vrijdag 25 september 2020

XXX singles, part 3

As we wrote, four issues would be overdoing things a wee bit, so we settled for three this time around. There simply are too many nice singles being released to ignore. Among them artists of great name and fame, unknown artists in The Netherlands, but at WoNo Magazine's bureaus beloved artists, and first releases ever that are most welcome. You have seen a large mix of them already. Here are the final ones for this week.

Caroussel. Kid Gulliver

Kid Gulliver returns with another single to WoNoBlog. Caroussel is a darker song than 'I Wanna Be A Pop Star' but also a far more memorable song. The band shows it can write and play a perfect pop rock song, with some kind of psychedelic fever floating in and out of the song and back in again. More than one great guitar solo fires up over a great mellotron infused tapestry of long held notes. The singing is darkened and the same goes for the music in the beginning of Carousel. There's a blanket over it all as if to hold light out of the song. Slowly but surely the fire can't be contained and Kid Gulliver goes all out. There's no holding back, no restraint, no brakes. Just like the drummer is telling us through his playing the whole of the time. Great single, ought to be(come) classic.

Afterglow. The Sea At Midnight

Rock like it's 1985 is not a popular phrase in rock music. The Sea at Midnight is doing just that. Everything from The Eurythmics, to Ultravox's 'Vienna' comes by and then I'm forgetting someone like Nick Kershaw and all his electronic pop friends of the time. The New Romantics are there and let me not forget Robert Smith's lead guitar.

Afterglow is a dark, new wave kind of song, and up tempo like 'Just Like Heaven'. The Sea at Midnight does not hide for one second where its heart lies musically. This song could have been made in the mid 80s and have been one of the songs that would have stood out. Extremely danceable so I would have heard it at the time and dance my heart out on it. It is 2020 however. The dancing part has ebbed away somewhat, the listening has not, so it is easy to notice that Afterglow is a dark yet fun song.

Alphabet. Shame

Shame so far is my favourite band among the young, alternative rock bands that started to release records from 2018 onwards. Loads of energy joined to great melodic songs and some noise for good measure.

Alphabet is the first new song released by Shame since then. Alphabet is more one dimensional I notice than the songs on 'Songs Of Praise'. I'm not sure but it sounds like a one chord song even. It isn't, although the rhythm guitar can play a single chord the whole time. The energy is there, the noise is to, but not the great melody. Alphabet, and this is my second impression, seems more for the gut than the brain, where the band had this great balance between the two. I hope that the new album will contain better songs than Alphabet. At the same time the song rips the world just about apart with its over the top guitar solo. Energy is there in abundance, so live this song will make the house explode, multiple times. And that is a win.

Spirals. Django Django

Another of my favourite new(er) bands returns to WoNoBlog as well. Django Django has made three great albums so far. I got to see them play live in 2018 and my only complaint was that the band did not play 'Giants'. With Spirals the band starts electronically. The keys are leading, making the weird little sounds the band can do. Soon a great chorus comes in. Django Django knows how to please here.

Spirals seems to hold back somewhat in all around feel. This may be because I'm listening to Spotify and not to a record. The song holds all the elements why I like the band so much. The little musical details embellishing the song, the upbeat chorus, the harmonies. The tempo makes it impossible to sit still or not to get infected by the mood. Spirals simply makes me happy by listening to the song.

No, there's nothing Django Django new under the sun but as long as the band cranks out songs like Spirals you will not hear me complain. Simply a fun new single.

Heap EP. Heap

A three song EP was sent to me from New York City. Heap EP by the band with the name Heap. Singer/guitarist Tim Heap is responsible for the songs that rock out in the way I like. Rough, no niceties up front and in my face. All three songs, 'No Mas', 'Renting' and 'You Remind Me Of Me' have that U.S. alternative rock vibe good songs need. A tight rhythm, a memorable melody and a guitar solo that is to the point and not overdoing things. Thank you, George Chambers! Playing the New York City scene for 20 years, Tim Heap met producer Eric 'Roscoe' Ambel, who recently produced Spanking Charlene's 'Find Me Out'. He gave the band a sober rock sound reminding me of Dan Baird singing 'I Love You Period'. Just like that song Heap EP does not come with a question mark. Heap is convincing in songs and sound. Nice and rough without going overboard.

