woensdag 30 maart 2016

No Place Like This. Town of Saints

Town of Saints is an odd one out in the Snowstar Records stable. Where the standard is subdued, atmospheric music, this band makes a pleasant form of indie pop, that has links with bands like Sunday Sun and others who like to have fun in singing and playing their music. Similarities stop there as Town of Saints takes a left turn from there.

Town of Saints' origins go back to 2010. After three EPs the band released its debut album, 'Something To Fight With' in 2013. In the meantime the band grew from a duo, to a trio, to a quintet. Frontman Harmen Ridderbos now fronts an indie rock band with serious guitars (Ridderbos and Berend Rombouts), bass (Jukka Kiviniemi) and drums (Jesse Bosman). The special feature is the violin of Heta Salkolahti, which adds a distinct sound to the music of Town of Saints that sets some of the songs apart from the fold.

The second contribution of Ms. Salkolahti is her harmonies. Her angelic voice drapes itself around the voice of Ridderbos and together they sing like they mean it. The singing lifts songs up and makes them spark.

In the opening song the band tries to please the most. With faint Caribbean influences 'Modern Life' flirts with pop the most. The higher sounding guitars remind me of African guitar playing that I was introduced to a long time ago in 'Rock Palast night' with King Sunny Adé (I went to bed early, I'll admit) and later on Paul Simon's 'Graceland'. A sound that came out of New York a few years back as well by already nearly forgotten bands like Vampire Diaries and Local Natives.

The deeper I delve into No Place Like This, the more indie rock and alternative the album becomes. I'm the winner. There's enough pop music going nowhere as far as I'm concerned. 'Short Circuit Breakdown' rocks hard and does everything right. I'm "singing along to a new song" already.

The biggest song on the album is the title song 'No Place Like This'. The band that influenced the song is so easy to spot. Arcade Fire all the way. The good news is that 'No Place Like This' could easily have found its way on an album of the Canadian band without falling out of place in any way. Large, pumped up, the violin taking the lead role and the listener on a rollercoaster ride.

There are a few songs in the middle of the album that I have a harder time liking. There's nothing that makes them attractive, a quality that a lot of the other songs have. Listen to the beautiful ballad 'Shapes', sung by Heta Salkolahti, everything falls into place here. Her singing, her harmonies and the violin. The strong drums behind her give the song a skeleton to look out for. The rest of the band serves 'Shapes' in all the right ways, creating perhaps the best song of the album.

Ridderbos and Salkolahti in a duet take on the competition with 'It's Beautiful'. A larger song, with a huge sound that shows the prowess of Town of Saints. A band not afraid to make a statement, even if it is not totally original. A few other man-woman fronted bands come to mind in sound. Nowhere it's written in law that one has to be original to be good.

No Place Like This ends with another great up tempo rocker. 'Hold On' is a dream of a last song. Most bands would have put a song like this right up front of their album. Town of Saints ends with it and every time I feel great, thinking what a fantastic album this is. The last four songs may actually be the best on the album. Which is very unusual, I find. Or it may well be that there's something wrong with my musical taste where the band is concerned of course. The Arcade Fire link again is strong here and I'm not a large fan of that band. In fact 'Hold On' is better than most songs I know by Arcade Fire.

Summing up I notice again how good I feel when No Place Like This falls silent. The bunch of weaker songs all forgotten, but they are there. I like the larger sound better and there is that one ballad. No worries, No Place Like This is on my good side.


View the stories the band tells on the album here:


or buy on Bol.Com

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