zondag 17 december 2017

Painted Ruins. Grizzly Bear

De uit Brooklyn, New York, afkomstige band Grizzly Bear verruilde met het in 2009 verschenen Veckatimest de status van cultband voor die van één van de smaakmakers in de indie-scene en wist deze status met het in 2012 verschenen Shields moeiteloos vast te houden. (Lees hier de recensie van Wo.: http://wonomagazine.blogspot.nl/2012/10/shields-grizzly-bear.html)
De band deed dit zonder al teveel concessies te doen, waardoor ook Shields weer klonk als een omgevallen platenkast van een muziekliefhebber met een opvallend brede smaak.
De band heeft vervolgens de tijd genomen voor de opvolger van Shields en komt pas vijf jaar later met Painted Ruins.
Het is een plaat die net wat anders klinkt dan zijn voorgangers, al is de veelheid aan invloeden gelukkig gebleven. Painted Ruins opent met pastorale klanken waarvoor Elbow zich niet zou schamen, maar slaat vervolgens al snel om in zwoele 70s pop vol mooie details, waaronder hele mooie gitaarlijnen.
In de tweede tracks zwellen de synths aan en lijkt Grizzly Bear te citeren uit de 80s synthpop, maar het is wel synthpop die wordt gecombineerd met de wonderschone zang, waarmee de band al sinds haar debuut indruk maakt.
In de derde track kiest Grizzly Bear voor een net wat experimenteler geluid, waarin flarden Elbow en beetje progrock en psychedelica worden gecombineerd met prachtige harmonieën en zo laat iedere track iets nieuws en verrassends horen.
De muziek van Grizzly Bear is nog altijd een vat vol invloeden of zelfs een vat vol tegenstrijdigheden, maar Painted Ruins strijkt geen moment tegen de haren in. De band heeft de tijd genomen om de prachtige vocalen op de plaat te combineren met een al even mooie instrumentatie. Het is een instrumentatie vol betoverend mooie gitaarlijnen en benevelende synths, maar het is ook een instrumentatie vol subtiele details en verrassende wendingen.
Waar de keuze voor een wat toegankelijker geluid op de laatste plaat van The Arcade Fire zorgt voor betrekkelijk kleurloze pop, is Painted Ruins een plaat die sprankelt en betovert. Het is prachtig hoe Grizzly Bear er op haar nieuwe plaat in slaagt om gitaren en synths in harmonie te brengen en het is indrukwekkend hoe de band experimenteerdrift combineert met het vermogen om songs te schrijven die zich als een warme deken om je heen slaan.
Het levert songs op die citeren uit het werk van Crosby, Stills & Nash of The Beach Boys, maar vervolgens worden voorzien van een klankentapijt dat qua avontuur en schoonheid zeker niet onder doet voor dat van Radiohead of dat van Talk Talk in haar latere jaren.
Zeker wanneer het volume wat wordt opgeschroefd of de plaat met de koptelefoon wordt beluisterd, wordt duidelijk wat een knap geluid Grizzly Bear in elkaar heeft gesleuteld op haar nieuwe plaat. Een aantal decennia popmuziek worden door de band aan elkaar gesmeed en vervolgens getransformeerd in een geluid dat alleen maar uit het heden kan komen.
Iedere keer dat ik de plaat hoor, hoor ik weer nieuwe dingen op Painted Ruins. Een vleugje Beatles, een beetje postpunk, hier en daar wat synthpop, een paar bevliegingen uit de progrock, een flinke wolk psychedelica, pure chamber pop of toch weer onnavolgbare indie-pop.
Painted Ruins van Grizzly Bear is een plaat die direct vermaakt en verbaast, maar de ware schoonheid komt pas aan de oppervlakte wanneer je de plaat voor de zoveelste keer hoort. Nog een beetje doorgroeien en het predicaat meesterwerk komt binnen bereik.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt hier luisteren naar 'Acquarian':


zaterdag 16 december 2017

I'm Not Alright. John Joseph Brill

"Are you planning to review John Joseph Brill?", was a question I received a while back. My answer was "No, this album is so boring".

And look, a change of season, perhaps a corresponding mood and a chance clicking on a title I did not recognise. Not that a lot happens on I'm Not Alright, a four song EP, it's that it does speak to me. The music on the EP appeals to those moments I did enjoy that typical 80s music made by bands like The Blue Nile and Talk Talk. Readers of this blog know my thoughts on 80s music in general by now, there were some notable exceptions, some of them even at the time.

John Joseph Smith makes that sort of serious, electronic music, sung with a dark voice, that does not allow for a lot of expression and a show of emotion. In fact in emotional moments, like in "You were all I wanted", Brill takes his voice down even further, making expression even harder. The fun is in the solo notes of the keyboard that are in a higher register and a synthsound in the background playing long held chords or notes. Describing them as playful is almost possible.

I'm not alright is quite some title. When a friend says this to you, you know you are going to have a different evening than expected. A mere acquaintance saying it is close to socially unacceptable. A singer or artist? That's a different story of course. John Joseph Brill's life was in a rot when writing and recording this EP. Hence he asked his friends from Bear's Den to assist him, with Andrew Davie producing.

Promo photo
Things do not get much darker than on the single 'A Place To Drown'. "Let me be the water" he sings if the person he sings to would want to kill him of herself. The ultimate sacrifice or the ultimate revenge? A fascinating song, no matter how dark. In a dark, joyless set of songs, it doesn't get darker than this, fortunately. With the Earth spinning fast towards the shortest day an appropriate sort of music.

To think the album starts with the sound and chord progression of Klein Orkest's 'Over De Muur', that melancholy musical fest on the Berlin Wall. The lyrics to that song are a joy. Here the mood goes down and down until we know the singer is not alright. The 80s are all over this song, like a tinseltown in the rain. 'I'm Not Alright' has a certain majesty that grabbed my attention the second time around, allowing me into the album.

Like Julien Baker's dark album 'Turn Out The Lights' this album shuts out the day, joy, fun and everything else to do with enjoying life (even at the barest minimum). Four songs are just about digestible. Hence I could take on another dark record.

I'm Not Alright impressed me since I have given it a second chance. A good thing that they exist these kind of chances.


You can listen to 'I'm Not Alright' here:


vrijdag 15 december 2017

Wildflower. Octave Lissner

An album starting with nature, birds, reminds me of our hero from Sealand, Broeder Dieleman. Octave Lissner has musically nothing to do with the enigmatic and somewhat esoteric Broeder Dieleman. Octave Lissner is as smooth as silk musically. Comparing the two artists is something like an oxymoron.

Octave Lissner is a young man from Paris, France who seems to have digested over 50 years of pop music and comes up with all the right notes that lead to instant pleasure for the ear. In nothing I would have guessed having to do with a French artist. His English is well (sung), the music is U.S. influenced. From the 'What A Fool Believes' The Doobie Brothers to Michael McDonald's 'Sweet Freedom' or Marvin Gaye soul, it all found a way to Wildflower. More modern music lovers may like Paolo Nutini as a reference and those in between should imagine Oasis' 'Don't Look Back In Anger' infused with a load of soul. Enter L.A. songwriter Patrick Joseph.

