vrijdag 19 april 2019

The Imperial. The Delines

Nog indrukwekkender dan het debuut deze prachtplaat van The Delines voor de kleine uurtjes (en alle uurtjes ervoor en erna)

The Delines debuteerden alweer bijna vijf jaar geleden met het fraaie Colfax, maar overtreffen dit debuut op alle fronten met het werkelijk prachtige The Imperial. De instrumentatie is warm, gloedvol en soulvol, de verhalen van Willy Vlautin zijn mooi en indringend en de zang van Amy Boone is wonderschoon en staat garant voor kippenvel. De ene na de andere prachtsong trekt voorbij en ze worden alleen maar mooier. Laat maar komen die voorspelde horrorwinter; met de warmbloedige klanken van The Delines uit de speakers blijft het ook bij -20 lekker warm. Een hele mooie start van het muziekjaar 2019.

Colfax van de Amerikaanse band The Delines was alweer bijna vijf jaar geleden een plaat die misschien niet direct een onuitwisbare indruk maakte, maar vervolgens bij iedere luisterbeurt beter en interessanter werd.

Mijn aandacht werd vijf jaar geleden in eerste instantie getrokken door de bijdragen van Richmond Fontaine voorman en schrijver Willy Vlautin. De Amerikaanse (gelegenheids?) band bestond verder uit leden van The Decemberists en Minus 5, maar de meeste aandacht werd getrokken door de van The Damnations TX (on)bekende zangeres Amy Boone.

The Delines maakten uiteindelijk diepe indruk met warme klanken, mooie (grotendeels door Willy Vlautin geschreven) verhalen en met name de prachtstem van Amy Boone. Het bleek een stem die alle kant op kon, want op Colfax maakte de band uit Portland, Oregon, zowel uitstapjes richting de singer-songwriter muziek uit de jaren 70 (Carole King, maar vooral Rickie Lee Jones) en lome alt-country (van Cowboy Junkies tot 10,000 Maniacs) als richting lome nachtclub jazz en soul.

Het is helaas lang stil geweest rond The Delines, maar met The Imperial is de band eindelijk terug. Zangeres Amy Boon moest jaren revalideren na een ernstig ongeluk, maar is gelukkig weer op de been. Op The Imperial trekken The Delines de lijn van de verrassend goede voorganger door.

De band tekent wederom voor warmbloedige klanken vol invloeden uit de alt-country, maar invloeden uit de countrysoul en pure soul hebben aan terrein gewonnen op de tweede plaat van de band (het tussendoortje Scenic Sessions uit 2015 niet meegeteld). Het zijn invloeden die meer dan uitstekend passen bij de stem van Amy Boone, die op The Imperial nog veel meer indruk maakt dan op de vorige plaat van de band.

In muzikaal opzicht slaat The Imperial als een warme deken om je heen, waarna de warme en doorleefde vocalen van Amy Boone de verleiding compleet maken. Hier blijft het niet bij, want ook op The Imperial krijgen de songs van The Delines een extra dimensie door de prachtige verhalen van Willy Vlautin, die van alle songs op de plaat een miniboek heeft gemaakt.

The Imperial is een ingetogen plaat vol subtiele klanken en al even subtiele zang. Amy Boone zingt op de nieuwe plaat van de band uit Portland, Oregon, vaak fluisterzacht, maar kan ook imponeren met een heerlijk soulvolle strot. De fraaie instrumentatie draait hier prachtig omheen en streelt het oor met onder andere prachtig gitaar- en toetsenwerk. Ook de productie van de gelouterde John Askew (Laura Veirs, Neko Case), die ook het debuut van de band produceerde, is prachtig.

The Imperial is de perfecte plaat voor de kleine uurtjes, maar ook op alle andere momenten van de dag verleidt de band met boegbeeld Amy Boone genadeloos. Het is een van de eerste serieuze releases van 2019, en direct een hele mooie.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt The Imperial hier kopen:


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donderdag 18 april 2019

Eraserland. Strand of Oaks

And here's part 3 of a series of short reviews published on this day.

Strand of Oaks is no stranger to these pages. Since 2012 its albums have come by and always in a favourable way. With Eraserland for the first time I had the idea that I had heard this music before. Not in a literal sense of course. Timothy Showalter has produced ten new songs. Yet somehow I can not really find myself in them. At the same time I am not convinced yet that I will not find my way here in the end, if I give the album a few more chances. Something I will do as I liked Strand of Oaks in the past.

Is there a concrete reason for my hesitation? Yes, it lies in the bombast of the two opening songs. There's no room left to discover or find anything in there. 'Weird Ways' and 'Hyperspace Blues' are like a steamroller rolling over me at full speed and unlike Kevin Kline's character in 'A Fish Called Wanda' there's no recovery for me it seems. The same effect The War on Drugs mostly has on me: too much of a good thing. The steam does come off with 'Keys', but that song somehow sounds too familiar. Hence I stopped sort of listening, having (granted, voluntarily wanting) to listen to so many new albums. Hence this short piece. As some people have written this to be a masterpiece, I am going to come back to Eraserland over the time. Should things chance between us, I'll let you know.


You can buy Eraserland here:


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Change Of Pace. Andy Frasco & The U.N.

This February one of the most eclectic albums of the past years was released. So eclectic that in the end I lost my way somewhat with the record. Not since Blind Willie's 'Everyday Is Judgement Day' have I heard an album where a band so enthusiastically jumps up and down all sorts of (sub-)genres. Andy Frasco & the U.N. do just that. The Jewish element of Blind Willie is missing in this music but for the rest everything seems to go.

Just listen to the gospel style of the title song that opens the album. A serious beginning before the song explodes in a full sound to return to the seriousness, only to move once again into a full out ending with exalted singing and all.

That mix of sternness and joy comes through perfectly in the cover of the album. The leather tomes of the encyclopedias mixed with the guitars. Listening to the jazzy intro of the second song 'Don't Let It Fool Ya' I can only wonder what will happen next. Again a full blown chorus follows, filled with horns and a warm organ. This is the joy of music. No, it is not the best I've ever heard in this genre, but the enthusiasm easily wins me over to continue into the record.

Believe me Andy Frasco & the U.N. will keep surprising you after you decided to follow the band further into the record. I personally have to be in the mood to do so. Once I am there's nothing left to complain about.


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V. Budos Band

Something new on WoNoBlog. Today a few short messages will be shared about albums that did not make it into a full length review, but deserve some words.

The second album this year named V on WoNoBlog. After the Norwegian psychprog rockers Spidergawd it is time for Budos Band. The band exists for 20 years and with V releases its first album in five years; not surprisingly its fifth. Fully instrumental with a lot of brass, full-sounding drums and classic rock guitars. Due to the lack of singing it is incomparable to Chicago Transit Authority and Blood, Sweat and Tears who both had a great singer or like Chicago singers. But without any overdue pressing that are the bands I would mention as references. Budos Band has that exact same power in it, with a hint at jazz because of the horn arrangements, and rock because of the solid rock foundation. Because the horns are the lead instruments all comparisons stop there. Also because Budos Band shows some restraint in the arrangements, where Chicago TA in some instances completely dived of a cliff, nose first. It makes Budos Band its own powerful self. Something quite different from what can normally be found on these pages, but fans of Dutch instrumental bands Gallowstreet and Jungle By Night ought to find something of their liking here as should fans of the late 60 and early 70s jazz rockers mentioned above.


You can buy V here:


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woensdag 17 april 2019

Here's The 101 On How To Disappear. Dakota

At a showcase show celebrating the graduation of guitarist Jasmine van der Waals from the Amsterdam Conservatory before the summer of 2018 Dakota impressed yours truly with the music and songs played. A short conversation with bass player Lana Kooper learned that an album was in the making and planned for the winter. The album is there, unfortunately Dakota is, perhaps forever, on hold due to mental problems of singer Lisa Brammer. What is left, at least for now, is the music. It is only released digitally and that is such a shame.

Having seen the band live without knowing anything about them, I noticed that the band and the singer seemed different entities. Something that stood out somehow. At the time I did not give further notice to it. The whole impression was simply too good. Three great musicians and beautiful singing. Dakota impressed on stage as a whole.

Fast forward to Here's The 101 On How To Disappear. Within a few minutes it is clear to me that Dakota falls into line with Warpaint, the all lady U.S. band and specifically its lightest of songs 'Love Is To Die'. When all is said and done the only song of Warpaint that really, truly matters. The fact that Dakota brings this song to mind, regularly, is a bellwether for the album.

It does not stay that good in general. I will get back to that later. First let's focus on the strong points of the album. The opening songs find a fine balance between alternative rock and pop. The effects on the guitar give the sound the impression of rain being swept through a wind-blown street. A sheet of rain. The light voice of Brammer mixes extremely well with Jasmine van der Waals' sheet of guitar sounds. The chorus is light in sound and lifts the album up. 'Four Leave Clover', 'Sorry', 'Quick Fix' all have this mix and are extremely pleasant to listen to.

From these three songs it is clear that Dakota was ready for the international competition of Warpaint and some other bands reviewed on this blog in the past years that have come and gone. "Dreaming of other skies", to quote T.H. White, is what some of the songs sound like. I am not included in the dream, they're not meant for me. Only to listen at from a great distance. Which is totally o.k. and a privilege at that. Without coming close so much musically nor voice, Lana del Rey does come to mind in some songs. The indirect directness as heard on 'Ultraviolence' can be heard on this album in abundance.

Unfortunately just like all these bands Dakota does not keep my attention for 13 songs. For that the atmosphere is too one-sided and as soon as one of the songs does not make the grade of the opening set, my mind wanders off. What remains is a unique mood that lies over Here's The 101 On How To Disappear. Here Dakota does not falter nor waver. The rhythm section of Lara Kooper and Annemarie van den Born always has the foundation. Where the music is in need of a deep end, they take care of it. It is Van der Waals who sets the mood with her guitar playing and effects. Over it all Lisa Brammer only has to lay down her soft sounding voice to top a song off.

By the time all has been said an done and the album listened to repeatedly, Dakota comes out winning. The good to great songs win out easily to the few that do less so. With the inventive playing that is found in each and every song with on top the oh so nice voice of Brammer it is easy to succumb to Dakota.

Whatever happens next for Dakota is up somewhere in the stars, not for us to see. My well meant advice is to look for a solution, even if it is drastic. Life presents only a few chances and what you have here is simply too good to totally let go. So go for that temporary substitute, let the world hear what you can do and take it from there.


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