dinsdag 31 maart 2015

The March Kairos by .No

Once a month .No lends us his ears by providing an insight into his musical taste by means of his radioprogram Kairos on Concertzender, a taste which is quite, quite! different from Wo´s. Once a month Wo. picks up this challenge and shares his thoughts, ideas and imagery that come with the music on Kairos with the readers of WoNo Magazine´s blog. But, in the end this is all about Kairos, "a meditation on contemporary music".

It's already over four and a half  years ago that .No and I were colleagues. .No once asked me to lead a meditation session in our lunch break, a weekly session attended by interested colleagues. Having never done anything like this before, although I came to his sessions once a week as such a session proved totally relaxing and invigorating. What do I do to bring the people into this trance like state in which they reach the point of total relaxation without falling asleep? I, as music buff all the way, didn't bring them to the warm beach of a tropical island or on a boat lapping on the tiny waves of a lake, no, I let them imagine their speakers at home and visualise their favourite music coming from the speakers. Next I invited them to visualise the music and to lay themselves down on the airwaves. To be cherished and held by their favourite music. This way they were carried and massaged on thin air by music. And the fun thing was that for most participants this totally worked. Why was I reminded of this session after all these years? Simply by some of the music on this month's Kairos and by the sonorous voice announcing the program.

March's Kairos starts with Broeder Dieleman. He was present in the first program I started to review and now is back with 'Voor Janna en Lieve'. Singing in his 'Zeeuws' dialect, the elementary guitar accompanies the elementary singing of Tonnie Dieleman. There's also a piano playing a few dark notes. The surprise in this song is the piano intermezzos on higher notes that play a fantasy like sequence in a fantasy barren song. A little spark in the darkness.

From Janne to 'Janina' is a small step where names are concerned. Musically the step is somewhat larger. From an, although darkish, acoustic song to electronic soundscapes is a fairly large step. Jonas Munk and Jason Kolb create atmospheric sound scapes that pulse and sort of rotate. Soft quiet and non obtrusive, but I fail to grasp the sense, not that there should be, of making this kind of music. It just sort of goes beyond me, although I concede to hearing some kind of inner beauty in there.

The ear of .No makes it possible that he mixes 'Janina' with an old piece of Gregorian singing called 'Graduale: Haec dies' from 'Dominica Resurrectionis' sung by Boni Puncti led by Karel Frána. This church music composed by someone who remains unknown, for ever is the sort of music one expects to hear in a large cathedral, where one walks into as a tourist and the choir is practising. For them on purpose, for me as a large surprise and totally accidental. Usually a magical moment. The acoustics of a large church is a bit missing on this recording though.

From Gregorian singing to the harp of of Anita Frenks. In 'Humus' she creates a sombre, formal sounding piece of music that shows a lot of the possibilities this instrument has. From the sonorous bass notes to more frivolous higher notes. All is played in a slow tempo which allows the notes to resonate. WoNo Productions once released an album by Anita Frenks. If you like to find out more, there's a link below. It is one of these songs that reminded me of my led meditation session, although I would never imagine this sort of music if I were led to this state myself. Nowadays that would e.g. be 'The gospel of John Hurt' by Alt-J. Could that make it to the May Kairos?

'Shame rhymes with pride' by Nighthawks at the Diner is the next song. An early Tom Waits influenced, jazzy piece of music. The band derives its name from the famous painting by American painter Edward Hopper. Brushed snare drum, muted trumpets and serrated soft singing all do right to the band's name. The musicians could be in diner playing in the background after a night's work elsewhere. This song has been done this way a million times before and still it has all the right elements. What fun, but also something quite different from what I heard on Kairos to date before. It fits and does right to the program. There is one explanation in order: explain the rhyme, please!

Michael Pisaro's 'Blues Fall' is up next. Again atmospheric music. Sounds that are far outside to what I usually listen to. Julia Holter sings 'Blues fall' while around her sounds escape instruments, e.g. a viola or harmonium, but never turn into something resembling a song. They are all isolated notes, that are held long or longer, together creating sound. A modern composition which I personally can't find my way into. Like sounds coming to me through a thick fog. I recognise them but can't see nor comprehend the context any longer. Intriguing, but not more for me. How far can blues fall? Extremely far away from its twelve bar conception it appears.

Next up is Gavin Bryars' Third part from his 'Cello Concerto (Farewell to Philosophy)', played by the English Chamber Orchestra, James Budd conducting and Julian Lloyd Webber on cello. This is a modern classic composition. Not being an expert, all but may be a better description, would have me put this a couple of hundred years back in time. I have to admit that I think this is beautiful. The pulsing background makes the tableau come alive, like the anemones of a tropical reef swaying in the underwater currents, with the lead cello is a fish diving into the anemones, out looking for food or temporary shelter.

The song switches to something by Bryars a little more abstract at the start. 'Lento' from 'One Last Bar, Then Joe Can Sing' by Nexus (Bob Becker, Bill Cahn, Robert Engelman, Russell Hartenberger, John Wyre) is totally different from the classical music we just heard. 'Lento' is also a soundscape with percussion instruments coming through the hazy background. The pictures this music conjures up is a warm summer day, lying in the grass with my eyes closed. Sounds coming to me from far away, barely audible as I'm dosing so pleasantly. In the second half of the composition melody is introduced and faintly it is clear that Bryars has heard some pop music in his life too. Bands like Pink Floyd have made this sort of music as well, as part of something larger and more rock oriented of course.

Benjamin Britten is up next. His 'Nocturne (Suite, Op. 83' (1969)) introduces another harpist, Lavinia Meijer. Meijer is accompanied by a piano playing plain bass chords (at least I think so, as it may be a harp bass note). I do not know much about harpists, so can only imagine that she plays very well, but I have a hard time hearing a song in the composition. This one is not for me.

That one is easy with Nils Frahm. His 'Familiar' from the album 'Spaces' holds those elements that make me hold on quite easily. 'Familiar' is also an instrumental, but it is not hard to imagine a singing melody. The piano flows freely and fluent. Just imagine a late night, wherever, perhaps even a train station where there are pianos nowadays people can play on and do. The large, empty hall and piano notes coming towards you from somewhere, while you are hurrying for the last train. The music making you want to stop and listen, the train beckoning. That is what 'Familiar' does, making you stop in your tracks to listen intensely to it to enjoy a few moments of peace and quiet.

Lavinia Meijer returns with a composition by Isang Yun called 'In balance'. By then I know that harp music is not really my type of thing, so let's proceed quickly here. Those who do, please stop to listen to this long lasting composition.

This issue if Kairos ends with a less than two minutes of piano. Howard Skempton's 'Toccata, for piano' is played by John Tilbury. Lone notes, sparingly played bring us to the end. The stops are sometimes so long that it is hard to tell when Kairos is really over. Be patient and you will find out. The birds, ha, here they are again, will tell.



'Anna' by Anita Frenks


maandag 30 maart 2015

Trouble. Smutfish

Smutfish en ik gaan inmiddels ver terug in de tijd. Het zal in het voorjaar van 2004 zijn geweest dat de eigenaar van Plato Den Haag, voor wie ik destijds de Plato.NL nieuwsbrief schreef, me een in eigen beheer uitgebrachte cd stuurde die hij in de winkel in zijn handen gedrukt had gekregen.
Dat gebeurde wel vaker en meestal viel zo’n plaat flink tegen, maar Lawnmower Mind van Smutfish kwam aan als een mokerslag. Stuk was ik van het geweldige debuut van de band uit Den Haag en als ik de plaat nu opzet ben ik dat nog steeds.
Nadat een tweede oplage van de plaat op het snel uit de grond gestampte Plato.NL records was verschenen, was het tijd voor een tweede plaat. Through A Slightly Open Door verscheen in 2006 en viel wat tegen, vooral omdat de verrassing er wat af was (overigens ben ik de plaat later wel enorm gaan waarderen).
Smutfish ging verder als John Dear Mowing Club en bracht in 2007 een titelloze plaat uit die het niveau van Lawnmower Mind volgens de critici weer wel wist te benaderen. Dit niveau werd vervolgens overtroffen op het in 2010 verschenen Melleville, dat een veelzijdiger geluid liet horen en bovendien fraai werd ondersteund door een prachtig boekwerk met bijzondere tekeningen.
In 2011 maakte Smutfish en John Dear Mowing Club voorman Melle de Boer samen met Henk Koorn (Hallo Venray) als Henk en Melle het eveneens bijzonder aangename Roodnoot, maar sindsdien was het helaas stil. Tot nu dan, want gisteren verscheen op het Excelsior label (!) Trouble van .... Smutfish.
Trouble herinnert absoluut aan het zo bijzondere debuut van de Haagse band, maar is als je het mij vraagt nog veel beter. In muzikaal opzicht laat de Haagse band een veelzijdiger, intenser en beter klinkend geluid horen en ook de songs spreken meer tot de verbeelding.
Smutfish maakt nog altijd de eigen variant op Amerikaanse rootsmuziek en kleurt deze op Trouble bijzonder fraai in. Gebleven is het bijzonder fraaie gitaarwerk (nog altijd van Melle de Boer en Dick Zuilhof), maar ook de buitengewoon mooie en vaak verrassende bijdragen van blazers, pedal steel en orgeltjes dragen dit keer nadrukkelijk bij aan het geluid van de band. Hiernaast zoekt Smutfish dit keer nadrukkelijker de grenzen van het genre op, waardoor de plaat verrassender is dan zijn voorgangers.
Ook in vocaal opzicht heeft Smutfish een flinke stap gezet. Natuurlijk leunt het geluid van de band nog altijd zwaar op de uit duizenden herkenbare vocalen van Melle de Boer, die nog altijd klinkt alsof hij is opgegroeid aan de zuidelijke oevers van de Mississippi en niet in de Zuid-Hollandse polder. Het toevoegen van mooie koortjes en de meer dan eens opduikende vocalen van bassist en zangeres Janneke Nijhuijs (ook bekend van The Deaf en The Indien) hebben echter absoluut meerwaarde en maken het geluid van Smutfish rijker en veelkleuriger.
Trouble staat vol met geweldige songs. Soms schuren deze dicht tegen het van Smutfish bekende alt-country geluid aan, maar er zijn ook uitstapjes richting bluesy rock zoals de Stones die in hun beste jaren maakte of richting countryrock zoals Neil Young die al heel lang niet meer maakt. Het ene moment klinkt Trouble rauw, het volgende moment uiterst ingetogen, maar altijd puur en eerlijk.
Smutfish heeft op Trouble haar volkomen unieke geluid behouden, maar weet het ook te verrijken met allerlei nieuwe invloeden. Lawnmower Mind was al weer meer dan 10 jaar geleden een klassieker, net als Melleville bijna vijf jaar geleden, maar het nu verschenen Trouble is wat mij betreft de meest overtuigende van het stel.
Het wordt alleen maar mooier wanneer je het prachtig uitgevoerde boekje met tekeningen (Melleville II) er bij pakt, waarna de soms heerlijk onnavolgbare teksten van Melle de Boer tot leven komen.
Conclusie: Volkomen briljante plaat. En hij wordt alleen maar beter en beter. Waar het eindigt? Ik durf het echt niet te zeggen, maar nu al staat Trouble van Smutfish op eenzame hoogte.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt hier luisteren naar 'Trouble':


zondag 29 maart 2015

Freedom tower. The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion

Jon Spencer and his Blues Explosion is around for over 20 years by now. I remember listening to some of its albums, but they were not for me. After that I just didn't bother or this is the band's first album in years. Lo and behold, either in 2015 my musical taste has changed considerably, yes it has somewhat. There's no denying there or the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion shifted towards my taste some more. It has. In other words: We have a match.

Freedom tower is funky, it rocks out in an alternative way and there is some hiphop in the rhythms that blends superbly with the rock side of the band and beneath it all there is the elements of electric blues and 60s garagerock. Earth & Fire made a song about this sort of music in 1970. The music on Freedom tower certainly is 'Wild and exciting'.

"Come on, fellas. We've gotta pay some respect" And a killer riff is let loose on the unsuspecting world and starts off a "New wave dance party 2015". Garage rock meets hip hop rhythms and singing and a truckload of self-confidence on display. Jon Spencer Blues Explosion is around since 1991 and only has (had) three members: guitarists Jon Spencer and Judah Bauer and drummer Russell Simins. Although the band lay low in the years around 2010, in one year time it can celebrate its silver band anniversary.

If I had to pick one word only for this review, it has to be "energy". Energy just bursts from this record. Frontwise, up, down and through the seams, from all angles it just oozes out. Simins pounds away herding the other two like cowboys a herd on the plains of the Midwest. Bauer and Spencer play their guitars like there's no tomorrow. Some Lou Reed and his guitarist of choice, let's say Robert Quine, except more dirty than the late Reed could ever have imagined. And no discriminating the other guitarist. Both play an equal role in driving the song on. Together the band does everything between fired up electric blues and the Beastie Boys, with all this energy in abundance.

As such it doesn't make too much sense to pick out different songs. Although I want to pick out the The Rolling Stones sounding guitar sequence in 'Crossroad hop'. Some Richard or Taylor bluesy guitar playing shines through in a small part of the song. A lot of fun. For the rest the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion rocks. One song is better than the other, but rock it does and keeps me smiling through the whole record. And that is something this band has never done before. So there's something to check out as well, as who knows how I favor the band's music in 2015?


You can listen to 'Do the get down' here


zaterdag 28 maart 2015

I see you. Sofia Dragt

Ongeveer een jaar geleden rapporteerde Wo. over een duo optreden van Sofia Dragt en Rogier Pelgrim in Scheltema te Leiden. (http://wonomagazine.blogspot.nl/2014/03/quite-quiet-25-02-2014-sofia-dracht-and.html). Eind vorig jaar verscheen haar debuut cd. Erwin Zijleman bespreekt hem voor ons.

Aan het begin van de herfst liep ik bij toeval tegen de EP Over Rainbows van Sofia Dragt aan. Dat deze Sofia Dragt een jaar eerder de Grote Prijs van Nederland in de categorie singer-songwriter had gewonnen was me volledig ontgaan, terwijl met name deze categorie de afgelopen jaren veel talent heeft opgeleverd (Eefje de Visser, Yori Swart, Fabiana Dammers, Lucky Fonz III, Roosbeef, Charlie Dee, Marike Jager), dit in tegenstelling tot de andere categorieën, waarin ik nauwelijks namen tegen kom die me ook maar iets zeggen.
Over Rainbows bleek een bijzonder indrukwekkende EP van een groot talent. Op Over Rainbows maakte Sofia Dragt indruk met een serie piano georiënteerde popliedjes die geen geheim maakten van haar grote voorbeelden, maar ook eigenzinnig en origineel klonken. Ik keek daarom met bijna onrealistische hoge verwachtingen uit naar het eerste album van de Nederlandse singer-songwriter en dat eerste album is inmiddels verschenen.
I See You is voorzien van een mooi verzorgde verpakking, maar het gaat uiteindelijk natuurlijk om de muziek. Ook die blijkt van een opvallend hoog niveau. Op I See You trekt Sofia Dragt de lijn van Over Rainbows door. De single en wat mij betreft ook een van de sterkste tracks op de EP, Till It’s Over, keert terug op het album, dat hiernaast acht gloednieuwe tracks bevat.
Opener All Day Long laat direct horen wat Sofia Dragt in huis heeft. De track opent met mooie, breed uitwaaiende, pianoklanken en de warme en heldere stem van Sofia Dragt, maar slaat na de introductie van inventieve gitaarlijnen om in een aanstekelijk popliedje vol verrassende wendingen. Het is een track die laat horen dat Sofia Dragt kan imponeren als singer-songwriter achter de piano, maar ook over de potentie beschikt om uit te groeien tot een popprinses.
De rest van I See You schakelt tussen deze twee uitersten, met een voorkeur voor de meer ingetogen pianoliedjes. Wanneer Sofia Dragt plaats neemt achter de piano combineert ze de passie van Tori Amos met de eigenzinnigheid van Fiona Apple en het avontuur van Regina Spektor, maar sluit ze ook aan bij de perfecte popliedjes van Carole King, de ruwe emotie van Laura Nyro of de experimenteerdrang van Kate Bush. Het zijn hele grote namen die opkomen bij de beluistering van het debuut van Sofia Dragt, maar de singer-songwriter uit Wageningen kan de vergelijking aan.
I See You is een plaat met songs die makkelijk overtuigen, maar het zijn ook songs die knap in elkaar steken. Dat Sofia Dragt een klassiek geschoold pianiste is zal niemand ontgaan, maar ook de rest van de instrumentatie is bijzonder smaakvol en keer op keer zeer trefzeker. Het kleurt allemaal fraai bij de mooie stem van Sofia Dragt die opvallend helder, maar ook warm en gloedvol klinkt en ook nog eens flink kan uithalen in de hoogte, wat de plaat voorziet van flink wat dynamiek.

Het draagt allemaal bij aan de aangename luisterervaring die I See You biedt. Sofia Dragt heeft een plaat afgeleverd die vrij makkelijk overtuigt met mooi verzorgde popliedjes, maar ze heeft ook een plaat afgeleverd die maar blijft verrassen, verbazen en intrigeren. Steeds als ik naar I See You luister vind ik het debuut van Sofia Dragt weer net wat mooier en voorlopig ben ik nog niet klaar met deze bijzondere plaat.
Sofia Dragt begeeft zich met haar debuut op een terrein waarop een aantal van mijn favoriete singer-songwriters zijn te vinden. Dat legt de lat bijzonder hoog, maar Sofia Dragt kan het aan. Op basis van haar EP riep ik haar al uit tot één van de grootste talenten binnen de Nederlandse muziekscene. Met I See You maakt ze de belofte meer dan waar.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt hier naar 'I see you' luisteren:


I See You kan worden verkregen via de site van de klankfabriek: http://www.shop-deklankfabriek.nl/webshop/alle-producten/detail/366/sofia-dragt-br-i-see-you.html.


vrijdag 27 maart 2015

Rockland. Katzenjammer

"Katten gejammer", the sound cats make when it's that time of the year. Would Katzenjammer translate into this from Norwegian? Interesting.

In nothing the four Norwegian ladies can be accused of "katten gejammer". They sing like angels instead. What a beautiful record this is. Things American have found their way into the Nordic country that faces the storms of the northern Atlantic and the wintry colds. The foursome is from the rather sheltered and southern Oslo. That may explain the tendency to play and sing Appalachian and more southern kind of U.S. music.

Katzenjammer is Anne Marit Bergheim, Marianne Sveen, Solveig Heilo and Turid Jørgensen. They play whatever is available and change instruments when a song calls for it. The ladies play together since 2005 and released four albums since 2008. Rockland being #4. Katzenjammer knows how to blend tradition with modern influences and allows in any effect if it raises the atmosphere. In 'Oh my God' some hip hop is allowed in, but is mixed with a French chanson accordion and a mandoline from other exotic pastures.

The start of the album is more traditional though. 'Old the Spain' is traditional Americana, close to alt.country and 'Curvasious needs' is a song that can go on Karen Jonas' debut album without a frown spent on the choice.

By song four and the fourth drastic mood change, my mood on Rockland changes a bit also. This little girl romantic pop song with a ukulele or something, strays far from what I heard before and is not for me, being a grown up guy with some mileage on the display. So where do we go from here? To another mood change of course. 'My own tune' is a more alternative Americana song. Again with a poppy vocal melody. Nordic exuberance and some Nordic singing followed by a child's piano. The kind of song that I can imagine being sung on the Midsummernight fest in a Norwegian wood far off from the mundane world. The ladies singing around the bonfire.

By the time 'Shine like neon rays', again with that funny piano, comes in, it became apparent to me that Rockland isn't an Americana album at all. Again this is a joyful pop song with happy smiles all over the place. It remembers me a lot of the songs on Veruca Salt's album 'Eight arms to hold you'. The same sort of singing, the same sort of great pop tune, with a completely different instrumentation. 'Shine like neon rays' works totally and as far as I'm concerned one of the best songs on Rockland.

'Driving after you' is a ballad. A darker, brooding song that is led on by a piano. A real one. The singing is close to Anouk, so 'Driving after you' could become a hit here in NL. Another song I like by the way. It holds some of the classic, epic balladry, that seems to lift a song up to another level. Making it larger than it is in reality.

This level is kept up with the poppy refrain of 'Flash in the dark'. By then I have to ask myself whether the perceived dip in Rockland comes from my expectation of this record set by the first two songs on the album or the quality of those songs? Listening again to the quality of the songs starting at song 6, I tend to go for the latter, although a part remains the abrupt change. 'Flash in the dark' is on a high level though.

'My dear' is a light and poppy Americana song. In the chorus traditional U.K. folk pops up its head. Steeleye Span e.g. The Americana returns with 'Bad girl'. 'Rockland' is a small song that ends this adventure as that is what Rockland is. With some Paul McCartney style ooohhs in the harmonising as well.

Concluding it is safe to say that I like Rockland. The adventurous playing, instrumentation and the harmonies the ladies sing and the melodies they've found for their tunes. It is also safe to say that Rockland is almost too adventurous, containing too many styles, that could put off someone with less stamina than I. So there is the message coming with this review: Keep on listening. The rewards are worth it.


You can listen to 'Lady Grey' and 'My dear' live here:


donderdag 26 maart 2015

Roulette. Emily Wolfe

Another ode to Noisetrade. This EP by Emily Wolfe, one of four albums by this Austin, Texas based singer you can find on called website. An EP that laid on my shelf for a while, but finally came off with the right amount of noise. Roulette is a fun, rocking five song EP Emily Wolfe released in 2014.

The album kicks up with the brooding, rocking darkness of a song called 'Ghost limb'. A pulsing sound like there are a ghost or two in my house is the start, before a load of stacked guitars are allowed to take over. Her voice does the same in the chorus. A lot of imagination went into the different layers of 'Ghost limb'. "I wanna use you up", Wolfe sings and seems to mean it in a rather undercooled way as if she doesn't care much about the effects.

Next up is a 'Gold on the ceiling' kind of song. That is just fine with me. The T. Rex like rhythm is just fun. 'Baby, get it on', I say. Again dead cool is the way Emily Wolfe sings. It is the music that allows some of the necessary lightness. Some guitars, some keyboards and loud drumming. What surprises me is that, despite that, particularly, the rhythm sounds so familiar, this song is so good. Because who is Emily Wolfe? I have no clue, but a singer who released an EP of high quality for sure.

By then it is also completely clear that Wolfe has nothing to do with the music most of the world associates with Austin or Texas for that matter: Americana, singer-songwriter, whatever -ana, but not alternative rock. This is the music that she excels in on Roulette. She's not alone though. All the guitars, voice and everything that can be pounded on not called drums is by her, but the band does the rest. Hannah Hagar sings also and plays synths and keys, Sam Pankey plays bass and finally Jeffrey Olson plays drums and percussion.

The singing on 'Marionette' is lighter and somewhat higher, it is the lush guitar that does the trick in this song. The rhythm is distinctly different, making for a busy song with a lot of playing by most instruments. This is compensated by the more ballad like 'Violent veins'. A song that has a piano that could come out of Coldplay. The rock guitar in one of the corners is more Hendrix, for compensation, I guess. An interesting combination though, that brings some interesting lines to follow throughout the song.

Roulette does fall, in a rocking kind of way, into the Coldplay realm of rock music. Songs with broad strokes, written and performed to be played on larger stages. For people who like their middle of the road rock in loud and exciting ways. The final song, 'Missionary son' shows just that. The fastest song on the album rocks out, driving, pulsating. At the same time Emily Wolfe proves that she's not afraid of letting some madness into the song. Truckloads of guitars that produce notes that are on the edge of fitting, while a piano rules wildly in the background.

Roulette is fine EP that made me really curious of what else Emily Wolfe has to offer. Sounding from these five songs it may well be a lot. Unfortunately for you dear reader Roulette is no longer available as a whole on Noistrade, except for that brilliant, trippy, hard rocking last song. Check it out here:



dinsdag 24 maart 2015

American middle class. Angaleena Presley

American Middle Class van Angaleena Presley heeft inmiddels dan eindelijk een Nederlandse release gekregen. Het is een goede reden om aandacht te besteden aan deze plaat, maar er is nog een veel betere reden. American Middle Class is me bij de hernieuwde kennismaking nog veel dierbaarder geworden dan een paar maanden geleden het geval was en is één van mijn favoriete platen van het moment. Daarom aandacht voor het indrukwekkende debuut van Angaleena Presley.
De Amerikaanse (alt-)countryster Miranda Lambert (zo ongeveer met al haar platen vertegenwoordigd op deze BLOG) vormde een paar jaar geleden samen met Ashley  Monroe en Angaleena Presley (geen familie van) het met name in de Verenigde Staten zeer succesvolle trio The Pistol Annies. Ashley Monroe trok vorig jaar veel aandacht met het heel aardige, maar wel wat naar mainstream neigende, 'Like A Rose' en nu is het de beurt aan Angaleena Presley.
Angaleena Presley groeide op in Kentucky en is de dochter van een mijnwerker. Dat zijn twee mooie ingrediënten voor een traditioneel aandoende countryplaat, maar Angaleena Presley blijft op American Middle Class voldoende ver verwijderd van de traditionele en over het algemeen aalgladde Nashville country, waardoor ze ook de liefhebbers van alternatieve country zeker zal aanspreken.

American Middle Class valt op door lekker in het gehoor liggende rootssongs die meerdere uithoeken van de Americana verkennen. Angaleena Presley heeft een voorkeur voor donkere songs met invloeden uit de folk, country en blues en kiest hierbij afwisselend voor akoestische songs en songs waarin de elektrische gitaren voorzichtig mogen ronken. Ook haar Zuidelijke roots komen echter met enige regelmaat aan de oppervlakte, bijvoorbeeld wanneer een flinke dosis gospel opduikt of wanneer haar vader een mooi verhaal mag vertellen.

De songs op American Middle Class zijn songs die steeds zijn voorzien van een mooie instrumentatie, met een hoofdrol voor fraai gitaarwerk, maar American Middle Class wordt uiteindelijk vooral gedragen door de aansprekende stem van Angaleena Presley. Alleen de prachtige zuidelijke tongval van Angaleena Presley is voor mij al genoeg om te smelten voor de songs van de Amerikaanse singer-songwriter, maar ze beschikt ook nog eens over een stem die in meerdere soorten songs uitstekend uit de verf komt en je (of in ieder geval mij) weet te raken.
Het is een stem die lijkt gemaakt voor country tear jerkers, maar ook als de gitaren uit mogen halen haakt Angaleena Presley moeiteloos aan, wat ze overigens ook doet wanneer haar songs soulvoller of juist poppier zijn.

Zeker in de wat stevigere en donkerdere songs met mooi zweverige gitaren doet de productie, waarvoor Angaleena Presley overigens zelf tekende, wel wat denken aan die van Daniel Lanois, wat de plaat iets ongrijpbaars geeft. Hiertegenover staan een aantal behoorlijk toegankelijk songs die het goed zullen doen op de Amerikaanse radio en raken aan het werk van Sheryl Crow. De beelden van fraaie roadtrips bedenk je er vervolgens moeiteloos en bijna vanzelfsprekend bij.

American Middle Class is een bijzonder veelzijdige plaat met songs die stuk voor stuk meer indruk maken wanneer je ze vaker hoort. Zeker in vocaal opzicht kan Angaleena Presley zich meten met de allerbesten, maar desondanks kiest ze voor de nodige vocale assistentie, wat er uiteindelijk voor zorgt dat haar stem nog veel meer indruk maakt. Hetzelfde geldt eigenlijk voor de songs op de plaat, die stuk voor stuk prachtig zijn ingekleurd en ook nog eens mooie verhalen vertellen. Stuk voor stuk groeibriljanten.

American Middle Class is een plaat die onmiddellijk indruk weet te maken, maar na verloop van tijd wordt deze indruk onuitwisbaar, al is het maar omdat Angaleena Presley steeds weer fraaie bruggen weet te slaan tussen de traditionele en de meer alternatieve rootsmuziek, waarbij ze het beste van beide werelden weet te combineren. American Middle Class van Angaleena Presley schaar ik inmiddels met terugwerkende kracht onder de betere rootsdebuten van 2014, maar het debuut van de singer-songwriter uit Kentucky is nog niet uitgegroeid. Nog lang niet zelfs. Ik schrijf hem dus ook alvast op voor 2015.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt hier luisteren naar 'American middle class':


maandag 23 maart 2015

For my dad

Photo: Tineke
Today we laid my father down at his final resting place. Joined again with my mother after 18 years. As we, his children, wrote on the announcement card "Today we give him back to our mother". We have been lucky to have been allowed to have him for the past 18 years, years in which we shared our lives, years in which he became a much loved grandfather of six and three step grandchildren.

A father who had no love for music in any form, although when we were small children he came up every night to our bedroom to sing us the songs of his youth, learned at water scout events or at school. Until he fell asleep first and got up refreshed for the rest of the evening.

There are two artist he liked. Not that he listened to their music, but he liked them anyway. The first Doris Day, the other Louis Armstrong. The latter probably the only artist he ever met in person as Satchmo and his band visited the ship my dad sailed on as junior officer around 1957 in Portland, Oregon. Some of his colleagues had ran into the band in town the night before and invited them over. To everyone's surprise they showed up and had a drink and something to eat on board and played a tune in return. The story is true, we have the photo in our possession.

So picking out the songs for his funeral wasn't a hard task. At the entrance we will play 'What a wonderful world' as this is very true of how he stood in this world, sailed to every port of call imaginable and loved living his life. 'Che sera, sera' by Doris Day is the other one. He left for his last resting place on 'Sailing' by Rod Stewart. The merchant mariner who always came back to his home, to his wife and family. To his cornerstone in this world. By sea or air. This song was our choice, but very appropriate to play at the moment he's rejoined with his one true love.