All that would be more of a disincentive to listen perhaps than a qualification to do so. I find that Octave Lissner often does the totally right thing, giving his music enough of a self to be enjoyed without having to compare the whole time. Yes, there are influences. Very obvious ones. It's of no consequence to the whole. What Lissner does with them is what makes Wildflower a pleasant experience.

What I could hold against it is that the album is ever so smooth. There is no danger in Wildflower. But then, who said music needs to be dangerous? We have enough of that around. Octave Lissner aims at a listening experience and succeeds. Like the aforementioned Patrick Joseph he manages to couple more or less straightforward songs to interesting arrangements. The many little details in the songs, like a piano or extra guitar bursting through the fabric of the song, make it so fine. Or the harmony singing in 'Waves Of Time'. A detail that lifts the song up and caresses it like the waves out on the sea.

Octave Lissner has released a fine debut mini album consisting of eight songs. The songs take the listener through a few moods and tempi. Wildflower is a fine introduction to a new French songwriter who is in nothing what I associate with French music. If someone had told me this production came out of LA I would not have given it a single thought. What a fine experience Wildflower is.


You can listen to 'Wildflower' here:


donderdag 14 december 2017

On Air. The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones are a band for 55 years in 2017. A life long career in rock music is no longer a hypothetical question. We know it can be long, last a lifetime and be very lucrative for those at the top. Did the band's latest release, 'Blue & Lonesome' give off the suggestion of a time machine with all the fine blues The Rolling Stones played on it, this release is a time machine.

20 Years after it became fashionable to do so finally The Rolling Stones releases its BBC recordings made in the mid 60s. What I hear is the nucleus of the band that grew to monstrous proportions with the climb of the decades. This is what it used to be all about: Have a great song and perform it as a five piece.

This, in part, is Brian Jones' band, the band that played rock and roll and rhythm and blues covers from the U.S. and caught that energy for the babyboomers if the U.K. about to embark on their peace and love adventure. The picture on the cover already shows the true configuration of the band. In my opinion it is no coincidence that this picture shows Mick, Keith and Charlie most in the front. Then Bill Wyman and only then Brian Jones. Almost falling of the picture, semi-faded out already.

That apart, what a joy On Air is. It lets me hear what I wasn't present at, all that passed me by. The Rolling Stones were as raucous as I would have expected them to be. Listening to these recordings it is almost imaginable how dangerous the U.K. establishment must have perceived youngsters who make music like this. The sound is dirty, gritty, Jagger sneers in his singing. He's not as good yet as he'd become, but catches the time with voice and demeanour.

It all starts with the first hit 'Come On' from 1963. A more obscure Chuck Berry song, released by the Stones and made famous forever because of it. We hear a tight band, playing a small song. There is nothing more than there was in these studios where the song were recorded. Some with audiences, some without. Giel Beelen's Speelplaats in the 60s.

This band was good. It had this fired up energy and an interaction between the individual members that made them more than a five piece band. The Stones captured the hearts and minds allowing for a basis that got them where they are now. Rock Gods. If anything On Air shows the process the band went through: from covers, to covers that were slowly reworked into Stones songs and then come their own hits. Many of the songs still are covered by bands right up to this day.

There's is one complaint and it is serious: Why just slab these songs on the record instead of showing the development of the band chronologically? That would have made sense. This isn't the nth hit compilation that needs a reshuffle. This is historical song mining. An inexcusable laps in my opinion, simply because the development the album shows goes somewhat missing.

Whether we had to wait so long, because the band waited for Alan Klein to die, who held the rights to some of these songs (and perhaps these recordings?) or there's another reason, I don't know. Let's just enjoy what we were finally, officially, given.


woensdag 13 december 2017

Johnny Hallyday (1943 - 2017) or French pop in general. A conversation

The demise of Johnny Hallyday triggered a conversation between Gary, Mark and Wo. France is in collective mourning, while these three gentlemen are truly wondering what the fuss is all about. This led to the following conversation on almost everything but Johnny Hallyday, in which it even proved hard to spell his last name right (Halliday vs. Hallyday).

Gary, 6-12-2017

Sad news about Johnny Hallyday passing away at the age of 74….

Wo., 6-12

I just saw it on the news, Gary. Strange to think that this man's career, who was huge in France, was over in this country before I got a notion of music beyond what my elders played.

It was years if not decades before I found that this famed rock and roll guy people always seemed to write about, was the same of that song 'Pour moi la vie va commencer'. I never connected the two.

Mark, 6-12
I don't know any of his records but you could say before The Beatles changed everything  the top teenage icons of rock'n'roll were Elvis, Cliff and Halliday but only Elvis big in all these markets.  Cliff never broke America and presumably Halliday blocked him out of the French teen market? How big was Elvis in France compared to UK? 

Largely unknown in UK, a francophonie footnote in the rock annals of rock, Johnny Halliday is precious national French property - like Alain Delon. He wasn't tempted by Hollywood and similarly Bardot who dipped her toe only from time to time (Doctor at Sea with Dirk Bogarde and Shalako with Sean Connery) and thought better of it.

"Can the French do rock'n'roll and be cool?" is an old joke on our side of the Channel. I can't name a single French rock band....just the odd curiosity like Plastic Bertrand.

I am in love with Francoise Hardy, however, and have all her records. Her late 1960s early 1970s lps like Question are excellent - and Nick Drake was besotted with her (they met once but no recordings ensued). Damon Albarn invited her to sing on a Blur track.  She hated the French production values of her early records and later recorded with Charles Blackwell at Pye Studios (La Maison ou J"ai Grandi) (with The Kinks in the studio next door). Bardot's records also had horrid production - except when she hooked up with Serge Gainsbourg. Francoise steered clear of Halliday as an uncool aging rocker:  I don't recall they ever duetted on record (she did with Alain Delon actually on a song on Parentheses releases in 2006 - now he IS the epitome of French cool!)
Wout, 6-12
Gary, if you could add your bit, it seems we have an item here.
Gary, 6-12
As a follow up to Mark’s comments, Plastic Bertrand (real name Roger Jouret) was of course a Belgian (born in Brussels in 1954... so just a few years older than me an Mark!). And although not really “my cup of tea”, was actually a reasonable drummer and loved and was inspired by the Stones. As his unique fame dwindled in 1987 he represented Luxembourg in the Eurovision Song Contest with the song "Amour Amour". This failed to impress the juries, however, scoring only 4 points and placing 21st out of 22 entries! 

I am sure there are many French ‘Pop’ and MOR artists that have ‘escaped me’ 😂 and to be honest I am not about to immerse myself in French ‘popular beat combos’. But as a proponent of Progressive Rock, I have bought or listened to some French Prog bands and artists over the years. Two in particular you may have heard of?

Magma: Led by classically trained drummer Christian Vander, the Paris-based Magma have been, in their way, perhaps the ultimate progressive rock group; while other artists have achieved greater commercial success and critical acclaim, Magma have typified the many ambitions and excesses of the genre that won them as many detractors as fans, even going so far as to invent their own lyrical and musical language in order to bring their unique vision to life. With 12 studio albums released since 1970, Magma is one of the greatest prog groups emerged from France and have been popular with Prog cognoscenti in the UK and USA… Live version of Epok I - Sowiloi:   https://youtu.be/wpbGNDw41eQ 

Jean-Luc Ponty: Jean-Luc Ponty isn’t only a virtuoso violinist but also one of the greatest Fusion composers who blended different genres with great success and a pioneer of the electric violin, his solo works include very different albums as the brilliant and almost symphonic Aurora or the less inspired Afro Jazz oriented Tchokola, in other words not only a prolific but also a very eclectic and talented Progressive musician. Ponty has collaborated with many great bands and artists over the years including Return to Forever, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Frank Zappa, Jon Anderson. Jean-Luc Ponty has a global reputation…. If you have not heard of him, here is his track ‘Mirage”: https://youtu.be/iS_p5sgfJb0

Ange: Formed in Belfort in 1969, Ange are one of the first progressive rock bands emerged from France. The group’s debut album, Caricatures, was released in 1972. Ange released 23 studio albums in total, and numerous live, compilation and single releases! Unheard of in the USA and the UK, they were/are quite inventive. Take a listen to Le Cimetière Des Arlequins (1973): https://youtu.be/k3RNmKfOh-I 

Thierry Zaboitzeff: Composer and multi-instrumentalist, one of the members of 'Art Zoyd’ (Pink Floyd?) from 1971 till 1997, Thierry Zaboitzeff writes nowadays for dance, theater, multimedia events and movies, as well as for his own projects and performances. In the period from 1997 until 2017, Zaboitzeff has released 17 albums which are situated somewhere amongst the genres of symphonic rock, electronic music, and acoustic music. Llibre Vermell - O Virgo Splendens:  https://youtu.be/fLJsdQEMGMM

Richard Pinhas: French guitarist Richard Pinhas led the group Heldon from 1974 to 1978, releasing seven albums with them. Pinhas’ solo work covers a lot of ground. Since 1977 he released 19 studio albums, the latest being this year’s Reverse. Little known in the UK and the USA (which is a pity!), here is a recent track that demonstrates his innovation… ‘Ruitor’: https://youtu.be/NTffJo1l7kA 


Mark, 6-12
Gary's knowledge of the heavier prog side is far deeper than mine! 

On the lighter side and,  while rather niche,  I think we have to mention Alan Stivell from Brittany who made quite an impact on the UK folk fraternity (The Chieftains, Steeleye Span etc), had a run of albums in the 1970s and toured the UK but then disappeared from our view at least as the folk boom faded in the 1980s.

Do you have many French readers, Wout,  who may be rather bemused by our reflections on their musical icons?
Mark, 7-12
Just watched a short biography about Johnny Halliday on French tv. To his credit he seems to have stayed closer to his rock'n'roll roots than Cliff and was still filling stadium concerts until recently. 

As was trend for a while in the 1960s, Cliff tried his hand at foreign language versions of his singles and released a few highly collectable French e.p.s. and there were his big films like Summer Holiday (a European road film) which I presume were released in France.

I wonder if Halliday sang in English at all? He did play the Albert Hall not so long ago - a concert mainly for his UK-based French fans presumably. Francoise Hardy is an impressive multilingualist who recorded singles and entire albums in Italian, German and English.
Wo., 7-12
It seems that Halliday sang in English. The last time he performed over here was to promote an English language album it seems. It all past me by. Like my newspaper wrote, in a page big obituary no less, Halliday was the most famous popstar you never heard of. That last bit's not true, but I know only one of his songs. And do not like it. When I take "hear" literally it certainly is true.

What I did know is that he is of Belgian descent, having a Belgian father. His real name was Jean-Philippe de Smet.

French singers and bands? I am afraid there are frightfully little in my collection. I was never one for chansons for one. The song I always truly loved is 'Poupée de cire poupée de son', by France Gall, the winner of the Eurovision song contest 1965.  And there's Les Poppies with 'Non non je ne regrette rien'. True pop songs do not get much better. The scandalous Gainsbourg-Birkin singe 'J'e t'aime - moi non plus' is another long time favourite. Whatever else is going on there, the music is fantastic.

There are a few incidents along the road to 2017. Plastic Bertrand is one, a 45 I have for nearly 40 years. 'Etienne' by Guesch Patty another, like 'Ella Ella' by France Gall.

Only in the past two years I have encountered a few French albums that are noteworthy. Mainly because of the blog. I ran into Lou Doillon, daughter of Jane Birkin who has released two great albums, 'Places' and  'Lay Low'. Her step-sister Charlotte Gainsbourg, daughter of both, has just released a deliciously mysterious and sensuous record called 'Rest'. Her '5.55' album, made with Air is quite o.k., like some parts of 'Moon Safari' by Air itself.

The tiny record label Tiny Room Records here in NL has released two French acts recently. The singer-songwriter folk of Queen of the Meadow and the lo-fi album by Garciaphone, 'Dreameater'. Especially the last one I truly like. It captures many flavours, including symphonic rock, without any of the exuberant bombast that is part of that music.

Next to all that there are of course songs by Julien Clerc, Gérard Lenorman, etc. that became hits in the 70s. They're nice but not really my cup of tea. After the 70s music from France was played less is my impression or went unnoticed by me. Over the past years there were some rap songs in French, but me and rap?

My focus is mainly on the U.K., then the U.S. and in this decade certainly NL. There's a lot of good stuff happening over here that I truly like. Some by bands that most likely no one will ever hear of. I will send you a few links to my favourites to discover in a separate email.

Gary, 7-12
Yes, I had forgotten about Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin (although Birkin was a Brit living in Paris and has subsequently been awarded an MBE…. I am not sure why… "for services to simulated orgasms”? 😂). As an aside, Birkin was married to composer John Barry who produced the iconic Moog lead from the British TV series ‘The Persuaders’ theme, of which the single I still have! https://youtu.be/PIQwzWg7-1E ). Whilst surfing the late Serge Gainsbourg, I found this photo from 1981… how typically Parisian he was! 😆

Note of the editor: unfortunately due to copyright infringements we can not show the photo. Just imagine a smoking Serge Gainsbourg, looking very much himself.

Wout, 7-12
Mark, to come back to another question. Yes, there are regular views from France. How many people this involves is impossible to know.

Gary, the references you made are in some cases not even names to me. Totally obliviousness on my part I'm afraid. I'll be certain to listen at some point just to find out.

