zaterdag 31 augustus 2019

When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? Billie Eilish

Comfort zones is not a state to always remain in, no matter how comfortable. So when someone introduced me to 'Bad Guy', Billie Eilish got more and more into the news and even 'Oor' spent pages on the 17 year old phenomenom, without speaking to her, it was time to put the album on.

The name Billie Eilish came by since somewhere this spring and I knew it was not for me. I've met 18 year old girls singing her songs to me, 18 year old boys talking about "how hot she is", she's even in the top 40 and there's nothing much there I particularly care for. I've become my dad where the top 40 is concerned. So why am I writing?

That reason is because the music Billie Eilish does have an effect on me. Yes, it is completely foreign to me in a way. The electronics that have replaced all what I consider music, the extreme silences are provocative, just like the electronic beats are in 'You Should See Me In The Crowd' in combination with that overbearing silence. The singer doesn't really sing, it is more of a whispered reciting. Together it seems to work though.

The emptiness surrounding Ms. Eilish reminds me of that one song by Lorde I like, 'Royals'. It is no coincidence that she cites Lorde as one of her influences. The other is The xx, which I mainly do like, as the difference around the silences are huge. Of course, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? last far too long for me. Those of you following this blog, could have guessed that easily. What I would like to share with you, is that in my opinion this is a courageous album. Billie Eilish presents herself at a world stage without trying to immediately please nor copying the greatest common denominator of the kind of songs that come by on the radio if it happens to be switched on by someone in the family. The kind of pop that is so shallow or dance oriented.

Billie Eilish takes snippets out of electronic music, a little Adele and some pop. To finish things off she sings with girl-version voice of Lana del Ray. It all together works for me for a short while, with 'Bad Guy' definitely on top. When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? to me sounds like nothing I ever heard before. And then '8' starts with a ukulele and a voice that seems to want to tell me the vocal was recorded when she was 8 years old. Something alike a "normal" song develops, where the rest is all deconstructed reality and augmented by electronics.

It is further on in the album that some surprises are presented. A completely bare pop song like 'Ilomilo' or a late night jazz club track like 'Listen Before I Go'. This album is far more diverse than anyone would guess by listening to the first five, six songs.

Summing up, even if you're not into modern music When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? is worth at least a part listen. It really is different, sometimes special and in some places I even consider it good. The attention is well deserved.


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

vrijdag 30 augustus 2019

Special Agent. Korfbal

Listening to Korfbal's record Special Agent for the first time something dawns on me. Here's a new Dutch band releasing its first record - o.k., all members play in other bands, but most are almost as new as Korfbal; and here I am, hearing clear influences from a record that was released in 2001. There was a lot to do about it at the time. Fact is, I was a grown up for quite some years when it was released. The Velvet Underground was the band continuously referred to at the time. And now I'm allowed to listen to a new generation finding inspiration in 'Is This It?' by The Strokes. Unfortunately for The Strokes that all but was it. What Korfbal shows by way of Special Agent and with ease I'd like to add, that a lot more happens under the sun. Through that all the band creates this world of dirty, musical happiness with the building blocks handed by past bands and the inventiveness of its members to create something fresh and new.

Special Agent starts in a way that had me turned off had the band continued in this artificial, experimental and unstructured way. It didn't and shows the strength of the songwriting skills the band contains within it. A song is a song, also when playing in a more alternative rock, sometimes slacker, ramshackle sort of way. Korfbal has the songs, the bite and the edge.

Korfbal is a band that played a lot a few years ago but never got around to making that first album. All members went their respective way and bands. Come 2019 and the time seemed ripe to record it anyway. As I wrote, the first (real) song 'Quasimodo' has that The Strokes, thus The Velvet Underground influence. It is a great and exciting opening song for Special Agent. If you're into alternative rock with a nice edge 'Quasimodo' ought to be your kind of song. Korfbal plays with the format of the song in interesting ways, throwing some odd balls to the listener as well.

From there on Korfbal takes the listener on an adventure. The supertight 'Achilles' Heel' remains in The Strokes territory, but soon other avenues and by ways of rock are entered making Special Agent the interesting album for it. I like 'Achilles' Heel' a lot though. The urgency of the song speaks volumes, while the lead guitar presents a huge spark, making the song stand out easily. A song like that immediately puts Korfbal on a level of the first Canshaker Pi album. A compliment as far as I'm concerned.

Moving through the album, it becomes clear to me that with Korfbal this country once again produced an alternative rocking band that is able to get along with the best. And what I like is that Korfbal is not a follower in the sense like some British bands that get rave reviews of late are. At least for some of them, their music and influence seems much more one-dimensional, British (post)punk. Korfbal melts together U.S. and U.K. alternative rock and meets some Dutch classics as well. The result is a sprightly album, that is open, breaths at the right moments and can explode without having to overdo and/or overshout everything. Yes, for delicate ears this is a loud album, but in that loudness Korfball places moments of rest. It is at rest, content with its songs and it shows. There's no need to go over the top. The album already hit that level.

Within three songs Korfbal is beyond that initial starting point, The Strokes and moves beyond that band in a way The Strokes never managed to do. The result is a strong album that it can go out into the world with and enjoy the critical and personal acclaim it deserves.


You can buy Special Agent here:

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

donderdag 29 augustus 2019

Breakdown On 20th Ave. South. Buddy & Julie Miller

Buddy en Julie Miller tillen elkaar nog maar eens naar grote hoogten op een rootsalbum dat net als zijn voorgangers dwars door de ziel snijdt.

De gezondheid van Julie Miller stond een nieuw gezamenlijk album van Buddy en Julie Miller lange tijd in de weg, maar gelukkig is Breakdown On 20th Ave. South nu toch verschenen. Buddy en Julie Miller maakten hun nieuwe album grotendeels zelf, waarbij Buddy Miller verantwoordelijk is voor prachtig gitaarwerk en een gruizige tweede stem en Julie Miller de songs schreef en tekent voor zang vol emotie die uit de tenen komt. De vorige twee albums van Buddy en Julie Miller waren in no-time klassiekers en dat zal voor Breakdown On 20th Ave. South niet anders zijn. Prachtplaat weer van dit bijzondere duo.

Julie Miller (geboren Julie Griffin) streek als tiener neer in de muziekscene van Austin, Texas, om haar geluk te beproeven in de Texaanse muziekstad. Ze liep daar al snel Buddy Miller tegen het lijf en trouwde met hem. Julie Miller maakte in eerste instantie albums met christelijke popmuziek, maar schoof gedurende de jaren 90 op richting de Amerikaanse rootsmuziek van haar echtgenoot.
Buddy en Julie Miller zijn al sinds halverwege de jaren 90 op elkaars platen te horen, maar het eerste gedeelde album van het echtpaar uit Austin, Texas, stamt uit 2001. Het bleek een gouden greep. De uit duizenden herkenbare stem van Julie Miller vloeide prachtig samen met de ruimtelijke gitaarlijnen van haar echtgenoot en zijn gruizige stem, waardoor het titelloze debuut van Buddy & Julie Miller uitgroeide tot een klassieker.
De samenwerking tussen de twee smaakte direct naar meer, maar door gezondheidsproblemen van Julie Miller, moesten we helaas tot 2009 wachten op het nog mooiere en indringende Written In Chalk. Met de gezondheid van Julie Miller gaat het sindsdien helaas niet veel beter. Buddy Miller was de afgelopen tien jaar een belangrijke speler in de muziekscene van Austin, Texas, en liet zich niet alleen gelden als producer, maar ook als sessiemuzikant en songwriter. Zijn vrouw Julie zat noodgedwongen vooral thuis, maar was gelukkig wel in staat om songs te schrijven en dat deed ze dan ook in ruime mate.
Deze songs werden vervolgens in de echtelijke slaapkamer opgenomen en later verder uitgebouwd in de studio. Breakdown On 20th Ave. South is een album waarop vooral Julie Miller mag stralen. Buddy Miller laat de lead vocalen op het derde gezamenlijke album vrijwel volledig over aan zijn vrouw, maar tekent uiteraard wel voor prachtig snarenwerk. In muzikaal opzicht is het sowieso smullen op Breakdown on 20th Ave. South, want naast het prachtige gitaarwerk van Buddy Miller trekt ook het briljante drumwerk van meesterdrummer Brady Blade zo nu en dan nadrukkelijk de aandacht.
De belangrijkste plek in de spotlights is echter voor Julie Miller die alle songs op het album schreef. Verder neemt ze zoals gezegd de lead vocalen voor haar rekening en de vocalen van Julie Miller zijn altijd bijzonder. De Texaanse singer-songwriter is voorzien van een bijzonder stemgeluid, dat ook op de door haar inmiddels bereikte leeftijd nog wat meisjesachtig klinkt. Het zijn op hetzelfde moment vocalen die bijzonder emotievol en doorleefd klinken, waardoor de bijzondere stem van Julie Miller veel impact heeft.
Het mooist zijn wat mij betreft de momenten waarop de stemmen van Buddy en Julie Miller tegen elkaar aan schuren, maar ook als Julie het in haar eentje moet opknappen snijden de vocalen op Breakdown on 20th Ave. South dwars door de ziel. Het effect wordt nog eens versterkt door zeer smaakvolle en trefzekere instrumentatie op het album en door de indringende verhalen die Julie Miller vertellt in haar persoonlijke songs. Op de gezamenlijke albums van Buddy en Julie Miller moeten we steeds lang wachten, maar het was het wachten ook dit keer meer dan waard.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt Breakdown on 20th Ave. South hier beluisteren en kopen

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

woensdag 28 augustus 2019

When I Have Fears. The Murder Capital

Shame, this band's name has fallen on this blog before this week. The Dublin, Ireland band The Murder Capital has been associated with Shame and with a band that isn't around any more for almost 40 years, Joy Division. So what of it?

'For Everything' has a few similarities with 'Family Dinner', the song that opens Sons' debut album, discussed here yesterday. I will let you figure them out for yourself. An important one is the energy captured on record. The main difference is the Britishness of the way the rock is filled in by The Murder Capital and the talk-shouting way of singing by James McGovern.

A whole host of post-punk bands from the U.K. and Ireland come by in the music of The Murder Capital. The Edge's guitar playing without the tons of delay on it is clear one, but also the way XTC made its accents in music can be heard. And so many others, so, yes, When I Have Fears is not an album distinguishing itself in originality. The band leans on what it knows from the record collection of parents. So what? It is all about what happens next and believe me, it does.

That next is well taken care of. Moving into When I Have Fears it becomes very clear The Murder Capital builds an atmosphere on the album that makes it very hard to put down. With the world slowly moving into disorder, tensions, cold war and recession, the doom sound the band creates with all these late 70s and early 80s influences may be the right doom sound at the right time. At least for my generation. The late 10s and early 20s I know are definitely listening to something else these days. Rap, hiphop and dance is da bomb there or whatever they call it. Besides gaming and social media that is of course.

Promo photo
With its sound and the way of singing of James McGovern The Murder Capital also moves into editors territory somewhat, to mention a more modern band. The main difference is that the Irish band wins out in originality, mainly by leaving behind the screen of bombast to hide behind. A song like 'Slowdance II' is naked compared to anything by editors. The difference between looking through a window and looking at a concrete wall. That makes it so much easier for me to meander along into how the band slowly builds up 'Slowdance II', making the song more interesting than any single song by the U.K. stadium rockers. (Okay, the cello ending was not necessary.)

This band is not afraid to show its music in all its imperfectness and nakedness. It trusts the melodies it made and on the presence it creates. Just listen to how after the explosion of 'Slowdance II' 'On Trusted Ground' remains little for a long time until soundscapes on electric guitar joins the sole guitar (perhaps even a bass). The song takes nothing more to convince.

At the same time the same song shows some naivety that is excusable on a first, and even second album. It shows the sincerity of The Murder Capital as well. A band that is not about compromises. My impression is that what I hear is all I'm intended to get and not what others than the band wanted me to hear. What I hear are emotions from a band of five young men. Emotions that easily reach me despite our difference in age. Perhaps even more so than their influences did when they and I had the age of The Murder Capital's members now. How can I tell?, you may ask. Just listen to the album. Settle into it and be surprised about the daring way the band expresses itself. You will be surprised as this band is all but one dimensional in its presentation and playing.

The Murder Capital? A band to watch.


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

dinsdag 27 augustus 2019

Family Dinner. Sons

One of the records that I did not come around writing about before the summer holidays is another great rocking album. Family Dinner had come by regularly but remained on my to do list. It is time to get it off there, as the energy burst this album is deserves a spot.

Ever since the great record by Shame was released early in 2018, in the music press there's no end to comparing a new rock record to Shame's 'Songs Of Praise' as if the album has become the standard in modern rock. It says a lot about the standard this record set in a short while and rightly so, as it is one of my favourites of the past two years.

Whatever the band was, and yes, I'm slowly moving towards Sons, they never matched even closely to my ears. Not until I listened to Family Dinner I found the same amount of excitement in the music itself and in my response to the album. Sons manages to capture a whole surge of energy on record.

The opening of the album is a statement. It is a long drum rhythm that opens 'Family Dinner', the title song. Already there is so much energy released by Thomas Pultyn. Around him a lot may be going on in the meantime, it is his rhythm that is the gravitational force of the song. His band members are allowed to play off of his drumming. In 'Family Dinner' the drums is not a supporting instrument but fully in the lead.

Just like it is the bass that opens the second song 'Ricochet'. It is in this song that the subtle elements in Sons' playing and singing are truly revealed to the world. A ooh in the background, a lead guitar that flies off in a few notes. Sons captures melody within the energy of its rock music in a way that draws, captures and keeps my attention. This is the kind of song to blare along to at shows. No standing still is possible as well.

A third element in Sons' music is the superb use of dynamics. The band knows how to give a song inner dynamics to make the point in questions extra loud and how to keep attention drawn to the song despite just a fierce drum beat without any other instrument playing.

Without trouble this Belgian band of twenty-somethings manages to surprise the listener with their take on rock music. A bit sleazy, a lot loud, some psychedelia, but always with melodies and surprising elements. Sons manages to capture the energy they have within their heads and undoubtedly the energy they manage to create together on its record. The result is an album that is hard to resist.


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

maandag 26 augustus 2019

Kairos 107, June 2019 on Concertzender

Is there a way to open this Kairos in an original way? Not this month. Wo. is running behind due to pressing other business and holiday and starts to catch up by listening to the last spring Kairos of 2019.

As the familiar intro sound of Kairos descends on me, I settle in for an hour of listening to music that is not found regularly on this blog. It starts wth deep male voices and a what? a drone flying and the buzzing sound caught on tape? Layers of "oooohhh" fill my head with mixed solidly behind it a synthesizer playing the exact same note.

African kind of singing takes over, followed by a female voice. It is my introduction to Lisa Gerrard in her collaboration with Pieter Bourke. Gerrard is known best as half of the Australian duo Dead Can Dance, a band that passed me by. 'Pilgrimage Of The Children' can put a person in a certain trance and as such is pleasant. As stand alone music it passes me by totally. It probably works best for me in this context.

A piano joins in, in the background a concersation that does not become fully audible. Eva de Roovere plays 'Lo' from her latest album 'La Loba'. Darker chords/notes are ended by a single high note. Creating a special effect in the music, a moment to look forward to.

Her song ends abruptly and is replaced by a drone. A female voice singing 'ooohhh' with behind it an electronic sound. This at times is so brittle. Although the music swells and declines like a wave on a tranquil beach. Through the music a woman breaths and then recites a text, whispering just as subtly as the music itself is. When static works its way into the brittle music, a change seems to be announced. Although nothing changes, Benjamin van Esser, is playing with the mind of the listener as he is with his music. Step by step the composition is taken apart, as if he took a scissor to the tape while expressing an inner madness that is escaping through all the seems. The female singing and reciting is taking on a frantic tone. Nothing is what it seemed any longer. An environment is created in which anything can happen, within the context created by Van Esser. 'Everytime I Hear Everytime I See' is a challenging composition. Parts of it could be the soundtrack of a horromovie, with ghosts and poltergeists occupying the whole neighbourhood. And yet, Van Esser manages to put the lid on everything in the second half of his work. Tranquility returns in the form a male voice droning 'ooohhh'., but there's no denying the disconcerting vibes occurring in the background. 'Everytime I Hear Everytime I See' is a disquieting piece of work. More 'Rosemary's Baby' than 'Ave Maria'.

When Lisa Gerrard returns I am ready for a change to get me off the 14 minutes by Van Esser, but have to brace myself for 9 minutes none the less. Gerrard starts off singing with a deep voice, with long notes and little words. The synths behind her playing long, single notes as well, allowing for very little variation in the music. When percussion joins in, the song comes alive, creating an eastern vibe. It seems that Gerrard is exploring world music on her album 'Duality', again with Pieter Bourke at her side. After a while, when simply no variation sets in, I understand that Gerrard really let herself be inspired by eastern music. The monotonous sound being exactly what keeps me away from it in daily life. This is not for me.

Luckily Jesse Mac Cormack returns to Kairos, I notice. Will this not be too out of place I wonder while Lisa Gerrard is filling up her nine minute slot? I will find out soon. Mac Cormack has been found on these pages before of course, to favourable reception. 'Give A Chance' is a song from his latest album, 'Now'. There is a small part in between the two I can't place. 'Give A Chance' is a haunted song that comes closest to the work on his two previous EPs. Where in general he steps away from his early work and certainly from his intensive live performances. Also in this song scary things are going on, so it certainly fits with what went on before. Sounds and music seem to burst from an invisible wall that is incapable of stopping the stream coming from behind it. Interesting is the right word to use here. What is it I'm hearing exactly? What is it meant to do? What does it do to my mind? All questions that go unanswered for now, as the next song draws attention to itself.

An acoustic guitar playing with a lot ambience around it like it is played in a large room with loads of resonance in it. 'Embrace The Spirit Of Love' indeed. The song is the epitome of straightforwardness compared to most other going on this Kairos, a point of rest.

And then, a English poem. Now that is something new. Father, mother, love. And a piano starts playing with a soft beat behind it. A composition that takes its time. There's obviously no hurry in 'Nocturne 3'. Slowly but surely Ben Lukas Boysen flashes out his composition with a synth, a single deep note on the piano, a cymbal note and perhaps even the exploding sound of an electric guitar but mixed deep into the background so that none of the earsplitting noise of the studio reaches the listener, just its effect. It is not the first time that I'm liking what I'm hearing from Boysen on Kairos.

All bad things come in threes, is a saying that has no foundation as most truths of this kind don't, though undeniably sometimes they do. So here's Lisa Gerrard again. No 'ooohhh' but 'aaahhh' and 'iiiieee', so there's a deviation from some things that went before on this Kairos. 'The Unfolding' is more of a church choir piece. Gregorian actually. Somewhere in between is 'Nocturne 3' again, but don't ask me where.

The change comes with a trumpet in 'November' of Trio Ramberget. The softly meandering background of the song is mixed with the garbage collection truck that has driven into the street. Oddly enough the sounds somehow seem able to mix, but as the truck moves closer 'November' is slowly but surely drowned out.

It is not until the banjo of Broeder Dieleman chimes in, the music wins out again. 'Groot Eiland' was released this spring and discussed on this blog extensively. The soft and brooding song sets itself apart softly but surely. Listening to the song again, I notice how the accompanying voices and music almost seem to be set apart from Toon Dieleman's voice and his banjo. It fits but not in an everyday way. It forces to listen to the music and find out how it works. Because that it does.

It is 'November' that returns and the garbage truck has nearly left my street. Silence seems to replace Broeder Dieleman but that is a deception. Droning sounds are battling it out in the background before the trumpet returns. Listening a bit more attentively to Trio Ramberget I notice two things. The first is that the musical minds of most of the people on this (and all) Kairosses work totally different from mine. Where's the sparkle of a great 3 minute pop song? It seems like it is not in them. The second is that in a way the music in 'November' could be a part of Sophie Hunger's universe, a singer-songwriter who features regularly on Kairos and I am a fan of. That's what a musically perceptive mind can discover as well.

Eleni Era's 'No One's Near' ends this month. The Berlin based Cypriot singer featured on this blog earlier this year. She's in the Sophie Hunger league. A singer-songwriter but very much with a mind of her own and willing and able to face up to and expand the limits that traditional songwriting throw in the face of the musician. I am certain that what we are hearing here in no way comes near to the first version Ms. Era came up with, but is the result of a search for what else could be done with the song. What we hear is a mysterious composition that, once again, suggests ghosts and, albeit, gentle poltergeists are in the vicinity. It seems I have found a theme for this month after all.


You can listen to this Kairos here on Concertzender:

This is the playlist of Kairos 107:

00:00  Edwin van der Hoeven. Resonance  meditation in 3rd chakra (several fragments). Album ‘Spirit of Love’. Colin Bates & Edwin van der Hoeven. LeaveForMorMusic.
01:54  Lisa Gerrard & Pieter Bourke. Pilgrimage of Lost Children. Album ‘Duality’. 4AD-CAD 8004CD.
05:20  Eva de Roovere. Lo. Album ‘La Loba’. V2 Reords.
07:27  Benjamin van Esser. Everytime I Hear everytime I See. Album ‘I am Error’. LAK Unlimited.
21:45  Lisa Gerrard & Pieter Bourke. Shadow Magnet. Album ‘Duality’. 4AD-CAD 8004CD.
30:17  Jesse Mac Cormack. Give A Chance. Album ‘Now’. V2 Records.
35:07  Edwin van der Hoeven. Guitar Theme from ‘Embrace the Spirit of Love’. Album ‘Spirit of Love’. Colin Bates & Edwin van der Hoeven. LeaveForMorMusic.
36:42  Ben Lukas Boysen. Nocturne 3. Album ‘Spells’. Erased Tapes Records ERATP085CD.
40:03  Lisa Gerrard & Pieter Bourke. The unfolding (several fragments). Album ‘Duality’. 4AD-CAD 8004CD.
43:14  Ben Lukas Boysen. Nocturne 3 (fragment). Album ‘Spells’. Erased Tapes Records ERATP085CD.
43:22  Trio Ramberget. November (fragment). Self-released.
47:11  Broeder Dieleman. Groot Eiland. Snowstar Records.
51:45  Trio Ramberget. November (fragment). Self-released.
56:30  Eleni Era. No one’s near. Album ‘Rise Love’. Louvana Records.
Poem: Wilma Gijzen-Bakker

zondag 25 augustus 2019

Kingfish. Christone "Kingfish" Ingram

De piepjonge Christone "Kingfish" Ingram eert zijn muzikale helden en schaart zich met zijn debuut onder de beste blues muzikanten van het moment. 

Hoe vaak levert een muzikant van net 20 een doorleefd en gevarieerd blues album als Kingfish af? Niet heel vaak denk ik en daarom mag Christone "Kingfish" Ingram van mij best worden onthaald als sensatie. De Amerikaanse muzikant speelt de pannen van het dak, tovert de ene na de andere geweldige solo of riff uit zijn gitaar en is ook nog eens voorzien van een geweldige stem. En ondertussen gaat de muzikant uit Clarksdale, Mississippi, ook nog eens aan de haal met een breed assortiment aan blues varianten. Het levert een album op dat zich moeiteloos zal scharen tussen de beste blues albums van 2019.

Oude blues helden worden zo langzamerhand schaars, maar gelukkig zijn er ook nog jonge muzikanten met een voorliefde voor het genre. Christone "Kingfish" Ingram kon op zesjarige leeftijd uit de voeten op de drums, schakelde twee jaar later over op de bas, maar zijn leven veranderde pas echt toen hij op 9-jarige leeftijd de blues en de gitaar ontdekte via een documentaire over Muddy Waters.
Christone Ingram kreeg zijn eerste gitaar, zette direct reuzenstappen en stond toen hij 11 was voor het eerst op het podium bij zijn muzikale helden. De muzikant uit Clarksdale, Mississippi, is inmiddels 20 en klaar voor het echte werk.
De Amerikaanse muzikant leerde het vak in het Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale, waar hij als tiener les kreeg van oude blues muzikanten als Bill "Howl-N-Madd" Perry (die hem de bijnaam Kingfish gaf) en Daddy Rich. Het volgende zetje in de rug kreeg hij van gitarist Eric Gales, die hem liet meespelen op zijn album Middle Of The Road en van Buddy Guy, die hem meerdere malen de hemel in prees. En nu is er dan het in Nashville opgenomen debuut Kingfish, dat werd geproduceerd door de gelouterde Tom Hambridge, die eerder werkte met onder andere Buddy Guy, Susan Tedeschi en George Thorogood.
Christone "Kingfish" Ingram is pas 20 jaar oud, maar klinkt op zijn debuut als een door de wol geverfde blues muzikant. Het album opent met lekkere stevige bluesrock en laat direct horen dat Christone "Kingfish" Ingram een getalenteerd zanger en een werkelijk geweldige gitarist is. Zijn stem klinkt doorleefder dan je van iemand van zijn leeftijd zou verwachten en past perfect bij de rauwe blues waarmee het album opent. Het is rauwe blues met meedogenloze riffs, hier en daar afgewisseld door vlammende solo’s.
Kingfish laat goed horen dat de jonge muzikant uit Clarksdale, Mississippi, het vak leerde van een stel ouwe rotten uit het genre. Kingfish staat vol met vlammende bluesrock, maar kan ook uit de voeten met doorleefde Chicago blues, broeierige Delta blues of met ingetogen akoestische blues, waardoor het debuut van de Amerikaan verrassend gevarieerd is.

Producer Tom Hambridge heeft een stel prima muzikanten verzameld rond Christone "Kingfish" Ingram, maar de pas 20-jarige muzikant eist met afstand de meeste aandacht op met geweldig gitaarwerk en zijn doorleefde strot. Desondanks verdient de band alle lof, want met name de ritmesectie en de pianist leveren geweldig werk af en stuwen de gitarist vervolgens naar grote hoogten.

Kingfish kent gastbijdragen van Buddy Guy en Keb’ Mo’, maar ook zonder hulp van de groten levert Christone "Kingfish" Ingram vakwerk af. Het doet me af en toe wel wat denken aan het vroege werk van Robert Cray, al klinkt Kingfish wel wat rauwer, en natuurlijk is het album schatplichtig aan alle grote blues muzikanten uit het verleden. Qua gitaarwerk is Stevie Ray Vaughan overigens ook nooit ver weg.

Door te schakelen tussen verschillende blues varianten, houdt het debuut van de muzikant uit Mississippi de aandacht makkelijk vast, waardoor de 12 songs en ruim 50 minuten voorbij vliegen. Christone "Kingfish" Ingram is pas 20 jaar, maar laat nu al horen dat de erfenis van de grote blues muzikanten die hem voor gingen bij hem in goede handen is. Goed nieuws dus voor de liefhebbers van het genre.

Erwin Zijleman

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

zaterdag 24 augustus 2019

Soap Bubble Dreams. Para Lia

Para Lia debuted on these pages in the spring of this year with its EP 'Hawk Hill'. It was only then that I found out that an album had been released earlier in the year and yes, 'Hawk Hill' and its two companions on the EP had wetted my appetite.

Soap Bubble Dreams starts out with a slightly dissonant chord that sets the stage for the album. We're in for rock and Para Lia delivers the whole of the way. Beautiful guitar solos in the best (prog)rock tradition in combination with a golden melody or two come by like there's no tomorrow.

Para Lia is a duo from Cottbus, a German town fairly close to the Polish border south east of Berlin. René and Cindy Methner make up the band. They have listened to rock music of the past 50 years and went to work to come up with its own blend of these influences.

The guitar is René Methner's instrument of choice. You can hear his love of playing this instrument all over the album. Para Lia does not stop there. It is obvious that a song is not a song before other instruments get equal important parts to play. There's a firm drum under each song. Pounding away, laying a concrete foundation allowing all other instruments to bounce off of. The bass is right in sync here, coming forward in a song like 'Leave Of Grey'. The second instrument drawing attention is the Mellotron (sound?) that permeates the songs. That hippy, wavy sound gives the rock songs a psychedelic edge, without ever tripping away. For that Para Lia is far too direct. Where possible other instruments can be noted as small embellishments. There is one constant factor though: every instrument is played by René Methner.

Promo photo by: Agnes Sommer
René is also the singer of the band. Cindy adorns the songs with her backing vocals. Often giving the songs a fairytale rock tint. Where in a band like Within Temptation the female voice is leading, here it is more in the background but with the same effect. She lends a dreamy quality to the rock of Para Lia, providing the music an extra and interesting layer.

Had Soap Bubble Dreams just been an album with one dimensional rock, it would have been a lot less attractive to me. It is the mix of the use of dynamics, like in 'Over It', that was included on 'Hawk Hill' EP, the dreamy female vocals and keyboards, in combination with good to strong melodies that make Soap Bubble Dreams an album to truly enjoy.

The only thing I can have against the album, is that 'Hawk Hill' is not on it. This is a conscious decision so I understand, to have a great single after the album, but it is missed here. At this point of writing the guitar and Mellotron intro of 'Beautiful Delay' starts and who am I to complain at that point? With a song like that on an album, not much can go wrong. The bass and drums crank up the pace, the dreamy Mellotron does the rest and than Cindy Methner gets a solo spot as well. 'Beautiful Delay', folks, I do not need to write more.


You can buy Soap Bubble Dreams here:

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

vrijdag 23 augustus 2019

Anak Ko. Jay Som

A girl dreaming of a gymnastics career in an impossible place, possibly a desert? It is possible to derive at this conclusion looking at the artwork of Anak Ko. Whatever the answer, the word dream is appropriate where Anak Ko is concerned.

Jay Som is Los Angeles based Melina Duterte, a young woman with Philippine roots releasing her music since 2013. With a family name coinciding with that country's president no less. She has released two albums before Anak Ko, the latter being the first with a band around her.

On Anak Ko Jay Som let's her pop side shine out regularly. The songs simply please the ears, but mind, there is a decidedly more challenging side woven in here and there that allows the listener to remain alert and notice the many fine details.

Jay Som is not afraid to show a sugary side that would not have scared Linsey de Paul in her 1972 number 1 hit, 'Sugar Me'. Were it not that Jay Som has an alternative rock side that she loves to show. The combination is what makes Anak Ko extremely interesting to listen to.

Promo photo: Lyndsey Byrnes
In many of her songs Jay Som is influenced by dreampop. Her voice, soft, devoid of urgency, seems made to float over her music. It is mixed right over the music to make sure it does not drown when it flares up. She could just as easily be a sigh girl from the French yé-yé period or Charlotte Gainsbourg in this century. In that sense Jay Som lays a connection between music from decades ago and current artists like Courtney Barnett, where she has left the punky alternativeness behind her for most of the time and exchanged it for delicateness. At times the music is so vulnerable it seems it could break.

That changes by playing the album louder in the living room. The richness of the details in the production come alive immediately in that situation. Beneath the seemingly calmness a lot is going on. From dreamy playing to little funky guitar bits, it is all there, while Jay Som remains her calm, tranquil self.

Yes, the album is not suitable to play under all circumstances. Simply because I am not always in the mood for music like this. The moments I am though, I'm content nearly instantly and that is not a condition any record puts me into.


You can listen to and buy Anak Ko here:

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

donderdag 22 augustus 2019

Samsara. Los Coast

Los Coast maakt de verwachtingen meer dan waar met een broeierig album dat van alles en nog wat aan elkaar smeedt en werkelijk geen moment verveelt. 

Los Coast heeft met Samsara een geweldig soulalbum afgeleverd, maar de band uit Austin, Texas, maakt zeker geen 13 in een dozijn soul. De muziek van de Texaanse band begint bij een authentiek klinkend soulgeluid, maar sleept er vervolgens van alles bij. Van funk tot R&B, van psychedelica tot rock, van gospel tot jazz. Samara van Los Coast is een feestje, maar ondertussen speelt de band de pannen van het dak en imponeert de rauwe soulstrot van voorman Trey Pivott steeds wat meer. In Austin en omstreken werd al een tijd uitgekeken naar dit album en waarom dat zo is, is na beluistering van Samsara overduidelijk.

Los Coast timmert al een aantal jaren stevig aan de weg binnen de muziekscene van Austin, Texas, en dat is een muziekscene waarin talent niet onopgemerkt blijft. Naar het debuut van Los Coast wordt dan ook al een aantal jaren uitgekeken, maar het deze week verschenen Samsara maakt een einde aan het lange wachten.

Ik had zelf niet veel tijd nodig om te concluderen dat het debuut van de band uit Austin, Texas, het wachten meer dan waard is. Los Coast vermaakt op haar debuut meedogenloos en doet dit met een opwindende mix van soul, funk, psychedelica, R&B en nog veel meer.

Los Coast beschikt in de persoon van frontman Trey Pivott over een uitstekend zanger. Het is een zanger die de emotie van de oude soulhelden combineert met de bravoure van de R&B en neo-soul zangers van recentere datum.

De heerlijk rauwe en soulvolle zang is echter niet het enige sterke wapen van Los Coast. De band bestaat uit een aantal uitstekende muzikanten en het zijn muzikanten die een heerlijk authentiek klinkend soulgeluid neer kunnen zetten. De muzikanten van Los Coast durven echter ook buiten de hokjes van de vintage soul te kleuren en doen dit met grote regelmaat.

Samsara is een album dat je het ene moment meesleept naar de soul uit de jaren 60 en 70, maar het volgende moment zit je midden in de R&B en neo-soul scene van het moment. Hier blijft het niet bij, want de leden van Los Coast hebben ook een zwak voor psychedelica, een voorliefde voor funk en zijn bovendien niet bang voor rock. In de meest funky moment klinkt Samsara als Prince in zijn jonge jaren, maar voor je het weet schiet het weer een andere kant op.

De dampende soul en funk op Samsara maken van het debuut van Los Coast vooral een album voor een feestje, maar ook wanneer je niet in een feeststemming bent, valt er op het album genoeg te genieten. Bijvoorbeeld van het uitstekende gitaarwerk op het album, dat zowel funky, jazzy als soulvol kan klinken, van de meedogenloos swingende ritmesectie of van het al even swingende toetsenwerk op het album, dat varieert van broeierige orgeltjes tot zweverige synths.

Los Coast maakt muziek vol energie en met een enorme flow en doet ook in dit opzicht aan Prince denken. Op hetzelfde moment sluit de band uit Austin, Texas, probleemloos aan bij de R&B of hiphop van het moment en past het ook in dit hokje, maar ook de muziek van Curtis Mayfield is een belangrijke inspiratiebron voor Los Coast geweest en zo kan ik nog wel even door gaan. Het is een flinke stapel hokjes die voorbij komt bij beluistering van Samsara van Los Coast, want je hoort op het debuut van Los Coast ook nog gospel, folk en nog veel meer, maar het stoort me geen moment.

Het debuut van de Texaanse band is een eersteklas feelgood album, maar ook later op de avond voldoet het album uitstekend en doen zeker de wat zwoelere tracks wonderen. De lat lag hoog op basis van alle berichten die aan dit album vooraf gingen, maar Samsara van Los Coast gaat er moeiteloos overheen.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt Samsara hier kopen en beluisteren:

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

woensdag 21 augustus 2019

Let's Rock. The Black Keys

The message is clear: The Black Keys are back and fully charged. The artwork leaves little doubt about the band's intentions. But what will the music tell me?

With the 'El Camino' album The Black Keys broke big with at least two songs that still can be heard on radio stations across the globe on a regular basis, 'Lonely Boy' and 'Gold On The Ceiling'. Follow up album 'Turn Blue' certainly had its moments but got nowhere close to its predecessor. A silence for years on end, until just before the summer of 2019, followed, where both members went their own way.

So Let's Rock is here and I am listening to it again. The album in general met favourable reviews of the inspirational but nothing new kind. This is the correct description as far as I'm concerned, I am not going to counter that in any way. So what it comes down to, is the quality of the songs on Let's Rock. There's nothing wrong with repeating what you are good at as long as a band produces a 'Tattoo You' and not a 'Dirty Work'. Whoever reads this can be rest assured, this is a 'Tattoo You'. Let's Rock is a varied album with some nice rockers, mid-tempo inspired rock songs and a few more laidback tracks that all have their moments of pleasure and even brilliance.

Dan Auerbach's guitar solos rip songs apart in all the right places. Always supported by the fierce rhythm playing of Patrick Carney. All in all Let's Rock is more of a duo record than the two previous records. Of course there are loads of guitar overdubs. To play it all live Auerbach needs at least three other guitarists on stage with him. Next to that there are loads of gorgeous female backing vocals, lending Let's Rock a fine soul aura that mixes into the (bluesy) alternative rock of The Black Keys.

What amazes me most on this album is something that can be read in a wrong way completely but is far from intended to do so. Many songs on Let's Rock after the first three start in a way that make me think: again such a soft, bit duff song? Each and every single song comes alive and makes me forget my first impression immediately. I can't remember ever having that experience before in such a stark yet varied way. Usually a song starts out in the wrong way and remains there. Not the songs on Let's Rock. In the end they all rock and become special. Something they are not on Auerbach's solo albums. So it must be the magic that Patrick Carney brings to The Black Keys that makes the difference. Either that or Auerbach keeps his best songs for the band.

Whatever the reason, Let's Rock is a fine album putting The Black Keys right back on track. Inspiration hit and fully charged the band indeed. The album's title totally justified.


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

dinsdag 20 augustus 2019

Kiss The Money And Run. Monotales

“The Jayhawks meet The Beatles”, oftewel Amerikaanse rootsmuziek met Beatlesque refreinen, volstrekt onweerstaanbaar als je het mij vraagt.

Het rijtje popmuziek uit Zwitserland in mijn platenkast is zeer bescheiden, maar eindelijk wordt er weer eens een plaat aan toegevoegd. De Zwitserse band Monotales strooit op Kiss The Money And Run met honingzoete melodieën en refreinen die absoluut ‘Beatlesque’ mogen worden genoemd en combineert dit met vooral invloeden uit de 70s countryrock en de 90s alt-country. Het levert een plaat op die de zon laat schijnen, associaties oproept met klassiekers uit het verleden, maar ook op bijzondere wijze invloeden combineert. Ik kan het echt met geen mogelijkheid weerstaan.

Zwitserland en popmuziek is de afgelopen decennia een lastige combinatie gebleken. Veel verder dan Andreas Vollenweider en Yello kom ik niet en de eerste past net zo goed in het hokje klassieke muziek als in het hokje popmuziek.
Dat er in Zwitserland wel vaker goede popmuziek wordt gemaakt is te horen op Kiss The Money And Run van de uit Luzern afkomstige band Monotales.
Kiss The Money And Run is niet de eerste plaat van de Zwitserse band, maar wel de plaat waarmee zomaar de sprong naar een groter publiek kan worden gemaakt.
De muziek van Monotales werd me ergens aangeprezen als “The Jayhawks meet The Beatles” en dat is een goede eerste omschrijving van de muziek op Kiss The Money And Run. De plaat staat vol met bijzonder lekker in het gehoor liggende en zeer melodieuze popliedjes. Het zijn popliedjes die het predicaat ‘Beatlesque’ zeker verdienen. Met name de refreinen van de songs en de koortjes in de songs doen vaak denken aan toegankelijke popsongs van de Fab Four, maar Monotales slaat wegen in die The Beatles nooit ingeslagen zijn.
Kiss The Money And Run heeft niet alleen een voorkeur voor genadeloos aanstekelijke en Beatlesque popliedjes, maar heeft ook absoluut een zwak voor Amerikaanse rootsmuziek. Wanneer Monotales put uit de archieven van de Amerikaanse rootsmuziek hoor ik vooral veel invloeden uit de countryrock uit de jaren 70 en uit de alt-country uit de jaren 90, waarmee ook de naam van The Jayhawks als vergelijkingsmateriaal verklaard is.
Monotales laat het echter niet bij The Beatles en The Jayhawks, maar stopt hier en daar ook wat blues in haar muziek, waardoor de band uit Luzern ook wat rauwer en steviger kan klinken. Af en toe doet het me wat denken aan de briljante platen van de Amerikaanse band Cotton Mather, maar Monotales kruipt in haar muziek dichter tegen de Amerikaanse rootsmuziek aan en laat de invloeden van The Beatles af en toe achterwege.
In muzikaal opzicht heb ik niets aan te merken op Kiss The Money And Run. Integendeel. De plaat klinkt warm en gloedvol en vrijwel altijd onweerstaanbaar lekker, waarbij vooral het veelkleurige gitaarwerk er voor mij uitspringt. Het is muziek die aanzet tot associëren, want steeds duiken andere invloeden uit de archieven op.
Ook in vocaal opzicht is de muziek van Monotales dik in orde. De leadzanger beschikt over een bijzonder aangename stem en ook de koortjes op de plaat zijn uitstekend en herinneren hier en daar aan de vocale duels die Gary Louris en Mark Olson van The Jayhawks uitvochten.
Het is al genoeg om een prima plaat af te leveren, maar Kiss The Money And Run schat ik uiteindelijk nog wat hoger in. Dat is de verdienste van de geweldige songs op de plaat. Kiss The Money And Run staat vol met songs die je na één keer horen wilt koesteren en die ook na talloze keren horen nog goed zijn voor een warm gevoel.
Na één keer horen hield ik van de nieuwe plaat van de Zwitserse band, maar Kiss The Money And Run is sindsdien alleen maar mooier, warmer en stemmiger geworden. Ook behoefte aan warme klanken en songs vol echo’s uit een mooi verleden? Zet Kiss The Money And Run van Monotales eens op.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt Kiss The Money And Run hier kopen:

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