dinsdag 25 april 2017

Bounce Back. Chantal Acda

Chantal Acda so far was just a name to me. One of those names in music that comes by every once in a while, yet I can't remember ever having heard her music before. For one reason or another I associate the name with jazz and that usually does not trigger me to start listening. Another association was Thomas Acda and that isn't my cup of tea either. With her new album Bounce Back that all changed.

Look at the cover. I see a horse, face turned away from me on a patch of land with nothing but fog behind it. Clear, yet full of mystery or better the unknown. Anything could be behind that horse, including danger or just plain nothing. Who can tell?

It's a bit the same with the music of Chantal Acda on Bounce Back. Several songs have this kind of mystery surrounding them. Not all is clear on the album.

I wrote this part before reading the bio accompanying Bounce Back. Chantal Acda tells about the disassociation that comes with social media. Do people really connect any more or just tell about their (too) pretty side on Facebook? She wanted to go personal and left the large venues to play living room shows and connected with the people there. From the stories she heard there, this album slowly grew.

Promo photo: Hanneke Wetzer
Chantal Acda is from Belgium and also plays in the band Isbells from Leuven. Bounce Back is her third solo album after releases in 2013 and 2015. On Bounce Back she ventures through several different musical spheres. There is a hint at folk, disguised under modern, atmospheric guitar playing and rhythms that are not necessarily straight forward. Another faint hint at pop is given here and there, again disguised behind what I can just as easily call modern classical music. Just like the music .No presents me with on 'Kairos', his radio show on Concertzender with e.g. Nils Frahm, Peter Broderick or Ben Lukas Boysen. Acda does not let herself be caught in a single corner. If there is a common denominator it is that mystery. That fleeting reality and mysterious sounds when surrounded by fog or snow for that matter. All sounds differently, more supernatural.

So expect guitars with a lot of reverb and echo, drums that play rhythms that do not necessarily seem a part of the song structure, but something added as an extra instrument, while a piece of percussion keeps the rhythm on track. Chantal Acda singing slowly, with deliberate words that can only be in that place at that point. The kind of music that befits a living room. Soft, modest, but commanding people to listen to the point of being able to hear a pin drop. If her aim is to do more living rooms shows she has the right music for that here. In large venues it will demand more attention than most people are able to summon these days. A live show is the new pub it seems sometimes.

Promo photo by: Hanneke Wetzer
A surprise is the intro to 'These Terms', especially after the extremely small song 'Stay'. It's like Rammstein is going to play 'Ohne Dich'. That mood is lifted for, again an extremely small song. An acoustic guitar playing slow chords, some atmospherics in the background, a voice. That mood morphs into something bigger soon, when a busy drum is added and strings enter more prominently with an electric guitar.

Acda, the guitar and the drums are the horse, all going on in the background is the fog. I realise that the drums remind me of the role of the drums on Bowie's 'Black Star', almost set free and omnipresent.

Variation is a word that is not in abundant supply on Bounce Back. To find it one has to work hard, pay attention and leave outside impulses behind. Anyone not able to do so will not find the cello in 'Our Memories', the intricate guitar playing, the horn section that comes in near the end. Probably only that the mood changes during the outro of the song. The fun of Bounce Back is in the small details. Each song offers some, making Bounce Back an album to truly enjoy in solitude. An album for two: you and the album, preferably on a headset. It seems like Chantal Acda has succeeded in her quest for disassociation.

Wo.

You can listen to 'Fight Back' here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9bbRUCGU6A

maandag 24 april 2017

Radio Harlaz. Mad About Mountains

Tips van lezers van deze BLOG zijn voor mij zeer waardevol. Wanneer ik een tip binnenkrijg ga ik meestal dan ook snel luisteren en dit heeft me het afgelopen jaar een aantal prachtplaten opgeleverd.
 
Wanneer ik een bericht ontvang waarin staat dat ik de beste countryplaat van het jaar heb gemist, ben ik natuurlijk extra nieuwsgierig en ben ik echt direct gaan luisteren.
 
Gezien mijn voorkeur voor vrouwenstemmen is Radio Harlaz van Mad About Mountains voor mij niet de beste countryplaat van 2016, maar het is absoluut een hele goede countryplaat en het is er bovendien een die niet had misstaan in mijn jaarlijstje.

Mad About Mountains is een band rond de Belgische muzikant Piet De Pessemier. De muzikant uit Herk-de-Stad en zijn medemuzikanten lieten zich voor Radio Harlaz inspireren door het trieste verhaal van countryster Glen Campbell, die werd getroffen door Alzheimer en vervolgens een aantal gerenommeerde prijzen won terwijl hij zelf niet meer wist wie Glen Campbell nu eigenlijk was en een teruggetrokken leven leidde met zijn vrouw.
 
Het verhaal van Glen Campbell en de tragiek van het leven in het algemeen vormt de rode draad op een plaat, die in muzikaal opzicht vooral associaties oproept met de muziek van Neil Young.
 
De melancholische alt-country en country op Radio Harlaz doet meer dan eens denken aan de muziek die Neil Young in een ver verleden maakte (een van de tracks lijkt overigens wel erg veel op Neil Young klassieker Heart Of Gold), al dan niet bijgestaan door Crosby, Stills en Nash of The Crazy Horse.
 
Het is muziek die prachtig zacht en melancholisch kan klinken, maar Mad About Mountains kan de gitaren ook heerlijk laten janken, net als Neil Young dat zo mooi kon en nog steeds kan.
 
Het levert een tijdloze countryplaat op, die herinnert aan de hoogtijdagen van de 70s countryrock, maar af en toe ook lijntjes uitgooit naar meer eigenzinnige en hedendaagse bands als Wilco en My Morning Jacket, waardoor Radio Harlaz zich vrij makkelijk ontworstelt aan het hokje retro.
 
Luister naar Radio Harlaz en de klok tikt opeens een stuk minder snel. De 45 minuten van Radio Harlaz lijken veel langer te duren en zorgen voor aangename onthaasting, die in deze drukke tijden heel goed van pas komt.
 
Mad About Mountains overtuigt op Radio Harlaz met prachtige weemoedige songs, een al even fraaie en veelkleurige instrumentatie en vocalen die meestal aangenamer zijn dan die van Neil Young zelf. Inderdaad een countryplaat die de liefhebber niet mag laten liggen en die zomaar jaarlijstjes moet kunnen halen. Mooie tip dus.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt hier luisteren naar 'Walk With Me':

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sqc4NezMYAs

zondag 23 april 2017

Amber Arcades + Moss Live. Paradiso Tolhuistuin, Thursday 20-04-2016

Two bands who's last albums I truly like on one bill. That was an offer I couldn't refuse. Both Amber Arcades and Moss have featured before on this blog in favourable ways. Although both can be stashed in the corner of alternative, indie rock, the differences are significant. Not only in music, but obviously also in experience and presence. Let's dive in, but not before some starting comments.

It is beyond discussion that I like both bands. Their recent albums 'Fading Lines' and 'Strike' are excellent. Both have found their way into my devices without too much effort. Amber Arcades may win out on points as I think its album is just this little more sympathetic. Both are musically beyond reproach with Moss being somewhat more experienced, which shows in the sound and the "tricks" to dress up the song some more. Now lets move on to the show.

