vrijdag 31 mei 2019

Pulling Out All The Stops. Geoff Palmer

Blimey, where are the brakes?! I feel like I'm back in 1989 in the back of a rental Volvo being driven at breakneck speed through the rush hour traffic of Los Angeles' highways. As the guy driving refused to slow down, I decided to look out the rear window and was presented with a spectacular sunset. So I won some. If I remember correctly he did crash horribly at a later date, but lived to tell.

This is how I feel listening to Pull Out All The Stops. Geoff Palmer keeps the speed up, but it is the lovers of The Ramones style punk pop music who win out major.

With Brad Marino Palmer plays in The Connection. In 2019 they both release a solo record. Just imagine what a record could have been, had the best songs been put on a The Connection record. Give away, it would have been two records. After the great 'Extra Credit', Geoff Palmer gives the world Pulling Out All The Stops. The title is so right, as the songs must have come pouring out of him. No bars left to hold them in a major gush of inspiration. The joy of having found these songs gushes from the record. Geoff Palmer and his band obviously are enjoying themselves if not having a great time while recording these pop gems.

Although I realise that had I been from the U.S. I might have given totally different references. In the 80s a lot of things passed me by, so also U.S. bands like Hüsker Dü, Dinosaur Jr. and The Replacements, bands a lot of people mention in connection to songs like this. I don't. Perhaps it is time to do some catching up. For me listening to Pulling Out All The Stops things deep down start with the fired up rock and roll covers played by The Beatles like 'I'm Down' or its own 'I Saw Her Standing There'. Superior rock and roll pop songs, super catchy. From there it is easy to land circa 1978, the punk of The Ramones gets a little touch of the powerpop of The Romantics and the pop feel of Blondie. Solidness gets mixed with melody. Sixties and seventies blend into one.

Promo photo: James Jay Fortin
This album is filled to the brim with fantastic melodies, punk hooks and powerpop licks. There are so many little melodies or single notes adorning the up tempo pop songs that fans of this music must think they have died and gone to power-pop-punk-heaven.

Although Pulling Out All The Stops is more one-sided than 'Extra Credit', in my opinion it has surpassed it in melodic prowess and energy. It isn't until the 11th song, 'Paper Heart', that Palmer changes the mood and content somewhat, without losing any on the quality. This song is so warm, thanks to a Hammond organ going at full blast. It isn't until the very end that I seem to have had enough and only there and then.

But like I wrote before, The Connection must be a fantastic band, I had never heard of before. Something to be on the look out for. In the meantime I am enjoying myself with this extremely pleasant blast of energy.

Wo.

You can buy Pulling Out All The Stops here:

https://geoffpalmer.bandcamp.com/album/pulling-out-all-the-stops


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 30 mei 2019

The Kik - Boudewijn de Groot's Voor De Overlevenden & Picknick Live. The Kik

Een aantal jaar geleden na afloop van een concert in de Leidse Stadsschouwburg, waar The Kik optrad in het kader van hun eerste theatershow, schreef ik dat de band een chroniqueur zou kunnen worden voor lang vergeten muziek uit de jaren 60. Die plaat is nooit uitgekomen. Met dit Boudewijn de Groot eerbetoon doet The Kik iets wat ik niet aan heb zien komen: gewoon twee albums integraal spelen van Neerlands grootste hippie singer-songwriter, met inherent daaraan een ode aan zijn tekstschrijver Lennaert Nijgh.

Met deze stap, daarvoor hoef ik alleen maar te luisteren naar de enorme instrumentatie op het podium, plaatst The Kik zich in dezelfde klasse als The Analogues. Met een groot verschil, dat de muziek van The Beatles de Ziggo Dome vol krijgt en dat zie ik deze twee, toch enigszins vergeten, platen niet voor elkaar krijgen.

Voor mij is Boudewijn de Groot de man van een paar fantastische singles uitgebracht tussen 1965 en 1973. Waarvan ik mij er twee kan herinneren uit mijn vroege jeugd, omdat ze veel op de radio gedraaid werden, 'Het Land van Maas En Waal' en 'Prikkebeen'. Tot voor circa twee jaar had ik niets van hem op plaat, correctie LP. De singles 'Als De Rook Om Je Hoofd Is Verdwenen' en 'Jimmy' had/heb ik wel. Sindsdien is eerst 'Vijf Jaar Hits' en daarna 'Voor De Overledenen' in huis gekomen, tweede hands elpees tegen een prijs van een paar euro's.

Nu is er dus The Kik met een integraal eerbetoon. Al luisterend naar de plaat, vind ik het echt prachtig. De band lijkt gemaakt voor het uitbrengen van deze muziek. Ik zou bijna vergeten hoe leuk ik met name 'Springlevend' en 'Stad En Land' vol met hun eigen werk vind. Daar staan dus deze klassiekers uit de jaren 60 tegenover. Het besef hoe goed sommige nummers van Boudewijn de Groot zijn, daalt nu meer in dan ook. Het prachtige 'Naast Jou' bijvoorbeeld, maakt zoveel indruk op me. Dat deed het al, maar nu op de een of andere manier nog meer. Ik merk dat hier zich hetzelfde fenomeen voordoet als bij The Analogues: ik waardeer The Beatles sindsdien veel meer dan in de afgelopen dik 30 jaar. Het is weer mijn favoriete band, zoals in mijn vroege jeugd. Met de muziek van Boudewijn lijkt hetzelfde te gebeuren. Met een verschil, ik ken(de) zijn LPs niet. 'Picknick' is toch wel de volgende die ik ga proberen in huis te halen.

Promo foto: Lenny Oosterwijk
Een andere vraag is of ik deze plaat van The Kik fysiek zal kopen. Het antwoord zou nee moeten zijn, maar het zou goed ja kunnen worden. Waarom? Omdat in tegenstelling tot bij The Analogues Boudewijn de Groots originelen er bijna niet tussen in staan. Ik vind The Analogues prachtig, maar als ik The Beatles thuis wil horen, speel ik The Beatles zelf wel. In het theater is het prachtig. The Kik wil ik wel degelijk thuis horen. Ook omdat ik al fan ben van de band, ongeacht deze thematische coversplaat.

En Dave von Raven die kan zingen zonder Rotterdams accent?! De wonderen zijn de wereld niet uit. The Kik heeft iets prachtigs gedaan. Een stuk Nederbiet is tot leven gewekt op een superieure wijze. De enige vraag die resteert, is wat de band als volgende stap voor zich(zelf) ziet. Ik vermoed dat in dit soort platen en tours meer succes zit dan in het eigen werk, dat zo leuk is, mensen. Geef dat ook een kans als je het nog niet kent! Voor nu is het 100% genieten van deze plaat.

Eigenlijk was ik wel klaar met schrijven, maar er is nog een ding dat mij opvalt en beslist niet onvermeld mag blijven. Een reden waarom ik deze plaat misschien wel beter ga vinden dan de originelen: het drummen van Ries Doms. Als ik hoor hoe hij invalt bij 'Verdronken Vlinder' en het zwevende van het origineel even onderuit mept en er een rock song van maakt, kan ik alleen maar mijn pet afnemen en eer bewijzen aan het drummen van Neerlands eigen "Animal". Chapeau.

Wo.

Je kunt de plaat hier kopen:

https://shop.excelsior-recordings.com/collections/releases/products/the-kik-boudewijn-de-groot


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 29 mei 2019

From Babylon To Avalon. The Celtic Social Club

Today we point you to three albums, in a somewhat shorter review as these albums deserve a mention on this blog. Here's #3 from the U.K. and France.

