donderdag 19 oktober 2017

Beth Wimmer, met Billy Watts op gitaar: Wo.'s Huiskamerconcert, 14 oktober 2017

Foto: Wo.
Het is al bijna vertrouwde muziekgrond, de Haarlemse huiskamer van Wo. en Karen. Hun tweede huiskamerconcert dit jaar, dit keer met de in Zwitserland woonachtige Californische singer/songwriter Beth Wimmer. Zij trad op met haar Amerikaanse vriend, producer en gitarist Billy Watts, die trouwens al decennia in een heel aardige eigen band speelt: Mojo Monkeys.

In het eerste deel van het concert trakteerde Beth ons op een selectie van haar nieuwe, vierde CD, Bookmark, die pas volgende week uitkomt. Beth zingt wat nu Americana schijnt te heten, een begrip dat mij op zich niet veel zegt. Maar houdt het inderdaad maar op een mix van folk, country, beetje blues, en snufje rock! Haar stem is erg goed, krachtig, zuiver, met veel emotie. De nieuwe cd klinkt mooi, en de nummers die mij in het bijzonder aanspraken waren Louisiana, en titeltrack Bookmark.

Foto:Wo.
In het tweede deel van set, na een goed verzorgde pauzeborrel in het zonnetje in de achtertuin, speelden Beth en Billy een selectie uit het eerdere werk van Wimmer, met name haar cd’s Ghosts & Men (2011) en Miracle Girl (2008). Opvallend genoeg speelde ze niet het nummer dat haar tot op heden de meeste radio airtime in de VS en diverse prijzen heeft opgeleverd: Self Righteous Son of A Bitch. Dat is nogal een rocksong, dus wellicht niet geschikt voor de huiskamersetting.

Wel presenteerde ze een mooie selectie uit haar oeuvre. Tekstueel gaat het vooral over de liefde en relaties, geheel passend bij het genre natuurlijk. Dus kregen we grappige nummers zoals Mexico, waarin zelfs een Zwitsers jodeltje zit. Het door de vrouwelijke aanwezigen wel heel erg gretig omarmde Simplicity of a Man, Mahogany Hawk, een fijne ingetogen versie van Bowie’s Starman, Makin’ War (over haar Zwitserse vriend die net nadat zij bij hem was ingetrokken drie weken dienstplicht moest vervullen), en het mooie Move On. Luister en oordeel zelf, via http://www.bethwimmer.com/. Kortom, Beth maakte indruk, net als de gastheer en gastvrouw!

HareD



woensdag 18 oktober 2017

We Rise. Morrissey & Marshall

Although We Rise is out for several months, the album did not reach me until recently. The exuberant way We Rise opens with 'Cold November Sunrise' was so directly in my face that I gave the whole album a very good listen. No, it doesn't get that good or perhaps better phrased, not as surprising, after that brilliant opening song. Well deserving of attentive listening and a review the album remained.

What happens in 'Cold November Sunrise'? Something near beyond description as the song races from influence to influence and becoming ever louder, wider and wilder. It all starts with a song that seems directly influenced by the loudest kind of song Crowded House could come up with. Sung like the Finn brothers seemed to have a patent on. The patent expired it seems as this Irish duo has given itself quite some helping of the 'Chocolate Cake'. From that soul influenced song it goes straight into a Britrock chorus including a wallop of soul singing by a lady who reaches to 'The Great Gig In The Sky' heights. The horns give the song that extra 'The Reflex' exuberance. At the same time it is all funky as ****, let me avoid a four letter word here just like Morrissey & Marshall do in this song. Around 1990 this could have made a giant hit. Alas it is 2017. See if I mind.

Darren Morrissey and Greg Marshall come from Dublin, but left it behind to make it in London. We Rise is the duos second album, one with all the production they could afford. And that seemed a lot hearing how the album opens.

In fact in the second song the mood is taken down. In 'Loved & Be Loved' the acoustic guitars they left Dublin with come out of their cases. A band, strings and that lady singer are added, creating a ballad with a lot of potency. The sound is strong and full of confidence. "You're not alone" Morrissey and Marshall sing and that may not just be a sentence in a song, but a prediction.

As 'Play On' starts the Madchester sound and rhythms come out and by then it's clear that this duo doesn't want to be stuck in one hole. A whole parade of influences come by, where again the way of singing of Morrissey and Marshall reminds me of Tim and Neil Finn on 'Woodface'. In other words forceful and certainly not subtle.

In the bio the influences mentioned are all from the 60s: The Kinks, The Beatles and The Byrds. From what I hear those influences all seems much more indirect. Let's say The Beatles by way of Crowded House and The Byrds through Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. 'She's Got Love' is more Tom Petty than The Byrds e.g. At the same time the song does have beatlesesque elements, without coming close to a The Beatles song.

With 'I Need You' the album holds one real ballad. Not my favourite song of We Rise, but then I usually am not one for ballads.

We Rise is an album for people who love permanent harmony singing set in different settings, but predominantly in the form of a mild, but firm rocksong. Songs like 'Beautiful World' is a beautiful ad for Morrissey & Marshall. A song that is upbeat and meant to make people feel better. So if you're in for an autumn boost in the days to come, you know where to find it on a 'Cold November Sunrise'.

Wo.

You can listen to 'Cold November Sunrise' here:

https://nortonsafe.search.ask.com/search?q=We+Rise.+Morrissey+%26+Marshall&chn=1000&doi=2017-10-09&geo=NL&guid=345DB05A-6E56-11E5-9474-D027881769F3&locale=nl_NL&o=APN11918&p2=%5EET%5Efd20nl%5E&prt=NSBU&ver=22.10.1.10&ctype=videos&tpr=2&tpr=3

and buy We Rise here:

http://www.massmarketrecordings.com/?product=morrissey-marshall-we-rise-album

dinsdag 17 oktober 2017

Gathering. Josh Ritter

Josh Ritter is getting on in life. Having passed that mythical step of 40 years, he released his 9th album recently. And on this album he mildly rocks and mellows out with a couple of country songs. Something for everybody, but probably reflecting where he presently stands in life.

Josh Ritter came into my life with the album 'Hello Starling'. Especially with the odd one out song 'Man Burning At Both Ends', a song that travelled with me all through this continent on holidays. Then the old cassette player gave out, where the old car kept driving, and many older songs moved out of my life. Nothing Ritter released in the years that followed compared to this song, so I lost sight of his music until I received his previous album 'Sermon On The Rocks' in my digital mailbox. And yes, I liked it as you can read here, http://wonomagazine.blogspot.nl/2016/02/sermon-on-rocks-josh-ritter.html. I found an urgency in that album, that surprised me. 2017 Brings Gathering. Let's dive in.

Let me start with comparing the covers of the two albums. All bright colours and spattered paint on 'Sermon On The Rocks'. All paint and colours again for Gathering, but far from the exuberant ones as on the former. Is it a sign of what to expect musically?

Sounding from the intro 'Shaker Love Song (Leah)' I would say yes, but that feeling left me as soon as the horn splashed 'Showboat' takes over, not to speak of the song that follows 'Friendamine'. The driving pulse of that song does remind me of that fave song of the mid 00s, if less serious in flavour.

Johnny Cash is honoured with the 50s country rock of 'Feels Like Lightning', the kind of song Chris Isaak is quite familiar with as well. The pumping rhythm is adorned with intricate guitar playing, fast played little licks and a light sound is all it takes. Although I do have to mention the pleasant aahhs in the background as well to do right to 'Feels Like Lightning'.

By then it is totally clear that Josh Ritter presents songs with different styles on Gathering, which makes this record a pleasure to listen to. A country ballad like 'When Will I Be Changed' is infused with some gospel and soulful horns. When the older voice of Bob Weir enters, the whole gets something even more authentic, as if an older preacher sings for his congregation.

Gathering is not an unique album. All the styles on the album have been done before, sometimes better, which only stands to reason. What Gathering does is add a dozen plus one good songs to the whole of what went before. Where I not only notice that Gathering is diverse, but that I by now conclude that Josh Ritter has made himself totally over from what I heard circa 10 years ago.

The subtleness of 'Train Go By', the slow melody played on the acoustic guitar, the Hammond organ that adds a minimum of notes, the harmonies that weave themselves around the central voice of Josh Ritter. This is all done with imagination and a assuredness that comes with confidence, wisdom and knowledge. The same goes for 'Dreams', where strange things happen, like the piano eruptions. A song that could have been on a Steve Waitt album.

After that song Josh Ritter surprises me a few times more. In other words, after a few listening sessions I come to the conclusion that Gathering surpasses 'Sermon On The Rocks' in depth and that is an understatement, where the first listen gave me the opposite impression. Gathering has a level of depth that reflects the world in 2017. We seem to be doing very well, perhaps never better, but around us weird things are going on, inexplicable but also sort of unstoppable. Gathering seems to reflect all this and on the other hand is just an album containing fine, if very varied music ending with the oh so solemn 'Strangers'.

So returning to the painting. Yes, the cover totally covers the whole. Gathering is a serious album, solemn even at times. At the same time this album is one that deserves a beautiful cover, more beautiful than this one and less ominous, as it shows about all Josh Ritter is capable of in 2017. And that is a lot it seems.

Wo.

You can listen to 'Showboat' here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-CUgANeNoOY

maandag 16 oktober 2017

Lotta Sea Lice. Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile

For those following this blog and indie music more in general the name Courtney Barnett does not need an introduction. Should there be anyone in the world who only follows this blog, I truly hope that that number is extremely low, Kurt Vile is an American indie artist, who is often associated with The War On Drugs, where he used to play in, years ago. The two artists have become close friends and decided to record an album together instead of each one album apart.

In the past three years Courtney Barnett became the darling of the indie press and fans with her ramshackle songs and a faint hint at a healthy from of craziness that found its way into her songs. Kurt Vile made less of an impression on me, so I haven't much to report on him here.

Together they create this laidback atmosphere in which songs find their own way forward. Both have a voice that can lift a song totally above its weight or drag it down, as both also have a whining quality when used in a less emotional way. Both versions can be found on Lotta Sea Lice, where of course the former wins, as I would never have started a review if it had been the latter.

The album opens with a formidable song called 'Over Everything'. The mid-tempo just goes on for over six minutes. The duo takes alternate singing duties, in which they barely hang on to the vocal melody it seems. The voice and melody waver, like they are in higher spirits. A Courtney Barnett speciality of course. The guitars interplay in a The Velvet Underground kind of way, without the starkly pounding, cymballess drums of Maureen Tucker. Slowly the sound is expanded, increased and more intense.

All the songs on Lotta Sea Lice are long. 4.00 Minutes is the minimum. Barnett and Vile take their time to work out their songs and really bring them to our attention. The approach is spot on as by far the songs work. The only exception is 'Let It Go', the second song on the album. There seems to be no end to it. The duo sets things right straightaway with 'Fear Is Like A Forest'. The song is so strong. With its Neil Young flavour it has that under the skin tension that makes it so good to listen to. The two voices work extremely well together.
Promo photo

The effect Barnett and Vile have on each other is clear by then and how they make each other better. The tendency to make songs go a bit wacky is suppressed in Barnett, while Vile's songs simply become better with Barnett on his side. From the streaming service I was allowed to use, I have no way of telling who is responsible for what, except that both do a take on an older song of the other. Kurt Vile does 'Out Of The Woodwork', with Barnett harmonising. Courtney Barnett does 'Peepin' Tom' all alone with a fingerpicked guitar.

It is a busy year for Courtney Barnett fans. Her wife Jen Cloher released a new, self-titled album with Barnett on guitar and singing duties and this one with Kurt Vile. The fans must have a hey-day as both albums are very fine to listen to.

In 'Continental Breakfast' the two sing about a continental friendship. Softly played, softly sung. I can't explain why this song works, where 'Let It Go' doesn't for me. The closest I come to an explanation is that the two both sing lighter and more lively, making the soft-touched song come alive. That they can sound deathlike as well, is shown in 'Unscript'. The influence of Lou Reed is all over the place. His main style, the talk singing with a deep voice, is something that Courtney Barnett has no trouble with at all. Her voice is the song, behind it things happen, but that is just filler. No matter how well the band plays together behind her and fills a long outro. Slowly the madness creeps in before it all is reigned back in before the final chords are played.

With 'Blue Cheese' a little country seeps in, like it did on 'Loaded' by The Velvet Underground. It works really well on this album. A banjo mingles with the electric guitars. Again the duo surprised me here. From the dark all this light comes in, making the song almost cheerful. In the specific circumstance of Lotta Sea Lice 'Blue Cheese' is a whopping party.

The album ends with 'Untogether'. The right title for a song made on two continents by e-mail? Again Barnett and Vile find the right voice for each other, something about the sum and its parts. The song is kept so small, the vocal melody and the harmonising do all the work ever so successfully. A conclusion that says nearly all there is to say about Lotta Sea Lice. A fine album it is.

BTW. It seems the Grace Slick from the second half of the 60s has reincarnated watching the promo photo.

Wo.

You can listen to 'Over Everything' here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3KNsBCf34fQ

zondag 15 oktober 2017

Joy Street. Songdog

De uit Wales afkomstige band Songdog bracht in 2003 haar tweede plaat Haiku uit. Het is een plaat die in het betreffende jaar heel hoog in mijn jaarlijstje stond, maar desondanks was Haiku mijn eerste en laatste kennismaking met de muziek van de band.
 
Min of meer bij toeval kreeg ik vorige week de nieuwe plaat van Songdog in handen en ook Joy Street blijkt een ware parel.
 
Tussen Haiku en Joy Street zitten nog vijf andere platen, die ik absoluut ga beluisteren, maar voorlopig kan ik geen genoeg krijgen van Joy Street.
 
In mijn herinnering maakte Songdog op Haiku sfeervolle folkmuziek met uiteenlopende invloeden en dat is ook precies de muziek die de band op Joy Street maakt.
 
Songdog is de band rond singer-songwriter Lyndon Morgans, die ook op Joy Street weer laat horen dat hij het oude werk van Bob Dylan koestert, maar vervolgens zijn eigen ding doet met de invloeden van de oude meester. Joy Street herinnert aan de Amerikaanse en Britse folk uit de jaren 60, maar sluit ook aan op de onweerstaanbare folkpop zoals deze in de jaren 80 door bands als Aztec Camera, Del Amitri en Prefab Sprout werd gemaakt. Wanneer Songdog Keltische invloeden verwerkt in haar muziek, en dat gebeurt met enige regelmaat, duiken bovendien flarden van de muziek van The Waterboys en bands die de traditionele Ierse folkmuziek hoog hebben zitten op.
 
Lyndon Morgans laat zich op Joy Street gelden als een singer-songwriter die in eerste instantie verhalen vertelt. Het zijn mooie verhalen vol weemoed en melancholie, maar de muzikant uit Wales is ook niet bang voor een eenvoudig liefdesliedje.
 
Alle verhalen zijn verpakt in songs die zich bijzonder makkelijk opdringen, maar de muziek van Songdog graaft dieper dan die van de meeste soortgenoten van de band. Lyndon Morgans eert op Joy Street de tradities van de Britse en Amerikaanse folkmuziek, maar stopt zijn songs ook vol met uitstapjes buiten de gebaande paden. Joy Street is hierdoor een plaat die vermaakt en verrast, maar het is ook een plaat die sprankelt.
 
Op het eerste gehoor klinkt het allemaal niet heel bijzonder, maar wanneer je de songs op de plaat een volgende keer hoort, blijkt hoezeer de songs van Songdog zich al in het geheugen genesteld hebben en voor hoeveel plezier ze zorgen.
 
Het was de grote kracht van het al weer bijna 15 jaar oude Haiku en het is ook de kracht van Joy Street. Het effect dat de plaat sorteert wordt verder vergroot door de prachtige en zeer veelzijdige instrumentatie op de plaat en de glasheldere productie van Nigel Stonier, die in een ver verleden bij Fairport Convention achter de knoppen zat.
 
Songdog trekt met haar platen tot dusver helaas niet heel veel aandacht, maar de twee keer dat ik de band nu tegen ben gekomen heeft platen opgeleverd om zielsveel van te houden. Het kan geen toeval zijn.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt hier 'Song For A Five String Guitar' beluisteren.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=799UUxDMtDs

zaterdag 14 oktober 2017

Kairos September 2017 on Concertzender by .No

It's that day of the month again that Wo. sits down and listens to the radio show of .No called Kairos on Concertzender. Through the years something has changed as more and more artists who made it to the pages of this Blog find their way to the show. Songs that fit really well in the concept, while Wo. is exposed to music that he would never have heard in his life, make their way to his ears. Sometimes he even truly likes them. So what has .No put on his playlist this month?

Too often people seem to die in .No's circle of friends, teachers and acquaintances. Again the show is dedicated to someone, unfamiliar to me, who crossed that mysterious border that awaits us all. The show starts with a befitting piece of music, the 'Intro' to that beautiful album 'Another Place' by Amsterdam band Maggie Brown. A song that makes the listener cross the border into the album, one of my favourites of 2017 and the 10s.

'Intro' is very short and soon an acoustic guitar takes over. Again Bruce Cockburn comes by. The song is more traditional than Maggie Brown's. Moodwise the selection works well. In this English folkstyle song called 'Life's Mistress' the Canadian tells a story of watching things from the outside in and how the lady is one with nature. The guitar is intricately plucked, playing different melodies on the bass and higher notes. This man can play.

A famous song is up next, but in a estranging version. A sound like Indonesian gamalans play the melody, Sidsel Endresen sings 'The Lady Is A Tramp'. The song by Rodgers and Hart from the 1937 musical 'Babes In Arms', made famous by Frank Sinatra. In this version the vocal melody totally remains in its strength, meets and then joins another culture. Endresen together with Bugge Wesseltoft created something truly new from something now 80 years old. Whether I like it is another question, but the same goes for the musical version and Sinatra's. I can hear how good he sings, but it is from another generation, so close to alien to my ears. It makes me understand my own musical generation gap, rap, house, trance, etc., better and appreciate the taste of youths in the 10s for what it is: their music. Although several of them truly appreciate the bands and songs that I like best.

The gamalan is slowly replaced by a piano that could have been a Sinatra accompanying piano, but is not. It is Brian Eno from one of his more famous titles, that I never listened to until now, 'Ambient 1. Music For Airports'. And indeed the air travellers in the 70s and 80s may still in general have liked Sinatra style music. I'm in for an initiation of Eno's ambient music, I see. Over 16 minutes. So I'm closing my eyes and listen. Sinatra leaves the song and is replaced by a repetitive piano motives, with ambient sounds and tape hiss and estranging notes that are thrown into the whole. The version of 'The Lady Is A Tramp' worked well with this composition as a fine introduction I notice. The music has a calming effect on me, if not drowsing me, making me feel sleepy, but also a bit sad. Nothing seems to be going on any more. As if the world has stopped turning, aeroplanes stopped flying and airports only catch cosmic waves, particles and debris, that are translated into music for airports. With no people there to listen. And yes, that makes me feel sad. Impressive? Yes. Too long? Yes, also, but only about three minutes.

Maurice Duruflé's In Paradisum (from Requiem Op.9)' by The Choir of Magdalen College, Oxford disturbs the ambient music, probably a whole LP side, with angelic singing and some music hidden somewhere deep in the mix, a small church organ. The singing is a relief after the repetitive ambient, close to minimal music of Eno. Slowly the subdued emotions rise and deeper voices join the childrens'.

The piano chord that follows is flawlessly placed. Once again Low Roar comes by. This time with the song '13' from its album 'Once In A Long, Long While'. A piano plays sole, sparse notes accentuated by a chord. Is it my imagination or do I hear the choir mixed in here and there, deep in the background?

In general I notice again how deep .No has moved into piano driven music. Where I remain a guitar guy, I tend to listen to a lot of piano once a month. Which makes for a nice change.

Jonas Munk & Jason Kolb also return to Kairos. For a snippet of their music called 'Odessa'. No famous stairs here, no pram rolling of them either. Just a windswept place created by electronic sounds, over before I know it, with another slow playing piano moving in.

This is Jeroen Elfferich's 'Snowflakes'. The piano tickles like slow falling snowflakes can do, those first small flakes that drift through the air, solitary, having no impact apart from how beautiful it looks. Sometimes just before real snow starts falling, covering everything and muffling sounds and the world. Elfferich's music is like that first flakes. Slowly gathering momentum with a second melody. I have the impression that I'm hearing more than two hands at work, so is this a work for two pianists? It seems very much like it. And then it stops. And starts again, the last flakes are falling down. No, they are not, we get some more.

Martin Pals returns too. The folk tune is sung by Rosan Vloedgraven. The playing by Pals. The singing is in a way like Jerney Kaagman did in the first and best incarnation of Earth & Fire, the music spans several centuries. Sort of confusing, yes, but also an exercise that shows that the (prog)rockers of the early 70s had their influences in traditional folk. All evolves, returns and evolves again.

From here the music changed so fast that I lost count and had to start listening again, forcing me to revise my storyline completely.

By now another veteran of Kairos and this Blog is House of cosy Cushions. The guitar composition is something I truly like. Some sounds come in, a treated voice emulating a horn of some sort. It's over very fast, but yes, I like this.

Then Bhava comes back. I think for the third time in a row I'm hearing something of the album on Kairos that makes me wonder why I liked the album by The World of Dust so much? Where are the songs, .No? Give them to us. They are so good! This jazzy outing is made to sound like it comes to us from another century, as if one of the earliest recordings. .No gives us only a minute, so have no way of knowing whether this is it or that there is more, preventing me from getting the point The World of Dust wants to make here, as I am not getting it now.

In moves a piano and a violin. Minco Eggerman returns with his Georgian album 'Kavkasia', a song called 'The Other Side Of Dawn'. The violin is as disruptive as the Greek players on the Chris & Carla album recorded in Thessaloniki, where they played The Walkabouts together with the Greeks. I am talking about the solo violin here and not the string section that sounds like a movie soundtrack where lovers see the sun go down together. In the background the guitar goes on without hesitation as does the sole piano.

And where does This Leo Sunrise start? Can I catch it the second time? Am I crazy or is .No's playlist fooling me. As the guitar and piano finally disappear, I can only suppose that the two scratching violins belong to 'The Gardener Path'. When things go quiet, singing starts and I recognise the song. English folk is, again, the basis of this song. Folk mixed with ambience. I think I have found this month's overarching theme here. Slowly the song expands, but remains calm and tranquil. The faint estranging effects in the background give 'The Gardener Path' something scary as if more could happen here than just listening to a song. Well done, This Leo Sunrise.

Church bells mixes with the violin. More sacred music. Not coincidentally from an album with that title. Men's voices of Theater of Voices sing solemnly something composed by an anonymous. Disappeared in time. That there is hope for any anonymous was proven last week by research on Medieval manuscripts that over 200 years after their discovery are attributed to a clerk of a Dutch baron. So be patient anonymous composer of 'Resonemus Hoc Natali'. Who knows what lies in store for you.

We move on to a cheap piano (I'm not buying it, but o.k.). Dustin O’Halloran & Adam Bryanbaum Wiltze composed a minuet for a cheap piano, with some electronics behind it to hide the cheapness? The piano playing, once again, is sparse. The electronics are just as sparse. The piano sounds rather flat, so it might be cheap after all. But why would one want to compose a minuet for a cheap piano? It is beyond me.

A piano starts the last song. We are back at the beginning of the show with Maggie Brown. It's album ends with the song 'Hummingbird', the song that Marcel Hulst commented on that the band couldn't find the right guitar intro to and settled for a piano instead. 'Hummingbird is a beautiful song that ends the album 'Another Place' and this Kairos. For you, listener and reader, I hope that .No will return to the album and let's you join in the pleasure of listening to the purest of pop songs 'Hail To The Rain' or the title song. If not, go to Maggie Brown's Bandcamp page and buy the album there. In 2017 there will not be many better albums, says,

Wo.

You can listen to this month's Kairos here:

https://www.concertzender.nl/programma/kairos_411751/

Playlist:


00:07 Maggie Brown. Intro. Album ‘Another Place’. Private label.
00:48 Bruce Cockburn. Life’s mistress. Album ‘High Winds White Sky’. True North Records TN 3.
03:59 Rodgers/Hart. The lady is a tramp Sidsel Endresen & Bugge Wesseltoft. Album ‘Nightsong’. ACT (4) ‎– ACT 9004-2
09:20 Brian Eno. Music for Airports 1/1. Album ‘Ambient 1. Music for Airports’. EMI 50999 6 84523 2 2.
25:42 Maurice Duruflé. In Paradisum (from Reqiuem Op. 9). The Choir of Magdalen College, Oxford. Dir. Bill Ives. Album ‘Sacred Music’. Harmonia Mundi HMX 2908304.33.
27:15 Ryan Karazija. 13. Low Roar. Album ‘Once in a long, long while’. Nevado Records 823674059620.
31:52 Jonas Munk & Jason Kolb. Odessa. Billow Observatory (Jonas Munk, elektronics, Jason Kolb, guitar & elektronics). Album ‚Billow Observatory‘. Felte 003.
33:10 Jeroen Elfferich. Snowflakes. Album ‘Zero’. Private label.
38:35 Martin Pals. When comes that sleep Rosan. Monad (Rosan Vloedgraven, Martin Pals). Private recording.
40:06 Richard Bolhuis / House of Cosy Cushions. Outcast Cats. Album ‘Haunt me Sweetly’. Outcast Cats records CAT 0C01.
42:08 Stefan Breuer. Cumulus. Bhava. Album ‘The World Of Dust’. Snowstar Records/Tiny Room Records.
43:28 Minco Eggersman. The other side of dawn. Album ‘Kavkasia’. Volkoren 73.
45:45 This Leo Sunrise. The gardener path. Album ‘Spoken’. Tiny Room Records TR008.
50:51 Anonymus. Resonemus Hoc Natali. Theatre of voices. Dir. Paul Hillier. Album ‘Sacred Music’. Harmonia Mundi HMX 2908304.33.
54:03 Dustin O’Halloran & Adam Bryanbaum Wiltze. Minuet for a cheap piano number two. Dustin O’Halloran & Adam Bryanbaum Wiltze. Album ‘A Winged Victory for the Sullen. Erased Tape Records ERATP032CD
56:49 Maggie Brown. hummingbird. Album ‘Another Place’. Private label.

vrijdag 13 oktober 2017

Jen Cloher. Jen Cloher

Ondanks mijn voorliefde voor vrouwelijke singer-songwriters, vind ook ik het aanbod in dit genre de afgelopen jaren eerlijk gezegd (veel) te groot.
 
Ik ben dan ook op mijn hoede wanneer de zoveelste sensationele nieuwkomer wordt aangekondigd, maar in het geval van Jen Cloher was deze aarzeling niet nodig.
 
Een echte nieuwkomer is de Australische Jen Cloher overigens niet, want de singer-songwriter uit Melbourne heeft al een aantal platen op haar naam staan. De onlangs verschenen titelloze plaat (als ik het goed geteld heb haar vierde) moet voor haar internationale doorbraak gaan zorgen en de kans dat dit gaat lukken lijkt me groot.
 
Jen Cloher wordt op haar nieuwe plaat bijgestaan door onder andere Kurt Vile en Courtney Barnett. De laatste is niet alleen de stadgenoot en levenspartner van Jen Cloher, maar draagt in muzikaal opzicht ook belangrijk vergelijkingsmateriaal aan.
 
Jen Cloher maakt op haar titelloze plaat lekkere rauwe muziek, die in het verlengde ligt van de afgelopen jaren zo geprezen Courtney Barnett en die verder geïnspireerd is door die van onder andere Patti Smith en PJ Harvey.
 
Het is een plaat vol gloedvol en bezwerend gitaarwerk. Het is gitaarwerk dat de ene keer subtiel ondersteunt, de volgende keer uitpakt met lekkere rauwe riffs en vervolgens weer kan ontaarden in heerlijk stekelige solo’s.
 
Het past perfect bij de bijzondere manier van zingen van Jen Cloher, die een stem met raakvlakken met die van Chrissie Hynde combineert met de voordracht van Patti Smith en de gesproken teksten van Lou Reed.
 
Jen Cloher moet in het genre waarin ze opereert concurreren met nogal wat muzikanten, onder wie haar partner Courtney Barnett, maar ze houdt zich wat mij betreft vrij makkelijk staande. Dit doet de Australische singer-songwriter door wat dieper te graven en door wat nadrukkelijker buiten de lijntjes te kleuren.
 
Dat hoor je duidelijk in de bijna acht minuten durende tweede track, die je langzaam maar zeker bij de strot grijpt, maar ook in de kortere tracks op de plaat maakt Jen Cloher indruk met songs die rauwe klanken en bijna voorgedragen teksten combineren met een flinke dosis eigenwijsheid, avontuur en zeggingskracht.
 
De nieuwe plaat van Jen Cloher is een plaat die je niet in de koude kleren gaat zitten. Zeker wanneer je met veel aandacht naar de songs van de Australische luistert, heeft de titelloze plaat van Jen Cloher een enorme impact. De zich langzaam voortslepende songs toveren donkere en duistere beelden op het netvlies en nemen je mee naar de eindeloze ruimte in Australië.
 
De Britse krant The Guardian, die de plaat van Jen Cloher “a slow burning masterpiece” noemt, verwijst naar de indringende klanken van de Australische band The Triffids en slaat hiermee de spijker op de kop (ik heb de band's meesterwerk Born Sandy Devotional er direct weer eens bij gepakt).
 
Er wordt momenteel heel druk gedaan over de plaat van Jen Cloher en ik kan alleen maar concluderen dat dit volkomen terecht is. Cloher staat misschien nog wat in de schaduw van Courtney Barnett, maar heeft een plaat gemaakt waarop haar partner alleen maar heel jaloers kan zijn. Het moet genoeg zeggen over de kwaliteit van deze plaat.

Eewin Zijleman

Je kunt hier het album van Jen Cloher hier beluisteren en kopen:

https://jencloher.bandcamp.com/album/jen-cloher

donderdag 12 oktober 2017

Swerve On. Mojo Monkeys

In a way this week is Beth Wimmer week on WoNoBlog. First we published on Olivia Rose's first EP. Olivia is the daughter of a friend of Beth's. Then we published on her new album 'Bookmark'. And here is our review of Swerve On.

Why you may ask? Mojo Monkeys' gitarist Billy Watts produced Bookmark and the band played on the album and will play at the release show in Liechtenstein later this month. Billy Watts plays with Beth in The Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland this month.

And so the request of Beth whether I would listen to Swerve On and give it a chance is explained.

Listening to 'Tuscaloosa Maybe' and 'Two Shots' truly made me wonder what I was listening to and made me fear for 'Bookmark'. Let me skip the songs here and there, because right after them a totally different world opened itself. Let me call it a world in which The Imperial Crowns would truly feel at home and so will their fans.

Mojo Monkeys does not tie itself into one hole and shows that it can convince in several genres. (Even the first two, yes.) From the ZZ Top like rockers to the dirty soul rock blues like The Imperial Crowns excels in and I hear a dirty form of country mixed with (soft) rock, like Dirty Sweet from San Diego played in the 00s. And somewhere through it all, there's that great band from Texas from the 80s, The Fabulous Thunderbirds.

Just listen to the title song. 'Swerve On' has a mix of genres that not a lot of bands pull off successfully, especially because Mojo Monkeys chose to keep the song small, towards a ballad, while keeping the country, the rock and the feeling parts in tact throughout the whole song. A fine song 'Swerve On' is.

So, yes indeed, there is not a lot of originality on Swerve On. But believe me, if you like this sort of music, a lot of sorts of music to express myself more correctly, you will not care a lot about that. As the songs are not only good, they invite you to listen to your favourite records of yesteryear that may have been gathering dust, get them out of their hiding place and put them on once again. Sir Douglas Quintet is there, including some Tex Mex 'Mendocino' style in 'Ride Your Pony' and mixed with The Imperial Crowns sleaze in 'Little Javelina', vocal style and all. CCR and The Red Devils minus its sadly departed singer/harmonica player too.

I think you know enough. It's too bad the band doesn't come out with Beth Wimmer to my country. My guess is roof raising shows when these men get down to it. The Swiss are a lucky bunch of people; if they go out to see them, that is.

Wo.

You can listen to and buy Swerve On here:

https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/mojomonkeys3

woensdag 11 oktober 2017

Mooon's Brew. Mooon

And yet another album from Dutch soil that sounds like its 1966 and early 1967, before Indian influences passing for psychedelia and LSD slipped into music. What is the attraction of youngsters in 2017 with music their grandparents danced to or spaced out at? I don't know. Another fair question is why do I like most of these records so much? The state of Nederbeat is as good as it ever was. All we need is a new Mariska Veres and we'll score another hit Stateside soon.

Aarle-Rixtel is the birthplace of Mooon. Hidden somewhere in the east of Noord Brabant the band members honed their skills, playing records of their grandparents filled with the music of The Outsiders, Cream, Q65, etc. and out came Mooon's Brew, a fine collection of antiquated tunes played with zest and truckload of confidence..

That the influences do not limit themselves to the great Dutch bands of the mid 60s is shown by naming Cream. The very first song, 'Too Cool For School' shows another influence. The swamprock rhythm guitar of Tony Joe White mixes with a more straightforward sound. Extremely cool indeed. A fairly simple song that is punked up with a Wally Tax like sneer and a rough sounding solo guitar.

Mooon likes a lot of guitar music from the 60s and early 70s. Garagerock mixes just as easily with pumped up bluesrock ZZ Top and Rory Gallagher style. Psychedelia with blues Cream style. In other words a lot of music comes by that involves some strong distorted guitar playing, a firm bass and a strong drum. What the threesome, Tom de Jong, Gijs de Jong en Timo van Lierop, play and sing is what the listener gets. Don't expect loads of overdubs here. Don't expect a sound blown up beyond proportions. Mooon is Mooon.

So after a psychedelic pop song with some nice harmonies called 'Surfin' With You', a nice bluesrocker, 'Trouble', with a fiery harmonica is served up, in which the band is not afraid to go all out for nearly six minutes. 'Where Money Goes' is one of those punky garage rock styled songs, where a whole genre was built upon: punk.

Despite the fact that there are so many 60s oriented bands in this country, again this one sounds differently. Mooon does not let itself be caught in one sub genre, but goes for many. In general it plays rock fast, loud and proud, but never out of control. Mooon knows what it is doing, but is never afraid to take a little detour. And so hardly any song sounds the same. Not unlike 'Swerve On' by Mojo Monkeys, reviewed tomorrow on this blog, with the difference that that band plays a bunch of Americana styles on one record.

With 'Intermission' the band does a The Kik like interlude. Does Dave von Raven have a role again as producer here? Also songs like the single 'Mary You Wanna' and the surf rocker 'Shark Zone' give me the feeling. I gave up googling to find out. Nothing showed up. The more spaced out side of the band ends it all. Psych blues and a space jam.

Looked at from a superficial level Mooon's Brew is nothing more than a fallen over discography, that got mixed up and confused. Listened at more closely I hear a trio that is passionately playing the music it truly likes. Music that is about 50 years old today. At the same time it seems so easy to add new and great songs in these styles to the existing whole. There's nothing strange about Mooon's Brew, so psych and rock on Mooon.

Wo.

You can listen to 'Mary You Wanna' here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wC7YS70yZdM

You can buy Mooon's Brew here:

https://shop.excelsior-recordings.com/collections/2017-releases/products/mooon-mooons-brew


dinsdag 10 oktober 2017

Bookmark. Beth Wimmer

From a grand topic, 'Ghosts & Men', to one of the most unnoticed tools that are so handy and could be nearly anything as long as the tool is flat, a bookmark, suggest a step down. In a way it is, as I will get to later. Beth Wimmer is back after six years with a new and long awaited album. 'Ghosts & Men' was a near flawless album that gave the Swiss-American singer a unique voice. Her songs were embedded in an unique environment. Co-created by Italian musician-producer Damiano Della Torre, the music became the best of two worlds: European and American.

Bookmark was a hard struggle with songs that did not present themselves for quite some time. They have now and I welcome them.

The first thing I noticed that by working with an American producer and backing band Bookmark sounds more like an American singer-songwriter tending towards country album. With that Beth Wimmer lost something that set her apart, in my opinion, from most of the competition. So far for the bad news. Let's listen to the album and see where it leads me.

Like almost all new albums by an artist I truly appreciate, Bookmark came as a shock. As you following my writing may have gathered by now. The task on hand is to dive into the album and start learning in earnest. Most of the time a new relationship starts, that allows the new songs into my life. As it were they slide over the older ones and finally mix. That is what happened with listening more and more to the album. Bookmark grew and grew.

The fine details in the playing of Mojo Monkeys, the beautiful voice of Beth Wimmer and the strength of the compositions started to come forward, one by one. A few songs really stand out. One did not and the rest is of the level that I have come to expect from Beth Wimmer. So it's time for us to move down to the next level.

Looking at the song titles more closely I noticed that the songs are in alphabetical order. It's not a mistake. "It just felt right", Beth stated. So the album opens with the title song, 'Bookmark'. Listening ever closer, I notice how subtle the song is. Starting with the intro of Beth's acoustic guitar and the slow played notes of a solo, electric guitar. A love song with the bookmark as a metaphor for the love one feels for another. The song is kept small, where an explosion on the drums would have been an easy trick to expand it, a lot. Instead there is a chorus in which were some harmonies were added.

The full band comes in from the very beginning in 'Loosen My Grip'. The kind of song that I meant in my introduction to this post. This is a U.S. country rock kind of song, with the fiery guitar solo to boot. It's also a kind of song where Beth Wimmer meets the edge of her vocal range. The song as such is fine, but I find that her voice isn't meant to rock hard. Hers is a singer-songwriter kind of voice. One that sings stories. Like 'Louisiana', one of my favourite songs on Bookmark. Again the band behind her finds the right accompaniment, with another fine solo. The kind of song that makes her shine.

'Mahogany Hawk' is perhaps the finest song on the album. All Beth Wimmer's strengths come together. The  quality of the song(writing), the way her voice resonates, the melancholy that seeps through and the exactly right accompaniment. Again every one made the greatest effort to make her shine and succeeded with flying colours.

 'Mexico' is more of a (serious) fun song, with the guitar sounds that go with the title. The text is clearly heartfelt. Her longing for warm Gulf waters and for her adopted country, snowy Switzerland, where she makes a pretty pair with her husband. Beth Wimmer knows how to phrase her feelings into a song and lyrics and shares them with her fans. Feelings that are instantly recognisable for many.

'Pretty Good' is a song that would have fitted in nicely with the songs on 'Ghosts And Men'. The sound is again much lighter, American, but is doing pretty good indeed. Again, the lyrics are a story told that shows how time progresses, tell of dreams that may not all have come true, but have turned out alright. The same goes for 'Simplicity Of A Man'. This song also is vintage Beth Wimmer. Another one of my favourites on the album. I'll live with the lyrics, as they are probably true, ladies.


There is one song that I do not like. Not because I don't like the song or the way that it is played, but for a, perhaps, peculiar reason. Let me explain. The song is the cover of David Bowie's 'Starman'. It is that I don't believe it the way Beth Wimmer sings it, like I believed Bowie singing it. His "young", 1972, voice gave me the idea that, against all odds, it might just be true. Here 'Starman' is a pleasantly played song of good quality (and a fine tribute to one of the truly great of course), but the magic is not there. So perhaps a song that is best not covered?

The two final songs, 'The Last Part' and 'We Can Do This', more than make up for this and take Bookmark home. Fine songs, filled with atmosphere and feeling, fitting together quite well at the end of the album.
  

All in all Bookmark is a fine album, that I love listening to. No, it hasn't made the impression 'Ghosts And Men' made on me, but there's never another first time with the same artist. There is of course the first impression of each new piece of music, but all these comparisons, memories and expectations throw themselves at me, preventing me from truly being open to new songs. Second and more impressions are possible though as long as I open myself up to the new work. That I did and so it's easy for me to write that Beth Wimmer has released another fine album.

Beth plays two shows in the Netherlands this week. The Leni and Peter Podium in Steendam on Friday 12 October and a private house show in Haarlem on Saturday afternoon. Contact Beth through her website should you like to attend here.

Wo.

The album is released on 24 October. Watch the news here:

http://www.bethwimmer.com/

maandag 9 oktober 2017

Clarity EP. Olivia Rose & Xaq Adriance

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to present Olivia Rose to the readers of this blog. She had released her first song and I wrote a few words on it (see here http://wonomagazine.blogspot.nl/2017/02/pretty-face-ugly-heart-olivia-rose.html).

Olivia was Introduced to me by Beth Wimmer, who releases her new album Bookmark over the coming days and we kept in touch. With a new EP out, it's time to look into the presented new music.

Starting to play the new work, I heard 'Clarity' first. It gave me quite a fright, because the song was not one that I liked. It sounded forced to me especially in the way of singing. Lucky for me, there are two more songs and that made sure things turned out more than alright.

Those reading the caption of this post will have noticed that something has changed. The EP is presented as a duo production. Olivia works together with Xaq Adrience, a befriended guitarist who takes care of some lead guitar lines in the songs. This does the songs a lot of good. From the basic chords underneath the song, played by Olivia, all these notes and lead lines come forward that enliven the song and supports or plays off of the vocal melody.

In the lyrics Olivia Rose is still finding here way in growing up and the emotional and rational choices that come with it. Finding out that being pretty on the outside says nothing about the inside (and the other way around) was the theme of her first song, 'Pretty Face (Ugly Heart)'. In 'Clarity' its about seeing things clearer from a distance. Emotions of feelings that come with love versus the rational decision to step aside and uncertainty from unrequited love in 'Waste Of Time'. We have all been through it. "Hanging on in quiet desperation", to quote a famous U.K. sympho band. Trust and the breaking of trust is the theme of 'What I deserve'.

With that title I have the strongest song of the three. Hidden away in the whole is the influence of U.K. folk acts like Fairport Convention and Sandy Denny. The dark lead lines are a dead give away. They give the song such a dark mood, that is reciprocated by the singing. Together they work really well and convince in topic and execution.

Musically the songs are basic, yet have a melodic strength. The duo gets the most out of the compositions without bringing in more musicians or instruments. What they can do together is what I hear and basically that is enough. The three songs that make up Clarity make the statement the duo wants to make.

Listening to 'Clarity' more often things even become alright between the title song and me. The guitar playing is fine, as is the melody. So, summing up, Olivia Rose together with Xaq Adriance has made a nice next step in her young career.

Wo.

You can listen to and buy Clarity here:

https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/oliviarose24

zondag 8 oktober 2017

America. Juanita Stein

De naam Juanita Stein zal niet bij iedereen een belletje doen rinkelen, maar liefhebbers van de platen van de Australische band Howling Bells zullen waarschijnlijk direct enthousiast opveren.
 
Howling Bells maakte tussen 2006 en 2014 vier platen van hoog niveau en het zijn platen waartussen ik maar heel moeilijk kan kiezen.
 
De Australische band wisselde op deze platen dromerige en licht gruizige songs met elkaar af en raakte op haar platen aan nogal uiteenlopende bands als My Bloody Valentine, Cocteau Twins en Mazzy Star.
 
De prachtige stem van Juanita Stein speelde een hoofdrol op de platen van Howling Bells, waardoor ik heel benieuwd was naar de eerste soloplaat van de Australische, maar al enige tijd in Engeland woonachtige, zangeres.
 
Op America maakt Juanita Stein muziek die in het verlengde ligt van de platen van Howling Bells, maar ze legt ook een aantal net wat andere accenten. America klinkt wat minder gruizig dan de muziek van Howling Bells en op een aantal momenten net wat lichtvoetiger. Hiernaast heeft Juanita Stein meer invloeden uit de Amerikaanse rootsmuziek toegevoegd aan haar muziek, maar laat ze ook een voorliefde voor tijdloze popmuziek horen.
 
Die laatste voorliefde strekt zich uit van de 60s girlpop en de perfecte pop van Fleetwood Mac uit de jaren 70 tot de zwoele en onderkoelde pop van Lana Del Rey. Het levert een geluid op dat me zeer bevalt en dat bovendien overloopt van groeipotentie.
 
Juanita Stein maakt indruk met broeierige songs met een randje roots, verleidt met zwoele en zonnige pop en maakt ook nog altijd muziek die doet denken aan die van Mazzy Star, een van mijn favoriete bands aller tijden.
 
Stein kan op America net zo verleidelijk zingen als Hope Sandoval, maar klinkt een stuk helderder, wat de eerste soloplaat van Juanita Stein voorziet van meer zonnestralen dan de vooral donkere platen van Mazzy Star.
 
America is een plaat die heerlijk bedwelmt met tijdloos klinkende popliedjes, maar hoe vaker je ze hoort, hoe knapper ze worden. Juanita Stein imponeert op haar eerste soloplaat met heerlijke vocalen, maar heeft haar aangename popsongs ook vol moois verstopt. Naast de al genoemde invloeden uit de Amerikaanse rootsmuziek en de tijdloze popmuziek verwerkt Juanita Stein op America ook meer dan eens invloeden uit de psychedelica, wat de dromerige sfeer op de plaat nog wat verder versterkt. De werkelijk prachtige gitaarlijnen op de plaat doen de rest. 

America deed het in eerste instantie vooral uitstekend op de vroege ochtend of late avond, maar is inmiddels een plaat voor alle momenten. Zeker wanneer je de plaat vaker hebt gehoord neemt het beeldend vermogen van de plaat toe en tovert America van Juanita Stein beelden op het netvlies die niet zouden misstaan in een volgende film van David Lynch.
 
America van Juanita Stein krijgt vooralsnog nog wat minder aandacht dan de al zo ondergewaardeerde platen van Howling Bells, maar is voor mij de soundtrack van de zomer van 2017. Het is een zomer die van mij nog vele maanden mag duren.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt hier luisteren naar 'Stargazer':

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_SfLrOBUCKI

zaterdag 7 oktober 2017

Donkey Shot. Lost Bear

Donkey Shot? That's a nice pun, isn't it? Especially if there is something about donkey charity involved as well in the release of the album.

Lost Bear is one of the many projects including Stefan Breuer, projects that he releases himself on his label Tiny Room Records. The first album I heard from the label was the previous Lost Bear album, through Erwin Zijleman's review on this blog (read here: http://wonomagazine.blogspot.nl/2016/11/inside-dragon-lost-bear.html). It was an album so eclectic that I asked myself whether I was truly hearing what I was hearing or had gone into a spontaneous audiocination. Fact was, I wasn't. Hearing is believing where 'Inside The Dragon' is concerned.

Lost Bear is a five piece band: Gino Miniutti, Casper Steenhuizen, Arno Breuer, Gibson Houwer and Stefan Breuer. Two of the names I recognise as the duo Sven Agaath, who's album 'End Of Latin' was reviewed earlier this year (read here: https://wonomagazine.blogspot.nl/2017/06/end-of-latin-sven-agaath.html). The five piece has a fondness for discarding convention and play with the structures and texture of songs. Despite the fact that songs may have started out from a "normal" beginning, at the bottom of things this beginning may even still be discernible, to all appearances it is the experiment that is at the forefront and on display.

Donkey Shot is not as diverse as 'Inside The Dragon'. Anything went there, it seems. Each and every idea and snippet of a thought was followed up, investigated, turned inside out, sped up or slowed down. Donkey Shot in that way is far more uniform. Most of the songs are short, under 2.30 and a few even under 2 minutes.

The title of the opening would keep the whole world from ever going into the sea again, if this became true: 'Carnivorous Plankton'. A fairly straightforward song, with a synthesizer carrying the bulk and a wild sweeping lead guitar filling in all the holes in the song.

The synth remains in place in 'Hallways Of Echoes'. For the rest it is the rhythm that goes topsy turvy, the mildly treated voice of Casper Steenhuizen sounds like at least two bottles of wine were involved in the recording sessions and perhaps even more.

No matter how hard Lost Bear tries to treat 'Muscovy' in interesting ways, it remains a great song. By then it is clear that the synthesizer is the main instrument of the album. This gives it an 80s feel. The sound of the early 80s especially when the sky always seemed to be falling down; on a grey day too. That sound comes back extremely strong in 'Rap Song'. Somehow I hated that era musically, but I often find that the children and grandchildren of that musical point in time use the influences but come up with some very nice songs.

The weirdness in a 'Suzy Chreamcheese' kind of way is what comes next. Lost Bear may have gone on a 'Little Big Adventure' in their studio, these kind of songs are hard to sit through for me. Yes, by all means call it music, but it doesn't mean that I do not have the freedom to skip listening to it.

That experimentation can produce nice results is proven by 'Starlings'. A monotonous bass riff, perhaps even a loop, with over it a guitar emulating the sound of a stormswept alarm siren goes on and on for a short period of time, never making me want to stop listening.

In short, Donkey Shot is an album that does not invite me to listen straight away. In fact it does its best to repel. Certainly when listening superficially it succeeds 100%, If I want to read or work during listening, I will turn it off within seconds. However, when I take my time, I discover all these details Driving me onwards to search for more fine details that Lost Bear found and proudly showcases in the respective songs.

With 'Bull Drool' one of the very best songs on the album comes by. Present the song in a bit more conventional way and it would be shining in the middle of a Moss album. The compositional powers of Lost Bear are above par. It seems that it has created a small niche of the musical firmament to present them in. So does that lead to the conclusion that the musicians are more music lovers than interested in commerce and bigger audiences? I seem to arrive at that conclusion.

In 'Back In Reverse', yes, the music is in reverse like its 1967 all over again and '2.000 Light Years From Home' shines through here in a strong way, is another one of those deeply hidden gems and even (almost pure) pop. Starting to appreciate Donkey Shot is like asking yourself 'what do I drink beyond Rivella'? That leaves me with a final message for you: go, go and listen yourself. Prepare yourself, perhaps for the worst, but I've found out that the bracing was very much worth my while.

Wo.

You can listen to and buy Donkey Shot here:

https://tinyroomrecords.bandcamp.com/album/donkey-shot

vrijdag 6 oktober 2017

Somersault. Beach Fossils

Although Somersault is out for several months I wanted to write a review anyway, having seen the band recently in Paradiso. Because of the show I found out that Beach Fossels had a new album out and started listening a lot to it.

The overall view present an easy to make conclusion. Somersault is an album without any danger. An album that will never bite. Instead it might kill you by sugarcoating. All this is meant in a positive way.

The Brooklyn based band around Dustin Payseur presents its soft voiced songs in an insecure secure way. It all sounds hesitatingly, as if the band is too shy to let us hear the results of its studio endeavours. At the same time the band never falters, never wavers from what it wants the world to hear.

In the studio the band added strings in several songs, hence the sugar coating. The surprises come when a German flute is added for a solo in 'Saint Ivy', after which a soft, but oh so right guitar riff takes over.

The atmosphere of Somersault is the exact opposite if the title. You never see someone make one somersault. It's always a lot of them in a row, busy, impressive, flashy and full of balanced power. The album is light like all the instruments float on top of Jack Doyle Smith's bass as in 'May 1st'. The same goes for 'Sugar'. The bass is the most dominant. So if there is a somersault, it is the bass guitar. The rest is like a feather in the wind. And that is where things come together: the best somersaults are gravity defying; like that feather.

With 'Sugar' I can point you to one of the absolute top songs of the album. The sweet riff that rocks the boat ever so little is just about perfect. After that the bass plays the role of Krist Novoselic in the soft spots of Nirvana songs. With the difference that this song explodes ever so soft. This is Beach Fossils, right?

This is an album for all days, but ideal for a Sunday morning, to wake up with while making an extensive brunch to celebrate the time off, with a boiled egg, fresh orange juice, etc. In the background Somersault is working its magic. With a little eruption here and there. The guitar "solo" in 'Closer Everywhere' is about as wild as it gets.

For someone who does not like this kind of music, that breakfast may never pass, for all others this is indie heaven.

There is one surprise on Somersault. Beach Fossils does an Velvet Underground. Again in its very own way and with one of that band's softest song. The penultimate song, 'Be Nothing', makes me think of 'Oh! Sweet Nothin' from the 'Loaded' album for a lot of the time. And then it speeds up and changes the world. Another surprise is the rather strange outing 'Rise'. Barry White without the baritone, the soul taken out of soul music. A rather weird interlude, but why not?

Live the two guitarists, Tommy Davidson and Dustin Payseur, play the biggest role, on the record they are less important. Nearly all of the time it is Doyle Smith who is up front, with (now ex-)drummer Tommy Gardner, keeping time behind him, with The Cure like accuracy. So if I have to name an influence of Beach Fossils, here you have it.

Somersault isn't a brilliant album. It is an album that I would have liked to have bought though. If the merchandise hadn't packed up so early (read on here) in Paradiso, I would have. Beach Fossils have come up with an album that is ever so pleasant to listen to, but most of all, the right follow up to 'Clash The Truth'.

Wo.

You can listen to and buy Somersault here:

https://beachfo.bandcamp.com/album/somersault

donderdag 5 oktober 2017

House of cosy Cushions Kerkje te Oostum 23 september 2017



Foto: .No
Scheppen doet pijn

Ik houd van kunst. Monumentale en intieme kunst. De bekende werken van Mark Rothko zijn monumentaal. Vaak zijn ze erg groot, maar zelfs als ze bescheiden van omvang zijn, lijken ze de toeschouwer al bij de eerste aanblik te omvatten. Je kunt er als toeschouwer niet meer onderuit: hier hangt een werk met een belangrijke boodschap en met een enorme zeggingskracht. De pijn van het scheppen van deze werken is hevig voelbaar. Ander voorbeeld: als ik de zaal in het Kröller-Müller binnenloop waar de vier uitgebloeide zonnebloemen van Van Gogh hangen, dan ruik ik de scherpe zurige geur van uitgebloeide zonnebloemen. Direct! 

Maar er is ook kunst die zich veel geleidelijker opent. Waar ik in eerste instantie weinig in zie en waar ik geduld en moeite moet opbrengen om te worden toegelaten. Dat heb ik bijvoorbeeld bij de schilderijen van Herman van Veen. Dit zijn meestal erg grote werken die op het eerste oog uitsluitend ‘decoratief’ zijn: bijna helemaal in één hoofdkleur, bijvoorbeeld oranjerood, met een vaag reliëf van bruinzwart erin. Staat leuk bij die kobaltblauwe bank, joh! Maar als ik echt contact maak met het schilderij, komt het geledeidelijk tot leven. En dan zitten er opeens meerdere lagen met boodschappen voor me in. In een eerdere WoNo Magazine heb ik eens beschreven wat een verpletterende indruk een paar pentekeningen van Rembrandt op me maakten: eerst leek het alsof er verfrommelde velletjes lichtbruin vetpapier aan de muur hingen. Bij nadere beschouwing zag ik dat de ‘kreukels’ inktlijntjes waren en toen ontvouwde zich opeens een Bijbels tafereel. En zo doorleefd, dat het bijna ondraaglijk was.

Foto: .No
Hier moest ik aan denken toen ik de avond na het concert van het Pink Floyd Project naar huis reed van een concert van ‘House of Cosy Cushions’ in het middeleeuwse kerkje van Oostum. Een bijzonder intiem concert waarvoor de band was teruggebracht tot twee mensen: kunstenaar, multi-instrumentalist en componist/tekstschrijver Richard Bolhuis en violiste Saskia Meys.

Pink Floyd is vanaf de eerste noot ‘out there’,terwijl de muziek van House of Cosy Cushions zich geleidelijk voor je opent. En zeker die intieme setting van Oostum maakte dat heel indrukwekkend duidelijk. En confronterend. Want er was geen ontsnappen meer aan. Bij een groot concert ga je op in de massa. Als het je te veel wordt kun je je aan het scheppingsproces onttrekken. Maar hier was maar een dozijn toeschouwers en de creatie vond om ons heen plaats. We stonden er middenin. Keken Saskia en Richard recht in de ogen. De scheppingspijn was voelbaar. 

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Maar wat een mooie muziek komt daaruit voort! Het was net zo betoverend als het concert in De Synagoge in Groningen op 31 maart 2017 (zie http://wonomagazine.blogspot.nl/2017/04/house-of-cosy-cushions.html). Ook met zijn tweeën wisten Richard en Saskia de nummers tot leven te brengen. Deze bezetting vond ik juist heel goed bij de intieme setting en bij het kwetsbare kerkje passen. 

In en om het kerkje was het weer een feest van ‘Bolhuiskleuren’. Stel je voor: het Groningse platteland, geen straatverlichting, geen verlichte boerderijen in de buurt, dus bijna totale duisternis. En dan duikt op de wierde het beeld op van een kerkje en een kerkhof in magenta! Kippenvel!

House of Cosy Cushions treedt ieder jaar een keer op in het kerkje te Oostum. Richard wil dit graag intiem houden. Hij vindt het belangrijk om te kunnen creëren wat hij wil creëren. En om zichzelf te voeden. Veel publiek is leuk, maar niet het doel.



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Maar euh… niet verder vertellen hoor, maar ik raad je aan er de volgende keer bij te zijn!

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