maandag 29 december 2014

This time. Landmark 105

Listening to This Time for the first time I could have sworn to be listening to an album coming from the U.S. of A. A rootsrocking album like they seem to grow on trees over there or keep locked up in cans, to be opened while cooking a random meal. Only when listening more careful on my headset there were slight hints of a different accent. It was Erwin Zijleman's post on his own blog that led me to the fact that this is a Dutch band. (As a small aside. This time shows how much more Dutch people have gotten used to using the English language over the past 50 years. In pronunciation and writing. Just compare Mariska Veres or Jerney Kaagman to Liesbet Kwantes Scholte.)

Landmark 105 was the room Janis Joplin stayed and died in. This gives a hint as in what direction the music of Landmark 105 is to be found at. Not that the music ever gets as raw and openly emotional as with Ms. Joplin. For that Liesbet Kwantes Scholte's voice is too kind. It does have a nice rough edge though, that lends several songs on This time an edge of authenticity. Lifting the album right beyond the mediocre into those pleasant spheres Americana or West Coast the Eagles rock can lift one in.

For me this sort of music is a thin line and it's not easy for an artist in this genre to stay on that line and not to fall off. Landmark 105's balancing act is a nice one to follow. Not that the album scores a 100% (hardly any album does that), but several songs surely come close. Let me start there.

In the songs that Liesbet seems to give just this little more, the songs come alive and sparkle. When the instruments follow her cues. That is when This time really gets interesting. 'You should have' is a fine specimen. Heartache, being left behind, infidelity?. The pain and hurt slip into her voice which gets that extra edge, a little hardness. The mood is caught by Aldo Spadaro's guitar, who's sliding away and Kirsten Boersma's warm sounding organ that appears to envelop Scholte in comforting sounds. 'Good for nothing' is a song that echoes the country-rock side of the Rolling Stones or the Faces (or the Black Crowes of course). 'Good for nothing' rocks out. I can't help wondering how Beth Wimmer would sound with this song. It won't rock in her version though. A few times I'm reminded of Anouk as well. Especially in 'I'll be fine'.

This time grows better as it develops. So many albums are the opposite. The band is in balance. Its foundation, Fabian Kraal on drums and Tom van Loon on bass, is solid without over-doing it. They allow the others to lay down their contributions while keeping the band going in the softer songs and when rocking out. 

The best song on This time is the final song, 'Better day', a rocker that I think Janis Joplin wouldn't have minded adding to 'Pearl'. Liesbet Kwantes Scholte sounds like she's been singing all day to get the sound right. That moment when singing starts to hurt a little, the voice a bit hoarse. Like Beth Hart sounds when she gets out of bed and still has to start singing. The band really lets it go in return and together they create a fine, fine 'Better day'.

Not all the songs on This time are as good as this. Some go into an other direction. Ready to be sung in church almost and the album loses its pace, e.g. 'Middle name'. At the start of the album there's a lot of promise. 'Follow the sun' rocks in a modest way. The brakes are on though, a lot of self-restraint is in place. A nice song though showing what Landmark 105 is capable of. The single would not have been my choice. 'Start again' has a lot of stops and starts and some country twangs and overtones. Too Ilse de Lange to my taste, where Landmark 105 is able to do more and rock a bit less homey as it shows on the rest of This time. A safe choice, but not representative of what the band does in general. 'Lose your head' is also country, but a song with a lot of nastiness, dirt roads, gravel and possibly alligators round every bend. 'Lose your head' is dangerous. And so much fun to listen to.

Landmark 105 has come up with a debut album that certainly sits on my right side. The band shows several faces of which most appeal to me. Some do not, but I can live with the end result easily and I'm certainly interested to find out what happens live when the band might really start playing.


You can listen to 'Start again' here:

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