meeste songs op Rooms With Walls And Windows moeten het doen met akoestische gitaar en de aparte stem van Julie Byrne. Dat zou genoeg kunnen zijn wanneer haar muziek makkelijk in het gehoor ligt, maar dat is niet het geval. Julie Byrne maakt op haar debuut lastig te doorgronden folksongs. Het zijn folksongs die zich uiterst langzaam voortslepen en zowel in de instrumentatie als in de vocalen worden gekenmerkt door soberheid. Julie Byrne maakt precies de muziek die ze zelf wil maken en grijpt hierbij zowel terug op de jonge jaren van de Britse folk als op de eerste stapjes van de vrouwelijke singer-songwriters in de canyons rond Los Angeles. Aan de andere kant raakt de muziek van de singer-songwriter uit Seattle ook aan die van alternatievere folkies als Marissa Nadler en Jessica Pratt. Alle songs op de plaat beginnen bij het ingetogen maar zeker niet eenvoudige akoestische gitaarspel van Julie Byrne, dat al snel gezelschap krijgt van haar stem, die meerdere geluiden laat horen. Julie Byrne kan zwoel verleiden, maar kan ook pastoraal, emotievol of vlak klinken. Haar songs moeten het doen zonder duidelijke melodielijnen of refreinen, maar weten de aandacht toch feilloos vast te houden, zodat het onverwachte einde steeds weer een teleurstelling is. Rooms With Walls And Windows is de perfecte plaat om een vrije dag mee te beginnen, maar ook aan het eind van de avond heeft het debuut van Julie Byrne steeds weer een rustgevende werking. Pitchfork vergelijkt haar muziek met het vroege werk van Cat Power en de ondoorgrondelijke muziek van Grouper en dat is twee keer raak. Net als de jonge Cat Power slaagt Julie Byrne er in om meedogenloos te verleiden met intieme liedjes die lak hebben aan de conventies van het perfecte popliedje en net als Grouper roept Julie Byrne met haar muziek een sfeer op die je zowel gelukkig als bang maakt. Rooms With Walls And Windows is een plaat die ook bij de zoveelste beluistering weer nieuwe dingen laat horen. Het is een plaat die je vrijwel onmiddellijk dierbaar is zonder dat je kunt uitleggen waarom dat zo is. De meeste vrouwelijke singer-songwriters zullen moeten overtuigen met hun songs en vocalen. Julie Byrne overtuigt op minder grijpbare wijze. Rooms With Walls And Windows is een bijzondere plaat. Het is een plaat waarop in muzikaal en vocaal opzicht best wel wat valt af te dingen, maar laat de plaat (met name het vinyl klinkt geweldig) door de speakers, of beter nog de koptelefoon, komen en je bent verkocht. Julie Byrne is met Rooms With Walls And Windows een enorme aanwinst voor het genre, ook al weet ik nog steeds niet precies waarom. Deze plaat weerstaan is onmogelijk.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt hier naar 'Prism song' luisteren.

woensdag 14 mei 2014

Teeth dreams. The Hold Steady

I came to The Hold Steady late. When? I can't even really remember. Someone gave me a copy of a cd once. For some reason the bonustracks were on it first and I remember loving the three extra songs, but got somewhat bored later into the regular cd. And that was it basically, until I ran into Teeth dreams recently. Again I fell for the vitally of the songs of The Hold Steady and again I ran into that same problem: The one size fits all voice of Craig Finn. Rough, hoarse, tough. Like a market salesman. I can hear him shout "three baskets of strawberries for the price of one" at the end of the market's day. This is not the kind of voice I prefer to listen to when someone is singing. On the other hand, I just watched an episode of 'Derksen on the road' about Zoeterwoude's most famous band ever, The Shoes. Craig Finn still has a lot to learn before he matches Theo Van Es' rasped potato voice. I loved to sing along to 'Nanana', 'Don't you cry for a girl' and 'Osaka' as a kid. So I ought to get used to Finn's.

The Hold Steady is a band from NYC consisting of Tad Kubler (guitar), Galen Polivka (bass), Bobby Drake (drums), and Steve Selvidge (guitar), next to singer Craig Finn of course. The band started in 2004 and released its first album in the same year. In the first six years The Hold Steady released five albums. ("Mine"'s 2008s 'Stay positive', now I looked it up.) So it is not so surprising that I lost sight (ear?) of the band, as Teeth dreams is its first in four years.

Teeth dreams is an inspired album. The Hold Steady doesn't seem to hold back. This album really rocks and for me the good part is that by the time I start getting an overdose of the format of The Hold Steady, the band does something completely different. But I'll get back to that later. The main part of Teeth dreams is solid. This to me is an adequate description of the wall of sound the band presents. Two guitars left and right, drums, bass and voice somewhere down the middle. An overdub here and there and some keyboards for the accents. Together all is filled. Not unlike The Tragically Hip in its first years. The tempo is hardly ever real fast, but mid-tempo plus and straight down the cd. In a way that it is always rock and at times some roll to. The sound is always tinted darkly, mostly because of Craig Finn's voice. The mood is never exuberant because of that. There always is a downside because of this rasp.

It is the mix of the rock songs with the rock ballads that gives Teeth dreams its balance. A song like 'Oaks' takes on epic proportions while staying within bounds. Not timewise as the song clocks just under 9 minutes. Long, warm organ sounds, loose piano notes, a wailing guitar in combination with at least three other ones all doing something else. 'Oakes' is the sort of rock ballad fun an old rocker like me thrives on every once in a while. What a way to end Teeth dreams and probably show, but that is my, uneducated, guess. Nothing can come after 'Oaks'.

Except putting Teeth dreams back on of course. Starting again with the REM like 'I hope this whole thing didn't frighten you', a 'The end of the world' sort of rocker missing the haunted 80s bomb angst.

A fun fact is that teeth dreams are one of the most recurring dreams of humanity and to be more specific, dreams about teeth falling out. So now I know I'm not unique in having had a dream like that two or three times. What I should also not be unique in, is my appreciation of this album. Teeth dreams is a good and very decent album. My favourite of The Hold Steady so far, but I've got some catching up to do and certainly second album 'Separation Sunday' sounded very promising the other day. For now I go with Teeth dreams though.

Wo.

You can listen to 'I hope this whole thing didn't frighten you' here.


dinsdag 13 mei 2014

In preparation of Saturn's return. Ali Holder

Zoals zo vaak de afgelopen jaren heeft mijn zoektocht naar minder bekend of zelfs miskend talent in het rootssegment me naar Austin, Texas, gebracht. Het is de thuisbasis van Ali Holder, die met In Preparation For Saturn’s Return een opvallend sterk debuut heeft afgeleverd. Dit debuut ontleent zijn kracht voor een belangrijk deel aan de mooie en krachtige stem van Ali Holder, maar dit is zeker niet het enige sterke wapen dat de Texaanse singer-songwriter in zet. De openingstrack van In Preparation For Saturn’s Return laat direct horen wat Ali Holder in huis heeft. Mooie bluesy gitaarlijnen worden afwisselend begeleid door een melancholische viool (van Phoebe Hunt) en soulvolle blazers. Hierbij komt een loom spelende ritmesectie en vervolgens de krachtige en licht rokerige strot van Ali Holder. De stem is bijzonder, de instrumentatie is bijzonder, maar hier blijft het niet bij. De songs van Ali Holder beginnen bij de folk, maar slepen er vervolgens invloeden uit de country, blues, soul, jazz, bluegrass en Zuidelijke rhythm & blues bij. Als in de openingstrack alle instrumenten samen komen waan je je even in New Orleans, maar Ali Holder sleept je vervolgens net zo makkelijk naar een kroeg in Austin als naar een veranda aan de oever van de Mississippi (waar de plaat werd opgenomen) of zelfs naar de duizenden kilometers noordelijker gelegen Appalachen. Ali Holder heeft met In Preparation For Saturn’s Return een plaat gemaakt waar liefhebbers van Amerikaanse rootsmuziek onmiddellijk verliefd op zullen worden. Het is een plaat die zich wat mij betreft lastig laat vergelijken met platen van anderen. Heel af en toe hoor ik wat van Lucinda Williams of Mary Gauthier, nog minder vaak wat van Gillian Welch, maar de muziek van Ali Holder klinkt over het algemeen toch duidelijk anders dan die van haar collega’s in het rootssegment. Ali Holder beschikt over een duidelijk eigen geluid en het is een geluid dat naar veel meer smaakt. De singer-songwriter uit Austin combineert op eigen wijze lome bluesy muziek met andere invloeden uit de Amerikaanse rootsmuziek en slaagt er in om songs te schrijven die makkelijk indruk maken. Na een paar minuten wist ik eigenlijk al dat dit een plaat is om te koesteren en dit gevoel is sindsdien eigenlijk alleen maar sterker geworden. Wanneer Ali Holder de blazers verruild voor een weemoedig klinkende pedal steel, en dat doet ze op het grootste deel van de plaat, schuift ze op in de richting van de grote zangeressen in het folk en country segment, maar het is al snel duidelijk dat In Preparation For Saturn’s Return veel meer doet dan het voortborduren op een inmiddels bekend geluid. Het debuut van Ali Holder is een veelkleurige en fascinerende rootsplaat die tradities in ere houdt, maar ook niet bang is voor nieuwe wegen. Het is een rootsplaat van een nog jonge singer-songwriter die al verrassend doorleefd en veelzijdig klinkt. Later dit jaar mogelijk te bewonderen op de Nederlandse podia en dat is nu al iets om zeer naar uit te kijken. Tot die tijd vermaak ik me met het mooie en bijzondere In Preparation For Saturn’s Return, dat ik nu al schaar onder de parels die ik op de krenten uit de pop zaterdagen heb besproken.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt In preparation for Saturn's return hier kopen en beluisten.

maandag 12 mei 2014

Acoustic at the Ryman. Band of Horses

Acoustic at the Ryman. Where and what is the Ryman?, I thought to myself while I was listening to the latest issue of Band of Horses recently. Last night I put on Neil Young's 'Heart of gold' DVD and lo and behold: it was recorded at the Ryman, in Nashville. The Ryman Auditorium is a brick building from the late 19th century where all the greats seem to have performed and are performing still. So much for this history lesson.

Band of Horses so far have never been reviewed by me. I had ex-colleagues that spoke really well of the band, but it never touched me deeply enough. On the Acoustic at the Ryman cd they do. And I know why too. In the stripped down songs the songs played have the quality and emotions of Chris Bell's ballads on the first Big Star album. Band of Horses comes uncannily close to the ballads on #1 Record. Listening to Acoustic at the Ryman more often changed my opinion though, which I'll come back to.

Band of Horses is Ben Bridwell's band, with more ex-members than current members and makes records since 2006 with a steady growing following through the years. For this record the band members stripped of their electric gear and just play acoustic guitars and piano. The mood is mellow, not unlike a MTV Unplugged session of old. The link with Neil Young is not a strange one, just like the intricate three or four part harmonies sound somewhat similar to CSNY or The Eagles. Listening to Acoustic ... it is totally unbelievable that Band of Horses debuted on Sub Pop Records. Band of Horses of course had nothing to do with the grunge of its hometown of Seattle, but the form its songs receive on Acoustic... is another mile away from grunge.

Like all previous albums of Band of Horses I'm having trouble to stay focussed for the whole duration. It is a long haul to sit through the album. 'The funeral' is just not such a good song, despite the enormous reception the song receives, especially from screaming ladies. This band has real fans, there is no denying that, hearing how enthusiastic the songs are received by the audience. Band of Horses has lost me in the mean time. It doesn't when I listen to Acoustic ... when doing something else. Whether shopping, walking or working, the album suits me just fine then. Not so when I'm listening intensely. I get the impression that Band of Horses is not as good as it thinks it is in baring its songs to acoustic nakedness.

Again having listened several times, I stick to my conclusions, but also admit to a few things. When one of the songs comes by in shuffle mode, each of them so far stand out. Acoustic at the Ryman is an extremely atmospheric album. The audience and band are both in rapture and give it their all. The singing is real good, not CSNY or The Beach Boys good, but very good. Band of Horses finds the harmonies any place in a song. I deliberately put 'Neighbors' as a link below, as the band sings large chunks of the song a capella. Looking at the record from that point of view, it is totally successful and satisfying. A whole album is just too much for me. If you're a fan though either of Band of Horses or of this sort of unplugged, acoustic music in general, Acoustic at the Ryman may well be your album.

It all ends with someone saying: "We'll be right back". Kind of a strange ending for a live album. And one thing's for certain also. Band of Horses' can go 'Kaap'ren varen' any time. They are (nearly) all men with beards.

Wo.

You can listen to 'Neighbor' here.

zondag 11 mei 2014

The weatherman. Gregory Alan Isakov

In the past years I saw Gregory Alan Isakov play in the Q-Bus in Leiden twice. One evening he had his birthday and his parents had come over to celebrate. On one of the evenings he was accompanied by Ramaya Soskin who played two beautiful songs from his own album ´All in good time´. Recently I found out that Isakov had released a new album called The Weatherman in 2013, which I had missed. So to make amends I started listening and really liked what I was hearing.

The weatherman is an album in the singer-songwriter tradition, with songs that are all modest. The accompaniment is sort of subdued, which gives the whole album a distinct sound. I can totally imagine that someone not really into this kind of music, is turned off after two or three songs. Where as for me the fun is only starting at this point. But then it is true that nothing very exciting is going on on The weatherman. Isakov sings in a modest way, with his darkish, soft voice, while all instrumentation has the same subdued modesty. But when I hear ''O' city lights', I totally melt. What a beautiful song this is! The sweet melody, slowly unfolds. Melancholy all over. The same goes for opening song 'Amsterdam' in which a piano does the solo notes.

The U.S. has a truckload of singers (m/f) in this segment of music, the singer-songwriter, folk, roots, alt.americana, that I would never hear off nor from, were it not that Hans van Polanen brings them to the Q-Bus in Leiden and tend to go and watch/listen several times a year. Despite the fact that I've never heard a note from the artists in question. Gregory Alan Isakov is one of them. By now I have three of his albums in the house. The weatherman is his fifth album and the first in four years time he released.

What I like about The weatherman and makes the album stands out for me, is the way the songs flow. Almost all have this fluent way they progress. Isakov sings slow, so holds his notes, while in the background small accents are played, e.g. on a lone banjo or violin. When a song doesn't flow so easily like 'Honey, it's alright' with long stops in the singing, it stands out immediately. The female, very soft, ooooh in the background reminds me of Leonard Cohen, but then it is this section of singer-songwriters that Gregory Alan Isakov belongs to.

The weatherman ("someone who predicts the future every day and nobody cares", writes Isakov) is an album that can only be listened to when on your own. In company it passes by without being noticed. It is an album for people who like to unhaste every once in a while. Put it on, close your eyes and enjoy. Let it roll over you and keep an ear out for all the subtle changes, additions and above all Gregory Alan Isakov's voice. You won't be dissapointed.

The cover is just as quiet as the album itself. It reminds me of the cover of Jonathan, Ca. by Long Conversations. Both old and rustic.

Wo.

You can listen to 'Amsterdam' here.

zaterdag 10 mei 2014

Royal Street. Amanda Pearcy

Recently I was surprised by a great show at Q-Bus Leiden that Amanda Pearcy gave together with her sidekick Matt Giles. As I wrote, mileage in life just dripped from her voice and oozed out of her ongs. Live Pearcy was completely convincing. Erwin Zijleman, who regularly features in this blog, wrote highly of Royal Street. So I guess it's my turn. How does Royal Street hold up at home?

That one is so easy to answer. Great, just great! Strangely enough I had listened to Royal Street on Spotify the day before the Q-Bus show, at least I think I did now that I have listened again, and thought it not much. Switched it off after the third song, but went to the show anyway, with very little expectations. That made the surprise the bigger. Two ways too: live and on record.

Hearing a singer-songwriter play alone or together with a lead guitarist (or any other (lead) instrument) always raises the question what happens on the record. Sometimes that is a real bummer. Those records on which not much remains from the intense solo versions in the hands of the producer who just adds and adds instruments and emotions are left out, forgotten. There's no worry of that on Royal Street, named after a street in the centre of New Orleans. Of course the songs are neater, but I have the strong impression that the songs get the treatment that they deserve and most importantly, enhances them with something extra, all meant to make the voice of Amanda Pearcy shine.

Writing about this album starts with her voice, as it is not an average voice. It has a rough edge, but contains sweetness and compassion as well, with an ability to change to a deeper register. A fascinating voice that is extremely pleasant to listen to. Even in songs which are too country to my taste, Amanda Pearcy's voice makes them interesting to listen to.

Royal Street is at heart a country album, what we call alt-americana today. From country, there are outings into folk, roots and even traditional blues. Many sorts of music come together in the deep south of the U.S. and blend well in Austin, Texas, where Mexico is fairly close too. These elements make Royal Street a varied album. Like on the album of another favourite U.S. singer-songwriter of mine, Beth Wimmer's 'Ghosts and men', the songs on Royal Street get a special treatment, that make them stand out among each other and in general as well. From a lone violin in the title song 'Royal Street' or an accordion in 'The story of my heart' something extra is happening. Producer Tim Lorsch clearly put his stamp on Royal Street, but never takes anything away from Amanda Pearcy.

As I already wrote, Royal Street is a varied album. The Tex-Mex-mariachi-country mix in 'Barking dogs' works very well. 'Royal Street' is a beautiful ballad. 'Better on my own' a bluesy song with some nice slide work, that is accompanying. No antics here. 'Better on my own' doesn't need it. It's beautiful as it is. Near the end Amanda Pearcy covers The Rolling Stones' 'No expectations'. (Side B of my first Stones single 'Street fighting man'.) It is in this version that it becomes clear how good a country blues the song is. I always thought it a good Stones song, Amanda Pearcy made it something else: A good song. And she has her own version as well. 'A thousand tender recollections' is her combination of 'No expectations' and 'Forever young'. Great organ and harmonies as well.

Taking Royal Street all in, I do not see any reason why Amanda Pearcy can not be as big as Lucinda Williams. In my humble opinion her album is more consistent in quality than any of Williams' albums. Live I was impressed, on record Amanda Pearcy has convinced me as well. From ballads, to country songs and from folk to roots rock, the great, great 'Come on sugar', Amanda Pearcy is like a fish in water in all genres. A star ought to be born sometime soon. Does the cover show just that? Her bandwagon coming down the street?

Wo.

You can listen to 'Royal Street' here.

P.S. Amanda Pearcy reached out to us and tipped this video where she plays with Matt Giles:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTvOj2RZ-e8