zaterdag 31 augustus 2013

Recto verso (2). Zaz

I'm going off the deep end here. Writing on an album of which I do not understand more than loose words here and there, never having managed to really grasp French, beyond ordering an egg or something. Still, with thanks to Erwin Zijleman's excellent blog 'De krenten uit de pop' (click here), I'm going to describe why you should not hesitate for one second to listen to Recto verso.

Recto verso is one of the most playful records I've heard in 2013. An album that I suggest to compare it to is 'A night at the opera', Queen's 1975 masterpiece. Also an album in which all barriers between pop, hardrock, jazz, vaudeville and what not were let down, leading to an unique blend of music that took nothing away from the strength of what was on offer. It is a comparable feat that Zaz pulls off on her second album. I missed out on her first one, 'Zaz', something I will make up on very soon. The comparison to 'A night at the opera' is not so much in musical styles, but in the blend that Zaz offers us. Jazzy like Vaya Con Dios in 'Comme ci, comme ça', driving on relentlessly in first single 'On ira' and beautifully poppy in 'Gamine' and these are just the first three songs, while at the same time touching on different moods in a very convincing way. The resigned desperation of 'Si je perds' or 'Si' is so beautiful in its impact and execution. By pointing out the utterly clear production of Recto verso on top of this all, it is clear that I'm writing on something close to a masterpiece here.

Zaz is Isabelle Geffroy, born in Tours in 1980. Busy with music from very early on in life she is active professionally for over ten years now. It is only in the last three that Geffroy is active under her own name and with a lot of success too I noticed reading up on her. Her background is mostly in jazz music it seems, but this is not what sticks out on Recto verso. There are jazzy elements on recto verso. The most playful contribution 'Oublie Loulou' is without doubt jazz. Zaz has listened to French chansons (and has the raspy voice for that kind of music too) and pop just as much. And is able to put down a very convincing ballad. It is this mix that makes Recto verso so interesting and diverse. 'Déterre' is such a great song that starts small and goes towards a climax driven forward by piano, organ and electric guitar next to Zaz's voice. 'Déterre' is followed just as easily by the jazzy 'Toujours'.

Recto verso takes the listener on a musical trip as well as on a mood trip. The album is bold as well as shy, self-assured and bashful, full of swagger and utterly vulnerable. Zaz gets away with it all, presenting herself on this broad range full of confidence. This album is something special, deserving to be heard. So, what are you waiting for?


You can listen to 'Cette journée' here.

vrijdag 30 augustus 2013

Dark eyes. Half Moon Run

In the last issue of 'Oor', the magazine spoke highly of Dark eyes, an album that was spun in overtime in the editorial rooms of the magazine. Checking it out I found that it was in the home for two months already. I just hadn't come round to listening it seems. This changed after the first spin.

The album starts with 'Full circle'. A well hidden one note keyboard sound in the back over which an acoustic guitar motif starts playing. Mystical, slightly melancholy is the prevailing mood. Like early morning mist over a lake or pasture, through which the rising sun tries to find its way. It is only a few phrases into the song that a trumpcard is played by Half Moon Run: a beautiful harmony voice joins lead singer Devon Portielje. Adding to the atmosphere. A lead guitar Coldplay style or U2 without the extreme delay put on. Not so much solos as guitar soundscapes are played, that fill out to the song as the drums and piano do. After my first listenings on the audio system I could have sworn that Dark eyes was a drumless album. This is the impact the songs had on me. It is all but, as I found out listening closer with earphones on. If you listen to 'Full circle' and aren't mesmerised directly, you can stop listening to Dark eyes.

Half Moon Run is another band coming to the world from Montreal. Slowly but surely Montreal is putting itself on the map as an important pop and rock city. Reading the Wikipedia lemma for the band, we need to categorise Half Moon Run in the so called new folkrock of the moment. Surprising, I find, as I would not have categorised the band under that moniker. A band like Midlake comes to mind to me, as the Coldplay of 2001 does. Travis is another band I can think of and Monster Cat, although chances may be slim that Half Moon Run has heard this Singaporese band. All bands that combine pop and rock with a dreamlike and vulnerable quality. Half Moon Run does not have the upbeat optimism that many of the songs of The Lumineers et al have, the effects in the music that make festival goers all jump at the same time. The thought of Half Moon Run playing in a venue like Paradiso already makes me despair the talk in the fore and background there. Come to the Q-Bus guys. It's small, pays bad, but people really listen to you there.

The last comparison I'd like to make is with Radiohead. No matter how acoustic 'Give up' is, the rhythm, vocal style and guitar pattern are totally Oxford's finest. For the rest Half Moon Run is itself. It manages to combine a few elements that make listening to Dark eyes as a whole a more than pleasant experience. Portielje and his colleagues Dylan Phillips, Colin Molander and Isaac Symonds created an atmosphere in which delicate songs are presented with intricate playing and great harmonising. Even if Half Moon Run has not completely found its own voice yet, the quality on Dark eyes is so high that I'm confident that it will develop towards its own voice. So let me end with this conclusion: great album and a fantastic debut.


You an listen to 'Full circle' here.

donderdag 29 augustus 2013

How to sleep in a stormy boat. Amy Speace

De rootssurprise van deze week komt uit Nashville, Tennessee, de huidige thuisbasis van de Amerikaanse singer-songwriter Amy Speace (die werd geboren in Baltimore en ook lange tijd in Texas vertoefde). Omdat ik nog nooit van haar gehoord had dacht ik met How To Sleep In A Stormy Boat een sensationeel debuut in handen te hebben, maar dat blijkt niet het geval. Amy Speace maakte na een korte carrière als actrice (ze speelde bij voorkeur in stukken van Shakespeare) al een vijftal platen. Het zijn platen die mij nooit bereikt hebben, maar plaat nummer zes is aangekomen als een mokerslag. How To Sleep In A Stormy Boat valt op door een serie werkelijk prachtige songs. Het zijn songs die in tekstueel opzicht veel te bieden hebben (het werk van Shakespeare was een belangrijke inspiratiebron voor de vaak wat weemoedige teksten op de plaat), maar ik concentreer me toch maar op de muziek. Amy Speace maakt op How To Sleep In A Stormy Boat fraaie en stemmige rootsmuziek. Het is muziek met een traditioneel tintje, maar oubollig klinkt het nooit. Sfeervolle strijkers en de hele mooie stem van Amy Speace bepalen voor een belangrijk deel het akoestische geluid op de plaat, dat varieert van zeer sober tot net wat voller. Het is een aangenaam geluid dat een bijna rustgevend effect heeft op de luisteraar, maar het is ook een indringend geluid dat diep onder de huid kruipt en maar blijft zorgen voor kippenvel. Amy Speace schakelt op How To Sleep In A Stormy Boat tussen country, folk en pop en smeedt deze genres aan elkaar tot muziek die zowel rootspuristen als liefhebbers van de betere rootspop zal weten te bekoren. Dat is knap. Bijgestaan door onder andere John Fullbright, Mary Gauthier, Ben Sollee en de gelouterde producer Neilson Hubbard, heeft Amy Speace een plaat gemaakt die niet onder doet voor die van de betere vrouwelijke singer-songwriters in het genre. En ook dat is knap. In muzikaal opzicht is How To Sleep In A Stormy Boat niet eens heel verrassend of opzienbarend, maar door haar even gloedvolle als doorleefde vertolking en de ruime aandacht voor de productie en arrangementen, slaagt Amy Speace er in om al haar songs op indrukwekkende wijze tot leven te brengen en naar grote hoogten te tillen. Na één keer horen ben je verliefd op deze plaat en dat gaat niet meer over. Amy Speace vertelt haar verhalen met betrekkelijk bescheiden middelen, maar de impact van haar muziek is maximaal, zeker wanneer ze kiest voor ingetogen en bijna breekbare songs. De muziek van Amy Speace laat zich dan beluisteren als een ingetogen versie van Lucinda Williams; een mooi compliment. Amy Speace is een laatbloeier, maar dat is in dit genre eerder een voordeel dan een nadeel. Ik voorspel haar dan ook bij deze een hele mooie toekomst. De start is er in ieder geval met het indrukwekkende How To Sleep In A Stormy Boat. Haar eerste platen ga ik zeker beluisteren; naar haar volgende platen kijk ik nu al vol verwachting uit.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt hier luisteren naar 'How to sleep in a stormy boat'.

woensdag 28 augustus 2013

Shimmer & glow (2). Douglas Firs

After the very positive review of Erwin Zijlemans (click here) it's time for Wo. to share his views on this album.

From the very first seconds Douglas Firs captured me. Ultimate beauty just spat off the digital airways. Intimate, quiet and very intense Douglas Firs presents itself in opening track 'Shimmer & glow'. It's either run and hide or embrace the Crosby & Nash or The Eagles harmony singing that kicks in after the solo piano notes intro is over. It's the 70s all over again as if punk never happened (and all things after). And yes, you're hearing right when listening. This is also a song on eating broccoli. Strange but true.

Douglas Firs (not to be confused with the U.K.'s The Douglas Firs) is basically a one man project of Gertjan van Hellemont a 26 year old from Gent in Belgium, who is the guitarist in/for The Bony King of Nowhere. Although the album was released nearly one and a half year ago, I think it is more than good enough to deserve a review now that I have discovered it.

Shimmer & glow is an album with two faces. Beautiful ballads are mixed with some fierce rockers. The first notes of 'I don't think you are good to have around' startled me to be honest. The guitar fires of electric riffs like if there's no tomorrow. Drums pound, like the bass does, some fuzz and a psychedelic keyboard solo. Compared to the celestial sounds of 'Baby Jack' the difference could only be larger if house beats were pumped out of my earphones. Both tracks work by the way, but perhaps not perfectly in this contrasted setting.

The reference to colleague Belgian band TMGS is a correct one (click here). Although the influences TMGS shows also have a Mexican flavour, the quality pop both bands offer is the common denominator. Douglas Firs also reminds me of the level Douwe Bob debuted with on 'Born in a storm' (click here) and has a level that Rogier Pelgrim can aspire to (click here). All acts look to a musical period that lays far behind us and find their own way in the 10s. Succeeding in finding their own sound and voice. In 'Dirty dog' the 70s claim on Shimmer & glow is highest. The jazz chords that were woven into west coast pop in those days, is a dead give away here. Harmonies are very important to Douglas Firs' music. Hence I'm surprised that they are not always dominant in the mix. This is however the only flaw that I can find on an otherwise awfully good sounding album.

Douglas firs grow to become very huge. Gertjan van Hellemont is not at those heights yet, but certainly trying to get there with Shimmer & glow. He certainly has laid down a stepping stone to reach that high. Shimmer & glow is an album to listen to intensely and to be enjoyed at leisure. Both work and that's an achievement in its own right.


You can listen to 'Pretty legs and things to do' here.

dinsdag 27 augustus 2013

Girl Beard. Girl Beard

Hell, yeah! Girl Beard rocks and rocks hard. Like a bulldozer hitting the brick wall of an old building. Girl Beard basically gives away its debut album for free; that is, for any amount that you wish to donate. On WoNo Magazine's blog we do it differently, we pay the band back with our time and write a review for all the world to read.

The career of Case Mayfield is taking unexpected turns with each new release. Having started out with a singer-songwriter album, 'The many coloured beast', Mayfield surprised me with the great album '10' on which he showed the band side of his talent. This led me to write a very positive review (click here). Now he teams up with drummer Nienke Overmars and releases a garage rock album in a duo setting. In one word: fantastic. Unbelievable that Girl Beard gives the album away for free. On the other hand in these modern digital days somebody else easily does that for them without asking. So why not do it yourself and create more interest that way?

What's in a name? Overmars? Nienke is as fast as her, perhaps, family member Marc was. She's the driving force behind Mayfield's rockers. Just listen to the level of noise she produces in the non-song 'Swinger shlongrider'. Somewhere deep in the background there may be a song going on, the contours of which come out towards the end of the song, the rest is this endless pounding of Nienke underneath all this other noise going on, while Mayfield is shouting pieces of text over and through it in several layers. Perhaps no one knows what is really going in the diverse layers of the song that ends the album. (Until you listen more carefully....)

Before that the listeners has heard several straightforward rockers. Arranged "simpler" than The White Stripes, not unlike Blood Red Shoes in the days of its debut album, much more down to earth than 'El Camino' of The Black Keys, but the good news is that the quality of the songs on Girl Beard can easily compete with those on the albums of these bands. There is not much of a bigger complement possible. Mayfield may be picking fights with a lot of people in recording and broadcast circles, but delivers higher quality per album. 'Alright Jane' is such a fantastic rock song. The guitar playing starts elementary, after which Mayfield finds lead notes while keeping up the rhythm, presenting small variations and small melodies that make 'Alright Jane', just like all other songs on Girl Beard, more than interesting and great fun.

In a two piece band there's no hiding. The only thing to keep a listener interested is the quality of the song. Mayfield and Overmars do just that by taking him on a tour around the curves of each song, with the right dynamics, stops and starts, explosions of sound and above all well written songs. And then Girl Beard holds 'Erased'. A sort of holy grail kind of song. I just love the muted guitar part that drives the verses.

Case Mayfield's not every day voice keeps up very well in the garage rock setting of Girl Beard. This surprises me somewhat, but I'm glad it does. Girl Beard is a new stage in the comet that Case Mayfield is. A bright new star on the firmament, tail blazing with the help of Nienke Overmars. What will be next? There's no predicting what Mayfield may come up with next. In the pace he keeps up, it won't be long before we find out.


You can listen to and download Girl Beard here.

maandag 26 augustus 2013

Big Foot. Cayucas

As easily as 'Big TV' of White Lies conquered me as you could read on this blog recently, so hard Big Foot had to work to get appreciated. It just didn't sit with me, no matter how much praise the album received, nor how many favourite comparisons with bands that I really like were made. I just didn't hear it, but it did make me come back to the album. Over the summer a change slowly crept up on me as I did start to hear the fluent harmonies and appreciate the beauty of the tight rhythms in songs like 'High school lover'.

The problem was sort of solved. The jubilant reviews set me on the, well, wrong foot, it's that easy. When someone writes harmonies like The Beach Boys that gets me thinking along the lines of 'California girls' and 'Help me Rhonda' and not 'Surf's up' or the even more difficult numbers Brian Wilson c.s. came up with. And there's no 'Help me Rhonda' is clear sight on Big foot. 'High school lover' really comes closest to that and that really isn't even close. So the music at first seemed as strange to me as the cover of Big foot is.

What there is in sight is the well crafted 'Will "the thrill"'. An odd sounding time signature, a lead guitar playing jaded notes, with slacker vocals like leading the California life of relaxation. And it's at moments like these that the comparison with The Beach Boys falls into place. The hue-hue's in the background are sheer beauty. The same goes for opener 'Cayucos'. Bright lights hidden under a black blanket or at least dark grey.

Cayucas has found the source of old pop music. All the way into the fifties with the likes of Paul Anka, Gene Pitney and Neil Sedaka. 45s that my uncle and aunt played at family parties when I was very little. Music from beyond my concious memory. Music that always sort of was there. 'A summer thing' is music made or sung by Cayucas' members grandparents, made in 2012 and 13. Not that it is all nostalgia on Big foot. Cayucas plays its songs in a way that was unforeseeable in 1957 and recorded in the same way. Nor are the lyrics all lollypops, candy girls or itsie bikinis. Neither is the music only there to please. As I already wrote, Big Foot did not come and sweep me off my feet. More crept up on me and tapped me on the shoulder. Several times.

Thus Big foot holds this secret in itself. A secret that revealed itself to me one step at a time. This small pieces of intense beauty, sometimes disguised in a the form of a song like 'Deep sea'. No real song in sight and neither is the melody of the vocals an easy one to follow. 'Deep sea' is the kind of song that makes me curious about what was there before the band started stripping things away, only sticking to the atmospheric sounds that we got to hear.

At the end of the day Big Foot is an album that I have learned to appreciate. That I still need to be in the mood for. An album that is worthwhile listening to, to dissect layer for layer and find the nuggets of gold that are hidden in the strange rhythms, the "difficult" instrumentations and the held back singing. The nuggets are there for anyone who listens to Big foot. Like in the add for that soft drink, "it's a bit strange, but tasty".


You can listen to 'High school lover' here.

zondag 25 augustus 2013

These wilder things. Ruth Moody

Ruth Moody is een van oorsprong Australische muzikante, die inmiddels al weer flink wat jaren opereert vanuit Canada. De liefhebber van de betere rootsmuziek kent Moody misschien nog van Scruj MacDuhk (later omgevormd tot The Duhks), van het behoorlijk succesvolle The Wailin' Jennys of van haar eerste soloplaat The Garden, die drie jaar geleden verscheen. The Garden miste drie jaar geleden op een haar na een plekje op deze BLOG, maar het onlangs verschenen These Wilder Things is een plaat waar ik met geen mogelijkheid omheen kan. Hoe goed Ruth Moody is laat ze wat mij betreft horen in haar prachtige vertolking van Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing In The Dark, dat ze van een pompeus feestnummer transformeert in een intiem liefdesliedje. Vrijwel iedereen zou genadeloos op zijn of haar bek gaan met een dergelijke cover, maar Ruth Moody blijft overeind. Met speels gemak. These Wilder Things is nog een stuk veelzijdiger dan het solodebuut van Ruth Moody en dat komt de kwaliteit van haar muziek zeer ten goede.  These Wilder Things opent met een uiterst sobere folksong die zou uit de Appalachen van een eeuw geleden lijkt weggelopen en waarin we het moeten doen met spaarzaam banjospel, wat strijkers en de prachtige stem van Ruth Moody. Moody zou met gemak een hele plaat kunnen vullen met bijna verstilde en uiterst traditionele tracks, maar ik ben blij dat ze dat niet doet. In de tracks die volgen schakelt Ruth Moody tussen bluegrass, country, folk en pop en kiest ze afwisselend voor een behoorlijk sober en een aangenaam vol geluid. Door het gebruik van veel verschillende instrumenten, zowel  akoestisch als elektronisch en zowel traditioneel als modern, is These Wilder Things een heerlijk afwisselende plaat, maar gelukkig zijn een aantal zaken constant. Zo zijn de songs op de tweede soloplaat van Ruth Moody van een opvallend hoog niveau en klinkt zowel de instrumentatie als de productie van David Travers-Smith (die ook The Wailin’ Jennys produceerde) prachtig.  In zowel de instrumentatie als de productie wordt zeker niet gekozen voor eenvoud, maar op een of andere manier lijkt iedere versiering die is toegevoegd essentieel, wat de muziek van Ruth Moody zeggingskracht en urgentie geeft. Het mooist aan These Wilder Things is echter de stem van Ruth Moody. Het is een stem die zowel puur en authentiek als zwoel en verleidelijk kan klinken en dat is een bijzondere combinatie, zeker als hij ook nog eens herinnert aan Alison Krauss. Als vervolgens ook Mark Knopfler, Aoife O’Donovan en de rest van The Wailin’ Jennys nog eens opduiken voor prachtige gastbijdragen is duidelijk dat Ruth Moody een gewonnen wedstrijd speelt. Ik was zelf na één keer horen compleet verkocht, maar sindsdien wordt These Wilder Things alleen maar mooier en indrukwekkender. De hoogste tijd dus om deze helaas wat vergeten plaat alsnog de aandacht te geven die de plaat zo verdient. Zangeressen als Ruth Moody zijn er al niet veel; zangeressen die ook nog eens met zo’n mooie selectie songs op de proppen komen als op These Wilder Things nog veel minder. Zeer warm aanbevolen derhalve.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt hier naar 'Trouble and woe' luisteren.

zaterdag 24 augustus 2013

Monster Cat fundraiser for new record

Last year we reviewed an EP of Singaporese band Monster Cat. At the moment the band is trying to raise US$10.000 to record a new album in Sydney in November. As 'Mannequins' was received so well by us, we decided to give some extra attention to Monster Cat by running the review of 'Mannequins' again and don't forget to check the interview we did with the band if you haven't yet (click here).

You can help Monster Cat by pre-paying for the album and loads of other goodies should you like more. You can  find out all on the website. Right up to a private concert or playing on the album. Make your choice. I did just now. You can do so here or first check the band's website for more information here. On the website you can also listen to the beautiful and adventurous 'Mannequins'. This is what we wrote near one and a half year ago:


Monster Cat gave this EP away for free on The Pirate Bay. Also a way to draw attention to music. I decided to return the favour and blog on their new EP. Looking for some information on the band on the web, I found that another Monstercat gives away three albums on their website. Be warned, it's not the same. Here's the link if you like to check Mannequins of Monster Cat out.

Mannequin is a surprising album. To me the band and their music was a complete blank so I could step in my first listen without any prejudice. This is slightly scary as I noticed I braced myself for anything. Metal, tearjearkin' country, free jazz, anything except expecting music I totally enjoy, if I'm honest. And though the album starts with the instrumental 'Initiation' it got me into the mood for the four songs that followed. 'Initiation' starts off with an acoustic guitar, ambient noises and some spoken word in the background, before the guitar picks itself up and the rest of the band kicks in to create a fair melody, a progrock light. At the end the song also leaves its structure again, fading into silence. Very seventies like. I haven't heard them for ages, so I could be wrong, but albums of Happy the Man and Absolute Elsewhere came to mind here.

The four songs that follow are well structured and adventurous. It's almost like the songs are afloat, lighter than their surrounding, an experience I hadn't noticed any time before in music. And then the voices float on the music. Guitars trickling like water. Musically we're on familiar ground, but the songs have an extra inner quality that surprises me. How come this very beautiful music is given away for free?

The title song has a Pink Floyd like vibe, without sounding like anything near as bombastic as the old progrockers could sound. Still the bass in 'The courier' is a dead give away on influence, but that's not the only one. Midlake also sprang to mind as an influence. Monster Cat is clearly searching for it's own sound, but has come up with a very nice atmosphere on this record, like trickling water and the murmur of a brook in a forest, the wind rustling the trees. The voice of Psycho Cat dwells quite well with me and the interaction with Hentai Cat is excellent.

Monster Cat is a five piece band from ...., well, I do not know. My best guess says the UK. It named itself after a Japanese folklore cat called "Bakeneko'. The five members named themselves after the cat, so from 'Psycho Cat' to 'Copy Cat' play in the band. As long as they render songs like the ones on Mannequins I will put aside my allergies and embrace Monster Cat. Mannequin is a very nice addition to my music collection and I am quite curious on what the next step of Monster Cat will be.


Big TV. White Lies

There are these magical moments while listening to music that are unexplainable. It happened to me recently listening to a piece of music that I had no clue about what I was listening to. After listening to the brilliant show of Arctic Monkeys at Glastonbury this year, when something else came on. I was playing hte music somewhat louder than I usually do. These dark foreboding synths, a deepish voice. A combination of early eighties music and Scott Walker or The Walker Brothers. The music slowly picking up and going towards gigantic proportions, totally enveloping me. I was captivated. There's just no other word for it. What is this? I just needed to know. 'Big TV' by White Lies was the answer. And I was surprised.

White Lies was a band that was of my radar. First album 'To lose my life' was sort of okish. Not bad, but far from good and certainly not lasting. The follow up album 'Rituals' disappeared from my radar almost immediately. More of the same and more pumped up. So Big TV was not high on my list of new albums to check out. Fate helps every once in a while. 'Big TV' made me listen to the rest of the album and yes, I'm liking what I'm hearing.

White Lies is a band that was born thirty years too late. They would have loved to have broken big in 1983-1986. The difference being that we probably would not have heard from them again since 1988. Most bands did not make it beyond this era. White Lies seems to be going around for a while. The sound of Big TV is bound to bring them to arenas and stadiums. A career like Muse has, should be within its grasp. On Big TV White Lies has put a lot of attention to songs, melodies and boombastic production. The synthesizers of Gary Numan's Tubeway Army are all around. The passion of Simple Minds is there in a sort of undercooled way. Tears for Fears' Roland Orzobal's voice can be heard in Harry McVeighs bariton. The 80s are all over in the synths on Big TV. And here I am a certified 80s music hater. Sort of caugh out.

White Lies seems to have gathered the few elements that I do like into most songs on Big TV. The way the guitar kicks in on 'First time caller' works wonders with the typical 80s electronic violins part. The double tracked vocal on 'Mother tongue' is all it needs to be. McVeigh is harmonising with himself in a great way over a muted electric guitar and tight rhythm. Most songs are a strange mix of dark depression and upbeat melodies. The music and the voice are not always in sync, but I'm starting to think that this is one of the secrets of Big TV. When both do find each other, like in the chorus of 'Getting even' things go from good to sheer magic. "I can forgive. We can forget". Listen to that and you'll know.

White Lies is not alone in 2013. Editors is a band that is close to it. (Perhaps I'll have to set myself to listen to Editors' new album as well.) Muse is even more bombastic and classically influenced, but comes close. In other words, from 'The sun ain't gonna shine anymore' right up to 'A ton of love', it is all here on Big TV. From ballads to up-tempo rockers and serious songs. All together Big TV is this amalgam of new wave, rock and synthpop with the good elements incorporated in the right places.

To balance this review, I'll admit to the fact that with two ballads on Big TV, my attention span wanders off quite fast. All moody, no inventiveness. Where 'First time caller', a third ballad, has all these features, a song like 'Heaven wait' has not. A bit too boring to be honest to make the ballad work. Harry McVeigh's voice works against him or to be more exact, me, here.

Should you ask me where the difference between the first two albums and Big TV lies, I would say at this stage that Big TV holds songs that are better crafted. The vocal melodies are more fluent and invite (me) to singing along. Something I was not bothered with before. Most songs have all these fun details going on, giving my ears something extra to listen to each time again. And yes, the 1978 sound of Tubeway Army is all over Big TV and I loved 'Are friends electric?' Then and now. The guitars coming over the melodies at times. All these sort of arrangement parts that stick out. It makes me want to listen and listen again. And that's a first and necessary step to becoming a favourite album.


You can listen to 'There goes our love again' here.

vrijdag 23 augustus 2013

Ride on the train (2). Hollis Brown

It took me a while to warm to Ride on the train. Perhaps I just wasn't in the mood when I listen to the album the first two times. Not even Erwin Zijleman's review (click here) or the enthusiasm of Q-Bus coordinator and infrequent WoNo Magazine contributor Hans could persuade me differently. Now that Hollis Brown is booked for said venue, I decided to give the record another spin. One thing's for sure, I'll be there on 12 September. Perhaps I can persuade you to join me and buy a ticket?

Hollis Brown is a new, young band from New York City. However, looking at the sleeve of the album it has all the tell-tale signs of a 1970s LP or even 10 years older. All the titles are on the sleeve, green and orange clothes. Musically the past is present as well. Creedence Clearwater Revival or more accurately the singing of John Fogerty is here. Neil Young can be heard in the chugging guitar of 'Gypsy black cat'. The ooh-ooh harmonies of The Eagles? It's here in 'Down on your luck'. In other words there's that rare mix of rock, country, blues and soul on offer here. Then the one, then the other musical flavour comes up a bit more. 'Faith & love' has this soulful glow that makes the song shine like a polished shoe. It's so relaxed with its firm drum and voice around which the other instruments dart adventurously.

'If it ain't me' comes as a total surprise. Hollis Brown tries to topple a song like 'Thirteen' by Big Star in beauty. Time will tell if it succeeds. The acoustic guitars are intricate and soft. If 'if it ain't me' shows anything it is that Hollis Brown isn't caught out at being good at one trick. The band has the confidence to put this song in between the somewhat harder rocking songs, making Ride on the train all the more interesting. When a band can come up with a beautiful song like this, it can do anything.

Ride on the train reminds me of the debut album of Dirty Sweet, '... Of monarchs and beggars'. To really succeed one thing is missing. A winning rock 'n' roller like 'Delilah'. This is the only thing I find lacking on the album, one or two songs with just a little more spunk that really make it stand out. It wouldn't surprise me if those songs will come in the future. The potential is there in Hollis Brown. Ride on the train as a whole beats '...Of monarchs..' easily by the way.

Summing it up, Hollis Brown has delivered a fine debut album, that is rich in songs and melody and shows a variety in songwriting that holds a promise for the future. Yes, musically the band looks behind them for inspiration, the future is there for it to conquer. On Hollis Brown's first steps in The Netherlands I'll be watching the band from up close. Come an join me, I'm sure it's worth it.


You can listen to 'Nightfall' here.

Tour dates:
Woensdag 11 september Metropool, Hengelo
Donderdag 12 september, Q-Bus, Leiden
Vrijdag 13 september Music Star, Norderstedt
Zaterdag 14 september Take Root Festival Oosterpoort, Groningen
Zondag 15 september 013, Tilburg

donderdag 22 augustus 2013

Outside chance. Perfect pop from The Turtles

'Nuggets' is the famous two album collection of garage rock and pop songs compiled in the early 70s and re-issued in a four cd box by Rhino. Many a treasure can be found on this collection. Some totally over the top psychedelic relics, others proto punkrock and some examples of great pop records that for one reason or another never made it into any record collection, let alone chart lists. One of the biggest treasures on 'Nuggets' is Outside chance by The Turtles.

The Turtles is a band compiled around the vocal strength of Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman, two well sized young men in the 60s. A band that is famous for a few songs, best known for the hit single 'Happy together' of course, but also for 'She'd rather be with me' and the more than beautiful ballad 'Eleanor' (with the great joke in the background just before the last chorus repeat: "One more time".) Songs that still come by on the radio every once in a while.

The Turtles' breakthrough in the U.S. came with a Bob Dylan cover, 'It ain't me, babe'. Leading to several hits up to 1970, after which the band disbanded. Around Kaylan and Volman many players came and went through the years. The best known names being John Barbata on drums who later played in Jefferson Starship and Jim Pons on bass who followed Flo and Eddie to Frank Zappa's The Mothers of Invention in 1970. Leading to one of Zappa's most hilariously outrageous records 'Live at the Fillmore East'.

Musically The Turtles can be placed between the folk pop acts that broke big in 1965, and 1966 like The Byrds, Loving Spoonful and The Mamas and The Papas. Even the first incarnation of Jefferson Airplane. All with great singing and melodic strength. Songwise The Turtles looked to others to write its material. Songwriters Gary Bonner and Alan Gordon e.g. are responsible for its greatest hit 'Happy together'.

The single 'Outside chance', written by Warren Zevon, never charted, but contests with 'Eleanor' for the best The Turtles track easily. It kicks off with a The Byrds like 12 string Rickenbacker sounding intro and a loud, tight cowbell that kicks in next. It is all an intro to superb vocals. The lead singing is harsh and sheer rejection. This is not a love song. A girl is made made clear that there is nothing to win here. The singer has "a heart of stone". "Stone walls surround me", he sings. At the same time there are the exact sort of harmonies of John Phillip's vocal group, the sweet, loving sounds of The Mamas and the Papas. ("Leave me alone, yeahhh".) The Turtles try hard to reach for The Beatles levels here and nearly succeed. The rejection sounds through in the loud cowbell and fierce rhythm and edged on by the repetitive, driving guitar strokes in the part in the chorus. In the meantime Kaylan and Volman and the band harmonise together in a beautiful way. The harmonies just go higher and higher in the background.

The few lead notes of the electric guitar are not only bluesy, but also shows that The Turtles have heard the sign of the times when recording Outside chance. A good lead guitar is a good thing to have. In the driving rhythm and guitar of the chorus and outro is a clear The Rolling Stones of 1965-66 influence. This successful blend of vocally incorporating The Beatles with east and west coast folkpop, while musically mixing west coast folkpop with hints of the most hated musical group of 1966, by parents that was, makes Outside chance one of the better tracks of the mid 60s. A great song by all standards.

What makes 'Outside chance' also so intriguing is the dichotomy between music and lyrics. The song is upbeat, like many a pop love song in 1965-66. The nearly happy sounding, pounding straight through the song, cow bell just sprays happiness on the listener (and driving hammer blows unto the sung to girl). Like the organ solo is all optimism. The melody is full of positive vibes. The lyrics, no matter how enthusiastically The Turtles sing them, are all about turning somebody down: "You don't stand an outside chance". The singing itself is harsh and full of rejection, with hardly any sign of empathy for the girl. At the end of the song the lyrics take a strange turn though. The girl is told to keep on trying and is even spurred on. "Get an outside chance", sounds quite different, doesn't it? So is the singer just playing hard to get?

At 2.08 minutes it's all over. Point made and a great pop anthem is faded out. The Turtles, that is Kaylan and Volman, is touring still under the name The Turtles. Do they still play this wonder of 60s pop?


You can listen to 'Outside chance' here.

woensdag 21 augustus 2013

mcii (2), Mikal Cronin

Nadat Wo. zijn licht op mcii heeft doen schijnen (klik hier), is het nu de beurt aan Erwin Zijleman.

Het heeft er alle schijn van dat de Amerikaanse muzikant Mikal Cronin gaat uitgroeien tot één van de sensaties van 2013. Daar zag het tot voor kort niet naar uit, want van zijn titelloze debuut was ik twee jaar geleden niet erg onder de indruk en ik was zeker niet de enige, want jubelrecensies kan ik me eerlijk gezegd niet herinneren. Opvolger MCII is echter tien klassen beter en mag met recht een sensatie worden genoemd. Op MCII verrast Mikal Cronin, een maatje van de vorig jaar door de muziekpers omarmde Ty Segall, met de ene perfecte popsong na de andere. Het zijn popsongs die het etiket powerpop opgeplakt zullen krijgen, maar Mikal Cronin voorziet de powerpop zoals we die uit het verleden kennen van een geheel eigen geluid. Aan de ene kant heeft de muziek van Mikal Cronin het gruizige garagerockgeluid dat we kennen van de vorig jaar zo bejubelde Ty Segall, maar MCII staat ook bol van de invloeden uit de West Coast pop en klinkt alles bij elkaar genomen als een mix van The Sonics, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Lemonheads en Big Star. Ook qua arrangementen en instrumentatie wijkt MCII flink af van de standaard powerpop klassiekers in de platenkast. Mikal Cronin heeft zijn tweede plaat aan de ene kant voorzien van een rechttoe rechtaan live-geluid dat lekker mag rammelen, maar heeft MCII aan de andere kant volgestopt met opvallende instrumenten waaronder een heerlijk krassende viool en heeft MCII ook nog eens voorzien van een lekker vol geluid waarin de akoestische gitaren zorgen voor de warmte en de elektrische gitaren voor het gruis. Dankzij het heerlijk volle geluid en de veelheid aan invloeden is MCII zeker een opvallende plaat, maar omdat Mikal Cronin op zijn tweede plaat het ene na het andere memorabele popliedje uit zijn mouw schudt is het ook een opvallend goede plaat. Zeker wanneer Mikal Cronin de gitaren laat scheuren zijn de songs op MCII vrijwel onweerstaanbaar, maar ook de songs waarin louter zonnestralen uit de speakers komen laten zich na één keer horen niet meer uit het geheugen verwijderen. Ik was na een paar minuten al overtuigd van de kwaliteit van MCII, maar de plaat is sindsdien nog minstens tien keer zo goed geworden. Mikal Cronin heeft een collectie songs afgeleverd die tijdloos en eigentijds zijn en in vrijwel alle gevallen na één keer horen memorabel. De eerste helft van het jaar zit er nog niet op, maar MCII van Mikal Cronin durf ik nu wel alvast een jaarlijstjesplaat te noemen. Een van de betere jaarlijstjesplaten van 2013 denk ik zelfs.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt hier luisteren naar 'Weight'.

dinsdag 20 augustus 2013

Het onderste uit de man. Hausmagger

The most surprising act on the recent edition of Waterpop festival in Wateringen to me was Rotterdam's finest Hausmagger, led by actor/singer Theo Wesselo. A band that before the gig was totally unknown to me. Hausmagger rocked and punked from all sides, fronted by the sometimes provoking humour of Wesselo. It took awhile for me to get used to his humour, but it did work and I can only assume that the humour is meant to provoke. How does this translate into music on an album?

Having found the bandcamp site of the band quite easily, I bought the latest album and was treated to a more varied set of songs than on stage. More subtle and even delicate, without losing impact. Live Hausmagger is a wall of sound of hard hitting on drums and the tight pounding of the bass snares over which the lead guitarist makes all his noises. On record there is more room for songs that are of a little less velocity, even some electronics can be heard. Theo Wesselo at those moments sounds very much like Kees van Kooten's creation "De Vieze Man". Listen to 'Shit, wat ben je nat' and you'll know what I mean. Listen closely and you'll find three different guitar parts in the song also. Someone knows what he's doing there (and unreproducible on stage with one guitarist). It is songs like these that make the album better.

Theo Wesselo is not a singer in the way the term is meant to be used. No choir would ever let him in. In his role of poet-singer-provocateur he's well in place. His lyrics are clearly thought through well and aim for maximum effect. "Am I hearing what I'm hearing"? is one of those effects Wesselo strives for. I'm sure of that. His twists in the lyrics are delightful. The songs that are woven around his lyrics and melodies support them and make them worthwhile hearing. As I already wrote before, some of the songs on Het onderste uit de man are plain good. A great melody, well played and at times rocking hard.

The mix of styles on Het uiterste uit de man is intriguing to say the least. Hard rock or punk riffs are mixed with a small lead line on the guitar that is straight out of Dutch tearjerker music like André Hazes. The subtlety of 'Slot' is left behind halfway the song with a Suede like lead guitar and a strong rhythm that erupts under the lyrics, that are extremely moving. In an odd way. It is a song like this that shows that Wesselo's theme's go way beyond dirt and sleeze. It's the same sort of vulnerability he shows in 'Gozer (voor E.)'. About wishing that he was the guy he wanted to be when he was a little guy. The humour of 'Paranoia man' has some well found jokes in the lyrics over the fiercely pounding bass in the background.

When looking behind the first "shock" of some of the lyrics, when all the smoke and dirt of the vocal bombshells have landed, there's only one conclusion left to tell: Het onderste uit de man is a great album. Hausmagger has a rare quality that mixes the unmixable in one huge blend of great music. Poetry, sleeze, cabaret (Dutch style) and (punk)rock all fight for attention and all come up trumps.


You can listen here to 'Fijne vent' here.

maandag 19 augustus 2013

Cave rave. Crystal Fighters

In the summer of 2011 'Plage' was a single that was unavoidable on Dutch 3 FM radio. The up beat song did not so much chart high, but sort of hung in there for ever. Nearly a half year. The album that it was drawn from, 'Star of love' did not impress me much. That being the reason that Cave rave remained on a big pile of albums that I intended to listen to, that sort of never happened. When my MP3 player mysteriously went from album to shuffle, as it is sometimes prone to do, this fun upbeat song came by: 'LA calling' by Crystal Fighters. That was the beginning of the fun trip called Cave rave.

Crystal Fighters is a band from London that also gets the mention that it is a UK/Bask band as there clear links to the Bask province in Spain. The band presents a modern mix of pop and electronic dance without being afraid to bring in rock guitars as well. Next to that the folk rock explosion has not gone by unnoticed to Crystal Fighters either. The influence from Edward Sharpe and ...Of Monsters and Men is quite obviously. Boy - girl singing, high sounding acoustic guitars, up beat and happy. It suits Crystal Fighters quite well.

Cave rave lets a few different songs loose on the listener. The slightly exotic sounding songs, the folk rock and beautiful ballads like 'Bridge of bones'. It is a song like this that totally won me over to Cave Rave. Piano driven, the song stands out. If anything it is close to a James Blunt song, but better than anything I ever heard from him (with a nod to his number one hit 'You're beautiful' from me here.). 'Bridge of bones' is a fine crafted mini opera. Not because of any high brow sympho rock antics, no because of the turns the song leads us on and the way it is spread out from piano to full out mid-tempo rocker. Live it should be a killer if the audience kicks in at the end.

'Plage' is a sort of dead weight on the necks of Crystal Fighters' song writers. How to top a novelty hit? A band usually can't and shouldn't try to do so. This band seems to have tried a middle way on Cave rave. A song like 'Love natural' seems to try to evoke a 'Plage' atmosphere. As far as I'm concerned it succeeded. 'Love natural' has more depth and is more varied. It shows that Crystal Fighters is trying to find its way in the long shadow 'Plage' is throwing over Cave Rave. This second album of the band is one giant step forward. Together with producer Justin Meldal-Johnson (Paramore, M83, Neon Trees and a near endless list of studio credits) Crystal Fighters has found a beautiful pop voice that makes it a lot of fun to listen to. A perfect summer record and undoubtedly a great record to fight off the darker days that are coming towards us in an unstoppable way. The intricate vocals of 'These nights' virtually guarantee it.

The further I get into the album, the more pleased I become. Also I'm just about convinced that the first single of the album 'You & I' is one of the weakest tracks on it. Perhaps radio friendly, but Crystal Fighters shows the world that they can do a lot better. One of the better pop records of 2013 of this year, competing with Mister & Mississippi for best folk rock record of 2013. No small words are used here and deservedly so.


You can listen to 'You & I' here.

zondag 18 augustus 2013

Pushin' against a stone. Valarie June

Je kunt hier luisteren naar 'Working man's blues.

Valerie June groeide op in Humboldt, Tennessee, waar haar vader als "brick cleaner" werkte (een beroep dat in Nederland waarschijnlijk al eeuwen niet meer bestaat). June kreeg uiteraard de (zwarte) muziek van het diepe Zuiden van de Verenigde Staten met de paplepel ingegoten, maar raakte ook al snel geïnteresseerd in muziek uit andere windstreken, variërend van de reggae uit het zonnige Jamaica tot de antieke folk uit de koude Appalachen. June trouwde jong en vormde vervolgens samen met haar man het duo Bella Sun. Bella Sun was niet erg succesvol en hetzelfde bleek te gelden voor het huwelijk van Valerie June. Valerie June is inmiddels de dertig net gepasseerd en heeft inmiddels een aantal jaren ervaring als soloartiest. Dat heeft haar tot dusver vooral succes in lokale kring opgeleverd, maar met haar debuut Pushin' Against A Stone is de Amerikaanse muzikante klaar voor wereldheerschappij. Om niets aan het toeval over te laten werkt Valerie June op haar debuut samen met grootheden als Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys) en Booker T. Jones (zijn orgel herken je uit duizenden), maar ook zonder de hulp van anderen had Pushin' Against A Stone het makkelijk gered. Valerie June is namelijk volkomen uniek. Een deel van de plaat moet concurreren met het hele legioen neo-soul zangeressen dat de afgelopen jaren aan de oppervlakte is gekomen, maar Valerie June gaat net zo makkelijk de concurrentie aan met de neo-folkies die zich de afgelopen jaren lieten inspireren door stokoude folk uit de Appalachen. Dat zijn zo ongeveer twee uitersten. Warm en koud, uitbundig en verstild, zonnig en bewolkt. Toch is Pushin' Against A Stone geen debuut dat op twee gedachten hinkt. Valerie June vertolkt op buitengewoon natuurlijke wijze de blues, gospel en soul uit het diepe Zuiden van de Verenigde Staten, maar gaat op net zo authentieke wijze aan de haal met de oude folk uit het hoge Noorden van de Verenigde Staten. Om het allemaal nog wat veelzijdiger te maken bevat Pushin' Against A Stone ook nog een aantal tracks die tegen de country en bluegrass aan schuren en ook hierin blijft Valerie June met gemak overeind. Om op een zo breed terrein te kunnen overtuigen moet je haast wel een vocale kameleon zijn en dat is Valerie June. In de gospel tracks hoor je de Valerie June die ooit in het kerkkoor zong, in de wat soulvollere tracks lijk je de reïncarnatie van Amy Winehouse te horen, maar Valerie June heeft ook een Dolly Parton en een Gillian Welch in zich en het knappe is dat Valerie June altijd zichzelf blijft. Pushin' Against A Stone is hierdoor een razendknappe plaat die zich laat beluisteren als een bloemlezing uit de Amerikaanse muziekgeschiedenis. De ene keer ingetogen en bijna vroom, de volgende keer rauw, energiek en met de duivel op de hielen (met geweldig gitaarwerk van Dan Auerbach). Direct bij eerste beluistering van de plaat wist ik dat ik met een ware sensatie te maken had en dat gevoel is eigenlijk alleen maar sterker geworden. Het is bijna niet te geloven dat er in eerste instantie geen platenmaatschappij op Valerie June zat te wachten en ze haar debuut daarom zelf moest financieren. Gelukkig is ze hierin geslaagd, want een sensationele plaat als Pushin' Against A Stone had ik niet willen missen. De ontdekking van 2013.

Erwin Zijleman

zaterdag 17 augustus 2013

Rita Reijs, in memoriam

Rita Reys (Rotterdam 21 december 1924 – Breukelen, 28 juli 2013)

Als kind woonde bij mij in de straat de familie Reijs. Ik speelde wel eens met hun zoon Carlo, maar vader Karel speelde saxofoon of klarinet. Dat hoorde je door het raam heen. "Hij is een broer van Rita Reijs", zei mijn moeder. Dat was een begrip. Op 1 juli vorig jaar trad Rita Reys op voor de kerk van Charlois in Rotterdam, in de stromende regen. Het was de eerste keer dat ik haar zag optreden. Dat Rita 87 was, kon ik nauwelijks geloven. Natuurlijk moet je het geluk hebben dat je gezond blijft, goed ter been en er aardig uit blijft zien. Maar Rita bracht haar repertoire onberispelijk en praatte alles gezellig aan elkaar. Ze huppelde over het podium. Ik heb ooit gelezen dat ze bepaalde noten niet zo goed meer aankon en dat de arrangementen daarop waren afgestemd, maar dat viel helemaal niet op. Rita zong over de hele wereld in grote zalen, zeventig !!! jaar lang. Zij had de perfecte timing en intonatie voor de jazz maar had ook veel succes met repertoire van Michel Legrand en Burt Bacharach die voor de doorsnee luisteraar beter in het gehoor liggen. Zeventig jaar lang kreeg ze de zalen vol en het publiek op de stoelen. Wie doet dat haar na? Ik ben er trots op dat ik haar vorig jaar heb meegemaakt. Een hele diepe buiging voor deze topzangeres van eigen bodem.

Tineke Guise

Je kunt hier naar Rita Reijs met het Pim Jacobs Trio luisteren.

vrijdag 16 augustus 2013

The best part (EP). Paul McDonald & Nikki Reed

You can listen to 'All I'm asking' here.

Another gift from In the past days I've played this album several times and each time liking it more. On The best part there is absolutely nothing exciting going on, there's not one road travelled that has not been travelled before and still this EP is a winner.

Paul McDonald and Nikki Reed are man and wife since 2011. This EP is their first collaborative effort on record. McDonald was a part of the 2010 edition of 'American Idol'. The music on The best part is anything but what I associate with a show like that. The best part is modest, all music and no show. The songs are all in a melancholy mood, aimed to impress the listener, but only from the background. With the exception of 'Now that I've found you (version 2)', that has a more country flavour, the songs don't call out loud for your attention. And even the exception is only by comparison.

To me The best part is best listened to when I'm in a relaxed mood, music in the background. It was in this form that this EP called out for my attention. Something in the back of my head signalled in that there was something interesting going on in the background. Paying more attention this turned out to be true. Hence this review.

Whether Paul McDonald's voice is enjoyed by me for a whole album and solo, I can't say yet. It is sort of high and sounds strained. The combination with Nikki Reed's angelic voice does wonders. The beauty and the beast is a too easy found platitude, but it's true. Their voices work well together in an atmospheric song like 'Goodbye', but also in a "real" song like the title track. The three examples given so far are an example of the diversity of this album. Just five songs, but the differences in the approach makes them stick out, where as a prevailing mood they would not. In other words: well done!

Despite the fact that there may not be a lot of new things going on on The best part, the EP is worthwhile to pick up if you are interested in alt.americana. The tandem McDonald-Reed works well on record. (And yes, Nikki Reed is the same as in all those movies.)


donderdag 15 augustus 2013

By the lamplight. Larry and his Flask

You can listen to 'The battle for clear sight' here.

Regular viewers of this blog have not been able to escape Larry and his Flask last year. After having been swept of my socks on the evening before Queens' Day, the review is still one of the best read posts on this blog ever, the band returned for another show, there was an album and EP review and an interview with Jamin Marshall. Although I missed the show in the Q-Bus last May, I did meet with Jamin afterwards and learned of a new album coming up. And here's the review.

At first listening, it's clear that the band delves deeper than before, several songs are even better, without losing any of the energy that is the basis of all things Larry and his Flask. What I noticed next is that the band is so confident that it leaves the best song of the EP 'Hobo's lament' aside, as it could easily have been added to the track list. Not that there is a lot new on By the lamplight. The basis of Larry and his Flask is a major load of enthusiasm, a shot of bluegrass-polk-jazz, some Dropkick Murphies and The Hackensaw Boys and all sorts of other musical forms that make a lot of noise and do not take the tempo down too much. Of course there's an odd ballad. Even this band needs a breather in between. It also gives By the lamplight more depth.

Although the basis of Larry and his Flask is up-tempo punkified blue grass and country rock songs, the way the band manages to vary in the approach and changes moods within a song surprises me everytime. 'Barleywine bump' is an example of such. The chorus would allow all present to shout along as if in an pub hidden in a cove in western Ireland. Andrew Carew sings here in two different ways, first as if recorded in 1930 then as 2013, also giving the song a great extra edge. The mood changes of the By the lamplight make it a very authentic experience for those who were present at a Larry and his Flask live show. Just like on 'All that we know' the band succeeds in capturing its live show energy on record. The explanation for this is, imho, that the sound of the record is not the best possible. The production could have been loads better, wider in the mix and all sorts of effects on it, with the result that it would not have been Larry and his Flask, but any other band. It takes courage and a clear view of what the band wants to be and my guess is that it has both. This is who we are and this is what we sound like. To great effect.

The biggest surprise on By the lamplight may be the ballad 'Gone from you'. Ian Cook sings this solo with an acoustic guitar. There's a spine chilling moment when a part of the band kicks in with a great harmony vocal as well. Not unlike the effect 'Alabama shamrock' by The Hackensaw Boys had on me long ago. How well the band can sing together, can also be heard on the intro of "Pandemonium', right at the start of the album.The lyrics of 'Some cruel twist of fate' are far from party music. It's about the death and burying of an expecting wife. The horn section of Larry and his Flask, also a large chunk of the acoustic string session by the way, plays passionate notes after the funeral.

Having undergone the storm that is Larry and his Flask live first, I had expected never to listen to a record. For three times in a row the band has showed me my erring ways. By the lamplight deserves to be heard at home as much as in a venue. There's some excitement, loads of it and good time party songs, but some contemplation and seriousness as well. The rare mix Larry and his Flask presents to its listeners deserves to be heard more wider than it is now. By the lamplight is a great new step in that direction.


woensdag 14 augustus 2013

Jazz in Rotterdam: Karsu; Kim Hoorweg & Loes Luca

Karsu. Foto Tineke

North Sea Jazz is voor mij een te duur evenement en bovendien houd ik niet van jazz. Daarmee is mijn verhaaltje niet af. In Rotterdam houden ze rekening met mensen als ik. Daarom is er ook North Sea Around Town met kleinschalige optredens op onbekende podia en pleinen in de openlucht. Zo zag ik op een bankje in de zon van het Deliplein op Katendrecht de geweldige Karsu Dönmez. Wat een veelbelovend artieste is zij! Jong, mooi, een goede stem en divers repertoire. Karsu is geboren in Amsterdam in een Turks gezin. Zij leerde pianospelen in het familierestaurant Kilim. Ze schrijft ook zelf, waaronder prachtige nummers in het Turks.

Karsu, Foto Tineke
Een paar dagen eerder zag ik Kim Hoorweg samen met Loes Luca optreden in het kader van North Zie Jazz. Zij stonden op een minuscuul podium in een zaaltje van een voormalige fabriek aan de Bergweg. Zij speelden die avond nauwelijks jazz maar deze dames zijn zeer veelzijdig en ook nog eens talenwonders. Loes leefde zich uit in Bertold Brecht en Franse chansons en Kim Hoorweg zong Granada en op verzoek van Loes Spiegelbeeld omdat ze net 20 geworden was. Ze kende dat nummer helemaal niet, maar zong het glashelder. Samen zongen ze de rest van de avond vol met o.a. het kattenduet van Rossini en De meisjes van de suikerwerkfabriek van Drs. P. De interactie met het publiek dat op een meter afstand zat was geweldig.

Zo maak je nog eens wat mee. Beide dames sla ik zeer hoog aan. Jazz beheersen ze uitstekend, maar elk ander repertoire kunnen ze aan. Kim Hoorweg is een leuke spontane meid. Ze heeft in Rotterdam het conservatorium gedaan en zit nu op de kunstacademie. Ze zingt elke stijl in elke taal. Haar eerste CD maakte toen ze 14 was en staat vol jazz. Rita Reys noemde haar de enige Nederlandse van de jongere generatie die dat beheerst. Karsu vind ik zelf iets volwassener, exotischer en erotischer en bovendien speelt ze zelf piano. Kim neemt daar haar vader voor mee en die kan het dan ook als geen ander.

De overeenkomst tussen de dames is dat ze na afloop gezellig met je praten. Bij Kim verkoopt de moeder de CD’s, bij Karsu doet haar vader dat. Ik heb ze thuis en het is echt genieten. Google hun namen en je vindt ze zo! Dan weet je ook waar ze optreden. Dat is smullen!

Tineke G. 

Je kunt hier luisteren naar 'Play my string' Karsu

of haar cover van 'Skyfall' live on 3FM en

hier naar 'Shady lady bird' van Kim Hoorweg & the Houdini's.