zondag 16 juni 2019

When You're Ready. Molly Tuttle

De vijver met talentvolle jonge vrouwelijke singer-songwriters is momenteel overvol, maar het talent van Molly Tuttle komt makkelijk aan de oppervlakte drijven om vervolgens diepe indruk te maken

Molly Tuttle maakt al haar hele leven muziek en blonk als kind al uit op de banjo, maar sinds ze is gaan zingen en zich vestigde in Nashville is wereldfaam slechts een kwestie van tijd. Haar debuut maakt direct bij eerste beluistering een onuitwisbare indruk en blijkt zwaar verslavend. Het is een debuut dat op fraaie wijze een brug slaat tussen zeer traditionele Amerikaanse rootsmuziek uit het verleden en de frisse countrypop van het moment. Het is een debuut dat overtuigt met een gloedvolle productie en muzikanten van naam en faam, maar het is vooral een debuut dat overtuigt met geweldige songs en een stem die alles laat smelten. Met dit droomdebuut kan Molly Tuttle wel eens hele hoge ogen gaan gooien.

Aan jonge en zeer talentvolle vrouwelijke singer-songwriters absoluut geen gebrek deze week. Onder hen ook Molly Tuttle, die zeker niet uit de lucht komt vallen. Ze groeide op in Palo Alto, California, waar ze haar eerste stapjes in de muziek zette en maakte indruk als student aan het gerenommeerde Berklee College of Music in Boston, waar ze haar virtuositeit op de akoestische gitaar en banjo etaleerde.

Haar carrière in de muziek kreeg echter pas een vliegende start toen ze zich vestigde in Nashville en ook haar stem ontdekte. De afgelopen jaren maakte ze vanuit Boston al muziek met The Goodbye Girls en verdiende ze de titel “Instrumentalist of the Year” bij de 2018 editie van de Americana Music Awards met haar eerste EP Rise, maar haar debuutalbum moet gaan zorgen voor haar definitieve doorbraak.

Molly Tuttle kreeg thuis de bluegrass met de paplepel ingegoten en speelde al op jonge leeftijd in de bluegrass band van haar vader, maar de afgelopen jaren verbreedde ze haar blik en verwerkte ze ook steeds meer invloeden uit de folk en country en een vleugje pop in haar muziek.

Haar debuut When You're Ready is geproduceerd door Ryan Hewitt, die eerder werkte met onder andere The Avett Brothers en The Lumineers. De openingstrack is direct opvallend, want Million Miles is een track waarvan de basis lang geleden werd geschreven door Steve Poltz en een nog piepjonge Jewel. De twee maakten de track nooit af, maar dat is nu wel gedaan door Molly Tuttle en Steve Poltz, die de Amerikaanse singer-songwriter nog een paar keer bijstaat op haar debuut.

Million Miles is een bijzonder aangename track met vooral invloeden uit de countrypop en doet wel wat denken aan Jewel, maar misschien nog wel meer aan Suzanne Vega. Molly Tuttle flirt af en toe met countrypop, maar ze blijft ook de bluegrass trouw in flink wat tracks. In deze tracks, waarin de banjo net wat nadrukkelijker aanwezig is dan de akoestische gitaar, schuift Molly Tuttle in muzikaal, maar ook in vocaal opzicht op richting Alison Krauss en ook in dit segment maakt de jonge Amerikaanse singer-songwriter flink wat indruk.

Molly Tuttle schrijft songs die afwisselend in de smaak zullen vallen bij rootspuristen en rootsliefhebber die net wat minder strikt in de leer zijn en maakt indruk met lekker in het gehoor liggende songs die meestal de zon laten schijnen.

In muzikaal opzicht is het smullen, wat ook niet anders kan gezien de imposante lijst met muzikanten die bijdroegen aan het album, de productie van Ryan Hewitt klinkt prachtig, maar de meeste indruk maakt Molly Tuttle met haar zang. De singer-songwriter uit Nashville beschikt over een stem die net zo helder klinkt als die van Alison Krauss, die net zo verleidelijk is als die van Suzanne Vega en die ook nog eens de twang van Jewel toevoegt.

When You're Ready voelt net zo aangenaam als de eerste lentezon en overtuigt daarom bijzonder makkelijk. Ook wanneer je het debuut van Molly Tuttle veel vaker beluistert, blijft het album echter sprankelen. Molly Tuttle bestrijkt het hele gebied tussen Gillian Welch en Kacey Musgraves en doet dit met de authenticiteit en muzikaliteit van de eerste en de verleidingskracht en het gevoel voor perfecte popliedjes van de tweede. Het levert een debuut op dat van de eerste tot de laatste noot imponeert en je humeur ook nog eens een positieve boost geeft.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt When You're Ready hier kopen:

https://mollytuttle.bandcamp.com/album/when-youre-ready


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

https://open.spotify.com/user/glazu53/playlist/6R9FgPd2btrMuMaIrYeCh6?si=KI6LzLaAS5K-wsez5oSO2g



 

zaterdag 15 juni 2019

Lightning Tiger Running. Steve French

Who is Steve French? Rumours are Dawn's younger brother, but they remain unconfirmed. No, Steve French is a band from Amsterdam that plays extremely pleasant alternative rock songs. The kind that suggest circa 30 years of influences and for connoisseurs there will be no issue at all identifying them.

Having that out of the way, I can concentrate on Lightning Tiger Running as the album deserves all the attention given to it on this pages. Any lover of alternative, ramshackle guitar rock with a singer that sings slightly hesitatingly is at the right address with Steve French. Almost all of the songs have that tingly sound that makes them so delightful to listen to.

Steve French is a trio Cees, Killian en Ruben morphed into one person who in a rainy, grubby Scottish suburb feeling despondent or perhaps worse, does a Von Münchhausen by pulling himself out of the swamp by his own hairs and writes this set of great songs.

Don't get me wrong. Steve French's mood doesn't change much. Things remain glum in outlook, but the therapy of making music certainly works. I bet that Cees, Killian and Ruben, once de-morphed, had some huge smiles on their faces when these songs started to come together.

What I notice in the nine song album is that Steve French is able to create a few moods. First there is the ramshackle vagueness. Secondly, very direct songs. Finally there is an alternative ballad, just one man and one guitar, no matter how short the song is. Through mixing the song sequence just right, these mood changes change my perception of the album, giving me the feeling that the album not only seems longer than it actually is, but certainly makes the album better as well. The balance is simply right. Now the latter is a deciding factor on my route to give you a positive advice on the album.

Having listened to Lightning Tiger Running several times now, the conclusion is that Steve French adds its own blend to a well known segment of rock music. Although I said I would refrain from naming others, I can't refrain from mentioning Boudewijn de Groot. The verse of 'Country Bleed' could have been a De Groot song over 50 years ago. The grunge like guitar explosion in the chorus was unimaginable then though. It only underscores how diverse Lightning Tiger Running is.

Wo.

You can buy Lightning Tiger Running here:

https://subroutinerecords.bigcartel.com/product/pre-order-steve-french-lightning-tiger-running


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

https://open.spotify.com/user/glazu53/playlist/6R9FgPd2btrMuMaIrYeCh6?si=KI6LzLaAS5K-wsez5oSO2g

vrijdag 14 juni 2019

Makers Of Mountains. Def Robot

The cover of this album immediately reminds me of that photo of the human lint of people waiting to reach the top of the Himalayas recently. A photo that I thought to have been shopped for fun. No, it was reality and it told me once again that we are reaching the limits of what this world is able to sustain. Makers of mountains indeed.

So is the album of Def Robot an analogy for all of this? No, far from. The band has produced an album that searches for pleasant points of view in all things alternative and indie rock without being a nuisance to my ears in any way. In fact regularly Def Robot seems to be doing a lot of things just right.

If the bio is to be believed Def Robot's Paul Taylor and David Hancox only got together at the beginning of this year and started working on songs together. Written, recorded, produced, mixed and mastered all by the duo itself. DIY indeed. The two have worked together in three other bands before collaborating as Def Robot, so they're not exactly strangers to one another. In the sound there isn't much left to be desired, so job well done.

That sound is not one with a light touch or a happy outlook on life. The sound is simply dark, the singing serious. That sound was inspired by 90s indie rock according to Taylor and Hancox. I can go along with that, but also can point to the 60s pop feel in the singing in 'Sweet And Sour'. Like e.g. 'The Letter' of The Box Tops and even some Tamla/Motown like The Four Tops. There is more to find for those who care to listen. The 90s may be the foundation, it is also the starting point for other influences to be woven into the fabric of Makers Of Mountains.

Photo/artwork by Paul Taylor
Def Robot is not afraid of taking the mood down. The already mentioned 'Sweet And Sour' and certainly in 'Fortune Cookie Writer', a short sweet song with a distorted voice to give at a little eeriness. And an interesting topic to say the least. On those moments I am reminded of Indian Askin. This band also plays in different ways with the listener's mood. The change to 'Ferman Saved My Life (Cut!)' is something Indian Askin is not afraid of presenting as well. The slide guitar takes the listener in a totally different direction and lifts the album to another level.

It is in moments like this that Makers Of Mountains grows. Def Robot is exploring many sides to indie rock. Although some songs are more interesting than others, as a whole the album works totally. There's time for reflection and time to rock without much need for anything else. 'Gordon from Gordon' ought to satisfy indie rock guitar aficionado's instantly. Including a little madness along the way. Just another angle to Def Robot.

The conclusion is simple but justified. Makers Of Mountains is a good record, so all views from this specific top are recommended and come without health nor environmental issues.

Wo.

You can buy Makers Of Mountains here:

https://defrobot.bandcamp.com/album/makers-of-mountains


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

https://open.spotify.com/user/glazu53/playlist/6R9FgPd2btrMuMaIrYeCh6?si=KI6LzLaAS5K-wsez5oSO2g

donderdag 13 juni 2019

Hawk Hill. Para Lia

A new single from an album that never reached me, 'Soap Bubble Dreams', released in March of 2019. If anything the three songs of Hawk Hill make me curious to hear more from Para Lia. (παραλία in Greek, meaning coast or beach).

Hawk Hill is a great rock song but with loads of pop hidden into the fabric of the song, making it quite infectuous. This is not an exception, as proven the song that follows, 'Over It'. One of those bittersweat rocksongs that manages to capture the longing for and expectation of a better situation and the pain of the current one perfectly. "We will get over, me and you". The optimism shows in the sorrow, while the acute pain is captured in the outro guitar solo. Soaring it is.

Para Lia is a duo, René and Cindy Methner who both come from a former East-German town called Falkenberg (hawk mountian). If anything Para Lia shows the opportunities the east has been offered after die Wende. Good things do come from it, but like all in the west, you have to grab, even create your own opportunities offered by the building blocks society offers all. Like Talk Talk sang decades ago "Life's what you make it". Para Lia certainly has made something worthwhile. If the album is as good as the three songs on Hawk Hill, it must be extremely good.

Promo photo: Mrs. Agnes Sommer
In Para Lia René creates all the music, playing all the instruments, his wife Cindy singing background vocals. In Hawk Hill they look back on Falkenberg and how the town went under after die Wende. The school closed, the factories closed and they both left, only afterwards meeting each other it seems. "Goodbye Hawk Hill Lane, I don't miss you ... I still love you", the inner conflict on a past long gone captured in a few lines. And above all in a good song. If this was René Methner's "Penny Lane moment" it was one to be proud of.

It seems I have some more listening cut out for me. If things are all this good, I will come back with the whole album to you.

Wo.

You can buy Hawk Hill here:

https://paralia.bandcamp.com/album/hawk-hill


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

https://open.spotify.com/user/glazu53/playlist/6R9FgPd2btrMuMaIrYeCh6?si=KI6LzLaAS5K-wsez5oSO2g

woensdag 12 juni 2019

Boat. Pip Blom

My introduction to Pip Blom was not a successful one. Playing support for Franz Ferdinand in Groningen, nobody in my vicinity was really willing to listen and the sound was bland, not allowing a lot to come through. In other words, I could not discern even a single decibel of the excitement some people already showed over a year ago for this band.

Now I know that playing support can be a frustrating experience but at times also a triumph. Keith Caputo e.g. before Travis in the winter of 2000. Not for Pip Blom in Groningen's Oosterpoort.

It is June 2019 and a year and a quarter past Groningen. Again there is a lot to do about Pip Blom, the band named after its singer/guitarist. And yes, I am starting to understand why, listening to Boat, but also have some reservations. Allow me to explain the why and why.

Boat starts with a few great songs. 'Daddy Issues' and even more so 'Don't Make It Difficult' are great songs. Every fan of the tandem Barnett-Cloher can draw these songs extremely close to their hearts. Pip Blom is able to emulate that ramshackle sound perfectly and add some excitement of its own in there too. 'Don't Make It Difficult' even manages to put some The Bangles rock and innocence into the song. This makes the song a beautiful hybrid of alternative rock and pop. Only the very best get away with this. It should make a great single for Boat.

From here Boat takes a turn away from pop and takes its listeners out for a tour around alternative rock. The ramshackle guitars are everywhere, going all the way back to The Velvet Underground. That 60s band's influence runs large in a song like 'Tired'. With a huge difference, 'Tired', again, has a great chorus. Four songs into Boat, The Netherlands can rest assured: we have our own version of Courtney Barnett and, although I still write this with some hesitation, with at least a couple of better songs. Time will tell really here, but I know no hesitation here to mention it. Again, just listen to the few subtle changes in 'Bedhead'. No matter the similarities, I can't hear something like that with Ms. Barnett. Now Jen Cloher's last album, that is on the same par.

So we've looked a the upside. I already mentioned that I had some doubts as well. They mostly come from the same source. Pip Blom does hitch nicely along the path paved by Courtney Barnett. The band still needs to find its own voice. Which of course is perfectly okay for a first album. My other point is that I do lose interest when I get deeper into the album. By then the songs simply seem a little less interesting. The same I had with the first album of Dakota recently. But, just like that album I fully give Pip Blom more than the benefit of the doubt. Boat is an extremely strong album. An album that captures a lot of excitement and provides interesting details all in one.

With Boat Pip Blom shows tremendous promise as well as presenting material that truly must be the best it has within itself in the right here and now. Like the song called 'Ruby'. A seemingly normal sounding song can light up a room within seconds. Pip Blom achieves this feat easily. Hopefully I can catch the band in my neighbourhood soon.

Wo.

You can buy Boat here:

https://pipblommusic.bandcamp.com/album/boat


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

https://open.spotify.com/user/glazu53/playlist/6R9FgPd2btrMuMaIrYeCh6?si=KI6LzLaAS5K-wsez5oSO2g

dinsdag 11 juni 2019

Exilio. Canvas Blanco

Canvas Blanco maakte met haar debuut al indruk, maar levert nu een waar meesterwerk af dat maar blijft verbazen

De Nederlandse band Canvas Blanco leverde ruim vier jaar geleden een bijzonder debuut af, waarop het de Europicana introduceerde. Die Europicana wordt nu de toekomst in getrokken met onder andere elektronische impulsen en zoveel verassende wendingen dat het je soms duizelt. Exilio verdient absoluut een prijs voor een van de mooiste verpakkingen van vinyl die ik ooit heb gezien, maar ook in muzikaal opzicht is de tweede van de Nederlandse band een album om in te lijsten. Canvas Blanco roept 1001 associaties op en voegt steeds weer andere ingrediënten toe aan haar muziek. Met iedere noot groeit de bewondering voor dit wonderschone album.

Canvas Blanco is een Nederlandse band, die alweer ruim 4 jaar geleden verraste met het uitstekende Call Me Lucky, Fat Or Skinny. Het debuut van de band rond Jozua Koffeman, die eerder aan de weg timmerde met Lorrainville en Brown Feather Sparrow, was volgens de band zelf te omschrijven als “Americana met een flinke dosis fantasie”, oftewel Europicana.
 
Ik vergeleek de muziek op het debuut van Canvas Blanco vooral met de albums van Sparklehorse en Calexico, al hoorde ik ook wel wat van het net wat avontuurlijkere werk van Paul McCartney. Het debuut van de Nederlandse band werd geprezen in meerdere recensies, maar uiteindelijk viel de aandacht voor het eerste album van Canvas Blanco me toch wat tegen. Albums als deze moet immers iedere muziekliefhebber horen.
 
Eerder deze maand bracht de band een nieuw album uit, Exilio. Ik heb het prachtig groen gekleurde vinyl al een tijdje in huis en kan inmiddels concluderen dat Canvas Blanco haar zo terecht geprezen debuut heeft weten te overtreffen. De band had na een geslaagde crowdfunding campagne acht dagen de beschikking over een studio en nam in die acht dagen maar liefst 18 songs op. Het levert ruim 70 minuten muziek op, verdeeld over twee LP’s.
 
Canvas Blanco heeft ervoor gekozen om het album pas later dit jaar uit te brengen via de streaming media diensten. Ik kan daar aan de ene kant begrip voor opbrengen, want de schoorsteen moet ook roken, maar aan de andere kant maakt een band die niet meegaat met diensten als Spotify en Apple Music het zichzelf extra moeilijk. Het zou doodzonde zijn wanneer Exilio door de voorlopige afwezigheid op de streaming media platforms tussen wal en schip valt, want Canvas Blanco heeft een prachtig en bijzonder fascinerend album afgeleverd.
 
Het is een album dat zich deels in het zelf gecreëerde hokje Europicana laat duwen, maar de Nederlandse band slaat op haar nieuwe album ook talloze andere wegen in. Exilio is volgens de band zelf “een futuristisch verhaal over het net niet correct gekloonde wonderkind Sam Towyer, die een uitweg zoekt uit een keurslijf van digitale maakbaarheid”. Een echte conceptplaat dus, waarvan je het futuristische aspect terug hoort in de muziek.
 
Ook op Exilio verkent Canvas Blanco de grenzen van de Europicana, maar de band heeft ook meer elektronica toegevoegd aan haar muziek. Na de openingstrack vol elektronica en spoken word, combineert Canvas Blanco op fraaie en bijzondere wijze invloeden uit de Americana met 1001 andere invloeden.
 
Op een of andere manier heb ik meer dan eens associaties met de muziek van Talkings Heads, maar Exilio is de plaat die Talking Heads nooit gemaakt heeft. Het ene moment klinkt het rootsy of folky, het volgende moment hoor je flarden Radiohead, Wilco of toch weer iets heel anders. Het knappe is dat Exilio een album is dat zowel rootsliefhebbers als liefhebbers van indie-pop moet kunnen aanspreken.

Ik hou persoonlijk wel van albums die organische geluiden combineren met elektronica en die zich graag in meerdere genres bewegen, maar zo goed als Exilio van Canvas Blanco heb ik er niet veel. Canvas Blanco mikt op haar nieuwe album een heleboel nogal uiteenlopende ingrediënten bij elkaar en maakt muziek uit het verleden en muziek uit de toekomst. Het is muziek die op zich niet onconventioneel klinkt, maar ondertussen doet Canvas Blanco alles net wat anders.
 
Je moet altijd maar afwachten hoe dat uitpakt, maar in het geval van Exilio levert het een fascinerend album op dat de smaakpapillen op alle mogelijke manieren aangenaam prikkelt. Echt veel te mooi om over het hoofd te zien deze tweede van Canvas Blanco.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt Exilio hier kopen:

https://www.canvasblanco.com/store/


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

https://open.spotify.com/user/glazu53/playlist/6R9FgPd2btrMuMaIrYeCh6?si=KI6LzLaAS5K-wsez5oSO2g


maandag 10 juni 2019

Fever Breaks. Josh Ritter

Today we look at three different records again. We started in the U.K., crossed the sea to Ireland and now cross one sea more, the Atlantic Ocean to the U.S.

It must have been one of those right record at the wrong time moments. After the well-received 'Sermon On The Rocks', I had expected a lot from the new Josh Ritter. Instead I heard nothing in the songs I heard on Fever Breaks. Just some bland country rock and that was that. Until someone sent me the cd anyway and as a courtesy I played it on the stereo. To be captivated in the very first seconds. 'Ground Don't Want Me' rocks in a great way. Josh Ritter proved to be in great form.

For over a decade Josh Ritter seemed to remain that artist, to me, with that one great song. 'Man Burning At Both Ends' is a fantastic rocking song in the middle of acoustic songs and ever more complex acoustic songs followed later on, until I gave up on Ritter. Until 'Sermon On The Rocks' came along.

I can't tell what happened along the way, as I had stopped following Ritter somewhere in the 00s. Whatever caused it, I like this new iteration of him a lot. Just listen to 'Old Black Magic' and especially to that little organ sound that nags in the middle of the guitar eruptions and solidness. Like that mosquito right after the lights have gone out. Except that here the sound sets the song on fire. 'Old Black Magic' is a song with a great groove, where Ritter's edged voice fits like a glove. The guitars work towards a great climax. That comes in the form of a great guitar solo. Rough, loud and rocking in the dirtiest of ways.

Promo photo: David McClister
With 'On The Water' the speed is taken out of the record, but not the intensity. And here I have the secret of my new relationship with Josh Ritter's records. There is an intensity that makes them special, that draws me near. Not in a self-destructive way, this is truly positive. That has everything to do with the melodic strength of the songs. 'I Still Love You (Now And Then)' has the same melancholy mood that makes a lot of David Sickmen of The Hackensaw Boys' songs so good. To sing along with, eyes closed, simply undergowing the music in the most positive way possible. Memories that everyone has are worded here. Memories of things past, things long over where no matter what may have happened, something good is remembered. 'I Still Love You (Now And Then)', that is the way life is.

This is just the beginning of Fever Breaks. So many good things follow. Even an anti-Trump song in the form of 'All Some Kind Of Dream' on the refugees at the border of the U.S. A song that could have been a Bob Dylan song, long ago, with even a few hints at Dylan in the lyrics. No anger shows, just resignation, mixed with some indignation. The storm comes in the intro of the next song, 'Losing Battles'. Going to battle like Neil Young with a loud, distorted guitar.

In fact, despite the fact how my ears were screwed on wrong at first, slowly but surely I am being convinced by Fever Breaks that this album is Josh Ritter's best to date and one for the longlist of best albums in 2019. I am not a fan of Jason Isbell's music, but as producer and working with his band the 400 Unit the combination with Josh Ritter works a miracle.

Wo.


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

https://open.spotify.com/user/glazu53/playlist/6R9FgPd2btrMuMaIrYeCh6?si=KI6LzLaAS5K-wsez5oSO2g

The Fool. Jane Willow

Today we share three post with you. From the U.K. we cross the Irish Sea to Dublin for our second one. A single this time.

Following Jane Willow's EP reviewed earlier this year, she returns with a superb single that I would like to give some attention to. The Fool holds all that is a pleasure for the ear to behold.

In the song Jane Willow combines elements of traditional Irish folk and U.S. country & western with a perfect pop feel. In the music this upbeat pop feel is intertwined with a deep sadness and realisation that life is not bringing what she had hoped for. "The fool standing in front of the door", knowing that returning is not the right thing to do any longer. Things go by and it is time to move on no matter how hard that is and the pain coming with it.

All this is packed with a beautiful melody, spurred on by an oh so subtle mandolin and warmed by a Hammond that stokes up the fire in the background. I already liked the songs on the EP, but this is my favourite Jane Willow song to date. Apparently the song is getting airplay in Ireland already and quite rightly so. Who makes sure that this singer-songwriter with Breda roots will get the same treatment in this country?

Wo.

You can buy The Fool here:

https://janewillowmusic.bandcamp.com/


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

https://open.spotify.com/user/glazu53/playlist/6R9FgPd2btrMuMaIrYeCh6?si=KI6LzLaAS5K-wsez5oSO2g

It's Okay To Talk. allusinlove

Today we focus on three releases once again. The first one comes from the U.K., Leeds to be exact.

Why make things difficult, when you can make things easier for yourself? This Dutch proverb certainly is applicable to It's Okay To Talk. allusinlove starts playing and doesn't stop until the song is over. No inventive rhythms, no stops and starts, no dynamics, just full out and play till the end. At least, that is the impression the album leaves me with when I'm done listening to this sunburst, 11 song, punkpop pleasure of a record.

Not long ago allusinlove was called allusondrugs, a change of life time and lifestyle. allusmarried, allusonkids and allusdivorced are suggested for future names. Just kidding of course. With It's Okay To Talk allusinlove brings the world a fine punkrock album that brings enough of the past and the present to sound current and familiar at the same time. The energy and violence in punkrock stand at the service of the song. Something U.K. bands in general seem just this little better in than their U.S. brethren.

Promo photo
allusinlove is a foursome from Leeds (and previously released a live album called 'Live At Leeds'). It's Okay To Talk is the band's first full length album. Jason Moules (Vocals/Guitar), Drey Pavlovic (Guitar), Jemal Beau Malki (Bass) and Connor Fisher-Atack (Drums) found Catherine Marks willing to produce the record, hoping for a Wolf Alice effect, no doubt. Like this band allusinlove manages to capture an energy source on record. An energy that undoubtedly is unleashed live.

When listening more closely it becomes clear that It's Okay To Talk is far less one dimensional than I started this review with. The fact that I think it be so, does credit to the energy captured on record and to the playing and production duties. You ought to know enough by now.

Wo.


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

https://open.spotify.com/user/glazu53/playlist/6R9FgPd2btrMuMaIrYeCh6?si=KI6LzLaAS5K-wsez5oSO2g

zondag 9 juni 2019

Estranged. Dusty Stray

Dusty Stray maakte al vier bloedmooie folky platen en ook nummer vijf is er weer een van een bijzondere schoonheid

Dusty Stray, het alter ego van de Texaanse muzikant Jonathan Brown, die inmiddels al flink wat jaren vanuit Amsterdam opereert, timmert inmiddels al een aantal jaren aan de weg met prachtige platen. Het zijn platen die beginnen bij stokoude folk uit vervlogen tijden, maar dankzij een bijzondere instrumentatie en een al even bijzondere sfeer het heden in worden getild. Estranged is wat mij betreft nog wat beter dan zijn voorgangers en betovert met wonderschone folksongs vol doorleving, maar ook vol avontuur. Bijzondere muzikant deze Jonathan Brown. Iedereen met een folk hart moet dit horen. 

Ik weet niet precies waar het aan ligt, maar op een of andere manier verdwijnen de platen van Dusty Stray bij mij altijd op de stapel en duurt het soms maanden voor ze er af komen. Wanneer de platen dan eindelijk van de stapel af komen omarm ik ze stuk voor stuk als bescheiden meesterwerken, dus ik zou zo langzamerhand moeten weten wat Dusty Stray te bieden heeft.

Het verklaart misschien waarom de vijfde plaat van Dusty Stray maar een week of zes op de stapel heeft gelegen, maar inmiddels moet ik concluderen dat dit een week of zes te lang was. Ook Estranged is weer een prachtige plaat van het alter ego van Jonathan Brown en misschien nog wel mooier dan de geweldige voorgangers, waarvan het ruim drie jaar oude A Tree Fell And Other Songs tot dusver mijn favoriet was.

Estranged is de opvolger van A Tree Fell And Other Songs en ligt ook in het verlengde van de plaat die toen kon rekenen op zeer positieve recensies, maar helaas slechts in kleine kring de aandacht trok.

Jonathan Brown, een Texaanse muzikant die voor de liefde naar Europa kwam en inmiddels al een aantal jaren vanuit Amsterdam opereert, deed voor de productie ook dit keer een beroep op producer (Mark) Kramer, die eerder werkte met onder andere Galaxie 500, Low en Will Oldham’s Palace Songs en ook de vorige plaat van de Texaan produceerde. Kramer weet precies hoe hij de songs van Jonathan Brown naar een hoger plan kan tillen en doet dit ook op Estranged weer op indrukwekkende wijze.

Jonathan Brown kiest voor de meeste van zijn songs voor een folky basis. Een akoestische gitaar, een stem vol doorleving en een melodie die blijft hangen; het is de basis van de meeste songs op Estranged. Het is een basis die fraai wordt aangevuld met extra accenten in de instrumentatie. Het brengt de songs van Jonathan Brown verder tot leven en het voorziet deze songs van een rijk kleurenpalet, waarin de wat donkere tinten overheersen.

Het is knap hoe de fluisterzachte en folky songs van de Amerikaanse muzikant worden voorzien van een voller geluid, zonder dat dit ten koste gaat van de intimiteit van de songs van Jonathan Brown. Door de bijdragen van onder andere een harmonium, een cello en een lap steel is het geluid op Estranged donker maar sfeervol, maar Jonathan Brown slaagt er ook in om zijn muziek warm te laten klinken, onder andere met fraai akoestisch gitaarspel en met gloedvolle vocalen.

Estranged begint bij stokoude folk uit vervlogen tijden, maar Jonathan Brown geeft steeds weer een andere draai aan zijn muziek, die hier en daar zelfs kan opschuiven richting de muziek van Roger Waters (!), vooral vanwege de stem van Jonathan Brown.

Ik ben niet echt een liefhebber van pure folk, maar de sprankelende folk van Dusty Stray kan ik niet vaak genoeg horen. Estranged is een plaat waarop van alles gebeurt, maar het is ook een plaat met een serie wonderschone songs, die met veel liefde worden vertolkt. Estranged klinkt nog wat veelzijdiger dan zijn voorganger en bevalt me daarom net wat beter.

Het is een plaat die in brede kring aan moet kunnen slaan, want de songs van Jonathan Brown en de inkleuring van deze songs zijn van hoog niveau. Het heeft weer even geduurd voordat de nieuwe plaat van Dusty Stray was geland, maar inmiddels weet ik dat Jonathan Brown voor de vijfde keer een prachtplaat heeft afgeleverd. Ga dat horen!

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt Estranged hier kopen:

https://dustystray.bandcamp.com/album/estranged


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

https://open.spotify.com/user/glazu53/playlist/6R9FgPd2btrMuMaIrYeCh6?si=KI6LzLaAS5K-wsez5oSO2g

zaterdag 8 juni 2019

Wheeltappers And Shunters. Clinic

It has been silent for a while around Clinic, the Liverpool band with the singer with his distinct sound as goes for the band itself. I now notice that the silence for me personally took on far more years, having lost sight of the band somewhere in the 00s.

'Walking With Thee' was my introduction to Clinic, the band's second album released in 2002. Four of the songs are on a compilation tape that was in regular rotation until the cassette deck in my car broke down. After that total Clinic silence, until this album was announced a while back.

Wheeltappers And Shunters is totally recognisable as Clinic. The singing by Ade Blackburn and the old synths sounds all around him. With 12 songs the band is on an inspirational roll, so I notice. Still the length of the the album does not exceed the 26 minutes. Songs are a little over 2 minutes on average. Yet, this is Clinic in optima forma. The melodica regularly comes out of its hiding place of the past years, creating the most typical of Clinic sounds.

On Wheeltappers And Shunters Clinic draws from its familiar turf, yet, more modern electronics and rhythms have not totally passed the band by. 'Mirage' is a good example of the hybrid Clinic presents also. Soft rhythms, clinical singing, including the female vocals, and electronic sounds that support the melody. The one minute 12 seconds long D.I.S.C.I.P.L.E. brings out the punk/new wave side of the band, up tempo, rough but with the typical Clinic twist in voice and sound. Even on an old synth one can play punk music, the lesson here is.

On the Wiki entry on Clinic it states the band was formed in 1997, yet two members are there since 1984, while the others are members since the early 90s. All ex-members have left before or just after 1990. Just like the debut EP is from 1996. Something is wrong here, obviously. Fact is, the four members are playing together for 26 years, a long, long time.

Listening to Wheeltappers And Shunters it is clear soon that I'm quite happy with the return of the band and my renewed introduction. Clinic delivers a bunch of intriguing new songs, albeit in a familiar format. The quality is as expected by me. It leaves me with two questions: the first, what is a wheeltapper and the second what is a shunter? I had no idea. The Internet is a great research assistant of course. Let me point you in the direction of trains and leave it there.

Wo.

You can buy Wheeltappers And Shunters here:

https://clinicband.bandcamp.com/album/wheeltappers-and-shunters


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

https://open.spotify.com/user/glazu53/playlist/6R9FgPd2btrMuMaIrYeCh6?si=KI6LzLaAS5K-wsez5oSO2g


vrijdag 7 juni 2019

Humanworld. Peter Perrett

In January of 2018 we posted the very positive review by Erwin Zijleman of Peter Perrett's previous solo effort and comeback album 'How The West Was Won'. In June of 2019 Humanworld is released and I thought to take it on myself to delve into the album.

Of course Peter Perrett is associated forever with his circa 1980 band, The Only Ones. I have a faint memory of a song or two I must have heard at the time and know for certain I have one on a compilation album I bought because it held the Romantics' 'What I Like About You' on it. After the demise of The Only Ones things were not totally silent, but for at least 20 years it mostly was.

For me Humanworld is my re-introduction to Peter Perrett's music. Two things strike me immediately while listening to the first songs. This is superb alternative pop music and Perrett sounds like his voice was run over by an 18 wheeler, left out to dry, set alight and extinguished with pure alcohol to stoke the flames up a little higher. In short this voice has seen many downsides. It gives Humanworld an authentic sound, like a Malcolm Holcombe light.

So once this hurdle is taken a host of pop songs present themselves. Nothing brilliant but a product of working hard at songs and finding the little details that make a song special, make it stand out. Angelic female voices behind Perrett' battered voice or a violin that enters a song for a small contribution, changing the whole outlook of a song. An early 1980s guitar burst or two can be spotted easily on the album. Showing that a band like Franz Ferdinand certainly has listen to The Only Ones when crafting its party music early on in this century. In his turn Peter Perrett has listened to these alternative pop bands of the 00s and 10s, incorporated their pop feel and found his way to a label releasing and promoting a few of these bands.

In my opinion Peter Perrett is still very much a part of the music that was cutting edge around 1979. The change is that the straightjacket that kept band confined within a format instead of blossoming and embracing other influences has been taken off. This results in a perfect pop song like 'War Plan Red'. Just imagine what could have happened here had Perrett's voice been at full power. Behind him the scene is ripped apart. Guitars rip things apart at full force. As if the war from the title is ravaging the streets of New York already.

Heaving heard Humanworld several times over the past weeks, I can only conclude that I am very pleasantly surprised. Peter Perrett has found himself a new voice and certainly was inspired to come up with a bunch of great songs. Working with his two sons, Jamie and Peter Jr., seems to be doing him a whole lot of good. It all adds up to a fine album that deserves to be heard by the thousands.

Wo.

You can buy Humanworld here:

https://peterperrett.bandcamp.com/


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

https://open.spotify.com/user/glazu53/playlist/6R9FgPd2btrMuMaIrYeCh6?si=KI6LzLaAS5K-wsez5oSO2g

donderdag 6 juni 2019

Berths. Slowness

Only six songs, but as they clock around 5.30 minute on average, the album lasts almost as long as Geoff Palmer's 15 song rollercoaster 'Pulling Out All The Stops'. The two albums could not be further apart though.

Slowness plays songs that are long drawn out, played in mid-tempo at best, with vocals that draw out words like played in slow motion. The result is an album that thrives on the little details that move in and out of the sluggish music. It is like wading through muddy water up to the waste. Each step takes tremendous effort.

The intro to single 'Rose' immediately makes me want to sing the "I will be on your side". Neil Young is all over the place in a modern form. This is music as if in a dream where someone wants to escape but is being held back by an unknown source. In an environment that should be familiar but nothing is where it is supposed to be. In 'Rose' the music drags itself forward, yet in such an impressive and expresive way. The drums and bass just go on in their allotted tempo, where the lead guitar slowly but surely is in search of a huge climax. Just like Neil Young once was a master of.

Promo photo, Ben Wilson
So Slowness, what can be told about the band?, as I had never heard about it before. One thing is for sure. The bandmembers are not in a hurry and they deliberately choose this art form for the new LP. Slowness started in 2008 in San Francisco as a duo, Julie Lynn and Geoffrey Scott. Both are responsible for the music, Scott writes the lyrics. For several years the trio is completed by drummer Christy Davis. Berths is the band's third album, with five years between the last album and Berths. Personal relationships were ended while writing and recording this album, so time will tell what this will do for the band in the near future. It may well be that the darkness that is a main factor on Berths was caused by the loss of love and personal relationships.

I am not familiar with the previous work of Slowness but as it seems to go so often, Berths is an impressive break up album. Berths manages to capture a despondent mood, as if nothing will ever turn out right again. Six songs long Berths wallows in sadness and darkness. This sort of detonates with the soft, angelic singing of Julie Lynn. This is no happy angel, mind, but angelic none the same. Slowness presents the kind of music The Cure did in its early 80s period when each album became darker, '17 Seconds' was followed by 'Faith' and by the ultimate darkness 'Pornography'. There's hope though for Slowness as not long after the world was dancing to the likes of 'In Between Days' and 'Why Can't I Be You'.

On Berths sluggish darkness prevails, where the intro to the first single 'Rose' is most exemplary. A beautiful song, with some great accents. Fans of Low will find their way here, next to those of Dinosaur Sr. I do not recommend listening when feeling glum already. Berths is not going to help here. For those who want to come down a little from a high cloud, the music of Slowness should work quite well.

Wo.


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

https://open.spotify.com/user/glazu53/playlist/6R9FgPd2btrMuMaIrYeCh6?si=KI6LzLaAS5K-wsez5oSO2g

woensdag 5 juni 2019

What A Boost. Rozi Plain

Rozi Plain maakt al een paar jaar albums, maar overtreft zichzelf op het sfeervolle, spannende en met grote regelmaat wonderschone What A Boost 

In Engeland kan Rozi Plain, het alter ego van de jonge Britse singer-songwriter Rosalind Leyden, al een paar jaar rekenen op zeer lovende recensies, maar met What A Boost moet ook Nederland aan de zegekar worden gebonden. Rozi Plain verrast op haar nieuwe album met een bloedstollend mooie en spannende instrumentatie, waarin prachtige gitaarlijnen gezelschap krijgen van avontuurlijke percussie en uiteenlopende maar altijd fraaie accenten. Het past allemaal prachtig bij de mooie stem van Rosalind Leyden, die laat horen dat ze zowel in folk, jazz, pop als rock uit de voeten kan.

Rosalind Leyden uit het Britse Winchester maakt al sinds haar jonge tienerjaren muziek en debuteerde in 2008 als Rozi Plain. Met het samen met haar broer Sam gemaakte debuut Inside Over Here oogstte de jonge muzikante vooral in het Verenigd Koninkrijk veel lof en ook de twee albums die volgden werden door de Britse muziekcritici zeer enthousiast ontvangen.

Rozi Plain maakte het afgelopen decennium niet alleen drie albums, maar trok ook de aandacht met de samenwerking met This Is The Kit (de band rond Kate Stables) en met een zorgvuldig opgebouwde live-reputatie.

Ik volg de Britse muziektijdschriften en muzieksites volgens mij behoorlijk goed, maar ik moet direct toegeven dat ik Rozi Plain tot een paar dagen geleden niet op het netvlies had. Dat is gek, al is het maar omdat Rozi Plain sinds haar debuut muziek maakt die ik op papier zeer kan waarderen. Ook in de praktijk bevalt de muziek van de Britse singer-songwriter me overigens zeer, weet ik na een inhaalslag op Spotify.

Het is muziek die vooralsnog met name in het hokje indie-folk wordt geduwd. Daar is wel iets voor te zeggen. Invloeden uit de folk spelen absoluut een rol in de muziek van de tegenwoordig vanuit Londen opererende singer-songwriter en Rozi Plain verwerkt deze invloeden op onafhankelijke en eigenzinnige wijze.

Op haar nieuwe album kleurt Rozi Plain echter zo ver buiten de lijntjes van de folk en indie-folk dat het hokje begint te knellen en daarom beter achterwege kan worden gelaten. What A Boost klinkt niet alleen folky, maar ook bluesy en jazzy en maakt indruk met een even rustgevende als opwindende instrumentatie.

Op haar vorige album, Friend uit 2015, maakte Rosalind Leyden nog avances richting elektronica en pop, maar dit keer flirt ze opzichtig met jazz. What A Boost werd opgenomen in het Total Refreshment Centre, het bruisende hart van de hippe Londense jazz-scene, waarbij bekende college muzikanten als Chris Cohen, Sam Amidon en een aantal minder bekende muzikanten, onder wie leden van bands als Trash Kit en This Is The Kit aanschoven.

Ondanks de hulp van flink wat extra muzikanten klinkt What A Boost sober en bij vlagen bijna minimalistisch. Sobere, maar wonderschone en zowel jazzy als bluesy en hier en daar zelfs gruizige gitaarlijnen worden gecombineerd met subtiele bijdragen van percussie, diepe bassen en een verdwaalde blazer, waarna de mooie stem van Rosalind Leyden zorgt voor de verdere inkleuring.

Het is een stem die What A Boost stiekem toch weer de kant van de folk op sleept, maar van 13 in een dozijn folk is geen moment sprake. Denk aan Kathryn Williams, maar dan toch weer heel anders.

What A Boost is door de sobere instrumentatie en de lome en heldere zang een rustgevend album, maar het is op hetzelfde moment een avontuurlijk album dat bol staat van de al dan niet onderhuidse spanning. What A Boost van Rozi Plain is soms dromerig en soms zelfs bijna hallucinerend, maar van wegdromen kan geen sprake zijn.

Steeds weer duiken bijzonder subtiele en opvallend trefzekere accenten op in de instrumentatie. De ene keer een saxofoon, de volgende keer subtiele synths en bijna altijd sprankelende percussie en fraaie gitaarlijnen. Het past allemaal prachtig bij de vocalen, die soms in meerdere lagen zijn opgenomen.

De songs van Rozi Plain zetten je constant op het verkeerde been, maar hoe vaker je ze hoort, hoe dierbaarder ze worden. What A Boost is mijn eerste kennismaking met de muziek van deze jonge Britse singer-songwriter en smaakt naar meer. Dat meer is deels al beschikbaar uit het verleden. Het oeuvre van Rosalind Leyden laat flinke groei horen en de rek is er nog lang niet uit. Desondanks kan What A Boost direct geschaard worden onder de meest bijzondere en mooiste albums van 2019 tot dusver.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt What A Boost hier kopen:

https://roziplain.bandcamp.com/album/what-a-boost


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

https://open.spotify.com/user/glazu53/playlist/6R9FgPd2btrMuMaIrYeCh6?si=KI6LzLaAS5K-wsez5oSO2g
 

dinsdag 4 juni 2019

BBC 4 Broadcast of The Beatles: Made on Merseyside. A conversation

Another conversation today. One that has been lying around for a bit too long, were it not that some additions came in over time.

Gary, 25-3:
You may be interested in the BBC 4 broadcast of The Beatles: Made on Merseyside? 21:00 Friday 21st March...


https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p074jc9v?xtor=ES-211-[21785]-[20190325]-[bbcfour_thebeatlesmadeonmerseyside_factualmusic

Mark, 27-3:
Thanks of spotting this, Gary. I think it may also be showing this weekend, Fri and Sat 29/30th. I see Amazon list it here:  B07FS25J2C and whereas John Paul and Ringo get star billing, young George is listed as "supporting actor" along with Pete Best, thus capturing very succinctly a running sore point in the history of the group! Useful if it brings together key people in the early 60s Beatles circle as many are now moving on to the great Beat Club gig in the sky.

Mark, 30-3:
I watched the programme last night. This was a so-so account, not very incisive and no rare clips or revelations. No Beatles taking part - just a couple of old interview clips with Paul - and  I'm always rather wary of Beatles films which feature none of their music - not a single note in 90 minutes (and there are quite few of these films), just fake Beatley background sounds every now and then. This is presumably because Apple, Paul and Ringo declined to back the project and the rights to include music were too costly. 

The original drummer Pete Best presents a lot of the eye-witness narrative but he's a very dull character and you can understand why the group cast him aside when they were starting to make an impact - and why they never spoke to him again. Also interviewed were a couple of Quarrymen (John's first proper group) who also seem very ordinary especially when you consider what John, Paul and George achieved individually as creators of the group's impact on music, society, breaking down social barriers, triggering the explosion in youth lifestyle and fashion - all despite the extremely limited and highly conservative media channels available to them in the early 1960s. A film has yet to be made I think of how these local lads, growing up in a post-war regional backwater, achieved and realised the opportunity to do all that - what they listened to, what they read, the art scene they were exposed to - all the factors that stimulated them and transformed their approach to creating music for people to enjoy.

A film hasn't really been made that shows what it was like as they slogged it out for years around the local clubs and halls trying to make a mark and break through. I have a few books which capture the experience of those early days with stories from people who saw them perform before the mania of 1963-64. 

The first part of the authorised Anthology film provides quite a good detailed account with previously unseen footage. The film Nowhere Man  about John meeting Paul is very evocative of life in Liverpool at that time - and very well acted - and Backbeat provides a very effective dramatised account of the Hamburg years.

Not entirely to be dismissed as a Beatles cash-in but this Made in Merseyside film didn't add much really to what is already well-known, the interviews were dull, no unseen footage - and having none of their music was a serious deficiency that detracts from it having wider more general appeal. 

Mark, 30-3:
Correction: the film about John meeting Paul is called "Nowhere Boy". The title anticipating of course that of the later song. It includes a spine-tingling moment when they first play together. 

Gary, 30-3:
Disappointing then Mark….

But as you say, the producers are restricted by the rights holders which makes it very difficult to make something worthwhile…. I suppose the other way to look at this is that to newer generations and those that are not aficionados like yourself this will be fresh and unknown.

It would be interesting to find out just who are the main protagonists and rights holders that are (apparently) stopping definitive documentaries or dramatisations about The Beatles and what their reasoning is behind not (seemingly) allowing what would be very profitable productions?

How is retirement feeling? May take a little while to get used to it… but it will be wonderful!

Looking forward to seeing Todd Rundgren with you next week Mark… I have now got the tickets. I will contact you later on the week and make final arrangements and find a suitable pre-gig restaurant.

Have. Great weekend both! 

Wout, 30-3:
It is a good question who holds the rights to The Beatles' oeuvre. A good guess is the Michael Jackson heirs, but as he died with multi million dollar debts they may have been sold once again.

(I looked it up today. In 2017 Sony ATV, who was in a joint venture with the Jackson estate, bought the family out for $ 750 million.)

I haven't found the time to look at the documentary yet. What you describe, Mark, reminds me of a "family tree" of London bands of the 60s I once saw in a magazine. It contained all sorts of obscure bands with one or two members that did make it. You see them go from band to band, leaving the less talented (or lucky) ones behind until they get into the group that got them to fame and sometimes glory, by meeting the right people at the right time.

It was the same for The Beatles. As teenager they played with friends slowly growing into The Beatles, until just around the recording of the first single recorded for EMI, 'Love Me Do'. It was only then they made the final switch by recruiting a unique drummer, who is totally underrated in my opinion. Who knows what would have happened with Pete Best still on board, but the band would have been less good, so perhaps had missed that one chance because of it. With the drumming - and dry wit- of Ringo Starr it was a match. That Pete Best, as the final one being left behind and in feel so close to world fame, remained embittered all his life, is only too well understood.

The two movies, 'Nowhere Boy' and 'Backbeat' indeed both show a world long gone and are interesting to watch. History is in the making here. The documentary seems to give some first hand commentary and as such can be valuable for the overall picture. It is not long and those voices will be silenced. Who knows what little dot was connected for the true Beatles scholar? For me there's only so much I need to know. Six months from now I'll be at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam listening to the integral performance of 'Abbey Road' by The Analogues. Now we're talking.

(A nice p.s. The percussionist of The Analogues lives just down my street I found out last week.)

Enjoy Todd Rundgrun and the weekend, gentlemen!

Here the conversation stopped, until Gary came across the following link:

Gary, 8-4:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-47854806 

(A few seconds clip, without sound, from The Beatles live performance on 'Top of the Pops' in the U.K. in 1966.)

Mark, 8-4:
Thanks Gary - two or three stills from that performance crop up regularly in books etc but I hadn't realised that the actual recording had been wiped by the BBC. Incredible that such a short fragment of a home recording was identified and kept.

For wholly unrelated amusement - and amazement at the sheer audacity and nerve of the thieves - when going to that BBC link I came across this: 
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-northern-ireland-47857633/cctv-shows-digger-ripping-out-dungiven-cash-machine

Gary, 9-4:
I suppose at this point the cash machine had ‘done-giving’?🤣

Gary, 29-5:
1966 silent film footage of yet another lost BBC Top of the Pops TV broadcast found: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-england-birmingham-48450810/footage-of-beatles-only-top-of-the-pops-live-show-found.

I get the impression that people are starting to go through their attics and basements looking for more lost gems!

Mark, 30-5
Thanks Gary. A grainy over-the-air fragment of a tv show broadcast over half a century ago is the musicologist's equivalent of an archaeologist's shard of a rare Etruscan vase. 

As I always do, I watched the daily nature programme Springwatch broadcast live from the Cairngorms National Park yesterday evening. It is the kind of brilliantly fascinating programme which only a public broadcaster like the BBC can produce. Yesterday the magazine style format of live coverage and recorded features suddenly switched to a clip from Top of the Pops in 1983 featuring Scottish band Orange Juice singing Rip It Up (the BBC in its later wisdom hadn't wiped this one).  Why? Well the storyline was an uplifting one of engagement with and the study of the natural world providing valuable health therapy both physical and psychiatric. The Orange Juice lead singer Edwyn Collins grew up on the east coast of Scotland with a keen interest in ornithology. In 2005 he suffered two major brain haemorrhages causing debilitating aphasia and physical paralysis on his right side. Heartbreaking to witness the impact of that but he can now speak again and can walk with the help of his wife. Key to the therapy for recovery has been to return to the paths along the Scottish cliffs to renew his interest in drawing sea-birds in flight, cruising effortlessly on the updrafts and nesting on the ledges. I remember the band well from John Peel sessions as being up there with the likes of Aztec Camera in the post-punk roster of unpretentious British bands creating finely crafted and highly original songs. So it was great to see Edwyn Collins yesterday back on his feet and speaking in such an inspirational way.

Gary, 30-5
Yes, I saw yesterday’s Spring Watch myself… I must have been distracted at that point because, as you say, there was the TOPs clip, which made me think that the TV channel had spontaneously changed… which had me scrambling for the remote!😆

Never was a fan of Orange Juice (which you would have thought would have been a Northern Irish protestant band?) or that genre, but as you say, it was a touching and inspiring storyline…

Enjoy the Highlands… and a have a wee dram or two for me!

Gary
Mark
Wout

maandag 3 juni 2019

Rammstein. Rammstein

What a cover! Rammstein presents us the match to light up everything. Like its new album does. 'Rammstein' lights up the day, the night and everything in between. God knows why it took the band 10 years to come up with a new album. In between there were enough tours and live cds/dvds but no new songs. So looking at 'Rammstein' I can conclude the band produced on average one song per year. If it takes this long to come up with an album full of quality like 'Rammstein' is, so be it.

The album opens with the first single that was released from the album. "Deutschland' made national newspapers, the news, everything. Rammstein is back, the message was overly clear. Controversial, everyone could read something in the shocking video and "Germany" is a tall, black woman. The video must have taken days if not weeks to shoot. All the publicity works, the cd is sold out all of the time.

But is the hue and cry justified? Oh, yes. 'Rammstein' musically is at the level of my two favourite Rammstein albums, 'Mutter' and 'Reise Reise'. A lot has been said about the lyrics already and I tend to agree that the subtlety and scariness of Till Lindemann's lyrics are not at the same level as then. That's the way things are. To be honest, if wanted to read lyrics I would buy a book. Music is about music and melody. 'Rammstein' scores nearly perfect here. The Tanzmetal is in full swing. The supertight, hard drumming is where all starts, the deep bass fills in the space behind the two guitars that play so extremely tight. Over this all it is the keyboards that are allowed the fantasy, the playfulness and a huge part of what sets Rammstein apart from most other metal bands. The dark and deep talk-singing of Lindemann is what remains to turn the deep darkness of Rammstein's music into songs. (And then there are lyrics.)

The true strength of Rammstein comes forward in the slow starting 'Puppe'. It starts ever so soft and slow. You know something is about to happen. The situation described by Lindemann is not a normal one. When is the explosion of total utter madness to come? Hearing it erupt, it is almost inconceivable that Rammstein is able to start this song, so soft and delicate. How can this band have it within itself?

Because of the variation in musical approaches throughout the album for me the album just grows. With Rammstein it is not just about force. The band is a master of dynamics, in sprinkling little bits of brilliant melodies into the strength and force. 'Was Ich Liebe' is another great example of the heights Rammstein can reach for successfully. In my opinion it holds all a good songs needs to contain. Whether it is a metal song or a pop song.

When with 'Diamant' the mood goes totally down, Rammstein has shown the world once again all the elements that make it a great band. From the epic metal song 'Deutschland' to the metalpop of 'Radio', the madness of "Puppe', the great pop in 'Was Ich Liebe' and a true, beautiful ballad in 'Diamant'. 'Rammstein' contains it all and in a way that it can compete with what was before, successfully too.

Only one question remains. Do I like 'Rammstein' this much because it took so long before a new song reached me? My guess is not. Simply because if the songs had not been up to Rammstein's par, I would have known immediately, wouldn't I? They do and I'm the better for it.

Wo.


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

https://open.spotify.com/user/glazu53/playlist/6R9FgPd2btrMuMaIrYeCh6?si=KI6LzLaAS5K-wsez5oSO2g

zondag 2 juni 2019

No Saint. Lauren Jenkins

De vijver met jonge vrouwelijke singer-songwriters in het countrypop segment zit momenteel overvol, maar Lauren Jenkins zou ik er zeker uitvissen

Rootspuristen halen hun neus er voor op, maar persoonlijk hou ik wel van veel albums die in het hokje countrypop passen. In dit hokje behoort nieuwkomer Lauren Jenkins direct tot de uitblinkers met prima songs, een aanstekelijk geluid met voldoende twang en vooral met een heerlijke stem, die goed uit de voeten kan in de country, maar ook zwoel en jazzy kan klinken. Gelouterde producers en topmuzikanten zorgen voor het mooie geluid, maar het is Lauren Jenkins zelf die deze plaat een flink stuk de hoogte in stuwt met een stem die van ieder popliedjes een goed popliedje kan maken en ook nog eens de rootsmuziek trouw blijft.

Ik werd vorige week toch wel wat teleurgesteld door Girl, het nieuwe album van Maren Morris. Na het geweldige Hero uit 2016 stelde Maren Morris vorige week teleur met nogal zouteloze countrypop, die net wat te vaak flirtte met eendimensionale pop.
 
Heel lang hoeven we er gelukkig niet over te treuren, want de vijver met jonge countrypop zangeressen zit momenteel overvol. Het grootste nieuwe talent dat we er op het moment uit kunnen vissen is zonder enige twijfel Lauren Jenkins.
 
De jonge singer-songwriter, die ruim 27 jaar werd geboren in Arlington, Texas, verkent net als onder andere Maren Moris de grens tussen Amerikaanse rootsmuziek en radiovriendelijke popmuziek, maar blijft op haar debuut No Saint constant aan de goede kant van de streep.
 
Luister naar No Saint en je hoort vrijwel onmiddellijk wat het sterkste wapen van Lauren Jenkins is. De jonge Amerikaanse zangeres beschikt over een warme en licht hese stem, die is gemaakt voor zwoele countrypop. Het wordt nog wat zwoeler door het heerlijke Zuidelijke accent van Lauren Jenkins, die geen geheim maakt van haar afkomst (al groeide ze op in North Carolina).
 
De stem van Lauren Jenkins, die haar tijd momenteel verdeelt tussen Nashville, New York en North Carolina, kan klinken als die van een typische countryzangeres, maar ze kan ook opschuiven richting een meer jazzy geluid, dat ook in vocaal opzicht wel wat doet denken aan Norah Jones.
 
Het zorgt voor een in vocaal opzicht veelkleurig debuut en dat is het ook in muzikaal opzicht. Lauren Jenkins kan uit de voeten in meer traditionele countrysongs met hier en daar wat stevigere gitaren, maar ze kan ook opschuiven richting zich langzaam voortslepende ballads, waarin haar stem zwoeler en gevoeliger klinkt.
 
Vrijwel alles dat Lauren Jenkins op No Saint doet is goed, wat knap is voor een debuterend singer-songwriter. Toeval is het niet, want er is flink geïnvesteerd in het debuut van Lauren Jenkins. Voor No Saint kon een beroep worden gedaan op een leger aan gastmuzikanten en op meerdere gelouterde producers uit Nashville. Dat is te horen, want de plaat klinkt geweldig en overtuigt makkelijk, welke kant Lauren Jenkins ook opschiet op haar debuut.
 
Het is uiteindelijk vooral de verdienste van de jonge Amerikaanse zelf, want ze schreef mee aan alle songs op de plaat en drukt met haar bijzondere stem een stempel op alle songs. Rootspuristen zullen het waarschijnlijk wat te glad en te poppy vinden, maar voor rootsliefhebbers die niet bang zijn voor een beetje pop is het smullen. No Saint is ook nog eens een groeiplaat, want de aangename countrypop songs met hier en daar flink wat twang, worden bij herhaalde beluistering alleen maar lekkerder en onweerstaanbaarder.

Een plaat van het niveau van No Saint had ik vorige week verwacht van de in 2016 de hemel in geprezen Maren Morris, maar de debuterende Lauren Jenkins heeft hem gemaakt. Zeker in de gaten houden deze dame, want met een debuut als No Saint op zak en een stem die alles doet smelten, kan Lauren Jenkins wel eens heel groot gaan worden.

Erwin Zijleman

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

https://open.spotify.com/user/glazu53/playlist/6R9FgPd2btrMuMaIrYeCh6?si=KI6LzLaAS5K-wsez5oSO2g