maandag 30 november 2020

Serpentine Prison. Matt Berninger

A surprise is always nice to receive. I am not a huge fan of The National. For reasons I can't explain I do not hear the music in the output of the band. It's not uncommon for me, as the same goes, for example, for a lot of the 70s West Coast (associated) singer-songwriter output. Reading about Serpentine Prison and the Booker T. Jones connection somehow made me believe that this album could be very much worthwhile. And yes, the album is the first vinyl album I've bought in a while and is spinning regularly in all its subdued beauty.

Is this easy to explain? Yes and no. Yes, because I think the album to contain extremely beautiful and soothing music that I find myself to love to submerge in. No, because several songs, if I listen to them with an impartial ear, are extremely simple affairs that have been adorned with some nice sounds, while over them Berninger croons away in a relatively monotone way. So there you are and I find the emotions to win with one finger in the nose.

It is exactly the relaxed atmosphere that makes Serpentine Prison such an attractive album to listen to. Underneath Matt Berninger's voice a spaciousness is created that makes every note that is played and every sound made extremely noticeable. They all stand out. In fact the emptiness around and between the instruments is almost an extra instrument. In a sense the beautiful artwork is symbolic for the music. Listening to the album, I see an image in my head of an empty canvas with here and there a note, a sound painted in another solitary spot, in between blank canvas only. It is impossible to see music, but with a song like 'Serpentine Prison' I almost can. The image it presents to me is that strong.

Let me point to 'One More Second' as another example. An acoustic guitar, light percussion, a soft bass, a second acoustic guitar, a sparse piano note here and there. And then Booker T.'s organ comes in, playing only a few notes, ever so softly and the song lights up the grey autumn day. It can be this simple, to adorn very life itself. As that is what Serpentine Prison does, light up my day, present me with a little piece of musical heaven. The overall mood of the album may be completely subdued, at times even modest, from there sparks fly, rays of light shoot off. The world is no longer there for a short while.

The final point what really connects with me, is that not a single musician is doing anything extra to steal the show. Not a single note more is played than strictly necessary. That way even a few slaps on a bongo can have prominence and be on the same level as all the other instruments. Even Matt Berninger's voice blends in despite being on top. It all becomes a work of art, like the two paintings on the gatefold sleeve. If there is an album you can buy for the artwork, it's Serpentine Prison. And the music comes with it too. What a deal!


You can listen to and order Serpentine Prison here:

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

zondag 29 november 2020

Someone New. Helena Deland

Het valt niet mee om je als jonge vrouwelijke singer-songwriter in de indierock nog te onderscheiden van de talloze concurrenten, maar Helena Deland doet het met speels gemak.

Het overkomt me niet zo heel vaak dat een debuutalbum direct bij eerste beluistering een verpletterende indruk maakt, maar het debuutalbum van de Canadese singer-songwriter Helena Deland deed het de afgelopen week. De muzikante uit Montreal slaagt er in om een bijzonder geluid neer te zetten dat onmiddellijk betovert en intrigeert en dat doet Helena Deland ook met haar stem en met haar songs. Het zijn songs die overlopen van avontuur en eigenzinnigheid, wat fraai combineert met de donkere klanken op het album en met de expressieve zang, die overigens ook prachtig en fluisterzacht kan zijn. Wat een talent deze Helena Deland en wat een goed debuut.

Helena Deland is een singer-songwriter uit het Canadese Montreal, die deze week debuteert met Someone New. Het is een debuutalbum dat indruk maakt door direct in de openingstrack al een paar keer flink van kleur te verschieten. 

De openingstrack en titeltrack van het debuut van Helena Deland opent met wat unheimische elektronische klanken en even opvallende en wat donker aanvoelende vocalen. Wanneer de gitaar invalt klinkt het opeens een stuk zonniger en ook de zang van de Canadese singer-songwriter klinkt opeens wat lichtvoetiger. Helena Deland laat het hier niet bij, want in de openingstrack van haar debuut verschiet ook het tempo nog een paar keer en wordt het gitaarwerk uiteindelijk nog een stuk steviger. Het was al bijna genoeg om me te overtuigen van de kwaliteiten van Helena Deland, maar ook de rest van het debuut van de muzikante uit Montreal heeft veel te bieden. 

We worden de afgelopen jaren overspoeld door jonge vrouwelijke singer-songwriters in het indierock segment, waardoor enige onderscheidend vermogen gewenst is. Helena Deland beschikt hier in ruime mate over. In de songs op Someone New gebeurt van alles. De Canadese muzikante experimenteert subtiel met donkere elektronica en al even donker gitaarwerk, dat weer wordt gecontrasteerd met bijzondere ritmes. 

Ook de stem van Helena Deland zorgt voor flink wat contrast in haar songs. Helena Deland kan fluisterzacht en bijna lieflijk zingen, maar ze beschikt ook over een expressieve stem, die net zo van kleur kan verschieten als de instrumentatie op haar debuutalbum. Het is een instrumentatie die soms geïnspireerd lijkt door postpunk uit vervlogen tijden, maar het geluid op Someone New sluit ook naadloos aan op de indierock van het moment. 

En net als je denkt te weten wat voor vlees je in de kuip hebt, kiest Helena Deland opeens weer voor een meer ingetogen song met een beetje folk en wat sprookjesachtige of juist klassiek aandoende klanken. 

De muziek van Helena Deland laat zich vergelijken met die van de meer eigenzinnige jonge vrouwelijke singer-songwriters die de afgelopen jaren zijn opgedoken, al kan ik niet direct een naam noemen die echt relevant vergelijkingsmateriaal oplevert. Wanneer Helena Deland wat hoger en soms wat onvaster zingt hoor ik misschien nog wel het meest van Big Thief, wat na een jaar met twee jaarlijstjesalbum en een soloalbum van frontvrouw Adrianne Lenker op komst een groot compliment is. 

Helena Deland heeft een serie songs opgenomen die de fantasie prikkelen en die opvallen door een bijzonder eigen geluid, dat op Someone New echt alle kanten op schiet. Het is een geluid met diepe bassen, dat ik met name door de koptelefoon geweldig vind klinken. Lagen die je door de diepe bassen ontgaan bij beluistering met een niet al te hoog volume komen bij beluistering met de koptelefoon op fraaie wijze tot leven en maken het debuut van Helena Deland nog wat mooier en indrukwekkender. 

Het is momenteel dringen in de vijver met jonge vrouwelijke singer-songwriters met een voorliefde voor indierock, maar het debuut van Helena Deland maakt direct bij eerste beluistering al indruk en wordt vervolgens alleen maar mooier en bijzonderder. Helena Deland schaart zich met dit prachtdebuut direct onder de smaakmakers in het genre. 

Erwin Zijleman 

Je kunt Someone New hier luisteren en bestellen:


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

zaterdag 28 november 2020

Timesaver. Price

In my review of the second single from Timesaver, 'Mute City', the 10th and last song on the album, I wrote that I did not know whether a whole album in this style would interest me enough to sit through it. The surprise of Timesaver presents me with, in the face of that question, could not be bigger. Price sets off on a musical adventure right with the first notes and does not stop surprising until 'Mute City' begins. A song that will surprise listeners not familiar with it some more, I promise.

No, rest assured, there's no take on hip hop or opera. Price plays variations of alternative rock or indie, but including so many styles that each next song can be something completely different within that confine. To give some examples on that musical adventure. Let's start with how the opening song of the album sounds. I will not go as far and call it grunge, but Smashing Pumpkins of the mid 90s is certainly no unknown band to the members of Price. The dark, sludgy guitar that drags itself through the chord sequence of 'Remains Of Dwellings' would not have been out of place on 'Gish' and 'Siamese Dream'. Neither is the style of singing. At the same time the lead guitar has a lighter sound, making it a Price song. Some opening song 'Remains Of Dwellings' is. Anyone not liking this style will be gone within a minute if not sooner. The rest is licking their fingers. The song is that good.

The first single 'Medic' is an erratic affair in line with a, now ex, band like Canshaker Pi. The song is fun, danceable and has this alternative edge in the verses and a giant chorus where the band goes full out. The alternative melody, that runs on two guitars playing off each other, works really well here and is well crafted. It gives the band a punky touch as well. A nice spike in the mix that is added.

The switch to the title song could not be much greater. An acoustic guitar, a vocal drenched in a large bathroom surrounding. It takes the album in a totally different direction, as if there's no band around singer Marnix Visscher, also of Korfbal and Fisscher Price. That changes fast in song four, 'Walker'. That mix of Smashing Pumpkins and Price reemerges, giving the song that touch of darkness and light again. Like Billy Corgan's band Price finds the melody in the wall of sound, but finds the light more easily and is able to make it shine much better.

Song number 5 'Manic-Beat' journeys to the 60s with a dash of psychedelia and that old electric organ sound. The guitars are more modern in sound, creating a nice hybrid of styles. The singing remains in this indirect, dreamy style that goes well with all styles on the album and is part of Price's sound.

The Groningen based band calls its music kaleidoscopic, taking the listener on a trip through the history of music. I could not describe it better, so won't try to. I have given my impression of the album in the above. There are five more songs, including the surprising 'Mute City', that fit the bill just as well. Timesaver is an incredibly good and varied album. Just don't expect anything that is cleaned up after the musicians went home. This music is of the what you hear is what you get kind. In your face mostly and sometimes just a little less so. As I started out with, Timesaver is a musical adventure. You've received your roadmap in the above, so off you go. Enjoy!


You can order the album here:

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

vrijdag 27 november 2020

Careful Climb. Slow Worries

Slow Worries is a band from Amsterdam, releasing its first album. The foursome, Maaike Muntinga (vocals), Liú Mottes (guitar), Nora Uitterlinden (drums) & Gijs Loots (baritone guitar), released an EP in 2016 and went back to the different bands they all play in as well. In 2020 the time came to reunite and to release that first album and it cooks up a storm.

If anything The Netherlands has a new Bettie Serveert. I can't escape the likeness between the two bands. The ways Muntinga sings, Mottes' guitar that is all over the alternative rock songs and the tight rhythm section completing it all. Is that a bad thing? No, far from. Being compared to Bettie Serveert is one of the biggest compliments alternative rock bands can receive in our country, in my book.

Listening to Careful Climb, it is the energy blast that gets to me first. The band pushes in the pedal and does not take it off the metal until the final note has sounded out. The only way forward is going there fast for Slow Worries. That does come with a warning, Careful Climb is not an album for all moments of the day. At some points in the day it simply is too much of a good thing. In all the others, it is like the sun coming out on a grey day.

Within that burst of energy there is enough to set songs apart individually. Single 'When We Go Out' e.g. is more open, where other songs play full out for 100%. Slipping in some dynamics makes Careful Climb breath at the right times. By slipping in a more poppy vocal melody here and there, the tone of the album becomes more varied as well. It all adds to the quality it contains within it.

If anything, Slow Worries really goes for it. The band clearly realises that this is the chance to make an impression on the world with this record. There's nothing holding them back to give it their all. The fun of playing shines through regularly as well. Just listen how they really torch 'Burn'. A song so very much alive, it makes me glow.

It is easy to confront Slow Worries with the fact the music is not original. For that the songs on its debut album are too familiar in sound. Ask them and they will probably admit it themselves, I'd guess. The more important criterium is the quality of what is on offer. This is more than alright. Careful Climb is an album full of energy and a will to score and make a lasting impression. In that it fully succeeds and perhaps a little more. That time will tell, for now the album rocks and that is what counts in my book foremost.


You can listen to and order Careful Climb here:


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

donderdag 26 november 2020

Midnight Manor. The Nude Party

The Nude Party neemt je een aantal decennia mee terug in de tijd met een opwindende mix van vooral countryrock, rock ’n roll en een beetje van The Rolling Stones in hun beste jaren.

The Nude Party waren twee jaar geleden goed voor een glimlach, maar zetten een flinke stap met hun tweede album Midnight Manor. De band klinkt op haar tweede album verrassend hecht en is op alle mogelijke manieren gegroeid. Midnight Manor omarmt nadrukkelijk de Amerikaanse rootsmuziek, met een voorkeur voor countryrock uit een ver verleden, maar invloeden uit de rock ’n roll zijn minstens even belangrijk. Hier en daar klinkt The Nude Party als The Rolling Stones in hun beste jaren en een veel groter compliment kun je de jonge honden uit de Catskill Mountains volgens mij niet maken. Midnight Manor is voor mij het feelgood album van deze week. Heerlijk.

The Nude Party ontstond een jaar of acht geleden toen een zestal studenten van de Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, besloten een band te formeren. De meeste leden van de band waren zeker geen ervaren muzikanten, maar de dagelijkse jamsessies in de kelder van het huis waarin de leden van de band hun intrek hadden genomen begonnen steeds beter te klinken. Het ging allemaal snel toen de band werd ontdekt door Oakley Munson, de drummer van de Amerikaanse band Black Lips, die de band onder zijn hoede nam en gebruik liet maken van zijn studio in de Catskill Mountains bij New York. 

Het leverde twee jaar geleden een heel aardig debuut op, dat deze week een vervolg krijgt met Midnight Manor. The Nude Party werkt ook op haar tweede album met mentor Oakley Munson, maar vond ook niemand minder dan John Agnello (met zijn CV zou ik deze hele recensie kunnen vullen, maar de naam van Dinosaur Jr. wil ik zeker noemen) bereid om het album te mixen. 

Ik was twee jaar geleden best te spreken over het debuut van The Nude Party, maar het tweede album van de band vind ik veel beter. The Nude Party heeft zich inmiddels gevestigd in de Catskill Mountains en heeft zich zeker laten beïnvloeden door de rijke muziekgeschiedenis van het gebied. Net als op haar debuut vind The Nude Party de belangrijkste inspiratie vooral in ver verleden. De band kent haar klassiekers in de countryrock, maar ook invloeden The Velvet Underground, The Kinks en vooral The Rolling Stones spelen een belangrijke rol op Midnight Manor. En hier en daar komen ook The Doors en Creedence Clearwater Revival nog voorbij. 

Toen The Nude Party acht jaar geleden begon waren de meeste leden van de band nog geen geweldige muzikanten, maar er is sindsdien veel bijgeleerd. Midnight Manor is voorzien van een lekker vol geluid dat wordt gedomineerd door uitstekend gitaarwerk, maar waarin ook piano, orgel, mondharmonica en een pedal steel opduiken. Het klinkt allemaal alweer een stuk hechter en strakker dan op het twee jaar geleden verschenen debuut, maar de muziek van The Nude Party klinkt gelukkig ook nog steeds rauw en energiek. Het geldt niet alleen voor de instrumentatie, maar zeker ook voor de zang, die het energieniveau van het album nog wat verder opstuwt. 

Midnight Manor staat met één been in de Amerikaanse rootsmuziek, maar het andere been staat stevig in de rock ’n roll. Het is rock ’n roll uit de jaren 60 en 70, maar de muziek van The Nude Party klinkt zeker niet gedateerd. Midnight Manor is vaak te omschrijven als het album dat The Rolling Stones gemaakt zouden kunnen hebben wanneer ze in 1971 voor het opnemen van Exile On Main Street niet naar Zuid-Frankrijk maar naar de Catskill Mountains waren afgereisd. Zeker wanneer de zang wat aan die van Mick Jagger doet denken hoor je op Midnight Manor The Rolling Stones in hun jonge jaren, maar The Nude Party heeft meer goede voorbeelden uit deze periode en kan haar songs ook zomaar onderdompelen in Amerikaanse rootsmuziek of opschuiven richting glamrock. 

Het levert een album op dat best in de jaren 60 of 70 gemaakt had kunnen zijn, maar wat word ik er in 2020 vrolijk van. Het debuut van The Nude Party vond ik twee jaar geleden nog een twijfelgeval, maar het tweede album van de band uit de Catskill Mountains is uitstekend en ook nog eens bijzonder aangenaam. 

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt Midnight Manor hier luisteren en bestellen:
of luister naar onze Spotify Playlist om uit te vinden waar we over schrijven:

woensdag 25 november 2020

10 Singles

And here we go once again. Another ten singles were selected for you on a first come, first serve basis. Singles to write about, singles to listen to. To enjoy the enormous variety in music released. There's a link below, so settle in and enjoy all that has been released in the previous weeks and we selected for you. We start with a true debut single.

Listen. Banji

Banji is a band from Utrecht. All members have a history in other bands, but decided to start making music together. Listen is the band's debut single. It is an erratic affair, where modern beats and rhythm alternate with alternative rock guitars. The influences are more from Belgium that from the Anglo-Saxon world. dEUS, Zita Swoon, Metal Molly and many other bands from the south of our border have found their way into Listen. The result is, that I'm not really finding Banji's identity in this single. Of course that's more than fine when starting a career. Banji clearly states what it likes in music and the result is an energetic single, with a fine melody and a few surprises in how the song plays out.

Let Go. Sharon van Etten

Some time back, I wrote on an album of Sharon van Etten (I went to school and worked in Etten-Leur) that I found her rather detached from me. A fan responded on Twitter that she wondered whether I had my ears screwed on right. For the first half of Let Go, Ms. Van Etten's new single, I stand by that conclusion, but slowly but surely Let Go is fired up, working towards a climax. It is not the music. This is warm from the very start. It is Sharon van Etten's way of singing, that makes me feel like I'm not included. This is me, for sure. We can't be all the same. What I do hear, is that Let Go is an impressive song. Despite that it is mostly played over one chord, a lot is happening and new melodies find their way into the song. In the second half it gets a tremendous boost playing itself out to a grand finale. Well done! The single is part of the soundtrack to a documentary called 'Feels Good Man'.

Invisible Man. Fred Abong

This blogs introduction to Fred Abong did not go unnoticed. The little review of 'The Minit' some weeks ago, received the most responses and likes on Twitter of all 3000 plus posts to date. All thanks to Fred Abong's response. I will not go into his vocal style again here, as that has been discussed enough. Musically Invisible Man is close to 'The Minute'. It presents itself with a minimum of effect. Abong does not need a lot to make the right impression. If anything, Invisible Man, comes close to Mark Lanegan's solo work, without a band. Fred Abong plays an acoustic and an electric guitar. Perhaps an effect pedal and that is it. Enough to make an attractive, alternative ballad and yes, of course with that husky, gravelly, thirsty sounding voice singing for us all to enjoy.

Happier Alone. Austin Meade

Listening to the intro of Happier Alone, I can't help thinking about 'Summer Of '69', one of Bryan Adams' biggest hits from the 80s. Not that the songs are the same in melody but certainly in feel. Austin Meade himself points to his love for rock from the early years of this millennium. Well, these bands probably will have had its influences as well. Happier Alone is a song that obviously is from across the pond. it has traces of hair bands that never really got popular over here and some good old 80s rock. That implies that the melody is quite alright and some inventive notes and a staunch guitar solo to go. Why I like Happier Alone, like I do 'Summer of '69', is that Austin Meade puts some emotion into his song, something I've always missed with many 80s hard rock bands. It always seemed to be about the money, drugs and probably some sex to boot. His personal looks are more of a 70s southern rock band though. A blend of many musical times and styles Austin Meade is.

Rock & Roll. Alice Cooper

When did Alice Cooper come into my life? Was it with 'School's Out' or 'Elected'? Both are still great songs, although the content of the former speaks a lot less to me almost half a century later. The riff is still phenomenal of course. Come 2020 and a new Alice Cooper single is announced. In the very first seconds I recognise it for the cover song it is. It is the The Velvet Underground / Lou Reed classic rock song turned into an even harder rocking song. Cooper totally pulls the song towards him, without changing much except the attack to the song. If anything it shows the strength of the original and the amount of rock still present in the golf-loving, senior citizen Alice Cooper has become over the decades. Concluding, I can write that nothing's changed really. Rock is rock and roll is roll and it still saves. I only have to listen to those guitar solos in Rock & Roll and know it to be true.

Comedy Show. Flight Attendant

Comedy Show alright! No, far from. This is such a serious and down cast song that it must be the saddest comedy show in the world. Flight Attendant takes me 40 years back in time, to when I heard 'Will You?', Hazel O'Connor's should have been #1 single, for the first time. A single that did not even chart here! The saxophone solo ending is missing though. The violin in the ending of Comedy Show does not make up for that. Flight Attendant is a band from Nashville, that is totally new to me and has nothing but then really nothing to do with the kind of music Nashville has become famous for. Comedy Show is a beautiful ballad, led by a piano, supported by a keyboard and that violin. It really impresses me, including the way the song slowly but surely gets more meat on the bones. Hazel O 'Connor never made another song that I liked, so Flight Attendant, I dare you to better that and looking forward to hear more.

Afternoon. Snowapple

Snowapple is a collective from Amsterdam. Three singers and a host of musicians that may or may not be members of the band. From balafon percussion to a trumpet solo it all comes by on this rather exotic sounding single. From 40s pop like The Andrew Sisters' style singing to jazzy music and African influences, it is all mixed into the few minutes Afternoon takes. The lyrics are kind of exotic as well as they were inspired by a Lorca poem. The combination works rather well, I have to say. The spacious mix gives an impression of a wide stage where the musicians are all in a different space and playing without amplification. At the same time it all sounds so clear. There's a lot of sounds and melodies to discover in the song. The clear sound provides the opportunity to do so. To discover what is happening is truly an option with the new Snowapple single. Afternoon is a little musical labyrinth, to dwell in at leisure.

The Less I Know The Better. Willemijn May

A woman's voice and an acoustic guitar are all that can be heard at the beginning of The Less I Know The Better. The tempo is in the mid range, the mood invites listening. Slowly but surely the song is infused with other elements, even of a kind less associated with singer-songwriters. Vague electronic sounds move in and out. Sounds of the kind that people prone to "hearing things" may get confused from but in this context can be called experimental. What remains to be mentioned is a spaciously played piano. The combination of the traditional instruments, Willemijn May's young woman's voice and the mystery makes The Less I Know The Better not only an intriguing song but also a good one. It sets her apart from the 1.000+ other singer-songwriters and invites to want to hear more in the future. After that great band from Amsterdam called Elenne May, another May joins the pack. 'Fire' was her first single, one that I have missed. This second single has put Willemijn on my radar alright.

Nobody Loves The Hulk. Beebe Gallin

There are songs that go for the throat from the very first notes. Beebe Gallini lets the drums pound, a bass plays one note and off goes Nobody Loves The Hulk. In Beebe Gallini, I recognise two members of the resurrected The Short Fuses, Miss Georgia Peach and Travis Ramin. Just like that band Beebe Gallini rocks out loud and rough, but a bit more direct in a punkrock way. This single is everything one is allowed to expect from a punkrock band that infuses 60s garage rock into its style. Not anger but a great melody, despite that the hulk only shows himself when afraid and / or extremely vexed. Nobody Loves The Hulk is amazingly direct, in my face and I love every second of the song. A fiery guitar solo tops of the distorted singing of Ms. Georgia Peach, who is all but on fire in this song. I love how the song progresses into the third chord in the verses. It totally makes the song what it is. This is rock and roll of the highest kind all right.

