woensdag 12 mei 2021

10 Singles, week 19

Not seldom an act makes its debut on this blog in the weekly singles post, but an artist who has scored many, many hits, even number 1 hits, over multiple years? No, I can't remember that happening before. The honour goes to Pink. For the rest you will find some huge contrasts as well. Long songs moving towards 10 minutes and short songs clocking in around and under two minutes. Rock, punk, singer-songwriter, folk, what not. All within the ten songs we present this week.



Burst Through The Borders. Caulbearers

I have no clue what Caulbeares means, except that I imagine in my mind's eye black-faced men, sweat streaming down their faces, revealing a little of their true skin colour, while hauling coal deep in the pit, dust everywhere, including their longs. Burst Through The Borders musically has not one single connection to coalminers. The eight and a half minute long song is as long as it is beautiful. Notes meander around the central theme of the song, the soft rhythm played as tough as possible for a ballad. Then I hear the first sentence: "Deep in the earth". I hadn't noticed that before, being enraptured by the soft piano notes, the guitar theme, the cello playing over bass and drums. It isn't easy to keep such a long song interesting, especially when there are no epic movements going on. Everything is subtle and graceful. Until the very last second I'm listening enraptured to Burst Through The Borders. What a song. The opening sentence laying a link to my original thoughts quite nicely.


Cover Me In Sunshine. Pink + Willow Sage Hart

And so Pink makes her debut on this blog together with her daughter. I've been hearing this song for a couple of weeks on the radio and found that it is already a couple of months old, being played more and more it seems. It got under my skin and I'm singing along with mother and daughter. The song has a hip hop feel because of the stop/start of  the music and the slow rhythm. At the same time it's a delicate guitar ballad that is campfire material, if youths still do such a thing and not stare together-separate at screens. The delicate fingerpicking on the guitar accompanies the extremely pleasant vocal melody. Once in, it will never go out again. The voice of Willow Sage Hart gives the song an extra layer of innocence, adding to the attraction. All together the song is a bridge between the 60s and the 20s. Also a moment that I am faced with the passing of time. The to be 60s are closer than the old one that moulded me musically. Perhaps Willow Sage then is an older singer still releasing records. Who can tell? Most likely I will not be around to tell you about it. But what a beautiful little song Cover Me In Sunshine is.

Sea Of Thieves. Nightspell

Does perfect pop come in a rock guise? Of course it can and Nightspell released its first single to underscore the point made. Starting off with a Buddy Holly muted guitar sound, the singer gives her soft-voiced best before the band fully kicks in. The members of Nightspell have all made their miles in totally unknown, local bands. To me that is. Thanks to Lou Mansdorf of Rum Bar Records I got on Justine Couvault's Red on Red Records' mailing list. And now one after the other fantastic pop single is dropped in my digital mailbox. Sea Of Thieves is only 2 minutes and 21 seconds long and every second holds the essence of pop-rock heaven. There simply aren't other words for it. The drums-bass-guitar does all that has to be done, the solo is as elementary as exactly right. The vocal harmonies of Seana Carmody and Joyce Raskin are the icing on the great cake Nightspell serves. I can't think of a more perfect introduction for a new band than Sea Of Thieves. It's a killer of a first single.

Better Better. Devil Love

Just when I was thinking whether Red On Red Records releases female singers exclusively, enter Devil Love with Better Better. A song Weezer is looking for since 'Hashpipe', I'd say. Not that good but awfully close. Better Better has that bittersweet taste that makes me fall for the song with ease. There aren't many hindrances to liking it. The band rocks but in such a way that it's almost like I'm not listening to a rock song but to a pop song instead. But don't be fooled. The drums are pounding, the bass lays down the foundation so the guitars can rock out. It is the the softer-voiced singing that applies for pop admittance; and is turned down. Too much noise behind you mate! What are you thinking? The combination works a miracle to me.

Visions. José Gonzalez

How long ago is 'Veneer', that rather unexpected hit by José Gonzales? It must be in the 00s, as my then neighbour was a fan of the album it was on. I can't remember ever to have heard other music by the Swedish bard. His last album is six years old I just read. Visions is a subdued song, with a high The Beatles level in it. An acoustic guitar drives the song together (Gonzales sings the word while I'm typing it) with the multi-tracked vocals, showcasing the different layers in his voice. There's a bass and some handclapping as well and a soft droning instrument behind it all. The accompanying birdsong comes from the outside through my opened windows. It is all served up as ultimate relaxation. Musically in line with a thousand other singer-songwriters, Vision sets itself apart in the beautifully layered singing. Visions is a treat to listen to.

Counter Attack. Driftwood

Wasn't this a .NoWordsNeeded recently? Yes, it was, but I'm a man of words. Counter Attack is a kind of song that was popular in the 70s. I remember a song like 'Friend Of Mine' by Fields or the Hammond organ of Steve Winwood. The way of singing is different. This is not a real singer. This man talks himself through his lyrics. The drumming (Joey Waronker) is a late 80s invention, think The Stone Roses. The soft interlude is almost 1950s Frank Sinatra, before all hell breaks loose. Had this been the continuation of a Sinatra song, the fright of his fans would have been a sight to see! Counter Attack is a song that brings together 70 years of popular music in a way that is not easy to imagine for the average music fan. The trio De Bock, Janssens and Vanneste has and created the kind of song that is great to listen to but of the kind where hearing is believing.

Long Black Electric Cadillac. John Hiatt and the Jerry Douglas Band

All pretensions are laid by the wayside. John Hiatt accompanied by the Jerry Douglas Band play an mid-tempo country blues with a modern text on electric Cadillacs. So what I hear is what I get. Hiatt's ever gruffier voice accompanied by nice little solo lines played on an electric guitar, a lap played guitar and a violin, each taking turns. With a faint memory of JJ Cale in there, not more is needed to create a song that is simply extremely nice to listen to. Sometimes more words do not add to the picture. You should have it by now.

The Reflection Pool. delving

Some people know Nick DiSalvio from the band Elder, others from the duo Gold & Silver. I know him through emails of the Stickman Records label. Now I also know him through the release of a solo single under the moniker delving. The pandemic gave him the time to work on ideas that had been lying around for years, leading to this 9 and a half minute song, The Reflection Pool. It announces an album, 'Hirschbrunnen', to be released later this month. The Reflection Song is a long instrumental, divided into a few sections. On the whole there's a mysterious mood in the song, reflected by the long held, swooshing sounds on keyboards and, I think, long-delayed, looped guitar sounds, slowly building towards a climax. The combination of electronics and electrically amplified instruments, not to mention the huge drumming in some parts, lead to an overwhelming experience where subtlety and force combat for the spotlight; both win in the end. This solo record is not a half-baked work in times of Covid but a fully mature product keeping me tied to my chair for the full 9.30 minutes.

Big Wow. Ernest Moon

From 9.30 to 1.58. Rock and roll Jake Bugg style, when Jake still rocked and decades of earlier rockers before him of course. Liverpool duo Ernest Moon rocks on with a punky cool while in the background the female background choir exudes total innocence. The combination works rather well. Big Wow is all about direct impressions and nothing to do with making complex introductions. Sigh twice and the song is over already. Tough guitar playing, a tight bass and nice drumming by Jake Woodward. All in this single is necessarily present, except for the girls singing in the background. Steven Doran and Brian Murphy do not need any extras in their music besides a little intelligently applied dynamics. The three second guitar solo, Brian Setzer style is the only extravagance allowed here. 1.58 minutes is enough to tell it all. Rock and Roll in 2021? Very much alive, sir.

Heavy Metal Kids. Watts

With the kind of Keith-Ronnie riff The Stones are incapable of producing themselves for over 16 years this year, Heavy Metal Kids sets the standard for listening in the first seconds. Watts' introduction to its upcoming new album later this week does not beat around the bush. Solid rock all the way. From the solid riffing at the start, to the pop element in the refrain, tradition is dealt out in a nice, respectful and sure-fire way. Watts is not afraid to show where its coming from nor to show where it wants to go. In this case its to honour that late 70s riffing rock The Stones led the world into with its 'Some Girls' album working towards the ultimate riffing in this style in 1981's 'Start Me Up'. Heavy Metal Kids were a punk band around 1977 but listening to 'Delirious' as well, there's no real link between band and song. Nor is there with metal. All that trivia aside, Heavy Metal Kids is a great song, making me want to hear more, soon!

Wout de Natris

 

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

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

dinsdag 11 mei 2021

The Reds, Pinks And Purples. Uncommon Weather

Op Uncommon Weather herhaalt The Reds, Pinks And Purples het kunstje van de net een half jaar oude voorganger en betovert het met bitterzoete popliedjes die herinneren aan veel moois uit de jaren 80.

Het vorige album van The Reds, Pinks And Purples ontdekte ik net wat te laat voor mijn jaarlijstje, maar Uncommon Weather schrijf ik alvast op voor het lijstje van dit jaar. De band van de Amerikaanse muzikant Glenn Donaldson grossiert ook dit keer in de bitterzoete popliedjes zoals die in de jaren 80 zoveel werden gemaakt. De gitaren zorgen voor de zonnestralen, terwijl de synths en de zang het album voorzien van melancholie. Het is de muziek waar ik in de jaren 80 maar geen genoeg van kon krijgen, maar het derde album van The Reds, Pinks And Purples doet zeker niet onder voor alles dat ik al heb. Een album om je eindeloos mee op te sluiten.

Nog geen half jaar geleden maakte ik voor het eerst kennis met de muziek van The Reds, Pinks And Purples. You Might Be Happy Someday, het tweede album van de band rond of feitelijk het alter ego van de Amerikaanse muzikant Glenn Donaldson, verscheen in de herfst van 2020 en krijgt deze week al een opvolger. 

Uncommon Weather is gestoken in een hoes die erg lijkt op die van het vorige album van The Reds, Pinks And Purples en ook in muzikaal opzicht is het gelukkig een feest van herkenning. Glenn Donaldson opereert vanuit San Francisco, maar net als You Might Be Happy Someday klinkt ook Uncommon Weather wat mij betreft toch vooral Brits. 

Ik werd volwassen in de jaren 80 en koester warme herinneringen aan het decennium in het algemeen en de muziek uit de jaren 80 in het bijzonder. Laat Uncommon Weather uit de speakers komen en de gloriejaren van een lange lijst Britse bands uit de jaren 80 en vooruit ook de jaren 90 trekt aan je voorbij. 

Ik noemde vorig jaar The La’s, The Smiths, Pulp, Aztec Camera, The Lotus Eaters en Lloyd Cole & The Commotions als vergelijkingsmateriaal. Het is een lijst namen die ik met gemak twee of drie keer zo lang kan maken, maar aan de andere kant doe je de muziek van The Reds, Pinks And Purples met geen enkele naam volledig recht. De naam van China Crisis wil ik nog wel genoemd hebben, want daarmee heb ik misschien nog wel de meeste associaties. 

Glenn Donaldson heeft een omgevallen platenkast met veel van mijn favorieten uit de jaren 80 door elkaar gehusseld en heeft ook dit keer een serie songs geproduceerd die me direct mee terugnemen naar andere tijden. 

Ook op Uncommon Weather slaagt Glenn Donaldson er in om een typisch jaren 80 geluid dat bestaat uit gelijke delen melancholie en zonnestralen te reproduceren maar ook te vernieuwen, bijvoorbeeld door er toch wat lo-fi elementen aan toe te voegen, wat een verademing is vergeleken met het vaak wat overgeproduceerde en galmende jaren 80 geluid. 