In English the position I have manoeuvred myself into voluntarily is that of a critic and I'm afraid that it is this role I have to play where Amber Arcades is concerned. There is no nice way to go about it. And it shouldn't as what I'm writing is well meant. Annelotte de Graaf's presentation leaves a lot to be desired and the fact that she is surrounded by hired hands clearly does not help her. To entertain is hard. It is hard work and takes effort. When all was sung and played I could not escape the feeling that she'd rather be anywhere else than on this stage and was glad to be able to leave it when the show was over. To communicate with the audience is a way to interact and win it over. So make sure that it can understand what you're saying. I had the impression that the interaction does not come completely naturally. That makes it doubly necessary for me to hear what is said to be able to sympathise. And finally the eye needs a little something as well. I'm not implying the Katy Perry, Rhianna kind of dress-up, but a little more stylish clothes would be welcome. It adds to the picture.

Musically there was a contrast as Annelotte de Graaf played her songs extremely confident. Her songs are her strength and it showed. There's no hesitation nor feeling uncomfortable on this front. The band played competently, but somewhat detached. Enough to make the songs come alive. If Amber Arcades is able to translate that inner musical strength into a little more outward podium presence, there's nothing to worry about. The songs are great and the new material that was played literally provided the show with an extra dimension. That new EP, announced for 2 June, is going to be something to look out for. Conclusion for now: the benefit of the doubt. A next time will have to be better.

Moss took over the stage, putting everything in place itself and started to blast away. Here there was only confidence, several band members with a podium presence and songs that were taken far beyond the studio version, if so wished. 15 Years of experience showed easily. I think I could more or less point to my previous review of a Moss show, late 2014 if I'm correct, and take the easy way out.

Of course there were a lot of new songs, who held up great in the setlist. There was a lot of talking, this was a home show with lots of friends in the room and a lot of tuning the guitars. That never took anything away from the pace of the show, that knew an emotional moment when 'Strike' was announced. Guitar effects were all over the place and that 70s synth sound reminded me of everything between Tubeway Army and Fischer-Z. Oh, fine memories of my youth translated into great 2017 music. Because that it is. Nothing to be ashamed of where Dutch bands are concerned these days. It has never been this good and Moss is a proud member of that indie rock ship that ought to conquer the world like the V.O.C. once did.

What Moss excels in, besides playing some great songs, is the use of dynamics. Within the show as a whole, but also within songs. Sonic storms can follow quiet moments and all played with extreme confidence. No holding back followed by extreme restraint. And then came 'She's Got A Secret'. The song to end all songs. Moss has not written a more powerful song that this one. With bleeding ears I left the Tolhuistuin, with a new vinyl and a new cd under my arm, receiving apps about 020 going to the semi-final. Congratulations, well-meant to, but you know what to do just about now!

(All photo's by) Wo.

Creeper live. Saturday 15 April 2017, Melkweg Amsterdam

Photo: Kristine Naess
For their last concert of their tour, 'horror punk' band Creeper gave a show in the Melkweg in Amsterdam on the 15th of April. They clearly are not afraid to make a lot of noise, their front singer, Will Gould, clearly is not afraid to scream, the bass guitar and the guitar can be very present, and the drummer is not afraid to hurt his drum kit. However, neither are they afraid to produce some excellent melodies. The 'noise' is used to stress bits and parts of the songs, in between it never exceeds levels we are not accustomed to through Green Day. This means you never lose out on the excellent voice of the front and second singers, more subtle guitar riffs, and the support of the bass. Together the 'noise' and the melody do allow you to lose yourself , though, while dancing and jumping.

Many of the songs were great to sing along with, which added much to the atmosphere. Yet, while some parts of the songs are great sing-alongs, the music is not 'simple', rhythms constantly change, different instruments take precedence in different parts of songs, and several melodies are interwoven in the songs at times. The temporization of the concert was excellent too, with some slower songs to allow you to catch your breath. For instance, Hannah Greenwood, the keyboard player, did an excellent duet with guitarist Ian Miles.

Photo: Kristine Naess
Although the crowd was not extremely large, the Oude Zaal of the Melkweg was not packed, of the people who were there a large share could sing along with most of their songs. There also was a quite acceptable circle pit, edged on by the band. The band was clearly very happy to play for us, which also appeared from their interaction with the public, helping crowd surfers on the stage and even letting one guy sing along with one of the songs. All in all it was an excellent concert, by a band which could become very big, if they manage to write more songs as good as their best ones so far, like Black Rain, Suzanne, Misery and Down Below.

Joes

zaterdag 22 april 2017

Where's The Funky Party? Hallo Venray


Dertig jaar Hallo Venray wordt gevierd met een nieuwe, veertiende, cd en een clubtour. Na het teleurstellende 'No Show' (2014) is het nu veel fijner rapporteren over de creatieve output  van Henk Koorn, Peter Konings en Henk Jonkers. Where Is The Funky Party is gewoon goed, lekker fel, met veel uptempo nummers, psychedelisch elementen en melancholische zangpartijen.

Het begint al goed, met de opening 'Funky Party'. Veel trommel en galm begeleiden de felle gitaar. Tekstueel stelt het niet veel voor, zoals dat bij meerdere nummers het geval is. Het lekkerste nummer is 'Blood', heerlijke punkrock, opwindend, vrolijk en opruiend. Echt een feestje. 'Oh, you’re not bad' zet die lijn door, hoewel een tempootje lager. In deze song is het gitaarwerk goed afwisselend en stevig aanwezig. Met 'Drink' ("I don’t drink as much as you do", is de terugkerende tekstuele lijn) gaat het gewoon op hetzelfde hoge niveau door. Het meest opwindende nummer, ook het kortst met 1 minuut 31, is 'Sticking', waarbij het moeilijk stilzitten is. Hallo Venray op zijn best. Dit wordt gevolgd door 'Ball', dat een heerlijk donkere ondertoon van de bas en drums heeft bij een aanstekelijke partij op de leadgitaar. 'Supermarket' is ook weer een kortje (1:42), maar heftig en intens.

Het slot valt tegen. Wellicht niet toevallig zijn het ook de langste nummers, alle drie ('Stories', 'Different Kind of Air', 'Look Outside') met ellenlange instrumentale stukken. Op zijn best doet het denken aan de instrumentele delen van nummers van The Cure uit de vroege jaren tachtig. Vaker is het gewoon een beetje saai en een tikkie te psychedelisch en monotoon.

Maar dit mag de pret niet drukken. Hallo Venray heeft een lekker album afgeleverd, met meer dan voldoende meeslepende en opwindende nummers. Het luisteren, en zien, meer dan waard.

HareD

vrijdag 21 april 2017

Death Song. The Black Angels

Oh, wow! A vision of "Neil" enters my head and simply won't go away. Oh, wow!!! is what I think having listened to Death Song, The Black Angels' latest album. It's so good, I almost don't believe my ears. After the final notes of that great final track, 'Life Song', faded away, I'm left behind orphaned, alone, bereft. The only way around that desolate feeling is to put the record back on. And again.

