donderdag 31 mei 2018

Years. Sarah Shook & The Disarmers

Er zijn momenteel nogal wat jonge countryzangeressen die opgroeiden in een liefdevol en inspirerend nest vol goede muziek en die al op jonge leeftijd warm werden onthaald in Nashville om daar vervolgens ook direct succes te oogsten.
Sarah Shook is uit totaal ander hout gesneden. Ze groeide op in een streng religieus gezin op het platteland van North Carolina, waar rebelse types als Sarah Shook niet werden getolereerd, zeker niet als ze er andere ideeën op nahielden over religie en seksualiteit en van deze ideeën geen geheim maakten.
Via een huwelijk kon ze ontsnappen aan het strakke keurslijf en zich richten op haar passie: de muziek.
Sarah Shook is inmiddels meerdere relaties verder en heeft nu al een ruig en niet altijd even makkelijk leven achter de rug, waarin de fles vaak troost bracht. In 2015 formeerde Sarah Shook in Pittsboro, North Carolina, haar begeleidingsband The Disarmers, wat in hetzelfde jaar het in eigen beheer uitgebrachte en niet heel breed opgepikte Sidelong opleverde.
Het is een plaat die nu wordt opgevolgd door Years, dat een aantal flinke stappen in de goede richting zet en met name in de Verenigde Staten en het Verenigd Koninkrijk is onthaald met positieve recensies. Dat verbaast me niet, want Years is een erg sterke plaat.
Het is een plaat die ver blijft verwijderd van de countrypop zoals die momenteel in Nashville wordt gemaakt en vol kiest voor de meer traditionele Amerikaanse countrymuziek. Het is countrymuziek vol invloeden uit de rock ’n roll en de honky tonk en het is countrymuziek die onmiddellijk beelden op het netvlies tovert van duistere clubs waarin het podium met kippengaas van de over het algemeen wat rauwe bezoekers is afgeschermd.
Het is muziek zoals die al een aantal decennia wordt gemaakt en die op zeer vakkundige wijze wordt vertolkt door The Disarmers. De band van Sarah Shook biedt plaats aan een lekker energieke ritmesectie, maar ook de gitarist van de band kan er wat van en tovert zowel countryloopjes als rauwe rock ’n roll riffs uit zijn gitaren.
Het levert muziek op vol passie en temperament en het is muziek die de tradities van de Amerikaanse rootsmuziek in ere houdt. Ik vind het allemaal bijzonder lekker klinken, maar het meest ben ik toch gecharmeerd van de stem van Sarah Shook. De Amerikaanse muzikanten heeft op zich geen hele mooie of bijzondere stem, maar het is wel een stem vol gevoel en doorleving, die flink wat ellende over je heen spuugt.
Het doet me allemaal wel wat denken aan de geweldige platen van de helaas wat in de vergetelheid geraakt Sarah Borges, maar Sarah Shook heeft vast ook talloze voorbeelden uit een verder verleden.
Ik laat me normaal gesproken sneller verleiden tot wat moderne countrymuziek, maar de traditionele country van Sarah Shook & The Disarmers grijpt je vanaf de eerste noten van Years bij de strot en laat voorlopig echt niet meer los. Of, hoe de band zich zelf introduceert op haar bandcamp pagina" Sarah Shook & The Disarmers are a country band with a sneer, a bite, and no apologies. Shook's original songs take on the usual country spin on shitty relationships, bad decisions, and excessive alcohol consumption for damn good reasons". Prachtig.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt Years hier beluisteren en kopen:

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

woensdag 30 mei 2018

Thrust. DeWolff

DeWolff is around for so long already that it is becoming harder to imagine a time when there was no DeWolff. Still the two brothers and nephew are young for a band that is around for 10 years and 6 albums.

After the slightly disappointing, after two great albums by comparison, 'Roux-Ga-Roux', the band returns with Thrust. An album aptly title to be sure. Again worked out and recorded in its own DeWolff cave in Utrecht, the band seems to have found a new high. The learning curve DeWolff is on means that the band has explored (in part) new avenues, consolidated what it is good at and still grows melodically. The band is able more and more to write songs, without losing its strength, producing groovy music inspired by bands from Traffic to The Black Crowes, that is or is not an excuse to jam the song inside out, upside down and back.

The fact that the basis of the song is getting better means that the band becomes ever more attractive to a wider audience. Having been present at several shows in the past, I know how good this band can be live. For me it seems that with Thrust DeWolff has found an equilibrium between the two sides. Where 'Grand Southern Electric' songwise was great but arguably the influence of veteran producer Mark Neill too large and 'Roux-Ga-Roux melodically inferior, Thrust is DeWolff as powerhouse.

The band allows the blues to enter the album. 'Once In A Blue Moon' is a great example of that. Not that this is a 12 bar blues, it has nothing to do with that. It is in the feeling the song captures and the great melancholy Hammond organ solo. Picking up on soul along the way as well. A ballad is pulled of totally convincing as well. Some Hendrix licks are incorporated in the softest of songs, that is allowed fly off later on, 'Freeway Flight' indeed.

Where DeWolff totally succeeds in on Thrust is to capture its groove on record for 100%. In the combination with the melodies this leads to a more convincing album. The energy simply jumps out of my speakers into my ears and making it impossible to sit still, not to smile contentedly and sigh oh, yeah, while submerging in the DeWolff universe.

The firm drumming, the strong riffing on guitar and organ are present underneath it all. Over it the guitar spews licks or solos or the organ takes of in some great solos. Pablo van der Poel's singing becomes more convincing with age and his vocal melodies more adept. Together it emulates music that associates most with the south of the U.S. in the 1970s, southern rock. To that DeWolff adds enough of Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and Uriah Heep of the same era, creating a beast that becomes irresistible. Live the band already was unbeatable, on record it is able to vary so much that it slowly is gaining on its influences with every chance of overtaking them. The Black Crowes? Don't make me start laughing, barring a song of three, four. The Faces? Ha!, passed in the fast lane, waving at 'Stay With Me', that barely manages to tag along.

Summing up. If you like some good old classic rock spiced with the most fiery of Hammond organs, Thrust is your album and more. Much more.


You can listen to Thrust here:

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

dinsdag 29 mei 2018

And Friends. Gregory Ackerman

The friends of Gregory Ackerman are well travelled persons, or so it seems. They clearly can be found all around the world and in different time zones. Even historically! The cover art of And Friends may be extremely busy, it does allow for perusal and imagination. Whole stories can be made up just by looking at the individual snippets of old photographs, clippings and postcards. How does this busyness translate into the music of Gregory Ackerman?

Well, does it translate at all?, is my question listening to the opening of the first song 'Ten Little Indians And Then There Were None'. The first bars are totally Neil Young, the acoustic version. When after the first verse the band kicks in, things get more crowded. 'Ten Little Indians ...' is a song that allows for repeating the same pattern without much change. Elementary in chords and their progression. The tension is built up in the way Ackerman sings (double tracked) and the elaborate embellishments of the instruments that make the song interesting.

Promo photo: Henry Burge
Neil Young remains not far away. 'Speak Honestly' holds the harmonica sound of Young's most desolate album 'On The Beach' and I feel very much at home in this song. J.J. Cale has come back to life as well. The laidback style of Cale is captured here exquisitely. The chord change is so 'On The Beach', while remaining so relaxed! In short there is an overall country feel I'm listening to, while the singing holds elements of alternative rock singing. Dark and somewhat vague. I can imagine this sounds very confusing, but listening to 'Speak Honestly' and it will all make perfect sense to you.

Gregory Ackerman has set a mood on And Friends that is unbeatable. Just into the third song I know he has to fail so utterly in the songs that follow for this album to fail. The man - woman harmonies bring me right into an The LVE mood, before the first guitar solo of the album brings me back. There is an edge to this relaxedness I find, that provides another layer to And Friends. Another point scored.

Reading the bio I find that Ackerman is from Los Angeles and recorded the album with a few friends in the studio of his neighbour, producer Pierre de Reeder, that allowed him to play on a guitar owned by ... Neil Young. So there you go.

Promo photo: Henry Burge
And Friends is an album about friendship and the need to establish contact to become true friends. So it must not come as a surprise And Friends sounds timeless. Like an album that could have been made in 1974, like Neil Young's or J.J. Cale's early albums. The songs take their time as well, not in the sense that they all last for 6 minutes or more, no, in the way they feel and are played. There's no rush of any kind. Just listen to 'Careening' and you will know what I mean. Follow the pace and you are relaxed, allowing for the courage to put that smart phone aside. (At the end of 'Careening' you are unsubtly told you have failed 😏.)

In general Gregory Ackerman does succeed and I know my association with The LVE is a totally correct one, even if the music differs a little. Having said that I am sure that Gregory Ackerman could be great friends with Shane Alexander and Patrick Joseph over in L.A. So, if you need a little unhasting, And Friends is your album.


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

maandag 28 mei 2018

Roxy: Tonight's The Night Live. Neil Young

Neil Young is churning out records with a pace that makes it hard for a honest blogger like me to keep up. Being a near life-long fan, gliding on the highs and lows of Young's career, I am at a minimum always interested to listen and take it from there.

Roxy: Tonight's The Night Live is an album in the series of legendary shows Neil Young is releasing since this decade of which some albums were nothing but sensational additions to his huge oeuvre. The record is culled from the total of six sets the band, named the Santa Monica Flyers for the occasion, played on 20, 21 and 22 September 1973, celebrating the opening of the Roxy on Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. The rhythm section of Crazy Horse, guitarist/keyboardist Nils Lofgren (now with Bruce Springsteen) and long time friend and collaborator Ben Keith on pedal steel and slide guitar.

My truly first Neil Young (and Crazy Horse) album was 'Zuma' (1975), with 'American Stars 'N' Bars' (1977) the first one I bought. So 'Tonight's The Night' (1973) is an album I had to backpaddle to somewhere around 1980, when I earned enough to buy records regularly. It never was one of my favourites. Too raw, too unleashed emotions. I never really liked it. So I was not standing in the frontline when this album was released. And was I wrong.

Just starting with the title song. 'Tonight's The Night' gets a bluesy treatment, making it such a strong song. It is elevated straight up to my list of favourite Neil Young songs. Why?, you may ask. What is the difference? That answer is not hard to find. It is in the reticence Neil Young and band allow for here. There are all sorts of holes in the music putting tension into the song, where the original is filled with pain and anguish. It does it so much good.

A surprise is the musical joke that follows, 'Roll Out The Barrel'. Now here in The Netherlands we know this melody as 'Rosamunde'. I suppose a German song by origin. So were are we on this? Wikipedia, always helpful, provides the answer. Both songs are in the basis composed by Jaromir Vejvoda, a Czech polka music composer, who is credited. Problem solved.

The selected set of songs that follows, shows the versatility of Neil Young. A country ballad comes by, a rocking song, a groovy rocking ballad incorporating some great blues elements into the whole, an acoustic dreamy ballad, that would have been great on a new CSN&Y album, never released. In some of the songs Young is already hinting to the sound on his (then) next album, and my all-time favourite, 'On The Beach' (1974). 'Walk On' is even one of the songs performed. There is one common denominator between all these songs: The level of playing seems extremely relaxed and of a consistent high level. Band and leader are totally at home in the songs they play and on the stage together.

The playing of 'Albuquerque' may sound sloppy, the foundation is totally in place, with a highlight for ben Keith's pedal steel. Neil Young seems less concentrated, especially in the harmonies. The strength of the song remains totally in place.

Neil Young is still going strong. Playing and recording with Promise of the Real. This dive into history allowing us to hear parts of his shows in late September 45 years ago, is the kind of musical present I do not mind receiving every once in a while. When presents are this good, I promise to refrain from looking the Crazy Horse in the mouth and just enjoy myself.


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

zondag 27 mei 2018

Sometimes Just The Sky. Mary Chapin Carpenter

Mary Chapin Carpenter debuteerde iets meer dan 30 jaar geleden en heeft inmiddels een ruim dozijn platen op haar naam staan.
De singer-songwriter uit Princeton, New Jersey, stond met deze platen altijd wat in de schaduw van soortgenoten als Emmylou Harris en later ook Lucinda Williams, waardoor het in 2001 verschenen Time* Sex* Love* pas mijn eerste kennismaking met het werk van Mary Chapin Carpenter was.
Sindsdien ben ik intens van de platen van de Amerikaanse singer-songwriter gaan houden. Het zijn platen van een bijna griezelig constant en bijzonder hoog niveau en het lijkt er op dat Mary Chapin Carpenter alleen maar beter wordt naarmate de jaren vorderen.
In 2016 haalde ze met het prachtige, door Dave Cobb geproduceerde, The Things That We Are Made Of volkomen terecht mijn jaarlijstje en ook het deze week verschenen Sometimes Just The Sky is weer een prachtige plaat.
Het is een plaat die hier en daar als tussendoortje zal worden bestempeld, want ter ere van haar 30 jarig jubileum komt Mary Chapin Carpenter op Sometimes Just The Sky vooral met nieuwe versies van oude songs op de proppen.
Nieuwe versies uitbrengen van oude songs is over het algemeen een heel slecht idee en heeft draken van platen opgeleverd, maar de nieuwe plaat van Mary Chapin Carpenter is zoals gezegd prachtig.
De Amerikaanse singer-songwriter heeft natuurlijk het voordeel dat lang niet alle muziekliefhebbers die twee jaar geleden het prachtige The Things That We Are Made Of hebben opgepikt thuis zullen zijn in haar rijke oeuvre, waardoor de songs op Sometimes Just The Sky voor velen aan zullen voelen als nieuwe songs. Ik kom zelf wel wat oude bekenden tegen, maar ik vind de nieuwe versies vrijwel zonder uitzondering mooier dan de originelen.
Dat is deels de verdienste van de gelouterde producer Ethan Johns (bekend van onder andere Ryan Adams, Laura Marling en Ray LaMontagne), die Mary Chapin Carpenter naar de Real World Studios van Peter Gabriel in het Engelse Bath haalde en ook een aantal van zijn favoriete muzikanten uitnodigde.
Het zorgt er voor dat Sometimes Just The Sky in productioneel en muzikaal opzicht prachtig klinkt en is voorzien van een warm en sfeervol geluid. Op het eerste gehoor vallen vooral de subtiele bijdragen van gitaren en strijkers op, maar zeker bij beluistering met de koptelefoon maakt ook de ritmesectie diepe indruk.
De meeste indruk maakt Mary Chapin Carpenter echter zelf. Haar stem is mooier en warmer dan in haar beginjaren en is bovendien voorzien van meer emotie en doorleving, wat de songs op Sometimes Just The Sky naar grote hoogten tilt. Direct bij eerste beluistering was ik diep onder de indruk van de nieuwe plaat van de Amerikaanse singer-songwriter, maar inmiddels is de plaat me al bijna net zo dierbaar als de terecht bejubelde voorganger.

Mary Chapin Carpenter heeft een groot deel van haar carrière wat in de schaduw van anderen gestaan, maar laat ook met Sometimes Just The Sky weer horen dat ze behoort tot de grootsten in het genre. Prachtplaat.

Erwin Zijleman

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

zaterdag 26 mei 2018

///Codename: Dustsucker. Bark Psychosis

In late summer 2017 I wrote about my introduction to Bark Psychosis, about 25 years late, though fully realising that in 1994 I would most likely not have appreciated the album as much then as I do now. E.g. Talk Talk's 'Spirit Of Eden', may have been one of my first cds, but I never got around to truly appreciating the album. It could be time for a reappraisal I realise (read on here:

///Codename: Dustsucker is my second introduction to Bark Psychosis. And another one that speaks to a lot of my senses somehow and challenges my comfort zones in music; multiple times. ///Codename: Dustsucker is the band's second and last full album and was originally released in 2004. Although the band officially still exist, frontman Graham Sutton has not released new material since the EP "400 Winters' in 2005.

This album is so full of aural experiences. It is a shame and a disgrace that it got to be so little known at the time of release. It may well be that in the post Britpop days when dance, R&B and hiphop prevailed over everything, there simply was no longer a market for complex, jazzy, experimental music like this. Listening to an album of this kind is most likely comparable to reading a book nowadays. It takes time, leisure, a relaxed state of mind and a willingness to let all modern impulses be for a while. "Kairos", in other word and I can imagine music from ///Codename: Dustsucker popping up on this radio show. In other words, I do not foresee a large audience, again, in 2018. The re-release is totally deserved and certainly not solely because it allowed me to discover Bark Psychosis in its full glory.

Graham Sutton created small musical worlds on this album. Worlds to discover at leisure. Yes, you will feel estranged, like one does when exploring something new. Not all will be alright and (instantly) to your liking. Strange noises will accost you while exploring a song. The undertone may seem calm and collected, violent undertows are never far away and to be steered away from. Impossible, you will be sucked in head first. In fact when brought into a state of calmness, a violent eruption may frighten you or surprise you. The bell of a U.S. railway crossing may ring out. It is one of the charms of this album, when all is said and done.

Promo photo
The drumming of former Talk Talk drummer Lee Harris is a boon for ///Codename: Dustsucker. (Although there are parts that were lying around from older sessions by ex-drummer Mark Simnett. Please don't ask me to identify them. There's also a "found trumpet" on the album.) For the rest there is a long list of contributors, but Sutton has played and sung most on this album, producing and mixing it as well.

The result is an album that is not of today and not of yesterday either. It has a timeless quality like many other compositions I hear on 'Kairos'. Impossible to pinpoint to a specific era in intent. In time, yes, as many instruments and other noises simply did not exist in earlier times. In intent the mood and spaciousness contained on this album, reveal that its songs are like Gregorian choirs singing in Medieval cathedrals.

Yes, the experimental side of Talk Talk is, once again, all over an album by Bark Psychosis. It is in the way many of the instruments are used and played. This doesn't do anything to discredit ///Codename: Dustsucker. The album holds its own unique features and touches intellectual and emotional streaks. So what more is there to say?


You can listen to and buy ///Codename: Dustsucker here:

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

vrijdag 25 mei 2018

Live At Jazz Middelheim. Chantal Acda & Bill Frisell

Only last year I reviewed my first album by Chantal Acda. Memories of soft, extremely atmospheric music enters my head all adorned with that beautiful voice creating calmness and a totally relaxed mood every time I listened to 'Bounced Back' (read on here:

Come May 2018 and a new album is released, a mini album containing songs from a show Acda gave with jazz guitarist Bill Frisell at a Belgian jazz festival in Antwerpen. As I listened to the album I got the impression the two were made for each other. Everything superfluous, no matter how nice, is stripped away, leaving a voice and one or two guitar(s), playing flourishing notes, supporting the voice. Weaving themselves around the vocal melody. It resulted in a beautiful album where the love for this music is celebrated by two very accomplished musicians.

Promo photo by Geert Roels
Frisell was an integral part of the sound of 'Bounce Back'. On this stage his parts were isolated from the rest. It creates an album that has the same vibe as I Am Oak's recent solo live album. The music gets something almost sacred. And perhaps music is the new "religion" in the 2010s. Something to celebrate and enjoy alone or together, certainly leading to contemplation where Live At Jazz Middelheim or 'Pictures Of The Floating World' are concerned. Attending a show like these two must have been as close to heaven as we'll get in this valley of tears. The music simply touches me as a whole. Once immersed in it, I leave all sense of space and time behind and become one with Chantal Acda and Bill Frisell. There are other universes hidden in music I find with an album like this.

There are hardly any words available to me to capture or describe what is going on here. The audience must have felt so privileged to have been able to attend this show. A show that may have been a one off as well. This word suffices: beauty. It captures all happening here. I have to leave it at that and refer you to your preferred listening device, as you are about to encounter beauty should you chose to do so right now.


You can buy Live At Jazz Middelheim here:

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

donderdag 24 mei 2018

The Two Worlds. Brigid Mae Power

In de nazomer van 2016 trok het titelloze debuut van de Ierse multi-instrumentalist en singer-songwriter Brigid Mae Power met name in het Verenigd Koninkrijk en in de Verenigde Staten de nodige aandacht.
Dat was volkomen terecht, want de plaat benevelde, betoverde en intrigeerde met muziek die begon bij de Laurel Canyon platen van Joni Mitchell en de psychedelica van Jefferson Airplane en eindigde bij de muziek van The Cocteau Twins, This Mortal Coil en zeker ook P.J. Harvey. (Lees die recensie hier:
De mix van 70s folk, 60s psychedelica en 80s 4AD zweverigheid had ook zeker Nederlandse muziekliefhebbers aan kunnen of zelfs moeten spreken, maar de plaat deed hier helaas weinig.
Ook de deze week verschenen tweede plaat van Brigid Mae Power duikt in Nederland vooralsnog niet op in de lijstjes met de belangrijkste releases van de week en dat is ook dit keer doodzonde. Ook op The Two Worlds creëert Brigid Mae Power immers weer een hele bijzondere sfeer en maakt ze indruk met songs die vergeleken met haar debuut nog flink wat emotie toevoegen.
Brigid Mae Power woonde enkele jaren in de Verenigde Staten en had daar een gewelddadige relatie die flinke krassen op haar ziel heeft achtergelaten. Inmiddels is Brigid Mae Power teruggekeerd naar het Ierse Galway, waar ze opgroeide, wat niet alleen de kans gaf om te reflecteren op de vervelende jaren die achter haar liggen, maar ook de nodige herinneringen aan haar jeugd naar boven brachten, wat de plaat een emotionele lading geeft.
The Two Worlds sluit aan op het zo verrassende debuut van de Ierse singer-songwriter, maar legt andere accenten. Invloeden uit de zweverige 80s muziek zijn dit keer minder nadrukkelijk aanwezig, waardoor de nadruk ligt op folk en psychedelica uit de jaren 60 en 70 en met name het werk van Joni Mitchell een belangrijke inspiratiebron is.
Vergeleken met het debuut klinkt The Two Worlds ook organischer. De door Peter Broderick geproduceerde en analoog opgenomen plaat kiest voor een akoestische basis waarin de akoestische gitaar en met name de piano een belangrijke rol spelen en waaraan vervolgens strijkers en subtiele elektronica zijn toegevoegd.
De songs op The Two Worlds zijn zoals gezegd geworteld in psychedelica en folk van een aantal decennia geleden, maar Brigid Mae Power verwerkt ook op knappe wijze invloeden uit de Keltische muziek in haar songs en heeft zich bovendien laten beïnvloeden door de platen van haar producer Peter Broderick.
Ik vond het debuut van de Ierse singer-songwriter al een hele bijzondere en knappe plaat, maar de songs op The Two Worlds zijn nog een stuk beter. The Two Worlds is een plaat die je in slaap sust en weer ruw wakker schudt, die betovert met wonderschone klanken maar ook pijn doet vanwege alle emotie en die de ruimte vult met sprookjesachtige klanken maar ook continu de fantasie prikkelt.
Zeker wanneer je het debuut van Brigid Mae Power niet kent is The Two Worlds een plaat die je even op je in moet laten werken, maar wanneer de plaat je eenmaal te pakken heeft is loslaten voorlopig geen optie. In Nederland krijgt de plaat vooralsnog weinig aandacht, maar dat moet echt gaan veranderen. Wat een prachtplaat.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt The Two Worlds hier beluisteren en kopen:

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

woensdag 23 mei 2018

Golden Sounds. Garlands

Last year we wrote about Gordon Harrow's EP 'Indian Giver' (read on here: A year down the road he presents new work under the name Garlands.

I really liked 'Indian Giver', so I'm thrilled to learn there's new work. In a tweet I happened upon Gordon Harrow referred to a show of Canshaker Pi he supported recently and mentioning that this was no coincidence. Now Canshaker Pi is one of the most exciting young bands in The Netherlands that got treated to two rave reviews on this blog of which one very recently (read on here: Some great shoes to follow.

So how does Golden Sounds fare? The alternative rock jumps out of the title song. The golden sounds of San Francisco? Oh, yes, don't get me started. The U.K. has always produced my most favourite bands, but San Francisco also holds a special place, starting with Jefferson Airplane. Garlands' loud rock has not much to do with the über hippies of old though.

Golden Sounds rocks out from the very first seconds. Again many influences come by in a single song. I've mentioned enough of them in the past. The Posies is the one that sticks out most again. Like that band Garlands manages to rock out with a sound pop melody always in place.

In his singing Gordon Harrow produces a slight sneer, hinting perhaps that we should not take this all too seriously. Don't be fooled, this music is well worked out and tight. The little twists in 'Wake Up' show that the band wasn't satisfied with playing the song home in version one. No, experiments were put in there, reminding me, indeed, of Canshaker Pi.

After a song with an upbeat and different beat, Don't Do Me Wrong', the surprise of the EP follows: the final song, 'Bingo Drag Queen'. Where the previous songs all clock in under 3 minutes, 'Bingo Drag Queen' is drawn out and totally different in atmosphere, slower also. It is easily the price song of Golden Sounds. The dynamics are great, with an alternative sounding verse and a slow rocking, full strummed chorus. "Everything will be o.k.", Harrow sings. I believe him instantly. When songs like the four on Golden Sounds keep flowing from him, we are all bound to be.

That name though, Garlands? A first search, trying to find some more info on the band, brought me to a German female duo from Hamburg, a Swedish band called The Garlands and all sorts of garlands of course. With songs like these the Scottish Garlands will undoubtedly find its place in between everything mentioned here.


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

dinsdag 22 mei 2018

Jellephant and Poncho live. Sugar Factory Amsterdam, Thursday 17 May 2018

Photo Wo.
Following that extremely enjoyable album released by Jellephant, 'Skeletons', last week, I was able to attend the cd presentation show in Amsterdam. Together with a band called Poncho, also presenting a new release.

While listening to the album working towards my review (read on here: I couldn't get my mind around what band the opening song reminded me of. Listening in the train to Amsterdam I knew it at the second note: The Dandy Warhols. Funny how thing can go. Mystery solved.

Arriving, I soon had the idea that I was attending a high school party, 40 years late. "Ah, there come the parents", I thought. Now Jellephant is from Arnhem, so the kids and parents must have come for Poncho. It wasn't hard picking out some of the members, the way they welcomed or were approached by all their friends. It was apparent Jellephant was not playing a home gig.

I simply have to own up that it is not easy to write something positive on Jellephant and the Phantoms. On the show and presentation that is. Not that they cannot play, not that they do not have the songs, not that they were playing badly. There's no beating around the bush on these pages. Jelle, you are the front man. You are Jellephant. So it does not do to put someone else in your place on stage. It does not do to stand in the dark for most of the time. It may feel safe, but it doesn't help the show, the feel and the conviction a band needs to take on nor to establish interaction with an audience. Especially one that is not yours in the first place and needs to be conquered, skin and bones. Neither does a microphone drenched in bathroom vibes, making it nearly impossible to understand what you are saying when you do address us. A second mike would help here.

Musically all was alright. I can still call up some of the licks I heard, in my mind easily. The three guitarists all played different parts on different ends of the guitar neck, creating a wealth of sound together. There was so much detail in the layered music Jellephant created this way. The music is fun, so much more so than what followed.

Photo: Wo.
I saw a crowd go wild on Poncho's music. Music that never touched me, personally. On the other hand I saw musicians communicating with their audience and making them wilder. Yes, they might have been playing to people from their schools, friends from the streets they live in, relatives and soccer mates, each and every one of them was made to feel special. And that is where successful bands start out. Poncho needs to get better and I am sure they know it themselves. Accidentally overhearing the intention to start playing as much as possible soon, I can only add smart move. If Poncho can address and attract other audiences the way they did this audience tonight, the question only is: where will it end?

Musically, I heard disco rhythms mixed with psychedelic sounds, punkrock creating moshpits at the end of the show, attempts at balladry sort of Indian Askin style and what not. It wasn't my kind of thing, yet it was a show. A show the audience really dug and the energy bounced right back and back again.

The shoegazing elements in Jellephant's music do not lend itself for such jollity, yet just a few small elements, now missing, could spark its show as well. There is something to learn here. From the basement to a stage is a giant leap at this point in time. You have the music, so use it to your advantage. A wave, a smile, a nod and "hello, how are you?", in light, may go a long way for starters. "For you, me, everybody, everybody", to quote the über showmeisters The Blues Brothers.


You can listen to and buy Jellephant's albums here:

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

maandag 21 mei 2018

NME to cease its weekly print edition. A conversation

Old news? Yes, but a no less interesting conversation started after disturbing news reached us on 7 March, when a U.K. musical magazine announced going out of print, upsetting the U.K. participants in this discussion. It started them reminiscing on the past, as things tend to go when we, including myself, reach a certain age. Not everything was better though, as you will find out.

Gary, 7-3 

Wo., 7-3
Yes, there's an end to everything. Kids are no longer interested in reading about music (or anything perhaps for most), only in games. Music is abundant and (near) free. Most are not interested in albums, just in songs by whoever, whatever. It seems they listen to music, but totally different from us. That is what the Internet has done.

The magazine I still read, 'Oor', has merged with another one years ago and since publishes only 10 issues a year, from 24, in which 10% of the pages are rehashes of older pieces used again to "celebrate" some reissue or other. And that is the best there is around these days.

Gary, 8-3
The Melody Maker was my personal favourite, but that went under in 2000! Of course the sad impact of closing such historic music papers and magazines is the loss of professional standards of journalism and interviewing…. I must admit I have never really been a fan of a lot of ‘muso’ journalists as they seem to want to cater for the populist view of the time and increase their chances of a job in on daily tabloid… however I do respect a lot of music journalists professionalism even if their views do not reflect mine. There are still some good print music magazines out there, the one I subscribe to is Prog magazine: which has a wide and eclectic choice of music both old and new…

Mark, 9-3
It's the end of an ear (as Robert Wyatt would say). I started buying the NME in 1971 when we went decimal - I would hide them from my dad and stored them in piles in the attic in our old family home in Wales - maybe they are still there, crinkly yellowed relics of  rock culture at its peak. I also savaged them for my clippings collections - some of which have survived as inserts in album sleeves. Melody Maker and Sounds too - and occasionally the more pop-oriented Record Mirror and Disc which I think merged at one point so intense and ruthless was the competition for the pop fan's loose change.   Some issue s are now quite valuable depending who was on the cover and interviewed inside (check eBay). I've just seen a tweet from Billy Bragg saying his life's ambition was to tour America and get on the cover of the NME. 

And then Q magazine came along in the mid-1980 and things started going from inky weekly to glossy monthly: death knell for Sounds and even the once august jobbing musician's bible, the Melody Maker, fell by the wayside. And now NME is no more, not even as a flimsy freebie that it eventually, sadly became with its ads for techy watches, BMWs and trendy trainers. Bring back the mailbox ads for loons and the agit-prop editorials I say! I'll miss its precious place though on my Thursday rush hour ritual, thrust into my hand on the forecourt at Victoria Station for me to scan for any possible morsel of musical interest during the two stop Tube ride to Westminster.  

I should wrap up though by saying - as the UK's Head of International Online Policy -   it's still online, you old fogey!  Hmmmm.....end of an era nonetheless.

Jeff, 9-3
Hi and apologies for not joining this stream of conciousness earlier!

I am afraid that this is not surprising, print media like magazines is dieing before our eyes. Real world Books still thrive, which is good as I am not a fan of ereaders for I think snobby reasons. eg having loads of books around the house is classy!

NME has been hopelessly out of touch for ages, musically. Hip hop etc passed it by and stuck to white guys with guitars. But it did have some relevance once  and when it was free, was not a bad short and sweet read - see Guardian leader today: and another Guardian article that is not so complementary: 

Now I have a confession, I was a Record Mirror reader! It was much more pop and more importantly it had a guy that covered the soul scene, incl reviewing the latest US imports, which was a big thing back in the day. I was also a fan of blues and soul ( But have not bought it in ages.

I am afraid that this is another sign of the times that provides us sad old gents (Wout - not you!) with an opportunity to do our best impressions of statler and waldorf from the muppets!

Gary - lets have another hangout and yes we need to go for a beer as soon as!

Sorry for the negativity!

Gary, 9-3
Not at all Jeff!

I for one thought that all the music papers lost credibility from the mid-70s onwards, maybe because they weren't writing as fairly and subjectively as I would have liked…. Or maybe I was just missing their point? I think that the real issue for me is that I listen to music, in the same sense that most musicians listen to music and not only for the genre style, political stance and fashion statement that goes with it: Which I recognise is what most people are attracted to. Of course this is a sweeping statement, but on the whole I think this is true. I know for example you listen to Jazz like Miles Davis and Thelonious ‘Sphere’ Monk (love his middle name!) which isn’t exactly ‘easy listening’, I think that gives you credentials to say you are not swayed by mere fashion?

Unfortunately, a lot of music journalists profile mark their ‘populist’ leanings because that is what the majority of readers want, and they are looking at the next stage of their career working on a tabloid…. that in my view led to the ‘dumbing down’ of music journalism; reporting on a performers dress sense and choice of girlfriend/boyfriend rather than the ‘music’ the artists make/write/perform. This is why I believe we are now in the age of the celebrity vocalist, music mogul and novelty ’talent competitions' rather than the high visibility of true musicians pre-1980s…. 

Now I have unfurled my ‘Old Fart Nation’ flag and saluted it American Dad style, but even if you or others do not agree with me, ask yourself the question, why are todays talented musicians (I mean non-vocalist) ignored in the mainstream music industry? Are they now irrelevant or unworthy of attention? Is playing a musical instrument or writing a music a worthless exercise? Is playing a musical instrument or writing music to a very high standard deserved to be sneered at or demeaned? Maybe its just another symptom of the prevalent populist, anti-expert society we now live in, maybe I am just getting to be a twisted, bitter old man that refuses to let go of the (precious to me) concept that real music means something other than a vocalist that has a great body shape, dress style, million+ snapchat, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter Numpty, Facebook followers?

Ah!... glad I got that off my chest… feel better for that rant!

Yes, please do send me a hangout invite for when you are available and let's meet-up in London for a beer (well just a sip for me!)?

Have a great weekend!

Wo., 9-3
Yes, I'm quite happy hanging on to my 50s, Jeff 😁.

Let me ask you all a question, just from curiosity. In the "serious" music press, like my Oor Magazine, journalists reviewed UK bands with a lot of disdain in the 90s and 00s. "Here is the next hyped up band, that will probably will be next month tossed out ex-candy of the week". Several of these bands I quite liked actually. Oasis, Supergrass, Silver Sun, The Rifles, even Blur 50% of the time. The Rifles even opened its first album with a song about the importance of the press and charting. What was your take on it, being able to look from the inside? Was it this bad? Several of these bands actually made it and were totally embraced later. Others we, indeed, never heard from again, but that is just the nature of music. Artists come and go and the exceptions remain sort of forever.

BTW, I am listening to one of those hyped bands of 2005 right now. I think I rather like Editors' new album 'Violence'. The right mix of a lot of modern (beats, sequencers) and older things (rock, dark new wave). Not its first albums though that reminded me too much of Joy Division.

Wo., 21-5
So one question remains unanswered. What happened with that beer?


zondag 20 mei 2018

Rooms / Ruins. Flying Horsemen

De Belgische band Flying Horseman maakte de afgelopen jaren al een aantal zeer goed ontvangen of zelfs bejubelde platen, maar desondanks is het deze week verschenen Rooms / Ruins pas mijn eerste kennismaking met de muziek van de band uit Antwerpen.

Het is een kennismaking die ik niet snel zal vergeten, want wat is het eerder deze week verschenen Rooms / Ruins een indrukwekkende en bijzondere plaat.

De Belgische band neemt je op haar nieuwe plaat 65 minuten lang mee naar desolate en voornamelijk aardedonkere oorden.

Flying Horseman maakt muziek die het daglicht maar moeilijk kan verdragen en het is muziek die zich vaak langzaam voortsleept. In de stemmige openingstrack hoor ik flarden Tindersticks, Japan en het vroege Roxy Music en worden beeldende klanken gecombineerd met stemmige vocalen.

In de tweede track kiest Flying Horseman voor het eerst nadrukkelijk het experiment en smeedt het op knappe wijze invloeden uit de Afrikaanse muziek, de minimal music, de Krautrock en de ambient aan elkaar. Het levert muziek op die hier en daar raakt aan de invloedrijke platen van Peter Gabriel uit de jaren 80 of aan de platen van Talking Heads uit de late jaren 70, maar Flying Horseman laat ook een duidelijk eigen geluid horen, dat zich vanuit het niets ook kan laten beïnvloeden door Kraftwerk of King Crimson (Robert Fripp is sowieso een naam die genoemd moet worden).

Het is een eigen geluid dat het experiment zeker niet schuwt en dat razend knap in elkaar steekt, maar Flying Horseman slaagt er ook in om het experiment te combineren met stemmige popsongs die vrij makkelijk overtuigen en die zich steeds genadelozer opdringen.

Het zijn popsongs die heel veel kracht ontlenen aan de bijzondere sfeer die de band uit Antwerpen op Rooms / Ruins creëert. Het is een sfeer die refereert aan de nacht en aan vooral desolate oorden en het is een sfeer die een wat vervreemdende of zelfs beklemmende uitwerking heeft op de luisteraar.

Het maakt van beluistering van Rooms / Ruins een bijzondere en ook bijzonder intense luisterervaring. Zeker bij beluistering met volledige aandacht hoor je hoe verschrikkelijk veel er gebeurt in de bijzondere muziek van de band uit Antwerpen. De gitaarlijnen zijn van een enorme schoonheid, de synths zetten je steeds op het verkeerde spoor, terwijl de vrouwenstemmen op de achtergrond je er steeds weer bij slepen.

Flying Horseman put hierbij nadrukkelijk uit de archieven van de popmuziek, maar smeedt ook op fascinerende wijze tot dusver niet gecombineerde invloeden aan elkaar. Ik heb al een hoop namen genoemd in deze recensie, maar hoe vaker ik naar Rooms / Ruins luister hoe meer ik hoor. Flarden Portishead, American Music Club, Nick Cave, Brian Eno en zo kan ik lang doorgaan. Het knappe is dat Flying Horseman op hetzelfde moment muziek maakt die zijn gelijke niet kent.

Rooms/Ruins schiet van vol, experimenteel en eclectisch naar uiterst sober en stemmig en weer terug en blijft maar imponeren met songs van een wonderbaarlijke schoonheid en intimiteit. Ik heb nog steeds moeite om de muziek van de Belgische band volledig te duiden, maar dat de nieuwe plaat van de band er een van een uitzonderlijk hoog niveau is weet ik inmiddels zeker.

Rooms/Ruins van Flying Horseman zal misschien niet iedereen bevallen, maar iedereen zou op zijn minst even moeten luisteren. Het heeft mij een plaat opgeleverd die me nu al dagen nieuwe dingen laat horen en die steeds meer indruk maakt.

Erwin Zijleman

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

zaterdag 19 mei 2018

Welcome Strangers. Modern Studies

Modern Studies entered these pages only a year ago with its first album 'Swell To Great' (read on here: This album was made around a 19th century harmonium that had found its way to the band members. That allowed for a fairly typical sound as all songs were written around the harmonium. The instrument seems to have been retired or passed on to another musician to take care of it.

Spring 2018 Modern Studies already returns with a new album. It may be less special as in extremely specific, but could also be of more inherent beauty as all the constraints have been severed. Welcome Strangers contains music that is able to go straight for the heart. It touches me immediately.

This music can only come from England. Emotions are kept in check, no matter the turmoil surrounding us all. And yet, they are betraying themselves in all the little extras woven into the fabric of the songs. There are so many little details. 'Mud and Flame' is a song that totally floors me. It has the kind of ending, so attractive, I just do not want it to end. 'Let Idle Hands' immediately takes that exuberance down. What might the neighbours think!? I can almost see Modern Studies' musicians think where did my stiff upper lip go?! The music ranges from Kate Bush to late 60s U.K. folk. Songs with a pop feel that somehow turn into jazz or classical influenced intermezzos.

By then Modern Studies has shown once again how fine the voices of Emily Scott and Rob St. John blend together. Yes, Nancy & Lee and Kylie & Nick, but that is only part of the story. Emily Scott escapes this format and leads us all into unknown charters as soon as she sings without lyrics, becoming the lead solo instrument, while the orchestra, the band was able to work with, adorns everything around it with classical sounds.

Half way into the album I have discovered what makes Welcome Strangers so good. Songs can be so serious, solemn even, studies in equilibrium and conservatism before the band breaks out and explores the outer edges of its musical universe. Modern Studies makes musical sparks fly and paints the grey and black multi-coloured. The contrast works miracles on Welcome Strangers. Everyone listening to how 'Young Sun' develops will recognise what I write here immediately. The orchestra goes off on its own making the song broad and jubilant, like the trumpet in 'Horns And Trumpets'. The singing of Scott and St. John, both in a deeper register and super serious, contrast sharply with how the orchestra spews jubilant notes. In the harmonies Scott can totally let go as well and adorn a song with sheer beauty. It works in nearly every song. Modern Studies seems to have made the most of the opportunities is was presented with where the orchestra was concerned through a 'Creative Scotland grant'.

Promo photo
The album ends with the extremely beautiful 'Phosphene Dream'. Nancy & Lee are really close here in the singing, Emily Scott embraces innocence in her voice, combined with a firm rock drums, cotton candy violins graced with spikes for a firm bite. This song seems to want to hold everything in pop, rock and country and gets away with it in a beautiful way. This song could have gone so wrong is my idea but succeeds, 110%.

All this makes Welcome Strangers a huge musical adventure. So much more so than on 'Swell To Great', an album I liked, but there is so much more to like on Modern Studies' new album. It may well make it to my shortlist of albums of 2018.


You can listen to and buy Welcome Strangers here:

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

vrijdag 18 mei 2018

Strange Prison. Astral Swans

"I had a dream/In which I killed/All of my friends". Whoa, I thought and 'Where were you when we lost the twins" followed straight after. The opening line from David Ramirez' latest album was what I associated with immediately.

Some kind of an opening statement by Astral Swans or Canadian singer/songwriter Matthew Swann, as his parents called him at birth. A lyric that make my hairs stand on edge. What is to follow if someone starts his record like this. "They were unable to forgive (and forget)", so at least they are alive in the dream. Remorse and angst follow after awakening only to change to some more dreaming. The music is just as dark and haunted in 'Blow Away'. With a doo wop wop harmony vocal in the background as a sharp contrast to it all. Oh yes, I am intrigued by Astral Swans in this opening song. Not just by the lyric. It is the way the song is built up, with a subtle guitar lick, very elementary yet 100% effective. The thin organ playing the full chords and the soft drumming and bass playing. 'Blow away' gets the exact right pace for a song about the fear of being found out for thoughts and dreams.

The opening song sets the mood for Strange Prison, an album full of songs that "are character studies in the complexity of being human". I am hardly ever one for lyrics, but I notice how they are one with the music Astral Swans makes and not something that is laid over the music. The way of singing sets the mood and the music reflects the darkness and hesitation. In that pool small little things take place that make little parts of that darkness shine. It does not have to be more than a few bright keyboard notes like in 'What Are You Gonna Do With Yourself'.

By now it's clear for all that Strange Prison is not an album one takes along to a party. It is an album to hide away with, to seclude oneself from the world and totally emerge into it. Preferably with a headphone on and the world shut out for a while. Slowly but surely Astral Swans will draw you into its world and make it a little better along the way.

Fellow Canadian Neil Young has made music as bare as this, as have many other singer-songwriters hiding from having to find a little blue on their hats. Trying to find answers to the big questions in life: Who am I and what am I here for? The inner soul searching for more answers. It is all reflected here on Strange Prison. With co-producers Scott Munro, Dan Mangan and Paul Chirka Matthew Swann has found the right sounds and minimal arrangements to accompany his songs.

Yes, Strange Prison is an album that I have to be in the mood for, but I have found it is not hard for the album to bring me into that mood quickly. It seems like a win-win situation.


You can buy Strange Prison here at Tiny Room Records:

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

donderdag 17 mei 2018

Quiet And Peace. Buffalo Tom

Vorig jaar werd de 25e verjaardag van Let Me Come Over van de Amerikaanse band Buffalo Tom gevierd. (Lees hier ons verslag van HareD:
Let Me Come Over was niet het debuut van de band uit Boston, Massachusetts, maar wel de plaat waarmee de band doorbrak naar een breed publiek.
Het is een plaat die kleur gaf aan de gitaar revival van de vroege jaren 90 en die een jaar later werd gevolgd door het minstens even goede Big Red Letter Day.
Vervolgens zakte het niveau van de platen van Buffalo Tom helaas wat in (al was Sleepy Eyed uit 1995 lang niet zo slecht als de critici beweerden) en uiteindelijk zou de band het eind van de jaren 90 niet halen.
Ruim tien jaar geleden keerde Buffalo Tom terug en het deze week verschenen Quiet And Peace is de derde plaat van de wederopstanding van een van de leukste gitaarbands uit de vroege jaren 90. Ik heb de vorige twee platen van de band niet beluisterd, waardoor Quiet And Peace mijn eerste Buffalo Tom plaat is sinds het tegenvallende Smitten uit 1998.
Quiet And Peace heeft gelukkig alles dat de zwanenzang van de eerste editie van Buffalo Tom mistte. De band maakt hoorbaar met veel plezier muziek en grossiert in gitaarsongs die je een goed gevoel geven.
Tussen Quiet And Peace en het destijds bewierookte Let Me Come Over zit een gat van 26 jaar, maar in muzikaal opzicht liggen de platen niet eens zover uit elkaar. De afgelopen drie decennia zijn de leden van de band de wilde haren misschien wat kwijt geraakt, waardoor de gitaaruitbarstingen wat minder hevig zijn dan op Let Me Come Over, maar het geluid dat ik hoor op Quiet And Peace is wat mij betreft het uit duizenden herkenbare Buffalo Tom geluid.
Het is een geluid dat aan het begin van de jaren 90 werd vergeleken met alles tussen Dinosaur Jr., R.E.M., Pearl Jam, The Replacements, American Music Club, Buffalo Springfield en Hüsker Dü en dat is allemaal nog steeds relevant vergelijkingsmateriaal.
Buffalo Tom sluit ook op haar nieuwe plaat weer aan bij de betere gitaarbands van de vroege jaren 90, maar heeft ook altijd invloeden uit de Amerikaanse rootsmuziek en invloeden uit de psychedelica en de American Underground verwerkt in haar muziek en doet dat dit keer nog wat nadrukkelijker.
Quiet And Peace voelt door alle bekende invloeden en de zo herkenbare sound direct als een warm bad, maar naarmate ik de plaat vaker beluister raak ik ook steeds meer onder de indruk van de serie songs die Buffalo Tom ons dit keer voorschotelt.
Het is misschien net wat minder rauw dan in de beginjaren van de band, maar de songs van Buffalo Tom zijn nog net zo melodieus als in hun beste jaren. Voorman Bill Janovitz blijft bovendien een uitstekende zanger en een hele goede gitarist, terwijl de rest van de band hechter en veelzijdiger klinkt.
Ik was Buffalo Tom de afgelopen 20 jaar wat uit het oog verloren, maar sinds de reissue van Let Me Come Over van vorig jaar, was ik weer bij de les. Quiet And Peace heeft uiteraard nog niet de bijna monumentale status van de doorbraakplaat van Buffalo Tom, maar is bijna net zo sterk.
Heb je zin in een gitaarplaat die de dag helemaal goed maakt en die garant staat voor een stralend weekend? Probeer Quiet And Peace van Buffalo Tom eens! Succes verzekerd.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt Quiet And Peace hier beluisteren en kopen:

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

woensdag 16 mei 2018

Hamish Anderson and The Band of Heathens

In the coming days both Hamish Anderson and The Band of Heathens will tour The Netherlands. Let's take a look at both acts' latest albums for a short review.

Trouble. Hamish Anderson
Hamish Anderson is an Australian roots rocker who knows his way in blues rock, country rock and souther rock. His sound is direct. What you see is what you get. Listening to the title track opening the album is like walking into a room and seeing the welcoming bed there meant only for you. The sound is familiar, the song as such has been played a thousand times before and yet 'Trouble' is everything I want to hear in this kind of music. A rough voice, a rough guitar sound, a warm organ, and a firm rhythm section that does all it is supposed to.

Further on in the album Anderson is not afraid to infuse some pop and even soul into his rock. His guitar playing comes through in all songs. 'Fire' is one of the examples where this mix works extremely well.

Where originality is concerned Hamish Anderson does not score very high. All you hear on Trouble you will have heard before. In execution and songwriting skills you will find he compensates more than abundantly. This album is simply fun and extremely enjoyable at any time of the day. Compare him to Jon Allen, who's new album 'Blue Flame' has not made it (yet?) to these pages and Hamish Anderson wins, two fingers in his nose.

There's one minor complaint. For someone stating to love the blues as much as Hamish Anderson does, Trouble is a bit too neat in some songs. Jim Scott produced him on the safe side of the blues equation. In 'Hold On Me' Anderson shows that he is able to rock out dirty as well. Steve Berlin's baritone sax helps out here as well. The sixties pastiche 'My Love' is in total agreement with Peter & Gordon

Duende. The Band of Heathens
The Band of Heathens? Didn't I see that band play live once? The answer lies in the year before this blog started, 2011. I remember a singer in a striped t-shirt and at least three lead singers alternating among each other. Some blistering soloing as well. Of course, I'd say, in the Q-Bus in Leiden, where else?

Now the band is touring the country again soon, I found the latest cd in my mailbox and decided to take a serious listen. In part I can refer to the previous review above here. Originality is not what someone should be looking for in The Band of Heathens from Austin, Texas. A lot of things U.S., call it Americana, and U.S./Mexican (Los Lobos) come by on Duende. A song like 'Last Minute Man' is pure Los Lobos; on an acoustic guitar.

Live this band is so good. It is able to rock and sooth within the same show. On record the music is somewhat more laidback and sophisticated. The singing and playing is however superb. Just listen to the acoustic guitar solo in 'Keys To The Kingdom' or the soft balladry of 'Cracking The Code', with some 60s flavoured keyboard infusion included. The variation in styles on this album shows what this band is able to muster successfully. The songs are all able to effortlessly fit in with the ones that inspired them to be written. E.g. the riff opening 'Trouble Came Early' is classic Keith, the slide guitar classic Ronny, the piano classic Ian/Nicky/Chuck, depending on the time of recording.

So also one complaint here. The final song, 'Green Grass Of California' is a bit cheesy, soft country. So here you have the only complaint on a whole album. Yes, it would have fit in with The Flying Burrito Brothers. So if you like that band, you are still alright.

Duende is a word meaning "a quality of inspiration and passion". The title of this album could not be more correct. Calling an album Duende and too fall short ought not to be an option. The Band of Heathens simply delivers.


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