woensdag 30 september 2020

The Storm. Outwave

Outwave is a band from Italy. Padua to be exact. Italian artists are not a regular feature on this blog. For that the distance to the country is just too far. How is Bongley Dead doing? I haven't heard from the band since my visit to their studio in 2017. Recently The Storm was found on my digital doorstep. First the single 'Moving Tangle' and now the album, The Storm. It only took one listening session to know the album and I were going to be friends. Perhaps even great ones.

Why? Outwave rocks and has great melodies in its songs, with a singer who knows how to deliver melodic rock songs at full force. Every trick in the book comes by. Influences are worn lightly, without losing the band's own identity. Do I need to write more? No, I need not, but will of course.

In 2015 Luca Ceccato (voice/guitar), Leonardo di Sisti (bass) and Giovanni Masiero (drums) formed a band, later in that year to be joined by Alessandro Andrian (guitar). Five years later the debut album is there. The band may have taken its time here, judging from the quality it did the right thing to hone its songs into the shape I'm hearing in 2020.

Ranging from fierce rockers, to pop rock and Britpop, with a dash of emo in the singing Outwave knows how to make an impression on the listener. The lead guitarist knows his way around the frets. This is what he has been practising for in the past decade or more. Underneath is a tight band, laying the foundation for Ceccato's voice and Andrian's guitar to shine. The surprise comes when the lead guitar goes off into David Gilmour/Pink Floyd territory. Outwave has more than one and a half trick up its sleeve.

Promo photo: Marco Lorenzato

I will not overdo it. The Storm is not the best album ever in the segments of music it presents I have heard in my life. It is a nice addition though, as I am listening to the album with great pleasure. The way the title song moves in and out of different musical styles and moods is simply well done. Just like post-grunge singing is joined with a little Marillion in 'Leave'. The whole song long I'm wondering what will happen next. Outwave manages to build up the tension step by step, without ever exploding. In 'Autumn Trees' the band even starts with a piano, including a guest role for vocalist Durga McBroom, most likely the lady was allowed to sing 'The Great Gig In The Sky' live in Pink Floyd shows. Desperation is never far off though.

The Storm is a varied album taking the listener through different moods. Singer Ceccato could have lent his voice to an emo band, crying his heart out forever, but decided to be in a far broader ranged band. In the future he can expand into any territory he likes because of it, as he already does on The Storm. The Storm is a band for musical adventurers who like their foreign trips to skip the wildest trails but do go head first into all before that kind of trails. And have a great time along the way. Riff away Outwave.

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

dinsdag 29 september 2020

Clot. Wax Chattels

Relentless, without compromise, all consuming. Just a few words that come into my head listening to Clot for the first time. If there's room in my head left to think while undergoing the new album of Wax Chattels. The two preceding singles of the album had prepared me a little for what was to come. Having missed the band's debut album, I had no clue what to expect when I put on 'No Ties' somewhere last summer.

What I do notice, is that I think Clot is so much better than I had expected it to be. Somewhere deep down in some of the songs a song can be mined that is worthwhile listening to. Including the package of course.

Oddly enough, the album starts as if a song by AC/DC is introduced, seconds long a loud guitar noise is all there is to hear, until the singer shouts out something in a punk style and a drum kicks in that is in a universe of its own. What transpires next is a mix of A Place To Bury Strangers and The Sweet Release of Death and a machine gun being fired from a drum kit. Both bands I saw play live once, so I can imagine what 'Glue' will sound like from a stage. More deadly blows than music. 'Glue' isn't music in the traditional sense. This is not a song but a necessity, something that had to be exorcised by or even out of the three musicians. 

When I was really surprised, is when I read that there's no guitar played in Wax Chattles. A bass guitar, keyboards and a two piece drum kit. That's all. And a million effects on the bass for sure. Wax Chattles is from Auckland in New Zealand. Peter Ruddell and Amanda Cheng started "to make some noise together" in 2016 and after writing some demos brought in drummer Tom Leggett. This resulted in a debut, eponymously titled album in 2018, becoming a top 10 hit in the album charts over there. Come 2020 and the band is ready for the second leg of its career, after honing the songs for about a year. The result is like it, if you've read my opening lines.

Both Ruddell and Cheng sing. Cheng sings like many female punk singers do: shrilly shouting, close to over the top, totally present. Ruddell contrasts with his darker voice but often also in a punk style, sneery, vile, angry. In the more surprising moments they sing. At times they are more a presence than singers.

I can imagine a moshpit responding to each and every whipping sound from the drums and band as a whole. The rhythms are an intricate piece of work, involving a lot of counting to make sure they all play the accents at the right moment. And from this factory of noise all of a sudden a melody escapes, setting a song on fire in a different way.

Is Clot good? I have no idea to be honest. It is of an overwhelming presence, overflowing my senses, becoming omnipresent. The album is impressive. At the same time I hear the talent of the band overall and to create a song underneath that monolith of sound.

The band worked a year to create the songs. At the same time an element of what is seeming experimentation still hangs over the songs. A sign of the musical strength of Wax Chattles. It may well be that I add a chattle to my huge collection of music chattles, in the form of Clot. What I know for certain is that if we are ever able to go to concerts again, I will pass Wax Chattles by. It will be an overload of my brain, just like with the two bands I mentioned above, but what an experience it was. So is Clot.

Wo.

You can listen to and order Clot here:

https://waxchattels.bandcamp.com/album/clot


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 28 september 2020

New York. Lou Reed

Last week New York received a 3 cd re-issue with demo's, live recordings, etc. You know the works. Reading an old interview with a grumpy Reed today, I started to wonder how long ago it was since I played New York? There's a good chance that it was in the 1990s somewhere and other solo work by Reed? Even The Velvet Underground will have been a while.

Lou Reed died in 2013. That makes it seven years. His last album was the ill-fated 'Lulu' album with Metallica. Let's call it "different". There have been no albums released with songs lying around, as far as I'm aware. This was it it seemed.

So, I got New York out of my wall of records and put it on today. There's only one response possible, it simply blew me away. It is as good as I remembered it to be. No, it is even better, as i wasn't waiting for the up tempo songs to hit me, like I did at the time. The songs in between hit me just as hard or surprised me like the jazzy 'Beginning Of A Great Adventure'.

But let me recap first. Lou Reed came into my life with 'Walk On The Wild Side' and 'Vicious'. Staying with a friend from my earliest youth, who after moving had totally outgrown me at the time five years later, I heard 'Berlin'. I couldn't listen to it longer than a few minutes. I still can't, really. Although I do hear how good it is. My first Lou Reed album was 'Coney Island Baby'. Still one of my favourites. Next up was 'The Blue Mask' and the albums that followed, but each one seemed to be less good than the previous one, until I gave up in the mid 80s.

By then I had discovered The Velvet Underground. I loved 'The Velvet Underground' and 'VU'. By then his first two solo albums were in my possession for years of course, just like 'Lou Reed Live', another favourite.

So come 1989 and Lou Reed had been written off, just like nearly all my 60s originating heroes. 'Steel Wheels', 'Flowers In The Dirt', 'Freedom', 'Oh Mercy', all were released in 1989 and New York.

So what makes the album so good? That starts with the songs. Lou Reed simply is in a great form. There's not a weak song on the album. Even the song I always skipped in 1989, 'Dime Store Mystery' sound so good in 2020. The sound is so extremely direct. The music is in my face. Also there's nothing distracting from the songs. Guitars, bass, drums is all there is and nothing else is needed. The extra's as a whole comprise of background vocals by Dion DiMucci on 'Dirty Blvd' and Mo Tucker playing percussion on two songs instead of Fred Maher. This is only the beginning of the story. I start with noting the intricate way the guitars of Lou Reed and Mike Rathke interact. In the songs influences from 30 years of rock are woven, giving the songs different flavours. The Velvet Underground is there, jazz, rock and roll and Lou's take on classic rock. The lyrics tell stories of New York. In one song Trump, "the president, who lost his head" and Rudy Giuliani are mentioned, in one song!! from 1989, 'Sick Of You'. Lou as Nostradamus? One of that great under-cooled songs on New York.

When a song on New York rocks out, it truly does. Nothing is held back, except that the songs are still bare of any excess. There are no subtleties left that can be found on the rest of the album. The songs in between, like 'Good Evening Mr. Waldheim', have surprisingly good melodies. No one is safe for Lou Reed's vile pen here. "Common ground" is a term he seriously discusses here and who belongs and does or should not? A song that again is so acute in 2020 "or is it true that no ground is common enough for me and you?". To me it sounds like the world in 2020, where social media is dividing whole groups with no common ground left or so it seems, except of course there is, if only we would meet and talk. So have we not learned anything since 1989? Even forgot lessons learned?

It is just another of the reason why New York really got to me. Most likely more than 31 years ago. It means different things to me now, I notice. A beautiful, small song like 'Xmas In February', with the upright bass played by Rob Wasserman, stands out, just like 'Strawman' rocks out, with the dry pounding sound of drummer Fred Maher getting a special spot.

To think that I may never have played this album again had it not been for the re-release, that I will not listen to most likely, I'm not a musical librarian I have found out.  I have listened again and it has enriched my life immediately. This truly is a five star record alright.

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 27 september 2020

Take Me Back To Planet Earth. Muck and the Mires

After the title song getting the spotlight on it recently, it's time to focus on the mini album it is on. It opens with that fun single pretending like the world is still in the mid 60s musically. The sound/recording is better than bands were capable of at the time, the guitar solo of a grit that was unobtainable back then. For the rest just tick all the boxes and you will see that they are all filled in neatly.

Because of these boxes and the way the band presents itself, out of a slight of hand I could call Muck and the Mires anachronistic or even a pastiche of what has gone by a long time ago. That would be a grave mistake. For several reasons. To mention the two most evident. The dedication with which the band works and the quality of its songs.

Muck and the Mires gives the world songs that are on par on a minimum with the sub top of the mid 60s and a few that go for the top. Listening to the songs on Take Me Back To Planet Earth shows me that all the songs have intricate arrangements. Little extra melodies added to the songs, a farfisa organ or a harmonica worked into a song. The variations between garage rock, pop and a soulful interlude shows that the band is able to work with different influences and make them come out on top.

In the lyrics it is not 1966. Zoom meetings, number blocking? It all comes by. 'She Blocked My Number' is one of the more exciting songs on the album. That organ comes by once again with its high rather wining sound, bringing Them into mind immediately. The guitars rock and riff out, the rhythm is super tight. The kind of song that makes my mind jump up and down while listening.

Take Me Back To Planet Earth is well built up I notice. In the middle the mood is taken down slightly only to truly go out with the second single 'Zoom Break Up'. A song as exciting as the title song opening it.

There are so many details reminding me of things from long ago on this album. It could well be that a music pub quiz could be filled with questions just from these six songs. That would all be nice but not very successful had Take Me Back To Planet Earth not been the album it is. Muck and the Mires truly is Boston's gift to garage rock lovers all across the world.

All the songs were written and recorded in these sad Covid-19 days. It seems something good can come out of a period like this. For me it is getting to know my indirect neighbours a lot better and listening to this great record.

Wo.

You can listen to and order Take Me Back To Planet Earth here:

https://rumbarrecords.bandcamp.com/album/take-me-back-to-planet-earth


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 26 september 2020

We'll Look For Stars. Lynn Miles

Lynn Miles draait al een aantal decennia mee, maar maakt diepe indruk met haar nieuwe album dat prachtig klinkt en je bij de strot grijpt met een fraai doorleefd klinkende stem.

We’ll Look For The Stars had ik bijna over het hoofd gezien en wat zou dat zonde zijn geweest. Het nieuwe album van de Canadese singer-songwriter is immers een album waarop werkelijk alles klopt. De instrumentatie en productie zijn zeer smaakvol, de songs zijn veelzijdig en aansprekend en dan is er ook nog eens de doorleefde stem van Lynn Miles, die door de ziel snijdt als een warm mes door de boter. We’ll Look For The Stars wordt de afgelopen weken terecht bejubeld door een selecte groep critici en die hebben het absoluut bij het juiste eind. We’ll Look For Stars van Lynn Miles is van de eerste tot en met de laatste noot een uitermate indrukwekkende prachtplaat.

Lynn Miles voert deze maand de EuroAmericana Chart aan met haar laatste album We’ll Look For Stars. Het illustreert dat de muziek van de Canadese singer-songwriter wordt gewaardeerd door een grote groep liefhebbers van Amerikaanse rootsmuziek in Nederland en daarbuiten.

Zonder de nummer 1 positie in de aansprekende lijst vol rootsmuziek had ik ook het nieuwe album van Lynn Miles waarschijnlijk over het hoofd gezien, want mijn relatie met de muziek van de singer-songwriter uit Ottawa, die al in 1987 debuteerde, is vooralsnog geen gelukkige.
Als ik kijk naar de stapel albums die Lynn Miles de afgelopen decennia heeft uitgebracht heb ik er maar twee beluisterd. Night In A Strange Town uit 1999 vond ik destijds prachtig (en wordt niet voor niets beschouwd als het meesterwerk van Lynn Miles) en aan Love Sweet Love uit 2006 heb ik eerlijk gezegd geen duidelijke herinneringen, maar ik herken de cover. De rest ken ik eigenlijk niet, maar na beluistering van We’ll Look For Stars kan ik alleen maar concluderen dat ook het nieuwe album van de Canadese singer-songwriter zeer de moeite waard is.

We’ll Look For Stars opent indringend met een track waarin we alleen een piano en de stem van Lynn Miles horen. De pianoklanken zijn mooi en stemmig, maar het is de stem van de singer-songwriter uit Ottawa die alle aandacht opeist. Het is een stem vol gevoel, emotie en doorleving, maar het is ook een stem met een duidelijk eigen geluid. Alleen het allergrootste ijskonijn krijgt waarschijnlijk geen brok in de keel bij beluistering van de openingstrack van We’ll Look For Stars, maar ik was direct diep onder de indruk.

Van mij had Lynn Miles een album vol met sober gearrangeerde pianosongs mogen maken, maar in de tweede track laat ze een wat voller, maar nog altijd ingetogen geluid horen, dat haar muziek wat meer de richting van de folk en country op duwt. De instrumentatie blijft ondanks het wat vollere geluid buitengewoon stemmig en bevat nog altijd een randje melancholie. Het is een randje dat fraai verder wordt uitgebouwd met de stem van Lynn Miles, die wederom indruk maakt met doorleefde vocalen.
 
Heel af en toe hoor ik wat van Dar Williams, maar Lynn Miles heeft ook een stemgeluid dat herinnert aan het verre verleden, wat van We’ll Look For Stars een tijdloos album maakt. Ook wanneer het geluid nog wat voller wordt en voorzichtig de zon doorbreekt in het geluid van Lynn Miles, blijft de Canadese singer-songwriter indruk maken met mooie klanken en met een stem die zich genadeloos opdringt en al het gevoel moeiteloos weet over te dragen aan de luisteraar.
 
Alles op het nieuwe album van Lynn Miles klinkt even smaakvol, zeker wanneer ook pedal steel virtoous Greg Leisz nog eens aanschuift. De instrumentatie is veelzijdig, maar altijd subtiel en trefzeker en ook de veelkleurige stem van de Canadese singer-songwriter weet iedere keer de juiste snaar te raken. We’ll Look For Stars is een rootsalbum dat zich onmiddellijk opdringt, maar het is ook een album dat niet snel verveelt en eigenlijk alleen maar beter wordt.
 
Het is vooral de stem van Lynn Miles die me steeds weer kippenvel bezorgt, maar We’ll Look For Stars is uiteindelijk een rootsalbum waarop alles klopt. Goede songs, mooie verhalen, een fraai en verzorgd geluid, voldoende variatie en steeds weer die stem die van alles met je doet. Prachtig.
 
Erwin Zijleman
 
Je kunt We'll Look For Stars hier luisteren en bestellen:
 
 
 
 
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

 

 

vrijdag 25 september 2020

XXX singles, part 3

As we wrote, four issues would be overdoing things a wee bit, so we settled for three this time around. There simply are too many nice singles being released to ignore. Among them artists of great name and fame, unknown artists in The Netherlands, but at WoNo Magazine's bureaus beloved artists, and first releases ever that are most welcome. You have seen a large mix of them already. Here are the final ones for this week.

Caroussel. Kid Gulliver

Kid Gulliver returns with another single to WoNoBlog. Caroussel is a darker song than 'I Wanna Be A Pop Star' but also a far more memorable song. The band shows it can write and play a perfect pop rock song, with some kind of psychedelic fever floating in and out of the song and back in again. More than one great guitar solo fires up over a great mellotron infused tapestry of long held notes. The singing is darkened and the same goes for the music in the beginning of Carousel. There's a blanket over it all as if to hold light out of the song. Slowly but surely the fire can't be contained and Kid Gulliver goes all out. There's no holding back, no restraint, no brakes. Just like the drummer is telling us through his playing the whole of the time. Great single, ought to be(come) classic.

Afterglow. The Sea At Midnight

Rock like it's 1985 is not a popular phrase in rock music. The Sea at Midnight is doing just that. Everything from The Eurythmics, to Ultravox's 'Vienna' comes by and then I'm forgetting someone like Nick Kershaw and all his electronic pop friends of the time. The New Romantics are there and let me not forget Robert Smith's lead guitar.

Afterglow is a dark, new wave kind of song, and up tempo like 'Just Like Heaven'. The Sea at Midnight does not hide for one second where its heart lies musically. This song could have been made in the mid 80s and have been one of the songs that would have stood out. Extremely danceable so I would have heard it at the time and dance my heart out on it. It is 2020 however. The dancing part has ebbed away somewhat, the listening has not, so it is easy to notice that Afterglow is a dark yet fun song.

Alphabet. Shame

Shame so far is my favourite band among the young, alternative rock bands that started to release records from 2018 onwards. Loads of energy joined to great melodic songs and some noise for good measure.

Alphabet is the first new song released by Shame since then. Alphabet is more one dimensional I notice than the songs on 'Songs Of Praise'. I'm not sure but it sounds like a one chord song even. It isn't, although the rhythm guitar can play a single chord the whole time. The energy is there, the noise is to, but not the great melody. Alphabet, and this is my second impression, seems more for the gut than the brain, where the band had this great balance between the two. I hope that the new album will contain better songs than Alphabet. At the same time the song rips the world just about apart with its over the top guitar solo. Energy is there in abundance, so live this song will make the house explode, multiple times. And that is a win.

Spirals. Django Django

Another of my favourite new(er) bands returns to WoNoBlog as well. Django Django has made three great albums so far. I got to see them play live in 2018 and my only complaint was that the band did not play 'Giants'. With Spirals the band starts electronically. The keys are leading, making the weird little sounds the band can do. Soon a great chorus comes in. Django Django knows how to please here.

Spirals seems to hold back somewhat in all around feel. This may be because I'm listening to Spotify and not to a record. The song holds all the elements why I like the band so much. The little musical details embellishing the song, the upbeat chorus, the harmonies. The tempo makes it impossible to sit still or not to get infected by the mood. Spirals simply makes me happy by listening to the song.

No, there's nothing Django Django new under the sun but as long as the band cranks out songs like Spirals you will not hear me complain. Simply a fun new single.

Heap EP. Heap

A three song EP was sent to me from New York City. Heap EP by the band with the name Heap. Singer/guitarist Tim Heap is responsible for the songs that rock out in the way I like. Rough, no niceties up front and in my face. All three songs, 'No Mas', 'Renting' and 'You Remind Me Of Me' have that U.S. alternative rock vibe good songs need. A tight rhythm, a memorable melody and a guitar solo that is to the point and not overdoing things. Thank you, George Chambers! Playing the New York City scene for 20 years, Tim Heap met producer Eric 'Roscoe' Ambel, who recently produced Spanking Charlene's 'Find Me Out'. He gave the band a sober rock sound reminding me of Dan Baird singing 'I Love You Period'. Just like that song Heap EP does not come with a question mark. Heap is convincing in songs and sound. Nice and rough without going overboard.

Child Of The Flatlands. Maxïmo Park

Do coincidences exist? A few days before reading the announcement for Child Of The Flatlands I looked up to see if Maxïmo Park still existed. It has been silent for a long time, I thought. And the last album did not really impress me, to be honest. Yes, the band shed a band member in the past period but is back with a new single.

I'm listening to it for the first time. It is slow, down cast. That makes it very different from my favourite Maxïmo Park songs, 'Apply Some Pressure' up front. Different, yes, but I find myself liking this "new" or other Maxïmo Park. Child Of The Flatlands is a very nice song and extremely promising if this is the standard for the new album. Paul Smith sings slower so slightly more pronounced which he manages well. There is a loud guitar solo, after which the song is brought even further down in between psychedelia and carnival music. Next the song goes back to its beginning and I can't help noticing that I'm impressed. Perhaps almost as impressed hearing 'Apply Some Pressure' for the first time. Well done. Maxïmo Park. Am I looking forward to hear more new work.


The Pink. The Short Fuses

Rock and roll! An early Alice Cooper like riff, think 'School's Out' is flying into my ears. This is dirty garage rock, rock and roll of the modern nature. The Short Fuses release its first song in 15 years and where else than on Rum Bar Records. The band makes sure that the impression it makes is like running into a musical wall. Live this will be ear-splittingly loud. Georgia Peach leads her men, Travis Ramin, and Justin Staggs into an orgy of rock. The band does not back off for even a split second. This is the musical equivalent of the 100 meter sprint. Go full-out without breathing along the way, everything balled together to run within the 10 second limit. I seriously wonder whether I have ever heard a female singer singing this tough over a lead guitar that just keeps going and going. Georgia Peach may honour her name at home, on stage I would not dare approach her without gloves on. Her nails could be too dangerous to the touch. The Pink is a storm; what a song.

Dear Forever. Lauren Mann

And breath out, relax. What a difference with 'The Pink' just now. On this blog I recently lauded Lauren Mann's first new single in four years, 'Missing You'. For Dear Forever Lauren Mann returns to her favourite instrument, the piano. Later in the song other keyboards take over though. 'Missing You' may be the more free flowing song, Dear Forever has its own moments. It may start as a "regular" song, soon Lauren Mann starts adding elements that make it different.

Dear Forever, again is not a happy song. Does she sing "tears forever'? It sounds like it. It is a song that I notice conquers me by the note and line. Again I notice that this song goes way beyond what Lauren Mann has presented the world with so far. She is making and writing music on a different level it seems to me. Perhaps more mature but certainly better and far deeper reaching. If the other new songs approach the quality of the two singles, 'Memory & Desire', to be released on 16 October, should mean her breakthrough. I am so looking forward to hear it for the first time.

Lip Service. Natalie Sweet

Natalie Sweet does not need my lip service, she sings in her first single for Rum Bar Records. So, let's pretend I'm just writing this for myself. Listening to Lip Service I can't help but wonder how artists in 2020 can still write great songs in a style that went out of style when Blondie incorporated disco and Caribbean influences into its music. Natalie Sweet is rocking out as if Debbie Harry c.s..

Lip Service is an uptempo alternative rock song with 60s pop influences hanging over the song like low hanging fruit. Tight guitars, bass and drums cranking out the high tempo. Thoughts of The Ramones are never far away in this song. Nathalie Sweet rams out her lyrics in a staccato way, lending urgency to her lip service message. Boy, am I glad I'm not on the other end of this message. Of course, I take it that this little write up can be considered as the real thing Ms. Sweet is asking for at the end of Lip Service. There may be hope for us all anyway. Great song.

SXMW. The Scrimshanders

Some more loud U.S. rock on WoNoBlog, the kind to swig beer from jugs to, to nod the head up and down vigourously to, while allowing the occasional singing along with the chorus as well. Don't expect anything funny, The Scrimshanders sound as traditional as U.S. rock bands come. Rock solid, tight and pleasantly predictable. As traditional as the band's name alludes to an era long before Internet, blogposts and social media (and electricity, modern transport to name a few). No electricity is no option on SXMW, the song wouldn't be half the fun without it. John Magee and his band mates know how to use power just right. Don't expect anything superfluous on SXMW, this is a straight up and down rock song that only needs one listening session to convince. Rock And Roll, these words would have said it all too.

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

 

 

 

 

donderdag 24 september 2020

XXX Singles, part 2

By now a fixed staple on WoNoBlog, freshly released singles that get a spot over multiple days. The numbers just keep swelling. It is possible to fill four days in a row, just with announced singles that reached our mailbox. That is overdoing a bit. There's so much more to report on, isn't there? Like albums. "Fortunately" there are no live shows to report on. That will be a while before our reporters will join the outgoing crowd once more. In the meantime they enjoy themselves with new music.


We Mattered (Once Upon A Time). The Silverbeets

The slightly neurotic sound of We Mattered (Once Upon A Time) will ring bells in the minds of those loving music from around 1980, when XTC scored with 'Making Plans For Nigel' and Split Enz sang 'My Mistake' into the charts. The Silverbeets use the same sort of rhythm and short-paused organ sounds, making the song feel a bit gibberish.

The band from Hobart on Tasmania, perhaps my first Tasmanian band ever, knows where it gets its mustard and translates that into a song that is part tribute, part parked in 2020. Musically far from easily digestible, with parts that are not easy to sing along to. We Mattered ... challenges its listeners, just like the two examples mentioned did. Be challenged and find, as there is enough to find along the less than three minutes road The Silverbeets presents. Like Beatlesque harmonies and a free flowing lead guitar part.

Who You Say You Are. eels

A few weeks back a new eels single was announced. Mark Oliver Everett presents a new song to the world that is instantly recognisable. The music, the voice, it can only be one person/band singing and playing here. What You Say You Are is an eels song of the quiet and sober kind. If the single wasn't so beautiful it would be easy to dismiss it as a slightly boring remake of his older songs. Yes, I allow you the comment that there's nothing truly new to be heard here, but not that eels has hit the bull's eye once again with this new song. Never a happy person, at least in his music, Everett strikes the right notes here. This song doesn't need any words more than presented here.

Paraphernalia. Temples

Temples was one of the many bands that rose to prominence in the first wave of new-psychedelia. It's album did not convince me at the time. What was it? 2014? I truly can't remember. Since then I hadn't heard from the band and read that a new single was released. I have to make short shrift here. What a horrible song. It must be hard to actually make every single decision wrong. The disco sound, the sound of the 70s over-aged singers trying to be hip used to score a hit. The 'Love Boat' kind of violins. And on top of it all a meagre composition, as a good one in a way would have excused all the other ones. A good song is a good song. I don't like all ABBA songs but I know which ones are outstanding songs. Paraphernalia is a dragon of a song, as we say in The Netherlands.

All The Rage. The Rolling Stones

Not a single but the third The Rolling Stones song to be released on the re-release of 'Goat's Head Soup', the band's 1973 album that received due interest on the release date earlier this month. It is the kind of rocker I love to hear the Stones play. Jagger's singing is strained, suggesting his vocal would not have been the final one had the song been selected for the album. The song is fun though. A good melody, fiery lead guitar and again a prominent piano. Ian Stewart? The song is rock and roll enough for him to be part of it. It is most in line with 'Star Star' which is slightly better song, but only slightly. Like the other two songs, 'Criss Cross' and 'Scarlet', All The Rage could have been on the album without bringing it down in quality. In fact this song would have been excellent on 'Some Girls' as it is far superior to 'When The Whip Comes Down' and on par with 'Neighbours' on 'Tattoo You'. Criss Cross is a song I truly like. In fact, because of it I may just buy the new version of 'Goat's Head Soup' any way.

Separated. Anemone

A psychedelic Britpop band, from The Netherlands? Yes, Anemone is just that. Started by two people working behind the scenes of pop and rock music, Xander van Dijck and Ricardo Jupijn. After releasing its first album in 2018, in 2020 its time for the first single of an upcoming album that is ready. It's not the time to release a new record Anemone states. The single in which the words "I'm isolated" is repeated regularly reflects the past half year pretty well. The music does as well. The general mood is downcast, the singing follows this tag, creating a song where joy is hard to find and sparks of light few and wide apart. A good, down-hearted ballad can be exquisite. Separated strives for this top position without fully reaching the mount. For that the vocal melody is only just too bland. The music however makes up as the band knows when to add a beautiful embellishment to the whole. The song certainly falls to my good side.

Forest Noises. Garlands

All good things must come to an end, so this also goes to the monthly releases of Garlands, the Glasgow alternative rock band that more and more becomes one of the hidden treasures of pop music but luckily not for me. Let me not get too far ahead, as I still have to listen to Forest Noises, but based on the previous four songs, no matter what the new single sounds like, they would have made a hell of a mini album. So let me put on Forest Noises now.

Rest assured, folks. Again, and I know from just how the first guitar strokes sound, this again is a stellar rock song. The U.S. alternative rock bands from the 90s are a strong influence here. Gordon Harrow in the past worked with Ken Stringfellow and The Posies certainly come to mind. A strong melody, the band going full out but always with a knack for embellishing the song in any way possible. Surprising as well, as a piano has a clear role in Forest Noises. That beginning is so nice. Its just a fast strummed guitar with a full sound and somehow it is enough. Like the best songs of Weezer, Fountains of Wayne and The Posies offer. Loud songs but instantly recognisable, singable and lovable. "I'm the monster you don't wanna know" Harrow sings over and over. I hope multitudes will beg to differ as this is a great alternative powerpop song if I know one. In a league with 'My Sharona'.

With Forest Noises the Garlands summer is coming to an end. All good things stop sometime. Let's just hope Gordon, Stef and Darran will not make us wait too long before there's more from Garlands.

The Weeping Souls (Alain Johannes remix). Jonny Polonski

Esoteric and ethereal. Just two words that spring to my mind listening the The Weeping Souls for the first time. In this remix by Alain Johannes, who's worked with several bands and artists of fame, Polonski sings his lyrics in a dreamy fashion, while underneath his voice the world is torn apart by a guitar with a ton of effects on it, but mixed nicely and "quietly" into the background. Taken that the start is a banjo or some sort of instrument and a quiet keyboard, the turn the song takes does come as a surprise. I haven't heard the original version the song, so decide to put that on first. The differences are clear straight away. The sound is much clearer, there's drumming and the eery guitar noise is not present. Only the dreamy part in the singing remains. Jeff Buckley comes to mind fast. Not so in the remix. Johannes has truly managed to make The Weeping Souls a different kind of song. Both have their merit.

Manbird. Anton Barbeau

Not to confuse people Anton Barbeau has called his album 'Manbiird' and his single 'Manbird'. That taken care of we can start to listen to the song. Barbeau, a Californian living in Berlin but recording wherever his fancy takes him, makes music as if time hasn't changed much over the past decades. Electronic percussion and an 80s vibe clearly shows in Manbird. In the lyrics things are more modern. Singing about a green screen would have made several brows furrow in the 80s, while today everyone working with Zoom knows how to work a trick or two in the background. Manbird is a song that holds back while some instruments try to turn loose from their shackles. Barbeau does not totally allow it, keeping the song in check. I can only wonder what would have happened had he done so. Just listen to the end where the bass (synth?) is allowed to go it alone. A moment where the true glory of Manbird shines through.

Be A Rebel. New Order

Once upon a time one of the least melodic and confrontational bands, New Order in the past 40 years seems to have learned to write a good pop song. Forever associated with 'Blue Monday', the song has nothing to do with Be A Rebel. On its latest single New Order produces a just as danceable track but so commercial in sound; had it been 1983. Today this song is totally archaic, a sound from a long gone era. To my slowly ageing ears however Be A Rebel sounds quite nice. The rhythm works, the melody has it and the arrangement does the rest. Bernard Sumner will never be among the best of singers but knows what he can do best and delivers here.

Over a disco rhythm New Order keeps finding new melodies to play over the melody lying at the heart of Be A Rebel. Does it come dangerously close to Pet Shop Boys?, yes, New Order does. But there's no comparison, I'm afraid. I may have danced to 'Suburbia' et al in the 80s, I would have bought Be A Rebel instantly. Just listen what the guitar that pops up does, the layer upon layer of synths. There's a new melody that joins the song over and over during the whole song only to disappear to make room for the next melody. Be A Rebel is a top song, ranking as high as the live version of 'Just Can't Get Enough'. If only it was 1985..., man, what a hit this song would have been. It wouldn't have missed a single tape I made for our house parties. (And, beautiful artwork by the way.)

Where Are You Now That We Need You. Yukon Onoma

"Where Are You Now That We Need You brings you into psychedelic, satanic spheres and makes you feel as it were the darkness itself", roughly translates the start of the bio of Yukon Onoma's debut single. The sentence intrigued me, so I wrote the song down to remember it later.

His musical work is a reflection of his past life, when as a child living in a religious, Christian sect in The Netherlands. After breaking with his past he decided to study Satanism as a way to get to grips with his past by studying the anti of things Christian.

I would have expected dark metal but Yukon Onoma stays wide from that kind of music. The result is a dark, slow electronic music that would fit into the Kairos show with ease. Slow moving electronic chords hover over and through my room, like a slivering, undefinable but most likely hostile entity. I can't make much of it to describe what I'm hearing. The music is dark and top heavy and without joy for certain. My curiosity certainly presented a song I did not see coming. Am I up for more? I doubt it.


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 23 september 2020

XXX Singles, part 1

Since we noticed the single announcements, it seems as if our mailbox is overflowing with singles. Is it just because we notice them or that people started to notice our singles post? Who can tell and the answer is not that interesting. What is, is that WoNoBlog shares another bunch of singles with you that reached us over the past two weeks. Once again in two instalments?, no, three this time.

Georgie. The Lemon Drop Gang
"One, two, three, four" is the enthusiastic opening of Georgie and introduction to a delicious pop song of the kind that were so populair if and when Joan Jett and the Blackhearts would have merged with The Go Go's and the more rocking side of The Bangles. The Lemon Drop Gang does not present you with more than there is. Guitar, bass, drums and voices, that is all a good pop rocking song needs.

The debut single of The Lemon Drop Gang, from Tucson in Arizona, can be called a success. Steph O'Halloran has the kind of voice that could be found in the great early 60s female groups, transplanted into a rock band with a strong love for powerpop songs of the late 70s and 80s. Georgie is a song to check out fast, folks.

Sunlight. Radical Face
It's been a while since I last wrote on Radical Face in things WoNo. I can't even remember whether the blog already existed or not. My attention was drawn towards a new single, Sunlight. An optimistic title if there ever is one. The music is not that optimistic. Ben Cooper, as the man behind the moniker Radical Face is called in daily life, sings in a subdued way over a soft, at best mid-tempo song. The drumming is moderately busy, a slowed down version of a Madchester era song. All else is delicate, like the first rays of the sun on an early Sunday morning, creeping into my bedroom. In short, a true listening experience, just Ben Cooper a few instruments supporting his voice and my two ears. At times it is simply enough. True, a song like Sunlight has been done before, but when done right, I simply do not care and just enjoy what is on offer.

A final comment has to be on the intense artwork. Well done for a single.

True True Love. Rich Krueger

True True Love is a nice song to play after Sunlight. Also an acoustic song, more more towards a folk and singer-songwriter segment of music, faster and even more elementary. A man and his guitar. 'The Troth Sessions' is Krueger's upcoming album. The golden wedding ring on the cover making the point towards what kind of "troth" is meant here. So True True Love is the right kind of song to release as a single. Its dark blue cover even better than the album's red. In the mean time I notice that I really, really like to listen to Krueger's voice and guitar playing. In the song he tells a story, like true singer-songwriters do. Krueger also shows that he can play an interesting guitar part as well. If I have to name a name to refer to it's Counting Crows. True True Love could have been a Counting Crows song and that is meant as a compliment here.

Office Hell. Global Charming

It is already as if Global Charming has a global breakthrough, so many alternative radio shows play the band's songs. Let's not forget that Office Hell is only the band's second single with three more weeks to go (at time of writing) for the album to be released. Office Hell is a song that fits in with Canshaker Pi and Petersburg, other alternative Dutch indie bands trying to make a name for themselves. At the same time Office Hell is a radical Talking Heads. The guitars weave into and out of each other, playing less easy notes but also leaving a lot of space in the song, giving the song an early 80s vibe. From the very beginning the song sets itself apart from the mainstream. Even in alternative rock. The playing between the guitars involves accurate counting as the guitars do sort of do a call and response. It sets the mood and makes the listener pay attention (or run away, which I do not exclude). An interesting second single Office Hell is after debut single 'Soft Fruit' and making me more curious for the upcoming album.

Moving Tangle. Outwave

From Amsterdam I move you over to Padua, near Venice in Italy. Moving Tangle is the first single from the upcoming album 'The Storm'. A good title listening to Moving Tangle as the song has parts that rage like a storm and give a pause as well. The melody is always there. Outwave never rocks out without a melody and is not afraid of winding the song down completely. Only to return to its full force which is great. Moving Tangle holds a lot of familiar sounds, pop rock bands, a Slash guitar solo and hints towards 80s rock bands like Cheap Trick with the melodies of later bands. There's nothing making me think this band is from Italy. Not in the music and not in the accent of singing. I can't tell you whether I would sit through a whole album, but Moving Tangle is a fine song. No doubt about it.

Swim. Geoff Palmer & Lucy Ellis

Geoff Palmer and Lucy Ellis take me on another trip down memory lane. Back to the days that Richey Cunningham frequented the hamburger joint of Al and being called into "The Fonz's" office. 'Happy Days' was of course a late 70s sitcom pretending to be rock and roll era, suburban America. Something like that it was. That makes Swim a fun song but far from dangerous. In the song you find a mix of innocence 60s girl bands and the Go-Go's. Geoff Palmer cruises through the song with his rougher voice, slightly upsetting it, like Arthur Fonzarelli did upset 'Happy Days', without ever getting truly dangerous of course. Swim is a nice song but I miss a pinch of pepper.

Two. Pom

Pom is the first band signed by the new Rotterdam based label Mattan Records. A band from Amsterdam signing with a Rotterdam label, it shows why music is always a party as it doesn't matter where a band comes from. Recently so many indie rock bands from Amsterdam have popped up, I'm suspecting there must be something in the water there. Pom's first ever single, was called 'Down In The Rabbit Hole' (2019) and has that softer - louder trick all over it, with a few surprises on the side, but also a, female, singer able to sound a little bored and aloof, while being extremely present at the same time. Two, the second single, is a song that holds a clever pop feel, but also it's so clear that with this song Pom presents a totally different side to itself. A lead guitar is all over the place, very melodically so, making Two a song that gets noticed. The pop feel of ages lies all over Two, with a touch of melancholy mood Donna Blue is so good at. The two songs released so far make me so curious for what is to follow. Pom is another Dutch band to watch alright.

April. Remy.

A harp is no stranger to WoNoBlog. Out of Skin has featured several times on the blog not in the least with a great new single 'Ydin' and live shows. A harp as lead instrument is something different. After releasing a solo piano album by Ella van der Woude, Snowstar Records now releases Remy. (van Kesteren's) first single, April. It is not easy to write on the work, as it is an instrumental composition. What I do hear, is the busy accompaniment while a solo melody is played over it, with some undefinable noises in the background. As a whole I have to say that it is something beautiful to listen to. My guess is that one of the tracks will make it to the 'Kairos' radioshow on Concertzender. It fits, at least in my ears. April has a meditative quality to it to dream away on. Very different from all around it here in this post but a deserved spot none the same.

Bound For An Infinite Sea. Abrasive Trees
Abrasive Trees is the band name Matthew Rochford chose for his new project. He released a three song maxi-single led by Bound For An Infinite Sea. Those deciding to take a listen I can assure they do not need to bring sunglasses. Abrasive Trees dabs in the colour black and perhaps finds a dark grey along the road. The vocal is drenched in echo, as if sung in a deep, dark dungeon. The music reflects that mood. A lead guitar screaming out in anguish, who knows what it is subjected to there in the dark.

The songs starts a bit electronic making me think within seconds "not for me", too experimental, moving towards dance? Luckily for Abrasive Trees a melody comes out soon enough. Yes, dark and not for every day, but certainly interesting.

Killer Bee. EUT

EUT returns with a new single. The band's first album was nice but not totally convincing to my ears. Killer Bee has two sides. A very electronic one before a traditional band sound joins in. Within a little over a minute I notice that the two sides are working. In fact it makes the song very, very intriguing. The dichotomy keeps switching so I never know what will be coming up next. The electronic drum is replaced by live drumming, the synth by a guitar and bass, making Killer Bee a hybrid rock song. In so many ways extremely alive. Singer Megan de Klerk really excels here. Moving in and out of the different segments with ease. I find myself attaching to Killer Bee fast and yes, give me more soon, EUT.

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
























dinsdag 22 september 2020

Smiling Lessons. The Persian Leaps

At times an album is released in the here and now, filled with new songs, yet could have been released decades ago. Smiling Lessons is one of those kind of records.

The Persian Leaps is a duo from St. Paul/Minneapolis, sounding as close to U.K. pop heroes of the 80s and 90s as can be imagined. Drew Forsberg (everything except bass and cover design) and John Hunt (bass, vocals) have a knack for pop rock songs. The duo was part of a full band releasing an EP each year between 2012 and 2017. This is the second as a duo release.

Anyone who listens closely can track the influences of The Persian Leaps back to their roots in the 60s, with the rocking hits of Small Faces morphing into the likes of Oasis and Teenage Fanclub. It makes the music of the band instantly recognisable and tickling the parts of my brain that want to be pleased just this way.

That takes one factor to take into consideration: the songs have to be good. The Persian Leaps does not disappoint here. I will not go as far to declare them outstanding. That would be heaping too much glory. Smiling Lessons is an album that pleases with the right kind of songs. Drew Forsberg knows how to write a good song, including a nice hook or two and a fine vocal melody.

Promo photo: Amy Buchanan

Just listen to the first song. 'PRN' starts immediately in all the right Britpop ways. Diminished and suspended chords chime in the pleasantest of ways. No great guitar solos but notes underscoring the rhythm guitar doing its, loud, thing. Anyone with a knack for Britpop ought to find their way with 'PRN'. Smiling Lessons, after a comment made by Forsberg's wife that he ought to take smiling lessons to look better on pictures, continues in this way. One song may be a bit tighter, like 'Chamberlain', others slightly more poppy, the overall score is Britpop.

The Persian Leaps presents just 7 songs on this album. If Oasis had stuck to this number, most of its albums would have been so much better. Seven songs is enough in this case. Smiling Lessons has a saturation rate as all songs fall into the same category, uptempo Britpop. With loads of energy and good will, making sure the score falls to the right side alright.

Wo.

You can listen to and buy Smiling Lessons here:

https://thepersianleaps.bandcamp.com/album/smiling-lessons

 

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

 

Promo photo by Amy Buchanan 

maandag 21 september 2020

IV. Fixkes

Ik meende mij te herinneren dat Fixkes een West-Vlaamse rapper was en dus voor mij echt niet interessant om waar dan ook voor naar te luisteren. Rap en ik gaan niet zo heel goed samen, wijst de ervaring uit. Waarom ik dan toch ga luisteren? Omdat iemand zo aardig is de plaat aan mij voor te leggen. Meestal probeer ik dan toch snel een eerste indruk te krijgen.

Meteen bij de eerste tonen was ik verbaasd. Hoor ik nu gitaren? En er wordt gezongen, in een sappig, maar goed verstaanbaar Vlaams dialect. Met andere woorden, ik ging maar eens verder luisteren. De kennismaking met Fixkes' vierde album was onderweg.

Zo werd deze kennismaking ook een confrontatie met mijn vooroordelen, want laten we wel wezen, wie enkel afgaat op de mening van anderen, ontdekt zelf nooit iets. Toch doet een omschrijving in een krant of gespecialiseerd, gerenomeerd tijdschrift er wel toe. Als ik daar al niet meer op af kan gaan!?

IV Rockt er juist goed op los, zonder een rockplaat te worden. Gitaren, vette drums en bas vormen wel de basis van wat Fixkes presenteert aan de wereld. Sam Valkenborgh zingt op een manier die mij eerder doet denken Plastic Bertrand (of wie 'Ca Plane Pour Moi' ook echt heeft ingezongen). Dat is maar een kant van IV. In 'Dardennen', gebracht alsof de Ardennen vreselijk cool zijn: "Dardennen Yeah!", rapt Valkenborgh over de Belgische landstreek, in 'Frank Sinatra van Cake II' wordt vol gevoel gezongen (en wat ironie toegevoegd).

In 'Dardennen' mixt Fixkes rustig een oud synth disco geluid met een banjo. Het geeft maar aan hoe breed in het geluidspalet de band durft te gaan. De variatie maakt het album geregeld een klein feestje om naar te luisteren. Ook al schuift het oude orgeltje in 'Frank Sinatra Van Cake" op richting camp, het werkt fantastisch in mijn oren. Dat de licht punkende versie zwaar contrasteert met de zoete ballade, met uit de bocht gierende gitaarsolo, 'Frank Sinatra Van Cake II', laat zien dat één versie van een nummer eigenlijk onzin is. Beide stijlen werken prima, al heb ik een sterke, persoonlijke voorkeur voor de eerste.

Zo valt er oprecht veel te genieten op IV. Kortgezegd bevallen alle nummers me goed tot beter. Met IV laat Fixkes zien hoe breed het muzikaal uit de voeten kan en tegelijkertijd kwaliteit kan leveren. Als Fixkes ooit een rapper was, dan is hij dat niet meer. Pop,  ja. Rock, ja. Rap, nou, eventjes dan.

Wo.

Je kunt IV hier bestellen:

 https://shop.excelsior-recordings.com/products/fixkes-iv

 

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



zondag 20 september 2020

Total Freedom. Kathleen Edwards

Acht jaar geleden trok Kathleen Edwards zich terug uit de muziek, maar gelukkig is ze terug met een wat meer pop georiënteerd album, dat verrassend makkelijk verleidt en overtuigt. 

Kathleen Edwards was in 2003 de grote belofte van de rootsmuziek, maar na een viertal albums was de koek op en leek de Canadese singer-songwriter verloren voor de muziek. Tot nu dan, want Kathleen Edwards is terug met een prachtig album. Het is een album dat bestaat uit gelijke delen pop en roots, dat opvalt door een bijzonder mooie instrumentatie en productie en dat wordt gedragen door de prachtige stem van de Canadese singer-songwriter, die nog maar eens laat horen waarom ze in 2003 met louter superlatieven werd ontvangen. Total Freedom overtuigt zoals gezegd makkelijk, maar groeit ook nog heel lang door. Bijzonder fraaie comeback. 

Kathleen Edwards debuteerde in 2003 met het prachtige Failer, dat moet worden gerekend tot de beste rootsalbums van het betreffende jaar en dat ik persoonlijk zelfs schaar onder de beste rootsalbums aller tijden.

Met Back To Me uit 2005, Asking For Flowers uit 2008 en Voyageur uit 2012 bevestigde de Canadese singer-songwriter de belofte van haar debuut en schoof ze langzaam wat op richting een rootsgeluid met voorzichtige invloeden uit de pop.

Na Voyageur werd het stil rond Kathleen Edwards. De singer-songwriter uit Ottawa kondigde een break aan en opende een koffiehuis in haar woonplaats. Na de zelfmoord van Neal Casal in 2019 sprak Kathleen Edwards zich voor het eerst uit over haar langzame afwezigheid uit de muziek en noemde ze een depressie als oorzaak. Een terugkeer in de muziek leek op dat moment nog ver weg, maar nog geen jaar later is Kathleen Edwards terug met haar eerste album in acht jaar tijd.

Total Freedom opent direct bijzonder lekker. Invloeden uit de rootsmuziek zijn nog steeds hoorbaar in de muziek van Kathleen Edwards, maar in de openingstrack van haar nieuwe album gooit de Canadese singer-songwriter er ook nog wat meer invloeden uit de pop tegenaan. Glenfern schaart zich ergens tussen de perfecte popsongs van Fleetwood Mac en de smaakvolle popliedjes van Suzanne Vega in en dringt zich direct genadeloos op. Misschien een teleurstelling voor liefhebbers van pure rootsmuziek, maar voor een ieder die niet vies is van een mix van roots en pop, opent het nieuwe album van Kathleen Edwards geweldig.

Het eerste dat opvalt bij de eerste noten van Total Freedom is de prachtige stem van de Canadese muzikante. Het is een stem die rijper en warmer klinkt dan in haar jonge jaren en het is een stem die zich als een warme deken (of in deze warme tijde juist als een koele deken) om je heem slaat.

Het is echter niet alleen de stem van Kathleen Edwards die direct indruk maakt. De openingstrack van Total Freedom is voorzien van een prachtig volle instrumentatie en een smaakvolle productie. Voor de fraaie productie en een deel van de instrumentatie tekenen Jim Bryson, met wie Kathleen Edwards al haar muzikale leven samenwerkt, en de gerenommeerde Nashville producer Ian Fitchuk, die terecht flink wat prijzen in de wacht sleepte voor zijn productie van Golden Hour van Kacey Musgraves.


De openingstrack van Total Freedom blijkt deels representatief voor de rest van het album. Kathleen Edwards strooit op haar nieuwe album driftig met buitengewoon lekker in het gehoor liggende popliedjes met een flinke scheut rootsmuziek. Het zijn volstrekt tijdloze popliedjes die meer dan eens herinneren aan de grote dagen van Fleetwood Mac, maar Kathleen Edwards heeft ook haar eigen geluid behouden en is alleen maar beter gaan zingen. Hier tegenover staan songs waarin de rootsinvloeden domineren en Kathleen Edwards toch weer dichter tegen haar oude geluid aan kruipt. Ook dit klinkt prachtig.

De instrumentatie is keer op keer warm en gloedvol, met een hoofdrol voor prachtig gitaarwerk, terwijl de productie van Ian Fitchuk net zo blinkt als op de prachtplaat van Kacey Musgraves. Hier en daar schuift Kathleen Edwards wat meer op richting roots, maar pop is nooit heel ver weg op een album dat mij bijzonder makkelijk heeft overtuigd en dat sindsdien alleen maar beter is geworden. Ik had eerlijk gezegd niet meer op een terugkeer van Kathleen Edwards gerekend, maar haar comeback is een glorieuze wat mij betreft.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt Total Freedom hier luisteren en bestellen:

https://kathleenedwards.bandcamp.com/album/total-freedom


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 19 september 2020

Fad. Silverbacks

The extremely colourful artwork is a good announcement of what the listener can expect to hear on Fad. Silverbacks releases its first album, after two singles, that is as colourful as it is good.

Silverbacks is the next band playing alternative, slightly punky rock with a singer with a deepish voice sing-talking himself through his songs from Dublin. Whatever else is going on in Ireland's capital, producing alternative rockbands is going quite well, thank you.

Yes, you can hear a little from The Murder Capital and Fontaines D.C. on Fad. More importantly Silverbacks holds its own easily with over 50 years of pop/rock music having its back. The band members know the music their parents liked and perhaps even their grandparents, well. The band knows its way into great pop tunes and can add the kind of twist like I remember from a band like XTC around 1980.

The result is songs that go for it and songs that hold back. 'Fad '95' is such a song. Elementary music, though of an alternative kind, under a pop vocal melody lauding politicians in denim. Singer (and guitarist) Daniel O'Kelly has the exactly right voice for this music. That slightly bored sounding tone expressing interest in the right moments. The surprise is when bass player Emma Hanlon takes on the vocals, giving the band a different tone that works quite well actually.

Having listened to Fad several times by now, what strikes me most is that the band is a master at holding back, where it easily could have gone all out. So, yes, 'A Heroes Death', the fairly recently released Fontaines D.C. album, does come to mind. Of course many of the songs on Fad have been recorded long before 'A Hero's Death' was released, so it is more about what is in the Dublin water at this point in time, than copying a successful album. The first single on Fad, 'Dunkirk', was released in 2018. So before 'Dogrels'.

The same goes for the singing of Daniel O'Kelly. He sing-talks himself through the song and there's the XTC I remember again. What Silverbacks has over bands from 40 years ago, is the time and experiences that has passed since then. The band uses it to its advantage in a great way. All over the album are little sounds and guitar bursts that set me off on one memory or other. But hardly ever without distracting me from what is going on. Fad is good in its own right. The guitarists work together excellently. There are so many melody lines and rhythms bouncing up and down between them, overdubs and all.

Behind them is a solid rhythm section. Much more straightforward than the Dublin band mentioned a few times already. The bass can be tight or have a great melody for itself, like in 'Fad '95'. Emma Hanlon takes a musical lead spot for herself, before we hear her as a singer in the next song, 'Klub Silverrücken'.

Taking into account this is Silverbacks first full length album, there is so much room to improve even further, by playing more; as soon as possible. I'm certainly looking forward to a show when things are back to normal (as possible). I'm also convinced that Silverbacks will grow. There are so many moments on Fad that show inventiveness and promise. A lot of work went into creating and crafting the songs and melodies. This is what makes me so interested in what is in store for us later on in the decade. For now I'm enjoying Fad to the max and invite you to do so as well.

Wo.

You can listen to and order Fad here:

https://silverbacks.bandcamp.com/album/fad


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

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

vrijdag 18 september 2020

Jimi Hendrix (1942 - 1970)

It was 50 years ago today, that a great musician died in an almost too stupid for words way. He perhaps became the legendary guitarist he now is because of that, as he never got the chance to prove what he was really capable of. Or perhaps this was it, as for nearly two years he sort of got stuck in his own brain where creating new music was concerned. Recording for the sake of recording without focus or end goal it seems. Because of that endless recording an endless stream of at best mediocre and some somewhat better records saw the light of day, that would never have been released had Hendrix celebrated his 78th birthday later this year in November.

His true legacy consists of four albums (including 'Band of Gypsys'), a greatest hits compilation, a string of singles and not to forget a part in the 'Woodstock' album and film, the former of the two making me a fan somewhere in 1972 is my best guess. My real introduction to things Jimi Hendrix was the video of 'Voodoo Child', the single that was released posthumously and climbed the charts late in 1970, his biggest hit in The Netherlands. Somewhere in 1973 I got the compilation album 'Pop History. Vol 2', a series the label Polydor released around its best artists. By then I must have known at least most the singles, I realise, as I was disappointed that most were not on the double album. Instead there were long tracks on it like 'Who Knows', a long 'Voodoo Chile' mix and all sorts of other psychedelic outings from 'Electric Ladyland' that were far beyond the comprehension of my young adolescent brain. Sides 1 and 4 were my favourites I recall.

I haven't played 'Pop History' for ages, having bought all the regular albums and some of the stuff released later, especially since the Hendrix estate took over, but stopped at some time any way. Enough is enough. Basically after the great box set released around the year 2000. There's only one album left I want to buy, 'Hendrix In The West', but I never run into it.

So Jimi died on this day 50 years ago. His name lives on, as does his music and his influence on guitar players. We will never know what he would have released had he lived nor whether he already was on the top of his game or just starting.

What I offer here is in line with a new series I started, to take a look at his single releases in The Netherlands and give my view on them, in honour to a master guitarist, at times great singer but most of all a powerful performer that I never got see live.


Hey Joe (1966)
Hendrix had toured the U.S. behind several artists as backing guitarist for a few years, before former The Animals bassist Chas Chandler invited him to come over to London to form a band around him. Together with guitarist turned bass player Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell he formed The Jimi Hendrix Experience and started to play live in London, scaring the wits out of Eric Clapton and Pete Townsend, who only had a good nights rest after Jimi's demise as he has once said, probably only half in jest. In short a phenomenon on guitar had entered the U.K. pop and rock scene.

Late in autumn of 1966 the trio's first single was released, a cover of a U.S. folk song taken on in the Hendrix style. It grabbed the attention of many, becoming a hit in many countries. It never got into the top 10 here, like most of Jimi's singles, but is obviously THE single and his most famous song. Where many songs of the below are more or less forgotten.

Whatever he borrowed from other interpreters of the song, is irrelevant. This rendition is so strong and well played that it foregoes any discussion. All the lead and support lines he plays, the little screams of his guitar, they all show the desperation of Joe, who has no option left but to go to Mexico. The loose way of drumming is in the style of that other trio unleashed in London around the same time: Cream's Ginger Baker. All in all there's so much going on in the song, it's more or less incredible for a first single. This was not a one hour haste job first single but well thought out planned, rehearsed and recorded.

The singing is perhaps not the best but convincing enough and the background oohs and aahs totally supportive and adding (something angelic) to the song.

Hey Joe has put the spotlight on Jimi Hendrix and has not gone away right up to this day.

Purple Haze (1967)
I got to know Purple Haze, to the best of my knowledge through the Taiwan copy triple LP 'Woodstock' soundtrack album, a father of a friend brought home with him from sea. Listening now to the original, with its horrible stereo mix, it is a miracle the song got to number 14 at the time. The song is rough, loud, out there psychedelic and primarily of course absolutely exciting. The central riff is a staple of rock. It is a shame the recording is so unclear as there are some beautiful little details, like the few cymbal sounds Mitchell produces, coming out of the melee like a fog horn in the mist. Hendrix isn't the best of singers here, as he has to strain himself to get to the notes and the power the song needs. Having said all that, Purple Haze is one of the most exciting psychedelic rock songs the era produced. A killer rock song and a certified hit for decades to come.


The Wind Cries Mary (1967)
The Experience's third hit is a totally different beast. A psychedelic ballad with a few rock and jazz elements. Hendrix shows that his voice is ideal for ballads. The delicateness the song needs comes from his mouth with ease. His talent shows in the way he crafts his guitar solo. It is so to the point and yet adorned with beautiful notes. The rhythm guitar also holds several beautiful moments, effective runs and these fast fills. It makes The Wind Cries Mary stands out now, just like it did at the moment I got to know the song, somewhere in the seventies. There simply aren't that many songs like it. It was the band's first top 10 hit, reaching number 7 but also disappearing out of the charts fairly fast. I like it alright.

Somewhere in the mid 70s my cousin decided to give me a couple of singles she already had on LP. The result is that I have 'Hey Joe' and The Wind Cries Mary in my collection. The only other one I ever found second hand is 'Voodoo Child'. The single next up, also, but I couldn't afford that amount of money as a student.

Burning Of The Midnight Lamp (1967)
It may even be in the 1980s that I heard this song for the first time. Maybe later even, with the release of the "Radio One' cd or when I finally got around to buying 'Electric Ladyland'. I honestly do not know any more. Fact is that I liked the song immediately. The intro is simply so special as are several other parts. Again a psychedelic song that is very far out there but still managed to get a, albeit low, chart position. Again you can hear Hendrix straining his voice, shouting almost. It does make me think what would have happened had the band added a truly good singer. It would have taken most of the magic of Hendrix as performer away, so it would not have worked as well, I must conclude.

The addition of the keyboard, played by Hendrix after being shown each single note and chord in advance, gives the song a special vibe, that makes the song stand out between all the other singles. As does the wah wah guitar, a new little effect that Jimi immediately embraced and used.

I may have gotten late to the single, the song is excellent and a hit that deserved its spot in the charts.

Foxy Lady (1967)
The final single of 1967 and for close to a year, is one of the singles on the 'Pop History' double album. This is a song that I do wonder whether it should have been a single. On the other hand it is driven forward by a strong, elementary riff. The crying guitar underscores the heat Jimi is in while seeing the foxy lady. The harmony "foxy" gives the song a little mystery, just like all the harmonies in the singles do when present. It is a minor feature but they do set Hendrix singles apart in general. In Foxy Lady it is one of the distinctive features with the loud guitar work. Foxy Lady is a song without comprise, a precursor to heavy metal and 'Born To Be Wild'. As a final comment, vocals, lyrics and music are totally aligned and that is why the song does work.

All Along The Watchtower (1968)
The only single of 1968 is another cover. Hendrix had made Bob Dylan's 'All Along The Watchtower' his own shortly after the release of Dylan's first comeback album, shocking the world once again, with the change 'John Wesley Harding' presented from his 1965 - 1966 work. Jimi Hendrix knew a good song when he heard one and presented the world its final version, as a single and on 'Electric Ladyland'.

Psychedelia may slowly have been on its way out late in 1968, Jimi returned to form with a great track, reaching number 10 in the fall. The studio plays a large role in this track and all sort of new effects that could be used. Gone is also the bad stereo mixing. Jimi's grandeur obviously allowed him to use the best of the best and it has paid off here. All Along The Watchtower in essence is still recognisable as Bob Dylan's song. It is what Hendrix and band did all over it. Layer upon layer of guitars are stacked on top and along side each other, creating a stack of sound so varied and rich that I am close to having not enough ears to keep up. Hendrix always loved to experiment with sound and overdubs but here could live up to his abilities, while having become a better singer as well. This song is still on the radio every once in a while and that is a deserved position as it is a tremendously rich cover version and great single.

Crosstown Traffic (1969)
I must have heard this song at the time but do not have a clear recollection (as goes for the precious single). The song was re-released in 1990 because of a much shown add on TV. (The famous denim commercials? I can't remember.) It didn't chart, just like it almost didn't in the winter of 1969. With the passing of time it has become one of my favourite Hendrix tracks. Just listen to the way it starts. Confusing, loud, weird and then that intro kicks in, cheerful, fun, different. Ultra short, 2"19 and that is it. Crosstown Traffic is like the streets on Manhattan crossing the island. Much shorter, keeping up the north - south traffic, just like all the stops and starts reflect in the song. At the same time it is so incredibly joyful and exuberant. It sits totally apart from what the band does in all its other songs. The dynamics are so much different, there's a piano running into the song, the little instrumental bridge announcing the end, is a great find. Crosstown Traffic is the kind of song that makes me bounce and laugh.


Voodoo Child (1970)
The single edit of 'Voodoo Child (Slight Return)' was released after Hendrix had died to push something out. Ever since recording 'Electric Ladyland' Hendrix had spent an enormous amount of time in the studio, building his own along way, "Electric Ladyland" in NYC. Where excitement is concerned, this is the single of singles, except that I do not have a clue any more what the single edit sounds like, knowing, first, the mix of the song made for side one of the 'Pop History Vol. 2' and then the two version on 'Electric Ladyland'. The single is tucked away safely among the hundreds and hundreds of other singles in my collection.

Voodoo Child is one of the most exciting songs I know. The intro is exceptionally great. The wah wah underscoring the sound of just these few notes that are played before Hendrix really takes off on his guitar. An elementary blues based song, shows all a great artist can do with just a few chords. A great melody, a great song and numerous guitar solos flying all over the song. The bass that keeps pumping its riff, while the drummer can almost do what he wants. Hendrix who varies his vocal melodies, making it sound like a different song, were it not that his guitar keeps up the central riff (with a thousand little variations). Realising that Voodoo Child would never have been a single if Hendrix hadn't died, I should almost be grateful he died. But I'm not. It remains a shame. For the record, it reached #4 in the charts.

What would he have released if he had lived? It will remain a mystery. 'The Cry Of Love' was released, in a hurry I suppose to have something on the market capitalising on his death. I for one have never really liked the album nor the new titled one in the 90s. The songs for the most part are just not of the quality the world had gotten used to and let me include 'Band Of Gypsys' here, as that is a great, great live album, filled with original songs that really rock. My theory is underscored by the double a-side single that, like several other Hendrix singles barely, charted over here.

Angel / Freedom (1971)
Angel is a beautiful song. I'll grant you that, but let's face it, we already have 'Little Wing' and this is another 'Little Wing'. I am willing to set aside that inhibition and allow for the fact that Angel does have a beautiful chorus, while there is an arrangement showing great care has gone into the song. And still I have the feeling that the song is not where Hendrix wanted to take it yet. That it was never truly finished. What it does show is the growth Jimi Hendrix made as a singer. Something I haven't mentioned in the last few singles but is a fact. Who gave him singing lessons between the first album and 'Electric Ladyland'? Or was it just confidence?

Freedom is a rocker but also of the kind we had already heard better. What may have happened in my opinion, had Jimi lived, he might have tossed most of the songs on 'The Cry Of Love' into the bin and start all over again. Providing that he had found focus again and the urge to release new material. Freedom is not more than nice and has nothing of the urgency we read about in the above. Nice solo, once again, a little like the Allman Brothers were getting into around the time. But nothing stellar, exceptional. Listening to the album right now as Spotify continues always, I can say that of course having this album is better than nothing at all, but I maintain that the touch of brilliance is missing in all songs. The sparkle, the exceptionalism, the inspiration. That's my verdict.

(Only) two singles released by The Jimi Hendrix Experience or Hendrix solo did not chart: 'Let Me Light Your Fire' and 'Gypsy Eyes'. The first one did not ring a bell, but turns out to be 'Fire' from the 'Are You Experienced?' album with a new title.

Finally, let's not just commemorate Jimi Hendrix but also those who made his breakthrough possible as well:

Noel Redding (1945 - 2003)
Mitch Mitchell (1947 - 2008)
Chas Chandler (1938 - 1996)
Eddie Kramer (1942)
Billy Cox (1941)

It's sad to conclude that, to the best of my knowledge, The Jimi Hendrix Experience was the first rock band of which all its original members have expired, including its first manager cum producer.

To finalise here's my personal top 5.

1. Voodoo Child
2. All Along The Watchtower
3. Crosstown Traffic
4. Hey Joe
5. Burning Of The Midnight Lamp

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