donderdag 29 mei 2014

I don't understand them at all. Traumahelikopter

Wow! I could suffice with just that word, were it not that I am supposed to write more, as a person who chose to review I don't understand at all. Traumahelikopter has made a giant step forward with its new and second album. Melodically it is ways ahead of debut album 'Traumahelikopter'. The band sawed off the hardest edges of its sound and came up with a garage rock album that is simply irresistible. From the very first listen I was totally sold.

Traumahelikopter featured thrice before on the blog. Previously I wrote about 'Traumahelikopter' and saw the band play a blistering live show at Waterpop in Wateringen in the previous summer and there was the covert mention with a link to 'DWDD' showing the effect of Traumahelikopter's music on former politician Gerdi Verbeet. All in 2013 and already there is a new album. An album that ought to open up many an avenue for Traumahelikopter here in The Netherlands and far beyond, avenues as wide as the Champs Elysée.

Traumahelikopter is a trio playing in a non-traditional trio setting. Daan van Dalen and Mark Lada on guitar and vocals and Roel van Merlot on drums. Not just a bass is missing, also the bass drum. That makes the sound of Traumahelikopter different from most other bands as you will find. The surprise to me and especially live, is that I do not miss these instruments for one bit.

I don't understand them at all kicks off as poppy as unexpected. 'Alone' is a pop song, with a sweet beginning, a sweet vocal and a gravelly sounding guitar that kicks in during the choruses. And then there are layers of overdubs of guitars in the instrumental part, that are feedbacking, distorted, flanged and what else only God knows. This way 'Alone' slowly turns into a garagerock song with an enormous hit potential, in another dimension. Song 2, yes, this is intended, called 'Kids' kicks ass. The band is injected with a chilli pepper or two and drives the song into a murderously high tempo and a fiery guitar solo or two. Iggy & the Stooges' 'Raw power' comes very much to mind here. An extremely punky rock song. 'Last night I dreamed I killed myself' is the third killer song Traumahelikopter presents its listeners with. By that time I start noticing that the way of drumming is very much alike rockabilly, bands like The Straycats. The sound is very similar and recognisable. The song ends with loud buzzing from an amp.

This high level is not kept up during the whole album. That would have made it the perfect garage rock album. So let us focus on the next total gem. 'Every time I close my eyes' is a surf rocker with an up beat melody over a down beat subject. The dark guitar sound with loads of reverb dominates this song, but also has a very punky country solo as well. The end seems a nod to Australian rockers The Living End's 'Prisoner of society'.

The tempo on I don't understand them at all is relentless. 'Always being followed' flies out off the corner, it's so fast. This is a pure punk rock song. Nothing more nor less. 'These days' takes the foot off the pedal finally. In this 60s pop rocker a piano is introduced to the sound. Adding something special to the whole. The song is in English, but has a very big reference to über hippie Armand. His 'Ben ik te min' shines through in the way of singing in one part of 'These days', before the song takes a small The Beatles turn to return to the rock part. Another band that Traumahelikopter's members must have heard at their grandparents' birthday parties is The Outsiders. The same snotty attitude and the ''Monkey on their back". The monkey here is mostly about getting away from something or someone. Being in a spot and/or situation the singer does not want to be. One thing is for sure, Traumahelikopter may sing it's a loser and a fuck up, evidence shows that they are very wrong.

Lets take the intro to 'I don't want to spend the rest of my time with you'. By that time I've sort of melted. Were it not for the fierce pounding behind it, I could have been in the early 60s listening to a Phil Spector intro with three girls waiting to start singing any moment. No, this is really Traumahelikopter expending it's musical references by seven mile boot steps at a time. 'No hope' is a song that is different from the others and still totally works. The full out punk and anger of 'Shithole in C' is another highlight. Have you counted along here?

I don't know what is in the water in Groningen, but it must be something like loads of melodies, 60s pop and rock, a snuff of The Straycats and a few drops of good old punk(rock). It wasn't me, I promise. The fun thing is, that Traumahelikopter has surprised me and not a little. I don't understand them at all is, as I already wrote, not the perfect album, but a leap forward any band should and would wish to make within a year's time from its debut album. Traumahelikopter is another Dutch band that came up with a nothing but a fantastic album. The list is getting rather long this year.

After the bluesy and slower 'Wandering around', that has a The White Stripes reference, there's only one thing to it. Put 'Alone' on again, but not before we heard 'Wandering around' explode to a Traumahelikopter measure for size. XXL.


You can listen to 'Alone' here.

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