It's been a while since a record had this great an impact on me and at that by a band that I'd nearly forgotten about. In 2010 I discovered  the band with its album 'Phosphene' that included great songs like 'Yellow Elevator'. The follow up album, 'Indigo Meadow' (2013), disappointed me and after that I lost track of the band. In fact I just found out that Death Song is the band's first full-length release since 2013. The four year hiatus has done the band a lot of good, musically.

Death Song is a like a dirty rag. Too dirty to use again, so dirty that it seems dangerous even to pick up from the floor. Just listen to 'Currency', the opening song. A dirty sound, a cluttered mix and singer Alex Maas singing, not unlike German singer and actress Nico, but so much more supple. Maas can sing, in his own mysterious way. In fact, if I hadn't seen the photographs, I would have sworn there is a lady singing on this album. Around him the guitars are distorted and fuzzed in all sorts of ways in order to create a fuzzy, psychedelic world. A world where nothing is what it seems. Actually, the only thing that is concrete are the drums. Stephanie Bailey is as solid as the rock of Gibraltar. Hopefully not as contended. The drums sound surprisingly bright, with clear sounding cymbals, like a lighthouse in the storm and rain.

The logo
With Death Song The Black Angels sort of have come full circle. The band started in 2004 in Austin, Texas and took its name from The Velvet Underground's song 'The Black Angel's Death Song'. With the album title the ultimate tip of the hat has been given to the legendary band from the second half of the 60s. The music is more hippie than The Velvet Underground ever was. Much more psychedelic. Where the bands meet is in the darkness. The Black Angels move around in darkness. It may allow colours, see the album cover, but they are so muddled that it is impossible to give it the moniker colourful.

With the sound another interesting feature of Death Song is mentioned. The band obviously enjoys searching for extreme guitar sounds. Underneath completely normal sounding guitars can be heard, until they are taken over by extreme overdubs, sweeping the structure of a song from its feet and taking it in other directions. Sonic adventures to follow with red ears.

The darkness is joined by a portion mystery. In part in the voice of singer Alex Maas. Yet that is not all. It is in the windswept guitar sprawls that are all over a song or the keyboards that envelop a song almost to obfuscate what is going on in a song. The directness of a song like 'Hunt Me Down' is a fine contrast to the meandering 'Comanche Moon'. One of the most beautiful moments on the album is when in, the fairly traditional sounding, 'Estimate' the keyboard joins, leaves, a second voice enters and the keyboard comes back. This is what true inspiration sounds like to me. It's not more than two notes and that is all it takes in this context. At the same time completely normal little 60s sounding guitar licks can be heard, where nothing wild and exciting is going on. All adding to the perfect balance of Death Song.

The pièce de résistance is kept for the end. Believe it or not, this dirge is called 'Life Song'. It is all about dying in a vast expanse. The keyboard sound, I suppose a Mellotron, is superb, the tempo dragging along, always halted by the lingering Mellotron. The voice full of resignation and despair. There's nothing left to save here. Over the past months I have tipped a few songs as future top songs for the Top 2000. And here I am always "complaining" that "they" don't make songs like 'Just A Little Bit Of Peace In My Heart', 'Eloise' or 'Stairway To Heaven' any more. Well people, I have news for you, 'Life Song' is such a song. Though certainly more one dimensional, it is monumental. The best song Earth & Fire never recorded. "I'm dying, I'm dying", Alex Maas sings and I'm believing every word. This is the voice of someone looking death straight into the eyes. Luckily, knowing my Pratchett, Death can be pretty funny in those dying seconds before the soul says 'pop', with a last, small twinkle. There's hope yet.

Wo.

You can listen to 'Currency' here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qryaZmxdK1A

donderdag 20 april 2017

Bry. Bry

Since a few weeks Bry is spinning around in my cd player. The enthusiasm and positive energy oozing out of the speakers is simply too much to resist. The music of Bry makes the sun shine at those moments I need a little extra.

The album finally has its official release in The Netherlands. In Bry's homecountry Ireland, those interested were able to enjoy his music all through the fall and winter.

For me Bry, or Brian O'Reilly as he is known formally to the world, is a totally new name. For those who dwell on YouTube more than I do, he could be a household name. Bry was prone to travel around the world by the country. His goal is to perform in all countries and organised his trips and playing through social media, making an ever bigger name for himself. According to Wikipedia he is at 65 and rising. It seems the small time travelling days are sort of over. Recently he supported Twenty One Pilots at their latest European tour playing in large venues. The kind of stepping stone one needs to go on one's own headlining tour.

Back to the Bry, the album. Together with songwriter/producer Greg Wells, who worked with nearly all the great artists of the 00s and 10s, Bry has made a very clear sounding album. His guitar and voice are at the basis of what Wells built (and played) around him to bolster the songs and give them a more commercial feel. No matter the work of Wells, if the songs are no good, no bolstering will save them.

Right from the beginning 'Bry' captures me. 'Disarm' within seconds brought me into The Proclaimers territory, the Scottish twins with that infectious hit 'Letter From America'. The next thing coming to mind was The Decemberists. Colin Maloy seems to present here in the chorus. Bry knows how to capture the sound of The Decemberists and give it just this little extra in the form of a poppy element that is injected through the (synths playing at?) violins. 'Disarm' is the kind of song that grabs the listener by the ears and makes him pay attention.

Promo photo
With sympathetic ears I set myself comfortably for the rest of the album. Nearly all the songs on Bry have been given this little extra. Something that makes them stand out. A piano that enters the solid wall of music or another keyboard sound. With this wall that Greg built, Bry leaves his street and park playing days behind him. How he may have sounded can e.g. be heard in the intro of 'Your Life Over Mine'. Just an acoustic guitar and Bry's voice. After that Greg Wells takes over. There is no way that Bry can reproduce any of this on stage on his own. So there's an existential choice for him to make over who to be live. The singer-songwriter is mostly well-hidden away with an appearance at the right moment.

Bry is able to impress when things are kept small as well. 'Adventure Time' largely consists of voice, guitar and sparse piano chords. His charming Irish accent carries the song fully and successfully. The pleasant way Bry sings is a large part of the reason I like 'Bry'.

It's easy to try and compare Bry to the likes of Ed Sheeran, but as I already pointed out I'm reminded more of other acts. The Lumineers come to mind as well, but also a few boy bands. The sound in some songs moves dangerously close to their prefab sounds. Again it is the less polished voice, sounding so optimistically glad of being able to sing these songs, in combination with the more serious songs and an occasional rock outing that give 'Bry' the right mix to be digested fully, completely. Here I've given you the secret of 'Bry''s success. The album presents the best of a few worlds, making 'Bry' an album to brighten up your day in the appropriate moments and to be enjoyed on any other moment.

Something else ought to receive credit to. With the two pandas underway from China to the zoo in Rhenen the day I am writing this review, the cover of Bry's album could not be more appropriate. On its own it is a beautiful piece of art by Charming Baker, that Bry can be proud of to be able to sport on his record.

Wo.

You can listen to 'Don't Go Alone' here:

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




woensdag 19 april 2017

Trein Vuur Dageraad. Spinvis

Een nieuwe Spinvis? Mwah. Daar zat ik niet echt op te wachten. In 2012, in de begindagen van dit blog gaf ik 'Tot Ziens, Justine Keller' een kans, maar dat werd geen onverdeeld succes. Trein Vuur Dageraad bleef dan ook op de stapel liggen. Een gegeven paard in de bek kijken is nooit de bedoeling, maar in dit geval heb ik dat toch gedaan en lees.

Wat maakt dit album dan zo veel anders? Niet eens zo heel veel, lijkt het. De lijzige spraakzang van Erik de Jong is niet veranderd en is iets waar ik echt overheen moet stappen. Die stem is heel bepalend voor het geluid van Spinvis. In een aantal nummers lukt dat vrij goed. Dat is eigenlijk voor het eerst. Het feit dat ik bij het tiende nummer 'Alles Is' nog steeds aanwezig ben, zegt eigenlijk alles.

Nu kan het ook gewenning zijn, na een hiaat van ongeveer vijf jaar zonder Spinvis door te hebben gebracht, maar er is meer aan de hand. Voor mijn gevoel bestaat Trein Vuur Dageraad uit iets meer traditionale liedjes. Liedjes die mij aanspreken en laten luisteren. Vooralsnog is het een passieve vorm van luisteren. Ik heb mij nog niet op participatie kunnen betrappen, maar dat moment hoeft niet ver weg te zijn. Zo nu en dan schiet mij de naam Boudewijn de Groot te binnen en bij een flink aantal van zijn nummers kan ik mij zelden beheersen om niet actief bij te dragen aan zijn songs.

Nu kan het zijn dat Spinvis niet het doel heeft mij mee te laten doen en mij wil veroveren door mij stil te laten zijn en te laten luisteren. Zo ja, missie geslaagd. Zoals in de titelsong. Klein, bescheiden, maar steeds een klein beetje brutaler. Stop er nog een viool bij, een tweede stem (met een tegenmelodie) en langzaam komt uit een fraaie rups een prachtige vlinder tevoorschijn. Uiteindelijk is het een song die Coldplay al 12 jaar niet meer weet te maken. Een song die niet alleen imposant is, maar die ook interessant is en raakt. Zie daar hoe ver mijn Spinvis aversie is geweken.

Promo foto
Niet alle liedjes komen zo ver als 'Trein Vuur Dageraad'. (Top 2000 werk als de radio het komend jaar genoeg speelt.) Er zijn ook "gewone" songs bij, maar ik heb er niet een gehoord die ik wil afzetten voordat hij over is.

Het album begint totaal lo-fi. Een akoestische gitaar, een vage stem en gekraak alsof er op de achtergrond een 78 toerenplaat wordt afgespeeld. Het doet ook aan De Kift denken, lang geleden op Nova Zembla. De titel van de plaat komt direct voorbij in het nog geen minuut durende muziekje. Een mijmering tussen heden en verleden afgebeeld als de overkant. Onbereikbaar ver weg, zoals het spookachtige gehalte van 'Ergens Toen' zelf. Het soort begin dat mij benieuwd maakt naar meer. Dat is precies wat Spinvis is gelukt met Trein Vuur Dageraad. (Ja, 'Ergens Toen' is de opmaat naar, de oerversie wellicht van, het grootse titelnummer.)

Wo.

Je kunt hier luisteren naar 'Hallo Maandag':

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3d3DqckUPw


dinsdag 18 april 2017

Every Place In Hell Is Special. Tim Claridge

"I put an EP out to get some metal out of my system" the email Tim Claridge sent me said. O.K., metal usually means I take cover and hide until the storm is over. And so how come, I notice you asking yourself, is this guy writing right now?

That answer is so simple: This is Tim Claridge, people. One of the most talented, unsigned songwriters on this planet, as always accompanied by one of the best female singer/songwriters I know who is unsigned, Natalie Ramsay -together with Elenne May and Morgan Macaskey. Go look them up. So with this man I even get through his loudest song on the EP, 'Winter Is Coming'. The song that challenges everything head on, amp on 10 and guitars, loud guitars, all over the place.

Every Place In Hell Is Special. Now I never got through Dante but know enough of the nine levels that each level must be special in its own way. So the title makes sense in that way. Next to that, no album without a devil reference with Tim Claridge. The shortest route to hell is by following the quote the EP starts out with. I thought I recognised the voice and definitely saw the movie a few times. Long, but fantastic. Yes, that is Clint E. By the way, the man whistling in Ennio Morricone's soundtracks, Alessandro Alessandroni, died this week (while writing, Wo.).

Every Place In Hell Is Special is a special EP. Tim Claridge does not stick to one sort of music exactly. After the film quote an acoustic guitar played instrumental unfolds. An intricately thought out and built up arrangement is played. With more and more guitars and other things with strings are added playing either the same or totally different parts. In fact, this could have been in a Morricone spaghetti western soundtrack. Metal? Nowhere in sight for miles and miles. 'The Fifth Horseman' is closer to a madrigal from the Middle Ages than Metallica.

Things come to those who wait. 'Starving Con Artist' starts with an acoustic guitar also, but not for long. All hell breaks loose soon. I am introduced to Mike Hannay, (of Anciients) who is drumming like there's no tomorrow. Complimenting and driving Tim Claridge's wall of guitars. We are in Muse territory here. That might have been a problem, were it not that this song is great. A cello, violin and flute are added and an acoustic guitar, again. Showing the guitarist craftmanship of Claridge no little. The stark contrast within the song makes it breath and special.

The third song is more pop and blues oriented. 'Every Place In Hell' is another song where the basis is an acoustic guitar. Spanish guitar playing, fingers flying over the fretboard. Natalie Ramsay is there supporting the vocals as on the rest of the record. For a place that scares so many people, hell, this song has such a dreamy quality. It's too bad that a great, recent Dutch novel may never be translated into English. 'Harpij' is a great story about hell. So good that it's so easy to believe it is real. In the not-Hell parts of the book this song would fit just right.

The real storm Tim Claridge has left for last. His fingers are torturing the snares and frets of his guitar. In the long intro he gives it his all. Speed, accuracy, melody, variety, rhythm. It is, at least for a while, more a study in metal than a real song. All sorts of techniques come by, all supported by, again, some fierce drumming. And when after four minutes Natalie and Tim start singing together I am so ready for it. Listening to Natalie Ramsay's own music I ought to be surprised that she's singing here, but am beyond that for some time. Another and yet another guitar is added to the wall of sound. So huge it's easy to imagine smashing a car into it. 'Winter Is Coming' is huge, even on the first spring days of the year of our Lord 2017.

Every Place In Hell Is Special is a bit of a hodgepodge. Yet all songs have the quality I've come to expect from this artist. If this is just an in between EP I have to admit that I can't wait to hear the real thing. Lay it on me soon, Tim!

Wo.

You can listen to and buy the album here:

https://timclaridge.bandcamp.com/album/every-place-in-hell-is-special

maandag 17 april 2017

Bowie in Berlin, a conversation for three

Former Hansa Studio, Berlin
On 20 March Wo. received an e-mail from Mark with the title "Focus switches to Berlin". What about Focus and Berlin, I thought, still thinking that we were discussing Dutch progrockers Focus,as  published recently on this blog. Instead the discussion focused on Bowie's Berlin period and a tour Mark went on when visiting the German capitol. All the Berlin pictures were made by Mark Carvell.

Mark, 20 March:
I had some spare time in Berlin on Saturday after attending a G20 digital economy conference the previous day and decided to join a Bowie walking tour. The German guy explaining things was very expert so I learnt a lot in particular how Bowie ended up in Berlin rather than Dusseldorf which was the main centre of German electronic music (Kraftwerk, Neu! etc). Berlin was important for youth culture and avoiding military service but it was not where it was happening musically - so Berlin was a surprising choice to live and record actually. But Berlin is uniquely Berlin - and Bowie enjoyed the low profile there and got his life back on track after his years in LA when despite all the fame and world tours, he was pretty much broke on coke.

First main spot on the walking tour were the Hansa studios which are near the glitzy redeveloped Potzdamerplatz - a couple of my photos attached. The guide is holding a photo of how the studios looked in mid-70s when the neighbourhood was a wasteland right on the Cold War front line of the Wall. We were only able to go into the ground floor lobby of the studio so I did not go up the stairs to the "Meistersaal" which is a big old dining hall behind the large Greek columns facade in the photo where the "Heroes" track was actually played and recorded, making maximum use of the hall's excellent acoustics.

Meistersaal
My photo of the Meistersaal interior is a photo of a photo in a downstairs display panel: the room is used mainly for dinner events now - but with working recording studios still in use in the nearby rooms. There is a separate tour of the inside of the studios but that was not available in the time I had - have to do that next time! -  http://musictours-berlin.com/bowie-berlin-walk  and https://www.theguardian.com/music/2013/jan/13/bowie-berlin-sturm-drang-wall  (Thilo Schmied is the guy I got in touch with to enquire about visiting Hansa Studios). Iggy Pop also recorded here, and U2: the first sessions for Achtung Baby (which did not go well - band was trying to find its way again).

The guy leaning out of the back window in the photo is looking towards where the watchtower with the guards was as in the Heroes lyric - but it is all redeveloped now with office blocks etc so you have to imagine it. The guy was actually telling us to halt die Klappe because they were recording! Still a special spot in the history of music though!

Unfortunately I ran out of time to get my flight home so I had to drop out of the last part of the tour which was to take the U-bahn to Bowie's apartment in Schöneberg district; not much to see there apparently but there is a plaque: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/aug/22/david-bowie-berlin-plaque-commemorates-singers-time-in-city   - and the local clubs and bars where he would hang out. I might do that on my next G20 trip!

I wasn't a glam fan or big on Ziggy but have most of Bowie's records starting with Station to Station - including a German language version of Heroes: "Helden". The Berlin guide said that so bad is Bowie's pronunciation it is difficult for a native speaker to understand what he is singing! He also did a French language version - again mainly to promote the album (as The Beatles did with "Komm Gib Mir Deine Hand") . Bowie's lifestyle stabilised in Berlin and he cleaned up on his drug  addictions: Low and Heroes made him rich again and he left his non-descript Berlin apartment in 1978 to resume world tours and a more fashionable lifestyle in New York.

Wo., 20 March:
Thanks, Mark. If you allow me, I'd like to publish this. The sort of nice addition to what is usually on the blog. Have you seen the Bowie work in progress? All the rarities, covers, cover version, tv shows, etc are being listed. You find it on 8 January 2017 and is expanded every month.

Gary, 20 March:
This is a very interesting account. I must say I am more of a fan of early Bowie’s work up to the Diamond Dogs era, and while I would agree that he remained innovative up to the end his work did not chime so much for me (with the odd exception). I thought his work with Eno and Fripp was very good but maybe just a little too ‘fashionable’ for me (something you would probably agree I never was!). Still Bowie’s music and spirit was/is always a part of me, I grew up listening to his epic works that told me you are young and free…. “Let the children boogie”….

Mark, 20 March:
A friend of mine is a complete Bowie nut and will be interested to check that list - for accuracy!

Wo., 20 March:
Sounds like someone who ought to get along with my cousin who is our family Bowie nut and is the editor of the 8 January contribution. (The date is no coincidence.) She put me onto Bowie in the mid 70s for real, but where I just like the guy's music, she has to know and have everything.

I'll respond to your Bowie e-mail tomorrow and then we go online early April.

The guide with 70s photo
Mark, 20 March:
Yes Bowie's Berlin albums must have seemed quite radical and eclectic, mixing songs with short, sometimes doomy or intense instrumentals - influenced by the German electronic bands. You are the only Faust fan I know. RCA must have thought their biggest star was taking huge risks with his global fan base but - unlike Geffen who sued Neil Young for going electronic - they stuck by him.

I was given "Heroes" for my 22nd birthday while living in Rotterdam and  I thought "wow this is the future!"  But then I also noticed my usual record shop suddenly adding a special "new wave" section to their singles rack and Bowie suddenly seemed out of it - literally. The German electronic bands must have been caught off guard too I guess. Kraftwerk hung in there with those short catchy songs and robots. Some new German bands appeared on the scene: it was a struggle to spell Einstürzende Neubauten after taping them off a John Peel programme and needing to list it on the C90 inlay card! They were from Berlin by the way - so by the 1980s after Bowie and Iggy Pop had left, something was happening in the city. 

Wo., 21 March:
For me Bowie is someone who has nearly always been in my musical awareness. When I was 9 he scored his first hit with 'Space Oddity', a song I just loved and still do. Things went silent for a few years, but I did not forget him. 'John, I'm Only Dancing' e.g. did nothing over here, but is a part of my singles collection since 1972. From 1973 he featured regularly in the singles charts, so I heard all his singles. One of the first albums I bought was 'David Live' in 1976 which brought me somewhat up to speed on all the albums I'd missed.

In 1976 I went to my first rock show in Rotterdam: David Bowie in Ahoy, just after the 'Station To Station' release. That became my second Bowie album and is still my favourite to this day. In 1978 I saw him again in Rotterdam, a fantastic show with loads of 'Ziggy Stardust' songs in there.

Hansa Studio mixing room
His move to Berlin did not go unnoticed, but there was not much that prepared me for some of the music I was hearing in 1978 when I bought both 'Low' and 'Heroes'. I loved the singles. Both 'Sound And Vision' and 'Heroes' are fabulous songs right up to today. So powerful, playful and visionary. 'Low' of course is a sort of hybrid where Bowie both presented fantastic songs and made his move towards (electronic) instrumentals. 'Heroes' is the end station of that development with songs I still do not care a lot about.

I followed Bowie up to 'Let's Dance', the third time I saw him live in 1983, now in stadium form. After that he still had a few great singles, but the albums just were not up to par. Btw, his biggest hits, the #1s here are nearly all collaborations, with Queen, Jagger, Tina, Pat Metheny. How is that in the U.K.? Let's Dance is his only solo #1.

For me his albums remained average, at best, until early 2016. Reading the review I thought this is just another of his experiments that will be slightly disappointing. I bought the album on the day of release any way, on a whim. Something urged me to do so. Don't ask for an explanation. 'Black Star' simply blew me away. One of his best albums and one of the best albums ever made. It remained on repeat the whole weekend and then came that Monday morning.

What went before did not stop me to go see him twice more in 1990 and 2002, again in Rotterdam. The last time, the 'Reality' tour, was somewhat disappointing. He played too many songs from those average albums. I'd decided that I'd seen him enough, not knowing that it would be the last time as I skipped the ArenA show, days before his final show.

Photo: Wo.
The Bowie exhibition last year in Groningen was something I went to not expecting much. It was only then that I understood more of the impact the man had on art, music, style, fashion. Things that I had missed, being too young at the time and totally uninterested in everything not having to do with the music. It was then that I understood how he modelled everything for himself, had total control over all things Bowie, from the very early stages of his career when nobody had ever heard of David Bowie as he still worked as Davy Jones at 16, 17. The man saved everything. Nearly all artefacts came from his own collection. Next to the music that was everywhere as I walked around in my own cocoon, headset on and all. Emerged in Bowie. Life can be worse.

Thanks for the tip on the Bowie tour, Mark. Next time I'm in Berlin I will certainly take it. You are filling my travel itinerary somehow.

Gary, 22 March:
You mentioned Bowie's 'John, I'm only dancing' is one of my all time favourites of Bowie and the '70s era. Strange that it was a B-side single in the UK and doesn't appear on an album.....

Wo., 22 March:
John, I'm Only Dancing was an a-side single here with Hang On To Yourself as a b-side. I also have a 45 released later in the 70s with the version of the Young Americans sessions. I think that was released in 1979 or 80. What was it the b-side of in the UK?

Gary, 22 March:
The B-side was the same here  "Hang onto yourself".

I read that it has been suggested that Bowie wrote the song in response to a derogatory comment made by John Lennon about Bowie's cross-dressing or that it is gay/bi relationship excuse for dancing with a girl. I had no idea at the time as I assumed it was a self-protective narrative between friends where 'Bowie' is assuring his friend that he is not moving onto the girlfriend but "only dancing", something I would have identified with at the time... oh!... obviously I was so innocent then... this would have never occurred to me at the time!

Wo., 22 March:
Same here, Gary. By the time my English was good enough to follow the lyrics, that's what I made of it. Bowie standing in front of a big guy about to beat him up. Something like that.

Wo. , 22 March:
Come to think of it. The last part of the song does sound a bit like he's making fun of this John. No matter what is truth here, they were or were soon to become great friends, I think, with Lennon working with Bowie on 'Across The Universe' and co-writing 'Fame', during those covered by white powder months in L.A.


And so another conversation for three closes. You can find more information on the David Bowie guided Berlin tour here:

http://musictours-berlin.com/bowie-berlin-walk 

Gary Hunt
Mark Carvell
Wo. 

zondag 16 april 2017

Gather: The Wanderer + No Ninja Am I. Haarlem, 14 April 2017

Photo by Wo.
How nice. A living room concert in the former V&D store in Haarlem. Now V&D was a many floored department store chain that went into bankruptcy over a year ago. Part of the building now is a pop up store, a galleria and now also providing room for living room shows. My girlfriend was quite nostalgic though, missing one of her favourite stores, reminiscing what was where as we walked around the ground floor, looking at the works of art.

A lady called Sabrina Vermeulen organised the show in Haarlem for the first time and we attended, because Sander van Munster, better known in a musical context as  No Ninja Am I, emailed me to say he would be playing in Haarlem.

About 40 people gathered in a partly secluded corner of the former store. Every thought between improvised and well-layed out was an option. The Gather logo very present and all sorts of old furniture and self-made cushions to sit on.

The evening opened with The Wanderer, the trio of Nikos Frangiskatos. Together with a pianist and a lead guitarist, Nikos ventured into serious land. Making music is not something to take lightly there. Just like life is not. Frangiskatos has gone through a lot and found his home: making and playing his music. And he seems quite at home in his new realm.

His music is full of atmosphere. His own guitar playing is elementary. This is not the kind of singer-songwriter who plays all sorts of complex patterns underneath his songs. He strums in a light way. His voice is clear, with a good diction and pleasant to listen to. The piano is the instrument that takes care of the lighter touch, the electric guitar is like the sea. A continuous ripple of waves, more like a synthesizer producing long held notes. Flat like the sea on a windless day, rough when in storm. Overall the guitar produces the bed the rest lays itself down on.

The Wanderer makes beautiful songs, full of atmosphere and introspection. Over the length of a show that turns itself a bit against the trio though. When all is said is done, the music is very uniform and the songs are more or less in the same tempo and have the same texture. This could be alright, but then it comes down to being able to catch all the small nuances. This is were the soundmix did not assist the band. The harmonies were hard to hear, as was the mix between the two guitars and the keyboard. And let that instrument be the one where most of the nuances had to come from. A missed opportunity.

Frangiskatos said somewhere that he doesn't write happy songs. Be what it may, his show would win a world if he forces himself towards a few songs that would give the show a bit more dynamics and release. Diversity would accentuate the serious songs so much more and allow the audience to breath for a few minutes before digging in again. Most songs were good and deserve some space. The Wanderer has a world to win here.

Photo by Wo.
How dynamics in a show work, was shown by No Ninja Am I. The four piece band switched instruments, song types, tempo, the whole of the time and played some serious songs as well. The result was a lively show that brought out the best in No Ninja Am I. From what basically is a solo project, with a little help from friends, the translation to the stage was made with confidence and the pure pleasure of playing together.

The show started with a three piece harmony sounding so impressive that I knew right away it would be simply impossible for this show to go wrong and it didn't. The interaction between the electric and acoustic guitar, percussion, bass and violin was there from the very beginning. So light footed, sung without amplification, yet all so clear in sound. The audience hanging onto the very last extended note on the violin before graciously applauding the performance.

The approach to playing these songs in a band context, makes the songs quite different from the recorded version. Alternate versions that deserve to end up some day on a live album of some kind. As those interested were able to read, I liked the latest EP by No Ninja Am I, 'We Share A Dream',  a lot. I can assure you, I like the band live even better. The songs got this little extra, making them come alive, sparkle even more.

In the intimacy of living room shows there is no hiding. There was no need to hide, for either artist, nor the audience. No Ninja Am I is a great live act, with songwriter Sander celebrating his birthday on stage. There are worse ways to celebrate a birthday, much worse.

Wo.

The Wanderer's new EP 'Silence, Part 1' is on Spotify.
https://open.spotify.com/album/7datTEsdWYRdMwxbM6eR44
No Ninja Am I's music is on Bandcamp:

https://noninjaami.bandcamp.com/

zaterdag 15 april 2017

It's Another Wor d. Picidae

De laatste tijd ploft hier met enige regelmaat een stapeltje cd’s uit Noorwegen op de mat.
 
Het zijn stuk voor stuk cd’s die opvallen door een fraaie verpakking, maar de echte verrassing komt pas wanneer je de cd’s in de cd-speler stopt.
 
Of het voor alle muziek uit Noorwegen geldt weet ik niet, maar de Noorse platen die ik tot dusver heb beluisterd kleuren stuk voor stuk fraai buiten de lijntjes.
 
Het geldt absoluut voor It’s Another Wor d. (de spatie tussen de r en de d is geen typo) van het Noorse duo Picidae.
 
