maandag 29 februari 2016

Elephanta. Bird On The Wire

Just look at those colours. What am I looking at? Does an album sleeve represent what is hidden inside? Let's try and find out.

The sleeve of Elephanta suggests an album that is eclectic yet serious. colourful yet not too wild. Blotchy yet without spilling all over the place. Light touches, watercolours. A piece of art, giving me the idea that I could make it too, but never do nor will.

Bird On The Wire is a band from Amsterdam with three ladies and a gentleman. Now there's 'Bird On A Wire', the Leonard Cohen song, the Tim Hardin album, there's the movie and now a band that makes a wire a specific one. The music is not a million miles away from the song. Both are full of atmosphere, serious, if not dead serious.

Elephanta is an album full of guitars drenched in echo, singing as if in dreams but all with a solid foundation. The qualification to give and which the band gives itself too, is dreampop. Who am I to disagree? The singing totally qualifies. Rosa Ronsdorf seems to be singing from a dream. The guitars and keyboards like mist hovering over the fields just after dawn. There is some The Edge inspiration in the way of playing, but there's nothing U2 in the songs themselves.

In the song with the Dutch title 'De Storm' this comes forward in a beautiful way. The bass has a star role. Sven Hamerpagt keeps his part going, over which sketchy guitar parts are unleashed. Until the end starts and The Edge really gets his way into the song. A lot of delay repeats the notes and chords, while the band kicks up a storm. A sure sign that this band can do more than just dream. Some turmoil can arise in a quiet dream. Even turn it into a nightmare.

Bird On The Wire likes surprises. 'Sandy Sandman' is the quietest of songs that just floats from the speakers, until the band gives the song a huge twist. The keyboard starts this carnival like swirl. That makes me just go round and round. The song totally changes, while one thing remains constant: the sheer beauty of it all.

No matter how quiet some songs are, Bird On The Wire is able to play the audience deaf. The intro to 'Sing Along With The Silence' must be ear-shattering on stage. Just like the explosion in 'Horses'. (I just found out that people who are in Mezz in Breda right now, i.e. at the time of writing this post, will find this out within a few minutes.) Both songs tone down again. Dynamics is a quality this band loves playing with. The drums keep up a rather different rhythm while the rest of the band does what it it is very good at. Simply float on all that is going on, as if the drums are the water in the Dead Sea.

Bird On The Wire does not take the easy way out. There is not a single song that I'd call pop in the traditional sense of the word. Yet each and every song holds elements that are only there to make something which may not seem pretty at the start, shine the best it can and more, much more. Whether it is the guitar, the bass or the keyboards, all play an important part here.

Elephanta is for fans of Warpaint, to please Erwin Zijleman I'll mention Beach House as well, The Future's Dust and perhaps even people who would like to find out what a mix of the early U2 with Leonard Cohen and The Doors sounds like. In the instrumental parts there is certainly something of that last band. Just listen to the outro of 'BB'. There's no mistaking there.

To come back to the cover. It fits so well. The music at times it is so fleeting, like watercolouring with too much water added. In the end it is firm, the blotches mix perfectly with the solid parts. The music is experimental without losing ground. Bird On The Wire has released a very interesting album that ought to be the next step in a very interesting career. Elephanta is a fascinating, yet beautiful album.

Wo.

You can listen to 'Horse' here:

https://vimeo.com/142503361

or buy on Bol.Com


zondag 28 februari 2016

The Maureens met Glossy Jesus. Q-Bus, Leiden 26-02-2016

Bas met Dolly. foto: Wo.
Laat ik maar gewoon met de deur in huis vallen. The Maureens zijn de beste Nederlandse band aan gene zijde van Beatlesque pop, vermengd met een scheut The Jayhawks, REM en niet te vergeten Neerlands trots Johan. De manier waarop alle kleine details samenvallen in de muziek en de harmonieën verraadt een enorme muzikaliteit en het geduld om eindeloos dingen uit te proberen, maar ongetwijfeld ook het lef om stukken weg te gooien op zoek naar en uiteindelijk voor iets beters.

Het is iets minder dan tien maanden geleden dat ik voor het eerst kennis maakte met The Maureens, ook in de Q-Bus. Daar stond een zestal op het podium dat overduidelijk nog geen band was. Het optreden was aangekondigd als een try-out en dat was het ook. Er waren foutjes, niet iedereen stond comfortabel op het podium. Wat wel doorscheen, was dat er fantastische liedjes op het reportoire stonden.

Inmiddels zijn we in 2016, is 'Bang The Drum', de tweede cd, een half jaar uit en is The Maureens in alles een band geworden. Er is lol in het spelen, de leden genieten van elkaars spel en het niveau is fantastisch hoog. Er vallen dan een aantal dingen op. Met drie gitaristen en een keyboardspeler is er ruimte nodig om te kunnen spelen. Die gunt iedereen elkaar ook. Er lijkt geen onderlinge jaloezie te zijn of wedijver wie het hardst kan spelen. Iedereen krijgt op het juiste moment de ruimte om zijn opvallende stuk te spelen of iets te verweven. Als daarbovenop twee, drie en af en toe zelfs vierstemmig gezongen wordt, dan is de pophemel wel bereikt. Vanuit de soepelspelende ritmesectie bouwt The Maureens haar wereld laagje voor laagje op tot een regenboog van muziek. Als de term oorsnoep ergens specifiek voor uitgevonden zou zijn, dan is het voor deze muziek.

Lopen er op dit snijvlak van popmuziek betere acts rond in Nederland? Ik ken ze niet. Sinds het opbreken van Johan, hoe lang geleden alweer?, is dit er niet meer. Dus de hoogste tijd dat meer mensen dat doorkrijgen.

De ontwikkeling van The Maureens mach2 kan door wat scrollen op dit Blog tot april 2015 terug gevolgd worden.

Foto: Wo.
Voor Glossy Jesus uit Leiden was de situatie volkomen omgekeerd. Deze band, al vaker besproken op dit blog, is zoekende. Dit concert was juist een try out om te kijken hoe het nieuwe, meer op singer-songwriter gerichte materiaal live uitpakt. Mijn conclusie blijft bij zoekende. Een aantal van de nieuwe nummers vond ik zondermeer mooi, andere duidelijk nog niet af. Daar moet nog een laagje bij.

De toevoeging van een vrouwelijke stem van de nieuwe bassiste (als ik het goed verstaan heb) Sarah Jonkers is een prettige vondst. Van het oudere werk is de artrock laag afgestript, naar een meer elementaire versie. In een nummer als 'September' werkt dat moeiteloos.

Het is te vroeg om te schrijven dat Glossy Jesus op de goede weg is. Daarvoor is het nieuwe concept nog teveel in ontwikkeling. Ik kan wel zeggen dat ik benieuwd ben naar de uitkomst. Voor wie de wijziging het meest ingrijpend lijkt is drummer Tiuri. Hij heeft af en toe heel weinig te doen ten opzichte van eerdere jaren.

Ook over Glossy Jesus kun je lezen op dit Blog, tot en met in de vroege begindagen van 2012.

Als laatste een anecdote. Mijn zoon neemt de poster van de avond mee die ergens in de hal hing. Ik vertelde vlak daarvoor zanger Maarten dat ik Glossy Jesus voor het eerst heb gezien in het voorprogramma van Girlyman in 2012. Wat staat er op de achterkant van de poster van deze avond? De aankondiging van dat optreden. Toeval bestaat niet, maar een beetje bizarre vorm van recyclen is het wel natuurlijk.

Wo.

Ina Forsman. Ina Forsman

Ina Forsman is een jonge Finse zangeres, die een paar jaar geleden opviel in de Finse editie van de talenjacht Idols. Dat moeten we direct maar weer vergeten, want het niveau van talentenjachten is Ina Forsman al lang ontstegen.
 
Voor het opnemen van haar debuut toog ze naar Austin, Texas, alwaar ze de studio in mocht met een aantal gelouterde blues muzikanten.
 
Deze muzikanten zetten op het titelloze debuut van Ina Forsman een geluid neer om van te watertanden. Het is een geluid dat bestaat uit gelijke delen soul en blues en hier en daar een beetje jazz en het is een geluid dat vraagt om een zangeres die heel stevig in haar schoenen staat.
 
Nu zijn er wel vaker piepjonge zangeressen die dit aan blijken te kunnen (denk aan het geweldige debuut van Joss Stone of het pas later gewaardeerde debuut van Amy Winehouse), maar het blijft toch een uitzondering. Alle reden dus om heel druk te doen over het debuut van Ina Forsman, want kan deze jonge Finse zangeres zingen.
 
De ouwe rotten die haar debuut inkleuren kunnen heerlijk uitpakken, maar meestal geven ze Ina Forsman alle ruimte. De Finse zangeres vult deze ruimte prachtig in met vocalen die uit durven te halen, maar die ook niet bang zijn voor ingetogen passages.
 
Ina Forsman schreef zelf de meeste songs voor haar debuut, maar het hadden ook allemaal soul- of blues klassiekers uit vervlogen tijden kunnen zijn, wat iets zegt over haar talent.
 
Wat ik uiteindelijk nog het knapst vind aan deze plaat is dat Ina Forsman op haar debuut nooit teveel op de voorgrond probeert te treden met overdreven uithalen of net wat teveel stembuigingen en ook geen enkele poging doet om hitgevoelige muziek te maken. De jonge Finse zangeres zingt uiterst functioneel, maar iedere noot is raak en tradities worden prachtig in ere gehouden.
 
Het titelloze debuut van Ina Forsman laat minstens net zoveel potentie horen als de platen van Amy Winehouse, maar hopelijk kunnen we wat langer van haar genieten. Dat Ina Forsman een hele grote gaat worden is na beluistering van haar debuut wel duidelijk.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt hier naar 'No Room For Love' luisteren:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=myjzFhL88vE

of kopen op Bol.Com


zaterdag 27 februari 2016

David Bowie Is

Photo: Wo.
Should I go or not? That question went through my head for several weeks, before I decided to go. I wasn't disappointed for one second. What an all-over, total sort of experience. But let us first go back a little in time.

1969 is the year I was exposed to David Bowie for the first time, like most of the rest of the world, by that wonder of 1960s music called 'Space Oddity'. After that I was totally dependent on hitsingles in The Netherlands. "Hunky Dory', Ziggy Stardust'? I did not have a clue as they past this country more or less by. 'The Jean Genie' in early 1973 was his next hit, although I found a copy of 'John, I'm Only Dancing', in a sale. My personal first Bowie record in 1972. My first real show? David Bowie in May 1976 in Ahoy, Rotterdam. Sunday 21-02-2016. A local train going to the football stadium. Three of the four persons sitting together were present in the same stadium in 1983 for the Bowie show, so we found out by coincidence. And all three had been or were about to go to Groningen.

Back to the winter 1973. A total extravagant person came on tv, far, extremely far away from the young teenage kid I was in a rural village. Bowie in his most interesting personae past me largely by. I wasn't influenced by him in any way. It was the music that caught up with me. Each time he was years ahead of my taste. Usually I caught up some time after the release of a new album, unless they just weren't good enough, certainly his 80s output after 'Let's Dance' was not good. It seems like I even caught up with 'Earthling' 19 years after its release. What I was totally ready for was 'Blackstar'. That album caught me straight where music can catch me: heart, mind and soul all at once, a sort of total experience, bought on his birthday, 8 January.

So David Bowie's music is with me for 46,5 years at this point in time. It is a part of my DNA as I found out in the Groninger Museum, once again. The music moved me in several ways, but, except for 'DJ', a song I still don't really like, all the songs grabbed me, shook me, moved me in one way or another. Everything around that, how he dressed, dressed his hair, etc. was never important to me. Did that change? Yes, in a certain way it has.

Photo: Wo.
What I came home with, is a total different view of the man. The total control over all the creative parts of his career. The ideas, concepts, everything was thought out up front and from the very beginning of his career. Even when he was totally unknown, he created his own world and environment to work with and in. On his way to great things, even if that was only in his mind. A man obsessed is probably the right word. Always working, thinking, bubbling, a state any great artists of any kind must be in order to be successful and horrible for his personal environment most likely. Don't we know who David Bowie or Jones was in his private life? The answer is right in front of us in this museum. Always working and on the move to a new concept, song, video, sleeve, clothing, hairstyle, etc.

The second great thing I came home with was his ability to work with the right people at the right time. Couturiers, video artists, photographers, stage outfits for all, sets, dancers, etc., he always found the right people for that part of his career. And musicians of course. The exhibition brought the audience as close to the creative process of being David Bowie as an exhibition can do.

The third thing is that Bowie touched a lot of people. It was a Thursday and the museum was packed. There were so many people and all my age or older. Perhaps the museum is "lucky" and that Bowie's passing away brought more people out, but still.

Photo: Wo.
The fourth thing is that I stood outside the exhibition and "finally" understood what an icon this man was. Something I never realised and did not really care for, was how he touched upon the lives of many. Speaking of an impact. That it did not matter how you dressed. That someone can be who he is and express him/herself that way. Gender and hetero, homo and bisexuality can all be mixed up. Just look at pictures of how the world looked like outside of Bowie's little universe in the early 70s and his outlandish outfits and make up are put in perspective.

The fifth thing is that David Bowie was a total human, incorporating influences from whatever would work for him. Different cultures, religions, life styles, music styles. Everything found a place into his universe and became a part of his expression. "He really loved music" someone comments in the exhibition and it shows in his work as it evolved beyond what his fans could follow at some points in time and caught on or not.

Finally I come back to the music. Bowie had become an artist of the past to me. Music that I know so well, that there is no need to play it often any more and I am writing on the 70s stuff here. Whether it was 'Jump', 'Little Wonder', 'Hello Space Boy' or 'Blackstar', all the "new" songs that came by in the exhibition, were fantastic and hold up easily to 'Starman', "Life On Mars', 'Word On A Wing', etc., etc. And then there is that first one, 'Space Oddity'. The little synthesizer that created some of the sounds is on display also. That may forever remain his best single to me. And I was reminded of how good 'Ashes To Ashes' is, something I tend to forget. Absolutely fabulous.

David Bowie Is is a total experience. Walking around with a headset the music is everywhere. All visitors are in their own universe with David Bowie and that's the final strong point of this exhibition. There's no one between you and the master, except the dozens of other people wanting to read a lyric sheet or watch a drawing of a costume of course. At those moments there often is the music.

My one main remaining question is, when did Bowie decide to keep it all? All these costumes, drawings, lyric sheets, etc.? At a very, very early stage. And now the world can see it all too. The man is no longer with us, David Bowie was, everything is left behind for us to enjoy. Am I glad that I went to Groningen. Over 6 hours of travelling was well worth the experience.

Wo.

Tickets can be found on the website of the Groninger Museum until 10 April. Ordering up front is recommended. Sold out signs are known to be put up. After the 10th elsewhere in the world.

https://tickets.davidbowie-groningen.nl/en/

Q-Bus, Leiden, zaterdag 29 november 2008: Steve Waitt and Chelsey Lynn LaBate

Op 24 maart 2016 speelt Steve Waitt met band in de Q-Bus in Leiden. Ter herinnering aan een eerder concert daar plaatsen we de recensie uit 2008 nogmaals, ter voorbereiding op 24 maart. De kans is dat het niet veel mooier gaat worden dan dit. Dorus zong het al: "Zorrug dat je erbij bent". Volgende maand volgt de recensie van Waitts nieuwe plaat 'Stranger In A Stranger Land' op dit blog.

De totale stilte van bewondering en enorme kippenvelmomenten bij Steve Waitt, een 32 jarige zanger/pianist/componist uit New York. Alle verhalen rond deze tournee spellen het woord armoede uit, maar zijn muziek en optreden spellen de woorden groot talent uit. Hoe kan het dat een artiest met zo’n mooie cd als Blue Planet op zijn naam, maar 49 betalende bezoekers trekt? Een grof schandaal, beste lezer. Waitt heeft een stem, die een klein beetje ruig is, waarmee hij een enorme strot op kan zetten, maar ook kan ontroeren. In de Q-Bus trad hij op zonder band, alleen achter zijn piano, een enkel nummer met gitaar. Meer was er niet. Waitt durft te vertrouwen op het drama in zijn nummers. Hij durft het aan stiltes te laten vallen tijdens het nummer en niet extra klanken erbij te verzinnen ter opvulling. Nee, echte stiltes. En het publiek was stil. Het enige dat er te horen viel, was het overlopen van de spoelbak achter de bar en het zoemen van de koelinstallatie. Absolute kippenvelmomenten! In het voorjaar komt hij weer naar Europa. Ik zou niet twijfelen, beste lezer, maar gaan. Steve Wiatt gaat geen grote worden, maar ga u er zelf van overtuigen dat hij het wel zou moeten zijn.


Chelsea Lynn LaBate is een lief uitziende jonge vrouw uit NYC, maar eigenlijk Florida, die licht verlegen haar gitaarliedjes speelt. Allemaal rond een eenvoudig motief opgebouwd met poëtische teksten. “Dit gaat over mijn eerste vriendje en zijn boot en de tochten die wij maakten”. Gevolgd door pure poëzie, niet makkelijk te volgen derhalve. Bij de eerste tonen dacht ik: o jee, dit gaat heel lang duren. Hoge stem, net te hoog. Maar niets daarvan, haar ongeveer zeven nummers waren zo voorbij en zeer goed te genieten. Een prima opstap naar Steve Waitt. Zo werd het alweer een zeer bijzondere avond in de Q-Bus.

Wo.

Blue Parade. Steve Waitt

Enkele dagen terug kwam er een e-mail voorbij dat een concert van Steve Waitt aankondigde in de Q-Bus in Leiden op 24 maart. Steve Waitt? Ik moest heel even graven in het geheugen, maar al heel snel kwam een magisch concert in de Q-Bus naar voren. Wanneer dat was? Ik had geen idee, maar in de tweede helft van de jaren 00. Om dat in herinnering te brengen, heb ik de recensie opgedoken van het concert en de cd die daar bij hoorde, 'Blue Parade', beide stonden in WoNo Magazine 8.5, samen met de column van Frits Abrahams, de NRC coumnist, over Waitt, die wij mochten plaatsen. (Ja, er kwamen toen nog vijf nummers in één jaar uit. De tijden zijn veranderd en de WoNo ook, al wordt er aan 16.1 gewerkt vroeg in het jaar.)

Inmiddels is er een nieuwe cd, 'Stranger In A Stranger Land'. Deze wordt later beschreven op dit blog, maar ga beslist al luisteren. Hij is prachtig! Als opwarmers eerst 'Blue Parade' en het concert uit 2008.

Af en toe verschijnt er een cd die verrast. De naam Steve Waitt zei mij niets en de kwalificatie dat zijn muziek op pianoklanken gebaseerd is, deed mij niet direct vooraan staan bij het uitdelen. Er bekruipen mij dan altijd visioenen van Elton John, Billy Joel, Bruce Hornsby. Niet bepaald muzikanten van wier muziek ik in de regel erg warm wordt.

Blue parade heeft zich echter ruimschoots aan de goede zijde van de muziekstreep van Wo. geplaatst. Waar komt dat dan door?, zult u zich afvragen. Ga daar maar eens aan staan. Ik weet het niet. Muziek is een gevoel. Het raakt je of niet. Een stem kan je naar binnen zuigen en meenemen op het avontuur dat de zanger en de rest van de band voor ogen heeft of juist volledig afstoten. Bij Steve Waitt begint het inderdaad met zijn stem. Deze is bijzonder prettig om naar te luisteren, maar heeft dat randje; de belofte van meer dan het brave waarin hij gevangen zit. Verder klopt het totaal plaatje. Geen overdreven gedoe, zoals bij John en Joel. Steve houdt het in het kleine. Spaarzame begeleiding, sfeervol en passend. Het geeft zijn luisterliedjes de juiste klankkleur mee om te boeien en vooral niet af te leiden van de hoofdzaak: het nummer. En bovendien: af en toe geen piano te horen, maar een aantal, zeer spaarzaam spelende gitaren. Als in bijvoorbeeld Love is a luxury aanvankelijk alleen een piano klinkt, valt er een prachtig tweede damesstem in. Kijk, Waitt weet precies hoe hij moet pleasen. En waarom is het dan leuk? Omdat hij zichzelf ten dienste stelt aan het liedje en niet omgekeerd. Omdat hij mooie cliffhangers inbouwt. Nu komt het refrein, dat prachtig gaat worden. Maar nee, de climax wordt nog even uitgesteld met een tweede couplet, maar met de belofte van meer. Luister maar naar Revolutionary. Als ik Waitt moet vergelijken met iemand, dan kom ik toch uit bij Bruce Hornsby, maar dan met warmte, een betere stem en veel betere nummers.

Wo.

Je kunt Blue Parade luisteren en kopen op cdbaby:

https://www.cdbaby.com/cd/stevewaitt2

vrijdag 26 februari 2016

Jet Plane And Oxbow. Shearwater

Shearwater featured once before on this blog. Completely in the beginning in 2012 a post was published which is one the worst read posts on this blog. The post attracted a whole of 13 clicks of which a few are my own for promotional reasons. In other words there was hardly anyone of the potential billion something readers out there on the Internet interested to learn my view of Shearwater's album 'Animal Joy'. (You can make amends here: http://wonomagazine.blogspot.nl/2012/03/animal-joy-shearwater.html) Lucky for us the average views of posts have gone up considerably since.

Since Shearwater released another album, 'Fellow Travelers' and an album with demos which I now realise to have missed. With Jet Plane And Oxbow the band has made a record that is as colourful as the cover is.

Listening to Jet Plane And Oxbow for the first time I realised straight away that something special was going on. The album is so much alive, it's even danceable in a Talking Heads kind of way. 'Filaments' has the rhythm of 'Once In A Lifetime' in the most positive kind of ways, as it is so much more fluent, even fun. If I thought that 'Animal Joy' was the band's best album too date, then I have news for you.

Jonathan Meiburg seems to have shaken of all inhibitions in playing and recording his music. Shearwater goes full out on Jet Plane And Oxbow where reticence was often in place. Making music with an opened parachute against the wind on his back, holding him back. Nothing like that here. Not that all songs are fast or wild. No, far from, Maiburg's voice is like it always is: relaxed and serious. It is the exuberant instrumentation that does the trick. The piano playing all these beautiful notes and chords in 'Wildlife In America'. Not Roy Bittan at his best, 'Station To Station' with Bowie and 'The River' with Springsteen, but close. Perhaps because the piano is not all dominant. (Speaking of Bowie, 'Wildlife In America' somehow reminds me of 'Heroes'.) Next to the piano there is the dominant bass in different sections of the song.

