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: