vrijdag 19 januari 2018

Cut The Wire. Tim Knol

What a nice surprise, this new record by Tim Knol. The level of pop is so exquisite it is near impossible to resist.

From the get go of his career Tim Knol was on the radio and tv without that leading to a massive breakthrough in the form of hits. He played every festival for two years in a row. Which seems the 10s normal for artist in the more serious segment of music. I have seen him play twice, but somehow his music never totally convinced me. Too much of trying to be someone else? Perhaps. His third album totally passed me by, as it seems to have been the case for more people. The The Miseries album came totally out of the blue for me. An album so different from all that went before, including a near earsplitting show in Leiden. After that silence. Tim was noted as having become a photographer and traveller.

Come 2018 and a new album in which all seems to come together. His singer-songwriter characteristics blend with the pop part of the The Miseries pop-punk. Tim Knol has no fear to use the most, blatantly obvious choices of notes and chords, including a na na na part to get to the most beautiful result. In that he comes close to the music of Douwe Bob and his former band companion Duyf, now playing with Douwe Bob. Comes close, I write, as Tim Knol is not copying here. This is his own distinct voice and signature, leading to his best album to date. Reading the bio accompanying Cut The Wire shows there is no animosity between the two. Douwe Bob joined the recording process for two days, as did Tangerine (his once support act). Anne Soldaat is, as ever, present as side kick and producer.

Promo photo by Renate Beense
In the music elements of country are infused into the songs via guitar licks and even a pedal steel guitar. Pop shines through the vocals, the acoustic guitar and vintage (sounding) keyboards. Some songs hold The Beatles or The Kinks like vocal melodies, others delve into singer-songswriters of old and Americana from the U.S. The influences on this album range from far and wide.

I'm going to focus on 'Going Places'. A song that has it all as far as I'm concerned. A great pop feel melody, some light behind the shade and a blistering guitar solo, distorted, fierce and fiery. Upsetting the whole apple cart of Cut The Wire. A 30 second plus intro. This is Tim Knol having come of age and showing us who he is and where he stands in life. The pop feel 'Going Places' is of the same quality Maggie Brown plays on its last album 'Another Place'. Knol lets us hear what he wants us to hear, released of all pre-conditions and expectations of others and, yes, that may well be the outcome of the freedoms The Miseries allowed him. Chapeau, Mr. Knol for this song.

In all Cut The Wire is an album that presents a few sounds and textures. Different sides from Tim Knol show through, including a darker, perhaps more doubting one. Like in a song called 'Kickin'', sung with a deeper voice. This is offset by the more poppy and 60s sound of 'Listen Love'. In short there definitely is something for more people in Cut The Wire than in his previous solo recordings that were more one-sided. Whether that is a good thing for Knol's career remains to be seen. In my opinion it is. Change allows for longevity and growth in a career. Cut The Wire is abundant proof of that.

Wo.

donderdag 18 januari 2018

Lost In Light. Sumie

Lost In Light van de Zweedse singer-songwriter Sumie roept vooralsnog gemengde reacties op, waarbij vooral de uitersten goed zijn vertegenwoordigd.
 
De een vindt de tweede plaat van het alter ego van Sandra Sumie Nagano (zus van Yukimi Nagano van Little Dragon) van een bijna onwerkelijke schoonheid en intimiteit, de ander vindt de plaat ondraaglijk saai en totaal kleurloos.
 
Lost In Light is mijn tweede kennismaking met de muziek van de Zweedse singer-songwriter met deels Japanse roots, want precies vier jaar geleden was ik al erg enthousiast over haar titelloze debuut, dat de muziekliefhebber overigens ook al in twee kampen verdeelde. (Lees hier Erwins recensie van 'Sumie': https://wonomagazine.blogspot.nl/2014/01/sumie-sumie.html?m=0)
 
Laat ik er niet langer omheen draaien. Ik vind ook Lost In Light weer wonderschoon.
 
Ook op haar tweede plaat kiest Sumie voor uiterst ingetogen songs vol echo’s uit het verleden. De Zweedse singer-songwriter raakt nog altijd aan de pastorale Amerikaanse en Britse folkies uit de jaren 60 (Linda Perhacs, Vashti Bunyan, Karen Dalton en noem ze maar op), maar schuurt ook stiekem tegen de muziek van het door mij bewonderde Mazzy Star aan en raakt heel af en toe ook aan een Portishead (maar dan wel een totaal gestripte versie van Portishead).
 
De songs van Sumie worden gedomineerd door haar prachtige stem, die een brug slaat tussen de folkies en psychedelische folkies uit het verleden en de zwoele en zweverige zangeressen uit het heden (onder wie uiteraard Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval en Portishead's Beth Gibbons).
 
De mooie, indringende en vaak wat pastoraal aandoende zang wordt net als op het debuut spaarzaam begeleid. De akoestische gitaar vormt hierbij de basis, maar laat je niet misleiden door de op het eerste gehoor uiterst sobere klanken op de tweede plaat van Sumie.
 
Op haar debuut wist de singer-songwriter uit Gothenburg pianist Dustin O’Halloran en muzikant en componist Nils Frahm te strikken voor bijzonder fraaie accenten en dit keer geven niemand minder dan Peter Broderick en een aantal Zweedse muzikanten de songs van Sumie veel meer glans dan je bij oppervlakkige beluistering zult horen en betovert de muziek van Sumie ook met strijkers, piano en hele mooie gitaarklanken.
 
Het gekke is dat ik Lost In Light na een aantal keren horen helemaal geen hele sobere plaat meer vind. De songs van Sumie zitten vol wonderschone details en worden gedomineerd door ingehouden en onderhuidse spanning.
 
De stem van Sumie klinkt op het eerste gehoor misschien wat vlak en plechtig, maar hoe vaker ik naar de muziek van de Zweedse singer-songwriter luister, hoe mooier en gevoeliger ik haar stem vind en hoe meer impact haar muziek heeft.
 
Het debuut van Sumie sneeuwde vier jaar geleden wat onder door een onhandig getimede release in december. Het vorige maand verschenen Lost In Light moest concurreren met stapels andere releases en komt hierdoor nog maar weinig aan de oppervlakte. Het is doodzonde, want ook de tweede plaat van Sumie is er een die bij voldoende aandacht naar grote hoogten kan stijgen en heel wat kleine of vroege uurtjes op bijzonder fraaie wijze kan inkleuren. Hele mooie en bijzondere plaat.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt het album hier beluisteren en kopen:

https://sumie.bandcamp.com/album/lost-in-light

woensdag 17 januari 2018

Simple Life. M-Jo

What am I looking at?, I wondered to myself when I looked at the cover of Simple Life for the first time. Charles Bronson as a young man in a rare colour photograph, while he was practising for a just as rare role as a Viking/Mongol drummer? Something like that.

My thoughts on the cover all disappeared like clouds from the sky after the rain when the sun breaks through announcing a warm summer day once I started to listen to the EP M-JO sent me. A nice piece of indie rock with fuzzy distorted guitars with a clean drum mixed in the middle. Layers of guitars fly in and out over and under the basis of bass and drum.

The fuzz gives the music a hint of psychedelia, the basis is a strong sense of rock with indie rock in the details. From the 60s to the 10s. Six decades of rock can be found on Simple Life. The EP does not let itself get caught in a small corner. It branches out in sound and approach, making it much more divers than I would have thought on the basis of the first two songs. For me it is the right approach. I got caught by the more up tempo rocksongs and hooked by the ballads on psych later on. In the last song the circle is completed with fuzzed guitars.

M-JO is Mark de Jonge from Amsterdam on guitar and vocals. He's assisted by Marcus Bruystens (Claw Boys Claw) on drums, Annelies Jonkers (Jonkers & Merlot) vocals, keyboards and tambourine and Auck Boersma (previously of Melanocaster, Seewolf) on bass.

