maandag 25 augustus 2014

Maggie Brown (2). Maggie Brown

Again it was Erwin Zijleman who put me on the trail of a new record when he published his post on Amsterdam band Maggie Brown. On the basis of his post I started listening and fell from one surprise straight into the other.

Maggie Brown starts like it composed 'Shine on you crazy diamond, part 10'. Atmospheric music with these layers of synth sounds and a mellow, mellow mood. Until indie guitar parts are added to the Pink Floyd sound. And this great sounding one oomph of the bass drum kicking in the first time. Ha, I Drove a Tank, I thought. The Antwerp based band did something like that on its debut album earlier this year. Maggie Brown takes it to another level though. My guess is that the band is familiar with 'Rivers & coastlines: The ride' by TMGS as well. Not so much musically, but in the way it creates a mood. The bands both approach this from the same angle. As if the mood to capture the listener comes first and then the song. I know it doesn't work this way and still the description comes very close.

'Alaska' is a beautiful, instrumental track opening Maggie Brown. A track that slowly melts into 'Because', where the atmosphere changes to an indie sort of ballad. And then singer Marcel Hulst opens his mouth for the first time. The third surprise presents itself. Caesar's singer Roald van Oosten has re-incarnated himself into Marcel Hulst. The same tone, intonations and strange accent in his English. After this there are so many different influences that come by, that there is hardly any need to really start calling out names. Just listen and form an opinion yourself. From subdued balladry, to tight indie rock. Maggie Brown is able to cook it up into it's mix and present the result with self-assurance and obvious pleasure. The third song is the absolute highlight of the album, 'Atlantic'. There is no way describing this song and doing it right. Sort of indie heaven and more, I guess.

The band is together since 2011. It is not hard to hear the progress that must have been made since. The inventive rhythms laid down by Pascal van Baren (drums) and Freek Broekhuijzen (bass) form a foundation over which the rest of the band can shape its sounds, blend them and shake them. Friso Schmid's keyboard contributions often sound mysterious. As if there's more than we get to hear on this record. Randy Derkhof's and Marcel Hulst's guitars weave in and out of each other. Mostly clear sounding. Arpeggiated patterns played over rhythm parts. Intricate playing without wizardry. Some strange, weird parts far off in the distance of the mix aside. Enough in there to play Maggie Brown again and again with always something new to discover.

It took me a while to start writing about this album. Not only to create some distance between the first post on this blog, but also to form in my mind the review that does right to this delicate but fantastic album. And, I find it extremely hard to write and listen to this album at the same time. Maggie Brown is too demanding, in an extremely positive way. This is an album to listen to intensely. In this way Maggie Brown is a demanding album. No half ways here. An album to do right to and it will do right by you in return.

I have already mentioned Caesar, the 90s and first half of the 00s Amsterdam indie rock band. It took me several albums to really start liking the band. Right up to its final album 'Caesar', that became my album of that year. Were all the albums of Caesar released to prepare me for Maggie Brown? No, there are too many differences. But still, I can't get the band out of my head since hearing Maggie Brown for the first time. From that point of reference Maggie Brown starts its own ride.

That ride takes the listener from one highlight to another. Although I will admit to that there are times when I'm just not in the mood for the soft focused indie songs. At that moments I need something different, louder. On all other days I'm just totally aurally satisfied. Maggie Brown is another band that can add itself to the list of fantastic releases from this country in 2014. A dream of a debut album, delicately crafted and intense.

After the sonic eruption of 'Vortex', an unsuspecting listener will take it for the end of the album, the ukulele driven 'New England' comes by. Another hint at Blaudzun? That may well be, but for that there are also too many differences to point at. What 'New England' does show is the diversity of Maggie Brown. The diversity in the details of this album. The details that make it such a delight to listen to.

Maggie Brown is an album to discover. If the band is able to set the same steps as Blaudzun has in the past five years, the band ought to grow into what it deserves to be. For now, what a talent. To cherish and listen. Again and again and again.

And, to finish it all off there is this beautiful cover by German artist Gerhard Richter, Seestück. Never ending sea and sky, like the never-ending beauty of opening song 'Alaska' and all that follows.


You can listen to and buy Maggie Brown on the band's Bandcamp site.

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