And then there's that song that we couldn't play in church for decency reasons. A song he came home with in the mid 70s and we all thought, what is this? There he sat singing: "Ik wist niks want ik most pissen" and that other one by the same band: "Oerend hard".

Rest in peace, dad. You'll be missed for your friendliness, hospitality and friendship.


This time I let you search for the songs on You Tube yourself.

zondag 22 maart 2015

CD presentation '1974' Mountaineer in De Nieuwe Anita, 21-03-2015, Amsterdam

Last week we posted on '1974' , the new album Maggie Brown singer and guitarist Marcel Hulst released under the name Mountaineer. A beauty of an album, soft-spoken, intense with diverse layers to be discovered when the listener really takes his time to do so. (Click here for the review: http://wonomagazine.blogspot.nl/2015/03/1974-mountaineer.html) Somewhere in the past weeks WoNo Magazine received an invite to come to the cd presentation, so off we went to Amsterdam, to something called De Nieuwe Anita.

The songs on '1974' are all so soft and quiet that I wondered how they would hold on a stage. To my surprise when I looked down over the railing into the cellar where "the stage" of De Nieuwe Anita is situated, I saw drums/percussion for three people, keyboards for three, two guitars and a pedal steel guitar. Marcel Hulst was accompanied by five musicians of which the drumming lady did backing vocals as well. Together they recreated an only slightly louder version of the album.

De Nieuwe Anita looks like an old store that has turned into a bar, including a cocktail bar, annex cultural centre in which art is shown and theatre and music is played. In this instance in a cellar not even half the size of the whole venue. It lies in a south-western circa 1900 extension of Amsterdam's city centre. The cellar floor is the disco and stage. About half of the floor was filled with instruments and a dj booth on the side, the other half was for the audience that is at the same level as the musicians. As all except Marcel Hulst were sitting, some never came into view for me. The album cover was projected on a large curtain at the back of the "stage".

Together they played the songs on '1974' in a near perfect manner. At the beginning only Marcel Hulst was playing his guitar, setting an atmosphere that was very much like the opening song on 'Maggie Brown'. Slow played, long held, lush chords that created a little musical magic straight away. The band joined and together they played 'In Canada'. A few in the audience knew enough and left straight away, making room for many others that stood crowded in the small cellar (for so many people). A load of girls sat on the stairs on the side of the stage. Probably more people were watching from the railing upstairs. Either you like this soft spoken music or you don't I guess.

All the subtleties in the songs came forward in a much more direct manner than on record. Listening to the songs for the second time, I was surprised to hear other instruments. They never made an impression on me the first time around. It really seemed just a singer and his guitar. On stage they were more prominent. All the keyboards made different sounds, creating distinctive atmospheres, making songs unique. The drums and percussion adding different layers as well.

The show ended with the band cooking up a storm. Louder and louder the few chords were played. Immediately after that Marcel Hulst played a song that I thought to be a Maggie Brown one, but turned out to be an Mountaineer outtake, solo, closing the show in his soft-spoken style.

Again I have to stress that presence and presentation is a part of what a musician is on stage. It is not all about the music only. That is something Marcel Hulst has to become aware of and work on. He has the songs, he has the voice and the band or in this case the musicians. That is all there. Now it is about capturing his audience. His challenge for 2015 is cut out.

The album is there as LP, cd or download. I bought the album and having read Erwin Zijleman's blog yesterday my expectations are set even higher. Two albums into Marcel Hulst's career I dare to say that we have a major songwriting talent in the country. Time for you to find out? Yes, it's that time dear reader! So please proceed below.


You can listen to and buy '1974' on Mountaineer's bandcamp page.


zaterdag 21 maart 2015

Lucas Hamming live, Patronaat Haarlem. 19-03-2015

What a contrast between the angelic voices and pure pop songs of Sunday Sun and the hard rocking starters of Lucas Hamming. A young man who is being launched as a major talent, a Dutch Jeff Buckley, non the less.

In the first three songs I did not get it, with the unplugged happy session of Sunday Sun still ringing in my ears. In the fourth song something changed. Weird chords, eastern rhythms and singing and the Buckley element showed its head. The movements on stage spelled seduction, sex and fathers lock up your daughters movements. Lucas Hamming spelled danger on stage. For myself it spelled interesting music. From that moment on Hamming had me hooked. His single 'Wood from the trees' came by, a song that is broadcast regularly in the past weeks.

His ex-guitarist came on stage, Reinier, who made a different career move in the past. University and fraternity instead of playing in a band, but wanted to play an old song for once on stage. If this was a one off, then I'm totally honoured to have been present. With a larger than large smile on his face Reinier enjoyed his few minutes of fame, but showed what a fabulous guitarist he is. Fingerpicking style like Mark Knopfler and rocking hard at the same time. A truly amazing style and song.

Lucas Hamming is not afraid to show his influences. Led Zeppelin came through loud and clear in one of the songs, some Muse as well. For the rest this guy rocks out loud and can sing. He's no Buckley voice wise though, in songs he's working his way up there. I enjoyed every minute past song three into the show. There was one announcement that made me prick up my ears: "If I believe in a God, then it's Alex Turner". There is another influence that clearly shone through.

Time will tell whether Lucas Hamming is a true talent and is able to find his own voice. For now I'll definitely settle for showing a lot of promise. His EP is in the bag, so I may well return to him in the near future. In the meantime. If someone sees him wanting to jump into the Kromme Mijdrecht or the Wijde Aa with his boots on, tell him to be careful and that there are safer spots and ways to swim in this country.


You can listen to 'Green eyed man' here:


vrijdag 20 maart 2015

We love to sing and play. Sunday Sun, live Patronaat, 19-03-2015

For those who follow this blog, this post is not going to be a surprise. Sunday Sun is a regular costumer since its early days. The EPs, live shows and interviews, they have all come by. Today another live review, just under a year from last year's.

If anything shows at shows through then it is the joy these four guys show when performing. Large smile can be seen on their faces when they play and even more when they sing. Sunday Sun is able to find perfection in the harmonies. Every time a challenging four part harmony is brought to a successful end, I saw the grins widen. On stage and in the the acoustic after party around the LP-sticker-tshirt booth of the band. The moment those interested are able to join in and can try to find the fifth layer harmony. Seeing the four up so close, some of the mysteries of singing are divulged. All four do something different and stop or start for a moment, use another word or sound. Add all those moments up and magical harmonies are created on the spot. And we all got to join in.

Official press photo
The show was a whole step better than last year's with Bade. Not only because this time all the new songs were familiar to me, also because there were a few more experiments in sound and the band gelled just this little bit more.

For the rest, Sunday Sun is my kind of band. All things The Beatles come out. No one is that good, but Sunday Sun certainly has its (magical) moments. 'We let go' is a fab album by a band consisting of ideal sons-in-law that are proud to play in a band like this and have the songs to boot. Whether they will ever grow much larger than this, I have my doubts there, but as you'll have noticed in the past three years and some of this blog, it won't be my "fault". 'We let go' ought to be a number one album in this country and several others as well and several songs should be hits, starting with 'I call you honey'. That this isn't the case in a @#$% shame.

The past two live shows and a televised show of Ray Davies showed him working to hard on the audience. Cut it out I thought, I want to hear you sing. The message here is: "Don't overdo things". For the rest near perfect show gentlemen! But what a contrast with Lucas Hamming who is up tomorrow.


You can listen to 'I call you honey' here:


donderdag 19 maart 2015

Vinticious versions. De Staat

Vinticious? Now what does that mean? Let's make a quess, a combination of vintage and deliscious. The story is easier. De Staat did several instores after the release of 'I-con', the band's last album. That took another approach to the songs. They had to be redone, brought down from the full band versions, etc. From one thing came another and the band decided to work from this and record some of these different versions or used the excuse to redo some songs totally. The result, the 8 song album Vinticious versions. Total make over? The term is fairly well in use here.

Google some on this title and you'll find text like "This is not the Beastie Boys". Now I've never been a real the Beastie Boys fan, but I recognise their style immediately. So I could have been fooled easily here. A joke, but certainly a convincing one, as this is just very well done.

That goes for the whole of the album. Vinticious versions is like a delicious in between dish during a many coursed meal. Although that most songs are recognisable for the fan, the way they are presented and the atmosphere as a whole are distinctly different. The band is just as tight and veers left and right sonically, but they have taken the top off and air and sun is let in. 'Build that, buy that' is a great example. The rhythm is there, the tension in the singing, but the rest is just fun. Almost like a child's song. All without losing anything of the unique quality of the song. De Staat has captured this exactly and still all is light. A hat off moment this is.

Basically I could stop here, were it not that 'Input source select' is up next. De Staat as the Beastie Boys. Here the band really adds something to the original. Although the Beastie Boys have been mentioned by me in one of De Staat reviews on this blog in the past as an influence, here the band goes all the way. All the subtleties are let out with a great almost new song as a result.

And facing all eight songs, the album as a whole, I see what De Staat made possible for itself: a total new look at and take on its own songs. 'Down town' gets a waltzy/jazzy mood with a lazy female voice added the part that is so full of speed in the original. So whatever "vinticious" officially means, my suggestion is to stick with "total makeover". Agreed? "Very nice surprise" is a translation I'll also settle for should you defer with the former.


You can listen to 'Down town' here:


woensdag 18 maart 2015

Stoked on you. The Aquadolls

Tsja, het intro van deze post komt misschien wat raar over, maar toch willen we u deze recensie niet onthouden, want het is toch wel erg lekkere rammel 60s pop die wij hier horen. Dus terug naar eind vorig jaar....

Het valt niet te ontkennen dat de winter (of in ieder geval een periode met donkere dagen) inmiddels zijn intrede heeft gedaan in Nederland, maar volgens mijn speakers mag het nog best even zomer zijn. Dat is het geval wanneer Stoked On You van The Aquadolls uit deze speakers komt.

The Aquadolls is een band uit Los Angeles die muziek maakt die Phil Spector een aantal decennia geleden heel graag zou hebben geproduceerd. Stoked On You van The Aquadolls sluit aan bij de girlpop van Phil Spector, maar pikt uit dezelfde periode ook wat invloeden uit de surf en doo-wop mee.

Hier laat de band het niet bij, want ook invloeden uit de rammelpop en Riot Grrl muziek uit de jaren 90 en invloeden uit de garagerock van alle tijden hebben hun weg gevonden naar het debuut van The Aquadolls. Een vleugje shoegaze maakt het vervolgens af.

Stoked On You van The Aquadolls is zeker geen plaat vol muzikale hoogstandjes. Het is een plaat die aan alle kanten rammelt en regelmatig uit de bocht vliegt, maar dit is direct ook de charme en de kracht van de muziek van The Aquadolls.

Het sterkste wapen van de band is zonder enige twijfel zangeres Melissa Brooks. Dat hoor je het duidelijkst in de track waarin ze de vocalen moet laten aan één van haar mannelijke bandleden. The Aquadolls maakt op dat moment totaal geen indruk, maar hoe anders is dat wanneer Melissa Brooks de vocalen voor haar rekening neemt.

Melissa Brooks is zo’n zangeres die lui en ongeïnspireerd kan zingen, maar desondanks tot op het bot weet te verleiden. Het maakt vervolgens niet meer uit dat de muziek van The Aquadolls aan alle kanten rammelt en lijkt opgenomen met apparatuur die voor een prikkie op de kop is getikt. Wanneer Melissa Brooks gaat zingen gebeurt er iets met de muziek van The Aquadolls en groeit iedere track op de plaat (behalve die ene zonder haar zang dan) uit tot een perfecte popsong. En er staan maar liefst 15 tracks op deze plaat.

Natuurlijk zijn er veel meer bands die de inspiratie halen waar The Aquadolls hem heeft gevonden, maar op één of andere manier klinkt de muziek van The Aquadolls toch net wat anders. Losser, energieker, rauwer en vooral verleidelijker.

Stoked On You van The Aquadolls is zo’n plaat die energie geeft na een lange dag of die je aan het begin van de dag ruw maar aangenaam wakker schudt. De band van Melissa Brooks maakt muziek zonder enige pretentie. Stoked On You is een plaat waar de lol van af spat en deze lol maakt zich vervolgens meester van de luisteraar.

Een aantal decennia geleden had Phil Spector goud in handen gehad met dit bandje en vooral met deze geweldige zangeres. Nu is het vooral leuk voor de enkeling die deze plaat oppakt. Dat zijn er naar aanleiding van deze recensie hopelijk net wat meer dan normaal, maar mijn dag is na de zoveelste beluistering van Stoked On You van The Aquadolls al lang goed.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt hier naar 'Our love will always remain' luisteren



maandag 16 maart 2015

Rock N Roll. Palio Superspeed Donkey live, Rotown Rotterdam. 14-03-2015

Pi day? Not in the civilized world that is. 14 03 was the day that I got to see Palio Superspeed Donkey live or the first time and became a fan, period. Although all members are younger than my own son, this is a rock band to keep a keen eye out on.

Of course the band was lauded on this blog before for its debut EP and debut album, only recently. The proof is in watching the band live as well. From the very first song it was totally clear that things were going to be alright. Like in some of the topics in the band´s songs, you can see the band members are kids and behave as such in a mix of being in awe of where they are at this point in time on stage, a few moments of uncertainty and doubt in response to what is going on in front of them and youthful brazenness that can take on the whole world. When all is said and done there was a band on stage that has the songs, can play them real well, but above all can add another level that makes the songs even better. Great three piece harmonies and the stops and starts that show this band can count flawlessly. Exactly these elements give an exciting edge to their music and lifts it to higher ground.

Coming from Amsterdam and play Rotterdam tends to some anxiety or so it seems. Who cares? because music isn't football. An Amsterdam band can triumph in 010 and god knows where the audience comes from? That is the fun thing about bands (and a Dutch national team). They are there for everybody to enjoy.

Palio Superspeed Donkey managed to weave their favorite bands into its mix in indie, punky garage rock. From The Kinks harmonies right up to Arctic Monkeys, including the accent, it all came by. Super tight and exciting. The good thing being that they turn it all into something their own. Singer Sam Vermeulen acts/is extremely cool in his leather jacket. Guitarist Willem Smit and drummer Camiel Muiser lay down the perfect harmonies and bass player Ruben van Weegberg doesnt sing so isn't 'tied to a mike and can jump around, pumping up the music and atmosphere. Together there is a band presence and as such they are much further than Taymir e.g.

Looking at the age of the band, frighteningly young from my perspective, I can only wonder what is next. As far as I'm concerned this is a band to watch. So good at this age simply means that it can only grow from now on. A funny sunrise is only out for just under two months. I can hardly wait to find out what will be next.


You can listen to 'Kixin' here:


zondag 15 maart 2015

My favourite faded fantasy. Damien Rice

De Ierse singer-songwriter Damien Rice dook aan het eind van de jaren 90 voor het eerst op met de band Juniper, maar verraste in 2003 vriend en vijand met het prachtige debuut O, dat in 2006 een vervolg kreeg met het bijna even mooie 9.

Sindsdien hebben we helaas niet al teveel meer gehoord van de Ierse muzikant, maar met My Favourite Faded Fantasy is Damien Rice eindelijk terug. En hoe.

Damien Rice werkte op 9 nog intensief samen met zijn vriendin Lisa Hannigan, maar de liefdesbreuk liet niet lang op zich wachten. Het is een liefdesbreuk die er stevig heeft ingehakt bij Damien Rice en afgaande op een deel van de teksten op My Favourite Faded Fantasy is hij er nog steeds niet helemaal overheen.

Nu was dat in het verleden voor veel singer-songwriters een voedingsbodem voor een prachtige plaat en deze vlieger blijkt ook op te gaan voor Damien Rice. My Favourite Faded Fantasy is een plaat die overloopt van emotie en van niet verwerkt leed. Het zorgt ervoor dat My Favourite Faded Fantasy snoeihard aankomt bij de luisteraar.

My Favourite Faded Fantasy is zeker geen plaat voor een feestje, maar wat valt er verschrikkelijk veel te genieten op de derde studioplaat van Damien Rice. Direct bij eerste beluistering van My Favourite Faded Fantasy had ik het gevoel dat ik naar een klassieker aan het luisteren was. Dat gevoel is eigenlijk alleen maar sterker geworden, waardoor het J(aarlijstjes) woord nauwelijks te onderdrukken is, wat in november natuurlijk ook helemaal niet erg is.

My Favourite Faded Fantasy bevat acht songs die worden gedomineerd door stemmige klanken. De instrumentatie op de plaat is vaak spaarzaam, maar de songs van Damien Rice bouwen in een aantal gevallen langzaam op naar een climax. De stemmige en zonder uitzondering wonderschone instrumentatie past prachtig bij de eveneens ingetogen en emotievolle vocalen van Damien Rice, die zijn ziel en zaligheid legt in de songs op My Favourite Faded Fantasy.

Het levert een collectie songs op die me meer dan eens doet denken aan de prachtige selectie songs die Jeff Buckley ons ooit op zijn meesterwerk en zwanenzang Grace voorschotelde. Net als Jeff Buckley zet Damien Rice zijn songs zwaar aan, maar waar het merendeel van de singer-songwriters zou verzuipen in een overdaad aan pathos, blijft Damien Rice, net als Jeff Buckley, moeiteloos overeind.

Ondanks het feit dat My Favourite Faded Fantasy vooral somber van aard is en vrijwel alle songs dik boven de vijf minuten klokken, is My Favourite Faded Fantasy een gevarieerde plaat die werkelijk geen moment verveeld. My Favourite Faded Fantasy is wat mij betreft een plaat die je koud laat of een plaat die je dwars door de ziel snijdt, al kan ik me eigenlijk nauwelijks voorstellen dat er muziekliefhebbers zijn die niet worden geraakt door de hartverscheurend mooie en hartverscheurend intense songs van Damien Rice.

Breakup platen behoren al decennia tot het meest ontroerende dat de popmuziek heeft voortgebracht. Damien Rice voegt met My Favourite Faded Fantasy een fraai hoofdstuk toe aan al het moois dat er al is. Damien Rice doet dit met zowel tijdloos klinkende songs als met een duidelijk eigen geluid. 

O en 9 waren absoluut prachtige platen, maar My Favourite Faded Fantasy vind ik nog veel mooier en indrukwekkender. Het is waarschijnlijk deels de verdienste van producer Rick Rubin, die de door liefdesverdriet verscheurde Damien Rice weer aan het werk wist te krijgen en vervolgens inspireerde tot grootse daden. Een van de meest indrukwekkende platen van 2014? Absoluut.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt hier luisteren naar 'I don't want to change you':


zaterdag 14 maart 2015

1974. Mountaineer

Mountaineer? A name that was not known to me until recently. Looking on Bandcamp there are even two other Mountaineers present. One from L.A. and one from Scandinavia with an ! behind the name. We were not confused as we found Marcel Hulst, who featured on this blog before with his band Maggie Brown and was interviewed by us earlier this year and Mountaineer is the name under which he released his solo album called 1974.

Fans of Maggie Brown and especifically those who like the small and intimate side of the band can purchase this album deaffolded. The voice, the songs and the atmosphere are all there. The main difference is that this is a solo album. Everything is downsized to Mountaineer size. An acoustic guitar, a ukulele and here and there something extra is added, in an intimate, modest way. These words define 1974, but it works. Although 1974 does not have the impact 'Maggie Brown' had on me, but isn't that the fate of almost all second and further albums? It even happened to 'Dark side of the moon' after I had got to know 'Wish you were here' first. Those albums tend to grow on you or not. So there you go.

Mountaineer builds an atmosphere on 1974 that encapsulated you if you allow the album's songs to do so. Slowly but deliberately the listener is drawn into the album, song by song, until you surrender to 1974. The soft voice of Marcel Hulst, the subtle accompaniment and the stories sung do their work in an unobtrusive way, but find their way they do.

Again Marcel Hulst takes us around the world. Canada, Kowloon, the sea, a river. It all comes by as a means of escape, "Where I leave it all behind" he sings or at a minimum to travel to, with ('Submarine') or on. Travelling is a strong source for his inspiration in writing songs, perhaps even his favourite way of life. Of course this is only the start of any story on a record.

The main story is the essence of Mountaineer's music. My guess is that if you don't fall for 'Submarine' and especially after the soft played drums and that magical, timid electrical guitar part join in, you can stop listening straight away. The song slips in and out of accompaniment. Just an acoustic guitar, arpeggiated notes and Marcel Hulst singing over them. This is the standard of 1974. Songs so small and softly played that anyone can miss them by not paying attention. That would be a shame, as Marcel Hulst proves his quality on 1974. 'Maggie Brown' was no coincidence. The intention behind the two albums may be different, the quality and the way I'm drawn towards the music is not.

To make a long story short, anyone who loves the soft side of Simon (& Garfunkel) or Donovan to name a few oldies and all who followed in their footsteps, may lose out on a great record if they do not check out Mountaineer's 1974. Small can be great and modesty fantastic. Mountaineer catches some beautiful moods and melodies on record. A melancholy treat.

As an aside. How come that when listening to the title song that my mind tells me the phone is ringing far off? The phone in 1974 that is. It happens a few times in the song when I have it on the ear phones. Funny, that distant memory, triggered by some vague keyboard sound in the background.


You can listen to and buy 1974 here:


1974 kent een launch party. Lees hier verder:


vrijdag 13 maart 2015

The physical world. Death from Above 1979

For some reason or other I thought that this band was not for me. I can't remember why, the impression that this was a dance duo?, but there was something about the reviews to date that made sure that I never listened to one of Death from Above 1979. Boy was I wrong!

Another duo band, another unusual line up, bass-drum with embellishments here and there, but so melodic, so up beat and so alive. From the very first note the pedal is down the metal. A question that sort of presents itself to me is why does anyone who can play like this want to play a bass guitar and not a regular electric one? The sound of this bass is definitely different. A whole truckload of effect boxes is let loose on the innocent bass guitar, which creates a large sound, omnipresent. The drumming fills up all else. Apart from that the duo does not shun things extras that make the songs a bit different and more melodic. Not unlike The Black Keys, with which I'd start comparing Death from Above 1979.

Death from Above 1979 is a Canadian band from Toronto. Jesse F. Keeler on bass, synths and background vocals and Sebastien Grainger on drums and vocals. In 2004 the band released an album,'You're a woman, I'm a machine', but disbanded in 2006. Both musicians worked with others in the meantime. In 2011 they started playing again, which led to The physical world, ten years after the release of the band's first album.

The most noticeable feat on The physical world is the variety and melodic strength of the album. Working in a duo format has to bring out the best in both partners. In the olden days that was conceived by harmony singing, think Simon & Garfunkel. In more modern days by cooking up storms on an instrument and drums. For me personally all that started with The White Stripes over ten years ago, after which many other duo bands followed. In 2014 Death from Above 1979, having missed that which went before.

Royal Blood, another bass-drums band, was reviewed earlier on this blog. Both bands compare favourably to each other I have to say, being able to bring more out of a song than at first sight seems possible with drums and bass. The physical world has a fullness and richness in sound which I think to be warm and includes the, extremely effective and totally convincing, essence of what a whole band could have done with these songs. Truth be told that is because of some pleasant overdubs. Like The Black Keys and The White Stripes burst out of the duo setting in the studio. What all that does, is make this album not only a rocking record, but also a rare form of pop record. A song like 'White is red' must be a hit in another universe for sure.

At the same time Death from Above 1979 can start a desert rocker, mix in some Bee Gees vocals and rock on some more. The duo does not let itself be tied into a small rock corner. It explores all the other corners, crawls through the space beneath the floor, dirt and all and drags it along to take a long, pleasant peep outside, through the veranda's French doors, with and without the Venetian blinds closed. The result is multi moods and approaches to a song. The basis may be alternative rock, but a lot of goodies were stacked on top, and that is what creates the luring mix The physical world is. Raise your fist, but don't forget to put a smile on your face and sing along. It is all possible on The physical world.


You can listen to 'Trainwreck 1979' here:


donderdag 12 maart 2015

Colours and their things. Emil Landman

Coloured the cover of Emil Landman's album is, but nice? No, it's not. The patchwork of a quilt, modern art or the drawing of a five year old in kindergarden. It's all possible. As it is about the music, I'll skip further comments on the cover.

Listening to Emil Landman I can't escape the feeling that NL has its own Shane Alexander.  In mood and quality. Landman is a soft voiced troubadour sharing his thoughts and feelings in a soft, non-outspoken, but oh so beautiful way.

Emil Landman is 24 and travels extensively. The travel stories find their way to his albums. It all started with his DYI album 'A bargain between beggars' and now his first major release Colours and their things.

Shane Alexander is the standard here. Landman's voice is deeper, but all things spell the way the Los Angeles singer-songwriter makes, plays and sings his music. 'For your review' could even be on one of Alexander's albums and no one would notice the difference. Combined with the songs Landman presents me with makes for a pleasant listening experience.

Of course that isn't the whole story. Otherwise I would never have started this review. Colours and their things offers enough on its own to allow to put in time and effort. Emil Landman is not afraid to throw in a little Ry Cooder, 'Paris, Texas' style in the instrumental opener 'North on California'. The guitar sound is crystal clear, like a clear desert morning. So laidback, yet so delicate. In the second song some songs on Patrick Joseph's 'Moonking' come to mind and in a pleasantly surprising way, I might add. By then, only the second song or first "real" song into the album, it's clear to me that Emil Landman is bound to surprise me more often. He does not want to be stuck in one hole only.

Promo photo V2
Colours and their things is a singer-songwriter album, where the singer is enveloped by so much more that just his guitar. In the band setting Emil Landman starts to excel. His slightly hoarse voice can go into a Chris Martin direction, yes there's some Coldplay in here as well, and into the two already mentioned singers. However, Landman is always is master over his songs. The songs are there to underscore his singing, not the other way around.

The bio coming with the album tells of roadtrips through the U.S. that inspired Landman while writing for his album. In as far as Landman brings us music with a U.S. flavour I can perfectly understand the bio. For the rest it is sort of useless information. It starts with the songs and ends with the songs and more specifically with their quality. At this point I have to owe up that there isn't a single original song on Colours and their things. It has all been done before. The fact is that at this point in time I don't care as, Emil Landman's voice is extremely pleasant to listen to and his songs are certainly above average. Every single one makes that mark and that is something not a lot of artist can say for themselves. On the other hand there isn't a single nine or ten on the album either. To write in soccer terms, the player which scores a 7 each match is the soccer player of the year, so there you go Emil.

Colours and their things is not officially Emil Landman's debut album, but his first with a major company and it shows. I couldn't find who the musicians on the album are, but they've done a very adequate job. Emil layed down the ball on the dot and only had to do one thing. And he did, score. An intriguing and fine album this is.


woensdag 11 maart 2015

From the mouth of the wolf (EP). Jon DeRosa

Another foray into the realm of Noisetrade.com. This sampler EP by Jon DeRosa could be found there and what a joy this introduction was. Unfortunately it's no longer there, but the video of  'Anchored' is, so enjoy it in your sweet time.

Not that DeRosa comes up with anything much new. His music is nostalgia as it is meant to be. All comes from way back when, but in such a way that it is extremely interesting to listen to in 2015. The four songs on From the mouth of the wolf give a sample of what Jon DeRosa is capable of. And that is recreating the sound of The Walker Brothers and Scott Walker at the start of his solo career, leaving the bombast behind, making his own music so much purer for it. DeRosa can croon like Morrissey, while tipping his toes into the same well as Morgan Mecaskey does on her two brilliant EPs. 'The righteous kind' and 'Lover less wild'.

From the wolf of the mouth is lush in a modest way. I'd almost say, don't provide Jon DeRosa with a million dollars to record a record. Perhaps he will not be able to restrain himself the way he does or is forced to do presently. It is in the tension created by the empty spots between the orchestrations that From the mouth of the wolf's four songs excel.

The EP starts with a female voice. 'Dancing in a dream' is a duet with Carina Round and can be found on his upcoming album 'Black halo'. This beautiful ballad sets the tone of this EP straight away. A few arpeggiated, simple guitar notes and a chord stroke, over which Round starts singing, answered by DeRosa. Together they sing in the chorus as if made for each other, singing like they have done nothing else their whole lives. With minimal effects in the music a maximum effect is reached. A song that seems played in slow motion, like dancing in a dream caught by a film director and slowed down for the special effects. Beauty caught in the act 'Dancing in a dream' is, nothing else.

His Scott Walker side comes out in 'Signs of life'. Jon DeRosa's voice may not be as deep and powerful as Walker's, the result is so much more subtle. The pathos is in part left to the imagination of the listener. leaving something to desire. Highlight of this song is moment the softly played snare drum comes in at the start of the second verse.

Jon DeRosa's rock side comes out in the more elementary 'Snow coffin'. His voice shifts to the Morrissey side of the spectrum on From the mouth of the wolf. The straightforward rhythm is embellished by violins that envelope themselves around the mix and sparse xylophone notes. Slowly 'Snowcoffin' is fleshed out, keeping Jon DeRosa's mesmerising voice as the steady captain at the helm of the song. Steady as she goes, sailor. Some beautiful harmonising at the end of the song as well.

The fun ends with 'Anchored', where the proverbial captain of the previous song gets lost at sea in 'Anchored', set free by his love and no "Pilgrim star to guide me". Another song that holds something mysterious, deep melancholia and a yearning for something lost that could be found or is lost for ever. Jon DeRosa is a star at catching such mysteries in his songs.

Capturing it all. From the mouth of the wolf is a sampler that makes me extremely curious for this upcoming album 'Black halo' and will certainly make me visit his Bandcamp page for his previous record. 'A wolf in preacher's clothes'. There is only one thing left to desire: A duet with Morgan Mecaskey.


You can listen to 'Anchored' here: