zondag 31 mei 2015

Thrill My Soul. Reymer

In België gaat de meeste aandacht op het moment natuurlijk uit naar de nieuwe plaat van Selah Sue (waarover de meningen overigens steeds verdeelder zijn), maar er is nog een Belgische zangeres die een plekje in de spotlights verdient: Reymer.
(Tine) Reymer heeft een rijk verleden in de Vlaamse popmuziek en maakte onder andere deel uit van de met name in België geprezen bands Flowers For Breakfast, El Tattoo Del Tigre en Billie King.
De afgelopen jaren koos Reymer nadrukkelijk voor het moederschap, maar met het onlangs verschenen Thrill My Soul maakt Reymer een verrassend sterke comeback.
Reymer maakte Thrill My Soul niet in haar eentje, maar maakte dankbaar gebruik van de muzikale diensten van een aantal kopstukken uit de Belgische muziekscene, onder wie haar Flowers For Breakfast kompaan Tom Pintens, zangeres Nathalie Delcroix (Laïs, Eriksson Delcroix) en Triggerfinger gitarist Ruben Block.
Het levert een hele opvallende plaat op. Het eerste dat opvalt bij beluistering van Thrill My Soul is de mooie stem van Reymer. Het is een stem die warm en helder, maar ook puur en breekbaar kan klinken, waardoor Thrill My Soul zich makkelijk opdringt. Dat doet de plaat overigens ook door de bijzonder fraaie instrumentatie en door de veelheid aan genres die Reymer op haar debuut aan zich weet te binden.
De plaat opent met een authentiek klinkende folksong die zo lijkt weggelopen uit de Amerikaanse Appalachen, maar vervolgens schiet Thrill My Soul werkelijk alle kanten op en verkent het naast folk, Americana en soul ook rock ’n roll en pop.
In alle songs op de plaat staat de stem van Reymer, hier en daar overigens bijgestaan door bijzonder fraaie ondersteunende vocalen, centraal. Het is een wijs besluit, want de stem van de Vlaamse zangeres beschikt over het vermogen om alle songs op de plaat naar een hoger plan te tillen en doet dat ook.
De instrumentatie heeft door de centrale rol voor de stem van Reymer noodgedwongen een stapje terug moeten doen, maar ook dit pakt uitstekend uit. De instrumentatie op Thrill My Soul is voornamelijk ingetogen, maar is hiernaast opvallend veelzijdig, zwoel en zeer bedreven in het creëren van onderhuidse spanning. Het zijn over het algemeen minimale middelen die worden ingezet, variërend van fraai pianospel tot ingetogen gitaarspel, maar ze sorteren een maximaal effect.
De uiteenlopende en zonder uitzondering subtiele accenten van andere instrumenten zorgen voor de broodnodige dynamiek en maken het bijzondere geluid van Reymer compleet. Het fraaie geluid doet vermoeden dat een producer van naam en faam zich heeft bemoeid met Thrill My Soul, maar ook dit blijkt een kunstje van Reymer zelf, wat de waardering voor haar talent nog wat groter maakt.
Thrill My Soul is tenslotte ook nog eens een plaat die traditioneel of zelfs bijna pastoraal kan klinken, maar niet veel later heerlijk lichtvoetig is. Het is een volgend voorbeeld van de balans en beheersing die het debuut van Reymer zo’n aangename en indrukwekkende plaat maken.
Vorig jaar was ik compleet stuk van het debuut van Melanie de Biasio. Dit jaar moet ik constateren dat het debuut van Reymer anders maar zeker niet minder is. Thrill My Soul van Reymer is een plaat om zielsveel van te houden. Wat een talent.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt hier naar 'Under My House' luisteren:


of kopen op Bol.com


zaterdag 30 mei 2015

Shades of Black. Kovacs

Kovacs' fame exceeded her music. Before I had heard one note I somehow knew things about her that I would not have minded not knowing. All sort of unpleasant personal stuff. Perhaps it helps to explain her music or lyrics, but still.

From what I had read about the music on Shades of Black I did not expect to listen to the album, besides giving it a first try. Was I wrong? Yes and no. Shades of Black does not contain the sort of music that I prefer to listen to. The first comparison is Caro Emerald, a sort of music I close to abhor. The second reference is Lana del Rey and then I start to prick up my ears a little. The third is all things Adele and I'm hanging somewhere in the middle, tending to lose my balance. Finally the little tray containing all things classic James Bond themes in my mind was opened. Flip, flop this album goes in my head. Yes, no, yes, no, yes, no. So it is fair to say that I'm intrigued.

Kovacs' voice is of the Adele tradition. The sort of voice that gets most singers in serious vocal trouble the moment they become truly popular. The duck quacking kind of voice I call it when I'm not politically correct. In a song like 'My Love' it is the exactly right kind of voice. Rough edges cut through the lyrics like a sawlike knife through meat, creating shards instead of cuts. She may be singing about her love, but more like a tiger that fell in love with chicken or calf. An extremely dangerous liaison it seems. '50 Shades of Black': "I can be a witch, a bitch, a murderer". Sharon Kovacs from Eindhoven seems not be a lady to touch without gloves on. What about a bomb demolition suit? The cover of the album hints at this also. It reminds me somehow of a wolf.

The just mentioned opening song and near title song holds all the qualifications mentioned. Suave is the word that comes to my mind, sophisticated another. It is here that her voice clashes with the music. The music holds all these high standards. Her voice can easily turn into a whip lashing out. The contrast is exactly what makes Shades of Black so fascinating to my ears. And I'm surprised that it is, but who cares? Music is about being entertained and Kovacs does that.

As a whole the album is too much for my taste, as this is not really for me. 'Ultraviolence' remains the exception here. Dan Auerbach seems like a logical explanation. By listening a few songs at a time that problem is solved. 'Night of the Nights' is a song that I enjoy to listen to in those sessions. Mysterious, dark. Not going anywhere, but fascinating none the same. The muted trumpet in 'Wolf in Cheap Clothes' gives the song an even more distinctive jazzy sound. This song comes very close to Caro Emerald's sound. And I like it in the end. It has the right mood, a little Nighthawks at the Diner kind of sleaze with loads of cigarettes and late night Bourbons.

Oscar Holleman, who worked with nearly all things metal in The Netherlands, produced Shades of Black and must have known he was on to something right from the very start. He caught a vibe that makes all the right things come out in this jazzy pop album. He allows Kovacs to shine as the star of her own album. A clean sound and several pleasant surprises, hand claps, finger snaps, clear pianos, horns and intriguing rhythms. Holleman made sure the production shines as well.

The gem of this album is 'Diggin'. There's even some strings involved in the James Bond theme song without a movie. If someone has the right connections Kovacs and Holleman may be the duo responsible for the Bond movie theme for 2018 or 2019. Whatever Adele is up to these days, in Shades of Black she may just have found her match. The only question is whether Sharon Kovacs' voice will hold up. Most singers who sing like this run into trouble fast after they made it. Time will tell. In the meantime I'm playing 'Fool Like You' again.


You can listen to 'Diggin' here:


or buy at Bol.com

vrijdag 29 mei 2015

.No's May Kairos, Concertzender 7 May 2015

Each month .No airs his radioprogram Kairos on Concertzender. Each month Wo. digs into this show and shares his thoughts. Often a wondrous world of esoteric music opens itself or neo-classical music or any other form of music Wo. is totally unfamiliar with. In those instances he shares his feelings and emotions. This month is a bit different. Wo. played an unofficial role in this program as you will notice. Here we go with this month's Kairos.

It is not every month that Kairos opens with a song I know, better, have in my possession, twice. In the Dutch, original version by Broeder Dieleman and on that beautiful 7" record that Snowstar Records released on Record Store Day. Bonnie 'Prince' Billy sings Tonnie Dieleman's 'Gloria' in English. I have written enough on that release and refer you to it by this link: http://wonomagazine.blogspot.nl/2015/04/three-glorias-bonnie-prince-billy-and.html. Still a wonder of beauty this recording, including the cover of this single.

The rustic atmosphere of 'Gloria' remains. Nils Frahm, an artist I can call myself familiar with these days, recorded a song so relaxed that I have to force myself to stay awake at this particular moment. I'm feeling a bit tired at the moment and this music does wonders. The lightest of percussion accompanies the extremely sparse piano notes Frahm plays. Seconds between them with only resonating piano strings left. .No is playing with us towards the end. There are notes interspersed in Frahm's song that sound sharper and higher. They really do not seem to belong and my bet is on Lubomyr Melnyk's piano. Together with Peter Broderick on violin, Melnyk plays a beautiful composition called 'A Warmer Place'. Dark, trinkling notes, notes that remind me of the first, heavy drops of ice melting, alternate with higher ones, that could well stand for the beginning of the brook that descends from the mountain. Following its path down around large boulders, the single notes that sound every once in a while, but down it goes. The composition with its 9 minutes is just too long to keep my full attention, but beauty is within it. No doubts here.

The mood changes to something more dark with 'She tells her love while half asleep'. This dark, brooding singing and playing isn't to my taste. Undoubtedly it is technically well sung and played by Polyphony, led by Jaqueline Shave; the Britten Sinfonia; Stephen Layton, conducting, but it just doesn't get to me. More the other way around. During the end of Morten Lauridsen's composition, with lyrics by Robert Graves, and the beginning of the next composition a poem by Anita Frenks comes by. A variation on the prince and his horse. It doesn't end well for one of them I can tell. The new composition is George Crumb's ‘Canticle for the holy night’. What to make of this? And the next? Peter Andersson's 'Death in the body but made alive by the spirit' could have been the same composition if the text sheet of Kairos hadn't told me something different. Both compositions are more sound experiments, embedded in musical shapes that more resemble music than "are" music. No head, no tail, no chorus, no verse or all verse? There just isn't much for me to hold on to. There is a faint hint of a choir of voices in the electric sound mist. As if I pass a church in the fog, I can hear faint singing, but can't for the life of me figure out where it's coming from, let alone that I can discern a church or other building in the total, misty, moist darkness.

The next band I at least have heard of. I even think I have a copy of one of the records somewhere, but I never managed to get through a whole album and totally forgot about it until now. Deep, dark electric guitars sound out over a sound that seems to come straight out of a submarine movie, let's say 'Das Boot'. Sigur Ros is the band, from Iceland and fairly famous. 'Svefn-g-englar' is a live version, I think, hearing an audience at the start of the song. "Sleeping Angel", it means. Jonssi, with his strange high voice sings indiscernible sounds over the music, that just slowly goes forward with the guitar erupting every once in a while like an Icelandic volcano. Yes, this is beauty.

'Lion' by Chris Rose is so much more down to earth compared to 'Svefn-g-englar' that the contrast is huge. Still, .No's ears have not fooled him. The two songs really go together well (and just wait until the composition with the bass gamba starts. .No had me there again. When is Rose coming back, I kept thinking.) With just a guitar Chris Rose comes close to the effect of a whole Sigur Ros. The guitar style comes close to Jeff Buckley's. Sorry, Chris, the singing doesn't get close though. 'Lion' is a song that becomes typical because of the alternated low and high voice of Chris Rose; a trick that reminds me of some of the work of Alt-J.

Listening again, I did hear the change between 'Lions' and Bart Peters' 'Improvisatie met basgamba'. Not the first time though. I was surprised not hearing the guitar any more, but that was all. When are the guitar and voice returning, I kept thinking, until I knew .No had me again. I realised that I was listening to a home recording, unreleased. Again dark and brooding, but of clear and instant beauty again. How can it be that no one is able or willing to release this music, I wonder, hearing some of the things that I've heard before on this month's Kairos? Peters' composition touches me and has this mysteriousness that makes me want to explore his composition. It really stands out in this month's Kairos.

Silmus was away for a few months from Kairos, but is back with the title track of its album 'Shelter'. It totally fits with the previous two songs. Gert Boersma's piano carries the composition before an electric guitar takes over, playing repetitive patterns. 'Shelter' is less contemplative than other compositions I remember by Silmus, but all is relative with the kind of music the band plays.

The speed goes up somewhat next. Almost to non-Kairos speed. I'd say. 'Sans peau', a composition from the album 'SWOD' (Stephan Wöhrmann & Oliver Doerell) is upbeat, with the bass, when present, coming straight out of Air's 'Moon Safari'. That's where the comparison stops. SWOD is much more experimental. Tapes and strange noises come with the territory, but I definitely like this. There's a song, a melody sounding through the other things they are doing. So quite okay.

The mood goes down again with 'Hamningberg' a composition by Rune Lindbaek en Cato Farstad. The sun is switched off again here or might be trying to get up, but not winning just yet. The spirits of the night still have the upper hand here. 'Hamningberg' could almost have been on a Pink Floyd album. Something more bombastic would have happened sooner or later, probably the first, but I like what I'm hearing and .No variates to the next song right in time for me. Still, the central melody is appealing and makes me delve deeper in all the other things going on around it.

George Crumb comes back for less than two minutes with ‘Berceuse for the infant Jesu’ from the same album, ‘A little suite for Christmas, A.D. 1979’. This is the only time that I would have made a different order in the selection, I think. The next song would have fitted better, although the silences in the "Child Jesus" fit the beginning of the next one perfectly. So perhaps not anyway. 'Love, when you don't want it' is the best song coming from Belgium in 2014. Yes, I raved about it last year and haven't changed my position in any way. There may not be a lot of people that have heard of Lighting Vishwa Experience, but that ought to change soon. Jazzy, relaxed, a musical meditation, a love song, perfection. Read it all here: http://wonomagazine.blogspot.nl/2014/08/love-when-you-dont-want-it-lighting.html. 'Love when you don't want it' is not the sort of song one'd expect in Kairos, but it fits so well.

Broeder Dieleman closes this months Kairos with a composition, in translation, of Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, thus circling this month's Kairos. The b-side of 'Gloria' is another beautiful song of which there were a great many this month. Perhaps my favourite Kairos so far and not just because I was able to whisper some suggestions into certain ears. I have experienced some great music this month to which I would have never been exposed were it not to .No.


You can listen to this Kairos here:


donderdag 28 mei 2015

Ivy Tripp. Waxahatchee

Waxahatchee, het alter ego van Amerikaanse singer-songwriter Katie Crutchfield haalde eind 2013 de Amerikaanse jaarlijstjes met haar tweede plaat Cerulean Salt. (Lees de recensie hier: http://wonomagazine.blogspot.nl/2014/01/cerulean-salt-waxahatchee.html) De plaat kreeg vervolgens ook in Nederland enige aandacht, maar inmiddels lijken we Waxahatchee hier al weer vergeten.
Ik ben Waxahatchee echter zeker niet vergeten. Cerulean Salt vergeleek ik eind 2013 met het briljante Exile In Guyville van Liz Phair en dat is een plaat waarmee maar heel weinig platen vergeleken mogen worden. Cerulean Salt vergeleek ik hiernaast met het betere werk van PJ Harvey, Cat Power, Kristin Hersh, Sinéad O'Connor, Juliana Hatfield, Ani DiFranco en Sleater Kinney, zodat ik met behoorlijk hoge verwachtingen uitkeek naar de nieuwe plaat van Waxahatchee.
Deze verscheen aan het begin van deze maand, maar krijgt in Nederland tot dusver helaas nauwelijks aandacht. Dat is niet alleen onbegrijpelijk maar ook doodzonde, want Ivy Tripp maakt mijn bijzonder hooggespannen verwachtingen meer dan waar.
Ook bij beluistering van Ivy Tripp komt het bovenstaande rijtje namen voorbij, maar net als op Cerulean Salt voegt Katie Crutchfield ook dit keer een flinke dosis eigenzinnigheid toe. Het levert stekelige popliedjes op waarvan je alleen maar kunt houden.
Vergeleken met zijn voorgangers rammelt Ivy Tripp net wat minder en dat komt de songs van Waxahatchee alleen maar ten goede. Nog meer dan op deze voorgangers heeft Waxahatchee een duidelijk eigen geluid en het is een geluid om te koesteren.
De muziek van Katie Crutchfield liet zich al niet in een hokje duwen en laat dat nog steeds niet toe. Ivy Tripp schiet hiervoor teveel kanten op en schakelt bijna achteloos tussen hopeloos aanstekelijke rocksongs, meer ingetogen songs en songs waarin Waxahatchee met wilde halen buiten de lijntjes mag kleuren.
Vergeleken met het zeker al niet misselijke Cerulean Salt laat Ivy Tripp op meerdere terreinen groei horen. In vocaal opzicht klinkt Katie Crutchfield een stuk zelfverzekerder, wat zowel in de meer ingetogen als in de wat uitbundigere songs prima vocalen oplevert.
In muzikaal opzicht rammelt Ivy Tripp zoals gezegd wat minder dan zijn voorgangers, maar hier blijft het niet bij. De instrumentatie op Ivy Tripp is voller dan op de vorige platen van Waxahatchee, maar zit ook vol verrassingen. Het gitaarwerk is vaak hoekig en elementair, maar minstens net zo vaak van een enorme schoonheid. Ook de bijdragen van (80s) synths en subtiel ingezette ritmeboxen geven de muziek van Waxahatchee steeds weer een net wat ander geluid en het is een geluid dat zeker niet alledaags is.
Nog meer dan op Cerulean Salt verrast Waxahatchee op Ivy Tripp met een serie geweldige popsongs. Het zijn popsongs die de grenzen opzoeken, maar het zijn ook popsongs die goed zijn voor een brede glimlach.
Waxahatchee werd bijna anderhalf jaar geleden terecht opgenomen in de jaarlijstjes van de eigenzinnigere muziektijdschriften en muzieksites, maar blijkt inmiddels een paar stappen verder. Ivy Tripp wordt inmiddels dan ook bejubeld in de Verenigde Staten en daar valt niets, maar dan ook niets op af te dingen. Hopelijk ontdekken we dat in Nederland ook snel, want Ivy Tripp is een plaat die je nog lang zal heugen en koesteren.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt hier luisteren naar 'Air':


Of kopen bij Bol.com


woensdag 27 mei 2015

Born Under Saturn. Django Django

In the first days of this blog, Django Django's first album was reviewed in a positive way (read here: http://wonomagazine.blogspot.nl/2012/03/django-django-django-django.html). In fact, the album ended high in my personal top 10 for 2012. Since I have to admit the album sort of faded from memory. Coincidentally just a few weeks ago I wondered whether there would ever be a new album. Thinking of it proved enough, Here it is.

The cover is very much a symbol of the news of this week (i.e. when I started writing the review). Picasso's modern art record selling painting 'Women of Algiers' was sanitized for U.S. viewers by Fox News. Even cubistic breasts leave too much to the imagination of sensitive, American minds. And here comes Django Django with Born Under Saturn's cover! There are more comparisons between the famous painter and this band. See if you notice by reading on.

Musically the album starts where 'Django Django' left off. Pleasant alienation over danceable rhythms and heavenly melodies. More 'Women of Algiers' than classic Greek art statues. The mix of cubism and realism can be found on Born Under Saturn easily. If anything Django Django has perfected its craft. Über songsmiths at work, could have been an apt title for the album as well. Let's take 'Found You' as an example. This song could have been sung by anyone from The Hollies to Herman's Hermits. Underneath everything was torn away and reconstructed in ways that the 60s pop icons could never imagine in their wildest dreams (next to technically impossible to execute). Django Django presents us with parts heavenly melodies, totally abstraction and some weirdness on the side as well. The fun thing is it works! 'Found You' is so extremely beautiful.

One of my comments three years ago was that the band could have gotten more out of harmonies. I concluded that good was good enough for 'Djang Django'. Not so for Born Under Saturn' though as the band really set itself to work on harmonies. And succeeded. Singer Vincent Neff may do all the work himself here, but that's just fine.

'Giant' kicks Born Under Saturn off. This is a very conscious choice is my guess. The songs holds all that made the debut album so much fun, while at the same time combining all that makes this band: the 60s and the 80s all in one. There is one other influence that pushes itself in my face: Blur. Never my favourite, it took me quite some time to figure that one out. Just one snippet of a song kept creeping up and I still don't know what song it is, but Blur it is 100% certain. 'Giant' does all well and is followed by a whole bunch of great songs. 'Found You' may be the best song on this album. It would have been a hit for The Beach Boys, the Backstreet Boys and Robbie Williams, but Django Django deconstructed the golden tune and made it a Django Django song and that may just be too much for the average ears. Pure earcandy though. Born Under Saturn holds more songs like this. Pure pop under an estranging layer of experiments. Pop remains pop though. Although 'First Light' would not have been my first choice as a single though.

Towards the end the music on Born Under Saturn becomes a little bit more of the same. This prevents Born Under Saturn from being a perfect second album. It comes close though. Django Django managed to perfect its music in the past three years in a way that I still call it poppy and not arty. This music could go extremely wrong, for my ears, and doesn't for one moment. It is just a tat too uniform past song #9. For the rest Django Django is my kind of band. If the only Django I know personally develops himself as much as this band does, his debut for Ajax is not far away.


You can listen to 'First Light' here:


or buy at Bol.com

dinsdag 26 mei 2015

The Maureens. The Maureens

On 22 May The Maureens released the first single, 'Heartbreak' of its upcoming new album. To celebrate the release, WoNo Magazine looks back in time and gave a listen to the previous album. Here is our Wo.'s impression, but not before we tip 'Heartbreak'. Perfection it seems.

The best song I know titled 'Maureen' is by Fountains of Wayne. A track that the band inexplicably kept for its left over album. Why inexplicable? Simply because it's its best song bar 'Survival car'. Whether The Maureens named itself after that fabulous powerpop song I can't tell. That the name caught my attention has already been explained on this blog.

The live show The Maureens gave in Q-Bus, Leiden (read here: http://wonomagazine.blogspot.nl/2015/04/the-maureens-live-q-bus-leiden-10-04.html) was such a success that I've bought the LP since and indeed: we have another Dutch band in search of the perfect pop song. It is a pleasure listening to The Maureens. Johan is dead, long live The Maureens.

Influences of every band that aimed to do so, come by in one form or another. The Beach Boys, The Everly Brothers, The Beatles, Big Star, The Jayhawks (although more live than on (this?) record), 60s hit bands, all the way up to Teenage Fanclub, The Posies and Fountains of Wayne itself. It all can be found on The Maureens and more like e.g. the slightly louder guitardriven power pop of Weezer.

The Maureens is a six piece band from Utrecht. The two front men, Hendrik-Jan de Wolff and Bas van de Looy, sing the stars out of heaven, as we say in NL. Their voices intertwine, jump in and out of the melody and do everything that makes singing, well, a joy to listen to. Sometimes there's a third or fourth voice, lifting every song up. The band's songs make the sun come out any time of day and night, summer or winter. A quality Fountains of Wayne lost somewhere after its third album. The Maureens have found that power laying by the wayside somewhere, somehow. All the notes and chords are in that exact place that make my mouth curl into a smile, wrinkles show up at the edges of my eyes; lifting my mood: The power of a great popsong. The Maureens have found that well and is dipping deep.

The album is already a few years old. That has not kept me from writing. A new discovery well worth writing on. The LP is spinning away regularly on my record player. The Maureens starts with an instrumental song 'Zuma Beach'. A bit of a strange choice for a band focusing on melodies so much. It sets the tone of the album though. The same rays of light shine through as in the vocal songs. This is the great quality of the songs on The Maureens: They make me feel incredibly good.

'Brother' and 'Early June' have this quality, where everything seems to come together in the latter. An indie guitar riff and solo. The Johan like verses and the total über pop of the chorus. The warm organ that encapsulates everything going on.

Not all songs on The Maureens have the quality of 'Early June', but the ground rules of this song can be found in all the songs on the album. The band does not rest before the inner secrets of its composition is explored, dissected and rebuilt with all the melodies, harmonies and surprising additions in place. Hours of practice and bouncing ideas around will have gone into most of the songs., which did not make them lose their freshness. They still sound as fresh as the morning dew on the spring grass with the early morning sun shining down on it. The promise of a beautiful spring day.

Influences from the 60s are all over the place, in combination with the powerpop that is in vogue since the 90s. The vocals can be as laden as that of bands like The Flower Pot Men or The Herd, in combination with ooh and aahs that all bands from The Monkees to The Beatles could come up with. The guitars are quite modern in sound and approach, the keyboards take us back in time. Listen to 'Desert song' and all will become clear. The Maureens is a very irresistible record.


You can listen to 'Early June' here:


or the newby 'Heartbreak':


Or buy at Bol.com

maandag 25 mei 2015

Black Halo. Jon DeRosa

Earlier this year I reviewed the EP Jon DeRosa had posted on Noisetrade some time before. 'From the Mouth of the Wolf' impressed me for quite a few reasons. Read all about it here: http://wonomagazine.blogspot.nl/2015/03/from-mouth-of-wolf-ep-jon-derosa.html. After contacting Jon DeRosa he sent me a link to listen to Black Halo. The album did not push me over as easily as his promo EP did, but push me over it did. Second impressions are always harder, simply because there are expectations. Jon DeRosa fulfilled these, I can assure you.

This review starts with the enormous divide between the looks of DeRosa and his music. The cover photo suggests that we're about to embark on heavy metal or more intense metal kind of music. The difference between the looks and what is on listen here can not be greater, larger, bigger: it's huge. Black Halo takes us back decades, the 40s, 50s and that part of the 60s that still belonged to parents. Frank Sinatra, Pat Boone, The Walker Brothers, Frankie Laine, just some names that pop into my mind remembering the record collection of my mother (minus The Walker Brothers). Jon DeRosa is crooning away, but in quite a modern setting, as the older three could never have imagined making an album like Black Halo.

Black Halo is his second album. In 2013 he released his debut 'A Wolf In Preacher's Clothes'. Before that he recorded "Dreamlike ambient-pop work" under the name Aarktica. On Black Halo he worked with the same producer and collaborator Charles Newman, who e.g. worked also with Soko an artist Erwin Zijleman reviewed on this blog. Together they worked in Brooklyn and Los Angeles, where different parts of the album were recorded. Recently The Weepies started to get some attention in NL. Brad Gordon worked on the arrangements on Black Halo and co-wrote 'Blood Moon' with DeRosa.

What Jon DeRosa does to me with Black Halo is touch me in a soft spot. One that most musicians never reach. Jeff Buckley did e.g. and that is about the largest compliment I can give, personally. Also here it is the combination of the voice, incomparable, and the music, incomparable to Saint Jeff also. But both have a hint of mysticism that goes beyond the obvious. Much more is going on in the music than I thought at first and second listening. Most songs are carefully crafted, built up pieces of musical art. With snippets of music all around. I don't know if DeRosa got his million dollar contract, but if he has, he used it extremely wisely. Instruments were not brought in to fill whole blank spaces, no they fill up bits and pieces, creating musical art together. If you take 'High and lonely' as an example, you'll find out what I mean. There's a sound here. A stroke on a guitar there. Some ambient percussion sound, etc. All together it becomes the music DeRosa sings over in his fantastically relaxed way. Dark, slow and self-assured.

Of course 'Dancing in a Dream' impresses me the most again. Knowing the song already and truly having fallen in love with it. This duet with Carina Round is so intensely beautiful that I can listen to it any time. The surprise of Black Halo is that it holds more songs that come very close to this quality. Opener 'Fool's Razor' holds that same melancholy beauty. The kind of song that stops time and space. I can't wait to hear this record on vinyl to be honest. All is perfectly in balance. Warm. Deep. Enveloping. Befriending. Jon DeRosa is a huge talent and I'm really wondering where this record, that is completely out of the space and time continuum of 2015 of course, will take him. I know where it has taken me. This is a five start record.


You can listen to 'the trailer' here:


or buy Black Halo here:  


or at Bol.com:

zondag 24 mei 2015

All or Nothin'. Nikki Lane

Vorig jaar stond ik al stil bij All Or Nothin’ van de Amerikaanse singer-songwriter Nikki Lane, maar omdat de plaat nu pas officieel in Nederland wordt uitgebracht, mag de tweede plaat van de singer-songwriter uit New York nog een keer in de herkansing.
All Or Nothin’ is een plaat die me vorig jaar nogal heen en weer slingerde en me afwisselend heel veel en vrij weinig deed. Ik sloot mijn recensie vorig jaar dan ook af met de opmerking dat All Or Nothin’ slechts een voorzichtige krent in de pop is, maar dat er echt veel meer in zit voor Nikki Lane.
Denk ik daar inmiddels anders over? Ja en nee. Ik ben er nog altijd van overtuigd dat Nikki Lane nog veel beter kan, maar All Or Nothin’ is inmiddels toch wel meer dan een voorzichtige krent uit de pop.
Ik ben inmiddels redelijk verslaafd geraakt aan de stem van Nikki Lane. Het is een krachtige stem met een aangename snik die gemaakt lijkt voor countrymuziek en me vorig jaar al deed denken aan legendarische voorgangers als Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline, Bobbie Gentry en Kitty Wells, maar ook aan tijdgenoten als Brandi Carlile, Neko Case en Lydia Loveless, met hier tussenin nog een vleugje Kirsty MacColl. Een stem om van te watertanden noemde ik het destijds en dat is het nog steeds. Meer dan vorig jaar valt me nu overigens op hoe makkelijk Nikki Lane zingt, waardoor All Or Nothin’ lekker ontspannen klinkt.
Ik was vorig jaar een stuk kritischer over de productie van Dan Auerbach. De Black Keys voorman heeft de tweede plaat van Nikki Lane voorzien van een vol en sfeervol geluid vol echo’s uit de jaren 60. Dit geluid heeft hij vervolgens verder opgevuld met geweldig snarenwerk vol haakjes naar de alt-country uit het heden en de glorieuze muziek uit de jaren 60.
Waar ik vorig jaar precies moeite mee had haal ik niet meer uit mijn recensie en weet ik ook niet meer. Ik weet wel dat ik bij de hernieuwde kennismaking met All Or Nothin’ helemaal geen moeite meer had met het geluid dat Dan Auerbach heeft bedacht voor de songs van Nikki Lane. All Or Nothin’ klinkt gloedvol en geïnspireerd en ook nog eens bijzonder veelzijdig en aangenaam.
Het zijn overigens ook de songs van Nikki Lane die me inmiddels veel meer bevallen dan ruim een half jaar geleden. Nikki Lane heeft op haar tweede plaat het patent op tijdloze popliedjes die zich buiten de gebaande paden van de Amerikaanse rootsmuziek begeven, maar kan ook uit de voeten met rootsmuziek die keurig binnen de grenzen van deze paden blijft. Het zijn ook nog eens popliedjes die indringende verhalen vertellen, want het grootste deel van de plaat is gebaseerd op een nare liefdesbreuk die Nikki Lane inspireerde tot het schrijven van haar eerste eigen songs.
Het is waarschijnlijk de popinjectie van Auerbach die de vorige keer wat weerstand bij me opriep, maar All Or Nothin’ is uiteindelijk toch vooral een rootsplaat. En een hele goede rootsplaat.
Ik begrijp niet waarom in Nederland in deze steeds kleiner wordende wereld met enige regelmaat een half jaar moet wachten voordat een plaat wordt uitgebracht, maar het heeft All Or Nothin’ van Nikki Lane goed gedaan. De voorzichtige krent uit de pop verdween immers snel uit beeld, maar de inmiddels tot een echte krent uit de pop getransformeerde plaat kan voorlopig nog op mijn aandacht en warme sympathie rekenen.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt hier luisteren naar 'All or Nothing':


of kopen bij Bol.com


zaterdag 23 mei 2015

Paradise Outlaw. Pieta Brown

This is one of those records that remained on a pile of records to check out, got played regularly, but never made it to the blog. I decided to change that after transferring the record to my iPod, where it got played more regularly. The extremely pleasant to listen to voice of Pieta Brown caught my attention directly, so I started to listen more often and from one came the other.

Pieta Brown releases records since the beginning of this century. Paradise Outlaw is her 6th, excluding three EPs. Her music can be filed under alt.americana/folk/singer-songwriter corners of music. Even more laid back than J.J. Cale on a sunny afternoon. Pieta Brown is without any hurry on this album. She sits in the centre while behind her brushes are moving over the skin of a drum, a lazy banjo is picked in one corner, an electric guitar is just as lazy in the other corner. Pastoral is the right word her. The soundtrack for Marie-Antoinette and her ladies in waiting at play in the backgarden of Versailles.

The mood may darken a little, because of a dark slide guitar in a song like 'Before Gas and TV', this doesn't change the languorous mood. The heat is all around, humid, like a blanket speed is the last thing the musicians needed in these temperatures. How this all came about can be read on Pieta Brown's website. The record was recorded in Justin Vernon's (a.k.a. Bon Iver) studio April Base. Things came together there for Brown and her musicians. In 'Before Gas and TV' Pieta Brown comes close to the mood Neil Young created on some of his songs on 'Hawks and Doves' album, like in 'Captain Kennedy'.

Paradise Outlaw is a modest record. The sound is small and unobtrusive. With a minimum of effects Pieta Brown affects the listener directly. 'Opening song 'Wondering How' sets the mood for the complete record. Softly played acoustic and electric guitar, the latter with some reverb like effect on it, and brushed drums. A male voice singing very soft harmonies. I'm not even sure whether there's a bass present.

Strangely enough I have to play this album loud or put it on a headset. Either other form of listening just does not happen. The recording is so soft that it disappears in the life going on around me. I had to create the circumstances that Paradise Outlaws can force itself on me. Once that is created, the record draws me into itself.

The little extras are in the banjo that is added in one song, an electric solo, a violin, a duet. It is elements like these that make Paradise Outlaws the more interesting. Some songs sound deceptively simple, but listening to them more seriously makes me realise that they are simply prefect. A song doesn't need a million chords to be interesting. The contrast between Amos Lee's rougher voice and Brown's light one in 'Do You Know?' is one of these aspects.

All this makes Paradise Outlaw the perfect album to end a day with. A moment for introspection and relaxation. Pieta Brown delivers all that and more.


You can listen to 'Do you know?' here:


or buy at Bol.com:

donderdag 21 mei 2015

Short Movie. Laura Marling

Laura Marling leek een paar jaar geleden nog de zoveelste Britse folkie die streed om de aandacht van een breed publiek, maar inmiddels weten we wel beter.
De Britse singer-songwriter is pas 25, maar heeft inmiddels een aantal bijzonder indrukwekkende platen op haar naam staan, met het twee jaar geleden verschenen Once I Was An Eagle als meest ambitieuze en wat mij betreft ook beste plaat.

De lat voor de vijfde plaat van de inmiddels al een tijdje vanuit Los Angeles opererende singer-songwriter lag dus bijzonder hoog, maar Short Movie laat horen dat Laura Marling haar top nog lang niet heeft bereikt.

Op Once I Was An Eagle liet Laura Marling al horen dat ze precies de muziek maakt die ze zelf wil maken en dat doet ze nog net wat overtuigender op haar nieuwe plaat.

Short Movie opent met een donkere en duistere song. De basis van de song wordt gevormd door het bijzondere akoestische gitaarspel en de al even bijzondere stem van Laura Marling, maar door de psychedelische geluiden op de achtergrond is het veel meer dan zomaar een folksong. Het doet af en toe wel wat denken aan de muziek die een al even jonge Joni Mitchell in Los Angeles maakte, maar de vergelijking houdt niet lang stand.

In de tweede track horen we Laura Marling rauwer dan we haar ooit gehoord hebben. De vergelijking met PJ Harvey dringt zich op en dat is een vergelijking die nog een aantal keren terugkomt bij beluistering van Short Movie.

Welke richting Laura Marling op Short Movie ook kiest, de songs van de Britse singer-songwriter zijn altijd opvallend intens. Short Movie is ook een pure en eerlijke plaat met songs die variëren van ontspannen en ingetogen tot beklemmend en gejaagd.

Short Movie laat goed horen hoe uniek het gitaarspel van Laura Marling is en hoe mooi en emotievol haar stem in de afgelopen jaren is geworden. Het akoestische gitaarspel en de recht uit het hart komende vocalen van Laura Marling bepalen voor en belangrijk deel het geluid van Short Movie, maar het belang van de extra inkleuring van de songs moet niet worden onderschat. Deze extra inkleuring doet soms wat psychedelisch aan en hiernaast zijn er de strijkers die de al wat weemoedige songs van Laura Marling voorzien van extra drama en melancholie.

Short Movie doet verslag van het leven dat Laura Marling in Los Angeles heeft opgebouwd en het is een leven dat we lang niet altijd hoeven te benijden. Short Movie is een plaat vol eenzaamheid en onzekerheid. Laura Marling weet deze eenzaamheid en onzekerheid zo indrukwekkend in haar vocalen te leggen dat Short Movie geen plaat is om heel vrolijk van te worden en soms zelfs bijna pijn doet, maar wat is het mooi en indrukwekkend.

De eenzaamheid en onzekerheid hebben overigens zeker geen nadelige invloed gehad op de artistieke ontwikkeling van Laura Marling. In vrijwel iedere track op Short Movie kiest de Britse singer-songwriter weer voor een net wat andere invalshoek en verkent ze nieuwe terreinen. Soms wat rauwer dan we gewend zijn, soms wat meer in zichzelf gekeerd, dan weer uitbundig met ‘spoken word’ vocalen.

Short Movie bevat 13 songs en duurt 50 minuten. Het zijn 50 minuten van een bijna ongekende intensiteit en schoonheid. Na afloop is één ding direct duidelijk: Laura Marling heeft wederom een flinke stap gezet en levert haar beste plaat tot dusver af. Een prestatie van formaat. Waar het eindigt? Ik durf het niet te voorspellen.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt hier luisteren naar 'I Feel Your Love':


Of kopen bij Bol.com

woensdag 20 mei 2015

You and Me Galaxy. Villeneuf

Detail of cover
Sometimes an act simply surprises. In 2013 I ran into Villeneuf by accident. They were the support act for Moke in one of the last shows I saw in the old LVC in Leiden before it closed its doors. From that show a relationship was built including reviews and an interview with lead man Michiel van Poelgeest. When I read about the release party in Gebr. De Nobel on 21 May, which I'll unfortunately miss, I got into contact. At present I'm listening to You and Me Galaxy for the first time and I'm amazed. Is this the same band?

Of course there were electronic elements in the previous album 'Great Waste of Time' (read here: http://wonomagazine.blogspot.nl/2013/02/great-waste-of-time-villeneuf.html), but on You and Me Galaxy the band goes way out on electronic sounds. And I can't say that it deterred me really. From my initial surprise my relationship with the album steadily grew. I found myself playing You and Me Galaxy more regularly during the days and weeks I have the album in my possession. Faint memories of 70s bands like the Average White Band and Atlanta Rhythm Section came to mind, where soul met forms of rock, combined with some sounds from later disco and U.K. new wave like the synths of Gary Newman. Villeneuf blends these sounds into its own. Delving a little deeper the name Midlake comes to mind and with that The Moody Blues from around its 'Long Distance Voyager' album as Villeneuf is not afraid to incorporate a disco like rhythm in a more progressive rock kind of song, like 'Lost' is.

'Since the Start' is the song that opens You and Me Galaxy. Electronic sounds from the disco age, 1977 - 1982, fly by, even the smoothest of bass sounds is in there. It does not make 'Since the Start' a disco song in the true sense of the word. For that the song is too slow, too melancholy, too sad. That makes the song at most moderately danceable. Moving your upper body while standing still. That kind of song. Dreamy, soft. To listen to and move without noticing at first.

The form Van Poelgeest chose to record his songs, is in an extremely delicate idiom. The music is soft, but multi-layered. A lot of music is played on things with keys. Organic and totally plastic all come by, with everything in between. Within the general melody a lot of sounds and snippets of melodies are incorporated. Idea after idea was developed and crafted into each song to create a wall of different, electronic sounds, while in most songs a level of vulnerability shows through that makes You and Me Galaxy a rare combination of distanced and personally close.

There is more than enough variation to discover I noticed after I got myself more familiar with You and Me Galaxy. The near psychedelic, because totally out of order jazzy, intro of 'Landslide' is so different from all else happening on the album, that at first I thought to be listening to something different. The moment the sound changes, morphs into silence, I realised to have been musically fooled by Villeneuf. The funny thing is that it doesn't sound bad at all, just out of order.

Villeneuf manages few other surprises as well as it latest album plays itself out. 'Riser' starts in a very strict way, after which electronics are added. Lots of blips, disconcerting keyboards and a main melody over the rhythm and out comes this melody of such beauty. "Aaaah" the harmony sets in, after which the melody is killed again for a mild form of alienation. A lot is going on in 'Riser', a song in which Villeneuf certainly dares to take the road less traveled. Beauty and beast are in constant contact here. Final song 'Landslide' is able to do the same trick. Weird sounds and electronically treated voices(?) are very manifest until a horn (sound?) comes in and the song moves into a song that reminds me of a delicate A Brand in another galaxy. Again Villeneuf blends all sorts of sounds and elements into a song that totally convinces me of its quality and inner beauty. A great way to end the album as a climax is built that lays the foundation for our anticipation of a new album. Already.

All in all there's a lot to discover on You and Me Galaxy. An album that holds secrets in the sounds and the songs as a whole. I am sure that I will discover new sounds or another sub melody years from now, just because I'm open to it or listening in just this slightly other way. A great step forward You and Me Galaxy is in my opinion.


You can listen to 'Oh Oh (Now We Know)' here:


dinsdag 19 mei 2015

No Cities To Love. Sleater-Kinney

Het in 2005 verschenen The Woods leek lange tijd de zwanenzang van het Amerikaanse trio Sleater-Kinney te zijn.

Toen eind vorig jaar de box met het volledige oeuvre van de band uit Olympia, Washington, verscheen (Start Together), werd echter ook direct een gloednieuwe plaat aangekondigd. Eerst zien, dan geloven, dacht ik in eerste instantie nog, maar inmiddels is No Cities To Love dan ook echt verschenen.

Iedereen die het oeuvre van Sleater-Kinney kent, weet dat het power trio garant staat voor torenhoge kwaliteit. Het begon in 1995 ooit met rechttoe rechtaan Riot grrrl punk, maar in de tien jaren die volgden wist Sleater-Kinney zich steeds verder te ontwikkelen, te vernieuwen en te verbreden, wat een geweldige serie platen heeft opgeleverd.

Een pauze van tien jaar doet een band echter vrijwel nooit goed, al hebben Corin Tucker, Janet Weiss en Carrie Brownstein de afgelopen tien jaar natuurlijk niet stil gezeten. Het pakt voor Sleater-Kinney gelukkig geweldig uit, want met No Cities To Love zet Sleater-Kinney een imposante volgende stap.

No Cities To Love laat horen dat het spelen in andere bands (waaronder de band van Stephen Malkmus) de leden van Sleater-Kinney alleen maar goed heeft gedaan. No Cities To Love laat een band horen die beter en hechter klinkt dan ooit tevoren. Dat hoor je in het geweldige gitaarwerk dat meer nuances en meer dynamiek bevat, dat hoor je in het soms onnavolgbare drumwerk dat de songs op de plaat een steeds weer wat net wat ander geluid geeft en dat hoor je in de vocalen, die wat minder onvast klinken dan in het verleden.

Het knappe is echter dat Sleater-Kinney haar rauwe passie en energie heeft behouden. Ook No Cities To Love mag nog heerlijk rammelen en mag bovendien nadrukkelijk buiten de lijntjes kleuren.

De muziek van Sleater-Kinney klinkt in technisch opzicht misschien beter dan in het verleden, maar dit heeft geen gevolgen gehad voor de urgentie, energie, passie en agressie van de muziek van Sleater-Kinney. Corin Tucker, Janet Weiss en Carrie Brownstein maakten in het verleden muziek alsof hun leven er van af hing en dat doen ze gelukkig nog steeds.

Al sinds haar debuut is Sleater-Kinney er in geslaagd om zich op iedere plaat te verbreden en dat is ook op No Cities To Love weer gelukt. Sleater-Kinney flirt dit keer met complexere songstructuren en uitstapjes naar omliggende genres tot postpunk en een vleugje disco aan toe, maar het slaagt er ook dit keer weer in om het zo unieke eigen geluid te behouden.

No Cities To Love is hierdoor vanaf de eerste noot een typische Sleater-Kinney plaat en het is er wederom één die maar blijft groeien. Tot en met The Woods was Sleater-Kinney één van mijn favoriete eigenzinnige gitaarbands en na beluistering van No Cities To Love weet ik dat dat nog steeds het geval is.

Door de geweldige box-set Start Together keek ik de afgelopen weken vooral terug op een zwaar onderschat maar prachtig oeuvre, maar inmiddels durf ik ook weer vol vertrouwen vooruit te kijken. Sleater-Kinney is nog lang niet wereldberoemd, maar ach wat zijn ze verschrikkelijk goed.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt hier luisteren naar 'No Cities To Love':

Of kopen bij Bol.com:

maandag 18 mei 2015

Hawks. Alamo Race Track

Alamo Race Track is a band that is around for quite some time now. I'm almost certain I saw them once as a support act in the 00s, but it never broke in the way other Excelsior bands did or received attention and airplay. Perseverance is also a trait that gets bands further.

On Hawks the band has a different sound from what I remembered of some years back. Electronics have entered the sound and more than once I'm remembered of Alt-J, although the sound of Alamo Race Track is much more alive and the antithesis of introspection. I'm happy this is the case. There is one Alt-J in my life and that is enough for now.

Alamo Race Track, the place where the hippie generation was carried to its grave. All illusions smashed by Hell's Angels' baseball bats and worse. See it all in 'Gimme Shelter'. Quite a name for a band as it is sort of a name that has a lot of doom and gloom around it.

The band has its origins in the fact that Diederik Nomden, who featured on this blog recently under his nom de plume Royal Parks, left Redevider. The band members decided to continue under a new name and released its debut album in 2003, 'Birds At Home'. Digging deep I even found a copy in my possession, something I'd forgotten all about. The album was followed by 'Black Cat John Brown' (2006) and 'Unicorn Loves Deer' (2011). In the past years the band went through several personnel changes, but the two guitarists are at the helm still. Ralph Mulder sings and plays and Leonard Lucieer plays. Peter Akkerman is still on bass. The newer members Jaap Bossen on keyboards and guitar and drummer Robin Buijs are around for their second album with the band already.

Hawks is an alternative album. No song takes the easy way out. In that sense there are some connections to bands like Modest Mouse and Sparklehorse. Estranging elements are woven through the fabric of the songs, while at the same time there is a form of tenderness that compares with Amsterdam colleagues Maggie Brown. Beauty is not in plain sight on Hawks. In fact there is a layer of grime, dust and city dregs after a night of large masses on the streets. Music for night mayors and other nighthawks, just before they go to bed.

This impression does not leave me after further listening. I'm fascinated, but do I dare to go in? That is the main question Alamo Race Track poses to me. The start of the album startled me just a little. I thought I'd put on the wrong album and that I was listening to Stuurbaard Bakkebaard, in a slightly mellowed down, more sophisticated version. Things turned out alright any way. Although the rhythm could be De Kift also. The song turns into a Sparklehorse tune instead. 'Young Spruce and Wires' also has this film of hiss over it that was typical for Sparklehorse. A strong beginning of Hawks it is though. The clear guitar notes that come to the front of the mix every once in a while contrast in a great way with the murky singing and keyboard lead notes. A Jacob's Ladder, a ray of light through dark clouds.

Alamo Race Track manages a trick like this regularly on Hawks. Exactly that is the reason I'm so intrigued by its music. Hawks has so many layers that there's something to discover with each spin. The band may have a conventional sounding line up, passed that everything is possible. Heavy 80's synths in 'Everybody Let's Go' enter the whole, but it could be violins as well or disco high voiced ohs and ahs. Sometimes they get closer to label mates Moss, another band that does not let itself be captured easily. In other songs Alamo Race Track is as without compromise like Alt-J is ('It's Bad Luck'). It hovers on this thin, fine line, high up and stays up there so with ease or so it seems. Hawks becomes more impressive by the spin as more secrets are divulged.

Hawks is an album for listeners who dare to go on an adventure without a promise to come home, in one piece or at all, including no final destination. Alamo Race Track has released an album that deserves listening to and deserves to get a serious relationship with. Only then you will find all that is hidden within. Be it grime and dust, be it diamonds. Only time will tell. The trip will be worth it. In short: yes, I dared to move in and was surprised at every corner.


You can listen to 'Young Spruce and Wires' here:


or buy at Bol.com:

zondag 17 mei 2015

Love and Logic. Sons of Bill

Sons Of Bill maakt inmiddels al een jaar of acht platen, maar pas sinds het in 2012 verschenen Sirens trekt de band rond Abe, James en Sam Wilson (allemaal zonen van vader Bill) ook in Nederland de nodige aandacht.
De band uit Charlottesville, Virginia, is inmiddels uitgebreid tot een vijftal en is voor Love And Logic met drummer (Wilco, Uncle Tupelo) en tegenwoordig ook producer Ken Coomer een studio in Nashville in gedoken.
Zeker de eerste paar tracks op de plaat laten een wat ander geluid horen dan het geluid dat we tot dusver kennen van Sons Of Bill. Het is een akoestisch geluid met nogal wat invloeden uit de countryrock en West Coast pop met hier en daar afwisselend aan The Beach Boys en The Beatles herinnerende koortjes en in de openingstrack bovendien een flinke dosis psychdelica.
Het is misschien iets anders dan verwacht, maar er is helemaal niets mis mee. Na een fraai en wederom opvallend ingetogen duet met zangeres Leah Blevins, verrast, nee imponeert Sons Of Bill met een buitengewoon fraaie en sobere ode aan Big Star lid Chris Bell die in 1978 op slechts 27-jarige leeftijd zijn auto al dan niet bewust tegen een boom parkeerde.
Net als je denkt dat Sons Of Bill haar wat stevigere geluid vaarwel heeft gezegd op Love And Logic voert de band het tempo weer wat op en horen we voor het eerst de stevigere gitaren en knallende melodieën, die Sons Of Bill drie jaar geleden, overigens tot onvrede van de band, de vergelijking met Kings Of Leon (dat ook uit drie broers bestaat) opleverde.
Het lijkt een incident, want nadat het tempo eenmalig is opgevoerd, keert Sons Of Bill terug met een bijzonder stemmige countrysong. Het zal de fans van het stevigere werk inmiddels duidelijk zijn dat Sons Of Bill op Love And Logic vooral andere wegen in slaat, maar persoonlijk ben ik er best tevreden over. Het meer ingetogen werk ligt de band uitstekend en het voegt bovendien wat toe aan de platen die de band de afgelopen jaren uitbracht.
Ook in de resterende tracks op de plaat kiest Sons Of Bill voor een sober en akoestisch geluid dat countryrock steeds vaker verruild voor (alt-)country en gitaarmuziek met een beperkt R.E.M. gehalte. In het begin is het misschien even wennen aan het nieuwe geluid van Sons Of Bill, maar na enige gewenning kruipen de stemmige en soms wat donkere songs op Love And Logic diep onder de huid en wordt Love And Logic een steeds intensere en steeds mooiere plaat.
De nieuwe plaat van Sons Of Bill verscheen eerder al in de VS. Ik heb de plaat daarom inmiddels al de nodige keren voorbij horen komen en ben diep onder de indruk. Dat Sons Of Bill andere wegen is ingeslagen verdient respect, maar dat de band vervolgens met zo’n prachtplaat op de proppen komt verdient een hele diepe buiging. Nu op naar wereldheerschappij.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt hier luisteren naar 'Brand New Paradigm':


Of kopen of Bol.com

zaterdag 16 mei 2015

From the Basement. The Dirty Aces

As dirty as the band's name suggests, as dirty the sound of this garage rocking blues rock outfit is. The harmonica is distorted and dark, guitars are honking. I'm brought back instantly to 1993 when 'King Kong' by The Red Devils was the best blues rock album ever. Unfortunately that fun didn't last too long. In 2015 The Dirty Aces pick up the gloves that lie discarded in the corner for nearly a quarter of a century.

This type of blues rock is not something I want to hear every day, but hearing it in the right dosage makes me smile from ear to ear without uncomfortable and painful assistance from third parties. The Dirty Aces sound mean, dirty and dangerous, but you know it's all show and that they are extremely polite to their respective mothers.

The Dirty Aces is a band from the U.K. Not the place one would expect. My best guess would have been a sand and heat covered Texas town just outside Austin. Singer/harmonica player Glenn Robson, guitarist Filip Kozlowski, Tommy Hull on bass and Simon Small on drums together cook up something they describe as: "a shot of adrenaline". That's not exactly beside the point. From the Basement rocks so loud that all must be well in the realm. Hooks, riffs and melodies fly around like there's no tomorrow. Despite that this music is being played now in some form or other since the mid 50s, The Dirty Aces manages to lend the genre some new songs that are very much worth while listening to.

Where to start with comparisons? In their own bio The Ramones are hinted at, The Strypes, but my guess remains with things U.S. Stevie Ray Vaughan (is 'Pride & joy' mentioned coincidentally?) comes to mind, The Flying Thunderbirds and the already mentioned The Red Devils. The Dirty Aces win on the account that mentioned acts were virtuosos on their instruments, but the originals The Dirty Aces comes up with are simply better. Almost everyone can play an interesting cover version, real quality comes with originals, or not.

Robson and Kozlowski have penned several interesting songs with interesting twists that keep me listening and nodding my head up and down the whole of the way. The guitar is just dirty enough without overdoing it. The singing is rough and the harmonica flashes things out in a great way. Underneath Small and Hull are good and tight, allowing the other two to go off in the right directions.

Just when I think I've just about written all there's to write, I notice the 60s garage rock influences. The excitement a band like The Outsiders caught on record is found on From the Basement also. The Dirty Aces have that over a band like The Black Marble Selection, who aim for a perfect copy of a time long gone, while The Dirty Aces add everything that happened along the way and incorporate into its own personal party. A party we are all allowed to join.

Nothing new, nothing special From the Basement is but oh so much fun. A barrel of gunpowder lit from several sides at the same time. One big bang. Enjoy it while you can. That leaves just one question: How exciting is the band live?


You can listen to 'Ain't no forgetting' here:


or buy at Bol.com:

vrijdag 15 mei 2015

Carousel one. Ron Sexsmith

For years I've read about people raving about Ron Sexsmith and smarting how he never broke big. Somehow I have managed to avoid his songs. I can't tell you why, it just happened.

Since some time this blog has a professional relationship with V2 Records NL. The result is that albums are on offer, including ones that are totally new to me. And guess what? Carousel one was one of the records on offer.

What a surprise! I could have sworn that I was listening to the new Ray Davies album. It is that the tone of voice doesn't match, the phrasing does or I would have been fooled easily. I can't tell whether Ron Sexsmith's albums are all this The Kinks-in-a-mellow-sunny-afternoon-mood. Think 'Don't forget to dance' and 'Days'. If they are, I truly missed out on all the albums that went before. The funny thing is that apparently I'm the only one hearing the reference or all involved in the record don't know the work of The Kinks and Ray Davies. Anyone listening to 'Saint Bernard' and is a The Kinks fan must understand what I'm talking about before the end of the first quarter of the song.

Ron Sexsmith has turned 51 this year. Caroussel one is his 14th album, the first released in 1991. He is doomed to semi-obscurity to all appearance. The question is why? If someone can write a song like 'Getaway car', as Davies as they come ('Gasoline'), semi-fame ought to be around the corner. But then, when was the last time Ray Davies really kicked a dent in a packet of butter commercially? As I'm a sucker for The Kinks and Ray Davies since 1967, this album is right up my alley.

The songs on Carousel One, named of the belt number at LAX where the luggages is collected from Toronto flights, are a mix of pop, some with light jazzy overtones and even early 70s soul and calypso can be heard of the 'Walking in the rain with the one I love' kind ('Nothing feels the same anymore'). All songs on Carousel One deserve attentive listening. The warmth is just jumping at you, as long as you allow yourself to sit down and listen. Compassion is a word that presents itself. Solace and soothing two others that do right to the music Sexsmith presents here. Unhasting is the motto and that's just what I'm doing right now.

All this was created together with producer Jim Scott who drafted a bunch of musicians, for five days only, in which 16 songs were recorded. Magic happened for Sexsmith and Scott. Bob Glaub (bass), Jon Graboff (guitar), Don Heffington (drums) and John McGinty (keyboards) caught a vibe that gives Carousel One true warmth. A nostalgic modern sound and sunshine on a cloudy day the whole way. There are so many great accents in the songs, that each is lifted sky high. The muted guitar notes combined with the warm organ in 'Lucky Penny', work like a miracle.

At the heart of all the songs is the voice of Ron Sexsmith, that was just made for this sort of music. Smooth sailing, no need to oversing, -act or shout out anything, in combination with a relaxed almost lazy way of rocking out, gives, again I mention it, a sunny afternoon impression. Because this is what Carousel One leads to: relaxation, 'Where nothing feels the same anymore'. There's no need to do anything else but listen and submerge in the songs.

It's to early to really tell where Carousel One and I am going, but that this is one of the albums I'm jotting down for the best of 2015 selection is already quite sure. I don't know whether Ray Davies is ever going to come up with new work soon, but it's going to be quite tough to up Carousel One. That much is certain.


You can listen to 'Saint Bernard' here:


Or buy at Bol.com: