donderdag 18 april 2019

Eraserland. Strand of Oaks

And here's part 3 of a series of short reviews published on this day.

Strand of Oaks is no stranger to these pages. Since 2012 its albums have come by and always in a favourable way. With Eraserland for the first time I had the idea that I had heard this music before. Not in a literal sense of course. Timothy Showalter has produced ten new songs. Yet somehow I can not really find myself in them. At the same time I am not convinced yet that I will not find my way here in the end, if I give the album a few more chances. Something I will do as I liked Strand of Oaks in the past.

Is there a concrete reason for my hesitation? Yes, it lies in the bombast of the two opening songs. There's no room left to discover or find anything in there. 'Weird Ways' and 'Hyperspace Blues' are like a steamroller rolling over me at full speed and unlike Kevin Kline's character in 'A Fish Called Wanda' there's no recovery for me it seems. The same effect The War on Drugs mostly has on me: too much of a good thing. The steam does come off with 'Keys', but that song somehow sounds too familiar. Hence I stopped sort of listening, having (granted, voluntarily wanting) to listen to so many new albums. Hence this short piece. As some people have written this to be a masterpiece, I am going to come back to Eraserland over the time. Should things chance between us, I'll let you know.


You can buy Eraserland here:

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

Change Of Pace. Andy Frasco & The U.N.

This February one of the most eclectic albums of the past years was released. So eclectic that in the end I lost my way somewhat with the record. Not since Blind Willie's 'Everyday Is Judgement Day' have I heard an album where a band so enthusiastically jumps up and down all sorts of (sub-)genres. Andy Frasco & the U.N. do just that. The Jewish element of Blind Willie is missing in this music but for the rest everything seems to go.

Just listen to the gospel style of the title song that opens the album. A serious beginning before the song explodes in a full sound to return to the seriousness, only to move once again into a full out ending with exalted singing and all.

That mix of sternness and joy comes through perfectly in the cover of the album. The leather tomes of the encyclopedias mixed with the guitars. Listening to the jazzy intro of the second song 'Don't Let It Fool Ya' I can only wonder what will happen next. Again a full blown chorus follows, filled with horns and a warm organ. This is the joy of music. No, it is not the best I've ever heard in this genre, but the enthusiasm easily wins me over to continue into the record.

Believe me Andy Frasco & the U.N. will keep surprising you after you decided to follow the band further into the record. I personally have to be in the mood to do so. Once I am there's nothing left to complain about.


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

V. Budos Band

Something new on WoNoBlog. Today a few short messages will be shared about albums that did not make it into a full length review, but deserve some words.

The second album this year named V on WoNoBlog. After the Norwegian psychprog rockers Spidergawd it is time for Budos Band. The band exists for 20 years and with V releases its first album in five years; not surprisingly its fifth. Fully instrumental with a lot of brass, full-sounding drums and classic rock guitars. Due to the lack of singing it is incomparable to Chicago Transit Authority and Blood, Sweat and Tears who both had a great singer or like Chicago singers. But without any overdue pressing that are the bands I would mention as references. Budos Band has that exact same power in it, with a hint at jazz because of the horn arrangements, and rock because of the solid rock foundation. Because the horns are the lead instruments all comparisons stop there. Also because Budos Band shows some restraint in the arrangements, where Chicago TA in some instances completely dived of a cliff, nose first. It makes Budos Band its own powerful self. Something quite different from what can normally be found on these pages, but fans of Dutch instrumental bands Gallowstreet and Jungle By Night ought to find something of their liking here as should fans of the late 60 and early 70s jazz rockers mentioned above.


You can buy V here:

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

woensdag 17 april 2019

Here's The 101 On How To Disappear. Dakota

At a showcase show celebrating the graduation of guitarist Jasmine van der Waals from the Amsterdam Conservatory before the summer of 2018 Dakota impressed yours truly with the music and songs played. A short conversation with bass player Lana Kooper learned that an album was in the making and planned for the winter. The album is there, unfortunately Dakota is, perhaps forever, on hold due to mental problems of singer Lisa Brammer. What is left, at least for now, is the music. It is only released digitally and that is such a shame.

Having seen the band live without knowing anything about them, I noticed that the band and the singer seemed different entities. Something that stood out somehow. At the time I did not give further notice to it. The whole impression was simply too good. Three great musicians and beautiful singing. Dakota impressed on stage as a whole.

Fast forward to Here's The 101 On How To Disappear. Within a few minutes it is clear to me that Dakota falls into line with Warpaint, the all lady U.S. band and specifically its lightest of songs 'Love Is To Die'. When all is said and done the only song of Warpaint that really, truly matters. The fact that Dakota brings this song to mind, regularly, is a bellwether for the album.

It does not stay that good in general. I will get back to that later. First let's focus on the strong points of the album. The opening songs find a fine balance between alternative rock and pop. The effects on the guitar give the sound the impression of rain being swept through a wind-blown street. A sheet of rain. The light voice of Brammer mixes extremely well with Jasmine van der Waals' sheet of guitar sounds. The chorus is light in sound and lifts the album up. 'Four Leave Clover', 'Sorry', 'Quick Fix' all have this mix and are extremely pleasant to listen to.

From these three songs it is clear that Dakota was ready for the international competition of Warpaint and some other bands reviewed on this blog in the past years that have come and gone. "Dreaming of other skies", to quote T.H. White, is what some of the songs sound like. I am not included in the dream, they're not meant for me. Only to listen at from a great distance. Which is totally o.k. and a privilege at that. Without coming close so much musically nor voice, Lana del Rey does come to mind in some songs. The indirect directness as heard on 'Ultraviolence' can be heard on this album in abundance.

Unfortunately just like all these bands Dakota does not keep my attention for 13 songs. For that the atmosphere is too one-sided and as soon as one of the songs does not make the grade of the opening set, my mind wanders off. What remains is a unique mood that lies over Here's The 101 On How To Disappear. Here Dakota does not falter nor waver. The rhythm section of Lara Kooper and Annemarie van den Born always has the foundation. Where the music is in need of a deep end, they take care of it. It is Van der Waals who sets the mood with her guitar playing and effects. Over it all Lisa Brammer only has to lay down her soft sounding voice to top a song off.

By the time all has been said an done and the album listened to repeatedly, Dakota comes out winning. The good to great songs win out easily to the few that do less so. With the inventive playing that is found in each and every song with on top the oh so nice voice of Brammer it is easy to succumb to Dakota.

Whatever happens next for Dakota is up somewhere in the stars, not for us to see. My well meant advice is to look for a solution, even if it is drastic. Life presents only a few chances and what you have here is simply too good to totally let go. So go for that temporary substitute, let the world hear what you can do and take it from there.


You can buy Here's The 101 On How To Disappear here:

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

dinsdag 16 april 2019

John Paul Keith and the One Four Fives live, Q-Bus Leiden. Friday 12 April 2019

Photo: Wo.
Older and greyer we've become in the five years John Paul Keith did not release a new record or played in the Q-Bus, that small but oh so sympathetic venue in Leiden. With fond memories of a great rock and roll show I went there once again for an evening full of good time music, played by three fantastic musicians.

The One Four Fives is a transient ensemble. This year bass player Matthew Wilson and drummer Donny Banks make up the band. Both sang some fantastic harmonies as well. At the front of the show is guitar player extraordinaire and singer John Paul Keith. His music is 100% nostalgic. He writes originals, but all based on specific kinds of music from the rock and roll era and U.S. pop of the pre-The Beatles boom. So one minute the roof threatens to collapse while three minutes later the protective layer of all my teeth threatens to explode due to the sugarcoated Pat Boone version of rock and roll that comes by.

Photo: Wo.
What amazes me, is the ease with which the trio plays all the different sub-genres of rock and roll and even pure country by way of a song written for a side project of Keith called Motel Mirrors. The guitar sound goes from a soft stroke, to a country twang to a rock growl. All comes by when appropriate.

Several songs invite singing along to, even at first listen. On stage there simply is not a bad song among them. Even the sugarcoating of 'Miracle Drug' is perfectly alright, making me want to sing 'Love Letters In The Sand' or 'Bernadine'. In the mix of songs presented to us in a high tempo it is simply a beautiful point of rest, before the next rock song is unleashed. Listening to how the songs are built up, looking at fingers fly on the frets, seeing all the different techniques of playing all is added to the overall joy of being present at a show that celebrates the joy of playing rock and roll music.

Photo: Wo.
To top it off a strong rock cover of 'Lucille' was played, while the show ended with a authentic cover of Roy Orbison's 'Pretty Woman', a song I loved playing and even more singing the harmony part with my previous band. These two versions of songs show the extremes where John Paul Keith finds his inspiration and recreates a world that is no longer to be found except on record and some tapes from tv show of the 50s and early 60s. Ricky Nelson, Roy Orbison, Pat Boone, Johnny Cash, Peggy Lee, Little Richard, even Ten Years After, etc., etc., all have found a place in the music of John Paul Keith. Artists that for the most part are not among us any more.

What finally needs mentioning is that John Paul Keith has made the guitar styles of all those guitar players behind the singers of the 1956 - 1964 era his own and then some because of the modern technique that is at his disposal. A small click with his boot gives us another subtle or stark sonic effect. Within a song up to four styles in soloing can come by. Basically leaving me in awe of his technique. There are really only two styles of the youth music at the time he does not venture into, Chuck Berry style rock and roll and electric blues. The rest is more than covered by this fantastic live artist. A splendid time was guaranteed for all at the Q-Bus.


You can buy John Paul Keith's music here:

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