The EP opens with the title song. An enormously poppy opening on keyboards giving 'Simple Life' an 80s feel, that is taken away by the spacy guitars. The singing has a 60s feel to it, like the greatest underground bands from this country. The Outsiders, that sort of thing. So far from virtuoso but in your face and direct. The effect is catchy to say the least. This feeling is heightened by the second song, 'Your Call'. The pop is thrown overboard for a rock approach with loads of guitars all over the place. If I get to pick a favourite of Simple Life this would be it. I love the sound of the bass, of the guitars and the melody is elementary, yet effective. The Kinks of old with distorted guitars.

That band returns to mind when I'm listening to 'The Weekend'. Being a fan for life, it isn't hard to come up with these comparisons, yet they are correct. The influence is 100% in the melody and way of singing. That other influences come in when the solo arrives is just nice.

'Let Her Go' is an acoustic guitar strummer. For a while I'm kept under the impression that it will remain that way, until the band kicks in, with a keyboard in the lead role. Something resembling a mellotron or a real one. The sound is just great. Mark de Jonge's voice reaches for its breaking point, not afraid to sound vulnerable and show another side of the vocalist.

The EP closes with the more comically sounding 'We're Just Looking For A Bar'. Like an outtake from any famous 60s band it rocks out. The members of M-JO are having fun together and sharing some of it with us. It rocks and isn't half bad.

Summing up, Simple Life is a nice introduction to the music of M-JO. Although certainly no barns were stormed, Simple Life contains a nice collection of rock songs that have a feel for the right melodies and can be tough as well as modest and tender. Another nice band to follow.

Wo.

You can listen to Simple Life and buy it when you like it here:

https://m-jo.bandcamp.com/album/simple-life

dinsdag 16 januari 2018

In Search Of The Lost Chord. Moody Blues

Years ago Wo. started a series of reviews on albums he had never heard from bands scoring hits in the year that he discovered Radio Veronica's Top 40. The years before he could afford anything but one or two single 45s a year. This led to introductions to the music of bands and singers like Chicago Transit Authority, Barry Ryan, Donovan, Golden Earrings, etc. Some of them were revelations, others far from. The series had come to a bit of an end with reviews of albums that he had bought since. With the recent death of Ray Thomas another album, that he has heard long ago, came to mind. The one containing the late 1968 hit single 'Ride My See-Saw'.

I am very sure that I knew 'Nights In White Satin' before 'Ride My See-Saw', but how can one be certain almost 50 years after that fact. What I do know is that I started listening to the radio in earnest in the early fall of 1968 after I learned there were things like hits and 'Ride My See-Saw' was in that list and an exciting song at that.

As I wrote recently in a little piece remembering France Gall and Ray Thomas I copied all the Moody Blues album from 1968 to 1972 from a friend, but found them to not really like them. I was happy with the few singles I owned and with 'Days of Future Passed'. We are 30 years plus down the road, so let's see if a reappraisal is in order. (As an aside, the pace in which this band released records...)

On the very first listening session I notice that something must have been wrong with my 20 something ears at the time. In Search Of The Lost Chord is an extremely varied album filled with some fine compositions ranging from psychedelic outings, LSD infused, fine ballads to a great rock song like 'Ride My See-Saw', one of two singles released from this album, although the first single, 'Voices In The Sky', never was a hit over here. The second thing I notice is the number of voices Moody Blues had. It was not just John Lodge and Justin Hayward leading the band, far from. Except for drummer Graeme Edge, all sang lead (Edge does narration of his poems though) and wrote songs solo or together. Ray Thomas and Mike Pinder were full contributors to the band's sound, just not their most famous songs. Within the whole it is clear that they were full members with a specific voice, together making up Moody Blues.

Released in July 1968, just months after 'Days Of Future Passed', In Search Of The Lost Chord' is another extremely well worked out album with so many layers and instruments. This time around all played by the band itself. Wikipedia counts up to 33 instruments used on the album. It is an album that rides the wave of psychedelia just after it started crashing down. The Beatles and The Stones led the way towards a more rock oriented future. The Kinks remained who they had always been and The Who was slowly working its way from a singles band to the rockopera monster it was soon to become. Moody Blues had found its voice as well and moved towards the symphonic rock field as one of the early adaptors. The sound of this album still had the 60s psychedelia and Indian sounds in it. The basics were all there for a career that would lead them to being one of the bigger subtop bands of the late 60s and early 70s, and to remain popular to this day.

A small fun fact around the album is the b-side of 'Ride My See-Saw', 'A Simple Life'. I do not have the single in my possession (yet), so have not been able to lay the connection. The Four Tops, one of the great Tamla Motown vocal groups scored a hit with the song in 1970. Listening to it for the first time on Spotify parts of the Four Tops hit are instantly recognisable. Moody Blues as songwriters for others? Why not. The song fits the Tamla Motown sound perfectly.

In Search Of The Lost Chord starts with a poem, which was normal for Moody Blues at the time, written by drummer Graeme Edge. Brought in a Napoleon XIV kind of way by growing into madness slowly but surely. The madcap laughter morphs into the opening riff of 'Ride My See-Saw' one of the two John Lodge rock hits for Moody Blues. The other one being 'I'm Just A Singer in Rock And Roll Band'. Yes, two of my favourites. The song has a strong rock riff or two, so many different sounding voices, going over the edge and all, and a strong soulful element, creating an irresistible mix that just lurches forward and forward like a train under full steam.

The album starts to surprise me from the moment the unknown (to me) 'Dr. Livingstone, I Presume' is played. Again so much happens within one song in the singing and the instruments used and the way the song develops itself. The voices and the approach do sound familiar to me as I have heard Moody Blues one way or another through the years. It is my ears and brain that seem to have changed and making me appreciate the music so much more. And, who wrote this song? Ray Thomas.

'House Of Four Doors, Part 1' is a mini symphony including a radio suspense show with all creaking doors stuff. The band was not afraid to stop the beautiful music to create a totally different atmosphere adding something to the album that perhaps should not be there. It becomes more than a song without hindering the flow of the whole. A very fine balance the band strikes here.

"Timothy Leary is dead", 'Legend Of A Mind' starts, "No, no, no, no, he's outside looking in", it continuous. The mind is explored, the inside of it that is. Like the lyrics of the whole album is about exploration. Through physical travels, synthetic drug use and transcendental meditation. The lost chord of the lost word isn't 'om' for nothing. It is Ray Thomas who wrote this most spacy of tracks on In Search Of The Lost Chord. In everything a signature Moody Blues sound.

So here I am going to correct myself. Was I wrong writing that Ray Thomas was one of the men in the background of Moody Blues. Despite being the flautist and tambourine player, Ray Thomas made a huge part of what the Moody Blues sound is for me. And for Wikipedia writing Ray Thomas quit Moody Blues in 2002? I just saw a video from 2015 where he is singing his heart out to the single mentioned here several times. So, here you go, ignorance even happens to people who seem to know a lot of and about music.

The quality of In Search Of The Lost Chord remains at this incredibly high level. I will not go into each and every song. Instead what I am going to do is go to the record shop now and see if I can find a nice second hand copy to start playing the record for real, instead of on Spotify.

As Gary, with whom I have e-mail conversations regularly that find their way to this pages, wrote on me discovering this album: "sometimes it takes someone to die before we truly appreciate them". Very true, Gary.

Finally, take one look at the cover art of this album. Very special, isn't it?

Wo.

You can listen to 'Ride My See-Saw' here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1r1iqNasZlY

maandag 15 januari 2018

67 lost songs from the 60s. A discussion

Gary, Mark and Wo. go out on another online musical adventure together, writing to each other by mail on their findings to this message that started off things.

Gary, 12-1
Interesting stream of lesser known 60s releases - 67 'lost songs'.

Below we provide a link that allows you to join in as well, so please do and comment to share your knowledge and feelings on this interesting and nice, if random, collection of more or less obscure songs from the 60s. If you feel like it, that is.

https://www.udiscovermusic.com/playlists/1960s-music-67-lost-songs/

Mark, 13-1

Thanks for this link to a very interesting listing. I'm unfamiliar with most of these records but can comment on a few.

6. I don't know this song but Spooky Tooth were an under-rated early progressive band notable for daring to do a version of "I Am The Walrus"! There are other Beatle linkages: after the band fizzled out, keyboardist Gary Wright played on George's solo albums and Wings guitarist Henry McCollough (most famous for the remarkable solo on "My Love") was a member of this band for a while. I have the cd "best of".

15. Jimmy Page "She Just Satisfies" - I bought this single when it was a Record Store Day release a couple of years ago. It is a very short (smack on 2 minutes: no blistering, long guitar solos!) pacey R'n'B effort complete with brief harmonica solo. He co-wrote and knocked off in the studio (playing most of the instruments) in 1965 when he was doing time as a session musician. Very much in the Them vein but with unremarkable "she's my baby - oh yeah" lyrics....sung by Page himself. He never sang a word with Led Zep and his more successful solo releases relied on others for vocals, rather dubiously at one time on David Coverdale but of course later more credibly on Robert Plant. So that adds to this record's curiosity value. I don't know if Fontana gave it any kind of marketing push but I expect they may have considered it too rough and raucous for it be to be pop chart material. 

27. "I Wish It would Rain...blue skies, please go away!")  was a big Temptations hit. Not being much of a fan of Tamla, I am more familiar with this song courtesy of The Faces who used to do it live (it's on their "Coast to Coast" live album). 

28-49 - big gap....maybe you guys have some comments....?

50. Flying Burrito Brothers "Train Song" was a single recorded after the sessions for the classic "Gilded Palace of Sin" with the great Gram Parsons - and I still haven't got this record! (I'm going on ebay after I finish this e-mail). It may well have been a hit in the US.

54. Fairport Convention's "Meet on the Ledge" is their signature tune - a wonderful, timeless, rousing Richard Thompson song so not at all obscure. Sandy Denny one of the greatest vocalists ever of course who tragically died young. My friend Ko in Rotterdam who gave up on vinyl years ago gave me his Dutch pink Island label copy of this single with picture sleeve (very rare in UK) and a non-album B-side, It had been rightly played to death so not in great condition but is one of the treasures in my singles box. (Ko also gave me his first pressing Satanic Majesties Request with lenticular sleeve and a mono copy of Piper at the Gates of Dawn - both now worth a bob or two!).

58. Jackie Lomax "Sour Milk Sea" - I found this Apple single in a junk box about 30 years ago. I didn't know who he was then but I noted the song-writing credit was "Harrison" but did not know the song. Sure enough this was one George gave away to this mate of the Fabs from the Cavern days and never recorded himself. Below par, it is one of his noisier efforts with awful fuzzy production and an unintelligible lyric about meditation: so not huge chart potential and not helped by the disintegrating Apple organisation's random and chaotic marketing (Lomax soon switched to Warner Brothers but never found success: he died largely unrecognised in 2013)..So this is a Fab 4 collectible curio made all the more notable by the composition of the backing band: George on rhythm guitar, Paul on bass, Ringo on drums and on lead....Eric Clapton. There was also an Apple album with an unhelpful title - "Is this what you want?"  - which was re-mastered about 10 years ago that improved the sound.... but alas is not to be found in any  "1000 albums you must hear before you die" listing.

59. Same situation with this one: you can only attribute the failure as a single of James Taylor's much-covered great song about homesickness, "Carolina In My Mind", to Apple's disorganisation and failure to follow up on the genuine talent that knocked on that famous white door in Savile Row (which is now a clothes shop by the way so you can freely wander around and imagine Lennon shouting down the impressive staircase for more.....tea. You can't access the roof though!) This song is on James Taylor's first eponymous album that Apple released. Taylor was bumming around in Notting Hill in 1968 and had sent a demo tape to Peter Asher - and Paul and George ended up playing on the recording.

60. Still in Fabs territory, "The Iveys" was the previous name of......Badfinger. The history of that group is one of the greatest tragedies in music ending in the penniless suicide of the two guys who wrote one of the biggest hits in music ever - "Without You":  Pete Ham and Tom Evans. This is another great melodic song that compares well with McCartney, Bee Gees.... how could it have failed?. Apple fiasco again.....

61 (I'm on a run here...)  The Stone Poneys were a pop-flavoured folkie trio in the US featuring prominently on vocals of a certain Linda Ronstadt. They were quite successful in the US only I think and this is their most famous song. This is a rather earnest genre of American music that didn't translate easily into the global pop charts and after three albums Linda Ronstadt ditched it and hitched up with the country-rock fraternity notably, Emmylou Harris, Lowell George and The Eagles. This song is off the trio's second album "Evergreen" (having become obsessed on more than one level with Linda Ronstadt about 30 years ago I eagerly sought out these difficult to find now quite collectable albums.... but they don't get played much! Her later career took for me a regrettable turn into the bland mainstream but her collaboration in 2006 with Ann Savoy entitled "Adieu False Heart" was a an impressive return to the kind of authentic country I love, so is highly recommended. She had a wonderful voice tragically now silenced by Parkinson's Disease. 

I think that's it for me: no doubt I've overlooked some gems (I'm very weak on the soul side...and there are some bands I've never heard of like the Five Man Electrical Band and the 23rd Turnoff!) so I would be interested to read your take on this list and any thoughts however random that you may have on the other songs!
Wo., 13-1

It seems we have a start for a new story here, Gary, Mark. I haven't had time to listen yet, but will over the coming days. Currently I'm working on an old Moody Blues album following the demise of Ray Thomas, In Search Of The Lost Chord. It's great what I'm hearing so far, having last listened to it in the 80s and not really liking it at the time.

That aside. I'm curious to what I will find on the link.

Gary, 13-1

Wow, thanks Mark!

You really are a walking encyclopaedia of 60s/70s vinyl! You really should consider writing a book/guide to music in this era (maybe a personal perspective?)… I am sure that others would be very interested in such a tome! For myself, I can’t claim any such authority on the 60s and to be honest, most of the 67 on this list are unknown to me…. I just found them very interesting to hear on Spotify…. So much so, I had an uncontrollable urge to regrow my hair (maybe too late for that?), locate and wear a flowery shirt and flared trousers!

Certainly it would be great to source and purchase some of these as original singles!

It seems to me that you are sitting on a goldmine…. But I would imagine it would be heartbreaking to monetise and part with your collection?
Gary, 13-1

It is sad that we have to wait for the passing of a talented person to finally appreciate just how important they were….. I would imagine that is even more keenly felt by those same people that have put their heart and soul into a work and it is all but forgotten?

As for the list, I found it is like walking down a long corridor with 67 doors that you can open, look in and decide wither you you wish to enter…. Great fun!

Wo., 13-1

Looking at the list, while listening to the number 1, Spanky & Our Gang, I am looking at so much I have never heard from before. Despite having several of the 'Nuggets' albums and the 'Psychedelic States' series albums, until it just became a blur of unknown regional bands, this list brings forth another bunch of songs and artists I have never heard of. (This collection goes way beyond the garage rock psychedelia of 'Nuggets' though.)

Of course not everything is totally unknown. Several of the artists have scored a hit and some more than one around 1970. It is nearly undoable to comment on each individual song, but some comments I will make up front.

#2. Edwin Starr, was a part of the soul artists that scored a few hits in the late 60s and early 70s in NL. 'Twenty Five Miles' was a hit. His most famous hit of course is 'War', covered by many artists including Bruce Springsteen himself.

#3. The Impressions are best know for having Curtis Mayfield in its line up and the song 'People Get Ready' that gospel song between the Lord and politics.

#4. This may be the only song I actually own. In the late 70s I ordered 'Summertime Blues' by Blue Cheer from some post order company. To my surprise another band was on the b-side. I may never have bothered to listen to it. The Blues Magoos was the b-side with this song. Later, listening to the Blue Cheer album that contains 'Summertime Blues', I found out why this company did not bother with another Blue Cheer track. This band was really bad (read on here: http://wonomagazine.blogspot.nl/2014/05/vincebus-eruptum-blue-cheer.html). The Blues Magoos track, '(We Ain't Got) Nothing Yet)' is fun I notice. It may well be it inspired Deep Purple for the 'Black Night' riff. It comes very close

#6. Spooky Tooth had two hits over here. 'That Was Only Yesterday' and a cover of 'I Am The Walrus, as Mark also commented on. (Oasis did a great version on Jools Hooland's show in the 90s as well.) I really like the band's second album, that I also reviewed in a series on 1968-1969 albums, I am intermittently running on the blog. As soon as I run into the album second hand, I'll buy it. (Read more here:  http://wonomagazine.blogspot.nl/2014/03/spooky-two-spooky-tooth.html).The band's prequel, a band called Art, returns later on this list, I noticed.

#8. It is explained why the song is included in the intro to the music itself, but of course The Beach Boys should not be in this list, but o.k., the story of the miss-listing of the song is nice. The names are a dead give away though.

#11 -15. Nina Simone, Stan Getz, Jan & Dean, Jimmy Page, should I say more on this famous singers/musicians?

@Mark, Online I have found at least two compilation cds full of tracks, some well-known, others totally obscure, that have Jimmy Page on them. Unfortunately the album is spread out per artist in iTunes, so unplayable as a whole. There are quite some gems between them, actually.

#17. I think I have a few The Velvettes tracks on a double soul album filled with hits by Sam & Dave, James Brown and others.

#19. Yes, I'm curious to hear more from The Box Tops, featuring Alex Chilton. Chilton produced his best work when he was aligned to the brilliance of Andy Bell, which lasted far too short. The first album of Black Star is one of the best kept secrets of the early 70s. It should have been a smash, it went absolutely nowhere until in the early 90s bands like The Posies and Teenage Fanclub started to list it as their main influence. The Box Tops have reached immortality through its one hit 'The Letter', the only song I know by them, so yes, I'm curious for this one.

#20. Friends of my parents had one The Cowsills record in their home. Their sons and my friends played it regularly. I distinctly remember the band's rendition of 'Hair', following the original closely. I hated it, owning the version by an Amsterdam based band called Zen. The best ever version. You should look out for this one of hit. The rest of The Cowsills did not interest me at all. That may be different now actually.

#21. Glenn Campbell has scored several hits through the years. This song I do not know of course. I never really liked his music. Last April I was at a show where the singer-songwriter of duty praised 'Whichita Linesman' into heavens. I listen to it once at home, with a predictable outcome. I liked the singer on stage's version better.

#23, I've just finished my piece on 'In Search Of The Lost Chord'. I'm getting that record as soon as I find a vinyl version. This song I have never heard. (It turned out that the shop I went into had all relevant Moody Blues albums second hand.....except this one, so I selected the one after this one for €3,=.)

#25. I should look up my compilation album of Tommy James & The Shondells if I have this one on there. The band scored several hits in NL throughout the second half of the 60s. 'Hanky Panky', Mony Mony' and 'Crimson And Clover' as the best known ones.

#27. Gladys Knight are well-known soul singers, like

#30. Eddie Floyd is super well-known for his 'Knock On Wood'.

#34. The Creation scored a hit with 'Painter Man', covered by Boney M none the less in the 70s.

I can go one with the other half like this, but won't. The three songs that really stand out because they made the charts here are:

# 51. 'Gin House Blues' by Amen Corner. Not its best known song, but a small hit.

#57. Nothing But A Heartache by The Flirtations was one of the hits in 1968 that I remember distinctly from the time, because it was hardly ever played after. Something like 'Captain Of Your Ship' by Reparata & The Delrons of the same days. The Flirtations were a sort of The Supremes is my guess now with only one hitsingle.

#60. Maybe Tomorrow was a minor hit also, in 1969. The Iveys, if I remember correctly later became Badfinger after The Iveys had reached its zenyth with this single. It may be that Apple's oversea partner in NL did a bit better job. Several artists on Apple scored hits here in 1968 and 1969. I remember Mary Hopkin, this one and Billy Preston.

#63. Don Covey sings 'Seesaw'. I am wondering whether this is the same as Aretha's and it is. Covey's version, written with Steve Cropper, you can clearly hear his typical guitar playing here, is the original. Covey had formed a duo once with Don Cherry, who is Neneh's father.

#66. Vashti Bunyan is a U.K. folk singer of legendary proportions who returned with a record after decades fairly recently. If I remember correctly there is a Jimmy Page connection here somewhere as well. I can't get this song to play, but on Wikipedia I just found that it was written by Mick and Keith. She also sang in Twice As Much (that recorded 'Sitting On A Fence').  In the meantime I have found that Page produced the song, formally accredited to Andrew 'Loog' Oldham. So the song must be on that compilation I was writing about earlier. The information I found shared that PAge was the producer in residence at Immediate Records, owned by Oldham.

There is so much to discover here. While writing I have heard about 12 songs. Two of them I thought, I have heard before, but where and by whom? There were some true revelation as well. Starting with the first song right away.

#58. Because I can't seem to stop. Mark has already commented on 'Sour Milk Sea' by Jackie Lomax. I remember the single being advertised on a Top 40 copy. Despite heavy pushing from the side of the Apple representatives, the song went nowhere here.

#47. Let me end with Shorty Long, another one hit wonder here in NL with 'Here Comes The Judge'. Long, who was called Frederic in real life, was another soul singer who recorded mostly in obscurity. 'Devil In A Blue Dress' is just another one of those nice gospel soul songs with an interesting guitar solo in the middle.

#48. Thanks for this, Gary. Really, really enjoyable listening to these doors to obscurity. There's even a cover of 'Evil Ways', Santana's second hit here. Oh, wait, this is the original by Willie Bobo. Such fun!

13-1. Gary

Thanks Wout,

Again, I am impressed with your authoritative and knowledgable report on these singles…. But yes, this was fun!

14-1, Wo.

Coming back to Moody Blues. It turned out that the two record stores I went to yesterday afternoon had all its albums 2nd hand except for the one I had come to buy, In Search Of The Lost Chord. Patience is a nice thing. Instead I came home with Noel Gallagher's last effort. So will know soon enough if Mark is right and let it grow on me. He previous album I truly liked better than most Oasis albums. Also a recent 12# single by Mick Jagger I didn't know existed. So enough to listen to today.

To come back to Ray Thomas. The man wrote scores of Moody Blues songs, was one of the lead vocalists of the band and I hadn't a clue. I always though it was all about the two blond guys up front. Fact is that I have discovered another band to like. My review of the album is on on Tuesday.

Our latest discussion will be on tomorrow (Monday). I take it as a live document as there's still so much more to discover. So we can just add if we like.


zondag 14 januari 2018

Face Your Fear. Curtis Harding

De Amerikaanse soulzanger Curtis Harding maakte al weer meer dan drie jaar geleden flink wat indruk met zijn debuut Soul Power.
 
De Amerikaanse muzikant moest destijds concurreren met flink wat nieuwkomers die de soul van weleer nieuw leven in wilden blazen, maar bleef de concurrentie een straatlengte voor met een plaat die aan de ene kant herinnerde aan de vintage en met name Southern soul uit de jaren 60 en 70, maar aan de andere kant ook open stond voor invloeden uit andere genres en invloeden van meer recente datum, waarvan zeker de combinatie van soul en rauwe garagerock naar veel meer smaakte.
 
Ook op zijn nieuwe plaat Face Your Fear neemt Curtis Harding je mee terug naar de soul uit de jaren 60 en 70, maar ook dit keer verwerkt de Amerikaan allerlei andere invloeden in zijn muziek, waardoor hij het hokje retro-soul weer makkelijk ontstijgt.
 
Face Your Fear werd geproduceerd door Danger Mouse, die Face Your Fear heeft voorzien van een duidelijk ander geluid dan zijn voorganger. De invloeden uit de garagerock hebben flink aan terrein verloren en hebben plaats gemaakt voor een moddervet soulgeluid met een bijzondere twist.
 
Zeker in de wat meer rechttoe rechtaan soulsongs maken de muzikanten op de plaat indruk met een broeierig soulgeluid dat uit de speakers knalt. Het is een geluid waarin Curtis Harding zich als een vis in het water voelt. De Amerikaan is gezegend met een heerlijk rauwe en soulvolle strot en herinnert aan meerdere groten uit de geschiedenis van het genre.
 
De authentiek aandoende soul op de tweede plaat van Curtis Harding is goed voor een feestje, maar Face Your Fear heeft ook een wat avontuurlijkere kant. In de songs die wat minder zwaar leunen op de vintage soul heeft producer Danger Mouse gekozen voor een wat experimenteler geluid met zwaar aangezette strijkers, vervormde gitaren en bijzondere koortjes. Het levert songs op die nogal psychedelisch aandoen en je onmiddellijk mee terug nemen naar de late jaren 60.
 
Ik was persoonlijk zeer gecharmeerd van de wat rauwere muziek die Curtis Harding op zijn debuut maakte, maar ook het wat meer gepolijste geluid op zijn tweede plaat overtuigt makkelijk. Face Your Fear laat zich beluisteren als een obscure klassieker uit de jaren 60 en 70, maar Curtis Harding sluit ook aan bij de hedendaagse R&B of de modernere soulvarianten.
 
In een jaar waarin neo-soul smaakmakers Sharon Jones en Charles Bradley ons zijn ontvallen is de spoeling betrekkelijk dun wanneer het gaat om echt goede soulzangers en zangeressen. Curtis Harding stijgt hierdoor flink boven de concurrentie van het moment uit en maakt diepe indruk als zanger.
 
Ook in muzikaal opzicht is Face Your Fear een stuk interessanter dan vrijwel alle andere soulplaten van het moment. De Amerikaan vermaakt meedogenloos met moddervette soul, maar verrast ook met aangenaam zweverige soulklanken. Het zijn klanken die in eerste instantie zorgen voor verbazing, maar hoe vaker je ze hoort hoe verslavender ze worden. Dat laatste geldt overigens voor alle tracks op Face Your Fear, want de tweede plaat van Curtis Harding wordt bij herhaalde beluistering steeds beter en onmisbaarder.
 
Net als de grote soulzangers uit het verleden en in tegenstelling tot veel jonge soulzangers van het moment, lijkt het zingen Curtis Harding geen enkele moeite te kosten, wat zijn muziek een bijzondere flow geeft. Het is een flow die op het debuut nog af en toe ruw werd onderbroken door stevige gitaaruithalen, maar met Face Your Fear uit de speakers zweef je mijlenver weg. Ik vond het in het begin vooral heel lekker, maar inmiddels vind ik de tweede van Curtis Harding een knappe plaat. Een buitengewoon knappe plaat zelfs.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt hier naar Face Your Fear luisteren en het album kopen:

https://curtisharding.bandcamp.com.

zaterdag 13 januari 2018

Worry Dolls live. Q-Bus, Leiden Wednesday 10 January 2018

Photo by Wo.
"(All I've got is a red guitar) three chords and the truth", Bono sang in 'All Along The Watchtower', U2s cover track of Jimi Hendrix' 1968 hitsingle. It was seen as the truth for nearly 30 years. Since 10 January 2018 I'm going to change things for once and for all. Having heard the Worry Dolls live this phrase has to be changed to "All I've got is a guitar and a banjo, three chords and harmonies". Man, can these girls sing.

Together with Drummer Finn, of half Dutch descend, Zoe Nichol and Rosie Jones played a very sweet, nice but most of all totally convincing show in Q-Bus, Leiden. From the get go, ''Train's Leaving' the two young woman stood there singing with a smile on their faces and the intention to have a good time while providing the audience one as well. In this Worry Dolls succeeded totally.

I had been drawn to the show by the album 'Go Get Gone' (read my review here: http://wonomagazine.blogspot.nl/2018/01/go-get-gone-worry-dolls-2.html). The harmonies and the way of playing sound so utterly nice that I could not resist going to Leiden once more. Of course on the album Worry Dolls is accompanied by Nashville musicians who ride from studio to studio to do their thing for scores of artists. The question was how does the duo translate this interpretation of its music into a live show?

Photo by Wo.
The answer was basically as elementary as possible. Hence my opening statement. I have never seen professional musicians play at such a basic level, where nevertheless everything fell into the right spot. Not just a little, but sheer perfection, without a single moment that a song got to a point that it felt glib or sounded too good to be true. No rhinestones here, just pure diamonds and gold. Two voices that seem to be made for each other to sound perfect together. So much power and ease went into the singing. When a song was played on the piano instead of a banjo, I had the impression that Zoe Nichol had just learned to play the instrument and needed all her concentration to play. Yet, I was simply astounded by the total sound of that piano with a small guitar, some easy played drums and then, again, those voices. Nothing else was needed except for the perfect sound mix.

As an aside. Again I was taken by how haunted a banjo can sound. Just a few, slow played notes, some reverb and it's like walking around in a ghost house, with no idea what's up in store just behind the door.Worry Dolls use the effect sparingly but to great effect in its songs.

I thought that the album was good. Live Worry Dolls is a revelation. I can't tell you what more these two women need to play far bigger venues in this country and elsewhere soon. They have the songs, the music, the voices and the enthusiasm to capture audiences. Go, Worry Dolls!

Wo.

You can listen to and buy Worry Dolls' music here:

https://worrydolls.bandcamp.com/

vrijdag 12 januari 2018

How The West Was Won. Peter Perrett

De naam Peter Perrett zal lang niet bij iedereen een belletje doen rinkelen en hetzelfde geldt helaas voor de naam van de band die bij tussen 1977 en 1981 aanvoerde.
 
De uit Londen afkomstige band The Only Ones dook in 1978 op in het kielzog van de eerste Britse en Amerikaanse punkbands en kreeg daarom bijna automatische het label punk en later het label new wave opgeplakt.
 
De band maakte met The Only Ones (1978), Even Serpents Shine (1979) en Baby's Got a Gun (1980) drie uitstekende platen en het waren platen die zich ver buiten de hokjes van de punk en de new wave bewogen.
 
Mede door het opvallend veelzijdige karakter kregen de platen van The Only Ones niet dezelfde status als die van de meeste tijdgenoten van de band, maar zeker achteraf bezien zijn ze alle drie van hoog niveau en zeer invloedrijk. Paul Westerberg van The Replacements maakte nooit een geheim van zijn bewondering voor de platen van The Only Ones, maar ook The Libertines, Lloyd Cole en alle bands van Luke Haines (The Auteurs) lieten zich stevig beïnvloeden door de helaas niet erg omvangrijke nalatenschap van The Only Ones.
 
Na het uit elkaar vallen van The Only Ones leek Peter Perrett definitief ten prooi te vallen aan een hardnekkige drugsverslaving, al probeerde hij nog wel een band te formeren, maakte hij in 1996 nog een, overigens matige, soloplaat (Woke Up Sticky) en kwamen The Only Ones een jaar of tien geleden ook nog eens bij elkaar.
 
Vrijwel uit het niets is Peter Perrett nu terug. De Britse muzikant heeft zijn leven weer opgepakt en heeft met How The West Was Won een verrassend sterke soloplaat gemaakt. Voor iedereen die de drie platen van The Only Ones kent, klinkt de nieuwe soloplaat van Peter Perrett waarschijnlijk bekend in de oren. De Brit beschikt over een uit duizenden herkenbaar stemgeluid en maakt nog altijd muziek die niet eens zover verwijderd is van de platen die zijn band al weer bijna 40 jaar geleden maakte.
 
Het is muziek die kan worden omschreven als rock ’n roll in de breedste zin van het woord en het is rock ’n roll die een aantal decennia aan invloeden verwerkt en vooral Amerikaans klinkt.
 
In muzikaal opzicht is How The West Was Won misschien geen wereldschokkende plaat, al veer ik meerdere keren enthousiast op wanneer de gitarist mag soleren of zijn gitaarlijnen breed mag laten uitwaaieren.
 
In vocaal en tekstueel opzicht is How The West Was Won veel indrukwekkender. Peter Perrett beschikt over een bijzondere stem en het is een stem die zijn persoonlijke songs inkleurt met veel gevoel.
 
In de openingstrack deed het me allemaal wel erg aan Lou Reed denken, maar naarmate de plaat vordert had ik ook zeker associaties met de muziek van Gavin Friday, de platen van de in 1991 overleden Johnny Thunders (die met zijn band The New York Dolls Peter Perrett ooit inspireerde tot het maken van muziek) en hier en daar toch ook Bob Dylan.
 
Ik moest wel weer even wennen aan de bijzondere stem van de Brit, maar als How The West Was Won je eenmaal te pakken heeft, groeit de onverwachte terugkeer van Peter Perrett al snel tot grote hoogten.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt hier het album hier beluisteren en kopen:

https://peterperrett.bandcamp.com/album/how-the-west-was-won

donderdag 11 januari 2018

The Deep Set. The Bats

This album was sitting in my to do list for some time now. Somehow I just didn't get around to it. Time to make amends as The Deep Set is a fine album by New Zealand band The Bats.

Looking at the promo photo's that accompanied the news flashes of Flying Nun Records The Bats must be around for a while. Looking the band up that turns out as the right way of thinking. The Bats formed in 1982 in Christchurch and have released 8 albums and 7 EPs since 1984, the last in 2011. The Deep Set is album #9 after a six year hiatus. The band still plays in the original line up, which is fairly unique for bands.

Whatever went before, I haven't heard it as far as I'm aware, making The Deep Set my introduction to The Bats. The freshness of the sound is the first thing that struck me on hearing the music. From there a whole range of thoughts and associations entered my head. From REM in the opening track, to Roger Daltrey in the strained way of singing Robert Scott can resort to at times or, just to create a fierce contrast, the dreamy way of singing of Justin Hayward. The 60s are never too far away in a nice intro here or there and the 80s and 90s indie pop rock is a mainstay in this music. Music that is not shiny, happy, yet makes the sun shine without any effort.

It strikes me that The Bats doesn't put any energy into large outings or climbing high musical mountains. The joy of each and every song is in the fine details. Every song has these small or slightly larger moments. They only seem to be going about their way, but paying attention pays off. The Bats know exactly what it doing. Soft strings, the harmonies of Kaye Woodward, a banjo, an extra guitar. It takes very little to make the sun shine on The Deep Set.

There simply isn't much more to write on The Deep Set. Put the album on and it takes you on a trip of modest proportions. Put it on a head set and you're lost for this world. Now every good album will do that, but this one allows me to relax and undergo it completely, playing to my subconscious and my conscious at the same time. Music to listen to and music to dream to. There are not many albums that achieve this at the same time.

Wo.

You can listen and buy The Deep Set here:

https://thebats.bandcamp.com/album/the-deep-set

woensdag 10 januari 2018

Stranger In The Alps. Phoebe Bridgers

Het is momenteel dringen in het segment van de jonge en wat weemoedige vrouwelijke singer-songwriters, maar zo lang de kwaliteit van hun platen zo hoog is als op het moment hoor je mij daar niet over klagen. Integendeel.
 
Een van de meest talentvolle van het stel is de uit Los Angeles afkomstige Phoebe Bridgers, die deze week debuteert met het prachtige Stranger In The Alps.
 
Phoebe Bridgers is de twintig pas net gepasseerd, maar heeft als we haar teksten moeten geloven al een hoop persoonlijke ellende achter zich liggen.
 
Voorlopig geloof ik de jonge singer-songwriter uit Los Angeles volledig, want Stranger In The Alps is een opvallend intense plaat die er keer op keer in slaagt om je tot op het bot te raken met songs vol ruwe emotie en verhalen die een donkere sluier over de dag leggen.

Qua stem doet Phoebe Bridgers wel wat denken aan Julien Baker, die voor mij misschien wel de mooiste plaat van 2015 maakte en in 2017 terugkeerde met een nieuwe plaat. Met Julien Baker deelt ze ook de aardedonkere teksten en muziek die overloopt van melancholie.
 
Stranger In The Alps klinkt desondanks flink anders dan het debuut van Julien Baker. In muzikaal opzicht zijn de randjes wat minder scherp en bovendien verwerkt Phoebe Bridgers meer invloeden in haar muziek, waardoor deze afwisselend loom en dromerig en donker en dreigend klinkt.
 
Ook als de Amerikaanse kiest voor een betrekkelijk eenvoudige en toegankelijke instrumentatie en folky songs, maakt ze muziek met een enorme impact. De aardedonkere teksten, waarin de dood angstig vaak opduikt, blijven je maar bij de strot grijpen, maar ook de bijzondere en vaak donker gekleurde accenten binnen de instrumentatie geven Stranger In The Alps een bijzonder lading.
 
Het zijn accenten die kunnen worden ingebracht door aanzwellende strijkers of atmosferische elektronica, maar er is ook een voorname rol voor messcherpe of juist benevelende gitaarlijnen, die dwars door het geluid snijden en Stranger In The Alps voorzien van Twin Peaks achtig mysterie.
 
Phoebe Bridgers moet met haar van melancholie overlopende popliedjes concurreren met heel veel soort- en tijdgenoten, maar ze onderscheidt zich uiteindelijk vrij makkelijk van de concurrentie. Stranger In The Alps is een stuk indringender en intenser dan het afgelopen jaar verschenen platen van onder andere Julia Jacklin, Molly Birch en Angel Olsen (platen die ik allemaal hoog heb zitten) en kan zich qua niveau meten met de jaarlijstjesplaten van Aldous Harding, Sharon van Etten en vooral de al eerder genoemde Julien Baker.
 
Direct bij eerste beluistering was ik gegrepen door de bijna desolate sfeer op Stranger In The Alps en onder de indruk van de ruwe schoonheid en enorme impact van de songs van Phoebe Bridgers. Luister naar Stranger In The Alps en je voelt de pijn  van een jonge vrouw die een beroerde jeugd achter zich heeft liggen, luister nog een paar keer en je hoort een plaat die overloopt van talent, zeggingskracht en bijzondere schoonheid.
 
Phoebe Bridgers heeft een plaat gemaakt die van alles met je doet. Het is een plaat die vanwege alle melancholie en ellende pijn kan doen, maar het is ook een plaat die betovert met songs die je voor altijd wilt koesteren.
 
Phoebe Bridgers gebruikt haar debuut om een hoop persoonlijke misère van zich af te schrijven, maar ze heeft ook een bijna onwaarschijnlijk mooie en indringende plaat gemaakt die iedere vezel in je lijf flink opschudt. Voor mij is dit album de grootste verrassing van 2017 en Stranger In The Alps is echt nog lang niet gestopt met groeien.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt hier naar Stranger In The Alps luisteren en het album kopen:

https://phoebebridgers.bandcamp.com/album/stranger-in-the-alps

dinsdag 9 januari 2018

France Gall and Ray Thomas

A post on two people who may never have met, although it is possible they shared a French TV studio once or something like it. Both died this weekend at the age of 70 respectively 74.

I have mentioned France Gall in the discussion following the demise of Johnny Hallyday late December. She won the Eurovision Songcontest in 1965. Not for France I learned today but for Luxembourg, with a song written by someone else I mentioned in the Hallyday piece, Serge Gainsbourg. The fact that nearly half of Gall's obituary in a Dutch national newspaper was on Gainsbourg's 'La Sucettes' blowjob reference/fantasy with the very young and still unspoilt France Gall, is telling for the appreciation of her in this country. 'La Sucettes' is hardly known here.

If I hadn't heard the story before I would never have heard that song, which isn't very good anyway. Her great hit in this country is and will forever be 'Poupée de Cire, Poupée De Son'. I liked it as a small boy, my aunt had the single 45. I liked it in the 80s when it featured in many a party as a 60s dance tune and I like it to this day. In the mid 80s France Gall's, who's real first name was Isabelle, career took a new turn with two minor hits (here in NL) called 'Il Jouait Le Piano Debout' and the formidable 'Ella Elle L'a', a song that, also, can be heard regularly on the radio to this day.

Reading more on Wikipedia I realise I know a fourth song. My aunt must have had two singles by France Gall, because I remember 'Sacré Charlemagne' distinctly, but where did that little record go?

Perhaps it is time to check up some more on France Gall. There might be a revelation or two there.

Ray Thomas was the flute player and other woodwind and copper instruments of (The) Moody Blues. Someone in the background of first Danny Laine and later the two singers: John Lodge and Justin Hayward. By the time France Gall's career was in a second run, The Moody Blues' was just about over in the mid 80s. Although not too long ago they played several nights in a row in one of the largest venues in NL, for me the band was a thing of the past. As it was for Ray Thomas, who quit the band in 2002.

Moody Blues is a band with a fine line of hitsingles. Starting with 'Go Now' in 1965 right up to 'Voices' and "Gemini Dream' in 1981. Of course The Moody Blues will forever be remembered for one song: 'Nights In White Satin'. One of the most beautiful ballads ever written. Apparently the flute in the song ironically came out of a mellotron.

On Monday morning they played 'Question' on the radio. I found that I liked it even more than I remembered it, having not heard the song for several years; if not more. The quiet section was so much more forceful, so right. Where I used to only see it as a hindrance to that powerful rocksong it also is. It is no surprise then that in the past I had 'Ride My See Saw' and 'I'm Just A Singer In A Rock And Roll Band' as favourites. I had taped the albums from a friend in the dorm I used to live in in my university years, but never really liked them beyond 'Days Of Future Passed'. Perhaps it is time for a reappraisal, liking 'Question' so much more today.

Ray Thomas wrote a great song on the album 'Long Distance Voyager' from 1981, an album I did like straight away: "Veteran Cosmic Rocker'. The kind of symphonic rocksong where hearing is believing and yes, I liked it alright.

I'm going to end my little post on Ray Thomas and Moody Blues with that other beautiful ballad the band released in 1978 on its comeback album. 'Had To Fall In Love' is so touching. All British reticence and not showing emotions while they are bursting through the seems of that stiff upper lip that keeps singing with this low voice, subdued and keeping up appearances. What a song!

Wo.

maandag 8 januari 2018

You Tried. Hater

You Tried was released early in 2017, but passed me by. It was the EP 'Red Blinders' that received a more international release and drew my attention to the Malmö, Sweden based band Hater. (Read my review of 'Red Blinders' here: http://wonomagazine.blogspot.nl/2017/11/red-blinders-hater.html) That got me into this album and as the band comes to NL this month, why not listen a bit more seriously?

The band formed only in 2016 and released a first EP, 'Radius', soon after, followed within the year by this album. All band members have gained experience by playing in other bands and seem to have a distinct view on where they wanted to Hater to go, so miles could be made fast.

'Red Blinders' is clearly already another step forward for the band. It is much darker and more 80s influenced than the music on You Tried. I'll admit straight away that I like the EP much better than the debut LP. There's no reason for Hater to be offended as recognition of growth and expansion is a great good to receive.

So let's return to You Tried. If anything the album has a more translucent sound. Everything has a lightness about it, except for the mood Hater presents us. The sound of everything on the record is light, transparent, yet the chords and the melodies are downcast. That makes for an interesting mix that seems to work better by the song. At the beginning of the album I simply have a hard time adjusting to this mix. From the fourth song, 'Had It All', I seem to get all I need from Hater to be able to adjust. The approach becomes more direct, slapping me in the face: pay attention, we're delivering here.

And that is what happens in 'Cry Later'. The tempo goes up as well and the drums pound beneath the riffing guitars. Slowly comparisons with Wolf Alice seep in. Hater is not that far developed (yet?), yet the fact I'm remembered of Wolf Alice says something positive in this case. Just like that U.K. band, Hater dares to set different moods to its record, not afraid to be all but one dimensional. All the while maintaining that lightness of sound and play.

Caroline Landahl's voice reminds me of Jerney Kaagman and Nena in the higher register and of Chrissie Hynde in the lower. Her voice is not powerful, yet fits this music. Mix it right and there are no troubles whatsoever.

You Tried gets the power it needs to remain interesting. In fact it is built up quite convincingly. The band clearly put effort into the track selection. The variation in the songs is another asset well-used swinging the album towards the positive some more. The before last song 'Stay Gold' rocks out solidly before the title track ends it all in a slower and more moderate way. A thin organ is mixed between the two guitars adding this little extra to the whole.

You Tried may not be an exceptional record. Taking into account that this is an effort by a band that is together for about a year, I can't find much at fault with You Tried. The album is growing on me, slowly but surely. 

Wo.

You can listen to and buy You Tried here:

https://hatermalmo.bandcamp.com/

zondag 7 januari 2018

December 2017, Kairos by .No on Concertzender

It's that time of the month again when Wo. listens to the, at times esoteric, musical choices of .No in his radio program called Kairos on Concertzender. At times a lot of of fun, other times Wo. is clearly stretched beyond his comfortzone. Let's see what the Kairos of December 2017 had in mind for him.

What a difference a day makes! Finally some time to listen to the program (and the courage to do so, I'll admit). A holiday is a holiday, also from writing about music.

This month's Kairos opens with a high voice. And very softly at that. The voice is joined by other voices and I'm in the midst of modern choir music composed by Lárus Sigurðsson. Looking him up, it's no surprise that the man in from Iceland. That he is a member of a postrock band called Stafraenn Hakon is. What I hear has nothing to do with rock, although the guitar has a slight edge to it. 'Entry By The Wolf Door', whatever that means, is dreamy, otherwordly. The song holds a lot of beauty within it and has something special that compels me to listen.

An acoustic guitar enters the atmospherics. Enter 'Smoor' by Anna & Peter Clijssen. The rough voice of Peter reminds me of the songs of Ries de Vuyst that featured regularly on Kairos about one to two years ago. Sung with an accent that I'm unfamiliar with, but may be Sealandish. The folk tune is basic yet has something around it that pulls a fist around my heart, making me feel uneasy and alert, on the look out for whatever may be around the bend.

The accordion that sets in, could have been an addition to 'Smoor', but is not. It is the start of a reintroduction to the music of Pauline Oliveros. Her 'A Love Song' is everything but that. I'm having a déja vu as if I have written that line before during a Kairos and not too long ago at that. What I get is a feeling of the end of love. Can one call that a love song? Is it written in stone that a love song has be about falling or being in love? If not, 'A Love Song' is a love song, lamenting the end of it. The long oooooooos are cries of pain and wonderment. What has just happened to me?, is what Oliveros seems to be asking herself.

A piano comes in, after which French singing joins. A typical French voice, with that edge of the combination of too many Gauloises and Pernod creates in a voice. 'Hors-saison' is a beautiful ballad though. Slow, with swelling violins behind the piano and Cabrel's voice. The ballad holds the balance between beauty and melancholy in a superb way, taking me on a ride of lamentation that only the finest of ballads can.

Heiress returns with another song, 'Pteryla'. One of the albums I can take credit for for being played on this show, as it just fits in here. The mix seems perfect from 'Hors-saison' until 'Pteryla' has to take over all by itself. It simply dives of a cliff into nothingness as if the ground disappears under Heiress' feet. It took me about 30 seconds to adjust and to come into the beauty of this song. Novo Amor's high voice makes sure 'Pteryla' never crashes down below, but sails away over the waves before doing so. "Bring an ocean down" is not sung for nothing by the duo. 'Heiress' is one of the more special albums of 2017.

Kairos also returns to Pechenga. The atmospherics of 'Hamningberg' blend with the ending of 'Pteryla'. Slowly taking over completely with ever stranger sounds that do make a melody. The mood is meditative with long held notes of different sounds and textures. The central melody rides over it like a surfer the waves. I notice that I'm really in the mood for this by now and can totally submerge in the music. This is a very modern form of classical music.

Next up is a singer I truly hope will release a new album soon. Here we return to her album '1983' and the song 'Travelogue'. From a period that her music was more sober than on her latest two albums. The (double-tracked) voice of Sophie Hunger is accompanied only by an electric guitar and it is enough. 'Travelogue' is utterly convincing.

The change to a weird sounding intro on a (bass) clarinet? is a large one. I have moved into some free jazz sort of outing, beautiful in sound though. And yes, now I read the title it is a bass clarinet. Jorg Verhoeven plays track 2 of 'Meditation Bass Clarinet'. There are some other sounds in there that I have a harder time at defining. I can't see myself meditating on this music though. The unrest is everywhere. What I am able to do, is follow the ups and downs of the music and that is somewhat soothing, I notice.

The switch to Nils Frahm's 'Nue' is flawless. The two songs just blend for a few seconds and I'm into Frahm's exercise on accordion. I will not go as far and call this music. Nils Frahm is not trying to write a song here. He's toying with an accordion, maybe even two, playing short, fast notes. I can listen to it but do not see the added value for me in there.

Jeroen Elfferich also returns to Kairos. Starting with some piano notes, driving the unrest of 'Nue' away. 'Mini Minimal 3' (me I wanted to write, for 'Austin Powers' fans) is so much more relaxed. At least in contrast with the composition before it. This composition, I start noticing, has an undercurrent and yes, around 32.40 minutes into Kairos it comes out. Elfferich starts playing the piano in the same way as Frahm played the accordion. The same bass notes come around giving the song a hint of balance. I feel like having to scratch myself, relentlessly, a minute into it. Just before I start doing so, the relative tranquillity returns. A counter melody joins, showing that Jeroen Elfferich really knows what he is doing.

Madness seeps in slowly. It is Jorg Verhoeven who returns with another part of track 2. Playing in a higher register than before, also at a more frantic pace that before. The "other sounds" are more alive as well. I start noticing the echo on both instruments used in the recording, creating the sense of standing in a large vault or cave, where someone at the other end is making music. Music of a nature that does not invite me to come closer and investigate. I can imagine hearing this melody being sung by a church choir though. When does this finally stop?, is a question I've repeatedly asked myself during the 6 minutes plus of this excerpt.

'Isotach' is an album by Matthew Bourne. Also a veteran of Kairos by now. He gets two songs in one go, which is fairly exceptional for Kairos. Instant satisfaction as I'm delivered from Verhoeven, but what does Bourne really bring? Atmospherics with a piano playing slow notes. The first composition is called 'Wedding Mala (for Dave and Nicola)'. Soon followed by 'Extinction'. The atmospherics are gone, the piano remains. It is so easy to imagine a whole violin quartet underneath the piano, that I even seem to imagine them being there. To my surprise strings do enter later on. Playing only elementary accompaniment to the basic notes of Bourne himself. Or were they so soft in the mix before, I simply just heard them? Nice question. The mood Bourne sets down is slowly soured by the way the instruments are played. An eerie mood creeps in changing everything. Like a dream can change into a nightmare slowly but surely.

No time to stop though. I Am Oak is announcing itself. This fall I wrote about the solo performance live album of Thijs Kuijken, released as a mini album with beautiful artwork. 'Curt' is one of the eight songs on 'Pictures Of The Floating World'. An artist at his most vulnerable. Kuijken looked the dragon into the mouth and came out winning. Just a guitar and his voice is all he needs to silence the world. Nothing seems to be going on. No fancy guitar work, no high gliding vocal melodies, yet it is enough.

After showcasing his cousin Hans Kockelmans regularly on Kairos things get even worse: .No is presenting his own music, 'Energy'. Moving straight through I Am Oak as if he isn't there, the strange noise morphs into the Vocal Group Utrecht. 'Run To You' is a mix of male and female voices. Lots of dynamics in the singing. At the end the group starts to play with the song. If they are able to do that more, they will become even better.

The result of a chance meeting in a train this last song is, as described in the introduction to this Kairos on the Concertzender website. Go over there now with the link below and start listening.....

Wo.

Playlist:
00:11 Lárus Sigurðsson. Entry by the wolf door. Album ‘We are told that we shine’. Volkoren.
05:05 Peter Clijssen. Smoor. Anna & Peter Clijssen. Album ‘Vagantenkost’. Self-released.
07:56 Pauline Oliveros. A love song. Album ‘
The Well And The Gentle’. Hat ART 2020.
12:05 Francis Cabrel. Hors-saison. Album Hors-saison. Chandelle COL 494202 2.
16:17 Novo Amor (Ali Lacey) & Ed Tullett. Pteryla. Album ‘Heiress’. All Points.
20:22 Pechenga. Hamningberg. Album Helt Borte. Smalltown Supersound STS202CD
23:25 Sophie Hunger. Travelogue. Van album ‘1983’. Two Gentlemen Records twogl 009-J
25:55 Jorg Verhoeven. Track 2 from Album ‘Meditation Bass Clarinet’. Self-released.
29:54 Nils Frahm. Nue (fragment). Album ‘Winter Music’. Erased Tapes Records eratp18cd.
32:41 Jeroen Elfferich. Mini Minimal 3. Album ‘Elfferich Four Hands, minimal music for 2 pianos. Self-released.
37:04 Jorg Verhoeven. Track 2 from Album ‘Meditation Clarinet’. Self-released.
43:45 Matthew Bourne. Wedding Mala (for Dave & Nicola). Album ‘ISOTACH’. LEAF BAY 105CD.
45:12 Matthew Bourne. Extinction. Album ‘ISOTACH’. LEAF BAY 105CD.
52:13 Thijs Kuijken/ I Am Oak. Curt. Album ‘Pictures of the Floating World. Snowstar Records.
54:43 Wino Penris. Energy (fragment). Private recording.
55:12 Kevin Olusola, Avi Kaplan, Scott Hoying, Mitch Grassi, Kirstin Maldonado and Ben Bram (music, words and arrangements). Run to You. Vocal Group Utrecht. Private recording.

You can listen to this Kairos here:

https://www.concertzender.nl/programma/kairos_423068/