Picidae (Noors voor specht) bestaat uit Sigrun Tara Øverland en Eirik Dørsdal. Vergeleken met de soms wat luidruchtige en directe specht is de muziek van Picidae uitermate subtiel.
 
Sigrun Tara Øverland tekent op It’s Another Wor d. voor de vocalen en bespeelt hiernaast de lier (een soort harp), de autoharp (idem), de fascinerende omnichord en gitaren. Eirik Dørsdal voegt naast spaarzame achtergrond vocalen onder andere trompet, kalimba (duimpiano) en wat elektronica toe. Het is een heel bijzonder instrumentarium, maar op It’s Another Wor d. Van Picidae is nog veel meer bijzonders te horen.
 
De songs van Sigrun Tara Øverland en Eirik Dørsdal worden fraai maar ook bijzonder subtiel ingekleurd, zodat de prachtige stem van de Noorse alle aandacht krijgt. Het is een geschoolde stem die een extra dimensie toevoegt aan de bijzondere muziek van het Noorse tweetal. De teksten op de plaat van Picidae zijn in het Engels, maar het had net zo goed Noors kunnen zijn, want ik hoor uiteindelijk vooral klanken, wat bijdraagt aan de magie van de muziek van Picidae.
 
Ook de songs van Picidae zijn zeker niet alledaags. De songs, met flink wat invloeden uit de jazz en hiernaast invloeden uit de folk en de klassieke muziek, blijven niet makkelijk hangen, waardoor ze ook na meerdere keren horen nog flink intrigeren.
 
In eerste instantie kon ik niet direct relevant vergelijkingsmateriaal bedenken, maar uiteindelijk bleek dit relatief dicht bij huis voorhanden. De combinatie van bijna verstilde klanken, een prachtige vrouwenstem en een bijzonder instrumentarium doet immers meer dan eens denken aan de prachtplaten van de Nederlandse bands Nancy Brick en Sommerhus, vaandeldragers van het Nederlandse QuiteQuietRecords.
 
Picidae maakt muziek die bijzonder aangenaam voortkabbelt op de achtergrond, maar de ware schoonheid van de muziek van het Noorse tweetal openbaart zicht wanneer je er met volledige aandacht naar luistert. De bijzondere songs van Sigrun Tara Øverland en Eirik Dørsdal blijken wonderschoon en blijven maar verrassen en betoveren. In vocaal opzicht is het direct genieten, maar ook de uitermate subtiele maar bijzonder smaakvolle instrumentatie wint nog lang aan kracht.
 
Of alle cd’s in de pakketjes die ik sinds kort ontvang zo bijzonder zijn ga ik later ontdekken, want vooralsnog wil ik alleen maar genieten van de wonderschone en zo bijzondere klanken van Picidae.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt hier luisteren naar 'It's another wor d':

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

vrijdag 14 april 2017

Hard Love. Strand of Oaks

Strand Of Oaks is no stranger to these pages. The first album here, 'Pope Killdragon', was found for free on noisetrade.com. From there a trip through the development of Timothy Showalter was followed. 'Heal' was a transitional record it is safe to conclude in 2017. The album did not land completely well, with me, although it contained a great rock song in the best Neil Young tradition.

With Hard Love Strand Of Oaks takes the level of noise to another level. Folk is more and more deleted and rock let in. Some fine, loud rock riffs fly through my room. The volume knob and a few pedals are no longer a stranger to Timothy Showalter. With his music he queues up in a long line of artists who preceded him in this line of music. Starting somewhere in the 70s in the U.S., he mixes this rock with some Britpop enthusiasm to come up with a hybrid form of rock with that fine line of pop somewhere woven into the innards of his bombastic rock in which he even tries to outplay Dinosaur Sr. at his own game. The 70s in the end is what Hard Love is about. Just look at the cover. 70s electrified disco lettering and Showalter as Roy Wood in his Wizzard days. However, when all is said and done Strand of Oaks explodes in a way that is the signature of Admiral Freebee.

Add to this that the melodies of his songs work a miracle. Again that pop element presents itself. Nothing is small about Hard Love. It starts with the down to earth pounding on the drums. A lot of power goes into the hitting, where there seem to be no extras. Only the most elementary breaks come by, before the tempo is taken up again. Over this stack of noise the rest of the band plays. They all come in just as powerful to match the drums.

So when the power goes down, it is a surprise as well as welcome. 'Salt Brothers' is the fourth song on Hard Love and takes all the stress out of the album. Oh yes, it returns and vanishes totally again, but not without having scored some huge points.

Hard Love kicks off with the title track. The build-up is soft, slow and rather traditional. A little Fleetwood Mac, some Josh Rouse and Ryan Adams. When the beat comes in the music promises a more alternative rock, yet the mood remains with the names just mentioned. A nice starter, that threatens to go out of control, yet remains firmly within the pre-drawn lines.

The second song is something different. Strand of Oaks presents us with its most commercial intro to date. Aimed at college and alternative radio stations. The aptly titled 'Radio Kids' has a commercial edge to it. The verses are more edgy, before the chorus takes us off towards that intro again. The comfort of a song on the radio? Unfortunately something of nostalgia, I'm afraid. What is radio?, kids growing up may just wonder. Oh, that noise in the background my parents are producing, disturbing our streamed game or video?

As Hard Love progresses I find that I like the rock side of Strand of Oaks, but what adds to that pleasure is the light voice of Timothy Showalter. The two blend in a quite pleasant way, not unlike why I like Tim Claridge (and his band Jeff Goldbloom) so much. Both add a lightness to something tough. Showalter has the quality to come up with a nice riff or hook in the songs that make them just this little more interesting. Where Strand of Oaks may have lost some on originality, it gains again with the things it is able to add to the music which at such is far from ordinary and fits in a long line of music from over the past four, five decades. The fact that with Hard Love Strand of Oaks has found its own place here, is telling of its originality and playing strength.

Even when a song starts out, in my ears, as mediocre, it is little by little pumped up, seems to change and take on another personality. Not just because of the brute force, no, mainly because of the strength of the composition. 'On The Hill' will be a triumph live. An explosion of sounds and energy.

Another side of Strand of Oaks shows through in the piano ballad 'Cry'. Vulnerable, touching the song is. The sparse piano chords are only an excuse to sing about bursting out into tears. A guitar is added and some kind of noises as a cheering stadium in the distance, fazed by the wind. The conversation that follows seems totally out of place. 'Cry' is impressive. With a song like this, Strand of Oaks shows its versatility, the different ways it can excel in.

With Hard Love Strand of Oaks has nestled itself comfortably in the sub-top of (alternative) rock bands, with every reason to look optimistically upwards. When an album holds a fine rocking song like 'Rest Of It', a song that The Black Crowes were only able to dream of after its second album, it has my ears for a while. The fact that Hard Love holds so much more than just a fine rock song, says even more.

Wo.

You can listen to 'Radio Kids' here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSEdhB9faEs

donderdag 13 april 2017

Big Box Of Chocolates. Hooton Tennis Club

Het zal ongetwijfeld aan mij liggen, maar hoe vaak hoor je nog een Britse gitaarplaat met popliedjes die je na één keer horen niet meer wilt vergeten?
 
Ik zoek er iedere week naar, maar vind ze helaas al tijden niet. Waar zijn die Britse jonge honden gebleven die pretentieloze popliedjes schrijven die aankomen als de spreekwoordelijke mokerslag en prachtig voortborduren op de legendarische lichtingen uit de jaren 60, 70, 80 en 90?
 
Zijn de niet meer zo jonge Britse honden van de Rolling Stones of de ook niet meer piepjonge honden van Madness op het moment echt het beste dat de Britse gitaarmuziek te bieden heeft of zijn er wel degelijk vaandeldragers die pas na de gloriedagen van Oasis zijn geboren?
 
Bij toeval liep ik tegen Big Box Of Chocolates van Hooton Tennis Club aan en ik wist onmiddellijk dat het goed zat. Ruim een jaar geleden debuteerde deze band immers met Highest Point In Cliff Town en dat was een plaat die destijds precies aan mijn verwachtingen voldeed en uiteindelijk zelfs een plek in mijn jaarlijstje wist af te dwingen.
 
Ook Big Box Of Chocolates biedt precies waar ik op het moment zin in heb, want de gitaarpop van Hooton Tennis Club is nog altijd bijzonder trefzeker en nagenoeg onweerstaanbaar.
 
Ook de tweede plaat van de band uit Liverpool klinkt weer als een omgevallen platenkast. Het is een platenkast waarin alles van The Beatles en The Kinks tot en met The Jam en Oasis is te vinden, maar Hooton Tennis Club beperkt zich zeker niet tot de gitaarmuziek van Britse oorsprong.
 
Ook invloeden uit de eigenwijze Amerikaanse gitaarpop van onder andere Pavement, Guided By Voices en Big Star (om maar eens drie namen te noemen) hebben hun weg gevonden naar de zeer aanstekelijke, maar ook in artistiek opzicht interessante songs van Hooton Tennis Club.
 
Het debuut van de band werd buitengewoon kundig geproduceerd door de van The Coral bekende Bill Ryder-Jones, maar de productie van Big Box Of Chocolates is nog raker. Hiervoor verantwoordelijk is de gelukkig weer helemaal herstelde Edwyn Collins (Orange Juice), die een perfect evenwicht tussen aanstekelijke refreinen en licht stekelige melodieën heeft gevonden en heeft gezorgd voor lekker jengelende gitaren.
 
Big Box Of Chocolates van Hooton Tennis Club is uiteindelijk een doos vol met lekkers, maar waar bij chocolaatjes enige voorzichtigheid is geboden, kun je van de heerlijke popliedjes van Hooton Tennis Club probleemloos genieten tot de doos helemaal leeg is. En daarna begin je gewoon weer helemaal opnieuw. Het is misschien goed zoeken naar jonge Britse gitaarbands, maar gelukkig zijn ze er nog.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt hier luisteren naar 'Statue Of The Greatest Woman I Know':

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zgRUous50YA

woensdag 12 april 2017

Moon Moon Moon. Help! Help! release party, 6 april 2017



Moon Moon Moon. Release party van het album Help! Help!, De Kromme Haring, Utrecht. Donderdag 6 april 2017

Moon Moon Moon is een creatie van Mark Lohmann, een 23-jarige muzikant uit Heerhugowaard. Moon Moon Moon is niet een band, maar een ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’ van muziek, games en illustraties. Een duistere wereld die Lohmann in zijn eentje creëert in zijn slaapkamerstudio. De CD Help! Help! is al door Wo. besproken op 17 maart (http://wonomagazine.blogspot.nl/2017/03/help-help-moon-moon-moon.html) , maar de release party was op 6 april. Wo. was verhinderd, dus mocht ik (.No) eindelijk eens naar een release party. 

Ik vind de cd prachtig. Maar... de cd is een soloproject van Mark Lohmann en er stond hier een vijfkoppige band. En in het voorprogramma stond een mij volslagen onbekende band ‘This Leo Sunrise’. Voor de zekerheid had ik dus mijn dochter S. (19) meegenomen. Dat bleek niet nodig, maar wel erg gezellig. En nuttig, want zonder haar had ik de locatie nooit gevonden.

Ons was verteld dat we ter plekke ook wat konden eten. Niet wetend dat dat eten plaatsvond in het zaaltje waar ook het optreden was, kwamen we ruim voor aanvang, tijdens de soundcheck, binnen. We zaten wel een beetje in de weg met onze linzensoep en wraps, maar het was leuk dit te zien en te horen. Bij het horen van de eerste meerstemmige zang dacht ik: “oef, dit kan een hele lange avond worden”, maar toen de monitoren goed waren ingesteld was het opeens loepzuiver. Wauw!

Het voorprogramma, This Leo Sunrise, bleek prachtige en stevige folkrock te spelen. Een zeer volwassen band die werkelijk schitterend speelde. Muziek om de muziek. En, ik zeg dit niet snel, van mij hadden ze wel iets meer show mogen maken. Mijn dochter vond het ‘cool’ en ik vond het prachtig. Luister de komende tijd naar Kairos!

Omdat dit voorprogramma zo geweldig goed was, maakte ik me echt een beetje zorgen of Moon Moon Moon hier wel overheen zou kunnen komen. Dat zou toch sneu zijn op hun eigen cd-presentatie...

...Nou, wel dus, en hoe! En ik zal er maar gelijk mee voor de draad komen: ik vond de live band nog beter dan de cd! Wat een wervelende show zetten deze 5 jongelui neer!

De band speelde gewoon retestrak, veel beter dan ik op grond van de soundcheck vermoedde, maar Lohman stal toch echt de show! Wat een talent! Hij liep op zijn sokken op het podium en stond het grootste deel van de tijd te dansen als een balletdanser op spitzen. In de snellere nummers hupte hij op twee voeten het podium over! Ik denk dat hij in zijn eentje ook iets heel moois neer kan zetten. En geef die man een groter podium!

Maar toch, de band was echt een geweldige toevoeging. En de show haalde de serieuze randjes van de donkere nummers af. Het geheel kreeg daardoor een beetje het happy karakter van de highschool rock uit mijn jeugd. Dat deed de sfeer goed. De zaal hing aan hun lippen. In het laatste nummer speelde onverwacht ene Dave met een klarinet mee. Ik zou zeggen: “aangenomen!” 


Bijzonder toeval was dat op een gegeven moment het nummer Disintegration Loop inzette, vrijwel op hetzelfde moment dat dat nummer in Kairos op de Concertzender werd uitgezonden. 

.No's conclusie: koop of download het album en, als je de kans krijgt, ga deze bands zien!
S.'s conclusie: cool!

.No

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Verantwoording:
This Leo Sunrise: Jacco van Elst (zang/gitaar), Violet Meerdink (viool/zang), Serpentine (gitaar), Leo Meijer (bas), Chris Müller (drums/zang)
Moon Moon Moon: Mark Lohmann (zang/ak. gitaar/samples), Daan Minderman (gitaar), Steven Jasperse (bas/zang), Stef Koenis (toetsen/zang/trompet), Jari Deelstra (drums). De klarinettist heette Dave, achternaam onbekend.
Foto: Stefan Breuer, bewerkt door Wino Penris