dinsdag 30 april 2013

Summertime (EP). Langhorne Slim & The Law

You can listen to 'The way we move' here.

This is a very aptly titled EP. Listen to opening tune 'The way we move' and not before long summertime feelings are upon me. Even on a chilly April night. A few pleasant honky tonk piano notes, slow horns and this rough, rough voice that leads the way. Langhorne Slim & The Law are everything that was before and will ever be on the edge of rock, folk rock, americana, country and soul. As American as this music comes and so, so much fun.

Summertime is the teaser for the new album, 'The way we move', Langhorne Slim put out on the net. The EP is worth some attention on its own. The four songs (plus an acoustic version of opener 'The way we move') show the versatility of the band. From the swing of the title song, to the southern rock of 'Bad luck' and the ballad 'Coffee cups', in which Langhorne Slim goes deep into missing the family, reminiscence and atonement and about going back home from all across the country. "I don't miss the east coast weather, but I miss my mum". It all comes together in the final song 'Summertime'. Striving to compete with the best of Violent Femmes and succeeding with the exception of the best songs on 'Hallowed ground'.

Langhorne Slim is Sean Scolnick, a 32 year old singer/guitarist born in Langhorne, Pennsylvania with Malachi DeLorenzo on drums, David Moore on banjo and keyboard, and Jeff Ratner on bass being The Law. On the record as said we hear more than just this band. Special effects add to the sound and atmosphere without impeding on the basis. Langhorne Slim is active as recording artist since 2004. With five records in the bag Langhorne Slim is currently touring behind his sixth.

Summertime definitely begs for more. The EP is a great teaser. Where the reference to Violent Femmes is a complete correct one, the danger this band showed through some of its songs, this is totally lacking with LS&TL. Good time music with a hint of the darker sides to life, but as Scolnick sings "Bad luck got in me, but I will survive". There is also a hint towards the UK's 60s heroes The Small Faces and to almost every US singer-songwriter with a guitar. Although LS&TL toured with The Lumineers recently, the comparison to this band is not correct, at least in these four songs. The music here is not new-folk. Too much drums and other things going on. Even if the line between the one and the other is thin at times, the way this band approaches its songs does not compare. For that LS&TL is too happy, too much alive as a band, more rock than folk.

In short Langhorne Slim and The Law has released a fun EP. And with a song like 'Summertime' in the can, it must be possible to draw extra attention to this record. A hit and summertime replacement if I ever heard one.


You can download Summertime here.

maandag 29 april 2013

Interview with Edward Herda for WoNo Magazine's blog

Interview by Wout de Natris

© WoNo Magazine 2013

The wondrous folly of Vaughn Frogg came into my life only just over a month ago. From the very first listening the record intrigued me. There are several stories in this album that made me listen closer than usual. The nuances in the music, the layers put in there did the rest. Well, you've read it, right? And if not you can amend this here. It also made me want to know more. As Edward replied in person to thank us for our review, the contact was made and an interview agreed upon. There indeed was a story or two. Let me not keep you up.

As some readers may not be familiar with you, how would you like to introduce yourself?
Hey there. Nice meeting y’all. Thanks for taking the time to learn more about me and my music — I hope you’re digging the jams so far. If you’re completely new to me, I’m a singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist who hails from the sunny shores of Southern California. And right now I’m in Southern Florida.

Your album is called “The wondrous folly of Vaughn Frogg”. Who is Vaughn Frogg and what is his wondrous folly?
Haha. Well, my nickname is The Frog. So, I’d say that Vaughn Frogg is kind of me, kind of me in an altered state and kind of me when I didn’t really know who I was. As for the wondrous folly… I began writing music to cope with a breakup that changed my life. I wrote to make sense of the loss but I discovered much more than a vehicle coping with a breakup. That period of my life became a full-on transformation. I guess the folly was falling in love with this beautiful tornado of a person and wondrous in that it led to heartache, which in turn led to discovery.

Your bio states that you left all behind to go and follow your heart. Listening to the music it seems like it was the right decision?
Well, I’m still living with that decision. Sometimes it feels right. Sometimes it’s confusing. Sometimes it’s scary. It was a decision, and I can make other decisions that may negate that. But what I left behind was much more than a career — during this process I abandoned my old self and started creating the person I wanted to be. Overall, I’m more happy now than I have ever been, so I feel like right now I’m where I’m supposed to be, doing what I’m supposed to be doing.

Looking back, was it necessary to leave all behind to make ‘Vaughn Frogg’?
Yeah, I believe it was. I needed to remove myself from the life I had been living for so long — I won’t go into too much detail about that. It was pretty involved. But in short, it was filled with a lot of darkness (years of it) and hopelessness. After the lady known as BT left me I decided I wanted to change; I wanted to be a better person. That led to change, more change and finally isolation. I never planned on writing a record when it began. The music started coming out and I started writing it down and playing it out. At open mics people would ask if I had a CD or when I was playing a full show. I had neither planned. It’s funny, when I left my full-time job, I knew that I just needed to leave — I had become addicted to change. In most jobs, you leave when you already have another job lined up. I didn’t. A girl named Vanessa asked where I was going (referring to a new job) and I responded with “I’m going to the desert to write music.” I didn’t think of that nor had I planned it — that’s just what came out. A couple days later my car was packed with a bunch of instruments and recording gear and I just headed east to a small place called Pioneertown. The name seems pretty fitting now.

What did you find in “the cabin in the desert”?
That was a wonderful period of isolation. The desert gave me the chance to let go of a lot of built-up frustration I had; it helped answer questions that had kept me awake for months; it gave me the courage I needed to begin living the life I wanted to live.

Were you involved before in music?
Yes and no. I have been playing instruments for many years (maybe 15 or so). I just always learned covers and played them with friends. And I had never sung before, so that was all new to me. I had been writing for years, however: First as a playwright in college, then a comedian, then an “ad man” and now a lyricist. Writing has always come pretty naturally for me. And I was always a bit of a music junkie, obsessed with writers who weaved wonderful, lyrical stories.

Listening to ‘The wondrous folly’ I hear a lot of influences. Who influenced you while making the album?
I’d say the biggest influence with this album was the place I was emotionally. I didn’t think about what I was writing. I didn’t edit much of the original material as much as I let it come out naturally. I think I started editing myself in the recording process. I wanted to write music that I would listen to — the music I liked. I didn’t want it to sound like any of my heroes, but I knew what I liked and didn’t like. I’m sure you can probably pick out some musical influences like Dylan, Cash or Cohen, who are some of my favorites. But I’m all over the place with music. I mostly listen to songwriter music though — I enjoy songs with stories. The Grateful Dead, Townes van Zandt, Steve Earle and Bob Dylan are probably some of my tops. During the period that I wrote and recorded I think I was listening to a lot of Mason Jennings, Josh Ritter, Townes van Zandt, Bruce Springsteen and Conor Oberst. But then again, I’m always listening to those guys.

What can you tell us on Leah Kouba who sings with you on the beautiful song ‘If’?
Leah and I met years ago. We played music together one night sitting on the bay at a friend’s in Newport — this was maybe 4 years ago, I had just moved back California from NYC I think. When I was recording she randomly emailed me asking what I was up to. I had written these songs with a female voice in mind but hadn’t found the right partner. We met up again and started practicing and it felt right to work together. She’s awesome. I hope to help her write some songs — I love her voice and she’s just a great person.

The lyrics of ‘Toy guitar’ take a wondrous turn from, apparently not totally, happy memories to violence. What inspired you here?
I think it was the day, the mood, and this old toy guitar I have. I woke up, crawled out of bed with this melody in my head that was playing against the rain, some seagulls and the waves outside my house. I picked up this old guitar, which was in some weird tuning I was goofing with the night prior, and just started playing it. The lyrics started coming out pretty much as they are on the recording. That guitar, that sound, that day just reminded me of my past — little moments from my past that are somehow related but have their own stories. It’s weird how the smallest things can trigger deep memories.

Is there symbolism in the fact that you sing twice that you can’t remember a name?
There is. For me, it’s about memories. Sometimes you can remember every last detail from a distant moment, but can’t recall something as simple as the name of a person who had such a strong affect on your life. You remember everything about them, even their breath or the dandruff in their hair, but you can’t remember their name. I have a lot of memories like that.

‘War at peace’ is a brooding song on good and bad, live or die and heaven or hell. It is also a song of grave doubts. How should we read the song as a call for compassion or an indictment?
A few people have asked me about this song. I’m glad you’ve really listened to the lyrics. For me, this song has so much meaning. The album itself is a full story. Some songs reference others songs; even Toy Guitar is referenced in the song that follows. This song’s meaning (again, for me as I hope listeners create their own stories) is about struggling with a life you were born into. It’s also song number 8, which is a significant number to the story, and falls between a song about reflection and a song about redemption. As for compassion or indictment, I’d say it’s a little bit of both. The rant in the middle is from Agamemnon, and was chosen to answer that question. The Greek writers were smart buggers when it came to that.

There is a clear cut between songs on the album. Some seem more personal songs. Others more observant or could be seen as a commentary. What triggers you in writing lyrics?
So far, writing has really been a stream-of-conscious process. I write what I feel and experience, or at least the songs start there, and begin to take shape as the story becomes more fleshed out. I knew what was coming out when I was writing this, so I tried to just let the stories come out from a place of honesty and vulnerability. Lately I’ve been writing a lot of reflective songs, about my time living in NYC, travelling, my battles with spirituality and of course, love and acceptance.

In most songs less is more seems the principal you work from. Is this the format that you express yourself best in?
I like to think so. I feel the best stories are the ones that require less. But sometimes it’s more difficult to edit. It could be the former playwright or the ad man, but in both of these professions you are taught to choose your words carefully because you have limited time to get your point across. Even the improper use of grammar in my writing has meaning. The song “If” is a great example. It was originally pretty big sound. Max (my producer/engineer) and I were listening to it and it didn’t seem right, so we started turning off all these tracks we had recorded until we found this simple picking I had done (actually on that toy guitar). We both looked at each other and knew that was the vibe it needed.

In my review I wrote that you need very little effects to make a song special. How did you decide when to add, when to leave out instruments and notes?
I write everything on an acoustic guitar. I don’t have the luxury of a backing band at this point in my musical career (unless I play locally), so I wanted the songs to be able to stand on their own without needing anything but a guitar. In the recording process, however, I really wanted the songs to be set in a space. So, when Max and I were laying down tracks, we would always start with just an acoustic guitar and tempo, then we’d figure out the sounds that were required to help move the story along. There’s a question I always ask myself: “the story or the song?” And I always come back to “the story.” And I only like to work/play with friends. So, if there was a sound that we wanted, we either had to create it ourselves or call a friend. Only the accordion and dobro weren’t played by either Max or me.

What can we expect from you in the near future?
I write a lot. This album had around 25-some-odd songs written for it. The songs that were chosen weren’t necessarily “the best” songs but the songs that helped tell the story. Now I have those spare songs and more that I’ve written since then. I’m eager to get back into the studio soon and hope to have another album out by the end of the year. I think this next batch of songs will tell a different story. I just finished one last night that’s about my insomnia; another is about a homeless man I’ve been working with to help get off the street; another song is about our persistent search for meaning. There will be some love songs, for sure, but I hope to open up the conversation a bit more. But who knows. I’m planning on laying down the demos this week and seeing what Max and I will have to play with. In the immediate future I’ll be playing out more, booking a small tour and recording some live videos (with a new song or two) with my friends in LA.

Edward ends with a special message:
Thanks for listening to my music and reaching out. It means the world to me that people are enjoying my creative output. I only hope I can put it out faster in the future.

You can listen to and order The wondrous folly of Vaughn Frogg here.

zondag 28 april 2013

Mister and Mississippi. Mister and Mississippi (2)

Je kunt hier luisteren naar 'Northern sky'

Recentelijk trof je een recensie van Wo. aan op het blog, die zeer positief oordeelde over Mister and Mississippi (klik hier). Vandaag de mening van Erwin Zijleman.

De uit Utrecht afkomstige band Mister And Mississippi had vorige week bij De Wereld Draait Door haar "one minute of fame". Persoonlijk begrijp ik nog steeds niet waarom de muzikanten die mogen komen opdraven in het populaire programma zo weinig tijd wordt gegund (terwijl de overige gasten eindeloos door mogen keuvelen), maar het is kennelijk een formule die werkt. Nu moet ik eerlijk toegeven dat ik na die ene minuut Mister And Mississippi enorm nieuwsgierig was geworden naar de muzikale verrichtingen van de band, maar ik weet inmiddels ook dat Mister And Mississippi nog veel beter en een stuk veelzijdiger is dan die ene minuut in De Wereld Draait Door deed vermoeden. Mister And Mississippi maakt op haar titelloze debuut muziek die vrijwel niet in een hokje is te duwen. De band noemde het vorige week zelf dreampop, maar dat is wat mij betreft maar een deel van het verhaal. De muziek van Mister And Mississippi is vrijwel altijd stemmig, soms zelfs bijna pastoraal, maar is ook niet vies van gitaaruitbarstingen die vooral doen denken aan bands die het etiket post-rock krijgen opgeplakt. Invloeden uit de Britse folk hebben absoluut hun weg gevonden in de muziek van Mister And Mississippi, maar toch zou ik het debuut van de band geen folkplaat durven noemen. En dan zijn er ook nog eens de donkere en bijna bedwelmende klanken die de plaat een ambient karakter geven. In muzikaal opzicht lijkt het af en toe wel wat op Mazzy Star, maar waar deze band in vocaal opzicht volledig voer op de charme en verleiding van Hope Sandoval, heeft Mister And Mississippi zowel een uitstekende zanger als een uitstekende zangeres in de gelederen, die zowel individueel als gezamenlijk prachtig klinken. De prima vocalen op de plaat worden gecombineerd met prachtig gitaarwerk, dat af en toe wel wat heeft van het gitaarwerk dat in de dreampop zo gangbaar was, maar dat ook veelkleuriger en vooral gevarieerder is. De rest van de instrumentatie sluit hier prachtig bij aan en put naast alle hierboven genoemde genres ook nog eens voorzichtig uit de archieven van de prog-rock en wat minder voorzichtig uit de archieven van de psychedelica. Ondanks het feit dat de band nog niet zo heel lang bestaat, staat het debuut van Mister And Mississippi vol met songs die naar meer smaken. Het zijn songs die zich niet heel nadrukkelijk opdringen, maar wel direct overtuigen. Bij iedere volgende beluistering is het debuut van de Utrechters weer net wat mooier en indrukwekkender en het einde van het groeiproces is volgens mij nog lang niet in zicht. 2012 leverde een bijna eindeloze rij prachtplaten van eigen bodem op. Ook 2013 telt er tot dusver al een stuk of vier en het prachtdebuut van Mister And Mississippi kan ik hier zeker aan toevoegen. Mister And Mississippi heeft op haar debuut een prachtig en betoverend geluid en het is nog een geheel eigen geluid ook. Hulde.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt Mister and Mississippi hier bestellen

of hier

zaterdag 27 april 2013

Over land and sea. Lauren Mann & The Fairly Odd Folk

You can listen to 'I lost myself here'

For a band with a fairly odd name, it makes pretty normal music. Lauren Mann c.s. was thrown into my lap through a website called Noisetrade, where music is available for free. The artist can be tipped as a courtesy. In the passed weeks several of these albums have come by on this blog as a courtesy from us to them.

Lauren Mann comes from Calgary in Canada, but now the open road is her home, touring relentlessly sharing her music around the country. Her Fairly Odd Folk are musicians that she gathered around her in her starting years. The nickname the band got, stuck. Jay Christman  plays drums, bass, percussion and acoustic guitar, Jessica Christman's on bass, aux keys and BGV's, Josh Akin plays electric and acoustic guitar as well as banjo and Zoltan Szoges plays keys, melodica, glockenspiel, percussion and clarinet. Lauren herself also plays piano and ukelele. It goes to show how diverse the sound of this band is.

Lauren Mann has a very pleasant voice. High, light, a direct pleaser, because she stays on the safe side of the likes of Dolores O'Riordan. Just a voice is seldom enough for me, so let's go into the music. Starting the album is 'Fragile', a beautiful small song with these fun, single notes piano accompaniment and 'I lost myself'. Not another new folk band, I thought? Everything is there, the mandolin/banjo/ukelele, the typical drums, the way the dynamics work up the song. Not to forget the happy whistling and singing along. Hearing 'I lost myself' for the first time, I heard an instant hit. There's even a hint of ABBA in there, a rare mix, but it works.

It is after 'I lost myself' that Over land and sea started to surprise me. Lauren Mann and her Folk take routes that are less obvious for a new folk band. In fact they aren't one. This is a pop band if I ever heard one. Over land and sea is a fun, mostly up beat album, while at the same time venturing into songs that are too sweet to my taste. In 'Dance with me' it is only her voice for me to hold on to. The rest is to sugary and sweet. Other songs are so intensely beautiful that I'm being shaken around like in a bumper car ride at a county fair. Taking it all in Lauren Mann plays what can be called new folk or folk rock, but is not afraid to throw in a ballad or pop song. The Fairly Odd Folk do everything to make her voice shine and with that themselves.

What I also really liked is the trick the band does at the beginning of 'Weight of the world'. It starts out all happy sounding with glockenspiel and all and then starting this serious song on depression of someone close. It set me off totally on the wrong foot.

One of my first impressions is that fans of Ilse de Lange should really like Over land and sea. I'll test it on my girlfriend soon. (Yes, a positive advice was given!) At the same time there is enough to enjoy for fans of a bit more rough pop. The songs in the folk pop and rock idiom are all spot on. The title song is so much fun to listen to. Upbeat with these undertones that makes me listen again. 'Like the mist' is a beautiful ballad. Lauren sings that she is "searching for beauty". I tell her to stop right now. You've found it, dear lady. Her clear voice, the perfectly sounding cymbals, the sparsely played piano notes, a great guitar line. 'Like the mist' is sheer beauty and a perfect way to end the album. A great promise for the future.

Over land and sea is the second album of LMATFOF. In 2010 'Stories from home' was released. Although I'm not familiar with the album, it can't be any any other way that Over land and sea is a tremendous leap forward. A singer that is so comfortable in very different songs, admitted, not all sit well with me, can go anywhere in the future. Despite this personal dip, Over land and sea is a beautiful album clearly made with love and dedication fitting right in with the times and offering that little extra too. Best of both worlds it is.

And all this time I was thinking of whom does Lauren Mann's voice remind me? And then I read her last name again .... well, Aimee of course.


You can order Over land and sea here.

vrijdag 26 april 2013

Rivers & coastlines: the ride. TMGS

You can listen to and buy Rivers & coastlines: the ride on the TMGS' bandcamp site.

Two weeks ago Erwin Zijleman blogged on this excellent record (click here), today Wo. writes on his opinion.

Just because Big Star sold a few hundred units only during its active career and is now seen as super influential, we, in 2013, have to make sure that TMGS sells a million. At the minimum. And that means a role for you too, dear reader. Rivers & coastlines: The ride is nothing short of a masterpiece. There are so many familiar things on this record and at the same time this record is so astonishingly fresh and new. It sparkles like it just had a Spic & Span treatment.

TMGS is a band from Kalmthout, just across the border, known, at least to me, for its arboretum and heather fields. All the rustic, rural countryside associations I had, have been swept aside by Rivers & coastlines: the ride. Circa 10 years ago, the band started its first incarnation under the name The Moe Green Specials, playing instrumental surf guitar and spaghetti western songs. This slowly evolved into TMGS, a band searching for and more than once finding the perfect pop song. The twang of its days gone by is still to be found on Rivers & coastlines, sparingly but quite clear.

TMGS has a line up that is not your every day's. Kristof Janssens (acoust. & electr. guitar, vocals), Peter Lodiers (electr. guitar, vocals), Dennis Colman (electric bass), Koen Van Loon (trumpet, percussion, vocals), Bart Raats (trumpet), Dirk Van Rosendaal (drums, percussion, vocals), Yves Seyns (keyboards, organ, vocals). Two trumpet players in a seven piece band! And they are heard. Mariachi like sounds sound playfully, full of melancholy. Yes, not unlike in spaghetti westerns. Or in desert music like Calexico's. What TMGS does perfectly is blend these sounds into the perfect pop tune, creating its own universe along the way.

Talking of perfect pop tunes. The intro to 'Evening blues', sung by Kristof Janssens, is tugging the notes along. Like the guitar is being dragged behind the rest of the song. Neil Young style all the way and then there's this organ, full and warm. Under cooled singing, aloof, void of emotions, creating a very good song. Big Star is referenced regularly. TMGS rises to the same heights as this legendary band form Memphis. 'Wolves come out' and 'Headed home' match the same form of longing that 'Thirteen' and 'My life is right' do on '#No.1 record'. The whole sixties from The Beatles to The Byrds and Buffalo Springfield come by. Everything with a twangy Rickenbacker, a Hammond B3, multiple vocal layers and harmonies, blending pop, folk and beat into something new. Not unlike the new Dutch band Sunday Sun. TMGS searches for the possibilities within a song, goes after the ultimate joy of singing, works hard on the arrangements, applies mood, colours and different sounds. There's a huge difference though with Sunday Sun. Where moodwise Sunday Sun is in the full midday sun, TMGS is in the twilight, but the bands are soulmates, as Sunday afternoon vs. Monday morning.

For a band that used to be a-vocal, TMGS singers sing pretty good. No matter how many details TMGS puts into its music, (the moment the trumpets come in during 'Tell everyone' is heavenly!), vocally the band presents itself in a strong and persuasive way. Like Chris Bell or Roger McGuinn, Peter Lodiers also puts this layer of emotion into his voice that puts the mood beyond the here and now, aimed at something behind the horizon. Supported by several band members it makes TMGS a very vocal band.

Rivers & coastlines: the ride is a record to become totally addicted to. I just want to hear it again and again and can listen to it all day long. There is a danger in this, I know. Either I will get bored and discard it or Rivers & coastlines becomes a true favourite album over the years. This remains to be seen. For now I'm enjoying myself tremendously and so should you. TMGS has made one of the very best records of 2013 to date. CHECK IT OUT HERE.


donderdag 25 april 2013

All hail bright futures. And So I Watch You From Afar

You can listen to 'Like a mouse' here.

A whole mouth the full this band's name is. Just like that other one from the US that the music on this album regularly reminds me of, ...And They Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead. There are many differences, like ASIWYFA is mostly instrumental, while ... Trail of Dead has a great singer, but still. Instrumental albums do not come by often on this blog, as in none, so a nearly instrumental album is something special and All hail bright futures is just that.

Starting with the album cover, all bright colours, but a strange mix of styles. As such it is representative for the album as a whole. Here I also found this strange mix of eclectic happy moods over a at times leaden, dark bombastic sound. The atmosphere is one of optimism and openness. The listener is invited in to follow all the bends and curves the melody takes and to embrace the different sounds and instruments on their route through the songs.

And So I Watch You From Afar is a four piece band from Belfast in Northern Ireland. Two guitarists, Rory Friers and Niall Kennedy. Jonathan Adger plays bass and the drums are struck by Chris Wee. The band is together since 2005 and produced two albums and two EPs before 2013. The ideas for the songs come from Friers and are arranged by the band into the versions we hear on record. While listening, it is quite clear that the band invites other people to play different instruments, horns, violins, keyboards, melodica, e.g. come by adding to the mood of songs, making the overall sound of the album very interesting. The music may be in line with the cover, it's not with the band name. The music on All hail bright future brings loads of impressions, but not of someone watching things from afar, scared, not-committed or walking away. All but even. To be honest, I do not know another band with hardly any lyrics that draws me in so much.

ASIWYFA has a great trick in its music. Extremely busy songs have these points of rest. Where drums and bass pound away, a few sparse note on a keyboard can create the impression of a ballad, with all this tempo going on in the background, before a song like 'Mend and make safe' really explodes with loud and distorted guitars. Where it started almost The Beatles like.

Opener 'Eunoia' says it all really. "The sun is in our eyes" sings the whole band. As I wrote, nearly instrumental. ASIWYFA introduces chant like singing into the songs. No one really sings, they sing together, making it special, different from other bands. Sometimes just repeating one line, or in 'Ka ba ta bo da ka', playing with baby syllables in a melodic way. A bit like Django Django or Everything Everything, but then in a more rock setting.

There are also some prog elements flying about, but never in a 10 or 20 minute epic version of prog. 12 songs in 43 minutes attest to that. It is in the sound of the keyboards (or treated guitars?) in a song like 'Things amazing'. The sound in the title song, the heavy guitars that play this fun melody, that is broken up by a "solo" on concert bells. Going over the twelve songs, it becomes clear that nearly everything is possible within the context of instrumental rock. ASIWYFA does not fence itself in in any way. And that, together with the happy vibe, is what endeared the album to me, an album totally out of my natural musical habitat.


You can order All hail bright futures here

or here

woensdag 24 april 2013

Kaizers Orchestra live in the Melkweg, Amsterdam

You can listen to 'Evig pint' here.

For those already familiar with Kaizers Orchestra, they are as good as they have ever been, if not better. For those unfamiliar with KO so far, shame on you! May your hamster turn blue! They have found the perfect mix of modern rock music and eastern European traditional music years ago, but on Violeta Violeta 3, their latest album, they have added opera to their mix of styles. At their latest concert in Amsterdam (Melkweg, February 28th) they obviously played songs from their newest album, with great success. Although their songs are getting more complicated, with a loyal, mostly Norwegian crowd, there were enough people who could sing along (or hum along in the case of Dutch nationals) creating a special atmosphere once more.

While writing this article I still do not have a clue what I actually heard at the concert. KO sings everything in Norwegian, and although there are bits that are easily understood for those who speak Dutch ("Eg legger mi sjel i det", in Dutch: "Ik leg mijn ziel er in", or in English: "I put my soul in it"), other parts are as incomprehensible as the meowing of my cat ("Både du og meg har sett koss din vei blir lagt ner", or in English: "Both you and I have seen how your path has been laid out"). So judging whether the music fits the topics they sing about, is difficult when not having a translation at hand. Yet, I can assure you, having access to internet while writing, that style and lyrics are congruent.

The music is very solemn and stately, KO does not write any cheesy pop songs anymore. The songs on Violeta Violeta 3 are the story of a man and his daughter, who ran away from home, fleeing a drunken mother. The girl starts to wonder where she comes from, who she is, and what happened in her past. She finds out that she is part of a plot in which the devil plays a role too, although the devil has the idea that he is the one arranging her story, she somehow creates her own story. The album does not treat an easily accessible theme, which does indeed influence the melodies and instruments used.

The concert was less stately. Of course the songs from Violeta Violeta 3 were played, and created a special atmosphere, older songs, olden goldies, were played to lift the mood too. All in all it was a special concert, especially if you do not know what is going on for lack of a dictionary. My incomprehension did not harm the awesomeness of KO, and I would go there again 8 days a week!


dinsdag 23 april 2013

Home. Atlantic Attraction

You can listen to 'Another one saved' here.

Home had its release party in Q-bus Leiden on 5 April 2013 (Click here for the review.). Fully sold out with friends, family, fans and yours truly who let himself be surprised. I liked what I heard, but how do the songs translate on record?

Home convinces. Those two words could suffice, but you wouldn't know anything, would you? Atlantic Attraction rocks in a clean way. Everything is under control for most of the time, but every once in a while the beast is let out of its cage, resulting in a sound close to gothic and even prog. 'Crayons' has this drum fills that draw attention, while towards the end the lid goes off and the guitars are allowed to let it rip. This could give the impression that there are two camps within the band, but as long as the dynamics within a song are so organically presented, there's nothing wrong with having two camps.

Atlantic Attraction is a master in blending pop melody with rock and even metal. The songs are there to sing along with or hum if you don't sing. There is light and shade in the songs. The band is clearly good at exploring the melody and follows different paths to give a song more depth. 'Pigs might fly' has several guitar melodies and a lot of layers in the music. A lot to explore as listener and that is always fun to do.

'Another one saved' is the obvious opener. The song is the strongest of the four. It has this flow that makes it stand out. Perhaps to loud for national radio, but who knows, there have louder hits then 'Another one saved'.

The last secret to Atlantic Attraction is a good singer and an inventive guitarist. Kevin de Haas has a voice that fits this music perfectly. Light and able to show emotion. Arend Lakke plays all these melodies and riffs that show him as a master guitarist. Sybren Huijsmans and Joris van der Poel lay the foundation that makes all this possible while at the same time sticking out regularly also.

One thing that I have to mention also. Pay just a little more attention to the lyrics. It's difficult to formulate in another language. Although my comment here is in the details and certainly not meant like in the first hits of The Golden Earrings.

Listening to the four songs on the Home EP again, I'm convinced that there is a place between Kane, Go Back To The Zoo and Handsome Poets somewhere for Atlantic Attraction. Its blend of rock and pop is good, interesting and full of dynamics. Home intrigues, surprises and holds my attention and that is not something Kane can say.

You can order Home here.

maandag 22 april 2013

Deodato: een mix van klassiek, jazz en science fiction, wat wil je nog meer

In een flits kwam het voorbij op tv. Ik merkte dat ik genoot en er werden wat oude snaren geraakt. Gelukkig heb ik een decoder met opname mogelijkheid die automatisch vastlegt wat er langskomt. Ik ‘spoelde’ terug. Het was die bewerking van dat fantastische klassieke stuk en ik was het heel even kwijt. De naam Deodato kwam bovendrijven en dat was heel wat. Ik had die naam al ruim 30 jaar niet meer gehoord. Iets groens brak door in mijn geheugen. Ik startte ‘Soundhound’ op mijn Iphone om de muziek te herkennen. Leve de moderne techniek. En ja, meteen kwam ‘Also sprach Zarathustra’ van Deodato als resultaat……………………..

(Je vindt Deodato hier.)

Heel veel punten want er kwamen heel veel mooie herinneringen boven die wat tijd kostten om te verwerken.

Ik was weer terug in de zeventiger jaren. Wie anders dan .No had de elpee van Deodato en introduceerde mij in zijn muziek. Wat een heerlijke jazz sound en dat terwijl ik geen moderne jazz fan was. Maar de combinatie van deze epische klassieke muziek met een jazz interpretatie gaf een combinatie die onovertroffen is. Het  brengt zowel liefhebbers van klassiek, jazz en instrumentale muziek in het algemeen bij elkaar. Ik was toen verkocht.

Voor iedereen die ‘Also sprach Zarathustra’ niet direct van Deodato kent, de oorspronkelijke muziek is van Richard Strauss (ja, familie). De klassieke muziek op zich is al de cd (of Itunes download) waard. Hij is bekend geworden door de film ‘2001, A Space Odyssee’ uit 1968 waar hij het prachtige (en onbegrijpelijke) einde ondersteunt als het starchild zijn onvergetelijke entree in de ruimte maakt. Onvergetelijk als je het ooit op een bioscoopscherm hebt mogen beleven. Ik heb dat ooit in 1979 mogen meemaken (in 1968 was ik nog te jong) en ik kan met overtuiging zeggen dat het fenomenaal was. Beeld en geluid samen maken een onuitwisbare indruk. Een tv-scherm is onvoldoende zoals ik uit (ook) eigen ervaring heb gemerkt.

(Richard Strauss hier.) (En het Starchild hier.)

Tijdens het schrijven heb ik zowel Deodato, Richard Strauss, 2001 A Space Odyssee en Pink Floyd (zie laatste aanbeveling hieronder) op de achtergrond (eh, voorgrond want het schrijven werd achtergrond) draaiend gehad. De tijd vloog om en mijn avond kan al niet meer kapot.
En als extraatje omdat ik tijdens het kijken dacht “holy fuck’, een combinatie van twee belevingen in mijn leven die me dierbaar zijn. Een synchronisatie van ‘Echoes’ van Pink Floyd met het laatste deel van ‘2001, A Space Odyssey’. Als je fan van één van beide bent moet je deze psychedelische trip ondergaan.

Met dank aan .No voor zijn eeuwige hulp.


You can order Also Sprach Zarathustra by Deodato here,

Also sprach Zarathustra by Richard Strauss here

2001, A space odyssey here

Meddle by Pink Floyd here