Child Of The Flatlands. Maxïmo Park

Do coincidences exist? A few days before reading the announcement for Child Of The Flatlands I looked up to see if Maxïmo Park still existed. It has been silent for a long time, I thought. And the last album did not really impress me, to be honest. Yes, the band shed a band member in the past period but is back with a new single.

I'm listening to it for the first time. It is slow, down cast. That makes it very different from my favourite Maxïmo Park songs, 'Apply Some Pressure' up front. Different, yes, but I find myself liking this "new" or other Maxïmo Park. Child Of The Flatlands is a very nice song and extremely promising if this is the standard for the new album. Paul Smith sings slower so slightly more pronounced which he manages well. There is a loud guitar solo, after which the song is brought even further down in between psychedelia and carnival music. Next the song goes back to its beginning and I can't help noticing that I'm impressed. Perhaps almost as impressed hearing 'Apply Some Pressure' for the first time. Well done. Maxïmo Park. Am I looking forward to hear more new work.

The Pink. The Short Fuses

Rock and roll! An early Alice Cooper like riff, think 'School's Out' is flying into my ears. This is dirty garage rock, rock and roll of the modern nature. The Short Fuses release its first song in 15 years and where else than on Rum Bar Records. The band makes sure that the impression it makes is like running into a musical wall. Live this will be ear-splittingly loud. Georgia Peach leads her men, Travis Ramin, and Justin Staggs into an orgy of rock. The band does not back off for even a split second. This is the musical equivalent of the 100 meter sprint. Go full-out without breathing along the way, everything balled together to run within the 10 second limit. I seriously wonder whether I have ever heard a female singer singing this tough over a lead guitar that just keeps going and going. Georgia Peach may honour her name at home, on stage I would not dare approach her without gloves on. Her nails could be too dangerous to the touch. The Pink is a storm; what a song.

Dear Forever. Lauren Mann

And breath out, relax. What a difference with 'The Pink' just now. On this blog I recently lauded Lauren Mann's first new single in four years, 'Missing You'. For Dear Forever Lauren Mann returns to her favourite instrument, the piano. Later in the song other keyboards take over though. 'Missing You' may be the more free flowing song, Dear Forever has its own moments. It may start as a "regular" song, soon Lauren Mann starts adding elements that make it different.

Dear Forever, again is not a happy song. Does she sing "tears forever'? It sounds like it. It is a song that I notice conquers me by the note and line. Again I notice that this song goes way beyond what Lauren Mann has presented the world with so far. She is making and writing music on a different level it seems to me. Perhaps more mature but certainly better and far deeper reaching. If the other new songs approach the quality of the two singles, 'Memory & Desire', to be released on 16 October, should mean her breakthrough. I am so looking forward to hear it for the first time.

Lip Service. Natalie Sweet

Natalie Sweet does not need my lip service, she sings in her first single for Rum Bar Records. So, let's pretend I'm just writing this for myself. Listening to Lip Service I can't help but wonder how artists in 2020 can still write great songs in a style that went out of style when Blondie incorporated disco and Caribbean influences into its music. Natalie Sweet is rocking out as if Debbie Harry c.s..

Lip Service is an uptempo alternative rock song with 60s pop influences hanging over the song like low hanging fruit. Tight guitars, bass and drums cranking out the high tempo. Thoughts of The Ramones are never far away in this song. Nathalie Sweet rams out her lyrics in a staccato way, lending urgency to her lip service message. Boy, am I glad I'm not on the other end of this message. Of course, I take it that this little write up can be considered as the real thing Ms. Sweet is asking for at the end of Lip Service. There may be hope for us all anyway. Great song.

SXMW. The Scrimshanders

Some more loud U.S. rock on WoNoBlog, the kind to swig beer from jugs to, to nod the head up and down vigourously to, while allowing the occasional singing along with the chorus as well. Don't expect anything funny, The Scrimshanders sound as traditional as U.S. rock bands come. Rock solid, tight and pleasantly predictable. As traditional as the band's name alludes to an era long before Internet, blogposts and social media (and electricity, modern transport to name a few). No electricity is no option on SXMW, the song wouldn't be half the fun without it. John Magee and his band mates know how to use power just right. Don't expect anything superfluous on SXMW, this is a straight up and down rock song that only needs one listening session to convince. Rock And Roll, these words would have said it all too.



Listen to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:






donderdag 24 september 2020

XXX Singles, part 2

By now a fixed staple on WoNoBlog, freshly released singles that get a spot over multiple days. The numbers just keep swelling. It is possible to fill four days in a row, just with announced singles that reached our mailbox. That is overdoing a bit. There's so much more to report on, isn't there? Like albums. "Fortunately" there are no live shows to report on. That will be a while before our reporters will join the outgoing crowd once more. In the meantime they enjoy themselves with new music.

We Mattered (Once Upon A Time). The Silverbeets

The slightly neurotic sound of We Mattered (Once Upon A Time) will ring bells in the minds of those loving music from around 1980, when XTC scored with 'Making Plans For Nigel' and Split Enz sang 'My Mistake' into the charts. The Silverbeets use the same sort of rhythm and short-paused organ sounds, making the song feel a bit gibberish.

The band from Hobart on Tasmania, perhaps my first Tasmanian band ever, knows where it gets its mustard and translates that into a song that is part tribute, part parked in 2020. Musically far from easily digestible, with parts that are not easy to sing along to. We Mattered ... challenges its listeners, just like the two examples mentioned did. Be challenged and find, as there is enough to find along the less than three minutes road The Silverbeets presents. Like Beatlesque harmonies and a free flowing lead guitar part.

Who You Say You Are. eels

A few weeks back a new eels single was announced. Mark Oliver Everett presents a new song to the world that is instantly recognisable. The music, the voice, it can only be one person/band singing and playing here. What You Say You Are is an eels song of the quiet and sober kind. If the single wasn't so beautiful it would be easy to dismiss it as a slightly boring remake of his older songs. Yes, I allow you the comment that there's nothing truly new to be heard here, but not that eels has hit the bull's eye once again with this new song. Never a happy person, at least in his music, Everett strikes the right notes here. This song doesn't need any words more than presented here.

Paraphernalia. Temples

Temples was one of the many bands that rose to prominence in the first wave of new-psychedelia. It's album did not convince me at the time. What was it? 2014? I truly can't remember. Since then I hadn't heard from the band and read that a new single was released. I have to make short shrift here. What a horrible song. It must be hard to actually make every single decision wrong. The disco sound, the sound of the 70s over-aged singers trying to be hip used to score a hit. The 'Love Boat' kind of violins. And on top of it all a meagre composition, as a good one in a way would have excused all the other ones. A good song is a good song. I don't like all ABBA songs but I know which ones are outstanding songs. Paraphernalia is a dragon of a song, as we say in The Netherlands.

All The Rage. The Rolling Stones

Not a single but the third The Rolling Stones song to be released on the re-release of 'Goat's Head Soup', the band's 1973 album that received due interest on the release date earlier this month. It is the kind of rocker I love to hear the Stones play. Jagger's singing is strained, suggesting his vocal would not have been the final one had the song been selected for the album. The song is fun though. A good melody, fiery lead guitar and again a prominent piano. Ian Stewart? The song is rock and roll enough for him to be part of it. It is most in line with 'Star Star' which is slightly better song, but only slightly. Like the other two songs, 'Criss Cross' and 'Scarlet', All The Rage could have been on the album without bringing it down in quality. In fact this song would have been excellent on 'Some Girls' as it is far superior to 'When The Whip Comes Down' and on par with 'Neighbours' on 'Tattoo You'. Criss Cross is a song I truly like. In fact, because of it I may just buy the new version of 'Goat's Head Soup' any way.

Separated. Anemone

A psychedelic Britpop band, from The Netherlands? Yes, Anemone is just that. Started by two people working behind the scenes of pop and rock music, Xander van Dijck and Ricardo Jupijn. After releasing its first album in 2018, in 2020 its time for the first single of an upcoming album that is ready. It's not the time to release a new record Anemone states. The single in which the words "I'm isolated" is repeated regularly reflects the past half year pretty well. The music does as well. The general mood is downcast, the singing follows this tag, creating a song where joy is hard to find and sparks of light few and wide apart. A good, down-hearted ballad can be exquisite. Separated strives for this top position without fully reaching the mount. For that the vocal melody is only just too bland. The music however makes up as the band knows when to add a beautiful embellishment to the whole. The song certainly falls to my good side.

Forest Noises. Garlands

All good things must come to an end, so this also goes to the monthly releases of Garlands, the Glasgow alternative rock band that more and more becomes one of the hidden treasures of pop music but luckily not for me. Let me not get too far ahead, as I still have to listen to Forest Noises, but based on the previous four songs, no matter what the new single sounds like, they would have made a hell of a mini album. So let me put on Forest Noises now.

Rest assured, folks. Again, and I know from just how the first guitar strokes sound, this again is a stellar rock song. The U.S. alternative rock bands from the 90s are a strong influence here. Gordon Harrow in the past worked with Ken Stringfellow and The Posies certainly come to mind. A strong melody, the band going full out but always with a knack for embellishing the song in any way possible. Surprising as well, as a piano has a clear role in Forest Noises. That beginning is so nice. Its just a fast strummed guitar with a full sound and somehow it is enough. Like the best songs of Weezer, Fountains of Wayne and The Posies offer. Loud songs but instantly recognisable, singable and lovable. "I'm the monster you don't wanna know" Harrow sings over and over. I hope multitudes will beg to differ as this is a great alternative powerpop song if I know one. In a league with 'My Sharona'.

With Forest Noises the Garlands summer is coming to an end. All good things stop sometime. Let's just hope Gordon, Stef and Darran will not make us wait too long before there's more from Garlands.

The Weeping Souls (Alain Johannes remix). Jonny Polonski

Esoteric and ethereal. Just two words that spring to my mind listening the The Weeping Souls for the first time. In this remix by Alain Johannes, who's worked with several bands and artists of fame, Polonski sings his lyrics in a dreamy fashion, while underneath his voice the world is torn apart by a guitar with a ton of effects on it, but mixed nicely and "quietly" into the background. Taken that the start is a banjo or some sort of instrument and a quiet keyboard, the turn the song takes does come as a surprise. I haven't heard the original version the song, so decide to put that on first. The differences are clear straight away. The sound is much clearer, there's drumming and the eery guitar noise is not present. Only the dreamy part in the singing remains. Jeff Buckley comes to mind fast. Not so in the remix. Johannes has truly managed to make The Weeping Souls a different kind of song. Both have their merit.

Manbird. Anton Barbeau

Not to confuse people Anton Barbeau has called his album 'Manbiird' and his single 'Manbird'. That taken care of we can start to listen to the song. Barbeau, a Californian living in Berlin but recording wherever his fancy takes him, makes music as if time hasn't changed much over the past decades. Electronic percussion and an 80s vibe clearly shows in Manbird. In the lyrics things are more modern. Singing about a green screen would have made several brows furrow in the 80s, while today everyone working with Zoom knows how to work a trick or two in the background. Manbird is a song that holds back while some instruments try to turn loose from their shackles. Barbeau does not totally allow it, keeping the song in check. I can only wonder what would have happened had he done so. Just listen to the end where the bass (synth?) is allowed to go it alone. A moment where the true glory of Manbird shines through.

Be A Rebel. New Order

Once upon a time one of the least melodic and confrontational bands, New Order in the past 40 years seems to have learned to write a good pop song. Forever associated with 'Blue Monday', the song has nothing to do with Be A Rebel. On its latest single New Order produces a just as danceable track but so commercial in sound; had it been 1983. Today this song is totally archaic, a sound from a long gone era. To my slowly ageing ears however Be A Rebel sounds quite nice. The rhythm works, the melody has it and the arrangement does the rest. Bernard Sumner will never be among the best of singers but knows what he can do best and delivers here.

Over a disco rhythm New Order keeps finding new melodies to play over the melody lying at the heart of Be A Rebel. Does it come dangerously close to Pet Shop Boys?, yes, New Order does. But there's no comparison, I'm afraid. I may have danced to 'Suburbia' et al in the 80s, I would have bought Be A Rebel instantly. Just listen what the guitar that pops up does, the layer upon layer of synths. There's a new melody that joins the song over and over during the whole song only to disappear to make room for the next melody. Be A Rebel is a top song, ranking as high as the live version of 'Just Can't Get Enough'. If only it was 1985..., man, what a hit this song would have been. It wouldn't have missed a single tape I made for our house parties. (And, beautiful artwork by the way.)

Where Are You Now That We Need You. Yukon Onoma

"Where Are You Now That We Need You brings you into psychedelic, satanic spheres and makes you feel as it were the darkness itself", roughly translates the start of the bio of Yukon Onoma's debut single. The sentence intrigued me, so I wrote the song down to remember it later.

His musical work is a reflection of his past life, when as a child living in a religious, Christian sect in The Netherlands. After breaking with his past he decided to study Satanism as a way to get to grips with his past by studying the anti of things Christian.

I would have expected dark metal but Yukon Onoma stays wide from that kind of music. The result is a dark, slow electronic music that would fit into the Kairos show with ease. Slow moving electronic chords hover over and through my room, like a slivering, undefinable but most likely hostile entity. I can't make much of it to describe what I'm hearing. The music is dark and top heavy and without joy for certain. My curiosity certainly presented a song I did not see coming. Am I up for more? I doubt it.

Listen to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:


woensdag 23 september 2020

XXX Singles, part 1

Since we noticed the single announcements, it seems as if our mailbox is overflowing with singles. Is it just because we notice them or that people started to notice our singles post? Who can tell and the answer is not that interesting. What is, is that WoNoBlog shares another bunch of singles with you that reached us over the past two weeks. Once again in two instalments?, no, three this time.

Georgie. The Lemon Drop Gang
"One, two, three, four" is the enthusiastic opening of Georgie and introduction to a delicious pop song of the kind that were so populair if and when Joan Jett and the Blackhearts would have merged with The Go Go's and the more rocking side of The Bangles. The Lemon Drop Gang does not present you with more than there is. Guitar, bass, drums and voices, that is all a good pop rocking song needs.

The debut single of The Lemon Drop Gang, from Tucson in Arizona, can be called a success. Steph O'Halloran has the kind of voice that could be found in the great early 60s female groups, transplanted into a rock band with a strong love for powerpop songs of the late 70s and 80s. Georgie is a song to check out fast, folks.

Sunlight. Radical Face
It's been a while since I last wrote on Radical Face in things WoNo. I can't even remember whether the blog already existed or not. My attention was drawn towards a new single, Sunlight. An optimistic title if there ever is one. The music is not that optimistic. Ben Cooper, as the man behind the moniker Radical Face is called in daily life, sings in a subdued way over a soft, at best mid-tempo song. The drumming is moderately busy, a slowed down version of a Madchester era song. All else is delicate, like the first rays of the sun on an early Sunday morning, creeping into my bedroom. In short, a true listening experience, just Ben Cooper a few instruments supporting his voice and my two ears. At times it is simply enough. True, a song like Sunlight has been done before, but when done right, I simply do not care and just enjoy what is on offer.

A final comment has to be on the intense artwork. Well done for a single.

True True Love. Rich Krueger

True True Love is a nice song to play after Sunlight. Also an acoustic song, more more towards a folk and singer-songwriter segment of music, faster and even more elementary. A man and his guitar. 'The Troth Sessions' is Krueger's upcoming album. The golden wedding ring on the cover making the point towards what kind of "troth" is meant here. So True True Love is the right kind of song to release as a single. Its dark blue cover even better than the album's red. In the mean time I notice that I really, really like to listen to Krueger's voice and guitar playing. In the song he tells a story, like true singer-songwriters do. Krueger also shows that he can play an interesting guitar part as well. If I have to name a name to refer to it's Counting Crows. True True Love could have been a Counting Crows song and that is meant as a compliment here.

Office Hell. Global Charming

It is already as if Global Charming has a global breakthrough, so many alternative radio shows play the band's songs. Let's not forget that Office Hell is only the band's second single with three more weeks to go (at time of writing) for the album to be released. Office Hell is a song that fits in with Canshaker Pi and Petersburg, other alternative Dutch indie bands trying to make a name for themselves. At the same time Office Hell is a radical Talking Heads. The guitars weave into and out of each other, playing less easy notes but also leaving a lot of space in the song, giving the song an early 80s vibe. From the very beginning the song sets itself apart from the mainstream. Even in alternative rock. The playing between the guitars involves accurate counting as the guitars do sort of do a call and response. It sets the mood and makes the listener pay attention (or run away, which I do not exclude). An interesting second single Office Hell is after debut single 'Soft Fruit' and making me more curious for the upcoming album.

Moving Tangle. Outwave

From Amsterdam I move you over to Padua, near Venice in Italy. Moving Tangle is the first single from the upcoming album 'The Storm'. A good title listening to Moving Tangle as the song has parts that rage like a storm and give a pause as well. The melody is always there. Outwave never rocks out without a melody and is not afraid of winding the song down completely. Only to return to its full force which is great. Moving Tangle holds a lot of familiar sounds, pop rock bands, a Slash guitar solo and hints towards 80s rock bands like Cheap Trick with the melodies of later bands. There's nothing making me think this band is from Italy. Not in the music and not in the accent of singing. I can't tell you whether I would sit through a whole album, but Moving Tangle is a fine song. No doubt about it.

Swim. Geoff Palmer & Lucy Ellis

Geoff Palmer and Lucy Ellis take me on another trip down memory lane. Back to the days that Richey Cunningham frequented the hamburger joint of Al and being called into "The Fonz's" office. 'Happy Days' was of course a late 70s sitcom pretending to be rock and roll era, suburban America. Something like that it was. That makes Swim a fun song but far from dangerous. In the song you find a mix of innocence 60s girl bands and the Go-Go's. Geoff Palmer cruises through the song with his rougher voice, slightly upsetting it, like Arthur Fonzarelli did upset 'Happy Days', without ever getting truly dangerous of course. Swim is a nice song but I miss a pinch of pepper.

Two. Pom

Pom is the first band signed by the new Rotterdam based label Mattan Records. A band from Amsterdam signing with a Rotterdam label, it shows why music is always a party as it doesn't matter where a band comes from. Recently so many indie rock bands from Amsterdam have popped up, I'm suspecting there must be something in the water there. Pom's first ever single, was called 'Down In The Rabbit Hole' (2019) and has that softer - louder trick all over it, with a few surprises on the side, but also a, female, singer able to sound a little bored and aloof, while being extremely present at the same time. Two, the second single, is a song that holds a clever pop feel, but also it's so clear that with this song Pom presents a totally different side to itself. A lead guitar is all over the place, very melodically so, making Two a song that gets noticed. The pop feel of ages lies all over Two, with a touch of melancholy mood Donna Blue is so good at. The two songs released so far make me so curious for what is to follow. Pom is another Dutch band to watch alright.

April. Remy.

A harp is no stranger to WoNoBlog. Out of Skin has featured several times on the blog not in the least with a great new single 'Ydin' and live shows. A harp as lead instrument is something different. After releasing a solo piano album by Ella van der Woude, Snowstar Records now releases Remy. (van Kesteren's) first single, April. It is not easy to write on the work, as it is an instrumental composition. What I do hear, is the busy accompaniment while a solo melody is played over it, with some undefinable noises in the background. As a whole I have to say that it is something beautiful to listen to. My guess is that one of the tracks will make it to the 'Kairos' radioshow on Concertzender. It fits, at least in my ears. April has a meditative quality to it to dream away on. Very different from all around it here in this post but a deserved spot none the same.

Bound For An Infinite Sea. Abrasive Trees
Abrasive Trees is the band name Matthew Rochford chose for his new project. He released a three song maxi-single led by Bound For An Infinite Sea. Those deciding to take a listen I can assure they do not need to bring sunglasses. Abrasive Trees dabs in the colour black and perhaps finds a dark grey along the road. The vocal is drenched in echo, as if sung in a deep, dark dungeon. The music reflects that mood. A lead guitar screaming out in anguish, who knows what it is subjected to there in the dark.

The songs starts a bit electronic making me think within seconds "not for me", too experimental, moving towards dance? Luckily for Abrasive Trees a melody comes out soon enough. Yes, dark and not for every day, but certainly interesting.

Killer Bee. EUT

EUT returns with a new single. The band's first album was nice but not totally convincing to my ears. Killer Bee has two sides. A very electronic one before a traditional band sound joins in. Within a little over a minute I notice that the two sides are working. In fact it makes the song very, very intriguing. The dichotomy keeps switching so I never know what will be coming up next. The electronic drum is replaced by live drumming, the synth by a guitar and bass, making Killer Bee a hybrid rock song. In so many ways extremely alive. Singer Megan de Klerk really excels here. Moving in and out of the different segments with ease. I find myself attaching to Killer Bee fast and yes, give me more soon, EUT.


Listen to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:


dinsdag 22 september 2020

Smiling Lessons. The Persian Leaps

At times an album is released in the here and now, filled with new songs, yet could have been released decades ago. Smiling Lessons is one of those kind of records.

The Persian Leaps is a duo from St. Paul/Minneapolis, sounding as close to U.K. pop heroes of the 80s and 90s as can be imagined. Drew Forsberg (everything except bass and cover design) and John Hunt (bass, vocals) have a knack for pop rock songs. The duo was part of a full band releasing an EP each year between 2012 and 2017. This is the second as a duo release.

Anyone who listens closely can track the influences of The Persian Leaps back to their roots in the 60s, with the rocking hits of Small Faces morphing into the likes of Oasis and Teenage Fanclub. It makes the music of the band instantly recognisable and tickling the parts of my brain that want to be pleased just this way.

That takes one factor to take into consideration: the songs have to be good. The Persian Leaps does not disappoint here. I will not go as far to declare them outstanding. That would be heaping too much glory. Smiling Lessons is an album that pleases with the right kind of songs. Drew Forsberg knows how to write a good song, including a nice hook or two and a fine vocal melody.

Promo photo: Amy Buchanan

Just listen to the first song. 'PRN' starts immediately in all the right Britpop ways. Diminished and suspended chords chime in the pleasantest of ways. No great guitar solos but notes underscoring the rhythm guitar doing its, loud, thing. Anyone with a knack for Britpop ought to find their way with 'PRN'. Smiling Lessons, after a comment made by Forsberg's wife that he ought to take smiling lessons to look better on pictures, continues in this way. One song may be a bit tighter, like 'Chamberlain', others slightly more poppy, the overall score is Britpop.

The Persian Leaps presents just 7 songs on this album. If Oasis had stuck to this number, most of its albums would have been so much better. Seven songs is enough in this case. Smiling Lessons has a saturation rate as all songs fall into the same category, uptempo Britpop. With loads of energy and good will, making sure the score falls to the right side alright.


You can listen to and buy Smiling Lessons here:



or listen to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:



Promo photo by Amy Buchanan 

maandag 21 september 2020

IV. Fixkes

Ik meende mij te herinneren dat Fixkes een West-Vlaamse rapper was en dus voor mij echt niet interessant om waar dan ook voor naar te luisteren. Rap en ik gaan niet zo heel goed samen, wijst de ervaring uit. Waarom ik dan toch ga luisteren? Omdat iemand zo aardig is de plaat aan mij voor te leggen. Meestal probeer ik dan toch snel een eerste indruk te krijgen.

Meteen bij de eerste tonen was ik verbaasd. Hoor ik nu gitaren? En er wordt gezongen, in een sappig, maar goed verstaanbaar Vlaams dialect. Met andere woorden, ik ging maar eens verder luisteren. De kennismaking met Fixkes' vierde album was onderweg.

Zo werd deze kennismaking ook een confrontatie met mijn vooroordelen, want laten we wel wezen, wie enkel afgaat op de mening van anderen, ontdekt zelf nooit iets. Toch doet een omschrijving in een krant of gespecialiseerd, gerenomeerd tijdschrift er wel toe. Als ik daar al niet meer op af kan gaan!?

IV Rockt er juist goed op los, zonder een rockplaat te worden. Gitaren, vette drums en bas vormen wel de basis van wat Fixkes presenteert aan de wereld. Sam Valkenborgh zingt op een manier die mij eerder doet denken Plastic Bertrand (of wie 'Ca Plane Pour Moi' ook echt heeft ingezongen). Dat is maar een kant van IV. In 'Dardennen', gebracht alsof de Ardennen vreselijk cool zijn: "Dardennen Yeah!", rapt Valkenborgh over de Belgische landstreek, in 'Frank Sinatra van Cake II' wordt vol gevoel gezongen (en wat ironie toegevoegd).

In 'Dardennen' mixt Fixkes rustig een oud synth disco geluid met een banjo. Het geeft maar aan hoe breed in het geluidspalet de band durft te gaan. De variatie maakt het album geregeld een klein feestje om naar te luisteren. Ook al schuift het oude orgeltje in 'Frank Sinatra Van Cake" op richting camp, het werkt fantastisch in mijn oren. Dat de licht punkende versie zwaar contrasteert met de zoete ballade, met uit de bocht gierende gitaarsolo, 'Frank Sinatra Van Cake II', laat zien dat één versie van een nummer eigenlijk onzin is. Beide stijlen werken prima, al heb ik een sterke, persoonlijke voorkeur voor de eerste.

Zo valt er oprecht veel te genieten op IV. Kortgezegd bevallen alle nummers me goed tot beter. Met IV laat Fixkes zien hoe breed het muzikaal uit de voeten kan en tegelijkertijd kwaliteit kan leveren. Als Fixkes ooit een rapper was, dan is hij dat niet meer. Pop,  ja. Rock, ja. Rap, nou, eventjes dan.


Je kunt IV hier bestellen:



of luister naar onze Spotify Playlist om uit te vinden waar we over schrijven: