zaterdag 29 februari 2020

Was It A Dream. Darlyn

My girlfriend could have posed for the cover art. A small woman with high-heeled boots, "buy me some centimetres" she calls it. That aside, the name of what in my mind was a female solo singer, Darlyn, put me on the wrong foot entirely. Darlyn, darling, made me think of slick R&B and there's a lot on Was It A Dream, but not slick R&B.

In fact I was pleasantly surprised. Although my first thoughts went out to singer and all out rock bitch Anouk, I just as easily could let that thought go and settle into Was It A Dream in its own right.

Darlyn is not a solo singer but an Amsterdam based band, fronted by singer Diwa Meijman. The band caught the attention of the media with its first two singles, the first being a cover of the 1980's number one hit cover version by Tiffany of 1960s Tommy James and the Shondell's 'I Think Were Alone Now'. For me the least interesting song on Was It A Dream to be honest. The song is brought totally holding back from the 80s exuberance of the teenage girl full of expectation. I will not go as far as the "I" in the song is in the same room as Harvey Weinstein or Roger Aisles, but it doesn't sound like the "I" is enjoying the alone part. So it is an intriguing version. Perhaps I will have to reconsider my earlier impression some day.

It is in most other songs Darlyn makes an impression with songs that hold the balance between the nostalgic surfpop of Donna Blue and the rock of Anouk in a light form. Which somehow results in a band (ex?) like Alabama Shakes. So a mysterious song 'Wasteland' settles itself on the album. Filled with emptiness, atmosphere and anxiety for that emptiness. The singing, the playing it is all sort of hesitant as if the point of no return has been reached but everything in front of the band is totally undesirable to even contemplate discovering.

Promo Photo
It is 'Downside Of Love' that brings me the Anouk Alabama Shakes mix. Meijman does not have the power of an Anouk or Brittany Howard, but has a more womanlike voice, making the album sound prettier and pleasanter. A mix that really works on this album and with the band. The five behind her manage to play totally functionally. There's no a note too much on Was It A Dream is my impression. It results in an album that holds a lot of atmosphere. Often dreamy, without becoming vague or psychedelic. More like a daydream taking the dreamer to a nicer place for a few seconds or more. It even makes me feel o.k. with the Tame Impala synth sound I'm hearing on the album.

This makes this album a nice one to play. All music takes its listener to another place. Darlyn to a dreamy place where all seems to be good. As compensation there's a more solid song like 'Ten Dollar Smile', with its fierce guitar riff. Even here the basic rule of Darlyn is in place: not a note too many. As if 'Zeeuws Meisje' was in control. A nice detail is the tambourine on the hi-hat in the chorus.

Again it proves a good idea to play a record first and than look whether preconceptions are true. Because of it I am listening to a fun album. Darlyn is a nice addition to my record collection.


You can listen to and buy Was It A Dream here:

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

vrijdag 28 februari 2020

Saturn Return. The Secret Sisters

Two sisters singing in a heavenly way together and slightly teasing each other on stage in a way that is certainly funny, if surprising at first, return with a new album. 'You Don't Own Me Anymore' (2017) certainly was a nice album. With Saturn Return the sisters double the stakes, if not more, and leave me sort of breathless.

Laura and Lydia Rogers who form The Secret Sisters returned to the producing team of Brandi Carlile, Phil and Tim Hanseroth, to record in the home studio of Carlile. And how!

"Look upon your mother and the silver in her hair". It is only the very first word, look, that is sung hesitatingly by one of the two sisters. There's no music, just these voices and a spaciousness around them as if the whole St. Peter's dome is at their disposal. If this is not enough to make you melt for The Secret Sisters, it may be nothing will. On second 18 the band kicks in, with a firm country tinged sound. It is the direct line with the previous album as that is severed musically more and more when Saturn Returns progresses.

The Secret Sisters may go for a more commercial sound as pop music in the classical way of decades ago is the driving force of Saturn Return. It fits the sisters like a glove. But not before I sing the praises of 'Silver', the opening song. What a dream of an album opener. It sparkles and bubbles, is filled with the joy of songwriting, of playing and most of all of singing. Laura and Lydia bounce on and off each other creating a cascade of vocals that seem to come from everywhere and envelope and capture me totally.

With the second song the radical bend is taken immediately. The beautiful ballad 'Late Bloomer' reminds me of ballads from the 70s like 'Lydia' (coincidence?), 'Without You', Christopher Cross' first hit singles and a Carly Simon hit like 'Jesse'. A piano is the driving instrument and the dual vocal harmonies are mostly missing. The song is serious but totally convincing.

With 'Cabin' the album goes one step deeper. From an empty song driven by an acoustic guitar, piano and two voices, the song slowly is flashed out more and more, with a fiery guitar solo and all. Country music is nowhere in sight on 'Cabin'. And I'm quite happy, as the level of musicianship and songwriting is at a high level here.

The exuberance of several songs on 'You Don't Know Me' has been replaced by a more serious mood often a bit down cast. That results in a song like 'Tin Can Angel', so delicate, so fragile, so beautiful. It holds a guitar solo, but in a way it is only an intrusion of what this song is really about, the voices of The Secret Sisters bewailing and beseeching heaven, earth and everything that may be in between to send down that angel.

Saturn Return is a giant leap as far as I'm concerned. It holds a depth, musically and in feeling, that is hard to stare into. But when I close my eyes all I have to do is listen and let The Secret Sisters and their entourage lead me around. From that moment onward the album unfolds itself in its full glory. It is mesmerising and addictive, but above all extremely beautiful.


You can listen to and buy Saturn Return here:

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

donderdag 27 februari 2020

Color Theory. Soccer Mommy

Soccer Mommy was on this blog before but in a post by Erwin Zijleman. This time it's me trying out her new album, Color Theory. The short version is, a jangly, semi-detached, alternative sounding album as if Soccer Mommy is not really involved despite being present the whole of the time.

That outcome can only hold its ground by not listening a bit closer. The songs work in a delightful way and know their twists and turns to make them interesting for the whole of the way.

In this country soccer mommies are still an exception, though changing with more girls starting to play football, as we call soccer over here, in the past five years. I remember driving past the Missouri in Grand Falls on holiday with a head full of prickly pears thanks to the Lewis & Clark experience and seeing the park near the river filled with football pitches, little kids and an endless amount of soccer mummies. Where over here the kids play in clubs, there it was this huge open park, where everything would be packed in after the games. It all looked so different.

Thank you for bringing that memory back, Sophie Allison. Something I had totally forgotten and is brought back by the artist name she chose to work under. Where that brings me views of sunshine and warmth, Color Theory is about three colours all representing negative thoughts and emotions to Soccer Mommy: "blue, representing sadness and depression; yellow, symbolizing physical and emotional illness; and, finally, gray, representing darkness, emptiness and loss", as it says on her Bandcamp page.

Not surprising, Color Theory is not a happy sounding album. Sophie Allison does not sing like she's happy. She does not beat around the bush what her feelings are. Pain and suffering somehow seem like an endless inspiration to people able to voice and express these feelings and emotions. Sophie Allison is one of them. I can only hope expressing the darkness somehow alleviates her mood, that to know her music and melodies bring joy to others is able to drive the blue, yellow and grey into another perspective. Perhaps even support others that feel the same way.

I know I have to count my lucky stars, but that does not make it impossible for me to listen to Color Theory and enjoy its beauty. Because that is what Soccer Mommy offers the world. Take 'Yellow Is The Color Of Her Eyes'. The melody is downcast, Sophie Allison's voice is higher, clear, but down. The electric guitar's solo notes is what gives the song a little ray of light here and there. The chugging rhythm certainly does not help here. The song gives the impression it is sinking and sinking ever lower. Yet the result is one of extreme beauty. Is that possible? Yes, it is! Take 'Lucy' as another example. The song holds much more frictions in the guitars, the angelic singing gives the right balance between light and dark, chaos and order. The result? There's that word beauty again.

Without for a second making herself bigger than she is, Soccer Mommy in all modesty has made herself as big as she can or is able to handle in this phase of her career. She has a lot to look out for as there ought to be a lot more from where this came. Life may have its dark days, inspiration certainly is not lacking on Color Theory.


You can listen to and buy Color Theory here:

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

woensdag 26 februari 2020

Hyacinth. Spinning Coin

Anyone starting the second album by Scottish band Spinning Coin will need some stamina. 'Avenue Of Springs' starts hesitatingly but enticing. Until a singer sets in with a wavering, sort of not deep enough Lou Reed kind of voice. The chorus of ah ah ahs is a sort of chaos of male and female voices. Where is Hyacinth going?, you might ask yourself.

When second song 'Feel You More Than World Right Now' derails almost immediately when the singer can't hold his vocal melody in check while trying to do a Belle & Sebastian, for some the album could be over. The over-exiting vocal melody following the beautiful B&S kind of intro, is more than I can take, if the song wasn't so nice underneath it. My ears hurt here and there.

Turning away from Hyacinth would be a mistake though. The singer finds his own voice between Reed and Stuart Murdoch in the third song 'Get High' and from that moment onwards the "breathless rush of glorious guitar pop" the bio promises starts to shine through not just in the music.

The secret of the voices is that the band has three lead vocalists. Sean Armstrong has the more warbling voice, Jack Mellin the deeper one and Rachel Taylor obviously the female one. Finally there's drummer Chris White. With two members living in Berlin and two in Glasgow, the band has not made it easy on itself.

The result is an intriguing and interesting album. Recorded in just two days in France during a summer tour, Hyacinth is a amalgam of pop influences from the last two decades. With little lines back to the 80s and even 60s. Jangly 60s and 80s vocals can mix with Johnny Marr's The Smith's era jangly guitars all covered by a Belle & Sebastian icing on Hyacinth's cake. Armstrong again flies over every rail in 'Ghosting', but the song is strong enough to hold its own. With an ever stronger sound with a harsh, mysterious metallic edge filling up the spectrum.

Promo photo: Owen Godbert
Spinning Coin is able to give its songs a little extra in the arrangement, leaving bits and piece to discover in each new spin. The arrangements, though nothing flashy, hold surprises showing the band had time left for details while recording in just two days.

When in 'Black Cat' a little The Velvet Underground & Nico influence steps in with the innocent girl like vocal of Taylor Hyacinth wins another point for the home squad. Nice, delicate yet forceful in its own way. 'Black Cat' shows another side of the band that is continued in 'Soul Trader'. More jangly, with a harmonica as an extra, but also vulnerable.

Spinning Coin, one of those useless skills like skidding pebbles over water, is a band that I'm glad to have discovered. On its second album, I have one to discover!, the band ties together a lot I like in the music of the past 55 years. in a way that sounds familiar yet extremely fresh. Hyacinth is an album I expect to have a lot of fun with.


You can listen to and buy Hyacinth here:

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

dinsdag 25 februari 2020

Father Of All Motherfuckers.Green Day

Sorry, folks, Father Of All Motherfuckers, the title notwithstanding, is just a fun new Green Day album. 26 Years after 'Dookie' and breakthrough song 'Basket Case', the punkrockers are still a relevant band that can write, arrange and play a great punkrock song.

2020 Means that all three members have become middle aged men, undoubtedly husbands and fathers but most likely also millionaires with a rather different job than most people working from 9 to 5. Age has nothing to do with being relevant. On this album there's nothing extremely stirring or genre bending. The surprise of 'Dookie' and the double surprise of 'American Idiot' lies far behind of us. Enter Father Of All Motherfuckers. A short, but biting album, full of melodic punkrock songs.

So there's a million things that anyone could write about or better against this album and the band and I have seen several that do. But why?, I ask. This album is simply fun. It has several great, short and pointy songs on it that rock, in all the right ways. Father Of All Motherfuckers holds staccato songs, melodic songs with well thought out parts and even a little experimentation. What does a person want more? Green Day fans ought to be well pleased. I know that I am. This album holds all what I expect from the band.

Right from the start the title song sparks. This level of urgency is not found in all songs, granted, but you won't hear me complain. Just listen how 'Fire, Ready. Aim' goes in. The sharp little organ gives the song an extra bite. Billie Jo sings with a deeper voice. It works, period. 'Oh Yeah!' takes the foot of the gas a little, nods a hat to Gary Glitter's first hits from 1972 in the drumming sequence. (Speaking about listening and appreciating music and detaching it from the person.) By the time I reach 'Meet Me On The Roof', a nice, poppy, rocking song, I know that this album is good (enough). 'Stab You In The Heart' runs off a long way with a 'Hippy Hippy Shake' and 'Let's Have A Party' guitar run, in one go, but is one of my favourite songs on the album.

Green Day may not longer have the power to surprise, but with Father Of All Motherfuckers the band consolidates its career professionally and artistically. Even punkrock bands can grow older gracefully.


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

maandag 24 februari 2020

U Kin B The Sun. Frazey Ford

If anything Frazey Ford manages to hit the right note all over U Kin B The Sun. Anyone in the mood for an album that catches laidbackness in all its glory is recommended to go out and buy this album without bothering to listen first. They do not come much better than this.

Ha, I cheated. The above words closed my review of 'Indian Ocean', just under five years ago. They are so appropriate that I just copied them to start my review of U Kin B The Sun. Without to much trouble I could have copied the whole review and just changed some titles.

You might say that five years of silence is followed only by more of the same. You might, but I suggest you read on any way. Frazey Ford has released another record that is simple such a pleasure to listen to. With her rather harsh sounding voice a world of joy is created with songs that just seem to go forward until all that beautiful little details come forward that is.

Such a detail can be a beautiful change of melody or a little contribution on an instrument able to play some sort of lead line. From bass to Hammond B3 and guitar, they all play their own role. They all shine together, despite being hired to make Frazey Ford shine, they all get their moment to bask in the slight.

Promo photo
The music Frazey Ford excels in is a mix of soulful rhythm & blues. Music that can be heard in records from the 60s onwards, think 'Dusty In Memphis' to name another Caucasian female singer. The horns are missing, U Kin Be The Sun is more elementary in sound. Making it more subtle. On the other hand there's no 'Son Of A Preacher Man' in sight on this album. But that is a league extraordinaire. At the same time Ford regularly hints at some country elements giving her new album some extra depth.

It is the laidback nature of U Kin B The Sun that makes it shine. The kind of album that makes me ready to just listen, to want to do nothing else and just follow every little twist Frazey Ford and her musicians present to me. Following the music is more than enough for a short while.

The basis for the album was laid with her bass player Darren Parris and drummer Leon Power. Jamming in the studio led to the birth of several songs. Together with producer John Raham, Craig McCaul on guitar and Phil Cook's keyboards, the songs were flashed out to what we can hear today. It is a lot. From mellow laidback songs to unexpected bites. U Kin B The Sun is quite the album. 2020, the year starts so nice.


You can listen to and buy U Kin B The Sun here:

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

zondag 23 februari 2020

Late Night Sunlight. The Secret Love Parade

Helaas door bijna iedereen over het hoofd gezien, maar wat is het derde album van het Nederlandse duo The Secret Love Parade mooi en bijzonder.

Alweer acht jaar geleden bracht het Amsterdamse duo The Secret Love Parade een goed ontvangen tweede album uit. Album nummer drie liet lang op zich wachten, maar verscheen in 2019. Het album werd nauwelijks opgemerkt, maar is van een bijzondere schoonheid. Janna Coomans en Aino Vehmasto verrassen op hun derde album met een prachtig geluid, dat varieert van sprookjesachtig tot bezwerend en van loom tot tegendraads. Het wordt gecombineerd met al even mooie vocalen, die het bijzondere effect van de songs versterken. Nog altijd ongrijpbaar, maar ook klassen beter dan zijn voorganger. Late Night Sunlight van The Secret Love Parade is een album dat echt alle aandacht verdient.

Het Nederlandse duo The Secret Love Parade debuteerde tien jaar geleden met een veelbelovend debuut, waarvan het geluid drie jaar later vervolmaakt werd op het tweede album van het Amsterdamse tweetal. Mary Looking Ready was een honingzoete verleiding die al snel onweerstaanbaar bleek, al was het maar omdat de zoete maar ook stekelige popliedjes van The Secret Love Parade geen moment in een hokje te duwen waren.
Mary Looking Ready kon in 2012 rekenen op uitstekende recensies, maar het was helaas niet genoeg om de schoorsteen van Janna Coomans en Aino Vehmasto voldoende te laten roken, waardoor na tweede album het doek leek te vallen voor het Nederlandse duo.
Eerder dit jaar keerde het tweetal onverwachts terug. The Secret Love Parade moet het inmiddels helaas doen zonder platenlabel, waardoor het niet meeviel om aandacht te trekken met Late Night Sunlight. Ik moet eerlijk toegeven dat ik de zoete verleiding van de eerdere muziek van het tweetal ook al lang weer was vergeten, maar op een of andere manier kwam het nieuwe album van The Secret Love Parade op de goede stapel terecht en kwam ik het een week of wat geleden weer tegen.
Janna Coomans en Aino Vehmasto wisten een flinke stap te zetten op hun tweede album, maar het derde album van het Amsterdamse duo is nog veel beter. Mary Looking Ready leunde vaak nogal zwaar op de jaren 80 en flirtte bovendien meer dan eens met Bananarama achtige pop. Niets mis mee, zeker niet omdat het ging om Bananarama in betere tijden, maar op Late Night Sunlight graaft het Nederlandse tweetal flink dieper.
Ook op het nieuwe album maakt The Secret Love Parade op bijzondere wijze gebruik van elektronica, In veel songs op het album duiken flarden synthpop en electropop op, maar Janna Coomans en Aino Vehmasto zijn ook niet vies van chillwave of experimentelere elektronische muziek. Hiernaast is Late Night Sunlight een album vol atmosferische soundscapes, die herinneren aan de klanken waarmee Scandinavische ijsprinsessen zichzelf begeleiden, en duikt af en toe wat dreampop op.
In muzikaal opzicht is het derde album van The Secret Love Parade een wonderschoon album. Avontuurlijke elektronica domineert op het album, maar ook de hier en daar opduikende gitaren kleuren het geluid op het album prachtig in.
De fraaie instrumentatie past op zijn beurt weer prachtig bij de mooie stemmen van Janna Coomans en Aino Vehmasto, die vergeleken met hun vorige album veel beter zijn gaan zingen en een bijzondere sfeer creëren met de wisselwerking tussen de speelse elektronica en de mooie zang.
Het levert een album op dat je de hele speelduur op het puntje van de stoel houdt. De songs van The Secret Love Parade zijn mooi en verleidelijk, maar ook indringend en bezwerend en prikkelend en avontuurlijk.
Als ik zoek op het Internet kom ik helaas niet al teveel reacties tegen op het album. Dat is niet zo gek vanwege het soms idiote aanbod van het moment, maar ook doodzonde. Janna Coomans en Aino Vehmasto hebben een wonderschoon en bijzonder album afgeleverd dat echt alle aandacht verdient en wat mij betreft moet worden gerekend tot de obscure parels van het muziekjaar 2019.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt Late Night Sunlight hier beluisteren en kopen:

of luister naar onze Spotify Playlist en ontdek waar we over schrijven:

zaterdag 22 februari 2020

Adolescence Blues Community. Equal Idiots

It's nice to not to be challenged every once in a while. Equal Idiots' second album is such an occasion. The songs are as complex as the length of the songs. The singer sings with the right amount of a sneer as can be expected with punkrock songs. The songs contain the right amount of alternativeness to not be called a pop punk band. Several songs have an edge making them less easy to digest in one go. The na-na-na's fly around where and when possible. The guitars sound dirty without becoming nasty. Drums and bass pound away like there's no tomorrow without resounding into "animalism". With ten songs the album has the right lenght.

The result is that Equal Idiots draw between the lines of alternative punkrock and the result is an album that is fun to listen to when I feel like an album like this. No more but certainly no less. And sometimes that is enough. Not all bands can sound as big and convincing as Green Day. There's loads of more money, more routine and also some more talent in the end. But there already is a Green Day. Equal Idiots have chosen correctly to stay well away from that band, well mostly. By choosing a more alternative side to their music, the band nudges closer to Dutch bands like Mozes and the Firstborn and Canshaker Pi, so is artistically more interesting and challenging.

Adolescence Blues Community is an album to enjoy for what it is. It holds some really nice punkrock songs, even a sort of ballad and several songs have a nice melody. "We don't care, we are just having fun", they sing in 'Adolescence Blues' and that sums up the album quite nicely. Fans of this sort of music ought to know enough and so do those not liking punkrock.


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

vrijdag 21 februari 2020

The Noise You Make Is Silent. Klangstof

There are days that the review of the cover art of an album should suffice. A cover that is reason enough to buy an LP. The Noise You Make Is Silent holds one of those covers. The combination of colours, the way the yellow leaks into all else except for the human shape, the way the colours are mirrored on the two halfs of the front cover is simply beautiful and intriguing, This is not an art blog or I may have had the voice to keep op writing, which I cannot. Also I do not at this point in time have the information on the artist who created the artwork. My compliments none the less.

My introduction to Klangstof was an unwitting one. It was the support act of Alt-J I never caught the name of at the time. It's first album was reviewed on this blog but did not leave a lasting impression. At this point in time I certainly cannot guarantee The Noise You Make Is Silent will though.

Klangstof leans heavily on modern sounds that may go out of style quite soon, like some dance tracks that become almost unlistenable as they have become outdated. Dance is certainly a large influence on this album. Digital rhythms, bleeps and blops come out of programmed synths. The melodies and atmosphere in general are dark and murky. Pet Shop Boys without the tongue in cheek.

Those able to listen between the atmosphere will find enough to enjoy. Songs that are delightfully build up from extremely small and delicate to thundering anthems. On the other end of the spectrum it is the melodies hidden away in a song primarily driven by beats that steel the show for me. It is moments like this that surprise me and make The Noise You Make Is Silent enjoyable to listen to for me.

Klangstof has not made this album without other artists in mind. Fans of Radiohead will certainly recognise a little of their band as can those of Sparklehorse. Like with both bands that shone first in the 90s there is a balance between humans and the machine. Cyborg music just entered my head as a thought. Music that a machine cannot compose but humans cannot produce in an organic, analogue way.

Koen van der Wardt also has some digital assistance for his singing, a clear Thom Yorke influence in some songs as well, the ultimate vulnerability when singing. So all in all there is enough to get intrigued by. Enough to want to get to know better and find out whether this album is really worthwhile. Something I simply cannot tell after a few listening sessions. This takes time. I remember saying this about 'Kid A', there was no WoNo Magazine to write in in the year 2000, only to never put it on again. The Noise You Make Is Silent is different. There are more than enough songs to listen to and not all estranging experiments.

So at best this review is an intermediate one. Where it will go, I have no way of telling. That The Noise You Make Is Silent is worth investing in I am sure of already. What does not need convincing is the single 'Blank Page'. With ease the best song on the record. A song in which the whole Klangstof album seems to come together as an executive summary.


You can listen to and buy The Noise You Make Is Silent here:

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

donderdag 20 februari 2020

Thumb World. Pictish Trail

Pictish Trail came into my life with its previous album, 'Future Echoes', in the summer of 2018. I have to admit that I can't recall the album. Fact is that I once again like the music I'm hearing, so I ought to get 'Future Trail' out of its hiding place to try it once more.

Pictish Trail is Johnny Lynch. A Scot working under the name Pictish Trail. The music he makes comes with a picture in my mind. The picture of a man making his music in isolation, alone. It may be totally incorrect but this image presents itself to me pretty vividly.

That music is somewhat downcast but also quite interesting to listen to. The downcast side makes that I cannot listen to the album under all circumstances. When I do a world opens where Pictish Trail either moves towards dance influenced modern music while hiding under a see through veil of psychedelia or presents a far more traditionally crafted song. by way of this combination, decades in music come together that somehow ought not to be connected.

What makes the album intriguing to listen to, are the sonic ideas that go into it. Several musical surprises come by, making a song sparkle or just as easily estrange. It can literally go either way and within the same song. This makes Thumb World an album that surprises all the way.

In 'Fear Anchor' Sparklehorse is lifted from obscurity. As if Mark Linkous was raised from the dead. Lynch could have fooled me here. 'Fear Anchor' is also one of the most solid songs Sparklehorse would have released. The addition of a Mellotron (sound?) is exquisite actually. This is easily one of my favourite songs on Thumb World. It has so many layers to lose myself in. A big tip of my hat, Mr. Lynch.

Promo photo
With 'Slow Memories' a totally different kind of song is presented. The 'Moon Safari' atmosphere and sounds of Air come by, while the singing is filled with the lightness Art Garfunkel lays in his voice in his most beloved songs.

Like in my review of 'Future Trail' I could point to all the small details that come by. Yes, there is a lot to discover on Thumb World as well. It can be called a trait of Pictish Trail by now. Johnny Lynch does not rest till all the ideas that work are put into a song. To wonder, to admire and sometimes to shudder. It is a rich musical work, without losing the songs. And when 'Bad Algebra' totally goes off the rails like a 1967 psychedelic experiment gone bad could have, it is something I can live with, within this context, because the next song will come. Derailing is not the goal of Thumb World, only a means to an effect.

Thumb World is an album to discover and Pictish Trail "a band" to follow with interest. Something to look forward to in the future.


You can listen to and buy Thumb World here:

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

woensdag 19 februari 2020

Politiek & Liefde. Eva van Manen

Sommige albums liggen buiten mijn comfortzone. Sommige? Vele natuurlijk, maar die hoor ik nooit. Politiek & Liefde van Eva van Manen is er een die wel in mijn oren terecht kwam. Laat ik het moderne popmuziek noemen dat zij op het album presenteert. Liedjes, maar met invloeden uit de dance, rap en hiphop er onder. En laat dat soort muziek dus ver buiten mijn comfortzone liggen over het algemeen.

Ik kreeg de cd enige weken geleden toegezonden en als een regel geef ik ze allemaal een kans en soms zelfs een tweede. Wat me opviel was een soort opgewektheid, zelfs humor, die met mate over het album is uitgespreid. Het maakte dat ik nog eens ging luisteren en nog eens. Daarnaast viel het album ook in algemene zin in de smaak in huis, merkte ik.

In de pers gaat het al wekenlang over Eefje de Visser en haar nieuwe album 'Bitterzoet'. Ik heb het nog niet opgebracht er naar te luisteren. In het verleden had ik tot nu toe niets met De Visser. Over Van Manen heb ik nog niets gelezen. Dat is onterecht, want Politiek & Liefde is zeker gewaagd aan de albums van Aafke Romeijn bijvoorbeeld.

Politiek & Liefde is het eerste album van Eva van Manen. Een waar ze getuigt van de groei die een mens doormaakt in het leven. Van de stelligheden van de jeugd en jonge volwassenheid naar de twijfel daaraan en de nuances die het vergaren van meer kennis en ervaring met zich meebrengt.

Promo photo: Jitske Nap
Het album is in principe geheel door haarzelf gemaakt. De zang, beats, keyboards, gitaar zijn allemaal van haar. Opgenomen met Igor Wauters levert het een album op dat prettig in het gehoor ligt. Misschien ietwat eendimensionaal, maar uiterst prettig. Het enige minpunt vind ik 'Huil Niet'. De mannenstem is grappig, maar alleen de eerste keer. Al kan ik het me voorstellen dat dit uit het leven van Eva van Manen gegrepen is. Als dat zo is, dan is Politiek & Liefde de fraaie, symbolische middelvinger.

Nee, ik zal dit album nooit warm tegen mijn borst drukken, maar het is een album dat ik met veel plezier wil helpen een zetje te geven, omdat het dit verdient. Politiek & Liefde is interessant, regelmatig warm en teksten die mooi vloeien en goed zijn om naar te luisteren. Het zijn mooie verhalen, persoonlijk en vertaalbaar naar de eigen situatie. Met een song als 'Hoop Met Jou' scoort ze zelfs helemaal. Goed gedaan dus.


Je kunt Politiek & Liefde hier beluisteren en kopen:

of luister naar onze Spotify Playlist en ontdek waar we over schrijven:

dinsdag 18 februari 2020

Kairos 113, December 2019 Concertzender

The last Kairos of 2019. Our Wo. is catching up. With an open mind he has settled in once again to undergo the wizardry of .No's vociferous musical tastes, feeling and uncanny ears for blending music that was never made nor meant to be heard together, at times in the most literal sense. What would happen if he teamed up with Soulwax's Dewaele brothers in Too Many DJs? That is an enticing thought, but what are Wo.'s experiences during this Kairos?

Kairos more and more turns into a work of musical art itself I noticed over the past years. Where songs or compositions were mixed into each other, like Ben Liebrand did in the 80s or something with his disco hits show. In Kairos it is ever so much more subtle; also because of the choice of music itself of course. Songs weave in and out of each other in such a way that I truly do not know what or who I'm listening to. A feat that only a person with a very sound ear, hearing the music behind the music, can hear. Oh, I can do that. I always sing parts of '1 Nacht Alleen' when I hear 'Suzanne' or a specific line because a little melody in a song sounds like it. This is different. Atmospheric music is blended with a song by someone else. Whole parts of it to. Choirs sing where they weren't before. Etc. Each Kairos is a show full of surprises. Some horrific(ly long), some of extreme beauty, but always an adventure to listen to, as each second can hold another surprise. So, that is said. Time for the show.

The few seconds intro are followed by a piano. What else, I'd write, as the piano is the main instrument of choice for months if not more than a year already. A high male voice is the standard as well. This song is vulnerable, so empty a truck could drive in between the notes and words. Fink has come by on the blog last year with his latest, well received album, 'Bloom Innocent'. 'My Love's Already There' is the kind of song that deserves but also needs full attention, otherwise it will have evaporated into nothing. If music were as light a gas, this is its sample. I can see it disappear before my eyes. Music at its most vulnerable. I can only imagine what happens when a song like this is played in a venue and all the pricks in the audience continue their beer swilling conversations as if in the pub. A horrid thought. "My love's already dead", Fink sings. A line that sets the tone for this Kairos?

Strange things start happening. The percussive sound could be an extension of the song, but is not. Weird sounds are added before a more traditional sound comes in, a cello and a piano. 'A hopeless Place' by Tears Ov. Never heard of, but the mood is certainly continued. We are in a dark place for sure. A place where ghosts roam and make warbled noises. They say something but indiscernible for my ears.

There's no telling any more what I am listening to. Music blends but is it the original recording or .No at work? I can't tell. Susanna was in there somewhere, but it is only when a solo piano comes in, Jacco Wynia's, that I can truly tell where I am in the show. Another of the many piano new romantics that pop up in this country by the dozens it seems. Not my music, of course - where are the guitars?!- but I do hear the beauty in the music, despite the fact that you will never find me playing an album like this. For that I am too restless I guess. Something needs to happen, more than is happening here. With storm Ciara slowly fading out, the title 'Storm Coming Up' isn't appropriate any longer, but who cares. In the composition it is hard to discern that storm, but o.k. (O.k., since writing I learned storm Dennis is coming.)

It's time for Nick Cave once again. My tip is paying up. Hearing 'Ghosteen' for the first time last October I knew two things for certain: I am going to buy the album on vinyl and this music will work really well in Kairos. 'Sun Forest' is one of the many songs on the album that hold the total inner sanctum of Cave's mind. It is circa 40 years ago the wild post punker from Melbourne entered the stages of the world with The Birthday Party and 36 since starting a solo career. The road travelled by the artist Nick Cave is immense. The death of his 15 year old son, the "Ghosteen", can only explain part of what we can hear on 'Sun Forest'. It is a journey of decades leading to an absolute masterpiece. One hard to listen to at times, but a masterpiece none the same.

Somewhere in between Paul Haslinger returns to Kairos with an extract from his 'Exit Music' album. Somehow it wraps itself around 'Sun Forest', adorning it with even more atmosphere and violins. Or, what belongs to what? It is hard to tell, as it could belong together.

Fink is allowed a second contribution. 'Rocking Chair' is more mysterious and as such fitting to what we have just heard. It is more a non-song, more atmosphere than music. Over it Fink sings almost like a Medieval church choir. Deep voiced, multitracked and meditatively repeating his few words.

A piano brings salvation. While a high whining guitar moves around in the background. Again a track by I Am Oak from his latest album 'Osmosis' is played. Thijs Kuijken is purely himself, yet different. 'Wondrous Way' is delicate, vulnerable, yet fire sure. Each note played is in its place and played with confidence. That in my opinion is the difference with his previous work and the reason 'Osmosis' works so well. When speaking of artistic growth, this is an album to point out.

The violins over the fade out of 'Wondrous Way' could have been a part of it, had it not been pulled forward so much. It is Fink's third song on this Kairos. This time it is the title song of the album. Again empty, slow piano notes and sparse words. Fink is in no hurry, yet sings "I don't want to live my life", which expresses some urgency as he does not seem desperate. The song changes totally when percussion moves in and a lively bass joins in. It even has a groove now. Wondrous how a song can change just by adding a few instruments. So telling of the imagination of an artist, that nothing has to be as it seems. Somewhere birds and other noises join in. Someone has been fiddling with a few knobs while making the program.

It turns out to be a field recording by Harrold Roeland. Birds of all sorts can be heard, when another piano sets in. This time it is Paul Haslinger again. Slow notes move over the field recording that continues. Strings chime in but also a sound that I have a hard time recognising. So probably an object on Stewart Island caught by Roeland and not on Haslinger's record.

Haslinger makes way for Emilie Levienaise-Farouch. Violins move in and against each other. Rather erratic compared to the rest of Kairos. The waking up part of the show has arrived it seems.

Nick Cave's voice comes in with philosophical observations on where men comes from and what men is. 'Fireflies' is a story told, not sung. In the background atmosphere is created by Warren Ellis, Nick Cave's favourite sidekick in The Bad Seeds, now that all guitarists have more or less left the band. 'Fireflies' is also not a song, it is atmosphere.

That is relieved by a real song. A Kate Bush like song finds its way to my ears. It isn't Kate for certain, the style of her first few albums is unmistakeable though. It is Norwegian Susanna and her The Brotherhood of Our Lady. 'Ship Of Fools' is another Jeroen Bosch title as his paintings were the inspiration for her album.

She is replace by Trondheim Voices, again Norwegian. These singers were a part of Kairos before, I recall and not something I recall with glee. The composition is minimal. Atmospherics in voice and sound. Again things blend. What is what? The high female voice most come from Michael Price's 'Shape Of Dreams'. High, ethereal, so high as if trying to orbit and escape this valley of earthly tears. And why not?

It is darkness that takes over. Dark, droning sounds that move in and out of the forefront. I am supposed to hear an adapted Saint Nicholas song, but what .No did to it I have no way of telling. A lone guitar sets in. Again Lyenn returns to the show. His delicate voice works his way into my consciousness, that is still trying to figure out what happened to 'Dag Sinterklaasje'. As if a character from a horror movie was allowed to record the song. The contrast with 'In Reveries' is so tremendously huge, it is almost shocking. Somehow I see a man with a huge knife standing behind him boding an ill fate. And it doesn't end well, just listen to the final seconds. What a fate. Poor Lyenn.


You can listen to this Kairos here:

This is the playlist:

00:00-06:38  Fink. My Love’s Already There. Album ‘Bloom Innocent’. R’Coup’D/DGR.
05:53-09:11  Tears Ov. A Hopeless Place. Album ‘A Hopeless Place’.
The Wormhole/Modern Matters.
08:50-10:32  Susanna & The Brotherhood of our Lady. Exterior.
Album ‘Garden of Earthly Delights’. Susannasonata/It’s All Happening.
10:05-15:44  Jacco Wynia. Storm Coming Up.
Album ‘Climate Changes’. Mosaic Music/It’s All Happening.
15:09-21:55  Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. Sun Forest. Album ‘Ghosteen’. Ghosteen Ltd.
19:26-19:35  Paul haslinger. Valse I (fragment). Album ‘Exit Ghost’. Artificial Instinct.
20:38-24:01  Paul Haslinger. Valse I. Album ‘Exit Ghost’. Artificial Instinct.
23:22-29:24  Fink. Rocking Chair. Album ‘Bloom Innocent’. R’Coup’D/DGR.
28:48-33:26  I Am Oak. Woundrous Way (fragment). Album ‘Osmosis’.
32:59-40:05  Fink. Bloom Innocent (slightly adapted).
Album ‘Bloom Innocent’. R’Coup’D/DGR.
38:48-42:10  Harrold Roeland. Field Recording set 20 – Stewart Island forest dawn (fragment). Album ‘The Long Way Round. Self-released.
40:20-43:30  Paul Haslinger. August 2-22. Album ‘Exit Ghost’. Artificial Instinct.
42:35-45:11  Emilie Levienaise-Farouch. Minnesang.
Album ‘Like Water Through The Sand’. FactCat Records CD13-20P (130701).
44:59-48:23  Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. Fireflies. Album ‘Ghosteen’. Ghosteen Ltd.
47:59-49:42  Susanna & The Brotherhood of our Lady. Ship of fools.
Album ‘Garden of Earthly Delights’. Susannasonata/It’s All Happening.
49:21-51:47  Trondheim Voices + Asle Karstad. Below/Ritual#4.
Album ‘Rooms & Rituals’. Grappa LC49093.
51:32-52:03  The Real Group. Aftonen (fragment).
Album ‘Stämning’. Virgin 7243 812535 2 6.
51:49-54:49  Michael Price. Shade of dreams.
Album ‘Tender Symmetry’. Erased Tapes Records ERATP112CD.
53:57-56:17  Anoniem. Dag Sinterklaasje (fragment, heavily adapted by Wino Penris). Kinderkoor Sjandantino olv. Jan Warnaar.
Album ‘De Allerleukste Sinterklaasliedjes’. Disky SP 872962.
55:50-59:57  Frederic Lyenn Jacques. In Reveries.
Album ‘Slow Healer’ by Lyenn. V2 Records Benelux
59:47-59:57  Anoniem. Dag Sinterklaasje (fragment, heavily adapted by Wino Penris). Kinderkoor Sjandantino olv. Jan Warnaar.
Album ‘De Allerleukste Sinterklaasliedjes’. Disky SP 872962.

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

maandag 17 februari 2020

Unlovely. The Ballroom Thieves

At this point in time I cannot imagine any more why I hesitated in writing on Unlovely. The album is everything but that. It is seldom that an album has sparkled in many different ways and tied different eras in music together in an exuberant way without forgetting earth's valley of tears now and then. An album where singing is singing with all that you have. Even at the moments when the mood calls for holding back.

The Ballroom Thieves is a trio entering on the release of its third full length album. Singer, bassist and cellist Calin Peters, singer/guitarist Martin Earley and singer/percussionist Devin Mauch. With collaborator Ariel Bernstein performing extra duties. Producer Jerry Streeter will have added to the expansion of the trio's sound. As there are strings, keyboards, horns, a harp to be heard, all adorning the songs on Unlovely in a nice and often beautiful way.

What surprised me when starting to listen to The Ballroom Thieves newest album and, frankly still does, is the difference in sound and genre on Unlovely. Something that in the end truly won me over. The album opens with a gospel light (i.e. minus a choir), moves into folk, a ballad and can come up with a harsh alternative rock sound or a Jimi Hendrix 'Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)' intro to another rock song with a beautiful electric piano. It simply all comes by and it all convinces.

Promo photo
The alternated male - female singing brings even more colour to the album. If I'm forced to chose, I'd prefer Peters' voice but when Earley sings lead the background vocals become even better. Both are blessed with a good voice that is pleasant to listen to.

The diversity makes it hard to compare The Ballroom Thieves. Simply because so many different avenues in music are traversed by the band. In the end it doesn't matter. The Ballroom Thieves is a force in its own right and an extremely nice addition to my record collection. Another one of the true listening tips released already in 2020.


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

zondag 16 februari 2020

The Livelong Day. Lankum

Lankum werd in oktober vorig jaar bejubeld in met name de Britse muziekpers en dat is precies wat hun fascinerende folk album met een twist verdient.

Na snelle en niet al te aandachtige beluistering kwam The Livelong Day van de Ierse band Lankum bij mij op de stapel terecht. Te folky en te traditioneel was het snelle oordeel. Een onterecht oordeel, want Lankum kleurt op haar tweede album nadrukkelijk buiten de lijntjes van de traditionele Ierse folk. Dat hoor je vooral in de instrumentatie die makkelijk kan ontsporen en dan opeens donker en dreigend klinkt, maar ook wanneer de band de folk trouw blijft valt er veel te genieten van mooie klanken en van de geweldige stem van zangeres Radie Peat. Lankum dook op in flink wat jaarlijstjes en dat begrijp ik inmiddels volkomen.

The Livelong Day, het tweede album van de Ierse band Lankum, werd in de herfst van 2019 onthaald met louter positieve recensies. Vanwege alle superlatieven begon ik met hoge verwachtingen aan de eerste beluistering van het album, om vervolgens al snel te concluderen dat het toch niet helemaal mijn ding was.
Lankum opent haar tweede album met een traditional en vertolkt deze op het eerste gehoor zoals dit in de Ierse folk gebruikelijk is. Nu is dat niet mijn genre, al hoorde ik wel dat Lankum beschikt over een geweldige zangeres en dat het ook in muzikaal opzicht interessanter is dan de meeste traditionele Ierse folkbands.
Vanwege het grote aantal releases in oktober verdween het slechts gedeeltelijk en fragmentarisch beluisterde album snel op de stapel, om daar een paar dagen geleden pas weer van af te komen. Vanwege alle mooie woorden in oktober verbaast het me niet dat het album van Lankum in meerdere jaarlijstjes opduikt, maar het motiveerde me wel om net wat beter te luisteren naar het album van de band uit Dublin.
De openingstrack en traditional The Wild Rover, die ik toen nog af deed als veel te traditioneel en folky, had me nu wel te pakken. The Wild Rover is vertolkt door alles en iedereen, met in de voorhoede Ierse bands als The Dubliners en The Pogues, maar ook onze eigen André Rieu heeft zich wel eens aan het eeuwenoude dronkemanslied vergrepen. De versie van Lankum, die maar liefst tien minuten duurt, valt in eerste instantie op door een prachtig subtiele instrumentatie, fraaie harmonieën en vooral door de fantastische vocalen van zangeres Radie Peat. Naarmate de track vordert, wordt de instrumentatie echter steeds spannender om uiteindelijk prachtig te ontsporen in bijna postrock achtige klanken.
De instrumentatie op The Livelong Day is veel vaker een stuk spannender dan op het gemiddelde traditionele folk album en slaagt er keer op keer prachtig in om de spanning op te bouwen. In vocaal opzicht maakt niet alleen zangeres Radie Peat indruk, want ook drie mannelijke leden van de band laten fraaie vocalen horen.

Hoe vaker ik naar het tweede album van Lankum luister, hoe meer ik er van overtuigd raak dat de Ierse band een bijzonder album heeft afgeleverd. Het is bijzonder hoe het Ierse kwartet in een paar noten tijd afstand kan nemen van de traditionele Ierse folkmuziek en op de proppen kan komen met muziek die bijna is te omschrijven als drones, al zijn de klanken op The Livelong Day uiteraard niet zo meedogenloos als die op de twee albums die Sunn O))) in 2019 uitbracht.
Ik had het album vorig jaar zoals gezegd fragmentarisch beluisterd en was in de meeste songs al afgehaakt op het moment dat echt spannend werd. De bijzondere spanning in de instrumentatie en songs op het album tilt The Livelong Day echter een enorm stuk omhoog.
Lankum durft op haar tweede album de gebaande paden te verlaten, maar blijft op hetzelfde moment de Ierse folk trouw. Het levert een bijzonder album op dat bij iedere luisterbeurt nog wat indringender en intrigerender klinkt. Met name de Britse muziekbladen hebben in lyrische bewoordingen geschreven over het album van de band uit Dublin. Dat leek me sterk overdreven, maar ik vrees dat ik ze toch gelijk moet geven. Fascinerend album.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt The Livelong Day hier beluisteren en kopen:

of luister naar onze Spotify Playlist en ontdek waar we over schrijven:

zaterdag 15 februari 2020

Jin. The Kik

Jin knalt er lekker in. 'Angela' is tekstueel een leuke variatie of 'Stacy's Mum' de hit waarmee Fountains of Wayne doorbrak in de V.S. eind jaren 90. Dave von Raven droomt weg op Angela, de moeder van zijn beste vriend.

De muziek laat horen dat de band zijn favoriete jaren achter zich heeft gelaten. Hoevaak kun je de jaren 60 opnieuw muzikaal succesvol herbeleven? De ontwikkeling is ook organisch. De stappen tussen '2' naar 'Stad En Land' en 'Hertaald' laten een voorwaarste beweging zien, waardoor de uitkomst van Jin niet raar is.

The Kik is inmiddels meer dan een pop bandje natuurlijk. De theater tours zijn gebouwd rond jaren 60 nummers en hun verhaal. De tour vorig jaar met de integrale uitvoering van twee Boudewijn de Groot albums past in een tendens waar heel muzikaal getalenteerd Nederland zijn geld mee begint te verdienen. Voor The Kik eindigde dit verhaal in Ahoy.

Met Jin moet de stap naar de kleine zalen van de lokale poptempels weer worden gezet. Het lijkt mij een heel rare ervaring om met je eigen muziek in de relatieve marge te musiceren terwijl met de muziek van een ander zalen worden volgespeeld. The Kik is echter een band die ook met de eigen muziek de grote zalen van poptempels verdient.

Het heeft me enige luisterbeurten gekost voordat Jin tot leven kwam, moet ik toegeven. Ik hoorde wel dat het niet slecht was, maar de muziek kwam maar niet tot leven voor me. Dat is inmiddels aan het veranderen. Het is immers een heel ander album en veel steviger dan The Kik ooit klonk. Ries Doms mocht nog nooit zo retestrak drummen in The Kik. Een aantal nummers zijn ook elektronischer dan voorheen. Geen orgeltje, maar synths. Dan heb je een andere band met dezelfde zanger.

Dus het komt allemaal goed, met uitzondering van de cover van 'Major Tom'. 'De Grote Baas' is wat mij betreft een overbodige song, in tegenstelling tot bijvoorbeeld de cover van 'Pleasant Valley Sunday' in het verleden. Wat blijft, is dat The Kik in staat is om uiterst prettige nummers in elkaar te zetten. Ook als het steviger is en de invloeden na het einde van de jaren 60 liggen, komt de band met lekker vloeiende nummers. Zo lang dat het geval blijft, is er weinig aan de hand voor The Kik. Opnieuw gescoord dus.


Je kunt Jin hier kopen:

of luister naar onze Spotify Playlist en ontdek waar we over schrijven:

vrijdag 14 februari 2020

Record Number Three. Nat Freedberg

Record number three indeed. Late 2018 Nat Freedberg entered these pages with his single 'Devil Rocking Man', followed early 2019 with his album 'Better Late Than Never'. Soon followed by a band record, Freeloader's 'The Path Of Least Resistance'. And here's number 3 already.

On Record Number Three Freedberg shows another side of himself. The rock beast has been laid to rest for a while. A slightly more mellow side is allowed to come forward. Even a little country in the duet 'One Bad Decision' with Hailey Thompson King. The result is that his voice, one with a very own character, sounds a little more relaxed. There's no rush, no hurry and that is reflected in the singing.

Record Number Three is an extremely varied album with songs people with different tastes in music will like. He's not afraid to show to show some 'Exile On Main Street' era Stones guitar work like in 'Lonely Mile', folk in 'Play With The Devil' or some soulful background vocals in 'Maybe I'm A Tad Blasé'. All this makes Freedberg's new album less urgent than the two previous ones, but certainly not less listenable. #3 is an album to settle in to. Just put it on and let it become a part of you for 13 songs.

Promo photo
I think I've wrote this before. If so it just stands. I am convinced that Nat Freedberg knows he's not the best songwriter and certainly not the best singer. With those limitations in mind he goes to work and shares with the world his very best efforts. Because that is exactly what can be found on this record. Extremely competent songs that are just so pleasant to listen to.

The songs are mostly elementary, drums, bass, guitar and then start listening what happens on that guitar. Every note is well thought out and adorns the songs with a touch of beauty. Again nothing extremely flashy, but everything a song needs to make it stand out. Something with limitations and mastery.

Of the three records I have to say I like the Freeloader album the best. This one certainly battles with 'Better Late Than Never' for second place. Another side to Nat Freedberg? I can't help wondering what will come next.


You can listen to and buy Record Number Three here:

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

donderdag 13 februari 2020

Find Me Out. Spanking Charlene

How many bands exist in the world that find their influences in music in the short period in time powerpop ruled the charts with bands like Blondie, The Romantics, Joan Jett and The Knack running vanguard? It must be a lot and they seem all to be on the radar of that brave label called Rum Bar Records.

CBGB's may have closed down some time ago. It seems to me Charlene McPherson and her men have been sniffing around the Bowery neighbourhood trying to locate the last little pieces of inspiration still lurking around that little, dark, ugly hole in the wall behind which doors all things NYC punkrock originated from.

Spanking Charlene have found that inspiration in abundance. On Find Me Out, the band's third album, it finds the right balance between dirty, sleazy rock and a pop element. In other words Mariska Veres meets Joan Jett. Several songs remind me of Shocking Blue, for those knowing more songs than 'Venus', which is not my absolute favourite. That honour goes to 'Send Me A Postcard'. The sound is made tougher, making the U.S. post punk's powerpop shine through in abundance. That makes the jazzy 'Can't Let You Go' all the more surprising. This laidback track comes at exactly the right time on the album, to give it a bit variation and some excellent dirty guitar playing in the solo.

Promo photo
Find Me Out is the band's third album, all produced by Eric "Roscoe" Ambel, who has joined the band as second guitarist. It is also a return for the band after not releasing an album for eight years. A return like a firm statement. Hard rocking but fair. Charlene McPherson's voice may not be extremely solid, but made for this music. She gives a beautiful female touch to the tough music, making it warmer and extremely pleasant to listen to. And what man would not like to imagine she sings for him here: "Whiplash, as you walk past"?

Find Me Out? Yes, I have found you out, as an album that rocks in a great way. Bringing all sorts of nice memories of things past while replacing them with a great new set of powerpop, dirty rocking songs. Let's spank some more.


You can listen and buy Find Me Out here:

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

woensdag 12 februari 2020

Hollow. Elephant Stone

Eight years ago today this blog was announced. Happy birthday to ourselves and you,our readers. Here comes post #2973.

Come 2020 the Canadian band Elephant Stone can be called a veteran of this blog. That its new album makes it to these pages, should not come as a surprise.

Elephant Stone started in 2009 in Canada after frontman Rishi Dhir left a band called The High Dials. In the music the 60s psychedelic music mixed with Indian influences and instruments. Hollow is the band's fifth album. It was the second that attracted my attention first, 'Elephant Stone' from 2013. I seem to have missed an album in 2016. But not a live show in Paradiso a few years back, where the band played a very nice show in the small hall of the former church in Amsterdam.

Come 2020, the band has not strayed from its foundation. Psychedelic sounds move into the pop realm that Elephant Stone commands with ease. So many songs flow so easily, so unhindered by obstacles other bands are hindered by. Whether a Rickenbacker 12 string sounds out, getting mixed with a pedal steel where the soft voiced vocals meander around or the psych sound is more one dimensional, the result is a sound impossible for a trio to recreate live. Although most songs are unobtrusive, they are simply so nice.

'We Cry For Harmonia' is a song that I would guess all bands active in this niche of pop/rock music would die for to have written. Somehow everything Elephant Stone stands for comes together with such an ease, that perhaps months of work went into shaping the song as we get to hear it.

The Dutch band PAUW is inactive already for years, but some of the songs I'm hearing right now remind me of its album 'Macrocosm Microcosm' from 2015 immediately. From there of course the source of all music of this kind can't escape mentioning. The Beatles are all over Hollow. The influence of George Harrison and 1966-67 is stamped on Hollow. I am sure no one at the time would have expected influences would last this long, but they have. 50 and some years later it sparks the imagination of extremely gifted songwriters like Rishi Dhir, producing a beautiful album like Hollow.

When searching for a downside to Hollow I can find only one. Playing the whole album in one go, I notice that the sound of the album as a whole seems a bit flat. It all remains just a little in the same tempo, the same sound. While at the same time the individual songs are more than o.k. The solution here is to start the album at different points. ('The Clampdown' does upset this observation a little, you might say. Yes, parts of this very flashed out song certainly do.)

Elephant Stone already was one of my favourite psych pop/rock bands. With Hollow the band consolidated this position with ease. Let's see if The Black Angels can come up with a nice album as well soon.)


You can listen to and buy Hollow here:

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

dinsdag 11 februari 2020

X: The Godless Void And Other Stories. ...And They Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead

When did I last write on the Texas band with the impossible long name? I can't remember. It may have been in the previous decade, but perhaps even longer. The magazine held a few reviews for certain. It turns out the band was on a long holiday since 2014, so the hiatus in writing becomes understandable. At the same time Trail of Dead is not a band I sorely missed. It sort of disappeared from memory.

The review in 'Oor' did make me prick up my ears though and made me fire up Spotify to give it a listen. The good thing is, nothing has changed, the bad thing is, nothing has changed. During the first listen session I can't make up my mind yet. Of course, the music is larger than life itself. The singer, the band has two, is omnipresent over the music. The few moments of delicacy, mind everything is relative, are the time to breath deep and wait for the next sonic storm to catch up with you. Both elements, if not the combination, make the music of Trail of Dead impressive. This does not necessarily equal good. For this band however impressive usually does though.

X: is another album that just refuses to go by unnoticed. Although I am inclined to write X: is an album that is one huge storm without an end, it isn't. The album has many moments of rest, where the band holds itself in check; before exploding any way. As is the nature of Trail of Dead. I do not know all ten albums. On the ones I do know a sonic tempest of sorts is pulled over the listeners. The mix of melodic metal, some psychedelic hard pop and classic rock, again doesn't fail to impress me. In the use of dynamics a varied and strong album is presented making X: an instant favourite. An album I keep finding myself returning to.

Around since 1994, the Austin formed band has been quiet since 2014. So it isn't so strange that they had slipped off my radar. It is time though to return to my Trail of Dead favourites of the 00s. Just to compare how good X: is in a relative way.

The huge sound of this band can be overwhelming, just like Norwegian band Soup can be in the same musical segment. The sound at times is so full that it is nearly impossible to hear the little details worked into that wall of sound. The build up in 'Through The Sunlit Door' is so pleasant because it is possible to distinguish each little addition to the sound before the band goes full out. And here the voice is mixed over the music instead of into the whole.

For me, after several listening sessions, the verdict is clear. With X: The Godless Void And Other Stories ...And They Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead returns with an album that totally convinces. Without straining itself in the least the band seems to present its best. Another good album under its arm, it's time to tour.


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maandag 10 februari 2020

Spectre. Lighting Dust

Lightning Dust was een paar jaar uit beeld, maar keer terug met een prachtig album dat echt veel meer aandacht verdient.

Lightning Dust maakte tussen 2007 en 2013 drie uitstekende album, maar de afgelopen jaren was het stil rond het gelegenheidsduo. Lightning Dust is inmiddels topprioriteit voor Amber Webber en Joshua Wells en dat hoor je op het prachtige Spectre. Het nieuwe album van Lightning Dust combineert de folkrock van de eerste albums met de elektronica van het laatste album en voegt er flarden folk-noir, psychedelica en pop aan toe. Spectre klinkt songs groots en meeslepend met uitwaaiende synths, maar klinkt net zo makkelijk ingetogen en direct, met steeds een hoofdrol voor prachtige synths en de fraaie stem van Amber Webber, die het album uiteindelijk naar zich toe trekt.

Lightning Dust begon ooit als een hobbyproject van de Black Mountain leden Amber Webber en Joshua Wells, die een uitlaatklep zochten voor de muziek die ze niet kwijt konden op de albums van Black Mountain. Na drie uitstekende albums werd het na 2013 helaas wat stil rond het Canadese duo en dook Amber Webber tijdelijk op in een ander gelegenheidsduo (Kodiak Deathbeds).
Inmiddels hebben Amber Webber en Joshua Wells Black Mountain achter zich gelaten en vol gekozen voor Lightning Dust. Met Spectre bracht in de herfst van vorig jaar haar meest ambitieuze album tot dusver uit en het is een album dat echt veel meer aandacht verdient dan het tot dusver heeft gekregen.
Lightning Dust richtte zich in eerste instantie op stemmige folkrock om hierna de elektronica te omarmen. Op Spectre komen beide werelden samen. Analoge synths spelen een belangrijke rol in de atmosferische klanken op het nieuwe album van Lightning Dust, maar het duo uit het Canadese Vancouver combineert alle elektronica met songs die een folky basis hebben. Binnen deze twee uitersten is alles toegestaan op Spectre.
Amber Webb kan met haar krachtige vocalen uit de voeten als volleerd ijsprinses of duistere priesteres in songs met een bijna bezwerende uitwerking, maar Lightning Dust flirt ook met toegankelijke pop waarvoor Fleetwood Mac zich niet geschaamd zou hebben. Op hetzelfde moment experimenteert het Canadese duo stevig op haar nieuwe album. Subtiele gitaarriffs worden gecombineerd met een fascinerend elektronisch klankentapijt dat alle kanten op waait en steeds weer net iets andere accenten legt.
Wanneer de muziek van Lightning Dust net wat minder zweeft, schuurt het duo uit Vancouver tegen de folk-noir aan, tot flarden 60s psychedelica de macht tijdelijk overnemen of plaats maken voor indierock uit recentere tijden. In de zes minuten durende openingstrack gebeurt zoveel dat het je na afloop duizelt, maar vervolgens gaat Lightning Dust nog ruim een half uur door met intrigeren.
Amber Webber en Joshua Wells hebben op Spectre een goed gehoor voor lekker in het gehoor liggende popliedjes, maar alledaags zijn ze nooit. Amber Webber maakt in iedere track indruk met haar uitstekende zang en houdt je in een wurggreep met evenveel drama als gevoel. Iedere keer als het net wat te zweverig lijkt te worden plaatst de instrumentatie op het album je weer met beide benen op de grond.
Spectre is een album dat uitnodigt tot associëren want Amber Webber en Joshua Wells kennen hun klassiekers. Spectre klinkt hierdoor meer dan eens als een omgevallen platenkast, maar is ook een album met een duidelijk eigen geluid. Het is een geluid dat zich genadeloos opdringt en vervolgens alleen maar aan kracht wint. Enerzijds door de synths die hier en daar herinneren aan de progrock uit de jaren 70 en worden gecontrasteerd met stemmige pianoklanken en anderzijds door de geweldige stem van Amber Webber, die vergeleken met de eerste albums van Lightning Dust veel beter is gaan zingen.
Om de feestvreugde compleet te maken duikt Stephen Malkmus (Pavement) aan het eind op voor mooi gitaarwerk en gaat Dan Bejar (Destroyer, The New Pornographers) los op zijn orgel. Het zijn accenten die de muziek van Lightning Dust nog wat mooier maken. Met afstand het beste album tot dusver van dit bijzondere duo en een album dat alle aandacht verdient.

Erwin Zijleman

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