zondag 31 maart 2013

Let it all in. I am Kloot

Je kunt hier naar 'Hold back the night' luisteren.

Er zijn nog steeds mensen die bij een nieuwe plaat van I Am Kloot beginnen over de inmiddels al lang vergeten New Acoustics Movement (iets waar ik me overigens zelf tweeënhalf jaar geleden ook nog schuldig aan maakte). Dat kan zo langzamerhand echt niet meer, want I Am Kloot heeft inmiddels een imposant oeuvre opgebouwd dat voor 90% niets te maken heeft met de stroming die ooit zo vurig werd omarmd (en vervolgens net zo snel werd uitgekotst). Met het briljante Sky At Night maakte de band uit Manchester aan de hand van Elbow voorman Guy Garvey tweeënhalf jaar geleden haar beste plaat tot dusver, maar met het vorige week verschenen Let It All In doet I Am Kloot er nog een imposant schepje bovenop. Op Sky At Night voegde Guy Garvey flink wat dynamiek toe aan het geluid van I Am Kloot en werd de productie flink opgepoetst. Hierdoor kroop I Am Kloot wat dichter naar Elbow toe dan we van de band gewend waren. Daar is op zich niets mis mee, want Elbow is een fantastische band, maar misschien was het voor I Am Kloot allemaal net wat teveel. Ook Let It All In is weer geproduceerd door Guy Garvey (overigens samen met Elbow lid Craig Potter), maar dit keer is de Elbow voorman wat voorzichtiger geweest met de hoeveelheid dynamiek en het laagje chroom op de productie. I Am Kloot klinkt hierdoor op Let It All In wat meer als I Am Kloot, zonder dat de progressie van Sky At Night verloren is gegaan. Een win-win situatie. I Am Kloot zoekt de progressie dit keer niet in het toevoegen van dynamiek of in het oppoetsen van de productie, maar in het verbreden van het stemmige instrumentarium en in een enkele zonnestraal naast de vele donkere wolken. Let It All In klinkt net wat lichtvoetiger dan zijn voorgangers, al blijft I Am Kloot een band voor de herfst en de winter. Net als op Sky At Night worden de grotendeels ingetogen en akoestische klanken nog wel eens afgewisseld door een muzikale uitbarsting van een stevige gitaar of de van Elbow bekende blazers, maar deze uitbarstingen zijn minder frequent en vooral een stuk minder hevig dan op de vorige plaat. Voorman John Bramwell verzuchtte twee jaar geleden na alle aandacht voor de productie van Guy Garvey “It’s about the songs, not the xylophones!” en heeft daarom op Let It All In de touwtjes weer wat steviger in handen. Let It All In is een plaat die zich als een warme deken om je heen slaat. De instrumentatie is sober maar prachtig en zanger John Bramwell zingt beter en vooral aangenamer dan vroeger. Let It All In is een plaat die veel minder tegen de haren instrijkt dan zijn voorganger, maar dat betekent niet dat de songs van een minder hoog niveau zijn. Zeker als je goed naar de plaat luistert, hoor je hoe knap de muziek van I Am Kloot in elkaar steekt en de meeste tracks op de plaat blijven nog heel lang door groeien. Met Sky At Night had I Am Kloot definitief door moeten breken naar een groot publiek, maar ondanks de lovende recensies is de band met name in Nederland nog altijd ondergewaardeerd. Dat moet nu maar eens veranderen met Let It All In. Ik weet bijna zeker dat vrijwel iedere muziekliefhebber zal zwichten voor de mooie songs van I Am Kloot, dus ga op zijn minst luisteren. Een ieder die dit niet doet zou zomaar één van de memorabele platen van (de start van) 2013 kunnen missen.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt Let it all in hier

of hier bestellen

zaterdag 30 maart 2013

Amok. Atoms for Peace

You can listen to 'Ingenue' here.

Amok is a word used in Dutch and means as much a stirring a commotion, a watered down version of the Malayan/Indonesian word "Amuk" running around all of a sudden with a kris in hand and kill someone in a quite bloody way. Amok is also the title of a band called Atoms for Peace, with no less than Thom Yorke as singer/leader. We also hear Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers fame, producer Nigel Godrich, Joey Waronker and Brazilian percussionist Mauro Refosco. Reading the reviews I concluded beforehand that this is no album for me. So what happened?

Somewhere in 2000 a friend asked me on 'Kid A': "Wo., what do you make of this"?, implying 'Wo., this is no music!' I told him that I was still dealing with the album, but never listened to it again to the best of my knowledge. Although I got to terms with Radiohead again, enjoying most of its albums since the famed 'Kid A', the weirdest album to enter a chart at the no. 1 position ever, I guess. Amok was compared to 'Kid A' hence my long introduction.

Yes, there are clear comparisons, but I guess time has opened my ears to this extreme form of electronic rock/pop music and Amok has elements that are a lot more poppier. Atoms for Peace came up with a very rhythmic album, that comes close to what Yorke makes with his mainstay band. Overall Amok is more mellow and less confronting. The sound is less filled, flatter, aimed more at effect than confrontation. It also makes Amok more one dimensional than any Radiohead album.

If anything I'm surprised that Flea is the bass player of Atoms for Peace. He is so uncharacteristically not present, playing soft and smooth in the background that I'm suspecting that in reality it is Fernando Saunders playing. The rhythm is constantly in less usual time signatures, complex, shifting, analogue and digital. With sparse keyboards and guitars over the rhythm. Thom Yorke sings with his usual soft voice over the inorganic sounding music. Like music from the future or another planet, but nowhere near to what the makers of 'Star Trek' expected music to be in some stardate or another.

It makes no sense to name a song here. Amok is an album one has to undergo in its entirety. Drifting with the subtle (mood) changes, while listening intently. In the background this album will just disappear or annoy like the buzz of a fly or mosquito. Give it a chance and the beauty of Amok will reveal itself to you. Amok can compete with what Thom Yorke creates with Radiohead, easily.


You can order Amok here

or here

vrijdag 29 maart 2013

Mister and Mississippi. Mister and Mississippi

You can listen to 'Northern sky' here.

'Mister and Mississippi' is a song by Irving Gordon from 1951, made popular by Patty Page, the recently deceased singer of the unforgettable song "Doggy in the window". However, Mister and Mississippi is also the name of a new Dutch band, whose members met at the Herman Brood Academy. Musically Brood and this band could not be further apart, but the fact that musical education academies start to bring forth new bands, is a good sign. The Fudge is such an example and now Mister and Mississippi. Musically both are far apart, eclectic punky sympho rock versus singer-songwriter music in a band setting, both are at an extremely high level.

At first listen, on the radio, I did not get the song. Probably I listened to fleetingly or was distracted, but when 3FM dj Giel Beelen tweeted recently that Mister and Mississippi was the best band at present, I decided to give the band a chance and put on the album. I have to say I played the album a lot since. Still, Mister and Mississippi is not an album that won me over easily. It is not an "easy" album. It is mostly quiet, with somewhat dark and brooding songs. Songs with long and languorously  held tones and notes. Floating sounds like flying carpets or birds of prey turning their rounds on air currents above mountain tops. Slow and deliberate. 'See me' is such a song of majestic beauty, unassailable almost cold. 'Same room, different house' which is a more filled out song, comes almost as a release. A party song, in its sort that is. Guitars that are allowed to rock out and build the song into an anthem.

This means that most songs on this album do not give their beauty away in one or two listens. Slowly I started to appreciate this album more and more. Playing it under different circumstances, while in all the album kept its ground and became more dear to me. Slowly it crept up on me and I started to realise that Mister and Mississippi was not just an ordinary debut album, but a joining of a force of talents. The dual lead singing of Maxime Berlag and Samgar Lemuel Jacobs works beautifully. Both take turns at the lead and harmonise (with guitarist Danny van Tiggele as well) lending the album a dreamlike quality. I can imagine hearing a song like 'Coloured in white' being sung in a church with a big choir. The singers play percussion in turns, although percussion is not present everywhere on the album. Guitars are and they are played by van Tiggele and Tom Broshuis. As such Mister and Mississippi is not your average band. People who are to go and watch the band live are advised to go there to listen. Talk through a show and there will not be a lot left to enjoy.

Mister and Mississippi is all atmosphere and no rock. Delicate phrasing, beautifully intertwined vocals and guitars. Just in time the band offers release in the form of a climax to 'Northern sky' or 'Circulate'. Monumental and static. I find that I can hardly compare this album to anything else. Not that it is totally unique, it's more that the way the band plays on this album, makes it fairly unique to me. Or perhaps I do not really like any other bands that operate in this segment? 'Follow the sun' comes close to Mumford and Sons, most because of the kick drum, after that the band takes a departure in a completely different direction. Blaudzun because of the atmosphere, but also not so much the music.

Mister and Mississippi is an adventure, but also a sign of another new Dutch band that deserves attention and a following. There is a lot of talent in our country, perhaps not unlike in the mid 60s, when from everywhere pop bands sprouted with each unique features that made them stand out. For the first time in my life I find myself going to a lot of Dutch bands live and having a very good time. There's one difference. My older friends tell me that in the 60s bands could play at a lot of venues in inner cities. That infrastructure is all gone. The growth potential for gaining experience of bands in the 10s is a lot smaller, the possibility to be heard nationwide (radio/tv/Internet) a lot bigger. Mister and Mississippi already have that part down. Now it's up to the band to show that they can also deliver live in front of an audience that expects more now that there is a very good album under the belt.


You can listen to Mister and Mississippi by Patti Page here.

You can order Mister and Mississippi here

or here

donderdag 28 maart 2013

Pedestrian verse. Frightened Rabbit

You can listen to 'The woodpile' here.

Frightened Rabbit is a band from Scotland. Selkirk to be precise. Singer Scott Henderson has this fat accented form of English that sounds familiar for fans of the likes of Big Country. Not too much of an accent so we foreigners can still follow the lyrics. Musically Frightened Rabbit follows several famous Scottish bands also. Simple Minds, the already mentioned Big Country and other 80s rock/new wave bands, with some influences from the new folk bands of the 10s.

Pedestrian verse is Frightened Rabbit's fourth album since 2006. 2008's 'The midnight organ fight' and 'The winter of mixed drinks' (2010) did not impress me enough to write a review on, so I had some doubts whether I need to get familiar with Pedestrian verse. I'm glad I did though. Not that this will ever be my favorite album. Neither will the 80s bands' I referenced before. That does not mean that it can't be come an album that I appreciate and play every once in a while. Hence Pedestrian verse was played by me quite regularly in the past weeks.

Strange name for a band Frightened Rabbit may be, the band does not sound like it on Pedestrian verse. There is some modesty in the music and presentation, where the group's sound is full but not bold. It is here where the band becomes different from the 80s examples who could become larger than life, like the Simple Minds from 'Sparkle in the rain' onwards. It's here that the undertones of the new folk rage come into view. Having written this the loud guitars in the second half of 'Dead now' kick in, blowing the song up beyond proportions. A kick the album needs at that stage. Frightened Rabbit creates a mix of 80s wave, folk and a light version of the Edge sounding guitars.

It also takes some concentration to listen to Pedestrian verse. In a song like 'State hospital' (that faintly reminds me of the Editors song with "hospital and smokers" in the title) there is a verse - chorus sequence, but not so obvious that listening to the song makes one sing along easily. This is followed by 'Nitrous gas', a song that really brings out the strength of Frightened Rabbit. Slow, an amorphous atmosphere, well sung, stately. An example that the band is comfortable in several and different moods in songs, although that most are in the mid-tempo range. Don't expect party songs here. Making music or at least in the way it is presented, is a serious business for Frightened Rabbit. With a message or a story. Hutchinson most likely gives a lot of attention to the lyrics he sings.

All in all, Pedestrian verse is not my favorite album of 2013 so far, but well worth a review. It is fairly special, made with a care for detail and composition. With far more differences in the approach to songs than I thought starting the album and listening to the first few songs. 'If you were me' is another ballad, carried by an acoustic guitar playing the same pattern over an over, while some atmospheric sound scapes around the guitar and voice. With this beautiful 'ooh' harmony. When 'Snow still melting' comes with the synth propelled beat it comes as a large surprise. Not only because of the beat, also because it's almost singable and has this off pattern chorus.

Pedestrian verse is a versatile album that presents the listener with far more interesting views than a first, casual listening reveals. The album drew me into the music slowly, giving away interesting pieces of music each time. Not so much becoming better, but more interesting and intriguing. If you are interested in 80s wave and would like to find out what a modern band does with this sort of music thirty years later, Frightened Rabbit is a good point to start referencing.


You can order Pedestrian verse here

or here

woensdag 27 maart 2013

Forever endeavour. Ron Sexsmith

You can listen to 'Nowhere to go' here.