I know the name Jean-Luc Ponty, because he played with Frank Zappa somewhere in the 70s. I counted him more as jazz-rock, I think. At least that's my impression. 

Wout, 7-12
This is my blogpost of yesterday. I think you'll appreciate the reference 😊


Mark, 7-12
You mention France Gall: I might one day check the other so-called "ye-ye girls" including her and Sylvie Vartan (who was married to Johnny Halliday) - but Francoise Hardy was as I understand it the most sophisticated of these as a songwriter and her records have largely stood the test of time (and as testimony of that her albums are now being re-mastered).  

If I were to recommend one song from her oeuvre to turn you on to her it would be Rêve from the album Question released in 1971:

Ingenious arrangement: you have to wait a while for the wonderfully cool deadpan spoken lyric:

tu m'émerveilles comme un rêve
qui c'est enfin réalisé et tu me fais mal comme un rêve dont il va falloir m'éveiller.

(You mesmorise me like a dream that is at last realised - and you hurt me (because) it is a dream I will have to wake from.)

Topped by an impressive solo guitar flourish at the end. Play that and tell me your spine isn't tingled: I think it is a timeless gem.

A much earlier recording J'attends plus personne features not only a hard-hitting vocal to match a very strident lyric but allegedly a certain jobbing session musician by the name of James Page. Certainly a very early example of fuzz guitar, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IvRUUTY5Vs0

She was the most well-known of the French pop singers in the '60s in the UK; she featured regularly in all the English pop publications of the period, was a fashion icon - and was so photegenic - such a timeless beauty (but never rich hippy or trashy). C'est pourquoi je l'aime.
Wout, 7-12
I just listened to the whole album ('Question', ed.). Very Brazilian the music that goes on in the background. Yes, I liked this introduction. You should like the Charlotte Gainsbourg album also, is my guess.

Currently I am listening to Jacques Dutronc in the background. Her (Françoise Hardy. ed.) husband so I found. One of his songs, one of the two NL hits he's had in NL, 'Le Responsables' features in a Thalys add currently on television about two senior citizens who decide to escape the old folks' home they are in and head for Paris.

Dutronc had only one major hit over here, in 1968: 'Il est cinq heures Paris s'reveille.' Totally out of the order of his pop-garage-rock songs that seem to have been his standard in the 60s it seems. And that became the hit here. What does that tell you about this country? If I remember correctly it was the likes of 'Lazy Sunday' and 'Summertime Blues' that topped the charts at the same time, so not all bad.

Mark, 11-12
The funeral in Paris was impressive and a moving tribute to his prominent place in French culture.  I doubt there will be anything on that scale for Cliff Richard, ennobled even though he is as "Sir Cliff". The year after next it will be 60 years since he first topped the UK charts (with "Living Doll"). 55 years ago my mother took my brother and me to see "Summer Holiday" in an open air cinema in Aden in what is now war-torn and famine-stricken Yemen but at that time a British colony. How times have changed but the film is still an enjoyable watch as a European travelogue with happy and carefree youngsters, and a clutch of catchy tunes, Hank Marvin twanging away on some of them to fix it firmly in the pre-Beatles era.

Wo. 11-12
That's a beautiful, if somewhat sad, ending to our foray into French music.

Gary Hunt
Mark Carvell

P.S. from the editor: Would anyone from France like to respond and put things in context for us? That would be a nice addition. Reach out and we will make it happen.

dinsdag 12 december 2017

Hertaalt! The Kik

The Kik komt vanaf het allereerste jaar van dit blog regelmatig voorbij. Dit jaar alleen al twee keer. Eerst met de recensie van hun prima plaat 'Stad En Land' en daarna de show hier in het Patronaat. Tel daarbij de, hier niet gerecenseerde, maar toch erg leuke plaat van Simon Keats (a.k.a. Paul Zoontjes) en het is een erg mooi The Kik jaar.

Want, tot mijn grote verbazing komt er dit jaar nog een plaat uit. Nee, dat zal ik maar meteen eerlijk toegeven, het is niet de plaat waar ik op gehoopt had. Dat is een tweede Armand project, maar dan met meer en minder obscure nummers uit de Nederbeat, zoals in The Kiks eerste theatershow voorbij kwamen. Dat kwam er (nog?) niet van. In de tussentijd kijk ik dit gegeven paard niet in de bek. (Dat klopt natuurlijk niet als recensent, want dat is juist wat ik doe, maar ik hoop dat u mij begrijpt.)

Hertaalt! moet letterlijk genomen worden. The Kik hertaalt een aantal nummers uit de pophistorie. Niet alleen die uit de jaren 60 en dan vooral The Beatles, maar tot en met dit decennium. Het begint voluit knallent met dat nummer dat hier nog dagelijks in huis voorbij komt als de kids kijken naar de zoveelste re-run van 'Friends'. Er zullen weinig mensen zijn die 'Ik Sta Klaar Voor Jou' niet thuis kunnen brengen en daar geen goed gevoel bij krijgen. The Kik is hier The Rembrandts, maar dan in het Nederlands. Het spettert en knettert. Het enthousiasme is geheel getroffen, precies zoals als het hoort in dit opper positivo nummer.

Op deze manier komen veel bekende nummers voorbij. 'Rolling In The Deep' wordt 'Er Breekt Brand Uit' en 'Can't Buy Me Love' 'Rode Cent'. Bijna alle nummers klinken direct bekend in de oren en zij die dat niet doen, zijn een uiterst aangename verrassing. 'De Waarheid' is een The Kik nummer en had op ieder van hun drie eerdere platen kunnen staan, zonder op te vallen. (Ik tel 'Armand + The Kik' niet mee.)

De reden voor dit uitermate prettige tussendoortje is mij onbekend, feit is wel dat het een uiterst prettige is. De manier waarop in een aantal nummers een accordeon erbij wordt gehaald, geeft een authentiek geluid aan een bekend nummer als 'Sunny Afternoon' van The Kinks. Hiermee krijgen deze nummers een eigen iets mee, worden een goede aanvulling.

Een stiekeme favoriet als 'Winter In America' komt zelfs voorbij. Waarom ik dit nummer toen al goed vond? Het had iets Little River Band achtigs en dat had een paar geweldige, nostalgische nummers. Dat gevoel weet The Kik te vertalen naar een kersthit voor 2017. 'December' is, met alle toetsers en blazers, ook helemaal raak. Nostalgische gevoelens voor iets dat (lang) voorbij is, worden zo mooi verwoord, met een prachtige elektrische piano partij van Paul Zoontjes.

Ik denk dat ik hiermee beet heb, waarom Hertaalt! werkt. The Kik weet in alle nummers de juiste sfeer te treffen. Het is van al die markten thuis. Van echte opwinding (al kunnen de mannen alleen maar dromen van Beatlesmania gekrijs) tot fraaie nostalgie naar toen. Zelfs als het misschien een treetje te hoog gegrepen is, zoals Oasis' 'Don't Look Back In Anger', komt het toch helemaal goed. Omdat die uitdagende stoerheid uiteindelijk toch overkomt.

Een goede cover is niets mis mee en dat toont The Kik weer eens aan, al zijn dit niet helemaal covers natuurlijk. In de jaren 60 coverde iedereen dezelfde nummers tot dat het een noodzaak werd om zelf te gaan schrijven. De poel was leeg gevist. Zij die dit konden, bleven bestaan en succesvol, de rest verdween langzaam. The Kik grijpt met deze plaat terug op de pop cultuur van de vroege en midden jaren 60. Dat levert met Hertaalt! een prima plaat op, die ook nog eens als een eenheid klinkt, omdat die typische The Kik saus ruimschoots over de nummers is uitgeschonken.

Ik vermoed zo maar dat dit wel eens het begin van een aangename traditie is, al blijf ik hopen op die plaat met Nederbeat hits als 'Ik Heb Geen Zin Om Op Te Staan'.


Je kunt hier luisteren naar 'Ik Sta Klaar Voor Jou':


maandag 11 december 2017

Who Built The Moon? Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds

Wow! Listening to Who Built The Moon? for the first time, it's like being hit by a steamtrain or an avalanche. The music rolls over me in waves and waves, without time for a pause. Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds play in the highest gear possible and keep up that pace and musical artistry.

Who Built The Moon? is its third album since the breakup of the U.K. band of the 90s. The two brothers Gallagher keep up the same tempo. Liam is of course the better singer. For the rest there's no comparison possible. Noel has shown abundantly that he can do without his baby brother and is a capable singer in his own right. He will never have the outgoing style of Liam though. It makes me wonder though about what could have been. There's no use to do so. It is time to get myself more familiar with this album. I will return after some more sessions.

What keeps getting me is the abundance of energy that surges from the opening song 'Fort Knox'. As if the famous complex is sprung, robbed and blown up all within the same few minutes Noel Gallagher c.s. need to make an opening statement. The alarm bell keeps ringing to no avail. There's no rest for the wicked. 'Holy Mountain' continues in the same vein. Everything is closed up. All the energy is contained like in a black hole. There's simply no escape. All the little extra -and there are quite some to find- are like satellites orbiting the black hole, about to be sucked in.

So yes, the production is massive. A wall of sound like Phil Spector used to create over 50 years ago. Is this a bad thing? Only if the songs are shite and I am totally inclined to think they are not. Would the album have profited from a less tight production? Who knows, there no way of knowing, is there?

Noel's previous album, 'Chasing Yesterday' made it into my top 10 of favourite records of the year. (Read the review here: http://wonomagazine.blogspot.nl/2015/04/chasing-yesterday-noel-galleghers-high.html.) It is too early (so perhaps too late) to tell for this year. Yet with Who Built The Moon? Noel Gallagher proves he is relevant still and is a great songwriter and a proficient singer. Excitement is caught like it once was on Oasis records and a more modern sound is added to his songs. Dance elements are let in, making a song like 'It's A Beautiful World' sound different from all that came before.

The man responsible for all that is producer David Holmes. A man with a lot of film scores to his name and a background in electronic music. He seems to have been able to draw Noel Gallagher head and heels into the 21st century. Without losing any of his old tricks off course. Just like with brother Liam's album 'As You Were' (read the review here: http://wonomagazine.blogspot.nl/2017/12/as-you-were-liam-gallagher.html) I will let you find all the references for yourself. It's part of the fun.

Some might say some of the songs sound familiar. It is undeniable that songs have the Noel Gallagher touch. Close to 25 years after Oasis' first single release it's not strange to conclude that. But take a song like 'Black & White Sunshine'. It is signature Gallagher. And then that guitar chimes in playing all these fine notes, laid out over the swamp of sound as are a few other instruments. The sum of it all is such a pleasant song. The Interlude following it is the point of rest and reflection the album needs at that point and it provides.

The end of Who Built The Moon? leaves room for only one conclusion: Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds have released another fine album. Better than most of the Oasis albums after the first two for certain. All had their moments, some even multiple. Who Built The Moon? is excitement for the second decade of the 21st century. Starting with a big bang, ending with a fine song like 'The Men Who Built The Moon' and finally the second part of the interlude now called 'End Credits'. Yes, like film music. But hey, who was that producer again?


You can listen to 'Holy Mountain' here:


zondag 10 december 2017

Whisper In The Dark For Me. The Bullfight

The Bullfight received a review on this blog last spring, written by Erwin Zijleman (read on here: http://wonomagazine.blogspot.nl/2017/07/shame-guilt-deception-individuals.html). He wrote that with 'Shame, Guilt, Deception - Individuals Part 1' The Bullfight produced a fine record and that it was time the rest of The Netherlands found out about the band. Well, because of his review, I did, at least.

Five months after we published the review, The Bullfight returns with a new record, Whisper In The Dark For Me subtitled 'A Live Livingroom Recording'. For me this album is the introduction to The Bullfight, so there's no comparison to what came before.

In a way listening to Whisper In The Dark For Me sends me back in time. Like I'm listening to a cabaret show from the 1930s or something like that. The singer sings with a somewhat affected voice, like singers from long ago tended to do. I found it to be a hurdle that I had to pass. The voice is in front of the band, mixed smack dab in the middle. So there is no escape, no parole.

Behind him there is a lot going on. The band is playing in subtle and refined ways. The basis as with most bands is the drums and bass. In several songs their contribution is (part) absent or ever so soft. Over the drums an acoustic rhythm guitar is added. The warm organ and a violin are the two instruments catching the most attention as they are allowed to come forward most.

The band creates an atmosphere where the voice of Nick Verhoeven feels at home. Despite the obvious shortcomings it belongs there, they fit. And so slowly I came to accept the combination.

What I have a harder time describing, is what to call the music The Bullfight plays. I know what it is not. Even to compare the band to others I find myself having a hard time. Not because what I hear is totally unique, no, just that this music does not seem to fit any mould. It comes closer to the 'Lily Marlene' kind of song, without ever sounding anything like it due to the modern instruments and way of playing, than anything latter day. This isn't folk, certainly not pop, not jazz, some chanson?, perhaps, yes, it has nothing to do with rock. So you tell me. It's The Bullfight. So I start to concede this band a unique spot in the NL musical arena anyway.

Then 'The Storm Behind Our Smile' starts and I for some reason imagine Rob de Nijs singing the song. I think it would work actually. So by now you understand that I'm intrigued by Whisper In The Dark For Me. There's no discussion that this must have been a great living room show. Having organised a few myself this year and visited some others, I'm sure of it.

What the The Bullfight does well, is explode at the right moment and reign itself back in, to create a moment of great dynamics. To give the listeners a small fright and pull them in for the next subtle moment. Should they want to come and play, let's make it happen.

Whisper In The Dark For Me is one of those records that took their time convincing me to listen some more. I kept coming back and understand some more of the raving reviews the band received in the past. A pleasant, slow simmering surprise the latest album by The Bullfight is.


You can listen to 'The Ballad Of Martin Van Dongen' here:


The record is for sale here:


zaterdag 9 december 2017

De Kift Live. Gebr. de Nobel, donderdag 7 december 2017

Foto: Wo.
Voor aanvang van het optreden van De Kift keken we uit op een opvallend leeg, maar tegelijkertijd ontzettend vol podium. Leeg omdat er geen enkele versiering of attribuut op het podium stond. Met uitzondering van een als schildersezel vermomde trapleer achter het drumstel. Heel atypisch. Vol omdat er zo ongelofelijk veel instrumenten op het podium stonden, hingen, lagen, met minstens zoveel microfoons. Overal monitoren en een eindeloze wirwar van snoeren. Dat beloofde nogal iets en dat werd ook helemaal waargemaakt.

Het attribuut hing ditmaal aan de zijkant van de zaal. Een neonkunstwerk met de letters die het woord bal vormen werd voor aanvang aangezet en lichtte de zaal fraai op.

Laten we er niet omheen draaien. De Kift maakt rare muziek. Muziek die vrijwel niemand anders maakt. Muziek die anders klinkt dan wat als de maat der dingen geldt; in 2017, maar ook in alle andere jaren hiervoor sinds ik de band volg. Ik ken ook heel veel mensen die dit afgrijselijk vinden. En toch weet ik bijna zeker dat zij er allemaal naast zitten. Wie bij een show van De Kift aanwezig is, wordt beroerd. Als ik om mij heen kijk tijdens een optreden, valt mij maar één ding op: iedereen lacht. Iedereen is geroerd door de muziek, de show, het enthousiasme en de energie die van het podium komt gutsen. En er wordt geluisterd naar teksten. Regelmatig klinkt er een lach of een commentaar op het verschil tussen wakker worden in het groen; en in een groene greppel.

"Ik hou van iedereen". Foto: Wo.
De Kift stond met veel mensen op het podium. Meer dan ooit durf ik net niet te zeggen. Een cello en viool waren geheel nieuw en drie toeteraars(ters). Meer dan ooit stapte Ferry Heijne opzij voor bijdragen van andere bandleden. Dat maakte de show uitzonderlijk divers. Het slalommen om op het juiste moment op de juiste plek te zijn, een microfoon te vinden om mee te zingen, de instrumenten van Ferry te ontwijken, het was nog lastiger dan anders.

De show was nog niet perfect. Af en toe leek het niet allemaal op zijn plek te vallen, simpelweg omdat de routine nog ontbreekt in dit grote collectief. Toch waren dat pluisjes op een vers gestoomde en geperste broek. Het enorme gevoel dat 'Bal' uitstraalt (lees de recensie hier: http://wonomagazine.blogspot.nl/2017/12/bal-de-kift.html), werd perfect gevangen op het podium. De arrangementen zijn zo goed uitgewerkt, zowel instrumentaal als vocaal. De enorme gelaagdheid van de plaat, waarin de weemoed wordt gestold tot iets prachtigs, schitterde op het podium. Zo weelderig lieten de muzikanten alles zwieren. Hier werd hoekige muziek waarlijk rond gemaakt. Een voorbeeld hiervan is ook de fretloze bas waar op wordt gespeeld door Mathijs Houwink. Dat geeft nogal een ander geluid.

Foto: Wo.
Op de juiste momenten werden iets uitbundigere nummers uit het verleden ertussen gegooid, maar echt nodig was dit uiteindelijk niet. Meer een fantastisch extraatje. De nieuwe songs hadden de volkomen aandacht van de zaal. De Kift is ook avontuur waar de bezoeker zich aan laaft. Het grote gebaar ontbrak meer bij Bal dan ooit te voren. Dat heeft deels te maken met de kleinere rol die Ferry Heijne zich zelf toebedeeld heeft, maar meer met de hoofdrol die de muziek opeist.

Met 'Bal' opende en sloot de show (voor de toegift). Met dit nummer heeft De Kift een kroon op haar werk gezet. Al de allereerste keer dat ik het nummer hoorde, aan het einde van de 'Bidonville' show of in de Paradijskerk in Rotterdam tijdens de 'Wee Mij' toer, ik weet het niet meer, maakte het een verpletterende indruk op me. 'Bal' is het ultieme De Kift gevoel, gevat in een bal energie in muziek en gebaar. 'Bal' is alles waar De Kift voor staat. Vanaf de knallende gitaarriff is het FEESTE!

Foto: Wo.
Daarna nog een prachtige toegift in de vorm van een 'Beguine' gespeeld op cello, een trompet viool en drie ukeleles. Met uitzondering van Mathijs Houwink stond er niemand van de kern van De Kift op het podium. De Vlaamse dames zongen een prachtig duet.

Met een heerlijke versie van 'Witte Haring' kwam er een einde aan een feestelijke avond. De ter plaatse gemaakte kunstwerken van drummer Wim ter Weele gingen grif van de hand. De nieuwe cd met velen mee naar huis.

Het is drummer Wim die het De Kift gevoel perfect weer geeft. Op het podium is er niemand die droeviger kan kijken dan hij. Alle leed van de wereld straalt van zijn gezicht en lichaamshouding af. In de zaal na afloop is er geen grotere en blije lach te zien dan de zijne. Het feest is geweest, maar de herinnering blijft en maakt telkens blij.

Foto: Wo.
Ik zou het bijna vergeten na al dit muzikale geweld, maar er was een voorprogramma. Ik kwam tijdens de show binnen en het eerste wat ik hoorde was een discussie tussen de twee dames op het podium over hoe het nummer ook al weer heette. Het bleek 'Getatoeëerde Pik' te zijn. O.k., dacht ik, dat kan nog wat worden.... Al snel bleek dat Nancy Kleurenblind & de Zingende Roadie een allercharmantste show stonden te geven met heel erg leuke liedjes. Een basgitaar zoals ik er nog nooit eerder een zag (een Vox Apache basgitaar) en elektronica dat allerlei dingen "uit het kastje" produceerde, aangevuld met allerlei live gespeelde geluiden waren het instrumentarium. Veel gekleurde lichtbandjes de versiering. De twee stemmen van de dames deden de rest. Apart in alles is deze act, inclusief de presentatie die, waarschijnlijk, bewust wat knullig over komt. Ondertussen wordt het ene na het andere prima liedje gespeeld. De basis mag dan knullige disco zijn, wat daar overheen gelegd wordt is niets mis mee. Alweer verwijs ik maar eens naar Carol Cleveland Sings uit Philadelphia. Dat duo kan dit ook zo leuk.

De aandacht kregen de dames met een "schokkende opmerking". Deze vasthouden bleek een eitje en dat is verre van iedere openingsact gegeven. Een prima kennismaking dus.


Bal is verkrijgbaar op de website van De Kift en daar staat hun verdere speelschema: Ga dat zien!


Dit heb ik kunnen vinden van Nancy Kleurenblind:


vrijdag 8 december 2017

Choir Of The Mind. Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton

Choir Of The Mind van Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton heeft een aantal weken op de stapel gelegen en ik weet eigenlijk niet zo goed waarom.
Ik heb vrijwel alle platen die ze als frontvrouw van de Canadese band Metric heeft gemaakt hoog zitten, zat altijd op het puntje van de stoel als ze bijdroeg aan de platen van Broken Social Scene en heb een speciaal plekje in mijn hart ingeruimd voor haar eerste soloplaat Knives Don't Have Your Back uit 2006.
Bij snelle beluistering van haar onlangs verschenen tweede soloplaat Choir Of The Mind was ik bovendien direct onder de indruk, maar desondanks leek de plaat maar niet van de stapel te komen. Gelukkig is een aantal lezers blijven aandringen en heb ik op een regenachtige avond eens goed de tijd genomen voor de nieuwe plaat van Emily Haines en haar band The Soft Skeleton.
Die regenachtige avond heeft zeker bijgedragen aan het resultaat, want Emily Haines heeft een verrassend ingetogen en stemmige plaat afgeleverd. Centraal op Choir Of The Mind staat een stokoude piano uit 1850, die de basis vormt voor het grootste deel van de instrumentatie op de plaat. Veel tracks op de plaat moeten het doen met vol en warm maar ook wat melancholisch klinkend pianospel en de aangename maar ook wat lieflijk klinkende stem van Emily Haines, die vaak in meerdere lagen uit de speakers komt.
Het zorgt voor de meest ingetogen en intieme momenten op een plaat die af en toe ook veel voller kan klinken en dan een flink ander geluid laat horen. Het contrast tussen het uiterst sobere en juist erg vol klinkende geluid op de nieuwe plaat van Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton voorziet de plaat van dynamiek en spanning en zorgt er voor dat Choir Of The Mind niet gaat vervelen.
Persoonlijk heb ik absoluut een zwak voor de spaarzaam georkestreerde songs waarin de piano heerlijk voortkabbelt en Emily Haines verleidt met de zo van haar bekende zwoele vocalen. Het klinkt op het eerste gehoor misschien wat sober en eenvoudig, maar Emily Haines geeft een bijzondere draai aan al haar songs en slaagt er in om de spanning prachtig op te bouwen, ook wanneer ze alleen de beschikking heeft over een stokoude piano en haar stem.
Dat opbouwen van de spanning gaat natuurlijk nog makkelijker en beter wanneer ze haar songs, samen met Metric collega James Shaw, voorziet van spannende arrangementen, die de spaarzaam ingekleurde songs in één keer kunnen voorzien van sprookjesachtige en vol klinkende geluidstapijten.
Ik was eigenlijk direct overtuigd van de mooie klanken en de al even mooie zang op Choir Of The Mind, maar Emily Haines heeft ook dit keer een plaat gemaakt die knapper in elkaar steekt dan je bij eerste beluistering zult vermoeden. Wanneer je de nieuwe plaat van Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton vaker beluistert komen de songs stuk voor stuk tot leven en groeit de schoonheid en intensiteit van de plaat.
Op voorhand was er al geen enkele reden om te twijfelen aan de kwaliteit van de muziek van Emily Haines en de Canadese muzikante maakt het ook dit keer makkelijk waar. Ga dat horen dus.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt hier luisteren naar 'Planets':


donderdag 7 december 2017

Kairos. Een meditatie op hedendaagse muziek

Iedere maand recenseert Wo. de wonderlijke, muzikale wereld van .No, zoals Wo. het altijd zo ongeveer beschrijft. Ditmaal laten we .No eerst zelf aan het woord. Zijn inleiding bij Kairos van de maand december 2017 is te mooi om zo maar voorbij te laten gaan. Hoe een mens inspiratie op kan doen! Later volgt de recensie van Wo.

4 november 2017 vroeg in de ochtend. Ik ben op weg naar Rotterdam voor mijn eerste afspraak van de dag. Moet overstappen in Utrecht. Op het perron staat een groepje jongeren. Ze zijn druk met elkaar in gesprek. Druk. Als ze maar niet in dezelfde coupé terechtkomen als ik. Ik wil nog wat leeswerk doen. Terwijl we wachten zwelt de groep aan tot een mens of 12. Het perron loopt nog aardig vol voor een zaterdagochtend. Geroutineerd beweeg ik naar de deur als de trein eraan komt. Zo, ik zit. Even later vult de kleine coupé zich met de jongeren. Ze zijn druk, lijken zelfs een beetje uitgelaten of misschien wel nerveus. In de buurt van Gouda hoor ik ze opeens zacht neuriën. Het geneurie zwelt langzaam aan tot een prachtige close-harmony-versie van ‘Love Never Felt So Good’. Op het balkon begint de man met het probleem nu steeds harder te schreeuwen. Hij wil zijn aandacht terug! Maar het lukt hem niet. De Vocal Group Utrecht op weg naar het Balk Top Festival in Rotterdam heeft de trein in haar ban. Ze zijn maar achtste geworden. Als dat terecht is, heb ik een heel erg mooi festival gemist! Wat een mooi begin van de dag. Een dag die trouwens eindigde met een optreden van Jeroen Elfferich en Nico Moll in Delft. Wat een mooi einde van de dag. Wat een mooie dag!

Natuurlijk hoort u vandaag de Vocal Group Utrecht met het prachtige nummer Run to You. Ook heel bijzonder: Smoor van Peter en Anna Clijssen. Dit multitalentenduo verrast iedere keer weer. U hoort ook twee tracks van twee verschillende cd’s van Jorg Verhoeven, ook al zo’n multitalent. En u hoort een nummer van een oudere cd van Jeroen Elfferich. Verder weer veel oude bekenden in Kairos.


woensdag 6 december 2017

Rest. Charlotte Gainsbourg

Charlotte Gainsbourg is a regular guest in my book. Just like her step sister Lou Doillon, who is less known in this country, which is a shame. Charlotte most likely profits from the fact that her father's family name is far more known than Lou's. Both ladies share the same mother, Jane Birkin, who scored a huge hit with Serge Gainsbourg in 1969 and 1974, being one of the most scandalous hits ever at that.

With Rest Charlotte Gainsbourg returns to the pop front with her first studio album in 6 years. It is an album full of grace and distinction. Somehow it seems to be above the bickering of the world and all that comes with it. An album placed out of time. In the lyrics Gainsbourg switches between her father and mother tongue just if it is normal to do so. With her thin voice she hovers above the music as if a balloon only barely contained from floating away. At 46 she sings like a French "zuchtmeisje" of the 60s. Innocent yet so innocuously seductive.

On Rest Gainsbourg worked mostly with producer SebastiAn, but you'll also find Daft Punk's Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, Brian Burton (a.k.a. Danger Mouse) and Paul McCartney contributions. Gainsbourg shared more duties than before on lyric writings. Musically the album is closer to '5:55' than 'IRM', the album she made with Beck. Soft disco and Giorgio Moroder-light pulsing beats can be found on Rest. Without ever becoming truly dance music, the influences of the music can be found everywhere on Rest. The pulses are the backbone. Over it electronic layers are placed and (synthetic) strings, giving the album a mysterious and floating quality. I can imagine myself floating on this music. Softly caressed while surrendering myself totally. Just listen to 'I'm A Lie'. The way the music drifts through my head is mesmerising. All the little electronic pulses weave a magic carpet.

Rest opens with a killer track. Oh so subtle and oh so modest, the song wriggles itself into my mind probably to never let go, only to leave this world with me. 'Ring-a-Ring O' Roses. It has the quality and sound of 'The Persuaders Theme', John Barry's timeless contribution to television theme's. Add to that sophistication the modern, slow beats and Charlotte Gainsbourg's whispering voice and fast cars, beautiful girls and jet set around the globe are all within an imaginary grasp of everyone who is listening. This quality is continued with the songs that follow. 'Lying With You' is a beautiful song. 'Kate' is the more direct song on Rest.

The big surprise of this album is that the title track is co-written and produced by de Homem-Christo and sounds in nothing like Daft Punk. All the features that make the duo's music so recognisable and often pleasant to listen to are totally absent here. 'Rest' is an empty song, all atmosphere and no musical melody.

Another surprise is Paul McCartney who contributed a song to Rest. 'Songbird In A Cage' is the kind of disco as could be found around the 'McCartney II' album. Elementary disco like 'Goodnight Tonight'. Slowly the song is flashed out and starts to convince. The typical McCartney elements, those little extra melodies, are hidden away in the mix but can be found by those who listen.

When deep into the album a fine song like 'Dans Vos airs' passes, I start to understand that I'm not just listening to any album. Rest is a well-made record, with several fine and a few great songs, where only the title song does not really find its way to me. The melody of 'Dans Vos Airs' is warm and embracing. Again I'm carried away easily. The album ends with a dance tune called 'Les Oxalis' and finally some fun with a child singing the alphabet song, set to some great music, grandeur is a better word. A nice ending to an experience called Rest.

With 'Lay Low' Lou Doillon delivered a fine album (read on here: http://wonomagazine.blogspot.nl/2015/12/lay-low-lou-doillon.html). That made it to my favourite albums of 2015 and to my favourites of this decade. I truly wonder where Rest will stand later on in this decade.


You can listen to 'Rest' here:


dinsdag 5 december 2017

As You Were. Liam Gallagher

The two Gallagher brothers who used to be the nucleus of Oasis have released a new album each within two months of each other. Comparing the two is of course inviting. For both it is the third album since the split. For Liam it is the first solo album after two albums with the remains of Oasis under the name Beady Eye. Also the second album in a row where in the promo talks he threatens to retire. Yeah, sure.

If anything As You Were is an album as close to Oasis as possible. Liam keeps up the legacy much more than Noel and not just because he's the voice. That sneering way of singing is recognisable from thousands of course. The love for the 60s is everywhere on the album, with several The Beatles references. To get to his goal, a successful album, Liam Gallagher brought in helpers for the writing and producing and that brings a clear focus. Far more than I ever heard with Beady Eye. Both records were alright at best.

As You Were is a very traditional record. A collection of songs that could have been on any Oasis album following the first two. Most songs would have been an addition to those albums. From the time when the ruckus rock had left the band and prepossession with drugs had taken over, mellowing the sound out and cutting out the sharpness 'Definitely Maybe' and '(What's The Story) Morning Glory' held in them. It is in this vein that As You Were can be welcomed.

What here in NL people, including myself, tend to overlook, is how huge this man and his former band were in the U.K. This album, entering the charts as #1, outsold the other 9 songs in the top ten and the single of the album was the best selling single in the past 20 years. Gallagher himself was voted best frontman ever in Q Magazine's readers' poll in 2010. All that passed us by somehow. The release must have been a huge thing over there. Here a new Laim (or Noel) Gallagher album is just another album by a fairly famous name. Nothing less but certainly nothing more.

Although most songs individually are certainly o.k., as a whole I find that too many songs remain in the mid-tempo range and a sort of tediousness seeps through. 'I Get By' comes as a gift that saves the album. Written by Liam himself, it is one of the better songs on the album, proving that he has become an accomplished writer. The arrangement of the song is fine. Guitars weave in and out of each other in finely laid layers.

References to famous titles are rife on As You Were. I leave them for you to discover them for yourself. They show what songs Liam likes to listen to. He has taste. Take it from another lover of 60s music.

The references to that era seep through the music as well. In 'Chinatown', that starts off as a small song with just an acoustic guitar and atmosphere, psychedelia is let out of its cage and everything from The Small Faces to The Beatles is allowed in and is returned to where it belongs.

With 'Come Back To Me' the album gets another boost. With a nice descending chords progression it maintains a tough beat and a rough guitar or two.

There are several people who worked with Gallagher on As You Were. One leaps out. As a great fan of Jeff Buckley, who rose to fame about the same time as Oasis, the name Michael Tighe catches my eye. He wrote two songs for Liam with Andrew Wyatt, 'Paper Crown and 'Chinatown' and co-wrote the first single 'Wall Of Glass' with a whole bunch of others.

As a whole I keep some mixed feelings on the album. 44 Minutes seems a bit too much. I haven't heard a single bad song. It's just that I miss that little extra. That kick in the stomach. The kick, so I'm reading, that Noel provides in abundance if not overkill. What if the best songs of both albums had been recorded together? Yeah, what if?


You can listen to 'Wall Of Glass' here:


maandag 4 december 2017

Bettie Serveert Live. Victorie Alkmaar. 1 december 2017

Foto: HareD
De Betties zijn weer on tour. Afgelopen vrijdag zijn zij gestart in Alkmaar, begin maart ronden zij het rondje Nederland af in Leiden. Het betreft een voortzetting van de tour van verleden jaar, ter ere van het verschijnen van de cd Damaged Good. Hiervan zijn al verschillende verslagen verschenen op dit blog, dus daarvan geen herhaling meer. Er werden (nog) geen nieuwe songs gespeeld, maar in een interview liet Carol doorschemeren dat daar wel aan gewerkt werd. Dus, wie weet, later.

De superlatieven en aanbevelingen blijven onverkort van kracht: heerlijk, fijn en lekker, dus gaat het zien. Bijzondere hoogtepunten: een snoeiharde versie van Deny all, en drummer Joppe Molenaar die voluit gaat op The Pharmacy en Digital Sin.

Bettie Serveert: het blijft een feest!