Het is een geluid dat niet alleen bestaat uit zowel zonnestralen als melancholie, maar het is ook een geluid waarin zowel gitaren als keyboards de hoofdrol spelen. Zeker de gitaarloopjes op het album zijn volstrekt onweerstaanbaar en zorgen bovendien voor de meeste zonnestralen op het album. Het contrasteert prachtig met de wat weemoedig klinkende synths op het album en met de zang waarin melancholie eveneens een belangrijk bestanddeel is. 

Uncommon Weather is een album dat in de jaren 80 absoluut was uitgegroeid tot een van mijn favoriete albums van het decennium, maar ook vier decennia later kan ik het derde album van The Reds, Pinks And Purples met geen mogelijkheid weerstaan. 

De dertien bitterzoete songs op het album zijn allemaal even leuk, waardoor de 35 minuten voorbij vliegen. Dat was niet anders bij het vorig jaar verschenen You Might Be Happy Someday en dat album werd eigenlijk alleen maar leuker en onweerstaanbaarder. Het is vooralsnog niet anders met Uncommon Weather dat minstens net zo goed is of misschien zelfs wel beter. 

Na een paar noten ben je terug in de voor je gevoel zorgeloze jaren 80 (die verre van zorgeloos waren natuurlijk) en is het bijzonder lekker wegdromen bij de heerlijke muziek van The Reds, Pinks And Purples. Wereldplaat. 

Erwin Zijleman 

Je kunt The Reds, Pinks And Purples hier luisteren en bestellen:

https://theredspinksandpurples.bandcamp.com/album/uncommon-weather


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

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

 

maandag 10 mei 2021

Day By Day. White Flowers

The most modern music I've ever heard was in an episode of the original 'Star Trek' series where a party was organised for the whole crew with drinks, music and dancing. The composer no doubt was asked to come up with the weirdest sounds he could come up with, while still being able to dance to. The, undoubtedly male, composer had to think a few hundred years ahead and imagine music then.

Why are you writing this, you may ask? Well because the dreamy, futuristic music of White Flowers reminded me of that 'Star Trek' episode. Not that White Flowers makes music that is totally beyond the place where no man has boldly gone before, no, because it is almost transcendent and that is what that 'Start Trek' music, in my memory, was as well.

Single 'Daylight' had already found its way to this blog and created some expectations that are filled in to the dot on Day By Day. The duo from Preston in Lancashire, Joey Cobb and Katie Drew, after a stint in London returned to their place of birth to make Day By Day. Together with producer Jez Williams (ex-The Doves) they recorded the songs they took years to write and hone.

The album is dreamy from the very start. The music is other worldly, as if it reaches us from another dimension. Despite there being a hint of Goldfrapp's first album in here, at best this influence can be seen as a starting point to bounce off from, hard. That brings me in Charlotte Gainsbourg territory. Because of the voice of Katie Drew things change once again as Drew's voice has an even dreamier quality than the music has, but also is far more mature in sound than Gainsbourg. This fact brings White Flowers into its own territory. The choices it makes in the music are, however subtle, more radical. Like the ripples in a pond caused by the proverbial stone.

Promo photo
An example of the more radical solutions are the long-sounding, heavily delayed guitar swoops that underscore some of the songs, giving them a psychedelic edge but also a rocking injection. A recklessness in tranquil, dreamlike state. Sometimes in the form of a short eruption, others as the ground pattern mixed deeper into the song. It results in surprises that at first may even be missed if the dreaminess is what the listener focuses on primarily. Day By Day is an album that can surprise its listeners in several ways. Especially to the superficial listener, so I can imagine, it could appear to be super boring, who is not paying attention to what is really on offer.

Summing up, is Day By Day totally original? No, it is not, but the combination of dreamy, futuristic rhythms and sounds with many things that come from the past, makes for interesting and pleasant listening. With the option to fascinate and grow deeper.

Wout de Natris

You can listen to and order Day By Day here:

https://whiteflowersssss.bandcamp.com/album/day-by-day


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

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

zondag 9 mei 2021

King Hannah and '68

Today another duo of albums, by duos as well, that fell off the huge pile of albums that amass over the weeks, but are worthwhile to visit or so I've found out recently. So here comes a somewhat shorter review but, so I hope, no less interesting.


Tell Me Your Mind And I'll Tell You Mine. King Hannah

King Hannah, the Liverpudlian duo Hannah Merrick and Craig Whittle, debuted on this blog recently with a cover of a Bruce Springsteen song, it released as a single. The song impressed me, the definitely no Springsteen fan, so much that it made me look back, to find that I had totally overlooked this mini album, released in the fall of 2020. Amends are made today.

On this mind-telling album King Hannah presents a moody and brooding mix of music, reminding me instantly of Canadian alt-Americana rockers Elliot Brood. Over this mood the voice of Hannah Merrick, a mix of darkness and this little rasp on her vocal chords, gives an extra edge to the brooding mood already present in abundance. It result in songs that easily become addictive. I can listen to the six songs on Tell Me Your Mind And I'll Tell You Mine again and again without ever thinking 'what am I doing'?

King Hannah may be a duo, when going on stage Merrick and Whittle will need a few more musicians to reproduce its songs. When all hell breaks loose, the songs are layered with a stack of guitars, bass, drums and what not. That is a bridge King Hannah has to cross once we are allowed again to go to gigs. There's absolutely no sign of anything resembling here it in the near future. Patience is a virtue.

In the meantime I can certainly live with the alternative, this album. A kind of debut album that is a promise for the future as there must be a lot more in that well where these songs were found.


Give One Take One. '68

Another duo that nearly got away, but had also been present in the weekly singles section of this blog. '68, a duo from Atlanta, Georgia, plays rock and roll as The White Stripes presented to the world in the early 00s. (Nearly everyone missed everything before the third album, right?)

So what I'm hearing is heavy guitar riffing with heavily distorted guitars all backed up by extremely tight, loud, busy drumming. The music is mixed in such a way that the whole sonic range of my speakers is filled. A wall of sound reaches me from the recording studio through MP3s translated into soundwaves. Despite all that, I have a very hard time sitting still while writing. A huge smile on my face accompanies my listening the fantastic 'Bad Bite'. Melody, noise, riffs, screams and shouts, handclaps, it all falls together into a brilliant song.

Together singer-guitarist Josh Scogin and drummer Nikko Yamada cook up a storm on the band's third album. Give One Take One is the kind of album that does not relent. Every note is designed to make a maximum impression on the listener and does, I find. If a band ever made a modern version of 1960s garage rock like The Kingsmen or The Sonics it's '68. The band makes music these pioneers of garage rock could not even imagine while at the same time making music that is so much better in all ways. Compositions, playing, mastery of instruments, audacity, recording options. So, of course, every one follows in someone's footsteps, that does not necessarily makes the new better. In this case, I'm willing to make an exception for 'Louie Louie' in The Kingsmen's version, it is certainly true.

Give One Take On is best called a musical storm. It only lies down at the end of the last song. Leaving the listener behind exhausted, depleted, yet wanting more, another rush, now!. In short, the better kind of album.

Wout de Natris

You can listen to and order King Hannah here:

https://kinghannah.bandcamp.com/album/tell-me-your-mind-and-ill-tell-you-mine


and '68 here:

https://theyare68.bandcamp.com/album/give-one-take-one


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

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

zaterdag 8 mei 2021

Open Door Policy. The Hold Steady

De Amerikaanse band The Hold Steady blijft zich maar ontwikkelen en komt nu op de proppen met een groots en meeslepend rockalbum, waarop alleen maar geweldige songs staan.

De eerste albums van The Hold Steady waren uitstekend, al lagen de invloeden van Springsteen’s E-Street Band er hier en daar wel wat dik op. The Hold Steady is sindsdien alleen maar gegroeid en laat nog wat extra groei horen op het deze week verschenen Open Door Policy. Het is een album vol energieke en gepassioneerde rocksongs en het zijn bovendien rocksongs die staan als een huis. Open Door Policy is een album vol muzikaal en vocaal vuurwerk en een album vol songs waar de urgentie van af spat. Na een paar keer horen durf ik al wel te beweren dat dit tot dusver het beste album is van de band uit Brooklyn en dat zegt wat. Indrukwekkend.

De Amerikaanse band The Hold Steady oogstte een jaar of vijftien geleden veel lof met de albums Separation Sunday en Boys And Girls in America, waarop de band uit Brooklyn, New York, flink wat indruk maakte met een groots geluid, dat associaties opriep met het geluid van Springsteen’s E-Street Band in goede vorm. Het was een welkom geluid in een periode waarin diezelfde E-Street Band op een laag pitje stond, waardoor beide albums konden rekenen op uitstekende recensies. 

The Hold Steady is zich sindsdien blijven ontwikkelen en is uitgegroeid tot een van de betere rockbands van het moment, al is de populariteit van de band helaas wat achter gebleven, zeker gezien het zeer hoge niveau van de laatste paar albums. Zo maakte de band in 2019 met Thrashing Thru The Passion wat mij betreft haar beste album tot dusver en dat dit geen toevalstreffer was, bewijst de band deze week met Open Door Policy. 

Het achtste studioalbum van de Amerikaanse band uit New York pakt direct in de openingstrack stevig uit met een song die precies laat horen wat The Hold Steady in huis heeft. The Feelers klinkt nog grootser en meeslepender dan de muziek waar de band vijftien jaar geleden mee opdook en zet direct de toon voor de rest van het album. 

Hier en daar hoor je nog wel wat invloeden uit de hoogtijdagen van de E-Street Band, maar The Hold Steady heeft inmiddels ook een duidelijk eigen geluid. Het is knap hoe de band uit Brooklyn direct in de openingstrack al een paar keer van kleur verschiet en een stuk of vier memorabele rocksongs in één track propt. 

In muzikaal opzicht staat het als een huis, waarbij opvalt dat de muziek van The Hold Steady niet alleen onweerstaanbaar lekker, maar ook spannend klinkt. Verder slaagt de band er in om lekker bombastische muziek te maken, die niet pompeus klinkt en steeds weer grossiert in geweldig gitaar- en pianospel. Het blijft bij The Hold Steady gelukkig altijd rock ’n roll en dat siert de band. 

Het eigen geluid van de The Hold Steady wordt deels bepaald door het heerlijk volle geluid op het album, maar de vaak half gesproken zang van Craig Finn is minstens even belangrijk. De voorman van de band is de afgelopen vijftien jaar alleen maar beter gaan zingen en spuugt zijn teksten met veel gevoel en urgentie uit. In tekstueel opzicht heeft hij ook nog het een en ander te melden, wat Open Door Policy nog wat interessanter maakt. 

Het achtste studioalbum van The Hold Steady is een fantastische rockplaat vol muzikaal vuurwerk, maar de songs van de band zijn niet alleen aanstekelijk, maar zitten ook nog eens zo knap in elkaar dat je nieuwe dingen blijft horen op dit album. De prachtige productie van Josh Kaufman is de kers op de taart. 

Na de eerste albums werd de muziek van de band uit Brooklyn wel enigszins voorspelbaar en was het ook een tijdje stil rond The Hold Steady, maar op het twee jaar geleden verschenen Thrashing Thru The Passion brandde het heilige vuur weer als vanouds en dat heilige vuur brand nog wat krachtiger en intenser op Open Door Policy, dat makkelijk kan uitgroeien tot het beste album tot dusver van de Amerikaanse band. 

Het blijft een beetje wonderlijk dat The Hold Steady nog niet door iedereen wordt gerekend tot de grootste rockbands van het moment, maar gezien de kwaliteit van het geweldige Open Door Policy kan dit alleen maar een kwestie van tijd zijn.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt Open Door Policy hier luisteren en bestellen:

https://theholdsteady.bandcamp.com/album/open-door-policy

 

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

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