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.

Wo.

You can buy Eraserland here:

https://strandofoaks.bandcamp.com/album/eraserland


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

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.

Wo.

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

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

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.

Wo.

You can buy V here:

https://thebudosband.bandcamp.com/album/the-budos-band-v


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

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.

Wo.

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

https://musicdakotamusic.bandcamp.com/album/heres-the-101-on-how-to-disappear


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

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.

Wo.

You can buy John Paul Keith's music here:

https://johnpaulkeith.bandcamp.com/


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

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

maandag 15 april 2019

Todd Rundgren live. Saturday, 6 April Eventim Apollo London

Photo, Mark
Over the past months Gary and Mark were looking forward to seeing Todd Rundgren play live in London. This is no surprise for those who remember the conversation on Rundgren on these pages. Read on here: http://wonomagazine.blogspot.com/2017/02/a-wizard-true-star-todd-rundgren-meat.html. Here are their views on the show, with a little build up towards it. 

Gary, 8-12:
You may be interested in these dates?

TODD RUNDGREN
“THE INDIVIDUALIST TOUR”

April 1 Theater am Mareintor Duisburg, Germany
April 2 Laeiszhalle Hamburg, Germany
April 3 Paradiso Amsterdam, Netherlands
April 6 Eventim Apollo London, UK
May 22 Sumida Triphony Hall Tokyo, Japan
May 23 NHK Hall Osaka, Japan


Mark, 8-12:
Are you getting a ticket for the London concert on April 6th? These concerts sound like an unmissable, intimate "This is me and what I did - but also me signing off" type concert. My suggestion would be he starts with the Last Ride from Todd, switches gear to All the Children Sing, settles down at the piano for a couple of songs off Runt and Ballad, followed by the soul medley off Wizzard, then does his cover of Strawberry Fields, and encores first with Just One Victory and finally - poignantly - Fade Away off Hermit. That would be a magical evening - a testimony to a unique talent, "a true star."



So I'm thinking about getting a ticket and if you are as well maybe we could get together for a Toddtastic time.....and (gasp) that will be one week after I will have retired from the civil service - yes! I have finally pressed the exit button. It may be overshadowed somewhat by jingoistic triumphalism, economic collapse and the break up of the Kingdom.... but on the other hand you could say I've timed it quite neatly really.



Looking further ahead into the year Russell Laverick (remember him from DTI days?) and I have shelled out for "golden circle" tickets for Dylan and Neil Young in Hyde Park on 12 July. I think at £170 it is the most I've ever paid for a concert ticket but we thought we'd rather be up close to the stage rather than watch peering over 70,000 heads at a dirty great big screen.  Dylan and NY are "co-headlining" so the expectation is that they will be onstage together for a finale of staggering, perhaps historic, proportions. Just hope it will not be a Hard Rain during the day.  Lots of other acts yet to be announced.



"It's the last ride

My little game is over....

No use running, take it slower

Horizons east, skylines west

The moon, the sun and all the rest". 

Gary, 30-3:
Looking forward to seeing Todd Rundgren with you next week Mark… I have now got the tickets. I will contact you later on the week and make final arrangements and find a suitable pre-gig restaurant.

Wout, 30-3:
Enjoy Todd Rundgrun and the weekend, gentlemen! 

Mark, 4-4:
I'm looking forward to seeing Todd again on Saturday, Gary, and I'm now listening to the albums I've got which are the song-based albums ending with Hermit of Mink Hollow. I don't have the Utopia extensions into electronic psychedelia which proved to be a dead end in musical direction that cost Todd the musical legacy he truly deserves. In crude terms he could have been  America's superior rival to Elton John, able to master a mix of spine-tingling ballads with his soul-drenched vocals, ingenious heavy rock outings, and catchy stadium anthems.

I've just played Something/Anything which features a song he is quite famous for: Hello It's Me. However, the best track on this double album from 1972 for me is not a song he wrote but Dust in the Wind which was written by Moogy Klingman who was later a Utopia member. Not to be confused with a more famous song with the same title by Kansas which I don't recall actually, it has a  tremendous lyric - a deathbed apology and plea for forgiveness, a spine-tingling soulful melody with a great guitar break by Rick Derringer - and Todd is in superb voice: approaching his peak maybe. Not having heard it for a while I had to play it three times in a row - and I hope he plays it on Saturday as a tribute to Moogy who passed away eight years ago.