In 'Radio Silence' Shearwater really lets it go and produces one of the highlights of Jet Plane And Oxbow. I will not call it punk rock, for that the colouring is between the lines in a neat and decent way, but I won't refrain from calling it Shearwater's version of punk rock. Coming to the chorus of "Disarray...I need it" and audiences can go all out in a moss pit and then that lovely piano cuts in, bringing sanity to madness.

It is easy to conclude with the comment that Shearwater has made a grand album, a fun album, but most importantly an extremely good album. Varied, layered, intensive, colourful. Jonathan Meiburg seems to be at the top of his game. The ornithologist musician has certainly done it with his latest album.

Wo.

You can listen to a full stream of the album here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ButIZ6xAP2M

or buy on Bol.Com


donderdag 25 februari 2016

Heartbreaker of the year. Whitney Rose

Ik ben gek op Amerikaanse rootsmuziek, maar schaar mezelf zeker niet onder de rootspuristen. Rootsmuzikanten die buiten de lijntjes durven te kleuren hebben over het algemeen zelfs mijn voorkeur, waarbij het me niet zoveel uit maakt of de gebaande paden worden verlaten voor verantwoorde genres of voor schaamteloos toegankelijke pop.
 
De vorig jaar verschenen platen van Kacey Musgraves en Lindi Ortega hebben vanwege de uitstapjes buiten de gebaande paden en zeker ook vanwege het gevoel voor aanstekelijke popmuziek al kunnen rekenen op heel veel luisterbeurten en zijn zeker niet kansloos voor de jaarlijstjes.
 
Het zijn platen die vanaf nu zullen moeten concurreren met Heartbreaker Of The Year van de Canadese Whitney Rose. Net als landgenoot Lindi Ortega laat Whitney Rose zich in eerste instantie inspireren door countrymuziek uit een ver verleden met inspiratiebronnen die variëren van Patsy Cline tot Dolly Parton, maar Heartbreaker Of The Year klinkt ondanks alle referenties naar een ver verleden ook fris en eigentijds.
 
Wanneer Whitney Rose invloeden uit de 50s rock ’n roll toelaat in haar muziek ligt de vergelijking met Lindi Ortega voor de hand, terwijl de meer pop georiënteerde songs associaties oproepen met de prachtplaat van Kacey Musgraves. Hier blijft het niet mee, want Whitney Rose stopt ook zeker voldoende invloeden uit de (alternatieve) country in haar muziek om liefhebbers van de net wat puurdere Amerikaanse rootsmuziek te overtuigen.
 
Heartbreaker Of The Year is in muzikaal opzicht een lekker in het gehoor liggende plaat met ook flink wat muzikaal vuurwerk (wat vooral van de gitarist komt), maar het meeste vuurwerk komt van de soepele en opvallend veelzijdige stem van Whitney Rose, die de vergelijking met de aansprekende grote namen hierboven zeker aan kan en net zo makkelijk gloedvol kan rocken of tranen kan trekken met de emotievolle ballads waarmee de countrymuziek ooit beroemd werd, maar ook verleidelijk kan fluisteren of een prachtversie van Be My Baby neer kan zetten. Droomplaat.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt hier luisteren naar 'Heartbreaker of the year (live)':

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXmRAeB1yAA

of kopen op Bol.Com

woensdag 24 februari 2016

Our Blood. I Am Oak

Snowstar Records veterans I Am Oak return with a beautiful subdued album called Our Blood. By now this blog can also call them WoNoblog veterans as Our Blood is the third album in a row to feature on these pages. After Erwin Zijleman's post on Nowhere Or Tammensaari, Wo. followed with his post on 'Ols Songd'. How does Our Blood do after all the positivism of the past?

It is that it is hard to call the music of I Am Oak positive. For that the music is too subdued, with a moody gloom hanging over it. Otherwise the first word to use would have been positive, again. This band around singer and songwriter Thijs Kuijken creates music at a high level, without ever getting exuberant for one second. A single guitar note or a note played on the piano is the shout of joy on an album of I Am Oak. Don't go looking for it in Kuijken's voice. The fact that this album's theme is the loss and dealing with that loss, is not so much something which makes up for the subdued sound. This is who Thijs Kuijken is. How he plays and creates his music. In fact the music is even more filled out than I remember his previous two albums to be.

If I had to give the music a name I'd call it dreampop. The music is so dreamy or as if played in a state of trance. What I also hear is the harmonies of The Eagles, in a very modest way, a hint of Neil Young and the voice of Midlake and The Moody Blues. Marcel Hulst's solo album under the name Mountaineer called '1974' is a real soul mate.

Thijs Kuijken seems to have an inner core where everything is at peace. A spot where he can turn to any time everything around him is in turmoil. A spot he retreats into and where he finds his voice and his music. I imagine him sitting in his room and the music just flowing into his hands into his guitar. Little bits and pieces making up a song. Lyrics that present themselves in half-sentences with the played and replayed songs to be. Totally shut off from the rest of the world, in trance. With it come ideas that make up the instrumentation. Snippets of other instruments form in his head.

It's not for nothing that I Am Oak has found its way into 'Kairos', the radio show .No makes for Concertzender. Kairos is a state that I think Thijs Kuijken reaches when creating his music.

Promo photo I Am Oak
It's not the easiest sort of music to make. For the living room there's no problem, I have a choice to listen or not. Conquering a concert venue is another thing. I loath to think when there are too many people who brought their friends who just don't shut up. There would be no I Am Oak left. That's one reason why I like 'Dacem' with its distorted guitars. An I Am Oak rock song. The accent has to be put on the band's name though and not on rock, as everything is relative in this dreampop universe of course.

The album has a few more moments in which something like passion shines through, mixed into the background but it's undeniably there. Just listen to the guitars in the final song 'Your Blood'. If the final song is an inclination to future music, the volcano may erupt in 2018. 'Your Blood' is a beautiful song that expands and retracts. A great ending to Our Blood.

With Our Blood I Am Oak has made another album which aims for tranquillity and restfulness (in most songs). And succeeded. Our Blood is not so much beautiful. For that it is a little bit too thorny. Put the album on too softly through your speakers and you have a wallflower of epic proportions, put it on loud enough and it envelopes you completely, warms and caresses, thorns and all. From that moment on just enjoy all the details, like e.g. the Twin Peaks like keyboards in 'Shallow End'. Soft music played loudly? It sounds like a contradictio in terminis, but it works.

Finally a complement for the fantastic photo on the sleeve. Just that is worth buying the LP.

Wo.

You can listen to 'Omen' here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPhHwpGKN1Y

or buy on Bol.Com




dinsdag 23 februari 2016

.No's December 2015 Kairos on Concertzender

Each month Concertzender broadcasts a radio program called 'Kairos'. This program is made by .No, Wo's partner in WoNo Magazine. As their musical tastes are not exactly matching, Wo. challenges himself and listens to the Kairos broadcasts and shares his opinions, thoughts, ideas, feelings and stories. Sometimes it is a pleasure to listen, other shows he has an extremely hard time. Due to several complications, mostly to do with things he does during the day, work, he is rather behind on the listening schedule, but that is not really of importance. That, dear listener,is Kairos it self. Here are his thoughts on the December show.


