zondag 16 juni 2019

When You're Ready. Molly Tuttle

De vijver met talentvolle jonge vrouwelijke singer-songwriters is momenteel overvol, maar het talent van Molly Tuttle komt makkelijk aan de oppervlakte drijven om vervolgens diepe indruk te maken

Molly Tuttle maakt al haar hele leven muziek en blonk als kind al uit op de banjo, maar sinds ze is gaan zingen en zich vestigde in Nashville is wereldfaam slechts een kwestie van tijd. Haar debuut maakt direct bij eerste beluistering een onuitwisbare indruk en blijkt zwaar verslavend. Het is een debuut dat op fraaie wijze een brug slaat tussen zeer traditionele Amerikaanse rootsmuziek uit het verleden en de frisse countrypop van het moment. Het is een debuut dat overtuigt met een gloedvolle productie en muzikanten van naam en faam, maar het is vooral een debuut dat overtuigt met geweldige songs en een stem die alles laat smelten. Met dit droomdebuut kan Molly Tuttle wel eens hele hoge ogen gaan gooien.

Aan jonge en zeer talentvolle vrouwelijke singer-songwriters absoluut geen gebrek deze week. Onder hen ook Molly Tuttle, die zeker niet uit de lucht komt vallen. Ze groeide op in Palo Alto, California, waar ze haar eerste stapjes in de muziek zette en maakte indruk als student aan het gerenommeerde Berklee College of Music in Boston, waar ze haar virtuositeit op de akoestische gitaar en banjo etaleerde.

Haar carrière in de muziek kreeg echter pas een vliegende start toen ze zich vestigde in Nashville en ook haar stem ontdekte. De afgelopen jaren maakte ze vanuit Boston al muziek met The Goodbye Girls en verdiende ze de titel “Instrumentalist of the Year” bij de 2018 editie van de Americana Music Awards met haar eerste EP Rise, maar haar debuutalbum moet gaan zorgen voor haar definitieve doorbraak.

Molly Tuttle kreeg thuis de bluegrass met de paplepel ingegoten en speelde al op jonge leeftijd in de bluegrass band van haar vader, maar de afgelopen jaren verbreedde ze haar blik en verwerkte ze ook steeds meer invloeden uit de folk en country en een vleugje pop in haar muziek.

Haar debuut When You're Ready is geproduceerd door Ryan Hewitt, die eerder werkte met onder andere The Avett Brothers en The Lumineers. De openingstrack is direct opvallend, want Million Miles is een track waarvan de basis lang geleden werd geschreven door Steve Poltz en een nog piepjonge Jewel. De twee maakten de track nooit af, maar dat is nu wel gedaan door Molly Tuttle en Steve Poltz, die de Amerikaanse singer-songwriter nog een paar keer bijstaat op haar debuut.

Million Miles is een bijzonder aangename track met vooral invloeden uit de countrypop en doet wel wat denken aan Jewel, maar misschien nog wel meer aan Suzanne Vega. Molly Tuttle flirt af en toe met countrypop, maar ze blijft ook de bluegrass trouw in flink wat tracks. In deze tracks, waarin de banjo net wat nadrukkelijker aanwezig is dan de akoestische gitaar, schuift Molly Tuttle in muzikaal, maar ook in vocaal opzicht op richting Alison Krauss en ook in dit segment maakt de jonge Amerikaanse singer-songwriter flink wat indruk.

Molly Tuttle schrijft songs die afwisselend in de smaak zullen vallen bij rootspuristen en rootsliefhebber die net wat minder strikt in de leer zijn en maakt indruk met lekker in het gehoor liggende songs die meestal de zon laten schijnen.

In muzikaal opzicht is het smullen, wat ook niet anders kan gezien de imposante lijst met muzikanten die bijdroegen aan het album, de productie van Ryan Hewitt klinkt prachtig, maar de meeste indruk maakt Molly Tuttle met haar zang. De singer-songwriter uit Nashville beschikt over een stem die net zo helder klinkt als die van Alison Krauss, die net zo verleidelijk is als die van Suzanne Vega en die ook nog eens de twang van Jewel toevoegt.

When You're Ready voelt net zo aangenaam als de eerste lentezon en overtuigt daarom bijzonder makkelijk. Ook wanneer je het debuut van Molly Tuttle veel vaker beluistert, blijft het album echter sprankelen. Molly Tuttle bestrijkt het hele gebied tussen Gillian Welch en Kacey Musgraves en doet dit met de authenticiteit en muzikaliteit van de eerste en de verleidingskracht en het gevoel voor perfecte popliedjes van de tweede. Het levert een debuut op dat van de eerste tot de laatste noot imponeert en je humeur ook nog eens een positieve boost geeft.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt When You're Ready hier kopen:

https://mollytuttle.bandcamp.com/album/when-youre-ready


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

https://open.spotify.com/user/glazu53/playlist/6R9FgPd2btrMuMaIrYeCh6?si=KI6LzLaAS5K-wsez5oSO2g



 

zaterdag 15 juni 2019

Lightning Tiger Running. Steve French

Who is Steve French? Rumours are Dawn's younger brother, but they remain unconfirmed. No, Steve French is a band from Amsterdam that plays extremely pleasant alternative rock songs. The kind that suggest circa 30 years of influences and for connoisseurs there will be no issue at all identifying them.

Having that out of the way, I can concentrate on Lightning Tiger Running as the album deserves all the attention given to it on this pages. Any lover of alternative, ramshackle guitar rock with a singer that sings slightly hesitatingly is at the right address with Steve French. Almost all of the songs have that tingly sound that makes them so delightful to listen to.

Steve French is a trio Cees, Killian en Ruben morphed into one person who in a rainy, grubby Scottish suburb feeling despondent or perhaps worse, does a Von Münchhausen by pulling himself out of the swamp by his own hairs and writes this set of great songs.

Don't get me wrong. Steve French's mood doesn't change much. Things remain glum in outlook, but the therapy of making music certainly works. I bet that Cees, Killian and Ruben, once de-morphed, had some huge smiles on their faces when these songs started to come together.

What I notice in the nine song album is that Steve French is able to create a few moods. First there is the ramshackle vagueness. Secondly, very direct songs. Finally there is an alternative ballad, just one man and one guitar, no matter how short the song is. Through mixing the song sequence just right, these mood changes change my perception of the album, giving me the feeling that the album not only seems longer than it actually is, but certainly makes the album better as well. The balance is simply right. Now the latter is a deciding factor on my route to give you a positive advice on the album.

Having listened to Lightning Tiger Running several times now, the conclusion is that Steve French adds its own blend to a well known segment of rock music. Although I said I would refrain from naming others, I can't refrain from mentioning Boudewijn de Groot. The verse of 'Country Bleed' could have been a De Groot song over 50 years ago. The grunge like guitar explosion in the chorus was unimaginable then though. It only underscores how diverse Lightning Tiger Running is.

Wo.

You can buy Lightning Tiger Running here:

https://subroutinerecords.bigcartel.com/product/pre-order-steve-french-lightning-tiger-running


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

https://open.spotify.com/user/glazu53/playlist/6R9FgPd2btrMuMaIrYeCh6?si=KI6LzLaAS5K-wsez5oSO2g

vrijdag 14 juni 2019

Makers Of Mountains. Def Robot

The cover of this album immediately reminds me of that photo of the human lint of people waiting to reach the top of the Himalayas recently. A photo that I thought to have been shopped for fun. No, it was reality and it told me once again that we are reaching the limits of what this world is able to sustain. Makers of mountains indeed.

So is the album of Def Robot an analogy for all of this? No, far from. The band has produced an album that searches for pleasant points of view in all things alternative and indie rock without being a nuisance to my ears in any way. In fact regularly Def Robot seems to be doing a lot of things just right.

If the bio is to be believed Def Robot's Paul Taylor and David Hancox only got together at the beginning of this year and started working on songs together. Written, recorded, produced, mixed and mastered all by the duo itself. DIY indeed. The two have worked together in three other bands before collaborating as Def Robot, so they're not exactly strangers to one another. In the sound there isn't much left to be desired, so job well done.

That sound is not one with a light touch or a happy outlook on life. The sound is simply dark, the singing serious. That sound was inspired by 90s indie rock according to Taylor and Hancox. I can go along with that, but also can point to the 60s pop feel in the singing in 'Sweet And Sour'. Like e.g. 'The Letter' of The Box Tops and even some Tamla/Motown like The Four Tops. There is more to find for those who care to listen. The 90s may be the foundation, it is also the starting point for other influences to be woven into the fabric of Makers Of Mountains.

Photo/artwork by Paul Taylor
Def Robot is not afraid of taking the mood down. The already mentioned 'Sweet And Sour' and certainly in 'Fortune Cookie Writer', a short sweet song with a distorted voice to give at a little eeriness. And an interesting topic to say the least. On those moments I am reminded of Indian Askin. This band also plays in different ways with the listener's mood. The change to 'Ferman Saved My Life (Cut!)' is something Indian Askin is not afraid of presenting as well. The slide guitar takes the listener in a totally different direction and lifts the album to another level.

It is in moments like this that Makers Of Mountains grows. Def Robot is exploring many sides to indie rock. Although some songs are more interesting than others, as a whole the album works totally. There's time for reflection and time to rock without much need for anything else. 'Gordon from Gordon' ought to satisfy indie rock guitar aficionado's instantly. Including a little madness along the way. Just another angle to Def Robot.

The conclusion is simple but justified. Makers Of Mountains is a good record, so all views from this specific top are recommended and come without health nor environmental issues.

Wo.

You can buy Makers Of Mountains here:

https://defrobot.bandcamp.com/album/makers-of-mountains


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

https://open.spotify.com/user/glazu53/playlist/6R9FgPd2btrMuMaIrYeCh6?si=KI6LzLaAS5K-wsez5oSO2g

donderdag 13 juni 2019

Hawk Hill. Para Lia

A new single from an album that never reached me, 'Soap Bubble Dreams', released in March of 2019. If anything the three songs of Hawk Hill make me curious to hear more from Para Lia. (παραλία in Greek, meaning coast or beach).

Hawk Hill is a great rock song but with loads of pop hidden into the fabric of the song, making it quite infectuous. This is not an exception, as proven the song that follows, 'Over It'. One of those bittersweat rocksongs that manages to capture the longing for and expectation of a better situation and the pain of the current one perfectly. "We will get over, me and you". The optimism shows in the sorrow, while the acute pain is captured in the outro guitar solo. Soaring it is.

Para Lia is a duo, René and Cindy Methner who both come from a former East-German town called Falkenberg (hawk mountian). If anything Para Lia shows the opportunities the east has been offered after die Wende. Good things do come from it, but like all in the west, you have to grab, even create your own opportunities offered by the building blocks society offers all. Like Talk Talk sang decades ago "Life's what you make it". Para Lia certainly has made something worthwhile. If the album is as good as the three songs on Hawk Hill, it must be extremely good.

Promo photo: Mrs. Agnes Sommer
In Para Lia René creates all the music, playing all the instruments, his wife Cindy singing background vocals. In Hawk Hill they look back on Falkenberg and how the town went under after die Wende. The school closed, the factories closed and they both left, only afterwards meeting each other it seems. "Goodbye Hawk Hill Lane, I don't miss you ... I still love you", the inner conflict on a past long gone captured in a few lines. And above all in a good song. If this was René Methner's "Penny Lane moment" it was one to be proud of.

It seems I have some more listening cut out for me. If things are all this good, I will come back with the whole album to you.

Wo.

You can buy Hawk Hill here:

https://paralia.bandcamp.com/album/hawk-hill


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

https://open.spotify.com/user/glazu53/playlist/6R9FgPd2btrMuMaIrYeCh6?si=KI6LzLaAS5K-wsez5oSO2g

woensdag 12 juni 2019

Boat. Pip Blom

My introduction to Pip Blom was not a successful one. Playing support for Franz Ferdinand in Groningen, nobody in my vicinity was really willing to listen and the sound was bland, not allowing a lot to come through. In other words, I could not discern even a single decibel of the excitement some people already showed over a year ago for this band.

Now I know that playing support can be a frustrating experience but at times also a triumph. Keith Caputo e.g. before Travis in the winter of 2000. Not for Pip Blom in Groningen's Oosterpoort.

It is June 2019 and a year and a quarter past Groningen. Again there is a lot to do about Pip Blom, the band named after its singer/guitarist. And yes, I am starting to understand why, listening to Boat, but also have some reservations. Allow me to explain the why and why.

Boat starts with a few great songs. 'Daddy Issues' and even more so 'Don't Make It Difficult' are great songs. Every fan of the tandem Barnett-Cloher can draw these songs extremely close to their hearts. Pip Blom is able to emulate that ramshackle sound perfectly and add some excitement of its own in there too. 'Don't Make It Difficult' even manages to put some The Bangles rock and innocence into the song. This makes the song a beautiful hybrid of alternative rock and pop. Only the very best get away with this. It should make a great single for Boat.

From here Boat takes a turn away from pop and takes its listeners out for a tour around alternative rock. The ramshackle guitars are everywhere, going all the way back to The Velvet Underground. That 60s band's influence runs large in a song like 'Tired'. With a huge difference, 'Tired', again, has a great chorus. Four songs into Boat, The Netherlands can rest assured: we have our own version of Courtney Barnett and, although I still write this with some hesitation, with at least a couple of better songs. Time will tell really here, but I know no hesitation here to mention it. Again, just listen to the few subtle changes in 'Bedhead'. No matter the similarities, I can't hear something like that with Ms. Barnett. Now Jen Cloher's last album, that is on the same par.

So we've looked a the upside. I already mentioned that I had some doubts as well. They mostly come from the same source. Pip Blom does hitch nicely along the path paved by Courtney Barnett. The band still needs to find its own voice. Which of course is perfectly okay for a first album. My other point is that I do lose interest when I get deeper into the album. By then the songs simply seem a little less interesting. The same I had with the first album of Dakota recently. But, just like that album I fully give Pip Blom more than the benefit of the doubt. Boat is an extremely strong album. An album that captures a lot of excitement and provides interesting details all in one.

With Boat Pip Blom shows tremendous promise as well as presenting material that truly must be the best it has within itself in the right here and now. Like the song called 'Ruby'. A seemingly normal sounding song can light up a room within seconds. Pip Blom achieves this feat easily. Hopefully I can catch the band in my neighbourhood soon.

Wo.

You can buy Boat here:

https://pipblommusic.bandcamp.com/album/boat


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

https://open.spotify.com/user/glazu53/playlist/6R9FgPd2btrMuMaIrYeCh6?si=KI6LzLaAS5K-wsez5oSO2g