donderdag 24 mei 2018

The Two Worlds. Brigid Mae Power

In de nazomer van 2016 trok het titelloze debuut van de Ierse multi-instrumentalist en singer-songwriter Brigid Mae Power met name in het Verenigd Koninkrijk en in de Verenigde Staten de nodige aandacht.
 
Dat was volkomen terecht, want de plaat benevelde, betoverde en intrigeerde met muziek die begon bij de Laurel Canyon platen van Joni Mitchell en de psychedelica van Jefferson Airplane en eindigde bij de muziek van The Cocteau Twins, This Mortal Coil en zeker ook P.J. Harvey. (Lees die recensie hier: http://wonomagazine.blogspot.nl/2017/01/brigid-mae-power-brigid-mae-power.html)
 
De mix van 70s folk, 60s psychedelica en 80s 4AD zweverigheid had ook zeker Nederlandse muziekliefhebbers aan kunnen of zelfs moeten spreken, maar de plaat deed hier helaas weinig.
 
Ook de deze week verschenen tweede plaat van Brigid Mae Power duikt in Nederland vooralsnog niet op in de lijstjes met de belangrijkste releases van de week en dat is ook dit keer doodzonde. Ook op The Two Worlds creëert Brigid Mae Power immers weer een hele bijzondere sfeer en maakt ze indruk met songs die vergeleken met haar debuut nog flink wat emotie toevoegen.
 
Brigid Mae Power woonde enkele jaren in de Verenigde Staten en had daar een gewelddadige relatie die flinke krassen op haar ziel heeft achtergelaten. Inmiddels is Brigid Mae Power teruggekeerd naar het Ierse Galway, waar ze opgroeide, wat niet alleen de kans gaf om te reflecteren op de vervelende jaren die achter haar liggen, maar ook de nodige herinneringen aan haar jeugd naar boven brachten, wat de plaat een emotionele lading geeft.
 
The Two Worlds sluit aan op het zo verrassende debuut van de Ierse singer-songwriter, maar legt andere accenten. Invloeden uit de zweverige 80s muziek zijn dit keer minder nadrukkelijk aanwezig, waardoor de nadruk ligt op folk en psychedelica uit de jaren 60 en 70 en met name het werk van Joni Mitchell een belangrijke inspiratiebron is.
 
Vergeleken met het debuut klinkt The Two Worlds ook organischer. De door Peter Broderick geproduceerde en analoog opgenomen plaat kiest voor een akoestische basis waarin de akoestische gitaar en met name de piano een belangrijke rol spelen en waaraan vervolgens strijkers en subtiele elektronica zijn toegevoegd.
 
De songs op The Two Worlds zijn zoals gezegd geworteld in psychedelica en folk van een aantal decennia geleden, maar Brigid Mae Power verwerkt ook op knappe wijze invloeden uit de Keltische muziek in haar songs en heeft zich bovendien laten beïnvloeden door de platen van haar producer Peter Broderick.
 
Ik vond het debuut van de Ierse singer-songwriter al een hele bijzondere en knappe plaat, maar de songs op The Two Worlds zijn nog een stuk beter. The Two Worlds is een plaat die je in slaap sust en weer ruw wakker schudt, die betovert met wonderschone klanken maar ook pijn doet vanwege alle emotie en die de ruimte vult met sprookjesachtige klanken maar ook continu de fantasie prikkelt.
 
Zeker wanneer je het debuut van Brigid Mae Power niet kent is The Two Worlds een plaat die je even op je in moet laten werken, maar wanneer de plaat je eenmaal te pakken heeft is loslaten voorlopig geen optie. In Nederland krijgt de plaat vooralsnog weinig aandacht, maar dat moet echt gaan veranderen. Wat een prachtplaat.

Erwin Zijleman


Je kunt The Two Worlds hier beluisteren en kopen:

https://tompkinssquare.bandcamp.com/album/the-two-worlds


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 23 mei 2018

Golden Sounds. Garlands

Last year we wrote about Gordon Harrow's EP 'Indian Giver' (read on here: http://wonomagazine.blogspot.nl/2017/06/indian-giver-ep-gordon-harrow.html). A year down the road he presents new work under the name Garlands.

I really liked 'Indian Giver', so I'm thrilled to learn there's new work. In a tweet I happened upon Gordon Harrow referred to a show of Canshaker Pi he supported recently and mentioning that this was no coincidence. Now Canshaker Pi is one of the most exciting young bands in The Netherlands that got treated to two rave reviews on this blog of which one very recently (read on here: http://wonomagazine.blogspot.nl/2018/05/naughty-naughty-violence-canshaker-pi.html). Some great shoes to follow.

So how does Golden Sounds fare? The alternative rock jumps out of the title song. The golden sounds of San Francisco? Oh, yes, don't get me started. The U.K. has always produced my most favourite bands, but San Francisco also holds a special place, starting with Jefferson Airplane. Garlands' loud rock has not much to do with the über hippies of old though.

Golden Sounds rocks out from the very first seconds. Again many influences come by in a single song. I've mentioned enough of them in the past. The Posies is the one that sticks out most again. Like that band Garlands manages to rock out with a sound pop melody always in place.

In his singing Gordon Harrow produces a slight sneer, hinting perhaps that we should not take this all too seriously. Don't be fooled, this music is well worked out and tight. The little twists in 'Wake Up' show that the band wasn't satisfied with playing the song home in version one. No, experiments were put in there, reminding me, indeed, of Canshaker Pi.

After a song with an upbeat and different beat, Don't Do Me Wrong', the surprise of the EP follows: the final song, 'Bingo Drag Queen'. Where the previous songs all clock in under 3 minutes, 'Bingo Drag Queen' is drawn out and totally different in atmosphere, slower also. It is easily the price song of Golden Sounds. The dynamics are great, with an alternative sounding verse and a slow rocking, full strummed chorus. "Everything will be o.k.", Harrow sings. I believe him instantly. When songs like the four on Golden Sounds keep flowing from him, we are all bound to be.

That name though, Garlands? A first search, trying to find some more info on the band, brought me to a German female duo from Hamburg, a Swedish band called The Garlands and all sorts of garlands of course. With songs like these the Scottish Garlands will undoubtedly find its place in between everything mentioned here.

Wo.

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

dinsdag 22 mei 2018

Jellephant and Poncho live. Sugar Factory Amsterdam, Thursday 17 May 2018

Photo Wo.
Following that extremely enjoyable album released by Jellephant, 'Skeletons', last week, I was able to attend the cd presentation show in Amsterdam. Together with a band called Poncho, also presenting a new release.

While listening to the album working towards my review (read on here: http://wonomagazine.blogspot.nl/2018/05/skeletons-jellephant.html) I couldn't get my mind around what band the opening song reminded me of. Listening in the train to Amsterdam I knew it at the second note: The Dandy Warhols. Funny how thing can go. Mystery solved.

Arriving, I soon had the idea that I was attending a high school party, 40 years late. "Ah, there come the parents", I thought. Now Jellephant is from Arnhem, so the kids and parents must have come for Poncho. It wasn't hard picking out some of the members, the way they welcomed or were approached by all their friends. It was apparent Jellephant was not playing a home gig.

I simply have to own up that it is not easy to write something positive on Jellephant and the Phantoms. On the show and presentation that is. Not that they cannot play, not that they do not have the songs, not that they were playing badly. There's no beating around the bush on these pages. Jelle, you are the front man. You are Jellephant. So it does not do to put someone else in your place on stage. It does not do to stand in the dark for most of the time. It may feel safe, but it doesn't help the show, the feel and the conviction a band needs to take on nor to establish interaction with an audience. Especially one that is not yours in the first place and needs to be conquered, skin and bones. Neither does a microphone drenched in bathroom vibes, making it nearly impossible to understand what you are saying when you do address us. A second mike would help here.

Musically all was alright. I can still call up some of the licks I heard, in my mind easily. The three guitarists all played different parts on different ends of the guitar neck, creating a wealth of sound together. There was so much detail in the layered music Jellephant created this way. The music is fun, so much more so than what followed.

Photo: Wo.
I saw a crowd go wild on Poncho's music. Music that never touched me, personally. On the other hand I saw musicians communicating with their audience and making them wilder. Yes, they might have been playing to people from their schools, friends from the streets they live in, relatives and soccer mates, each and every one of them was made to feel special. And that is where successful bands start out. Poncho needs to get better and I am sure they know it themselves. Accidentally overhearing the intention to start playing as much as possible soon, I can only add smart move. If Poncho can address and attract other audiences the way they did this audience tonight, the question only is: where will it end?

Musically, I heard disco rhythms mixed with psychedelic sounds, punkrock creating moshpits at the end of the show, attempts at balladry sort of Indian Askin style and what not. It wasn't my kind of thing, yet it was a show. A show the audience really dug and the energy bounced right back and back again.

The shoegazing elements in Jellephant's music do not lend itself for such jollity, yet just a few small elements, now missing, could spark its show as well. There is something to learn here. From the basement to a stage is a giant leap at this point in time. You have the music, so use it to your advantage. A wave, a smile, a nod and "hello, how are you?", in light, may go a long way for starters. "For you, me, everybody, everybody", to quote the über showmeisters The Blues Brothers.

Wo.

You can listen to and buy Jellephant's albums here:

https://jellephant.bandcamp.com/

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

maandag 21 mei 2018

NME to cease its weekly print edition. A conversation

Old news? Yes, but a no less interesting conversation started after disturbing news reached us on 7 March, when a U.K. musical magazine announced going out of print, upsetting the U.K. participants in this discussion. It started them reminiscing on the past, as things tend to go when we, including myself, reach a certain age. Not everything was better though, as you will find out.

Gary, 7-3 


Wo., 7-3
Yes, there's an end to everything. Kids are no longer interested in reading about music (or anything perhaps for most), only in games. Music is abundant and (near) free. Most are not interested in albums, just in songs by whoever, whatever. It seems they listen to music, but totally different from us. That is what the Internet has done.

The magazine I still read, 'Oor', has merged with another one years ago and since publishes only 10 issues a year, from 24, in which 10% of the pages are rehashes of older pieces used again to "celebrate" some reissue or other. And that is the best there is around these days.

Gary, 8-3
The Melody Maker was my personal favourite, but that went under in 2000! Of course the sad impact of closing such historic music papers and magazines is the loss of professional standards of journalism and interviewing…. I must admit I have never really been a fan of a lot of ‘muso’ journalists as they seem to want to cater for the populist view of the time and increase their chances of a job in on daily tabloid… however I do respect a lot of music journalists professionalism even if their views do not reflect mine. There are still some good print music magazines out there, the one I subscribe to is Prog magazine: http://teamrock.com/prog which has a wide and eclectic choice of music both old and new…

Mark, 9-3
It's the end of an ear (as Robert Wyatt would say). I started buying the NME in 1971 when we went decimal - I would hide them from my dad and stored them in piles in the attic in our old family home in Wales - maybe they are still there, crinkly yellowed relics of  rock culture at its peak. I also savaged them for my clippings collections - some of which have survived as inserts in album sleeves. Melody Maker and Sounds too - and occasionally the more pop-oriented Record Mirror and Disc which I think merged at one point so intense and ruthless was the competition for the pop fan's loose change.   Some issue s are now quite valuable depending who was on the cover and interviewed inside (check eBay). I've just seen a tweet from Billy Bragg saying his life's ambition was to tour America and get on the cover of the NME. 

And then Q magazine came along in the mid-1980 and things started going from inky weekly to glossy monthly: death knell for Sounds and even the once august jobbing musician's bible, the Melody Maker, fell by the wayside. And now NME is no more, not even as a flimsy freebie that it eventually, sadly became with its ads for techy watches, BMWs and trendy trainers. Bring back the mailbox ads for loons and the agit-prop editorials I say! I'll miss its precious place though on my Thursday rush hour ritual, thrust into my hand on the forecourt at Victoria Station for me to scan for any possible morsel of musical interest during the two stop Tube ride to Westminster.  

I should wrap up though by saying - as the UK's Head of International Online Policy -   it's still online, you old fogey!  http://www.nme.com  Hmmmm.....end of an era nonetheless.

Jeff, 9-3
Hi and apologies for not joining this stream of conciousness earlier!

I am afraid that this is not surprising, print media like magazines is dieing before our eyes. Real world Books still thrive, which is good as I am not a fan of ereaders for I think snobby reasons. eg having loads of books around the house is classy!

NME has been hopelessly out of touch for ages, musically. Hip hop etc passed it by and stuck to white guys with guitars. But it did have some relevance once  and when it was free, was not a bad short and sweet read - see Guardian leader today:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/mar/08/guardian-view-demise-of-nme-end-of-era-predictable-editorial and another Guardian article that is not so complementary: 

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/mar/07/farewell-to-nme-rocknroll-riot-that-petered-into-silence 

Now I have a confession, I was a Record Mirror reader! It was much more pop and more importantly it had a guy that covered the soul scene, incl reviewing the latest US imports, which was a big thing back in the day. I was also a fan of blues and soul (http://www.bluesandsoul.com/). But have not bought it in ages.

I am afraid that this is another sign of the times that provides us sad old gents (Wout - not you!) with an opportunity to do our best impressions of statler and waldorf from the muppets!

Gary - lets have another hangout and yes we need to go for a beer as soon as!

Sorry for the negativity!

Gary, 9-3
Not at all Jeff!

I for one thought that all the music papers lost credibility from the mid-70s onwards, maybe because they weren't writing as fairly and subjectively as I would have liked…. Or maybe I was just missing their point? I think that the real issue for me is that I listen to music, in the same sense that most musicians listen to music and not only for the genre style, political stance and fashion statement that goes with it: Which I recognise is what most people are attracted to. Of course this is a sweeping statement, but on the whole I think this is true. I know for example you listen to Jazz like Miles Davis and Thelonious ‘Sphere’ Monk (love his middle name!) which isn’t exactly ‘easy listening’, I think that gives you credentials to say you are not swayed by mere fashion?

Unfortunately, a lot of music journalists profile mark their ‘populist’ leanings because that is what the majority of readers want, and they are looking at the next stage of their career working on a tabloid…. that in my view led to the ‘dumbing down’ of music journalism; reporting on a performers dress sense and choice of girlfriend/boyfriend rather than the ‘music’ the artists make/write/perform. This is why I believe we are now in the age of the celebrity vocalist, music mogul and novelty ’talent competitions' rather than the high visibility of true musicians pre-1980s…. 

Now I have unfurled my ‘Old Fart Nation’ flag and saluted it American Dad style, but even if you or others do not agree with me, ask yourself the question, why are todays talented musicians (I mean non-vocalist) ignored in the mainstream music industry? Are they now irrelevant or unworthy of attention? Is playing a musical instrument or writing a music a worthless exercise? Is playing a musical instrument or writing music to a very high standard deserved to be sneered at or demeaned? Maybe its just another symptom of the prevalent populist, anti-expert society we now live in, maybe I am just getting to be a twisted, bitter old man that refuses to let go of the (precious to me) concept that real music means something other than a vocalist that has a great body shape, dress style, million+ snapchat, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter Numpty, Facebook followers?

Ah!... glad I got that off my chest… feel better for that rant!

Yes, please do send me a hangout invite for when you are available and let's meet-up in London for a beer (well just a sip for me!)?

Have a great weekend!

Wo., 9-3
Yes, I'm quite happy hanging on to my 50s, Jeff 😁.

Let me ask you all a question, just from curiosity. In the "serious" music press, like my Oor Magazine, journalists reviewed UK bands with a lot of disdain in the 90s and 00s. "Here is the next hyped up band, that will probably will be next month tossed out ex-candy of the week". Several of these bands I quite liked actually. Oasis, Supergrass, Silver Sun, The Rifles, even Blur 50% of the time. The Rifles even opened its first album with a song about the importance of the press and charting. What was your take on it, being able to look from the inside? Was it this bad? Several of these bands actually made it and were totally embraced later. Others we, indeed, never heard from again, but that is just the nature of music. Artists come and go and the exceptions remain sort of forever.

BTW, I am listening to one of those hyped bands of 2005 right now. I think I rather like Editors' new album 'Violence'. The right mix of a lot of modern (beats, sequencers) and older things (rock, dark new wave). Not its first albums though that reminded me too much of Joy Division.

Wo., 21-5
So one question remains unanswered. What happened with that beer?

Gary
Jeff
Mark
Wo. 

zondag 20 mei 2018

Rooms / Ruins. Flying Horsemen

De Belgische band Flying Horseman maakte de afgelopen jaren al een aantal zeer goed ontvangen of zelfs bejubelde platen, maar desondanks is het deze week verschenen Rooms / Ruins pas mijn eerste kennismaking met de muziek van de band uit Antwerpen.

Het is een kennismaking die ik niet snel zal vergeten, want wat is het eerder deze week verschenen Rooms / Ruins een indrukwekkende en bijzondere plaat.

De Belgische band neemt je op haar nieuwe plaat 65 minuten lang mee naar desolate en voornamelijk aardedonkere oorden.

Flying Horseman maakt muziek die het daglicht maar moeilijk kan verdragen en het is muziek die zich vaak langzaam voortsleept. In de stemmige openingstrack hoor ik flarden Tindersticks, Japan en het vroege Roxy Music en worden beeldende klanken gecombineerd met stemmige vocalen.

In de tweede track kiest Flying Horseman voor het eerst nadrukkelijk het experiment en smeedt het op knappe wijze invloeden uit de Afrikaanse muziek, de minimal music, de Krautrock en de ambient aan elkaar. Het levert muziek op die hier en daar raakt aan de invloedrijke platen van Peter Gabriel uit de jaren 80 of aan de platen van Talking Heads uit de late jaren 70, maar Flying Horseman laat ook een duidelijk eigen geluid horen, dat zich vanuit het niets ook kan laten beïnvloeden door Kraftwerk of King Crimson (Robert Fripp is sowieso een naam die genoemd moet worden).

Het is een eigen geluid dat het experiment zeker niet schuwt en dat razend knap in elkaar steekt, maar Flying Horseman slaagt er ook in om het experiment te combineren met stemmige popsongs die vrij makkelijk overtuigen en die zich steeds genadelozer opdringen.

Het zijn popsongs die heel veel kracht ontlenen aan de bijzondere sfeer die de band uit Antwerpen op Rooms / Ruins creëert. Het is een sfeer die refereert aan de nacht en aan vooral desolate oorden en het is een sfeer die een wat vervreemdende of zelfs beklemmende uitwerking heeft op de luisteraar.

Het maakt van beluistering van Rooms / Ruins een bijzondere en ook bijzonder intense luisterervaring. Zeker bij beluistering met volledige aandacht hoor je hoe verschrikkelijk veel er gebeurt in de bijzondere muziek van de band uit Antwerpen. De gitaarlijnen zijn van een enorme schoonheid, de synths zetten je steeds op het verkeerde spoor, terwijl de vrouwenstemmen op de achtergrond je er steeds weer bij slepen.

Flying Horseman put hierbij nadrukkelijk uit de archieven van de popmuziek, maar smeedt ook op fascinerende wijze tot dusver niet gecombineerde invloeden aan elkaar. Ik heb al een hoop namen genoemd in deze recensie, maar hoe vaker ik naar Rooms / Ruins luister hoe meer ik hoor. Flarden Portishead, American Music Club, Nick Cave, Brian Eno en zo kan ik lang doorgaan. Het knappe is dat Flying Horseman op hetzelfde moment muziek maakt die zijn gelijke niet kent.

Rooms/Ruins schiet van vol, experimenteel en eclectisch naar uiterst sober en stemmig en weer terug en blijft maar imponeren met songs van een wonderbaarlijke schoonheid en intimiteit. Ik heb nog steeds moeite om de muziek van de Belgische band volledig te duiden, maar dat de nieuwe plaat van de band er een van een uitzonderlijk hoog niveau is weet ik inmiddels zeker.

Rooms/Ruins van Flying Horseman zal misschien niet iedereen bevallen, maar iedereen zou op zijn minst even moeten luisteren. Het heeft mij een plaat opgeleverd die me nu al dagen nieuwe dingen laat horen en die steeds meer indruk maakt.

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

zaterdag 19 mei 2018

Welcome Strangers. Modern Studies

Modern Studies entered these pages only a year ago with its first album 'Swell To Great' (read on here: http://wonomagazine.blogspot.nl/2017/10/swell-to-great-modern-studies.html). This album was made around a 19th century harmonium that had found its way to the band members. That allowed for a fairly typical sound as all songs were written around the harmonium. The instrument seems to have been retired or passed on to another musician to take care of it.

Spring 2018 Modern Studies already returns with a new album. It may be less special as in extremely specific, but could also be of more inherent beauty as all the constraints have been severed. Welcome Strangers contains music that is able to go straight for the heart. It touches me immediately.

This music can only come from England. Emotions are kept in check, no matter the turmoil surrounding us all. And yet, they are betraying themselves in all the little extras woven into the fabric of the songs. There are so many little details. 'Mud and Flame' is a song that totally floors me. It has the kind of ending, so attractive, I just do not want it to end. 'Let Idle Hands' immediately takes that exuberance down. What might the neighbours think!? I can almost see Modern Studies' musicians think where did my stiff upper lip go?! The music ranges from Kate Bush to late 60s U.K. folk. Songs with a pop feel that somehow turn into jazz or classical influenced intermezzos.

By then Modern Studies has shown once again how fine the voices of Emily Scott and Rob St. John blend together. Yes, Nancy & Lee and Kylie & Nick, but that is only part of the story. Emily Scott escapes this format and leads us all into unknown charters as soon as she sings without lyrics, becoming the lead solo instrument, while the orchestra, the band was able to work with, adorns everything around it with classical sounds.

Half way into the album I have discovered what makes Welcome Strangers so good. Songs can be so serious, solemn even, studies in equilibrium and conservatism before the band breaks out and explores the outer edges of its musical universe. Modern Studies makes musical sparks fly and paints the grey and black multi-coloured. The contrast works miracles on Welcome Strangers. Everyone listening to how 'Young Sun' develops will recognise what I write here immediately. The orchestra goes off on its own making the song broad and jubilant, like the trumpet in 'Horns And Trumpets'. The singing of Scott and St. John, both in a deeper register and super serious, contrast sharply with how the orchestra spews jubilant notes. In the harmonies Scott can totally let go as well and adorn a song with sheer beauty. It works in nearly every song. Modern Studies seems to have made the most of the opportunities is was presented with where the orchestra was concerned through a 'Creative Scotland grant'.

Promo photo
The album ends with the extremely beautiful 'Phosphene Dream'. Nancy & Lee are really close here in the singing, Emily Scott embraces innocence in her voice, combined with a firm rock drums, cotton candy violins graced with spikes for a firm bite. This song seems to want to hold everything in pop, rock and country and gets away with it in a beautiful way. This song could have gone so wrong is my idea but succeeds, 110%.

All this makes Welcome Strangers a huge musical adventure. So much more so than on 'Swell To Great', an album I liked, but there is so much more to like on Modern Studies' new album. It may well make it to my shortlist of albums of 2018.

Wo.

You can listen to and buy Welcome Strangers here:

https://modernstudiesfire.bandcamp.com/


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

vrijdag 18 mei 2018

Strange Prison. Astral Swans

"I had a dream/In which I killed/All of my friends". Whoa, I thought and 'Where were you when we lost the twins" followed straight after. The opening line from David Ramirez' latest album was what I associated with immediately.

Some kind of an opening statement by Astral Swans or Canadian singer/songwriter Matthew Swann, as his parents called him at birth. A lyric that make my hairs stand on edge. What is to follow if someone starts his record like this. "They were unable to forgive (and forget)", so at least they are alive in the dream. Remorse and angst follow after awakening only to change to some more dreaming. The music is just as dark and haunted in 'Blow Away'. With a doo wop wop harmony vocal in the background as a sharp contrast to it all. Oh yes, I am intrigued by Astral Swans in this opening song. Not just by the lyric. It is the way the song is built up, with a subtle guitar lick, very elementary yet 100% effective. The thin organ playing the full chords and the soft drumming and bass playing. 'Blow away' gets the exact right pace for a song about the fear of being found out for thoughts and dreams.

The opening song sets the mood for Strange Prison, an album full of songs that "are character studies in the complexity of being human". I am hardly ever one for lyrics, but I notice how they are one with the music Astral Swans makes and not something that is laid over the music. The way of singing sets the mood and the music reflects the darkness and hesitation. In that pool small little things take place that make little parts of that darkness shine. It does not have to be more than a few bright keyboard notes like in 'What Are You Gonna Do With Yourself'.

By now it's clear for all that Strange Prison is not an album one takes along to a party. It is an album to hide away with, to seclude oneself from the world and totally emerge into it. Preferably with a headphone on and the world shut out for a while. Slowly but surely Astral Swans will draw you into its world and make it a little better along the way.

Fellow Canadian Neil Young has made music as bare as this, as have many other singer-songwriters hiding from having to find a little blue on their hats. Trying to find answers to the big questions in life: Who am I and what am I here for? The inner soul searching for more answers. It is all reflected here on Strange Prison. With co-producers Scott Munro, Dan Mangan and Paul Chirka Matthew Swann has found the right sounds and minimal arrangements to accompany his songs.

Yes, Strange Prison is an album that I have to be in the mood for, but I have found it is not hard for the album to bring me into that mood quickly. It seems like a win-win situation.

Wo.

You can buy Strange Prison here at Tiny Room Records:

https://tinyroomrecords.bandcamp.com/album/strange-prison


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

donderdag 17 mei 2018

Quiet And Peace. Buffalo Tom

Vorig jaar werd de 25e verjaardag van Let Me Come Over van de Amerikaanse band Buffalo Tom gevierd. (Lees hier ons verslag van HareD: http://wonomagazine.blogspot.nl/2017/06/buffalo-tom-live-paradiso-amsterdam-8.html?m=1)
 
Let Me Come Over was niet het debuut van de band uit Boston, Massachusetts, maar wel de plaat waarmee de band doorbrak naar een breed publiek.
 
Het is een plaat die kleur gaf aan de gitaar revival van de vroege jaren 90 en die een jaar later werd gevolgd door het minstens even goede Big Red Letter Day.
 
Vervolgens zakte het niveau van de platen van Buffalo Tom helaas wat in (al was Sleepy Eyed uit 1995 lang niet zo slecht als de critici beweerden) en uiteindelijk zou de band het eind van de jaren 90 niet halen.
 
Ruim tien jaar geleden keerde Buffalo Tom terug en het deze week verschenen Quiet And Peace is de derde plaat van de wederopstanding van een van de leukste gitaarbands uit de vroege jaren 90. Ik heb de vorige twee platen van de band niet beluisterd, waardoor Quiet And Peace mijn eerste Buffalo Tom plaat is sinds het tegenvallende Smitten uit 1998.
 
Quiet And Peace heeft gelukkig alles dat de zwanenzang van de eerste editie van Buffalo Tom mistte. De band maakt hoorbaar met veel plezier muziek en grossiert in gitaarsongs die je een goed gevoel geven.
 
Tussen Quiet And Peace en het destijds bewierookte Let Me Come Over zit een gat van 26 jaar, maar in muzikaal opzicht liggen de platen niet eens zover uit elkaar. De afgelopen drie decennia zijn de leden van de band de wilde haren misschien wat kwijt geraakt, waardoor de gitaaruitbarstingen wat minder hevig zijn dan op Let Me Come Over, maar het geluid dat ik hoor op Quiet And Peace is wat mij betreft het uit duizenden herkenbare Buffalo Tom geluid.
 
Het is een geluid dat aan het begin van de jaren 90 werd vergeleken met alles tussen Dinosaur Jr., R.E.M., Pearl Jam, The Replacements, American Music Club, Buffalo Springfield en Hüsker Dü en dat is allemaal nog steeds relevant vergelijkingsmateriaal.
 
Buffalo Tom sluit ook op haar nieuwe plaat weer aan bij de betere gitaarbands van de vroege jaren 90, maar heeft ook altijd invloeden uit de Amerikaanse rootsmuziek en invloeden uit de psychedelica en de American Underground verwerkt in haar muziek en doet dat dit keer nog wat nadrukkelijker.
 
Quiet And Peace voelt door alle bekende invloeden en de zo herkenbare sound direct als een warm bad, maar naarmate ik de plaat vaker beluister raak ik ook steeds meer onder de indruk van de serie songs die Buffalo Tom ons dit keer voorschotelt.
 
Het is misschien net wat minder rauw dan in de beginjaren van de band, maar de songs van Buffalo Tom zijn nog net zo melodieus als in hun beste jaren. Voorman Bill Janovitz blijft bovendien een uitstekende zanger en een hele goede gitarist, terwijl de rest van de band hechter en veelzijdiger klinkt.
 
Ik was Buffalo Tom de afgelopen 20 jaar wat uit het oog verloren, maar sinds de reissue van Let Me Come Over van vorig jaar, was ik weer bij de les. Quiet And Peace heeft uiteraard nog niet de bijna monumentale status van de doorbraakplaat van Buffalo Tom, maar is bijna net zo sterk.
 
Heb je zin in een gitaarplaat die de dag helemaal goed maakt en die garant staat voor een stralend weekend? Probeer Quiet And Peace van Buffalo Tom eens! Succes verzekerd.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt Quiet And Peace hier beluisteren en kopen:

https://buffalotom.bandcamp.com/album/quiet-and-peace



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 16 mei 2018

Hamish Anderson and The Band of Heathens

In the coming days both Hamish Anderson and The Band of Heathens will tour The Netherlands. Let's take a look at both acts' latest albums for a short review.

Trouble. Hamish Anderson
Hamish Anderson is an Australian roots rocker who knows his way in blues rock, country rock and souther rock. His sound is direct. What you see is what you get. Listening to the title track opening the album is like walking into a room and seeing the welcoming bed there meant only for you. The sound is familiar, the song as such has been played a thousand times before and yet 'Trouble' is everything I want to hear in this kind of music. A rough voice, a rough guitar sound, a warm organ, and a firm rhythm section that does all it is supposed to.

Further on in the album Anderson is not afraid to infuse some pop and even soul into his rock. His guitar playing comes through in all songs. 'Fire' is one of the examples where this mix works extremely well.

Where originality is concerned Hamish Anderson does not score very high. All you hear on Trouble you will have heard before. In execution and songwriting skills you will find he compensates more than abundantly. This album is simply fun and extremely enjoyable at any time of the day. Compare him to Jon Allen, who's new album 'Blue Flame' has not made it (yet?) to these pages and Hamish Anderson wins, two fingers in his nose.

There's one minor complaint. For someone stating to love the blues as much as Hamish Anderson does, Trouble is a bit too neat in some songs. Jim Scott produced him on the safe side of the blues equation. In 'Hold On Me' Anderson shows that he is able to rock out dirty as well. Steve Berlin's baritone sax helps out here as well. The sixties pastiche 'My Love' is in total agreement with Peter & Gordon

Duende. The Band of Heathens
The Band of Heathens? Didn't I see that band play live once? The answer lies in the year before this blog started, 2011. I remember a singer in a striped t-shirt and at least three lead singers alternating among each other. Some blistering soloing as well. Of course, I'd say, in the Q-Bus in Leiden, where else?

Now the band is touring the country again soon, I found the latest cd in my mailbox and decided to take a serious listen. In part I can refer to the previous review above here. Originality is not what someone should be looking for in The Band of Heathens from Austin, Texas. A lot of things U.S., call it Americana, and U.S./Mexican (Los Lobos) come by on Duende. A song like 'Last Minute Man' is pure Los Lobos; on an acoustic guitar.

Live this band is so good. It is able to rock and sooth within the same show. On record the music is somewhat more laidback and sophisticated. The singing and playing is however superb. Just listen to the acoustic guitar solo in 'Keys To The Kingdom' or the soft balladry of 'Cracking The Code', with some 60s flavoured keyboard infusion included. The variation in styles on this album shows what this band is able to muster successfully. The songs are all able to effortlessly fit in with the ones that inspired them to be written. E.g. the riff opening 'Trouble Came Early' is classic Keith, the slide guitar classic Ronny, the piano classic Ian/Nicky/Chuck, depending on the time of recording.

So also one complaint here. The final song, 'Green Grass Of California' is a bit cheesy, soft country. So here you have the only complaint on a whole album. Yes, it would have fit in with The Flying Burrito Brothers. So if you like that band, you are still alright.

Duende is a word meaning "a quality of inspiration and passion". The title of this album could not be more correct. Calling an album Duende and too fall short ought not to be an option. The Band of Heathens simply delivers.

Wo.

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

Tell Me How You Really Feel. Courtney Barnett

This cover could easily qualify for the most hideous ever, I suppose. The colour to me is simply too much to bear. Courtney Barnett's Grace Slick like eyes may come forward beautifully, but that is about the only positive qualification I can share with you as far as the cover is concerned.

Of course Courtney Barnett has been lauded on this blog several times for her music. Most recently while supporting her wife Jen Cloher on stage in Rotterdam (read on here: http://wonomagazine.blogspot.nl/2018/02/jen-cloher-live-with-hachiku-rotown.html). I am sure you can find the album reviews here for yourself should you be interested.

Come 2018 and it is time for a new solo album by Ms. Barnett. One indie rock fans have long looked out for. Tell Me How You Really Feel starts as deep as a guitar can go. The E string seems to have been downtuned for the effect as well. Just a dark sounding guitar, atmospherics and Courtney's voice. Slowly the song develops further with an organ and the drum and bass kicking in and I know we are alright. Men, this is so dark, yet so beautiful. Courtney Barnett hits the right feeling here completely. "You know it's o.k. to have a bad day", she sings and takes the song up another notch. Slowly building it to 'Getting louder now, getting louder now" and yes, a lead guitar explodes. Should someone in the future want to make a point in the first song of an alternative rock album, here's your blueprint.

There's no stopping Courtney Barnett. In 'City Looks Pretty' she starts rocking out like there's no tomorrow. The Velvet Underground enters the mix with a pop feeling and having worked and recorded with Jen Cloher seems to have left some traces behind also. If anything Courtney Barnett has become so much more direct. As if playing music all of a sudden has become a serious business. If anything Tell Me How You Really Feel will take Courtney Barnett to the next level. This is rock and not playing around. The little prickly elements in the songs still come forward, yet are now a part of a song that keeps flowing. The wobbly parts have all gone, sound riffs are all over the place.

Reading about how hard it was to focus her multi-thoughts on the songs at hand and how working with Kurt Vile on their duo record 'Lotta Sea Lice' and recording and touring with Jen Cloher freed her mind, it is so hard to imagine this all hearing the confident and exuberant new album she has released. Tell Me How You Really Feel is nothing but a triumph. The first listening session convince me that this is easily her best and by far most consistent record to date. The music just jumps at me. It is a must have album. Nothing less and most likely a lot more.

Promo photo: Pooneh Ghana
Even the short and weird 'I'm Not Your Mother, I'm Not Your Bitch' is a punk explosion of balled energy. The weirdness is closed in by noise and anger. Courtney Barnett tells someone for once and for all where she's at here.

Kelley and Kim Deal come by in 'Crippling Self Doubt and A General Lack Of Self Confidence'. Courtney returned the favour on the new The Breeders album, 'All Nerves'. Another firm alternative rocker that brings everything together between The Romantics to the Pixies. Pop and very alternative rock come together with no shame and a truckload of self confidence despite the title. 'Help Your Self' dares to do what Lou Reed and John Cale did for The Velvet Underground, a story told through an almost non-song. It's not my favourite on this album, but I can totally confirm that the song convinces and does exactly what Courtney Barnett wants it to do.

By the time the album finally mellows out, at a point that I am nearly floored by the energy whirling around me, 'Walking On Eggshells' does everything right once again. What a fun song, what a beauty and a piano enters the mix as well. By then I am on a 4,5* appreciation and starting to wonder whether to give that rare and exclusive 5* rating. This is something only to be given to those rare album that have an lasting and enduring impression on me. For that it is too early. Fact is that Courtney Barnett has released her best album to date and proves once again how accomplished an artist she is. And what a household the Barnett-Cloher home must be. Two such enormous talents under one roof. To be a fly on the wall there at the right moment must be really, really special.

Wo.

You can listen to and buy Tell Me How You Really Feel here:

https://courtneybarnett.bandcamp.com/album/tell-me-how-you-really-feel


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

dinsdag 15 mei 2018

Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino. Arctic Monkeys

Nearly five years ago I lauded 'AM' along the lines of "what came after 'Rubber Soul'"? Five years after 'Rubber Soul' the Beatles were no more, yet had delivered three masterpieces and three good to very good albums, counting 'Magical Mystery Tour'. Arctic Monkeys was put on hold for five years and comes back with an album that comes as something of a shock. Keyboards all over the place, all tempo and beats gone and a crooning and smooching Alex Turner to boot. In short everything I had not expected to be hearing. With the second The Last Shadow Puppets album, Turner had disappointed me personally for the first time. So where am I with Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino?

That question is not so simple to answer as may show from the above. Yes, I am surprised, no, it is not what I expected, but that is only the beginning of this story.

An important question to start with is, is Arctic Monkeys still a band or an Alex Turner project? In some of the songs band members are missing. In others there are other players mentioned playing the same instruments as if several recording sessions were mixed into one. What does this tell us? Where promotion is concerned nothing. It is one front of four no longer so young men presenting itself as a band.

The music is a totally different story. There is nothing left reminding me of the first two albums, where excitement reigned large. That had disappeared all but totally on 'AM', on Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino there is not even a hint of the past thrills and musical kills. We are all nearly a decade and a half older, so less excitement is not necessarily a bad thing. (When did I last play first two albums? If I'm honest, it's been a while. 'AM' was on fairly recently.)

The new album by my favourite band of the past decade reminds me of so many things and I notice the new songs are creeping up on me slowly but surely. The rich details within all the songs are unfolding themselves slowly, opening a new musical Arctic Monkeys world to me. It is not as if Alex Turner has lost his songwriting skills somewhere in the past five years. It is that the songs are so different in texture, singing and execution that had me slightly confused listening for the first few times. Intriguing the whole is, so that led me into more listening sessions. That and a favourable inclination where this band is concerned.

What am I hearing in Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino? Prince has found his way into the whole, in the parts where there are some jazzy influences. The same goes for David Bowie in songs where he let in jazzlike structures in songs that were not easy to understand. I hear the experimental side of The Beatles in here. In the singing there are crooners of a more distant past, but again Bowie as well. Above all, this is Arctic Monkeys in 2018.

In most songs there is a dark edge. A dark guitar takes care of that with some dark notes played at the edge of songs. If anything is missing, it is a hint of happiness, as not all is bad today. The album was more or less written around the days that Trump stepped unto the world stage in the primaries and announced everything that he has broken down or seriously tried to break down on the day of this release. Days of amazement, when we all were strongly convinced that no sane nation could ever elect a (devious) clown. Well it has and the world is amazed by the day. Whether the mood on this album can all be described to the current U.S. president may be too much honour though.

Fact is Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino grows on me by the spin. It may prove a challenge to sing along to any of the songs, one of the superb traits of Arctic Monkeys in the past, being impressed more and more about what I'm hearing is not. This album is so multi-layered and holds so many details to discover that I have no doubt I'll be amusing myself for weeks and months on end. Alex Turner may have been attacked for his way of singing, in my opinion he really delivers here. The lyrics may not always make sense to me, like poetry often has a tendency to do with me, the way he delivers them is nothing but superb. Colouring outside of every line and metric he seems to become more and more an equal to Bob Dylan in his delivery.

Five years is a long time. My two favourite Domino Records bands both took five years to release a new record. Both have come up with ace records that prove that it was worth while the wait. Franz Ferdinand reinvented its spunk, Arctic Monkeys itself. Had we had more records in the past years, we would have discovered how the journey from 'AM' to Tranquility Base ...' would had unfolded itself. Like The Beatles brought us from 'Rubber Soul' to 'Abbey Road' (its last recorded album). With Arctic Monkeys fans have to take a giant leap with the band. Time will tell who fell into the abyss and who landed safely on their feet on the other side. For now I'm soaring though space quite comfortably. There's just one question I haven't answered for myself yet: Would I like to see this music live? That answer may be no.

Wo.


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

maandag 14 mei 2018

Meadowlake. Meadowlake

Dreamy sounds envelope my ears, so I might be listening to dreampop. This is one of the descriptions I find online of the Dutch band Meadowlake. The cover art somehow fits the moniker, black and white greytones and a shadow. Tranquillity and arrested beauty in one.

Meadowlake is a band from the north of The Netherlands, Groningen to be exact. After going through a minor breakthrough in 2014 with the EP 'Elegy', the band took its time to come up with its first full length album, released on 11 May.

On the 10th I visited a show by Soup in Zoetermeer (read on here: http://wonomagazine.blogspot.nl/2018/05/the-pure-magic-of-soup-live-de.html), a band specialising in monolithic, yet extremely beautiful music. It is exactly that idea coming into my mind listening to 'Go', the opening song of 'Meadowlake'. Without ever reaching the extremes Soup goes to, Meadowlake presents itself and the song as a whole, built around a central theme, with soft singing overriding the melody and beat. 'Go' starts with some dark synth sounds, before a keyboard melody takes over. Slowly drums come in, a bass, guitars are strummed. The singing is subdued, almost hesitatingly. As if the singer is afraid of what we will think of his singing. Not unlike Maggie Brown's Marcel Hulst. The song slowly is flashed out into ever larger spheres with another layer added to the whole creating a wall of sound, where all is captured behind that new layer, yet heard by those who truly listen.

'Go' is the right introduction to the music on 'Meadowlake'. If you like it, I can assure you you will be fine with the rest of the album. The band obviously loves to flesh out songs, but not before the basis has been boned to the marrow and it knows exactly where all  that flesh needs to go. One moment it is the bass that has the lead, then a guitar and at other moments the keyboard. Meadowlake varies its sound this way and gives all members their moments to shine. The drummer is always there when passages need bolstering up in the firmest of ways.

By playing this kind of music Meadowlake dips its pen in 80s ink, while remaining in the 10s where the sound and production are concerned. It is not hard to discern some Simple Minds in a song like 'Hot Punch'. The echo's of 'Someone Somewhere In Summertime' or 'Up On The Catwalk' are all over the place in the delay on the guitars and keyboards and in the firm drumming. The difference is Meadowlake is so much more modest. 'Hot Punch' is not aiming (yet?) for arenas and is happy to be played in Vera and The Cavern Club. Singer Jarno Olijve is no Jim Kerr and obviously does not want to be him. He stands his own ground in the musical breezes and storms the band kicks up around him. I can imagine there's some shoegazing going on around him as well.

There's no need to do so out of shame or modesty. The music stands its ground. I have said so before and will say it again here. This small country is spawning one good band after the other in a time when hardly anybody can live from making music anymore. It's a shame for the musicians, but the audiences and listeners can only be glad. With Meadowlake another such band has stepped up to the roster. Enjoy it while you can and buy an album from them along the way.

Wo.

You can listen to and buy Meadowlake here:

https://meadowlake.bandcamp.com/


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
 




zondag 13 mei 2018

Go Bad With You. The LVE

Not so long ago I told myself I would not do a review on a single song anymore. There is so much to write about already. And then The LVE sent me an e-mail announcing its new single.....

The LVE entered these pages with a single. 'Love, When You Don't Want It' was and is one of the most beautiful songs of this decade. For some reason the song went straight to my heart and stuck there. Most likely for ever.

In the past year The LVE filled the time between albums with covers from other bands. That time is behind us. Back to the real thing.

Go Bad With You is a new beginning in a few ways. The first single of a new release cycle for the Antwerp based band, the first release through a new label, Gentleman Records and the start of shows played in somewhat larger venues and festivals. Even if only as the very last band mentioned on the poster, the spot is secured.

Would I be writing here if I did not like the song? Of course not! Go Bad With You is a song to be held close immediately. A song to cherish. Gerrit Van Dyck and Sara Raes sing together beautifully again. The arrangement behind the song fits the mood of the lyrics. "When things go bad, I'll go bad with you". A song about support for a person who gets into a bad and dark place. A song where melancholy, sadness and optimism somehow come together and manages to be uplifting. The world is already a better place from just listening to this song.

Now I have had the pleasure to hear two other songs already as well. What I notice is the enormous jump the band has made in several ways. Go Bad With You is a great example of that jump. The song is slightly more electronic, certainly more stylish, with hints of soul combined with pop and modern dance. In the singing there is a mix between dreams and urgency, something the music reflects, certainly in the instrumental parts. It all lands on exactly the right places it seems.

Go Bad With You is the ideal teaser for what is to come next. Two EPs await release. The first one before the summer. Just wait until you can hear 'Sad Song' for the first time! Oh, what heavenly pleasures awaits you and the world.

Wo.

You can buy Go Bad With You here:

https://www.gentlemenrecordings.com/product/lve-go-bad-single/


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

Time Is Everything. Vivian Leva

Vivian Leva groeide op als kind van twee zeer muzikale ouders en kreeg met name de oude folk uit de Appalachen met de paplepel ingegoten.
 
Het zijn invloeden die een belangrijke rol spelen op Time Is Everything, het debuut van de singer-songwriter uit Lexington, Virginia.
 
Vivian Leva sluit met haar debuut nadrukkelijk aan op de folk zoals die aan het begin van de vorige eeuw in de Appalachen werd gemaakt, maar ook invloeden uit de modernere folk, country en bluegrass hebben hun weg gevonden naar de muziek van de jonge Amerikaanse singer-songwriter.
 
Vivian Leva heeft zich tijdens de opnamen van Time Is Everything omringd met een aantal prima muzikanten, onder wie Riley Calcagno, die haar motiveerde tot het opnemen van haar eigen songs. De instrumentatie op het debuut van Vivian Leva doet wat traditioneel aan en laat mooie bijdragen van onder andere gitaar, banjo, pedal steel, viool en piano horen.
 
Het is een instrumentatie waaraan hoorbaar zorg en aandacht is besteed en waarin steeds weer iets andere accenten worden gelegd, waardoor het debuut van Vivian Leva zeker niet eenvormig is. Het is een instrumentatie die op het eerste gehoor misschien wat traditioneel aan doet, maar die ook zeker laat horen dat Vivian Leva een kind van deze tijd is.
 
Met de mooie en stemmige instrumentatie overtuigt Time Is Everything zeker, maar baart de plaat nog geen opzien. Dat doet Vivian Leva wat mij betreft wel met haar stem, die op indrukwekkende en gelouterde wijze een extra dimensie toevoegt aan de muziek van de singer-songwriter uit Lexington, Virginia.
 
Vivian Leva kan goed uit de voeten in de net wat meer uptempo songs op de plaat, maar maakt voor mij de meeste indruk in de uiterst ingetogen songs, waarin ze haar mooie stem voorziet van flink wat gevoel.
 
Het is niet eens zo makkelijk om uit te leggen in welke mate en hoe Time Is Everything zich weet te onderscheiden van de rest van het behoorlijk grote aanbod in dit genre. Vivian Lee sluit immers aan bij de muzikale tradities waarmee ze opgroeide en doet nergens een poging om tegen de haren in te strijken.
 
Net als met name Gillian Welch beschikt ze echter over het vermogen om de luisteraar te grijpen met haar muziek en deelgenoot te maken van haar muzikale universum. Wanneer ik naar de platen van Gillian Welch luister kan ik daar nauwelijks mee stoppen en bij beluistering van Time Is Everything van Vivian Leva heb ik hetzelfde.
 
Zeker zolang Gillian Welch zo weinig productief blijft als de laatste vijftien jaar het geval is, is de muziek van Vivian Leva zeer welkom en ik heb het idee dat we van Vivian Leva nog veel meer kunnen verwachten.
 
Kinderen willen zich nog wel eens afzetten tegen de invloeden van hun ouders, maar de muzikale opvoeding die Vivian Leva heeft genoten heeft de basis gevormd voor een hele mooie, aangename en voornamelijk traditionele rootsplaat. Ik ben nu al benieuwd naar het vervolg.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt Time Is Everything hier beluisteren en kopen:

https://vivianleva.bandcamp.com/album/time-is-everything


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

zaterdag 12 mei 2018

The pure magic of Soup live. De Boerderij, Zoetermeer, Thursday 10 May 2018

In one of my monthly reviews of Kairos "a meditation on modern music", the radio program on Concertzender, I once wrote about a fantasy of floating on the notes coming out of my speakers. Of feeling the music carry me while being in a trancelike state. That thought became true during the show of Soup, the Norwegian, for lack of a better description, progrock band in De Boerderij. During the extended jam version of 'Sleepers' I saw the whole room being moved by the sound coming from the speakers. Every one around me was clearly tuned in to every beat, every accent, every note played by Soup. We had become one, band and audience, in motion, slowly swaying and hitting the right accents together. Most likely feeling the same emotions. If there ever was something like a collective meditative state during a rock show, this was it.

Followers of this blog have encountered Soup before. The album 'Remedies' was reviewed twice and the band was interviewed recently. You can find it all by searching backwards on the blog. Where before Erlend Aastad Viken was responsible for all of the music, 'Remedies' was created together, with the songs coming together through long jams. This showed on stage. It wasn't hard to spot the little nods and signs signalling the next move or when somewhen missed a cue the band just continued the vibe and changed when all were ready to do so. It takes concentration as well as a comfortable looseness. The band members of Soup have the ability to play and listen to each other to a fault.

What happened in Zoetermeer is that Soup started by playing a more than decent show and becoming better and looser by the song. Right up to until a state of perfection was reached that many bands will find hard to beat. With an amount of stompboxes and bass pedals attached to all guitars and all keyboards alike, that used just right, ought to be able to change the whole world as well and not just the sound of a simple guitar, the greatest delicacy was traded in for sonic storms ravaging ear and mind. Here another forté of Soup is mentioned. The band is able to conjure up different mood sets within songs, let alone a whole show. What is extra noticeable is that not one member of the band is a virtuoso. There are no fantastic solos, ripping everything apart. All that is played is an integral part of the whole, with perhaps a few notes escaping that could be seen as a solo. Soup is a collective, creating a wall of sound or not playing at all if that is what it takes. Viken may be the artistic leader and singer, he does not steal the show. Ørjan Langnes may be the guitarist of Soup for seven years, the bass player's brother filling in on additional guitar, keyboard and background vocals, got a lot of moments to shine as well. I could not tell between them who was a member and who supported for the tour. That says it all, where Soup is concerned I think.

Before and after the show I heard people talk about 'Remedies'. I have never heard so many people say "this is my favourite album of 2017" about the same album at the same time. To my "shame" I have to admit three other albums come before 'Remedies', with Maggie Brown's 'Another Place' in the top spot, but I can totally relate to the feeling of 'Remedies' coming in #1. It is a monument of an album. And that makes it so exciting to know that Soup will start work on a new album not too far away in the future. It also lays a great expectation on the band. Perhaps larger than ever before. But as bass player Jan Tore Megård told me: "We are going to take our time. It will have to be perfect and we cannot afford to have even 10 seconds on the album that do not belong there". So we as fans have to remain behind in eager anticipation.

And for such an elaborate band in sound drummer Espen Berge has the most elementary drum kit imaginable. Perhaps the rest was in the van, as the stage certainly did not allow for much more. It was crammed with gear, but I do not think so. There is no need for a thousand piece kit. It was all exactly right.

Pure magic is what I witnessed coming from the stage from a band that obviously shared the emotions coming from playing together this well and enjoying the adoration and positive feedback coming from the audience. I wish Soup large venues in the future and a multi million dollar contract. Luckily for me I got to see the band in this intimate a setting and being able to shake hands after the show. Thank you, guys, for a unique experience and hope to meet again next time.

(All photo's by) Wo.

You can listen to and buy Soup's albums here:

https://soupsound.bandcamp.com/album/remedies


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

vrijdag 11 mei 2018

Skeletons. Jellephant

Listening to Skeletons the feeling of a lazy free day off with nothing to do creeps up on me. Like Jellephant is playing its music in this frame of mind. The mood is so relaxed, the music almost of a slacker quality (if such a thing exists). The singing is the superlative degree of slacker.

Next I start noticing the details in the music of Jellephant and I know it is just the atmosphere of the songs putting these ideas into my mind. The music holds so many fine details, all in the right places, that I know there's nothing wrong with the work ethic of Jellephant. There's simply so much to enjoy on this record.

Jellephant is a singer-songwriter called Jelle Haagsma from Arnhem and has released several albums before Skeletons; that all passed me by. Luckily for me this changed recently. Haagsma created all this music in his basement and got help with the drums (Erik Oexman), incidental guitar parts and harmony vocals. All the rest is played and recorded by himself.

Having to describe the music, I hear so many influences it's nearly impossible to go into them all. It all starts in the psychedelic era of the 60s, yet in a very downcast way, as if when the trip is over and the headache remains. This gives some of his songs a feeling of immense depth, to never to return from. At the same time there is some desert music in there, let's call it Calexico or Lee Hazelwood, as well as mid-80s The Jesus & Mary Chain, if I strip away the extreme noise that the band laid over its debut album and a downsized and sped surf rock country twang. Just to mention some extremes you can find here and then that warm Hammond organ enters the mix.... In The Netherlands Jellephant fits right in with Indian Askin, M-Jo, Jacco Gardner. A rather strong set, I'd say.

Promo photo with The Phantoms
In the sound a lot of echos, reverbs and delay is used giving the guitar sound a broad and extremely spacious effect filling up large portions of Jellephant's general sound. A sound I like to wallow in. It's warm and caressing. At the same time there's always a basis of an acoustic guitar somewhere to be found.

As I already wrote, the singing of Haagsma is totally laid back. There's no hurry whatsoever. Just take him at face value and let him take you on the musical trip Skeletons is. Follow the little guitar lines that erupt here and there, notice all the stompboxes in use and let yourself be caressed by the Hammond. The singing leads you to all these refreshing and at times amazing moments.

The surprise is that there are a few instrumentals among the lot. One extremely short, perhaps an interesting motif that was laying around that was not going anywhere (else). So enjoy 'Fucker' for what it is, a pleasurable short musical composition around a nice motif.

Before I know it the album is over, once again. Ending with that slow, yet invigorating guitar part surrounded by a Hammond in 'I Looked Up And Saw The Sky'. I can imagine the surprise after looking up and seeing the basement's ceiling during all the sessions leading up to Skeletons.

Click, and the albums starts again with that delightful slow riff of 'TV'. Totally relaxed.

Wo.

You can listen to and buy Skeletons here:

https://brighterrecords.bandcamp.com/album/skeletons


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