The show starts with a song from my own collection, what a surprise! Yes, I can divulge here that I tipped .No about Sophie Hunger and now we are both fans. 'Le Vent Nous Portera' is a song from one of her older albums, from before I knew she existed, which started in 2012. The song is a cover of Noir Désir. And now it gets interesting. It is not every day that a song is played on Kairos written by a convicted murderer. The song is from before this deed, so technically it was not written by a murderer, a wife slayer even. I would have wished Bertrand Cantat some Kairos at the time in that Baltic hotel room.

The story takes rather away from the beautiful playing and singing of Sophie Hunger. It holds one of the elements that makes her music so magical: the flügelhorn. Not exactly an instrument that I run into when listening to "pop music", but one that I love hearing when listening to Ms. Hunger.

The moody, dusky song morphs into what? Sounds? That is the best description. Sounds like waves on the beach roll over my ears. With some suggestions at under water sounds as well. Interesting to learn that they're are cd on which the creator of the music does not identify himself. A cd, from a drugstore retailchain, called 'Dance Of The Wind'. This works well as intro for Broeder Dieleman, who we can call a Kairos veteran by now. His song on the furthest darkness, 'Adriana', about someone who never saw the light. His most elementary music has such a large effect. A song that would have fit 100% on 'Gaaphonger', De Kift's album about the winter on Nova Zembla. 'Adriana' is eerie, ghostly, but above all shatteringly good.

'Carrion' by Orcas is a song where there is neither light nor hope. It is all atmosphere, but the melody is caught so beautifully in the vocals. If Snowstar Records hasn't heard this record yet, it should do so soon. Based on this song it is easy to hear how the band would fit in there. The sounds wash over the vocal melody and again I'm reminded of waves. There may officially be no theme this time around, it seems like I found one.

'Carrion' disappears into the piano of Dustin O'Halloran. (An excerpt of?) his Opus 7 is presented. He catches me immediately. The mood is set by all that went before and I can only listen in awe. I close my eyes and let the music carry me to wherever it wants to go. So beautiful. It could have gone on much longer as far as I'm concerned, but I awake from my reverie with a classical guitar or charango. Jean-Pierre Jolicard plays Jorge Michberg's 'Cora Se Durmio. Another piece of music that is so modestly uplifting that closing my eyes is sufficient to enjoy what is going on here.

Luik is another Snowstar Records band and has passed a few times before on Kairos. 'Spleen' is almost a non-song. There's is so much atmosphere that the song almost disappears in the long-held notes. In the guitar there is a hint at Mike Oldfield in the very soft pieces of 'Tubular Bells'. The music is so soft, so modest, so not present that it is hard to concentrate on 'Spleen'. I'm not sure what Luik wants to achieve with this song, but forcing to concentrate is surely one possibility. If I wouldn't do that there would be nothing left. So point taken, but a little more life would be welcome.

King Karoshi is a band from Canada that I was introduced to by Vancouver, Canada based singer Nathalie Ramsay. "I used to play with Patrick when I was living in Montreal", she wrote to me. I got into contact and now have two EPs in my possession. This song, 'Here's To Us' is from the latest EP called 'Catching Echoes' that was released in 2015 and reviewed on this blog. Compared to 'Spleen' there is just these more accents in the otherwise also extremely quiet song. (Leaving the singing aside.) Again keyboards wash over me, as do the accents on the cymbals. The lead notes on the guitar make all the difference and make 'Here's To Us' come alive totally.

'Bourgeois Blues' is up next. This song from long ago, gets a very electric treatment. A dirty guitar is accompanied by an instrument that I never heard in blues before: a clarinet. Xavier Charles does things to the woodwind that it was probably not invented for, but who cares. All sorts of effects are applied to it to great effect. Sometimes it is unrecognisable. This song in a way is also empty, but in another totally filled. The atmosphere is nothing like the Ry Cooder version I know, not the part of town Charles and De Boer are in, which is suggesting more of the throat slashing variety. Listening how dirty the song is played, it spells danger the whole way. 'Bourgeois Blues' is a pleasant surprise.

Next up is more atmosphere coming from an album called 'Time Elapsing Handheld'. A bit pretentious? Certainly, but something needs a name, so why not this one? Emanuele Errante's 'Memoirs' is like a Dada painting. Cut up techniques, different materials, all pasted, painted and glued together. Instruments pop up, disappear, return, fade away. Like a Dada painting it is not easy to make something of this work. I simply miss a few handles in this composition to steady myself with and find my way in from there. If I cut away the guitars, there is this rolling keyboard sound, again, and crickets filling the warm night air. Nine long minutes I sit through 'Memoirs'.

'Giardini di Mirò's 'XXXXX' is the next composition. An electric guitar full of echo, plays a few beautiful notes and chords and is the perfect intro for my absolute hero: Jeff Buckley. 'Dream Brother' has a lead guitar that fits so very well with 'XXXXX', that at first I thought I was listening to a version that I didn't yet know. What can I write about Saint Jeff that I haven't written yet? That I'm moved to tears again, just listening to him? About all the music that we were robbed of when he drowned in that Mississippi river in 1997? Is it 19 years ago this May? Yes, it is. He would have turned 50 this summer. Forgotten? World famous? We will never know. 'Dream Brother is one of his fine songs, full of mystery. Led Zeppelin at heart, sprinkled with the Buckley fairy dust.

Dustin O'Halloran is allowed to return. This time with a 'Minuet For A Cheap Piano Number Two'. I think I can hear that the piano is not exactly sounding very clear. Adam Bryanbaum Wiltze is hired to cover up and produces the finest of sounds.

The English Chamber Orchestra plays a Gavin Bryars composition for cello called 'Farewell To Philosophy'. Dark, moody, befitting the death scene of Socrates, which turned out not to be the end of philosophy after all. Personally this music works rather well. It does not invite thinking nor do I encounter a lot of images. Closing my eyes is enough as I do hear the beauty. .No got me into a very special mood this show. I can already say my favourite to date, which is not really fair as I had a rather, though indirect, big hand in this one. Inspiration by writing?

Broeder Dieleman also returns, this time with 'Zusterstraat' of his album 'Gloria'. It is announced by them birds that weave into the cellos. The raw beauty of Dieleman's violin stands in no contrast to what the English Chamber Orchestra played. There's no comparison of course.

Then a jazzy guitar cuts in and a band starts playing that I have not played since the late 80s is my guess. Paul Weller's familiar voice cuts in and this must be The Style Council. A song in which Mick Talbot is not in sight. 'The Whole Point Of No Return' is small, lovely and unpresumptuous. A perfect ending to a perfect Kairos.

Wo.

You can listen to this Kairos here:

http://www.concertzender.nl/programmagids/?date=2015-12-03&month=0&detail=82250

This is the "setlist":

00:13  Bertrand Cantat (tevens tekst), Denis Barthe, Jean-Paul Roy, Serge Teyssot-Gay. Le vent nous portera.
Van het album 1983 van Sophie Hunger. Two Gentleman, twogtl 009-J.
03:49  Onbekend. Dance of the wind.
Van cd ‘stretching meditation’. Kruidvat 99394
05:16  Broeder Dieleman. Adriana. Broeder Dieleman (Pim van de Werken, Adam Casey, Ersha Sollgar, Janine van Osta, Tonnie Dieleman).
Album: Gloria. Snowstar Records 14-056.
09:46  Orcas (Benoît Pioulard en Rafael Anton Irisarri). Carrion.
Van album Orcas. Morr Music morr 111-cd.
14:43  Dustin O’Halloran. Opus 7. Dustin O’Halloran, piano.
Van het album Vorleben. Fat Cat 130701.
17:55  Jorge Milchberg. Cora se Durmio. Jean-Pierre Jolicard, charango.
Van album Amtasiña van Jean-Pierre Jolicard. CD uitgegeven in eigen beheer.
20:35  Lukas Dikker. Spleen. Van album Owls van Luik. Snowstar Records
25:45  King karoshi (tekst: Patrick Dunphy). Here’sto us. King Karoshi (Rémi Denis, Patrick Dunphy, Alexy Guérer, Antoine Poliquin).
Van de EP ‘catching Echoes’.
28:31  Zea & Xavier Charles. Bourgeois Blues.
Van de single: Bourgeois Blues 7″. Arnold de Boer, gitaar; Xavier Charles, klarinet. Makkum Records MR5.
31:53  Emanuele Errante. Memoirs.
Van het album: Time Elapsing Handheld. Karaoke Kalk CD 75.
40:50  Giardini di Mirò. XXXXX. Giardini di Mirò (Jukka Reverberi, Corrado Nuccini, Luca Di Mira, Mirko Venturelli, Emanuele Reverberi, Andrea Mancin).
Van het album Il Fuoco. Towerblock CD 048
41:42  J.Buckley, M. Grondah, m. Johnson. Dream Brother.
Van album Grace van Jeff Buckley. Sony Music/Columbia 88697995712.
46:59  Dustin O’Halloran en Adam Bryanbaum Wiltze. Minuet for a cheap piano number two. 3:09. Dustin O’Halloran en Adam Bryanbaum Wiltze. Album ‘A Winged Victory for the Sullen. Erased Tape Records ERATP032CD
49:57  Gavin Bryars Poco Meno Mosso uit Cello Concerto (Farewell to Philosophy).
English Chamber Orchestra olv. James Budd; Julian Lloyd Webber, cello.
PHILIPS 473 296-2 PM2.
55:44  Broeder Dieleman. Zusterstraat.
Broeder Dieleman (Pim van de Werken, Adam Casey, Ersha Sollgar, Janine van Osta, Tonnie Dieleman).
Album: Gloria. Snowstar Records 14-056.
57:16  Paul Weller. The whole point of no return. The Style Council.
Van album Café Blue. Polydor 817 535-2.

maandag 22 februari 2016

19 maart. Tweede editie Fashion & Music

Liefhebbers van de nieuwste mode en muziek kunnen op zaterdag 19 maart 2016 hun hart ophalen in het Floratheater in Delft. Daar vindt de tweede editie plaats van Fashion & Music. Opnieuw een bruisende show waarin opkomende talenten hun laatste modeontwerpen en songs presenteren.  
Fashion & Music is een initiatief van fotograaf  en talentscout Jan de Bloois. Vanuit zijn passie voor mode en muziek is hij constant op pad om nieuw talent te ontdekken. Hij helpt deze creatieve mensen met het omzetten van hun passie in tastbaar succes door middel van een podium en uniek programma.  

Organisch
Van 20:00 uur tot 23:30 uur wordt de bezoeker getrakteerd op de nieuwste mode en lekkerste live soul-, pop- en rockmuziek. Veel meer dan tijdens de eerste editie zullen muziek en catwalks organisch in elkaar overvloeien. De avond wordt opgesierd met de klanken van de authentieke soul/bebop van Tracin’ Tracy, de broeierige mix van soul en jazz van Diona Fox & Her Ragdolls, de R&B en pop van het trio JBF, de melodische piano rock van The Stream, singer-songwriter Kittah Moore en pop/metalzangeres  Laura Guldemond. Om het concept van Fashion and Music extra kracht bij te zetten, zullen twee vocalisten ook als model optreden.

Op de catwalks zullen 20 professionele modellen creaties tonen van een nieuwe lichting fashion designers. Alisha Faites La Mode en Habesha Couture presenteren door Afrika geïnspireerde ontwerpen en Baifall Dream komt met een nieuwe serie originele leren jassen, beïnvloed door street-afro-pop-art. Kevin Leslie showt zijn laatste collectie in stijlvolle herenkostuums en I.ari Creation etaleert haar uitdagende damescollectie. Cryzalis maakt het modegedeelte af met luxe handgemaakte maskers.
Floratheater
Het Floratheater is een sfeervol podium in het hart van Delft. Jaarlijks vinden er diverse voorstellingen plaats op het gebied van muziek en toneel. Ook dient het theater ieder jaar weer als een van de podia voor het Jazz Festival Delft. 

.No

zondag 21 februari 2016

The Bell That Never Rang. Lau

Een van de meest bijzondere jaarlijstjes die ik de afgelopen maand tegen kwam was het jaarlijstje met de beste platen uit Schotland.
 
Uit dit lijstje van The Herald Scotland had ik de platen van Belle And Sebastian, Linden, Django Django, The Waterboys, C Duncan en Rachel Sermanni, maar de rest van de lijst zat vol mysterie.
 
Neem nu de nummer 1 uit de lijst: The Bell That Never Rang van Lau.
 
Lau maakt muziek die het label ‘experimentele folk’ opgeplakt heeft gekregen. Dat experimentele hoor je terug in de bijzondere instrumentatie. Lau maakt gebruik van de akoestische instrumenten die je verwacht in Britse folkmuziek, maar kiest hiernaast meer dan eens voor complexe, vaak repeterende akkoorden, uithalen van elektrische gitaren, inventief gebruik van elektronica en prachtig atmosferisch of juist stuwend vioolwerk.
 
De muziek op The Bell That Never Rang fascineert hierdoor meedogenloos, maar is ook mooi en trefzeker. Het is prachtig hoe Lau de spanning in haar muziek opbouwt en hoe het kan schakelen tussen muziek die zich als een warme deken om je heen slaat en muziek die je continu vastgrijpt en op het verkeerde been zet. 

De songs van Lau zijn buiten de complexe instrumentatie niet eens zo heel experimenteel. De plaat opent met een mooie en intieme folksong en laat vervolgens een track horen die, mede door de mooie zang, met een beetje fantasie van The Beatles had kunnen zijn. Het toegankelijkere geluid van Lau is naar verluid het resultaat van de samenwerking met Joan Wasser (beter bekend als Joan As Police Woman), die de plaat produceerde.
 
The Bell That Never Rang bevat zes tracks, waarvan er vijf redelijk toegankelijk zijn. Dat Lau het stempel ‘experimentele folk’ niet voor niets opgedrukt heeft gekregen hoor je in de maar liefst 17 minuten durende titeltrack, waarin Lau aangevuld met een strijkerskwartet een prachtige soundtrack neerzet voor een film die je zelf mag bedenken.
 
Het is een wonderschone aanvulling op de toegankelijkere tracks op de plaat, die allemaal laten horen dat traditionele Britse folkmuziek en avontuur wel degelijk samen kunnen gaan. Hele bijzondere plaat.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt hier luisteren naar 'The Bell That Never Rang':

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoCQTbzMgZY

of kopen op Bol.Com

zaterdag 20 februari 2016

Arké. Natasha Jolene

Time for another album that I picked up on Noisetrade.com, that website that gives away music for a voluntary donation. If you've never been there, go over and peruse, as there are hundreds of albums, EPs, songs and special compilations by artists who like to get heard and give away their music for an amount you choose to give. Here's my payment in kind. (The album is no longer available there though).

One of the albums there is by Natasha Jolene. She is from Vancouver in Canada and Arké is her first mini, seven song, album, after releasing a single in Februari of 2015, called 'Warm Winds'. Now Vancouver has been mentioned on this blog before and seems to have a large population of modest artists that make nice to outstanding albums.

When Arké started playing for the first time, I thought I had put on Gretchen Lohse's album instead. 'Delight' is just as hesitantly played and sung as the songs on her 'Primal Rumble'. What reassured me in the end was Natasha Jolene's voice, which is more regular than Lohse's. From that moment on Arké developed into a delightfully easy listening experience. Let me call it chamber music, the kind that allows you to dream away on. In my mind I'm able to lay myself down on the music coming from my speakers and float with them around the room. Only listening, enjoying and relaxing.

It's time for an official announcement from her Bandcamp webpage. First Arké is Greek for beginnings. Secondly "Arké is a concept album that explores how the beginning of our story affects the story we live in every day. It uses seven songs of imagery, poetry and symbolism to paint the picture of our human experience through the lens of Genesis 2 and 3". That is a mouthful, but forces me to start listening to the lyrics.

Musically there is also more to Arké than just this fragile beginning. In 'The Dust' there is a full band exploding into a finale. However, all begins with Natasha Jolene Stobbe's singing and piano playing. Around that, she and producer Rick Colhoun seem to have built exactly that what a song needs as an extra. That could be just a harmony vocal and a lead guitar, as in the bigger part of 'When Love Subdues' or a big finale. Mostly on Arké a minimum of accompaniment reaches a maximum of effect. A sure sign of how pure the music of Natasha Jolene is and that more certainly does not mean better as a standard in music.

Natasha Jolene is another example of how many talented singer-songwriters there out there. All want to be heard and deserve a chance at that. Natasha Jolene presents herself in a very pure form on Arké, embraced and carried by the beauty of the music around her.

Wo.

You can listen to and buy Arké on the Bandcamp site of Natasha Jolene:

https://natashajolene.bandcamp.com/album/ark

vrijdag 19 februari 2016

Southlands. Malojian

Ik ontvang wekelijks stapels nieuwe releases, waarvan het merendeel past in het hokje rootsmuziek of het hokje singer-songwriter.
 
Mede door het grote aanbod valt het niet mee om op te vallen in deze grote stapel, maar zo af en toe zit er een plaat tussen die onmiddellijk de aandacht weet te trekken. Southlands van Malojian is zo’n plaat.
 
Malojian is een band rond de uit het Noord-Ierse Belfast afkomstige Stevie Scullion. Malojian laat zich op Southlands zeker beïnvloeden door de Britse folk, maar de plaat klinkt bij vlagen ook heel Amerikaans.
 
Het valt niet mee om Southlands in het juiste hokje te duwen. Malojian maakt mooie en gloedvolle popmuziek die opvalt door de lome instrumentatie en de bijzondere stem van Stevie Scullion.
 
Het is stem die herinnert aan de grote singer-songwriters uit de jaren 70 en aan de folk- en countryrock uit dezelfde periode. Southlands staat vol met tijdloze popliedjes die uit diezelfde jaren 70 lijken te stammen, maar het zijn zeker geen popliedjes die alleen maar aangenaam voortkabbelen. Malojian sluit het ene moment aan bij de oude Britse folk, het volgende moment bij hedendaagse rootsmuziek, om vervolgens weer terug te keren naar de perfecte popliedjes uit de jaren 70.
 
Heerlijk wegdromen kan hierbij ruw worden verstoord door een gierende gitaar of juist worden versterkt door honingzoete melodieën. De songs van Malojian herinneren niet alleen aan folk, alt-country of 70s pop, maar doen ook wel wat denken aan de intieme en melancholische muziek van Elliott Smith; een volgende reden om eens naar Southlands te luisteren. Beatlesque accenten maken het veelkleurige karakter van Southlands compleet.
 
Zelf heb ik de plaat heel lang op de stapel laten liggen, maar toen de plaat voor het eerst uit de speakers kwam was ik verkocht. En dat ben ik nog steeds. Sterker nog, Southlands van Malojian wordt alleen maar leuker, mooier en dierbaarder.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt hier luisteren naar 'Communian Girls':

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJWpeT4LyA8

Zie ook Malojian's Bandcamp site:

https://malojian.bandcamp.com/album/southlands

donderdag 18 februari 2016

Coast To Coast. Recorders

Recorders is a Belgian band. Can that be heard as a one off? No, I can't. There is one hint though at things Belgian. Some of the songs sound like A Brand, circa 2009, with a leash on and less guitarists, but that is it. Coast To Coast is an international sounding album that is close to Shearwater's latest. (Expect a review next week.)

Recorders is around since 2008. After a few EPs and singles the band released 'Above The Tide' in 2014. Two years later it is time for that second album. Frontman Gordon Delacroix changed his band around quite a lot, in other words he is Recorders. For inspiration he travelled to Sweden and the Alps and this paid off.

Coast To Coast is an album that, musically, looks back and forward. The atmosphere of the sound is as solemn as a church organ, the sounds itself totally 2016. Sometimes devoid of any emotion, like a teenager gunning away innocent bystanders in a videogame. Then comes in the strongpoint of Coast To Coast, which is warmth.The album exhumes warmth despite the at times clinical sound of the keyboards and synthesizers. Charles De Schutter was a wise choice as producer it seems, as he has brought out all this organic feeling in a clinical environment.

The most extreme Recorders is in the futuristic 'Glitch'. If this is a hint to what music will turn into in a few years time, don't expect a lot of reviews on this blog any longer. Devoid of all, like that scene with a party in the original 'Star Trek' series with future dance music. This is an exception though. In 'Undivided' Recorders does something modern pop as well. Delacroix singing high and low, making the song interesting this way.

Pop is the best description for the music of Recorders. This can take an up tempo form, sounding like Josh Ritter in his fast songs, e.g. 'Lost At Sea' or more rocking like A Brand as mentioned. Mostly it is mid tempo and more serious. Striking away 'Undivided' Recorders convinces in all forms as far as I'm concerned. I like the voice of Gordon Delacroix and I like his music.

A beautiful nature video Recorders released by the way.

Wo.

You can listen to 'Lost At Sea' here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gowQ7bh6Vkg

or buy on Bol.Com


woensdag 17 februari 2016

Javelin. Jordan Klassen

Every once in a while a cd drops into my letter box. For some reason often from acts with a Canadian background. It is more rare that this cd is of a timeless beauty. Jordan Klassen (related to speedskater Cindy?) produced just such a cd with Javelin. The fact that it comes close to one of the best albums of 2015, City and Colour's 'If I Should Go Before You', is as telling as I can make it.

Jordan Klassen works from Vancouver on Canada's south-west coast. The album was recorded in the splendid isolation of Texas' rural country. Here Klassen could work hard and without too much distraction going on. In fact, except for some non-specified help, he played all instruments and produced the record himself there. Javelin is his second album after 'Repentance' (2014).

That beauty and inspiration often comes to musicians from hardship is proven by this album once again. Struggling with his own inner demons, next to a seriously ill mother, Jordan Klassen produced an album of ethereal beauty. An album so light and soft it almost makes me ticklish, were it not so serious in tone.

Javelin reminds me of another artist living on the Pacific coast, but somewhat further south. Patrick Joseph is capable of producing the same dreamy music with a quality like Jordan Klassen's. 'Moon King' is an album worth checking out if you like this album.

Javelin touches me instantly and I can exactly pinpoint to moments in the music where this happens. In the song 'Gargoyles' his voice goes down a few notes and this mood settles over me that hooks me to the song immediately. I am sucked in and start hearing all these small details, being brought into a state of a pleasant form of hyper attention. The violins, the background vocals, the rimshot percussion.

Promo Photo
With the single 'Baby Moses' the mood is lifted somewhat. The high tone, the softly, somewhat staccato played violins, the "weird" solo, all imply a playfulness that is allowed into Javelin. There's no need to think that this song would seem misplaced on a radio station playing the Ed Sheeran's of this world. In fact 'Baby Moses' would fit in nicely.

'We Got Married' is this dreamy song, which seems so utterly romantic, but when I started listening to the lyrics, things rather changed. The creepy sounds at the end are much better to understand once I did. Something seems to have gone terribly wrong on that boat in the bay. It is probably the wrong word to use, but there's humour on this song.

The only song I do not really like on Javelin is the calypso influenced 'St. Frazer'. A bit too light for this album. Rhythmically not a part of the rest, so standing out a bit.

What I do not hear, is the Enya connection the bio makes. Unless it is that undefined sort of atmosphere humming in the background of this production. Otherwise I truly have no clue. There's another voice, male, singing high also, that keeps eluding me, that I'm reminded of a few times on Javelin. Perhaps the name will come to me before publication and if later, I will let you know.

Listening to Javelin I am convinced that Klassen made the right choice to move to Texas for a while and record his second record there. Javelin is a triumph of musicianship, songwriting and arranging. Time I stop writing and you start listening if you haven't done so already.

Wo.

You can listen to 'Baby Moses' here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NCEHU7v7cDY

or buy on Bol.Com


dinsdag 16 februari 2016

The High Country. Alex Culbreth

This blog was only days old when The Parlor Soldiers featured, followed soon by an interview with Alex Culbreth. The duo, Karen Jonas is the other half, is no more but with a new record by Alex Culbreth and one by Karen Jonas on the slate the world is double as good.

In The High Country Culbreth remains close to his roots. The album has a title that tells it all. All sorts of traditional music comes by, bluegrass, blues, country, alt.americana and roots. A lot of different styles come by, making The High Country a diverse album. The ever rougher voice of Alex Culbreth makes the listening a deeper experience.

The album kicks off with a song that could be on the new album of The Hackensaw Boys, out due in April. The up tempo bluegrass of 'Corn Liquor' is fun, in your face and over before I realise it's started. The qualification 'in your face is appropriate for most of the album. Even when Culbreth is just field hollerin' and footstompin' in 'Stagnant Waters' he is'literally standing right in front of you in the way the song comes at you.

Some of the more bluesy songs remind me of Hot Tuna's first album. The atmosphere is the same, Alex Culbreth even sings like Jorma Kaukonen in 'Sugarmama'. The fact that there is a violin there instead of a harmonica is trivial. The intention to play pure, acoustic blues music is the same. The effect also. Next he does a Gene Vincent (or Buddy Holly) in 'Tear It Up', in a successful way I might add. A real fun song.

In 'The Mustache Ride' the violin of Eddie Dickerson gets a spotlight for the first time. The violin is one of the gems that we get for added value on this album. Something to cherish. This song is one of the absolute highlights of 'The High Country'. The enthusiastic groove says it all.

Listening deeper into The High Country I notice that the album is much more a solo effort. A few songs are just a voice and a guitar. The moment I write this a band song gets going, 'Choke That Chicken', another bluegrass song. I want to go back to 'Weather The Storm' though. In this quiet song a maximum effect is reached from a minimum of sound. The perfect singer-songwriter song? It may come very close.

What I miss on The High Country is Alex Culbreth's ownness. The album seems more like a collection of emulations of his favourite music than a real Alex Culbreth collection of songs, like e.g. 'Heart In A Mason Jar' was. Of course that could be intended, I don't know. Having said that, the emulations succeed successfully right up to extremely so. So there is no reason to complain, just a feeling that I have that needs mentioning.

It all ends with a banjo in 'Vagabond Blues', another downcast song. There's not a lot of joy on the album. A lot of whisky is though. 'Vagabond Blues does set a capstone on The High Country though. Again simply a few chords and a voice with which Alex Culbreth does what he is good in, capturing his listener, me and drawing me into his world. A world that doesn't seem to allow a lot of smiles, but at times that is just fine for me. The remedy? Turn the record on again and get a smile on your face by listening to 'Corn Liquor' again. Heck, he even sings "a pillow of laughs" or does it just sound like it? He also sings "It's going to be the death of me", so out goes the pillow and the laughs. if they ever were there that is.

Listening to the album once again it deepens the experience and the songs start to settle in me. The conclusion is as evident as deserved: a very interesting, diverse but most of all a good new album.

Wo.

You can listen to and buy The High Country here:

https://alexculbreth.bandcamp.com/

maandag 15 februari 2016

Lioness. Sivert Høyem

Madrugada was one of my favourite bands of the 00s. Ever since I heard 'Electric' and not much later 'Industrial Silence' I was sold. The dark voice of Sivert Høyem and the mysterious music, like Chris Isaak in cold and dark Arctic days and nights, and more much more, were very addictive. The bond grew by the album and live shows and  then all of a sudden I saw the dark pages of 'Madrugada' and the in memoriam for Robert Burås. My first thought was it must be for his father, but some googling confirmed my unrest. An unrest that started with all the black pages in the cd booklet. The Madrugada guitarist was dead for half a year or more, without the message ever reaching me.

Høyem continued with what he was already doing during Madrugada, recording solo records. The first one I really liked was the previous one, 'Endless Love'. Everything seemed to fall together, just like it does on Lioness. This is the album that I want to hear and what could have been the 2016 Madrugada album had the band been able to continue.

Lioness is an album full of unquenched desire hidden by a façade of male superiority. A desire for life, for simplicity, for being less restrained, for things normal. That is the feeling I get listening to Lioness. So much seems to hide underneath the surface of Høyem's singing.

Writing that Sivert Høyem is Madrugada is equal to lying. Robert Burås is not here and it is his guitar playing that made up a large chunk of Madrugada's sound. The delayed way of playing, the endless echo and the almost sinister emptiness is all missing on Lioness. Sivert Høyem has his voice and from there creates music that makes him his own man. The result is music that is less exciting for the reasons mentioned above, but has its own beauty and more importantly quality.

From the very first song the fans are treated to superior ballads. Ballads of a fine and intrinsic beauty. Topping it all is the duet with Norwegian singer Marie Munroe. Together they capture a mood that is quieting and just begs listening. The balance between the two voices is perfect and exceeds Høyem's duet with Ane Brun of years ago by far.

One of the influences I hear in a song like 'The Riviera of Hades' is Lee Hazlewood. Not just the dark voices. Late Lee may win that, but the way the song is arranged and flows through the chord changes. No matter how strange 'Some Velvet Morning' may be, I'm reminded of that song here. The songs have mystique in common and something otherworldly.

There I have mentioned the one strong point of Lioness. It has its own feel, mood, universe if you like. It has all that without being one dimensional and that makes it special. There are so many albums that are not able to remain consistent or become a little boring, without a course changing song. Not Lioness, it is consistent and true to its mood. With a little schmalzy ending, called 'Silences', I cede you that.

When Lioness opened with 'Sleepwalking Man' I was sold. The ever widening piano line, the violins that do the same, working towards that other point in the song they seem to take forever to reach, the wah wah guitar and all in a ballad of modest proportions. This is no Foreigner ballad. An album that dares to open with a grandeur like 'Sleepwalking Man' can't be bad and this proved to be true. Lioness is Sivert Høyem's best solo effort to date.

Wo.

You can listen to 'Sleepwalking Man' here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gnrLkHvw_WA

or buy on Bol.Com