woensdag 25 november 2020

10 Singles

And here we go once again. Another ten singles were selected for you on a first come, first serve basis. Singles to write about, singles to listen to. To enjoy the enormous variety in music released. There's a link below, so settle in and enjoy all that has been released in the previous weeks and we selected for you. We start with a true debut single.

Listen. Banji

Banji is a band from Utrecht. All members have a history in other bands, but decided to start making music together. Listen is the band's debut single. It is an erratic affair, where modern beats and rhythm alternate with alternative rock guitars. The influences are more from Belgium that from the Anglo-Saxon world. dEUS, Zita Swoon, Metal Molly and many other bands from the south of our border have found their way into Listen. The result is, that I'm not really finding Banji's identity in this single. Of course that's more than fine when starting a career. Banji clearly states what it likes in music and the result is an energetic single, with a fine melody and a few surprises in how the song plays out.


Let Go. Sharon van Etten

Some time back, I wrote on an album of Sharon van Etten (I went to school and worked in Etten-Leur) that I found her rather detached from me. A fan responded on Twitter that she wondered whether I had my ears screwed on right. For the first half of Let Go, Ms. Van Etten's new single, I stand by that conclusion, but slowly but surely Let Go is fired up, working towards a climax. It is not the music. This is warm from the very start. It is Sharon van Etten's way of singing, that makes me feel like I'm not included. This is me, for sure. We can't be all the same. What I do hear, is that Let Go is an impressive song. Despite that it is mostly played over one chord, a lot is happening and new melodies find their way into the song. In the second half it gets a tremendous boost playing itself out to a grand finale. Well done! The single is part of the soundtrack to a documentary called 'Feels Good Man'.


Invisible Man. Fred Abong

This blogs introduction to Fred Abong did not go unnoticed. The little review of 'The Minit' some weeks ago, received the most responses and likes on Twitter of all 3000 plus posts to date. All thanks to Fred Abong's response. I will not go into his vocal style again here, as that has been discussed enough. Musically Invisible Man is close to 'The Minute'. It presents itself with a minimum of effect. Abong does not need a lot to make the right impression. If anything, Invisible Man, comes close to Mark Lanegan's solo work, without a band. Fred Abong plays an acoustic and an electric guitar. Perhaps an effect pedal and that is it. Enough to make an attractive, alternative ballad and yes, of course with that husky, gravelly, thirsty sounding voice singing for us all to enjoy.


Happier Alone. Austin Meade

Listening to the intro of Happier Alone, I can't help thinking about 'Summer Of '69', one of Bryan Adams' biggest hits from the 80s. Not that the songs are the same in melody but certainly in feel. Austin Meade himself points to his love for rock from the early years of this millennium. Well, these bands probably will have had its influences as well. Happier Alone is a song that obviously is from across the pond. it has traces of hair bands that never really got popular over here and some good old 80s rock. That implies that the melody is quite alright and some inventive notes and a staunch guitar solo to go. Why I like Happier Alone, like I do 'Summer of '69', is that Austin Meade puts some emotion into his song, something I've always missed with many 80s hard rock bands. It always seemed to be about the money, drugs and probably some sex to boot. His personal looks are more of a 70s southern rock band though. A blend of many musical times and styles Austin Meade is.


Rock & Roll. Alice Cooper

When did Alice Cooper come into my life? Was it with 'School's Out' or 'Elected'? Both are still great songs, although the content of the former speaks a lot less to me almost half a century later. The riff is still phenomenal of course. Come 2020 and a new Alice Cooper single is announced. In the very first seconds I recognise it for the cover song it is. It is the The Velvet Underground / Lou Reed classic rock song turned into an even harder rocking song. Cooper totally pulls the song towards him, without changing much except the attack to the song. If anything it shows the strength of the original and the amount of rock still present in the golf-loving, senior citizen Alice Cooper has become over the decades. Concluding, I can write that nothing's changed really. Rock is rock and roll is roll and it still saves. I only have to listen to those guitar solos in Rock & Roll and know it to be true.


Comedy Show. Flight Attendant

Comedy Show alright! No, far from. This is such a serious and down cast song that it must be the saddest comedy show in the world. Flight Attendant takes me 40 years back in time, to when I heard 'Will You?', Hazel O'Connor's should have been #1 single, for the first time. A single that did not even chart here! The saxophone solo ending is missing though. The violin in the ending of Comedy Show does not make up for that. Flight Attendant is a band from Nashville, that is totally new to me and has nothing but then really nothing to do with the kind of music Nashville has become famous for. Comedy Show is a beautiful ballad, led by a piano, supported by a keyboard and that violin. It really impresses me, including the way the song slowly but surely gets more meat on the bones. Hazel O 'Connor never made another song that I liked, so Flight Attendant, I dare you to better that and looking forward to hear more.


Afternoon. Snowapple

Snowapple is a collective from Amsterdam. Three singers and a host of musicians that may or may not be members of the band. From balafon percussion to a trumpet solo it all comes by on this rather exotic sounding single. From 40s pop like The Andrew Sisters' style singing to jazzy music and African influences, it is all mixed into the few minutes Afternoon takes. The lyrics are kind of exotic as well as they were inspired by a Lorca poem. The combination works rather well, I have to say. The spacious mix gives an impression of a wide stage where the musicians are all in a different space and playing without amplification. At the same time it all sounds so clear. There's a lot of sounds and melodies to discover in the song. The clear sound provides the opportunity to do so. To discover what is happening is truly an option with the new Snowapple single. Afternoon is a little musical labyrinth, to dwell in at leisure.


The Less I Know The Better. Willemijn May

A woman's voice and an acoustic guitar are all that can be heard at the beginning of The Less I Know The Better. The tempo is in the mid range, the mood invites listening. Slowly but surely the song is infused with other elements, even of a kind less associated with singer-songwriters. Vague electronic sounds move in and out. Sounds of the kind that people prone to "hearing things" may get confused from but in this context can be called experimental. What remains to be mentioned is a spaciously played piano. The combination of the traditional instruments, Willemijn May's young woman's voice and the mystery makes The Less I Know The Better not only an intriguing song but also a good one. It sets her apart from the 1.000+ other singer-songwriters and invites to want to hear more in the future. After that great band from Amsterdam called Elenne May, another May joins the pack. 'Fire' was her first single, one that I have missed. This second single has put Willemijn on my radar alright.


Nobody Loves The Hulk. Beebe Gallin
i

There are songs that go for the throat from the very first notes. Beebe Gallini lets the drums pound, a bass plays one note and off goes Nobody Loves The Hulk. In Beebe Gallini, I recognise two members of the resurrected The Short Fuses, Miss Georgia Peach and Travis Ramin. Just like that band Beebe Gallini rocks out loud and rough, but a bit more direct in a punkrock way. This single is everything one is allowed to expect from a punkrock band that infuses 60s garage rock into its style. Not anger but a great melody, despite that the hulk only shows himself when afraid and / or extremely vexed. Nobody Loves The Hulk is amazingly direct, in my face and I love every second of the song. A fiery guitar solo tops of the distorted singing of Ms. Georgia Peach, who is all but on fire in this song. I love how the song progresses into the third chord in the verses. It totally makes the song what it is. This is rock and roll of the highest kind all right.

One comment though, anyone who knows his 'The Avengers' film classics knows that 'The Black Widow' deeply cares for 'The Hulk', so that makes three with the "you and me" in the song.


I Love The Way You See The World. Petter Carlsen

"Music from above the pole circle", read the caption coming with the notification of Petter Carlsen's new single. As my son lived there for most of the summer, I decided to give the song a chance for the singles of the week post. I Love The Way You See The World is indie pop, like promised, with some elements of dreamy synthpop as well. It is nice to know where Carlsen lives or creates his songs, but for the rest this song could have been made anywhere in the world. It's a global musical language Carlsen shares with us. Having listened a few times to the single I can conclude that it's a nice song but not one that exceeds what has been done before. The contemplation implied in the title does not come across in the song, as he does not share the joy of the recognition with us, more a melancholy longing for something out of reach. If that is the background for the story told, Carlsen succeeded in sharing this feeling with us listeners quite well.

Wo.

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

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

dinsdag 24 november 2020

Oh, By The Way ... It's Natalie Sweet

No, I'm not going to write this is an exceptionally good album, nor that Natalie Sweet is a great singer, but her album Oh, By The Way ... It's is just a fun album to listen to. There is no doubt about it and I gladly write it. On her album Natalie Sweet presents the right sort of mix between rock and roll, 60 garage rock and the rock side of Blondie.

Just listen to the kickstart of the album, single 'Lip Service'. Natalie Sweet does her best Debbie Harry and her band, their Chris, Jimmy, Clem and Gary/Frank. 'Lip Service' could have been on either of the first two Blondie albums with ease and fit in quite nicely.

So the tone is set. On Oh, By The Way ... It's Natalie Sweet presents herself from her most rocking, punky side, with a sweet tone here and there, showing a slightly more at ease version of herself. For the rest she's "the kind of girl you don't bring home to mother", to lend a phrase from Rick James (another person you don't bring home, I'd say). Of course, this totally depends on mother of course. In 2020 there should be a host of mothers loving a good rocksong in the style this record presents.

The production of this album makes sure the level of energy and excitement is so high. Just like 'Dawn Of The Deaf' by The Short Fuses, recently released by Rum Bar Records, btw both have Travis Ramin on board, the music is spot on. Driving me ever forward while listening. There's no sitting still, whether physically or mentally, Believe I'm dancing while sitting still and writing, the whole time. My mind is a-twirling alright.

What Oh, By The Way ... It's Natalie Sweet does right, is the mix of a great pop feel and garage rock. All songs are great to sing along to, dance to and pogo to for those who feel like it. In a few instances the foot goes a little of the gas and immediately a great pop song and melody emerges. Natalie Sweet and band members get the right feel and yes, it is that feel that I loved ever since hearing 'In The Flesh' by Blondie for the first time in November 1977 on the other side of this planet. An accidental hit if there ever existed one. The TV program played the wrong video and the rest is history. Blondie scored its first hit. I hope someone will do the same for Natalie Sweet. This album is enough fun for all people who love pop-rock-punk songs and get loads of fun out of.

Wo.

You can listen to and buy Oh, By The Way ... It's Natalie Sweet here:

https://rumbarrecords.bandcamp.com/album/oh-by-the-way-its


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

maandag 23 november 2020

oRanGe. I Am A Rocketship

Just a few days a go we wrote on I Am Rocketship's new single 'Shooting Star', now it's time to share our thoughts on oRanGe, the five song EP the duo released. Only half a year after 'Ghost Stories' I Am A Rocketship releases new music. There are some things that the Covid pandemic can be thanked for: new music from artists that found themselves locked in homes as well and used that time to be creative. oRanGe is one of those albums.

Eric Weissinger and L.E. Kippner have used this time well. All recorded on a notebook; the sound despite of that is huge. Who needs a studio these days? Not I Am A Rocketship. oRanGe has been made to reflect 2020, the pandemic, the rise of fascism and ever faster climate change. Musically it all comes together in the centrally placed title track, an instrumental that voices the rage all people will feel or have felt at some point in time this year. We are witnessing things that usually only happen in movies. From stacks of deaths in trucks in the streets of the developed world and on the streets in the developing world, to a president in the leading democracy of the world, who hollows out democratic institutions by the day and stokes fear, mistrust and anger, like all "good" dictators are prone to do. 'oRanGe' reflects the anger and concerns quite well, without a single word uttered.

'Back From The Shadows' is the EP's final song, The song has two sides to it. The quiet part where Kippner sings her observations about things that were hiding in the dark, but have moved out of it recently and the part where Weissinger lets his guitar roar. The opening of the song holds loud, angry voices shouting for us to hear. Emotions fly high. The quiet verse that follows in a way is surprising, as it does not reflect the anger and turmoil, more the will and determination it takes to push the ugliness back into the shadows. The chorus is the actual fight that it may take as well. "We never really thought it could happen here", sings L.E. Kippner. Well, it has, and, yes, it is extremely worrying, while at the same time nothing truly has gone wrong yet. Loads of books and theories are published on the rise of authoritarianism around the world. Those who aim at stopping it, all advocate to stop it as early as possible and never give in to the slow moving tendencies. Once you do, you're lost. So, yes, let's "push it back into the shadows" and beyond, just to be sure. This song holds a warning and a remedy in one.

Promo photo: Katja Bjorn
oRanGe is a political album, coming out of Atlanta, Georgia, which happens to be one of the states where the battle is literally being fought out over a few thousand votes, but let's keep politics there and return to the music.

With 'Shooting Star' the EP starts in a beautiful dreamy way. The drums are firm, so the rest of the song can float over it. The slow piano notes give the whole a feel of spaciousness, like the view from outer space Weissinger sings about. Long drawn out notes on the electric guitar evoke the space travel. The acoustic guitar keeps the song grounded as a whole. A beautiful song it is.

'God's Country' slowly rocks but oh so firmly. 'The Light In Your Eyes' presents the light and the shade within one song, showing how diverse I Am A Rocketship is, even within a song. With oRanGe the duo certainly surprised me as it went from nice to good in my book. This is an EP every alternative rock fan, who does not object to a softer and more serious outing, should check out.

Wo.

You can listen to and order oRanGe here:

https://iamarocketship.bandcamp.com/album/orange


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

zondag 22 november 2020

Yellow Coat. Matt Costa

De Amerikaanse muzikant Matt Costa grossiert op zijn nieuwe album Yellow Coat in kwalitatief hoogstaande maar ook volstrekt tijdloze popliedjes, wat een ultiem feelgood album oplevert.

Ik heb Matt Costa inmiddels al vijftien jaar hoog zitten, maar het lijkt er op dat zijn nieuwe albums iedere keer weer net wat beter zijn. Het geldt ook weer voor Yellow Coat dat vanaf de eerste noten een echt feelgood album is vol tijdloze popmuziek. Het is ook een album vol buitengewoon knap in elkaar stekende en prachtig gearrangeerde popliedjes. Duw een met smaak gevulde platenkast om, hussel alles door elkaar en je krijgt Yellow Coat van Matt Costa, die zichzelf weer weet te overtreffen en die direct vanaf de eerste beluistering met kracht aan de deur van mijn jaarlijstje rammelt. Wat een heerlijk album weer van de muzikant uit Los Angeles.

Ik heb inmiddels al een kleine vijftien jaar een enorm zwak voor de muziek van de Amerikaanse singer-songwriter Matt Costa. De muzikant uit het Californische Los Angeles dook in 2005 op in het kielzog en op het label van Jack Johnson en leek direct verzekerd van een minstens even blinkende carrière als die van zijn platenbaas. Daar is het misschien niet van gekomen, maar Matt Costa heeft inmiddels een oeuvre op zijn naam staan dat ik persoonlijker een stuk indrukwekkender vind dan dat van Jack Johnson. 

Na Songs We Sing (2006), Unfamiliar Faces (2007), Mobile Chateau (2010), Matt Costa (2013) en Santa Rosa Fangs (2018) is ook het deze week verschenen Yellow Coat weer een prachtig album. Matt Costa is op al zijn albums een meester in het schrijven en vertolken van prachtige en volstrekt tijdloze popliedjes. Het zijn albums die stuk voor stuk zijn te karakteriseren als de spreekwoordelijke omgevallen platenkast en het is een platenkast die opvalt door een uitstekende smaak.

Ieder album van Matt Costa wist me direct bij eerste beluistering te overtuigen en was me vervolgens ook direct dierbaar. Het is met Yellow Coat niet anders. Ook op zijn zesde album stapt Matt Costa met zevenmijlslaarzen door de geschiedenis van de popmuziek en maakt hij indruk met popliedjes waarvoor de allergrootsten zich niet zouden schamen.
 
Matt Costa laat zich ook op Yellow Coat weer door van alles en nog wat beïnvloeden. De Amerikaanse muzikant gaat ook dit keer ver terug in de tijd, want een aantal songs op het album ademt nadrukkelijk de sfeer van de jaren 50. De muzikant uit Los Angeles blijft echter zeker niet steken in de jaren 50 en overbrugt ook op zijn nieuwe album weer makkelijk een kloof van zeven decennia, waarbij ook de jaren 60 en 70 overigens flink wat inspiratie aandragen. Het levert een album op dat vaak nostalgisch klinkt, maar Matt Costa maakt ook popmuziek van nu.
 
Voor liefhebbers van mooie arrangementen, een volle productie en een veelkleurige instrumentatie is het ook dit keer weer smullen, want Matt Costa en producer Alex Newport (Death Cab For Cutie, City And Colour, At The Drive-In) pakken ook dit keer flink uit met een rijk ingekleurd geluid, wat overigens niet betekent dat Matt Costa zijn songs niet klein en ingetogen kan houden. Het zijn echter alle fraaie tierelantijntjes die de muziek van Matt Costa extra aangenaam maken.
 
Luister naar Yellow Coat van Matt Costa en je hoort een singer-songwriter die zijn klassiekers kent, maar die zelf ook overloopt van talent. Ik koester zoals gezegd alle albums van Matt Costa, maar de Amerikaanse muzikant doet er op Yellow Coat op alle fronten nog een schepje bovenop en verrast niet alleen met een prachtig vol geluid en tijdloze songs, maar ook met een uitstekende stem, die de songs op Yellow Coat voorziet van een eigen geluid.
 
Yellow Coat haalt het beste uit een heleboel decennia popmuziek en verpakt dit alles in popliedjes die je na één keer horen niet meer wilt vergeten en die steeds maar weer blijven verbazen door de torenhoge kwaliteit. Omdat Yellow Coat ook nog eens vol groeibriljanten staat, zou het me niet verbazen als ook dit album weer opduikt in mijn jaarlijstje, maar het zou me ook niet verbazen als veel meer muziekliefhebbers smelten voor dit uitstekende album vol tijdloze popmuziek.
 
Erwin Zijleman
 
Je kunt Yellow Coat hier luisteren en bestellen:

https://mattcosta.bandcamp.com/album/yellow-coat

 

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

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

zaterdag 21 november 2020

No Harm Done. Josephine Foster

In my opinion it is fair to state that Josephine Foster's voice has the same impact as her male colleagues Neil Young and Bob Dylan have on many women. "If only this beautiful song was sung by someone else", my girlfriend regularly bemoans while hearing one of Dylan's classics (that I can't help but play regularly). From her female colleagues only Victoria Williams springs to mind, with one difference, I can't listen to her voice for more than a few seconds, so have no clue about the quality of her music.

On No Harm Done Josephine Foster musical snuggles close to country music, with a role for a pedal steel guitar, played by Matthew Schneider, in setting the tone for the album. The rhythm is laid down by the acoustic guitars that are slowly strummed but lay the foundation over which a minimum of frivolities are played. Two pedal steel guitars, each mixed to one side, a second guitar playing a few extra notes, an organ. That is about what makes up No Harm Done. Over it all hovers the voice of Josephine Foster, working hard to remain within the boundaries of the composition. The Arcadian picture presented in the cover art, certainly is reflected in the mood of this album.

It is in these little surprises that the album lights up at the right moments. Take the organ that escapes the mix at the end of 'Old Saw', the seven minutes plus song that ends No Harm Done. While the pedal steel keeps my one ear busy, the organ jumps up over the second pedal steel guitar in the other. It is in these delicate moments that I know why I like the album.

Promo photo
Promo photo
The album starts with a clear acoustic guitar intro. 'Freemason Drag' brings memories of circa 1970 British folk but also of a singer like Gillian Welch. Ms. Foster's voice flutters over the melody, a honky tonk piano plays a lazy solo over this 100% humid, warm summer's day song. All is so laidback and without a rush. It is simply too hard not to like Freemason Drag.

With the second song, 'The Wheel Of Fortune', country enters the album in the form of the pedal steel guitar. The lazy mood remains. The absence of percussion, I am in doubt whether I hear an incidental bass guitar note or the bass string of the acoustic guitar, gives the sound its openness. The mix as a whole is wide, creating an impression of spaciousness that adds to the atmosphere of No Harm Done.

To finalise, no I can't listen to all albums of Josephine Foster. In combination with the setting and songs on No Harm Done it works a miracle. No Harm Done is a beautiful album for those moments when listening to music is all one has to do.

Wo.

You can listen to and order No Harm Done here:

https://josephinefostermusic.bandcamp.com/


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