One comment though, anyone who knows his 'The Avengers' film classics knows that 'The Black Widow' deeply cares for 'The Hulk', so that makes three with the "you and me" in the song.

I Love The Way You See The World. Petter Carlsen

"Music from above the pole circle", read the caption coming with the notification of Petter Carlsen's new single. As my son lived there for most of the summer, I decided to give the song a chance for the singles of the week post. I Love The Way You See The World is indie pop, like promised, with some elements of dreamy synthpop as well. It is nice to know where Carlsen lives or creates his songs, but for the rest this song could have been made anywhere in the world. It's a global musical language Carlsen shares with us. Having listened a few times to the single I can conclude that it's a nice song but not one that exceeds what has been done before. The contemplation implied in the title does not come across in the song, as he does not share the joy of the recognition with us, more a melancholy longing for something out of reach. If that is the background for the story told, Carlsen succeeded in sharing this feeling with us listeners quite well.


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

dinsdag 24 november 2020

Oh, By The Way ... It's Natalie Sweet

No, I'm not going to write this is an exceptionally good album, nor that Natalie Sweet is a great singer, but her album Oh, By The Way ... It's is just a fun album to listen to. There is no doubt about it and I gladly write it. On her album Natalie Sweet presents the right sort of mix between rock and roll, 60 garage rock and the rock side of Blondie.

Just listen to the kickstart of the album, single 'Lip Service'. Natalie Sweet does her best Debbie Harry and her band, their Chris, Jimmy, Clem and Gary/Frank. 'Lip Service' could have been on either of the first two Blondie albums with ease and fit in quite nicely.

So the tone is set. On Oh, By The Way ... It's Natalie Sweet presents herself from her most rocking, punky side, with a sweet tone here and there, showing a slightly more at ease version of herself. For the rest she's "the kind of girl you don't bring home to mother", to lend a phrase from Rick James (another person you don't bring home, I'd say). Of course, this totally depends on mother of course. In 2020 there should be a host of mothers loving a good rocksong in the style this record presents.

The production of this album makes sure the level of energy and excitement is so high. Just like 'Dawn Of The Deaf' by The Short Fuses, recently released by Rum Bar Records, btw both have Travis Ramin on board, the music is spot on. Driving me ever forward while listening. There's no sitting still, whether physically or mentally, Believe I'm dancing while sitting still and writing, the whole time. My mind is a-twirling alright.

What Oh, By The Way ... It's Natalie Sweet does right, is the mix of a great pop feel and garage rock. All songs are great to sing along to, dance to and pogo to for those who feel like it. In a few instances the foot goes a little of the gas and immediately a great pop song and melody emerges. Natalie Sweet and band members get the right feel and yes, it is that feel that I loved ever since hearing 'In The Flesh' by Blondie for the first time in November 1977 on the other side of this planet. An accidental hit if there ever existed one. The TV program played the wrong video and the rest is history. Blondie scored its first hit. I hope someone will do the same for Natalie Sweet. This album is enough fun for all people who love pop-rock-punk songs and get loads of fun out of.


You can listen to and buy Oh, By The Way ... It's Natalie Sweet here:

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

maandag 23 november 2020

oRanGe. I Am A Rocketship

Just a few days a go we wrote on I Am Rocketship's new single 'Shooting Star', now it's time to share our thoughts on oRanGe, the five song EP the duo released. Only half a year after 'Ghost Stories' I Am A Rocketship releases new music. There are some things that the Covid pandemic can be thanked for: new music from artists that found themselves locked in homes as well and used that time to be creative. oRanGe is one of those albums.

Eric Weissinger and L.E. Kippner have used this time well. All recorded on a notebook; the sound despite of that is huge. Who needs a studio these days? Not I Am A Rocketship. oRanGe has been made to reflect 2020, the pandemic, the rise of fascism and ever faster climate change. Musically it all comes together in the centrally placed title track, an instrumental that voices the rage all people will feel or have felt at some point in time this year. We are witnessing things that usually only happen in movies. From stacks of deaths in trucks in the streets of the developed world and on the streets in the developing world, to a president in the leading democracy of the world, who hollows out democratic institutions by the day and stokes fear, mistrust and anger, like all "good" dictators are prone to do. 'oRanGe' reflects the anger and concerns quite well, without a single word uttered.

'Back From The Shadows' is the EP's final song, The song has two sides to it. The quiet part where Kippner sings her observations about things that were hiding in the dark, but have moved out of it recently and the part where Weissinger lets his guitar roar. The opening of the song holds loud, angry voices shouting for us to hear. Emotions fly high. The quiet verse that follows in a way is surprising, as it does not reflect the anger and turmoil, more the will and determination it takes to push the ugliness back into the shadows. The chorus is the actual fight that it may take as well. "We never really thought it could happen here", sings L.E. Kippner. Well, it has, and, yes, it is extremely worrying, while at the same time nothing truly has gone wrong yet. Loads of books and theories are published on the rise of authoritarianism around the world. Those who aim at stopping it, all advocate to stop it as early as possible and never give in to the slow moving tendencies. Once you do, you're lost. So, yes, let's "push it back into the shadows" and beyond, just to be sure. This song holds a warning and a remedy in one.

Promo photo: Katja Bjorn
oRanGe is a political album, coming out of Atlanta, Georgia, which happens to be one of the states where the battle is literally being fought out over a few thousand votes, but let's keep politics there and return to the music.

With 'Shooting Star' the EP starts in a beautiful dreamy way. The drums are firm, so the rest of the song can float over it. The slow piano notes give the whole a feel of spaciousness, like the view from outer space Weissinger sings about. Long drawn out notes on the electric guitar evoke the space travel. The acoustic guitar keeps the song grounded as a whole. A beautiful song it is.

'God's Country' slowly rocks but oh so firmly. 'The Light In Your Eyes' presents the light and the shade within one song, showing how diverse I Am A Rocketship is, even within a song. With oRanGe the duo certainly surprised me as it went from nice to good in my book. This is an EP every alternative rock fan, who does not object to a softer and more serious outing, should check out.


You can listen to and order oRanGe here:

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

zondag 22 november 2020

Yellow Coat. Matt Costa

De Amerikaanse muzikant Matt Costa grossiert op zijn nieuwe album Yellow Coat in kwalitatief hoogstaande maar ook volstrekt tijdloze popliedjes, wat een ultiem feelgood album oplevert.

Ik heb Matt Costa inmiddels al vijftien jaar hoog zitten, maar het lijkt er op dat zijn nieuwe albums iedere keer weer net wat beter zijn. Het geldt ook weer voor Yellow Coat dat vanaf de eerste noten een echt feelgood album is vol tijdloze popmuziek. Het is ook een album vol buitengewoon knap in elkaar stekende en prachtig gearrangeerde popliedjes. Duw een met smaak gevulde platenkast om, hussel alles door elkaar en je krijgt Yellow Coat van Matt Costa, die zichzelf weer weet te overtreffen en die direct vanaf de eerste beluistering met kracht aan de deur van mijn jaarlijstje rammelt. Wat een heerlijk album weer van de muzikant uit Los Angeles.

Ik heb inmiddels al een kleine vijftien jaar een enorm zwak voor de muziek van de Amerikaanse singer-songwriter Matt Costa. De muzikant uit het Californische Los Angeles dook in 2005 op in het kielzog en op het label van Jack Johnson en leek direct verzekerd van een minstens even blinkende carrière als die van zijn platenbaas. Daar is het misschien niet van gekomen, maar Matt Costa heeft inmiddels een oeuvre op zijn naam staan dat ik persoonlijker een stuk indrukwekkender vind dan dat van Jack Johnson. 

Na Songs We Sing (2006), Unfamiliar Faces (2007), Mobile Chateau (2010), Matt Costa (2013) en Santa Rosa Fangs (2018) is ook het deze week verschenen Yellow Coat weer een prachtig album. Matt Costa is op al zijn albums een meester in het schrijven en vertolken van prachtige en volstrekt tijdloze popliedjes. Het zijn albums die stuk voor stuk zijn te karakteriseren als de spreekwoordelijke omgevallen platenkast en het is een platenkast die opvalt door een uitstekende smaak.

Ieder album van Matt Costa wist me direct bij eerste beluistering te overtuigen en was me vervolgens ook direct dierbaar. Het is met Yellow Coat niet anders. Ook op zijn zesde album stapt Matt Costa met zevenmijlslaarzen door de geschiedenis van de popmuziek en maakt hij indruk met popliedjes waarvoor de allergrootsten zich niet zouden schamen.
Matt Costa laat zich ook op Yellow Coat weer door van alles en nog wat beïnvloeden. De Amerikaanse muzikant gaat ook dit keer ver terug in de tijd, want een aantal songs op het album ademt nadrukkelijk de sfeer van de jaren 50. De muzikant uit Los Angeles blijft echter zeker niet steken in de jaren 50 en overbrugt ook op zijn nieuwe album weer makkelijk een kloof van zeven decennia, waarbij ook de jaren 60 en 70 overigens flink wat inspiratie aandragen. Het levert een album op dat vaak nostalgisch klinkt, maar Matt Costa maakt ook popmuziek van nu.
Voor liefhebbers van mooie arrangementen, een volle productie en een veelkleurige instrumentatie is het ook dit keer weer smullen, want Matt Costa en producer Alex Newport (Death Cab For Cutie, City And Colour, At The Drive-In) pakken ook dit keer flink uit met een rijk ingekleurd geluid, wat overigens niet betekent dat Matt Costa zijn songs niet klein en ingetogen kan houden. Het zijn echter alle fraaie tierelantijntjes die de muziek van Matt Costa extra aangenaam maken.
Luister naar Yellow Coat van Matt Costa en je hoort een singer-songwriter die zijn klassiekers kent, maar die zelf ook overloopt van talent. Ik koester zoals gezegd alle albums van Matt Costa, maar de Amerikaanse muzikant doet er op Yellow Coat op alle fronten nog een schepje bovenop en verrast niet alleen met een prachtig vol geluid en tijdloze songs, maar ook met een uitstekende stem, die de songs op Yellow Coat voorziet van een eigen geluid.
Yellow Coat haalt het beste uit een heleboel decennia popmuziek en verpakt dit alles in popliedjes die je na één keer horen niet meer wilt vergeten en die steeds maar weer blijven verbazen door de torenhoge kwaliteit. Omdat Yellow Coat ook nog eens vol groeibriljanten staat, zou het me niet verbazen als ook dit album weer opduikt in mijn jaarlijstje, maar het zou me ook niet verbazen als veel meer muziekliefhebbers smelten voor dit uitstekende album vol tijdloze popmuziek.
Erwin Zijleman
Je kunt Yellow Coat hier luisteren en bestellen:


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

zaterdag 21 november 2020

No Harm Done. Josephine Foster

In my opinion it is fair to state that Josephine Foster's voice has the same impact as her male colleagues Neil Young and Bob Dylan have on many women. "If only this beautiful song was sung by someone else", my girlfriend regularly bemoans while hearing one of Dylan's classics (that I can't help but play regularly). From her female colleagues only Victoria Williams springs to mind, with one difference, I can't listen to her voice for more than a few seconds, so have no clue about the quality of her music.

On No Harm Done Josephine Foster musical snuggles close to country music, with a role for a pedal steel guitar, played by Matthew Schneider, in setting the tone for the album. The rhythm is laid down by the acoustic guitars that are slowly strummed but lay the foundation over which a minimum of frivolities are played. Two pedal steel guitars, each mixed to one side, a second guitar playing a few extra notes, an organ. That is about what makes up No Harm Done. Over it all hovers the voice of Josephine Foster, working hard to remain within the boundaries of the composition. The Arcadian picture presented in the cover art, certainly is reflected in the mood of this album.

It is in these little surprises that the album lights up at the right moments. Take the organ that escapes the mix at the end of 'Old Saw', the seven minutes plus song that ends No Harm Done. While the pedal steel keeps my one ear busy, the organ jumps up over the second pedal steel guitar in the other. It is in these delicate moments that I know why I like the album.

Promo photo
Promo photo
The album starts with a clear acoustic guitar intro. 'Freemason Drag' brings memories of circa 1970 British folk but also of a singer like Gillian Welch. Ms. Foster's voice flutters over the melody, a honky tonk piano plays a lazy solo over this 100% humid, warm summer's day song. All is so laidback and without a rush. It is simply too hard not to like Freemason Drag.

With the second song, 'The Wheel Of Fortune', country enters the album in the form of the pedal steel guitar. The lazy mood remains. The absence of percussion, I am in doubt whether I hear an incidental bass guitar note or the bass string of the acoustic guitar, gives the sound its openness. The mix as a whole is wide, creating an impression of spaciousness that adds to the atmosphere of No Harm Done.

To finalise, no I can't listen to all albums of Josephine Foster. In combination with the setting and songs on No Harm Done it works a miracle. No Harm Done is a beautiful album for those moments when listening to music is all one has to do.


You can listen to and order No Harm Done here:

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

vrijdag 20 november 2020

Foothills. The Bats

The Bats are around for close to 40 years and released its 10th album last week. The previous one from 2017, 'The Deep Set', was the first to find its way to the pages of WoNoBlog. The Flying Nun newsletter is a great source when you want to know what is being released in the furthest inhabitable Down Under, for us living in close proximity to the original Zeeland. Several records have found their into my home that way. Foothills is the most recent.

It is not because Foothills so extremely exhilarating. Far from even. It has everything to do with the pop feel in the medium tempoed indie rock of The Bats and the interactions in the harmonies between Robert Scott and Kaye Woodward. A slowly ageing voice and a clear female voice that interact in a beautiful way. And yes, there's some REM in the music, as I can imagine Michael Stipe and Mike Mills singing a song like 'As You Were' together.

There are days that listening to good and honest songs is enough and listening to Foothills delivers that experience. In 'Smaller Pieces' a mandolin joins the sound, while a high sounding organ hovers in the back of the mix, both giving the song this little extra and changing the sound of the album in a minimal way, resulting in more depth and warmth.

The more I listen to Foothills the more I notice the details on and arrangements of the album. The Bats have made sure that different sounds and instruments find their way into the different songs. Resulting in a nice variation in the sound. It makes Foothills an album of subtle differences as the songs and tempo of the songs are not extremely varied. The album is fairly one-sided in that sense. The voice of Robert Scott does not assist here, as it is clearly, and I do not have another word for it, reaches the end of its career.

Because of the variation in sounds and instruments Foothills becomes the album very much worthwhile to hear. The high lead guitar in the opening song 'Trade In Silence', the already mentioned mandolin, the dark keyboard sound towards the end of the album, the up tempo rhythm of single 'Warwick', are just some examples of what The Bats is capable of in making a song interesting to listen to.

So, Foothills may not be an exciting album, it more than convinces me. Two listening sessions were enough to convince me to purchase the album and listened with ever more joy since. I'm casting you off, reader, as it is time for you to click on that link beneath this piece of writing and go and listen yourself.


You can listen to and buy Foothills here:

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

donderdag 19 november 2020

X Singles

Like we wrote a few days ago, the singles keep coming in in droves. To make sure we keep up at least a little here's another bunch. From the extremely melancholy, to country tinged and synth pop, to psyched up rock and roll. It's all there for you. Click on the link below and let's go:

Lost With You. Patrick Watson

Also Patrick Watson started writing new songs after his European tour was stopped last March. Like so many other artists stopped in their tracks due to a pandemic, he found himself in lockdown at home. With Lost With You he returns to his most dreamy side. The Unbearable Lightness Of Being, that beautiful movie, springs to mind listening to Lost with You. The title is surprising. I had typed "Lost Without You" without thinking. It turns out to be the opposite. The song is a piano song with atmospherics behind it. The atmosphere spells dreams and loss all in one. The combination Watson excels in. At his best it is a combination I can listen to all day. Like I can with Lost With You, as Patrick Watson excels here alright. It took me several spins before his last album 'Wave' agreed with me. (I had bought the LP anyway.) From the moment it did, there was no holding back. Lost With You only took one listening session. It is a great, beautiful song. There are simply no other words for it.

The Lion & The Lamb. Ashleigh Flynn and the Riveters

The Lion & The Lamb starts like a The Rolling Stones song from 'Tattoo You' and then turns into a soul song from the 60s with a modern sound. Ashleigh Flynn sings slow with a fairly deep voice with only warm instruments around her. The organ draws the ear immediately, so it is surprising the solo is filled by two guitars outdoing each other. They drop away immediately to be replaced by a piano in the next verse. A harmonica weaves itself into the music here and there. No, there's nothing original about The Lion & The Lamb as you can read, but warm and nice it is.

Fan Age. Smut

Chicago by way of Cincinnati band Smut signed with Bayonet Records and releases a new maxi single called 'Power Fantasy' next week. Fan Age is the first song on the single sent out before the troops to herald its coming. The song is the kind of oh so pleasant alternative rock song. Female fronted the band sports the light sounding vocals over the loud guitars and rhythm section. Creating light and dark in one way. By also creating strong dynamics in the song, so there's even more light and dark. The innocence the singer can lay into her voice, contrast with the distorted guitars further on in the song. The light becomes super bright and the dark really dark. The result is a great song. Fan Age makes me so curious to hear more. One week to go today.

Pet Cemetery / Hotel Celebrity. The Paranoyds

Halloween songs? Movies, yes, but songs, no. This genre is totally new to me. Not so strange as Halloween is a feast that has no tradition in The Netherlands. Only the last few years people are starting to put hollowed out pumpkins in their front gardens. With Saint Maarten on 11 November trick-or-treating twice in two weeks is not really an options for kids as well.

The Paranoyds go deep, deep psych on Pet Cemetery, the lead single of the double a side. The pounding rhythm is adorned with a warm organ and heavily phased and distorted guitars, while the female singer keeps asking to be buried, alive I suppose. If ZZ en de Maskers had these tools available when recording their big hit 'Dracula' in the mid 60s it would have sounding more like Pet Cemetery than 'Dracula' sounds like now. Perhaps with one caveat: 'Dracula' was a bit of a joke, standing out like a sore thumb in the rest of the band's repertoire. Pet Cemetery is meant as a joke as well of course. It deserves to be an alternative novelty hit for sure.

I only know two The Paranoyds songs. 'Hotel Celebrity' is the second one. This song is far less psych and more alternative rock with a mild punky edge. "Oh", yeah, there we are" I hear before the music starts, as if the band finds itself totally by surprise in a recording studio in a totally bored mood. What happens next totally belies the bored talking. 'Hotel Celebrities' is a song so much alive. A bouncing rhythm, an old Farfisa organ, singers that can hardly contain themselves and bounce in and out of the lyrics, hurtling over each other as it were. And then there's that heavenly chorus. 'Hotel Celebrities' is a song of great fun. If this is The Paranoyds' standard of making music, please heap more on me, and soon!

U.S. Mail. Kevin Morby

U.S. Mail is a song that has an old-fashioned sounding rhythm machine, a keyboard and a mail, ehh, male voice. My first thought is that it is heavenly influenced by John Lennon, solo, in his most bare songs like 'Working Man's Hero' or 'Jealous Guy'. Morby has an enormous pleasant voice to listen to I notice. I don't mind listening to the story about the wished-for letter in the U.S. Mail unfold, with some surprising twists at that. The music doesn't take a role of its own for a moment, until the end when the warm carpet the synth rolls out does become more prominent. (While writing someone in a back garden is using an electric saw or something like it, providing U.S. Mail with a spontaneous and unwitting The Jesus & Mary Chain mix.) Concluding, yes, this song is interesting, but a whole album like this may be a bit much.

Crying. Still Corners

Crying is the kind of dreamy song that takes its listeners off to far away places. The mix of electronic sounds in combination with a slow piano and a fiercely strummed acoustic guitar makes the kind of hybrid song that can make it appealing to many different music fans. 80s synthpop music fans can find their way here, because elements of OMD are abundant, dreampop, slow pop and singing in a French sigh girl style, it's all caught within Crying. While the singer is trying to forget a past lover, the band around her provides her with that melancholy mood that comes with sadness. The song catches that sore feeling of being hurt for the first time by a lover that has gone away or wronged, but also has a serene innocence within it, of hope that things will turn out alright anyway any moment. Bittersweet Crying is.

Don't You Know Who I Am. Reb Fountain

And back to New Zealand, where Flying Nun Records and shop keeps alerting me to music being released there. Reb Fountain is another new name for me that popped up on the label's news letter. There's only one word for the experience of my introduction to Reb Fountain's single Don't You Know Who I Am: sensational. This is a song that is all song, no embellishments just song. Reb Fountain's voice that slowly sneaks into my brain, like Aldous Harding did with her latest album last year. Conquering me slowly but surely. Don't You Know Who I Am is song so elementary. Except for a few repeated notes on an electric guitar, there's nothing extra. It is all about the seductive voice of Reb Fountain, that makes an immense impression on me. Her self-titled album has already been released in July. If it's as good as this single, I know what my next purchase is going to be.

Everything I've Ever Wanted. Lizzy

Lizzy's singles have come by regularly over the past year. With Everything I've Ever Wanted she explores another side of her talent. The modern pop style has been left behind for a serious ballad. The mood is dark, the surroundings to her voice electronic. Harmonies that envelop her voice like shrouds hiding a ghost or three. In a way Everything I've Ever Wanted is an exercise in restraint, as it is so easy to imagine the song exploding in a jubilant way. It does not and that is what gives it the mysteriousness and the obvious inner strength it has. Lizzy's song remains interesting for the whole ride. It doesn't need production tricks to convince. It does that all by the strength of the composition itself. With this single Lizzy has shown an extremely interesting, new side to her career, making it more interesting to follow by the single.

Shot In The Dark. AC/DC

Shot In The Dark starts like a The Rolling Stones single from 40 years ago. The 'Start Me Up' kind of rocker that has become the blueprint of that band's rock songs for decades to come. Shot In The Dark is nothing really special, but so much fun to listen to. It rocks and has that groove. Brian Johnson 's tarred over voice does exactly what it should here, without over doing it. Subtle, yet omnipresent. Yes, subtle, because the band does not have to exert itself to get the groove going. You can hear that in the solo as well. No flashy stuff, just good and decent playing. Angus Young only has to do what he's good at, playing lead guitar, nothing else. The result is a song I like to listen to, which is not a natural conclusion between me and AC/DC. AC/DC after years of silence returns with a good and decent rock song, celebrating life, after losing founding member Malcolm Young.

Sweet Talk. Madisyn Whajne

Madisyn Whajne has a special story to tell, about the misplaced (moral) superiority of white immigrants, often fuelled by religious superiority, over indigenous people. She was taken from her parents to be raised somewhere else. Of course there's no possibly objective, measurable telling whether the Canadian singer-songwriter was better off, because the beginning of her story is cruel beyond measurement, no matter how noble the intention were. Her parents were never given the possibility to do things right.

Fact is, Madisyn Whajne is about to release her first album 'Save Our Hearts' and the single 'Sweet Talk' runs ahead to announce its coming. It is a song sung by a woman with a light voice, gliding over the indie pop song. Light guitars play the rhythm over drums playing the skins and not cymbals, providing the open sound of the whole song. The innocent of girl pop of the 80s and 90s like The Go-Go's and The Bangles is there in Sweet Talk with traces all the way to today with indie pop female fronted bands of the past two decades. As such Madisyn Whajne fits in nicely in a nice tradition with a pleasant song that does not rock the boat in any major way.

As I wrote, there's no telling what would have happened had the world been different. There is solace in the thought that with Sweet Talk she has put her mark on music.


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


woensdag 18 november 2020

The New OK. Drive-By Truckers

Een nieuw album van de Amerikaanse band Drive-By Truckers stond nog lang niet op de agenda, maar de band moest toch wat in coronatijd en het levert nog een prachtalbum op ook.

Drive-By Truckers uit Athens, Georgia levert al een kleine twintig jaar alleen maar uitstekende albums af en heeft inmiddels een fraai stapeltje op haar naam staan. Op een nieuw album hadden we normaal gesproken nog wel even moeten wachten, maar dankzij de corona pandemie is er The New OK. Het is een album met materiaal dat deels stamt uit de sessies van het geweldige The Unraveling, dat maar net acht maanden oud is, maar de band nam tijdens de lockdown ook een aantal nieuwe songs op. En zoals we inmiddels van Drive-By Truckers gewend zijn is ook dit album weer heel goed. Wat een fantastische band is dit toch.

De Amerikaanse band Drive-By Truckers debuteerde in de tweede helft van de jaren 90 nog weinig opvallend, maar sinds het imponerende dubbelalbum Southern Rock Opera uit 2001 levert de band uit Athens, Georgia, het ene na het andere geweldige album af. Zelfs het vertrek van de zeer getalenteerde Jason Isbell deerde de band niet, want de albums van Drive-By Truckers zijn er sinds zijn vertrek zeker niet slechter op geworden. 

Drive-By Truckers etaleerde op het genoemde Southern Rock Opera nog vooral de liefde voor de Southern rock uit het diepe zuiden van de Verenigde Staten, maar de afgelopen twee decennia is het geluid van de band steeds veelzijdiger geworden en zijn de teksten van Drive-By Truckers bovendien een stuk maatschappijkritischer dan in het verleden. 

Drive-By Truckers bracht in de eerste maand van 2020 (wat lijkt dat lang geleden overigens) het buitengewoon fraaie The Unraveling uit en dat is een album dat zeker op de groslijst voor mijn jaarlijstje staat. De Amerikaanse band begon vervolgens aan een tour die ruim een jaar had moeten duren, maar begin maart gooide de corona pandemie roet in het eten en zaten de leden van de band weer thuis. Met de handen in het haar als we voorman Patterson Hood moeten geloven, want de leden van Drive-By Truckers leven voor de muziek. Toen de tour was geannuleerd zat er dan ook maar één ding op: opnieuw de studio in. 

De band had nog wat restmateriaal van The Unraveling liggen en dacht in eerste instantie aan een EP, maar deze week verscheen, bijna uit het niets, een gloednieuw album van Drive-By Truckers, The New OK. The New OK bevat een aantal songs die in 2018 in de Memphis’ Sun Studios werden opgenomen tijdens de sessies voor The Unraveling, maar bevat ook een aantal songs die in coronatijd werden geschreven en opgenomen. Omdat The New OK flink wat restmateriaal bevat van The Unraveling sessies is het verleidelijk om te spreken van een tussendoortje, maar daar is het nieuwe album van Drive-By Truckers echt veel te goed voor. 

Net als de vorige albums van de band uit Athens, Georgia, is het een album dat wel raad weet met een verscheidenheid aan invloeden uit de Amerikaanse rootsmuziek, inclusief de Southern Rock. Het album bevat een aantal stevige rocksongs, maar ook songs die wat soulvoller of bluesy klinken of tegen countryrock aanleunen. 

Het staat allemaal weer als een huis en zeker het gitaarwerk op het album is fantastisch en omdat de band beschikt over meerdere uitstekende zangers is The New OK ook in vocaal opzicht een veelzijdig album. Het spat allemaal uit de speakers, maar ook in tekstueel opzicht is The New OK een interessant album. 

Drive-By Truckers heeft de afgelopen vier jaar met grote regelmaat een somber beeld geschetst van de Verenigde Staten in het Trump tijdwerk en dat doet het ook weer op The New OK, waarop onder andere het politiegeweld aan de kaak wordt gesteld. Veel donkere wolken dus op The New OK, maar hier en daar gloort hoop op een betere toekomst, die zich hopelijk over precies een maand aandient. 

Ik was eerder dit jaar zeer gecharmeerd van The Unraveling, dat ik schaar onder de allerbeste albums van 2020. Of The New OK net zo goed is zal de tijd moeten leren, maar na het album een paar keer te hebben beluisterd is mijn oordeel al zeer positief. Drive-By Truckers had ongetwijfeld het liefst het hele jaar op het podium gestaan, maar ook het noodgedwongen verblijf in de studio levert iets heel moois op.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt The New OK hier luisteren en kopen:

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

dinsdag 17 november 2020

Tunng Presents ... Dead Club. Tunng

Where the mood is concerned this album is aptly titled. Dead Club? The cover art is rather hilarious for a club of Death. Musically the album is not extremely exhilarating. Also, it reminds me of a band I've heard before but can't get my head around. It is in the singing as well as the music. At least in the first song. It took me a while but found it: Elbow.

The spoken word in the opening song, 'Eating The Dead' gives rise to pause. What is death? Whether it is truly "nothing to us", is up for discussion I'd say. Death is all about the grief one feels having lost loved ones and the missing of them. One's own death is another matter. I will not go into that, as this review is about Tunng's album and not death as such. The lyrics and spoken word do return to, if not are all about the topic, so thinking about death does become unavoidable while listening repeatedly to Tunng Presents ... Dead Club.

Reading the Bandcamp page of the album, I find that the album is a part of a concept including a podcast (listen here: and the spoken word contributions of Max Porter. It centres on the different ways death is dealt with in different part of the world, the eating for example in the title of the first song, cleaning up after death in Sweden, but also the struggle how to deal with death in the modern world getting more and more devoid of religion is touched upon. To learn how to deal with it in a new context.

I can't possibly write that musically a lot happens on the album. For that it is to downcast and elementary. Tunng creates a mood on the album that at best can be called mildly uplifting, at best. Of course this fits in rather well with the topic of choice. Within that concept a lot happens that is extremely interesting to listen to. Dead Club is musically extremely strong and varied in a constrained way. Like the constraint a virtuous organ player in church knows and within that is able to find every extra note that shows his virtuosity.

I write this because several of the songs on Dead Club can be interpreted as church songs for the non-believers. Within these songs there's room for beautiful notes, "a box of old dildo's", strange percussive sounds, an extra instrument or two playing a nice extra melody. In these modest ways the songs get substance and body. The reason to return to them in the future, the odd topic notwithstanding.

With Dead Club Tunng has created an old-fashioned concept album, around the topic of death and dying. Not an everyday topic in music and a topic avoided as much as possible in every day life. Looking at it from another angle: death is the only certainty every living being is meted out when born. Where other creatures may not have the intelligence to contemplate dying, humans have been given the ability to live as if there is no death lying ahead of us. That quality is not going to be changed by this album. Death is the moment between being and not being. Only on Discworld, Terry Pratchett's master creation, souls have this brief moment of surprise, anger or wonder, at the other side.

With Tunng Presents ... Dead Club, the band presents a beautiful album that is extremely worthwhile getting to know and to get to know better too. A lot happens, despite or perhaps because it is so serious. Nothing has been left to chance to make this project a success.


You can listen to and order Tunng Presents ... Dead Club here:


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

maandag 16 november 2020

10 Singles

More singles reach us than we can ever manage to review. What's new for a blog? Below we have made a selection on the basis of first come, first serve, with one caveat. If we really don't like it, we don't write. Why should we? An artist recorded a song with everything he or she has. After that it's a matter of taste. Click on the link below if you like to follow the sequence while reading. Once again we present a very diverse set of music.

Used To Think. Casper Clausen

Used To Think is a single from Casper Clausen's, also from Efterklang, upcoming album 'Better Way', to be released early in January. The song is an extremely erratic affair. Electronic sounds pulsate into my ears. Used To Think has traces of e.g. 'Pretty Paracetamol', one of Fischer-Z's first singles. The whole time I'm waiting for the song to start, until I notice that the electronics is not the intro to a traditional song. Except for some electronically altered words, this song is instrumental.

That is until the mood changes fully. The heavy electronics subside to make place for a more bare musical landscape. This may last circa another minute, but by then I'm not surprised Casper Clausen starts singing. No it does fit the music better. The melody does underscore the rigidity of the opening sequence. Except for some weird electronic sounds, there is not much room for frivolity or an exuberant chorus, making Used To Think more experience than joy to listen to, the full 8.39 minutes long.

Soul Of America. Jason Mandell

Jason Mandell takes his listeners on a roadtrip through the United States of America in search of its soul. Does the "ai, ai, ai" Mandell sings in between indicate that he hasn't found the soul or got scared of what he found? Soul of America is a song slowly built to a climax, getting busier and louder. Totally traditional in the way it is constructed as many singer-songwriter has done before. All verses with a variation on the line "searching for the soul of America" as the last line, so no traditional chorus. The ending is an indication that he wound up his search in the baptist south as the song has a distinct gospel ending. Soul Of America is nothing special as such, the story it tells and the way it is slowly built up makes it a gratifying experience to listen to. I leave it you to discern whether Mandell found the soul. The baptist church reference would be a too easy explanation I'm afraid.

Furrows. I Am Oak

I Am Oak has found a place on this blog many times. A new album is announced, 'Odd Seeds', on which Thijs Kuijken re-interprets songs from his career up to now. As we are all bound to our homes, mostly, we find things to do. Some artists write new music to release, others work on their older work and play around with it. In Furrows I Am Oak is scraped bare to the bone. Kuijken's electric piano and voice is heard enveloped by a whole host of atmosphere that comes with the recording. What it shows is that the song holds on to its power. The result is an almost sacred experience. Furrows is a church song for the non-religious (and a beautiful one for the religious). In his semi-quarantine this spring Kuijken managed to create something so soothing and full of atmosphere that it becomes balm for the soul in our second (semi-)lockdown.

Mute City. Price

Mute City in a way is good for its title. This is a song that leaves away more than it could ever have added to the song. Three guitarist play intricate notes with at best parts of chords. Each one sounding clearer than the other. The percussion is a cymbal and a floor tom. One voice, slightly distorted, sings the vocal melody. Of course all this is far from mute but a far cry from traditional alternative rock, where Price, all told, will find its place under. The Groningen based band sets itself apart from many others in Mute City at least. I can't judge yet on the upcoming album 'Timesaver', to be released later this month. Mute City intrigues but I also find myself longing for a release, that does not come. That leaves the question about listening with joy to a whole Price album wide open.

When We Go Out. Slow Worries

This month Subroutine Records exist for 15 years and we celebrate this fact with a congratulations in the form of reviewing two new singles in one go. Slow Worries' When We Go Out is another energetic alternative rock song released by the label. One of the kind filled with positive energy and bluster. The members all play or have played in other bands, Apneu, Bombay and Blue Crime and finally found the time to record its first length album, 'Careful Climb', as Slow Worries. Also to be released on 27 November. A busy day for alternative music loving The Netherlands and beyond. Listening to When We Go Out this release will be something to be looking out for. The song ties a few qualities together that make listening to this music so enjoyable. A great melody, little edges in the music that surprise, up tempo, inviting to dance to and supplier of energy. What more could I wish for in the slowly darkening days of November? Not much, but attending a live show of Slow Worries without covid-19 hassles would be one. Why? Because I promise you there's a lot more coming from where When We Go Out is coming from.

Dry Fantasy. Mogwai

Does releasing singles make sense for a band like Mogwai, specialising in instrumental rock songs? A good question but not if the goal is to score huge hits. As announcements to what is to come later, it will definitely do. Let me first focus on the artwork of Dry Fantasy. This is a piece of art worthy of being in a museum for modern art. The crocodile skull / head floats beautifully against the backdrop of a cave entrance and all the colour blodges on and surrounding it. The music just floats and floats around a central theme. It isn't minimal music but certainly comes close, as only slowly but surely more notes are added, while the rest of the band rises to more prominence slowly as well. Beautiful Dry Fantasy is but worthwhile to listen to often? Knowing my love for singing, my inclination is to answer no, but who knows. Beauty is beauty after all.

Losers. Balthazar

With Baltazar's members releasing solo projects all over the place in recent years, it is always a questions whether the members return to the mothership (as motivated as they once were). Except for one album Balthazar has passed me by mostly. So to place Losers really in perspective of the whole, is something I can't do. What I can do is share what I hear. And that is a band restraining itself. It presents the mellowest kind of disco possible, where the harmonies are not afraid to do a Bee Gees or Foxy. Voices race to the highest spheres. It is the music that restrains itself. "We are losers on the verge of song" reflects this line. Losers is not a happy song nor energetic. It misses the eclecticism of e.g. A Brand, while fishing in the same pond. It is the contrast between the downcast lead singing and the resonating high voices that give Losers its interesting edge.

I Put A Spell On You. The Kills

It has been quiet around The Kills for quite some time. Singer Alison Mosshart was found all other place but not in The Kills. That 2020 sees a release of covers and b-sides and other oddities left behind could be the start towards new activity but also spelling the end. Time will tell. I Put A Spell On You has been a hit several times. Screaming Jay Hawkins' hit from 1956 found its final version when Creedence Clearwater Revival turned it inside out on its first LP from 1968, to become a hit after the band split in 1972. In The Netherlands even its biggest hit ever. The Kills stick to the original far more but puts the song through the loud blender it uses to construct its own songs as well. Guitarist Jamie Hince puts his own to the song, mining for the weirdest kind of sounds to come out of his guitar and stomp boxes. All sort of stuff pops up aside of the staccato rhythm. The rawness of the singing gives the song a fitting final  touch. It fits Alison Mossheart like a glove. I Put A Spell On You has become her song too.

Leaving. Brigid O'Neill

A serious song by a serious singer about an extremely serious topic. Leaving is about leaving for the last time. A song that is all about the lyrics, the music and melody are all subservient to the story that needs to be told. A woman's extremely personal story, whose hands are shaking trying to be invisible, a woman who can finally escape her man, now that her children are grown. The kind of story the whole world tries to avoid from hearing. The reality that can live behind any front door, the door where private lives take place. Brigid O'Neill has this story to tell and tells it with serenity and dignity. A song so serious it could become hard to listen to, had it not been made with so much obvious love for the music, no matter how subservient to the story.

Waterbomb. Marta Arpini

Marta Arpini is a totally new name to me and so is her song Waterbomb of course. What the song did, was bring me back circa 40 years and listening to songs by Mo, Kewi University of Swing and Fay Lovski for the first time. The kind of light synthpop songs with an alternative twist. Marta Arpini manages to have that same light touch in this song. The touch between seriousness and fun. The second touch to the song is like a magic wand spraying stardust over it all. A dreamy quality lifting the song up and up. The third touch is about capturing the phase between growing up and having become grown up in a perfect way. I find myself being totally captured by Waterbomb. A song to dream away with and to absorb fully. "Is there really something I don't know about you?". Undoubtedly, but who cares when a song is so good?


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