donderdag 21 juni 2018

Looking For Horses. Kesia Nagata

Looking For Horses van Kesia Nagata lag inmiddels al een aantal weken op de, in dit geval virtuele, stapel met platen die mogelijk interessant zijn voor een plekje op deze BLOG en leek hier eerlijk gezegd niet meer van af te komen.
Een laatste aansporing van degene die me deze plaat getipt had was echter voldoende om de plaat toch maar eens uit de speakers te laten komen, waarna ik binnen enkele minuten (of zelfs enkele noten) verkocht was.
Kesia Nagata is een Canadese singer-songwriter die zich op haar bandcamp pagina als volgt introduceert: “Kesia Nagata is a British Columbia based singer-songwriter who sings about trees, death, horses, and the unbearable enormousness of existence, among other important things”.
Het is een mooie introductie die nieuwsgierig maakt naar haar muziek en die nieuwsgierigheid wordt versterkt door haar volgende citaat over haar eerste plaat: “Looking For Horses spans a ten year stretch. It’s the highlights, as it were, from a meandering decade of heartaches and delights”.
Het zijn geen loze citaten, want Looking For Horses van Kesia Nagata is een intense en zeer persoonlijke plaat. Het is een plaat die in de hokjes singer-songwriter en folk kan worden geduwd en die kiest voor een betrekkelijk sobere benadering.
Op Looking For Horses moeten we het voornamelijk doen met de akoestische gitaar en de stem van Kesia Nagata (slechts incidenteel wordt een mandoline toegevoegd), waarmee de plaat flink wat risico loopt om in de categorie ‘13 in een dozijn’ terecht te komen. Het is een categorie waarin deze plaat gelukkig geen moment thuis hoort, want zowel met de instrumentatie als met de zang weet Kesia Nagate zich te onderscheiden van de hordes aan mogelijke concurrenten in dit genre en dit doet de Canadese singer-songwriter ook nog eens met haar songs en haar teksten.

De instrumentatie op de plaat is sober, maar zeker niet eenvoudig en Kesia Nagata slaagt er ook nog eens in om haar akoestische gitaar rauw en direct te laten klinken, wat zorgt voor een bijzondere sfeer.

Dat rauwe zit ook in de stem van de singer-songwriter uit British Columbia, die de ruwe emotie van Joni Mitchell weet te combineren met de donkere klanken van Tanita Tikaram. Platen met alleen een stem en akoestische gitaar gaan me vaak snel vervelen, maar de songs van Kesia Nagata zitten vol onderhuidse spanning en hebben bovendien een bijzondere lading.
De Canadese singer-songwriter slaagt er ook nog eens in om variatie aan te brengen in haar songs, waardoor Looking For Horses je pas weer los laat wanneer de laatste noten weg ebben. Kesia Nagata heeft tenslotte ook nog eens wat te vertellen. Haar songs zitten vol persoonlijke verhalen, maar schuwen ook meer filosofische thema’s niet, waardoor haar songs je in een nog wat stevigere wurggreep houden.
Kesia Nagata heeft met Looking For Horses een indrukwekkende plaat afgeleverd. Het is een plaat die waarschijnlijk makkelijk ondersneeuwt met het enorme aanbod van het moment, maar daarvoor is het debuut van deze getalenteerde muzikante echt te bijzonder. Wat een mooie plaat.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt hier naar Looking For Horses luisteren en het album kopen:

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

woensdag 20 juni 2018

Now Residing Abroad. The Furious Seasons

Every once in a while an album surfaces that is like a time machine. I am not referring to all the new psych albums, as the sounds they produce could not have been made in 1967. No, I'm talking about singer-songwriter style albums that could have been made in the 1970s on the U.S.' West Coast but are from 2018.

Now Residing Abroad by The Furious Seasons is such an album. Acoustic guitars, soft singing, a slightly gloomy mood following the lyrics on longing, loss, yearning and things not here but there, out of reach. Absolute beauty caught on tape or digits. The Furious Seasons sounds like it was born 40 years too late, yet in time to replace the slowly lost heroes of the past.

And then I started to read up on the trio. David Steinhart is on the musical beat since 1984 and formed this trio in 2006 with his brother Jeff on bass and Paul Nelson on guitar and harmonies. Now Residing Abroad is the band's 6th release. I can't tell anything about the past, as I haven't heard any of the band's music. Fact is that I'm tremendously and pleasantly surprised by what I'm hearing. Thoughts of Tim Hardin, Jim Croce, John B. Sebastian, Bread, Harry Chapin, the acoustic Neil Young and Marty Balin and many others come to mind who scored hits in the late sixties to mid 70s and played these slow moving singer-songwriter songs with an ever so slightly jazz-tinged flavour to their music.

The Furious Seasons lay down a beautiful mood on Now Residing Abroad. A mood for a time long gone and of innocence lost. In 2018 the whole world is watching in amazement at the speed with which the national and international order is shaking on its very foundations. The Furious Seasons appear to be a beacon of stability in uncertain times. A buoy to anchor a ship on in a too rough sea. "The chaos subsides as the seasons change" Steinhart sings with his soft voice in 'Status Quo'. It seems like he knows what he is singing about.

Under the soft singing that often comes closest to the voice of Bread's David Gates, there are two acoustic guitars at work. David Steinhart and Paul Nelson intertwine their instruments in delicate ways. The upright bass lays the soft foundation under it all. Every once in a while one guitar escapes for a firm solo. All that is relative of course, the music being as brittle as it presents itself. It compliments the singing in the most beautiful of ways.

Did I like this music in the 1970s? The answer is a definitely maybe. Somewhere on the fringes of my musical awareness there was 'Guitar Man' or 'W.O.L.D.', Rod Stewart's 'Maggie May' or 'Reason To Believe'. That was about it for me around 1974. Now I'm confronted with music that sounds just like it and I am nearly swept away. Now Residing Abroad certainly strikes a chord in me and not for the last time I'm sure.


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

dinsdag 19 juni 2018

Arthur Buck. Arthur Buck

What happens when a two artists team up? One that is an appreciated songwriter who never really stepped out of the shades of mid-level artists and one who used to belong to one of the most popular indie-rock bands, wrote huge hits and had a taste of stardom?

It leads to an album with a title that could fool anyone. Who is Arthur Buck? This must be a new artist's first album? In a sense it is. This is the first album of a new duo: Joseph Arthur and Peter Buck.

The album starts and I hear a familiar mandolin and a familiar voice. All the songs on the album are the result of a more or less chance meeting on the Baja Mexican coast, where Buck part time lives and Arthur left behind a guitar. When he came to pick it up, he sort of moved in for a few days and the two started playing new work to each other and one thing led to another: Arthur Buck.

Joseph Arthur was the first artist that I ever saw working with loop pedals to create a song on the spot. On 'Later with Jools Holland' on the BBC, he played two or three songs this way. Nowadays over a decade later it is almost a common thing. Not then. On this album there's a(n ersatz) band at work. The basis however is Arthur's voice and rhythm guitar. Peter Buck is playing anything that has strings and produces all these delicious sounds and solos and notes. He manages to stay away from his former band with ease even, so there is no pointing to R.E.M. the whole time. I am not familiar with all Arthur's records, but what I'm hearing sounds differently also, except for the voice of course. He sings somewhat deeper than I remember though. In short, this album sounds different from what I would expect. Points scored.

Joseph Arthur had the greater role on the record. Except for piano and vibes, Arthur plays all else and produced 'Arthur Buck'. The duo shares the songwriting duties, making it a duo effort. For the rest Peter Buck could be Joseph Arthur's lead guitarist. He has the biggest name of the two of course, drawing more attention than Arthur ever would have got if he had released this under his own name. This the Peter Buck he's teaming up with.

Slowly I'm arriving at the question what this review ought to be all about: is the music on Arthur Buck any good? At this point in time I simply haven't made up my mind totally. The album is certainly decent. There's not a single song dragging the album down, but I also have a hard time identifying a song pushing the album skywards. There's not a song that really makes me prick up my ears. At the same time I do not have the impression that listening more will change this conclusion. This may have to do with the way Joseph Arthur decided to sing on 'Arthur Buck'. Like a second generation grunge singer. The guy from Staind for example, "I'm on the outside". That is a choice, but gives the album a distinct gloomy atmosphere. A mood that works really well in 'Before Your Love Is Gone'.

The positive side is that I am hearing a lot of nice guitar playing on the album as a whole. Peter Buck has certainly been at work in several of the songs. Finding the right notes and moods propping up the songs and the album as a whole.

Concluding I can suffice to write that 'Arthur Buck' is a decent album. No more but certainly no less.


You can listen to and buy 'Arthur Buck' here:

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

maandag 18 juni 2018

Ancient Noise. Patrick Sweany

How many of these tin cans do they keep in store all over the U.S.? Cans filled with these rough sounding country and blues rock guys with strong guitar work, warm organs, a smattering of soul to show their soft side, while displaying loads of spunk in abundance? I was allowed to open one of these cans and out stepped Patrick Sweany (and Parker Millsap who I may write on later). Fun? Oh, yeah.

Earlier this year I wrote about Grayson Capps and James Scott Bullard, my favourite so far this year. Patrick Sweany is tight on his heels, snapping at them with his rough sounding voice. Just listen how Ancient Noise starts. Two Sweany's, a slightly distorted guitar and a slide, before the band kicks in, including someone playing bottles, if I hear correctly. Just listening to the intro my best guess is that I will not go wrong with Ancient Noise. Did I?

In 'Up And Down' Sweany kicks out a Tom Waits stomp while screaming like the devil is hot on his tail, sounding like a mix of Waits and Wilson Pickett. The stop starts elements in the music give the song a lively feel. The stop starting alternated between guitar and horns make it more fun, as there are distinct musical lines to follow. The rhythm section underscores it all. In the meantime my throat starts bleeding just from listening to Sweany's screaming, wailing and howling.

The country ballad taking the mood down, doesn't come a second too late. I was ready for a meltdown and was treated to a winding down instead. 'Country Loving' is the right song at the right place on the album. The soft rocking, hard played 'No Way No How' kicks Ancient Noise in another direction again. The short burst notes and chords on the organ give the song a distinctive feel and groove.

I will not go so far and claim each song is super outstanding. Sweany's songs sound too familiar for that and fall into well-known categories. Where Ancient Noise does stand out, is Patrick Sweany covering different genres, successfully, like in the slow ballad 'Steady'. Around his voice turmoil is found in ever so gentle touches of sound. 'Get Along' is a soul track that could have been sung by the Supremes in its day. Just imagine another arrangement, I was writing and in comes a gospel ladies choir answering Sweany's supplication.

For me Patrick Sweany may be a new name, he is not. Releasing records since 1999, Ancient Noise is his 8th full-length album and 12th release overall. He worked with producer Matt Ross-Spang in Sam Phillips Recording in Memphis. With Ted Pecchio on bass and Ken Coomer (ex-Wilco) on drums, Ross-Spang brought in soul veteran Charles Hodges for all the keyboard parts. This felt so good that Hodges can be heard on most tracks. Apparently his presence drew Sweany out of his comfort zone and into all the diverse tracks we are hearing on Ancient Noise. If so, well done Mr. Hodges.

The diversity is in part what makes this album such a success. Patrick Sweany shows a few sides to his music and gets away with them all with ease. If I compare this to e.g. Dan Auerbach's last solo album and his production for Robert Finley, there's only one winner. With something like a full lap in front of the pack. No, Ancient Noise is not brilliant, but great fun.


You can listen to and buy Ancient Noise here:

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

zondag 17 juni 2018

Twin Fantasy. Car Seat Headrest

Car Seat Headrest leverde in de lente van 2016 met Teens Of Denial de beste gitaarplaat van het betreffende jaar en misschien wel de beste gitaarplaat van de afgelopen tien jaar af.
Voor de release van Teens Of Denial  bracht de band rond, of feitelijk het alter ego van, muzikant en songwriter Will Toledo uit Williamsburg, Virginia al stapels platen uit via de bandcamp pagina van de band.
Deze heb ik na het sensationele Teens Of Denial vrijwel allemaal beluisterd, maar ik vond ze allemaal een stuk minder dan de plaat waarop in 2016 alles samen kwam.
Dat ook de eerdere platen van Car Seat Headrest zeer de moeite waard zijn, is te horen op het deze week verschenen Twin Fantasy. Twin Fantasy is niet de echte opvolger van Teens Of Denial, maar een remake van de gelijknamige plaat die in 2011 via de bandcamp pagina van Car Seat Headrest werd uitgebracht.
Will Toledo was pas 19 toen hij de eerste versie van Twin Fantasy maakte en worstelde flink met zichzelf. Het resulteerde in 2011 in een aantal zeer persoonlijke songs vol persoonlijk leed en vol onzekerheid.
Dat Will Toledo ook in 2011 al briljante rocksongs schreef is te horen op de oorspronkelijke versie van Twin Fantasy, maar is nog veel beter te horen op de nu verschenen remake. De 2018 versie van Twin Fantasy heeft al het geniale dat Teens Of Denial heeft, maar is ook een fragmentarische en lang niet altijd even toegankelijke plaat.
In de toegankelijkste songs op de plaat is Twin Fantasy net zo onweerstaanbaar als Teens Of Denial en maakt Car Seat Headrest muziek waarvan The Strokes alleen maar konden dromen. En ook dit keer klinkt de muziek van de band als een omgevallen platenkast, waar ook dit keer platen van Pavement, Pixies, Talking Heads, Guided By Voices, R.E.M., Radiohead, Television, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Sonic Youth, Franz Ferdinand, Eels, The Strokes en The Cars bovenop liggen.

De remake van de plaat uit 2011 kan ook flink ontsporen. Twin Fantasy klinkt dan een stuk rauwer en stekeliger dan Teens Of Denial en houdt zich bovendien niet aan de conventies van de lekker in het gehoor liggende rocksong door songs lang uit te smeren, in het meest extreme geval tot ruim 16 minuten, of door zang te vervangen door spoken word of in zichzelf gekeerd geprevel.
Twin Fantasy kan het oor pijnigen met uit de bocht vliegende gitaarmuren, maar komt net zo makkelijk met een behoorlijk ingetogen folksong op de proppen. Je hoort in alles dat Will Toledo op Twin Fantasy nog niet zo ver was als hij twee jaar geleden op Teens Of Denial was, maar vergeleken met de oorspronkelijke versie zijn de songs flink opgepoetst en is Twin Fantasy goed genoeg om de concurrentie met de andere gitaarplaten van het moment makkelijk aan te kunnen.
De eerder deze week verschenen nieuwe plaat van Car Seat Headrest strijkt, zeker bij eerste beluistering, wat meer tegen de haren in dan Teens Of Denial, maar na een paar keer horen was ik weer verkocht. Twin Fantasy bevat voor mij inmiddels een aantal songs die ik niet meer wil missen en bevat hiernaast nog flink wat songs die ik tot de laatste noot wil ontrafelen.
Inmiddels is het hierdoor 70 minuten genieten van heerlijk gitaarwerk dat alle kanten op schiet, flarden van briljante songs, echo's uit het verleden, onweerstaanbare refreinen en inkijkjes in het brein van een muzikant die bulkt van het talent maar die zich ook kwetsbaar durft op te stellen.
Will Toledo kan vrijwel alle platen die hij voor Teens Of Denial maakte naar een niveau tillen dat flink boven het maaiveld uitsteekt, maar hopelijk vindt hij ook de tijd om de echte opvolger van Teens Of Denial te maken. Dat is de plaat waar ik uiteindelijk het meest naar uit kijk, maar dat wil niet zeggen dat ik niet heb genoten van Twin Fantasy. Integendeel. De remake van de plaat uit 2011 is vooralsnog met afstand de beste gitaarplaat van 2018 en ik weet bijna zeker dat hij de komende weken alleen maar beter wordt. Wat een talent!

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt Twin Fantasy hier beluisteren en kopen:

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

zaterdag 16 juni 2018

Toss Up. Kevin Krauter

In a way the music on Kevin Krauter's album Toss Up reminds of mid 80s synth bands immediately. The melodies, the beats, all comes from electronic devices to some extend as (bass)guitars can be discerned. The music is somehow upbeat where the singing is downbeat. So again I find myself thinking of that few great songs of China Crises and the later singles of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, when its music became slightly less radical in beats and more melodic.

If I allow myself to come into the mood of Toss Up, which isn't too hard and certainly no punishment, I find myself enjoying the slack pace of the album. Toss Up is far from demanding to its listener. Warm synth sounds can wash over you like skin temperature water, the most soothing water of all. Whoever listens to 'Restless', what's in a title, will know exactly what I mean. The instrumental sounds just keep rolling. Yes, I could also call it a latter James Last, but am inclined to keep it positive.

There are days that I am not inclined to get into the mood Toss Up presents me with. Days I need songs with a spark or bite. It is on that days I make short shrift with the album and lay it aside for that other days. There are enough of those days in the year.

Kevin Krauter is from Indiana in the U.S. He released two mini albums in 2015 ('Magnolia') and 2016 ('Changes'). He also plays bass in a band called Hoops. So Toss Up is his first full length album. Together with co-producer Ben Lumsdaine he created the sound. Most instruments were played by Krauter himself with assistance from Lumsdaine here and there.

There are some influences coming to mind listening to Kevin Krauter beyond the 80s synth bands. The soul years of The Doobie Brothers and Michael McDonald solo and even the disco Bee Gees from just before 'Saturday Night Fever'.

The final element that I appreciate in Toss Up, but also comes as a bit if a surprise, is a mystical side to the music of Kevin Krauter. In part the music has a transcendent quality. It can take me out of the here and now for a short while, floating on a warm synth sound and a soft beat. This dreamy side to the music is what I also find on the album 'Tape Recorder' of label mates Lionlimb. In that sense it makes sense the two acts are on the same label.

Toss Up is everything but a barnstorming album and it is not intended to climb the highest heavens. It is an album aiming to have you have a good time while listening to it, headphones on and leaving this world to its troubles for a while. In that Kevin Krauter totally succeeds.


You can listen to and buy Toss Up here:

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

vrijdag 15 juni 2018

Howart. Howart

It is not everyday a cd is dropped in my letterbox accompanied by art beside the artwork on the cover. Tiny Room Records' latest release comes with art complimenting the cover of the cd. A water colouring of another streetview. How Art indeed.

With any new album by Tiny Room Records it is impossible to predict what will come from my speakers. So there's no difference here with Howart.

Howart is the debut album of artist Anneke Nieuwdorp. Filled with compositions and soundscapes that, with the assistance of  Dave Mollen (drums), Gino Miniutti (bass) en Stefan Breuer (guitars, voice), were completed into a bandlike presentation. The six song mini album, with one word titles to all songs, is more a presence than a song cycle. Experimentation was not something to be eschewed during the making of 'Howart'. A process or project that was years in the making it seems. Now in 2018 it finally all came together.

If one word was allowed only for this review, it would be impressive. I am impressed by all that comes by. The soundscapes, the firm drumming, that just as easily drops away to return further down the song, the moods that are captured and released when the song calls for it.

There are no songs in the traditional sense on Howart. Still there is melody to be found just like a more popular sounding undergrowth around the electronic layers that make up the body of the work. Perhaps even found by accident. Yes, Radiohead was mentioned somewhere and the comparison can be allowed here. Like the mammoth U.K. band Howart manages to incorporate the unincorporatable it seems. 'Market' is the best example on 'Howart'. Layer upon layer is stacked creating an impressive composition.

Anneke Nieuwdorp is not so much a singer. There's a lot electronics to boost and change her voice. Her singing is half of the time a mere instrument, in other songs there are faint traces of lyrics. At the same time I'm reminded of Amber Arcades and 'Twin Peaks'. 'Draw' could be the soundtrack to Laura Palmer's last nightmare or to Agent Cooper's "Red Room" visitations. 'Draw' is downright scary. What ever happened to Ms. Nieuwdorp in the past it must have been serious to come up with a composition like this. It sounds like electronic primal scream therapy to me.

The sound the album starts with is 'Twin Peaks' as well. 'Dreams' has that Twin Peaks' dreamy state of music, where mystery roams North-western Washington, close to the Canadian border. There is more to 'Howart', although the dreamy, otherworldly atmosphere remains always close to this music. This music is meant to touch, to move and, as I wrote, to impress. Like waves 'Adore' rolls over me, sprawling my limbs in each every direction, threatening to pull me under before letting me go again to surface and breath safely. 'Howart' is no small record in that sense.

Again Tiny Room Records released an album that caught me totally unawares, pointed me in a totally different direction and comes out winning. For the love of music indeed.


You can listen to and buy Howart here:

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

donderdag 14 juni 2018

Clean. Soccer Mommy

Soccer Mommy, het alter ego van de uit Nashville afkomstige Sophie Allison, maakte vorig jaar indruk met Collection.
De plaat duurde nog geen half uur en verzamelde een aantal van de songs die, de op dat moment in New York woonachtige, Sophie Allison eerder via bandcamp had uitgebracht.
Het betrof songs die de jonge Amerikaanse singer-songwriter in haar slaapkamer had opgenomen, waardoor het etiket ‘bedroom pop’ op de plaat werd geplakt. (Lees hier wat Erwin vond van 'Collection':
Het was een vlag die de lading uitstekend dekte, want de songs van Soccer Mommy ontleenden een deel van hun kracht aan de intimiteit die Sophie Allison in haar muziek wist vast te leggen, al maakte de muzikante uit Nashville ook indruk met prima songs.
Collection deed me denken aan de muziek van onder andere Jay Som, Japanese Breakfast, Amy O, Girlpool, Palehound, aan de eerste platen van Waxahatchee, uit een iets verder verleden aan de donkere songs van Julie Doiron, maar de muziek van Soccer Mommy had op Collection ook zeker raakvlakken met 90s bands als Throwing Muses en Belly en met de platen van Juliana Hatfield. Het zijn allemaal namen die ook weer opduiken bij beluistering van Clean.
De nieuwe plaat van Soccer Mommy bevat tien songs en duurt net wat langer dan Collection. Het is een plaat die duidelijk in het verlengde ligt van zijn voorganger en dat is best bijzonder. Sophie Allison nam haar songs dit keer immers niet in haar slaapkamer op, maar ging met een band en producer Gabe Wax de studio in.
Gabe Wax verdiende zijn sporen, grotendeels als technicus, op de platen van The War On Drugs, Cass McCombs, Beirut en Wye Oak en laat op Clean horen dat hij ook als producer uitstekend uit de voeten kan. Clean klinkt absoluut voller dan Collection, maar gelukkig heeft Sophie Allison de intimiteit van haar vorige plaat behouden en zou ook Clean best in haar slaapkamer kunnen zijn opgenomen.
Vergeleken met Collection valt Clean niet alleen op door een wat voller en rijker geluid, wat de songs van de Amerikaanse singer-songwriter voorziet van wat meer kleur en glans, en met net wat meer invloeden uit de rock, maar zeker ook door net wat meer uitgekristalliseerde songs.
Het zijn songs waarin Soccer Mommy wederom graaft in haar persoonlijke leven, waarin mislukte relaties een grote rol spelen. Het zorgt voor een licht melancholische ondertoon, maar de intieme popliedjes van Soccer Mommy zijn ook zeker geschikt om je aan te warmen op deze koude dagen.
Clean doet me, nog wat meer dan zijn voorganger, denken aan de platen van Juliana Hatfield, die er net als Soccer Mommy altijd in slaagt om donkere wolken en zonneschijn samen te laten komen in haar songs. Het zijn de songs waarmee Soccer Mommy zich uiteindelijk kan onderscheiden van de meeste van haar soortgenoten, al vind ik ook haar stem bovengemiddeld goed en vooral aangenaam.
Met Clean treedt Soccer Mommy wat mij betreft in de voetsporen van onder andere Phoebe Bridgers en Julien Baker, voor mij de grootste verrassingen van 2017, al is de muziek van Sophie Allison wel wat zonniger. Collection stond vorig jaar nog bol van de belofte, maar met Clean maakt Soccer Mommy de belofte echt meer dan waar.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt Clean hier beluisteren en kopen:

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

woensdag 13 juni 2018

The Horror. Get Well Soon

The Horror is an album that was lying around for weeks and somehow I had never gotten around to playing it. Most likely because there was a comment somewhere on dance or beats involved in the bio. The always friendly and gentle reminder about an album, just before release, let me to put it on any way. I haven't stopped listening since.

For your information, I still do not know what to make of The Horror. The title has little to do with the music, all that is in the lyrics. It is like stepping into a time machine. To the very faint memories I have of the kind of music my mother played on the small record player she had and I managed to break as a three year old. That is a very vivid memory. Not so much how I broke the plastic arm of the device, but certainly the effect: there was no more music in our home, for years on end.

So Get Well Soon dives into 40s and 50s pre-rock and roll pop and into film scores of the era. With singers like Frank Sinatra, but also Doris Day, Frankie Laine, Pat Boone. The narrative does not stop there of course. If Get Well Soon stepped into a time machine it took along all its knowledge of modern music and some of the equipment as well. It came back to 2018 with a mix of a modern interpretation of classical music, mixed with 50s hits and movie scores and all the modern effects since, it needed somewhere in between the levels of its music.

On The Horror the seriousness of the music of that time is captured excellently. The songs that I do know, as I never became a fan of older, i.e. pre-rock and roll, music all sound so solemn. They were not meant for joy it seems. Undoubtedly that is attributable to my (untrained) ears, but to this day I do not hear it compared to The Beatles' first hits.

There is one snag with The Horror. The album deserved a better singer. The singing captures the mood but is too uncertain and hesitating in several sections. And that is a shame. The music is intriguing and full of surprises. Whole orchestras can get involved, in ways that were not imaginable in the 40s and 50s. At the same time The Walker Brothers come to mind, if I leave out the wall of sound behind them, the solo work of Roger Waters and even a band from the here and now The LVE from Antwerp. (And once pointed to the music of Japan as an influence, I can't stop hearing David Sylvian's 'Red Guitar'.)

In some of the songs Get Well Soon reaches an immense level of under-cooled emotions in others it can sound totally detached from everything going on around it. Konstantin Gropper is Get Well Soon. A German producer and indiepop musician. And that leads me to my final reference John DeRosa's album 'Black Halo'. A (dance) producer who set loose another side of himself that led to highly bombastic music immersed with influences from long ago.

Get Well Soon is an aural adventure. Perhaps a bit too long for me to take it all in all at once. That may be, at the same time there is so much to enjoy here. Gropper manages to mix several eras in a highly successful way. Who knows, even my mother and aunts would have enjoyed parts of the album.


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

dinsdag 12 juni 2018

Out Of Skin. Out Of Skin

Time flies when you're having fun. We all know that. Yet, when so much fantastic albums get released as I have been able to write about in the past months, a somewhat older album that I promised to give a serious try, did get to find itself somewhere at the low end of an ever growing pile of new music. Not that I haven't played 'Out Of Skin' fairly regularly, no, it was the writing part that got out of sight.

'Out Of Skin' is an mini album that was released in April of 2017 by Wouter Mol, singer-songwriter. I ran into a band called Out of Skin as support act for The Stream mid April 2018 as part of that band's cd presentation show. (Read all about that here:

On stage were a violinist, harpist and guitar player/singer. A very unusual set up for a band. The music became ever more intriguing. The cd cover in front of the band is one of the most disturbing I have come across, because what was I looking at? In the meantime I have learned that Wouter Mol has decided that his trio deserved another name than his own, and re-named the band after this album.

The songs on that album, 'Out Of Skin', were played, so I recognised most of the songs from the show. They come with an extreme seriousness, combined with a hint of sadness and a longing for something that definitely is not there. A tender longing for other. Whatever that other may be.

It is a mood that is easy to step into. Warm and comfortable. A mood to wallow in. Music that is able to prick and to sooth. The estranging moments are extremely prodding, as in pay attention, will you. Other moments allow to dream to the music and singing.

In the first song Mol used the cheapest trumpet intro possible: his voice. 'Modern Caveman' is an example of the prodding. The violin screeches, the harp is harsh and used in every way it was not invented for, the acoustic guitar is riffed as if Metallica plays unplugged.

The contrast with 'And Now It's Up To Him', is huge. The soft song, if I remember correctly inspired by an ugly, serious illness, is soothing, yet the violin takes it into a totally different direction, as a jet plane crashing, in the softest way possible. The harmonies are beautiful at the same time. This continues into the almost barren 'Leave You For a While'. It is easy, it seems, to capture beauty in so little music. Out of Skin pulls this effect off without any effort or so the song tells us. How much versions of this song exist?, is a question that does not need an answer, as we can hear perfection. Recognise it for what it is and are grateful for it.

'Ran away From Distance', continues the mood that has been set. A song that has the potential to run shivers down my spine. Some prodding is involved in the second half of the song. Out of Skin is not afraid to throw in some unharmonious notes upsetting the apple cart only to set it back on its wheels in the final part of the song. The interplay between guitar, harp and violin is so delicate here, that the other parts are sometimes near frightening. Together they make 'Out Of Skin' unique, give it its unique touch.

The album ends with two live versions of songs. 'Jam Ran Away From Distance' and 'Human'.

Out of Skin does not make music for every moment of the day. It has a level of intensity that demands attention, something not available all of the time. 'Out Of Skin' is an album for those moments that allow for playing a record 100% for the joy of listening to something special. And that 'Out Of Skin' is, totally qualifies even. Music at times so delicate and fragile it has to defend itself like a frill-necked lizard. Sticking it all out, making itself bigger than all else or so it thinks. Out of Skin is extremely well equipped to take care of itself. Check them out as you are in for a treat.


You can listen to and buy 'Out Of Skin' here:

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

maandag 11 juni 2018

The Jammer Festival Zoeterwoude: Sweetwood live, Sunday 3 June 2018

Een oude poster
In the past two years I have written something about the other bands at the festival. This year I would like to share my own experience and tell about the band I play in.

Sweetwood is sort of around for six years this spring. I joined a band that had just started, as lead guitarist, after having been a rhythm guitarist for two decades. A bass player joined very soon after, Maurits. To cut a long story short, we are still playing together. Others have come and gone. Our drummer Cor is there for I'd say four years, our singer, having started as "background babe", Karen for three and our keyboardist Peter for one. After having been nameless for years on end, we had to pick a name to play at the Jammer Festival two years ago. That became Sweetwood, after the town we practice in.

The Jammer is the name of the shed we (all) practice in, a wooden, former, office of Rijkswaterstaat at a location where that organisation stored its winter salt. Nowadays the terrain itself is in use for all sorts of storage, the shed is cut into two practice rooms with nearly everything a band needs available for it to use. It is all led by Peter, a volunteer who doesn't play music himself but facilitates everything.

On Tuesday 29 June he was already building up the beer and hamburger stand in the pouring rain to make sure things were in place for Sunday. All the bands that played and practice here should give a big hand in gratitude of the dedication of Peter to make all this possible.

He was rewarded with beautiful weather, once again, and a big show of fans of the bands and others interested in hearing music by cover bands and bands playing their own songs.

We were on a roll that last Tuesday while practising the seven songs we had selected to play, making up a good cross-section of what we do. More importantly we were able to carry that mood with us on stage. We were ready for it, as they say. Including some songs that had cost quite some time to perfect.

After Peter's announcement we kicked off with a Muddy Waters song. The familiar riff got a response straight away from the blues fans in the audience. Getting started is not so easy as it might look. In between bands is a ten minutes slot in which the previous band has to go, pack all its stuff while the new band plugs in. The backline is 100% provided, the mix is anybodies guess. We ran into some problems there during the show.

'Hoochie Coochie Man' is the ideal opener. Nothing really special goes on, while our singer Karen in her great new outfit can let it rip as soon as she feels like it, getting the mood going. The riff allows for moving along to and for getting into the groove of playing. The blues moves into the soul of 'Take Me To The River' in Eva Cassidy's version. If you like Eva's singing wait till you hear our Karen. This is her song all the way in the highs and lows. It just feels so good playing this song. The only one we had played live before actually. (This was our fourth gig and first in this line up. Number five is in the pipeline.)

'Black Magic Woman' is played for some years, but somehow never felt right, until one of us saw a clip of the Mick Fleetwood Band. After that it all fell into place. The beginning is just fun to do. Unfortunately the mix totally fell apart and the mikes were switched off. It all came back together in the second verse. Yes, this was my first big solo and all the sound disappeared from the monitors on stage. I saw Peter enjoying himself behind his keyboard during his first ever performance. Speaking about being ready for a show. We got back into the groove of the song and picked up the middle part where we change everything effortlessly.

'Long Train Running' was another song that never came together somehow. The singing nor the rhythm, we never really got it right and kicked off the playlist. It was revived for a retry recently and see. We got this song swinging alright, just like it has to be.

Then it was time for our biggest adventure, musically. Karen got out her little plastic bowl, pointed to the clear blue sky and said: "Believe it or not but it is raining" and starting ticking on it with her fingernails, while I started to make windlike noises in the microphone. I could see people watching in anticipation: what is happening here? When the rhythm section kicked in followed directly by the keyboard I could hear people cheering. That was a new experience, people actually welcoming a song. For a second I had the impression someone had put on the record. It sounded so real. Peter played as if he had never done anything else in his life. The song: 'Riders On The Storm'. If someone had told me I would ever play that song I would have said "sure". I would have shrugged and walked away.

One of the great hit bands in The Netherlands in the late 60s and early 70s was Shocking Blue. Of course its most famous song is 'Venus'. We play a lesser known song, but in my opinion a lot better. 'Send Me A Postcard' has so many interesting turns in the song. Challenging breaks that we nearly gave up on. And the band had a female singer, like we have. 'Send Me A Postcard' is like a brick wall. If one band member is not on the beat it all falls apart. And we didn't. I stood there having a great time playing it, hearing it come together. Playing the solo spotless. Hearing and feeling the bass in unison with me during the main riff. Feeling the breaks come together. Great fun.

It all ended with Elvis. It was time to show our rock and roll side. 'Jailhouse Rock' is one of those songs that is fun to play. That was it, except there was a large demand to do some more. Peter was already standing on stage to thank us, but decided that popular demand won out this time. Some more rock and roll with our grand finale 'Johnny Be Goode'.

Sweetwood is not a good band in the technical sense, but we are good enough. And we have this small but huge force standing in front of us. A singer that doesn't hide herself and goes all out when the song gives her half a chance. "She's far too good for you guys", as a good friend said after the show. That may be true, but "We Are Sweetwood".


If you'd like to hear what I am writing about, click here:

zondag 10 juni 2018

HOWRAH live, with Zea and Apneu. Paradiso, Amsterdam Saturday 9 June 2018

With an invitation to be present at the cd presentation show of HOWRAH I stepped into the train early evening to travel to Amsterdam full of anticipation. Would the band be able to recreate the storm called Self-Serving Strategies convincingly on stage without muddling up the sound? Could all that energy captured on record really be played well live? You can read here what my thoughts are on the record: With a little more patience you are about to find out what my thoughts and impressions are about the live show.

The reason some patience is involved, is that it promised to be a long evening of music. The label, Subroutine Records, staged three of its acts, with HOWRAH as the celebrating finale of course.

Is there a better timing to enter a venue at the time the act walks on stage, straps on his guitar and says hi and starts playing? Arnold de Boer is Zea and sings in a strange language. At times I pick out a word or two, sometimes, more not than often, a whole sentence. Frisian is an official language and rightly so when I hear people speak it. Or sing it in this case.

In the first two songs I was more amazed than impressed. Zea plays the strangest chords or endlessly repeated disharmonious notes over which a lyric is declaimed that I can't possibly follow.

Slowly my attitude towards Zea changed. I recognise a singer-songwriter force when I see and hear one; the intensity got more heated by the song. An ever growing tower of strength stood on stage. No one dared to speak or start a conversation around me. A sign that an audience is captured by an artist.

To my surprise half way through Zea switched to another (foreign) language. All of a sudden I could understand everything he was singing. Strengthwise nothing changed. Zea is an impressive live artist.

After the show Marcel Hulst of Maggie Brown, who was in the audience, pointed me to one of Zea's records, saying how extremely good it is. I noticed the title and realised that I had received that album some time ago and was turned off within two songs because of the Frisian language. Listening right now, I'll admit my mistake straight away. Sometimes even my ears are not screwed on right.

Subroutine Records' boys band as Zea introduced them had a very charming drummer for a boys band, I noticed. It was the evening of lady drummers. Apneu cooked up a storm. I had never heard of the band before. Listening to the songs I noticed how good most of them are. And there was one hit called 'Jennifer'. That song ought have been a number 1 hit in any part of this globe.

What I liked about the band is the inventive lead lines on the guitar. A brazen stand, Jonny Greenwood looks and the skills to play, this guitarist can strike a dramatic pose or two as well. The firm fundament under the songs allowed for all sorts of frivolities. By the way, from the looks of it, all four members of Apneu feel comfortable on stage and enjoy playing the songs to the best of their abilities. It all starts there for a band. Apneu has the songs as well it seems. So how come I have never heard of them?

Looking up on the band I noticed two albums and one EP. A lot to catch up on and starting right now.

In my recent review I ended with the sentence: "By the time this storm called Self-Serving Strategies lies down, HOWRAH has conquered all in front of it". Well, live it is exactly the same. The band started with 'Vacuity', so I had that song behind me. From that moment onward there was no looking back. The band was ready for this show, to showcase what is capable of. That was no little. Enormous amounts of echo washed over us, in absolute guitar storms. The snares were shredded in ways the person who long ago invented them could never have imagined them being played. Gijs and Cees are total shredmeisters when they think it necessary. The good thing is that it is never out of the context of a melody or meant to be an overwhelming effect like with a band as A Place To Bury Strangers, where everything moves aside for the effect of shredding. Or when one shreds the other takes care of a tight rhythm or a lead melody or riff. Making a song tighter or looser. Either effect proved a winner. Cees van Appeldoorn's singing live comes across as well as on record. He is able to capture a few moods with his voice in a convincing way, changing between early 80s doom to our  current more frivolous if worrying times. When it all was over and the whole album played, it was clear a band had played. Not just some show, no, a band had played, leaving no one unconvinced and untouched. There was no need for an encore, nothing. We were all spent, yet totally fulfilled.

HOWRAH is ready for some nice steps given half the chance. The album is there, the live set is there. So go for it and book them. It doesn't get much better than this in this alternative rock genre.

After a long evening of music I walked out the Paradiso with an album under my arm. To my surprise it wasn't dark outside yet.  The north-western sky was still alight. Summer can trick a person.


You can listen and buy Zea's music here:

Apneu here:

and HOWRAH here:

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

Make Way For Love. Marlon Williams

De Nieuw-Zeelandse muzikant Marlon Williams maakte precies twee jaar geleden diepe indruk met een plaat die zich nauwelijks in een hokje liet duwen en rijkelijk citeerde uit de geschiedenis van de popmuziek.
Ik noemde in mijn recensie van de tweede plaat van de muzikant uit Christchurch (en hiervoor Lyttelton) flink wat namen, waaronder die van Elvis Presley, The Beach Boys, The Byrds, Townes van Zandt, Jeff Buckley, Nick Drake, Roy Orbison en Nick Cave. (Lees hier: Lees hier de recensie van Wo.:
Het is een zeer imposant rijtje namen, maar het was nog niet genoeg om volledig recht te doen aan de mix van folk en rock ’n roll die Marlon Williams op zijn titelloze plaat presenteerde. De muziek van de Nieuw-Zeelandse muzikant klonk volstrekt tijdloos, maar het geluid van Marlon Williams was ook zeker eigentijds en eigenzinnig.
De precies twee jaar geleden verschenen plaat heeft de lat bijzonder hoog gelegd voor de opvolger, maar Make Way For Love gaat er met speels gemak overheen. En hoe.

Ook op Make Way For Love kiest Marlon Williams voor een donker geluid. Het is een geluid dat wat spookachtig aandoet dankzij een donkere onderlaag, maar deze wordt vervolgens prachtig versierd met gitaarlijnen vol galm en met gloedvolle strijkers en blazers en synths, die gelukkig subtiel worden ingezet.
De belangrijkste inspiratiebronnen van Marlon Williams lijken nog steeds in de jaren 50 te liggen. Veel songs op de plaat schuren dicht tegen die van Elvis Presley en vooral tegen die van Roy Orbison aan. Make Way For Love roept ook zeker associaties op met de platen van Chris Isaak, maar die haalde de mosterd natuurlijk ook in de jaren 50. Ik hou altijd wel van de galmende gitaren die in de jaren 50 gemeengoed waren en ook op de nieuwe plaat van Marlon Williams klinken ze werkelijk fantastisch.

Een donker maar ook open geluid als op Make Way For Love vraagt om een groot zanger en dat is Marlon Williams. De Nieuw-Zeelandse singer-songwriter zingt prachtig ingetogen, maar ook vol gevoel, wat je prachtig hoort wanneer je de volumeknop net wat verder open draait. De nieuwe plaat van Marlon Williams is nog wat sfeervoller en ingetogener dan zijn voorganger, waardoor zijn bijzondere stem alleen maar meer indruk maakt.
Marlon Williams haalt de mosterd misschien voor een belangrijk deel in de jaren 50, maar is er ook in geslaagd om een eigentijds klinkende plaat te maken, die er stiekem toch weer allerlei invloeden bijsleept, waardoor het rijtje namen aan het begin van deze recensie volledig kan worden gehandhaafd, maar ook kan worden aangevuld met de naam van Richard Hawley en soms, en vooral wanneer de piano domineert, met die van Antony (of Anohni), terwijl de plaat ook zo achter een David Lynch film of tv-serie kan worden geplakt.
Marlon Williams stort 11 songs lang zijn leed over ons uit, maar doet dat in songs die overlopen van schoonheid. En als je dan denkt dat het echt niet meer mooier kan, schuift aan het eind van de plaat landgenoot Aldous Harding aan voor een duet dat dwars door de ziel snijdt. Wat een bijzondere en bloedstollend mooie plaat.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt Make Way For Love hier beluisteren en het album kopen:

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

zaterdag 9 juni 2018

Self-Serving Strategies. HOWRAH

Recently you have been treated to my raving words about alternative rockers Beechwood's new album. I have to warn you that things do not get that good, but having said that I find there is a lot to enjoy on the new album of alternative rockers HOWRAH.

Self-Serving Strategies starts unbelievably self-assured. HOWRAH goes in with two legs stretched forward, no mercy for the suffering here. 'This Chemistry' has an intro so loud and so all breaks loose that HOWRAH has made its point and scored three goals before the opponent knew it was on the pitch. Totally in line with the title of the album of course. If a band is not self-serving then who will serve it?

HOWRAH is a band from Amsterdam formed around singer-guitarist Cees van Appeldoorn. All band members have made a name for themselves in other bands, some better known than others. The influences mentioned by the band range from Dinosaur Jr. to Sonic Youth. In the enthousiasm of playing I would certainly add the early U2, while in the singing early 80s heroes like Jim Kerr and The Comsat Angels' Stephen Fellows come to mind. Van Appeldoorn has that same element of impending doom in his voice; when he wants to.

Underneath his voice intricate melodies are played by a layer of guitars. If the 80s have returned it is here in the way of playing and interaction between the two guitars. The drums fill the sound totally. There's never a dull moment here and the bass is never far behind where the filling of the sound's spectrum is concerned. It allows for the guitars to be playful, even when played as rhythm. In fact the guitars can do most anything while always serving the song. The mix is a strong one.

Photo: Alicia Breton Ferrer
So what kind of music am I writing about? Alternative rock, I know. Yet, Self-Serving Strategies has nothing to do with scoring a quick hit by playing a lot on a guitar. The album is full of odd balls. Songs that can hold an estranging chord or note easily without being side tracked. Just like a band as M-Jo or the late Chinup are good at. HOWRAH does not deal in niceties and beauty at first sight. Often somewhere behind a bewildering forest of weeds and maquis beauty is hidden. Like the pearl in a swine's sty.

The more I've listened to Self-Serving Strategies the more I hear that beauty. Except in 'Vacuity' the song that set me on the path of HOWRAH. That remains a dark, brooding and one-dimensional song to me, that I can't find the key to. The rest of the album is filled with songs that are at a minimum extremely interesting right up to very good.

With HOWRAH I have discovered another Dutch band that can easily compete with many bands from where ever and is more interesting than a band like The Comsat Angels ever was. By the time this storm called Self-Serving Strategies lies down, HOWRAH has conquered all in front of it.


You can listen to Self-Serving Strategies and buy the album here:

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

vrijdag 8 juni 2018

Inside The Flesh Hotel. Beechwood

At the beginning of this year I reviewed Beechwood's previous album. Although I liked it, not all songs on the album sounded totally convincing. As if the band was in search of something but had not quite found that something yet.

Come June 2018. If Beechwood has not found what it is looking for now, it can only allude to the coming of an absolute masterpiece. Inside The Flesh Hotel (at first I recognised the title as In The Land Of Flesh, a consistent title, that's true) can be seen as a giant step forward. Almost as if the band was caught by surprise as well.

Listen to how the album starts with 'Flesh Hotel'. Nothing in the guitar notes played gives anything away from what follows. A strong, alternative rock song. Sleazy up to the hilt and drenched in echo on the guitar, a muddied sound that allows a guitar to escape here and there or some loud screams to underscore the anxieties playing out their fantasies in the flesh hotel. So hesitatingly and searching as the song starts, so direct this song is. The in your face turn in the song around 2"06 minutes can flatten any boxing champ. With 'Flesh Hotel' the listener is wide awake and ready for the storm that is about to come or has hidden deep down in the shelter. There's no middle way here.

This is not to say that Inside The Flesh Hotel is an all around original album. Far from. Beechwood is not afraid of showing its inspirations and let's them shine through in its music. From 60s female vocal groups to The Ramones and pop rockers like The Romantics are mixed with melodic streaks that spice and spruce up its songs. Beechwood even lets a poppy piano into its mix, reminding me immediately of The Kinks' use of the instrument in 'Village Green Preservation Society' and The Beatles vocal melodies here and there. Look at 'Amy'. This is an extremely poppy and alternative song at the same time. The oohs and aaahs do a miracle for the song, as does the melodic lead guitar. Something Weezer could have been proud of. All together I'm hearing a hit song, alas in 1967, but wasn't that one of the strongest years in pop hits?

It doesn't stop here. 'Bigot In My Bedroom' is a mix of The Beach Boys' 'Student Demonstration Time' and T.Rex. There certainly are more than two reasons to like this song. The third is Beechwood itself. Singer Gordon Lawrence is a joy to listen to. His apparently uninterested, secretly extremely interested delivery of his vocals are always interesting to listen. They all have a perk up your ears moment and melodically make each song more interesting.

Things go all out on the instrumental 'Nero'. Shouts are the only vocal delivery. The shout of despair and no escape in a city burning. It must be a total joy to play and to dance to in total abandon. The reigns are pulled in for 'I Found You Out', if only for the verses. Another song that shows the prowess of Beechwood in abundance. Again an example that a song is not something that goes straight forward from a to b, but can use a twist if the band can find a credible one.

Neither is, returning to my first point, Inside The Land Of Flesh a loud album. It is in places, certainly, but Beechwood has found it can make a point through subtlety as well. That melody goes for effect. This makes for the third reason I like this album so much.

Expect that to be the gist of this album. Like 'Songs From The Land Of Nod' 'Inside The Flesh Hotel' is an album containing many styles. There's one major difference: the songs are so much better, diverse and worked out. Beechwood seems to have found a part of itself it wasn't really aware of yet. Not playing The Kinks, 'I'm Not Like Everybody Else', but incorporating the best of that band into its own songs. That part spelling U.K. in the mid to late 60s as in The Beatles and The Kinks, where melodies get involved. The combination with the 1977 NYC punk (attitude) is becoming irresistible. So gentlemen Beechwood, should you still be in search of that "something", believe me you're looking in the right direction.

It all ends with a folky, country acoustic 'Our Love Was Worth The Heartbreak,' a mix between, believe it or not, The Rolling Stones' 'Sweet Virginia' and The Cats' 'The End Of The Show'. Somehow that spells a great song. Out of sync and out of style with Inside The Flesh Hotel for 100%, perhaps recorded totally drunk, but when things get to so much fun, who cares? Something to do with a horse and a mouth.


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

donderdag 7 juni 2018

May Your Kindness Remain. Courtney Marie Andrews

Courtney Marie Andrews had al een aantal platen op haar naam staan, toen ze vorig jaar dan eindelijk doorbrak met Honest Life.
De uit Phoenix, Arizona, afkomstige, maar via vele omzwervingen (die haar zelfs in België brachten) in Seattle, Washington, terecht gekomen Amerikaanse singer-songwriter, liet op Honest Life een country geluid horen, dat zo leek weggelopen uit de jaren 70, iets wat overigens ook gold voor de hoes waarin de plaat was verpakt.
Omdat Honest Life al een tijd uit was toen de plaat in Nederland eindelijk werd opgepikt, is er nu al een opvolger verschenen. May Your Kindness Remain werd ‘on the road’ geschreven en is net als Honest Life een plaat die overloopt van melancholie.
Courtney Marie Andrews vertelt in haar songs vooral over de donkere kanten van het leven, waarbij eenzaamheid een centraal thema is, maar ze vertelt in haar nieuwe songs ook mooie verhalen over haar vaderland dat met name op het platteland flink in verval is geraakt.
Ook de nieuwe plaat van de Amerikaanse singer-songwriter is in een hoes gestoken die herinnert aan de jaren 70 en hetzelfde geldt voor de muziek. De singer-songwriter uit Seattle blijft ook dit keer dicht bij de countrymuziek uit dit decennium en komt in muzikaal opzicht ergens tussen Emmylou Harris en Linda Ronstadt uit, waarbij ik dit keer meer invloeden van de laatste dan van de eerste hoor.
Toch is May Your Kindness Remain een andere plaat van Honest Life. Invloeden uit de soul en met name de gospel hebben een belangrijkere rol gekregen dan op de vorige plaat en het geluid op de plaat is, zeker wanneer de gitaren de vrijheid krijgen, net wat steviger dan dat op de vorige plaat van Courtney Marie Andrews.
Het is een geluid dat prachtig is vastgelegd door de gelouterde producer Mark Howard, die met zijn werk voor onder andere Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Lucinda Williams, Emmylou Harris en Neil Young een bijzonder indrukwekkend cv heeft.
Met name de gitaren op May Your Kindness Remain klinken geweldig en voorzien de plaat van een donkere sfeer, maar de hoofdrol wordt ook dit keer opgeëist door de stem van Courtney Marie Andrews. De Amerikaanse singer-songwriter laat de songs ook dit keer uit haar tenen komen, wat niet iedereen zal waarderen, maar ik vind haar uithalen met snik ook dit keer meer dan prachtig. Het doet me nog steeds denken aan de zang van Maria McKee, maar ook de al eerder genoemde groten uit de jaren 70 komen dichtbij.
Honest Life zorgde vorig jaar voor de terechte doorbraak van Courtney Marie Andrews, maar haar nieuwe plaat vind ik nog een stuk mooier en indrukwekkender. Kippenvelplaat als je het mij vraagt.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt hier naar May Your Kindness Remain luisteren en het album kopen:

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

woensdag 6 juni 2018

Kairos, May 2018, by .No on Concertzender

It's that time of the month again. Wo. turns his attention to a radio show called Kairos broadcasted on Concertzender. What has the show in store for him in May 2018? Come and read on and you will learn all....

The few notes of the entry somehow effortlessly blend into a sound like waves crashing on the beach, somehow interspersed with a sound like people crying out together in fear or pain. Perhaps even both. The music is like an album I bought somewhere late 70s by a band called Absolute Elsewhere. Synthmusic inspired by the stories of Erich von Däniken. Very spacy indeed. In fact I'm totally tricked by .No. Richard Bolhuis' House of Cosy Cushions is mixed with 70s synthesizer wizard Klaus Schulze (how come all these guys were from Germany at the time?). Except Absolute Elsewhere of course. How influential Schultze has been, you can hear by listening to the sounds that come by in 'Timewind'. Dozens of bands since have used the fluttering sounds and the synthscapes like this. Right up to modern dance acts that I hear on the radio every once in a while. Do I like this? That is the wrong question, I find. I think I'm more impressed by what I'm hearing. I couldn't stand two seconds of it in 1976 (or circa). Minutes is not a problem in 2018.

The soundscapes transports itself into another shape. In 'Spirit Door' House of Cosy Cushions sets a mood that is slightly more direct. The rhythm and sounds are far more in my face. The effect still sort of the same. The repetitiveness is oddly soothing, despite disturbing elements popping up...

... that also belong to Laurie Anderson. Forever 'Oh, Superman' to me and, nowadays, the widow of a hero of mine, Lou Reed. Here Anderson works with a disturbing sound in the back and middle ground. Up front violins and cello play a saddish melody that is repeated and repeated. Anderson works with The Kronos Quartet, a world renowned chamber quartet known for its collaborations far outside classical music. In the second contribution called 'Nothing Left but Their Names' from the album 'Landfall', a slowed down voice tells a story involving dinosaurs and weasels. In the background their is some music going on, sparse notes and what I call atmosphere as in not music yet certainly musical sound. Listening halfway the 10 minutes I know this is not for me. Like 'Oh, Superman' was not for me. The strings of Kronos Quartet are nothing but a liberation. The sad melody lasts far too short. Why release anything like this on a record, is beyond me. What would the music, totally developed have sounded like?, I wonder. Even with the atmosphere behind it. And it goes on and on and on............

Last year Kim Janssen released a new album and it may have been the first album Snowstar Records released, since I am aware of the label, that I could not warm to. Somehow Janssen plays notes that do not resonate within. I could hear his love for his songs and how well they are played, but they were not for me. One of that songs comes by in this month's Kairos. How do I fair one year later? A somewhat complex drum rhythm sets in, a waft of Kronos blows over it before Janssen starts singing with a dark voice. I notice how his voice blends well with the voice of, I suppose, Laurie Anderson slowed down to a man's. What I notice is how atmospheric this song is, how compressed it's mood. 'Host' is, as a stand alone song, quite alright to listen to.

The light bells starting Queen of the Meadow's 'The Bride' are so light compared to all I have heard so far. The French-U.K. duo from Bordeaux plays folk from the U.K. with a modern twist. The voice reminds me of Gretchen Lohse on her only album, 'Primal Rumble', that I haven't played for too long. The same goes for 'Aligned With Juniper' by Queen of the Meadow.

Soon it is clear what .No's favourite album of the month is: 'Landfall'. The strings of Kronos Quartet come by again. Dark and moody, with a bit ludicrous title 'CNN Predicts a Monster Storm', the classical music somehow is laced with gypsy music. The high violin sounds and the very sparse rhythm also have something eastern, Indian in them. Not my cup of tea, of course, but this is something to enjoy for a few minutes.

.No's other new album is 'Underground Bliss' by House of Cosy Cushions. This is allowed also to return for a third contribution. Again moody, instrumental, more soundscape than song. So serious. Hidden in the composition is something as old as a Medieval churches. Like choirs singing in the cathedral, the mysterious woman not belonging there. It is all electronics is my guess, yet it blends well, the modern and the old, in 'Duinpad'. I hiked on several in the past weekend, but nothing I saw nor felt brings this to mind though.

The music blends with singing in a language I do not recognise. Icelandic? It seems to be the case. Högni','Enn Næđa Orđ', where does .No find these lettering?, is what I'm introduced to. It blended excellently with House of Cosy Cushions. Alone it is somewhat disturbing. That choir, does it belong or is it .No playing with my senses? I have no way of telling right now. The music is solemn, empty like I imagine Iceland to be. Windswept, barren, cold. It is captured totally by Högni in this song.

A sole piano sounds. Something which is familiar on Kairos of the past several months, yet this show an exception. Matteo Myderwyk returns with a song from his album 'To Move' called 'To Dream'. The slow notes move by. Although I hear Myderwyk plays nice, this is not for me. Hardly anything happens and I just do not like sole piano playing, really.

It stops quite abrupt and is more or less followed by silence before an acoustic guitar comes forward. Vera Ogrizovic plays a Vladimir Tosic composition called 'Fushion'. It seems I'm having a Groundhog Day experience: "Hardly anything happens and I just do not like sole piano, sorry, guitar, playing, really". With even a duff note, repeated as it seems to belong. Yet duff it is. The composition does come more alive, yet remains completely uninteresting. That does not change, unfortunately. Oddly enough the end reminds me of 'Riders On The Storm', The Doors' probably most intriguing and best song.

What is the sound I am hearing here? The train passing in the lull between composition did not belong, that much is for sure, just coincidence. Are they sweeping the floor? Rustling sheets? No they are 'Counting Eskimo Words for Snow'. Since Kate Bush we know at least 50. Just ask Stephen Fry. The "fun" of this composition is simply beyond me, once again. It has no start, no beginning, no melody to hold on to. Just strange noises and something with violins that is supposed to resemble a melody. In between strange words are mentioned resembling 'Laululljevaljack' or however this bus stop in Talinn is written.

However, the way Nils Frahm and Anne Müller's 'Reminds to Teeth' is mixed into the show is one of those little mysteries. There's a horribly high sound in the composition, i suppose this is Müller playing a violin. Frahm's piano is playing a motif over and over with only minor variations. To top things of there's children's voices. Some even shouting as if in pain.

Low Hill from Antwerp ends this Kairos. 'Hurt' is dark and moody. Dark synth sounds over darker synth sounds. Electronic drums are mixed into the composition. "Hurt no more" Lauren VanHulle sings, as if he tries to convince himself and the person he implores to stay in his life. All none to convincing. The lyric becomes a mantra, layer upon layer, more impressive with each repetition. It's impossible to imagine a different outcome then that both believed what he is singing in the end.


You can listen to this Kairos here:

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


00:00  Richard Bolhuis. Fever Angels. House of Cosy Cushions.
Album ‘Underground Bliss‘. Outcast Cats.
01:26  Klaus Schulze. Timewind (fragment).
Album ‘Timewind’. Metronome Musik GMBH. 
06:20  Richard Bolhuis. Spirit Door. House of Cosy Cushions.
Album ‘Underground Bliss‘. Outcast Cats.
09:47  Laurie Anderson. Helicopters Hang over Downtown. Laurie Anderson & Kronos Quartet.
Album ‘Landfall‘. Nonesuch Records 7559-79338-9.
11:45  Laurie Anderson. Nothing Left but Their Names. Laurie Anderson & Kronos Quartet.
Album ‘Landfall‘. Nonesuch Records 7559-79338-9.
21:15  Kim Janssen. Host.
Album ‘Cousins’. Snowstar Records.
24:09  Helen Ferguson. The Bride. Queen of the meadow.
Album ‘Aligned with Juniper’. Tiny Room Records.
27:37  Laurie Anderson. CNN Predicts a Monster Storm. Laurie Anderson & Kronos Quartet.
Album ‘Landfall‘. Nonesuch Records 7559-79338-9. Kronos Laurie. 
30:43  Richard Bolhuis. Duinpad. House of Cosy Cushions.
Album ‘Underground Bliss‘. Outcast Cats. 
34:08  Högni. Enn Næđa Orđ.
Album ‘Two Trains’. Erased Tapes Records ERATP103.
38:28  Matteo Myderwyk. To dream.
Album ‘To Move’. Excelsior Recordings.
41:41  Vladimir Tosic. ‘Fusion’ for guitar. Vera Ogrizovic, guitar.
Album ‘Melange’. PGP RTS 431050.
46:56  Anthony Fiumara. Counting Eskimo Words for Snow.
Album ‘November Music 2008’. NM 012.
52:02  Nils Frahm. Reminds to Teeth. Nils Frahm & Anne Müller.
Album ‘7 Fingers’. Erased Tape Records ERATP028CD 
55:58  Laurens Vanhulle. Hurt. Low Hill.
Album ‘Hurt’. Self-released.