maandag 31 augustus 2020

Melting. A Shoreline Dream

Melting comes with two musical flavours. One is a tranquil sea that I can float on, caressed by the lapping water ever so lightly. Or it comes in the form of huge waves, washing over me trying to pummel me into the sand on the bottom and tear my limps apart from the shear force before releasing me and allow me to return to the surface to breath again. In other words a lot happens on Melting.

A Shoreline Dream returns to these pages after the single 'Seek To Hide' was reviewed a while back in our rather new single section. The band consists of Ryan Policky, a multi instrumentalist and Erik Jeffreys, guitar and backing vocals. Chase Dobson contributes keyboards to the album. Melting is the band's first album release since 2014 when 'The Silent Sunrise' saw the light of day. Recent political events inspired the band from Barnum, Colorado to work on and finalize a new album.

The result is a dark album, in line with the times, that are most likely even darker than when written and recorded. The sound is not always clear, almost a bit muddled. Every once in a while a sound is allowed to escape for a short while. Play the album a bit louder though and the sound becomes clearer. A clear signal to play the album loudly.

It surprised me to read this is an American band. Where the sound is concerned I hear mostly influences from U.K. bands of the 80s, early 90s. Shoegazers is what I'm thinking of primarily. Do not expect loads of happiness in other words. There may be U.S. bands of the time involved. In that case I'm simply not familiar with them.

Promo Photo: Ryan Policky
Another influence I detect is more surprising. A few days ago I reviewed the latest Motorpsycho called 'The All Is One' and several times the band comes to mind while listening to Melting. Not in the overall sound, but listen e.g. to 'The Tempting Flood' and 'Seek To Hide' and notice the monumental use of the bass in the latter song. As if Bent Saether delivered a killer bass part to A Shoreline Dream, making the song as monumental as 'The All Is One' is.

The mix between monumentality and the more subtle interludes, just listen to 'Always That Reason', is what makes Melting a gratifying album. There's never too much of a good thing either way. A Shoreline Dream presents a well-balanced album where deep drums and bass provide the foundation for layers of guitars and synths to wash over the listener in all sorts of shapes and sizes. From the acoustic guitar in 'Downstairs Sundays' to that massive bass in 'Seek To Hide', it all comes by, surprising the listener along the way. Intriguing and good Melting is.

Wo.

You can listen to and order Melting here:

https://ashorelinedream.bandcamp.com/album/melting


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

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

zondag 30 augustus 2020

No. Mich

The album cover is incredibly funny and subtle of course, considering the album is called No. Mich returns to these pages with its new album. On its eponymous debut album I wrote that the band obviously takes its music very seriously but could not be called revolutionary in any way.

This conclusion does not have to be changed in any way. So, that's out of the way. On No Mich explores 80s indie pop and rock some more. Besides the U.K. bands Mich has incorporated some R.E.M. in its music as well. Combining Robert Smith's guitar sound of 'A Forest' with early R.E.M. structure of a song, presents the world with the optimistically titled 'I'm Dead'. "Forget about me" seems to be the main message. Well, if this is your wish Mich, then I'd advise to stop writing songs like this. 'I'm Dead' is extremely hard to shake of once heard, if not an impossibility.

Mich excels in the tight way 80s bands played. Tight rhythms and a minimum of variation, showing a bleak, dark, depressed world moving towards and in great fear of the abyss. There simply wasn't any fun allowed at the time. In my mind's eye I can still see "the bats", shoegazing, with Robert Smith combed back in hair and all, huddling together until finally a The Cure song was played by the DJ.

This is also where the comparisons stop. Mich may try to be bleak, it isn't really. The band has taken a style of music from the bandmembers' youth and started working from there. The vocal melodies are often too good to remain bleak and the sounds of the guitars are a touch lighter it seems, reflecting the ray of sunlight allowed into the room.

A minor detail of change is that Sofie Winterson is now a full time member of Mich, still more a project than a real band. Together with Piet Parra, Bastiaan Bosma, Rimer London and Mick Johan she makes up Mich. You can hear her sing lead in a few songs as well. A nice addition to the band in my opinion.

My overall impression is that No is a better album than 'Mich'. Having played more together gave the band more cohesion and depth. As far as I'm concerned I'm listening to an album that invites more listening sessions. Far more than the originals, Mich's music refers to, do in 2020. Hearing 'A Forest' on the radio every once in a while is enough for me, though always a feast. 'Stopsigns'' brightly bubbling sound is something I need to get to know a lot better and this goes for more songs on No.

Wo.

You can order No here:

https://shop.excelsior-recordings.com/products/mich-no


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

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

zaterdag 29 augustus 2020

ORBIT II. Someone

Someone verleidt en betovert met bijzondere, vaak wat psychedelische klanken, die de fantasie steeds wat intenser prikkelen, maar een mooie zomerdag ook prachtig dromerig inkleuren. 

Dat Tessa Rose Jackson veel te bieden heeft liet ze al horen op haar 7 jaar geleden verschenen debuut, waarmee ze haar soortgenoten binnen de folkpop ver achter zich liet. Als Someone zet de Amsterdamse muzikante een volgende stap. ORBIT II is voorzien van een wat elektronischer geluid vol invloeden. Elektronica, psychedelica, jazz, funk en pop vloeien samen in een geluid dat loom en zomers is, maar ook spannend en verrassend. Het levert een luistertrip op die aangename popliedjes combineert met een flinke dosis avontuur. ORBIT II is een album dat je onmiddellijk dierbaar is, maar dat vervolgens groeit en groeit en groeit. Een van de betere albums van 2020, let maar op.

Tessa Rose Jackson debuteerde alweer zeven jaar geleden met het prachtige Songs From The Sandbox. Op haar debuutalbum maakte de singer-songwriter uit Amsterdam indruk met prachtig ingekleurde popliedjes die vol verleiding en vol verrassing zaten.

Tessa Rose Jackson werd vrijwel onmiddellijk en volkomen terecht in het hokje met jonge en veelbelovende vrouwelijke singer-songwriters geduwd en een mooie toekomst in het genre leek zeker. De Amsterdamse muzikante en beeldend kunstenaar vond dit hokje zelf echter veel te beklemmend en beperkend en koos daarom voor een andere weg. Sinds een jaar of twee maakt Tessa Rose Jackson muziek als Someone en combineert ze haar muzikale talenten met haar talenten als beeldend kunstenaar. Someone debuteerde vorig jaar met de EP ORBIT en die wordt nu gevolgd door het album ORBIT II.

Het prachtig verpakte ORBIT II is zeker geen gewoon album, want een ieder die kiest voor de versie op LP krijgt er ook nog vijf fraaie kunstwerkjes bij die via een speciale augmented reality (AR) app tot leven komen. Die ervaring moet ik nog ondergaan, dus ik beperkt me vooralsnog tot de muziek van Someone en die is prachtig.

Als je luistert naar de muziek van Someone hoor je nog wel wat flarden van het zo goede debuut van Tessa Rose Jackson, maar het is ook duidelijk dat ze zich heeft ontdaan van het strakke keurslijf van de folkpop. ORBIT II is elektronischer dan de muziek die we van Tessa Rose Jackson kennen, maar ook psychedelischer en avontuurlijker. Op hetzelfde moment is de Amsterdamse muzikante de kunst van het schrijven van lekker in het gehoor liggende popliedjes niet verleerd.

Ook de songs op ORBIT II klinken bijzonder aangenaam en doen het uitstekend op een mooie zomerdag. Het zijn op hetzelfde moment spannende songs, die steeds weer net wat andere richtingen kiezen. Soms krijgt de elektronica (met af en toe wat Kraftwerk invloeden) alle ruimte, maar er zijn ook steeds weer de lome en zwoele ritmes, die de elektronica combineren met een warmere en organische basis en de muziek van Someone ook richting jazz of funk (Prince zou zeker verliefd zijn geworden op dit album) kunnen duwen.

Het klinkt allemaal bijzonder aangenaam en vaak tijdloos, maar de muziek van Someone is ook spannend en vernieuwend, wat knap is. De mix van elektronica en wat psychedelisch aandoende klanken past prachtig bij de stem van Tessa Rose Jackson, die al even aangenaam klinkt als de instrumentatie op het album en het dromerige karakter van het album nog wat versterkt.

De muziek van Someone op ORBIT II is ook nog eens beeldend. Ik ben nu al benieuwd welke beelden de AR app me gaat voorschotelen, maar ook zonder deze app tovert ORBIT II mooie beelden op het netvlies, zeker wanneer de psychedelische klanken de kant van Franse filmmuziek uit de jaren 70 op gaan.

ORBIT II duurt 45 minuten en in die 45 minuten verschiet het debuut van Someone constant van kleur, maar strijkt het geen moment tegen de haren in. Hoe vaker ik naar het album luister hoe mooier en indrukwekkender het album wordt, maar ondertussen is het ook een heerlijk album om bij weg te dromen. ORBIT II verrast en betovert zo intens dat het je soms duizelt, maar de wens om je lang op te sluiten met dit album om maar niets te hoeven missen wordt ook steeds sterker. Zomaar een van de meeste memorabele debuten van 2020.

Erwin Zijleman


Luister naar onze Spotify Playlist om uit te vinden waar we over schrijven:

vrijdag 28 augustus 2020

The All Is One. Motorpsycho

Once again, the beautiful artwork. Three albums in a row, showing that the band sees 'The Tower', 'The Crucible' and now The All is One as a consistent whole. Musically this certainly is the case. To be honest, I have a hard time to keep the individual songs apart when not listening to one of the albums.

Having said that, once again Motorpsycho washes over me as a musical tsunami. The force of the music is all encompassing, a brick wall stopping all else. On The All Is One Motorpsycho plays a few songs of force and length but there are also songs that are shorten and tender. In that sense the album becomes a modern day symphony. Only the returning theme is missing.

The All Is One is a huge piece of work. It is almost too much to take in in one go. Fans of the band will not be disappointed for one second, because everything that makes the band great is in here and at a high level of musicianship and inspiration to boot. Every little corner of a composition is explored, turned inside out, only to be reinvented once again. In the background "new" drummer Tomas Järmyr lays down a formidable foundation. The word background is to be taken in a very relative way on The All Is One. Järmyr plays in a relentless way, never tiring it seems as if drumming in such a powerful way does not cost any exertion. Like Joppe Molenaar in Bettie Serveert, Järmyr has given Motorpsycho a whole new leash on its musical life it seems. Over his drumming founding members Saether and Ryan can do all they like on guitar, bass, keyboards. And do, of course.

This is only one side to the band. Somehow Motorpsycho is able to produce the softest of songs as well, almost in a West Coast, CSNY kind of way with multi-layered harmonies. On The All Is One the experiment is taken to some softer passages as well, making them much more intriguing. This leads to a powerful Motorpsycho ballad like 'Dreams Of Fancy'. The dynamics in the song are just great and shows that Thomas Järmyr is able to show ultimate restraint, not playing at all, only to come back double when released giving tremendous power to some passages.

Fans of Motorpsycho all know this for years. How to get the multitudes to go and watch the band and come home with a stack of albums? It's a question I do not have an answer to. I am however convinced that there are more fans of this kind of music than those who have found the band so far. An only half, perhaps three quarters tops filled a smaller venue in Alkmaar two years ago attests to that notion. The band offers great powerful songs and a few beautiful ballads. It presents great, inspirational soloing that literally never bores me (and I am one for shorter powerful songs in general). So getting on the radio in the right programs is one prerequisite to grow. Shows where rock fans from 15 to 80 listen to. There will be room for great songs, even if they last close to 10 minutes.

With The All Is One Motorpsycho has added another great album to its oeuvre. The album holds all that makes the band so great. Working, playing and writing together for over 30 years, Motorpsycho has found out long ago where it is good at. The fact that the new album sounds so inspired and simply holding great songs, attests to the fact that the trio is still soaring high at the pinnacle of its talents. It even surprised me in part.

What the true value of The All Is One is time will have to tell. My first impression is that of a monumental album. How many bands can show such a verdict after being in business for 30 years? Motorpsycho can, for three studio albums in a row now.

Wo.

You can order The All Is One here:

https://www.stickman-records.com/shop/motorpsycho-the-all-is-one/


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

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


donderdag 27 augustus 2020

The Southwest Sky And Other Dreams. Karen Jonas

A new record by Karen Jonas and as always it is welcome. Including her most recent record that reimagined older work based on years of playing together, this is her fifth studio album and again she shows the progression all her albums have shown.

The Southwest Sky and Other Dreams is Karen Jonas' most mature album to date. In the sound she has moved towards a more standard form of country and Americana. Bringing her great and beautiful voice to a well-trodden realm, to show the competition what she's capable of and then some.

This means that the kind of exuberant Jonas songs like 'Oklahoma Lottery' and 'Butter' are no longer on the record. Instead a beautiful song like 'Maybe You'd Hear Me Then' comes by. A kind of song that I must have heard a thousand variations of through the years and yet I'm smitten immediately. Everything tells me this is the real thing. No doubts at all.

In the meantime so many styles in Americana come by and Karen Jonas has mastered them all. With her musical partner Tim Bray on electric guitar duties showing off his chops all over the album, she has a firm pillar beside her. There's really no predicting what he will play. Take the extremely dark notes he starts his solo with in 'Farmer John'. I did not see that one coming for sure. Speaking of a bluesy song with another great and seductive vocal.

Perhaps the exuberance has been put to rest some, there's still a lot of diversity to be found on The Southern Sky ... From country rock and roll and pure country to country ballads. With some heartfelt introspection in the lyrics of 'Better Days'. When introspection leads to something as beautiful as this song, I wish the level of honesty on display here on everyone. The world would certainly be a better place because of it.

The ballads have the overhand in the second part of the album. Another aspect that I had not expected as Karen Jonas usually diversifies her albums more. A slowly crying pedal steel guitar is howling with the wolves in the dark woods.

When I start the album again the one really true country song starts again. 'The Last Cowboy (at The Bowling Alley)' is a beautiful song full of restraint, underscored by the acoustic guitar solo. This song is so well balanced. The vocal between amazement and admiration for the stamina in a place where there's no more place for a cowboy. In this section the singles come by that have been discussed on this blog before, contributing to the high level of musicianship on display and a great start for the whole album. There's no disappointment for a single second there after.

It's 2020, it's my sixth Karen Jonas album (including The Parlor Soldiers) and again I'm totally fulfilled. With The Southwest Sky and Other Dreams she has delivered a style wise more consistent album than ever before, but again one soaring at great heights. There's only one wish left, to see her play live one day. For that a lot has to change unfortunately. So start out by buying her records and support her that way. In fact, the clear blue vinyl of the LP will help you dream of those southwestern skies as well. Dreaming of a kind that I wish Karen Jonas manages to keep doing. In that case there will be so much more great music for us in store.

Wo.

You can listen to and buy The Southwest Sky And Other Dreams here:

https://karenjonasmusic.bandcamp.com/album/the-southwest-sky-and-other-dreams


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

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

woensdag 26 augustus 2020

Quotidian. Marlin's Dreaming

Het Nieuw-Zeelandse Marlin’s Dreaming heeft een gitaarplaat vol invloeden en boordevol direct memorabele popsongs afgeleverd, die zo kunnen worden toegevoegd aan de soundtrack van de zomer.

Luister naar Quotidian van de Nieuw-Zeelandse band Marlin’s Dreaming en je struikelt bijna over relevant vergelijkingsmateriaal. Bergen indie-rock uit de jaren 90, maar ook 80s grandeur of 70s experiment. Op hetzelfde moment staat de Nieuw-Zeelandse band met beide benen in het heden en heeft het een geweldige soundtrack voor mooie lentedagen en broeierige zomeravonden afgeleverd. De gitaarpop van Marlin’s Dreaming gaat meerdere kanten op, maar steeds weer ligt de perfecte popsong binnen handbereik. Volkomen onweerstaanbaar dit album.

Een paar jaar geleden kocht ik het debuut van Aldous Harding via de webwinkel van het Nieuw-Zeelandse Flying Out Music (https://flyingout.co.nz) en abonneerde ik me op de wekelijkse nieuwsbrief van de webwinkel. Dat was een gouden greep, want hoewel de afstand tussen Nederland en het andere eind van de wereld door het Internet tot bijna nul is gereduceerd, weet lang niet alle muziek uit Australië en met name Nieuw-Zeeland ons te bereiken. De nieuwsbrief van Flying Out houdt me echter keurig op de hoogte en geeft met grote regelmaat een gouden tip.
 
Vreemd genoeg bleef Flying Out stil over mijn laatste Nieuw-Zeelandse ontdekking, maar was het een andere muzieksite die me direct nieuwsgierig maakte naar het nieuwe album van de Nieuw-Zeelandse band Marlin’s Dreaming. Van de uiterst lovende woorden van deze muzieksite over het tweede album van de band uit Dunedin is niets gelogen, want sinds de eerste noten van het album uit de speakers kwamen, ben ik op zijn minst een beetje verliefd op Quotidian.
 
Laat het tweede album van Marlin’s Dreaming uit de speakers komen en er valt een goed gevulde platenkast om. Het is een platenkast die vooral gevuld is met de betere gitaarbands uit de jaren 90, maar er staan ook wel wat albums uit de jaren 80 en wat albums van recentere datum in. Marlin’s Dreaming heeft op Quotidian het patent op gitaar georiënteerde popsongs die je ook bij allereerste beluistering al jaren lijkt te kennen en het zijn songs die je ook onmiddellijk een goed gevoel geven.
 
Ik was bij het typen van deze recensie begonnen met een lijstje met vergelijkingsmateriaal, maar dit lijstje begon zo uit te dijen dat ik het maar heb verwijderd. Quotidian herinnert aan heel veel dat de popmuziek in de jaren 90 zo leuk maakte en is niet eenkennig bij het verwerken van invloeden. De Nieuw-Zeelandse band overtuigt met puntige gitaarsongs, maar is ook niet vies van lome en dromerige songs, die weer totaal anders klinken, maar toch niet misstaan op het album.
 
Ook de dynamiek die Marlin’s Dreaming toevoegt aan haar songs draagt nadrukkelijk bij aan het fraaie eindresultaat. Dromerige passages kunnen binnen enkele noten omslaan in hoge gitaarmuren, zoals Buffalo Tom (toch een naam genoemd) dat in haar beste dagen kon. Betrekkelijk sobere songs kunnen zomaar transformeren in de grote en meeslepende postpunk songs waarin in de jaren 80 niemand zich voor schaamde of juist in Beatlesque eenvoud.
 
Marlin’s Dreaming heeft op Quotidian het perfecte popliedje hoog in het vaandel staan, maar het zoekt af en toe ook het avontuur of het experiment, waarbij net zo makkelijk staccato gitaarlijnen, jazzy intermezzo’s of tandenpoetsgeluiden (!) ingezet kunnen worden. Het zorgt ervoor dat het album niet alleen bijna drie kwartier lang het oor streelt, maar je ook continu nieuwsgierig blijft naar hetgeen dat nog komen gaat.
 
De nieuwe lente is nog ver weg, maar in die lente hebben we behoefte aan zorgeloze gitaarplaten met songs die je na één keer wilt koesteren. Het is het soort platen dat momenteel echt veel te weinig wordt gemaakt, maar gelukkig hebben we ook de andere kant van de wereld nog. Marlin’s Dreaming heeft de soundtrack voor de lente en de zomer aangevuld met een serie onweerstaanbare popliedjes. Heerlijk.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt Quotidian hier beluisteren en bestellen:

https://marlinsdreaming.bandcamp.com/album/quotidian


of luister naar onze Spotify Playlist om uit te vinden waar we over schrijven:

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

dinsdag 25 augustus 2020

A Temporary Soothing. Siv Jakobsen

It is almost three years to the day that I wrote about Siv Jacobsen's debut album 'The Nordic Mellow'. I ended it with words on how high the bar was put for her to jump over. She's jumping so I better start listening.

My initial response to A Temporary Soothing seems to have been the same as with 'The Nordic Mellow', I just did not hear a lot happening. Songs that sort of dragged themselves forward without anything setting them apart in any way.

My memory told me to pay attention any way, so I did and, once again, a rich world opened itself. Siv Jakobsen surrounds herself with subtle accompaniment that has little to do with modern music. All sorts of traditional, acoustic instruments envelope her voice. 'Fraud, Failure' has a full Celtic treatment, without becoming a traditional, Irish folk song in any way. This is Siv Jakobsen's song the whole way.

The result is a mixture of under cooled, Nordic singing and a warm environment that comes from, moderately warmer climes than Norway, her home country. An album to pay attention to, there's no other way to get truly acquainted to it. Listening is an absolute must. From that moment on a whole world opens itself to you.

Together with producer Chris Bond (Ben Howard) she recorded the songs she'd written in the winter after touring behind her debut album across the globe, in two sessions. In the songs she reflects on her life and experiences so far. This makes it a personal album and it's not difficult to gather the intimacy that comes with topics close to someone. Bond has put that cloak of intimacy expertly around the 12 songs on A Temporary Soothing.

Promo photo: Jørgen Nordby
What a strange title for this album. The warmth coming from it, contradicting the Oslo winter of writing, is a soothing for life for those willing to listen and appreciate it for what it is, a beautiful album. The songs on the album started with Siv Jakobsen musing about the concept that she must be a sad person as she writes sad songs. And that when people meet her they are surprised to meet a happy person.

Personally I do not take these songs as sad. They are serious, extremely serious in some cases, but not downcast. In fact the warmth that comes from them lifts me up. The beauty forces me to shake off the rest of the world for a while. By allowing myself to do this I can enter Siv Jakobsen's musical world and truly enjoy it. Most songs are of an exquisite delicateness, where singer and listener can merge as much as possible.

All this makes A Temporary Soothing an album for special times and not for all moments of the day. In those special moments it will excel and grow and grow. Nordic beauty indeed.

Wo.

You can listen to and order A Temporary Soothing here:

https://sivjakobsen.bandcamp.com/album/a-temporary-soothing


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

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

maandag 24 augustus 2020

Travelin' Thru. The Bootleg Series vol. 15 1967 - 1969. Bob Dylan featuring Johnny Cash

Another release in the bootleg series that is becoming as endless as the never ending tour (although Covid-19 put an effective hold on that). I do not have them all, but do own most and I have to say that they are great additions to the original albums and sometimes even better.

In volume 15 we are allowed to listen in to the two albums' recording sessions Dylan released in 1967 and 1969, 'John Wesley Harding' and 'Nashville Skyline'. The first a tremendous surprise/shock to his fans, as he did away with everything he did in 1965/66 and sort of returned to his folk days in a band setting. The 1969 album embraces Nashville in a Dylan way. It is for decades one of my favourite Dylan albums. They both pre-date all things Dylan for me. Either 'Watching The River Flow' or 'George Jackson' was my conscious initiation. The latter my first Dylan single/record.

'Nashville Skyline' opens with a duet, 'Girl From The North Country', between Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan. One in which there are some obvious mistakes that were allowed to remain in there, showing the informality of the sessions Dylan held with Cash. Now there's a whole cd and a half worth of songs they tried in studio together, sometimes a weird experiment, singing two vocal melodies of two different songs over one song, Cash ending recordings with the question "can someone please write the lyrics out for me"?  In all we can hear Dylan searching for and often finding a harmony vocal, where Cash sings his part in his dark brown voice.

I can perfectly understand why the material was not released at the time. It wasn't ready for release, just two famous artist, supported by Cash's band including Rock and Roll star Carl Perkins, having fun together in the studio for a day. The idea to record a record together just never materialised. Dylan did perform in 'The Johnny Cash Show' on tv before flying home to his up state home in New York where he lived his family life at the time.

The third cd also contains the tv show recordings and a session with Earl Scruggs and sons for a televised show around Scruggs.

Again the cd set is an useful and great addition to Dylan's official output. The alternate takes of the songs we already know are welcome and a few are real surprises compared to how they came out officially. From a new intro to a totally different arrangement. This is amazing knowing how short Dylan recording sessions often were. It also made me re-evaluate 'John Wesley Harding' which I always thought a bit harsh album. I changed my mind here because of Volume 15.

The other recordings are just so much fun to hear. Like a fly on the wall I get to hear two famous musicians enjoy themselves and work themselves through songs they know and admire. Whether they know them or only half, they just go. Everyone writes about Cash and Dylan, but what to think of the men in the background. They had to provide most the music to all these songs.You just have to admire their skills and knowledge.

The final session with Earl Scruggs is nice for history but sounds a bit forced to me. The men do not relax like Johnny Cash and Dylan were together. Still, also good to hear as this session is a part of musical history as well and now available.

Somehow I thought I did not need this volume and skipped it until early summer of this year. Was I wrong. I can thank Spotify for the spontaneous introduction here.

Wo.


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

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

zondag 23 augustus 2020

Women In Music Pt. III. Haim

HAIM verfrist haar geluid met flink wat hedendaagse invloeden en productionele hoogstandjes, maar de volstrekt onweerstaanbare popliedjes van Alana, Danielle en Este Haim zijn gebleven. 

Het Amerikaanse trio HAIM maakte al twee uitstekende albums, maar album nummer drie is nog een paar klassen beter. De productie van het album is een stuk voller en veelzijdiger en het geluid van de zussen HAIM een stuk moderner, maar de aanstekelijke popliedjes die een mooie zomerdag prachtig inkleuren zijn gelukkig gebleven. Women In Music Pt. III is een album met even tijdloze als eigentijdse popsongs en het zijn popsongs die je alleen maar kunt omarmen. HAIM komt op de proppen met een smaakvol gevulde omgevallen platenkast, maar het heeft haar geluid ook prachtig geperfectioneerd. De soundtrack van een hele mooie zomer, ook al is het de zomer van 2020. 

Ik was in 2013 en 2017 behoorlijk enthousiast over de muziek van HAIM, maar ik heb de albums Days Are Gone (2013) en Something To Tell You (2017) pas het afgelopen jaar echt leren waarderen. De zussen Alana, Danielle en Este Haim staan op deze twee albums garant voor nagenoeg perfecte popliedjes. Het zijn popliedjes die de perfecte popmuziek van Fleetwood Mac uit de jaren 70 eren, maar HAIM bleek op haar eerste twee albums van alle markten thuis en maakte ook muziek waaraan Prince zijn goedkeuring zou hebben verleend.

Door het enorme plezier dat ik het afgelopen jaar heb beleefd aan de eerste twee albums van HAIM, kijk ik al een tijd enorm uit naar album nummer drie. Women In Music Pt. III zou oorspronkelijk een paar maanden geleden al verschijnen, maar het corona virus gooide roet in het eten. Het is misschien maar goed ook, want het derde album van de zussen Haim heeft met een dag waarop de dertig graden werd aangetikt een perfecte releasedatum gekregen.

Women In Music Pt. III is niet alleen de soundtrack van een mooie zomer, maar ook het beste album van HAIM tot dusver. Op hun derde album trekken Alana, Danielle en Este Haim de lijn van hun eerste twee albums door, maar alles is voller, aanstekelijker, veelzijdiger, spannender, onweerstaanbaarder en uiteindelijk beter.

Dat hoor je bijvoorbeeld in de productie van het album. De Amerikaanse band heeft ook dit keer een beroep gedaan op Rostam Batmanglij en Ariel Rechtshaid, beiden onder andere bekend van Vampire Weekend, maar het derde album van HAIM klinkt in productioneel opzicht anders dan zijn twee voorgangers. Werkelijk alles wordt uit de kast getrokken om het geluid van HAIM te verrijken en het resultaat mag er zijn.

Ook in muzikaal opzicht is Women In Music Pt. III een ander album dan zijn voorgangers. Waar HAIM tot dusver een voorkeur leken te hebben voor een retro geluid, is het derde album van de band een fris klinkend popalbum dat meerdere uithoeken van het genre verkent, van R&B tot rock, maar altijd een aantrekkelijk pop sausje heeft.

Natuurlijk zijn ook op Women In Music, Pt III nog wel flarden uit het verleden te horen, maar het ligt er minder dik bovenop dan op de eerste twee albums van de band. Op Women In Music Pt. III hoor je absoluut minder Fleetwood Mac (gelukkig nog wel een enkele keer), maar HAIM klinkt nog wel met enige regelmaat als een Prince protegee, al wordt het dit keer vanuit het heden en dus helaas vanuit het hiernamaals aangestuurd door het genie uit Minneapolis.

Wat HAIM niet heeft veranderd is het schrijven van volstrekt onweerstaanbare en nagenoeg perfecte popliedjes. Het zijn popliedjes die dit keer alle kanten op schieten, maar het is bijna altijd heel erg goed. Hetzelfde geldt voor de zang van Danielle Haim, die nog wat zelfverzekerder klinkt en ook dit keer prachtig wordt ondersteund door Alana en Este Haim.

Het klinkt zoals gezegd zoals een soundtrack voor een mooie zomerdag moet klinken, maar onder de oppervlakte is Women In Music Pt. III ook een album waarin de donkere kanten van het leven niet onder het tapijt worden geveegd. De eerste paar luisterbeurten zitten er inmiddels op en het derde album van HAIM is me inmiddels al net zo dierbaar als albums één en twee en de rek is er nog lang niet uit. Je moet absoluut van pop houden, maar als je dit doet is Women In Music Pt. III van HAIM een wereldplaat.

Erwin Zijleman

Bestel het album van Haim en veel meer hier: 

https://shop.haimtheband.com/collections/women-in-music-pt-iii


of luister naar onze Spotify Playlist om uit te vinden waar we over schrijven:

zaterdag 22 augustus 2020

The Theory Of Absolutely Nothing. Alex the Astronaut

The name Alex the Astronaut made me think to start listening to a man singing, but that is far from the truth. Alex(andra) Lynn from Australia presents herself on her first album as a self-assured singer who borrows from what is popular in singer-songwriter land, read Ed Sheeran et al and modern pop singers like Billy Eilish, and then opens her own universe for us.

The result is a record that holds its own easily. The songs are solid thanks to the groove the rhythm section lays down and free flowing thanks to Alex Lynn's presentation of her songs. There's little room for doubt left in there. Her voice has this little edge to it, making sure attention is paid. The result is more oomph than is present in Sheeran's little toe and more rock than Eilish will ever find. It is here that the unavoidable name of Courtney Barnett has to be dropped. You will have to conclude for yourself whether connotation is correct or not. Let me state that Alex Lynn certainly has heard at least one of Ms. Barnett's records. Again I add that she adds enough of her own here.

I won't deny that there's room for progression where the songwriting is concerned as not all songs are 100% interesting for the whole ride. This does not mean that Alex the Astronaut doesn't dare to take on an in general important issue, like in-home abuse and personal topics close to herself, like break ups and falling in love again.

Promo photo: Jess Gleeson
The title The Theory Of Absolutely Nothing shows that certainties can drop away when growing up. Like studying math in New York. The world may be totally different and from there you continue to develop and grow. Alex Lynn does just that and voices her doubts and new found certainties. As a listener I am taken into that process by listening to the observations she makes along the way. This results in a few songs that could become hits if taken on by the radio and songs that will speak to the more serious connoisseur of singer-songwriter songs. The combination attest to a well-balanced album for a young artist. She shows the different sides she has within herself very competently.

Although before this album two EPs and a slew of singles were released, this album is her true debut and one that she can look at with a feeling of satisfaction. I'm sure her dad sat out the ride she takes her listeners on. (Go to the end of the album to understand.) I did multiple times with ease and am even certain dad is proud of his daughter.

Wo.


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

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

vrijdag 21 augustus 2020

The Land That Time Forgot. Chuck Prophet

The only years that Chuck Prophet has not been on this blog has only two reasons: 1) There's no new album to write about; 2) He wasn't touring here in the years in between. Yes, I'm a fan since somewhere in the late 90s when I discovered his solo albums.

The last one was one of the better ones. Melodies and words were on great heights, with 'Jesus Was A Social Drinker' as the top of the pops. All this lauding sounds a bit ominous you might think for The Land That Time Forgot and in a way that is true.

The Land That Time Forgot is a mellow album. The album misses a few songs that will stand out immediately as live staples for Prophet's great live shows. This is however only the start of the story. Chuck Prophet is a great songwriter and songsmith. In the American camp I rate him very high. His songs seem so easy flowing, so simple, so natural, in other words so brilliant. The Land That Time Forgot is full of songs like this. Some slower, some a little faster but always full of these fine details and great melodies. So without hesitation I can state Prophet's 14th solo studio album is another success. Now in his late 50s, he's still at the top of his game and his voice is great. Probably because of his relaxed way of singing and never over doing himself here.

Promo photo
This relaxed feeling is all over the album. It invites to just sit down, throw all other business out of my mind and just listen to Chuck Prophet sing and those who assisted him with recording the songs in San Francisco and after a change of scenery in upstate New York. While listening you will notice that most songs are very elementary. And then comes 'Nixonland'. You will find another elementary song but of the kind that makes it a arch typical Chuck Prophet song. A great, great lyric about that conniving president presented in such a way that it sort of makes him look a bit sad as well. Something that will never happen for the current president. He's beyond saving. The music makes it a great song and at the same time it is less important somehow due to the great lyrics. Something only the true great songsmiths get away with. And without a doubt Chuck Prophet is one of them.

Nearly in every song Prophet manages to strike the right tone and melody. His voice always has that hint of sadness due to the way it sounds. That unavoidably sets a part of the whole. In his music he can easily avoid the sadness when he wants and change into a history lesson, 'Nixonland', a longing for, 'Womankind' or a what if song, 'High As Johnny Thunders'. They all sound convincing. I personally would have loved to have two songs with a little more oomph in them but am fully happy with the twelve songs on offer. It truly seems like the older Chuck Prophet gets, the better and free flowing his songs become. The 10s were a great decade for him musically. The opening of the 20s is just as good, holding a promise for things to come.

Wo.

You can listen to and order The Land That Time Forgot here:

https://chuckprophet.bandcamp.com/album/the-land-that-time-forgot


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

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

donderdag 20 augustus 2020

9 Singles

It's time for another round up of singles released in the past weeks. From the biggest, old band on the planet to a debut single from a young Irish singer-songwriter. A cover from a band that was huge in the 60s and 70s to an obscure rock and roll artist deserving more attention. Enjoy!


Scarlet. The Rolling Stones
'Goat's Head Soup' is getting the royal treatment in 2020. Universally seen as the first Stones album after the big four. I beg to differ and change that to the big five, as 'Get-Yer-Ya-Ya's Out' remains the band's best live album to date. The re-release comes with three outtakes that get their first official release in 2020. 'Criss Cross' was discussed on these pages before the summer holidays. And now Scarlet.

Scarlet features Jimmy Page, which already makes it a unique single. The Stones often had support troupes, e.g. on organ, piano, horns and such, but never on a level like this. The guitarist from another one of the great 70s bands. Perhaps that is a reason for not releasing the song or was it simply not good enough?

Listening to Scarlet it is more than welcome. It is a bit ramshackle and a bit dirty, like it was never really finished and still needed a brush or two here and there. That touch gives it a winning streak already as it works here. It also has a perfect Stones vibe, a laidback rock that makes it a fine song. If I compare it to 'Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)' but especially 'Dancing With Mister D.', I know which song is the winner and should have been on the album instead. Scarlet is the better song by far. I'm deliberately not comparing it to the slower songs as they are they play in another league. Scarlet is a fine addition to the Stones catalogue. So my guess is the presence of Jimmy Page was the reason for ditching Scarlet.

The one, two and four CD/LP release is in early September. I intend to take a listen with fairly fresh ears to the album and share my thoughts with you then.

Soft Fruit. Global Charming
If I have to believe my social media, Soft Fruit, the debut single of Amsterdam alternative rockers Global Charming must be number 1 around the globe by now. In reality the band at this point is probably just a little less obscure than a few weeks ago before Soft Fruit was released. With an album around the corner in October the band does give a nice introduction.

The song starts off ever so elementary. Almost as if it is 1980 and not 2020. The differences show immediately as the guitar melodies that interact are far too melodious to be 1980. Later a synth enters the whole as well. The mood though is as bleak as the main message of the song: "there's nothing inside". One source where Global Charming found its mustard is Gruppo Sportivo. Strip the pop layer of songs like 'Hey Girl' and 'Superman' and you can find something like Soft Fruit underneath. Vice versa it is not impossible to imagine a slightly more frivolous nature to Soft Fruit.

Another charm of the single is the way the band tries to hide how well it plays. It is all elementary and not many notes too much played. Yet it all intricately fits together. Neither are the notes played the most obvious to chose from. The result is a song I really want to listen to and get to know better. "I eat the fruit that has gone soft", sings the band. It is a nice metaphor for what happened when I started to listen to the song more often. I ate it alright. That album, 'Mediocre' is something to really look out for. The title can only produce a great smile.

Hearts Of Man. Oliver Oat
Oliver Oat debuted on this blog last year with its album 'Juniper Resin'. This year brings a new single. It is not as easily digestible as the songs on the album. It starts out as a mix between The Bullfight and a contender for the new theme song of 'Peaky Blinders'. "There must be something burning in Birmingham", remember Little Heath's fires in the first seasons, instead of "... the hearts of man".

The accompanying video shows assorted footage from many decades ago. Early 60s and older is my guess. The music could never have been made then but still there are all sorts of hints implying influences from the pre-Beatles and even rock and roll eras. Especially when the change in the song comes I find myself listening to a Frank Sinatra like orchestra pulled through a digital hell (for Sinatra fans of old), just like the third part of the song is a 50s, early 60s musical sequence taken through the same process. The fourth sequence is more authentic, apart from the digital sounds underneath. The singing is straight from the 60s. Finally the 'Peaky Blinders' part returns.

In short, Hearts Of Man is not your everyday song but there's something in the song for everyone to discover. Even if you listen to it only once, you will be amazed.

Celeste. Saoirse Casey
Celeste is the first single from the first album of Saoirse Casey, 'Lunaria'. What can I write, except that this is a very pretty song in the delicate and soft style of Anna Tivel, e.g. 'The Lines and the Tide'. An acoustic guitar and a young woman's voice make up the largest part of the song. A story slowly unwinds over the repeated guitar patterns. There's some dynamics in the song making me think I've reached the end, twice, before it actually does. Celeste comes with a soft coloured video showing tranquillity and some estrangement. "I don't know how you sleep", asks Saoirse Casey in the song. When someone can write songs like this I would not worry too much about that. Whatever happened in her life, something beautiful came out of it.

Holiday. The Pull of Autumn
Holiday was one of the few songs that were easy to sing along with as a 7, 8 year old that had not mastered more than a few English words at the time. "Pi pi pipi pi pi" was very manageable for me. The result was that the song is edged on my mind forever. More Bee Gees songs of the time were, as they were all over the charts, radio and tv for about two years.

This is not about Bee Gees but The Pull of Autumn, a band from the U.S'. north east coast. Together with Orange Cake Mix (James Rao) the band covered Holiday in an instantly recognisable way, yet changing the background firmly and deeply. Electronic sounds and notes fill in the second melody behind the vocals, where an acoustic guitar takes care of the rhythm. What remains is the sad mood belying the title of the song. This has nothing to do with a traditional holiday, but all about loss and grief. "You're a holiday", but the other person seems to disagree.

This Holiday is even more estranging than the original. Well done, in other words.

TOS2020. Re-Mission
TOS is Tower of Strength, a famous song of The Mission in 1980s. Now re-recorded by everyone who meant something in the 80s in electronic and indie rock music in the 1980, just under the top bands. So go and discover if one of your faves is here. For a good cause and a push in the back for all health care workers working for and with Covid-19 patients.

The song still has the power of old, made more electronic because of the artists participating. Collaborations can be good and a bit messy, as everyone has to have a singing spot. Here it is not only the vocals but also the instruments as several artists get the chance to change elements of the song a little towards there instrument and that leads to towers of strength in the music as well. I never was a fan of The Mission, but this song in 2020 is indeed a tower gf strength. Perfect song, perfect execution and a mix of great elements.

Teenager's Heartbreak. Freddie Dilevi
Rum Bar Records releases another gem. Another band that is totally new to me, Freddie Dilevi. The band is from Seville in Spain. (Where were they during my visits to the town?!) The title song of the band's album is a combination of a super tight punkrock song with the vocal from an era so long gone that I never was a part of it in a conscious way. Artists that were popular in the early 60s and lasted until just after The Beatles broke. Singers with full, deep voices that sang a different kind of rock and roll. The kind after the parents took over the record companies again, trying to kick the rock and roll can back into the garage. They succeeded in getting kids and can there but with results they never imagined in their wildest. 'Louie Louie' as a foremost result. But I'm transgressing. I could just as easily point to Elvis Presley himself where the voice is concerned. Pablo Velásquez' voice works so well in this song. The result is almost like a dream come true. A kind of perfection that is seldom found in music. "In my room tonight ..." he sings and there goes the song once again and not for the last time.

Efficiency. Wax Chattels
Efficiency starts in a way that does not directly invite a relaxed listening session. It's more like the fire alarm going off in a hotel room deep in the night, seriously hampered with by a hacker switching it on and off, while distorting and pitching it on the side.

The second single from upcoming album 'Clot', shows Wax Chattels means business. Think The Sweet Release of Death in the Netherlands but making its point in 2 minutes and a little. Explosions of sound, explosions of band members and their instruments all going on at the same time. 2.53 minutes and its all over, shattering everything including my eardrums. Point made, full score, leaving all behind. One scared, one cheering, one in full flight, one running to embrace. There's simply no middle way with Efficiency, just like the previous single 'No Ties' reviewed here circa a month ago. I have no doubt in my mind that all Wax Chattels songs are uncompromising. Take it or leave it. For now I'm taking for sure but I also know for certain that this song can never be played in the home with the rest of the family around. Efficiency is impressive though and something to check out for lovers of alternative, loud rock. Wax Chattels is like Rivella.

Missing You. Lauren Mann
Lauren Mann featured on this blog in 2013 and ever since. In the past four years however, after her last album 'Dearestly', things became quiet until very recently when she announced a new single. We were allowed an early listen and I'm glad for it.

The theme of the song obviously is clear with such a title. What is surprising ("you keep surprising me", she sings at the moment I'm typing the world surprising) is the inner structure of the song. After a rather confusing intro -'Where are we going'?, I asked myself- a brisk tempo is started, suggesting an upbeat mood, that is belied ever so slightly in the way she sings. Part melancholy, part longing, part self-observation; I find myself instantly attracted to the mood and melody. There's something extremely positive in this song, so attractive, so kind. At this point I still have to start about the harmony singing. The intricate layers in the singing is a new level for the Canadian singer, the arrangement well thought out and delicate. The intro is taken to a different level here. What is also new, is that the song is guitar driven and not by the piano, Lauren Mann's own instrument (of old?).

Slowly but surely I find myself falling for Missing You. It has everything within it to become my favourite Lauren Mann song to date. It is like she has decided to start playing in a whole new ball game, one that seems to suit her very well.

Wo.

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

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






woensdag 19 augustus 2020

Cult Survivor. Sofie

Sofie heeft een persoonlijk en behoorlijk donker album gemaakt, dat de imperfectie verkiest boven de perfectie, maar dat uiteindelijk zo knap in elkaar steekt dat je je blijft verbazen. 

Cult Survivor wordt hier en daar een van de eerste albums uit de coronatijd genoemd. Daar is wat voor te zeggen, want Sofie maakte dit album in isolement, maar dit isolement verkoos ze niet vanwege de pandemie die de wereld inmiddels enkele maanden treft. Cult Survivor is een album dat aan alle kanten rammelt, maar dat ook een groot talent voor het schrijven van songs verraadt. In muzikaal en vocaal opzicht is het zeker niet perfect, maar wat is er veel moois verstopt in de persoonlijke popsongs van Sofie. Niet iedereen zal gecharmeerd zijn van dit album, maar als het je pakt, pakt het je genadeloos hard. 

Sofie Fatouretchi is tot dusver vooral bekend als een gevierd DJ, die haar tijd verdeelde tussen Londen, New York en Los Angeles en is bovendien een klassiek geschoold violiste. Een relatiebreuk en ziekte in haar familie zorgden ervoor dat ze even een pas op de plaats maakte en zich terug trok in Wenen. In de Oostenrijkse hoofdstad maakte ze vervolgens Cult Survivor, waarmee ze nu debuteert als Sofie.

Het is zo’n album dat je onmiddellijk terzijde schuift of dat je onmiddellijk wilt koesteren. Ik behoor zonder enige twijfel tot de laatste categorie. Cult Survivor is een album vol popliedjes die verre van perfect zijn, maar die mij raken door het persoonlijke karakter ervan en door de verrassing die steeds weer opduikt.

Het doet me af en toe wel wat denken aan de muziek van de eveneens vanuit Oostenrijk opererende Soap&Skin, het alter ego van Anja Plaschg. Waar de muziek van Soap&Skin voornamelijk gitzwart is, bevat de muziek van Sofie vooral grijstinten. Ook in muzikaal opzicht is de muziek van Sofie wat minder donker, maar het is absoluut muziek die beter bij een flinke onweersbui past dan bij een stralende zomerdag.

Sofie heeft zich op haar debuut als popmuzikant laten beïnvloeden door nogal uiteenlopende genres. Cult Survivor past deels in het hokje pop en elektropop, maar verwerkt ook invloeden uit de lo-fi en heeft bovendien wel wat raakvlakken met de wat donkerdere Franse popmuziek, Franse filmmuziek of klassieke singer-songwriter muziek.

Sofie is een klassiek geschoold muzikante, maar dat hoor je lang niet altijd op haar debuut, dat de imperfectie verkiest boven muzikale hoogstandjes. Ook de zang van Sofie is lang niet altijd loepzuiver, maar ze slaagt er wel in om haar songs te voorzien van een herkenbaar eigen geluid.

In deze songs schuilt het talent van Sofie. Cult Survivor bevat songs die klinken als klassieke singer-songwriter muziek, maar ze kan ook goed uit de voeten met wat elektronischer ingekleurde popsongs, die het album uiteindelijke domineren. In muzikaal opzicht is het zoals gezegd verre van perfect, maar ik was eigenlijk direct bij eerste beluistering geboeid door de persoonlijke en vaak toch behoorlijk donkere popliedjes van Sofie.

De muzikante uit Wenen slaagt er absoluut in om je deelgenoot te maken van haar donkere gedachten, maar blijkt toch ook steeds mooie en bijzondere dingen te hebben verstopt in haar muziek, die heel veel uniek talent verraadt. Cult Survivor klinkt vaak als een demo van een in potentie perfecte popplaat, maar juist het ruwe en onvaste karakter van de songs van Sofie maakt Cult Survivor uiteindelijk zo’n bijzonder album.

Bij eerste beluistering hoor je misschien de dingen die net niet kloppen in de muziek van Sofie, maar hoe vaker je het album hoort hoe meer er op zijn plek valt. Ik luister inmiddels voor de zoveelste keer naar het album en hoor eigenlijk alleen nog maar moois in de ongepolijste popsongs van Sofie.

Het zijn popsongs die hoorbaar putten uit de archieven van de jaren 69, 70 en 80, maar Cult Survivor is uiteindelijk toch vooral een album van deze tijd, al is het maar omdat het in isolement gemaakte album misschien wel een van de eerste albums is die aansluit bij de bijzondere tijd waarin we ons inmiddels enkele maanden bevinden.

Zoals gezegd een album dat je direct terzijde schuift of onmiddellijk wilt koesteren. Ik doe het laatste inmiddels al een tijdje en mijn liefde voor het debuut van Sofie wordt alleen maar sterker.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt Cult Survivor hier beluisteren en bestellen: 

https://sofiefatouretchi.bandcamp.com/album/cult-survivor 
 
of luister naar onze Spotify Playlist om uit te vinden waar we over schrijven:

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

dinsdag 18 augustus 2020

For Those About To Pop!. The Yum Yums

For Those About To Pop! sounds like the songs are with me since forever and in a way they are. The Yum Yums are inspired by music from an era spanning roughly a decade and a half from 1964 to 1979 and a few years in the mid 90s when Green Day and The Offspring both broke to the mainstream of rock with their supertight punkrock songs.

The more cynical among you might now sneer that this is a fully redundant album. Wrong! For Those About To Pop! presents a half hour of great music that brings a smile to my face of the broadest of kinds. So what makes this album so special?

For starters The Yum Yums unleash a host of great pop tunes on the world. Pop tunes of the kind that take one listen session to be able to sing along to. Everything is done just right. From The Beach Boys to Blondie can be found here. Just like the best songs of those two bands the songs on For Those About To Pop! demand immediate attention. I just want to listen and undergo the songs fully. Be immersed by them and become one with them.

The tightness of the songs is the second quality. The band manages to be supertight without losing the strong melodies for a second. The result is a punky pop that is extremely inviting and enticing. Next up is the harmony singing that is impeccable. Not as complex as Brian Wilson's arrangements but extremely efficient, inviting singing along to.

The album was six years in the making and the result is like it. The band may have lost itself for a while in the myriad details on For Those About To Pop!, it made all the right choices where the final versions are concerned. Just listen to a track like 'Summertime Pop' and be convinced. Classic powerpop, bubblegum, a rocking guitar solo and a The Beatles end chord. At least half of the songs on For Those About To Pop! deserve to be hits, starting with the title song opening the album. Unfortunately in an alternate universe these days.

Norway has delivered another band to follow in the future. As a few of my favourite Norwegian bands are no longer around it is welcome and timely. It's the kind of album that makes me forget all the worries that may come tomorrow and focus exclusively on the here and now. For Those About To Pop! is a title this album deserves to proudly wear. This is pop music of the highest quality and could cause every champagne bottle to uncork spontaneously. Pop indeed.

Wo.

You can listen to and order For Those About To Pop! here:

https://rumbarrecords.bandcamp.com/album/for-those-about-to-pop


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

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

maandag 17 augustus 2020

Frau Gott. Trixsi

With an album called Frau Gott and a band name Trixsi I had expected to be listening to a female singer. In fact somehow it made me think of 'Nina Hagen Band'. Because of that connotation the first thing I did was put on that album and enjoyed it once again (as always).

But no, playing Frau Gott later on, I heard a man sing but the music does ring faint 'Nina Hagen Band' bells alright. Trixsi is less subtle in its rock and (post)punk but rocks out in ways that make me like the music immediately. In fact I don't mind stating Frau Gott is in my list of favourite German language albums already. Yes, this is quite the statement but I stand by it.

Trixsi is not afraid to go all out and combines this quality with the ability to write great rocking songs that go for the mind, throat, legs and gut at the same time. I can only imagine in these Corona days how much fun being at a live show must be. To dance into oblivion to this music.

Until recently I had never heard of Trixsi. So what is Trixsi? It is a new band from Hamburg ("Als ich in Hamburg aus 'm Zug steig", oh, Nina) filled with members who all have played in other bands before,all unknown to me. Thanks to the kind people at Glitterhouse Records that is not the case with Trixsi. Paul Konopacka drums, Klaus Hoffmann bass, guitarists Kristian Kühl and König Wilhelmsburg and singer Jörkk Mechenbier make their debut with a force strong enough to shake my brain around and make a lasting impression. Frau Gott is great fun yet serious in the impression the band wants to make with its first album.

Promo photo
In its music Trixsi is obviously inspired by U.K. bands from the 00s like Maximö Park and Arctic Monkeys, alternative rock with twists. At the same time there is a punk element manifesting itself in the way several songs are attacked. As if they needed to be conquered is the way the band goes at them. With the obvious exception of 'IroCityExpress' that is akin to 'Nina Hagen Band''s final song 'Pank'. A statement underscoring that both bands are not punk bands but could easily be so if they chose to be.

For that the ambition of Trixsi is too high. The band is too good to just be a (post)punk band. 'Menschen' is, a louder, Nada Surf style song, without the subtleties that come with Nada Surf. There's also proof that the band has listened to a song like 'Frankfurt Oder', better known as 'Zoutelande' in my country, and what happens when a song like that gets a full blown rock treatment. Just a few examples of how broad the influences are.

This means there's a host of musical joys to be found on Frau Gott. It is an album that deserves to be heard widely outside of Germany as well. Language ought not to be a barrier, let alone because of an inhibition against the German language in music. Deutschrock or not, if you like alternative rock with a punky pop flavour this may be the best album you're served in 2020. From Germany, yes.

Wo.

You can listen to and order Frau Gott here:

https://glitterhouserecords.bandcamp.com/album/frau-gott


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

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

zondag 16 augustus 2020

Sorceress. Jess Williamson

De Amerikaanse singer-songwriter Jess Williamson bezweert en betovert met een wonderschoon album waarmee je jezelf het liefst maanden op zou sluiten.

Jess Williamson maakte twee jaar geleden indruk met het prachtige Cosmic Wink, maar laat op haar nieuwe album horen dat het nog veel beter kan. Sorceress verwerkt nog wat meer invloeden dan zijn voorganger, maar klinkt desondanks meer als een eenheid. In muzikaal opzicht is het smullen met prachtige warme klanken die lak hebben aan genres en tijdperken, maar de zang van Jess Williamson is nog veel mooier. Ook de songs van de singer-songwriter uit Los Angeles hebben sinds Cosmic Wink alleen maar aan kracht gewonnen en tillen het album naar een niveau dat slechts weinigen gegeven is.

Jess Williamson had al twee, slechts in kleine kring opgemerkte, albums op haar naam staan, toen ze precies twee jaar geleden opdook met Cosmic Wink. Het derde album van de singer-songwriter uit Los Angeles haalde uiteindelijk mijn jaarlijstje en wanneer ik dit lijstje nu zou maken zou het album in de allerhoogste regionen van dit lijstje te vinden zijn.
 
Cosmic Wink werd warm onthaald door liefhebbers van Amerikaanse rootsmuziek, maar kleurde ook nadrukkelijk buiten de lijntjes van het genre. Het album bevatte flarden 60s psychedelische folk en 70s Westcoast pop, herinnerde aan de New Yorkse singer-songwriters uit de tweede helft van de jaren 70, maar bevatte ook zeker invloeden van veel recentere datum, wat vergelijkingsmateriaal opleverde dat varieerde van Judee Sill tot Fleetwood Mac en van Patti Smith tot Mazzy Star.
 
Het was vergelijkingsmateriaal dat uiteindelijk onzinnig bleek, want Jess Williamson viel op Cosmic Wink vooral op door een bijzonder eigen geluid. Cosmic Wink heeft de lat hoog gelegd voor de opvolger van het album en die opvolger is er nu. Ik heb Sorceress al een aantal weken in huis en toen ik het album voor het eerst beluisterde maakte het een verpletterende indruk. Het is altijd even afwachten hoe dat op de wat langere termijn uitpakt, maar die verpletterende indruk maakt het nieuwe album van Jess Williamson nog steeds.
 
Sorceress is, net als voorganger Cosmic Wink, een album vol invloeden, maar deze invloeden vloeien nog naadlozer samen in het bijzondere geluid van Jess Williamson. Sorceress bevat alle invloeden die ook op Cosmic Wink aanwezig waren en het zijn invloeden die aan de ene kant meer worden uitgelicht, wat zeker geldt voor de countryinvloeden, maar die aan de andere kant ook meer zijn verweven in het bijzondere totaalgeluid op het album, dat ook flirt met Laurel Canyon singer-songwriter muziek en een snufje soul en new age.
 
Sorceress is een singer-songwriter album dat los staat van genres en de tijd. Invloeden uit onder andere de country, psychedelica en Westcoast pop zijn op organische wijze aan elkaar gesmeed in songs die je direct bij eerste beluistering dierbaar zijn. Sorceress borduurt absoluut voort op Cosmic Wink, maar zet ook een reuzenstap. Jess Williamson verrast continu met wonderschone songs vol bijzondere wendingen, maar op een of andere manier zijn het ook wendingen die volkomen logisch klinken. Sorceress vermaakt, verwarmt en benevelt, maar het is ook een album dat verrast, verbaast, bezweert en betovert.
 
Jess Williamson heeft een album gemaakt dat zich genadeloos opdringt en dat alleen maar mooier lijkt te worden. De productie is een waar kunststukje en hetzelfde geldt voor de rijke instrumentatie. Nog veel mooier is de prachtige stem van de singer-songwriter uit Los Angeles, die zelfs het grootste ijskonijn doet smelten en die onmiddellijk de aandacht opeist en vervolgens niet meer los laat.
 
In deze onzekere tijden is er behoefte aan een album dat er voor zorgt dat je even alles om je heen vergeet en in ieder geval een uurtje in een wereld leeft waarin alles mooi is en gevaren niet bestaan. Sorceress van Jess Williamson is zo’n album en het wordt alleen maar mooier en indrukwekkender. Jaarlijstjesmateriaal, dat is zeker.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt Sorceress hier beluisteren en bestellen:

https://jesswilliamson.bandcamp.com/album/sorceress


of luister naar onze Spotify Playlist om uit te vinden waar we over schrijven:

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



zaterdag 15 augustus 2020

Sous La Peau. Versari

Sous la peau translates into under the skin. I'll settle for that description when listening to the music on Versari's new album. This is the kind of music that does. It is extremely direct. Some songs come towards me with the direct intent to conquer and dominate. There's little room for delicacies to discuss somewhere in between. Hence the music on Sous La Peau can be a bit much at times. So far I've lived to tell.

Sous La Peau was released just before my holidays, so came too late to be taken in at the time. I do make amends like I had intended then as this album deserves full attention on this blog.

Versari is a French trio, bass, drums, guitar, led by Jean-Charles Versari. With his dark voice he sings in the tradition of the French chanson. I have no hardship recognising someone like Jacques Dutronc in his way of singing, but also more traditional chanson singers. It is what happens underneath his voice that underscores his way of singing in a totally different way. The result is a form of bleakness that borders on no hope forever. The band received help from an Englishmen, Adrian Utley, e.g. from Portishead, who added guitar and synth parts to the trio setting.

My personal guess is that it is the parts of Utley that let some light into the songs. A few lighter parts that adorn the darkness Versari produces.

Promo photo
Things Versari start with the dark bass that goes full out over the drums. A heavy chugging sound that drives the songs forward like cowboys herding cattle over the prairies to the train bound for Chicago's slaughterhouses. Over that firm foundation the guitar chords are played, filling up parts that are empty. The overall result is impressive as the music is as direct as it is good. I can only believe Jean-Charles Versari when he says that his lyrics are all on losing things, feelings, loved ones. For that my French is too dismal. What I can only note is how his words and diction deliver the cherries on the cake Sous La Peau is.

The album ends with a slower and more open song. 'Pour La Tristesse' is the kind of song I want to end an album. Impressive and inviting. The kind of song that invites a relisten and making it hard to wait for a new album to come along. 'Pour La Tristesse' does all this and more. A post punk epic songs it is.

Wo.

You can buy Sous La Peau here:

https://www.gentlemenrecordings.com/


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

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