zaterdag 31 maart 2018

You Don't Own Me Anymore. The Secret Sisters

Welcome to a time machine called The Secret Sisters. The music on You Don't Own Me Anymore has nothing to do with 2018, even less with 1991, let alone 1967. In short to truly compare this music to anything I have to go back to days from before I was born. To before when rock and roll broke big. The days of singers I heard in the few shows I was able to hear, compiled by Bob Dylan in his now legendary 'Theme Time Hour' show. In other words, I do not really have any comparisons. Just faint ideas on something that might have been, long ago and far away from the country I grew up in.

The Secret Sisters are two sisters called Rogers, Lydia and Laura. Two sisters who can sing fabulously together, write some interesting songs and great stories, yet nearly were lost for music after being dropped by their record label after the under achieving second album 'Put Your Needle Down'. A story of hardship known to most artists of all times. From the hardships The Secret Sisters come forward with a beautiful record, with a title that seems like a sneer in the direction of the former label owners and their minions.

Under the direction of Brandi Carlile The Secret Sisters come up with a record that has a beautiful clear sound with the two voices firm in the middle of all the embellishments Carlile makes others play. Something that has been done a million times before for country, singer-songwriters and alt.Americana artists, yet when done right and with the love for detail each song deserves, it never fails to impress me.

These details can vary. A banjo and a honky tonk piano carry one song ('King Cotton') in another it can be a French horn blowing away softly in the background ('Carry Me'). Instantly the mood of the record is changed, giving it a well appreciated variation. No matter what happens, there's one constant: the two voices of the sisters Rodgers. Their voices mingle through or support each other or both do lead together. The one slightly higher than the other. No matter what, they always just sound right.

There is a little downturn I want to mention. Everything is extremely nice and kind. There's not a single (musical) bombshell to be found on You Don't Own Me Anymore. This does make the album somewhat one dimensional. I would have liked one or two slightly tougher songs on the album, I found. As the overall quality of the album has the upper hand, there is not really a lot to complain, really.

Starting the album I got the impression that I was going to listen to an American river per song. The Tennessee in song one, the Mississippi in song two. No river in the third. Some states come by though, so geography must be a hobby of the sisters.

The lyrics are not all sunshine and roses. "I took to the hard road". "Brought you in this world and I can take you from it just the same". What is actually said here? To kill the baby girl the storyteller got far too early in life? Here is the bombshell anyway as far as I'm concerned. "The closer you get, the farther I'm going to run". Just to name a few examples you as listener are about to encounter. Life is hard in the country of America's south, seems to be the story told. Whether then in the 50s or now in 2018.

One of the best Americana songs I've got to know is on this album. 'Mississippi' is such an incredible strong song. Vocally, melodically, harmonically, all seems to fall in its place. It's dark, yet full of a strange sort of love. A song like a sledgehammer to the head. Despite the fact that everything in this song has been done a million times in the past decades, this is all there is. This is the naked essence of a great song. The producers knew it to, as they have done everything to lift it up where they could. Just tune in to the little details to find out how. 'Mississippi' is simply, stunningly glorious.

With Kathy's Song by Simon & Garfunkel the album knows one cover song. The intro's guitar playing instantly recognisable as Paul Simon's fingerpicking style guitar playing. It one of the less exuberant songs on this album. The Secret Sisters have to hold back seriously to sing this song. 'I Am A Rock' may have fitted them better it seems.

You Don't Own Me Anymore may be a time machine. Yet no record from the 50s could have sounded like this album does. It is just so fine. In January we reviewed 'Go Get Gone' by Worry Dolls. This record actually comes very close to that record. It seems The Secret Sisters have put themselves back on track, no matter how hard it is to be a self-supporting artist in these days of Spotify and endless copying. Quality ought to surface and blossom. So here's to that and The Secret Sisters.

The Secret Sisters will tour this country in the first days of April. Go and find out where! It will be worth your while is my best guess.


You can listen to and buy You Don't Own Me Anymore here:

Here's the link to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:

vrijdag 30 maart 2018

Sluff. Naked Giants

Three young men hanging around a toilet as cover art? That ought to make me suspicious alright. Being my age and all. Luckily I'm not put off that easily. So I dug into that record called Sluff.

"One two three four" is missing as the first words on the album. I am remembered instantly of my favourite Ramones songs. Except that these youngsters do not muster that speed and do not seem to be seeking it either. Another name pops up immidiately, Canshaker Pi. But in the end Naked Giants are not half as dirty as the Amsterdam based band.

Naked Giants may colour inside of the lines more, it does know its punkrock and garage rock classics. The result being that Sluff is filled with the kind of songs that rock on with that little edge and a lot of energy. The drums are pounded, the bass rages and the guitar fills in all the holes left by the rhythm tandem. Over it all those fine kind of melodies are sung resulting in a fine record.

Naked Giants releases its first full length album with Sluff. An album on which it is in search of an own identity. Which is quite alright for a young band. From punkrock it can switch to a more reggae based song to a song that could easily be sung by Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes. Naked Giants are not afraid to change its sound around a bit here and there.

Naked Giants is Gianni Aiello: bass, guitar, vocals, organ, percussion, Grant Mullen: guitar, vocals, organ, percussion, bellzouki, Henry LaVallee: drum kit, vocals, percussion, bellzouki. Production duties were delevered by Steve Fisk. Everybody does a little of something extra. Some friends helped out on more specialised duties. It all leads to a sound that the trio can easily reproduce on stage. Undoubtedly kicking up a storm and conquering fans venue by venue. If not Naked Giants does something wrong. My guess is they are.

It all totals to a fine debut album that puts Naked Giants in modest spotlights with certainly a chance for more. It doesn't tackle Tusky of its 2018 punkrock throne and I am very curious what Canshaker Pi will come up with early May. In the meantime Sluff is a fine record to enjoy and has the potential to grow.


You can listen to and buy Sluff here:

Here's the link to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:

donderdag 29 maart 2018

In Too Deep. Dési Ducrot

Dési Ducrot groeide op in Zeeland en is de dochter van de wielrenner, wielercommentator en psycholoog Maarten Ducrot.

Na haar studie in Amsterdam besloot ze haar passie voor de muziek niet langer weg te drukken en begon ze met het opnemen van haar eigen songs.
Een van die songs kwam een jaar of vier geleden bij toeval terecht bij producer Marg van Eenbergen (in een vorig leven ook bekend als frontvrouw van cultband Seedling en soloproject GRAM) en samen begonnen de twee aan het proces dat uiteindelijk heeft geleid tot In Too Deep.
Het was zeker geen makkelijk proces. Dési Ducrot heeft een voorliefde voor traditionele Amerikaanse rootsmuziek, maar wilde zeker geen 13 in een dozijn rootsplaat maken. Samen met Marg van Eenbergen werd er eindeloos gesleuteld aan de songs voor het debuut van Dési Ducrot en na bijna vier jaar was de plaat klaar. Het resultaat mag er zijn.
In Too Deep staat met minstens één been in de Amerikaanse rootsmuziek en laat een geluid horen waarin de dobro en de pedal steel vaak een voorname rol spelen. Het is een geluid dat fraai kleurt bij de krachtige stem van Dési Ducrot, die gemaakt lijkt voor de countrymuziek en die af en toe wel wat doet denken aan die van Neko Case.
In Too Deep laat zich echter zeker niet alleen inspireren door Amerikaanse rootsmuziek, maar flirt ook met pop, zeker wanneer de fraai gearrangeerde strijkers mogen aanzwellen of wanneer subtiel elektronica wordt ingezet en sluit een enkele keer zelfs aan bij bombastische rock. Het zorgt ervoor dat In Too Deep anders klinkt dan de gemiddelde rootsplaat, al zullen de uitstapjes buiten de gebaande paden de liefhebbers van het genre waarschijnlijk niet al te zeer afschrikken.
Zeker wanneer ik de plaat met de koptelefoon beluister hoor ik goed dat Marg van Eenbergen en Dési Ducrot heel lang hebben gesleuteld aan het geluid op de plaat. In elke track duiken weer andere fraaie accenten op en waar soms wordt gekozen voor een vol en groots geluid, bevat In Too Deep ook een aantal uiterst ingetogen songs.
Het zijn songs die zijn geïnspireerd door een road-trip die Dési Ducrot maakte door de Verenigde Staten, waardoor de meeste tracks op de plaat beelden van weidse Amerikaanse landschappen op het netvlies toveren.
In Too Deep onderscheidt zich met de trefzekere en gevarieerde instrumentatie en productie al van de meeste andere platen van het moment, maar het sterkste wapen op In Too Deep is toch de stem van Dési Ducrot. De singer-songwriter uit Amsterdam is nog een twintiger, maar klinkt op haar debuut gelouterd en doorleefd.
Dési Ducrot durft haar stem op meerdere manieren in te zetten en imponeert zowel wanneer ze ingetogen en gevoelig zingt als wanneer ze vol gas geeft. Welke weg Dési Ducrot ook kiest, iedere noot is raak en iedere noot komt aan.
In Too Deep laat horen dat de jonge singer-songwriter uit Amsterdam bulkt van het talent en omdat ze de tijd heeft genomen voor het opnemen van haar debuut komt dit talent er op In Too Deep ook direct uit. Het levert een knappe plaat die ook buiten de landsgrenzen alle aandacht verdient.

Erwin Zijleman

Here's the link to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:

woensdag 28 maart 2018

Ruthless Day. Gizelle Smith

In iTunes Ruthless Day by Gizelle Smith got the tag "electronic", so that was an easy decision: not for me. I won't say it's a 100% but surely close enough. The good thing at times is that I forget what I receive, so clicked on the album and was surprised to here music that is nothing but a feast to listen to.

So here I am, stepping out of my comfort zone and listening to an album full of soul, R&B with sprinklings of funk, but not without a lot of pop feel. Instantly danceable with a relaxed inclination aiming for duration and not instant satisfaction.

Gizelle Smith is named Gizelle Françoise Jeanine Golebiewski in daily life and was signed by a Hamburg label where she released three 45s and one album with The Mighty Mocambos. That makes Ruthless Day her second record and The Mighty Mocambos she started out her career with are no longer in sight, at least on the title of Ruthless Day.

If Gizelle Smith is from Germany, it is impossible to hear for my Dutch ears. This album is in production as U.S. as things come and so here's globalisation for you. Beyond doubt Ms. Smith will have some import tariffs slapped on her record before she knows it by the Trump administration.

Have I heard music like this over the past years? Certainly, but somehow that music never reached me the way Ruthless Day does. Can I put my finger on any reason? No, not really, I find. Even Anouk has recorded a few songs like this, but I've never been a true fan of hers, with only a few, mostly rock-hybrid songs as exception. What I like is Gizelle Smith's voice and that the music makes me feel happy. There's an extremely positive vibe coming into my ears, instantly infectious. My limbs feel like moving without my brain telling them to it seems.

The horns in several of the songs are of the kind that remember me of the best soul songs of the 60s. The rhythms are certainly more modern in sound, making the blend of old and new sticking out more. Ruthless Day is influenced by, yet goes its own way. At the same time this music reminds me of the first album of Joan as Policewoman (with a lot of instruments added to the sound). Several songs on Ruthless Day have that same sense of seriousness. The happiness in the music and the seriousness are not mutually exclusive Ruthless Day shows in an almost off-hand kind of way.

There's another thing Gizelle Smith does well. She sticks to her limitations. She's no Mariah Carey and does not try to be. By keeping within her vocal range, which tends to go deeper, she shies away from going too high. This music often invites vocal antics that I usually abhor and there's nothing of the kind here. So another point scored.

Yes, Ruthless Day is well out of my comfort zone. Yet the album just feels good. It holds the right mix of a lot of simply very good things. And it took me nearly a whole album to figure out who the other artist is I'm remembered of. Joss Stone of course.


You can listen to and buy Ruthless Day here:

Here's the link to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:

dinsdag 27 maart 2018

Enough About Me. Slow Leaves

Slow Leaves is the nom de plume of Grant Davidson, singer-songwriter from Winnipeg in Canada. It is a collection of 10 demos he had lying around the house and started to work at with his accomplices. The result is the second album under this name after having released three albums under his own name.

As a starter I am going to give a warning. To really enjoy Enough About Me a headset is a prerequisite and, without propagating any ear damage here mind, put the volume up a bit. Anything else in my experience leads to an album passing you by, in fact, an album that is pretty boring. Once I secluded myself from daily life Enough About Me opened itself and blossomed, fully, completely.

Slow Leaves captures the mood of the 70s on its new album. A song could have been sung by Gordon Lightfoot just to name an example. Some of the songs are in sync with a 'Sundown' for example. The way Davidson sings reminds me of Antony of the Johnsons, without those irritating, breathy trills in his voice, so totally enjoyable. An album like this does make me realise what an album by Antony could sound like and that comes as a bit of a surprise.

So the basis is Grant Davidson's voice and his clear sounding acoustic guitar. Around that basis a singer-songwriter sound is built, giving the songs that little extra for a record. Without a problem the songs will remain afloat if Slow Leaves just performs them solo.

Promo photo
The fun of Enough About Me is in the details. All the songs have these nice little embellishments. An organ, a pedal steel, an electric guitar to produce the additional melodies. The strength of the album is the ten songs it contains. Although certainly not of these times, there is not one weak brother among them. The music of Slow Leaves simply has nothing to do with 2018. At the same time the traditional sound of this album makes it sort of timeless. I can imagine it having been made over 40 years ago, but also in 2040. There will always be a market for contemplative songs played, primarily on an acoustic guitar.

The exception is found in 'Chinatown'. An electric guitar drives the song, accompanied by the firm drums, underscoring the more acidic lyrics. 'You said my songs were setups for predictable rhymes". Well, that's a statement for a singer-songwriter to report on. A violin swerves between the whole making the song sound like a joke, that it is not. Slow Leaves comes close to the rock side of Josh Ritter here.

With this I have said all there is to say about Enough About Me. This is an album for all who enjoy an album by a singer-songwriter with a fine voice between husky and normal.


Here's the link to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:

maandag 26 maart 2018

Violence. Editors

Having finished listening to Violence for the first time, it's like I've been slapped in the face. Hard. On its sixth album Editors goes all out. Nothing is held back. The start of the album, 'Cold', is totally deceptive. The album really starts at 1.41 minutes when the drums and guitars come in for real for the first time.

I have never been a fan of Editors. The band reminded me too much of that dark start of the 80s, those days when the heavens were about to fall on our heads. No hope in sight. That started to change because of a single of its fourth album, the exception, and truly changed with the fifth album, 'In Dream'. For some reason I always kept listening to a new album and was finally rewarded in 2015. I can't even truly provide you with a reason for this change in appreciation. It just happened.

So for the first time I looked out for a new a new Editors album and was rewarded instantly. I listened to the album on Spotify and listened again and again. It won't be very long before the vinyl version enters this home.

The darkness remains. It is all over Violence. There's so much of it. Of course this starts with the voice of Tom Smith. Its deep and full of emotion, if he wants to. It may be that we have found one reason for me liking the band better. I find that it seems like Smith has listened to Queens of the Stone Age and uses his voice slightly differently since. Whatever the reason I like his singing so much better than circa 10 years ago.

"The guitar is back", I read a lot on this album. That may be, yet disco pulsing rhythms and sounds are all over Violence, combined with a fine, dark rock sound. The drums and bass are mixed deep into the sound. The synths slither around over it like a snake in high grass. Adding a sense of danger to the music. As if the song can explode any moment. The title song is the best example of this. Giorgio Moroder in 2018, the only thing missing is a cameo by the late Donna Summer. "I Feel Love" can be mixed into the coda of the song without effort. This is what I call exiting music. The guitar is there at times, yet also often disguised through effects in such a way, the sound could have been produced by a synth also.

Having listened to Violence more, I can't help noticing how this album does everything to sound very modern while making use of a genre that is all but dead and buried: disco, with a 'Baba O'Riley' pulse here and there. This makes for a strange hybrid, but one that works extremely well. There is really nothing much at fault on Violence. Editors have caught a groove in London while recording this album. To find it the band worked with Blanck Mass, an electronic music producer. It's simple, this works.

Editors does not necessarily go full out on Violence. Getting to know the album better, the nuance is certainly there. E.g. in 'Nothingness' the pace slows down. A little U2 style ballad. At the same time even these slower, or less filled songs, are in your face. The approach to the song remains very direct. When the drums kick in, there is no holding back. The electronics at the end remind me of Madonna's 'Frozen', of all influences possible. It shows how versatile this album is. Dynamics are used to great effect on Violence as a whole. Making the album even more impressive now I know it so much better.

When all is said and done, one thing needs to be pointed out. No matter what great effects are used on Violence, Editors comes up with several great songs. The band knows the secrets of songwriting before production sets in. While producing the record it knows how to maximise the effect of a song as well. On Violence it does so to the max.

So far 2018 has delivered several albums that I'm sure will remain relevant for a long time. Violence is one of them. Editors has outdone itself as far as I'm concerned.


Here's the link to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:

zondag 25 maart 2018

Tales From The Backseat. The Academic

2017 was zeker niet het jaar van de energieke gitaarmuziek van een stel jonge honden, maar in 2018 lijkt het roer om te gaan.
Je hoort het bijvoorbeeld op Tales From The Backseat van de Ierse band The Academic. De band uit het midden in het land gelegen dorp Mullingar bracht de afgelopen jaren al een aantal veelbelovende singles uit, maar komt nu dan eindelijk met haar officiële debuut op de proppen.
De bandnaam suggereert misschien nog even dat we te maken hebben met muzikanten die dieper willen graven en niet zomaar kiezen voor de makkelijkste weg, maar de eerste noten van het debuut van de Ierse band nemen alle twijfel weg.
De leden van de band zijn de schoolbanken nog maar net ontgroeid en zingen bij voorkeur over zaken als vakantie, drank en vooral meisjes. De luchtige teksten van The Academic zijn vervolgens verpakt in songs die zich laten inspireren door de gitaarmuziek die in het Verenigd Koninkrijk en de Verenigde Staten al sinds de vroege jaren 60 wordt gemaakt, al slepen de Ieren er vergeleken met de meeste van hun soortgenoten flink wat andere invloeden bij.
Zo duikt direct in de openingstrack een basloopje op dat herinnert aan de hoogtijdagen van de postpunk van New Order, sluiten veel songs aan bij het memorabele debuut van The Strokes en zo verrast vrijwel iedere song op de plaat met invloeden uit een andere periode waarin de Britse en Amerikaanse gitaarbands de popmuziek domineerden.
Het maakt Tales From The Backseat in muzikaal opzicht interessant, maar op Tales From The Backseat draait uiteindelijk alles om het plezier. De songs van de Ierse band zijn zo aanstekelijk als maar kan en strooien driftig met geweldige melodieën en catchy refreinen, die na één keer horen voorgoed in je hoofd zitten.

Nu heeft de muziek van Ierse bands altijd wat wel wat weemoedigs, maar op het debuut van The Academic schijnt alleen maar de zon. Tales From The Backseat werd opgenomen in het zonnige Los Angeles en dat hoor je in de songs van The Academic, die de wereld door een roze bril bekijken. Het maakt van Tales From The Backseat een plaat die ik maar heel lastig kan weerstaan. Gelukkig hoeft dat niet.
Het maken van volstrekt tijdloze gitaarsongs lijkt op voorhand geen hele lastige klus omdat er talloze goede voorbeelden voorhanden zijn, maar probeer het maar eens. The Academic jaagt er in iets meer dan een half uur tien deze van deze volstrekt tijdloze gitaarsongs doorheen en de een is nog beter dan de ander.
Veel van de songs hebben een punky energie, maar The Academic voegt ook flink wat pop toe aan haar songs. Het zijn bovendien songs die in muzikaal opzicht steeds weer iets leuks te bieden hebben, waarbij met name het veelkleurige gitaarwerk er in positieve zing uitspringt.
Met Tales From The Backseat van The Academic uit de speakers is het een half uur feest en het is een feestje dat ook na talloze keren horen leuk blijft. In 2017 was de spoeling in dit genre zoals gezegd dun, maar 2018 begint met een plaat die de lat in het genre direct bijzonder hoog legt.

Erwin Zijleman

Here's the link to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:

zaterdag 24 maart 2018

Leather Teeth. Carpenter Brut

The cover of this album is of the kind that makes me wonder whether I have to take its contents seriously or that I'm looking at the equivalent of the Hee Bee Gee Bees of metal.

What better place to start with then the bio. Except for the music itself of course. The first and title song, 'Leather Teeth' tells me al. From a typical Supertramp organ to Europe singing, 80s synths and metal drums underneath a strange lyric about "A leather monster of the night". What to make of it?

The bio tells a lot of things except who Carpenter Brut is. A synthwave or a darkwave for that matter, artist. The storyline is we are hearing the real soundtrack to an imaginary movie situated against a backdrop of 80s metal. Yes, hair and all.

Fact is that the music does have a lot of it, except for the synths that are predominant. Singing is clearly optional. From that moment on everything is possible. Starting circa 1978 with Justin Hayward singing about the landing of aliens from Mars, the music takes us past Van Halen's violining technique into the poppy side of metal. 'Monday Hunt' holds this all and makes me want to sing "chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one they say".

'Inferno Galore' joins the metal pace with the synths of Yazoo, Pet Shop Boys, Erasure, the pulse of Giorgio Moroder and TV themes of the 70s and 80s like The Persuaders and Miami Vice. It just makes me ask one question: Who is this guy/who are these guys? Whatever is going on, it is extremely poppy and catchy. I won't say that I would like to get up or go to bed with this music, somewhere in between there's a place for it for sure.

Wikipedia helps some. Carpenter Brut is Franck Hueso from Poitiers. Someone who wants to make his music anonymously to put more emphasis on his music. A fair choice. Since 2012 he's released three EPs, bundled into an album in 2015 called 'Trilogy'. This makes Leather Teeth his first full length album, with its 32 minutes over before I know it. Longer the album does not have to be as far as I'm concerned. Huesco makes his music quite seriously, but somehow it does have something of a joke as well. Intended or not, that is the effect of throwing his all into this bundle of, well, nearly everything, barring French chansons and opera.

All I can add is that the level of proficiency on the individual instruments is of an extremely high level. As I wrote there's no joking here. There's so much speed, melodic prowess, o.k. the singing is not that superb, and great rhythm. It makes Leather Teeth an experience and an adventure. A strange one, sometimes weird, yet highly enjoyable one. If Carpenter Brut is a joke, it is one of the best ones ever. A joke that puts the Hee Bee Gee Bees to shame for the sorrow joke they were. I can place it the same level as Captain Cheese-Beard's album celebrating Frank Zappa some time back. Simply extraordinarily done.


Here's the link to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:

vrijdag 23 maart 2018

Ghost Alive. The Boxer Rebellion

In 'Oor' #2 of 2018 Editors were the main feature. A pages long interview. One of the topics mentioned was on The Boxer Rebellion. Tom Smith said that Editors was once taken on tour as a support act of The Boxer Rebellion, but that now Editors played the largest venues while the Members of The Boxer Rebellion all had to take jobs to exist. What followed next was telling, about Smith and the band he was speaking about "and they still make records and tour in between. I don't know if I could do that".

The Boxer Rebellion never really attracted me to its music much. The radio hit 'Diamonds' has its moments, but nothing much else. The words of Tom Smith made me decide to give Ghost Alive a fair chance. I'm glad I did. It is an intense and at moments extremely beautiful album. Like the picture on the album cover it holds light and shade where anything can hide in, but can't move without catching the light.

In my mind I hear music that holds back, has elements of a misplaced bombastic nature without much of a memorable melody in sight. I promise to give some albums a second chance. It may well be I am sincerely mistaken.

Ghost Alive seems in everything the opposite of what I had expected to hear. Yes, the mood is downcast and despite the many acoustic instruments there is this hint at bombast in the music. Yet when a band can present it in such a beautiful way, with these subtle chord changes, so smooth, so soothing, it seems it can simply do no wrong. Perhaps the band has learned a lesson: "You've got to love yourself". Could this simple sounding yet for some so hard to arrive at conclusion be the secret to Ghost Alive's success in my ears? The emotional tranquillity this frame of mind offered The Boxer Rebellion led to the inner beauty that was let out, result in the beautiful songs released on Ghost Alive?

The music presented is soft pop, music to really listen to. Melodies may change, yet the chord changes are so soft that they are hardly noticed. Instruments are added without any loud crash or bang. They blend in and play their softly added notes. It could be a piano, a string section or organ. It simply doesn't matter. The mood is ever so slightly altered.

Over all this the soft and high voice of Nathan Nicholson meanders. A voice of a singer is always a dominant feature in the sound of a band, Nicholson's voice provides The Boxer Rebellion its melancholy stamp. It holds a dreamy quality expressing a longing for something not present. The music is totally submerged in that longing and underscores it from all sides. The drums and bass laying the depth of that longing and the pace to get to the dreamed of destination. The acoustic guitar and strings provide the support and stamina needed to keep striving to get there. "I am not a lost cause", sings Nicholson in 'Lost Cause', I would say far from Mr. Nicholson. The Boxer Rebellion has breathed life into itself. Exit ghost, enter alive.


Here's the link to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:

donderdag 22 maart 2018

The Santa Ana. Sugerfoot

Ik heb eind vorig jaar flink wat leuke muziek uit de jaarlijstjes van anderen gehaald en ook het online zetten van mijn eigen jaarlijstje heeft weer een aantal hele mooie tips opgeleverd. De mooiste van het stel komt vooralsnog van de band Sugarfoot en luistert naar de titel The Santa Ana.
Sugarfoot is een Noorse band die al een aantal jaren bestaat en de Bent Sæther als bekendste lid heeft (al zijn Øyvind Holm en Hogne Galåen de voormannen van de band). Bent Sæther kennen we natuurlijk van Motorpsycho, dat dit jaar met The Tower een jaarlijstjesplaat afleverde, maar kennelijk was er nog tijd over voor een ander project.
Sugarfoot nam haar vorige plaat op in de Rancho De La Luna studio in Joshua Tree, California, en dat was zo goed bevallen dat de band terugkeerde naar de Verenigde Staten. De bijzondere sfeer van de Californische woestijn is dit keer nog nadrukkelijker aanwezig in de muziek van de Noren, die zelf het hokje Cosmic Americana hebben bedacht voor hun muziek.
The Santa Ana ademt nadrukkelijk de sfeer van Joshua Tree in de jaren 70 en de sfeer van de countryrock uit dezelfde periode. Joshua Tree is de plek waar Gram Parsons in 1973 zijn laatste adem uitblies en flarden van zijn muziek klinken door op The Santa Ana, net als flarden van de muziek van onder andere Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, The Byrds en The Flying Burrito Brothers.
Sugarfoot vermengt de nadrukkelijke invloeden uit de countryrock met gelijke delen Westcoast pop en 70s psychedelica, waardoor The Santa Ana warmer en lichtvoetiger klinkt dan de meeste andere platen van Noorse bands.
Met een muzikale duizendpoot als Bent Sæther aan boord, verwacht je niet dat Sugarfoot het hier bij laat en dat doet de Noorse band dan ook niet. De zonnig klinkende countryrock van de band mag af en toe ontsporen en kan dan alle kanten op schieten. Een aantal songs op de plaat klinkt Beatlesque (of herinnert aan het briljante Kontiki van Cotton Mather), maar wanneer Sugarfoot incidenteel kiest voor muzikaal spierballenvertoon kan de band ook zomaar wat totaal onverwachte invloeden uit de progrock toevoegen aan haar songs.
Het zijn uitzonderingen, want over het algemeen genomen is de muziek van de Noorse band geworteld in de zweverige countryrock zoals die in de jaren 70 werd gemaakt. Door de bijzondere twist die werkelijk ieder moment kan opduiken is de muziek van de Noorse band echter een stuk spannender dan de meeste andere muziek van het moment die zich laat inspireren door de hoogtijdagen van de Amerikaanse countryrock.
Hoe vaker ik naar The Santa Ana luister, hoe meer bijzondere dingen ik hoor en bij iedere luisterbeurt zijn de songs van de Noren me weer wat dierbaarder. De Noorse band komt ook nog eens met bijna 70 minuten muziek op de proppen, wat het nog knapper maakt dat de plaat in slechts twee weken werd opgenomen en gemixt in de Californische woestijn.
The Santa Ana van Sugarfoot laat zich moeiteloos beluisteren als een obscure en vergeten klassieker uit de jaren 70, maar ook in 2017 klinkt de muziek van de Noren fris en urgent, wat van The Santa Ana een hele bijzondere plaat maakt.

Noorwegen heeft ons vorig jaar heel veel mooie muziek gebracht en die zag ik in allerlei jaarlijstjes terug (waaronder mijn eigen jaarlijstje). The Santa Ana van Sugarfoot zie ik vooralsnog maar weinig in deze lijstjes, maar dat het een jaarlijstjesplaat is, lijkt me inmiddels wel duidelijk. Ik voeg hem zelf toe aan het lijstje met platen dat mijn jaarlijst misschien wel had moeten halen, maar helaas net wat te laat werd ontdekt.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt hier naar The Santa Ana luisteren en het album kopen:

Voor de dubbel LP kun je hier terecht:

Here's the link to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:

woensdag 21 maart 2018

Tape Recorder. Lionlimb

My tape recorder lies somewhere in storage with all my tapes. MP3s and streaming are the basis of my music experience these days. With an exceptional cd here and there and for the albums that really make an impression vinyl. It may well be that this album will become one of those exceptions.

Bayonet Records sent me an email announcing the release of this album. As I had never heard of Lionlimb, it did not get to the top of my list. That changed fast after I typed in the name on Spotify. Something of an addiction was what happened next.

The music is so serious, so solemn. With instruments associated with classical music in abundance, combined with rock instruments Lionlimb creates a hybrid of the two musical genres. A firm drumplaying keeps the music in the rock realm, while at the same time Lionlimb has nothing to do with symphonic rock. The recently reviewed album 'Current' by Belgian band Madensuyu has a similar disposition, only based on piano and drums.

What I noticed right after is the singing. Who sings like this? Yes, Elliot Smith. The same modest, soft-toned and self-conscious way of presenting the vocal. Mixed just right so that the at times loud music does not interfere with the delivery of the singing. A balance that works so well on Tape Recorder.

Lionlimb is from Nashville. In nothing, at least to my relatively untrained Nashville ears, I recognise anything remotely country. There's simply no reference or direct connection. The band members' background is the band of Angel Olsen. So, without realising it I may have seen them play at Paradiso, 2014. In 2016 the band released its first album 'Shoo', now followed by the six song album Tape Recorder.

What impresses me no little is the way Lionlimb is able to change the mood of a song. In the title song, there is just Stuart Bronaugh's soft voice accompanied by a piano, played in the style that is favoured by radio program 'Kairos' on Concertzender. (Yes, I've tipped .No.) Strings come in, created an even more serious atmosphere. After a short string intermezzo a drum kicks in at 3.38 minutes, slowly changing the structure and pace of the song. The piano switches to a rhythmic one note playing, while the drums slowly move towards an "Animal" of the Muppets Show franticness. And then they fall away, leaving the other instrument behind, orphaned, yet strong. Changing the mood once again. The drums, played by Joshua Jaeger, always sound prominent, if present.

Tape Recorder holds six of these intricately designed songs. Where not a lot is what it seems. Lionlimb dares to change the structure and mood of the songs. In 'Swallow's Song' in such a way that the next song appears to have started. When it hasn't. Instruments and melody can simply drop away to be replaced by something completely different. I am on my toes the whole time to keep up and try to comprehend what is happening. This will change with more listen sessions of course. For now I am tremendously enjoying myself.


You can listen to and buy Tape Recorder here:

Here's the link to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:

dinsdag 20 maart 2018

Massabu Evening Entertainment. Todd Tobias and Combo Qasam

Deep down in the dark forests of Africa there is a party going on. Under the evergreens, tall, dark, filled with huge green leaves, the shouts of monkeys come from the trees while below between the adobe and thatch huts a huge fire is built, around which the tribe members dance in wild abandon. Working itself into a trance, spurred on by the musicians hitting everything that can be hit upon to produce a rhythm. Wild shouting from the ground is reproduced from the trees by monkeys and birds kept from their sleep.

Enter Todd Tobias and Combo Qassam. Hearing is believing what is happening on Massabu Evening Entertainment. (Instrumental) rock music is played with wild abandon, aimed pure at the dance instincts of humans and nothing else. Here and there a link with the exotic is laid, underscoring the imaginary village called Massabu where this music is supposed to be produced by Tobias and some friendly musicians.

Todd Tobias enters the music scene in the wake of Robbert Pollard of Guided By Voices in another band called Circus Devils. He plays on several latter GBV albums and several solo outings of Pollard, while releasing records with other acts as well. Involvement in and/or on 8 or 9 albums a year is no exception for Tobias. Not counting the 8 solo EPs or LPs he released between 2012 and 2016. A very busy musical man, since he entered the professional music scene around his 34th birthday. A full late bloomer it seems.

Come 2018 and I am exposed for the first time to Todd Tobias through Tiny Room Records that releases Massubu Evening Entertainment. In a way it is a very weird album. The story is weird, the music, slightly weird at times, the shouts are strange. And yet, after having played the record several times, I can only say that Todd Tobias has hit the big time some how. In a mix between Frank Zappa and De Kift his music just jumps around and produces loads of energy; rock and roll at its most primitive. Hank Mizell all over again, yet beyond this one hit wonder's wildest imagination. Todd Tobias has tapped into extremely primitive emotions to come up with a superb record that can guide anyone through the political fads and anxieties of 2018. The kind of music that makes people shut up and dance, while producing huge smiles along the way.

There are three options to do so in The Netherlands. The album is premiered with members of bands from the Tiny Room Records label. See below where you can go to.


You can listen to and buy the album here:


22 March OCCI, Amsterdam
23 March Worm, Rotterdam
25 March Studio Patrick Utrecht

Here's the link to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:

maandag 19 maart 2018

Interview with Zoe and Rosie of Worry Dolls for WoNoBlog

Photo by Wo.
Interview by Wout de Natris 

© WoNoBlog 2018

Having listened to 'Go Get Gone' now about 8 months ago, I tipped Hans of the Q-Bus in Leiden straightaway. Within hours the return message read: "just booked them". Hence I knew I would be in the Q-Bus in Leiden about 6 months later. The album was reviewed by both Erwin and myself, the show was reviewed this January. After the show Zoe and Rosie agreed on an interview. A trip to Nashville held things up a little, but here's the result. As you will find, I was lucky to escape with my life....

You both started as solo singer-songwriters. How did you meet?
We were writing songs and playing guitar as solo artists from the age of 12. We both went to study music in Liverpool at 18 and we met during the first week at an open mic night in the Uni canteen! 

Is there a specific moment you can point to when you both realised you were better off together?
We started off just singing together, we used to sing a lot of Alison Krauss, Gillian Welch and Nickel Creek songs that were rich in harmonies, and then we started singing each other’s songs and writing together. We realised that even though our voices were very different, there was something really special when we came together. When we graduated, we decided to stop our solo projects and focus exclusively on Worry Dolls. 

What is it that makes you better as a duo?
We always strive to be the best we can be, we both have very high expectations and are perfectionists so these qualities help us to be better in all aspects of our music. Within writing songs together and organising all the background admin that goes into touring and releasing the music itself. We also both have very different strengths so that definitely helps us to grow and together we have all that we need to pursue Worry Dolls. It also helps that we are great friends, we’ve known each other a long time and we can always just say what’s on our minds! 

Did you play the same sort of music solo or did you evolve together to where you are now?
Well Zoe had a more folk music background with both her parents having met in a folk band and with her Irish and Liverpudlian roots. Rosie grew up being inspired by and loving alt-Country and Rock music. So when we both came together we fused all our influences and this became the sound that we create through Worry Dolls. We like to think of it as all our favourite influences coming together to create something new and more mature that the solo music we created before. 

On stage you regularly said “when we wrote this song…”. Do you actually write together? How does the “average” Worry Dolls song come to pass?
Yes we co-write most of the songs together. Zoe wrote Passport on her own, but we usually come up with ideas apart and bring them together to finish. Sometimes it starts with a guitar or banjo riff, sometimes a lyric or a melody, or even just an interesting title. It’s usually based on whatever overpowering emotion we’re feeling at the time. 

The lyrics of several songs are about leaving, leaving someone behind. In how far is this in connection with the lives you chose to live as hard working musicians and the great difference with the rest of the world, like you pointed to on stage?
Yes that is definitely a theme that us as musicians can relate to. A lot of the choices and sacrifices we have made for Worry Dolls have meant leaving people or places behind. It is those choices that define us and inspire us to write. In particular the songs on our album were all written within a short period of time, just a few months. We’d left our jobs and our lives behind in London to travel to America to make the album. 

Your album ‘Go Get Gone’ was recorded in Nashville. What is the attraction of this southern U.S. city to two young women from the U.K.?
So much of the music that we love and grew up on comes from Nashville. We initially went there just to soak up the culture and watch incredible musicians play. But we ended up meeting so many like-minded new friends, we wrote a whole bunch of songs and completely fell in love with the place. We knew we had to go back and make an album there. 

Could the album have been made in London or would it really have been a different album because of that fact?
The theme behind our first debut album was definitely about our choices and journey to the US. I think the first album would have been different had we made it in our home city. Most of the inspiration was found through being brave, leaving our home and our comfort zone and having all these new, life changing experiences in an incredible new city. We were both working full time in London, so we needed to take ourselves out of the daily grind to truly be inspired. We really felt a spiritual connection to Nashville like neither of us had ever felt for any other city. 

Photo by Wo.
Who are your heroes and influences and have these changed over the years?
Truly classic singer songwriters like Joni Mitchell, Eva Cassidy to more modern day writers like Patty Griffin and Gillian Welch. Incredible women like Alison Krauss & Dixie Chicks, who make us strive every day to be better singers, better players. We love artists that really put special attention into their lyrics. Jason Isbell & Courtney Marie Andrews both have such wonderful lyrical styles and tell stories in such a unique and fresh, yet nostalgic way. 

Your harmonies are so perfect, as if your voices “were made for each other”, I wrote in a review. How hard do you have to work at them or do they just come about naturally?
First of all, thank you very much… We’ve been singing together for quite a few years now. At first we really worked hard to refine our vocal sound. We’ve never really had one of us ‘taking the lead’ and the other singing harmony, because we love the idea of both of us together being one voice, one that’s different from either of us on our own. Now it comes a lot more naturally, we often write in harmony instead of adding a harmony afterwards.

You made a comment about liking a song best that is just basic in sound and instruments. That shows in your music, yet the music is perfect. When do you know that a song is finished?
Aw that’s very kind of you to say. As an artist a song never feels truly finished and an album is the same feeling. However, if we never released and shared our music it would never reach anyone, so you have to let the song go and live their lives! The great thing is that even once the song is recorded, it can change and evolve live and you can breathe fresh life into it for years to come. 

A worry doll is a beautiful concept and feeling. What made it the right name for you to work under?
We had worry dolls as kids to tell our worries to and put under our pillows. They’re all about relieving anxiety and laying down your troubles - that seems so linked to how therapeutic music can be, for both the listener and the writer. We write about our fears and worries and this helps us get through hard times, and we hope it helps our listeners too.

In the artwork of the band, the art used is more in association with North American indigenous people (at least for me) than Middle American of the worry dolls. What is the story about your choice for beads and feathers as a statement in artwork?
For us it’s not about the geography, but the sentiment. As kids we also had dreamcatchers, which are similar to worry dolls because they encourage positive dreams by catching your bad ones. We grew up going to hippy festivals and craft camps, and we love the homemade, protective nature of both worry dolls and dreamcatchers. We always find beautiful dreamcatchers all over the world, we starting making them and collecting feathers. Whenever we find feathers it feels like good luck, so we chose feathers as our theme. 

On the setlist I saw lying on the floor at the Q-Bus, behind each song are the mysterious words “baby”, “GS” and “here”. What do they refer to?
This is our secret code. If we told you, we’d have to kill you… 

What can the world expect from Worry Dolls in the near future?
Well we are very much looking forward to our next trip to Holland. And of course, more music!!

zondag 18 maart 2018

Shadow People. The Limiñanas

Het Franse duo The Limiñanas maakt inmiddels al een aantal jaren platen en het zijn platen die ik bijna allemaal met een brede glimlach heb beluisterd.
Op deze platen eren Marie Limiñana en Lionel Limiñana de gigantische muzikale erfenis van Serge Gainsbourg, maar slepen ze er, over het algemeen samen met flink wat gastvocalisten, ook van alles bij, variërend van 60s psychedelica en flarden van The Velvet Underground tot shoegaze en hedendaagse Franse pop.
Ik heb absoluut genoten van de vorige platen van The Limiñanas, maar nam ze op hetzelfde moment niet heel serieus. Zeker een ‘guilty pleasure’, maar niet direct een krent uit de pop was mijn afweging tot dusver.
Vorige week verscheen de nieuwe plaat van het duo uit Perpignan en langzaam maar zeker raak ik er van overtuigd dat ik mijn mening over The Limiñanas maar eens moet herzien.
Dat betekent niet dat er op Shadow People heel veel is veranderd. Ook voor hun nieuwe plaat hebben Marie en Lionel Limiñana weer flink gespit in het fascinerende oeuvre van Serge Gainsbourg, maar ook dit keer worden de invloeden van deze unieke Franse muzikant met van alles en nog wat vermengd. 
In de instrumentale openingstrack worden hippieklanken, compleet met sitar, uit de jaren 60 gecombineerd met gruizige shoegaze gitaren en zo heeft herbergt iedere track op Shadow People combinaties van invloeden die je niet verwacht.
Net als op haar vorige plaat heeft het Franse duo een beroep gedaan op een aantal gastvocalisten, onder wie The Brian Jonestown Massacre voorman Anton Newcombe, die de hoogtijdagen van The Jesus And Mary Chain laat herleven en actrice Emmanuelle Seigner, die een vleugje zuchtmeisje toevoegt aan het voornamelijk gruizige geluid van The Limiñanas. Verder duikt ook dit keer Joy Division en New Order bassist Peter Hook op en wordt een van de tracks bijzonder fraai versierd met de man’s uit duizenden herkenbare baslijnen.
Ook op Shadow People vermaakt The Limiñanas weer met meedogenloos aanstekelijke popliedjes en vele twists. Door het Franse tintje dat het duo uit Perpignan geeft aan haar muziek klinkt ook Shadow People weer anders dan de meeste andere platen van het moment, maar waar ik de muziek van The Limiñanas tot dusver beluisterde als een ‘guilty pleasure’, kan ik dit keer alleen maar concluderen dat Marie en Lionel Limiñana en hun muzikale medestanders een verdomd goede plaat hebben gemaakt.
Het is een plaat met gruizige psychedelica als rode draad, maar wat zit er veel moois verstopt onder de gruizige gitaarlagen en de wat zweverige klanken. The Limiñanas beginnen in de jaren 60, maar citeren dit keer ook stevig uit de jaren 80 en slaan vervolgens een brug naar het heden. De songs op de plaat zitten na één keer horen stuk voor stuk in je hoofd, al is het maar vanwege de geweldige melodieën en het zwoele Franse tintje.
Shadow People laat zich, net als veel van de platen van Serge Gainsbourg, beluisteren als een soundtrack bij een niet bestaande film. Het is een film waarvan je zelf de beelden mag bedenken, wat de luistertrip van The Limiñanas nog wat fascinerender maakt. Dat The Limiñanas een heuse krent uit de pop hebben afgeleverd zal inmiddels duidelijk zijn.

Erwin Zijleman

Here's the link to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:

zaterdag 17 maart 2018

Let's retire! Artists and retirement plans

There's something in the water. All of a sudden there's news of rockstars retiring in a disturbing number in the starting weeks of this year. Wo. noticed the pattern and started a conversation under the title: Something new, yet slightly worrying. Inevitably there's some reminiscing involved of better things.

Wo., 9-2
There is another sort of news that is somewhat worrying and around a lot in the 5 weeks this year is old. Farewell tours.

First Neil Diamond had to stop his tour due to dementia. Somewhere around that date Elton John announced a, three year, farewell tour. I already saw the posters up along the roads announcing a show in big letters, golden coloured, saying "FAREWELL". Then Slayer announced its final tour, definitely a younger generation, so it can always comeback. Yesterday a show by Paul Simon was announced in the newspaper: 'Homeward Bound. The farewell tour".

We are saying goodbyes in more ways than we thought just a few weeks ago. This is about ending a career, by people who have entered their seventies (plus). Or at least their live playing days.

Now I'm not a big fan of either of the four, although three of them have their moments, with Paul Simon liked best by me. It means that more will follow and probably sooner than later. It is not a taboo to actively end a musical career.

Gary, 9-2
Well yes, I am afraid that this is a fact of life… we are all getting older, and pro-musicians and artists have to plan carefully how they tour as even air-con/private plane/limo/hotel suite at ’senior’ years have a huge impact on performance. Elton is only retiring from touring… that doesn’t mean he will not do the odd appearance or even concert when the mood takes him. I saw him in a recent interview and he said he wanted to see his children grow up…. Touring would preclude that…

But in general, we must expect the inevitable for our heroes and idols, eventually they will all become too old, infirm, ill to perform, write or record. The unpalatable truth is that they will ALL eventually die. In recent year the deaths of Emerson, Lake, Bowie, Rick Wright (this list is not exhaustive have brought closer the realisation that my era of music is passing… Where before the deaths of people like Hendrix, Joplin, Paul Kossoff through drug abuse was tragic but  understandable, and later artists passing like Freddie Mercury because of illness. But now our heroes are dying… from old age!

It is the way of the universe and although no matter how tragic, bleak and uncomfortable this truth is… I know I must be thankful that I lived through such an amazing period of great music. I believe I am so lucky to have been born in the late 50s and to have been old enough to see and hear the great artists, bands and music of the 60s and 70s.

I feel sad that my children are unlikely to be able to experience the kind of musical creativity that I took for granted…. Indeed, it seems that the younger generations do not enthusiastically relate to music in the same way that our generation did? 

I hope that future generations will rediscover the music of the 60s and 70s much like today people are rediscovering jazz, big band, folk and classical music? I refuse to believe that such a wonderful period of innovation and creativity will be forgotten?

Wo. 9-2
Well the good news on my end is that, my son is an even bigger Beatles fan than I am. And my two youngest step sons love to go to The Analogues shows with me as a birthday present and got to know The Beatles first mostly through my son who made them a compilation for in the car during a holiday. Now my son certainly is not an example for his age group.

The good thing about raising him on lots of good music is that he has bought me a ticket for the first time. We are going to Franz Ferdinand next month in his new hometown. BTW I got the new album today and it, again, is great.

What I notice about the youngsters in my life is that they listen to everything. From the latest rappers and stuff, to things like Steve Miller Band or just as easily sing along to a very early Stones hit. What I am not sure of is whether they appreciate music the way we did. They have everything one click away. We depended on many factors to be able to hear something and sometimes never heard a song again for years. It was just something in my mind until I found a second hand copy decades later. What we had was valued a lot more and to get an album that you did not like, was nothing short than a disaster as we had to wait until the next special occasion before we could ask for the one we did want.

I just listened to a Stones greatest hits compilation over dinner, nearly all songs we heard were from around 1965. I could sing along to every song, like I can for 40 years or more, but so could the stepkids to some of them. Even Gimme Shelter.

So yes, it's different, but I do think they will find out what they really like if they haven't already. There is just so much to distract them from music and their money goes into games. They don't own a single record. My son does, but I think they were all presents. Now he's earning money, perhaps this will change. I'll ask him when I visit his home.

In the meantime we just have to wait who retires next, voluntarily or not. Not me I hope. We just played 'Come Together' for the first time and did that feel nice. A blues cover from a blues cover is up next: 'It's Your Voodoo Working'' by Eilen Jewell.

P.S. Wo., 14-03
This week I read that Lynyrd Skynyrd is embarking on its farewell tour in the U.S. this May.


vrijdag 16 maart 2018

Yada Yada. Odd Couple

Another album from Germany on the blog. It's highly likely that every cliché in the rock book comes by on Yada Yada. Who cares when the music Odd Couple produces is as much fun as it is?

What to make of the title Yada Yada? Of songtitles like 'Bokeh21'?, 'Katta'?, Fangdannen'. All the other titles are just as short. 'Vielfrass', 'Stiff', 'Robotik'. It all suggest a sense of weirdness but most of all directness. Direct Yada Yada is and nobody got hurt by a little weirdness in music.

The album opens with what seems like and up and down rock song, 'Bokeh21'. The weirdness comes in through the vocoder voice and the use of synthesizers to create blips and blops that can be heard on record since Roger Waters ordered a kind of synthesizer while recording 'Dark Side Of The Moon' in 1972. The drums never relent, it is the rock guitars that are traded in for the synths.

Odd Couple is of course a, this year 50 year old, film turned into a television series. I think I have seen some episodes at some point in time. Now Odd Couple is a band from Berlin. Is it a duo or a trio? I'm trying to find out for you. On the publicity photo three persons are depicted. In every write up I find on the band just two names come up: Tammo Dehn and Jascha Kreft. That will need to do for now, at least until some more research gave me the name Dennis Schulze. All three are involved in the songwriting at some point or other. Allowing for several exceptions the instrumental division is Dehn drums, Kreft guitar and keys, Schulze bass and then some. After 'It's A Pressure To Meet You (2015) and Flügge (2016), Yada Yada is Odd Couple's third full length release.

According to the bio the band chose a more experimental and grown up sound for its new album. I can't tell at this point in time. Odd Couple has found itself a firm rocksound in which electronics and experimentations in sound are never far away. At the same time a punkrock attitude shows through, giving the album a kind of solidness not comparing to "simple" rock. The vocals are of a relaxed nature more in tune with the hippies of the 60s. Psychedelia is certainly involved  As you can read Odd Couple does everything and then some not to be pushed into a single corner. It is not to be labelled that easily. Just listen to 'Fangdannan' and fly with the butterflies, "wie eine Schmetterling". The electronic sounds involved in 'Fangdannan' were unheard of in 1967, the effect is exactly the same. Fluid projections on the far wall, a joint or spliff in hand and off you go.

Odd Couple is not a band that opts for the easy way. A song is never just a song. The experiment never far away. Things are tried out and many ideas were probably left on the studios floor for what they were. Discarded simply because it did not work or better ideas presented itself. Just listen to how 'Robotik' develops. The song has so many twists and changes. Many ideas will have fallen through here and dispensed with. It must be fun, exhilarating as well as frustrating to work within Odd Couple. Unless one person decides, but my odds are on that not being the case, as there are two principal songwriters who will both have their ideas. The same goes for Schulze when he contributes.

Yada Yada is an album that is interesting for a few reasons. In other words it stands out. It may not be exemplary, there is more than enough to enjoy. From the first rush, as described at the start of this post, to the more in-depth acquaintance Yada Yada holds up. Another fine album from Germany it seems. There were years on end I didn't hear a single one and I can already predict there will be another one in about a month's time.


You can listen and buy Yada Yada here:

Here's the link to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:

donderdag 15 maart 2018

Rifles & Rosary Beads. Mary Gauthier

Het is moeilijk voor te stellen dat het inmiddels al weer meer dan 18 jaar geleden is dat ik compleet van mijn sokken werd geblazen door Drag Queens In Limousines van Mary Gauthier.
De singer-songwriter uit New Orleans, Louisiana, imponeerde op haar tweede plaat met songs met zoveel emotie en doorleving dat luisteren soms pijn deed.
Drag Queens In Limousines staat inmiddels in de boeken als klassieker, maar als ik luister naar alle platen die Mary Gauthier sindsdien heeft gemaakt, moet ik concluderen dat het misschien wel de minst sterke plaat van Mary Gauthier is.
Het zegt wat over de torenhoge kwaliteit van de platen die Mary Gauthier sinds 1999 heeft uitgebracht. Met Trouble & Love deed de singer-songwriter uit New Orleans er bijna vier jaar geleden nog een schep bovenop en leverde ze haar beste plaat tot dusver af. Het is een plaat die nu stevige concurrentie krijgt van Rifles & Rosary Beads, dat in meerdere opzichten imponeert.
Ook Rifles & Rosary Beads ontleent een belangrijk deel van zijn kracht aan de geweldige stem van Mary Gauthier. Het is een stem die de afgelopen 18 jaar alleen maar mooier is geworden. Op Drag Queens In Limousines had Mary Gauthier nog een flinke snik in haar stem, maar de afgelopen jaren is ze wat meer ingetogen gaan zingen. Het is gelukkig niet ten koste gegaan van de hoeveelheid emotie en doorleving in de stem van de Amerikaanse singer-songwriter, waardoor ook Rifles & Rosary Beads je weer onmiddellijk bij de strot grijpt.
Alleen de geweldige vocalen maken van Rifles & Rosary Beads al een prachtplaat, maar er valt nog veel meer te genieten op de nieuwe plaat van Mary Gauthier. Ook dit keer is de instrumentatie subtiel en ingetogen, maar de stemmige klanken zitten ook vol mooie details en met name de bijdragen van mondharmonica en viool snijden door de ziel.
En dan zijn er ook nog de indringende verhalen op de plaat. Mary Gauthier schreef een aantal songs op de plaat met oorlogsveteranen en werkte hiernaast samen met gelouterde collega's als Beth Nielsen Chapman. Mary Gauthier vertelde op haar eerste platen vooral over de eigen ellende in haar leven (en ellende was er volop in de eerste 35 jaar van haar leven), maar focust nu op het leven van oorlogsveteranen en hun nabestaanden in de Verenigde Staten.
Het zijn mensen die ongewild een oorlog in zijn gesleept, maar na terugkeer aan hun lot werden overgelaten. Iets wat ook gebeurt met de nabestaanden van militairen die niet levend terugkeerden uit Irak of Afghanistan. Het zijn verhalen vol ellende en als iemand deze verhalen kan vertellen is dat Mary Gauthier wel.
Het geeft Rifles & Rosary Beads een bijzondere lading en een enorme intensiteit. Ik ging er eerlijk gezegd van uit dat Mary Gauthier haar creatieve piek had bereikt met Trouble & Love uit 2014, maar de lat kan nog een stukje hoger.
Rifles & Rosary Beads is in vocaal en instrumentaal opzicht een imponerende plaat, maar staat ook nog eens vol verhalen die iets met je doen. Mary Gauthier is misschien niet wereldberoemd, maar is in haar genre momenteel onaantastbaar.

Erwin Zijleman

Here's the link to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about: