dinsdag 31 mei 2016

Mythologies. Cheatahs

Het titelloze debuut van de uit Londen afkomstige band Cheatahs wist me vorig jaar net niet voldoende te overtuigen voor een recensie.
De door shoegaze en indie-rock beïnvloede muziek van de band klonk weliswaar bijzonder lekker, maar wist zich wat mij betreft niet voldoende te onderscheiden van alles dat er al was. En er zijn nogal wat bands die zich door de shoegaze van weleer laten beïnvloeden.

Het eind 2015 verschenen Mythologies bevalt me een stuk beter. Cheatahs laat zich ook op haar tweede plaat nadrukkelijk  beïnvloeden door muziek uit de hoogtijdagen van het shoegaze genre, maar werkt op hetzelfde moment ook aan een meer eigen geluid.
Het is een geluid dat opvalt door lekker veel zweverige passages, die prachtig passen in het gruizige shoegaze geluid. Het klinkt nog steeds bekend in de oren, maar waar ik de muziek van Cheatahs vorig jaar nog meer van hetzelfde vond, maakt de band met haar tweede plaat indruk.
Mythologies is sterk geïnspireerd door de platen van roemruchte bands als My Bloody Valentine, Ride en Swervedriver, maar laat ook voldoende uitstapjes buiten de gebaande paden van de shoegaze horen.
Zo flirt Cheatahs meer dan eens met elektronica en psychedelica en verwerkt het ook invloeden uit onder andere de Krautrock in haar muziek. Mythologies is hierdoor een plaat die aan de ene kant lekker weg luistert en herinnert aan de hoogtijdagen van het zo mooie genre, maar het is aan de andere kant ook een spannende plaat die steeds andere dingen laat horen en die soms flink experimenteert.

Bij eerste beluistering was ik vooral onder de indruk van het heerlijke shoegaze geluid op de plaat, maar hoe vaker ik Mythologies hoor hoe meer ik word gegrepen door alle bijzondere invloeden die de band uit Londen verwerkt op deze plaat.
Zeker bij beluistering met de koptelefoon hoor je goed hoe rijk de tweede plaat van Cheatahs klinkt en hoeveel bijzonders er in de muziek van de band zit. Ik begrijp er dan ook niets van dat de tweede plaat van Cheatahs na het zo bejubelde debuut voornamelijk is genegeerd. Mythologies haalde vrijwel geen enkel jaarlijstje, maar deze knappe plaat had daarin zeker niet misstaan. Ook niet in dat van mij.

Ewin Zijleman

Je kunt hier luisteren naar 'Seven Sisters':


of Mythologies kopen op Bol.Com

maandag 30 mei 2016

Kairos, February 2016 by .No on Concertzender

Photo: .No. Treatment Astrid van der Meijs
Another month another Kairos. .No shares his taste in music in as far as it fits into the concept of Kairos, which is meditation on music. Wo. listens to the show and provides his unique views on the sometimes familiar sometimes unfamiliar and sometimes stunningly strange experiences he undergoes. Here's his report on the show broadcasted in February, as he is still running behind a bit.

This month Kairos opens in such a soft way that I wondered whether I had forgotten to switch my boxes on and switched to the headphones instead. Only then I heard a few piano notes, few and wide apart, that sort of morphed into the spacey, atmospheric sounds of Òlafur Björn Òlafsson. Mystic as the Icelandic landscape is rumoured to be. Is 'Bob In Your Gait' really the third song? Nothing seems to change really. But unlike in that Bourbon commercial where the modern world crouches up on the farm and only the taste remains the same, here an ethereal voice is added to the atmosphere which remains somehow mysterious to which at best something more sacred is added.

Silmus we have encountered regularly in the past few years, but no matter what Gert Boersma's band adds, it still could be a part of a composition that started with Howard Skempton's few piano notes played by John Tilbury. Just another move to more organic instruments and less atmospheric ones. The warm piano returns, with sporadic guitar. I notice that I like Silmus more and more over time. It's time to listen to the whole album.

.No is at work here, like only he can with his ears for things that fit together and the skills to mix them in such a way that they truly belong. His master's ears indeed.

The magic doesn't stay. The first note of Bruce Cockburn's 'Let's Go Laughing' is a break with what went on in the first almost quarter of the program. The song is beautiful and reminds me vaguely of Doug Ashdown's 'Winter In America', but is so much more down to earth, almost bare. Totally reliant on the guitar playing. Cockburn is clearly influenced by the jazzy singer-songwriter compositions and way of singing of David Crosby, but stands his own ground in a totally inappropriately titled song. There is nothing much to laugh here. It's so serious. The second influence in the style of singing is British folk of the late 60s and early 70s. Fairport Convention, Richard Thompson, even Steeleye Span.

The next switch is into esoterica. Exotic percussion instruments are played of which I do not have an opinion. Well I have, but I will keep it to myself. It's just not for me. This 'Tin Hat' moves into a second 'Tin Hat' that starts out with a sort of music that I remember from a TV series the name of which eludes me for now. One in which strange little pieces of music accompanies certain scenes, totally estranging scene and viewer. And I'm there. It's not 'Twin Peaks. In my mind I see a solitary man walking towards me in the distance. The baker who lost all his sons in the war and hear the strange music that could have followed the comment: 'Heimat', the original series. So no matter how "strange" 'Tin Hat' sounds, I see scenes from the Hunsrück right before my eyes and hear the dialect.

Nighthawk At The Diner's 'Junie Needs New Shoes' is slightly more jazzy in an early Tom Waits kind of way, but fits in with 'Tin Hat' as the mood is somewhat estranging as well. The melody flows quite smoothly, there's even something Hawaiian in there, but the samples of voices gives the song an eerie something, where I strongly wonder what the song has to do with the text samples.

Jesse Mac Cormack by now is a Kairos veteran as well. His 'No Other' is a short song, where he touches on the mood that he creates on stage. There he almost pushes people away from his music by making them as ugly as possible with harsh sounds and an unbecoming performance. On record there's more room for the songs as 'No Other' shows. The song shows a dense mood, like a room where it is too hot, too much smoke of whatever hangs over all and it is too crowded. The song is somehow relaxed but that is only pretending. He's "keeping it all in", but in the meantime listen to his voice. Bursting at the seems to spill it all.

From Montreal to Gent is a giant step. The guitar is so much more contemplative. The song is at ease. The bowed guitar gives that little extra. When the song goes off, there is some beautiful guitar work that shows years of practice and the ability to turn proficiency into something original. Ries de Vuyst's song 'Snijwblind' is simply beautiful.

The cut to Will Samson is a very noticeable one. From a song to atmosphere with a drone as if there's an old fashioned plane slowly coming my way, ever louder, ever closer. Reminding me of stories of World War II. People lying in their bed listening to the bombers coming closer and of their relief when they went by. From the drone comes a song, but it's Douglas Dare's 'London Rose'. Have I already mentioned David Crosby? 'London Rose' reminds me of Neil Young's 'Helpless'. There's enough setting the two apart, but it is telling that I started singing "There's a town in North Ontario", before Dare started his own song. 'London Rose' is a little more difficult, has its own quality and is very much worth listening to. The mood is dark which seems something of a theme this month.

Nepotism is something that seems common practice in our most southern province, Limburg. So it is no surprise that we encounter Gerard Kockelmans, father of Hans and uncle of .No, in Kairos. Years ago .No helped stage a concert with several compositions of this Limburg composer and had the performances recorded so that they could be reproduced. This recording is from 2015 though. For me a premier 'Sine Nomine' played by Arno Dieteren is and I have to say that I like it, so all nepotism is excused as far as I'm concerned.

Jonas Munk and Jason Kolb return with their composition 'Slow Billows'. Electronics hover all over my room. An atmosphere that is slowly built up, through which some sounds are allowed to escape before they are swallowed in by that large cloud to disappear behind the sound scape that appears to be revolving around a centre. Ever so slowly and thus revealing something different the whole time. In the depths of the cloud something is creaking softly, something needing oiling bitterly, but can't be seen. Only the soft creeks escape the dark cloud that washes over me and returns, like waves on the beach.

Where does 'Slow Billows' end and the fragment from 'dlp 1.1' begin? That it's there with its treated choir at some point is clear, but the 'Slow Billow' part seems to continue underneath as well. A .No mixing mystery. Give me 'Slow Billows' any day, if you ask me for my opinion. The idea may look the same at face value, but the execution is quite different.

From the revolving sound scape a blaoskapel emerges. Another Dutch singer in dialect starts singing. Gé Reinders in that sense is clearly attached to Broeder Dieleman and Ries de Vuyst but also Daniel Lohues. The combination of the brass band and the singing is a for me unique one, but one that works well.  The brass takes on the, at heart, pop composition and turns it into something quite its own. 'St. Cecilia' is a beautiful song and a great ending to February's Kairos.


You can listen to Kairos here:


This is the playlist

Playlist Kairos 4 feb. 2016. 23:00-0:00. Concertzender (www.concertzender.nl).
00:11  Howard Skempton. June '77, for piano. John Tilbury, piano. Album Well, well Cornelius. Sony SK 66482
01:34  Ólafur Björn Ólafsson. Molasses. Ulfur (Erla Axelsdóttir, hoorn; Ólafur Björn Ólafsson, vibrafoon, percussie.) Alexandra Sauser-Monnig, zang; Bjarni Frimann Bjarnason, viola; Hans Jóhansson, cello. Album ‘White Mountain’ van Ulfur. Western Vinyl.
04:42  Julianna Barwick. Bob in your Gait. Julianna Barwick, piano, stem, tape & computer. Album ‘The magic place’. Asthmatic Kitty Records AKR08
07:53  Gert Boersma. You are renderness. Album ‘Shelter’ van Silmus (Gert Boersma, Minco Eggersman, Jan Borgers, Mirjam Feenstra). Volkoren 58
12:54  Bruce Cockburn Let’s go laughing. Bruce Cockburn, gitaar en zang. Album ‘High Winds White Sky’. True North Records TN 3.
18:07  Zeena Parkins. Black Thursday. Tin Hat (Ara Anderson, Zeena Parkins, Mark Orton, Ben Goldberg, Carla Kihlstedt). Album: The Sad Machinery Of Spring. Hannibal Records HNCD 1524.
19:03  Ben Goldberg. Drawing lessons. Tin Hat (Ara Anderson, Zeena Parkins, Mark Orton, Ben Goldberg, Carla Kihlstedt). Album: The Sad Machinery Of Spring. Hannibal Records HNCD 1524.
23:21  Frank de Kleer/ROOD. Junie Needs A New Pair Of Shoes. Nighthawks at the diner (ROOD, zang, piano, celesta; Jarmo Hoogendijk, trompet; Bert Boeren, trombone; Arjanne Kuiper, cello; Bob Wisselink, bas; Thijs Verweer, drums). NWRCD 2303.
25:09  Jesse Mac Cormack. No other. Jesse Mac Cormack, gitaar en zang. Album Crush. Secret City Records SCR 047 CD.
32:43  Ries de Vuyst. Snijwblind. Album Oondert. Uitgegeven in eigen beheer.
35:53  Will Samson. Hunting shadows (D). Will Samson. Hunting shadows. 2:47. Album Balance van Will Samson. Karaoke Kalk 69CD.
38:19  Douglas Dare. London’s Rose. Album: Whelm. Erased Tapes Records ERATP 057CD.
42:55  Gerard Kockelmans Deel uit Sine Nomine. Arno Dieteren, piano. Opname in eigen beheer, 2015.
46:00  Jonas Munk en Jason Kolb. Slow Billows. Billow Observatory (Jonas Munk, elektronica en Jason Kolb, gitaar en elektronica). Van album Billow Observatory. Felte 003.
50:07  William Basinski. Fragment uit dlp 1.1. William Basinski, tape & computer. Album The Disintegration Loops. Musex International (bmi) 2062 (2013 Temporary Residence reissue)
54:18  Gé Reinders. Sint Caecilia. Chr. Muziekvereniging De Bazuin (Tzummarum, Fr) en Gé Reinders, zang. Album Bloas mich ’t landj door. Fennek FN CD 18.

zondag 29 mei 2016

Storksky EP. Storksky

And again a new band from The Netherlands that releases a debut EP in 2016. Well, band? Storksky is a one man project by Michiel Claessen who plays a bunch of guitars and is backed by various drummers. Some who have quite a name for themselves as they play in a famous band. The best known are Mario Goossens of Triggerfinger and Tim van Delft of De Staat.

Now it is one thing to have a famous drummer behind yourself. He (or she) will wack away and keep the rhythm going. Another thing is to write attractive songs. Where that is concerned Michiel Claessen succeeded. Within the well-trodden path of desert rock he comes up with some licks, riffs and melodies that would not embarrass Josh Homme himself. Although the absolute master, Chris Goss, is still a bit beyond reach, but only if we take his first two Masters of Reality albums in consideration.

Storksky rocks in other words but does so in a very melodic way. It is not about brute force but about songs. If it had not been you would not have been reading about Storksky in this place. Despite that Claessen plays and sings exclusively in a duo setting, it is hard to compare with the other bands in a setting like this. For that his guitars are too "normal". There is no totally over the top, pumped up violence like with Royal Blood, White Stripes or Death From Above 1979. They are (somewhat) distorted of course, but not in a way that the sound is close to becoming out of control. There's no need to tame the feedbackbeast for Storksky.

If there's a downside, it is that the sound of Storksky is familiar, perhaps even too familiar. The links to Queens of the Stone Age and Masters of Reality are there without any attempt at hiding them. The way Michiel Claessen sings, the way the guitar is played and melodies shift, an experienced listener all recognizes where it comes from immediately. Is this bad? Not necessarily. It does put things nicely in perspective and above all and most importantly on Storksky there are quite some fine songs to be found.

Storksky kicks off with a drumroll. As soon as 'Fracas Maracas' bursts loose it is with a guitar riff DeWolff could be proud of. Just dream up the organ of Robin Piso and you're in DeWolff territory. Claessen sings with a voice bringing the already mentioned Chris Goss in mind. A high voice with a deep guitar sound is always special.

'Lost A Friend' is QOTSA in spirit and mind. As I said, the song can be up for the next QOTSA album. The slide sequence that follows shows the variety Michiel Claessen can dream up and play. It takes the song in a totally other direction and lifts it up so high. Add the intermezzo and you've got a killer song. High quality and fun 'Lost A Friend' is.

(Even in the two bonus tracks on the EP) Storksky is able to keep up a high level. Although you can guess my favourite track, if you listen to the muted play technique Claessen uses in 'Saboteur', you will find that this way of playing gives the song its own distinct flavour. Add, again, the variety in the rhythm and pace and for me it is clear that Claessen is an original. An artist who is not happy when he has a nice song. No, it has to become a good song, a song that stands out. On Storksky Michiel Claessen has managed to do just that. At that point the other price song on Storksky, 'Means/Ends', still has to come.


You can listen to 'Saboteur' here:


zaterdag 28 mei 2016

Barely. Krista Detor

Het is al weer bijna tien jaar geleden dat ik voor het eerst in aanraking kwam met de muziek van Krista Detor.
Mudshow, de tweede plaat van de singer-songwriter uit Californië, sloeg in als de spreekwoordelijke bom en is me tot de dag van vandaag zeer dierbaar.
Cover Their Eyes uit 2007, Chocolate Paper Suites uit 2010 en Flat Earth Diary uit 2014 deden niet onder voor het zo memorabele Mudshow, waardoor ik inmiddels een stapeltje Krista Detor platen in huis heb dat ik koester.
Dit stapeltje is onlangs weer wat hoger geworden door de release van Barely.
Krista Detor opereert nog altijd grotendeels in de obscuriteit en moet bergen verzetten om een nieuwe plaat te kunnen maken. Als die bergen eenmaal verzet zijn kun je maar het beste een prachtplaat maken en dat heeft Krista Detor ook met Barely weer gedaan.
Net als op haar vorige platen slaat Krista Detor op Barely een brug tussen singer-songwriter pop uit de jaren 70 en hedendaagse Amerikaanse rootsmuziek. Het is ook dit keer muziek die zich als een warme deken om je heen slaat. Krista Detor beschikt over een warme maar ook gevoelige stem en kiest voor een instrumentatie die nog wat extra warmte toevoegt.
Zoals de titel al doet vermoeden is Barely wat meer ingetogen dan de vorige platen van Krista Detor en dat bevalt me wel. Waar veel singer-songwriters in een wat kalere muzikale setting makkelijk onderuit gaan, komt op Barely de pure klasse van Krista Detor alleen maar nadrukkelijker aan de oppervlakte. Dat hoor je in de prachtige vocalen, in de hierop aansluitende subtiele instrumentatie en vooral ook in de tijdloze songs van Krista Detor, die herinneren aan de songs van de allerbesten in het genre.
Sinds de komst van Barely van Krista Detor zijn de mooie herfstkleuren gebleven en is de zon weer gaan schijnen. Dat zal buiten wel weer ophouden, maar zolang Barely uit de speakers komt hou ik binnen de schoonheid en warmte vast. Prachtige plaat. Wederom.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt hier luisteren naar 'Barely' in een live uitvoering:


Barely van Krista Dekor ligt nog niet in Nederland in de winkel, maar kan worden verkregen via onder andere iTunes (https://itunes.apple.com/gm/album/barely/id1044671656), haar label (http://www.fishrecords.co.uk/kristadetorbarely.html)

donderdag 26 mei 2016

Born Free. Stillmode

Stillmode released its first EP, Born Free. At first listening things sounded quite familiar. The sort of pop rock that is all over the radio in the past few years. Listening twice things start to draw attention to themselves and set Born Free apart, even if it is only a little.

Stillmode sounds like a band full of youngster. The youthful exuberance can clearly be heard on Born Free. The band is hurtling over the songs and their structures, while bouncing all over the rhythm. In short, this EP is infectious.

Reading the bio of Stillmode and looking at the picture on the band's webpage the youth part has to be adjusted a little. Youth is relative, but for someone active in rock since 2007, the inexperience part associated with youth is no longer appropriate. Singer and songwriter Pascal Molenaar was active in KinKobra and released a few records with that band before morphing into Stillmode.

On Born Free Stillmode plays the louder variety of radio friendly rock pop. Guitars play the first role in the form of rock riffs and loud chord strumming that has that melodic quality between strumming and a solo. Molenaar who is responsible for the songwriting states that he is influenced by 70s and 80s music. Apart from what that is, what I hear mostly is 00s bands like The Killers and Keane (with guitars) and some more modern bands of the 10s. Stillmode is not afraid of aiming at radio friendly overtures and is right to do so. Every band plays to be heard. A song like 'Home' deserves to be heard. There's a part where the melody goes down, where I expect it to go up, which is close to brilliant.

In the title song Stillmode surfs a dangerous line of getting too close to the traditional rock ballad of the 80s (so their you are with the influences?). And escapes falling of that cliff. For me the song captures the right mood and sound. The singing does not compromise towards that horrible 80s smoothness and neither does the band. The playing is full out where possible and the internal dynamics work.

The Killers come back in 'Outside Work'. Especially in the piano part that graces the chorus. As they do in other parts of the EP. When 'We belong' kicks in its chorus I realise why I am attracted to Born Free and why I am not so much attracted to that band I already mentioned twice in this post: Stillmode allows itself to sound open and positive. It doesn't hold back on showing the world how much fun it has in playing its songs. Everyone listening is allowed to enjoy that joy as well. When that door of realisation opened itself to me, I knew that another fine EP from a new Dutch band had entered my life.

Stillmode? A promising band is my conclusion.


You can listen to 'Crazy Like No Other' here:


or buy the EP on Bol.Com:

woensdag 25 mei 2016

New View. Eleanor Friedberger

Eleanor Friedberger maakte als helft van het duo The Fiery Furnaces vooral behoorlijk ongrijpbare muziek (waaronder het onbegrepen meesterwerk Blueberry Boat uit 2004), maar sinds ze in 2010 koos voor een solocarrière bewandelt ze een duidelijk andere weg.
Last Summer uit 2011 en Personal Record uit 2013 lieten zich vooral beïnvloeden door de Amerikaanse singer-songwriter muziek uit de jaren 70 en deze invloeden hebben ook hun weg gevonden naar Eleanor Friedberger’s derde soloplaat New View.
De Amerikaanse singer-songwriter verruilde na Personal Record de metropool New York voor een veel rustiger plekje in de staat New York en dat hoor je op New View. De derde soloplaat van Eleanor Friedberger ademt rust en ruimte en is ver verwijderd van de hectiek van The Big Apple.
In muzikaal opzicht kruipt New View nog wat dichter tegen de popmuziek uit de jaren 70 aan dan zijn twee voorgangers. Ook voor New View lijkt de muziek van Harry Nilsson een belangrijke inspiratiebron geweest, maar Pitchfork wijst ook op de invloed van Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk (en dan met name de songs van Lindsey Buckingham op deze plaat) en dat is vergelijkingsmateriaal dat veel te mooi en ook veel te belangrijk is om te laten liggen.
Net als Fleetwood Mac op Tusk, maakt Eleanor Friedberger op New View immers tijdloze popliedjes die makkelijk verleiden, maar die ook niet bang zijn om buiten de lijntjes te kleuren. Het eerste zorgt voor de aangename luisterervaring, het tweede voor het prikkelen van de fantasie.
Dat laatste doet Eleanor Friedberger op subtiele wijze. New View lijkt misschien zo weggelopen uit de jaren 70, maar zit vol subtiele uitstapjes naar andere decennia. Het voorziet de aangename popliedjes op de plaat van diepte en avontuur.
Het solowerk van Eleanor Friedberger wordt, net als het werk van The Fiery Furnaces, makkelijk over het hoofd gezien, maar New View is te mooi om te laten liggen. Veel te mooi. Voor mij is het er in ieder geval een om te koesteren.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt hier luisteren naar het volledige album:


of het album kopen op Bol.Com


dinsdag 24 mei 2016

You Know Who You Are. Nada Surf

'The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy' was reviewed on this blog in its first weeks and is a proud member of the top 10 views ever for the past years. And here I am nearly overlooking Nada Surf's new record, 'You Know Who You Are'. I "refound" it scrolling down my iPod the whole way and pushed play straight away, thinking 'oh yeah' within the first minute of the first song.

Like most of the world I was introduced to Nada Surf through the novelty hit 'Popular', a song surfing along on the wave Weezer created with its first hit 'Buddy Holly'. I did not really like the album (of both bands) and sort of forgot all about Nada Surf until 2012. In 2016 both bands mentioned in this introduction are back with a fun record. Expect Weezer a bit later.

Matthew Caws and his partners Daniel Lorca (bass), Ira Elliot (drums) play together since the breakthrough, which is fairly exceptional, with Doug Gillard who joined in 2012 (guitar). They have become experts in smooth running alternative poprock songs. Songs so smooth they savour the ears, please the mind and sooth foul moods.

'Cold To See Clear' opens the album with a modest verse, before it bursts out into a heavenly chorus. A chorus perhaps dreaming of things Beach Boys, also a chorus perhaps belying the age of Nada Surf's members in 2016. If I put that forward as an argument, I better pack up this blog also. 'Cold To See Clear' took me alright. "What can I do but dream?" The song is so light it defies gravity, space and time. The perfect first single.

'Cold To See Clear' sets the stage for You Know Who You Are. Caws is on the path of the perfect popsong and has found the formula. With a sweet voice, avoiding any irregularities, he presents his songs. So if Nada Surf has a downside, that it is. Everything is very smooth sailing and nowhere a glitch or bite in sight. If you have no objection to indie pop songs that aim for perfection, then there are no hindrances keeping you from taking on You Know Who You Are. This album is a sound follow to up the great 'The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy'.

The mood may change a little here and there. 'Friend Hospital' e.g. is definitely more in a minor key, but it does not change the intent of the album: pure beauty. Enough said, it's time to start listening.


You can listen to 'Cold To See Clear' here:


or buy the album on Bol.Com


maandag 23 mei 2016

Just a list: top 30 of the 80s

Talk to me of the 80s and music and you will get only grim stories. In short I did not like the doom and gloom of the early 80s, did not like the rap and house music that became more prominent and nearly of my heroes released disappointing records for most of the decade. Are there records of the 80s that I still play regularly? No. 'Body and Soul' every once in a while. 'Up To Here' by The Tragically Hip, but I only discovered that album halfway in the 90s. 'Suzanne Vega', but I really started to appreciate the album in 2015. It is a big yes for the number one, an album recorded in the late 60s. So there you go.

For the rest there are some great singles, but most of the albums they are on, I liked 50% of and that at best. Tears For Fears, Simple Minds, nearly all of U2, UB40, The Waterboys, etc. It goes for the all.

What I did a lot was dance. It was in the second half 80s that I started to appreciate the disco of the 70s and early 80s. As well as Talking Heads, Simple Minds. All great to dance to.

Then came 1989 and several of my heroes made a return to form. Not albums are in this list, but only barely. Paul McCartney, the Stones, Lou Reed. They are between 30 and 40 for sure. Enough talk, here it is.

1. The Velvet Underground. VU (1985)
2. Dexys Midnight Runners. Searching For The Young Soul Rebels (1980)
3. The Rolling Stones. Tattoo You (1981)
4. Violent Femmes. Hallowed Ground (1984)
5. Joe Jackson. Body And Soul (1984)
6. Masters Of Reality. Masters Of Reality (1988)
7. Donald Fagan. The Nightfly (1982)
8. The Tragically Hip. Up To Here (1989)
9. The Pogues. Rum, Sodomy & The Lash (1985)
10. Dexys Midnight Runners. Too-rye-a (1982)
11. Doe Maar. Doris Day En Andere Stukken (1982)
12. Joe Jackson. Night And Day (1982)
13. Suzanne Vega – Suzanne Vega (1985)
14. Peter Gabriel. So (1986)
15. Neil Young. Freedom (1989)
16. Talking Heads. Stop Making Sense (1984)
17. Marc Almond. The Stars We Are (1988)
18. Bob Dylan. Oh Mercy (1989)
19. Split Enz. Waiata/Corroboree (1981)
20. Van Morrison. Inarticulate Speech Of The Heart (1983)
21. The Blues Brothers. The Blues Brothers (1980)
22. David Sylvian. Brilliant Trees (1984)
23. Kate Bush. Never For Ever (1980)
24. The Stone Roses. The Stone Roses (1989)
25. Dire Straits. Making Movies (1980)
26. Fleetwood Mac. Tango In The Night (1987)
27. Paul Simon. Graceland (1986)
28. U2. The Joshua Tree (1987)
29. The Armoury Show. Waiting For The Floods (1985)
30. The Kinks. State Of Confusion (1983)


Hills End. DMA's

Yes, it took me a while to get around to DMA's debut album. At first I took the album for too much of something already there, e.g. Oasis, Arctic Monkeys, but I did get around to the quality that can be found on Hill's End. So let's delve a little deeper.

A trio from Sydney got Noel Gallegher to frown on it negatively, so something must be going on. Well, I liked Noel's last record to date. It even made my top 10 of 2015. That record does not offer the sort of excitement that Hills End holds in several songs. No, it does not start with Oasis' first song  on its first album. There is no 'Rock and Roll Star' in sight. 'Timeless' does create a level of expectancy which is quite high. It rocks, has that Liam sneer in the singing and a dose of rock by a band that sounds tremendously sure of itself.

Tommy O'Dell, Matt Mason and Johnny Took manage to set an atmosphere that makes it pleasant to descend in. When the band comes out with a ballad, 'Delete', it manages to turn it into an epic rock storm without losing what it aimed for: a tranquil moment in a testosterone explosion. In 'Too Soon' the band does even better. In a rock song with a soft pre chorus sequence the song takes off in a great chorus taking 'Too Soon' in a totally unexpected, different direction that in sound is very familiar, but non the same extremely good.

DMA's is not original at this starting point of its career, but is excused for now. The band compensates in all the right ways. The best of the Britpop years on the Oasis side of that spectrum are coupled with the energy of the early Arctic Monkeys which leads to a potent mix. The melodies are free flowing with some nice finds in the overdubbed guitar melodies. The singing is that strange combination of aggression and slacker. The presentation in your face. The record is mixed in a way to reach that effect. Singer Tommy O'Dell is right in front of me when I play the record. The band is right behind him as a wall of sound from which not a lot is allowed to escape from. Elementary with the desired effect.

Not every song is as good as the other on Hills End, but it has been a while since I heard an album as consistent in quality from a Britpop band. Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds' last album was the exception underscoring the rule. I think Hurricane #1's debut and Supergrass' fourth album. 'Life On Other Planets'. And that is quite a long time ago. Hills End is welcome in other words.

That leaves me with one question. Why are there so many softer songs near the end of the album? It does give rise to ask who DMA's really are? A rock beast or a ballady band that is even not afraid to put a slight country element in its songs. The strong point of DMA's is when it rocks out. O'Dell's voice has the right sneer for it, so use it more is my advice.

All ends well with 'Play It Out', when the guitars are plugged in again. Play it loud, I'd say.

Overlooking it all, Hills End has some extremely exciting moments but also has some dips in energy, mainly because I think the "ballads" don't really fit Tommy O'Dell's voice. The energy in the rockers makes up for the dips in abundance. Hills End is a promising debut album but does not make up for all the clamour made in the past year about DMA's. Hills End is good, not exceptional.


You can listen to 'Delete' here:


or buy the album here:

zondag 22 mei 2016

Elenne May live. Thursday 19 May, Venue Utrecht

Photo: Wo.
Not every new venue is a joy to encounter. Venue is a restaurant with a podium in the back hidden behind a red curtain. The people come to eat and not to listen to music. The starting time on the website was wrong by one and a half hour, which is a long time when you have to wait between eating people. Besides I found, and this was a new experience, the smell of food is not pleasant having just eaten. The beer compensated a little, as did Elenne May, when the band could finally take to the stage.

Celebrating the release of the second EP, 'Stairs Raise Children', reviewed on this blog recently, Elenne May played a 45 minutes set that delivered all I expected on the basis of the two EPs. For those following this blog on a daily basis, know that the difference in music between the 18th and the 19th of May was huge. Still filled with the music of the best popgroup ever, The Beatles, I wandered into Venue to hear a band playing songs that only entered my life in the past months and weeks.

Photo: Wo.
There's one similarity though. The music of Elenne May touched me in a way most music does not. It is more than just enjoying good music. It entered another place in my brain or soul if you prefer, where it settled and stayed. A place where The Beatles are sitting comfortably for the past 50 years. A plsce that is harder to really impress with each year added. A place with music that makes me feel happy, just hearing it. Elenne May may just get a permanent position there as well. That only time will tell.

On stage there was some tension clearly visible in the first songs, but that dropped away as the fun of playing together and feeling comfortable with the songs took over. The harmonies did their work, the rhythm section played its delicate parts and the guitar played all these inventive parts from one note to furious rhythm cum solo parts, filling the spaces within the songs. Over that singer Elenne Klok sang her mysterious tales ("If the rain had memory, surely it would never fall again") with a voice that has its very own, distinct character. The piano, used sparingly added life to those songs. The synthesizer laid some mystery under it all. My only complaint is that the voices could have been mixed a little more forward, but that is all.

Photo: Wo.
I saw Elenne May play a very nice set in which its songs came alive (and The Beatles were pushed back to where they belong). There's no way for me to judge whether a band is a true talent, as that is all subjective. For me this band is. Elenne May has songs with a lot of atmosphere and mystique within them and is able to present them in a convincing way. By playing more live the music will only get better.

The wait has started for the final instalment. September or October. I'm looking forward.


zaterdag 21 mei 2016

This Is My Universe. Fischer-Z

Tussen 1979 en 1981 was de Britse band Fischer-Z één van mijn favoriete bands. In een periode van drie jaar leverde de band rond voorman John Watts met Word Salad (1979), Going Deaf For A Living (1980) en Red Skies Over Paradise (1981) drie geweldige platen af en behoorde het bovendien tot de betere live-bands van dat moment.
Fischer-Z borduurde met haar muziek voort op de popmuziek uit de vroege jaren 70, maar voorzag haar muziek ook van accenten uit de punk en new wave en maakte het af met een beetje reggae.
Fischer-Z was met haar stekelige songs het Britse broertje van de Amerikaanse Talking Heads, maar helaas ging de band maar kort mee. Fischer-Z dook pas zes jaar na Red Skies Over Paradise weer op, maar op één of andere manier heb ik nooit meer een plaat van de band beluisterd en koester ik nog altijd de drie platen van 35 jaar geleden.
John Watts maakte de afgelopen decennia verder vooral soloplaten (waar ik er wel een aantal van heb), maar duikt nu weer op met een nieuwe Fischer-Z plaat, This Is My Universe.
Het is een plaat die net zo goed een soloplaat van John Watts had kunnen zijn, maar de naam Fischer-Z trekt vast meer aandacht. Het is gelukkig een plaat geworden die de naam Fischer-Z eer aan doet.
John Watts schrijft nog altijd lekker in het gehoor liggende, maar ook stekelige popliedjes. Deze klinken nog wat tijdlozer dan op de vroege platen van Fischer-Z en wat verder opvalt is dat John Watts minder hoog is gaan zingen.
Bij beluistering van This Is My Universe had ik dan ook niet direct associaties met de prachtplaten van weleer, al hoor ik wel steeds meer van het oude Fischer-Z op deze verrassend sterke comeback plaat.
John Watts klinkt op de nieuwe plaat van zijn band gedreven, komt op de proppen met het ene na het andere memorabele popliedjes en stelt in zijn teksten ook nog eens zaken van belang aan de orde.
This Is My Universe is absoluut een groeiplaat. Waar bij eerste beluistering vooral tijdloze popliedjes domineren, grijpt de plaat je bij herhaalde beluistering langzaam maar zeker bij de strot.
Inmiddels heb ik ook flink wat van de sinds 1987 verschenen Fischer-Z platen beluisterd, maar deze komen toch niet in de buurt bij het drietal van lang geleden. This Is My Universe doet dit ook nog niet (maar de plaat is ook nog lang niet uitgegroeid), maar heeft me desondanks vrij makkelijk veroverd. Als Fischer-Z fan van weleer ben ik er heel blij mee.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt hier luisteren naar 'Just A Man':


of het album kopen op Bol.Com


vrijdag 20 mei 2016

The Analogues Live. Wednesday 18 May 2016, Stadsschouwburg Velsen

Photo: Wo.
Do coincidences exist? On 5 January I took someone else's place due to circumstances and thus saw The Analogues perform in talkshow De Wereld Draait Door. At home we decided to buy tickets immediately for 18 May in Velsen/IJmuiden. On 18 May on the 18.00 hour news that FC Twente is relegated as a punishment for fraudulent acts. A good friend and Twente fan apped me about going to Telstar in Velsen next season and not much later I pass the Telstar stadium for the first time in my life on my way to The Analogues, apping a photo in jest. Enough about coincidences, tv shows and football. Back to music.

The story of The Analogues and the impact of the music they play was told early January. Things only got better in the Stadsschouwburg. Hundreds of babyboomers and 10 to 15 birthyears behind them gathered to celebrate the music of The Beatles. Aside small stories on instruments, the finding of said original instruments and some info on specific songs, the music did all the talking. When I closed my eyes I heard The Beatles and could picture something I have not and never will see. The Beatles live is something that a lot of people were not able to see in their lifetime. The Analogues bring the studio years to life and add some older songs for good measure.

Photo: Wo.
The official title of the tour is 'The Analogues play Magical Mystery Tour'. The show starts with that album, with the title song. The impact of just hearing one of my favourite The Beatles song in such a live setting with horns and strings and all is tremendous. A near physical experience. Every note played and sung on the album is resurrected on an original instrument where possible. The band and accompanying members switch instruments all of the time or play two within a song. Everything it takes. The Beatles played by musical archivists and archaeologists. The result is overwhelming. There's is only one comparison: Paul McCartney himself and even then.

I can imagine Sir Paul (and Ringo) at one of The Analogues' shows in the U.K. to come. To find out what his old band could not sound like at the time had they gone back to the stage. What he does not sound like today, as during his shows The Beatles' songs are interpreted on modern instruments, creating the sound of today. And he does not play songs by John and George. The Analogues do. The funky rocking version of 'Savoy Truffle'!

The power of The Analogues is that it focusses on the music and not on looking like The Beatles. No whigs, no changing suits nor matching hairstyles. Hardly any yeah, yeah, yeahs. What you see is what you get, four middle aged to senior citizens gentlemen and one significantly younger member playing the songs the best they can. Living their dream, as that is what they seem to be doing and put considerable time, effort and finances in. The production is huge. All sorts of instruments are carried on and off stage for just one song, to have that one unique sound.

Photo: Wo.
This was all observation. Time for feeling. The show as a whole felt great, but two things totally stood out. 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps' went completely through the roof. I knew the song was strong, good, emotional. Nothing prepared me for hearing it live for the first time. The Analogues played a blistering version, with Jac Bico in the Eric Clapton (yes, EC. 'God' at the time) star role, gold topped Les Paul and all. The kind of guitar solo that I just do not want to stop. Neither did Bico it seemed. All underscoring the fantastic songwriter George Harrison had become by 1968.

The second absolute highlight for me was the final part of 'Abbey Road', from 'Golden Slumbers' to 'The End'. All these little snippets of music that together make the arguably best album side ever made. To hear that was beyond believing and the end of this show. Before the encore.

This takes nothing away from all the other songs. O.k., let me mention 'I Am The Walrus'. Another highlight, this one from the first set. One where the strings could excel, celebrating the qualities of George Martin. There were several surprises, but as Jan van der Meij said, whatever we play: "they are all good". The Analogues is the only chance to get this close to The Beatles as they sounded at the end result of months in Abbey Road studio. If you're a fan: go and hear them. I think the world could become their home soon. The Analogues is a world class act. Next up: 'Sgt. Peppers'. I simply can't wait.


You can find dates for The Analogues here:


donderdag 19 mei 2016

Slow Healer. Lyenn

The music on Slow Healer has something familiar. Not in the least because of .No's radio show 'Kairos' where music by his cousin, Dutch composer Hans Kockelmans features regularly. Not the avant garde work, but the small guitar compositions of just over a minute. Lyenn's guitar playing is a compliment to Kockelmans' work.

Slow Healer is Lyenn's second album after an album in 2009 and an EP in 2011. Both with somewhat fantastic names, which make Slow Healer sound extremely down to earth. The music itself is less down to earth. The instrumentation is very down to earth, the mood elementary at best, the atmosphere is mystical. All not unlike the country the album was recorded, Iceland.

The album was recorded after life altering experiences, which made recording a necessity says the bio that came with the album. The directness does not shine through in the softly played music, music that would fit in 'Kairos' immediately. Nils Frahm and Silmus e.g. with singing added to the instrumentals (and Antony, if I could listen to his (her) music) come to mind, but also Thom Yorke. Imagine a Radiohead without the electronics, without rock, but just a piano or acoustic guitar and Lyenn singing with his high voice. Tranquil of mind after a retreat in a Nepalese monastery. Just some images coming to mind listening to Slow Healer.

Promo photo
This title is so aptly chosen. This is a slow album. The ultimate unhasting. An album that you have to let into your life. There's no connecting possible without a concious choice in the matter. If you don't, you may never notice what's going on, or better that something is going on. One has to sit down and let the slow sounds pour over oneself. I did and submerged.

'In Reveries' opens Slow Healer. Just a few notes and the voice of Lyenn in a lower register, before it shoots up. A dark guitar, loads of studio silence, a banjo and a bowed string instrument, probably a cello. If you like this description, I can stop writing. You know it all. And, if you don't, I can stop as well. The only thing I can do is give you the advice to try again when in a different mood, but that is all.

Lyenn has produced a monumental album of downsized proportions. Slow Healer is extremely humble, where Lyenn knows for 100% he doesn't have to be.


You can listen to 'Fading' here:


or buy the album here: