woensdag 31 oktober 2018

Anaana. Cari Cari

Every once in a very exclusive while the first notes of an album kindles a flame that, I simply feel in every fibre of my body, will grow into a blaze. That is exactly what happened to me recently when I put on Anaana for the first time. With every note that followed I was on fire some more until at the dying seconds of Anaana I was ablaze totally, no longer extinguishable.

Yes, many, many sounds on Anaana have been heard and played before, but seldom in all the right places like Cari Cari plays them. The listener will recognise The xx here. Certainly, without The xx no Cari Cari. Blood Red Shoes, surf rock and Dick Dale, John Lee Hooker, even The Shadows can be mentioned and many influences more. What counts is what this duo does with these influences and that is to come up with a superior album. An album aglow with great sounds.

In fact my very first thought listening to the opening song 'Summer Sun', was, this is what The Walkabouts could have sounded like had it released its first album 30 years later than the band did. Coincidence has it Chris Eckman releases a new album on the same day as Cari Cari. That review will have to wait though. Youth takes precedence here I'm afraid. The male/female singing is reminiscent of Chris and Carla (Torgerson) and so is the Americana part in the influences of Cari Cari. For the rest similarities stop as Anaana is such a bare album, full of reverbs.

Promo photo: Andreas Jakwerth
Cari Cari is Stephanie Louise Widmer and Alexander Köck. They have released an EP in 2014 ('Amerippindunkler') and a single in 2017 ('Nothing's Older Than Yesterday'). Come November 2018 and finally the debut album is there. The result of touring, travelling and living on different continents. Widmer drums, Köck plays the guitar, both sing. What is the hardest to believe is that this at heart is an Austrian duo. The sound is so, well, western, to give it a name.

Hearing is believing where Cari Cari is concerned. The band is able to create intense moods, like The xx, but is melodically so much better and in styles covered so much more diverse than its London colleagues. Besides the empty moody atmospheres Cari Cari is able to play with many moods and styles, without ever losing control of its album as a whole. 'Dark Was The Night Cold Was The Ground' is an ultimate The Walkabouts kind of song, where 'Mapache' is a surf kind of The Shadows-Dick Dale hybrid and 'Summer Sun' pure vintage The xx. Ad a fantastic ballad that closes Anaana, 'Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night or the John Lee Hooker stomping 'Mechikko', where Köck is going to kill himself, no less, and it becomes clear how eclectic Anaana is. The good, better, best part is that Cari Cari excels in all styles. It comes up with something far superior or at the level of the best The Walkabouts albums with its debut.

Promo photo: Andreas Jakwerth
Having taken it all in, it looks very much the case I am listening to a five star album. Something very rare. Does it compare to my all time favourites? That is so hard to answer. 'The Dark Side Of The Moon' and 'Wish You Were Here' are so different and with me for over 40 years. Fact is that Anaana has made a direct and deep impact on me, like not many records do in this fashion. 'Franz Ferdinand' and 'Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not' are two more recent albums with such an impact. So Anaana is contending in this league for now. The coming years will tell more. For now: WHAT A RECORD!!!!!!


Find your copy here at Cari Cari's website:


or listen to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:


dinsdag 30 oktober 2018

Sofie Winterson live. Sugar Factory, Amsterdam. Friday 26 October 2018

Sophie Winterson opened for Amber Arcades at the Sugar Factory. She proved to be a perfect support act this evening. A stage full of electronic devices, a snare drum, one cymbal, one keyboard, laptops, one guitar and one bass. So it was a kind of surprise Ms. Winterson just opened with a triple humbuckered Fender guitar. On her voice so much delay was added, words were repeated over and over the moment the singing stopped. Where her guitar was concerned there isn't a bathroom in the world big enough to create that much reverb. Still it was an intimate start.

Her two companions stood at the ready on the side of the stage facing each other. All three dressed in the same designed/made suit. Not being familiar with any of the songs, my guess being that they will mostly be from her forthcoming LP 'Sophia Electric' (out on 2 November). Most songs have an icy quality and, yes, are electronically based. Beats, bleeps and blops are created driving each song forward, over which Sofie Winterson sings with her delicate, modest voice.

The melody mostly comes from the singing, supported by the keyboard. The big surprises are when the electronic beats are taken over by the snare, electronic bass drum and the cymbal or when Winterson picked up her bass during a song. The result was a great mix between two worlds that made the show very much come alive.

It is harder to enjoy a show without knowing a single song. Those shows really come down to the music and the performance. As I wasn't distracted for one moment during the half hour Sofie Winterson and band played says enough. There was no show element to speak of but more than enough to see. Where is this sound or even melody coming from? A melody produced by what looks like a drum computer pad, played with a drumstick? Yes, surprisingly it was. Other melodies and beats seemed to be pre canned, at least, I could not find someone playing it. What remained was my feeling that the songs were more than alright, so I will reconsider listening to 'Electric Sophie'. Watch these pages and learn more if and when the record has the same impact as the show.

As a final comment. I think I have seen Sofie Winterson play once before, but hardly have any recollection of the support show. In my mind it was still at the LVC in Leiden, in the months before it closed. Also a girl with an acoustic guitar comes to mind. I haven't placed the memory yet. If correct, some growth is shown here. And that word brings me back to the circle started with my review of Amber Arcades' show.


Listen to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:


maandag 29 oktober 2018

A thing called growth. Amber Arcades Live. Sugar Factory, Amsterdam. Friday 26 October 2018

Photo: Wo.
If one word has to sum up my experience in Sugar Factory last night it has to be growth. A second could be confidence, a third fun. The difference with the show I saw circa one and a half year ago before the release of 'Cannonball' with Moss could not be bigger.

On this stage stood a young woman proud of her work, boldly showing her golden suit, a small icon accompanying her latest, and best record to date 'European Heartbreak'. This album was the centre of the show. Most if not all songs were played (I haven't counted) and stood the test. Those familiar with my review of 'European Heartbreak' (read on here: https://wonomagazine.blogspot.com/2018/10/european-heartbreak-amber-arcades.html) have read my question: How will this body of work stand up live?

Photo: Wo.
The answer was like a piece of cake. With the addition of a keyboard/trumpet player -yes, one can play both at the same time- the extra layers of music on the album, strings and horns, were taken care of. The exquisite guitar playing in the ballads showed the different sides of the lead guitarist's technique and skills. The bass filled in all else with some nice melodies in between the foundation of the band. What stood out live were the beautiful George Harrison inspired guitar melodies supporting the mostly 60s flavoured songs.

The ease on stage Annelotte de Graaf has acquired over the past year shows itself in the fact that she plays a solo song on acoustic guitar, with just a trumpet at the end to accompany her and not playing guitar at all, sitting on the edge of the stage singing a ballad to us. Asking the audience to come real close to listen to a song about feelings and share each other's feelings better. With her just on her guitar. The result, people remained standing up close, intensifying the show even more. Another highlight was the slide guitar duet with beautiful harmonies played between the two. Yes, 'European Heartbreak' stood up to the test and more. It is one of the contenders for best record of 2018. A tough contest it will be though.

Photo: Wo.
With 'It Changes' the set was closed. In my personal opinion this is her best song, released on the EP 'Cannonball' just over a year ago. It has a rocking melody that just will not leave my mind, with a golden chorus I can hear forever. 42 minutes and it was almost over. We received one more ballad, my other favourite of the past 'Fading Lines' and a ballad that exploded into an orgy of feedback and noise.

Only one hour, but all had been said and done. 'European Heartbreak' was the centrepiece of this show and rightly so. An album that deserves being celebrated as a whole. And that my two favourite songs of the past were played as well were the kind of bonus that can make a person so happy. Walking to the tram with a huge smile on face, I was. It was so good to be able to view the development of Amber Arcades' career so up close, awaiting the next step.


Listen to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:


This System Is Set To Self Destruct. Justine and the Unclean

Every once in a while a song comes by that kicks me in the proverbial gut. This specific one is by this U.S. band. The right mix between alternative and punk rock. In other words: a heavy sound, a great beat but full attention to a great melody as well, including a fine guitar solo and harmonies of course.

Rocking like The Sexpistols, The Runaways and Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, while preserving a little extra for The Ramones in brevity and attack and for the younger generation Green Day. Enter Justine and the Unclean. Yes, it rhymes, it has an uncouth sound to the name, while I am perfectly sure at a minimum the ladies brush their teeth regularly.

This System Is Set To Self Destruct is so nice because it takes care of the lows in the hard hitting drums and the punkrock guitars and the highs in the guitar solo and the singing. In the singing the melody is fleshed out in every spot possible. Harmonies seem to come as a second nature to Justine and her dirty partners in crime.

Promo photo
The result is a winner. Yes, I sincerely doubt at this point in time whether a whole album in this style will work for me, but for now I can only raise my fist in the air and shout "LAY IT ON ME". I'll take it from there. For now I just love This System Is Set To Self Destruct, believing every word as well.


Go on take a peak. It's free:


or listen to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:


zondag 28 oktober 2018

Future Me Hates Me. The Beths

Eerder deze week beweerde ik nog dat wat je van ver haalt niet altijd lekkerder is, maar wanneer het gaat om even gruizige als zonnige popliedjes die zich al na één keer horen genadeloos opdringen, heb ik het de laatste tijd niet veel beter gehoord dan op het debuut van de uit Auckland afkomstige The Beths, de band rond zangeres Elizabeth Stokes.
Future Me Hates Me is een plaat vol zonnestralen, maar het is ook een lekker gruizige plaat, die ook de stekeligere songs niet schuwt.
De gitarist van de band strooit driftig met zonnige gitaarlijnen en gooit er af en toe wat vervorming doorheen om je bij de les te houden. Zangeres Elizabeth Stokes heeft een aangename stem die meisjesachtig maar ook rauw klinkt en verrast hier en daar ook nog eens met geweldige koortjes. De ritmesectie geeft het geluid power en een energie boost.
The Beths combineert het stekelige van Throwing Muses met het zwoele van The Bangles, het gevoel voor grootse popliedjes van Belly en de verleiding van Juliana Hatfield. Invloeden uit de jaren 90 spelen een belangrijke rol op de plaat, maar The Beths schuiven ook makkelijk op richting zonnige Westcoast pop, richting het beste van powerpop of komen opeens op de proppen met songs met een punky attitude.
Qua invloeden en geluid heb ik het allemaal vaker gehoord, maar het zijn de geweldige popliedjes waarmee The Beths zich onderscheiden van alles dat er al is. Het zijn onweerstaanbare popliedjes met geweldige melodieën, aanstekelijke refreinen en jeugdige energie en onbevangenheid.
De meeste popliedjes van The Beths zijn redelijk rechttoe rechtaan, maar de leden van de band, die allemaal zijn opgeleid tot jazzmuzikant, kunnen prima uit de voeten op hun instrumenten en kennen bovendien hun klassiekers. De songs van The Beths graven daarom veel dieper dan je bij eerste beluistering zal vermoeden en  worden eigenlijk alleen maar leuker.
Future Me Hates Me blijkt bovendien steeds veelzijdiger. The Beths kunnen uit de voeten met rauwe gitaarsongs zoals Sleater-Kinney die maakt, maar maken net zo makkelijk honingzoete popliedjes die opschuiven richting The Sundays of The Cardigans. Future Me Hates Me heeft bovendien het frisse en eigenzinnige dat veel Schotse bands hebben.
Het debuut van The Beths is al met al een plaat om heel gelukkig van te worden, maar het is ook een plaat die de fantasie prikkelt en die op ieder moment nieuwsgierig maakt naar hetgeen dat komen gaat. Iedere keer als ik de plaat opzet ben ik nog wat verliefder op het debuut van The Beths en bij iedere beluistering duikt er weer een andere omgevallen platenkast op. Het lijkt allemaal zo eenvoudig wat Elizabeth Stokes en haar medemuzikanten doen, maar ondertussen is Future Me Hates Me een razend knappe en volstrekt onweerstaanbare plaat. Heerlijk.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt Future Me Hates Me hier beluisteren en kopen:


or listen to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:


zaterdag 27 oktober 2018

Fool For The Vibes. Eut

What were you thinking, with a band name like this? Fact is that we all have to live with it and enjoy what is on offer. Eut is a name that came by over the circa past year fairly regularly. I just hadn't the time to check it out. Now the debut album is there, I have, so it's time to catch up.

"Sometimes I wish I were dead and gone", are the first words Eut presents itself with in 'Look (Who Has Decided After All)'. Also the song containing the title of the album. Some opening statement alright. There are many days, weeks, months and years the thought never crosses my mind. Simply too much to enjoy. "I'm a fool in your eyes, I'm a fool for the vibes" continues the song. It's hard to follow the song here. Musically a wall of sound is built. A combination of a solid rhythm, electric guitars and keyboards and synthesizers. Together it makes up a fine song out to impress and conquer the listener. Mission accomplished here.

'Sour Times' changes the mood immediately. From A-ha synths with a pure pop feel with alternative singing is a small step in this universe. By now it is clear Eut is a band on a mission. What I'm hearing does not compare bad to Wolf Alice's first album at all. This band aims for an alternative rock audience without being afraid to go for a nice sounding chorus fans can sing along to, loudly.

Press photo
Eut is a band from Amsterdam and is around for its third year in 2018. Started at a local art school, the band stepwise gained more attention since 2017, working towards this first album. An album sounding like the amalgam of its members' favourite music. The praise is kept for the way the band incorporated these faves into a coherent sound. I find the way all these little melodies are incorporated into the whole have an addictive appeal to me. Something I want to hear again and again. Besides the fact I keep discovering other little things in the music again and again.

Eut is able to play with elements from genres it likes. Hence more alternative rock mixes with pop, electronics with Lana del Rey. It all comes out as Eut. In front of this all Megan de Klerk shows many sides to her vocal capacities. From the seductive Lana voice to an alternative rocker or Alanis Morissette it all comes by on 'Eut'. Combined with the musical findings the band made to build up and flash out its songs, it becomes more and more clear while the album progresses Eut is not just any new band. It always is able to sound extremely alternative or indie while colouring between the lines at the same time. This makes for a potent mix, like I only found recently in Wolf Alice's second record and not the first, which was just nice. Eut is past just nice already. The only question remaining is, where will this stop?


Listen to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:


vrijdag 26 oktober 2018

Heartbreak Hi. The LVE

My introduction with The LVE went through one song only, 'Love, When You Don't Want It'. The kind of song that had an immediate impact on me. The kind that never goes away. It touched me deep inside. Nothing The LVE played and sang since came close, but then, hey, hardly any other song did either.

After the full length debut album 'The LVE' things became quiet. The record label the band was on folded. Until this spring. I received a sign of life, the new single 'Go Bad With You'. It was instantly pleasing. Followed by a show in late September in Scheveningen and now, finally, the new EP, Heartbreak Hi. A high school for broken hearts and a broken tea mug as a metaphor for all the break ups we endure in life.

The cover of Heartbreak Hi, beautiful artwork by bass player Rienk Machielsen, is a metaphor for the love we all can feel for something that is broken or has gone away, has lost its ease of use, but still remains dear to our hearts. Whether about things, pets or humans, memories remain with us until that final moment, colouring and tainting our lives in the spot no one else sees. In that sense every man is an island. Just like this broken mug. It also stands for all The LVE is. I refrain from further repeating myself here, it is all over this blog. Go and use the search spot of this blog above if you like to find out more.

Now what can a band do when it has produced one of the most beautiful songs of the 10s? The answer to that answer is provided on this EP. Write a song like 'Sad Song'. Opening song 'Sad Song' is such a beautiful track. Like the artwork 'Sad Song' is the bare essence of The LVE: "I'm like a sad, sad song ... I like, I'm like the moody shit I write". The band can not present itself any clearer. The mood is subdued, of course slightly sad, melancholy on the brink of the past and future called the present. Just listen how well this song is arranged, how the singing between Gerrit van Dyck en Sara Raes complement each other. The whole song is an example of incredibly good taste, while baring teeth Mackie Messer would have been proud of. If anything Sad Song is the example of the growth The LVE has gone through since 'The LVE' album. From the muted guitar strings, the softly, rhythmic plopping away bass to the reverb on the lead guitar. It all sounds fairly elementary, yet the combination is a complete winner.

'Letters' shows what a great chorus The LVE is able to write and sing together. Again all the details in the song jump out to me. The guitar sound, the keyboard and electronic sounds, the supportive rhythm section all are there to support the song. In the mix all are given their right place and moment to shine. Spaciously so with room for all in the band. 'Letters' is the most poppy song of the album, yet has its little edges.

The title song again opens with a modest moment of beauty. Just a small opening solo. The rhythm comes from a box. Synths provide a bottom in the sound all else can float on. The mood just spells The LVE.

'Go Bad With You' has been written on extensively this spring. Let me add that all these months later the song totally holds up and adorns this album like the beautiful musical flower the song is.

Somehow this album is more electronic. I know this not to be true, but it has that feel. It has an 80s vibe, while having so much melody in each song, the past stars of 80s electronic music are still dreaming of attaining, without ever having come close. An explanation may be that this EP album sounds better, clearer. Or simply has more details. Take the synthesizer solo in 'Slo-Mo' (and the way the whole song develops itself) it is sophisticated and comes alive in an icy kind of way. As if all decorum is held up, while inside things are boiling over. Or the guitar solo preceding the synth, it is the only guitar solo I know that disappears while playing, making room for the other instrument. Exactly what I see the band do on stage. Happy to provide the place for each member to shine in turns. 'Slo-Mo' holds another hint at the nostalgia that permeates Heartbreak Hi.

"I've got dreams and memories forever with me", sing Gerrit and Sara in 'Dream & Memories', the closing song. Again that mix of melancholy and modern electronics. Soft, gentle and caring.

The LVE is back with an album to truly cherish. An album not of these hectic times, yet all everyone needs to unwind. So people, if you check out only one album this year by a band you have never heard of, this is the one.

And those wondering who is quoted on the back of the EP, yes, it's


You can order Heartbreak Hi here:


or listen to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:


donderdag 25 oktober 2018

Heart Head West. Lola Kirke

Lola Kirke (de dochter van Free en Bad Company drummer Simon Kirke) groeide op in Manhattan, maar de muziek die ze maakt op haar debuut is zeker niet de muziek van de grote stad.

Het is muziek uit het zuiden van de Verenigde Staten, die in veel tracks het platteland verkiest boven de stad. Het is de muziek die Lola Kirke als tiener hoorde op de platen van onder andere Gram Parsons.

Heart Head West is de zoveelste plaat van een jonge vrouwelijke singer-songwriter in het rootssegment, maar op een of andere manier heeft het debuut van Lola Kirke iets bijzonders.
De songs van de jonge Amerikaanse singer-songwriter kleuren aan de ene kant netjes binnen de lijntjes van de Americana, maar Heart Head West heeft ook iets zwoels en dromerigs. Het zorgt er voor dat het debuut van Lola Kirke net wat beter blijft hangen dan de platen van haar vele soortgenoten.
Dat is maar goed ook, want het debuut van de singer-songwriter uit New York is ook een plaat die nog heel lang beter en interessanter wordt. Heart Head West, overigens opgenomen in Los Angeles en voor de afwisseling eens niet in Nashville, is voorzien van een mooie ruimtelijke instrumentatie. Het is een instrumentatie waarin met name de gitaarlijnen breed mogen uitwaaien, wat zorgt voor een bijzondere sfeer.
Het is een sfeer waarop Lola Kirke haar stempel drukt met haar mooie en bijzondere stem. Het is een stem die niet direct lijkt op die van de meeste zangeressen in het rootssegment. De warme stem van de Amerikaanse singer-songwriter heeft af en toe wat van die van Aimee Mann, maar klinkt over het algemeen net wat lomer en dromeriger. Het is een stem die het debuut van Lola Kirke gewild of ongewild voorziet van een vleugje pop, waardoor Heart Head West zeker niet alleen geschikt is voor liefhebbers van Amerikaanse rootsmuziek.
Voor de liefhebbers van Amerikaanse rootsmuziek valt er overigens genoeg te genieten op de plaat, waarbij opvalt dat de jonge singer-songwriter uit New York binnen de Americana een breed terrein bestrijkt en soms flink wat Southern twang toevoegt aan haar muziek.

Alleen al door het vleugje Aimee Mann dat te horen is op de eerste plaat van Lola Kirke heb ik Heart Head West snel omarmd, maar sindsdien is de plaat me snel dierbaarder geworden. De songs van Lola Kirke liggen bijzonder lekker in het gehoor, maar hebben door de wisselwerking tussen het ruimtelijke geluid, de fraaie gitaarlijnen en de heerlijke vocalen ook altijd iets onderscheidends.
Het is lastig om hier precies de vinger op te leggen, maar Heart Head West prikkelt de fantasie wat mij betreft vaker en steviger dan de meeste andere platen in dit genre. Lola Kirke slaagt er niet alleen in om pop en rootsmuziek fraai samen te laten smelten, maar doet dit bovendien net anders dan de meeste van haar soortgenoten. Heart Head West klinkt als een rootsy Aimee Mann en dat was nu precies waar ik al een tijdje naar op zoek was.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt het album hier kopen:


or listen to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:


woensdag 24 oktober 2018

On Two-Tone, Ian Dury and Ry Cooder. A conversation

Wo., 16-10
Last Sunday I visited my old record store in Leiden. Especially to look at the second hand section. The prices are so much sweeter than in my new town. Literally two to three times less for records that are usually in better condition as well.

So, I came home with a copy of She Loves You, 55 years old without a single scratch on either side. For only €3. Another The Beatles single scratched off my list. It is the EPs that are extremely costly. They easily do €40-50, if I ever run into them. A bit steep.

The Imagine box is in stores I noticed. The White Album on 9 November. The price they dare to ask is phenomenal. I heard something like €280! That will take a while before I'll go that way. In the end for outtakes of outtakes. The Analogues experience in February this year will have to do for now.

What I wanted to write about really is the copy I bought of I just can't stop it by The Beat. I had never contemplated buying the album before. I knew and somehow liked the singles 'Mirror in the bathroom', 'Tears of a clown' and two others. It stood there for €3 and I thought, well, why not. Reconsidered and decided to bring it home.

The ska/two tone thing was funny around 1980. Yes, I have a copy of Madness' first two albums, a few singles of The Specials and The Selecter, but that is about it. I'll throw in The Police here as well, as they played a fair mix of punk and ska/reggae when starting out and UB40. It never really was my thing, although all bands produced some great singles, even fair albums, with Madness being my favourite, followed by The Police. The Beat came as a sort of fifth wheel on the wagon at the time. When all had been said and done, it seemed to me then. I shelved them in the same league as Fine Young Cannibals and thought them of the same "age".

This album is from 1980 I discovered. So a few years older than FYC. It is 2018 and I found to have discovered the best ska/two tone record made, ever, 39 years late. This album is so alive, so full of great songs and with a great sound as well. I haven't stopped playing it in the past two days. The singles aren't even the best songs on the album.

Would I have liked it then? Obviously not (enough). Time does change ears and perceptions I find.

So, how are your black and white blocked two tone hats keeping up in 2018?

Gary, 16-10

Never really been into two-tone (my wife is a big fan though), punk although I enjoy traditional 70s reggae occasionally. I do like The Police and The Stranglers…. I used to know Jean-Jacques Burnel in the 70’s when he worked as a temp for the Department of the Environment… he was then in The Guilford Stranglers (the original name of The Stranglers)… He was a bit ‘full of himself’ but pleasant enough! If you are not familiar with the Stranglers listen to the No More Heroes album… one of my favourites! https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLuBYqvVEcYn8N3XQVf-m1K7QdvmF_kHxr and Rattus Norvegicus  https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLRRe_urOjL__6_qS79-4qlCgr6tTYcem4 . You may have heard one of my favourite tracks 'Golden Brown’ from the album 'La Folie’. The keyboard player Dave Greenfield was a big Yes fan! 

Wo., 17-10
Nice story knowing JJ Burnel personally and through work as well. I had skipped punk more or less, being fully into my Pink Floyd, David Bowie, The Rolling Stones period, it just didn't match well. The The Sexpistols' album and Iggy Pop's 'Lust For Life' aside, I had nothing at the time. With The Police I did move into the ska/reggae/late punk movement. I forgot to mention Joe Jackson yesterday, who I still sort of follow again since the 00s. A new album is announced for early Spring next year. His last one was so beautiful.

Another hero was Ian Dury of course. He produced a few fantastic singles that I love playing right up to this day.

So I have I think three The Stranglers albums, but all from the 80s when the band started scoring hits over here. 'Golden Brown', 'No Mercy', Skin Deep'. Songs I still love. 'No More Heroes' was the punk hit single over here. Yes, perhaps it is time to get myself acquainted with the two albums you mentioned. Just never got around to it. And I like punk a lot more since Green Day and The Offspring broke big in the mid 90s. So why not The Stranglers?

Through the blog and the living room shows we host regularly I am getting to know more musicians personally. Most from more or less obscure bands. It is nice but to some extend astonishing to see the dedication these musicians have for what they do. The believe they show in their own work and how hard they have to work for it.

In this direction there is a novelty for the blog. I am quoted on the cd sleeve of The LVE's new album and mentioned in the thank you section. Now that is fun. The release is next week Friday.

Mark, 18-10

In the deserts of Sudan, and the gardens of Japan.........wonderful! Timeless perfect single; amazing musicianship - mainly down to Chas Jankel but don't hear much about him these days.

The Beat: John Peel played them a lot which is why I've got the Go-Feet 1981-2 lps and 12 inch singles - Stand Down Margaret (T!) is a classic. Somewhat in the shadow of The Specials and Madness but they were incredibly tight. My record shelves are also strong on the original Specials: Ghost Town is a masterpiece "Government leaving the youth on the shelf..."   -some things never change. But Nelson Mandela was freed eventually. 

I came across another, more recent, masterpiece out of the blue watching an inflight movie recently: She's Got You High by a band I'd never heard of called Mumm-Ra from Bexhill-on-Sea (!). They put out an album in 2007, disappeared for a while but re-surfaced in 2013 apparently. Sheer perfection - just like The La's There She Goes. It's a great film too: (500) Days of Summer  - an American "rom-com" as they say that I could connect with which is a rarity: the soundtrack, also including The Smiths, The Doves and Simon & Garfunkel, is a bonus!

Going to see Ry Cooder tomorrow: his latest album The Prodigal Son has some tremendous guitar work and reminds me of the eclectic folk/blues/jazz albums he put out in the 1970s like Paradise & Lunch, if you are familiar with them.  My treasured Into The Purple Valley gatefold dates from my last year at university and the last time I saw him in concert was The Slide Area tour which was 36 years ago (gulp!) when I was still enduring my first civil service job liquidating companies in the Insolvency Service (such sweet memories....). Ry Cooder also introduced me to the beautiful sounds of Hawaiian slack-key (records are very hard to find in Europe - and expensive on eBay). I'm meeting up with David Souter (IGF, UNESCO and folk music aficionado) at the concert by the way. We went to see Steve Earle together.

See you at the Paris IGF, Wout? It will be my last IGF actually. We could check out again that record shop you found off the Blvd Garibaldi. I might be low on funds though after shelling out for the must-have Dylan More Blood on the Tracks 6 cd boxset which is released in a couple of weeks' time. And I've just got the Imagine box actually - still working my way through that (except the two blu-ray discs that I don't have the technology to play: they should have allowed the option not to have those) - and as you say there's The White Album one coming too which will be a treasure trove. 50th anniversary box sets - doncha just love them! No time to play them and I'm running out of shelf-space (again). 

Wo., 19-10

Yes, I love the lyrics of 'Hit me with your rhythm stick'. They sounded so exotic to my 19 or 20 year old ears. I pictured all these places he sings about in my mind and envisioned bent, little Ian Dury there as well. It's years that I thought about Chas Jankel. When he split with Dury, the latter certainly became less interesting.

I have a Chas Jankel solo album even, with AI no corrida on it. A great song at the time as well. It's unplayed since the early 80s for sure. So what condition is it in? Some of my older records have somehow leaked from within themselves it seems, turning them unplayable. No scratches but all blotches of whatever chemical reaction the substance is. Most are fine though, even after decades. So what the cause could be I don't know.

At the time I liked Madness best. The nutty sound quite appealed to me and still does. Although I do not need to see the band play in 2018 for too many euros. Ghosttown by The Specials was a great single. It captured the title extremely well. At the same time the New Romantics started out, dwarfing the far better song, I remember. New Romantics? Whoever thinks about them now?

My introduction to Ry Cooder was with 'Chicken Skin Music' in 1976. My first record 'The Slide Area', but the first album I truly liked was 'Paradise And Lunch' with the formidable 'Jesus on the main line' on it. I have most of his oldest albums now, bought second hand in the early 90s I guess. His output is so eclectic that I have given up in the past few decades. And not being the greatest fan of his voice, does not make me play him a lot these days.

My upcoming shows are all in smaller venues. Blaudzun, Johan, Broeder Dieleman (although he sings in an incomprehensible dialect for me also, check 'Komma' out. A formidable album!), Sophie Hunger, TMGS and Amber Arcades are all on the line. A lot of them on the guestlist. Having a blog comes with some privileges. Before that first a show with Sweetwood this evening. Our fourth gig this year. More than all the previous years together. It is so good to see how much tighter we become because of the gigging. It provides focus and we all work harder at becoming better.

Your last IGF, Mark? Tell me all about it there. Yes, I am and invite you to join my workshop of course.

Mark, 20-10

It was an exhilarating concert - one of the most important for me of the last....10 years. One night only in a small church-like venue (Cadogan Hall) - we were perched in a gallery with wooden pews so  it was an intimate setting with wonderfully clear and balanced sound. During the slower bottleneck guitar work-outs you could hear a pin drop. The rousing gospel and soul items were sheer joy with a trio of black singers in shimmering soulful harmony setting off his workman-like vocals - such as on the closing I Can't Win from Bop Till You Drop (I think that was his biggest seller - and I believe the first digital album recording - unbelievably from 40 years ago now). He dug only a little into his back catalogue - but including, yes: Jesus on the Mainline - …"...tell Him what you want:  the line ain't never busy!" - because his new album The Prodigal Son - definitely a religious feel to the night!)  is so strong. He extended his classic rendition of Woody Guthrie's Vigilante Man (from Into the Purple Valley) with some despairing Trump witticisms. Alas no slack-key but he didn't have the band for that (Yellow Roses on Chicken Skin Music, a song recorded in Honolulu, sends shivers down my spine every time I play it).

Now in his early seventies, Ry Cooder looked strong and was in fine voice. The concert was one of those rare occasions when you sense you are in the presence of a great musical spirit and authority - and an absolute master of his art: Eric Clapton was spotted in the audience paying homage. I hope we won't have to wait so long to see him perform again in London.

Wo. 22-10

That sounds like one magical show. My experience is that the smaller the venue the more in awe people are of what is on offer. The anonymity disappears with silence as a result. When the artist is in great form the result is a dedication on both sides getting stronger and stronger. Those are the moments to cherish. Impossible to achieve in a hall or stadium and usually in a medium size venue. Too many people seem to tag along who are not really there for the music, but to come with friends or just socialise. Sometimes the talking is so bad, that the whole experience of the show is destroyed. Why pay all that money instead of going to the pub and shout over the music there and the other noise?

Glad you've enjoyed this, Mark!

a P.S. by Mark, 22-10:

See below for the latest from the Neil Young archives out in December..... (Pointing to an email by "Neil Young" announcing another archive live album for December 14 called 'Songs For Judy', Wo.)

McCartney is also releasing two archive boxes in December: Wings Wild Life (a much under-rated album) and Red Rose Speedway which is the patchy, largely overlooked release prior to Band on The Run - stand-out track is My Love with a beautiful guitar solo from Henry McCullough who passed away in 2016.

I can also recommend a freebie - well almost, you do have to buy a magazine to get it:  this month's Uncut mag has a Dylan "Best of Bootleg Series" free cd - includes one "Blood-y" out-take from the latest 6-cd box, the touching You're a Big Girl Now and concludes with the majestic ode to the blues (and much more besides) Blind Willie McTell (which Dylan inexplicably cut from the final choice of songs recorded for Infidels) - and another favourite of mine Born in Time (a far superior version than the one on Under the Red Sky). Like no other love song of regret I know this conveys how for the rest of your life - in the foggy web of destiny - you can be haunted by a fateful decision (or reckless, selfish, unforgiveable indecision in my case....). Sounds depressing but it's also a great melody paired with peerless lyrics that read as poetry, recorded against a shimmering musical backdrop:

In the lonely night
In the stardust of a pale blue light
I think of you in black and white
When we were made of dreams.

Best regards (and go on, put "Reasons to be Cheerful Part 3" on the record player!)

dinsdag 23 oktober 2018

Ten Years Today. Ten Years Today

Life is full of surprises and some of the more pleasanter kind I was presented with was after The LVE's show in Scheveningen a few weeks back. The label owner of The LVE's forthcoming release, Gentlemen Recordings, said to me, I have another release, perhaps you're interested in it? So I walked with a youngster to the band's van and received an album.

Once at home I put on the LP and was astonished by another great album by a young Dutch band. In fact it is so good that I can hardly believe my ears.

Ten Years Today? Yeah, sure, I thought before that moment. Ten Years After has been put to pasture long ago. A band I was never really interested in, although it's version of 'I'm Going Home', "by helicopter" as Alvin Lee added, at Woodstock that found its way to the great triple album of the movie, was my, at the time my unbeknown, introduction to several rock and roll hits. Musically Ten Years Today has nothing to do with the U.K. guitar monster trio. Although there are 60s (Nederbiet) influences in the music of the band, there are equal parts Britpop and hardrock. Together Ten Years Today conjures up a potent mix of rock and roll.

One of the surprising moments on TYT is 'Conflicted'. The song starts out as a Golden Earring ballad like 'Another 45 Miles' and mixes this with a Smashing Pumpkins ballad like 'Today'. A mix so incomprehensible at first hearing, until I notice how good it works and how the song progresses into an ultimate chorus. George and Billy coming together in one voice.

On TYT the riffs fly through my ears as if writing a good riff is like cycling on a sunny Sunday morning and everyone can do it. Just listen to 'Feel'. The guitarist goes full out, the main riff is soaring right into a short guitar solo. There is so much fun and energy packed into this little piece of music showing not only what this band is capable of but also that they know exactly what a great rock song takes to convince.

Ten Years Today is a trio from Groningen in the north east of the Netherlands. It travelled to the south east to Eindhoven to work with producer Roel Blommers because of his work with Mozes and the First Born and traumahelicopter. Blommers caught the band at its strongest. Although the dubbed guitar parts are impossible to reproduce as such on stage for a trio, the enthusiasm the band undoubtedly takes to the stage with them has been caught on record. A few production additions like a little strings in 'Conflicted' aside, this is the real thing.

For a band so exuberant and enthusiastic it is good to see Ten Years Today is not afraid of taking the foot of the pedal every once and again. The ballads not only provide the album with inner dynamics, it also shows off the writing skills of the band. It easily gets away with each. 'Question Mark' is adorned with a little Mellotron sound and strings adding to the more serious mood.

Ten Years Today also is a fan of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. 'If I Were Me' has the Hillel Slovak guitar riffing. It is only a starting point. Singer Floris is the better singer and melodically 'If I Were Me' has changes RHCP could only dream of until Slovak's replacement John Frusciante was really allowed to bloom. For the rest the Peppers' funking seems more a fun thing to do in the bigger whole of TYT. This band has the power of songwriting within it and the skills to make a beautiful song from the basic ideas it has. Influences really range from the 1960s, to 80s funk and 90s grunge and Britpop. All that comes together in one of the immense highlights of the album, 'This Is What We've Got, So Let's Live With It'. What a song. Ten Years Today is an album that is as nostalgic as it is current. Just one word remains: chapeau!


You can buy Ten Years Today here:


or listen to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:


zondag 21 oktober 2018

Bird Streets. Bird Streets

John Brodeur is een muzikant uit New York met een verleden in een aantal mij onbekende bands uit de stad. Tijdens een vakantie in Los Angeles liep hij muzikant en producer Jason Falkner tegen het lijf, waarna de twee besloten samen te werken.

Jason Falkner is bekend van de bands Jellyfish en The Grays en van een aantal prima soloplaten, terwijl hij als producer werkte voor onder andere Brendan Benson, Syd Arthur en Beck. Jason Falkner moet het nog altijd doen met een cultstatus, maar het is ook een muzikant die alles dat hij aanraakt in goud kan veranderen.
Alle reden dus om nieuwsgierig te zijn naar de samenwerking tussen John Brodeur en Jason Falkner, die het debuut van Bird Streets heeft opgeleverd.
De titelloze eerste plaat  van Bird Streets is er een die bijzonder makkelijk overtuigt. Net als Jason Falkner heeft John Brodeur een uitstekend gevoel voor lekker in het gehoor liggende popliedjes. Het zijn popliedjes die in  een aantal gevallen in het hokje powerpop passen, maar die ook meer ingetogen singer-songwriter muziek niet schuwen. Het zijn bovendien popliedjes die zich hebben laten inspireren door de groten uit de popmuziek, met een voorkeur voor popmuziek uit de jaren 60 en 70.
Het debuut van Bird Streets is een plaat vol songs die je al decennia lijkt te kennen, maar het zijn wel degelijk gloednieuwe popsongs van John Brodeur. De popsongs van Bird Streets doen soms wat Beatlesque aan, maar kunnen ook opschuiven richting de Beatlesque muziek die onder andere 10cc en Jeff Lynne na het uiteen vallen van de Fab Four zouden maken. De muziek van Bird Streets schuurt hiernaast dicht tegen de muziek van een band als The dB’s aan, maar kan ook stevig rocken en dan weer heel andere associaties oproepen.
Bij beluistering van het debuut van Bird Streets hoor je onmiddellijk dat Jason Falkner en John Brodeur lang hebben gesleuteld aan de plaat. De instrumentatie klinkt prachtig en zit vol mooie details, met een hoofdrol voor prachtig en veelkleurig gitaarwerk. Het is bovendien een zeer gevarieerde instrumentatie, die alle songs op de plaat voorziet van andere kleuren.
Wat voor de instrumentatie geldt, geldt ook voor de zang van John Brodeur. De Amerikaanse muzikant beschikt over een warm en aangenaam stemgeluid, maar het is ook een stemgeluid dat de songs op de plaat voorziet van een opvallend eigen geluid.
Het titelloze debuut van Bird Streets is hiernaast een eersteklas feelgood plaat. De songs die Jason Falkner en John Brodeur in elkaar hebben gesleuteld laten de zon uitbundig schijnen en strooien driftig met memorabele refreinen en honingzoete melodieën. De criticus zal beweren dat het debuut van Bird Streets weliswaar aangenaam klinkt, maar niet veel nieuws laat horen. Dat is deels het geval, want de plaat staat vol met songs die je al decennia denkt te kennen, maar aan de andere kant prikkelen de songs op de plaat stevig de fantasie en zit je steeds weer op het puntje van de stoel wanneer je al het moois wilt ontrafelen.
Ik laat me maar vooral leiden door het gevoel dat de plaat mij geeft en dat is een heerlijk gevoel. Iedere keer dat ik het debuut van Bird Streets hoor zijn de songs me weer wat dierbaarder en ben ik weer wat vrolijker. Knappe plaat wat mij betreft en vooral een hele lekkere plaat.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt Bird Streets hier beluisteren en kopen:


or listen to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:


zaterdag 20 oktober 2018

European Heartbreak. Amber Arcades

Not all albums reach my in or letterbox and thankfully so. Yet, when an long-awaited album does not Spotify helps out, until the opportunity presents itself to go out and buy the record. There is a downside though. Listening and forming an opinion all mean that the review follows long after the release date. Some things are as they are and I did not hurry myself here.

Amber Arcades came into my life with a five song EP followed by the oh so pleasant album and fantastic single 'Fading Lines'. Truly one of my favourite songs the second half of this decade. Last year a new EP followed with the even better song 'It Changes' on it. Bars and expectations were raised by Amber Arcades. Are they met?

Yes! It is that simple. European Heartache is one of my favourite albums of 2018 so far. It seems Annelotte de Graaf has reached out for and found new depths in her songwriting. The more alternative/indie rock of her previous records has been let go of and a host of influences let in as substitutions.

Her singing has not so much changed. The rather thin, girllike voice presents itself no different. There still is that layer of modesty in the presentation, the holding back where emotions are concerned. At the same time De Graaf is singing as a woman who knows what she's doing and why, with the confidence to show. If she had doubts about her own qualities, they have been left behind as well.

It is in the musical make up that Amber Arcades has made giant leaps forward. Decades of music are let in. French yeah yeah, 60s pop, a little blue-eyed soul. Just listen to the start, the deceptively called song 'Simple Song'. An acoustic guitar strums, the band kicks in and some Burt Bacharach/Herb Alpert horns do as well. Soft and modest they glide over the slow memory. The oomph the song gets in the interlude part, including a Mellotron sound, shows that this song is deceptively simple. It sounds like a pre-chorus but turns out to be the chorus. 2.33 minutes is all. A 60s single length song, holding it all.

This level and distinction is kept up easily on European Heartbreak. In 'Hardly Knew' Annelotte de Graaf sings with so much ease. She doesn't have the voice of the female singers who had made it big in the age of my parents, the song could have been on their songbook. It is a song that transcends time and space. A song to potentially have been recorded in the 50s, 60s or 70s and in 2018. The kind of pop that has nothing to do with the charts of 2018. For the first time in years I heard a few songs in the national chart show in the car today. I had nothing going on for me there. Here though I am slowly melting away each time I hear 'Oh My Love (What Have We Done)' or 'Goodnight Europe'. Somehow Amber Arcades presses all the right buttons. Some songs are Beatlesque others even older, the kind of songs that influenced Lennon and McCartney when they started out.

This record is an album for all hours of the day. Late evening glass of wine music, early morning waking up and listening while working or reading. It works in all circumstances. Add the addictive tendency I have developed to put on European Heartache (together with 'Heartbreak Hi' of The LVE to be released on 26-10 and 'Ain't No Place' by TMGS) and I am writing about an album that holds it all it seems. As I started out with, an album that may score high on the 2018 WoNo Magazine chart of best albums. Listen in awe in the face of extreme musical beauty.

I am extremely curious what this translates into live. Follow this blog as the answer will be provided on 26 October.


Listen to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:


vrijdag 19 oktober 2018

Cheers! Steiner & Madlaina

Two young, self-assured and slightly alternative looking young women pose in front of an older model cabriolet. The Thelma & Louise of 2018 ready to burn rubber and run for it? No, Steiner & Madlaina are ready to take on the world, head first, on the basis of an oh so nice, alternative pop and indie rock album. Cheers! is the sort of album that I can play on any moment of the day. It cheers me up immediately.

Steiner & Madlaina are Nora Steiner and Madlaina Pollina from Switzerland. (And  that explains my Sophie Hunger association when the duo sings in English.) Cheers! is the duos first album, after releasing an EP in 2017, called 'Speak'. Like Ms. Hunger Steiner & Madlaina sing in several languages, German, English and Schweitzer Deutsch, that nearly incomprehensible form of German that for Dutch ears regularly is too much to process.

What Cheers! firstly signifies for me personally is the huge lust for life the album shows. The album is full of summer, like the sleeve shows. The energy is immense. The fun of creating these songs and playing them the way they are played all show that the two women are extremely proud of  their songs. And right they are to be. This does not mean that all is well in the universe of Steiner & Madlaiana. Perhaps far from even. It does mean that the duo has the strength to put negative impressions into strong compositions and lyrics. Just bare with me here.

Promo photo by Nils Lucas
In how far 'Riot' is autobiographic is hard to tell from the outside, just read these lyrics: "Hey Momma, hi daddy, do you remember me ... I am the bad seed, I know I am, but I am not sorry". It does tell something about the desire to become an artist and not a doctor, lawyer or nurse, doesn't it?, but also on the pride for what has been achieved to date. Leaving it all behind to achieve the dream. What every great artist has to do in one way or another. Everything moves in front of the muse. As such, this song in the middle of Cheers! is a key song for Steiner & Madlaina.

Musically I have already mentioned Sophie Hunger, but I am reminded often of Dutch band Elenne May as soon as the tempo goes down somewhat. In general singer-songwriters have been an influence as this duo is full of stories. The music also follows in a long tradition of German (and English) language bands. 'Skandal Im Sperbezirk' was extremely exuberant and 'Kristallnacht' very rocked up, yet 'Das Schöne Leben' does not stay that far behind. It is the melancholy mood that makes it somewhat different (and the mandolin/bouzouki sound), not the going out on the town feeling of the song. At the same Nancy Sinatra and Susanna Hoffs can be mentioned in a mix with Lily Allen and Lana del Rey. In 'Reckless Love' the dreamy quality of these three singers come together and are blended into an icy love song.

Promo photo by Nils Lucas
Steiner & Madlaina have several musical faces, that all have its own distinctive qualities. The album kicks off with a mix of seriousness and an all out exuberant, happiness that gives nothing away of the really serious side of the duo. There is no fear of soft, empty, questioning songs and neither to then let them explode. 'Gross Geträumt' is one of the winners on Cheers!. That aside, the voices of the two both are winners and compliment as well as challenge one another. Another huge plus for the album.

It seems that after Sophie Hunger I have another act from Switzerland that is going to be extremely interesting to follow in the coming years. If anything Cheers! is an extremely successful debut album. Together with Shame's 'Songs Of Praise' the best of 2018.


You can buy Cheers! here:


or listen to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about: