donderdag 17 januari 2019

2000 Motels Live, Patronaat Haarlem, Sunday 13 January 2019

Photo by Wo.
Tribute bands are no longer an exception in the program of venues. They come by in all shapes and seizes. International touring bands, sort of endorsed by the original, bands in which no original member is playing but the name continues on, there is The Analogues of course, bands that are more or less cover bands and everything in between.

My first show in 2019 was with a Frank Zappa tribute band called 2000 Motels. It was years since I played most of my Zappa records. With the exception of 'One Size Fits All' all records by Zappa remain in their allotted, alphabetical, chronological order in respective shapes and sizes. That fact was not keeping me from going.

Zappa live? Yes, in 1980 and 1982 in Ahoy, Rotterdam. I remember the more negative experience strangely enough. The man kept playing guitar solos in 1982. There was just no end and they all sounded the same. Everything he did was an excuse to "take it away" or he was the conductor waving his baton at the band, leading them through all the complex parts.

Not so with 2000 Motels. Here it is the singer who created the band around him. Of course there were some nice solos but the songs of Zappa stood central here and not the compositions or the improvising side of Zappa. Hence it was easy to have a good time. It all started with 'Can't Afford No Shoes'. I certainly can not sing along to all Zappa songs, but this one I know by heart. It grabbed me immediately and brought me into the mood for this show. The blues-rock song from my favourite album, yeah!

Photo by Wo.
All sort of different songs came by from the 60s to the 80s. 'Uncle Remus', 'Sharleena', 'I Don't Wanna Get Drafted', Zappa's greatest hit, #3 in Sweden -Wikipedia tells differently: #1 in Sweden and Norway with Bobby Brown in 1979-, 'Let's Make The Water Turn Black' just to name a few. The intro to Gruppo Sportivo's(!?) 'Superman' came by.

What 2000 Motels managed to show was how diverse Zappa's are even without going into the heavy stuff. Even the most simple songs are adorned with all sorts of complexities, rhythmic oddities, etc. For an at heart four piece instrumental band, impossible to copy. No percussionist, no second and third guitarist, no horns, no five different singers.

And that brings me to the weakest part of 2000 Motels, mind this is written with a lot of respect for Wouter Helmink and Olga Meijer, there is no way one band can even loosely emulate the diversity of voices Frank Zappa let loose on the world. Let alone the, well almost, weirdest one of all: his own. Ray White, Ike Willis, Napoleon 'Murphy' Brock, George Duke, Ray Collins and all those others. To their credit the two singers of 2000 Motels are who they are, don't pretend to be someone else and do a great job.

The Zappa groove in the instrumental parts/solos comes across so nicely. Drums and bass get into the groove with obvious pleasure. It is guitarist Jan van der Veen who takes the spotlight most with his recreation of Zappa's solos. Playing them with obvious delight and such a strong sense of timing. I really admired that. Adding it all up, 2000 Motels certainly comes out the right way.

Photo by Wo.
What is also obvious, in 2019 with #MeToo just behind us, most of the lyrics Zappa wrote to provoke the Tipper Gore's of this world, just can't be written any more. There was a time for them and that time was circa 1980. The sniggering I did at the lyrics, as far as I understood them, I'll admit, now turn into a little embarrassment. Let's say I don't mind not having to sing them on stage. At the same time these songs are a time document and let's keep them that way,

If you're a Frank Zappa fan, do not hesitate to go and look at 2000 Motels. The band does great and those small setbacks like not having a Frank Zappa baritone, are easily over won. Yes, I did really and truly enjoy myself. I even took out some of my old LPs this week.


You can find information on 2000 Motels here:

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

woensdag 16 januari 2019

Fool. Joe Jackson

With his previous album Joe Jackson totally took me by surprise. The album was received and just left on the shelf. Joe Jackson was from the past and I was sure he would stay there judging by most of what I had heard by him since the late 80s/early 90s. And then I put on 'Fast Forward' anyway. It turned out to be one of my favourite albums of this decade. (Read the review here:

So for the first time in decades a new album by Joe Jackson comes with expectations. Were they met?

My first impression was direct. This is a far lighter album than its predecessor. Joe Jackson shows a little of his poppier side. The more Fool showed of itself the more that impression disappeared. Now Joe Jackson is not one inclined to write true pop. For that he seems to lack a light and exuberant side. There is always something serious lurking in the background, at a minimum. Even an 80s hit song from the 80s like 'Happy Ending' does not give the impression or even the illusion there will be one.

Digging deeper into Fool, the intricate arrangements come forward, slowly but surely. The slow lingering beauty lying within the songs unfold note by note. It is not hard to become impressed with many of the eight songs on the album. They put me in this mood where I comfort myself, dancing with myself in my mind. Especially 'Alchemy' takes me there. The soft playing, there's even a guitar solo in there, "beautiful dancers fly into the air", simply envelopes me totally. The slow notes on the piano, the short bursts of the string section. This is a special song (despite the fact that I thought Jackson was singing about a balcony...). It ends Fool in such a beautiful way. A dream of a song. When its over it is still there, within me lingering on softly.

The contrast with the beginning of the album is huge. 'Big Black Cloud' sounds as menacing as it is titled. Dark guitars, mean howls. Joe Jackson's voice is as firm as it was 41 years ago. No longer mad at the world, just at the weather(man). The song is a statement and one that works. 'Big Black Cloud' has an urgency that simply works. The music as dark as the title. It is the right song to open Fool with. Something is going on, tempting the listener to continue. The interlude is so strong the piano, the smashing drums, the menacing guitar. Oh, yeah.

Press picture: John Huba
With the second song, 'Fabulously Absolute', the early years of his career truly reappear. Direct, urgent but so much more detailed in the way it is arranged. Here shows the years of experience Joe Jackson has gained since 1978/9. 'Fabulously Absolute' is so much richer in sound, while not missing the point it wants to make. Anger and starting a career have been replaced by the knowledge of living. I reached to this conclusion and later read these words by Joe Jackson, taken only slightly out of context, when looking for information on who's playing on the album: "I couldn't have done this in 1979. I just hadn't lived enough". The band is the same as his 'Fast Forward' touring band, guitarist Teddy Kumpel, drummer Doug Yowell and, of course, bassist Graham Maby.

With 'Dave' the album dives in deeper and more or less sets the standard for Fool. Joe Jackson continues here at his best, blending his form of pop(balladry) with a layer of melancholy, storytelling, and high end musicianship. Just listen to the delicateness with which 'Strange Land' plays itself out. The fine, few notes of his piano tell all, while the other instruments move around him. almost as if they aren't there, but would be sorely missed if the wouldn't.

With 'Friend Better' Joe Jackson does a 50% tribute. This is a classic Steely Dan song in the verses. The way the piano is played, the melody, the guitar sound, the whole feel. In the chorus Joe Jackson makes his his own song any way, with a wry advice from a wise man: "lover good, friend better".

By then it is clear that Joe Jackson is looking back on 40 years in the business but getting his inspiration from the album for which he is most loved by his fans. By doing this he has come up with his second fantastic album in the 10s. The impact will never be what he had in the early to mid 80s, but such is the way of older artists. However, when an artist at 64 can come up a fine album like fool, and yes, I like the folky-Caribbean title song also, he has every right to feel proud.

The shows are all sold out I found. What to do?


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

dinsdag 15 januari 2019

The Fernweh. The Fernweh

The Fernweh uit Liverpool neemt je mee terug naar het verleden en verrast met een vat vol invloeden verpakt in prachtige songs.

Dom natuurlijk om je debuut helemaal aan het eind van het jaar uit te brengen, want dit is schreeuwen om een gebrek aan aandacht. Het is zonde, want The Fernweh beschikt over de potentie om achteraf geschaard te worden onder de grote beloften die voortkwamen uit het muziekjaar 2018. De band doet dit met muziek die begint in de zomer van de liefde en vervolgens vooral in de Britse folk van de late jaren 60 en vroege jaren 70 blijft hangen. Althans, dat denk je, want The Fernweh blijft maar verrassen op dit buitengewoon aangename maar ook buitengewoon knappe debuut. 

De naam van de Britse band The Fernweh (Duits voor heimwee naar de vakantie) zingt echt al maanden rond en net nu je het niet meer verwacht is het debuutalbum van de band uit Liverpool dan eindelijk verschenen.

Het is een onhandig moment om een debuut uit te brengen en het is zeker een onhandig moment voor een memorabel debuut als dat van The Fernweh. De band uit Liverpool heeft immers alles dat nodig is om uit te groeien tot de lievelingen van de Britse muziekpers en de grote beloften van 2018 en in het geval van The Fernweh is daar helemaal niets op af te dingen.

Het titelloze debuut van The Fernweh begint midden in de Summer Of Love van 1967. De vloeistof dia’s erbij pakken en klaar ben je. De Amerikaanse westkust wordt echter al snel verruild voor de archieven van de Britse popmuziek. Dit begint bij Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band van stadgenoten The Beatles en komt via The Village Green Preservation Society van The Kinks uit bij de Britse folkrock uit de late jaren 60 en vroege jaren 70 van bijvoorbeeld Fairport Convention.

The Fernweh pint zich echter nergens op vast. Net als je denkt dat de band kiest voor de folk, vliegen de gitaren uit de bocht en hoor je zelfs wat van de jonge Rolling Stones. Niet veel later zwengelt een aangenaam zeurend orgeltje toch weer de invloeden uit de psychedelica aan en zo gebeurt er van alles op deze plaat. Ook met psychedelica, folk en rock heb je nog niet alle invloeden op het debuut van The Fernweh te pakken, want de band uit Liverpool raakt af en toe ook aan de progrock bands uit de jaren 70 (met meer Genesis dan Yes), al blijft het bombast achterwege.

The Fernweh verrast 14 tracks en ruim drie kwartier lang met melodieuze, lome en bijzonder fraai georkestreerde muziek. Zeker wanneer de band kiest voor de folk is de muziek van The Fernweh uiterst ingetogen en word je zomaar een aantal decennia teruggeworpen in de tijd. Het grootste deel van de plaat neemt je mee terug naar de hoogtijdagen van de Britse folk en psychedelica, maar The Fernweh zet je ook met enige regelmaat op het verkeerde been en verwerkt dan toch opeens weer invloeden uit andere tijden en andere genres, waardoor de band ook kan raken aan The Doors, The Beach Boys, The Byrds, The Zombies, om maar een paar namen te noemen.

De late jaren 60 en vroege jaren 70 domineren op het debuut van de band uit Liverpool, maar The Fernweh is ook niet bang voor invloeden uit de late jaren 70 en vroege jaren 80, wat nog wat andere verrassende accenten toevoegt aan het bijzondere geluid van de band. Er zijn de afgelopen meer bands geweest met een geluid als dat van The Fernweh, met The Coral als beste voorbeeld, maar uiteindelijk vind ik de muziek van de nieuwe band uit Liverpool net wat knapper en mooier. Fraai debuut zo aan het einde van 2018.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt The Fernweh hier kopen:

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

maandag 14 januari 2019

Prins Obi & The Dream Warriors. Prins Obi & The Dream Warriors

Prins, notice the Dutch spelling, Obi and the Dream Warriors. Another band with a special name from the Greek Inner Ear Records label. Tango With Lions, The Frog Ensemble, Vagina Lips, all not your average band names.

Another resemblance is a love for music from decades back. In this case the love reaches all the way back to the late 60s, so influence from a band like The Kinks is not hard to detect as is 60s psychedelia and the postpunk/new wave from the late 70s

Still, 'Prins Obi ...' is not an easy to digest album. This is not love at first sight, but more a strained relationship that is very worthwhile maintaining, but involves dedication and work.

Prins Obi and the Dream Warriors is the solo vehicle of George Diakenesis, singer of the band Baby Guru and pharmacist in a more daily life. After 2017's 'The Age of Tourlou', he returned with a new album in November of 2018. Assisted by a host of musicians, his live band turned backing band, Diakenesis delivers a versatile album touching on several musical styles, moods and languages. His native tongue can be heard in two songs, that also have a title written in Greek.

Promo photo: Eftychia Vlachou
The start of the album knows no holding back. 'Concentration' may start with an electronic sound or two. The band kicks in and a Bowie influenced song kicks in full force. A 'Hang On To Yourself' kind of beat and staccato playing form the backbone of the song. Find Bowie again in 'Fingers' later on. 'Flower Child' is even louder, while being adorned with psych traits. Two chords just go up and down at a heavy pace. An up tempo 'Set Me Free'. A wah wah solo tops things off nicely. It is in the tightness of playing that I detect the postpunk/new wave, that will slowly disappear completely from the album.

In 'Negative People' the tempo does not so much go down, the song does provide an insight in what Prins Obi ... is capable of. The band is not afraid to strip down its sound nor of a bit weird chorus. This chorus is deep 60s shit. Something like 'Mother Nohead' by Group 1850. The combination with the tight verses and bass/drums in the chorus works well. The details in 'Negative People' show that the song is well worked out with a keen ear.

This level is kept up effortlessly in the song that follows, 'Astral Lady Blues', although it is more classic in its outcome. The surprise comes in the first Greek song. I think it says 'Divi' in my spelling and I hear the word yassou, but there my knowledge stops. A nice little organ adorns the psychedelic ballad. The bass, played by Sergios Voudris, again, is a prominent feature in this song. The second Greek song is also slower. The 60s are there again, yet in a much more poppy way. That also goes for the song that follows. 'Sally Junipero' is the kind of psych pop David Bowie was capable of in the late 60s and early 70s. In short there is a lot of variation and approaches to enjoy, making it harder for me to comment on consistency. Were it not that most songs make it to a necessary standard: quality.

Promo photo: Eftychia Vlachou
The tightness of the first bunch of songs have been left behind for a while when I get to the end of the album. In 'Guilty Pleasure Theme' the band goes off the straight path some more. Getting close to Frank Zappa's 'Freak Out' outings. Weirdness is not far away here.

Prins Obi and the Dream Warriors fall into a long line of modern bands delving musically into a time long gone. The interesting thing is that the band does not let itself be captured in one sound or style. Diakenesis is not the best singer and his songs in many ways have been heard before, but what he does right is to make intriguing music and capturing different styles in the exact right ways. When a The Kinks style ballad, 'Wide Open', ends 'Prins Obi ...' I feel fulfilled but also ready to play the album effortlessly again. Not my every day, run of the mill music this is, but, yes, simply good.


You can listen to and buy Prins Obi & The Dream Warriors here:

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

zondag 13 januari 2019

EP. Boygenius

1+1+1 is in de muziek lang niet altijd 3, maar Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers en Lucy Dacus maken er 4 of 5 van.

Julien Baker en Phoebe Bridgers maakten voor mij de beste twee platen van 2017, terwijl Lucy Dacus in 2018 zeker mee deed in mijn jaarlijstje over 2018 met het fraaie Historian. Als Boygenius bundelen de drie de krachten en combineren ze op fraaie wijze hun bijzondere stemmen, veelkleurige gitaarspel en songwriting skills. De zes songs op Boygenius beginnen bij de individuele talenten van de drie, maar de talenten grijpen al snel in elkaar en tillen de songs op EP vervolgens naar een hoger plan. Ik kijk nu al uit naar de nieuwe platen van de drie, maar ook deze samenwerking smaakt naar veel meer. 

Julien Baker en Phoebe Bridgers bereikten vorig jaar de eerste twee posities van mijn jaarlijstje met hun albums Turn Out The Lights en Stranger In The Alps. Lucy Dacus leverde eerder dit jaar met Historian een van de betere platen van 2018 af.

Hoe mooi zou het zijn als deze drie dames hun krachten zouden bundelen en dat is precies wat Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers en Lucy Dacus hebben gedaan. Als Boygenius zijn ze al een tijdje aan het toeren en nu ligt er dan ook een EP, die wat eerder opduikt dan eerder werd aangekondigd.

De EP die voor het gemak de titel EP heeft gekregen bevat zes songs en 21 minuten muziek. Het is een EP die gezien de voorgeschiedenis alleen maar prachtig kan zijn en dat is hij dan ook.

De jonge muzikanten (Phoebe Bridgers is 24, Julien Baker en Lucy Dacus zijn 23) nemen afwisselend het voortouw en drukken voorzichtig hun eigen stempel op de songs waarin de eigen rol net wat groter is. Phoebe Bridgers excelleert in akoestische songs vol melancholie, Julie Baker kan fluisterzachte zang in een paar noten laten uitbarsten in een passionele schreeuw en Lucy Dacus combineert haar prachtige stem bij voorkeur met een licht explosieve en veelkleurige instrumentatie.

De drie leden van Boygenius beschikken alle drie over een stem waar ik van hou, maar het zijn ook nog eens stemmen die prachtig bij elkaar kleuren en die elkaar weten te versterken wanneer wordt gekozen voor harmonieën, wat op EP met enige regelmaat zorgt voor kippenvel.

Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers en Lucy Dacus zijn niet alleen zangeressen die me raken, maar het zijn ook prima gitaristen. Phoebe Bridgers strooit op EP met bezwerende gitaarlijnen, Julien Baker zorgt voor de ruimte en de dynamiek, terwijl Lucy Dacus vooral prachtig buiten de lijntjes kleurt.

In vocaal en muzikaal opzicht overtuigt de eerste EP van Boygenius vrij makkelijk, maar ook de songs van het drietal vallen zeker niet tegen. In vocaal en muzikaal opzicht vloeien de talenten van Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers en Lucy Dacus prachtig samen en dat doen ze ook in de songs, al hoor je goed wie het voortouw neemt en is niet moeilijk om te bepalen welke songs hadden gepast op Turn Out The Lights, welke op Stranger In The Alps en welke op Historian.

Zeker wanneer de drie kiezen voor fraaie harmonieën, schuift Boygenius voorzichtig op richting de Amerikaanse rootsmuziek, wat de rocksongs van het drietal van nog wat extra diepte voorziet en de muziek van Boygenius nog wat extra meerwaarde geeft. 21 minuten zijn snel om wanneer muziek je zo weet te raken als de muziek van Boygenius doet, maar de songs zijn zo goed dat je de EP best twee of drie keer na elkaar kunt beluisteren.

Op voorhand hoopte ik natuurlijk dat Boygenius het beste van de drie platen die ik zo koester zou verenigen, maar 1+1+1 is in de muziek lang niet altijd 3. EP van Boygenius begon bij mij echter direct bij ruim 3, maar de 4 of zelfs de 5 zijn inmiddels binnen handbereik. Natuurlijk moeten Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers en Lucy Dacus hun eigen platen blijven maken, maar dat Boygenius levensvatbaar is lijkt me duidelijk. Laat maar snel komen dat volwaardige debuut.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt de EP hier beluisteren en kopen:

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

zaterdag 12 januari 2019

Taïfun - Holden Goldmund split 12"

"Two bands, two countries, three labels and one love for Motorpsycho". That in ultimate shortness sums up the release of this split album by the Belgian band Taïfun and Dutch band Holden Goldmund. (And as a historian I can't help to add that both bands come from a former bishopric principality Liège and Utrecht.)

Two bands that I had never heard of and it proves inconsequential. The music the two bands presents is of the mesmerising kind. Songs that are sort of mysterious, in which a lot is happening. Liking Motorpsycho does not mean that songs have to be 10 or 20 minutes. The bands on this split album manage to make their points in a lot less, but never under three. The trick is done in the way the instruments weave in and out of each other, the layering of sounds, the attack in the songs and of the songs. The point gets made, period.

Taïfun is around since 2005 and has released several records since then. As I said there's nothing to compare for me, so I can only sing the praise of these four songs. And there is a lot to praise. Let me start with the last song of the four, 'Whales'. Here Taïfun builds a cathedral of music and breaks it down again, brick by brick. In sound the song reminds me of TMGS without the hardrocking part. The mood and build up are just like some of the loudest TMGS songs. So that is a major plus. The instrumental, long intro lets all band members go full out. Rocking, pumping, whaling, the struggle between whale and human, in the old days, may be reproduced here musically. As if when all get tired and it is unclear who's gonna win, the song collapses within it self and the singing comes in after over 4.30 minutes. The voices of Frank Malsano and Pete Marshall sing close together. The only thing lacking is a final statement. 'Whales' just peters out unexpectedly. For the rest the Liège based band created a winner here.

The fun started about 16 minutes before with the alternative rocker 'Boomerang'. With a hint at psychedelia. The singing wavers between ghosts and zombies, while the guitars play some interesting lines that move out in all sorts of directions. "We move around, around into the dark" is the final line, underscoring the mystery hanging over 'Boomerang'. Motorpsycho comes out strongest in 'Heart of Hearts'. The dark, strongly overdriven bass guitar, the wobbly lead guitar and the change within the song. Classic Motorpsycho. Taïfun shows that an inventive band can capture a lot in just 3.32".

Holden Goldmund is more of a band for the occasion. Singer/guitarist Jacco van Elst is the heart of the band, who also plays in This Leo Sunrise and The Fire Harvest. Together with bass player Matthijs Thomassen and drummer Dave Mollen he recorded four songs late spring 2018. The first gig was only in October of 2018. The contrast with a band like Taïfun is rather large. But friendship is friendship. Hence this release.

There is a contrast in music as well. Holden Goldmund is a trio and sounds like one. The mystery in the songs is the common denominator. The major difference is in the way the songs are presented. Holden Goldmund is far more subtle and less direct. The effect is not in the technical prowess of the playing and layering of songs, but in the atmosphere and openness of the songs. Something that is a result, most likely, of being able to record four songs over a period of six months and do it all in one day.

The great fun of this split album is that both bands totally succeed and convince in what they present. In Holden Goldmund all three musicians play an equal role. The drums, bass and guitar all come forward as equal partners in the songs. Every detail in the playing is audible with ease. Listen to 'Feet' and it is instantly audible what I mean. The fine drumming of Mollen shows through in every second of the song, the bass is an entity on its own and the guitar supports Van Elst's singing, until at the end it is allowed to take off in a fiery solo.

'Table Tale' is an alternative ballad. The aim is not beauty, but the effect on me is the same. Van Elst sings in a deeper register than a ballad usually holds. "I know so little of these things". The wonder of that line shows through in the whole song. It wanders on, without ever finding what it may be looking for, without knowing what it is looking for even perhaps. The result is a beautiful song that captures me instantly.

The EP ends with an alternative pop song. 'The Drunk' comes close to what a band like Maggie Brown does, but with a dangerous edge, making it just this little harder to digest, but no less so interesting.

Summing up, I hear two very different bands that somehow wanted to release music together. Does it really fit together? My primal inclination is no, yet when I turn over that 12" record, I get engrossed immediately by the other band, The final verdict has to be yes.


You can listen to and buy the 12" split album here:

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

vrijdag 11 januari 2019

C'Mon C'Mon C'Mon. Brad Marino

This may be the shortest song reviewed on this blog to date. The new single by Brad Marino shoots out of the starting block like a 100 meter runner, who manages to continue at that pace over 20 fold the distance before he collapses at the finish line.

It is not that C'Mon C'Mon C'Mon is that fast, no, it is delightfully tempoed, melodically strong and captures the poppy side of The Ramones and mixes it with the strongest songs by Blondie. Brad Marino recreates the singing of Joey Ramone as if he's his long lost twin brother.

At 2.06 this single has the length of an early 60s hitsingle. And at heart that is what this sped up and pumped song is. Within it it holds all that made 60s singles so delightful to listen to right up to this day. Whether the early Beach Boys, the Beatles and the Stones and all those other heroes, like the Golden Earrings, yes, with an 's' in those days, Q65, Shocking Blue or the Outsiders in this country. Pure pop with an ever sharper edge. Brad Marino mixes this pop feel with a second half of the 70s pop as that is what the Ramones et al produced at the time; when all is said and done. Listening in 2019 it is easy to discern those deep pop influences, just like they are in C'Mon C'Mon C'Mon.

No matter how short, this single is perfect. Including two different guitar solos for the aficionados and, yes, I am one. So, in all sorts of ways this is the kind of song that makes me happy: from start to finish. Brad Marino and band simply do everything right here.

Whatever else one can write about music that has been played over and over through the past decades, this single is simply a stellar release. It holds it all and then some more.


You can listen to and buy C'Mon C'Mon C'Mon here:

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

Ataraxia. Matteo Myderwyk

Matteo Myderwyk is someone who does not have the brakes on where his music is concerned. This is his third album in 18 months. I never got around reviewing one of them, although his music has come by in 'Kairos', a program on Concertzender reviewed or better discussed once a month on this blog. And Ataraxia is a contender for a spot on the show. (Are you paying attention, .No?)

Early January is an easy going time for a reviewer. Hell will break loose soon, but not yet. In other words, Myderwyk's release is well-timed for a rockloving reviewer as I am. At the same time this music, one man, one piano, touches me. The atmosphere is utterly relaxed, laidback. Myderwyk tingles his keys in a slow way, seemingly searching for the right notes to play, sometimes as if hesitating ever so slightly what choice to make.

The album is called Ataraxia. Looking the term up on Wikipedia, the following definition is given: "Ataraxia (ἀταραξία, literally, "unperturbedness", generally translated as "imperturbability", "equanimity", or "tranquillity") is a Greek philosophical term for a lucid state of robust equanimity that was characterized by ongoing freedom from distress and worry". Listening to the music I can totally understand the title.

Things become slightly more difficult when all the tracks in Ataraxia are called Axioma (I - XIII). Again thank you Wikipedia: "An axiom or postulate is a statement that is taken to be true, to serve as a premise or starting point for further reasoning and arguments. The word comes from the Greek axíōma (ἀξίωμα) 'that which is thought worthy or fit' or 'that which commends itself as evident".

Now an axiom could provide a peace of mind leading to ataraxia, yet could also lead to discussion, debate, anxiety. So what is it to be? Let me return to the music Matteo Myderwyk plays. The slow notes played here give me the idea Myderwyk knows an inner peace of mind that he is able to translate into his playing and more importantly his composing. On Ataraxia there seems nothing that can disturb him in any way. The great thing is that he shares this inner ease with all his listeners. Listening to the first axiomas brings me into a peaceful state of mind as well. Soon there's nothing in this world except for the slow moving chords and notes of the composition. In that the difference with another album released on 11 January, Spidergawd's 'V', could hardly be more extreme.

Yes, Ataraxia is very far from my bed of (indie)rock, Americana and such, yet this is an album that is totally worth while listening to and to enjoy, rock addict or not.


You can buy Ataraxia here:

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

donderdag 10 januari 2019

V. Spidergawd

V starts with a saxophone honking away as if there's no band, no other music, nothing. Just a street artist playing his heart out. As if in one of the incredibly long underground tunnels in Paris or London, where the music comes to you from far off and sometimes the source is never seen, just slowly fades away, after taking another turn.

At 40 seconds the band comes in, hesitantly at first. The is the final moment of hesitation for band and listener. Spidergawd pumps up the volume with no looking back. If had to sum up in one sentence, this The Who song does it all: "Long Live Rock"!

Spidergawd is a band from Trondheim in Norway. Like a few other bands that featured on these pages in the past years. Drummer Kenneth Kapstad srummed in one of them until 2016: Motorpsycho. The band started in 2013 with Bent Sæther of Motorpsycho on bass. In 2019 singer guitarist Per Borten, Rolf Martin Snustad on saxophone and bass player Hallvard Gaardløs make up the band. V is the fifth album of Spidergawd since 2014, missing 2018 by 11 days, so nearly one album per year.

As I wrote, long live rock captures it all. 50 years of rock are captured in the music of Spidergawd. The riffs of old as created by the first generation rock and metal bands fly around like it is, let's say, 1973. The Who, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep, it's all here and more. Of course a little Metallica is added, some Guns 'N' Roses. Borten's voice seems made for a hardrock wail. He has that force in his voice that allows it go into some kind of scream without losing control.

I am not even a huge fan of the genre. Yes, I have some of the classic singles and albums, but they are certainly not my first choice when I put on a record. Rest assured, I am enjoying myself tremendously with V. Spidergawd plays a lot of the right strings. Good melodies, fabulous riffing, accents and dynamics make up all eight songs. Nearly each time without overdoing it. That usually is the moment I'm turned off quite fast. On V technique is in support of the song and not vice versa.

Spidergawd is not afraid to show what its influences are. From there it builds its own universe. A solid wall of sound, with the saxophone as a unique signature for a hardrock band. At the same time the band is able to write songs that matter and make a difference. The band is super tight. The Motorpsycho link is also evident, but from there the attention is diverted to the song and not to the experiment. There already is a Motorpsycho in my universe, now there also is a Spidergawd. A great time to be had by all.


You can order V here:

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

woensdag 9 januari 2019

Me And You. Dieter van der Westen Band

This album is around for some time, but as I only got acquainted with it through the delightful live show the band played after the superb TMGS show in Leiden last December (read on here: I decided to pay it some, well-deserved attention.

The atmosphere of Americana, of long and dusty trails in the U.S. are captured very well on Me And You. The endless road, dust, thirst and a destination that is still so far off. 'Driving Home', the opening song with its subtle fiddle, draws these pictures in my mind. Desert as far as I can look and beyond. "Driving home on my own", Van der Westen sings and he sure isn't happy with his situation. This is a very fine song to open an album with.

In the title song again this laidback but also slightly dismayed mood hangs over it all. "There's nothing left to talk about", sounds sort of ominous for a relationship. The accompaniment is fitting. Sober, yet full. The drums and bass lay a natural foundation for the other instruments to play over. There's an acoustic guitar, but also either a banjo or dobro and a fiddle. Slow notes escaping the background, providing the songs with its texture but also something sad. The slightly rough voice of Dieter van der Westen makes things off. There's no space for happiness with a voice like that it seems.

So Me And You is not a happy album. At the same time there is so much to enjoy. Van der Westen and his band capture beauty. The subtle kind. So when the listener settles in and listens to what is presented, it is highly likely that (s)he'll be caught by this beauty. I personally find it easy to be enraptured by this music and thoroughly get treated by music that is captivating in several ways. Beside pleasant songs, it is clear these musicians are very accomplished, they sing well together and manage to bring something special to each single song.

Moving into the album Dieter van der Westen Band also gets more varied in its songs, adding another plus to the already positive picture. To top things off, the band presents its version 'Jesse James'. The kind of song that is easy to sing along to, but also has an authenticity that spans the nearly 100 years since the song was first recorded in 1924 by Bascom Lamar Lunsford. Next up is a totally off record song, bringing in a kind of funky stuff, the title reminding me of Sly and the Family Stone. It may be so different, again it is done so well. Another side to this band for sure.

As you can read, there are many reasons why trying out Me And You might be a good idea. It's about time you do so if you haven't so far.


You can listen to and buy Me And You here:

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

dinsdag 8 januari 2019

David Bowie for dummies, 2019

Today is 8 January 2019. David Bowie would have turned 72, were it not that he's dead for nearly three years already. It is three years to the day his brilliant last album was released, 'Blackstar'. An album that impresses me for three years now. Of course Bowie's demise provided an extra layer, but my review was ready the moment I heard of his death in Giel Beelen's morning show on Radio 3. If you read it, it tells it all

Not a lot of days go by without me hearing a Bowie song somewhere. In the great Dutch national pasttime between Christmas and the New Year, the Top 2000, Bowie is one of the artists with the most songs in that list. Without too much ado it is clear that several of his songs will last a while.

For me personally my first introduction was through his first hitsingle in 1969, 'Space Oddity', one of those soundchanging experiences. Something I had never heard before and was totally absorbed by. Also with a few year older friend I went into a record store and he asked to listen to 'Space Oddity'. He gave the headphones to me and I was given to fright of my life when after the song had finished the man behind the counter asked if I wanted to buy the single, with my 10 cent a week allowance. My friend stood laughing outside. My other recollection of the event was how I was totally of this world because of a song through two primitive headphones held to my ears by my hands. The third recollection follows closely, as I had never before experienced music so up close and intimate. So overall an extremely positive experience.

In 2019 I have the 1969 and 1975 release of 'Space Oddity', bought second hand, like most other singles released since, though not all. Just like I have most albums with exceptions in the middle to late 90s. There were already some horrid albums in the 80s, in the 90s things really got bad. Fortunately there is so much to enjoy in the meantime. David Bowie is one of the true greats of rock music. My favourite album will probably always be 'Station To Station'. There's not one bad, mediocre or just good song on that album. It includes highlights like 'Word On A Wing', 'TVC15', 'Wild Is The Wind' and the title song of course. Add the great single 'Golden Years' and the fabulous 'Stay' and here's one utterly brilliant album. It is 'Word On A Wing' that can bring tears to my eyes though.

Over the past years expensive re-release boxes are put on the market and all sorts of live shows. I let them pass me by. There's enough Bowie in the house, except perhaps those few missing singles. What I do look forward to in 2019 is the musical 'Lazarus' that comes to The Netherlands this fall. Stay tuned for a review around that time.

Two years ago this blog started a list with links to all things Bowie. We do not open a new page but refresh the original with some regularity. On Bowie's birthday we have done so for the 16th time. The link is below, so go and enjoy the hundreds of links to things Bowie provided by Tineke Guise who managed to dig up some more clips for you to enjoy.


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

maandag 7 januari 2019

The Lost Tapes Of Suzanna Hamilton / The Calgary Sessions. Kendel Carson

Bijna vergeten Canadese singer-songwriter duikt op met twee prachtplaten en zingt de sterren van de hemel.

Bij de naam Kendel Carson moest ik even terug in de tijd, maar wat ben ik blij dat ze terug is. Samen met Chip Taylor heeft de Canadese singer-songwriter twee platen gemaakt die mee kunnen met het beste dat de Amerikaanse rootsmuziek momenteel te bieden heeft. Twee keer werden fantastische muzikanten opgetrommeld, waarna Chip Taylor en Kendel Carson het geluid mochten vervolmaken. Laatstgenoemde doet dit met door de ziel snijdend vioolspel en met een stem die keer op keer goed is voor heel veel kippenvel. Met name The Lost Tapes Of Suzanna Hamilton is van grote schoonheid. Ga dat horen. 

De Canadese singer-songwriter en muzikante Kendel Carson trok een jaar of tien geleden de aandacht met haar debuut Rearview Mirror Tears, dat ze samen maakte met de Amerikaanse singer-songwriter en producer Chip Taylor, op wiens platen ze al jaren als violist was te horen.

Twee jaar na haar debuut was de Canadese muzikante terug met het eveneens overtuigende Alright Dynamite, dat de belofte van het debuut in loste. Kendel Carson leek een vaste waarde te worden binnen de dichtbevolkte Amerikaanse rootsmuziek, maar na Alright Dynamite bleef het helaas lang stil.

Ik bleef Kendel Carson met enige regelmaat volgen en dat werd onlangs beloond met de release van niet één maar twee platen. Het zijn platen die even op de stapel zijn blijven liggen, want uit het hoog is helaas ook wel een beetje uit het hart, maar toen ik eerder deze week eindelijk de tijd nam voor de nieuwe muziek van Kendel Carson, was ik direct om.

The Lost Tapes Of Suzanna Hamilton en The Calgary Sessions lagen al een tijd op de plank, maar zijn inmiddels gelukkig verkrijgbaar. Op beide platen werkt Kendel Carson samen met veteraan Chip Taylor, maar de andere muzikanten verschillen, waardoor het echt twee platen zijn.

The Lost Tapes Of Suzanna Hamilton was ooit bedoeld als soundtrack voor een mogelijke film waarvoor Chip Taylor het script schreef. Het is een film over de 70s countryzangeres Suzanna Hamilton, wat verklaart dat op de plaat vooral 70s country is te horen. Het is een genre dat Kendel Carson goed, nee uitstekend ligt, want haar stem klinkt geweldig en doet denken aan die van groten als Emmylou Harris.

Ook in muzikaal opzicht is het trouwens smullen, want de in New York opgenomen plaat bevat niet alleen bijdragen van Chip Taylor en Kendel Carson, maar ook bijzonder fraaie accenten van topmuzikanten als gitarist John Platania en pedal steel virtuoos Greg Leisz.

Zeker liefhebbers van de meer traditionele 70s country zullen The Lost Tapes Of Suzanna Hamilton zeer kunnen waarderen. Het geluid is prachtig en Kendel Carson zingt de sterren van de hemel met een stem die lijkt gemaakt voor traditionele country met hier en daar een gevoelige snik.

Gezien de geweldige twee platen van bijna tien jaar geleden lag de lat voor mij hoog wanneer het gaat om Kendel Carson, maar de singer-songwriter uit Calgary maakt op The Lost Tapes Of Suzanna Hamilton diepe indruk met ingetogen country die continu goed is voor kippenvel.

The Calgary Sessions werd, zoals de titel al doet vermoeden, in de Canadese plaats opgenomen met een kleine band, waarin uiteraard ook Chip Taylor weer opduikt. Het voegt nog 25 minuten muziek toe, waardoor deze nieuwe worp van Kendel Carson goed is voor dik een uur muziek.

The Calgary Sessions ligt in het verlengde van The Lost Tapes van Suzanna Hamilton, maar schuift net wat op richting alt-country folk, terwijl de viool een Kendel Carson een wat grotere rol heeft gekregen. In muzikaal opzicht net wat minder indrukwekkend, maar de bijzondere stem van Kendel Carson verandert ook hier alles in goud.

Kendel Carson leek lange tijd van de aardbodem verdwenen, maar met deze twee top platen schaar ik haar direct weer onder de betere zangeressen binnen de Amerikaanse rootsmuziek en hoop ik uiteraard dat ze niet weer zo’n lange stilte laat vallen. Met deze twee prachtplaten, die nu voor de prijs van één beschikbaar zijn, kan ik gelukkig wel even vooruit.

Erwin Zijleman

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

zondag 6 januari 2019

What Heaven Is Like. Wussy

De Amerikaanse band Wussy ontdekte ik in 2005 en herontdekte ik in 2016. Inmiddels weet ik dat er tussen het geweldige debuut Funeral Dress uit 2005 en de jaarlijstjesplaat Forever Sounds uit 2016 nog vier geweldige platen zitten en dan is er ook nog de klassieker die voorman Chuck Cleaver in 2001 maakte met zijn heropgerichte band Ass Ponys (Lohio).
Alle reden dus om zeer nieuwsgierig te zijn naar een nieuwe plaat van Wussy. Deze plaat ontdekte ik, net als zijn voorganger, via de release lijst van het Amerikaanse
In Nederland trekt de band uit Cincinnati, Ohio, vooralsnog helaas heel weinig aandacht en daar ga ik waarschijnlijk niet heel veel aan veranderen, al is iedere muziekliefhebber die wordt gewonnen er een. Het zou zeer terecht zijn als Wussy ook in Nederland aandacht trekt, want ook de zevende plaat van de band is weer een hele goede plaat geworden.
Ook What Heaven Is Like is weer een echte gitaarplaat en het is er een vol invloeden. De muziek van Wussy is inmiddels met van alles en nog wat vergeleken, maar het lukt vooralsnog niet om de muziek van de band uit Ohio in een hokje te duwen en als het al lukt gaat het meestal maar een of twee tracks goed.

Forever Sounds omschreef ik twee jaar geleden als “een bijzondere cocktail die bestaat uit gelijke delen 60s psychedelica, 90s noiserock en 90s indierock en op smaak wordt gebracht met een vleugje Americana, een beetje My Bloody Valentine en een snufje Arcade Fire.” Het is een wat generieke omschrijving die in grote lijnen ook op gaat voor What Heaven Is Like, al legt Wussy iedere keer weer net wat andere accenten. Hiernaast hoor ik iedere keer weer andere dingen in de muziek van de band uit Cincinnati.
Ook What Heaven Is Like laat weer flink wat invloeden van Sonic Youth horen, maar bij de eerste beluisteringen van de plaat hoorde ik ook veel van The Velvet Underground, R.E.M. en vooral van Neil Young en zijn Crazy Horse. Het zijn slechts een paar namen van de vele namen die op kwamen bij beluistering van de plaat, wat het noemen van namen zinloos maakt.

Het knappe van de muziek van Wussy is dat de band een voorliefde heeft voor wat gruizige en ontsporende gitaarsongs, maar dat het ook nergens de perfecte popsong of rocksong uit het oog verliest. Het zorgt ervoor dat What Heaven Is Like vermaakt met tijdloze rockmuziek en melodieën die je na één keer horen niet meer wilt vergeten, maar dat de band ook verrast met een rauw en eigenzinnig geluid, waarin ook flink wat invloeden uit de Amerikaanse rootsmuziek zijn verborgen.
Het is een geluid dat meerdere kanten op schiet, mede omdat voorman Chuck Cleaver de zang meerdere keren over laat aan frontvrouw Lisa Walker, maar ook op What Heaven Is Like is iedere kant van Wussy zeer de moeite waard en prikkelt de band optimaal de fantasie.
Het is inmiddels een prachtig rijtje in de platenkast, maar het is helaas ook een rijtje dat ik in maar weinig andere platenkasten terug zie. Hoogste tijd dat dit gaat veranderen, want Wussy is een wereldband, die met What Heaven Is Like al weer haar zevende prachtplaat heeft afgeleverd. Ga dat horen.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt What Heaven Is Like hier beluisteren en kopen:

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

zaterdag 5 januari 2019

A Star Is Born. The fourth movie

Just before the new year I went to see A Star Is Born with two friends. Alternately we take turns and this was not my choice, but I certainly did not mind going there. The verdict is an easy one: A Star Is Born is a good movie around a by now well known theme. I am certain I saw at least two of the three previous versions. Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson in the 70s and the older one on tv around the same time.

Lady Gaga or Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta as she is known to her parents, scored many hits in the past 10 years or so. Not my kind of music, that much is clear. The funny thing is I only know her from pictures in which she wears outrageous costumes and/or hairdo. I would have walked past the girl in the movie 10 times out of ten, not knowing for the life of me what Lady Gaga looks like in a normal situation. Hence it was not difficult to see her in the role of waitress and part time singer in a drag bar, Ally Campana/Maine. For me it made no difference.

Bradley Cooper is a lot better known to me, through several roles but especially the first 'The Hangover' movie. With his long hair and wild beard Cooper was more or less unrecognisable.

The story is more than well-known by now, yet again touching. Country-rock star modelled after many a U.S. star, from Springsteen to Black Crowes on the way down due to all sorts of excesses and a serious hearing problem, meets unknown singer by accident and tags her along to his entourage, brings her on stage, fall in love. She rises extremely fast, speeding up his (ultimate) down fall. Tears all over and an even higher flying career for the girl.

Musically the movie was only interesting in the country-rock songs the two collaborate in on stage. The signature tune of Jackson Maine is your run of the mill country/southern rocker. All the Ally character does solo has nothing to do with the music she attracts the attention of her manager with in the first place but the modern dance/R&B stuff I do not give much for.

It is in the interplay between the two stars, Sam Elliot's role and the banter of the father who keeps telling his Sinatra anecdote, where the movie succeeds. It is natural, it could just be real and that is the magic of good movies, as well as a great complement to all involved.


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

vrijdag 4 januari 2019

Siesta. Hater

Hater returns to the pages of this blog. The Swedish indie rock with a nice pop feel holds a firm tempo in the releases. The only way to get the right skills where writing songs and recording them with ever more inventiveness in my book. Live playing is to get tighter and better through playing more often together (and earning money, hopefully, these modern days). Siesta is the third release in circa one and a half year.

The good thing is that the quality of this album is not suffering in any way from this pace of release. In fact it seems the band shows a little bit more of its influences on Siesta.

When a French "sigh girl" song comes by in the form of 'I Wish I Gave You More Time Because I Love You', the listener is swept back by this bittersweet pop song to circa 1964 and the likes of Françoise Hardy and France Gall. The guitar part would never have been dreamed up at the time, but the rest, the singing, the soft swing, the trumpet are a dead giveaway.

What the long titled song shows, is how Hater manoeuvres between an indie and a pop background. Songs get a perfect blend of the two. Over it the trump card of the band in the form of singer Caroline Landahl is laid down, always mixing between a sad or aloof sounding voice. The music complements her mood, but not without adding to it and escaping that mood here and there, giving the music of Hater a much welcome spark, singer Landahl does not possess or shares with her listeners.

I will not claim that Landahl is a good singer. For that her voice is too thin and slightly breathy. What I do state is that her voice perfectly fits the format this band chose for itself. Listen to 'Fall Off'. The clear sounding guitars bounce off her voice in perfect ways, supporting it and enhancing the song at the same time. Switching between tight and loose in an instrumental outro, where the band is showing us a view of itself jamming in the practice room, translated into an outro. No solos, no wildness, no noise, just supertight playing with small change for those appreciating them by listening intensely.

Through the release of an EP, a full album and now a second album, Hater, only starting in 2016, shows promising progress with Siesta. (No such siesta for Hater.) I am certainly interested to learn about the next step.


You can listen to and buy Siesta here:

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

donderdag 3 januari 2019

WoNoBlog's best read posts ever, 2012 - 2018

Another year over. We are already three days into the New Year. With this final list our looking back is going to come to an end. Once more we put you dear reader in the spotlight and present the 25 most popular posts on this blog ever.

Having started in 2012 we have passed the 2500 posts just over a month ago. That is an awful lot of words all, or nearly all on music.

2018 Was not a spectacular year as 2017 where the number one spot is concerned. Then it kept changing throughout the year. Number one remained number one, firmly. Having said that, there are more than enough new entries and the trend that announced itself late 2017 has continued. Several posts from 2012 have dropped out in 2018.

Enough said. Here are your faves.

25 (18). Teacher Deely. Interview with Chuck Deely (2012)

24 (19). Moon Moon Moon. Help! Help! Help! release party, 6 April 2017 (2017)

23 ( -).  Our Country: America Act II. Ray Davies (2018)

22 (17). Canshaker Pi. Canshaker Pi (2016)

21 ( -).  "Tiny Room is eigenlijk een familie!" Interview met Stefan Breuer (2018)

20 (15). 4. The Desoto Circus (2017)

19 (16). Night Thoughts. Suede (2016)

18 ( -).  Scarlet Roses. Grayson Capps (2018)

17 (14). When On Fire. Christine Owman (2017)

16 (13). Feels Like Going Home. The Box Set. The Walkabouts (2017)

15 (11). Wilder Mind. Mumford & Sons (2015)

14 (10). Down Hearted Blues. Eilen Jewell (2017)

13 (12). The Double EP. A Sea Of Split Peas. Courtney Barnett (2014)

12 ( 9).  Lay Low. Lou Doillon (2015)

11 ( -).   Live At Jazz Middelheim. Chantal Acda & Bill Frisell (2018)

10 ( 8).  See You On The Ice. Carice van Houten (2012)

 9 ( 7). Je Doet Je Best Maar Verder. Aafke Romeijn (2016)

 8 ( 6). Damaged Good. Bettie Serveert (2016)

 7 ( 5). Bowie For Dummies, by Tineke G. (2017)

 6 ( 4). The Analogues live, at Schouwburg IJmuiden (2016)

 5 ( 3). One Day (Reckoning Song), Asaf Avidan (Wankelmut RMX) (2012)

 4 ( -). Risha. David Eugene Edwards & Alexander Hacke (2018)

 3 ( -). 67 Lost songs from the 60s. A Discussion (2018)

 2 ( 2). Gé Hofenk (2012)

 1 ( 1). Remedies. Soup (2) (2017)

woensdag 2 januari 2019

Wo.'s Top 10 live shows of 2018

2018 was quite the musical year. All in all I saw, not including unaccounted for encounters with musicians on streets or in parks and an amateur festival, 59 acts play live music in 2018 in locations ranging from a World War II air raid shelter to the Concertgebouw and from the Q-Bus in Leiden to the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam. Beautiful shows from just one man with a guitar to an orchestra playing David Bowie's 'Blackstar'. Trying to make a list proved nearly impossible this year. I kept striping off older shows in favour of more recent ones. Most likely because the impression was so much fresher. It may just not be overly representative this list, but the best I can do right now. With three honourable mentions, as they were the last to go: The Stream, Django Django and No Ninja Am I.

What is safe to say, is that the more intimate the show the more impressive it is. With one major exception, all shows were in smaller venues right up to my own home where four performances were staged in 2018. It does not get more intimate than that and so very, very special.

So let me conclude that these are the shows that I would like to have you focus on once again. Whether they really were the best? It's impossible to compare in the end, isn't it? It is the feeling that remains in me, some images and the memory of having heard the music. That last part is gone forever, unique for that single event.

10. Johan
Johan is back and perhaps better and tighter than ever. The show was simply impressive and the new songs held up very well against the old favourites. Hearing songs from the first album, including the Aphrodite's Child cover was a pleasant surprise. 1996 or 7 in the LVC in Leiden is indeed a long time ago. So long ago LVC is a restaurant called Moskou in 2019.

9. Out of Skin
The duo played an extremely intense, yet beautiful set in my own living room. Those present were very much impressed by the music played on an acoustic guitar and a harp.

8. Amber Arcades
Annelotte de Graaf made a giant step in her career. On record, my #4 of 2018,  and on stage. Self-confidence was present in abundance at the Sugar Factory in Amsterdam.

7. The Analogues
Into its third tour The Analogues tackled 'The Beatles' or "The White Album". Through the years I had come to appreciate the album more and more. This perfect show topped things off for me. And to think that 'Abbey Road' is up next (and Diederik Nomden's long awaited, second solo album!).

6. Broeder Dieleman
It was long ago that such a community feeling, intimate and serene had gripped me so tightly. It must have been singing in the catholic church at Christmas as a small child, all singing 'Gloria, In Excelcis Deo'. Broeder Dieleman made his audience sing along, to two darkish, serene songs and created instant beauty during an extremely intimate show.

5. Sophie Hunger
Sophie Hunger toured behind her new album 'Molecules', so different yet so Sophie Hunger. The electronics were given a large spot in her show, that neared perfection. The foursome sang together beautifully while playing the new and the old to perfection. Sophie Hunger is one of the most important new artists in Europe in 2018.

What a show! Having released its new album in October, the band was able to play the Q-Bus in Leiden. The kind of show too few people saw by a band that is so good. On record and on stage. When 'Tell Everyone' came by, the shivers went down my spine ... and back up. TMGS should be able to tour a lot more and get its name out in light.

3. Soup
Soup delivered one of the best albums of 2017 and toured The Netherlands in early spring. What an impressive show. The complex progrock of the band was played with the assistance of an extra guitarist who was able to play like a member of the band, solo's and all. Beautiful songs received beautiful renditions. Just wow.

2. Roger Waters
'Us & Them' the show was called and political from the first to the last second. Roger Waters did not spare anyone who annoyed him for many reasons. Not in the least the president of the United States of America. Musically Waters had gathered a great band that played songs from Pink Floyd and his latest solo album to great enjoyment of all the grey and bald headed middle aged men, mostly. Nostalgia?, yes, of course, but when served up in this shape, please send me some more.

Photo: Suzanne Liem
1. Maggie Brown
Yes, in my own living room again. Amsterdam based band Maggie Brown played a show of such intimacy that all present who were not a fan of the band, left as one. Spontaneous, intense, relaxed and attentive, the band seemed made for this session and this audience. With songs from both albums and a lead guitarist, who, sitting on the couch next to two middle aged ladies, played his first show, shuffling through his notes in front of him. The sheer magic of music visited our house once again.


dinsdag 1 januari 2019

Wo.'s Top 10 records of 2018

Another year over, the sixth since this blog started, the 17th since WoNo Magazine was created and the 2nd since the demise of the magazine. From us all at WoNo Magazine we wish you the brightest of years with fantastic new music, but never forget to listen to your old favourites. They are what to compare to, the standard for things new.

2018 was a year in which several amazing records saw the light of day and a fair number of very, very pleasant ones. It was tough making choices.

2018 is also the year that another decade is getting close to its end. Will we have another roaring 20s? The 10s were a lot more peaceful, despite all complaining, than 100 years ago. At least in my part of the world. The end of the decade also means having to think of what were the best records of this decade. Still a whole year to go.

2018 was also a year in which many of my favourite artists of the past years released new records. Franz Ferdinand, 2004 and 2005, Arctic Monkeys, 2006, 2007, 2011, TMGS, 2013, broeder Dieleman and Sophie Hunger, (2015) . How did they fare in 2018? Are there any newcomers to welcome in the list?

2018 saw the light of day of several fantastic mini albums and EPs. I stand guilty of making it easy on myself and not include them in my top 10 of the year. Perhaps not fair, but I make the list so set my rules. What I can do is give you an insight into my truly favourite mini albums of the year.

Let me start by mentioning the beautiful and fantastic 'Heartbreak Hi' by The LVE. Pop music as it is supposed to sound and played. Punkrockers Justine and the Unclean made a perfect mini album called 'Heartbreakes and Hot Problems'. Then there is the three song single by Donna Blue. Not to forget 'Generation X' by the Greek one man band Vagina Lips. New wave and punk like they still make it in Thessaloniki. The four song EP by No Ninja Am I, sounds so pleasant. The price of prizes here goes to Belle and Sebastian who released three mini albums in three months gathered in one cd called 'How To Solve Our Human Problems'. Each EP was a gem filled with pop songs like there will be no (problems) tomorrow.

A fantastic reissue this year was '///Codename: Dustsucker' by an obscure band from the U.K. called Bark Psychosis. The four cd reissue box by Pere Ubu was a great introduction to the band for me. On top of that all is, again, The Beatles. "The White Album" gets all the attention this year, and quite rightly so.

Like every year it is fairly easy at first to be strict on the striping off albums from the longlist. A lot disappears in three to four sesions. The hard part starts when there are only circa 15 albums left. Which one to stripe off now, while they all deserve a spot in my opinion? The Peawees' 'Moving Targets', no matter how much fun, lost its place. Modern Studies' album 'Welcome Stranger'  is extremely beautiful as is 'Bird Streets' and 'Gold Coast' by Distance, Light and Sky. The final one to go was Johan's comeback album, 'Pull Up'. Albums that all could have made it into this list, were it not for....

10. Komma. Broeder Dieleman
It is impossible, most likely, for broeder Dieleman to ever surprise me again like he did with 'Gloria' in 2015. Still, Komma is one of the most beautiful albums made in 2018. Impressive, soul-searching and deeply touching. With its experimental album and one with regular songs, for broeder Dieleman that is, it is also different from all other albums here. And then I haven't even started on the artwork. Museum worthy in many different ways. It is a miracle that albums like this can even be released in 2018. Deep respect for the people at Snowstar Records.

9. Marble Skies. Django Django
Yes, I hesitated but Django Django made the cut. An album filled with fun songs, each filled with little sounds, their beats, blops and peeps. The best songs on Marble Skies all make the sun come out. Little treasures they are. Django Django managed to make a third album, in a row, that matters.

8. Molecules. Sophie Hunger
Quite a risk Sophie Hunger took, as this certainly is not the album I expected. Electronics set the atmosphere of Molecules. A move to Berlin brought Sophie Hunger in contact with different music and different musicians, resulting in an album that in all its finesses is totally Sophie Hunger, while totally different from its predecessors. Quite a feat.

7. Simulation Theory. Muse
An album where all things Muse come together including some new influences as well. Overwhelming, yet somehow, somewhere, strangely human. This may over time prove to be the band's best.

6. Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino. Arctic Monkeys
Another album that nobody expected to sound like this. After taking a recording rest for 5 years Alex Turner and his men opted for a sound that is somewhere in between their last album, 'AM', and The Last Shadow Puppets, his other band. Resulting in a heavy duty album that needs investing into. In fact it is still growing on me, with no telling where it will end.

5. Songs Of Praise. Shame
This album was my #1 for the first six months of the year and then other albums happened. I still love the energy of youth that is exhumed from every bit and bite of this disk. Raw energy, unnuanced, everything Arctic Monkeys was in 2006 and almost as good. Punk mixed with good old English brawl and a healthy dose of self-confidence. Shame?, nah, Pride would have been a better name.

4. European Heatbreak. Amber Arcades
Yes, yes, yes, another album sounding different than I had expected, yet a total triumph. Amber Arcades lays down a beautiful mood of things past, future and present. Melancholy, holding back on emotions, while they are evidently (omni)present. A fine balance is struck that intrigues every time I play this record and that happened a lot since summer.

3. Anaani. Cari Cari
From the very first note, this record exploded within me. This duo from Austria lays down something very, very special. With influences in music and sounds, a didgeredoo e.g., from all over the world and a truckload of reverb, fantastic songs are presented. And not just songs. With every other song something new is introduced, a change of heart, feeling and emotions coming through in the music. So utterly impressive. This would be my #1 if I did not have a slight hesitation whether the album will really stand up in the months to come. The top two does I am already sure. So things may change in the overview of the 10s in one year's time....

2. Ain't No Place. TMGS
Does absolute and utter beauty in music exist? Yes, as these pages fairly regularly attest to. One of the examples I can point to is Ain't No Place by the Belgian band TMGS. It is music that silences me, singing along inwardly, following all the small details in the songs, that are so well crafted and arranged. There is so much going on. From soft country-tinged ballads to alternative country rockers, with guitar work from outer space, it all comes by and then that those trumpets enter. Ahhh! Peter Lodiers' voice suits the music so well. Not one song of the ten is weak and several reach for the highest peaks and scale them, with ease. TMGS, and I will write it once more, deserves a worldwide audience of devoted fans.

1. Always Ascending. Franz Ferdinand
And so the #1 in my list of 2004 and 2005 returns to the top spot. With an album that was announced as disco, Franz Ferdinand delivers an album that is totally balanced. With one song that deserves this place by itself: 'Always Ascending' is three songs into one. Each part would have delivered a great song if followed up solely. The music is upbeat, fun, danceable, pleases the ears in several ways as a lot is happening in sounds and arranging. In short, the sort of album I had hoped Actic Monkeys would have made (in its own style of course). Innovative, yet 100% recognisable and simply fantastic.

So, as a good friend once told me, "you are very loyal to your favorites of old". The answer is yes and no. Paul McCartney is not in this list e.g., but more recent favourites are and yes, they made albums that totally surprised me or simply touched on the right strings inside of me. There are only two new names compared to lists of the past years, but then, the old ones made fantastic new albums, so it can't be helped that they have found their way here. But, it is time to move on towards the music coming to us in 2019.