woensdag 23 december 2020

11 Singles

What, no ten singles this week? No, because I wanted that final one to be a part of this week's selection. It is too special to keep it on the shelf for much longer. Again, there's a presentation of unknown, very famous, obscure and better known acts. All deserve to be heard, that is for certain. Hopefully this collection entices you to take a listening peak at these artists. If you click on the link below, you can follow each little review while you read. I'm sure you will get back to discover more soon.


Heart Of The City / Tonight. The Hi-End

Heart Of The City kicks off with the drummer pounding away. One thing is clear, whatever happens next, this is going to be an up tempo rocker. And it is. The Hi-End presents a song that could have been made anywhere in 1977-78. That U.S. mix of punk and rock and roll, tight and short, loud chords. And not to forget that pop vibe in the vocal melody as this song is one to sing along to.

The other A-side is a little louder. The attack to the song is fiercer. More Iggy Pop than Blondie let alone The Cars in other words. Now Iggy had a single called 'Tonight', later a #1 hit for David Bowie and Tina Turner. This has nothing to do with that 'Tonight', but everything with Iggy's musical style. A neater 'Some Weird Sin', to name a title. The Hi-End presents a punk song like I have come to like them. Dry, tight and melodic. Keep rocking, baby! This double a-side single ought to be a big hit. I don't care, fake news the 1978 chart in retrospect. Who's to notice?

All You're Dreaming Of. Liam Gallagher

All of a sudden there's a new Liam Gallagher single. The John Lennon connotations are all over the piano intro. Candles on the mantlepiece, a fire in the hearth. The tempo extremely low. The Christmas bells are missing but the festive season isn't far off in All You're Dreaming Of. I can't help it, but I'm having a hard time seeing Liam in this setting. He may be closing in on his 50th birthday, but hey, this is Liam Ffing Gallagher. What do I have to make of this piano ballad and Liam crooning away? It may well be All You're Dreaming Of is a beautiful song, but I have heard enough of this kind of ballads to last me a life time. A simple matter of the wrong singer in (perhaps) the right song.

7 Seconds. Porridge Radio

Yes, a new song by my favourite new band of 2020. Porridge Radio is still contending for album of the year. I haven't made up my mind yet. 7 Seconds is a song with some more pop feel. It starts so much more relaxed. The more the song progresses, the more I get the impression that I'm listening to a Fischer Z song from circa 1980. Immediately I like the song. I don't need more than half a song to realise that. The dynamics with the distorted guitar kicking in over the 80s synth sound that carries the rest of the song is a great mix. Alphaville meets Fischer Z, something like that. The singing is again fantastic. I simply love the harmonies of this band. It is all about the way the dynamics within this song are exploited. Perhaps so obvious in a way, but executed immaculately. Everything is in its right place, rocking me, caressing me, loving me, pushing me away, bringing me back like a puppet on a string. 7 Seconds is a beautiful song.

Blue Cherry. Magic Wands

There's two versions of this song. One on You Tube, lasting two minutes and one released as a single from the album 'Illuminate' on December 4. I will let you figure out the significant differences yourself and focus on the 2020 version. We are in psychedelic territory accompanied by a dreamy sounding female voice. She's far off or high or just in the right mood. The music is mostly coming from machines, keyboards and an electric guitar. The L.A. based duo, Chris and Dexy Valentine, presents itself as being far removed from reality, with hints of a late 70s band like Tubeway Army to go. Blue Cherry is a song floating on thin air, repeating a riff on the keyboard over and over, that could bring my mind a certain cadence, easily leading to a state of meditation; had I not been reviewing and writing of course. Don't expect anything to happen really, just go with Magic Wands' flow.

You'll Have To Scream Louder. Tindersticks

Circa 20 years ago I had colleagues who were crazy about Tindersticks. They provided me with a few copies, but I never heard anything in the band. We simply did not make a connection of any kind. That had a lot to do with the voice of Stuart A. Staples, but also the music. So that was it between Tindersticks and I. Come 2020 and a single is presented to me and I decide to take a listen. Hold your horses, but I am listening to You'll Have To Scream Louder. It is a light-hearted song for Tindersticks. The guitar, playing two chords over and over, gives the song a light touch, the electronic percussion a fun element. Staples' voice is unrecognisable for me. Gone is that dark crooning voice. Listening to the song with a dispassionate ear, it is easy to conclude that there is a certain lack of imagination. Five minutes may seem like a long time for such a simple song with a lyric that is repeated over and over. It It is the details that give the quality away. Listen to them and notice the passion that rises slowly but surely. That is the fun in You'll Have To Scream Louder.

Type Of A Girl. Indonesian Junk

Indonesian Junk is a band from Milwaukee in the U.S. with a love for music that has long ago stopped being fashionable. Most bands playing it have ceased to be a long time ago. So it's about time other bands carry the flame until that point in time the fashion pendulum swings back once again. Type Of A Girl is a short, 3 minute, rock song with a descending chord progression leading up to a tough sounding chorus allowing for singing along. Musically Indonesian Junk reminds me more of U.K. post punk acts like Elvis Costello, Joe Jackson and Graham Parker, with The Clash harmonies than the U.S. acts of the same period. Tough but with a smiling heart in the middle as the melody is taken care of. The toughness has a little silver lining allowing to reflect the sunlight. In other words quite nice rock and roll.

Fool Alone. ViVii

ViVii returns to the singles post with its new single Fool Alone. You will notice when I smile that all the enamel on my teeth has cracked and crumbled. Fool Alone is a tremendously sugary affair. The kind of ballad that has not a single sting to it. In fact, the song could have been a Christmas song, about being alone after a heartbreak. And yet, after having had a few listening sessions, the song does convince. The kind of guilty pleasure ABBA sometimes was in the 70s. The dreamy atmosphere, the clear sound, an acoustic guitar (12 string?) high in the mix. Over it the male and female singer of ViVii do their soft-sounding thing. The result is a single that easily can be called beautiful. Fool Alone plays the right strings and can crawl behind preconceptions accompanying sugary ballads. Once there, it can't be helped, "I'm in to deep ... I lose control" and Fool Alone captured me.

Losing Control. The Stream

Do coincidences exist? Apparently not, because the next single that was presented to me, was the latest of The Stream's re-releases celebrating the band's 10th birthday, called Losing Control. A party that fell almost totally through because what happened in 2020. There's no need to repeat that here.

Losing Control was on the album that introduced me to The Stream. After running into Jan Stroomer at a show in Gebr. De Nobel in Leiden, he sent me the album early in 2015. Since then you have found the band regularly on this blog. With Losing Control The Stream presents a song that is a perfect blend between Paul McCartney, Supertramp and Billy Joel. A kind of pop song that deserves being heard. It is soft, delicate, with an edge. The singing is absolutely fantastic. The three ladies in the background know what they are doing alright. This is top of the bill. The song itself is a kind of mini pop-opera. It has a few different parts that change the mood along the way, resulting in a true listening experience. The Stream is a band that deserves to become known a lot better than it is. And when that finally happens, I can state that they played in my living room once. Losing Control is a fantastic song, so please listen to it.

Dusty. Beebe Gallini

Ms. Georgia Peach sings in another band than Dawn of the Deaf. Beebe Gallini is more of a garage rock band. The sound is like it was recorded in someone's dad's garage a long time ago. The sound is murky as if recorded through one microphone on a Saturday afternoon when dad was away with the car to work and the neighbourhood was terrorised by the local band learning themselves to play.

Don't get me wrong. The members of Beebe Gallini can rock alright. Just listen how those drums are being pounded. There's so much drive here, so much power. The guitar and bass play the hooks and riffs and Ms. Georgia Peach can deliver her lyrics with her rough voice, almost as if she's singing over the music without a microphone. And Dusty? He/she is going out tonight, dancing to Beebe Gallini playing in a local bar somewhere, in wild abandon.

Last Goodbye. Shane Alexander and Justine Bennett

The guitar notes Shane Alexander plays in the intro of this song, do not give away much on what is to come. The first two notes he sings made me feel the loss following that tragic drowning in the spring of 1997 immediately. Last Goodbye, the duet with Justine Bennett, is Jeff Buckley's 'Last Goodbye', a song from the only album he released in life and the only album we would have heard had he not drowned, from all that was released posthumously. With the angelic position Buckley has attained since his premature demise, covering one of this songs is close to sacrilege.

However, if anyone should cover him, Shane Alexander would be high on my list. Because of his voice, which is a pure gift to humankind as well. Together with Justine Bennett Alexander makes the song enough his own, to make the cover ersion a special song by itself. The harmonies work really, really well. Listening to their version a few times, once beyond the first verse, it becomes like a new song. The mysterious "undergrowth" of sounds on the background is a tip of the hat to Gary Lucas, the violins are a touch of Shane Alexander. This version of Last Goodbye is like a cover ought to be: tribute and self in one.

Trans-Dimensional Palm Tree. Aura Blaze

On the brink of 2021 Aura Blaze shares a final song in 2020 with the world. It may well be that words can never truly capture what is going on in the 7"30 minutes Trans-Dimensional Palm Tree lasts. Rhode Rachel plays and sings it all. It is a psychedelic (prog)alternative rock song that soars through the dimensions of the universe, including little hiccups where dimensions and snares distort reality for a few seconds. A lot happens, making for adventurous listening. At the same the song has a pop feel in the vocal melody, allowing for some modest community singing if we'd ever get that chance. Around it the music is one big experiment in sounds, without ever losing control over the overall song for a second, except in those hiccups where reality has turned into an alternative reality for a short while. Trans-Dimensional Palm Tree gets a great, all over the place finale as well, giving the song epic proportions. Hearing is believing.


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