There are also some great songs also on his previous album The Ballad of Todd Rundgren which I see from a note I wrote on the inner sleeve, Wout, I bought in Rotterdam in November 1977 when I was working on the production line at De Kuyper's distillery in Schiedam. I probably bought it at a small independent shop called Captain Haddock where I regularly blew a lot of my hard-earned guilders! 

Next up on the turntable is his meisterwerk A Wizard A True Star  - I've got so much more time now to play my records!
Photo, Mark
Gary, 4-4:
Enjoy Mark!

I really liked his work with Utopia which to begin with was really the US’s answer to UK’ prog…. But then became more commercialised due to record company pressure. I would say that TR was never owned by anyone and has always done what he wanted to do… if he didn’t like it he just moved on… he didn’t want to be a hostage to fame or fortune, his music was always the most important thing to him.

Yes Dust in the wind is a great track which O play regularly… and yes I also repeat his tracks whilst I wail along to them making sure no one can hear me!

AWAT is such a great album…. I saw him play the whole album live at Hammersmith ten years ago… I just realised this!!!! Superb performance!

See you on Saturday…. I will book a nearby restaurant… how about for 17:30? 

Gary, 4-4:
Actually I got that wrong the AWAT tour was February 2010… so just over 9 years ago! 

Gary, 6-4:
Thought you may be interested in the Utopia 'Live in Chicago’ reunion live album and video is now being released (12th April). Performed in 2017 some some thirty years since they last played together they reformed for a few months Sadly Roger Powell (keyboards) had to retire due to ill health….
 Watching and listening to the tracks they are still amazing!





TRACKS 

    Utopia Theme

    The Ikon

    Another Life

    Do Ya

    Freedom Fighters

    The Wheel

    Back on the Street

    Something's Coming

    Monument

    Overture Communion with the Sun

    Last of the New Wave Riders

    Road To Utopia

    Play This Game

    Swing to the Right

    Trapped

    Set Me Free

    Love In Action

    Hammer In My Heart

    Princess of the Universe

    I Will Wait

    Rock Love

    Love is the Answer

    One World

    Just One Victory



Watch a short excerpt video to see just how good they still are after all those years! https://youtu.be/2mcuJO9nKPw

Photo, Mark
Gary, 6-4: 
Todd Rundgren last Thursday in Amsterdam! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZ6lZ_Tlu0g
Gary, 6-4:
Sorry.. last Wednesday! 

Wout, 6-4:
Today there was a review in my newspaper. The reviewer obviously was not a real fan. He wrote it was too loud and too ego-centric from Rundgrun, including a lot ado around a book he has published recently.



Enjoy, and looking forward to some words to publish on the blog. 

Mark, 6-4:
Thanks. Hmm but I don't really believe in Utopia - Nirvana, yes
maybe.....but to round off  my Runt collection I'm thinking of getting
the last of that string of solo albums in the 70s and 80s Tortured
Artist which I see was recently remastered and made available on
gatefold vinyl. Not his best perhaps but intriguingly he covers the
Small Faces' Tin Soldier.

Just One Victory will be something to look forward to tonight but It
seems highly unlikely he will play Dust In the Wind: according to the
setlist stats on

 https://www.setlist.fm/stats/todd-rundgren-63d6aaa3.html

has never performed it!  Interesting list - Led Zep's Kashmir?!
Several Beatles songs but not Strawberry Fields it seems which he
faithfully paid tribute to on Faithful.

I saw a programme last night on tv about another hero of mine from the
1970s:  Joe Walsh  - in the Brian Johnson (AC/DC)  on the Road series
if you have seen any of those. They were being driven around Hollywood
in the stretchiest stretch Mercedes limo I've ever seen. Made me want
to listen to Rocky Mountain Way again... He looked ok after being
washed up like a beached whale after The Eagles broke up. Croakily in
his seventies now, doing an Eagles reunion tour.

See you later! 

Gary, 6-4:
 “Too loud”? My god… was this really written by a “Rock Journalist”?🤣

The reason for apparent ‘introspection' is that it is a combined biographical/reflective music tour and book promotion event… I would let the man himself show you what he is capable of! 

Gary, 10-4:
https://www.theguardian.com/music/2019/apr/07/todd-rundgren-review-eventim-apollo-london?CMP=share_btn_link


A Guardian review by Mark Beaumont on Saturday night! 

Mark, 10-4:
Thanks Gary This review kind of reflects my mixed feelings about the concert: enjoyably autobiographical but just this side of egotistical: he did nothing to connect with his loyal British fans or with the fact of his playing in the UK which I thought was surprising given that he was originally  inspired by hearing The Beatles cut through the dross on US radio in the early sixties. The concert could have been anywhere on his tour. 



This month's Record Collector has a fairly interesting interview when amongst other things he plays down his public attack on John Lennon in 1973 following an interview in the Melody Maker - http://trconnection.com/trconn.php/article=lennon.art    
"John Lennon ain't no revolutionary. He's a f------- idiot, man. Shouting about revolution and acting like an a__. All he really wants to do is get attention for himself, and if revolution gets him that attention, he'll get attention through revolution. He's an important figure, sure. But so was Richard Nixon. Nixon was just like another generation's John Lennon. Someone who represented all sorts of ideals, but was out for himself underneath it all." 
 A macabre twist is that Mark Chapman was an obsessive Todd fan apparently. 

Gary, 11-4:
Yes, I can see why you and others see the set structure the way you do, however I think you need to take a step back and look at what TR was trying to describe in what is a finite structure…. I believe that the reason why Rundgren staged the tour was to document musically in direct relation with his autobiography, his music, his life, those that he met and influenced him. But because he didn’t have four or five hours to play with he had to leave out his influences in his live set… That, it seems is left to his book to describe in words and not the music (although he is more than capable of imitating the he admired!). I think that we need to look at this tour holistically, which is what I think he intended, and take the different formatted parts and put them together to tell his story… I regret not buying the signed book now (Mandi, my wife, said I should have!😟) but I intend doing so now so that I can put the too experiences together and seeing if his idea works? I think the best way to look at this is the book is the historical setting in which the jewel of his live rendition of his music is held...



My experience of the gig was that it was more than worthwhile going to see, in fact his, and his band, exceeded my expectations in their breadth of musicianship, style and competence. Musically the band was so tight… showing their musicianship and backing vocals to be at master levels. Todd of course played guitar and sang as though he was a mere slip of a lad, especially when you consider he will be 71 in a few months time!



Rundgren's choice of his works was not only historical/biographical but also an attempt to describe what he is inside… I could see certain pieces telling me in an uncompromising way that he was his own man, doing what he wanted to do even at the expense of his fans… selfish? Maybe, but Rundgren is nothing if not uncompromising and if he feels strongly enough about an idea or a position he is true and honest to himself… it seems to me that this is of ultimate importance to to the man himself?



Rundgren sees himself as a man of principle, an uncompromising perfectionist that demands the highest levels from himself and (seemingly) the same from others… rightly or wrongly he uses this as his drive, maybe at times at the expense of his fans and followers. Rundgren just sees his target and goes for it...



To be fair, it would be impossible for him to please everyone even though I was very happy with the experience I personally had at the gig…. Even I disliked a couple of his works such as the rap/jazz/tour name 'The Individualist’…. But to me this was more than outweighed by 90% of the night… I also had to admit to myself that even with this song it was played as near to perfection as could be! Rundgren has a great sense of humour whilst having pride in what he has produced and also upholding his beliefs and standards…. I can’t criticise him for that no matter if many felt he left so much out?



I pray that I will see him play live yet again, I learned a sad lesson when I missed (what turned out to be) the very last time ELP played together ten years ago, so I will buy a ticket when I get the chance next time. I also hope that he will produce a video of this tour to go with his book? Though I would love to see the reformed Utopia live although I may have to make do with the 2017 video reformation?



I loved that night… Todd and his band's performance was a masterclass of musicianship… plus that night I traveled down long lanes of memories that stretched back well into my youth…. Thank you Todd! 

Wout, 11-4:
Dissenting opinions. It's just like real life. I have never been a fan, as you know. Tod Rundgren simply has passed me by fully. I have found a live album from circa 1980 in my collection recently. A bit of a surprise as I had no recollection owning it. I must probably not even have played it fully, as I had forgotten all about it. One of these days I'll put it on the record player to judge in 2019. 

Wout, 11-4:
I found the answer in the very first mention of Todd coming to Europe by Gary. Did you take any pictures? That would adorn the article, as I cannot put any published pictures in there. The Google police acts within seconds. (It happened once and was threatened with closing down the whole blog. For one picture! It was a legit picture from the record company at that.) 

Gary, 11-4:
As a point of principle I don’t take photos at gigs if you are asked not to…. As a fellow musician I like to see an artist get as much (fair) remuneration as possible although I do understand that even that is usually a very small percentage of what the management/label/venue gets! Doesn’t stop me looking at photos/videos online though😉! 

Photo, Mark
Mark, 12-4:
I have no qualms about fans taking snaps so took a few with my mobile. We were up in the circle so Todd's face registered as a rather indeterminate small white blob but helpfully he had archive photos up on the screen so maybe you think one or two are usable.

There should be 3 concert photos. Plus I attach Gary in front of the venue - the Eventim Apollo in west London and a fragment of my "then and now" archive: my ticket to see him at the same venue -then known more famously as the Hammersmith Odeon - also in the Circle in 1975  - together with last Saturday's ticket. Compare the prices! Back then I was a hard-up scrawny and starry-eyed (in more senses than one) first year student down from the wilds of Wales who had blown most of his taxpayers' grant on concerts and records.

Fab fact: The Beatles played four concerts on that same stage in December 1965 during their last UK tour but alas I wasn't around in London for any of those. They also played there in 1963 and 1964.
Gary, Mark, Wou

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 14 april 2019

Starseeds. Kerri Powers

Kerri Powers was een tijd weg, maar keert terug met een uitstekende plaat vol prachtig gitaarwerk, bluesy uitstapjes en een fraai doorleefde strot.

Kerri Powers ken ik van alweer heel wat jaren geleden, maar verder dan de naam kwam ik eerlijk gezegd niet. De hernieuwde kennismaking met haar muziek bevalt echter uitstekend. Bijgestaan door een geweldige gitarist en een aantal andere muzikanten, slaat Kerri Powers zich op indrukwekkende wijze door een repertoire dat vooral invloeden uit de blues bevat, maar ook uitstapjes maakt richting country en folk. In muzikaal opzicht klinkt het bijzonder lekker, maar het is de rauwe strot van de Amerikaanse singer-songwriter die uiteindelijk de meeste indruk maakt.

Bij de naam Kerri Powers moest ik heel diep graven in het geheugen en in de platenkast, om uiteindelijk bij You, Me And A Redhead uit 2002 uit te komen.

De singer-songwriter uit de Amerikaanse staat Connecticut draait inmiddels al flink wat jaren mee in de muziek en debuteerde als tiener in koffiehuizen in New England, waar ze opgroeide.

Heel productief is Kerri Powers in al die jaren niet geweest. Ze trouwde, kreeg kinderen en had de nodige moeite om haar platen uit te brengen.

Starseeds, haar meest recente plaat, verscheen vorig jaar al in de Verenigde Staten, maar krijgt nu gelukkig ook nog een Nederlandse release. Ook Starseeds kwam er weer niet vanzelf. Een crowdfunding campagne ging vooraf aan de plaat, die uiteindelijk met een beperkt aantal muzikanten werd opgenomen.

Dat is overigens niet te horen, want Starseeds klinkt prachtig. Het is de verdienste van producer Eric Lichter, die heeft gezorgd voor een helder geluid en ook nog eens tekent voor geweldig gitaarspel en een batterij aan andere instrumenten. Een degelijke ritmesectie en een prima pedal steel gitarist maken de band van Kerri Powers compleet.

Ik kon me eerlijk gezegd niet meer herinneren in welke genres Kerri Powers op haar vorige platen opereerde, maar op Starseeds domineren blues en folk. Het is blues waarin het geweldige gitaarwerk van Eric Lichter een belangrijke rol speelt. De Amerikaanse muzikant en producer speelt prachtig slide, maar blijkt op Starseeds van vele markten thuis. Het zorgt voor een gloedvol geluid met af en toe een heerlijk rauwe solo.

Het is een geluid waarin Kerri Powers zich als een vis in het water voelt. De Amerikaanse singer-songwriter imponeert in de songs waarin ze een rauwe blues strot mag opentrekken, maar ook in de wat meer folk-georiënteerde songs of in de songs waarin de pedal steel aanzwelt en invloeden uit de country opduiken, overtuigt Kerri Powers in vocaal opzicht zeer.

Starseeds bevat acht eigen songs en twee covers. Het zijn opvallende covers, want niet veel muzikanten zullen zich wagen aan Polly van Gene Clark of aan Can't Find My Way Home van Blind Faith. Kerri Powers doet het wel en ze houdt zich wat mij betreft staande.

Ik herinnerde me de vorige platen van Kerri Powers zoals gezegd niet, maar Starseeds maakt op mij flink wat indruk. Het gitaarwerk is bijzonder lekker, maar het is de stem van Kerri Powers die de meeste indruk maakt. De Amerikaanse singer-songwriter draait inmiddels een tijdje mee en dat hoor je. Haar stem klinkt rauw en doorleefd en doet hier en daar wel wat aan Lucinda Williams denken; vergelijkingsmateriaal waarmee je thuis kunt komen.

Het is al met al een zeer wijs besluit om Starseeds in Nederland uit te brengen. Kerri Powers kan mee met de beteren in het genre en levert een plaat af die door alle bluesy impulsen weer net wat anders klinkt dan die van veel van haar soortgenoten. Mooie plaat.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt Starseeds hier kopen:

https://kerripowers.bandcamp.com/


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 13 april 2019

Love Is All You Love. Band of Skulls

Yes, a new album by Band of Skulls. Finally. Coincidentally the previous album, 'By Default' entered the home as LP recently, having found it priced in a nice way. It is 2019, we are all 10 years older since the band's first release, I notice somewhat wearily.

Band of Skulls came into my life in 2010 with its first album 'Baby Darling Doll Face Honey', with some of my favourite alternative rock tracks ever on it. Not all albums were as good since but I liked them all, with 'By Default' being my next favourite. So excitement was present in the home of Wo. when the new album was dropped for listening.

And yes, I am fully happy with what I'm hearing, despite drummer Matt Hayward has left the band. Perhaps that accounts for the slightly more poppy, a very heavy variety of poppy, element in the music of Love Is All You Love. Russell Marsden and Emma Richardson continue as a duo. Their alternated singing is in my opinion one of the strong points of the band, as is Richardson's harmonies under the other songs. Yes, I'm a fan of her voice, which is not unlike Blood Red Shoes' Laura-May Carter. The voice of a girl-woman in a rock setting. In both cases it works for me.

Love Is All You Love is an album containing high level pop rock with some more atmospheric outings for balance. It starts out as could be expected. Loud drums, banging hard, a fiery bass and guitars sounding like a fighter jet flying over too low. The first sounds of 'Carnivorous' are a synth though, followed by an eastern guitar melody, while the rhythm section pounds away. The guitar accents at the end of each section are like the burst of a cannon. The opening is dark. Marsden and Richardson are tearing off the meat at the tendons with their canine teeth. There's no light in this song. The whole available space is mixed closed with the drums and bass. A great and promising opening.

The stop/starts of 'That's My Trouble' sounds more familiar as the signature Band of Skulls song. The impact 'Death By Diamonds And Pearls' had, can never be surpassed of course. Again I notice that this pop element has entered the sound of Band of Skulls. As if the band worked just this little harder on the melodies. This is proven by the intro to the title song. It is replaced by a firm (bass) guitar, the chorus obviously returns to the pop of the intro. Marsden's raplike flow singing works really well in 'Love Is All You Love'. It's the kind of song that instantly makes me feel better than before I heard it. A smile on my face is guaranteed. 'Not The Kind Of Nothing' is an open song, containing a great riff as an interlude. The alternate singing really comes through here. So four songs, four times bingo. Love Is All You Love is off to a great start.

Promo photo
The album takes a turn here. 'Cool Your Battles' is a mix of synths and rock guitar. Again I notice that I like the vocal melody a lot. The sound drumming lifts the song in the right places. There's one band coming to mind I had never associated with Band of Skulls before, Muse. Some of the effects in this song simply sound familiar. It works extremely well, so the influence is welcome.

With 'Sound Of You' the album even moves away further away from alternative rock. Emma Richardson leads us into a song that has a piano as a lead instrument. It is atmospheric, yet spurred on by the soft drumming on the bass drum and the snare and the guitar floating on a layer of delay. Yes, this is a Band of Skulls ballad alright. Of course I expect an outburst to come at some time. It doesn't. A synth comes in, the bass plays somewhat more prominently. Almost a lead melody. 'Sound Of You' is a beautiful song.

The band enlisted Richard X (Philips) as producer to find a more open sound. It is obvious together they found just that. The tracks have a danceable feel, the synths give the music another take than ever before. The album as a whole is more open, while the songs all are far above par. The radical sound of Band of Skulls may not be present on Love Is All You Love. The substituted pop feel gives the band a new leash to explore. Admittedly at the end of the album I have heard enough. Perhaps inspiration was just a little less. I find it does not deflect my overall view of the album.

The great rock songs of the past undoubtedly will come by live, in my home I have a new great album to play. Five albums into the career of Band of Skulls I was and remain a fan.

Wo.

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

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

vrijdag 12 april 2019

Extra Credit. Brad Marino

Over the past months two singles from this album already came by, making me really want to get acquainted with Extra Credit. Superficially you could ask me the question, why? Brad Marino is not the best singer on earth. His songs sound overly familiar to anyone who grew up with 60s and 70s music. Yes, it has all been done before. Probably Brad Marino himself will be the first to admit these facts. So, again, why?

The answer is as simple as it is true: because the songs on Extra Credit are so infectuous. Nearly each single one crawls under my skin, mulls around for a short while and exits again through my mouth for the sheer joy of singing along. These songs are extremely catchy and could have been hits in the era they really belong to, the pop and punkrock days of 50 and 40 years ago.

Brad Marino is able to write songs that last under three minutes, yet contain it all. Nice hooks, memorable choruses, a pointy, spiked solo and traditional endings. 2 Minute something and it is all over.

Right at the start 'Broken Clocks' mixes The Ramones with The Beach Boys and Chuck Berry. Just like The Ramones did, without youths noticing at the time. In hair and dress Marino can stage Johnny Ramone in any tribute The Ramones band, lending the last little piece of the puzzle its place. 'Broken Clocks' contains it all, pure rock and roll (and yes, it clocks over three minutes, sorry).

With 'No One Else Tried It' the tempo is upheld. A piano enters the sound as does a Hammond. Of course the real solo is a pointy rock and roll guitar solo.

Moving into the album I find that nearly all the songs have a catchy riff or lick that makes them instantly likeable to me. That started with my introduction to 'C'Mon C'Mon C'Mon'. That 2.06 minute foray into 60s rock and roll with The Ramones attack. Poppier than nearly everything The Ramones ever made, with a better singer. It showed me the fine nose Brad Marino has for a good pop melody while staying totally credible. Something someone like Dave Edmonds or Nick Lowe did in the 70s and 80s for rock and roll. Brad Marino takes the best from punk music to add to his classic rock and roll influences.

Extra Credit ends with a total rock and roll cover. Chuck Berry's 'Bye Bye Johnny' gets a fantastic sounding rendition showing the world that Brad Marino knows exactly where Abraham found the mustard. With modern instruments, recording and playing technique, 'Bye Bye Johnny' gets a befitting honouring. A sound that was impossible to get when Chuck Berry recorded his songs in the 50s. It makes Extra Credit go out with a bang it deserves. The fact that it adorns the record as a final song, makes the point that Extra Credit could easily have done without this great rock and roll song, extra noteworthy. It stands is own ground and some more. Like in a huge pedestal and giant statue erected for great music. In honour of what went before and in its own right. Extra Credit is extreme fun.

Wo.

You can buy Extra Credit here:

https://bradmarino.bandcamp.com/album/extra-credit-2


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

donderdag 11 april 2019

Automata. Hydrogen Sea

What does really happen on Automata? Well, if you asked me directly: not a lot. Hydrogen Sea releases a collection of dreamy popsongs that float on the atmosphere in my room, although a few songs are more direct and have some busy beats and/or drumming underneath the dreamy voice of singer Birsen Uçar.

To my surprise Hydrogen Sea is from Belgium. For some reason I did not see that one coming. Not that it's relevant. Automats is the duo's second album after 'In Dreams' and a departure from the past. Apparently they were fed up with creating music on the laptop and reached out to fellow musicians to make this new album. So enter Patricia Vanneste, Joris Caluwaerts en Steven van Gelder.

As far as I'm concerned it is a success, a big one even. The music still involves a lot of synths, beats, but there also are a lot of analogue elements that make it possible for Birsen Uçar to hover above the music, like a transparent ghostlike element with outerworldly qualities. Listening to her voice is being hypnotised, slowly but surely. She sings like a young girl with a tear in her eye forever. Soothing her is the only thing left as solace is unattainable. All her vocals are at a minimum double tracked, giving the ghostlike quality another boost.

Promo photo: Alexander Populier
The singing is an icing on the cake. Hydrogen Sea is able to make the lightest version of pop music possible, yet gives it additional layers that make the pop element totally unrecognisable for those interested in more superficial music (which is fine at times). The electronics underneath can make the song sound happy, urgent, eerie. A lot of different moods and atmospheres come by on Automata. Sometimes the melody seems to go about its very own way, almost as if separate from the vocal, to unsuspectedly underscore it only to move away again. Leaving the pop element to the vocal melody. 'The Bloop' is an example of this. Eerie, estranging, perhaps even deranged in some parts near the ending. Uçar is silent there, so who knows what has happened to her?, my mind whispers softly.

Promo photo: Alexander Populier
But let's return to the beautiful opening of Automata. A piano is played, with light tinkering notes that could go straight into Kairos on Concertzender. 'Pale Blue Dot' has that ethereal lightness this album has as a hallmark. Within two minutes it is all over and the band lays down a pleasant bass groove in a more up tempo pop song. Air is the mood here. The plopping bass, some of the light synth notes have that outer space vibe of e.g. 'Kelly Watch The Stars'. A violin is a surprising lead instrument. This is just one of obvious inspirations. Lana del Rey is another, but also Portishead, a band Hydrogen Sea easily surpasses. The melodic strength is so obviously better.

In 'Sinister' a guitar part coming straight out of 'Sex On Fire' is mixed with a light piano sound creating a beautiful effect. In my opinion everything comes together in the fourth song, 'Cold Water'. If you do not like this song, you are lost to Automata, without a peddle at sea. I can listen endlessly to the song that just ripples along, like many other songs do on Automata. Loving the sigh girl singing of Birsen Uçar. Automats is just as much a surprise to me like the already hinted at 'Moon Safari' and Goldfrapp's 'Gold Mountain' were years ago.

Wo.


woensdag 10 april 2019

Joe Jackson live. Paradiso, Amsterdam Monday 8 April 2019

Photo: Wo.
"There are bands and there are bands", commented My Love when we exited Paradiso and that is a truth like a cow.

Paradiso was filled to the brim. Clad in my now supertight t-shirt from spring 1984's 'Body and Soul' tour I went to see Joe Jackson, for sure, for the third time. In my mind there is a show at De Doelen in Rotterdam, but can't find any recollection of it in there. Joe Jackson played there in the winter of 1983, so this might just have been my fourth show in the 40 year anniversary of 'Look Sharp''s release. For sure there is Ahoy in 1984 and the Pepsi Stage in 2003.

Jazz music filled Paradiso, including some tremendous swing. This was Jackson's own choice for sure. Something changed when just a drum started, the stage empty. Lights slowly faded. A man walked on stage, sat himself on his stool and after some ostentatious preparatory movements picked up the beat. Graham Maby, Jackson's career long bass player, picked up his bass and joined. The sound was so clear, so right and above all so groovy. A third man walked on stage, strapped on his guitar and joined. Finally Joe Jackson walked on sat him lanky body behind the keyboards and threw in some piano chords. In a way, if this had been the show, it would already have been perfect. The groove laid down by the band was so fantastic. The ease of playing is phenomenal to view, while everyone ever having tried to master an instrument knows how many hours of practice it takes to attain such a level. All against a red lightning projected on a stage-high draping of curtains.

The slow groove of 'Alchemy', one of the many strong songs on Joe Jackson's latest album 'Fool', proved the start, and close, of a perfect evening. The show was centered around one album from each decade: 'Look Sharp' (1979), 'Night And Day' (1982), 'Laughter And Lust' (1991), 'Rain' (2008) and 'Fool' (2019). From 'Alchemy' we all shot back 40 years in time with the totally energetic 'One More Time'. The angry young Joe still has a role to play. This was as punk as punk came, despite the fact the punk thing was over by that time. The album is full of punk energy that still is easy to feel and undergo in 2019. Fans all around me were singing along like there is no tomorrow for us all.

Photo: Wo.
This show to me proved a few things. How smart Joe Jackson was to pursue his own musical desires. Had he stuck with what he did in 1979-1980, we might have gone to a reunion tour of 40 years 'Look Sharp' yesterday, but not to the musical richness we were in witness of now. With 'Jumping Jive' Joe Jackson had said goodbye to his band and music, allowing him to produce 'Night & Day', Body & Soul' and everything that followed. Yes, he lost me from circa 1991 to 2016, with the exception of 'IV'. Listening now I wonder why. 'Rain' is a fine album I found out this week and I am about to catch up with some of the albums I skipped, until I put on 'Fast Forward' any way a couple of months after its release in 2015. An album that should have scored high in my top 10 of the year but did not due to my Joe Jackson prejudice and so undeserved I'm finding out.

Quite often on these pages I'm attesting to my, in general, abhorrence of 80s music. I am going to make an exception here for two albums, 'Night & Day' and 'Body & Soul'. I remember hearing 'Cha Cha Loco' for the first time or 'The Verdict' and thinking what is Joe Jackson doing now?, yet noticing how incredibly clear the music sounded. Having digested 'Night & Day' by then. These both were defining albums, in sound, in mood, in boldness. If I am singing a Joe Jackson song in the house, it is always 'You Can't Get What You Want, 'Till You Know What You Want'. Another truth as a cow. And, yes, he played it in the closing medley. The start of the medley was the only song that did not really come across fully. The Steely Dan cover worked perfectly on the bonus single that came with the 'Fool' LP, but less on stage. All the other songs were perfect. From the first beats to the last, as the band left the stage in reversed order, again playing 'Alchemy' with the drums moving from real to tape as effortlessly as when picked up at the start.

Photo: Wo.
Compliments to the fabulous drummer, Doug Yowell, the too big, but great guitar player, Teddy Kumpel, Graham Maby the bass palyer who can play anything and sing great as well. Together they make Joe Jackson's music come totally alive. And there's that old drum computer from 1979, still working and so we got 'Stepping Out' in the encore, played as on the record!

The only song I missed was 'It's Different For Girls'. If only to see and hear Joe Jackson silencing the audience once more and let Graham Maby play his outro on bass again in utter silence like in 1984. We got 'I'm The Man' instead, so can live with this miss. What a show! A deep extension of gratitude is due and thus given: Thank you, gentlemen!

Wo.

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

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