The name of this band conjures up a memory of another album 'Tuesday Night Music Club' and of course the Buena Vista Social Club. Two more collaborative albums than this one. The Celtic Social Club is a real band, releasing its third album, though all members play in other bands as well.

The music of the band has the sweet sour base of melancholy with upbeat rhythms, where the music keeps switching between major and minor. Celtic is not in the name of this band for nothing. The Irish influences are all over the album. At the same time this is not Dropkick Murphies who have punked up its Irish songs. The Celtic Social Club have a totally different outset: it is bent on finding the best possible mix between poprock and Irish/Celtic folk music.

This is the strong point of From Babylon To Avalon as well as its Achilles heel. Yes, this band knows how to write an excellent pop melody, but tends to make it a little too soft polished at times. Perfection is not always best. At the same time there is some real beauty to be found here. In that sense it is like Ireland itself. Having camped there for a few weeks, I can still feel the cold in my bones, while my mind's eye shows me beautiful sunbathed green hills and the smell of peat fires from old, isolated farms' chimneys. Contrasts is all what Ireland seemed about from a tourist's point of view.

The Celtic Social Club can be called a super folk formation with members from the U.K. and France. It has found a new singer in Dan Donnelly who can be found on these pages late last year with his solo album 'Are We Having Fun Yet?'. Yes, I answered. And he brings his nice voice to From Babylon To Avalon. An album where rock guitars and drums are mixed with a violin, uilleann pipes and tin whistles. The rock side sort of wins, yet the mood is mostly set by the more traditional instruments. The mix wins me over in the end, as this album is not only beautifully but also lovingly made with care for many details.

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

Away With Birds. Away With Birds

Today we present three albums once again, albums that were in fear of slipping through the cracks of this blog. This way they do not. This is the second one, from Sweden we move on to Ireland and Amsterdam.

Ever so soft folk music streams into my room when I put on Away With Birds. Americana is even a better moniker as the influences of this U.S. form of folk/singer-songwriter music is sweeping broadly over this album.

Away With Birds is a duo of two brothers, John and Pat Carrie. Pat making music in Ireland and John for the past two decades from Amsterdam, the original one, with his band Moor Green. In the attic of Sjoerd Spoelstra they've recorded the album in one go. It is impossible to discern that specific fact, but the lo-fi quality of 'Away With Birds' is obvious. There are not a lot of overdubs to be found here, not a truckload of instruments. An acoustic and/or electric guitar, a banjo and faint traces of percussion is what it is. Two voices and the album is ready.

For those enjoying references. I can suffice with two. Away With Birds is the perfect hybrid between Bonnie 'Prince' Billy and Elliot Brood. The singing and music are just as frail as Will Oldham can present himself, the more direct way of presenting itself gives the duo the spunk of Elliot Brood. Finally to add some more context I'd mention CSN&Y without the refinement of David Crosby's harmonies and the softness of Graham Nash's voice.

On this album Away With Birds hovers between softness and harshness. The former in the music, the latter in the singing. This ambiguity provides 'Away With Birds' with the quality I like to find in a record like this. 'Finger Food' is perhaps the best example of this ambiguity. "You will be wrapped around my finger" the brothers keep singing, in a song called 'Finger Food'. It sounds rather ominous, doesn't it?

This album may be elementary in playing, arranging and recording, anyone who listens to it more than once will find out for him/herself that it is extremely interesting and grows by the spin. Will 'Away With Birds' be a good album, turning into great over time? Time will tell. It seems I'm on my way there.

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

Are You A Dreamer? Death & Vanilla

Today again we present three albums for a shorter review but very much worthwhile to listen to. We start with a trio from Sweden.

Death & Vanilla claims to love things old. The word antiquarians even is mentioned in the accompanying bio. And in a way this is totally right. Are You A Dreamer? is an album with a penchant for things old as in in dreamy 60s pop sequences. On the other hand the way this music is recreated is modern. Like in the rhythms, and background sounds. Of course 'Moon Safari' is over 20 years old in 2019. The album can be called old by now as well. Singer Marleen Nilsson is not afraid to dream like Nancy Sinatra used to dream by the side of Lee Hazelwood, scoring her greatest hits.

This makes Are You A Dreamer? an intriguing album. It has a sense of mystery around it. Something unsolvable. A mystery the three Death & Vanilla members have not solved themselves as well. A fact that can be heard in this music. The trio is searching for the secret as if the music is one big question mark. It is this fact that makes the music speak to me. Will you help us solve the mystery?, it seems to ask me.

The songs on Are You A Dreamer? are full, a mix of warm sounds and searching sounds. Music that makes me feel welcome immediately. Over it Nilsson sings with a soft, breathy voice. Fragile, yet certain. She gives the impression of pure innocence in a song like 'Mercier'. The music is far more direct compared to the singing.

With 8 songs Are You A Dreamer? holds the middle ground between a mini album and a full length one. In the 70s when artists released one album a year, 8 song albums were fairly regular of course. The music is a mix between electronic pop with a guitar and firm drumming by Mans Wikenmo. The drumming gives this album exactly the body it needs. The mystery is kept in check by Mans pounding away on his kit.

In short, Are You A Dreamer? is a nice hybrid pop album. Death & Vanilla may enjoy looking at the past for inspiration, it knows a lot about 2019 as well. The balance is just right for me.

You can buy Are You A Dreamer? here:

https://deathandvanillamusic.bandcamp.com/album/are-you-a-dreamer

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 28 mei 2019

Kairos 105, April 2019 on Concertzender

Once a month or just about, Wo. listenes to .No's monthly radio show on Concertzender. A show called Kairos. A show in which music is played that almost for certain would never have reached his ears, except for those pieces of music where the blog and the show influence each other. Every single time is an adventure Wo. says as "I have no clue upfront how the music will hit me". Sometimes even baffling artists with his musings, who respond to .No over Wo.'s experiences. That is the way of the musical world it seems. Lets see where Wo. found himself with the April 2019 version of Kairos.


Having just been to the gym I am sitting here with a different form of energy than the usual closer to the end of the day. I wonder if this influences my Kairos experience.

Slow sounds like musicians warming up reach me. They are, roughly at least, playing the same composition it seems, yet there is a hint of something unfinished to me. A copper instrument leads the whole on, beneath it is almost a free for all as long as it is the same key. When a darker instrument joins the orderly disorder, I have the idea it does not belong. Yet does, in the way .No can mix songs. Sytze Pruiksma is replaced by Trio Ramberget. The background is gone, darkness prevails, with serious notes from instruments playing in a low register. Somehow it could be a continuation, 'Blue Throat' and 'Eb dur Torpet'. Music sounding over a dark fjord, like fog horns, warning all around it.

A piano takes over, again darkness with sound coming through it. A bass note and some hiss. The song is called 'Vault', so I can't let go of the impression that this music is coming from the grave. As Reigns plays louder ever so slowly, this music can only presage a zombie army rising. The tricks of a mind while listening to modern classical music. Although this could be incorporated into symphonic rock without any doubt.

The mood doesn't change, again. Yet, a guitar comes in replacing the piano. Harrold Roeland returns, but for the life of me I can't tell where Reigns stops and Roeland begins, except at a certain point the music drops away and is replaced by sounds and atmosphere. I have heard Pink Floyd do something like this on its best albums, before a glorious song like 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond' really bursts loose.

When high sounding voices can be heard in between the sounds, at first ever so hesitantly, I know .No is working his mixing machine. A mash up of Harrold Roeland and Trondheim Voices. Sounds like those used in submarine movies and other undefinable sounds are hanging suspended in the mix behind the high voice. This composition is so fragile, I can imagine it breaking. I do notice being intrigued for the first time by Trondheim Voices. It sounds as if something is about to happen any second. The fjord and the mist comes back to mind, but now without a fog horn or any other warning sound. Navigating a dangerous coast in pitch dark, that is the image 'Rise' presents to me.

Recently I read that Low Hill signed a record contract with a company. After inquiring it turned out to be for one single only. There are no coincidences it seems. This Kairos Low Hill returns to the show after an absence of some months, perhaps even a year. His mysterious music fits this show excellently. His voice, good sounding as ever, is what I can do with right now. Yes, I like 'Falling' as much as I did when I first reviewed the EP. Modest electronic pop music, with a mood that is slightly downcast. Laurens Hulle might be falling for someone, it is not as if he is overjoyed by it. More like it is something that still needs a lot of rational thought.

The mysterious music continues with Högni's 'Parallel', but it could be something is missing on the play list. Now that the fjord image is in my mind, I can't seem to shake it. That has to do with the sounds that simply seem to continue after Low Hill's intermission. Listen to the, what is it I'm hearing?, these little glockenspiel things that can be ticked against each other, digital something? I just do not know. The submarine bleeps are back and some sounds hovering around in the mix. What is real here? What is .No mixing away? I simply can't tell what it is I'm listening to. There is no mistaking, this music is slightly troubling. I notice that the sounds are unsettling. The voice that comes in like a soul crooner, does not help. The sounds just continue and the singing in part is like it comes from behind the grave, once again. "Though I'm fading" the singer sings and I am confirmed in my inner visions accompanying this music. Checking the music on Shazam, I got a picture of Högni showing four eyes in his face. So my feelings are not so strange. Something is just not right it seems. Deeply troubling.

Electronic beats? The mood is really being lifted, were it not that all the sounds defining Högni are still present for a while. I am listening to something I have never heard on Kairos before. Electronic dance music, with a twist of course. The beats do not simply go straight forward in Etapp Kyle's 'Axiom'. The submarine sounds return as do the twinkles, pushing the beats away. I am in the pitch dark fjord again. Rock every where and my vessel on the water with no clue where to sail. Danger potentially every where and nowhere at the same time.

A new sound can be heard through the vestigial fog. "Let thy soul be wakened", I'm told. Someone with an Indian accent is telling me to wake up and to feel. Repeated and repeated. So here I am in the fjord. Have I fallen asleep or is this a male siren calling me to the rocks to go asunder? It's pitch dark, fog thick all around me and I'm told to feel. As if my senses aren't already stretched to the max, listening to every other sound and trying to interpret it as safeness or danger. And then someone calls out to me. No, thank you, but I'll pass for now.

From Low Hill to Low Roar is a small step in Kairos. Ryan Karazija, as he is behind the name Low Roar, returns to Kairos with the beautiful 'Without You'. If anything this song sooths my souls and eases my senses. I'm caressed and am told things will be alright. Why do I have more faith in Low Roar than in the Indian chant?

Low Roar leaves me behind and suspense takes over once more. House of Cosy Cushions starts to 'Haunt Me Sweetly'. Again music that gives the impression to come from the nether side. This Kairos is dark, darker than I ever remember. Let me not forget to mention that 'Haunt Me Sweetly' is a song that immediately gets to me. The way it is build up is excellent. The atmosphere may be dark, the details, the female voice that joins in, work really well. It ends like a dirge though.

Some spoken words takes over. Like something that could have come from Tom Waits. Tom it is not but something called Hiss-Tacts. Something to do with a harmonica.

Again a song comes in. A song from an album that was on the blog first. From a Susanna from Norway with four other ladies accompanying her. You can read on by searching for 'Garden Of Earthly Delights'. Again a dark song, but one that is so welcome at this stage. The almost hesitant way the music is played, reminds me of U.K. folk band Modern Studies. At certain points it is as if 'Beautiful Life' will break down, will falter but does not at the very last second.

It all ends as we almost began this Kairos, with the dark copper and woodwind of Trio Ramberget. The fog horn has finally returned and leads me towards the harbour in the fjord. Finally I can sail home and lay my head to rest after a night full of suspense. This was a dark Kairos with several highlights and loads of mysteries. Well done, .No. What I almost forget to mention, is how beautiful 'E dur - Fält' is. It gives the impression that the world is unchanging. Going about its business and us humans running around on top of it, with the world not caring. It will outlive us all, one way or another. Now that is a song we will never hear on Kairos.

Wo.

You can listen (along) to this Kairos here:

https://www.concertzender.nl/programma/kairos_498667/


Playlist:
00:00  Sytze Pruiksma. Blue Throat. Album ‘Conference of the Birds’. Self-released.
02:13  Trio Ramberget. Eb dur Torpet. Trio Ramberget (Johanna Ekholm, Gustav Davidsson, Pelle Westlin). Album ‘Musik att somna till’. Self-released.
05:38  Reigns. Vaulted. Album ‘The House on the Causeway’. Monotreme records MONO-37.
07:55  Harrold Roeland. Generative Landscapes – Paris. Self-released.
10:56  Trondheim Voices + Asle Karstad. Rise. Album ‘Rooms & Rituals’. Grappa LC49093.
16:15  Laurens Vanhulle. Falling. Low Hill. Album ‘Hurt’. Self-released.
26:21  Högni Parallel. Album ‘Two Trains’. Erased Tapes Records eratp103
32:00 Etapp Kyle. Axiom (fragment). Album ‘Klockworks 16’. Klockworks /
Modern Matters.
36:14  Yogi Bhajan. Let Thy Soul be Awakened (fragment). Golden Temple Enterprises.
40:05  Ryan Karazija. Without You. Low Roar. Album ‘Once in a long, long while’. Nevado Records 823674059620.
43:46  Richard Bolhuis/House of Cosy Cushions. Haunt Me Sweetly. Album ‘Haunt Me Sweetly’. Outcast Cats CAT 0C01.
47:41  Hiss-Tacts. Drake Motel. Album ‘Shortwave Nights’. Constellation cstl04-2
48:34  Susanna & The Brotherhood of our Lady. Beautiful Life. Album ‘Garden of earthly delights’. Susannasonata/It’s All Happening..
51:04  Trio Ramberget. E dur – Fält (fragment). Trio Ramberget (Johanna Ekholm, Gustav Davidsson, Pelle Westlin). Album ‘Musik att somna till’. Self-released.

maandag 27 mei 2019

Rude Rebels. Neville and Sugary Staple


It's 2019. Anyone having lived through the late 70s and early 80s will recognise the lay out of this cover art immediately: 2 Tone. The label that gave the world The Specials, Madness, The Selecter. Bands that played ska on speed and all in black and white. The typical small hats and too short pants over white socks.

Neville Staple was one of the two singers of The Specials together with Terry Hall, with colleague Lynval Golding they went on to form Fun Boy Three. On this album The Specials guitarist Roddy Radiation is present. I haven't heard the new The Specials album (yet). This 2018 variation is one to be heard.

I haven't listened to ska for decades, so Rude Rebels is quite a nice surprise. The album offers a mix of some great fun kicking party tracks with more serious tracks that despite the ongoing beat are clearly contemplative. On this record Staple works together with his wife Christine Sugary Staple. Together they delve deep into the music from Jamaica making full use of the developments of the past 40 years.

Promo photo: John Coles
Sadder is the fact that the, for me distant, messages from the U.K. that so many youths die in knife fights gets a distinct personal twist here. This album came with a personal message from Neville Staple who lost his 21 year old grandson Fidel to a knifing incident in Coventry. His message makes the fact extremely personal. Losing a child is the worst thing that can happen to a parent. It happened to his daughter. How to stop youths from doing these horrible acts with consequences they are still unable to oversee fully?

The album had already been made before this devastating loss. It seems to have brought out the best in the couple. Not a few times the super group Superheavy came to mind while listening to Rude Rebels. This album is far more down to earth. It has an enormous vibe, like in for example 'Original Rudegirl Sound'. This song has such a positive drive, so light-hearted while keeping that Jamaican rhythm going with enough U.K. sounds to make it a total hybrid beast. Sugary Staple makes for a huge party and pulls it off like it doesn't cost any energy at all. Were I to be asked what is the positive difference between The Specials and this album, my answer would be positive vibes and party time the music exhumes on Rude Rebels.

Rude Rebels took me totally by surprise in the most pleasurable ways possible. It is so much fun. More so than The Specials ever were. 2 Tone in 2019? It is found on Rude Rebels.

Wo.

You can buy Rude Rebels here:

https://nevillestaple.bandcamp.com/album/rude-rebels


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 26 mei 2019

Begin Again. Norah Jones

Norah Jones komt op de proppen met slechts zeven songs, maar het zijn wel zeven songs van een bijzondere schoonheid en vol experiment

Norah Jones heeft een prachtig oeuvre op haar naam staan. Het is een oeuvre dat in commercieel opzicht wat in de schaduw staat van haar droomdebuut Come Away With Me, maar in muzikaal opzicht is het werk van Norah Jones sinds dit debuut alleen maar interessanter geworden. Begin Again bevat maar zeven songs en het zijn songs die het afgelopen jaar bijna allemaal als single zijn verschenen, maar het is veel meer dan een tussendoortje. Samen met topmuzikanten als Jeff Tweedy en Thomas Bartlett zoekt Norah Jones de grenzen weer eens op en laat ze horen hoe veelzijdig en hoe goed ze is.

Bij de naam Norah Jones zullen de meeste muziekliefhebbers waarschijnlijk onmiddellijk denken aan haar debuut Come Away With Me uit 2002. Het is zonder enige twijfel het bekendste album van Norah Jones en ook met afstand het meest succesvolle.

Het is een album waar ik graag naar grijp als ik behoefte heb aan lome en zwoele jazzy klanken, maar ik hou ook van alle andere kanten die Norah Jones de afgelopen 17 jaar van zichzelf heeft laten zien en dat zijn er heel wat.

Op haar soloalbums liet Norah Jones horen dat ze niet alleen uit de voeten kan met jazz, maar ook met country, folk, pop en zelfs met veel elektronica verrijkte pop (op het bijzondere breakup album Little Broken Hearts uit 2012) en dan waren er ook nog de uitstapjes met projecten als The Little Willies, dat de inspiratie vooral zocht in een ver verleden, en Puss N Boots, dat een opvallend stevig rockgeluid liet horen. Tenslotte verraste Norah Jones in 2013 met het met songs van The Everly Brothers gevulde Foreverly, dat ze maakte met Green Day zanger Billie Joe Armstrong.

Het heeft inmiddels een prachtig stapeltje albums opgeleverd. Als ik er één mag kiezen, zou ik waarschijnlijk kiezen voor het helaas wat onderschatte The Fall uit 2009, maar uiteindelijk zijn alle albums van Norah Jones me zeer dierbaar.

Sinds het in 2016 verschenen Day Breaks, dat in muzikaal opzicht misschien nog wel het dichts in de buurt komt van haar zo succesvolle debuut van alweer 17 jaar geleden, was het voor mij stil rond Norah Jones, maar stilzitten deed ze zeker niet. De singer-songwriter uit New York maakte het afgelopen jaar een aantal singles, waarop ze samenwerkte met gerenommeerde muzikanten als Jeff Tweedy, Thomas Bartlett en Brian Blade.

Het is me eerlijk gezegd ontgaan, want singles negeer ik over het algemeen, maar gelukkig zijn de singles nu gebundeld en uitgebracht als Begin Again. Begin Again zit met zeven songs en een speelduur van 28 minuten tussen een EP en een album in, maar interessant is het zeker.

Omdat Norah Jones voor de tracks samenwerkte met meerdere en nogal verschillende muzikanten, schiet Begin Again alle kanten op. Een aantal songs is jazzy en soulvol, een aantal andere songs schuift wat meer op richting folk, terwijl een aantal andere tracks flink durft te experimenteren met elektronica.

De met Thomas Bartlett (The National) gemaakte openingstrack My Heart Is Full laat een experimentele kant van Norah Jones horen die we nog niet kenden, maar Begin Again vervolgt met een jazzy track met stevig aangezette pianoklanken, subtiel drumwerk en geweldige vocalen. Het album schuift vervolgens op richting rijkelijk versierde soul, waarna Jeff Tweedy Norah Jones omtovert tot een lome folkzangeres. Aan de hand van Thomas Bartlett schuift de singer-songwriter uit New York vervolgens op richting stemmige triphop, om in de laatste twee tracks toch weer jazzy te eindigen. Het is Begin Again in vogelvlucht, maar met alleen woorden doe je dit album tekort.

Het zijn misschien maar zeven songs en 28 minuten, maar er gebeurt zoveel op Begin Again dat het voor mij aanvoelt als een volwaardig album. En als een uitstekend volwaardig album, dat ook nog eens in een vloek en een zucht werd opgenomen. Norah Jones laat nog maar eens horen dat ze meer veel is dan de zwoele en verleidelijke jazzzangeres van Come Away With Me en dat ze niet bang is voor experiment. Verder blijft het natuurlijk een geweldige zangeres, die er in slaagt om het bonte kleurenpalet van Begin Again smaakvol en consistent te laten klinken. Prachtig album en een volgend hoogtepunt in het zo bijzondere oeuvre van Norah Jones.

Erwin Zijleman


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 25 mei 2019

Act Surprised. Sebadoh

Around 1990 when friends pointed me to Dinosaur Jr. all I heard was a bunch of guitar noise and a distinct lack of melodies. Although I certainly like a few of the comeback albums of the band, I never bothered to search back in time. Why is this relevant? Because of this association I never heard anything by Sebadoh as far as I'm aware. That changed with Act Surprised.

There's no need to act, because I am genuinely surprised in a pleasant way by Sebadoh's latest effort. It has faint traces of the albums Buffalo Tom broke with in the 90s in this country (and I'm firmly aware as to which band may have been the originator at the time).

On Act Surprised I hear a band that is not afraid to rock out. In the murkiest of ways. Dark guitars and a dark, slightly or more distorted bass that is mixed all over the place to fill up the sound, leaving everything left there for the loud and busy drummer to fill. This certainly is not a clear sounding album. Although there are several guitar overdubs, this space needs filling to create a full power impression.

Promo photo
Sebadoh started in the late 80s while Lou Barlow played bass in Dinosaur Jr. Recording songs that he could not get placed in his principal band. After being kicked out of the band by J. Mascis Barlow started to make Sebadoh, apparently a nonsensical word, more important throughout the 90s. After a hiatus of about a decade the band released a new record in 2013. Six years later there is another one, the 9th full length in total. And, Barlow plays in Dinosaur Jr. again for years now.

In this new album a lot of the music that defined the early 90s come together. Some grunge, some of the Boston scene and lo-fi. Only Guns 'N' Roses is missing here. The result of this mix is a blend of DIY sound, some darkness and despondency and strong melodies, all based on loudly and subtly played guitars on a bed of solid drums. Like then, I warmed only slowly to this new sound from late summer 1991 onwards, I am conquered by the song by Act Surprised. With one major difference, over the years I have become a fan of enthusiastic guitar bands like Sebadoh is on this album. Much more so than in 1991.

There's always a big ado about the Barlow and the Lowenstein penned songs. I can't hear it. What I'm hearing on Act Surprised is a strong set of rock songs, with some inventive riffs or short melodies on the guitar. The singing in general is more enthusiastic than really good. It fits the music and the level of recording quality. As I said its murky in Sebadoh land and I like it on this record. More in general, there's hope for us all when 50somethings can come up with an enthusiastic rock records like this.

Wo.

You can buy Act Surprised here:

https://sebadohfire.bandcamp.com/album/act-surprised


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

vrijdag 24 mei 2019

Untie The Ropes. Komraus

Untie The Ropes starts as dreamy as the best songs of Antwerp band The LVE. The slow played piano chords would have been a match in its best song 'Love, When You Don't Want It'. The piano stays, the song, 'Some Minutes' goes in a different direction. The dark voice of singer Sara Rioja is extended by the slow beats and dark sounds all around here, created by Martin Komraus.

Komraus is a duo from the U.K., that creates a modernised from of triphop, the musical style blending mystery with beats. Listening to 'Some Minutes' gives me an impression of vast emptiness, endless space with nothing around me, while listening to music and singing none the less. It is exactly this mystery that intrigues me. A whole album long.

Of course, when a song like 'Gas' starts, my mind races back to Portishead's live album. Triphop is serious music. Komraus manages to make the music somewhat lighter, it allows me to dream. The music is like gas, the way it seems to blend into the whole of my living room when played. Even the drums somehow seem to have joined this quality. While really standing out, they blend in somehow. And this is special. Where most music is a presence in a room, as it tends to take over the room when played, totally absorbing it, Untie The Ropes becomes one with it. This is the only way I can describe the sensation I feel when playing the album.

At the same time Untie The Ropes is not perfect. Where the music certainly is perfectly balanced, singer Sara Rioja at some points challenges her voice just bit too much. There are little flaws in her singing. It gives Komraus the human face it needs. Perfection would have made it, perhaps, too perfect.

10 Songs Untie The Ropes lasts and it is time well spent. I surrender to the flow and just want to listen. The title song is not the one with the most free flowing vocal melody on the album and then a piano takes over soloing over the dark synths playing the few chords over and over. Another moment of great beauty, like there are many on this album. The songs allow for enough variation to keep the album interesting, something I always found a problem with the bands from the first triphop wave. Something Komraus has in common with Kovacs' first album. This new wave of triphop is alright by me.

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

donderdag 23 mei 2019

Caravan. Ummagma

The third post for today comes from Canada and is a single by a band called Ummagma. The music fits more with yesterday's post about Jon Bryant. Here you go anyway.

Caravan is a dreamy song, propelled by soft but very distinct electronic beats and pulses.It all starts with a firm drums though. Solid and fairly busy. It is everything that goes over it that creates this dreamy world. The many sounds, the floating way of singing. At the same time the title song can be extremely direct. There's nothing left to be desired when the lead guitar shreds everything around it to pieces. The song end with simply a dreamy sequence of pulses and sounds.

Ummagma is a duo that formed in Moscow in 2003. Singer Shauna MacLarnon is from Canada and Alexander Kretov from the western Ukraine. Caravan is the first song released from the duo's upcoming, third album, 'Compass', to be released in June. Now both residents of Peterborough in Canada, they are ready to release their first album in seven years.

Caravan is a strong song where many influences from the 80s come together. From U2 to Simple Minds, traces can be found in the song, but only to let Ummagma do its own thing.

Promo photo: Oleksandra Kostiv
'Ty I Ya' is the b-side to this single and not to be found on the album. Kretov sings it in his native laguange over an ultra light sort of pop song with disco guitars and light beat. The Nile Rodgers/Bernard Edwards of Chic funk is in full operation in this track. In the bass and in the guitar the influence is there. Around it things are far less direct, giving 'Ty I Ya' the same dreamy quality Caravan possesses. The dreamy interlude takes the pace away to float the song off into a psychedelic sequence, including a jazzy atmosphere. Before we return to Chic with an Absolute Elsewhere synth sound to add to the flavour. 'Ty I Yi' is strange amalgam of songs and sounds but it certainly has a positive vibe that makes me come back to it.

Two in part very different yet in outlook fairly identical songs that make up a nice introduction to Ummagma. I hope to find out soon how this comes across on a whole album.

Wo.

You can buy Caravan here:

https://ummagma.bandcamp.com/album/caravan


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

Dury Dava. Dury Dava

Today three album reviews. This is number two, from Greece. We started out with music with the brakes firmly on. Now brace for adventure, folks.

Dury Dava's self-titled album is an adventure. It is an album where should an opera singer have entered in the middle of the mix, I would not have been surprised. It would have been a musical experiment of which dozens come by on Dury Dava.

Don't ask me if Dury Dava is good. It just is. It's a gigantic effort that has been pulled off fully, completely and leaves me exhausted, yet, perhaps oddly, satisfied. There are no dull moments, certainly strange ones but also exhilarating ones. Like I said: it just is.

On this album a lot of noise comes by. Loud, shredding guitars, over pounding drums and a pumping bass, with a singer shouting sounds. African noises are mixed through the song. In the next song a jazzy clarinet or something like it, drives a song on melodically, while all the instruments sort of go about there way in a totally loose structure. Not unlike in Bowie's 'Blackstar', but far looser and more experimental. 'Triptych' could be the music in an erratic movie where the lights keep changing the camera is held frantically, Unwatchable for normal eyes, but by closing my eyes I can follow the impossible movie through the music. Something eastern enters the clarinet solo, while the band slowly works towards a solid explosion that dutifully arrives.

Of course I can't look into the rehearsal room of Dury Dava, but I have the impression that there are no rules. Any band member can come with an idea or develop one while playing together and take the original idea in a totally other direction. When the others agree it works, that is where and when the next step is contemplated.

Promo photo: Eftychia Vlachou
What is Dury Dava? It is a band from Athens in Greece, a five piece consisting of Karolos Berahas (bass, keys, synth), Giorgis Karras (electric guitar, dilruba), Dimitris Mantzavinos (vocals, electric guitar, bouzouki), Dimitris Prokos (clarinet, synth) and Ilias Livieratos (drums, percussion). Together they rehearse in a basement and this is the outcome. Mostly live recorded tracks that mine influences from decades long before these men were born. Singer Mantzavinos sings in his own language, so it is anybody's guess what he's singing about, but it may well be that it would be hard to understand him would he have sung English. It is more about the melody that the words is my impression.

The music is as eclectic as the cover art. At times it sounds like symphonic rock albums from the early 70s and not much later all references are yours to decide. One thing is clear, it is impossible to predict what will happen next on this record. Dury Dava surprises every single minute of its first album. Some parts the listener just have to sit through, other parts are brilliant, others simply totally weird and the changes happen within each song. As I wrote a true musical adventure. It just is.

Wo.

You can buy Dury Dava here:

https://inner-ear.gr/news/pre-order-dury-dava-self-titled-debut/


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

Reward. Cate le Bon

Today we have three records again. The first one is released tomorrow and rather confuses our Wo. Let's start in Wales.

Let me start by saying that I think Reward is an interesting album and in some parts even good album. Yet, I find myself unable to warm to it in any way. How come? Before I continue I refer to my first sentence to make you understand that this is not about negativity. Otherwise I would not have taken the effort to gather my thoughts and try to find a route into my confusion caused by Reward.

So, how come? In nearly every song I feel alienated. As if Cate le Bon makes every effort to either confuse me or to drive me away. There are so many estranging effects in the songs, that make it hard for me to keep listening. An intro can be quite nice, like in 'Daylight Matters', only to be sliced apart once the song properly begins. A duo like Carol Cleveland Sings is able to do the same, yet keep up the flowing melody.

Another part is in Cate le Bon's voice, although I find that I can live with it in the end. Something I can get used to. This may just go for the whole album. Perhaps I have to get used to it more by investing time in it. Listening to so many records, that could prove a challenge if I'm not won over fast.

Promo photo
Listening to Reward again, I do start to notice little ways in. The production is modest, with only elementary effects. Take the eastern, Chinese music effects in 'Home To You', reminding me slightly of 'China Girl' and the soundtrack of 'Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence'. Like a solitary flower in the desert the Eastern melody comes forward in true glory. Having mentioned two Bowie references already, 'Blackstar' comes to my mind a few times as well. The poor men's version and I mean this in a positive way as Reward is at times pleasantly empty. It has the same daring experimentation with sounds, rhythms and instruments like Bowie's final album.

'Mother's Mother's Magazines' is one of the songs that has a tendency to make me feel jittery. What does it want from me? Everything seems to be at work to drive me out. Despite the fact that I discern some Zappaesque musical jokes at work here, the song simply gets on my nerves.

Reward to me is a strange album and yet, and yet. It also has its moments that are very much worth while listening to. I let you decide for yourself from here on (something you need to do always, of course).

Wo.

You can buy Reward here:

https://catelebon.bandcamp.com/album/reward


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 22 mei 2019

Paper Castles. Alice Phoebe Lou

Alice Phoebe Lou maakte voor mij een van de beste platen van 2016 en doet het drie jaar later nog eens dunnetjes over met een nog betere tweede plaat

Orbit kwam drie jaar geleden als een donderslag bij heldere hemel en wat was ik onder de indruk van het debuut van de in Zuid-Afrika geboren maar al jaren in Berlijn woonachtige Alice Phoebe Lou. Na Orbit, dat hoog opdook in mijn jaarlijstje over 2016, is er Paper Castles en wat is het een prachtige plaat geworden. Alice Phoebe Lou borduurt voort op het geluid van haar debuut, maar verrijkt dit geluid ook op subtiele en avontuurlijke wijze. Het levert een dromerige en sprookjesachtige plaat op die niet van deze wereld is, maar je even meeneemt naar een plek waar alles mooi maar ook breekbaar is.

De in Zuid-Afrika geboren Alice Phoebe Lou debuteerde bijna drie jaar geleden op 21-jarige leeftijd met het werkelijk prachtige Orbit. Het debuut van de singer-songwriter, die zich op dat moment in Berlijn had gevestigd en daar ook regelmatig als straatmuzikant was te zien, groeide uiteindelijk uit tot een van mijn favoriete platen van 2016.

 
Orbit kreeg een aantal zeer lovende recensies, maar het succes van Alice Phoebe Lou was uiteindelijk bescheiden, waardoor haar tweede plaat een wat unanieme plek inneemt tussen de nieuwe releases van deze week. Voor mij was het echter de release waar ik met afstand het meest naar heb uitgekeken de afgelopen maanden.
 
Ik heb Paper Castles inmiddels al een tijdje in huis en hoewel de plaat niet de mokerslag uitdeelt die het zo verrassende Orbit uitdeelde, is het een plaat waarvan ik de afgelopen weken intens ben gaan houden. Paper Castles deelt geen mokerslag uit omdat de plaat duidelijk voortborduurt op Orbit en hierdoor minder verrast, maar dat zegt niets over de schoonheid van de plaat.
 
Alice Phoebe Lou kiest ook dit keer voor een sprookjesachtig en vaak wat bedwelmend en bezwerend geluid, waarin op bijzondere wijze invloeden uit met name de folk en de jazz zijn verwerkt. Het is een wat zweverig maar ook sprankelend geluid, dat prachtig kleurt bij de vaak fluisterzachte zang van Alice Phoebe Lou, die overigens veel beter is gaan zingen en dit keer ook zwoel en jazzy kan klinken.
 
Paper Castles voelt voor iedereen die Orbit drie jaar geleden heeft omarmd onmiddellijk als een warm bad, maar de vanuit Berlijn opererende singer-songwriter, die wereldwijd toerde de afgelopen jaren, laat ook flink wat groei horen. Alice Phoebe Lou zingt met meer overtuiging en komt hiernaast op de proppen met een veelkleuriger, avontuurlijker en ook zelfverzekerder geluid dat absoluut als een geheel eigen geluid kan worden bestempeld.
 
Soms domineert de folk, soms de jazz, maar de Zuid-Afrikaanse singer-songwriter gaat op haar nieuwe plaat net zo makkelijk aan de haal met invloeden uit de psychedelica, funk en soul, pop en wat eigenlijk niet, waardoor haar muziek met geen mogelijkheid in een hokje is te duwen. Ook Paper Castles klinkt weer subtiel en vaak wat sprookjesachtig, maar wat zit er nog veel ander moois verstopt in de bijzondere muziek van Alice Phoebe Lou, die net wat voller en rijker klinkt dan op haar debuut.
 
Ik heb de plaat zoals gezegd al een tijdje in mijn bezit, maar hoor toch steeds weer andere dingen in de wonderschone muziek op Paper Castles. De bijzondere klanken nemen je steeds weer mee naar een andere wereld, waarna Alice Phoebe Lou de bezwering compleet maakt met haar bijzondere zang.

Orbit was voor mij een onbetwiste jaarlijstjesplaat, maar Paper Castles gaat er dik overheen. Misschien net wat minder verrassing, maar verder is de plaat op alle fronten mooier en beter. En dat van een muzikante die nog 25 moet worden. Zeer indrukwekkend.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt Paper Castles hier kopen:

https://alicephoebelou.bandcamp.com/releases



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 21 mei 2019

Cult Classic. Jon Bryant

Jon Bryant walked the road of his life for years, introspection, surrender to "a group" and distancing himself from this cult, after which he could start work on his new full length album with his love for music and the lessons of life learned strongly in mind.

The result is a soft sounding album where several other Canadian acts come forward like Half Moon Run, City and Colour and Patrick Watson. Bands that mix a dreamy way of singing with 70s singer-songwriter, modern electronics and rhythm breaks. The result is an album to dream away to. It gives me the impression that it is possible to lay myself down on the sound coming out of my speakers. In my mind I can see myself stepping onto the music and let myself be carried around on its surface through the room. Caressed and enveloped, to surrender in fully safe environment.

The music in the songs are veiled. It sort of hovers behind Jon Bryant's voice. Instruments weave themselves around each other, softly, ever so modest. Seldom jumping out of this mist of music. It becomes a whole. The wildest moments are when the beat is stopped for one moment, interrupting that sweet flow that is Cult Classic. This veiled way of presenting music makes this album so easy to follow. The music is like a current. Dare to follow it and it takes you further and further.

Cult Classic comes with a downside. Jon Bryant's high voice and his songs do become one blur of songs as the album progresses. The uniformity of the album is a point when listening intensely. Something Cult Classic deserves, without a doubt. Variation comes e.g. in the form of 'Superstition'. The tempo is taken away totally, drums are out and Bryant's voice(s) does nearly all the work. "Sweet submission", he sings and that is what the listener can allow himself to do. The mood returns, no, the mood never changed, the percussion comes back in 'The Fall', something that gives the album a little grit. The drums is the only true point to hold on to. The rest floats, dreamy, soft, silken.

It is this kind atmosphere that you need to be able to appreciate if you are to like to Cult Classic. It is the right album for a Sunday morning, for when you feel hung over in the morning, for late night romantic or restful moments. Certainly not the album to party to or find loads of energy in. For me it totally works right now and leave you to guess why.

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

maandag 20 mei 2019

Electric Bloom. Cromm Fallon

Listening to releases by Rum Bar Records is like stepping into a time machine. The songs sound like they were made anywhere between 40 and 55 years ago, depending on the artist. Add the adrenaline of fast rock songs, infused with enough melodies to sing along to and a potent, irresistible mix is concocted that catches me every single time.

Cromm Fallon debuted on this blog with a single from this album. The review ended with the words: "I can't wait to hear more" and here that more is.

Electric Bloom is a ten song solo record by singer and guitarist Cromm Fallon, who also plays in the Las Vegas band The Laissez Fairs. The Rum Bar time machine is fully operating. Fallon produces the kind of garage rock that after touching it comes with the obligatory washing of hands, with soap. It is dirty, greasy, loud and extremely direct. The Stooges and The Outsiders are vying for first place here. Fallon even sings like the late Wally Tax here and there. The diction and sneering of Iggy is in place as well.

With 'Out Of Control' Cromm Fallon set a level of expectation that is met by Electric Bloom. Nothing more is made of a song than is necessary. As is seems the standard here and overdubs are applied only if there is no other way out. Just listen how empty 'No Sleep' is in places. Bass, drums, electric guitar. An organ shows up recognisably at the end of the song, just like a one note guitar "solo". That is enough to make a point on Electric Bloom.

'Out Of Control' stands out with its enormously direct, loud chord progression. The song is so in my face. No escape, except for switching off the stereo set and why would I ever? The energy is extremely catchy here.

Fallon manages to produce a lot of noise but never forgets that a song needs to be that: a song. Even in the extremely punky 'The Next One' it is easy to spot the melody of the song. Devendra Weaver and Fallon can attempt to sneer it away, lucky for the world failure is an option, making 'The Next One' a total winner.

Next up is 'Electric Change', a turbo-charged psychedelic rocker. One of my favourites on the album, although I could have done without the trippy interlude. It comes with the territory I guess. The rest of the song is so extremely good. The only surprise on this album is when in Death Room, the 9th song, an acoustic guitar comes out, with a tambourine for percussion. The last song starts with a bit of feedback, so we're right back from where we started.

Electric Bloom is an anachronism, I'll grant you that, but of the kind that brings out the past in full bloom. This album is fully charged and does not hold back. Like a kick in the shin, it makes your senses come fully alive, without the pain. Cromm Fallon managed to pull off a veni, vidi, vici, with musical honours.

Wo.

You can buy Electric Bloom here:

https://rumbarrecords.bandcamp.com/album/electric-bloom


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 19 mei 2019

Liever Vieze Voeten. Iris Penning

Iris Penning maakt diepe indruk met mooie woorden, mooie klanken en vooral met songs die je meeslepen naar een wereld waar je nooit meer weg wilt 

Even was er nog mijn weerstand tegen Nederlandstalige popmuziek, maar toen de eerste noten van Liever Vieze Voeten uit de speakers kwamen verdween deze als sneeuw voor de zon en maakte weerstand plaats voor diepe bewondering. Iris Penning maakt fluisterzachte en intieme popliedjes die mooie verhalen vertellen. Het zijn verhalen die worden omgeven door een sfeervolle en bijzonder mooie instrumentatie en het zijn verhalen die worden gedragen door een prachtige stem, die alle verhalen voorziet van emotie en warmte. Iris Penning timmert al een tijdje aan de weg, maar wat zet ze opeens grote stappen met deze prachtplaat.

Ik geef eerlijk toe dat ik niet zo heel veel heb met Nederlandstalige popmuziek. Dat heeft heel weinig of zelfs helemaal niets te maken met vooroordelen, maar alles met het gevoel dat Nederlandstalige popmuziek me net wat te vaak geeft. Het is het wat ongemakkelijke gevoel dat bezit van me neemt wanneer songs in mijn moedertaal me net wat te gekunsteld klinken, waardoor alles vervaagt en alleen een gevoel van onbehagen overblijft.

Ik dacht in het verleden vaak dat het Nederlands gewoon niet zo geschikt is voor popmuziek, maar zo af en toe duikt er een plaat op die laat horen dat er wel degelijk Nederlandstalige albums worden gemaakt die me raken en die ik na één keer horen prachtig vind. Lieve Vieze Voeten van Iris Penning is zo’n plaat.

Iris Penning is een jonge singer-songwriter uit Eindhoven, die de afgelopen jaren al twee albums afleverde. Die albums deden me nog niet zo heel, maar maakten me op een of andere manier wel nieuwsgierig naar hetgeen dat nog in het vat zat. Dat blijkt het samen met de ervaren Eindhovense muzikant en producer Gabriël Peeters gemaakte Liever Vieze Voeten.

De muziek van Iris Penning wordt op haar eigen website omschreven als “poëtische pop”. Dat klonk op voorhand als de Nederlandstalige kleinkunst waarvoor ik een allergie lijk te hebben ontwikkeld, maar Iris Penning had me eigenlijk al na een paar noten te pakken met songs waarin alles klopt en iedere noot je nieuwsgierig maakt naar de volgende.

De singer-songwriter uit Eindhoven heeft heel veel aandacht besteed aan haar teksten, die hier en daar inderdaad uitblinken door een dichterlijke schoonheid, maar Liever Vieze Voeten klinkt geen moment gekunsteld. De bijzonder mooie stem van Iris Penning betovert je direct vanaf de eerste tonen, waarna de met een mooie zachte g uitgesproken woorden langzaam rondjes in je hoofd draaien, tot ze zijn omgetoverd tot beelden.

Iris Penning beschikt over een stem die woorden tot leven brengt, maar het is ook een stem van een bijzondere schoonheid. Het is een stem die een sober maar zeer smaakvol instrumentarium verdient en dat is precies wat Liever Vieze Voeten heeft gekregen. Gabriël Peeters heeft het derde album van Iris Penning bijzonder smaakvol ingekleurd met een warm en akoestisch geluid dat vooral bestaat uit akoestische gitaren en hiernaast sfeervolle accenten van piano, cello, saxofoon en percussie bevat. Het is een subtiel, maar opvallend trefzeker geluid. De nadruk ligt echter op de stem van Iris Penning, die incidenteel wordt verrijkt door koortjes en tweede stemmen, maar meestal ingetogen, puur en fluisterzacht klinkt en meer dan eens goed is voor kippenvel.

Iris Penning vertelt op haar nieuwe album mooie verhalen en verhalen zitten me bij Nederlandstalige muziek vaak in de weg omdat ze afleiden. Ook dat is anders bij beluistering van Liever Vieze Voeten van Iris Penning. De singer-songwriter uit Eindhoven vertelt verhalen die je wilt volgen, maar ze maakt ook muziek die je meeneemt en weg laat dromen. Het zorgt ervoor dat ik de 39 minuten van Liever Vieze Voeten van Iris Penning het liefst twee keer achter elkaar beluister, om bij tweede beluistering te constateren dat Liever Vieze Voeten steeds meer een feest van herkenning is, maar ook nog steeds nieuwe dingen laat horen.

De afgelopen jaren kon ik best goed uit de voeten met de Nederlandstalige songs van onder andere Eefje de Visser en Maaike Ouboter, maar Iris Penning legt de lat weer net een stukje hoger met persoonlijke songs van grote schoonheid en een bijzondere intimiteit. Ook in de toekomst zal ik vooral naar Engelstalige muziek luisteren, maar deze prachtplaat zal af en toe zorgen voor afwisseling. Of in termen van Iris Penning te spreken “liever vieze voeten dan altijd schoenen aan”.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt Liever Vieze Voeten hier kopen:

https://www.irispenning.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 18 mei 2019

Violet Street. Local Natives

I had Local Natives filed in the Vampire Weekend department of my mind. Basically that is the file where once Talking Heads and other bands making "difficult" music around 1980 were filed into. So when the cd dropped on my doormat, it wasn't the first thing I put on that day. Things got worse when a one day later I found a pink post it attached to the cover reading: "Far too busy, not melodic enough. Don't play during diner!". So that was filed once more. Curiously enough, the post it made curious. And lo and behold I sort of fell for Violent Street.

The music on Violent Street is the stuff fairy tales are made of. I will not go so far that this music is make believe, far from it. The extremely high vocals seem to float over the music. Like a magic, coloured, star-sprinkled wave hovering in the air. It somehow outdoes all the music underneath it. Music that is dense, a little brooding and not necessarily very melodic. This fact makes the parts that are or to phrase it better, where the melodies are allowed to escape the density, stand out the more. That melody can come from any instrument capable of melodies. So count bottles in.

The references that come to my mind while listening to Violet Street are many. Some of them just won't come to me. U.K. band Foals definitely is one. Canada based Patrick Watson certainly a second. Both bands that are able to find that balance between alternative rock and ballads. Local Natives does just that. Even within songs tempos are changed radically, adding to the magic and different atmospheres. It makes Violent Street a totally unpredictable album. It is not that anything goes, but there certainly are no rules coming to making music within this band it seems.

Going into its second decade as a recording band, Local Natives releases its fourth album. That is not a prolific output. The Beatles were all said and done easily in less time. On the other end I can imagine that creating a record like this really does take time. I'm sure so many ideas were tried out, discarded, picked up from the floor in a different only to be discarded again. The result though is an album that is vociferous in several ways. Fairy tale music and all. There's no holding back. It is screaming out every single note: here I am, listen to me. And that is exactly my advice to you, dear reader, to start doing.

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 17 mei 2019

Untitled. Toby Goodshank

Pay attention, dear reader, as something special is taking place on this day. Something usually reserved for messiahs exclusively. Today, a month and four days after the initial announcement Untitled is resurrected. Knowing from experience over the past years how hard it is to predict resurrections or apocalypses, 35 days late is not a bad score at all. Toby Goodshank's album from 2009 has been remastered for vinyl and is released on Tiny Room Records in The Netherlands.

For me it is an introduction to Goodshank's work and what an introduction it is. The listener is taken on a ride that stops at several stations where a surprise awaits the listener. From perfectly melodic indie rock to a weird soundscape accompanying soundbites and some slacker rapping is not a huge step on Untitled. Psychedelic treatment of recordings are far from uncommon. These surprised would just be surprises were it not that most songs are more than interesting. Toby Goodshank knows how to write a good song and to work in some interesting details. A guitar solo that flies in softly to make its point, to change into a funky, high-sounding rhythm guitar further on.

Lou Reed is no stranger to Goodshank. The dark, chugging rhythm that is Reed's trademark can be found on 'Track 5', all songs are untitled as well, except for their tracklisting. What happens in the lyric of 'Track 5' is for you to discover. O.k., I thought, but it involves a girl crying; to give away just a little.

With 'Track 6' one of the highlights of Untitled comes by. Again a slow, alternative rock song, with some great harmonising, with some disconcerting elements slowly growing more aggressive in the background. It gives 'Track 6' something menacing. While nothing changes in the bases of the song, it simply continues, it is totally changed through the sound effects that are added.

Toby Goodshank refrains from using any fireworks on Untitled. At heart each song is one man with one acoustic guitar strumming away. There are no immense effects in the music. All is elementary. From there Goodshank is on the lookout for little embellishments that give a song its extras. Like gravy and salt on the potatoes. Business as usual is what makes this album come alive. Song after song. It is in this way Untitled becomes special. Not just special, also impressive.

Dark and gloomy Untitled may be. Listening to it certainly influences my mood by offsetting little sparks in the gloom, the album makes me feel good and smile regularly. It is simply too much fun to have a negative effect. Not many dark albums can claim this stake.

Wo.

You can buy the vinyl album here:

https://tinyroomrecords.bandcamp.com/album/untitled


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 16 mei 2019

Out Of Sight. Chelou

Today we focus on three album. This is number three. We've had Italy, then Greece and now the U.K.

The human cannonball. Out Of Sight is in nothing as spectacular as this circus act, that to all appearances is playing with death. Reality will undoubtedly show that there's nothing left to chance with this act. This is were the link to Out Of Sight is made. A very serious, thoughtful and contemplative album by Chelou, the artist name of Adam Gray. Artist name and album title a perfect symmetry, from different languages.

With Out Of Sight Chelou releases his first full length album after collaborating professionally with other artists since 2013 and releasing singles and an EP.

This album is somewhere between acoustic and electronics. In the midst of melodies and sounds Chelou comes forward. Hesitantly but clearly with his story to tell. In this mix Chelou is the modest little brother of Alt-J. A brother who preferably hovers in the shades, to remain "out of sight" as much possible. From there he'll keep us satisfied and talk to us in the dark, as he sings in the title track. This darkness is one of the trademarks of Chelou. Singing rather subdued without any embellishments worth mentioning.

Promo photo
The good news is that together with his producers, a few songs were self-produced, the strong points in his songs are highlighted. By bringing the right accents to a song, they come alive. Some are even beautiful.

Out Of Sight is not easy to digest. The listener needs to invest some time before he is rewarded. E.g. with a beautiful, small intro to 'Old Maccy'. An intro that continues and continues up to a point where you will wonder whether this is an instrumental after all. Is it? I invite you to find out for yourself as the musical trip is worth it.

Wo.

You can buy Out Of Sight here:

https://chelou.bandcamp.com/album/out-of-sight


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

N91°. Logout

Today we write on three albums. This is the second instalment. From Italy we jump to Greece.

This record came to me via Tiny Room Records and of course that fact alone makes me very much aware that for circa 90% of the time I am in for a mild to huge surprise musically. There's no telling what the label is releasing this time.

Listening to N91° for the first time, I had no idea what to make of it. It was hard to find a true song on the album. Atmospherics, "hidden songs" beneath extreme percussion, experiments in sounds, it all came by, but songs? I truly asked myself whether N91° was worthwhile to invest in.

Not that the following fact mattered, but it is a nice coincidence to share. When I started to read the info after deciding to join my experience with you, I found out that the first two albums of Logout were released on Inner Ear Records, as you will know by a now a label whose releases have become a regular feature on this blog; just like Tiny Room Records' are.

What N91° does for and with me, is tickle my curiosity. The moment I returned to the album I did find melodies and songs. At the basis of each song there are songs, well, most of the time. It seems a song is the beginning, the point where Logout starts to work. The structure to deconstruct and revive elements from or simply hide them behind something else (nearly) completely. Like some artwork by Asger Jorn, the Danish COBRA painter who bought classic paintings of landscapes and did some COBRA stuff on them, except here the songs are Logout's, so no destruction of another person's work is involved. Where the fun for and from Logout starts, is the point where others usually have finished.

My curiosity was tickled because I wanted to know what it is I'm hearing, how it works and from there could start to enjoy these details. I will not say N91° is brilliant, it isn't. What it is, is a piece of his imagination that Logout shares with the world. To invest time in and to enjoy thoroughly. To delve into the details, the sounds, the different instruments and how it all comes together within, yes, a song. As you see, this album deserved a review and it nearly wrote itself.

Wo.

You can buy N91° here:

https://tinyroomrecords.bandcamp.com/album/n91?fbclid=IwAR1scgrC9C1m1hK6fx9TKUS8LEHuhnERs_94OlZCBDnvDsx_cbHtIqp06c4


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