zondag 18 maart 2018

Shadow People. The Limiñanas

Het Franse duo The Limiñanas maakt inmiddels al een aantal jaren platen en het zijn platen die ik bijna allemaal met een brede glimlach heb beluisterd.
Op deze platen eren Marie Limiñana en Lionel Limiñana de gigantische muzikale erfenis van Serge Gainsbourg, maar slepen ze er, over het algemeen samen met flink wat gastvocalisten, ook van alles bij, variërend van 60s psychedelica en flarden van The Velvet Underground tot shoegaze en hedendaagse Franse pop.
Ik heb absoluut genoten van de vorige platen van The Limiñanas, maar nam ze op hetzelfde moment niet heel serieus. Zeker een ‘guilty pleasure’, maar niet direct een krent uit de pop was mijn afweging tot dusver.
Vorige week verscheen de nieuwe plaat van het duo uit Perpignan en langzaam maar zeker raak ik er van overtuigd dat ik mijn mening over The Limiñanas maar eens moet herzien.
Dat betekent niet dat er op Shadow People heel veel is veranderd. Ook voor hun nieuwe plaat hebben Marie en Lionel Limiñana weer flink gespit in het fascinerende oeuvre van Serge Gainsbourg, maar ook dit keer worden de invloeden van deze unieke Franse muzikant met van alles en nog wat vermengd. 
In de instrumentale openingstrack worden hippieklanken, compleet met sitar, uit de jaren 60 gecombineerd met gruizige shoegaze gitaren en zo heeft herbergt iedere track op Shadow People combinaties van invloeden die je niet verwacht.
Net als op haar vorige plaat heeft het Franse duo een beroep gedaan op een aantal gastvocalisten, onder wie The Brian Jonestown Massacre voorman Anton Newcombe, die de hoogtijdagen van The Jesus And Mary Chain laat herleven en actrice Emmanuelle Seigner, die een vleugje zuchtmeisje toevoegt aan het voornamelijk gruizige geluid van The Limiñanas. Verder duikt ook dit keer Joy Division en New Order bassist Peter Hook op en wordt een van de tracks bijzonder fraai versierd met de man’s uit duizenden herkenbare baslijnen.
Ook op Shadow People vermaakt The Limiñanas weer met meedogenloos aanstekelijke popliedjes en vele twists. Door het Franse tintje dat het duo uit Perpignan geeft aan haar muziek klinkt ook Shadow People weer anders dan de meeste andere platen van het moment, maar waar ik de muziek van The Limiñanas tot dusver beluisterde als een ‘guilty pleasure’, kan ik dit keer alleen maar concluderen dat Marie en Lionel Limiñana en hun muzikale medestanders een verdomd goede plaat hebben gemaakt.
Het is een plaat met gruizige psychedelica als rode draad, maar wat zit er veel moois verstopt onder de gruizige gitaarlagen en de wat zweverige klanken. The Limiñanas beginnen in de jaren 60, maar citeren dit keer ook stevig uit de jaren 80 en slaan vervolgens een brug naar het heden. De songs op de plaat zitten na één keer horen stuk voor stuk in je hoofd, al is het maar vanwege de geweldige melodieën en het zwoele Franse tintje.
Shadow People laat zich, net als veel van de platen van Serge Gainsbourg, beluisteren als een soundtrack bij een niet bestaande film. Het is een film waarvan je zelf de beelden mag bedenken, wat de luistertrip van The Limiñanas nog wat fascinerender maakt. Dat The Limiñanas een heuse krent uit de pop hebben afgeleverd zal inmiddels duidelijk zijn.

Erwin Zijleman

Here's the link to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:


zaterdag 17 maart 2018

Let's retire! Artists and retirement plans

There's something in the water. All of a sudden there's news of rockstars retiring in a disturbing number in the starting weeks of this year. Wo. noticed the pattern and started a conversation under the title: Something new, yet slightly worrying. Inevitably there's some reminiscing involved of better things.

Wo., 9-2
There is another sort of news that is somewhat worrying and around a lot in the 5 weeks this year is old. Farewell tours.

First Neil Diamond had to stop his tour due to dementia. Somewhere around that date Elton John announced a, three year, farewell tour. I already saw the posters up along the roads announcing a show in big letters, golden coloured, saying "FAREWELL". Then Slayer announced its final tour, definitely a younger generation, so it can always comeback. Yesterday a show by Paul Simon was announced in the newspaper: 'Homeward Bound. The farewell tour".

We are saying goodbyes in more ways than we thought just a few weeks ago. This is about ending a career, by people who have entered their seventies (plus). Or at least their live playing days.

Now I'm not a big fan of either of the four, although three of them have their moments, with Paul Simon liked best by me. It means that more will follow and probably sooner than later. It is not a taboo to actively end a musical career.

Gary, 9-2
Well yes, I am afraid that this is a fact of life… we are all getting older, and pro-musicians and artists have to plan carefully how they tour as even air-con/private plane/limo/hotel suite at ’senior’ years have a huge impact on performance. Elton is only retiring from touring… that doesn’t mean he will not do the odd appearance or even concert when the mood takes him. I saw him in a recent interview and he said he wanted to see his children grow up…. Touring would preclude that…

But in general, we must expect the inevitable for our heroes and idols, eventually they will all become too old, infirm, ill to perform, write or record. The unpalatable truth is that they will ALL eventually die. In recent year the deaths of Emerson, Lake, Bowie, Rick Wright (this list is not exhaustive have brought closer the realisation that my era of music is passing… Where before the deaths of people like Hendrix, Joplin, Paul Kossoff through drug abuse was tragic but  understandable, and later artists passing like Freddie Mercury because of illness. But now our heroes are dying… from old age!

It is the way of the universe and although no matter how tragic, bleak and uncomfortable this truth is… I know I must be thankful that I lived through such an amazing period of great music. I believe I am so lucky to have been born in the late 50s and to have been old enough to see and hear the great artists, bands and music of the 60s and 70s.

I feel sad that my children are unlikely to be able to experience the kind of musical creativity that I took for granted…. Indeed, it seems that the younger generations do not enthusiastically relate to music in the same way that our generation did? 

I hope that future generations will rediscover the music of the 60s and 70s much like today people are rediscovering jazz, big band, folk and classical music? I refuse to believe that such a wonderful period of innovation and creativity will be forgotten?

Wo. 9-2
Well the good news on my end is that, my son is an even bigger Beatles fan than I am. And my two youngest step sons love to go to The Analogues shows with me as a birthday present and got to know The Beatles first mostly through my son who made them a compilation for in the car during a holiday. Now my son certainly is not an example for his age group.

The good thing about raising him on lots of good music is that he has bought me a ticket for the first time. We are going to Franz Ferdinand next month in his new hometown. BTW I got the new album today and it, again, is great.

What I notice about the youngsters in my life is that they listen to everything. From the latest rappers and stuff, to things like Steve Miller Band or just as easily sing along to a very early Stones hit. What I am not sure of is whether they appreciate music the way we did. They have everything one click away. We depended on many factors to be able to hear something and sometimes never heard a song again for years. It was just something in my mind until I found a second hand copy decades later. What we had was valued a lot more and to get an album that you did not like, was nothing short than a disaster as we had to wait until the next special occasion before we could ask for the one we did want.

I just listened to a Stones greatest hits compilation over dinner, nearly all songs we heard were from around 1965. I could sing along to every song, like I can for 40 years or more, but so could the stepkids to some of them. Even Gimme Shelter.

So yes, it's different, but I do think they will find out what they really like if they haven't already. There is just so much to distract them from music and their money goes into games. They don't own a single record. My son does, but I think they were all presents. Now he's earning money, perhaps this will change. I'll ask him when I visit his home.

In the meantime we just have to wait who retires next, voluntarily or not. Not me I hope. We just played 'Come Together' for the first time and did that feel nice. A blues cover from a blues cover is up next: 'It's Your Voodoo Working'' by Eilen Jewell.

P.S. Wo., 14-03
This week I read that Lynyrd Skynyrd is embarking on its farewell tour in the U.S. this May.


vrijdag 16 maart 2018

Yada Yada. Odd Couple

Another album from Germany on the blog. It's highly likely that every cliché in the rock book comes by on Yada Yada. Who cares when the music Odd Couple produces is as much fun as it is?

What to make of the title Yada Yada? Of songtitles like 'Bokeh21'?, 'Katta'?, Fangdannen'. All the other titles are just as short. 'Vielfrass', 'Stiff', 'Robotik'. It all suggest a sense of weirdness but most of all directness. Direct Yada Yada is and nobody got hurt by a little weirdness in music.

The album opens with what seems like and up and down rock song, 'Bokeh21'. The weirdness comes in through the vocoder voice and the use of synthesizers to create blips and blops that can be heard on record since Roger Waters ordered a kind of synthesizer while recording 'Dark Side Of The Moon' in 1972. The drums never relent, it is the rock guitars that are traded in for the synths.

Odd Couple is of course a, this year 50 year old, film turned into a television series. I think I have seen some episodes at some point in time. Now Odd Couple is a band from Berlin. Is it a duo or a trio? I'm trying to find out for you. On the publicity photo three persons are depicted. In every write up I find on the band just two names come up: Tammo Dehn and Jascha Kreft. That will need to do for now, at least until some more research gave me the name Dennis Schulze. All three are involved in the songwriting at some point or other. Allowing for several exceptions the instrumental division is Dehn drums, Kreft guitar and keys, Schulze bass and then some. After 'It's A Pressure To Meet You (2015) and Flügge (2016), Yada Yada is Odd Couple's third full length release.

According to the bio the band chose a more experimental and grown up sound for its new album. I can't tell at this point in time. Odd Couple has found itself a firm rocksound in which electronics and experimentations in sound are never far away. At the same time a punkrock attitude shows through, giving the album a kind of solidness not comparing to "simple" rock. The vocals are of a relaxed nature more in tune with the hippies of the 60s. Psychedelia is certainly involved  As you can read Odd Couple does everything and then some not to be pushed into a single corner. It is not to be labelled that easily. Just listen to 'Fangdannan' and fly with the butterflies, "wie eine Schmetterling". The electronic sounds involved in 'Fangdannan' were unheard of in 1967, the effect is exactly the same. Fluid projections on the far wall, a joint or spliff in hand and off you go.

Odd Couple is not a band that opts for the easy way. A song is never just a song. The experiment never far away. Things are tried out and many ideas were probably left on the studios floor for what they were. Discarded simply because it did not work or better ideas presented itself. Just listen to how 'Robotik' develops. The song has so many twists and changes. Many ideas will have fallen through here and dispensed with. It must be fun, exhilarating as well as frustrating to work within Odd Couple. Unless one person decides, but my odds are on that not being the case, as there are two principal songwriters who will both have their ideas. The same goes for Schulze when he contributes.

Yada Yada is an album that is interesting for a few reasons. In other words it stands out. It may not be exemplary, there is more than enough to enjoy. From the first rush, as described at the start of this post, to the more in-depth acquaintance Yada Yada holds up. Another fine album from Germany it seems. There were years on end I didn't hear a single one and I can already predict there will be another one in about a month's time.


You can listen and buy Yada Yada here:


Here's the link to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:


donderdag 15 maart 2018

Rifles & Rosary Beads. Mary Gauthier

Het is moeilijk voor te stellen dat het inmiddels al weer meer dan 18 jaar geleden is dat ik compleet van mijn sokken werd geblazen door Drag Queens In Limousines van Mary Gauthier.
De singer-songwriter uit New Orleans, Louisiana, imponeerde op haar tweede plaat met songs met zoveel emotie en doorleving dat luisteren soms pijn deed.
Drag Queens In Limousines staat inmiddels in de boeken als klassieker, maar als ik luister naar alle platen die Mary Gauthier sindsdien heeft gemaakt, moet ik concluderen dat het misschien wel de minst sterke plaat van Mary Gauthier is.
Het zegt wat over de torenhoge kwaliteit van de platen die Mary Gauthier sinds 1999 heeft uitgebracht. Met Trouble & Love deed de singer-songwriter uit New Orleans er bijna vier jaar geleden nog een schep bovenop en leverde ze haar beste plaat tot dusver af. Het is een plaat die nu stevige concurrentie krijgt van Rifles & Rosary Beads, dat in meerdere opzichten imponeert.
Ook Rifles & Rosary Beads ontleent een belangrijk deel van zijn kracht aan de geweldige stem van Mary Gauthier. Het is een stem die de afgelopen 18 jaar alleen maar mooier is geworden. Op Drag Queens In Limousines had Mary Gauthier nog een flinke snik in haar stem, maar de afgelopen jaren is ze wat meer ingetogen gaan zingen. Het is gelukkig niet ten koste gegaan van de hoeveelheid emotie en doorleving in de stem van de Amerikaanse singer-songwriter, waardoor ook Rifles & Rosary Beads je weer onmiddellijk bij de strot grijpt.
Alleen de geweldige vocalen maken van Rifles & Rosary Beads al een prachtplaat, maar er valt nog veel meer te genieten op de nieuwe plaat van Mary Gauthier. Ook dit keer is de instrumentatie subtiel en ingetogen, maar de stemmige klanken zitten ook vol mooie details en met name de bijdragen van mondharmonica en viool snijden door de ziel.
En dan zijn er ook nog de indringende verhalen op de plaat. Mary Gauthier schreef een aantal songs op de plaat met oorlogsveteranen en werkte hiernaast samen met gelouterde collega's als Beth Nielsen Chapman. Mary Gauthier vertelde op haar eerste platen vooral over de eigen ellende in haar leven (en ellende was er volop in de eerste 35 jaar van haar leven), maar focust nu op het leven van oorlogsveteranen en hun nabestaanden in de Verenigde Staten.
Het zijn mensen die ongewild een oorlog in zijn gesleept, maar na terugkeer aan hun lot werden overgelaten. Iets wat ook gebeurt met de nabestaanden van militairen die niet levend terugkeerden uit Irak of Afghanistan. Het zijn verhalen vol ellende en als iemand deze verhalen kan vertellen is dat Mary Gauthier wel.
Het geeft Rifles & Rosary Beads een bijzondere lading en een enorme intensiteit. Ik ging er eerlijk gezegd van uit dat Mary Gauthier haar creatieve piek had bereikt met Trouble & Love uit 2014, maar de lat kan nog een stukje hoger.
Rifles & Rosary Beads is in vocaal en instrumentaal opzicht een imponerende plaat, maar staat ook nog eens vol verhalen die iets met je doen. Mary Gauthier is misschien niet wereldberoemd, maar is in haar genre momenteel onaantastbaar.

Erwin Zijleman

Here's the link to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about: https://open.spotify.com/user/glazu53/playlist/6R9FgPd2btrMuMaIrYeCh6?si=KI6LzLaAS5K-wsez5oSO2g

woensdag 14 maart 2018

Current. Madensuyu

Madensuyu is a duo from Ghent in Belgium. Stijn De Gezelle and Pieterjan Vervondel. Friends since their teen years and making music together for about as long. Both equipped with the family name of a famous poet or close to it. With Current the duo released its fifth album since 2005.

From what I understand the sound has made a switch towards a piano. The concert piano is everywhere on this album. Creating a grandly staged sound, not so much unique, certainly haunting and haunted. De Gezelle must have lame arms and fingers after playing this album. There's so much power and speed involved, in the permanent sort of way. Like the proverbial devil is on his tail.

There is simply not a lot I can write about the album, except to point to the enormous energy flowing from my audio set to my brain. Igniting it. Enveloping it. Not leaving any room for much thought. Current holds the kind of music that is all consuming. At times a passage triggers a memory of something I have heard before, to be squashed within seconds. The vocals remembers me of other singer, to be obliterated by what follows. And except that the music is somehow what happens when classical music and punk have baby. They called it Madensuyu. And finally, it also seems to be a Turkish soda.

Is Current a good album? It somehow doesn't seem to be important, as if the question is completely and utterly redundant. Current propels forward, Current forever goes on, pounded forward by the fingers hitting on the white and black keys of the grand piano. Not to forget the ever forward driving rhythms of the drums. Yes, there are moments of relaxation on Current. Also they are instantly forgotten when Vervondel's drums kick in fully once again. The two players seem totally oblivious of each other and blending totally as well.

It seems that hearing Current is believing. It is time for you to start doing so.


Here's the link to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:


dinsdag 13 maart 2018

Lenco LS-50

‘Mijn zoon was gister jarig. Hij werd zeventien jaar, die schat, hij vroeg aan mij een Elpee en die heeft ‘ie ook gehad’. Niet van Hazes maar van Nirvana, de klassieker Nevermind, in een mooie 180 grams persing nogal liefs. Op zijn lijstje stonden ook nog De Beatles (Blue album 67-70) en de Sex Pistols (Never mind the bullocks). Ik gloei van trots.

Omdat de enige platenspeler hier in de woonkamer staat heb ik ook nog een platenspeler voor ‘m gekocht. Een ding dat min of meer op zichzelf werkt, niks audiofiels – audiofilie is een hobby waar hij zelf voor mag gaan sparen – maar gewoon een spelertje waar hij op zijn kamer op zijn gemak plaatjes kan draaien. Noem het nostalgie.

Het werd de Lenco LS-50, goeie retro look, en een ingebouwde 1W speakers. De Lenco LS-50 komt met een gebruiksaanwijzing. [link dit even naar naar https://www.lenco.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/UM_LS-50_ALL_Web.pdf ]

Leest u even mee. 


U dient dus voor gebruik de instructies, zegge 53, schrijve drieënvijftig, allemaal te hebben onthouden. Het is een stapel instructies die weinig met een platenspeler van doen hebben, maar wel worden ingeleid met de volgende waarschuwing.

Gebruik van bediening, aanpassingen of het uitvoeren van procedures anders dan gespecificeerd in  deze documentatie kan leiden tot blootstelling aan schadelijke straling.

Schadelijke straling!? Google even op Schadelijke Straling. Onze ouders hadden gelijk: van het langdurig luisteren naar zedenloze muziek kun je inderdaad bulten krijgen. We weten nu dat dat door de platenspeler komt.

Van de 53 instructies hebben er veel van doen met het verstandig omgaan van elektrische apparaten, met nogal wat duplicatie. Instructie 15 en 49 luiden:

Dit apparaat moet op een voedingsbron werken zoals gespecificeerd op het specificatieplaatje. Als u twijfelt over het type spanning in uw huis, raadpleeg dan uw dealer of plaatselijke energiebedrijf.


Controleer of de spanning op het specificatieplaatje van uw apparaat overeenkomt met het lichtnet in uw huis (specificatieplaatje is te vinden op de achterzijde van het apparaat).

U begrijpt, er werkt bij de firma Lenco een manager specificitieplaatjes voor wie er dit jaar een flinke bonus in het verschiet ligt.

Soms hebben de instructies schattige specificiteit. Zo is daar instructie 20:

Houd deze uit de buurt van knaagdieren. Knaagdieren knauwen graag aan voedingskabels

En instructie 29:

Het apparaat mag niet worden blootgesteld aan druppels of spatten en zorg ervoor dat er geen met vloeistof gevulde voorwerpen, zoals vazen, op of nabij het apparaat zijn geplaatst.

Een hamster op sterk water moet u dus maar helemaal uit uw hoofd halen.

Wat minder schattig is instructie 39:

Dit apparaat is niet bestemd voor gebruik door mensen (inclusief kinderen) met fysieke, zintuiglijke of geestelijke gebreken of gebrek aan kennis en ervaring, tenzij zij onder toezicht staan of instructies hebben over het juiste gebruik van het apparaat hebben gekregen van de persoon die verantwoordelijk is voor hun veiligheid.

Je moet je niet over alles druk maken. Maar, je zal maar een geamputeerde kleine teen hebben en aan je vrouw moeten vragen of zij de verantwoordelijkheid over jouw veiligheid zou willen dragen om daarna uitleg te krijgen over hoe je in godesnaam een plaatje draait.

Drieënvijftig instructies, allemaal loze woorden geschreven om aansprakelijkheid te omzeilen en die niks met het normaal gebruik van een platenspeler van doen hebben. De letterlijke en figuurlijke uitsmijter:

Waarschuwing: Langdurige blootstelling aan luid geluid van persoonlijke muziekspelers kan leiden tot tijdelijke of permanente gehoorbeschadiging.

Eikels, Nevermind moet leiden tot gehoorbeschadiging, en met een 1W speaker gaat dat niet lukken.


Here's the link to our Spotify Playlist: https://open.spotify.com/user/glazu53/playlist/6R9FgPd2btrMuMaIrYeCh6?si=KI6LzLaAS5K-wsez5oSO2g

maandag 12 maart 2018

Hans Cleuver, Focus' first drummer, passed away. A conversation

In 2017 Gary, Mark and Wo. embarked on what turns out to be a series of conversation on music. Always jumping from topic to topic. One started on Focus (read on here: http://wonomagazine.blogspot.nl/2017/03/lets-focus-thoughts-on-band-focus.html). Yesterday (6-3) news came that Focus' first drummer passed away. You will find that this sad fact led to many other bands and occasions.

Gary, 7-3-2018
I was sent this by Focus:

"Hans Cleuver , the first drummer of Focus, passed away. We owe him a lot, concerning his inspiring work for the group, both musically and in organising the very first gigs in Amsterdam! Our thoughts are with his wife and children."

Thijs van Leer, on behalf of all members of Focus

Mark, 8-3-2018:
Thanks. He's not the drummer on Moving Waves so I looked up the Wikipedia history of the band. Hans Cleuver was a life-long close friend of Thijs but after the first album "In and Out of Focus" as we know it (have you got that, Wout?), Jan Akkerman wanted him out and his mate Peter Van Der Linden in on the skins. So a mighty prolonged rift in the band ensued with Jan's man winning out in the end - and hit the big time when Moving Waves took the world by storm (after Focus appeared on The Old Grey Whistle Test music programme on British TV - the only one that took popular music seriously - all of Polydor's record plants had to switch their entire production to churning out round the clock enough Moving Waves to meet the demand).

So it seems Hans's life story is similar to that of the hapless Pete Best though cruelly no-one wanted to take Pete's side in the Beatles case, only his female fans at The Cavern one of whom legend has it gave George a black eye for sacking their handsome first drummer with the un-fab quiff (after his own band fizzled out in the mid-sixties Pete ended up being a civil servant for a Liverpool office of the Dept of Employment, Gary!). Only when the first Anthology album came out in 1995 with Pete on drums on the pre-EMI recordings did he make any significant money out of his association with the Fab Three. Hans, however, seems to have kept his hand more securely in the music business and later teamed up with Thijs again so I guess he never felt he was as big a loser as Pete.

I met up with Pete Best's brother in Liverpool a few years ago. He was doing tours of the Casbah Club (by appointment) which was run by their mother Mona Best and is where the Silver Beatles as they were then called first played regularly. John and Paul helped out with decorating some of the walls and miraculously their arty handiwork with paint brushes has survived after all these years. You could say the remarkable Beatles story started in that cramped suburban club rather than at the legendary Cavern and like Hans in the history of Focus, Pete was a key player in The Beatles' formative years. However, his fussy and noisy drumming on the earliest recording of Love Me Do is horrendous compared to Ringo's simpler style (even if George Martin didn't like the latter and got a session musician called Andy White to replace Ringo for the original Parlophone single version. White passed  away in 2015 by the way, aged 85).

(I know: hou je mond, shut up Mark, you're rambling on about the Fab Four again). Unlike last year's Strawberry Fields remaster, there are no Beatles records on this year's Record Store Day list just out: see http://www.nme.com/news/music/record-store-day-2018-releases-2255889  Nor any Focus - but hey guess what! There is a double album of Shocking Blue's singles! How about that for premonition on our part?! I think I might be tempted by the Curved Air pioneering picture disc re-issue of Air Conditioning. - and the 12" demo of Bowie's Let's Dance...and the "early mix" of Lazy Sunday Afternoon.  I see there is also a picture disc version of Tormato, Gary. 

I thought Led Zep didn't release singles! RSD is on 21 April so start saving the pennies.....and cents!
Close your eyes and drift away....... 

Gary: 8-3-2018
Fascinating story about Pete Best, most of which I did not know about…. I know only to well that feeling of leaving the music scene to get a job in a Dole Office, Pete has my deepest sympathies! In the drumming world you either like Ringo or (like George Martin) not… similar to whether you like Charlie Watts or not…. I was neither a fan of Ringo or Charlie’s style of drumming.

Yes, the personal dynamics within Focus were pretty volatile, especially between van Lear and Ackerman although the decision to replace Hans Cleuver with Pierre van der Linden (Peter Van Der Linden is I think the Dutch Technologist who I once saw at a conference in London some years ago?) was the right one as he is a truly amazing drummer! He, like Carl Palmer, was heavily influenced by Buddy Rich and so technique is of the highest importance….  Although van der Linden was Ackermans friend he still plays (as you say) for Thijs van Lear’s version of Focus to this day!

I saw Curved Air at the Mick Jagger Centre last year, Sonja Kristina looks and sounds absolutely amazing for her age (68)…. There seems to be something of a youthfulness for our generation that wasn’t there for our father's time at our age… not sure what it is? Most of the 70s bands are producing reissues (especially on vinyl) and seem to be making a good income from it to supplement the pension! I get e-mails from Yes advising me of reissues and remasters 6 months in advance although the price they ask is somewhat daunting at times. Prog magazine is also a good source of upcoming new and reissues: http://teamrock.com/prog.

Led Zeppelin on yellow vinyl!!!! Also maybe worth considering saving pennies for Led Zeppelin by Led Zeppelin which is the first and only official illustrated book to be produced in collaboration with the members of the band. Celebrating 50 years since their formation. Published by @ReelArtPress due October this year? And if you can afford it Zeppelin is releasing a 'Deluxe Box’ in March of the live ‘How The West Was Won’ which was recorded at the Forum in Los Angeles…. Not enough money to buy everything though on a Civil Service pension!!!! 

Wo., 8-3-2018
Good morning, gentlemen.

The news about Focus' first drummer has passed the Netherlands by it seems. To be honest I had never heard of the man. To me it seems like Pierre van der Linden was Focus' only drummer that mattered. He played with Akkerman before in Brainbox (and in the very early 60s in Johnny and his Cellar Rockers). You should listen to the band's first single 'Down Man' (listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJWLVYK9zk4). Kaz Lux is the singer. He worked with Akkerman again in the mid-70s for a few duo albums. 'Down Man's lyrics may not be the best English, the song is fabulous. It even made the U.S. charts at the time.

BTW, I have got the two Focus albums second hand in the spring of last year. The second one an issue from before it got to be called 'Moving Waves', just 'Focus II'. Great records that I truly enjoy. I also got the greatest hits of Kayak (mach I), another sympho rock band from NL. The first band I got to see live at high school. Several of its singles still stand out. And, Shocking Blue? What can I say? At least Sweetwood is finally close to nailing 'Send Me A Postcard'. The drummer has got the break. The bass player may still be grumbling about the complexity of the verses but is getting there.

What our conversation on Focus has done for me, is that I have started to listen to several bands (again) and found that the quality of music coming from this country in the late 60s and early to mid 70s was extremely good.

After Focus Van der Linden played drums in a trio with Rick van der Linden, a second cousin, then ex-Ekseption and Jaap van Eik called Trace, a mix of jazz rock and classical. I haven't played that album for ages. So am about to do so soon.

Led Zeppelin released several singles here in NL. I think they charted four times. 'Good Times Bad Times', 'Whole Lotta Love', 'Immigrant Song' and 'Black Dog'. The second one was their biggest hit over here. One day in early 1970 I went out with my hard saved up nickels and dimes to buy 'Whole Lotta Love' in the little village we had recently moved to. They had never heard of the song, so I came home with 'Marie Jolie' by Aphrodite's Child instead. Talking about missing a piece of history. Although I really liked that band's singles at the time.

Personally I pass the RSD by most of the years. The prices are near horrendous and usually for something I already own in some form. So I decided to save up for something I do not have. I can't tell about the international origins of RSD, but I have read that the daughter of a local retailer, who since starting in Leiden in the 90s branched out over the country, yes, against all odds, started the initiative as a school assignment that got a bit out of hand. His shop in Leiden has only grown bigger through the years. No longer living there I noticed recently that both remaining record shops have had an overhaul making them look a lot better. So they must be making money.

On Ringo Starr. I know he is not rated highly as a drummer and wasn't even when he was at his Beatles heights. Yet, listening to the songs, many of his contributions stand out as something special. Nothing flashy, just setting a totally different sound than many other drummers would have come up with, I think. That is a very special place to be in. And Charlie? I think he's totally unimaginative and has no ego to speak of. So he plays just what needs to played without a single extra anything. Creating the tight sound the Stones usually have. All that it needs probably. I was at the Django Django show yesterday and Franz Ferdinand on Sunday. Here the drummers are fabulous, playing all these strange rhythms, keeping me wondering: how do you do that?

So here's a link to the present, gentlemen, where some fantastic music is being made by bands like this. Both bands' latest 2018 efforts, 'Marble Skies' and 'Always Ascending' are stellar records.

Wo., 8-3-2018
I checked up on Hans Cleuver on Wikipedia. He remained manager of Focus until 1980, and started a drum academy in Utrecht. His daughter Emilie was part of a 100% percussion outfit called Slagerij Van Kampen. The name is a pun on butcher (slager) and hitting (slag).

Cleuver was married to Bojoura, a Dutch hippie singer, who scored several hits in the late 60s and early 70s. George Kooymans of Golden Earring, then Golden Earrings, wrote several songs for her, but her hits were mostly covers, e.g. 'Frank Mills' from 'Hair' and 'The Letter'. Kooymans had received singing lessons from Bojoura's mother, who was a Bulgarian soprano. The song I remember best is 'If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium', a song I heard somewhere not too long ago.

Just a little background with thanks to Wikipedia.


Breath Of Life. Ralph de Jongh

De Nederlandse muzikant Ralph de Jongh bracht afgelopen december in één keer maar liefst drie platen uit.
Het was mijn eerste kennismaking met de muziek van de Nederlandse muzikant, die overigens ooit werd ontdekt door niemand minder dan Harry Muskee (Cuby & The Blizzards).

Op de flinke stapel platen die Ralph de Jongh tot dusver in eigen beheer heeft uitgebracht domineert de blues en het is blues van hoog niveau. Het is bovendien blues die buiten de bestaande hokjes durft te denken en die heerlijk rauw, puur, eerlijk en intens uit de speakers komt.
De wat mij betreft mooiste plaat die Ralph de Jongh eerder deze maand uitbracht heeft echter niet zo heel veel met blues te maken en begeeft zich vooral op andere terreinen. Op Breath Of Live werkt Ralph de Jongh samen met de violiste Ewa Pepper (geboren als Ewa Górzynska).
De in Polen geboren maar al enige tijd in Nederland woonachtige violiste drukt nadrukkelijk haar stempel op de instrumentatie op Breath Of Live, dat verder wordt gedomineerd door de akoestische gitaar en de doorleefde stem van Ralph de Jongh. De combinatie van de akoestische gitaar en de viool vind ik een hele bijzondere. Ewa Pepper krijgt op Breath Of Live flink wat ruimte, wat de plaat van Ralph de Jongh een bijzonder of zelfs uniek geluid geeft.
De songs op de plaat bevatten meer invloeden uit de folk dan we van Ralph de Jongh gewend zijn (al duikt stiekem ook wel wat blues op), maar ook dit is een genre waarin de Nederlandse muzikant uitstekend uit de voeten kan.
Zeker wanneer de viool de hoofdrol opeist heeft de muziek van Ralph de Jongh en Ewa Pepper een zeer stemmig karakter, maar de ingetogen klanken zitten ook vol gevoel. Dat wordt nog eens versterkt door de zang van de Nederlandse bluesmuzikant, die zijn hart in ziel legt in zijn vocalen. De combinatie van de vaak wat melancholisch aandoende klanken en de emotievolle zang van Ralph de Jongh geeft de plaat een bijzondere lading en het is een lading die aan komt.
De naam Ralph de Jongh klinkt natuurlijk zo Nederlands als de pest, maar in zijn zang hoor je hier gelukkig niets van terug. Een Nederlands accent is voor mij met grote regelmaat een afknapper, maar Ralph de Jongh klinkt alsof hij zijn songs heeft ingezongen in een lokale kerk ergens in het diepe Zuiden van de Verenigde Staten.
Omdat de productiviteit van Ralph de Jongh momenteel kennelijk geen grenzen kent, is Breath Of Live ook nog eens een dubbelalbum met maar liefst 17 songs en bijna twee uur muziek. Het is allemaal muziek die het moet doen met het veelkleurige vioolspel van Ewa Pepper, het sobere akoestische gitaarspel van Ralph de Jongh en zijn meeslepende zang, maar vervelen doet Breath Of Live geen moment.
Ik moest heel even wennen aan het sobere karakter van de plaat, maar inmiddels laat ik me keer op keer meevoeren door het fascinerende vioolspel en de emotievolle zang op de plaat. Breath Of Live is een buitengewoon fascinerende plaat, die alleen maar meer glans krijgt door het feit dat Ralph de Jongh al zijn muziek zelf uitbrengt en dit jaar ook nog veel andere muziek heeft gemaakt. Die andere muziek ga ik later nog eens ontdekken, want voorlopig beperk ik me tot het intense, wonderschone en uiteindelijk verslavende Breath Of Live.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt Breath Of Life  hier kopen:


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zondag 11 maart 2018

Eurus. The Oh Hellos

They still exist those bands that unashamedly play and sing that overly optimistic modern folk tunes. The Oh Hellos is one of those bands.

No newcomer to this blog, it returns with its seven song mini album called Eurus. Brother and sister Maggie and Tyler Heath sound happier than ever on Eurus. The fiddle drives the songs forward, the acoustic string instruments do the rest. The mix of Irish folk and U.S. stamina creates a mood that is as good a cure as any against all the gloom coming out of the U.S. in the past year and a little. So soothing, so soft and optimistic Eurus opens.

The singing, dancing and playing (probably some drinking as well) together around the fire element is overwhelming on this record. At the same time a little Dropkick Murphies is let into the music giving the music a little kick in the backside to spruce things up a little. Just this hint of darkness, that comes mostly from a bass guitar and drums.

The album does start so exuberant, it gathers pace and speed along the way. 'O Sleeper' starts in a dreamy way, like a brook in a forest before it goes out into the wide, open world. Slowly it winds its way into the world before it becomes a stream. Ever wider and wilder. The whole of Smetana's 'Moldau Symphony' in a few minutes. Towards the end of 'O Sleeper' The Oh Hellos takes us back to the beginning. The short instrumental song 'Dry Branches' takes us back into the forest and makes us look at that small brook again. Focusing on all the sounds, made by the birds, the furry little things scurrying beneath the branches and leaves on the forest's surface and the wind in the trees.

The album starts getting into its own with 'Grow'. "Let the river run its course ... and let the wild take over". And I hadn't noticed this line when I wrote the above. The previous songs' imagery was enough for my mind's eye to summon it. The Heaths again slowly go all out in this song. It is so catchy in a way that it is impossible not be affected if not infected with the mood of the record. This eclectic song is the one reminding me most of the now almost ex-folk revival of 201x. 'Grow' is the kind of song that deserves being added to the roster. Especially as it moves into the more classic folk song, fiddle and banjo all around, 'Eurus'. The voices multiplied into a choir.

Eurus is the Latin name of the Greek God of the Eastern wind Euros. In my country an eastern storm is a rare thing. (And then we had one today. Circa one week after writing these lines. Freezing cold for this country it was.) Eastern wind is either cold in winter or warm in summer. It comes from the east, from the continent. So it usually is everything this record is not, quiet and exceptional.

The party just grows and grows as Eurus progresses towards its final three songs. The fun of listening keeps pace with the party The Oh Hellos offers me. It not just about dancing though. There is so much determination and strength gathered in Eurus. It is as if The Oh Hellos is making one last stand. They are building a wall of some kind. The sound of Eurus is so big, so larger than life almost. And yes, dancing is allowed. Wild, with full abandon, as if nothing can break.

Looking at the band's Bandcamp site I notice I have missed an album, another 7 song one, called 'Notos'. The south wind. This implicates we have two more albums to go, Zephyros and Boreas. All to be combined in a box set called Anemoi in 2020. If they are much fun as Eurus is, let me sign up here.


You can listen to and buy Eurus here:


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zaterdag 10 maart 2018

The Girl, The God, The Rush. SUiT

SUiT is a band with Dutch and German members. European integration through rock? It seems the right place to start, as music conquers all borders and convictions. Two members studied at the Rock Academy of Tilburg and two at the Pop Academy of Mannheim. The four members met during an exchange program and started to work together. The Girl, The God, The Rush is SUiT's debut album. A lot of good is to be written on it as you'll find out by reading on.

While listening for the first time to SUiT I noticed a lot of similarities with the more serious or better, the less eclectic side of Franz Ferdinand. Suit is able to rock in the same kind of way while keeping the break on the whole time. The dancing without going wild sort of music the Scottish band is also so good at.

This was just my first impression as there is so much more going on on The Girl, The God, The Rush. It's the kind of album that takes the listener on a tour across different sorts of music and moods. SUiT is a band that mastered several musical styles and genres, without any qualms to play them all for us.

Another thing that is noticeable is the how the members of this band master their instruments. There is no hesitation in leaving holes and silences in the songs. This makes the individual instruments stand out. Everything is heard. There are no overdubs or extra instruments. Just guitar(s), bass, drums. When the second guitar comes in for a heavily distorted solo in 'Over The Next Hill', the first clean rhythm guitar drops away. It is not 100% so, true, but in the basis this song is this "clean".

SUiT has another boon. It can take the tempo off and remain interesting and so strongly convincing. In part that is in the voice. Alexander Braunbarth has this extremely pleasant rock voice. The vocal melodies are nearly all strong and convincing. The music is resourceful, involving some risks as too empty is often boring and that is what SUiT is not. Even the perhaps weakest song on the album '1Q84' (sorry, I liked the books better) still has its moments and stands its ground.

In general SuiT is a two guitar band. Both singer Brautbarth as Ivo Schot play the guitar, with Rutger Martens on bass and Stefan Wandel on drums. Next to writing songs with a lot of empty spaces there are several with the chugging rhythms of desert rock, while the rhythm playing of U2's The Edge clearly has been studied into the fine little details. All these, as such, fine details do lead me to the following comment.

In part the songs on this album seem to be the exams leading to the graduation from the respective academies. The influences of the originals are easily divined. (Write them in the comment section if you like.) For a first album that is fine of course. SuiT has clearly put its whole into it and graduated with flying colours. Simply because there is so much to enjoy on The Girl, The God, The Rush. The band dares to show itself and its proficiency by leaving a lot that could have been in here out. This album is a fine blueprint of where SUiT is at in 2018. If the band manages to set the next steps through touring more the follow up ought to be smashing.


Here's the link to our Spotify Playlist: https://open.spotify.com/user/glazu53/playlist/6R9FgPd2btrMuMaIrYeCh6?si=KI6LzLaAS5K-wsez5oSO2g

vrijdag 9 maart 2018

The Violent Years (Big Planet, Scarey Planet). The Jazz Butcher

With The Violent Years Fire Records releases a second box set with albums released by The Jazz Butcher. The band's second album, 'A Scandal In Bohemia', but first in the box set 'The Wasted Years', totally surprised me and may actually make it to the list of my favourite albums of the 80s. This surprise made me curious for this collection of course.

The first album in this box, 'Fishcoteque', surprised me also. More in the sense that the band put a challenge on itself to put the words "Jazz Butcher" in each song, than because of memorable songs. So I quickly skipped that album, as what I think doesn't say anything about how others perceive it.

I settled on 'Big Planet, Scarey Planet', the second one in the box. The album is not as eclectic as my introduction to The Jazz Butcher, but I recognise a good song when I hear one. 'BPSP' is full of them. It was released in 1989 and I'm trying to do the mental step to what I used to hear and listened to at the time. There's a difference here, as I'm sure you'll appreciate. My 60s heroes came with strong albums. Nearly without an exception. I heard The Stone Roses for the first time. Of course all sorts of house and rap, my generation gap in music presented itself to me. New music passed me mostly by, not having a lot of money and barely coping with keeping track of my old heroes. So lending cds and taping them became a standard, but does any new music of the day stick out? Lenny Kravitz, I suppose and I tried to get my ears around REM and found myself trying at best. Tears for Fears' third album was alright (side one). There must have been others, that I do not recollect straight away.

So much for history. The Jazz Butcher passed me by at the time and probably would have, had I heard it at the time. 29 Years later my ears definitely work differently. The Clash clearly has left a footprint on this album, while The Jazz Butcher is not afraid of letting a little pop in to its take on punk and new wave music.

The line up had already undergone major changes by the time this album was released four years later. Discogs names Alex Green, Kizzy O'Callaghan, Laurence O'Keefe, Paul Mulreaney and The Jazz Butcher as members. The latter being founding member Pat Fish and main, though not exclusive songwriter here and co-producer with John A. Rivers. The band has a long line of past members as Wikipedia shows.

Setting aside a few experimental, perhaps to be called sci-fi songs seeing the title of the album, songs, the atmosphere of the album is quite consistent. High sounding guitars lead the way in a punk, pop infused album of up tempo songs with a fairly upbeat feel. No one is cheering out loud, but no one is wailing or crying either. Add an exuberant saxophone here and there and here's Big Planet, Scarey Planet. Things seem to be just fine.

The album starts with a punked up version of 'More Than A Feeling' by Boston. The lead guitar has a similar lead melody in the verse. The music is far to subtle to be called punk, the intention is what is telling, as is the singing. 'New Invention' is the kind of song a band would want to open an album with. Strong, varied, attention attracting loud. Fun little things happen while the rhythm chugs onwards.

The country punk of 'Line Of Death' is the starting point that makes clear how varied BPSP is going to be. The Village People's 'In The Navy' comes by, albeit disguised. The Jazz Butcher tried all sorts of styles on 'A Scandal In Bohemia' and does so on this album. Something the listener needs to have the stomach for. 'The World I Was Looking For', the fourth song, is propulsing itself forwards the whole time in a way that makes me smile the whole of the way. The better songs of The Clash come to mind, without having so much to do with the music of The Clash as such. The sax solo adds to the joy no little.

'Bicycle Kid' has a funny lyric but musically it doesn't do much for me. Like some songs on Robyn Hitchcock's latest, eponymous album. 'Bicycle Kid' has a full 60s flavour though, unfortunately the kind I do not like specifically. The Jazz Butcher returns with 'Burglar Of Love'. Listen if you can guess what guitarist inspired the intro. A strong verse vs. a not so strong chorus. That usually is the other way around.

Being so varied Big Planet, Scarey Planet is in fear of losing the attention of a lot of people. The strong instrumental melody of 'Do The Bubonic Plague' is seriously hampered by the spoken word vocal. Luckily the album moves towards the ends with the kind of song indie bands still like to write and play to this day. 'Bad Dream Lover' is the kind of upbeat song that makes someone want to put the record on again. It might have been a perfect ending to an album holding a lot of interesting songs, were it not for 'The Good Ones'. The Jazz Butcher presents a combination of The Kinks' 'Better Things' and 'Pale Blue Eyes' by The Velvet Underground. Certainly interesting but not the best song on the album. As a whole all these songs are worth investing time in to get to know them better. Even 29 years after the original release.


You can listen to and buy The Violent Years here:


or listen to The Jazz Butcher on WoNoBlog's Spotify Playlist:


donderdag 8 maart 2018

Django Django live, Melkweg Amsterdam. Wednesday 7 March 2018

Photo by Wo.
Django Django is a live force almost despite itself it seems. From the very first seconds of the show rhythm was the keyword. Relentlessly the beat was bestowed upon us. However, that's only one side to the band. If it was about beats only, I would never have been present. Django Django perfects the joining of beats with melodies and songs, resulting in one and a half hour of moving and dancing.

How to translate the many layered, mostly electronic music to the stage? That was my question before attending my first Django Django show. Yes, some sounds and electronic rhythms seemed to come out of a box. Did it matter? Absolutely nothing and this is why. The drummer Dave Maclean keeps a tremendous rhythm going the whole of the time. Some fantastic rhythms were produced from behind his kit. Despite being at the back, as drummers tend to be, it was a joy to see him at work. He is the only band member to remain on his post during the show as we will see. From a barrage of keyboards and sequencers and who knows what else Tommy Grace produced all the electronic sounds and melodies required with a lot of energy. He's clearly enjoying his status of rock star. The two more front men, bassist Jimmy Dixon and singer/guitarist Vincent Neff are more rockstars against all odds. More like two men who find themselves so successfully on stage but never expected nor strived to be there. Both have obviously grown into their role. Together they take care of the vocals and harmonies that are such an important part of why I like this band so much.

Photo by Wo.
To top it all off, all play percussive instruments or part of the drum kit if an extra rhythm is required, Or all move to the keyboards and play something together there. It gave the show tremendous pace and energy. These extras give Django Django live the oomph some songs need to come alive this just a little bit more.

Another thing I noticed is that live maybe not everything on the record is played, so some elements within a song get some extra attention. To me that revealed some of the influences on Django Django's music that are not so obvious on records. The Eurythmics, Pet Shop Boys, the commercially successful synth bands of the 80s, showed through alright.

Photo by Wo.
I have one complaint though. Where was 'Giant'? I certainly had hoped the band would play its best song, but alas. All the other songs compensated for that fact. The oriental, near instrumental 'Cairo' was fun to hear. Just like hearing some of the other songs of the first album live like 'Default'. The songs that attracted me to Django Django in the first place, despite the fact that 'Born Under Saturn' and 'Marble Skies' have eclipsed the album totally, as far as I'm concerned.

What I saw is a band that enraptured the venue totally, with a both sympathetic, energetic and simply very, very good show. Nothing got too wild, agreed, but then the band itself is not wild. In a way that may be disappointing as some of the songs deserve total abandon, yet now the show was enjoyable without having to watch my body's health being attacked from all sides. Swaying to all the rhythms with a huge smile on my face, totally relaxed without a worry in the world. Yes, a great show. Thank you, gentlemen.

Finally, one question. Can someone explain to me why a holed lid was put on and off one of the synths, while it was played either way? Why the difference? That would be a nice to know.


Here's the link to our Spotify Playlist: https://open.spotify.com/user/glazu53/playlist/6R9FgPd2btrMuMaIrYeCh6?si=KI6LzLaAS5K-wsez5oSO2g

À Peu Près. Pomme

Ik was laatst in Parijs en zag tot mijn vreugde dat ook in de Lichtstad de platenzaken weer als paddenstoelen uit de grond schieten.
In deze platenzaken puilden de bakken uit met obscuur vinyl uit vervlogen tijden, maar was het nieuwe jonge Franse talent helaas nauwelijks vertegenwoordigd.
Ik kwam daarom vooral thuis met stokoude platen, maar natuurlijk is Frankrijk ook nog altijd een kweekvijver voor geweldige jonge (vrouwelijke) singer-songwriters.
Hiervoor moet je kennelijk niet in de hippe platenzaken van Parijs zijn, maar wel bij de Nederlandse BLOG Het Chanson Offensief (http://chansonoffensief.nl). Deze BLOG kwam eerder deze week met een flink aantal geweldige tips op de proppen en ik weet nu al dat deze de winter voor mij gaan inkleuren met de klanken die ik in Parijs niet direct tegen kwam.
Mijn eerste liefde uit het lijstje van het Chanson Offensief is Pomme. Pomme is een pas 21 jaar oude singer-songwriter uit Parijs, die met À Peu Près een razend knap debuut heeft afgeleverd.
Pomme is misschien pas 21, maar ze bulkt van het talent. De singer-songwriter uit Parijs kan uit de voeten met een heel arsenaal aan instrumenten, is voorzien van een bijzonder aangenaam, veelzijdig en expressief stemgeluid, schrijft songs die alle kanten op schieten en heeft tenslotte een muzikale bagage die je niet verwacht bij iemand van haar leeftijd.
À Peu Près bevat 13 voornamelijk Franstalige songs (slechts in één song kiest Pomme voor het Engels) en ze zijn allemaal even mooi. Het zijn songs waarin Pomme laat horen dat ze de Britse en Amerikaanse folk uit de jaren 70 kent, maar de Parijse muzikante kent ook de muzikale tradities van haar vaderland in het algemeen en het Franse chanson in het bijzonder. Hiernaast is Pomme een kind van deze tijd en kan ze genadeloos verleiden met Franse zuchtmeisjespop of met de zomerhit waar je in de winter zo intens naar verlangt.
À Peu Près is heel af en toe zwoel en lichtvoetig, maar op het grootste deel van haar debuut laat Pomme een enorme diepgang horen en overtuigt ze met songs die nog heel lang door groeien en nieuwe dingen laten horen.
À Peu Près is voorzien van een opvallend stemmige en subtiele instrumentatie vol mooie accenten. Het klinkt allemaal wat melancholischer dan je van een muzikante van de leeftijd van Pomme zou verwachten, maar het geeft de songs van de Française ook een bijzondere sfeer en lading. Die krijgt nog wat extra kracht door de mooie stem van Pomme, die rijker en volwassener klinkt dan die van gemiddelde 21 jarige en de songs op À Peu Près voorziet van veel gevoel en intensiteit.

Pomme is naar verluid groot geworden met de muziek van Joni Mitchell en dat hoor je af en toe nadrukkelijk op À Peu Près, maar het debuut van Pomme staat ook met minstens één been in het heden en wisselt duidelijke invloeden uit het verleden af met fris klinkende en sprankelende songs. Veel songs zijn behoorlijk ingetogen, maar Pomme heeft soms ook een meer theatrale kant, maar slaat gelukkig nergens door richting bombast.
Door de teksten in het Frans zal À Peu Près van Pomme voor de gemiddelde Nederlandse muziekliefhebber waarschijnlijk een wat hogere drempel opwerpen dan de gemiddelde Engelstalige singer-songwriter plaat, maar zet je over eventuele barrières heen en je hoort een plaat van hoog niveau vol prachtsongs.
Ik heb zelf een zwak voor de verleidelijke Franse popmuziek, maar de knappe muziek van Pomme doet veel meer dan verleiden met zoete klanken en blijft maar verbazen en verrassen. Pomme staat in Frankrijk bekend als een grote belofte en een al even groot talent en laat op À Peu Près horen dat dit volkomen terecht is. À Peu Près van Pomme is een plaat om direct te koesteren en uiteindelijk intens van te houden.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt stukjes van 'À Peu Près' hier beluisteren:


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woensdag 7 maart 2018

Franz Ferdinand Live. Oosterpoort, Groningen Sunday 4 March 2018

Well, do you wanna? Seldom a more superfluous question was asked to an audience. The Oosterpoort was filled with Franz Ferdinand fans who only wanted one thing: to have a good time with their favourite band. No matter how much love and affection singer Alex Kapranos wanted, needed, craved and begged for, he got it all.

It came as something of a shock to realise that it was probably nine years ago I last saw the band. In the, now former, Beer Hall in Amsterdam, after the release of 'Tonight: Franz Ferdinand'. Time flies. The first time was in the same venue after 'Take Me Out' broke big.

This gig started with the only song it could have started with, that tremendously good opening song and title track of the new album: 'Always Ascending'. The upbeat pulse of the song makes it one of the best the band ever released. There is enough material in 'Always Ascending', once pulled apart and developed separately could result into three fine pop songs. The superior opening was followed by the first single of the second album, 'Do You Want To?'. from that moment onwards not much could go wrong with this evening.

The selection of songs soon gave away a pattern: one old, one new song. So we got to hear most of the new songs. Not all are party raisers, but there is not one bad song between them. For the wild abandon section, Franz Ferdinand still depends on the hitsingles of its first album, 'Franz Ferdinand'. Although there is nothing wrong with the hits in between. 'Love Illumination' certainly got a lot of response. Too bad 'Bullet' wasn't played, my favourite song of the previous album.

Franz Ferdinand excels in two things. Playing the strangest rhythm while never forgetting the melodies that make up smash hit songs. Where a band like Gang of Four in the early 80s had weird rhythms and stop starts, but no melody in sight, Franz Ferdinand dispenses them like there is no effort involved. As if changing a song totally two or three times within the song, like 'Huck & Jim' does not put most people off, because predictability is left out to sail away in stormy winds.

The superb rhythm of 'Lazy Boy' where every few beats there seems to be a correction necessary which gives the song a great vibe is amazing to follow on record and live. And drummer Paul Thomson just sings along despite all the complex timing involved. Franz Ferdinand plays music that appeals to the body, the soul and the brain all in one.

The two new members if anything kick a lot of life into the band, if only because the guitars and keyboards can be played simultaneous now or three guitars all at once. A lot of swing is put into the band and synthesizers producing all sorts of sounds. Especially keyboardplayer/guitarist Julian Corrie adds an element of show to the band on stage. His strong presence adds to the whole of Franz Ferdinand. Additionally Alex Kapranos now has the freedom to do whatever he likes and uses this freedom to play the audience and serve it to the best of his abilities. More the frontman than ever.

I can only end with writing what a fine birthday present this was, thank you, son!

I only saw two songs by opening act Pip Blom. Too little to really write anything on. What I noticed, was a fine melodic sense, power and nothing that scared me away. So who knows some more on the band at some time in the future.

The real surprise came after the show when we had a last drink in a pub, where a duo started to sing and play. Just an acoustic guitar and a tambourine. The two were experts at mashing songs up. 'Smells Like Teen Spirit', the music, with the lyrics of 'Billy Jean', 'Long Train Running' with 'Sex Machine' and a song I do not remember, alternating the vocals per song as well. Just very well done and played and sung. Who were you guys? Then I can name you here.

And then the personnel behind the bar changed and guess what? They just came from the same show in De Oosterpoort. Small world.


Here's the link to our Spotify Playlist: https://open.spotify.com/user/glazu53/playlist/6R9FgPd2btrMuMaIrYeCh6?si=KI6LzLaAS5K-wsez5oSO2g