De Canadese singer-songwriter Ron Sexsmith maakt inmiddels al een kleine twintig jaar platen van een schoonheid die alleen de allergrootsten in het genre is gegeven. Dat Ron Sexsmith nog altijd voor een belangrijk deel in de marge opereert is daarom niet alleen verbazingwekkend, maar als je het mij vraagt ook een grof schandaal. Het rijtje Ron Sexsmith in mijn platenkast beslaat inmiddels zo’n tien platen en het zijn stuk voor stuk platen die ik niet graag gemist zou hebben. Dat geldt ook voor het twee jaar geleden verschenen Long Player Late Bloomer, waarop Ron Sexsmith een poging deed om zijn geluid geschikter te maken voor een breed publiek. Het bleek achteraf gezien een weinig succesvolle poging, waardoor de Canadees op Forever Endeavour (gelukkig) weer terugkeert naar het nat wat eigenzinnigere geluid dat we van hem kennen. Forever Endeavour bevat twaalf songs (een speciale editie telt er zelfs 14) en het zijn alle twaalf (of 14) parels zoals alleen Ron Sexsmith die kan produceren Ik vind het over het algemeen niet eens zo makkelijk om te beschrijven wat er nu precies zo goed is aan de muziek van Ron Sexsmith. Hij beschikt over een aangenaam en herkenbaar stemgeluid, voorziet zijn platen over het algemeen van een mooi ingetogen maar toch fraai aangekleed geluid, weet meestal een producer te strikken die weet hoe een Ron Sexsmith plaat moet klinken en schrijft songs die vrijwel zonder uitzondering volstrekt tijdloos zijn. Het zijn stuk voor stuk kwalificaties die Ron Sexsmith scharen onder de getalenteerde singer-songwriters, maar ook niet meer dan dat. Het is het unieke karakter van zijn songs dat de platen van Ron Sexsmith zo mooi en bijzonder maakt. De songs van de grootheden uit het genre herken je vrijwel onmiddellijk. Je hebt de Nick Drake song, de Paul McCartney song, de Paul Simon song, de Harry Nilsson song, de Elton John song en de Elvis Costello song (overigens stuk voor stuk singer-songwriters van wie je iets terug hoort in het werk van Ron Sexsmith). Na een paar noten herken je de hand van de meester. Wat voor deze grootheden geldt, geldt ook voor de songs van Ron Sexsmith. Het is niet eenvoudig om  te duiden wat het precies is, maar luister naar de songs van de Canadees en je weet waarschijnlijk snel wat ik bedoel. Ook Forever Endeavour staat vol met typische Ron Sexsmith songs. Het zijn over het algemeen relatief sober klinkende, maar ook zonder uitzondering fraai aangeklede songs. Topproducer Mitchell Froom die voor Forever Endeavour achter de knoppen zat, weet precies hoe het moet klinken: een akoestische basis, hier en daar wat strijkers en blazers, de tegenwoordig bijna onmisbare pedal steel van Greg Leisz en heel incidenteel een wat steviger aangezette gitaar. Het is een geluid dat uitstekend past bij de stem van Ron Sexsmith. Dit is zeker geen opzienbarende stem, maar als hij je eenmaal dierbaar is, blijft dat ook zo. Dat geldt ook voor de songs van Ron Sexsmith. Forever Endeavour is voor zijn fans weer een feest van herkenning en ook dit keer is iedere poging om een briljante popsong te schrijven glansrijk geslaagd. Iedereen die de muziek van deze briljante Canadese muzikant niet kent heeft heel wat in te halen. Iedereen die zijn muziek wel kant, kan wederom een meesterwerk toevoegen aan het al zo fraaie rijtje Ron Sexsmith in de kast.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt Forever endeavour hier bestellen

of hier

dinsdag 26 maart 2013

180. Palma Violets

You can listen to 'Best of friends' here.

The saviours of rock and roll? Well, that remains to be seen. And does rock and roll need saving? As long as youths like Palma Violets step up and play this sort of music, apparently it doesn't. If only people my age show up, then the band does not have a future. So here you are.

Listening to 180 40 something years of rock come by. Starting in the 60s with The Small Faces, The Who and US garage rock, to punk bands like The Jam, The Clash (excepting reggae) and The Undertones all the way to The Libertines, it all comes by. So do we need Palma Violets if we can tap into this great source of music laying somewhere around the home? As far as I'm concerned, there's always room for a good rock album with loud guitars, brazen singing and a warm organ. So the only question left is, is 180 a good album? At first listen my answer was no, too familiar, not original enough. After the second and more listenings I started to my shift my position. There is a lot of energy on the album and enthusiasm. Not to mention the organ in the background that started to draw my attention. Hey, I'm special, pay attention!

The first single, linked to above, was voted best single of 2012 by NME. An honour, but also a kiss-off to obscurity if Palma Violets is unlucky. This weeks candy, usually does not remain so for long. They are signed to indie company Rough Trade, which has a long list of great bands, so that comes in Palma Violets favour. Listening to 'Best of friends' I do not really get it. As far as "song of the year" goes. We (o.k. admitted, my generation) already have a 'Teenage kicks'. The song does have its moments though and is certainly a great opener to 180. 'Best of friends' is best seen as a statement: this is who are and this is what we do. Signed, Palma Violets.

The two faces of the band are Sam Fryer (guitar) and Chilli Jesson (bass). They sing and play together not unlike Carl Barat and Pete Doherty did in The Libertines. The organ is played by Pete Mayhew and Will Doyle plays the drums. Together they whip up a storm, although the album is sort of divided into two parts. Up-tempo, garage rock, punky in the larger part, but taking the mood down in the other, with noise eruptions later on in songs. Songs like 'All the garden birds' and 'Three stars' even remind me of 60s crooner Dave Berry. It gave me the idea that Palma Violets has not really decided yet what sort of band to be. '14' is too overly youthful enthusiasm. "I've got a brand new song. It's going to be number 1"? Come on! Lyric wise Palma Violets has some work cut out for them in the future.

Musically the band certainly is on the right track. 'Rattlesnake highway' is a great dirty rocker, in which Pete Mayhew's organ comes out pretty good in great 60s sounds. The song also gives away another quality. Sam Fryer's voice has the same punky overtone as Joe Strummer, but also reminds me of Steve Marriot. A little rough edged and hoarse, but certainly full of confidence. 'Tom the drum' lends a familiar progression from the 60s (The Who, The Kinks, The Small Faces), but is enough its own to get away with it and cause some excitement along the way.

In short 180 is not the prospected saviour of rock and roll, but Palma Violets definitely holds a promise for the future if they are allowed to develop and do not have to tour for the coming three years, playing the same 11 songs again and again. It will be the end of the band. Come up with a new album in 2014 and 2015 gentlemen and I will see where you stand then.


You can order 180 here

or here

maandag 25 maart 2013

Remember our name. Friska Viljor

You can listen to 'Stalker' here.

One of Friska Viljor's previous album, 'Tour de hearts' (2008), I remember as being very serious, solemn of tone and performance. Too much so for my taste. Imagine my surprise listening to Remember our name and hearing an album that is clearly influenced by new folk(rock) movement, but special enough to stand out as the album contains enough pop influences to make a difference. 'Flageoletten' could even be a song from De Kift with just a little more horns and extra attention to the accents in the rhythm of the song. I'm even enthusiastic about the album.

Friska Viljor is a Swedish duo. Daniel Johansson and Joakim Sveningsson who started the band in 2005. In 2006 they released their first album. Remember our name is the bands fifth album. The likeness to the Mumford and Sons of the world is more in spirit than in execution. The instrumentation on the whole is different, although a banjo and minimal drums e.g. can be heard. Friska Viljor leans a lot on keyboards to make up the sound and on large choruses. Head filling over the whole spread of the mix voices came to me. Opening song 'Did you ever' comes very close to Mumford c.s.. 'Stalker' has this same happy vibe, but filled in with electric guitars and an organ. With some definite 10s Britpop overtones. 'Bite your head off' proves that Friska Viljor can write a hit, just like Edward Sharpe, Of Monsters and Man, The Lumineers, etc. can. The song truly competes with 'Hey Ho' as far as I'm concerned. It just takes some airplay. "Bite your head off and throw it to the wolves" is an interesting line, isn't it? What could prevent the hit factor is the organ that almost sounds like a gimmick.

Friska Viljor, which Google translates as "Healthy Wills", is far from a duo where the instrumentation of the album is concerned. Many and different instruments are used to fill out the songs. Most have a signature sound, leaning towards a gimmick. Like the flutelike keyboard sound in 'Stalker', the already mentioned organ in 'Bite your head off' or the 80s disco beat in 'Boom boom', which is very Nena or 'Major Tom'. As gimmicks go, they can be irritating, but Friska Viljor gets away with it on Remember our name. By the end of Remember our name I have heard songs in very different flavours, but all with a great pop vibe. This Swedish band has tapped into a great pop vein, that made me perk up my ears and listen. Next to that there are plain good songs like 'Easy is hard' and the melancholy 'Streetlights' and the great, epic title song that finishes the album, in which the band goes all out.

Remember our name is not among the best albums released so far in 2013. The competition is to fierce, as this blog attest to over the past weeks. However, Friska Veljor has released an album that is fun, great to listen to and sing along with. It provides a bit of sunshine on a cloudy day. That's worth something in this day and age.


You can order Remember our name here

or here

zondag 24 maart 2013

Spectators. Amelia Curran

You can listen to 'In a town' here.

Amelia Curran ken ik nog van het prachtige 'War Brides'. Sindsdien heb ik niets meer gehoord van de Canadese singer-songwriter, wat betekent dat ik het vlak na War Brides en volgens de kenners minstens even mooie Hunter Hunter heb gemist; iets wat overigens ook geldt voor de eerste drie platen die Amelia Curran voor War Brides in eigen beheer uitbracht. Met Spectators is Amelia Curran gelukkig weer terug. De plaat ligt ook in Nederland in de winkel en ter ondersteuning was Amelia Curran voor het eerst te zien op de Nederlandse podia. Na beluistering van War Brides voorspelde ik Amelia Curran een grote toekomst. Dat is in haar vaderland Canada inmiddels uitgekomen, met een aantal Juno awards, maar in Europa kijken we de kat nog even uit de boom. Dat is niet meer vol te houden na beluistering van Spectators, want wat is dit een mooie en indrukwekkende plaat. Het is een plaat die een wat voller geluid laat horen dan op War Brides, wat de verdienste is van producer John Critchley. Het productionele werk van Critchley is zeker niet onomstreden. Op het Internet lees ik ook forse kritiek op het volle geluid op Spectators, waarbij met name de wat steviger aangezette drums het moeten ontgelden. Persoonlijk heb ik echter geen enkele moeite met het nieuwe geluid van Amelia Curran. Op War Brides vergeleek ik haar vooral met singer-songwriters uit een ver verleden (met name landgenoten Joni Mitchell en Leonard Cohen), terwijl Spectators het vergelijkingsmateriaal wat dichter bij het heden zoekt (variërend van Gillian Welch en Eilen Jewell tot Natalie Merchant, Kathleen Edwards en Patty Griffin). Het geluid op Spectators is weliswaar vol met de eerder genoemde drums, bijzonder fraaie blazers en strijkers en nog flink wat exotische instrumenten waaronder zelfs de Griekse bouzouki, maar Amelia Curran is er wat mij betreft in geslaagd om het warme en intieme geluid van haar vorige platen te behouden. Amelia Curran viel in het verleden al op door haar mooie teksten en sterke songs en heeft op beide terreinen alleen maar aan kracht gewonnen. Haar bijzonder mooie stem, die je eigenlijk alleen maar diep kan raken, maakt het af. Ik was een paar jaar geleden direct onder de indruk van War Brides en ook bij beluistering van Spectators was ik onmiddellijk om. De concurrentie in dit genre is op het moment moordend, maar de echte krenten komen uiteindelijk altijd boven drijven. Spectators van Amelia Curran is er absoluut een. Onmisbaar voor liefhebbers van vrouwelijke singer-songwriters in het rootssegment en voor muziekliefhebbers ver daar buiten. Ga dat horen.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt Spectators hier bestellen

of hier

zaterdag 23 maart 2013

True north. Bad Religion

You can listen to 'True north' here.

Like a steam powered train Bad Religion waltzes over me on True North. The levers are locked and go, full power, no holding back. Yes, like they have been doing for about 30 years. This is the bad news, nothing is going on here that hasn't gone on before, but let that suffice as the bad part. The good part is that the 16 songs on offer on True north are all of outstanding punkrock quality. Leaving all competition behind. True north all but obliterates the latest offering of The Offspring, 'Days go by', while Green Day put itself out of competition with its recent trio of records. No because the songs are bad, because they shoot off in all directions.

True north is as ambitious and in your face as if this is Bad Religion's first album, as if they have the world to prove how good they are. The songs are on average just over the 2.00 minutes, the whole album is under 36.00 minutes and this enough. True north leaves you breathless, as true, great rock albums should. The pace is relentless. Brook Wackerman has a very appropriate name for a drummer in Bad Religion. He is all over the place, wacking a foundation for the rest to play over. Together with bass player Jay Bentley, who takes care of the deep end, Wackerman lays a concrete basis that is extremely tight.

The guitar trio Gurewitz-Baker-Hetson produce a wall of guitar sound that is like a brick wall. Impenetrable, huge, fierce and very punk rock. Greg Graffin only has to deliver his melody and vocals over this all. Thanks to the mix he is very legible. Is there anything to be mad at when you're 48? Yes, there is. Environment, unsustainable economic growth, children today.

If I'm honest and that what I'm supposed to be writing a review, 16 songs is a bit much. The pounding just goes on, song after song. There are a few surprises, like the almost ballad 'Hello cruel world' and the refrain in 'In their hearts they are right'. The tempo changes in a very nice way, to change again within the repeat of the chorus. Very well done. The 16 song "problem" is solved by started the album somewhere in the middle. It's not that the quality of the songs goes down, all but. And then there is 'Robin Hood in reverse'. Need I say more.

There are a few songs that really stick out. The already mentioned 'In their hearts is right', but title song and album opener 'True north' is great. 'Dharma and the bomb' has these great intro, guitar lines, driving, muted rhythm, a chorus to just shout along to. 'Fuck you' has a sixties flavour that is very appealing and a great guitar solo of no more than 10 seconds. Which goes for solo and intros in more songs, short, to the point and beautiful.

For a band that is around since 1979, it is perhaps even surprising to hear so much urgency in the music. The drive to make a point. The restraint to know that this is all the song takes. Even it is 1.01 minutes. This is what we want to say here. Bad Religion shows whole generations of punkrockers the way it should be done. On True North the band finds the balance between urgency and melody in a superb way. Coming up with songs wrapped up in punk(rock) and a load of noise, but songs non the same. True north is great punkrock fun.


You can order True north here

or here

vrijdag 22 maart 2013

A banquet for ghosts. Matthew Mayfield

You can listen to 'A banquet for ghosts' here.

The cover of A banquet for ghosts is well chosen. A vague figure of a woman in the mist. She obviously very thin. A ghost on the way to a banquet? Starved? Is there anything lurking just beyond where we can see 20/20? Is she walking on water? Veiled light, a shaded world.

Nothing like that as far as Matthew Mayfield is concerned. He has released a beautiful album. A gem full of rich material, that is offered to the listener. Only last week I had never heard of Matthew Mayfield. A banquet for ghost is one year old at the end of May. When listening to Patrick Joseph's EP 'Foot in the door' (read our review here) this album was presented to me as a free download. An ooportunity I decided not to let pass by.

At first listening I was already impressed. Mayfield's voice is soft, he sings restrained, but unleashes in the roughly sung and played 'Track you down'. In a song like this his voice reminds me of one of my favourites in the Americana side of music, Grayson Capps. Other times it's Counting Crows' Adam Duritz. The music is intense and well produced, sparingly with distinct accents, laying the drama on in all the right places. At times creating an atmosphere like fog does. When sounds are muffled and that it's hard to tell what I'm actually listening to. These little sounds in the background, just the stroke on the snare of a guitar? The general mood is beautifully captured by the cover. I'll get back to that later.

Matthew Mayfield is from Birmingham in Alabama. He first played in a band called Mozes Mayfield, but since 2008 he's active as a solo artist. So far he has released six EPs and two albums. This is his second. His latest EP has just been released I found out. For me A banquet for ghosts is my first exposure to his music, as you've already gathered.

A banquet for ghosts is not a pleasant album. Do not expect happy tones. Life is a serious if not an unhappy matter. There is a strong longing and expressions of loss and pain on this album. 'Carry me' is a beautiful example of this. A lone pedal steel guitar, sparse piano notes, a desolate "o, o, o" sung from far, far away. This song is extremely good in all its bare facets. 'Track you down' is a song with 'Melody' like lyrics, musically it is closer to Jack Johnson, but with a dark gloss that does not exist in Hawaii. The muted lead lines on the guitar in the chorus, the creepy violin solo, the haunting voice. A spine tingling great song! A song that creeps up on the listener.

The intensely sad atmosphere would make any other album album too much to listen to. Matthew Mayfield comes up with 'Beautiful' to counter that feeling. Again a violin and more strings are put in, giving 'Beautiful' it's own private, unique moment. 'Safe & sound' takes the mood down even further. Mayfield seems to hit rock bottom here, having lost, but wishing the other the best, "safe & sound". With again these ghost sounds in the background. What am I hearing? A voice? An instrument? Just creaking?

A banquet of ghosts is an album that brings the listener very close to Matthew Mayfield. He shares his deeper, perhaps deepest emotions with you. It takes some perseverance, but what you get in return is sheer beauty. Does an artist have to suffer to create at his peak? Who knows, but A banquet for ghosts is an extremely beautiful album. One that does not come by every day.


You can order A banquet of ghosts here

donderdag 21 maart 2013


You can listen to 'Cheap beer' here.

FIDLAR is a band of youngsters living the rock and roll dream, touring the world in the footsteps of its first album, filled with garage rockers and punky songs up to the hilt in 60s overtones. The lyrics are on drinking cheap beer, smoking weed, cocaine in my brain, skating and a girl that is such a whore. Not much to spend too much time contemplating the deeper meaning of things.

This album is a bunch of testosterone, mixed with enthusiasm and a deeply ingrained need to party hard and loud. The sound on FIDLAR is like the band is playing in a large factory hall and the recording mikes are at the other end of the hall. A bunch of noise, a wall of sound. There is an unexplainable stereo mix though, albeit very basic. For the rest energy is unleashed on the listener in large quantities, promising a party at any venue FIDLAR comes to play.

As the album continues, the mood becomes a bit more mellow, 'Gimme something' has some country overtones, like The Stones' in 1971/72. It proves that the band can write an interesting song as well, with some interesting guitar licks throw in for good measure. 'Lda' is a song with great 60s influences, that goes way beyond the opening songs of the album that are very much pub brawling songs, to shout out loud along together with the band. The change of pace and songs makes FIDLAR interesting enough to listen to more than a few times. Unlike Jacco Gardner's debut album 'Cabinet of curiosity' the 60s influences on this album come very much alive, through the melodies and the raunchy guitars and solos. My hunch is that the mix of 60s and late 70s (punk and new wave) rock injects is just right. From The Kinks and The Who to The Knack and The Romantics is a good description. FIDLAR may be slightly less commercial, but the influences are clearly there. More modern names are The Living End and Jet, both Aussie bands.

A prominent feature on FIDLAR are the double tracked vocals. Elvis Kuehn and Zac Carper shout out their lungs at times as, as most of the songs are more shouted, than sung. That's not something to listen to at all times of the day, but at this moment I'm enjoying myself immensely. Both also play guitar. Max Kuehn (drums), Brandon Schwartzel (bass) complete the band. FIDLAR is an acronym, Fuck It, Dog, Life's A Risk. YOLO all the way it seems.

FIDLAR offers nothing new, but what they do, they do in style. This records rocks, is great fun and along the way the band shows potential as they present some "real" songs along the way. There is a keen ear for dirty riffs. solos and melodies. Plain fun with a small hint of danger. Just what someone wants out of garage and punkrockers. FIDLAR is a welcome addition to my collection.


You can order FIDLAR here

or here

woensdag 20 maart 2013

{Awayland}. Villagers

Je kunt hier luisteren naar 'Passing a message'.

Het duurde in 2010 even voor ik het debuut van Villagers had opgepikt, maar vervolgens was de plaat ook maar nauwelijks uit mijn cd speler te krijgen. Inmiddels zijn we ruim twee jaar verder en ligt de tweede plaat rond de Ierse singer-songwriter Conor J. O’Brien in de winkel. {Awayland} opent met een track die nog redelijk in het verlengde ligt van de muziek op het debuut Becoming A Jackal, maar vervolgens slaat Conor J. O’Brien nieuwe wegen in met een voller geluid waarin zelfs ruimte is voor elektronica en hier en daar een scheurende gitaar. {Awayland} kwam er niet zonder slag of stoot. Conor J. O’Brien raakte na het succes van Becoming A Jackal uitgekeken op de donkere en vaak aan Nick Drake herinnerende folk op het debuut van Villagers en vond lange tijd geen nieuwe inspiratie. Deze vond hij uiteindelijk in het gebruik van elektronica, maar de inbreng van deze elektronica, is over het algemeen gelukkig uiterst subtiel. {Awayland} is een spannende plaat vol tracks die je niet onmiddellijk in zullen pakken, maar die langzaam maar zeker gaan overtuigen. Hier en daar doet het wel wat denken aan de muziek van Gavin Friday; een landgenoot van Conor O’Brien die zijn muziek ook meerdere keren opnieuw uitvond, maar {Awayland} schiet net zo makkelijk de kant van Coldplay en vooral Elbow op, al zie ik Villagers nog niet zo snel in grote stadions spelen. {Awayland} is een gewaagde en zeker geen makkelijke plaat. Conor O’Brien had het zichzelf een stuk makkelijk gemaakt door Becoming A Jackal deel 2 af te leveren, maar het siert hem dat hij dat niet heeft gedaan. Op voorhand zag ik het gebruik van elektronica door Villagers eerlijk gezegd niet zo zitten, maar inmiddels vind ik het allemaal toch behoorlijk smaakvol en spannend. Conor O’Brien gebruikt elektronica niet als doel op zich, maar als middel om zijn muziek veelkleuriger te maken en hier slaagt hij wat mij betreft uitstekend in. Ik vond het bij vlagen behoorlijk uitbundige {Awayland} in eerste instantie een stuk minder dan het sobere Becoming A Jackal, maar inmiddels is ook de nieuwe plaat van Villagers me zeer dierbaar. De plaat wordt nog een stuk interessanter wanneer je je ook verdiept in de teksten, want {Awayland} blijkt niet alleen in muzikaal opzicht een fascinerende plaat. {Awayland} is een plaat vol invloeden (variërend van de hier boven genoemde namen tot Elliott Smith, Bon Iver en hier en daar zelfs David Bowie) die steeds weer nieuwe dingen laat horen en beetje bij beetje steeds meer overtuigt. De liefhebber van de sobere folk op het debuut van Villagers heeft in eerste instantie waarschijnlijk de neiging om de plaat de rug toe te keren, maar moet dit zeker niet doen. {Awayland} blijkt uiteindelijk immers een fascinerende en met enige regelmaat wonderschone plaat, die bij herhaalde beluistering niet eens zo heel ver van het briljante debuut af ligt. Het is nog veel te vroeg om de plaat uit te roepen tot één van de belangrijke platen van 2013, maar van het stapeltje platen dat deze maand verschijnt springt de tweede van Villagers er zeker uit.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt {Awayland} hier bestellen

of hier


dinsdag 19 maart 2013

Foot in the door (EP). Patrick Joseph

You can listen to and order Foot in the door (EP) here. Watch the video here.

A few years back I found a link in my mailbox offering a free album. It was 'Antiques' by Patrick Joseph, an interesting album that I played for quite a while, but as things go, it sort of went off my radar. Till this weekend when I found a new link from Patrick alerting me that he has a new EP out called Foot in the door. That made me focus and so I started listening.

Foot in the door contains music of a fleeting beauty. The air in my room moves like digital ghosts in a movie. The music is light, Patrick Joseph's voice high and light. He sings undercooled, with emotions hiding below the surface. Even resigned, but hopeful. It is good enough to stand its own ground, so I will refrain from comparing. But if you are into the likes of Josh Rouse, Shane Alexander, Ryan Adams, to name but a few, chances are that you have a new act to follow.

Below the organic surface of the music in the title song, there is a digital realm hoovering in the background. The intro that opens the EP reveals just this, before the song reveals itself as a jazzy, but stark mid-tempo song. A strong, prominent drum, with Patrick Joseph's voice, rough edged, right in the middle in front of the drums. All other instruments are mixed to the side, until the guitar solo that is. At the end of 'Foot in the door' the digital beat is allowed back in, mixed behind the electric piano. A strong song and a well selected taster for the forthcoming album, 'Moon king'.

In 'Piece of your love' Joseph sings "I've kept my distance for long enough". Just as well he already has his "foot in the door". This song is more up-tempo. Again I noticed how spacious the music is mixed, with enough room for all the instruments that clearly serve the singer. Patrick Joseph is the man these songs are created for. Again the electric piano is prominent as well as an acoustic guitar. Both lend 'Piece of your love' star quality together with Joseph's voice that reaches a higher register, singing without force nor forcing itself.

'Setting sun' is a beautiful ballad. More sparingly arranged, more modest than the opening songs. With a beautiful image: "when your terracotta army is on the run". Over to soon, which is usually a good sign.

I have less room for 'The last laugh'. The rhythm doesn't agree with me. Patrick Joseph's voice saves the song as he let's us hear the rougher register next to his soft one. The man can sing and he showcases just that in 'The last laugh'.

When all is said and done, Foot in the door delivers what his cd 'Antiques' promised. Great singer-songwriter, folk and pop songs in an interesting combination. This EP tastes like more, so I'm definitely looking forward to 'Moon king'.


maandag 18 maart 2013

De garderobe

Zaterdagavond. In het muziekhuis, De Qbus, zal het aanstaande publiek de zaal vullen tot aan de menselijke maatstaf. Een dansavond. De muziek geprogrammeerd door het koppel dj´s van, De Leidse Danssalon, zal menig kloppend hart sneller doen slaan. Muziek uit de jaren tachtig, die het publiek alsmaar wil opzuigen tot aan onze tegenwoordige tijd van geest.

Als ik na een kort etensmaal, de garderobe inspecteer valt mij iets bijzonders op. Daarover later meer. Alle knaapjes hangen keurig in nummer volgorde. Ik besluit voor de ingang aan de straatzijde even te roken. Het is donker en de zachte regen klinkt eenzaam. Op geparkeerde auto´s, fietsen, brommers en op verveelt weggegooide plastic zakjes. Wanneer ik mij omdraai en naar binnenloop, hoor ik de klanken van deze jaren tachtig. Het blijkt een soundcheck om elk muzieknummer werkelijk goed tot zijn recht te doen komen. Inmiddels sta ik bij de garderobe en alles is gereed. Tijdens de vele bezoekers die avond, valt mij op dat er zoveel meer vrouwen zijn dan mannen. Het doet mij deugd. Er blijkt toch nog iets onzichtbaars in mij te mogen ontvouwen. Als een nog niet ontdekte bloemsoort op deze planeet. Achter de bar staand, zie ik de vele vrouwen. Dansend van geluk. De enkele aanwezige mannen in het duister toekijkend. Wachtend op voor hen juiste moment. Tegen het eind van de avond ben ik ingesloten door een muur van jassen, sjaals en tassen. Ineens valt mij oog op dat wat bijzonders was aan het begin van deze avond. Een leeg flesje waar een opgerold papiertje in zit ligt nu onder een rij jassen. Ik keer het flesje om en rol het papiertje uit. Ik strijk het papier zo goed mogelijk strak om het te kunnen lezen. Het blijkt een oproep. Een gescheiden vrouw die mij de vorige keer zag bij de garderobe, blijkt nu ook weer aanwezig te zijn. Carla, 44 jaar, half lang haar tot aan de schouders. Met vrolijke, maar ook nerveuze gevoelens bedenk ik mij dat ik haar deze avond langs heb zien komen. Wat nu? Moet ik tegen het eind van de avond in actie komen? Ik sluip achter de bar, dim het licht tot een minimum. Knijp mijn ogen dicht en enkele keren open. Tussen het dansende publiek zie ik haar zitten achter in de zaal, alleen met een glas rode wijn. Ik tap een biertje, pak een wijnglas en een fles rode wijn. Langzaam en een beetje dansend laveer ik de zaal door. Niemand heeft mij in de gaten, ga ik als een zwervende ziel op haar af. Als ik voor haar sta, kijk ik haar aan. Na een korte begroeting ga ik naast haar zitten. Terwijl ik haar glas inschenk, voel ik haar ene hand strijken tussen mijn knie en schaamstreek. Met haar andere hand brengt zij het gevulde wijnglas aan haar lippen. Ik duizel van haar en de muziek. Het brengt mij terug in de jaren tachtig toen ik nog niet wist om een situatie als deze tot een climax te kunnen brengen. In gedachten zijn wij op weg in een bootje voortdrijvend op een oceaan naar een onbewoond eiland, van, waarvan ik dacht, onbereikbare liefde.

Marcel M. van der Kwaak

zondag 17 maart 2013

Heart in a mason jar (2). Alex Culbreth & the Dead Country Stars

Je kunt op de Bandcamp site van de band het hele album beluisteren en voor maar $10,- kopen.

Na de recensie van Wo. op dit blog, die Heart in a mason jar overigens in de top 10 van zijn favoriete cds van 2012 zette, is het de beurt aan Erwin Zijleman de loftrompet af te steken over deze uitstekende plaat.

Alex Culbreth maakte met The Parlor Soldiers wat mij betreft één van de beste en meest indrukwekkende platen van het jaar (When The Dust Settles, zie de recensie op deze BLOG), maar dat was kennelijk nog niet genoeg. De Amerikaanse muzikant uit Fredericksburg, Virginia, maakte de afgelopen jaren deel uit van meerdere bands en nam bovendien ook in zijn uppie muziek op. Op Heart In A Mason Jar laat Alex Culbreth zich begeleiden door zijn band The Dead Country Stars en dat klinkt weer heel anders dan The Parlor Soldiers. Heart In A Mason Jar is een traditioneel aandoende rootsplaat met een enkel modern uitstapje en het is wederom een plaat van hoog niveau. Door de herkenbare zang van Alex Culbreth is er in vocaal opzicht wel wat overlap met The Parlor Soldiers, maar de verschillen overheersen. Heart In A Mason Jar is een gevarieerde plaat met een aantal wat meer uptempo en wat stevigere songs en een aantal meer ingetogen songs met vooral invloeden uit de country. Ook met The Dead Country Stars maakt Alex Culbreth weer muziek die je direct meesleept naar het platteland van de Verenigde Staten. Doe je ogen dicht en je waant je onmiddellijk in het lokale dorpscafé, waar vooral liefdesverdriet wordt weggedronken. Alex Culbreth legt wederom zijn hart en ziel in zijn songs en dit geeft zijn muziek een duidelijke meerwaarde. Heart In A Mason Jar blijft dicht bij de tradities van de Amerikaanse rootsmuziek en moet daarom concurreren met stapels andere platen, maar op één of andere manier blijft de plaat je onmiddellijk bij en wil je hem vaker horen. Net als bij The Parlor Soldiers klinkt de muziek van Alex Culbreth en zijn band als muziek die zo ongeveer live op de band werd gesmeten en waar het spelplezier van af spat, maar vergeleken met The Parlor Soldiers laten Alex Culbreth & The Dead Country Stars een voller geluid horen en is er meer ruimte voor instrumentaal vuurwerk. In eerste instantie greep Heart In A Mason Jar me niet zo stevig vast als When The Dust Settles, maar de plaat heeft sindsdien een imposante groei doorgemaakt en met name de wat meer ingetogen songs zijn inmiddels al behoorlijk onmisbaar, met wat mij betreft het Springsteen achtige Daisy als onbetwist hoogtepunt. Alex Culbreth liet eerder dit jaar met The Parlor Soldiers horen dat hij behoort tot de grote beloften van de Amerikaanse rootsmuziek en onderstreept dit nu met Heart In A Mason Jar van Alex Culbreth & The Dead Country Stars. Iedereen die eerder dit jaar werd verrast door The Parlor Soldiers zal ook deze plaat zeer kunnen waarderen. Ga dus snel luisteren en trakteer je voor een prikkie op een prima klinkende digitale download. Iedere liefhebber van Amerikaanse rootsmuziek die The Parlor Soldiers eerder dit jaar heeft gemist loopt inmiddels twee prachtplaten achter.

Erwin Zijleman

Op WoNo Magazine staat ook een interview met The Parlor Soldiers.

zaterdag 16 maart 2013

awkward i: Live in LVC Leiden

You can listen to 'Everything on wheels' here.

As support act for Bettie Serveert awkward i was booked. A band I had heard of, even in a positive way, but never heard music of. At least not consciously. That was to change on this Wednesday evening. Before the show I saw Peter Visser of Bettie Serveert walk through the audience with a Viking helmet in his hand. He introduced Djurre de Haan and lay the helmet aside. It wasn't a prop for the show, so we may never find out what it was or is meant for. De Haan is sort of a Viking, longish blond hair and a blond beard, in appearance, not in presentation.

The songs were introduced in a dry, tragic-comical way and a pattern became clear quite soon. A whole string of songs were played in which a woman fell from a roof, was hanging from a gallows pole, crashed in an airplane, etc. De Haan pointed it out to us as well, adding that as a person he had forgiven his ex-girlfriend, but as a singer-songwriter could not.

awkward i performed as a solo artist. A man with his guitar, a few stomp boxes and a voice. This makes that there is not a lot to report on, but one thing stuck out to me. All the songs were very pleasant to listen to. It made me buy the album, 'Everything on wheels', which I plan to blog on over the coming weeks. It made me curious how all this would sound on record. The music as played live makes it hard to picture an image of the music on record. On stage there were clearly influences of singer-songwriter, folk, pop and a faint hint at country.

After a number played on a mandoline, De Haan said goodbye with a surprise: Carol van Dijk came on stage and together they sang a cover of a country song about Jesus. Acoustic at the side of the stage, with the audience very close around them. Their voices blended perfectly, as was also proven in the encore of the Bettie Serveert show in 'Had2B you'. Definitely asking for more. Who knows? Van Dijk has made records outside the Bettie Serveert format before.

Soon after the show of awkward i the Betties took its place and blew away all memories of this delicate performance in sonic storms and aural fireworks. Not enough though that I did not bring the album home with me. TBC....


You can order 'Everything on wheels' here

vrijdag 15 maart 2013

Fireworks! Bettie Serveert live in LVC Leiden

You can listen to 'Had2b you' here.

I guess I was lucky. Wednesday evening is band practice, but was cancelled. Time to check out one of my favourite Dutch bands of the past 20 years. Over the decades I lost count how many times I saw them play. At least six times, but that is 2007 - 2013. Before that? I just can't remember.

Bettie Serveert is touring behind one of its best and most urgent albums. 'Oh, mayhem!' is a great album. One of the very best albums released in 2013 so far. (Click here for the review.) With HareD's "cry of love" published two weeks ago (click here), the Betties are on this blog for the third time this year. And quite rightly so. In my review of 'Pharmacy of love' and the show following that album, which I saw twice, in WoNo Magazine, I already mentioned that adding (ex?)Voicst drummer Joppe Molenaar to the line-up injected a boost of energy and oomph to the band, that made it sound like a band of teenagers. What his role really is, is hard to tell from the outside, but there's no denying the energy Bettie Serveert gives to the world, propelled forward by its new drummer.

To be honest, at most shows I'm looking at Peter Visser playing his guitars. In my humble opinion he's one of the best guitarists I know. One with his instrument, creating great sounds, incredibly tasteful lead lines, finding every relevant note within a chord to play, fast paced rhythm accents and all within a few seconds. On stage Visser is larger than life. So I decided to watch the other band members a little more this time.

The show started off with a film clip of 'Monogamous', the song that really stands out on 'Oh, mayhem!' Guitar sound scapes and feedback that Carol van Dijk sings over. Slowly Visser started to play along, before the band exploded into 'Receiver'. Loud, louder, loudest! Setting the pace for the evening. Bettie Serveert was indie rocking out in the LVC. How good 'Oh, mayhem!' is, was proven by the fact that all the songs fitted perfectly with the songs from the band's back catalogue. It may well be that 'The kid's alright' may not be the signature song to end shows with, 'Receiver' can do that trick also.

Bettie Serveert is a tight unit. Bass player Herman Bunskoeke is always looking cool, laying a foundation that allows him to go off on bass runs as well, adding melody to several songs, while Carol van Dijk plays a tight rhythm guitar on a beautiful black and white Rickenbacker. Together they allow Peter Visser to be all over the place, weaving his guitar around the song, the melody, the vocals and all territories beyond. At the same time Bettie Serveert has so much routine that it allows the band to be playful as well. Not all is serious any more.

If I have to put down some critique. The most important one is they don't play The Velvet Underground's 'What goes on' any more. Who else does if Bettie Serveert doesn't do it? The other is that harmony vocals are sometimes missed. The cameo of support act Djurre de Haan of awkward i showed what wonders a good harmony can do in 'Had2b you', as surprise in the encore. But if this all?

In short: fireworks in LVC on Wednesday 13 March 2013. Bettie Serveert is at the top of its game and everyone pining for 'Palomine' (and yes there were a lot of those around showing true happiness on their 21 year older faces), better open their ears. 'Oh, mayhem!' is better, a lot better, says


You can order 'Oh, mayhem!' here

or here

donderdag 14 maart 2013

Interview with Michiel van Poelgeest of Villeneuf

by Wout de Natris

©  WoNo Magazine 2013

After Villeneuf's support show with Moke (click here), I bought the album online (click here for the review). The band confirmed what I'd heard on stage. But I was also intrigued, hence I reached out and here's the result.

As not all readers will be familiar with yourself and Villeneuf, how would you like to introduce yourself?
Hi there, my name is Michiel and I’m leadsinger and frontman for the indie-pop band Villeneuf. Pleasure to meet your acquaintance.

“The name of the band just had to be French” it says on your website. What is your connection with France and that of your music to France, that made you want to play under this name?
Well, as a matter of fact, the bands roots lie in France. Not so much mine as a person – born and raised in the Netherlands – or of any band member for that matter, but the band’s cradle stands in France, in the Dordogne region to be more specific. It was there, during a camping trip, that friend / drummer Bas Ernst convinced me to want to perform my music on stage. Besides that, France as a country has always had a great appeal to me.

Villeneuf is a fairly common name in many languages for a new colonised area or village. Is this how you look at your music, as something new?
No. No music is ‘new’ in my opinion. We all draw from what we know. Everything has been discovered. Sometimes however, certain musical territories must be re-colonised...clearing the path for new settlers, haha.

You started out as a solo artist, creating everything yourself. Have you always worked this way or was this a process?
I’ve pretty much done most of the recording by myself, so far. But during the mixing process I got a lot of help from Bas. When we do decide to record a new album, things ‘ll be very different, Because the way ‘Great Waste Of Time’ was created....cost me a lot of time and energy. It’s fun, being your own musical boss, but there are some downsides as well.

You decided to form a band. How did this come about?
The songs I created I could not perform by myself, they had become too elaborate. So I asked a few members of this other band I was in (Junior Eats Alone) if they wanted to join my project. Luckily, they did!

What do you consider the advantages of working alone compared to those of working in a band setting?
Well, it’s a lot quicker, for starters. There’s no deliberating or endless discussions. My musical thoughts are thus created in their purest form, most of the time. But that’s not necessarily always a good thing. Sometimes you need someone telling you: “Hey, that’s a horrible chord you’re playing”, or:  “What in God’s name are you singing about?”. Those are the advantages of working as a band: you keep each other sharp and focussed.

What is the role of the band members where the making of ‘Great waste of time’ is concerned?
I said earlier I did most of the recording for GWOT myself, but that’s not entirely true, haha. Guitarist Lucas Meijers, who I have known and worked with for more than ten years, recorded several guitar tracks (on three or four songs). And also fellow-singer Ronnie Verton recorded both bass and guitar for the song Cities We Will Burn. Most of the drums and bass are synthetic...with a few exceptions.

The music of Villeneuf has a very delicate balance between the organic and the digital. How do you go about arranging songs?
I once said that I create songs vertically instead of horizontally. Meaning: I think of a complete chorus or verse and then set out to create those 20-30 seconds of music. As opposed to thinking of and creating an entire song after which I’d record each vocal, piano or drum track separately, from start to finish.  Some people would call that being impatient. I just call it: I want to hear what it sounds like when I’m done.

‘Cities we will burn’ gives an almost apocalyptic view. What inspired you here?
The official party line is: ‘I got inspired by a painting, The Tower Of Babel, by Pieter Breughel’. Mix that painting with the events of 9/11 (probably the lifechanging event of my generation) and you have the lyrics for CWWB.

Another very distinct image is “weeping by the wayside with a brown paperbag on my head” in contrast to ‘Home, where the heart is”. What is the “I” hiding from?

What comes first to you music or lyrics? Or melody or beats?
Usually the lyrics. If not: the beat. I’m not a melody man.

What musicians influenced you on the road to ‘Great waste of time’?
Pff, where do I start!? I grew up listening to the Beatles and, as I developed my own taste, grew into Britpop and beyond.  I went from Blur to Oasis to Radiohead to Coldplay and Muse to Arctic Monkeys back to Radiohead and back to Coldplay again. From overseas I listened to the indie-revolution. Arcade Fire of course, Broken Social Scene, Metric. Yeah, I dig Canada a lot. More recently: Midlake and Bon Iver. Cannot hear that enough.

Having been on national radio and TV, does this open doors for Villeneuf and if so in what way?
You’d think wouldn’t you? It kinda does a little, but not so much as you’d hope. We got booked a couple of times and the exposure’s great for album sales of course.

What made you name an album this beautiful ‘Great waste time’?
It’s kind of a paradox, the word ‘Great’ I mean. Meaning both ‘a lot’ and ‘wonderful’ in this album title. I think, that says it all. It reflects the period in which GWOT came into existence.

You decided not to release the album as a cd. Is the notion you had then still true several months later?
100% yes. The fact that we were able to come up with something this original opened many doors for us. I would do it again in a heartbeat. Although now....it would be nice to have a CD, hahaha.

What can we expect from the band in 2013?
Starting March 31st (Tweetakt Festival in Utrecht) we’ll be playing quite a few shows throughout the Netherlands. An updated list is available on our website: http://villeneuf.com/.We hope to participate in this year’s edition of Popronde. At the moment we’re kind of ‘harvesting’ after two years of sowing. We love playing our songs for an audience. And enjoy the fact that we get to play so often.
But, truth be told: I can’t wait to get back to recording new material!

You can listen to and order 'Great waste of time here'.